Oh, the places we could go…

It sounds so cliché and yet what IF? We all, if we’re lucky, live several lives from our beginning to our end. Our “tinyhood” is first, when we’re so new and unset that things mostly roll over us, leaving only small traces of what took place… if we’re lucky. Those memories fade as we move through other lives – our youth, our high school and college years with their general trauma, relationships, marriages, families, beginnings, endings, the pneuma – the creative energy – of life.

But all of it, as we roll or slog or trip or struggle through the panorama of our lifespans becomes part of who we are at any given time, a lot of it hard to shed, some of it buried pretty deep, most of it just outside the grasp of our conscious awareness, so how would we even start to deal with it? In simpler terms, how do we stop toting around all this pneuma? Just because we’ve accumulated it, is it forever ours by default?

We get older, hopefully we get smarter, we learn how to forgive and to let go of resentments and old scores. But whether we know it or not, the seed of every wound, every piercing, every time someone was able to make us feel less-than is still in there somewhere ready to trip us up if we let it. Maybe we have somehow been strong enough not to give it roots, but we don’t know exactly how to find it for full extraction, so it lurks and hides, the partial remains of who we were.

It would be so satisfying to dig up all of that accumulated rot and get it out of there – all those markers signifying “I go this far and no farther, so DON’T PUSH me.” “Here’s where the bad person/people hurt me, embarrassed me, shamed me, failed to love me enough.” “I can’t get rid of these, they’re my security blankets, my hedge against big-time pain, against things I never want to feel again. They help me remember where the lines are drawn.” I know, you probably hoped I was going to tell us both how to do that, how to ruthlessly excavate. So did I, but the answer didn’t miraculously appear as I typed the words.

And so the remains remain. But oh, what we could be and the places we could go if we could figure this out. It’s a worthy goal because it would change everything. I’m holding out hope to get there in my lifetime, sooner rather than later – while I still have time to enjoy the fruits. I’m still thinking about this…

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REALITY = a full-time job

My Muse has been kind this summer, and attentive. I no more think of something and BOOM, like somebody has ESPN, there’s a reference on a timeline or in an article I’m reading. In reflecting again lately on letting the past be the past, and having been marinated in Midwestern guilt from birth until the West Coast Wild Man (according to the locals) strolled in and stopped that shiz right in its Ropers, I’m well-versed in the dilemma represented up there in the meme. Baby Boomer girls make nice, talk nice, say everything but what we really think, if we know what’s best for us and want nice things said about us.

But if we ever once start saying what we really think, all bets are off. Because sometimes people see what looks like an opportunity to dig a little, and feelings get hurt, peace gets wrecked, doors get closed. It never feels good but you finally have to use what’s been percolating in your Boomer self since shortly after WWII and just stop the bleeding once and for all, say No, I’m not up for this, buh-bye, whatever we were we’re not that now, and memories don’t give you carte blanche to my life. But then, Midwestern guilt would tell us, it’s our responsibility to open that door again and make peace face-to-face, all nice, and start over.

You know what, no. That’s phony and it isn’t peace. I’ve tried it repeatedly and what I got was what most peacemakers get, which is taken advantage of. I’m not whining, I’m stating a fact. If you cut people slack they use it all. They decide you really are a good person who wants them to have it their way. And then they hit you again. From a different angle out of the blue when you’re weak and vulnerable but they didn’t know that, no, they just have great instincts.

I like things real and I subscribe to the knowledge that it isn’t on me to try to build a relationship with people who don’t even like who I am. It’s shocking and absurd that the exact things I was trying to figure out in eighth grade to keep friendships in balance are the same sorts of things that are still canceling the potential for genuine friendship in my eighth decade of living. It makes me despair just a little for human nature, but only a little, because I think of so many friends with their wide, wide hearts and their beautiful minds and their nonstop belief in truth and lovingkindness in the world, and I know arrested development didn’t claim everyone across the board, so sometimes it really is safe to trust. Whew!

Welcome back to Blogging as Therapy this morning, and thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

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Urgency of stillness…

I. hope. you. read. that. really. slowly.

When somebody says something better than I can, it seems wise to let them. Just the act of reading the above makes me feel deliciously Zen. Laundry? What laundry? Ohhhhh. Thoose twoo looads I’im goooing tooo runnnn laaaterrr.

We get so conditioned to doing everything in a rush, we lose conscious awareness of our behavior and our pace no longer registers with us. We automatically think every decision, every choice has to be made right now, on the spot, with no time for discussion or fully rational thought, because it’s only action that matters. The realization that I have time available, critical time, makes my heart settle in my chest and my skittering brain synapses organize themselves into productive pathways – at least that’s what I visualize happening. I could google it sometime for backup.

Having time to think about things is a luxury. Having time to space off and go someplace else in our heads for a while is tricky territory for a lot of society – better to stay busy, stay grounded, stay on message, stay outta the weeds, and don’t make trouble. Kinda how it feels – too much thinking makes waves, and before you know it somebody’s saying words out loud and we’ve got problems. Oh dear. I do it anyway, living on the edge and all, because I have time and inclination and not two fks to give when good trouble breaks out. My Twitter “profile” candidly warns that this person is chronologically seasoned, but past the statute of limitations on maturity. What’s anybody gonna do, take away my birthday? By all means, Governor, proceed.

Thinking does have its perils, but I offer the current state of the Republic as evidence that the perils of failing to think are far more grave, which would be a morbid place to end on a hot Friday when breathing the air is a challenge, so I’m now urgently returning to the Zen of stillness, the slow quiet from the inside out that lets me pay attention to reality – the life I live. I’ll meet you there. We’ll have cold seltzer with lemon & lime.

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Against all odds…

If you’re a fellow word-broker you’ve undoubtedly noticed that expressive language is not the common currency everyone deals in, and words don’t carry the same meaning across the board. PEACE, for instance, the term I’ve been flinging about for the past week or so, connotes different strokes for different folks, so in case anyone’s tiptoeing around the subject like it’s a deceptively passive quicksand bog waiting to drag you down to the Slough of Despond, feast your quaking spirit on this anonymous piece of writing that came into my hands yesterday. I’m grateful to the author, whomever he or she may be…

Knowing I can live exactly that way, free and at peace in myself, feels anything but passive or depressing, just in case there was any misunderstanding as to where I’m coming from with the PEACE thing. It comes down to making my choices for my reasons and quietly standing by them against the world. And I’m one voice in all the confusion saying you can do the same, because I know that to be true. It’s how you manage to live your one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver puts it, against all odds, and you really must! This is likely the only shot we get, kids, so get started ASAP. It’s that thing at the top of the list.

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What’s today?

I have a post in progress about the fact that we’re home, but it’s going nowhere, so – WE’RE HOME, KIDS, it’s official. Feeling cute, might make something of it later, but I’m tired of it hangin’ on me. I’m waiting to feel properly inspired to tell you “What I Did On My Vacation,” as it so richly deserves.

What’s on my mind right now is change. We thought a wet spring would never become a hot summer, but the change was like overnight, BAM and wow. It’s the kind of heat that gets you from the inside out when the air stops moving, and this year for the first time I’m wearing a cold cloth around my neck when we move outside for the cocktail hour(s). This delicate prairie flower is feeling the ire of summer, so hot it seems personal all at once. Yikes. (Note: We’re getting a welcome break at the moment.)

Change is afoot in #lfk, as is likely true in most small cities with rich histories and distinct personalities up against a shifting tax base and somewhat changing demographics. While we were away, a change or two took place that I assume will eventually require some sort of mediation in order to arrive at a resolution. As much as any of us may vow that we like change, it rarely arrives easily or smoothly. And most of us are in some way lying as to how we feel about it.

Change has been underway in the lives of my close family members for the past few months and it’s been a happy thing to see. And sometimes good change for the people we love opens new doors for us, too – bonus!

A lot of change is happening right now in the building we’ve called home for seven years, where the lofts are owner-occupied. People moving out, people moving in, common in rental situations, but not at all here until recently. I’m getting the message – people moving out of our lives will be how this works, more and more. Thanks, reality, you’ve been a delight all year – I could use a break for a while. Let’s talk vacation again…and how cool is that, we’ve accidentally segued into a 4th of July post. Clever, no?

Be happy and safe today, friends, and aim for good change in all the ways you can – it’s what keeps things moving forward.

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A disclaimer?

Something you discover when you start scooping sand into boxes as raw material for sand castles, aka readable pieces of writing, is that if you’re writing for yourself the content can get rough for others to wade through at times. Therapy is rarely pretty or pleasant, but instead of locking the door and writing alone in the dark I leave the choice to my readers who’ve signed on – stay or go, read or skip, understand or drop by the wayside – because it helps me to think I’m bouncing those thoughts and feelings off someone who might be persuaded to care.

I know it’s been increasingly dicey here on Playing for Time over the past couple of years as I’ve clawed my way through a mountain of shock and disbelief at the changes in the country I’ve always called home and tried to reconcile what I know with what I see happening out there. I’ve undoubtedly stepped on toes and caused offense, as haven’t we all, in trying to feel our way through a labyrinth we don’t recognize as familiar territory anymore. In a gene pool rife with bipolarism I’ve experienced for the first (or maybe worst) time the heavy hand of actual depression, not to the point of requiring extra meds, but a far streak past The Blues. 

That glow out there on the horizon this week – I want to think that’s end-of-the-tunnel-quality light, but I’ve finally earned my Cynic’s stripes so I’m not holding my breath. I do think democracy is going to win this one and that we’re eventually going to heal. I believe important things will have been won – and a few crucial ones will have been lost – by the time the smoke clears. We have risked much in being so willing to square off and choose sides – things we may miss as a semblance of normalcy returns – but we’ll survive this, I believe that now; whereas, there’ve been moments when I was none too sure.

If you’ve been here since early on, that’s cool and I thank you. If you’re a newbie, that’s cool too. If you take a quick romp back through the archives you’ll see that I’ve written about the most eclectic of subjects, so I could hit yours eventually. 

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Happy Day…

Wishing all of my blogging community a lovely Thanksgiving with nothing but love, good food, and rest in your spirits. And maybe you’ll get to help someone else along the way…

 

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Just BE

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I don’t worry about being *right* all the time.

I just try to BE.

And that feels right.

Benjamin Dover@quaker4change

 

Benjamin Dover shared this on Twitter and I know you’ll respect that it all belongs to him, thanx. The truth of it resonated soundly with me and halted me in my tracks so fast I had to sort a few things back into their slots and shoeboxes after the sudden stop.

Here’s why: I’m pretty sure some people interpret things I write as proselytizing – selling it – when what I’m really doing is letting you watch the wheels turn while I figure things out for myself. I don’t need YOU to be right according to me, I just need you to let me work out what’s right for ME and then let me BE that. And I don’t want to have to justify it to you after I’ve spent the energy to find my right answer – I want you to do your own work. Don’t come at me without that, and really, just don’t come at me – I’m over here BEING, because I did the work – MINE – that got me to HERE, the place where I can BE. I’m not moving, so if the word WORK is a problem, you’re just gonna have to … DEAL … another way.

I love this – it’s one of the best, in the sense of helpful, enlightening, encouraging, hand-on-a-shoulder things I’ve encountered in a while, which is why I officially plan to stalk Benjamin Dover via Twitter. It’s entirely possible he knows other prime stuff that he puts right out in public, thinking people will possess the integrity to keep hands off…

{I did ask, he just hasn’t responded yet… }

 

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Studies in human nature…

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“I vant to be alone.” ~ Greta Garbo

Except, according to Ms. Garbo, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

There is all the difference.

You can’t do much writing, unless you’re journaling about one of the dustier sciences, without becoming a student of human nature, an endlessly intriguing and confusing subject. Who could ever comprehend humans? And having somehow done so, how would we ever live with what we’d learned about each other?

Once in a while the undercurrent of low-grade depression that accompanies my existence gets to be a bit much and I’m forced to acknowledge its existence to the point of taking a break from whatever seems to be the main problem. This time, Facebook was clearly leaving me in a state, so a Fall Sabbatical was an easy decision, and I’d no sooner closed the door than my normal sunny personality started breaking through again. Full disclosure, I also activated my sleepy Twitter account around that same time and started finding *inner healing* through shooting my mouth off.  To each her own poison.

Yesterday iMessage, which I can get to on my desktop now only through Facebook (I need a teenager, STAT), contained an odd and off-putting message that still has me in a mood. It was a clip of a skit enacted by young black students, male & female, dressed in scrubs, shooting police officers with automatic weapons, along with a personal message that said in part: “I have felt that you lean towards only seeing one side. I know you have taken a recess from FB and I just wanted you to see this. Are the youth in our schools being given permission to have such disregard for authority? This will only lead to more serious problems.”

Why now? Why purposely back me into a corner when I’ve said I need the exact opposite of that for a while?  I can wish mightily that I had answers, but I don’t. I’m tired. My head is tired, my heart is tired, I just need to go in a different direction for a few weeks and let some of the nastiness of recent battles filter out a little. I’m angry. Angrier than I’ve ever been in my life that lizardy old men think it’s just fine that other men assault and take advantage of young girls like I once was, and they laugh about it and celebrate it and elevate each other to the highest offices in the land. So angry. For the first time in my life there are people I hate.

It would have been an excellent time to let me alone. I asked nicely, after all, like any good little American girl would do. And we see, over and over and over again, how that works out.

 

 

 

 

 

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The good…the bad…the good…

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First things first: An important bit of business – Kim got a new cast yesterday, his second, but Dr. Huston decided to wait another week to remove the stitches. I got to see them and they’re perfect – and his arm isn’t badly bruised or scary-looking so we’re all kinds of encouraged. While I iPadded in the Waiting Room, new X-rays were taken and a lighter-weight fiberglass cast put on, leaving his fingers a little more free but once again reaching to his armpit, this time placing his arm in the supinate position rather than pronate, and incorporating a swanky but awkward elbow-rest configuration. In a week the plan calls for stitches out and a smaller, even lighter cast. Today the plan calls for addressing the severe case of Cabin Fever that has set in and taken up residence. Looking for our Creative Caps…

And while the Big Guy is taking a walk, for starters, in the crisp fall air, allow me to quote George Takei: “It appears the Age of Unreason truly has begun.” He said that on Twitter this morning and if you’ve been keeping up with the news at all during the past week you know exactly what he meant. And if you haven’t, of course, the only thing to do is leave it there, with the qualifying comment that I can’t decide if I feel any better for the fact that it now has a name.

I’ve learned three things this week, three things I’ve instinctively understood all my life but never owned out in the open: 1) incomplete men fear women – our intelligence, our anger, and our truth-telling; 2) we’re expected to keep those things quiet and behind closed doors; and 3) we will never be forgiven by incomplete men, and the women who protect them, for being vocal and public with our intelligence, our anger, and our truth-telling. It’s been a tough week in America.

Guess who has a cracked-up wrist and will be seeing Tommy Emmanuel this Sunday night? My Kim, who deserves every break he can get. Sometimes I’m so funny…

But seriously, folks, when he was out walking he saw a handbill for TE, one of his all-time guitar heroes, who will be playing a block away in a tiny historic theater in our smallish historic city, and there were actually a few balcony tickets left. I’m so happy for him – it’s been a tough couple of weeks in Kim World.

 

 

 

 

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Breakthrough…

invisible 1

 

A day comes, if you’re lucky and it’s true, when you see that

You never really know what’s going on

Though others seem to have it by osmosis.

No worries…

Though the dawning knowledge that you don’t…quite…fit…ANYwhere

Is a gift of liberation not accompanied by explanatory text –

It rather defies description.

Quickly you see the grace you’ve been given for navigating

Tricky waters and tests of loyalty – 

  When you’re mostly invisible you get to slide.

That’s when the gift becomes the knowledge that you belong

Only to yourself

And you need to know only your Truths.

You can forget the rest, and *fitting* is vastly overrated.

Or so I hear.

 

JSmith 09/30/2018

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Life goes right on happening…

Constant or even Casual Reader probably knows that when I say *interesting week,* stuff happened. This past weekend has been interesting.

On Friday, Kim had his first Mid-Life Crisis Sports Injury, and since 9:30 that morning, routine, that deadly imposter, has gone out the window. Two neatniks have reverted to hippie habits, of necessity, and are getting used to relaxed standards. My singleton side of our King bed is easy enough, just pull up sheet and quilt as I bail out, but there’s a 3′-high pile of clean laundry on the chaise next to the bed, and various admission and dismissal detritus from the hospital strewn across the dresser. Kim’s living and sleeping in his recliner for now, so the table next to him is a conglomeration of what he needs throughout the day and night – but he has a system and don’t screw with it. His kitchen needs his Navy Squid attention, especially since we’d been planning a fall scrub-down, but oh well, I’ll knock some of the big chunks off in a day or two. When somebody you love is in pain, that’s where all your energy automatically gets funneled, as it should.

All day Friday, from 10am to 5pm, was spent going from ER to Ortho and back, X-ray to CT Scan, lightweight “sugar tong” cast, to temporary traction, to plaster “sugar tong.” Food, finally, at 6pm, and home. Saturday and Sunday are a blur of opioids and other meds, a grocery run to maintain a cushion for the drugs, some amazing sleep, and a sense of marking time.

Yesterday, Monday, we checked him in for surgery at 10:30am. He went to the back for pre-op at 11. Was told they were taking him to surgery at 12. Froze my fanny off in the waiting room, listening to my tummy growl, until 1:30pm when a nurse came out to tell me they were backed up in the surgical suites and had just then taken him in. I nearly cried, and would have had she not said “He’s been napping this whole time.” I just said very quietly, “I’m freezing,” whereupon the receptionist said “Oh honey, you have to say something!” I told her “I didn’t know I could!” She turned up the thermostat, the nurse brought me two blankets out of the warmer, and I settled in for the long haul. I’m terribly out of practice since my days of caregiving for six older family members – I didn’t think to take my iPad or any protein snacks, or even BAD snacks. My head had room only for Kim, getting this repaired, and taking him home.

When all was said and done and I’d gotten the Ortho surgeon’s report (he looks all of 19, of course), it was 6pm, eight hours since we’d left home. But the report was good and that’s all that matters. It was a bad break and Kimmers now has a plate in his body that wasn’t there before, but the bones went together well and Dr. Huston was able to deal with the bone gravel and other crunching in there that wouldn’t have been good longterm. All’s well that ends well, which is down the road a bit. He’s in a heavy-duty cast until time for the stitches to come out, then a less mondo one, and finally he’ll get a fiberglass number that will start increasing his independence noticeably.

For now, it’s a little like Momming again and I’m glad for grown-up cartoons like YouTube and television. The drugs make the patient a little sleepy, so movies are good. Also car porn, like Mecum Auction and Barrett Jackson. And the car rebuild shows – there are some of those we both like a lot. The Big Guy has seen me through at least four major medical events in the 14 years we’ve been married – I’ll do anything to keep him comfortable through this one. It’s how we roll.

 

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The rest of the story…

Fresh fall desktop wallpaper tumblr Free

 

Part Two of two…

You know what dries up tears? Knowing that you possess power of your own.

I’ve been using the hours I’m not spending on Facebook to finish lots of little organizational projects, which in turn frees my mind to deal with larger issues that are important to me, and the more my inanimate life gets lined up, the more my animated brain freewheels. I’m loving this, I need this, I have to have this.

Full disclosure, I’ve finally had to admit to myself that I live with a fairly steady level of genetically-transmitted low-grade depression, so I have to focus a little more intentionally than some on not making it worse. I’m a natural introvert, so in-your-face small talk in the form of tedium is toxic for me. That makes online social media a good fit – provided I can pick my battles and/or my passions; participate fully as myself; I’m able to speak my truths free from judgment; or I’m at least free to talk back to judgment if it comes at me.

A confession about social media: I’ve been a Twitter snob. I joined five years ago for the sake of this blog – more exposure, more contacts – but didn’t pursue it, mostly because I didn’t know how it worked and didn’t feel like taking the time to find out. Let me just say that I had all the wrong ideas about it, but slap my ass and call me a newborn, we can learn when we’re motivated, and Twitter turns out to be just the ticket for a mouthy girl like me. Once I figured out how to build a community of like-minded people I was off on a whole new adventure. One advantage over Facebook is that Twitter is virtually without commitment and lends itself well to hit or miss skimming, which is what Dr. Me ordered for Fall. (Truly beloved friends on FB, pls remember that this isn’t a divorce, merely a sabbatical. As far as I know. We’ll tawk.)

I do suggest you not follow me on Twitter if your opinion of me hinges on words like nice, careful, and reticent. Those are the qualities, along with the necessity of walking on eggshells and judiciously parsing all my words on FB, and sometimes even here, on MY OWN BLOG, that led to the ever-deepening state of depression I finally had to shake loose from. I’m not nasty on Twitter, but I’m pretty sure some of my FB followers, and some from other places, wouldn’t like me there because I speak truth as I see it, with nothing owed to anyone. And the good news is that I’m feeling more whole than in too long a time. I woman-‘splained how the whole thing works to my baby sister, and after taking a look at my timeline, her spot-on comment was “Twitter’s cool. It’s where the big kids go to play.” That’s it exactly. You can follow any ol’ body you might think of, and if you behave like an adult they probably won’t block you. You can sort of rub shoulders with the people you respect on television, and one of them might even like one of your comments sometime, but try not to be an idiot if it happens.

There are bots and trolls there, but you knew that. Most of them are neither clever nor creative. I hear there’s porn there, but apparently if you aren’t looking for it, you’re less likely to encounter it. There’s everything there because it’s genuinely global. What I’m finding are smart, funny, caring, off-the-wall, freedom-loving, democracy-protecting, feminist liberals like me. Because that’s who I’m looking for. The world is crackazoidal crazy right now, and swimming around in the deep end with the big kids is therapeutic, so don’t send out the posse. Let’s just all make the best of this beautiful “time of endings” we’re in. Fall, despite its heartbreaking melancholy, is my favorite season, and I’m feeling more hopeful for a time of new beginnings to follow.

 

 

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Sometimes problems have answers…

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Constant Reader will be relieved to learn that I may have solved my problem – the one where I cry nonstop. Oddest thing … turns out the answer in my case to the question “What do you read when you’re sad?” (see preceding post) … is “NOT FACEBOOK.” I haven’t sorted out why that is yet, but it’s a fact. Maybe it’s the abysmal state of our society right now and so many things are hanging out there unsaid, unaddressed, untalked-about, for fear of offending too many people, until finally there’s nothing left we can say. Maybe that’s it, maybe not. What I CAN say for sure is that I’m crying at the right places now instead of carrying tears in my throat like a pelican all day long and shedding them over stuff you wouldn’t believe.

A Facebook summer sabbatical was exactly what I needed, but since I slogged right on past every subtle AND clanging message to that effect, a fall sabbatical sounds even nicer. I started it a week ago – or more honestly the break started without me – and the sea-change in my mood was almost immediate. There are a few people I’ll have to peek in on once in a while, but I can’t be there right now and that’s okay. Bottled up thoughts and emotions aren’t healthy for humans, so this fall is all about restorative outlets, projects, and relationships. And wow, I feel better already, just for having written that.

Part One of two …

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What do you read when you’re sad?

 

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what do you read when you’re sad

what do you write when your skin doesn’t know how to

hold you to a place where your heart can’t find cover

who anchors you when you need to fly free because

the ground has thorns and rocks and all of it

reminds that belonging bears a price you won’t pay

what do you read when everything hurts

what do you write when the nice words won’t come 

the soft words have sharp edges and your pledges

to stop the tears all come to lies

tell me what you read when you’re sad

jsmith 9/12/2018

 

 

 

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