Cyclical

Working in retail, you start to notice things about fashion… and the number one thing is that fashion is cyclical. Something deemed “unfashionable” one year can come back into style the next. Like, gel sandals are back in for reasons totally beyond my comprehension.

What’s in right now? From the stock I’ve seen come in, high-waisted jeans. Tie-front tops. Mismatching patterns. Crop tops. Bold colors. Animal print. Tie-dye. Paper bag waists. Ringer tees. Anything deemed “vintage.” Mom jeans. Tapered jeans.

Customers often complain to me because we stopped carrying a specific style of jean some years ago, but now, it’s coming back into fashion. Because it’s still available online, people buy them that way, but if they don’t fit, they bring them back to the store. Due to returns, I have enough pairs of them to create an entire fixture, yet we technically don’t carry them in store.

The biggest one I have noticed is the brand Champion, which primarily sells athletic apparel. The place I work has sold Champion for longer than I’ve worked there. Personally, I’ve always viewed it as a solid brand. Not as flashy as Nike, not as prestigious as Under Armour. The older generation would often stray toward it because of the cinch-bottom pants, lower cost, and reliability. The younger generation would turn their nose up at it because it was “uncool.” I buy their workout shirts because they fit nice.

Now, watching folks trickling in over the past few weeks for back to school shopping, I’ve seen more teenage boys try on and buy Champion apparel than ever before. I can’t get rid of the billions of Nike graphic tees that have been sent, but I can’t keep Champion on the shelves. And what they can’t find in the store, they find and buy online. It’s remarkable to me, how quickly the brand went from “lame” to the hottest brand in the eyes of teens and trend setters. I’ve even seen celebrities wearing Champion hoodies!

It’s wild to me, how quickly things change, and opinion shifts. Brands fall out of favor while others surge in popularity. Makes me want to stick to plain tee shirts and jeans – can’t go wrong that way.

And even if your clothes aren’t “fashionable” any more, but you don’t want to part with them… just hang on for a couple of years, and the cycle may swing back around.

Skim

When people judge me for my taste in clothes, I can brush it off. When I am judged for my weeaboo past, I don’t let it bug me. When I am judged for my choices in film, books, or television, I ignore it. But finally, I have been judged for something that really got under my skin.

I have been…. milk shamed.
You see, when I was a kid, I genuinely believed there was only one kind of milk. I thought milk was just milk – I didn’t understand why it tasted differently whenever I went to my best friend’s house. I thought the milk at her house tasted like it should have been served as dessert. I only later realized that it was because they drank whole milk, and the whole wide world of milk was brought to my attention. Now, we even have milk that doesn’t come from a cow at all!
But I grew up on skim milk. Drank it with every dinner, in my cereal, with cookies, and sometimes just a cup by itself as a refreshment. It is only recently that I became aware that skim milk is held in poor regard by many, and the negative reactions to it surprise me – especially because I genuinely enjoy skim milk, and still drink it, even now, when I am able to make my own dairy choices.

I’m so used to skim milk that I never felt like it was out of the ordinary. But while chatting with some coworkers last week, I mentioned that my milk of choice was skim, and my words were met with outrage and incredulity. Apparently, to some folks, skim milk is the equivalent of some sort of vile scum. I was ruthlessly attacked for drinking such “swill.” But I love it! My bones are fine, I’m not calcium deficient. To me, whole milk tastes far too rich for every day consumption – but I won’t ever milk shame someone over it, if that’s their milk of choice.

Skim milk is milk too, my friends. I will drink whatever milk I want, and should be able to do so in peace. As should everyone.

This Child

So, I know I do this a lot, but I just stumbled upon an old poetry assignment from high school… based upon the first Walt Whitman poem I ever read. I thought it was lost, but it was on an old flash-drive I recently dug up. Considering the huge effect that Walt Whitman’s poems have had on me since then, it feels like a gift to have rediscovered it.

My classmates and I were told to write our own poems based on Walt Whitman’s poem, “There was a child went forth everyday,” but to shape it around our own lives, and it had to end with Whitman’s own words, which I will italicize. I was 15/16 when I wrote it… might take a crack and writing a new one sometime, to reflect new experiences.

For Olde Poetry Monday, enjoy!

This Child

Doctors and white walls were a part of this child,
Needles in arms and IV’s in foreheads,
A bit of blood turned into life-saving power,
For one tiny, incubated figure,
Too frail to even utter a cry,
And as the years went on, the scar grew smaller,
Serving only to gently remind
Of painful days and cold linoleum.

Summerville was a part of this child,
The town where the sun never died,
Shoes weren’t needed, and southern drawls summoned,
From across the street,
This child’s head was filled,
With impossible dreams of otters,
And pretending that the backyard was some far-off land,
Though the boat she made out of cardboard
Never floated anywhere,
She was happy.

Books and rain-streaked windows were a part of this child,
This child, who sat in her closet for hours,
Wishing that she could find Narnia.
She thought that simply howling at the moon would make her a wolf,
And even though it was only a game,
She really thought was the World’s Greatest Pokemon Trainer.
And that she and her blonde-haired best friend,
Really could fly when they sat on the swingset,
And flung their shoes out over the mulch to see whose went the furthest.

Soccer fields were a part of this child,
A checkered ball hammered into the left corner,
And cleats smudged by mud and dew-kissed grass,
The freedom to run from white line to white line,
Avoiding elbows and knees, ignoring harsh words,
Enduring practice in sweltering heat,
Striving to become worthy of that pale green jersey,
And the number ‘3,’ emblazoned in white,
In the end, the cleats proved too big.
And she traded the jersey in for a pen and paper.

Terrified screams were a part of this child,
Being chased by the Licorice at Hershey Park,
Pursuing a hug that she did not want to relinquish,
To some creep in red and white, with a never-fading smile.
But screams turned into peals of laughter,
During remembered hours of hide-and-seek,
Out on the lake, fishing with Dad in the grey of the morning,
Setting the bass free that was meant to be breakfast.
And at sleepovers, when staying up until 11:00 was an incredible feat,
And we waited for the first girl to fall victim to sleep,
So her face could be decorated,
With the vibrant colors of a marker box.

Awkward silences were a part of this child,
A struggle to fit in, once moving vans carried a cherished friend away,
And the halls grew longer, the crowds heavier,
But friends were made at last, and kept,
The ‘See you soon’s’ written in the yearbooks became sincere,
And the taunts became distant echoes,
No longer heard in her ears.
Instead, laughter rang out in summer nights,
As fireworks crackled in the driveway,
Car rides down Friendship Avenue became adventures,
And text messages almost always exceeded 160 words.

Accidents were a part of this child,
Taking a horseshoe to the head,
Running headlong into a telephone pole,
That day, the race wasn’t much,
The competition poor,
But she ran her hardest, regardless of a sure-thing,
The steps were miscalculated,
But the baton left her palm,
Her feet left the red rubber,
The race won, but something else lost,
The only standing ovation she ever received,
Rang in her ears, even in the Emergency Room.

Boston was a part of this child,
Golden ducks at Boston Commons,
And free chocolate bars from the cute guy at Starbucks,
A house shared between 12 teens and 3 adults,
Attempting to share 3 bathrooms.
Something was found on the grey-paved streets,
Floating on the cold, salty Atlantic,
And in the embers of a towering campfire,
Perhaps it wasn’t what she intended to find there,
But it was real,
And those sharing the memories may be scattered,
But she can look at a simple cone of ice cream,
And remember,
That seven day journey to understanding.

Comic books were a part of this child,
All of her dreams packed into one word balloon,
Accentuated with sound effects in all the right places,
Inspired by vigilantes and men in masks.
Microsoft Word files exceeding 540 pages,
And a burning desire to see her name in print.
Will drive this child to pursue a new life,
If only this child can stave off procrastination,
To reach her distant dreams.

These became a part of that child who went forth every day,
And who now goes,
And will always go forth every day.

Boop

Like all dignified cat owners, I love to give my cat, Reese, little ‘boops.’ Boops on the nose, boops on the head, etc. However, much like me, Reese also spurns the majority of affectionate gestures, so she typically acts incredibly affronted when I do this to her, and then ignores me for hours afterward.

Here is a pic of the demon, for reference. My adorable, antisocial tortoise-shell kitty. She’s about twelve now – but she’ll always be a “kitten” to me. She does love the occasional cuddle, but only on her terms.

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Recently, Reese has taken to laying behind the living room couch, which is a decent sized strip of carpet that leaves plenty of room for her to loll around, and she can see when people come and go from the house through the stair banister.

Recently, I came home from an outing – I believe from my viewing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – and Reese was waiting patiently behind the couch. She stuck her head through the bars of the banister and meowed eagerly at me, likely upset that I’d left her so long without food, not at the simple joy of seeing me return from being gone somewhere.

On a whim, I stuck my face toward her. Normally, she shies away from such gestures, but she tentatively stuck her head further toward me… and she booped my nose with her nose. Her little pink, velvet nose booped mine, like a tiny kiss.

I was stunned. She’s never done anything of the sort before, and she immediately scooted away from me afterward, so I almost didn’t believe it had happened. I filled her bowl with food, and she chowed down, the moment forgotten. But my heart was warmed… and even if it never happens again, I will always remember that boop. I will treasure it.

It truly is the little things, isn’t it?

Duality

There is a butterfly bush in my backyard. It’s not uncommon to spot little winged friends taking a sip of nectar, or catching a break from the hot sun.

The other day, I was looking out the window and spotted two butterflies in the air by the butterfly bush. Both were of decent size, but one had buttery yellow wings, and the other had velvet black. I watched as the two seemed to spar in the air with one another – or maybe it was some type of mating dance, I don’t know – over and over.

It was a bizarre, beautiful dance. They proceeded to flit all around the yard, clashing against one another – light and dark in symbiotic union, until they disappeared from my sight.

Their aerial dance got got me thinking about duality. Light and darkness. Happiness and sorrow. Hatred and love. And how, so often, one does not exist without the other – or we do not realize how vital one is until the other creeps in upon us. Can we ever appreciate our happiness if there was never any sadness in our lives? Can we ever bask in the light without first moving out of darkness?

However, on the other end, we can combat sadness by remembering the happy times that preceded it, and darkness can be less frightening when we know that light is out there. We can battle hatred with love when we know the highs and lows of both. Duality is not fearing one side and embracing the other. It is seeing, and appreciating, and enduring, and being able to accept whatever side we must face, and come out stronger on the other side.

Fly

Another addition for Olde Poetry Monday, this one circa 2009. Please enjoy.

 

I don’t get why people tell me, “never change.”

If I stayed the same, my biggest dream
would still be to sprout wings and fly away.

It’s cute when you’re five,
but I don’t think they have a major for that in college.

Experience is the heart of change,
and change is the center of growth.
So why do people remain locked up in their homes,
afraid to see what else is out there,
and see who they could become,
if they spread their wings?

I don’t get why people say, “you’ve changed,”
like they’re disgusted by it.
I find out all too often,
that those very people,
appalled by the thought of change,
are the ones who close their eyes,
cross their arms,
and never see beyond the ends of their noses.

Just because I changed,
does not mean I will forget.
Sometimes, I look up at the sky,
reach one hand toward it,
and remember exactly how it was,
when my biggest dream was to fly.

 

 

Fling the Shoe

The mind of a child is an incredible thing.

When we were very young, my childhood best friend and I invented a game. We would swing on her swing set, go as high as we could, and fling our shoes off of our feet and send them flying across the yard, and see who could send theirs the farthest. We called this game, “Fling the Shoe.” Not the most creative name in the world, but it got the point across.

It’s such a simple thing, but it held a lot of meaning for us. We would muster all our strength and release the shoes at the peak of the swing, aiming for the brink of the neighbor’s yard. It all came down to the timing – if you waited too long, you’d accidentally send it flying straight up, or do it too soon and you wouldn’t get the proper angle. There was a certain art to it, and we could play for ages trying to achieve the perfect technique. I don’t know who won more often, but I don’t think we really cared who actually flung their shoe the furthest. We just had so much fun doing it.

We spent countless sunny afternoons playing this game, and lamenting bad weather because it meant we couldn’t. In the summer, her backyard was full of our laughter, and the air was full of sneakers. Every time I see a swing set I think of those days and how much fun we had together. We weren’t glued to the television (at least, not all the time) or engrossed with computers – which there is too much of these days, even though I am pro-technology. All we had were our imaginations, our creativity, and the simple bliss of childhood friendship.

“Fling the Shoe” was such a simple thing, but it’s a dear memory. Because it meant so much more than that, and still does.

 

Remember This

When I was in my 11th grade AP U.S. History class, my teacher told us there was one date we needed to remember. May 17th, 1954 – Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. The landmark decision that declared racially segregated schools as unconstitutional, and sparked several crucial events in the civil rights movement. It’s also an event that has become prevalent again, considering the volatile state of our country.

Over the course of the school year, he reiterated this date – and we would often have to repeat it back to him, to ensure sure we knew it verbatim. There were other dates that he impressed the importance of upon us, but that one was the big one.

In fact, one time, he was speaking to one of our principals while three of us were sitting in his room studying during a free period, and he merely turned to us, got our attention and pointed at us, like a maestro giving a cue.

One of us instantly said, “May 17th, 1954 – Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas.”

Not to be outdone, I said, “June 6th, 1944. The Normandy landings, otherwise known as D-Day.”

And the last of us said, “September 17th, 1787 – the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Our teacher then looked at our startled principal and gave her a look, as if to say, “See? What did I tell you?” He had us trained, and trained well. When that date showed up not once, but twice on the AP U.S. History exam that year, I gleefully answered those questions with confidence.

And I haven’t forgotten it, all these years later. I didn’t quite realize the gravity of that date, and that landmark decision, back when I learned it – even though he so adamantly told us to remember it. It was some distant thing that happened ages ago. It was little more than history. Since then, I have come to understand the importance. When it comes up in movies, I can better place the context. When I read it in books, I gain a better understanding. When I see what happens in the world to this day, and the injustice that people face, that date blares in my mind like a siren.

So I consider it a blessing that I listened when my teacher said, “remember this,” because now that I am older – and maybe, just maybe, a bit wiser than a 16 year old girl from rural PA – I am able to better grasp the relevance of May 17th, 1954. I have forgotten tons and tons of things I learned in both high school and in college – it’s all too easy for tidbits of info to slip between the cracks of memory.

But that date is one thing I will not forget.

Acceptance

A new entry for Old Poetry Friday, brought to you by Angsty Allie from 10th grade! No idea why I wrote this or if it was for an assignment or whatever, but enjoy!

 

“I don’t think that way…
You MUST be wrong.”
Must I?
I don’t know for sure.
But neither do you.
Stop acting like you do.
You don’t.

“I was wrong…
BUT still…I’m kinda right.”
Please.
Admit it.
It’s a dark, lonely world
for a closed mind.
Convinced they’ve figured it out.
And they’re the one who’s always right.
But fail to see how wrong they are.
How will you handle
being so alone?

“I’M going to do this…!”
“That’s awesome! I’m going to…”
“Yeah, well I’M gonna…!”
Is it a competition?
No.
If it is, you’re the only player.
The winner, like you always want.
But there can only be one winner.
Do you want to be that alone?
“I’m AMAZING…”
“I’m GREAT…”
“I’m AWESOME…”
I know.
“I’m AMAZING…”
“I’m GREAT…”
“I’m AWESOME…”
I still know.

“Jealous?” No.
“Ignorant?” Sometimes.
“Pitiable?” Never.

Don’t you dare  pity me
Because you think you’re superior
I don’t need pity from anyone
Not even you.
Feel free to assume
what my emotions are.
I doubt you’ll ever get it right.
Speculation from you
will always be just that.
Guesswork.
You’ll never ask.
So you’ll never know the answer.

Just shut up.
I don’t care about how much you ‘ROCK.’
I heard it the first seventy five million times you told me.
Enough is enough.
Because if you’re seeking validation from me,
Don’t.
Look in a mirror.
Accept that.

“You don’t look AT ALL like your sister.”
What’s with the disgusted face?
Is that some kind of indirect insult?
We’re different.
But it’s not skin-deep.
I guess you’ll never get to know the depth
of how wrong you are
since your waters are too shallow
for me to stand.

“I KNOW why you don’t want to have kids;
you don’t want them to wind up looking like you.”
No, actually.
You don’t know.
But good guess.
You were close.

“You can’t see it.”
“You’re just BLIND.”
Really? Am I?
Again, I don’t know.
I might never know.
But I would never call you that.
You’re not blind.
We just see different things.
But you can’t see that.

You tread the thin line
between certainty and thought.
Get on the better side.
Before your side gets the better of you.

I’m okay with that.
I’m a blind, ugly girl who doesn’t want to hear
your brilliant, numerous accomplishments.
Who would rather be herself than some carbon copy,
of another.
Okay.
Because I can look in a mirror right now
and see a face that isn’t mine.
Because I can already see the person,
reflected in the glass
who I hope I will become.
Do you disagree?
Too bad.
I’m willing to change.
I already am.
Can you?