The Great Zoltar

While doing some after-dinner shopping while on vacation a couple of weeks ago, my mom, sister, and I wandered into a new-agey mineral shop. I enjoyed perusing the crystals and geodes, but what ultimately drew my attention was the fortuneteller machine by the door. It was a good one, too – just like Zoltar from Big.

I know that suck things are basically nonsense. A flashy machine with a semi-sinister looking puppet inside isn’t going to be able to tell your fortune. But there was a dollar burning a hole in my wallet. I mean, why not give it a go? It worked for Tom Hanks, right?

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My fortune read (if you can’t read the picture, which you probably can’t):

“Something that has been puzzling you will finally be revealed. A lost object may reappear, or a letter may come from afar. Friends share secrets and your loyalty is rewarded. A Capricorn supervisor is very impressed.”

That night, I was standing on the brink of a big change in my life. I strolled along the pier feeling confident and ready for what the future held. I am going through a major shift now, and… it’s a struggle. I knew it would be, but I’m having a harder time than I anticipated. So, I am keeping this fortune tucked in my wallet. It may be a load of hooey based on random numbers and conjecture, but I still have hope in the future.

To My Younger Self

Here, on Olde Poetry Monday Friday, a poem I wrote in 2012. I don’t remember writing it, but with all the changes going on in my life, I thought it was appropriate.

 

To My Younger Self

To my younger self,
A bit of advice for your future.
When Coach Smith tells you not to try and stop suddenly,
at the end of your section of the relay,
listen to him.
He knows what he’s talking about.
And your knees will never be the same.

Don’t take A.P. Government your senior year.
You aren’t even going to take the A.P. Test
and that ‘B’ is going to ruin your G.P.A.
and while you’re at it, don’t take Calculus freshman year of college.
that ‘B’ is going to ruin your G.P.A.

Practice your violin a little more,
so you don’t get embarrassed when you have to play for a crowd,
and so you don’t have to fake-play your way through concerts.
Actually learn how to play the James Bond theme
instead of moving your bow and hoping you’re in synch with the others.

Say hi to your old Spanish teacher when you walk past him in the hallway.
Even when he isn’t your teacher anymore.
Because when he runs into your class and congratulates you
on the hefty college scholarship you received
you’re going to feel like an asshole for not talking to him for two years.

Don’t steal your government teacher’s prized stress ball during class
and then spend study hall cutting letters out of the newspaper to make ransom notes
and then slide said ransom notes under the door of her office.
…actually, you should still do that.
That was pretty funny.

Remember to tell your grandmother you love her every time you see her.
Remember that no matter what stupid shit your sister does,
she took you to pet cows on your sixteenth birthday.
Remember to always see movies with your parents.
Remember to always thank Alex’s parents for having you over for dinner.
Remember to tell that guy you aren’t interested before he breaks up with his girlfriend for you.
Remember to always laugh at ‘That’s What She Said’ Jokes.

But most of all, past self,
Remember. No regrets.

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.

Just a Moment…

This week, landscapers came to do some yard work at our house. So, being the occasionally nice human being that I am, I figured I would park my car in the street so they could pull into the driveway, which would hopefully make it easier for them to get their work done.

The issue is, I forgot to do this the night before. So when I blearily awoke, around 7:40 AM, I remembered the plan and dragged myself out of bed to go and move my car. It would only take a moment, I thought. So, frizzy-haired, in my PJs, and with my feet shoved in my mom’s too-big clogs, I clambered into my Nissan and maneuvered down the driveway, then pulled into the street…

…only to realize it was also trash day. So the trash and recycling bins were set up on the curb. I would have to park a little further down to give the trash truck room, but that would mean parking adjacent to a neighbor’s car, and thus, making it even more difficult for the truck to get by. Plus, I was dangerously close to my other neighbor’s property line. Since she is a horrid person, I didn’t want to give any reason to set her off.

So, I figured, I’ll just swing around the block and park along the street on the other side of my driveway. Yet again, I thought, it would only take a moment…

… except I saw the familiar brown of a UPS truck lumbering down the street in my rearview as I swung around the corner. I looped the block, then, as I made my way down my street, I saw the UPS truck parked in front of our house. Right where I needed to park. And because one of my neighbors parks his big honkin’ red truck right on the rim of our property, I had to wait in the middle of the road for the UPS truck to move.

And I waited… for five minutes. Which, needless to say, is more than a moment. I would have gotten out and asked him to move outright, but because I looked like a troll, I didn’t feel like making my presence known. Eventually, he moved and went about his business, and I was able to park my car well out of the way of all passing trucks, both mail and trash, and leaving the driveway clear for the landscapers.

The whole process took about seven minutes. Which is hardly just a moment… so maybe, I would be better off expecting the unexpected from now on.

And the best part?

…The landscapers didn’t even park in the driveway.

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.

 

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?

Friendship Road

Once in a while, a missed turn can create a new adventure.

My best friend and I were once driving home from an excursion (probably from our single local book store) and had to take a detour. Afterward, a miscommunication resulted in us missing not only one, but two turns that would keep us on familiar routes.

We had two options from that point; either find a spot to turn around, or keep going. We decided on the latter, and kept riding along until we noticed the street sign for Friendship Road.

Naturally, we turned – that was a positive sign if we’d ever seen one, though we remained a bit nervous.

Friendship Road meanders a bit, in the same vein as most rural Pennsylvania back roads. Quaint homes, long stretches of gold-green grass, patches of cornfield. Picturesque farmland. This summer day was the one and only time I’ve ever been on that road, so maybe it’s changed since then. A few new houses, less countryside. But something about Friendship Road made us feel hopeful that we were on the right path.

It was a new adventure that day, lost on Friendship Road. We kept driving, and rolling along, laughing at each other’s jokes and trusting that we’d make it home in time for dinner, and that we wouldn’t be lost forever in the maze-like system of South-Central Pennsylvania rural roads. Finally, we noticed familiar ground, and the road spat us out on another back road we knew, which allowed us to make it home. We did John Denver proud that day.

We trusted Friendship Road, and it carried us home. Our initial apprehension over a missed turn resulted in an adventure that I will always remember.