The Voices of the South at Suppertime

Drawn out vowels hang heavy
in air already thick with moisture.

Sweet as pie. She don’t have the sense
God gave a June bug! Bless his heart.
Laws, darlin’, use some butter in that cooking!
That dog won’t hunt, except perhaps around the table.
Tuck your shirt in
and button up girl; you ain’t a hussy.

The profligate use of ain’t.
Fixin’s and suppertime instead of appetizers and dinner.
One more cup of sugar in that tea to reach the perfect, syrupy
Sweetness in the glass that accompanies every meal.
‘Mater sandwiches spread with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
Banana puddin’ with no ‘g’ to speak of,
or at least none you can hear.

The voices of the south at suppertime.

The First Day of Kindergarten

My father drove me to the first day of kindergarten in his beaten, brown Toyota. It was the kind of car that looked like paint-eating termites had gone to town on the hood, and I was excited that he let me sit in the front, which wasn’t normally allowed because I was too small.

I was one of those peculiar children who couldn’t wait to start school. The church preschool I had been attending for two years offered a two, three, or four day a week program, and I had begged my mother to let me go more frequently than just twice a week. It hadn’t worked. I was too young to understand how lucky I was to have parents who wanted to spend time with me but, for some reason unknown to my older self, I loved preschool and class and everything that came with it.

I was thrilled to be going to kindergarten at Foster Park Elementary School, which meant I got to go to school Monday through Friday. My dad and I pulled in and, instead of just letting me out under the awning, he pulled into a parking space to walk with me to class. I may have protested; I was a precocious child but, if I did make a fuss, Dad wasn’t deterred. I think secretly I was glad he’d help me find my classroom, and I walked into the school holding his hand.

I may have been only entering kindergarten, but I already knew how to read. I wasn’t quite up to the classics just yet, but I wasn’t stuck in Picture Book Land either. Somehow, I had started reading when I was two years old and, though my vocabulary was still fairly rudimentary, I had a reasonable grasp on the alphabet and monosyllabic words.

As my father and I walked down what seemed to be the longest hallway in the world, I saw a sign on the opposite side of the hall. I tugged on my dad’s hand, pointing. “Daddy,” I said seriously, “Why does that sign say ‘OFF ICE’? Wouldn’t it be easier to say ‘OUT OF ICE’?” My father is a tall, dark man who seems quiet because he’s constantly surrounded by talking women, but on this day he laughed, loudly, and eventually subsided into chuckles as he told me that the sign read ‘OFFICE,’ then explained what that meant to a five year old girl who had little concept of cubicles and desks.

Beating around the Bush (and other silliness)

I don’t understand it. I just don’t. We’ve all been guilty of it one time or another, haven’t we? Not saying what we truly want to say, what we really mean, because beating around the bush is easier…life shouldn’t be life that. Life shouldn’t be a “take the easier path” type of thing. Life should mean taking the road less traveled, the road that’s truer to who you are. That’s always the road less traveled; it must be, because there is no one else quite like you on earth, and if you’re trying to be someone else then their road is already being traveled, or should be at any rate.

Here I am unraveling a Frost poem when what I meant to write had to deal with all the verbal bullshit. Just another indication that I really am a poetry person.

At any rate, I really am tired of the hedged words I find around me lately. Say what you mean! Spit it out! Dear goodness, it isn’t just one person anymore, it’s several, all afflicted with the same sort of cowardice. Why can’t we just say what we mean or, if you’re too afraid, say nothing at all? At least let your actions stand true to your thoughts. And don’t be intentionally difficult! A conversation should not feel like pulling teeth, a conversation should be natural and honest. And, quite frankly, I’m done with any conversations that feel more like the former than the latter.

Be upfront. Be true. Do not make me feel as though I have to coax words out of you; that’s playing and I’m done with the games. I’m too tired and too busy, doing what I have to do and what I want to do, to chase anybody’s words around town.

*I realize that not calling people by name seems to render me hypocritical. My reasoning is that I have already discussed my irritation with the people who have done this recently, and embarrassing them on a public forum seems unfair.

Sometimes,

Aside

Sometimes, I sulk. As if any of this was ever your fault.

I think I’ll go live abroad for a while. Writing and living and the like. Just being somewhere that you haven’t touched.

And I will never, ever go to Kosovo.

Words Worth Repeating: Oscar Wilde

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”

And this is why I love Oscar Wilde. I quite agree with him, actually, which is why this quote makes today’s writing topic as I am once again procrastinating.

I am an incredibly social person about 80% of the time; I love spending time with people, I love talking about things that matter or laughing over silliness, and I love the warmth of good company. But – and apparently I get this from my dad, because he’s the same way – I am also completely content to be by myself. It almost never makes me lonely and, if I’m forced to be around people 24/7, I tend to withdraw into myself and become an un-social person really quickly. On the trip to Ireland, I made it five days before sneaking off to a coffeeshop by myself to sip my cappuccino without the need for conversation.

There are times, though, when I go into shutdown-mode without the trigger of constant socializing. There are times, like today, when I simply want to curl up in a ball and do nothing until I turn grey. I crave very long silence, very long not-thinking. These are the times that worry me, when I get like this. Eventually I snap out of it – I did today, or I wouldn’t be writing.

I had a good reason to shut down this weekend, and I knew it was going to happen but still wasn’t prepared when it hit. He blew me off this week and I knew that’s what it was, but I wanted to hear him say it. I thought that would help…it didn’t. Each time I think that I’m okay, that I can handle it, something happens to show me how very much I can’t.

I understand ‘busy.’ I do, I get it. I am not some crazypsychogirl who irrationally asks for constant attention. I work multiple jobs and go to school full time and oh! did I mention I’m writing my thesis? But, to me, maintaining a friendship involves some effort from both sides and I have tried. I have tried over and over for the past seven months because of one stupidly good day we had over Christmas break, a day I thought might have meant we had a slim shot at being friendly, truly.

I am aware, painfully so, that I am not over a relationship that barely got a chance to start two years ago. I can’t believe it’s been two years. But I can hide it. I can suck it up because it is more important to me to be a part of your life and know that you’re happy. And nothing has hurt near as much as knowing that I no longer merit even a couple hours out of your day. It smarts to know that I am so uninteresting to a person I continue to hold in such high esteem simply for who he is.

I do not mind being alone; it’s different than lonely. Another person, or my feelings for that person, do not define me. But there is a peculiar sort of pang that comes from the knowledge you are expressly not wanted.

Words Worth Repeating: Gaelic Sayings

I’m drinking coffee. It’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I’ve been up since near 9, and I’m drinking coffee.

Why?

Well, it has to do with a particular thesis and a nice check I got for working on it this summer, and a plan to finished within the next year. Except the previous sentence is all the plan I have.

Perhaps I need a diagram. “2 hrs research” penciled into my planner on Thursdays and Fridays just doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. I like this stuff, I do! I love my Redmond O’Hanlon folklore and everything I’ve learned about him and sitting in the musty reading room of the NLI reading a letter printed in 1861. However, my interest in all of this is considerable diminished while on the couch in my house. Why?? It’s as close to my normal work environment as I can get (the chair in my former common room, which is no longer available to me).

But I really want to do anything but write this paper, which I am passionate about – a fact I need to convey articulately, with progress, if I am to ask for more funding – so why the procrastination?

This is why I need my own little library/study. I would be so productive! Or so I like to think.

Words worth repeating today are from an anonymous Gaelic proverb that reads:

“Deep peace of the running waves to you, deep peace of the flowing air to you, deep peace of the quiet earth to you, deep peace of the smiling stars to you.”

It’s not particularly writing-oriented, but it is extremely applicable to this thing we call life. During the time I spent in Ireland, I was struck with the simple joy everyone there radiated. Barhopping in America often feels a sleazy, shady experience; the Irish pubs were downright joyful. There wasn’t anything dirty about being there, drinking with a room full of stranger-friends and listening to music. Even on the busiest night in Tigh Coili’s when the room was packed full of people…somehow it was still peaceful. I was peaceful.

If we all learned to live like this I think the world would have a lot less problems.

I need to learn to live like this.

Words Worth Repeating: Emerson

I need to write regularly. It’s good for me, Tita says it’s the only way to get better, and she’s write. Unfortunately, sometimes my mind goes blank or I get irritable and don’t want to work on old work or new work or basically anything that will eventually serve a purpose. But I still need to be writing.

Enter the quotes.

I’ve been fascinated with words for as long as I can remember. When I was 14, I asked my parents if I could start writing them on my walls and, surprisingly, they said yes. Song lyrics, Bible verses, quotes from authors I like, even the dates it’s snowed in the past years  shine on my walls in silver sharpie. So I figure this is as good a way as any (fairly unproductive) other way to procrastinate: talking about the words of others and why I like them and if, perhaps, they influence me. I kind of have ideas about who I like and want to emulate – Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and J.C. Oates all have their grasps on my affection – but it doesn’t hurt to learn more and read more and be exposed to more people who write beautiful things.

Emerson is credited with writing, “Live in the sunshine. Swim the sea. Drink the wild air.” For some reason this sticks with me in a very physical, I-know-how-to-live-vibrantly kind of way. It also gave me the idea of the Wild Air poem about childhood and fireflies and the transient nature of, well, everything (and when I can convey all of this, particularly that latter bit, without saying it, well perhaps then I’ll be writing something very good).

So here’s to the poets, the writers, the thinkers, and all who inspire us to be true.