Thursday, July 26, 2012

A little cat poem today because cats make the world more beautiful...

unless they happen to be horking up a hairball. 
Nobody can be gorgeous all the time.

A little cat poem about a little cat

The cat sleeps in my chair

at the table

I tip the chair slowly

imagining  she will slip gently down

land easily on her feet

and find another spot to lick her paws

and loll and purr and sleep

her claws cling to the wicker seat

with the tenacity of a burdock in a wool sock

fibers of the wicker chair snag and snap

enough for her to lose her grip

the cat stands for a moment


she slinks off

there are more comfortable places to sleep




I sit with my toast and my book


I have left my coffee in the kitchen

30 seconds

or less

to walk to the kitchen and walk


I return

to find

the cat

curled and sleeping

in my chair

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm with Camus on this one: At the very least, He's left the building

I never went to church as a kid.

I sort of wanted to go to church at one point, but being the type of person who chafes and bucks at rules, being the sort of person who gets cranky when told what to do, I got over the desire to pursue a religion pretty quickly.

Not long after I graduated from high school, I ran into an old school friend who was a very pious born again Christian.

She had recently started college at a small Christian school and she glowed with a happiness that was and still is completely foreign to me. Her faith warmed her, it fed her.  

She told me this little story about how good God was to her.

Seems her school was just sqeeking by, there wasn't much money for niceties like food, heat, and toilet paper.

The girls dorm was out of toilet paper, when behold! Somehow, God provided! A case of squeezably soft Charmine appeared, was delivered right to their door.

Wow! Isn't God good?! Exclaimed my beatific friend.

This story seemed somewhat anti-climactic.

I had heard stories of water into wine, bread into fishes, manna from heaven.

Toilet paper just didn't seem to be in the same league. Although really now that I think of it, conjuring toilet paper out of the ether is a significant accomplishment.

Also, I was thinking that while the college girls were squeeling in delight over the God given gift of toilet tissue, the actual real person who bought and delivered the stuff might have felt somewhat ignored and neglected.

Moving on.

I have often wondered what it would be like to be a person of faith
I imagine there would be a wonderful calm, a sense of rightness in the world, things unfolding and happening according to God's plan if you only follow God's will, God's word.

Anything bad that happens is God's will, a test of your faith, and nothing you can't endure.

Anything good that happens is attributed to a loving God bestowing His gifts upon a deserving disciple.

Anything bad that happens to people of another faith or no faith at all, is just desserts, punishment for not believing. 

I have a friend who is a Born Again Christian.

I love my friend's optimism. 

Nothing seems to slow her down, dampen her spirits.

After all, God is on her side.

It's like when you had the best kickball player in the 5th grade on your team, you didn't worry, you knew no matter what, your team was going to walk back in from recess heads held high, victorious.

My friend believes in miracles.

She feels that God answers her prayers daily.

Examples of these daily miracles include:

getting an unexpected check in the mail. What a generous God!

finding a parking place close to the store. You're a rockin' god, God!

Scoring the last bottle of Tide Fresh Scent detergent at the Walmart! Oops, He did it again!

The cantaloupe ripens right in time for Sunday brunch! Woot in the name of the Lord!

She chalks all these coincidences to her unshakable belief in the All Mighty.

I am not mocking her.

Well, I sort of am, but I'm not trying to be mean.

Her life is good, she is happy, she feels connected to a loving God.

For a moment I think, Wow! Maybe there is something to this miracle thing.

But being a skeptic with not one ounce of faith in a traditional God, I can't go there.

I can't believe.

I mean, why would God be involved in these mundane details? Parking places? Soap?

I would think that after a few thousand years of this sort of miracle granting, He would get bored.

I would think God would be busy elsewhere. 

I think of the young woman who narrowly escaped being shot by a crazed gunman in a Toronto mall only to be shot and killed by another crazed gunman in a movie theater in another country a few weeks later.

I think of the woman shot in the throat, lying paralyzed, in a coma, unaware that her 6 year old daughter is dead.

I think of the others who were shot and killed in that movie theater that night.
Popcorn, teargas, gun fire. 

I think of all of the atrocities that occur every moment of every day all over the world.
Someone somewhere is hurting, hungry, frightened
Right now. Right now.

Where are you God?

Are you there, God?

Yeah, I'm gonna say it:

It's Me, Margaret.

Are You wasting Your time bestowing cheap gifts on Your devotees while all around You people suffer?

Many of those suffering love You deeply and pray to You. Why do You ignore their entreaties for food, shelter, relief from pain?
So, hey, God, Big Guy, I have to ask you a personal question.

Are You Omnipotent or impotent? 

Are You the God of the Cosmos or the god of the sandbox. 

You are either all powerful and don't intervene when You are most needed because You do not care or you care but are not all powerful.

God if You can deliver cases of toilet paper and checks and parking places and laundry soap, why can't You stop bad people from killing innocent people?

Why didn't You push that innocent child out of harms way, stop the bullet that killed a young man defending the woman he loved.

Why did You choose not to grant a young woman enough grace to escape with her life a second time?

Why did You even let this deranged monster start shooting?

You could have smote him.

You have a record of doing that smiting thing.

You could have jammed the gun before he had a chance to fire off the first round

You could have intervened and prevented this abomination from being born.

A powerful and loving God would do that.

If there is a God, and I doubt there is, and He is indeed All Mighty but chooses not to intervene on behalf of the innocent, I want no part of him.

If there is a God, and I doubt there is, I think he is a small god, a charlatan, a slight of hand conman,  bestowing cheap gifts in exchange for blind devotion.

In the name of all who suffered and begged for mercy, who crouched in terror in the dark and called out, in the name of those who have prayed to a deaf god, 


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm so nearsighted that when I take off my glasses I can't see anything.
I can't make out the facial features of those around me, can't see pictures on the wall.

The whole world is out of focus and frankly, it I feel adrift and a bit lost. 

I can see my hands if I hold them very close to my face, though.

When my glasses are off, I stare at my hands. It's strangely comforting.

The other evening I had taken off my glasses while sitting at the table talking with my daughter.

My daughter brought this weird hand staring thing to my attention, like a 13 year old daughter would.


thick knuckled
from scrubbing
and sweeping
and lifting
and digging

bathed babies,
wiped bottoms,
wiped noses,
smoothed the damp hair of a fevered son and daughter,

reached down into
dark places
dirty toilets
clogged drains

are scarred
and marked

wedding ring slipped on my finger
when I was a different person
with different hands
holds my left ring finger like a belt cinched too tight.

Clenched to fists,
have pounded tables,
punched at doors,

have held water
have caressed the beloved curve of a beloved face

Fingers outstretched
reach toward
another hand
a small hand
a cool hand
to hold
to twine fingers
for a moment
before pulling away 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I learned a lesson years ago.

It wasn't a good lesson and it hasn't served me well in the long run, but in the short term it was useful and made my life easier.

The lesson, might as well spit it out already, was this:

Do not try very hard.

Eventually people will expect less of you.

You can slide by while exerting minimal effort, you hardly need break a sweat.

If things don't turn out very well you have the convenient excuse, "Well, it wasn't my best effort" or "I wasn't really trying."

Anything less than a perfect result when I was really trying  left me thinking, that's the BEST I can  do?
I imagined others around me were shaking their heads and chuckling in disbelief, Wow, if that's the best she's got, whoa! God help her!

Put on a nice dress, comb my hair, do the make-up and look in the mirror.  That's the BEST I can do? Woof!

Write a story, put my heart and soul into it and wind up with a  piece of drivel? 

Why bother?

If the best I have to offer is substandard, why offer my best?

My 10th best effort is nearly as good as piece of poo as my soul exposing sweat soaked best best effort.

I can easily brush off the criticism with a hearty guffaw and  a breezy little, I know it sucked! I wasn't really trying anyway.

The lesson I learned was, knock yourself around before anyone else has a chance to.

Anyone who wants to hurt you will look at the bruises and realize there's no sport in knocking you around a bit more.

And they'll move on.

The only problem with my little plan is that I haven't gotten anywhere.

I've gotten lazy.

I care too much what other people think.

And that's not good.

I'm paralyzed by mediocrity and terrified of trying to succeed for fear I'll fail.

I'm afraid my best isn't very good. 

So, anyhow.

The Unicycle is in for a bit of a make over.

I'm going to try something new.

I'm going to drop the, Hey, I'm a sucky loser, so nahnahnah, you can't hurt me, facade.

It's only covering a wimpering weeping insecure gal who may or may not have much to offer.

I really don't know.

I don't know what's in there.

Might be better than I imagined.

I won't bother to explore other options.

The other options I'm not going to explore (watch me pretend not to explore them) are the ones that prove that I'm really nothing more than a sucky loser, or that my best effort is crap.

I'm not going to go there.

It's going to take a while to figure it all out.

But I'll give it my best effort.

It'll have to be good enough. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life is sort of a game of solitaire sometimes maybe

I've hit a bit of a dry spot.

I know that if I want to write, I can't just sit around playing solitaire on my Kindle and then lie to myself that I'm not writing because I'm too busy.

I think I'm not writing this week because everything feels too big and scary and I don't want to think about the big and the scary.

I want to put the Queen of Hearts on the King of Clubs and the two of spades on the ace of diamonds and call it a day.

Recently I went into a little book store here in my little town and while looking for a travel guide they didn't have, I found a nice book about writing, The Writer's Idea Book, by Jack Heffron.

He's a good writer.

It's good to read about writing because I can fool myself into thinking I'm working on my writing.

But really I'm lying on my bed with the fan on, casually flipping pages and letting every helpful bit of writerly advice evaporate away as soon as I get to the end of each paragraph.

So tonight I have a few minutes with my thoughts and I'm fighting the urge to pull up a nice mind numbing game of Solitaire.

In an effort to focus on writing, I'm blocking the sounds of my children with headphones and some distracting music. No irony there.

And I've poured myself a glass of wine, a gift from a friend, so it's actually good wine, not like what I buy myself. See me continue to distract myself.

Clever of me.

I have pulled out Mr. Jack Heffron's book in the hopes he'll help me come up with an idea that has nothing to do with the big scary stuff that keeps hounding me.

The prompt that I opened the book to was, "Explain your philosophy of life..." and then he offered a paragraph of very good suggestions for the task, but I'm too antsy to read the rest of the paragraph.

So, here it is, off the cuff.

My philosophy of life.



I'm imagining that I should write the idealized version of my philosophy, not what my philosophy looks like in action.

I could check back with Jack, but I think I'll just wing it.

And so:

1. Just wing it. I believe in just winging it instead of planning too far ahead.
 Life is unpredictable, why waste precious time making plans when you could be playing solitaire.

2. Hug your kids. You may suck as a parent most of the time, but if you hug those dear little weasels, hopefully they will forgive you when they are 40 years old and sitting in their therapists office. You'll likely be dead or senile by then, but hey.

3. Tell the truth.

4. Re-define truth to suit your needs when ever necessary.

5. No, number 4 is a joke.

6. Remember you are not perfect. You're not even close. Strive every day to be as perfectly imperfect as you can be.

7. When you feel sad, listen to music.

8.  Sing to your kids.

9.  Books are good. Surround yourself with books. Also, read them. 

10.  Attempt to forgive assholes.

11. Give yourself credit for at least trying to forgive assholes.

12. Attempt to forgive yourself when you realize you've been an asshole.

13. Try hard not to be an asshole.

14. Admit when you are wrong.

15. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Don't make excuses. 

16. Don't wait for the day to come when you're smarter, prettier, thinner, stronger, happier, to do the things you want to do. That day may or may not come.

Heck, let's just go out on a limb and say, the day won't come.

You're as smart and as thin as you'll ever be. Who cares.

Your smarts and your looks and your size and your emotional state are irrelevant.

Attempt the things you want to do.

Do that now. 

You're adequate.

You'll look back and regret the time wasted.

You'll kick yourself for wasting all that sitting on the couch playing solitaire.