Nightly laundry

Sometimes I wonder if all I’m doing is collecting guests for my funeral. Which sounds macabre but if I don’t expect to see a return on my life’s work in terms of money, fame, or power, what is the alternative? I really do actively try to help people better their lives. I imagine all the people I’ve kept close over the years and I think about the times where my happiness has come second to theirs and I think, ‘if I died tomorrow, would they show up?’

I’m not a martyr. I just think back to the friends and ex boyfriends and family whose happiness I helped guide. My ex boyfriend for example will lead a tremendously happier life because of all the things he learned from me and through me. He learned a lot about himself and his values and his goals in life. He came out of it a better person and so did I. There are a lot of times I think to myself, ‘I’d be at theirs’.

There’s a song by WHY? that has a line that when I first heard it a few years ago, shook me. “Yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere”. Recently at an orientation for work, we watched a TEDtalk about the impact your actions can have on other people. It was really inspirational but it emphasized the value of expressing your gratitude when someone has helped you change for the better in some way. It could be any minute action, it could even be inaction. What rings true each time is the ripples it affected on a person’s lifetime.

My brother’s dad died when I was a teenager. I remember being so sad for my brother because my mom was in jail and his dad died young. He lost both parents that day and I still wonder how much happier he might be if he didn’t know that kind of loss.

But the thing I remember most about the funeral was how many people showed up to mourn him. The church wasn’t small and there were hundreds of people there. They stood in rows against the walls, people crowded in from outside. There were countless stories about his life and the impact his actions had on the world around him and I can’t help but think about all the people at his funeral. I don’t know if this makes me a narcissist or selfish but it’s not like I’m going out of my way to accumulate guests. I really do just want to help people at the end of the day. I’m not seeking recognition beyond knowing that because I tried everything I could, someone out there is going to find their own happiness too. But also sometimes, it’s nice to know if what I’m doing has any real value at all for anyone but myself. This isn’t about self doubt because I know that what I do does help people. I guess it’s just a passing thought as I do laundry on a Sunday night.



They say hearts grow fonder with distance

I know mine would not change

Tomorrow as it feels today

It would not grow stronger or deeper

It is already stretched too full

And when you’re gone,

It simply goes to sleep and wakes again with your touch

The feeling of your skin

Your sweet smile

I know no other hands than your fingers in my mind

I see no other eyes than yours in mine

I am stronger with each parting

Missing is weak

In comparison to this feeling now

Missing is not real

Because I keep you so close

RIP little kitty

I’m sitting next to her

She died beneath the Buddha

The sound of chimes and bells

Singing in the wind

I can’t smell her yet

But the flies won’t leave her alone

My poor little one

I knew her time was soon

I bought her a bed

They mailed it today

A little too late

7/31 9pm, the red moon and the man I met at mom’s

You think you see kinship in my eyes

You do not recognize me

You think you see your struggles mirrored in me

You do not see me

You think I am the solution to your pain

A shared existence

Someone who understands

Experiences that are similar to your own

But I see anger

I see rage

I see sadness and the pitfalls of lashing out

I see arrogance and pride

I do not see the softness of myself

The compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness

I see competition and pity

I see conflict

I do not embrace your worries

I see your performance

Even authentic intimacy escapes you

You wonder why you are lonely

Why you are angry and sad

And misunderstood

I see it all

You could hold a mirror to my youth

And see yourself

You may be older

But I am wiser and stronger

And self aware

Where you see similarities, I see immaturity

One day, we may stand side by side

For today, we are miles apart

Keep working

You see, I do not need to get to know you

I’ve been looking at your face my entire life

My morals have ruined me

I’ve gotten it into my head lately that I want to write children’s stories. Not typical children’s stories but ones like The Giving Tree and Stone Soup. Stories that I’ve remembered from childhood, almost clear as the day I read them. I couldn’t tell you what they said verbatim, but I can see their pictures and words in my head if I try to recall them. I think that says a lot.

Image result for goodnight moon

I made a series of books recently that dealt with my mom and her recent return home. It’s been weird. Lots of swirling emotions going on. I still don’t have a clear thing to write about it yet BUT I do have a semi funny anecdote about the ways in which my mother manipulated me into being a horribly moral person. I say that with a smile. I love that I’m this way but it also plays into my paranoia and anxiety about getting into trouble (incarcerated parent issues) so that sort of compounds itself in unpleasant ways at times.

As I’m doing my research into “stories that teach children moral lessons”, I’ve stumbled upon something quite interesting. Several websites will direct you to moralistic reading lists for children. Except there’s one clear similarity in my mind amongst every list I’ve perused tonight: I’ve read all of them.

Image result for no good horrible very bad day

At first, the lists included a few familiar tales and then I kept searching. What I’ve found is a website that lists almost identically, the stories and books I read as a child. Even really obscure ones. Knowing my mother, she did this either completely intentionally or entirely on accident. I’m going to ask her tomorrow at lunch. I think she did it on purpose, but there’s some part of me that wonders too. Sometimes, there’s books that we just all want kids to read like Dr. Seuss or The Giving Tree because the stories are so sweet and innately good. They’re simple and the images aren’t too complicated. But I also wonder if that’s because we loved them and they shaped us growing up but we aren’t aware of it, or if we look back and know that we’re intentionally shaping these children and their values/morals by giving them these treasured classics? I know that in a school setting, teachers are probably doing it intentionally. At home though, are our parents?

I’m going to the library soon. I know that 9/10 of these books will be there and I don’t need to buy my research on children’s books. But jeez louise! I’d wondered why I was always so honest, brave, unafraid, and accepting. When I was growing up, reading was held in the  highest regard. My mom would sit with us as we watched tv, reading her paperback mystery novels and painting her nails. I can’t remember her sitting in that chair without a book in her hand. When she’d yelled at me or gotten mad at something I’d done, she’d send me to my room and I distinctly remember a few times where I’d purposely place an opened book across my stomach and pretend to have fallen asleep reading it. It was almost like I wanted to shove it in her face that I was a good daughter and she’d been wrong for punishing me. I think I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder, I just forgot how young it started.

Image result for stone soup story

July 4th, Independence Day

This is my last post as a prisoner’s daughter. Sort of.

As I walked back to my dorm, the sounds of fireworks popping off around me, the smell of the sprinklers charging the dirt with water, I realized I would be picking her up in the morning. I drove up to Fresno for this summer arts program and it was the first time I’d been on the drive in two years almost. I told her I didn’t want to visit her anymore in the institution because she would be out so soon and other family was going, but mostly because it’s the most emotionally painful thing I’ve ever really done. It literally feels like a hot iron has been glued to your heart and as it’s pulled away, pieces of yourself get ripped back with it.

So I drove to Fresno for this arts program and cried the whole way.

Tomorrow morning, less than 10 hours from now, she’ll be free.

Tomorrow morning, less than 10 hours from now, I’ll be free.

I’ve been forced to keep her at a distance, keep my feelings at a distance for so long. Tomorrow, I won’t have to do that anymore.

I have so much more to say and yet, right now, that’s all I keep thinking: how foreign and alien the concept of closeness and vulnerability (with regard to her) is to me.

I can’t wait to wake up.

Charlotte I think I’ve posted this with you in mind before

For the love of a tree,

she went out on a limb.

For the love of the sea,

she rocked the boat.

For the love of the earth,

she dug deeper.

For the love of community,

she mended fences.

For the love of the stars,

she let her light shine.

For the love of spirit,

she nurtured her soul.

For the love of a good time,

she sowed seeds of happiness.

For the love of God,

she drew down the moon.

For the love of nature,

she made compost.

For the love of a good meal,

she gave thanks.

For the love of family,

she reconciled differences.

For the love of creativity,

she entertained new possibilities.

For the love of her enemies,

she suspended judgment.

For the love of herself,

she acknowledged her own worth.

And the world was richer for her.

Charlotte Tall Mountain (July 1, 1941 to May 6, 2006) was an artist and poet of an Iroquois Native American heritage.