Do not feed the birds

As I walked through the city of Chicago on this fine St. Patrick’s day, I stumbled across the following sign:

Once upon a time, there was a cereal named french toast crunch. It resembled tiny slices of bread, much like the image you see above. Those of you who have ever eaten french toast crunch will appreciate the following joke.

“Do not feed the birds… french toast crunch.”

This is what the sign, accurately, should have said.

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No Sympathy for the Rich

My boyfriend, the pharmacist, sometimes works ridiculous hours. They just overhauled their entire computer system which, according to him, has been a complete disaster. As a result, the staff has had to pick up extra shifts. So, tonight I get a message from him that reads: So I might stay till 12:30 tonight and then double back at 7:00 am. 

Sucks, right?

At least, that’s what I thought. I fire back with empathy and compassion wondering how they’re able to work him like that. It’s ridiculous, I think.

Outraged and feeling bad for him, I bring the story to my coworkers. I share with them his poor situation. Expecting a reaction along the lines of “that sucks!” I instead receive the following:

He makes too much money to complain.

I stop to think about that. Here I am, at 7:30 pm, STILL at work after seeing rambunctious teens drain the soul from my very body, talking to their parents about how “they’re great kids, but I’d love to see more effort.” When earlier today I had to explain to a student that, no, the world would NOT be a better place if school let him play video games all day and that YES, I did tell the class that the assignment was due Monday at least a million and one times and that, YES, it’s also posted in three locations in the room and on Classroom, so NO I won’t change the grade. And yet here I am, making pennies to what he brings in.

So, I look at my coworker, and with new eyes, I think, ain’t that the truth. 

Beautiful Mosaic

In the movies, a classic cliché seems to go as follows: He doesn’t look at anyone else the way he looks at you.

Growing up as a young idealist teenager, I dreamt of the day a boy would look at me that way. I’d write in my diary, fantasizing, pleading for him to come around.

But, he didn’t.

I’d jump in and out of relationship after relationship, always wondering if that “look” was real, or something the movies just lied to me about.

But I refused to settle. I’d tell myself, “It isn’t right.” And so, like clockwork, three months would pass, and I’d be on to the next one. It would go on like this each time I met someone new.

But soon, I stopped believing in that movie love I’d grown up dreaming about. It was a lie after all, wasn’t it? I started to think that I didn’t deserve such a look. I wasn’t special enough. I’d wonder what those girls had that I didn’t. I lost hope, and I truly believed I would never find him.

Which is exactly why I think I did.

I remember precisely where I was when he gave me “the look.” It was early in our relationship. We were on the “L” in Chicago. I stood across from him. And, like in the movies, time stopped. No one else existed for me in that moment. It was just he and I. He looked at me, and for the first time, I felt seen.

I think that’s what we all want, to feel seen. That when all of our faults and passions and imperfections and quirks and oddities are completely exposed and vulnerable, that not only does someone see them in you, but that they look at you as if they are seeing the most beautiful mosaic ever crafted.

And so today when he looked at me, he was looking at every misshapen, often broken, rarely polished piece of me, and I was beautiful.

Bullet

Today, as I sat in detention with, ironically, two students I very much enjoy, the question came up:

“Who would you take a bullet for — your dog or your boyfriend?”

I, being the creative thinker that I am, took advantage of how she phrased the question.

“Both, of course.”

“NO! You can only pick one!

“Well, you said who would I take a bullet for? I’d take a bullet for both of them. I answered the question.”

She sighed and gave a humph. “Okay…if you had to choose between taking a bullet for your boyfriend or your dog, who woul…”

“My dog.”

Crap. Did I answer too quickly?

What would I do without you, Mom?

I call up my mom at 9:30 at night. I’m heading into the city on Wednesday and I need her to watch my dog. Of course, she picks up. Mom always picks up. That’s who my mom is. She’s there.

Always.

My mom was there for me when I was only 5 years old and I cried every day during gymnastics because I couldn’t handle the stress. She gave me hugs and wiped my tears, and she reminded me to get back out there and finish practice because that is what strong women do. My mom was there to buy me every color leotard I could possibly wish for, dishing out thousands of dollars funding my sport, only for me to decide that, at age 8, I wanted to quit, and she was there trusting that I was wise beyond my years and knew the right time to walk away.

My mom was there when I was 13 years old and I was afraid to go to school because the previous day I had walked into the cafeteria only to have every single girl get up and walk away from my table. She was there to teach me how to be strong and face my challenges, and she always reminded me that those girls were jealous anyway 🙂

My mom was there when I had my first heartbreak. I cried on her shoulder for hours. She wrapped her loving arms around me, protecting me with her love, filling my heart that had been left empty. She held me until I fell asleep. She gave me strength when I had none.

Oh, and she was there at midnight when I called her in a panic because I realized that I had left all of my softball equipment hanging in the locker room back in Chicago. So, of course, she was there at 6 am the next morning, in Indiana, with enough equipment for me to play with so that my coach wasn’t the wiser.

Mom was there for me when I suffered from the worst anxiety I have ever experienced. When I would walk into her room before work, curled in the fetal position, and she would hold me, just like she did when I was broken and alone, and she’d put me back together.

She was there when I didn’t need her. She was there when I didn’t want her. She was there when I made her cry, and when I told her I didn’t love her. She was there when I threw my temper tantrums and when I only wanted her around so she could buy me things.

She was there when I was an absolute, ungrateful, insensitive bitch.

Because that’s who she is.

She’s there.

Always.

What would I do without you, mom?

 

One New Message

Next to her hand is her phone. She glances at the screen. “No new messages.” In the past it would sit idle, ticking time, keeping record of her loneliness. The silence haunted her. A ghost sat on the other end. When she glanced it’s way it would mock her and remind her that she was all alone. Nothing on the other end could bring her solace. And yet she’d still reach for it hoping there’d be warmth somewhere on the other end. All she ever got was let down.

Tonight, however, it keeps her warm. On the other end is love. It waits patiently and always answers when she needs it. It fills the empitness with whispers of forever. She no longer feels the itch to reach for it to fill a void. Instead, it sits idle simply ticking time. Next to her hand is her phone. She glances at the screen. One new message. “I love you.”

Sleepy Boy

He takes deep breaths in and out, in and out.

It’s 8 am. His mother takes him for their usual walk, but he knows what’s coming. He sees her slip her boots on one at a time. She thinks he finds solice in the bone she leaves him before she slips out of the door with the words, “I’ll be right back!” But he doesn’t. His heart moves slightly faster when she’s away.

He knows she will return. She always does. But the days are so long without her.

Suddenly, he hears the familiar click of the keys. Excitement swells in his chest.

His day runs smoothly with her here. She replaces his worry with comfort and routine.

Now, it’s 10 pm. He takes deep breaths in and out, in and out.

Mommy’s home, so he can rest peacefully.

A Bat in the Cave

She looks around the room, scanning to make sure all eyes are off of her.

It’s been bothering her for three weeks, ever since the weather got dry. It sits in the darkness. Patient, waiting.

She raises her hand slowly, slowly, shifting her eyes quickly, just to be sure.

She reaches for it in one brisk movement. The relief is immediate.

She looks up and sees a pair of eyes quickly shift away from hers.

She goes on with her day, just like the others, never discussing what just happened. Never mentioning it again.

 

 

 

 

Ode to My Best Friend

My best friend wraps her warm love around me

as if a blanket,

shielding me from myself at times.

She opens up my heart like

a stubborn jar of pickles,

pickles which she eats at 2 am for a late night snack.

My best friend, who stands for dignity

and has morals stronger than tungsten.

My best friend leaks passion everywhere she walks

and she injects hope in every vein.

Best friend,

whose clammy hands

grope wildly at mine

in a gesture of love and awkwardness.

To my best friend,

who has filled my heart full of joy

and warmth

and companionship. Who has walked

like a shadow with me in my darkest hours.

Best friend,

I love you.

Happy Birthday.

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Empty

I’m running on empty.

You’ve wrung me out to dry too many times, and now

I’m running on empty.

You’ve exhausted me in mileage, and now

I’m running on empty.

You’ve used up every last excuse, and now

I’m running on empty.

So when you need my help I’m sorry, but

I’m running on empty.

I have no more to give.

Find a way to fill yourself up, because

I’m empty.

I can’t run for you anymore.