NaPoWriMo – Day 5, 6, 7 & 8

Life’s been pretty busy the past few days, but I never forgot about this and as usual when i’m busy, but want to keep writing, I write haiku. After awhile, I start thinking in 5, 7, 5.

Day 5 was been spent in meetings and on the phone. I looked at a couple of prompts, but figured I’d just see if something came out of my head.

This is my haiku
For NaPoWriMo Day Five
Please don’t hate me now.

Day Six I was building raised beds for my garden. (I spent the first half of the day learning how to use a saw, so I could make the beds. They turned out pretty good. Now…the chicken coop.)

Ground above the ground
Hold my herbs, beans and cukes
Fingers still intact!

Day Seven- I shoveled dirt and shit into aforementioned raised beds.

Lowly is feces
Until tomatoes depend
On its lovely stench

Day Eight- I now have chickens, but still no coop. We (my partner and I) both have definite ideas about a coop, shame we don’t share the same ones!

Little chick, chick
Stop pooping in your water
Too early to eat you?

I vow to do better tomorrow!

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NaPoWriMo – Day 4

I have no idea what the prompt was for today. Something about a spaceship maybe? I was in a staff meeting today. A six-hour staff meeting doesn’t lend much to the creative process, so there was no way I could compose something while staying engaged in the conversation. We met in a place called the Treehouse Cafe in Hazard, Kentucky. In it’s former life, I have no idea what it was, but I could see it being a Wild West saloon complete with bawdy tavern wenches. Today, it’s a quirky little cafe that caters to the wonderfully diverse population in this Appalachian community. (Ironically, or maybe not…) They host poetry readings there. I’ve been meaning to go for months, but haven’t. Maybe after today, I’ll get off my ass and go.

I decided to do another version of “found poetry”. The employees (when the place wasn’t full) had a radio or maybe an internet station downstairs. Words and phrases from the music would drift upstairs to the loft on occasion. They floated in my head and found their way into my notebook. Here’s what I found today:

Speaking words
Why don’t we go
Way up there and
Say “Good Morning”

The way I am is
Hallelujah
Down in the valley
Talk a walk to
Make it through the night

All of this
Dah-da-da-dah
Can not see it
We close our eyes
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I have skin
In the same way
A hollow log
Is my home

Buried in the yard
My brokenness
Can be a thief
(whistle a tune)

You never go there
Childhood days
Fare thee well
Slowly as you walk
Into her arms
Find a home

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NaPoWriMo – Day 3

As has been my habit for the past 2 whole days, I boogied on over to napowrimo.net to get the prompt for Day 3. I usually let it sink in throughout the day while I work and write something in the evening. Today’s prompt was to write a sea shanty. Yeah, I had to look it up too, so go ahead, check out the wikipedia link there, I’ll wait.

Exactly my thoughts, “WTF?” After I griped about it for the rest of the day, I decided to find another prompt and I did here. Thanks Christopher J. Jarmick for giving me an alternative to the shanty. Looking out my window on the Appalachian Mountains does not inspire me to write a rollicking ditty about the sea.

My problem came that I was to do a “found poem” from a magazine or newspaper article. I don’t subscribe to any, so I just don’t have those around. What I did have was an issue of “Balancing the Scales”, a monthly-ish newsletter published by the organization I work for: Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. It’s put together by a fantastic guy named Tim who does great work both for KFTC and in his community. The issue I’m using is from last year and really highlights our voter empowerment work last Fall. The article is “Local organizing used to advance larger voting rights campaign”. Here’s what I have…

Local advance – Larger rights

Kentucky move!
Set an example
Mobilize your community

Human Rights
Civil Rights
Voting Rights

Raise awareness
Educate the faith
Restore the felon

Diligent and hard-working
Forsaken people
Good people
We give Kentucky a chance
The house cannot stand
Against the Lawless

Take up this cause
Stand against infringement
Society is paid
Felons deserve rights

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This article is largely referencing KFTC’s campaign to Restore Voting Rights. Here’s a few quick stats for you about that:

  • 243,842 Kentuckians don’t have the right to vote because of our current laws
  • 1 in 5 (yes, 1 in 5) African-Americans in Kentucky of voting age are disenfranchised (a higher percentage than any other state
  • Kentucky is one of the four most difficult of all 50 states for a former felon to get their voting rights back.
  • Kentucky has no kind of automatic restoration- not after a certain period of time, not after your sentence is done, nada. A felon must apply for a partial pardon from the Governor.

If you’d like more info about the campaign, you can check out our work on all that here. Before joining the staff I was a member that spoke out on this issue. You can read that story here.

See y’all tomorrow.

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NaPoWriMo- Day 2

Lies and the lying liars who tell them. Today the prompt is a poem that lies. Either a poem with sort of hyperbolic kind of lies or that builds to one giant lie. Something like that I think anyway. I skimmed today’s post between emails about meetings and phone calls.

No whites, halfsies
Omissions
Or bald-faced
Falsehoods here
You can trust me

These words are gospel
Guaranteed by Ft. Knox
And Jesus
Platinum participles dangling
From diamond keychains
You can believe it.

These words are best-sellers
Millions have paid to read
And borrow
Verbs punctuated by sticks
Of dynamite
You can depend on it.

These words are priceless
Take them to the bank
She’ll cash them
No ID required folks
I’ll put it in writing.

I promise
I pinky swear
I told you everything
I don’t lie.

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Feel free to lie and tell me how awesome I am in the comments.

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NaPoWriMo- Day 1

It’s that time of year again folks where I attempt to write 30 poems in 30 days- National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo. I had amazing intentions and a good start last year, but didn’t quite finish. I’m working on finishing things I start and making significant changes, so let’s see if I can finish this! This year the first prompt is to take the first line from a poem and create your own around it. I’ve chosen Ballad by Sonia Sanchez.

forgive me if i laugh
when you cry over
skinned knees and elbows

i punctured a lung
a decade ago
haven’t breathed since
she left
that hole in my heart
too

changing bandages
takes me away for days
casting crooked, rue smiles
to others following the beat
lost somewhere between
the macarena and
rrrrriiiiiiiiiiipppppppp

understanding doesn’t come
for wounds open too long
Still? Yet?
bony fingers prodding the tender flesh
Yes still! Yes yet!

last strip of tape
smoothed down
across ribs that didn’t come from Adam
lifting sun-starved eyes
after two weeks

forgive me if i laugh
(like rusty nails in a coffee can)
at myself
i forgot
last week that other
people kept on smiling

**********

Welp, that’s my first attempt this year. Here’s to a month of getting back to writing.

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Why My Dog Doesn’t Fall Off My Lap Anymore

Life certainly has its ups and downs doesn’t it? Get a great job. Go through a breakup. Get sick. Get back together. Awesome vacation. Terrible car wreck. Depressed. Gain lots of weight. Happy visit with estranged family. Losing weight and working out. Now that we’re caught up, let’s see where we are now?

As I mentioned losing weight and working out… Several years ago I made a (ahem) resolution to lose weight, work out and do lots of neat stuff. As with all (ok, most) resolutions, it lasted about as long as the New Year’s decorations. This year I said I wasn’t making resolutions- that I was setting “goals”. My goal was to get healthy. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and lots of other scary diseases run rampant through my butter-loving, gravy-smothering, bacon-worshipping southern family. Sadly, I’m the only one left that’s not a diabetic. I want to keep it that way.

I started on January 2nd. Yes, the 2nd. I was determined, but not stupid. I wanted black-eyed peas, cornbread and ham on New Year’s and figured other people were starting their resolutions on the 1st, so I’d start my “goals” on the 2nd. That and I really just wanted to eat black-eyed peas, cornbread and ham without the guilt, but with all the fat.

It’s been roughly 75 days at this point and I’ve heard that if you make it past January, you’ve already beaten the odds. I’ve cheated only rarely and have worked out at least 3-4 times a week since I started. I actually started P90X four weeks ago and I can already tell a difference. I weigh myself every week and sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s kinda great. For folks who like the numbers, I’ve lost 45 pounds and 10 inches from my waist. The best moments are  the ones that don’t come on a scale though. If you’ve ever been up and down with your weight you know what I’m talking about. Some people call them “non-scale victories” or NSV’s.

Here’s a few of my NSV’s from the past 75 days:

  • The moment when a normal sized towel will once again wrap all the way around.
  • When your “fat jeans” become too big to wear anymore.
  • When your jeans you couldn’t fit into a month ago are now too big too.
  • When you can touch your toes again.
  • When an old lady says “Looks like a family of opossum moved outta the back of your pants girl!”
  • When your skinny jeans become your new fat jeans with a tapered ankle.
  • That dress you bought 3 years and 30 pounds ago with the intention of losing 10 pounds to wear now fits.
  • When your shoes become too loose.
  • When you can jog up stairs and not become winded.
  • When you notice how far away the steering wheel seems and you haven’t moved your seat.
  • When you displace less water in the bathtub.
  • When your dog doesn’t have to compete with your belly for lap room.
  • When you get the old up-and-down look from a guy at a gas station.
  • When you realize you just did 50 jumping jacks without having a heart attack.
  • Repeat above with 30 pushups. (Not sissy pushups either mind you…)
  • You no longer wake up with aches and pains.
  • You no longer go to bed with aches and pains.
  • Normal activities are no longer exhausting.
  • You can play with small children and dogs without gasping for air.
  • When you realize how much easier it is to shave a muscle-y leg than a fat leg.
  • When revealing my weight no longer requires me to say “two-hundred and…”

This is just a few of mine. These little moments keep me going between the victories that have a number. I’m doing this y’all. I’m kicking ass and I’m not stopping. I’m going to finish P90X and I’m going to run damnit. Then, I’m gonna run some more. Oh I’ve got goals people, more than just to be healthy with all this. Shit, I’m as vain as the next person. I want to look good too.

  • Run a 5K
  • Run a 10K
  • Run a…ok, let’s not get crazy here.
  • Wear a swimsuit comfortably for the 1st time in my life.
  • Be happy with the person looking back in the mirror.
  • Wave good-bye to someone using only my hand and not my upper arm.
  • Along the same lines…wear a tank top/sleeveless dress and not feel like Jabba the Hut
  • Not hear the sound of my thighs “apologizing” to each other with every step.
  • Not to be listed as “obese” in my damn medical records
  • Not to shop in the Plus sections anymore.
  • To know, for once in my life, what it feels like to be thin.

Alright, I gotta get going. There’s a bottle of water, a bowl of soup and some crunches waiting for me. I’ll be around and if you’re here you probably know me, so if you see me with a doughnut, knock that shit outta my hand and tell me to get back on the treadmill. I will probably thank you when I’m done crying you heartless bastard it was only a glazed one!

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Day With Daddy

Daddy and I shopped. We piddled and looked and rode around for hours. I had lunch with my Daddy, just he and I, eating alone for the first time in our lives. My sister, my stepmom, my brother, they were always there. I’ve never had alone time with my Daddy, not that I can remember, in my entire life.

We reached for the same things at the same time. We talked about gadgets. We found things in common. We chuckled over shared idiosyncrasies. He laughed at my love of cowboy boots, Ray-Bans, and pearl snap shirts. He says I definitely got that from him. I didn’t disagree. How could I? I suddenly remembered those three things were the staple of my Daddy’s wardrobe for most of my life. “You come by it honestly”, he said.

I have people I’ve considered family for many years, people that consider me family too, but this is different somehow. To look at another person and know you share this unbreakable biological link with them is an entirely different feeling. To be with another person who shares my DNA, who sees themselves in me, is almost a new feeling for me. It’s something I’ve not had for almost 12 years.

The family I’ve had for the past decade have loved me like I was theirs. From the women I’ve met in prison who adopted me as a sister, aunty, mother, to the family I lost recently, there are moments when you are sitting together and they start to talk about who they look like, what mannerisms or personality quirks they get from whom and the moment you were so happy to be a part of has suddenly made you feel like the interloper. I don’t look like these people. I don’t share all these memories. I’m not bound by anything other than love and no, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a beautiful thing, but those moments when I would realize that I wasn’t family in the biological sense left me feeling hollow and left out. Something was missing from my life. My father with his deep, sarcastic chuckle. My step-mom with her twinkling, kind eyes. The connection I had with people who watched me grow. Being able to look at another human being and know they are the reason you have wild, unruly eyebrows, a love of tinkering with electronics, and a passion for finding a bargain is an irreplaceable feeling.

My Daddy’s traded in his boots for slippers, his Ray-Bans for a prescription pair, and his Western shirts for Hawaiian, but every time I slip on a pair of boots, adjust my sunglasses, or snap a pearl button I will know I came by it honestly.

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Day One

The woman in first-class who acted quite uppity is down here with the rest of us waiting on her bag to flop down the ramp. Who knew baggage claim was the great equalizer? She was demeaning to the flight attendant, complained when an economy-class passenger used “their” bathroom, and demanded to deplane first. Yet, here she was waiting on her bag with the plebs. I was happy to see the elderly couple, who had attempted to board early only to be informed loudly by Miss High and Mighty that they weren’t allowed to board before first-class, get their bags and leave before her overpriced, ugly luggage tumbled down the chute.

I just happened to turn and there was my Daddy. He looked older, much older, than I remembered, but still just like I remembered. Walking in like he owned the joint. He looked right past me. He didn’t recognize me. I had to call out to him.

I’d imagined this moment for years, dreamed about it. I’d imagined these slow-motion dream sequences where he scoops me up like he did when I was a little girl. I’m not a little girl anymore and he’s not the giant he always seemed to be. Tall, still, yes, but thin and a bit frail now. Age had caught up to the man who always seemed invincible to me. He didn’t scoop me up, but he hugged me close for a long time.

Too many black bags passed by as we stood there waiting, not talking, unsure of how to make small talk with each other after all this time. My skinny little Daddy insisted on getting my bag. My Daddy with the defibrillator, diabetes, hearing aides, and God knows what else. He still had to play Daddy. Hope blossomed within me as I followed this man I knew little of save a few faded childhood memories I’d held onto all these years. Hope is a powerful force. Hope kept me going for years when I had nothing else to hold onto in this world. Hope gets us out of bed every morning. Hope held my hand as I followed him out into the humid Texas afternoon.

There was Cheryl, my step-mom. Step-mother never seemed like an appropriate title for her. She was the reason I got birthday cards and Christmas gifts from my father. For years, I thought his signature was pretty and flowery, like a woman’s, only to realize when watching her sign a check one day that she was also the one to sign those cards and gift tags. Her black hair replaced by gray, her trim water skiers body replaced by old age. Those eyes, kind and wrinkled at the corners, evidence of a lifetime of smiles, held one more smile for me. Her hug was as genuine as her smile and lasted even longer. I was home.

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Stomping Down Memory Lane

For those of you who have read earlier posts on my blog, you know that I’ve recently reunited with my father and step-mother. After months of talking on the phone, we decided a visit was necessary. I planned to drive due to astronomical ticket prices, but was surprised by the most amazing group of people with enough money to buy a round-trip ticket to Texas.

I spoke to my step-mom, Cheryl, earlier and the conversation was intended to be a quick “don’t eat on the plane cuz there’s this awesome Mexican food place…”. After an hour or so we finally got off the phone. We strolled down memory lane together at different houses they’d owned all over East Texas. She was amazed at the things I could remember from when I was as young as 3. We got on the subject of pictures and my want to scan old pictures to bring back to Kentucky with me. She asked me if I remembered this man who used to work for them when we lived on the farm in Jasper. I strangely didn’t remember.

The story she told me was a bit disturbing. Apparently this man did odd jobs around the farm for them and seemed like a genuinely nice person. He called them one day and asked them to pick up his car as he’d been arrested! Arrested for molesting his own children. They picked up his car and brought it back to their house. After some time, they decided to clean out the car. In the trunk, they found pictures of me and my sister. Every picture they had of us in fact squirreled away in this man’s car. Cheryl told me how angry my Daddy was and how he went to the judge to try and make sure the guy didn’t get off lightly. I have no memory of any of this and I’m glad. I didn’t, however, want to hear that the precious pictures of my past that I’d been obsessing over for years had been the object of someone else’s obsession long before they mattered to me.

The Ides of March is not an auspicious day to begin a journey. It’s also a waning moon and the middle of the week, also bad times to start a journey of this kind. I can’t help but to be hopeful and positive about what’s at the end of the terminal in Texas. My family most assuredly, but also a connection to lost memories and lost pictures from what at times has felt like a lost life.

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Christmas Present From My Past

As some of you may know, or not depending on how much you’ve read my blog, I went to prison. The how’s and why’s aren’t important at this point, but regardless, I went and when I did, my family seemingly disappeared. Some just disappeared, some told me out and out “We don’t want you in our lives anymore.” I realized in 2005, sitting on a prison bunk, that I was completely and utterly alone in this world. There was no one I could write or call who would write back or pick up the phone. Life seemed rather hopeless then…

Flash forward 11 years…out of prison, sitting around the dinner table with people, although not connected to me biologically, are my family now. The phone rings and my “nephew” Brad answers, looks confused and hands the phone to me. The man on the other end says “Do you know who this is?” I said, “Uuuhhh, nope. Who is it?”

He said “It’s your Daddy.” I didn’t believe him. I told him “I don’t know who you are, but this isn’t funny and I don’t appreciate this on Christmas.” He said, “Kristi, this really is Daddy.” I said, “Okay, prove it.” He told me my name, his full name, birthday, and other things about my childhood that no one else could have. My knees went weak and I hit the floor. It was my father after all this time…after 11 years I was hearing the voice of my Daddy. When I said “Oh My God….” He laughed and I knew it was him. I could never forget his laugh. It’s part chuckle, part belly laugh, part mischievous little boy. He always laughed like that when he was teasing me.

I cried when he told me how much he loved me. How sorry he was for not calling. He told me he missed me, that he was proud of me. He made me promise that it wouldn’t be the only time we’d talk. He gave me all of their numbers and made me promise again that I would call…regularly, that I would send pictures, that I would text him to tell him how my day was. I’ve never before heard my father cry until I told him how I found them (he and my stepmom) on Facebook and how I saved their picture to look at from time to time, so I could feel some sort of connection to them. He promised to send more pictures, pictures I could hold, pictures I could frame.

He told me about my stepmom, my little brother, aunts, uncles, cousins and what they were doing and about their lives. I went from being basically an orphan to having a family again when that phone rang.  I now had someone that told me stories from when I was little, talked about how much I was like him, someone who shared my DNA. I had a history that didn’t start when I walked into the jail.

We talked for two hours and promised to talk again soon. It was scary and sad and disorienting and wonderful. I thanked him for giving me the best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten. 11 years since I saw him through the glass at the jail telling me he had to go back to Texas seems like so long ago, but in that moment none of that existed and I was once again that little girl who used to fish and ride horses with her Daddy.

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