Tuesday, August 23, 2011

what it feels like at sunset

I got a call today from a member of my past.
He asked too many questions; I asked none.
This conversational imbalance pleased me so;
as if I’ve grown up, or become what he tried
to stop me from becoming: stronger.

I left the house he built for me today; I’ve left before,
but this was my long awaited last look
at the shallow ceilings, upturned floorboards, dusty books.
I don’t miss it here, in silence; I don’t miss
the suffocating grip of wanting something bad for me,
of pleasing someone bad to me, of being held
by the eyes of others that do not care, but care to judge.

The front door and the ring hold no curb appeal;
they were not worth the trade in: my whole self,
for something much less me. The air out here is sticky
with the welcoming heat of evening; the sun makes lines
and points to golden tree branches and floating bits of cotton;
it beckons me home.

I miss home.

When I was young there was a Voice that called me lovingly
from morning time to noon, from afternoon to evening.
I cannot find the Voice, but I am leaving; there is nothing
(no empty space, no chain, no silent direction) that could keep me
living placidly among the weeds, waiting to die, waiting
for a hand to save me. I am leaving by myself to save me.
You can keep your lofty hand; I am looking for one less clean,
less allergic to the soil beneath my feet.

The caving roof creaks; this old place knows that I am breathing.
Perhaps I owe it a word or two before I go, an offering of thanks,
a measure of condolence for the misery in which it could not keep me.
The poison in the walls has purged the poison in me; I can not be mean,
because I know what it feels like. I cannot oppress because it hinders
my own gracious freedom. I have been made grateful for the raindrops
and the chance to dance between them. My voice stands stronger
when I speak or sing than when I keep the words in;
to this old place I owe at least a small bit of gratitude,
for teaching me who I am,
and for teaching me who I am not.

© afterthoughtcomposer


on why I've been avoiding you

Oh, good sweet Lord. You know what I just realized? It’s almost September. You know September marks the beginning of fall right? The last part of the year? Meaning…the year is almost over? Hot damn.

Yah, sure, I should have noticed this earlier – like you think maybe I would have noticed that the year was passing by me when the months did; march, may, august. Gulp. September?

…I didn’t really notice.

When I was little, one of my favourite things to do was roll down the giant slopes of Connaught Hill, and catch grass in my ponytail and pockets. What I didn’t realize back then was that the sensation feels quite differently when the hills are proverbial and seemingly endless and I am an adult – shouldn’t I have stopped rolling down hills by now? 2011 has been a giant stumbletumbletrip to the landing pad I’m hoping shows up soon (say, in September?). End over end, and I can’t quite catch my footing. You’ve probably noticed that for quite some time now I’ve avoided concrete thought. Nearly everything I’ve written could be paraphrased this way “Don’t ask. I don’t want to write about it” or “trala-laaa lalala!”

There are reasons for this; reasons I won’t fully explain now, because quite honestly, they’re still a little too fresh to use as writing material. The thing about being a writer is that personal experience is the perfect material, unless of course, the experiences are a little…too personal. I know that I will write in detail about this year at some point in the future. Maybe next year. For now, perhaps a summary will do.

I just read through many of this year’s posts; reliving the memories of where I was at each point, and feeling twinges of “oh, sweetheart, you have no idea what’s coming.” This year was marked with a decent sized list of bad decisions, some of which I made myself. The most painful ones, though, were made by others in regards to me. It is this second group of inflictions that have left me reeling. I’ve learned to compliment myself for leaving abusive relationships – this means I'm strong, right? yet the tumbling comes as I wonder how not to wear or carry what was left at the ends. I have good days and bad days. I’ve learned much about myself, and I’ve learned who my friends are, which in every way makes this year worth it. Though the sifting was difficult, at least it seems to be over for now. (Dear Jesus, please let it be over).

Much of my time as of late has been spent in the recovery of hibernation, and I’ve been ruminating like mad about the point of it all: life, pain, choices; strength. All this thinking has helped me realize that I feel quite lucky: because I was strong enough; because I still have the ability to look forward, I have better friends than I realized, and thankfully, I still have hope in my eye. That’s the funny thing about being treated like someone else; it helps you realize who you are.

So if the first part of this year has been spent wondering where the ground went, I am hopeful that the last part of this year will be spent admiring the soil. It may look different than I was expecting, but I will have never been more thankful for the feel of cool earth on my cheek than I will be when September and the stillness finally hit.

Oh lord, let the stillness hit.

distance, peace


to write I'd have to tell you where my heart's at,
how I feel and what I think about the issues;
and the truth is, I don't want to.

I want to keep the walls up
 – at an arm's length  –
so my pretend strength won't be seen for the cracks
that mark its fabled corner of possession.

now the mortar, brick by brick, builds thick
and keeps the dogs out, keeps the monsters at bay;
that space keeps the best away, too.

maybe I'm alone in here, but at least my secrets are safe
in here, no friend could betray in here; no two faces could
lie and say they love me.

I am at peace here.
But I still don't want to write it.

© afterthoughtcomposer

Friday, August 19, 2011


At coffee with a long lost friend a few weeks back, I mentioned that - after the chaos of my spring - I wasn't going to do anything too "starty" in the summertime. It took me a few days to realize the following necessary facts:

#1.  Summer is nearly almost over. You just didn't notice it because June was a whiny girl.
#2.  Hello my name is Ashley, and I am addicted to starty-ness.
#3.  I've got so many loose ends on the go, my life could easily be compared to a rootless head of hair. Or some equally as rediculous analogy.

Vis a vis, the following: in an ever increasing attempt to get some ground beneath my feet, I have decided that I should start my finishing here, on the blog. Tie up a few of the open ends (there have been many, you probably just forgot about them). I actually have a running list in my head of all the things I need to update you on, but I forget what those things are right now, so I can't tell you what they are. Oh, wait, there was that one thing.

Remember that time I pulled a novel out of my ass? Over two and a half years ago, for those of you that lost count. Over two and a half years ago, for those of you that are wondering why I'd ever call myself something as made-up as 'starty'.

So anyway. The book's not done yet. But Take Heart! I have done the oh-so-necessary read through and overhaul, and my only task now is to sit down and re-arrange the document on the computer. I need to tweak the sentences that need tweaking (there were a lot of them), put the paragraphs in order, and print it out for the perusal of all interested parties. I feel compelled to say again that it won't be a good book, but it will be a book [insert trumpet fanfare] which totally counts for something.

Okay maybe that wasn't a very finishy announcement, seeing as I'm not actually finished the book yet (potato potato?) -- but in any case, it's an update, which is more than I can say for anything else on the growing list.

image source: http://www.sophieblackall.com/

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

everybody's got a body...but does everybody have a brain?


...don't take that comment personally. It was directed at me.

Everybody's Got a Body
Created by: Online Nursing Schools


Sunday, August 7, 2011

the rights of passage

photo source: http://i-spill-kisses-with-love.tumblr.com/

It's a ridiculous idea I suppose, but I’m thinking about planning a party – a gala event, if you will. For? Me. Like a wedding without the wedding. A friend of mine did something similar a few years back. On her 30th birthday, she had a bridal shower for herself instead of a birthday party – minus, of course, that “bridal” part. She was moving provinces, and instead of bearing the load on her own, she registered at Crate & Barrel. My own party idea is similar – minus, of course, that “bridal” part: I want to wear a gown and don a diamond ring and have everyone I love in the same room, for the sole purpose of celebrating our relationships, and sending me onward into life. Even if “onward” means in the same spot; even if “life” means happy solitude.

When I was younger, I didn’t give much secondary thought to weddings, other than -of course- happy cheer for the couple getting married. Weddings seemed common (they are), normal (still are), inevitable (…oh). I went through each wedding day expecting that I’d follow suit at some point, taking mental notes and admiring details; silently making a list of ideas for my own “one day someday”. Now that I’m older and I’ve become a woman quite at peace with my independence, I have begun to view weddings much differently. I no longer want the wedding – I just want the party. But this begs the question: can you even have the party without the wedding? Or will this bring on a glorious amount of labels and stigma cementers? Could I host this kind of a party for myself without feeling like a giant, self-centered ass?

I attended a marriage celebration last night; the first ceremony and reception I’ve attended since my change of heart about matrimony-as-a-goalset, and I admit the day felt quite different than it has in the past. The wedding was beautiful, the marriage sweet, the day spectacular; but as I admired the dress and the decorations and listened to the speeches, I felt saddened somehow. I felt like I was missing out on something good by desiring the life I currently have, instead of the life I’m supposed to want. If only I wanted to get married, then I might know how much people care, how happy people are for the life I’m leading; I, too, might be cared for in practical ways. I too might understand how deeply I am loved. I vocalized this thought to a friend at my table, and inquired aloud whether or not I would get to have speeches like this made about me if I never get married. Her response was honest and true and I knew it: “Sure you will,” she said. “At your funeral.”

photo source: spottr.hu

I am not complaining about my life or the people in it (I am blessed, and I know it), but rather, I am saying this as a form of observation: the rites of passage are only rights to those making certain passages; for those in the minority, those rites aren’t rights at all.

Obviously, the rite of getting married is reserved for those who get married. But what about the other ‘rites’? The celebration of life, the gifts, and in my mind the most enviable of all: the father-daughter speech. Do you want to know the real reason I get misty-eyed every time a father-daughter speech gets made? I’m jealous. I know my dad loves me, but I still want a speech. And I want it while I’m wearing a beautiful dress, and a ring I did not buy for myself, in a room full of people that are going to compliment me all day.

This is a risky announcement, I admit; that the only reasons I want a wedding have absolutely nothing to do with the actual wedding part; reasons that - based on their admission alone - make me sound rather pretentious. But I still can't help but wonder: do I really have to wait until I’m dead to celebrate my life on a grand scale?

You know, I think I’ll plan that party after all.
...I’ll let you know where I register.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

shortness of breath


There are moments unequivocal, that remind the soul of it's wealth at being here, on earth, and breathing. Those moments are unique though, in that they also remind us how quickly we could take our leave; life is short, and decisions ought to be made as if this fact were true.

It was a regular morning - up early, but not early enough to fit breakfast in with the getting ready. So I stopped at the Timmy's by my office before work; on a budget, but a two dollar cheese bagel would do. As I pulled up and parked my car between two yellow lines I couldn't help but notice that his sign said "hungry" somewhere near the bottom of the scrawl. He, sitting on the curbside and I, heels clicking as I walk over connect eyes and decide that breakfast time deserved breakfast - could I get him anything? A desperate voice emerges with urgent pleas for "anything with meat...I'm starving".

With the bagel and the breakfast sandwiches in hand I walk over to the man and hand him a very small token of humanity (what is one breakfast in 365?). His profuse thanks is jarring and I feel the drive-through line up boring holes between my shoulder blades. If you feed him breakfast, he might return, and I might eventually be made to feel guilty; how dare you.

While I'm feeling the heat on my back he asks a simple question, "Why are people so judgemental?" He tells of the woman who only yesterday scolded him for being on drugs and jobless; not before she marched off to her riches in her thick cloak of disdain. "I've never done drugs" he says defensively. "You think I want this life? You think I can apply for a job when people don't even want to look at me?"

I am stopped by his inquisition, and offer the words my mirror has told me with plentiful occasion: "You can't wear the judgement, it's not yours to keep. It doesn't have to define you," and then I add words that feel awkward but right, "I believe things will turn around for you soon," though I don't know if this is true.

His eyes are bright and blue and they choke with hope and his outstretched hand meets mine. Have a good day, we both wish for the other. The space between my car and I gets smaller as the air I breathe gets clear and heavy-scented with ideas. I find myself wondering if we've had it wrong this whole time, if monitoring morality is actually not the whole of the point, and if, perhaps, Jesus' eyes are actually blue.

I have been shown mercy and I have been in need of it; I have been in need of it and not received it. Which is better? - of course we know. Why then, do we insist on holding our graces too far above the heads of the ones in need? Should we not, as an echo to the sound of our lives so far, give mercy?