Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We all come here from a long way off...& I AM WITH YOU!

I wrote this back in 2015, but I feel like this short monologue is as relevant today, as it was when I first tried to speak out about the solidarity felt between women thrown into an experience like this. 

First published by The Milo Review, it earned me a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. However, I can honestly say one of my bravest moments as a writer, was reading this piece out loud to a live audience in Portland, ME (during the WORD Portland series).
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The Milo Review has since disbanded, but I feel as strongly about this character's voice, as I did when I first created her. 

And to the many women out there who are still speaking up today, I want you to know, "I am with you!" 

Sarah E. Caouette

      It’s not who you think turns up here to wait in this room. Empty containers decorated with real flesh and bone—almost-humanlike. Preterists. Drums kicked and tumbled down alleys, and mill yards, and the gutter sides of the street—to lie with their own, in their own refuse. That one wears her mink eyes well, the curvature of her earlobes are custom-made.
And that one there, he’s a soccer player from Belize, who smells of fried plantains and the honey-scent of cannabis oil he uses to medicate his knees. Ever since he was a boy, those yellow bags drifted up from Cuba. Water-logged parachutes cut loose and sent spoiled into the sea. He and his baby brother dug holes in their yard like a Mancala board, like they were digging their early graves. And their mother, watching her sons from the kitchen window, flicked her brittle fingernail against each ceramic tea cup looking for that genuine China. The one who dragged those boys down to their primo segundas when the disease was going ‘round. Now, it’s permanently in their bones—premature arthritis that has moved in like Strangler fig.

He winces when his carina, sixteen years old, squeezes his leg. These clinics are for the poor. The immigrant trash who don’t receive paychecks, but under-the-table wages. Who can’t cover the flu they’ve caught on The Vineyard, stacking stones without mortar, as the biting frost sneaks in through their flimsy court shoes.
Urban decay is like a cavity of the mouth—but rooted deeper.
The young girl plays with the golden bangles on her wrist. Does she know she’s a poster child for Help the Children?
She does. Jingling pleasantly with a look to pity, taught to her when learning to beg. I want to feel as sorry for her as I feel for myself. But unlike her, I was born to ignorance and privilege.

I’m here for the paper-bag prescriptions. Some calm for the nerves. To medicate away the dead pets, the date rape, the divorces. I wait and watch a parade of girls in smocks and socks make a beeline toward a set of swinging doors. Behind which they will stick out their tongues and take confirmation. For in preparation to terminate a fetus, they like to sedate them here. Though, occasionally the guilt sneaks in quicker than expected—before the drugs can really take effect. Especially, with the first-timers, and the middle-aged career women who stumble in, in their suit and cardigan coordinates, while their husbands are away on business.

I saw a girl collapse once outside the administration window, right in the middle of signing the waiver. They stuck smelling salts under her nose, and the moment she came to she cried out,
“Fuck Je-sus!” and it was his name, not the son of God, but the one who knocked her up. And I hated him too, without knowing him—her lover—because here she was alone, and no one should be alone in a place like this.
The truth is: my friends wouldn’t come here either. The ones who eat mushrooms on the beach and paint and screw. And that’s all we ever seem to talk about other than the lines we regurgitate unoriginally. Because we don’t want to be like our parents who have forgotten us since the day we were born. Who know nothing of the society of Gogol or Zola, or the hardship that comes with entitlement and expectation.
We’re pampered little beasts, pissing in the streets in our polo shirts and loafers. Whining out literature in some frustrated guild we’ve created. Our tribe: with member fees and club jackets. And it always being in our best interest to breed.

What I’m trying to figure out is if I’m here like the others. In this windowless clinic with the pillow muffled shouts of protestors coming in through the concrete walls. I’m in a porous tomb, and I’m alone. Is this what it feels like to be dead on the inside?

Achieve! is all I hear. Succeed! is the only demand.

“My mama thinks I’m at school,” the girl leans over to whisper to the man. To which he puts a hand over her fidgeting fingers, silencing the charms on her gaunt arm.
My feeling is that the mama’s not around enough to take notice, and that maybe these things we say and do is a way of being noticed. Of how it connects the two of us—me and this young woman. Coming to this city center where I’m a nobody surrounded by nobodies. And her wanting to be a somebody, other than who she is.
They call my name and I rise. I give the couple a smile as a show of solidarity, and walk toward the swinging doors.

Achieve! is all I hear. Succeed! is now the demand.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

thoughts & resolutions.

There has been this permeating thought that has stuck with me all week, which seems to be fueling my every intention. In my last blog post, I mentioned "making room for my own wild dreams" within the day-to-day routines we create for the sake of sanity. Which as nice as this thought is, I realize I will never make the kind of room I want to make, unless some actual changes are made.

I have understood this for a long time, but have had a laissez faire attitude about "change". Especially, since I have always thought of change as something evolving to fit the need at the time --- a matter of adaptation. Occurring naturally despite the occasional barrier.

However, in this latest climate of uncertainty, I am beginning to deeply crave things that are real and true, that I can sink my energy into and will serve a purpose. And so I've begun to meditate daily on the adage: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

But what does such a thing even mean?

Well, to me it means I will never have an ounce of control over others' decisions, but I will always have control over how I let their decisions affect me, and how I choose to better myself and react.

I've spent a lot of time looking at what is important to me, making observations and taking notes. I've written about my values and have attempted to communicate what makes me happy. Neither light, nor pointless tasks. Yet, I can't say I've honestly challenged myself to the point of complete change.

So from here on out, I will give meaning to the vows I make in the form of resolutions. I will no longer live a life dictated by what society deems as "valuable". But instead, I will create my own framework developed from intention and purpose. I will minimize the material and emotional clutter that bogs me down, and inhibits me from contributing more thoughtful dialogue. I will consume less.

As with any changes, what I'm attempting to achieve won't happen over night, and it is probably wise to keep things in perspective. I will avoid using the words "realistic" or "practical", because that is the language of absolutism disguised as normative thinking.

I will continue to share my experiences through this transformative process, but I will also assert that this is by no means a suggestion or recommendation to others.

And so it begins, with Phase I.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What a New Year looks like from a different vantage point...

Last night, I rang in the New Year in the air. As I marveled over the mosaic patterns of colored lights and fireworks winking back at me from below, I couldn’t help thinking how cool it was to take off in another country in 2016, and land back in my home country in 2017. Simply put, it was kind of magical counting down the year with strangers, and family, and an entire Boston-based flight crew. It gave new meaning to the notion of suspended time; especially when earlier that evening in a custom’s line, a man in front of me, made the comment that where he had come from earlier that day, a new year had already begun.

I had many other thoughts on that plane ride home, which I probably should have written down on my little drink napkin, but I was too caught up in the moment to care. As I held my partner’s hand and we watched drops of rain fly past us at warp speed, I drifted in and out of that dreamy place I fall into when I feel those feelings of utter contentedness mixed with excitement for the future.  If I could be in multiple places at once, there I was, taking it all in.

I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am each and every day. So, to think about the year in its entirety and try and summarize it, seems inadequate. (Writing out the Cliff notes of any human experience, would involve taking out any unique and defining characteristics and replacing those one-of-a-kind, cumulative moments with a slew of generic adjectives… like anyone’s whole year could fit into a social media post, Come’on! “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands…”)   

There has just been so much growth inside a short amount a time, I feel silly that I ever have moments of evolutionary self-doubt. But I guess that’s what celebrating a New Year is all about—not necessarily taking inventory of what I didn’t get to or accomplish, but to take a good, hard look at what I’m about. The next step, I admittedly still need to learn, which is accepting that not everything to come will go the way I hope or plan.

I don’t know about you, but I remember hearing the saying, “A little wishful thinking never hurt anyone,” and actually took it to heart. It’s only taken me 34 years to re-imagine that expression for myself. My new mantras, being: open-mindedness and flexibility are the keys to deflecting disappointment. And: You’ve got to have a little grit, to keep things interesting.

Settling in back home is always nice. Not so much, sticking that grounding rod back in reality.  But it sure is easy falling back into routines: grocery shopping, laundry, work prep, dinner prep, “the comforts of home”… I recognize this is as part of life, but I know it doesn’t have to be the only part of the picture—that there is room enough for my own wild dreams, as well as having another person at my side. And whims! Big or small, you can’t forget the important role whims play in gaining perspective. Throw some change into a stranger’s hat, drive an unmarked road, eat something you’ve never tried before, get swept away by your passions.

I am not certain about much, but this year in particular has made me really appreciate taking on life’s whims, curve balls, forks-in-the-road, and the day-to-day with my partner. So, putting any doubts at bay, I truly believe 2017 is going to be a different kind of special.

Saying It

Saying it. Trying
to say it. Not
to answer to

logic, but leaving
our very lives open
to how we have

to hear ourselves
say what we mean.
Not merely to

know, all told,
our far neighbors;
or here, beside

us now, the stranger
we sleep next to.
Not to get it said

and be done, but to
say the feeling, its
present shape, to

let words lend it
dimension: to name
the pain to confirm

how it may be borne:
through what in
ourselves we dream

to give voice to,
to find some word for
how we bear our lives.

Daily, as we are daily
wed, we say the world
is a wedding for which,

as we are constantly
finding, the ceremony
has not yet been found.

What wine? What bread?
What language sung?
We wake, at night, to

imagine, and again wake
at dawn to begin: to let
the intervals speak

for themselves, to
listen to how they
feel, to give pause

to what we’re about:
to relate ourselves,
over and over; in

time beyond time
to speak some measure
of how we hear the music:

today if ever to
say the joy of trying
to say the joy.

“Saying It," from Lifelines by Philip Booth, copyright © 1999 by Philip Booth.