Friday, January 18, 2013

I Are a Poet

I have a noticeable Southern accent, even to those who are more Southern than myself. It gets worse when I'm nervous, which it did tonight; legit, I almost vacated the premise and my bowels at the same damn time.

I've been writing poetry since I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. I wrote about school, and boys, and stress and love and hate and bitterness and love and road trips and vacations and love... I read at the most wonderful, welcoming place, a bookstore/African culture hub called Under One Roof, for the first time when I was maybe 11 or 12. And it was love for the performing aspect of the art ever since.

But then somewhere along there, life starting becoming more tangible, more real. And one day I woke up and was not a poet anymore. Instead I was a young woman working through this life thing and didn't have time nor patience to work through iambic pentameter and alliteration. Instead I picked up a journal, choosing instead to write my thoughts in these books never to be released or read by another person until I had my own daughter one day who thought her mother didn't understand what she was going though; then and only then would I want those books read.

Occasionally I would foray back into poetry for a brief stint, expressing my boredom with my lackluster love life, or poems written with the ink of tears from some pain I hadn't wanted to explore. And then I got my heartbroken and you couldn't keep a damn pen out of my hand, but yet I still never read again.

Until tonight.

Tonight I read an untitled love poem to Tarzan, and to myself, in front of at least a good 15 people. I followed up a pair of Jesus poets with seemingly more swagger than actual substance but were still type dope in their lane. I brought my Mom, as I used to back in those early days, and she (as she used to) clapped and whooped the loudest before I even said a word.

I was introduced and said a sweet, country "Hey ya'll" and explained I hadn't spoken in awhile and that I was once a pretty good poet to which the MC Paul replied "Are!" So I said, "Okay, I guess I are a poet." I smiled, took a deep breath, and it was like I'd never left my hobby, my skill, behind. It was as if I'd placed my pen down between writing lines one day and had just picked it back up with new fervor.

I forget sometimes, in this life of being a worker for my employer, a girlfriend to my boyfriend, a best friend to my best friends and a daughter to my parents that I have to be a person. A whole, individualized, unique person with her own passions, fears and wants not attached to anybody else. I'd forgotten that, forgotten to release the poet in me, allow her to be who she wants to be.

She's like a friend, my inner poet, who went a long time without speaking to me, and now that we've caught up, I can't imagine why we stopped talking. Don't get me wrong, I'm no slam poet, I'm not the type of poet who remembers every poem they've ever written and can recite them on site, but I am still a poet. I am still a poet. I am still.

Sometimes I have to be reminded that I am still here, still breathing, still thinking and believing and still just being. I still am. Or in Paul's case, I still are.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm Stronger Than I Think

When I was ten or eleven years old, I had two titanium rods screwed to my spine to cure my scoliosis. The surgery was a success, and I was supposed to be hospitalized for at least two months. A little over three weeks later, I walked out of that hospital (okay, they rolled me to the car, from what I remember, but I could've walked...just very very slowly).

Today, at twenty-two, I'm starting to have this weird back pain at night. Sometimes, throughout the day, a part of my upper back will feel as if it's being pulled in one direction while the rest of me is staying still. My hips and knees ache. I'm like, thirty-eight, in a twenty-two year old's body.

I've been doing a little research here and there about the long term effects of these rods, and the outlook isn't very good. People's discs are crushed, some have trouble sleeping if they aren't lying completely flat and it all starts for most of them after the ten year mark, but they ignore it until it's too late. I'm done growing up, so I think the risk of my spine curving again is minimal. I want the rods out.

A friend of mine, Tony, has said I don't live for myself, and that I should start thinking about what I want. This is a big thing that I want, but I don't want it for my right now, I want it for my future. If you could read some of the stories from people who had the surgery in the 70's, even one's who had their surgeries the same  year I had mine, and read their pain and frustration with their bodies not holding up despite the promises and the "progress" they'd made.

It's a big thing to want, and I'm scared of it. Not the surgery itself, but the wanting of something seemingly so big for myself. I've always been afraid of wanting things for myself, afraid that wanting those things would put automatically make them not come true. But it's a new year, and I'm older now and have learned that wanting things is nothing without the action behind them. I'm old enough now to know the difference between wants that are possible and wants that are impossible.

So in the spirit of the new year, my goal is to want things, and go for those things that I want.

It started simply by seeing Django for a second time (I freaking love that movie) and evolved into "Where do you want to be years from now? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be?"

I want the rods out. And I want to live near my boyfriend. And I want to graduate college with a degree in English and teaching certification. One day, I want to be a mom and a homeowner. I want a life that's full. And today's the day I start wanting it more than fearing it.

When I was ten or eleven, on my way out of the hospital, my nurses said I was stronger than they thought. My father told me the same, a few weeks later when I tried (and succeeded) crawling my way to the bathroom instead of waking someone up to help me. I am a strong woman, a lot stronger than I know. And it's time to start testing my metal (no pun intended).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Waiting For Confidence

I'm a modern day mystic. A gypsy. I do palm readings and tarot cards and carry around a rose quartz stone in my purse to bring me luck in love and a calm disposition.I studied numerology and astrology and Buddhist mantras. I believe in souls and spirits and ghosts and aliens and that one day, when I die, all of my beliefs will have been true. I believe in everything.

The one thing I don't believe in though, which is a sad state of affairs if I've ever heard one, is myself. I don't believe that my opinion or personage matters. And how sad is that, for a person who still believes in true love, and magic and the sanctity of pinky promises to not believe in herself?

I don't know why I don't. I don't know when I went from this over-exuberant  confident kid, to this sullen adult with nothing but fear and regret on either fork of her road staring her in the face. If poetic justice were true, I'd have blossomed into this beautiful, confident, self-reliant chick. Maybe it just takes longer than I anticipated.

I wish I did believe in myself. I wish I still held the belief that nobody would hurt me, and that wanting something and working towards it would mean that you get it, but I don't. Is that what growing up is, losing the magic and the security? Can I hold onto all these beautiful, tenuous things and still grow and become who I'm supposed to be?

Right, this about me, though. Me and my inability to see myself for all the flaws that I have. I want so many things, from the love of my life, from my family, from my job, that I'm too timid to ask for for fear of losing it all. But a friend once told me that a reward is nothing without a little risk, and that if I'm too afraid to jump, I would probably end up sitting on the side of the pool with the other kids too scared to fly or swim.

I hear that I'm wonderful. People say that I'm smart and beautiful, that I'm kind and something special. People tell me that all the time. Nobody has ever really proved it. I don't want to blame my lack of belief in myself on others, but you could see how that would confuse a girl: I'm every woman, but no woman at the same damn time. I should start proving to myself these things, but how do you define when "enough" is? When will I be smart enough, pretty enough, whole enough to please myself?

New year, new me, indeed. Nothing's changed. Still the same star crossed, lovelorn Virgo I've always been, and still, nobody seems to notice a thing. It's of my own making, this prison of doubt, and I've misplaced the keys, so what do I do now?

For now, I wait. I wait to either stop believing all together, or wait until my beliefs in myself are so full I can't deny them anymore. For now, I just wait.