Leap

I rode around on a trash truck yesterday. No, I’m not considering a change in career, I’m working for a waste disposal company in the recruiting department and I wanted to know what a day in the life of a driver would be like. So, I had to report to work at 5 AM, which meant I had to leave my apartment by 4 AM since I’m on the complete opposite side of Denver. Dragging my butt out of bed at 3:30 was a challenge I do not want to face on a daily basis.

I rode on a roll-off truck for the first part of my day. Our first pickup was at a business in downtown Denver. Aaron, the driver I was riding with, told me that we’d have to be quiet because we were technically in a residential area and we were not supposed to be there until after 7 AM. Right. Be quiet in a multi-ton trash truck while picking up a gigantic metal container? THAT was funny. We had to break the rules though, because to be downtown in a huge truck parked in such a manner that blocked all lanes of oncoming traffic, well, it was better that we were there before the hustle of downtown burst out of its sleeping cocoon.

On our way to the transfer station to dump the container I marveled at how strangely quiet everything did seem. It was still so dark outside. Nothing was really moving with the exception of our giant truck. I closed my eyes to listen to the hiss of the air-brakes and the groan with each change of gear. Everything was still so sleepy in my town nestled at the base of the Rockies. It was almost romantic. And then we arrived at the transfer station. For those of you who might not know, a transfer station is where the trash goes before it moves on to a landfill. The truck gets weighed as it comes into the transfer station, dumps all the trash out, and gets weighed on the way out so they’ll know how much trash was left behind.  Tons of trash moves through transfer stations each and every day. I hate to say this, friends, but when it comes right down to it, we are a horribly wasteful and disgusting society. I saw it for myself yesterday. I smelled it, too.

When Aaron got out of the truck at the transfer station, I followed him. I watched as he manually opened the back. Water and an assortment of un-delicious goo came pouring out. If that wasn’t bad enough, about two seconds later, the smell hit me. I will never be able to explain what that smell might have been a combination of, but I’m pretty confident that if Bath and Body Works were to slap a label on it, it would be marketed simply as “Hell”. I learned quickly that the concept of “mouth breathing” isn’t nearly as repugnant as I once found it to be since breathing through my nose would singe what remained of my olfactory nerve.

Before I knew it I was standing in a thick layer of crap that people found disgusting enough to dispose of yesterday, so it had an extra day to marinate in its’ own disgustingness. It made me really sad. Garbage could use a strong dose of Prozac with an Abilify chaser. There it was – discarded. Limp. Smelling like death had already moved in. I needed to move away before I added my own layer of yuck. Fortunately, Aaron saw my color change and suggested that I move back into the cab. I did not put up an argument. Besides, speaking would force me to stop breathing through my mouth.

I climbed up the ridiculously high set of stairs to the safety above the sludge, trying to catch my breath without blowing chunks. As I pulled myself into the cab, I noticed a bright orange glare hitting a nearby building. It was so bright and fierce, it was almost as if the building was on fire. I quickly scanned the horizon from my perch above the trash and noticed the most magnificent sunrise that I had ever seen. I’m pretty sure that I released an audible “Whoa!” in slow motion, just like a kid  might do on a particularly impressive Christmas morning.

Now, when I imagine God saying “Let There Be Light” this is what I imagine: A gigantic, bright ball appearing in the sky that is so breathtaking and wonderful. Illuminating everything for the very first time. Opening my eyes to the beauty that surrounds me. I closed my eyes and let the warm orange glow wash over me. I chuckled under my breath because as I was marveling in the beauty of my stunning sunrise, I was – in reality – completely surrounded by horribly disgusting trash.

And then it hit me. It doesn’t matter what I’m currently surrounded by. I have to trudge through it. Sometimes it will make me want to barf. Other days it will not seem so bad. I might even find a treasure or two amongst the trash that clutters up my life. But what I have to do is keep my eye on the prize. It’s okay to stare into the sun, especially when it has the capacity to be absolutely brilliant. There will always be trash. That will never change. But to adapt and grow from it – and to learn how to deal with the smell – that’s the lesson.

I know I have a light in me that is even brighter than the sun I saw yesterday morning. And what the heck. I’m going to take the leap.

I’m going to let it shine.

Words

I love words with my whole heart. When I was in first grade I realized that I could see a word once and it would be burned into my memory in such a way that I would always know how to spell it. When it came time for the weekly spelling test in Mrs. Sutherland’s first grade class I always aced it, often after only briefly glancing at the list. My name was always on the chalkboard for getting a perfect score. Actually, that’s not true. There was one time that my name was taken off the board after receiving a perfect score because the class brown-noser had planted a slip of paper spelling the word VALENTINE in my desk, which happened to be one of the spelling words for that week. He came over to my desk after the test was over, pulled out the slip of paper and said, “Mrs. Sutherland, look what I found in her desk!” Mrs. Sutherland took the slip of paper, took Mike’s word for it, and went to the blackboard to erase my name. My immediate thought – after blushing with complete humiliation – was “Bitch, please. VALENTINE? Cheating on THAT word is an insult to my intelligence.” Nonetheless, I was reduced to losing my status as the class spelling ace (Mike’s reasoning to cheat was so he could finally beat me… I’m sure he’s a “successful” businessman by this point in his life) and I’ve hated Valentine’s Day ever since.

Anyway, back to words. I love them. I’d rather write than talk. Admittedly, that’s changed a bit in the past eight years, but for the first 1/3 of my life writing was my preferred method of communication. Everything I’ve ever wanted to say or any dream I’ve ever had was always conveyed in written form. For whatever reason my mouth could never say what my heart was screaming. I’ve technically been a writer since I was in elementary school having consistently kept a journal from a very young age. I’d give one of my toes to have those journals back today – to see what my thoughts and feelings were way back when – but I would destroy them whenever I’d have a traumatic life event. I destroyed several journals after my step-mother committed suicide because I somehow felt guilty that I’d been writing/complaining about my life when she had been clearly suffering to the point of wanting to die. I did nothing to help her. I technically know that her death wasn’t my fault but I could never get my heart to accept that. My words, whether they were written or spoken, wouldn’t have been enough.

She encouraged me to write, though. She believed in me. And when she died I just didn’t know what to do with that. All of a sudden, the person who probably believed in me the most, had taken her own life. And I’m sad to say this, but it completely invalidated me. She believed in me while she was alive and that felt wonderful. But she didn’t believe in herself. What she said to me, the encouragement she gave to me, were just words. Not actions. And suddenly, words meant nothing. All the energy I’d put into words – all backed by her encouragement – vaporized. What do I do now? My answer was to throw it away.

It didn’t take away my love of writing. I continued to write all the time. But some other life-event would happen that would hurt and I’d burn my words. Or throw them in the garbage. Or rip them to shreds. After my step-mother died, sharing them stopped being an option. So, I just kept the majority of my thoughts and feelings to myself and opted to let them flow through my journaling, which I would always end up destroying.

So, when Ben got sick, I embraced email. I could update a mass of people all at once on how my pookie-pie was doing and avoid being on the phone for hours on end. My little updates morphed into a regurgitation of feelings and emotions about how I was dealing with my son’s illness. I didn’t even realize I was sharing. It was all under the guise of just giving an “update” on Ben. But I was writing. Feverishly. Passionately. Purposefully. Publicly. And my writing was receiving a validation that I hadn’t seen since before my step-mother died. People felt like they were a part of Ben’s journey. They could hear the machines beeping. They could smell what I smelled. They felt what I felt. My words finally found a home and an appreciative audience.

Blogging has given me a “voice” – a voice that I could never seem to find in the past. I’ve found an audience. A home. I still get the urge to destroy my words once in a while but ultimately they’re out there now. There’s no taking them back. Even if someone crashes my site or threatens to shut me down – which has surprisingly happened – the fact remains that I have a handful of readers out there who have heard me and love what I have to “say”.

And even Mrs. Sutherland can’t erase that.

 

Christine Yankovsky, thank you for today’s word. I often can’t believe how beautifully my life has been woven together but I have to say that your part in the tapestry always shines in brilliant gold. I’m sorry you’ve been dealt the task of being a voice of reason in the chaos “lovingly” known as my brain. Thank you for the love you’ve shared with me over the years – giving me shelter from my many storms as well as a sweet place to live when I had no safe place to go. I love that you appreciate my creativity with pipe cleaners and my ability to communicate with butterflies (I still have that stamp, btw). Heck. I love that you love me. I love you, too. We will get published someday, let’s just hope it’s not posthumously. Love you, sweet friend. Words could never convey just how much.

 

 

Oxymoron

Wouldn’t you know it? I get so few days to sleep in and today I woke at 5 AM after having a terrible dream. The dream was so intense that I shot up out of my sleep, grabbing my chest because I was unable to breathe. While I immediately knew I was safe I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of dread that was coursing through my system. Going back to sleep was just going to teleport me back to the world that had shaken me so violently – and I wasn’t about to do that. So, I had to find another source of comfort. Fortunately, my friend, James, had already challenged me to a game of Song-Pop so I had that going for me. After playing a few rounds and finding some comfort there (even though he kicked my butt), I decided to check Facebook where my friend, Andrea, had a word waiting for me to write about: Oxymoron.

My day started with one. Terrible Dream. Now, I know an oxymoron when I hear one but I don’t think I could rattle a bunch off the top of my head. My original thought was to make a story out of nothing but oxymorons – there are several websites dedicated to making lists of them – so I know I could write something compelling. But given my 30 minute time crunch my story would be about 1/2 a paragraph in length. So, I thought I’d pick out just one. And here’s the one that presented itself to me: Dying to Live.

Maybe I was drawn to it because I’ve been surrounded with some sad stuff lately. A friend of mine just lost his dad. Another friend just learned that her BFF has terminal cancer. Another friend just lost her son to Neuroblastoma. This has all been within the last two weeks. Add to that the stress of a new job. It’s scan time for Ben (and he’s starting a new out-of-state study this coming week). School has started. Rent is due. I have so many projects to complete. My dad called a couple of days ago to tell me he’s getting married on Friday (I’m ultimately very happy about that). And, the bane of my existence: laundry. The list gets longer and longer of stuff I need to do. I feel like I can’t do what I truly want to do with my life… even if I don’t truly know what that is. Hmmm. That thought process feels like a potential oxymoron to me. Or maybe I’m just a moron. 😉

Someone recently asked my son what he wants to be when he grows up. He stated that he didn’t know. I guess he’s getting to the age where he’s putting more thought into it, perhaps the reality of being a firefighter or police officer isn’t as romantic as it used to be? But he did say, “I just want to grow up.” There was something about the simplicity of his statement that touched me. I think we could all learn something from that. I’m NOT saying that we shouldn’t have goals. I’m saying that we should all be flexible. Something like, “Hey. This isn’t working out for me. I think I’ll try something else until I find something that fits.” I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t be loyal because I could easily use my new theory as an out for my failed marriages. “Hey. This didn’t work out for me. I’m going to find someone else.” I knew BOTH times I got married that I was making a mistake. And it’s 100% my fault for not rectifying it before I made the decision to walk down the aisle. I’m just saying that we should be gentle with ourselves. Get back up, brush yourself off, and get on with it already. We should all be dying to live instead of living to die.

Oh, how I wish I came up with that phrase myself, but, alas, it came from a song. Edgar Winter, in fact. So, since my 30 minutes are up, I’ll leave you with the hope of the last verse of “Dying to Live”:

So I’ll keep fighting to live till there’s no reason to fight
And I’ll keep trying to see until the end is in sight
You know I’m trying to give, so c’mon give me a try
You know I’m dying to live until I’m ready to die. 

My dear Andrea, I thought this would flow easier than it did. I wanted to write about something else entirely but I had a constant restraint snaking its way around my thoughts. Evidently, this word invoked something deeper that just isn’t ready to come out. If I could ask you again, please search your heart and come up with another word. It will be the first one that comes to you. And that one will take me where I need to go. I can’t tell you why I know this, I just do. Please give me another word. Thank you, dear, sweet friend. Your encouragement means so very much to me.