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The Silo

April 29, 2022
Sequoia

By Kate Abbot

The snow began to fall on Tuesday around lunchtime.  Sequoia Williams barely noticed it as she sat in the lunchroom of the regional high school.  By the time she got off the bus, the snow was deep enough to reach her shins.   It squeaked as she walked up the half mile dirt driveway to the farmhouse.  It was mid-March and the days were getting longer.   The cows had been out to pasture for several weeks, rooting around in hopes of a sprig of spring growth.

Her older brother, Dale, was chopping wood.  Dale was a two time drop out, once from high school and then from the regional GED program.   Sequoia tried to stay clear of Dale; he had a hair-trigger temper and it was worse when he was drinking or popping the pills he thought she didn’t know about.

“Where’s Pa?”  Sequoia stomped the snow from her boots and shook the flakes out of her hair.   Ma was chopping carrots and potatoes.

“He went into town, to meet with the man from Wells Fargo.”

Sequoia wasn’t supposed to know that the bank was on the verge of taking the farm from them, the 600 acres that had been in her mother’s family for at least three generations.

“I’ll see to the milking, Ma.”

Sequoia shrugged her parka back on and trudged out to the barn.  The snow was falling harder now, wet and heavy.   She was out of breath by the time she had rounded up the eight milking cows.   The milking machines made a steady whooshing noise and the cows crunched on their feed.   Next, she checked the henhouse, made sure that it was locked tight against the marauding foxes and that there was plenty of fresh water.

Ma joined her, tossing the vegetable scraps and day old bread to the pigs in their pen.   Together, they mucked out the stall that contained two draft horses who were mostly pets but could still be counted on to pull the plow if the tractor was on the fritz or Pa couldn’t afford gas.

What little light that should have been in the western sky at five thirty in the evening was missing.  The snow was knee deep and still falling.  Dale barely acknowledged the two women at the supper table, slurping loudly at his beef stew and then belching as he guzzled a beer.   He disappeared into his basement room without even clearing his plate from the table.

“Like father, like son,” Sequoia thought to herself.   She said nothing of the sort to Ma, instead shooing her into the family room to fall asleep in front of the television.

Sequoia cleaned up the supper mess and then climbed the stairs to her room on the third floor of the farmhouse.   The sheepdog mix followed her, whining anxiously.

“What’s wrong, old girl?”

Patches put her paws up on the windowsill and peered out into the darkness.

“It’s just a late winter snow.  It’ll be melted by tomorrow afternoon.”

But the next morning, it was still snowing.  Three feet at least.   Sequoia slogged through the stuff on the way to help Ma with the morning milking.

“Let’s leave them in the barn, Sequoia.  Nothing for them to do outside today.”

“I’m going to bring the hens inside.  The coop is getting full of snow.”

Sequoia stood at the head of the driveway, contemplating the half mile walk to the bus stop.   The snow was pristine, which meant that Pa had not returned home.   That was certainly not unprecedented but she had hoped to walk in the snow pack created by his truck tires.   The day was yellow-grey, not sunlight but not darkness.    The snowfall was no longer wet and heavy.   The wind stung the fine powder against her cheeks.  She turned back to the farmhouse.   She heard a snow-mobile approaching.

Great, Henry.   He was just as much of a loser as her brother.   Sequoia stayed out of his way as much as she could.   He leered at her whenever he got the chance and once, in the kitchen, he had copped a feel.   He laughed uproariously when she slapped his face so hard that her palm stung for an hour.

“Phone’s out.”   Ma looked worried, hands on her hips as she surveyed the white landscape from the porch.   Together they watched as the snowmobiles disappeared into the whiteness.   Ma shook her head and went back inside to knead bread.

“Don’t worry, Ma.  The snow will stop soon and the phone’ll come back on.  I’m sure Pa is holed up in town, trying to call us.”

The words sounded hollow to Sequoia.  She wondered if her Ma felt the same strange despair that had begun to weigh upon the farmhouse.   She spend the morning studying for a history test and then the afternoon on her English term paper.    By evening milking the snow was up to her chest.  Ma had dug a path with the shovel and the snow blower from the house to the barn.   It was full dark when the chores were done.  The women had to use the rope that was strung from the house to the barn to feel their way back to the house.    Sequoia never recalled having used the rope before and she barely remembered her grandfather telling about how it had saved them getting lost going out to the barn to care for the animals in the blizzard of ’67.

The power went out sometime during the night.   Ma fired up the woodstove in the kitchen and started the fireplace in the living room.   Patches paced around, whining intermittently.    Sequoia tried to outpace the snow and keep the path to the barn relatively clear but the snow blower had given up the ghost.   There was no sign of Dale or Pa.

That night, Sequoia brought a basket of eggs in from the barn and restocked their vegetables from the root cellar.   Ma went to sleep on the couch in the family room right after dinner.    The snow completely blocked the front door and was past the second story windows.    From her third story bedroom, Sequoia could barely make out the outline of the full moon.   She awoke to Patches barking frantically and then, a terrible crashing noise.    The farmhouse roof was sloped enough to keep the snow from building up but the porch next to the family room was a different story.     The roof had collapsed from the weight of the snow, taking out the exterior wall.

Sobbing, Sequoia tried for several hours to dig through snow, shards of glass and bits of insulation to reach Ma, who was trapped beneath several thousand pounds of snow and building debris.   Her hands were bloody, her face raw and chapped, when she was finally able to grip one of Ma’s hands.  The fingers were waxy and stiff in hers.    The chimney had partially collapsed and snow was blowing into the family room.   Sequoia sank to her knees on the kitchen floor.   Patches licked anxiously at her cheeks.

Finally, with great effort, Sequoia hauled the contents of the refrigerator, the dog food and all the flashlight batteries she could find out to the barn.   On the last trip, she could barely get the barn door open.   The snow was well past the eaves.    She climbed up into the hayloft, exhausted.   Patches curled up beside her under some old horse blankets.   When the barn cats emerged, Patches only opened one eye and sighed as the felines nestled alongside Sequoia.

The lowing of the cows asking to be milked awoke her.   Halfway through the milking cycle, the back-up generator that had kept the milking machines going ground to a halt.   Sequoia finished the milking by hand.   The milking machine, like the milk and grain silos, were remnants of when the farm had been profitable.   The herd had once been over 100 and the harvest bountiful.

Sequoia went out through the door that led from the barn directly into the shed connected to the grain silo.   The shed roof groaned and Sequoia shuddered.    There was a faint daylight coming in through the top of the silo.   She stared upwards and then started the long climb up the ladder to the roof.   The silo was topped with a dome.  Fresh air came in through spaces in the cinderblock walls and under the dome.

She was about ten feet up the ladder that wound around the inside of the silo when she nearly tripped.   She put her hands out to grab the ladder and touched wood.   Cautiously, she crawled up onto what appeared to be a platform.  The platform, when she fished her flashlight out of her jacket pocket, held what could only be described as a fort.   Someone, it had to have been Dale, had hauled a couch and a table up onto a platform of rough boards.   Beer cans and cigar ashes were scattered about.   There was even a television and a small refrigerator, both of which were, of course, utterly useless in present conditions.

She continued her climb.   When she reached the top of the silo, some 100 feet off the ground, she could see outside.  It had been snowing for five days.  All she could see of the farmhouse was the third story.   She wondered briefly if she would ever set foot in her bedroom again.    The barn below was rapidly disappearing into the snow; only the loft area was still exposed but the snow was drifting quickly.

She looked east, towards town.   She thought she saw some smoke in the distance but she couldn’t be sure.   To the west, nothing but white.   It was so quiet, no birds, no engines, no tractors.  No planes in the sky.   She imagined that she was the last person on earth.   The sound of one of the horses neighing jolted her back to the present.

For the next few hours, Sequoia hauled whatever she could from the root cellar and the grain shed into the silo.   Each trip she took back into the barn she knew could be the last.   She was pretty sure that the air in the barn would soon be unhealthy.   Every crevice was blocked by tons of snow.

First she brought the horses into the silo.  They balked but Patches nipped at their heels.   The cows came next, more complacent.   She was worried that the pigs might go after the chickens so she brought several of the laying hens up onto her platform.    She was about to return to the barn one final time, to grab a few more feed buckets and tools, when the barn cats came racing through the shed, Patches barking wildly behind them.  Sequoia reached for the dog, worried that she might tangle with the cats and their sharp claws.  Her fingers brushed the nape of the sheepdog’s neck and then she heard a muffled explosion.   The shed had crumbled under the weight of the snow.

She shut the door, sealing herself and her charges into the silo.   When she looked out of the dome the next morning, the barn had disappeared.   She couldn’t tell how far up the side of the silo the snow reached.  It was all just so white.

And for the immediate future, if it were not for the cows asking to be milked, twice a day, at dawn and dusk, Sequoia would not have known day from night.   Years later, when she thought back on the time in the silo, she realized that keeping the animals alive had kept Sequoia from losing her mind.

There was milk and eggs and vegetables.    The animals had grain and feed.   There was bedding.   She rationed everything.   Water came from the snow she scooped out the back door where the shed had once been.  She was always cold, but not freezing.   She imagined that the warm air from the animals rose up to her perch where she huddled with Patches under horse blankets.    For the first few days, she cried herself to sleep.   She thought of Ma and her friends from school.   She wondered if Pa or Dale, or anyone, were alive.   After a while, she got tired of thinking.

And then came the morning when the light woke her before the cows.   She peered out from under the silo dome.   The sunlight was blinding and the sky was as blue as she’d ever seen it.   Below her, a rooster, one of the chicks that had hatched a few months earlier, began to crow.   She was afraid, when night came, that the snow and the dark would return but the sun was even brighter the next day.   Water dripped into the silo and moisture beaded on the concrete walls.  On the third day of sun, when she opened the door to retrieve snow for the water buckets, ice water gushed into the silo.  She closed the door quickly.   Water was leaking into the silo from the spaces between the concrete blocks.

As she sat on her perch, warm enough now to strip down to her t-shirt, a terrible thought occurred to her.   Had she and her charges survived the snow only to drown in the silo that had been their refuge?   Where would all the snow melt go?   The farmland that surrounded them was flat as far as the eye could see.   There were creeks but not nearly deep enough to carry away all the water.   Her grandfather had talked about a big flood many years before Sequoia was born, when the center of town was six feet under water.  Supposedly, a better drainage system had been put in place as a result.

With the sunlight and the change in temperature, the air inside the silo had become rank.   The animals were covered in their own filth.    Several of the pigs appeared sick and two of the chickens died.  Sequoia tried to clean up after the animals, painstakingly hauling bucket after bucket of manure up to the top of the silo and dumping it out.   The morning she threw the chickens out of the silo, she heard the shriek of a vulture.   Bits and pieces of the wreckage of the barn and the farmhouse began to emerge.   The oak trees that surrounded the house were battered but still standing.   It was hard to tell from the top of the silo how deep the snow was, or if there was standing water on top of the snow.

And then, it started to rain one afternoon.   At first, a pitter patter and then a deluge.   The next morning, the rain had stopped and the landscape had become an ocean.   Bits of wood and trees floated by, some thirty feet below her prison gable.   She saw three tractors and a car the first morning, as well as the bloated carcasses of several cows.  Later that afternoon, she saw something coming from the west.  She squinted into the setting sun.   As it got closer, she could see that it was a homemade raft, fashioned out of sheet metal and pieces of wood.

“Hey!”  She called out, voice crackling with tension.   The figure standing in the middle of the raft looked up at the silo.

“Is there someone up there?”   Sequoia couldn’t tell if the voice was male or female.

“Yes!”

Sequoia wanted to bite back her response.  The base of her spine tingled with nervousness.

The raft came closer to the silo.  It was a young man with a small dog at his side.   The dog began to bark and Patches responded from deep inside the silo.   The man on the raft laughed, or at least it sounded like a laugh.

The man paddled around the silo, making a full circle.  Sequoia thought he had disappeared, or maybe that he had been a mirage.

“Water’s up above the door by about five feet,” he called up to her.

One of the horses whinnied.

“What do you have in there with you?  Are you by yourself?”

Sequoia hesitated, perhaps he meant them ill.  He must have sensed her unease.

“It’s all right.  I’m sure you haven’t seen anyone in a long time.   My name is Salvador.   I live in Omaha, at least I used to.”

Rather than answer his question, she asked if he was hungry.

She tossed down some carrots and a few potatoes.   Salvador shared them with his dog, which Sequoia thought was a positive sign.

With that the raft receded in the distance.   The hope that Sequoia had felt soon turned to despair.    Days passed.  She became convinced she’d imagined the man, that she was so starved from lack of human interaction that her mind had created another person.

One of the pigs died but it was too heavy to haul up the ladder.   Their water supply dwindled and she was afraid to open the door lest the silo be flooded.  She managed to get a small bucket on a rope under one of the narrow openings in the cinderblock to collect some water.

Some days after the man appeared on the raft she saw the water had gone down a bit more.   There was no more rain.   She could see patches of earth under the water.   It was mid-afternoon when she began to hear what sounded like hammering.   Then she saw Salvador towing several large pieces of wood.   Then some sheet metal.  He must have gotten it from the collapsed barn.   Her heart pounded in her chest.   She clutched a hayfork in her trembling hands.  At her feet, the dog whined nervously.

“Hello there!  I am going to see if we can get you out of there.”

The raft disappeared behind the silo.    Sequoia watched the water, which now seemed to be streaming around the silo, moving more rapidly than before towards the road and fields beyond where the farmhouse had stood.   As the summer, it must have been summer by then, light faded from the sky, a knock came upon the door to what had been the shed.

Sequoia opened the door very gingerly; the barn cats streaked past her.  She looked back into the silo.   The horses and cows were pushing towards her, frantic to get outside.   She stood to the side, behind the door.  The pigs and chickens were next.

Sequoia fought the urge to slam and lock the door.  She was seized with terror.  Was she afraid of Salvador or was she afraid of leaving all that remained of her past, the few traces of the farm that were left in the silo?  What if he stole her animals?

“Are you coming out?”

A fresh breeze wafted in the open door.  She stepped outside to the first fresh air she’d breathed in months.   The pitchfork was firm in her hands.

Kate Abbott has written three novels: Running Through the Wormhole (Black Rose Writing 2015), What She Knew (Black Rose Writing 2019) and Asana of Malevolence (Mascot Books 2016). Her work has also appeared in Mamalode, Screamin Mamas, Sammiches and Psych Meds, The Good Mother Project, the Ottawa House, Manifest Station, Persephone’s Daughters, and Kudzu House. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia and Fenwick Island, Delaware. Mom to three grown (almost) sons, she shares her life with rescue animals of all sorts.

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Writing Cohort Opportunity

Circe is offering: Crucible – A Year-Long Writing Cohort 

Let by Gina Frangello and Emily Black, this cohort is designed for writers seeking to spend a year deeply immersed in writing or revising a book length work.

Cohort Includes:

  • Once monthly class meeting over Zoom
    • 2-3 members will have their pages workshopped per meeting (each participant will be workshopped twice)
  • Every other month individual/private meeting with Emily or Gina over Zoom (participants will have a chance to work with both)
  • Ongoing online communication between members of the cohort to share resources and ask questions in between sessions
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  •  100 manuscript pages read and reviewed by Emily and Gina

Email info@circeconsulting.net for more information

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Guest Posts, Life, Self Care

Mel’s Declassified College Survival Guide

May 15, 2021
tip
by E.E. Sneed
Welcome to Mel’s Declassified College Survival Guide! Here you will learn tips and tricks to
surviving college so you won’t be forced to drop out and be shunned by society.
Tip #1: Beware of the Socratic Junkie Wannabe
Congratulations! You made it out of bed to go to your first class! You see a beautiful man and
you are unsure of what to do. Sit next to that beautiful person. Why? Because he won’t sit next
you. You are a freshman and no one “chooses” to sit next to you. It doesn’t matter how hot you
think you are. You are a wide-eyed newbie thrown into the jungle of savages ready to tear you
apart. Don’t worry, that beautiful person will end up talking to you eventually and you two will
become close until you realize he’s a crazed junkie.
Tip #2: Google Maps is Your Friend
It’s time for the second class and you have no idea where that building is. Luckily for you, two
Danish brothers created Google Maps so you can input your walking destination with ease. Just
make sure your volume is off or else everyone will know you’re using a GPS to get around
campus.
Tip #3: Don’t Be A Sheep
Oh no. The sororities are coming around. Will you become radicalized or join Greek life? A
hipster or a sheep? The benefits to being a hipster is that you won’t succumb to the hive mind
mentality. There are plenty of clubs to join that cater to your interests. If you’re feeling spooky,
you can join the Occult Club or if you wish to expand your horizon on a variety of cultures, you
could join a culture club of a region of your interest. But if you do pick a sorority, for initiation,
will you choose cocaine or dildo?
Tip #4: It’s Okay to Be Unsure
Another important choice has entered and it’s whether to change your major or not. Everyone
usually ends up changing their major once or twice during their time at college and if anyone
puts you down for that, then they can suck a dick!
Tip #5: Image is Everything
You have made it to your sophmore year and you’re feeling pretty solid about college, but you
feel like you need to amp up your look. A cool, fake leather jacket will do the trick along with
dying your hair an unnatural color. A cool, fake leather jacket will give off the aura that you’re
tough and no one can stand in your way, even though you still barely know your way around
campus. Dying your hair will make you a landmark of the college campus, especially if you keep
that color for years. But what is the meaning of hair color?
  • Red: Dye your hair red if you want to say, “I want to acquire a stable job when I leave college, but I also want to be expressive and have a good time while plotting the downfall of my enemies”.
  • Dark Blue: Dye your hair dark blue if you want that superheroine comic book vibe, while also giving off the illusion that it might be black to future employers.
  • Forest Green: Dye your hair forest green if you have hazel eyes so you can look like you’re one with nature and you tried being vegan for a week.
  • Pixie Purple/Pink: Dye your hair purple or pink if you want people to think you’re into cosplay and anime while also being down to buy seven vapes.
  • Pastel: Dye your hair pastel colors if you’re too lazy to keep up with bright dye coloring.
  • Black: Dye your hair black if you’re dead inside and you just want it to fade to
  • brown, showing you’re non-committal.
  • Auburn Orange: Dye your hair auburn if you want to match with your skinny pumpkin spice chai latte (no foam!).
  • BBB (Basic Bitch Blonde): Dye your hair BBB if you get frappuccinos from Starbucks every other day while wearing your favorite pair of UGGS.
Just dye your hair.
Tip #6: Show Off Them Titties
Adding to the rule of image being everything, buy clothes that make your tits look even bigger. Everyone loves big titties.
Tip #7: Remember That Every Stable Man is Taken
Now that you’re a junior, your confidence radiates around the room. Now the cute boys choose to sit next to you… Oh… They all have girlfriends…
Tip #8: Acquire An On Campus Job
Next step is to acquire an on campus job. Sure the pay is shit, but employers will like that you’re taking more initiative to help your campus grow and you will meet friends that will last a lifetime. Also be sure to fall for every twiggy man that gets hired. It makes the job fun.
Tip #9: Don’t Fall For The Man In Love With A Married Woman
People say that academics are the hardest. But it isn’t. It’s everything that goes on in the background. How were you supposed to foresee that your first love will leave you for a married woman? You tried so hard to show that you loved him but he couldn’t do the same. It wasn’t enough. Everyone was better. At one of his parties, the man in the corner knew that, but he couldn’t speak without fear of embarrassing himself. Go talk to him. Maybe he’s worth it.
Tip #10: Life Is Full of Plot Twists
He wasn’t worth it. As per usual, you try everything you can to show your love, but the fear of commitment is too great within the male college population.
Tip #11: He’ll Have The Name of Someone You’ll Love
You can’t fall for someone that has a girlfriend. That’s awful. That will automatically make you a “homewrecker”. Don’t let it tempt you no matter how much he looks at you with great admiration and is there for you no matter what. You’re not the one for him.
Just forget about it.
Tip #12: Meet The Younger Version of Yourself
In this midst of feeling more alone than ever before, you meet him. A man more beautiful than he will ever know. He’s the same Zodiac sign as you and your Chinese Zodiacs say you two are soulmates, though some people say that’s bullshit. The only problem is that you’re a senior and he, the “Young Boi”, is a freshman. 4 years isn’t that big of a deal, but social norms have taught us that it’s only socially acceptable for the male to be older, mostly because the male’s maturity level is stunted until they’re 25. Though, that’s because since the dawn of time men have been coddled.
Tip #13: Every Emotion Is Like A Taste In Your Mouth That Will Give You A Sense of Pleasure, Except For Betrayal, That Has The Taste of The Char On A Piece of Burnt Meat
But as you are a senior, people start to grow and some start to shrink. The people you hold close to you will betray you for their own peace of mind and only those close to you will show their loyalty in your most desperate times. Strap on your heeled Timberlands because the tea is boiling.
Tip #14: Smile When He Speaks
It’s funny how you see people try to come back into your life after so much damage, but you have the barriers made to not get hurt again. You made the “Young Boi” promise that no matter how difficult things get, you both will work through it. The time came where you two got into a discourse and you thought it was all over like before. It was devastating. But when your love tells you, “I promised I wouldn’t leave you.” It brings tears to your eyes.
Tip #15: Embrace The Day Like Night
Answers seems simple, but often times they cause more questions. You believed that you will do anything for your career and you still do. You want it all. But the most important thing you want is him. The “Young Boi” with hazel eyes, a Roman nose, and runs like a lanky Gazelle across the street with his tiny scarf wrapped around his pencil neck. Always ready to make you laugh on your saddest days. You want him to not be in pain anymore. You want him. But he doesn’t want you…
Tip #16: Don’t Rely On Him Too Much
Somehow the man in the corner that was at the parties keeps coming back to you, despite things not working out previously. It seems that men find it thrilling to chase after a woman, rather than cherish her once he has her. I mean, you already broke up with him twice. But at least he’s there for you during all the tough times.
Tip #17: Get That Bread
A key to applying to jobs is to remember that not everyone will meet the requirements. As my uncle, who’s a Vice President of Wells Fargo, would say, it’s their job to teach you the ropes to an entry level job.
Tip #18: Listen to Your French European Friend
Your friends worry that you’re going for the “Young Boi” too hard and that you’re setting yourself for disappointment. They question why you feel so strongly for him and you can’t explain the feeling of the universe pulling you closer to him. You feel like you’re on drugs when you speak to him, despite never even doing such things before. But your French European trusts
in you to make the right choice.
Tip #19: Always Sit Next To Him
He is a freshman and he is timid. You know that feeling, remember? Even if he’s hesitant. You have spent years to be as confident as you are now and now you will show him the ropes. After all, you see yourself in that “Young Boi”. Even when the “Young Boi” makes mistakes, you forgive him because of his exquisite beauty.
Tip #20: Don’t Whine About Other People’s Happiness
It’s that time of year where it’s Valentine’s Day. Of course, the “Young Boi”, as young as he is, complains about how dumb this holiday is. You, having been cheated on right before your eyes on your first Valentine’s Day, are not bitter about this holiday. You say to him, “Let people be happy. Happiness is so futile and only lasts so long. So let them have them be happy. It’s not hurting you”. He ponders it. But not for long.
Tip #21: You Can Not Make Him Love You
You thought if you gave him everything his little heart desired he would. Patience. Comfort. Companionship. But none of it moved him.
Tip #22: Ask Questions
What do you want from me? Why do you run from me? Why aren’t you wondering? When will you know? Why are you scared of me? Why don’t you care for me? He will never know when to come around.
Tip #23: It’s Okay To Fall Apart
Life is full of unexpected events. Maybe you will lose a family member or a friend. Or both. It’s normal to not be 100% all the time. It’s okay to cry. You have people that support you, even if it might be one person. Think of that one person. How much they mean to you and hold them close. The “Young Boi” won’t understand.
Tip #24: You Will Be Okay
Now it’s time to graduate. Perhaps you still feel lost that you still don’t have a job lined up, but at least you’re not taking an extra year to change your entire major to focus on your “rap career”. Once you go up on that stage the “Young Boi” will realize, only in that moment of you walking up to receive your diploma, just how much he’ll miss you.
E.E. Snead (Elle Snead) is the author of The Empress of Fay: Mask of Shadows and is also a writer for the app Tales where you can read her interactive drama, Cupid’s Chokehold. She currently lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Indiana University of PA 2019.

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Megan Galbraith is a writer we keep our eye on, in part because she does amazing work with found objects, and in part because she is fearless in her writing. Her debut memoir-in-essays, The Guild of the Infant Saviour: An Adopted Child’s Memory Book , is everything we hoped for from this creative artist. Born in a charity hospital in Hell’s Kitchen four years before Governor Rockefeller legalized abortion in New York. Galbraith’s birth mother was sent away to The Guild of the Infant Saviour––a Catholic home for unwed mothers in Manhattan––to give birth in secret. On the eve of becoming a mother herself, Galbraith began a search for the truth about her past, which led to a realization of her two identities and three mothers.

This is a remarkable book. The writing is steller, the visual art is effective, and the story itself is important.

Pick up a copy at Bookshop.org or Amazon and let us know what you think!

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Anti-racist resources, because silence is not an option

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Click here for all things Jen

Guest Posts, Life, Trust, Truth

Truth and Consequences

April 15, 2016

By Amelia Zahm

“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.”

“The liar lives in fear of losing control. She cannot even desire a relationship without manipulation, since to be vulnerable to another person means for her the loss of control.”
–Adrienne Rich

I sat down to write about lies. More specifically, I intended to write about your lies, all the millions of tiny and gigantic untruths you spun into a glistening web around you and me. I set out to tug on those fibers, to peel back the sticky net and expose the raw, pink flesh of truth hiding underneath, to reveal you. I want to bring your greatest fear to life. I want the world to see behind your mask, and I want to be the one who pulls it off. That’s the meanness in me.

But I can’t hold onto meanness the way you do. I don’t have the stomach for it. Anger and jealousy flash through me, blazing then burning out. I’ve learned to clean up the debris, compost it, and move on. I’ve seen what holding a grudge can do. During the twenty years of our friendship, I watched you smolder with resentment and envy when you felt slighted, upstaged, or challenged. I just never believed you’d turn that on me. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Life, memories

Departures

March 18, 2016
memories

By Andrew Bertaina

The world cares little for our departures. It spins and spins in the dark unaware that we are even here, spinning in that same dark. We are left to construct our own signs then, spin our own yarns about the moments that have marked us. We tell ourselves stories about first loves, parents, home, in order to give our lives structure, a foundation on which to build the architecture of the self. The meaning of our departures comes in hindsight, a postscript, leaving is not the car going down the driveway, the hand waving goodbye, it is considering, days, months, years later, what the leaving meant, trying to remember if you held your hand against the cold glass and what it meant that your mother didn’t cry. This essay is already a failure, an attempt to send myself a postcard from the future. I doubt I’ll have the sense to read it.

The last summer I spent in Chico, CA before leaving home was like any other: blazingly, soul-scorchingly, hot. It was the sort of heat about which people out east say, “It’s a dry heat though,” which is why I dislike almost everyone out east. The observation is made no less obnoxious by its veracity. The summer days in Washington D.C. are sauna-like, something to be endured, like watching golf on television. These relentless days always leave me longing for the cool California nights of my youth—crickets chirping and a light breeze prickling night’s skin.

Departing for college was the first of many adult severances. It felt like a pin prick at the time, an inevitable retracing of the steps taken by siblings and friends. They returned in the summers, strangers in a familiar land, stopping for a visit with the natives before returning to their new home. And yet, as the years have passed and college friendships and memories have faded, I realize that leaving Chico was a severance, an end to the era of a childhood and a farewell to my home, and to the idea of any place being home. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Life

Loving The Life You Have

February 26, 2016

By Ginger Sullivan

I swear it happens weekly. I open my mouth and some clerk or new patient or person on the street asks me where I am from. I feel like a transplant from a foreign land.  Even though I left decades ago and have successfully eradicated the “ya’lls” and the “yonders” from my vernacular, my Southern upbringing comes through loud and clear. My move North did not erase my history. Although I try, hiding my background is impossible. My roots will not, cannot, be denied.

Here in the North, for obvious reasons, the South is not looked upon too kindly.   These arguments aside, my accent alone gives way to question, maybe even judgment, and I am left sitting in my shame. Am I stupid? Did I grow-up with backwater ideas hailing from the trailer park? Am I small-minded, racist, conservative and overly-religious? My impulse is to get busy trying to prove myself. “Don’t write me off!” my insides scream. See me. See past my inflection. Give me a chance. I can hang with you Yankee intellectuals. I am worldly. I am not a mindless Southern Belle. I can contribute value. I am good enough.

Ridiculous, I know. But it is my story. And some of the stereotypes are true. I grew up with guns in the house. My brother even shot one through the floor once. We ate our share of fried chicken and grits. One grandmother made amazing homemade biscuits that I still cannot duplicate. The other grandmother set a mean table and needed three black helpers – the gardener, the cook and the housekeeper – to manage her world. We said grace before meals and dressed for church every Sunday. The daily choice was sweet or unsweet iced tea, even for young children. We spend weekends canoeing or watching SEC football. And no woman worked outside the home. They (we) were considered marriage material, beautiful window dressing for our good looks, not our minds.

I think it was my heart that noticed first. From a young age, I was suffocating. It was death by disconnection. I wanted a bigger world that talked to me, stimulated me, expanded me. I felt alone and did not have the words or the know-how to identify my predicament, much less fix it. I was surrounded by superficial nicety and put together beauty, but my heart longed for authenticity. Will someone stand up and talk about what is really going on here? I could not do pretend. I assumed that something must be wrong with me that everyone else could masquerade and I just could not stomach it.

And then there was my intellect. To my parents’ credit, they educated me well, sending me to the best private schools available. Originally, I am sure that the Harpeth Hall School was founded as a finishing school for Southern ladies. A societal necessity. But, even the South could not remain too long in the dark. At some point, the school became a launching pad for well-to-do families to provide their daughters opportunity. I am grateful to this day that my parents had such foresight.

But even there, I was more backwoods than most. (I guess I didn’t fit in either to the plaid skirt, prep school world.)  I will never forget the middle school quiz bowl. The announcer read a series of vocabulary words to the competing panelists. The elected smarter girls on stage reeled off the definitions one by one, some of which I had never heard. And then the announcer said, “taxidermist.” The room grew silent. No one spoke. No one knew what that word meant. The announcer turned to the audience and asked if anyone knew what that word meant. I raised my then very shy hand. I knew what that word meant. Hell, we had a few on the family payroll that I knew by name.

Fast forward multiple decades. I have not lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line for a very long time. But when I get a chance to visit, there is a part of me, deep at the cellular level, that awakens and says “home.” Maybe it is the sound of the katydids or the sweet smell of freshly mowed green grass. My long ago emotions, tied to the place of my upbringing, rise with a vengeance and demand my sentimental attention.

Through the years, I have managed to willingly claim a part of the South in me. The art of setting an elegant table is important to me as is taking casseroles to my fallen-ill neighbors. There is something polite in my child’s  “yes ma’am” and “no sir” that just sounds better than a sheer “yeah.”  Dressing up a word to make it more kind goes a lot farther than aggression just because I can.  Thus, maybe my Southern training wasn’t all bad. Maybe there is something there I can redeem and even want to hold onto.

Undeniably, like it or not, it is my story. I often find myself saying, I am not sure I like the path I took to get here, but I like the me now. And, I would certainly not be the me now without having spent 18 years wading barefoot in the creek and watching my Dad chase cows in the backyard.

Our life is like a blank wall, waiting to be filled with a 12′ x 12′ mural.   Our experiences, stories, pain and joys are painted on there somewhere. We can try to draw over them or around them or make them into something else, but they cannot be expunged. We are the sum total of all our life’s encounters.  The good news is that our life’s artwork is not complete until our journey ends. We can always add more to our mural which can transform the entirety of the composition. We are a continuous work in process.

I don’t know about you but that works for me. It engenders hope. It fortifies self-compassion to fight off my shame. It allows me the ability, on a good day, to fully embrace the life I have now. I am reminded of that old Crosby, Stills & Nash song – “If You Can’t be With the One You Love, Love the One You’re With.” I may not have the life I wanted, the life I dreamt of, but I am going to learn to love the life I have.

So, pass the biscuits and pour the iced tea. I’m gonna dig in, into all of it. Every last bite.

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Ginger M. Sullivan practices psychotherapy to pay the bills but her real joys are her two children, her pug and her writing. As a self-proclaimed fumbling human being, she expounds on the underbelly of life – all things raw and real – that others might continue on their journey to become their highest, best self. She joined Jen Pastiloff at Jen’s Tuscany retreat during the summer of 2015. This is her fourth time being published on The Manifest-Station.

March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough. Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough.
Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

 

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

beauty, Guest Posts, Inspiration, Life

The Idea of Being Enough, or a Credit to My Kind

October 6, 2015

By Ashley-Elizabeth Best

I am stuck in myself, indulging the constant loop of compare and contrast. Growing up poor and with a single mother of five I struggled to prove I was more, that I could be different than my family and transcend others’ assumptions about me. I’ve always been a self-improver and work tirelessly at my imperfections. There are many incidents from my childhood that have stayed with me and for a long time made me feel I could never be anything than what I was then—a tired and unhappy kid helping to raise her four younger siblings with her struggling mother.

Every Sunday we stuffed a stroller full of dirty laundry in garbage bags to push downtown to the laundry mat. To get to the laundry mat we had to pass a dental office a fellow classmate’s parents owned. Most Sundays he earned his allowance mowing the lawn in front of the practice. I’ll never forget the look on his face every time he saw us five kids and our mother pass by with our stroller, something between pity and a recognition—I know who you are and what you’ll be. So I performed the smart poor girl who has potential, but as one classmate said within my hearing once, she’s either going to get pregnant or go to university.

I measured ‘enough’ in all the wrong ways for years, for decades. I had terrible anxiety, agonized over everything I said to others—did they think what I said was stupid? Was I stupid? Can I post that on Facebook, is the grammar right, is the structure right? Was my performance making me good, making me enough? Mistakes terrified me—someone like me could not afford to make mistakes.

Everything up to my early twenties was done because of fear. When I moved away from my family to attend university, the constant fight for their survival and well being left me empty and lost. I started taking creative writing classes and slowly began to grow a feeling of possibility, that a life of my own was worth fighting for, and that maybe writing could help nurture my growing confidence and independence from my former dependents.

Years later, after school, working, serious medical problems, and constant little tragedies which have befallen my family, I am still poor, but now know I am worthy and that my life is meaningful. I have a poetry book coming out and am deeply at work on a novel. I have a life of my own despite and because of my family. I am enough for myself and my pen. It took me a long time to realize self-worth is something I could earn through self-compassion.

I do not dare to compare myself to others, I no longer look for evidence that I am inferior because of my past. I look forward knowing life is a sequence of feelings, some will last and most won’t. They are all a performance of singular parts acting as a whole in the absence of a frame. I am not a credit to my kind, I am a credit to myself. I am enough. I am. Author Photo
Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Cobourg, Canada. Her work has been published in Fjords, CV2, Berfrois, Grist and Ambit Magazine, among other publications. Recently she was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her first collection of poems, Slow States of Collapse is forthcoming with ECW Press. She lives and writes in Kingston.

Join Jen Pastiloff at one of her Girl Power Workshops or On being Human Workshops by clicking here.

Join Jen Pastiloff at one of her Girl Power Workshops or On being Human Workshops by clicking here.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It's magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

 

courage, Guest Posts, Home, Life

The Country Estate

October 3, 2015

By Stephanie Couey

The “Country Estate” is my home for five months.  I move in a few days after opening the lid of my then roommate’s white Cuisinart rice cooker, and having my face engulfed in a buzzing red swarm of fruit flies.  We fight about it.  I’m not even sure why.

My then-boyfriend, a jack-Mormon, picks me up in his dad’s work truck and listens as I vent about the fruit flies and the lingering trauma.  He highlights the fact that the roommate’s name is Sarin, the same as that of a lethal gas.  I don’t want to go there, and I’m not sure if I feel dirtier from the flies or from the fight, or from something else.

It is winter, and Nampa, Idaho is draped more in ice than snow.  The Country Estate, as we call it, is right next to an out of commission steam locomotive on its tracks, an enormous block of sculpted charcoal.  There is a silo so close by that we refer to it as “our silo” each time we drive back to the house.

The Country Estate is massive, yet chintzy.  It is an all-white two-story, in a style somewhere between colonial and warehouse.  The ceilings are made of porous tile, the living room, as well as the kitchen, is lit by fluorescent beams, and the floors are of ill-fitting linoleum bubbling up near the walls.

Me and my few things settle in upstairs, in the jack-Mormon’s room with muted green walls and a twin bed.  Heidi and Zeniff, the other inhabitants, aren’t home when I “move in,” but this isn’t the kind of house where people mind.

We call it the Estate because it is anything but.  We call it the Estate because it is surrounded by varying animals: goats, chickens, turkeys, and llamas.  We call it the Estate because we know it does not belong to us, but that we, for now, belong to it.

Here there is order.

The Jack-Mormon’s dog shits daily in front of the washing machine.

Each night we make tofu stir-fries with ingredients from local underpaid farmers and nearly-expired packs of tofu from Winco.  I introduce the jack-Mormon to Braggs Liquid Aminos, and he introduces me to putting a glob of peanut butter directly into the sizzling tofu and vegetables, letting it disperse into thick velvet liquid.

He’d come up behind me and breathe a gust of pot smoke down my shirt, his hair greasy.  We’d eat sitting on the floor with Zeniff, with numerous open beers, a bowl, and a guitar.  I cry during the Leonard Cohen songs, always in the same moments, ones like, “she broke your throne and she cut your hair,” and neither boy makes fun of me.  There’s something about being raised Mormon that makes them both sentimental in a way that respects crying.

In the time I live here, my grades slip a little, like they did when I was nineteen and aimless, but now I realize I wasn’t just aimless.  I realize I was comfortable.  And here I am again.  Comfortable.

At my first home, in California, I didn’t want to move forward because I didn’t have to, just as I don’t have to in this house, with the jack-Mormon, in Nampa, where it costs nothing to live and everyone’s family and everyone’s church is within a ten-mile radius, so no matter how much you’ve shunned any of them, home is never a variable, and at the time, the “Estate” is not a variable.

In this house, the jack-Mormon shaves his chest hair and legs with my Venus razor.  He holds me on the ratted couch as we watch the Elephant Man and Beach House music videos on repeat.  When his dad shows up, the jack-Mormon hides his stash, and I talk about my grades, my Honda Civic’s mileage, and my parents’ health.

Never does this feel like sinking, though I suppose it is.

We go for runs when the ice melts.

We sometimes go to parties in Boise, his being dirtier and druggier than the ones I’d been going to before we met.

We buy sodas up the street across from a carniceria, and when asked if we have the munchies by our attendant, I respond with eyes as red as stop signs that we have “the thirsties.”

Mostly though, we stay in.

I write a lot on a laptop with no internet connection.  He asks if I’m ever writing about him.  I say, “not really.”

We color in Little Mermaid coloring books, letting Ariel and Eric be us.  I squiggle some stretch marks over Ariel’s cleavage, write, “feed me” on her stomach, and give her more tired eyes.  Then it’s pretty close.

I ask myself what it is any of us really strive for, much like I did at age fifteen, only now with the presence of pure contentment I’d never had after youth.  If we are loved and fed and comfortable, isn’t that enough?  We are warm, healthy, creative, making music, writing, drawing, exploring and re-exploring Nampa.  Can we keep this contentment going?  After years on and off of anti depressants and in and out of therapists’ offices, “contentment” in itself is a swinging sunlit hammock – just enough motion, just enough light.

The Country Estate is my home for five months.  In the midst of asking myself questions about striving versus stagnation on a daily basis, the jack-Mormon gets arrested, after numerous other offenses, for driving under the influence of heavy doses of his father’s Xanax.  He is sent away without warning, his dark yellow urine left un-flushed in the downstairs bathroom, Apple Jacks spilled on the kitchen counter.

His family throws me a small birthday party with Reeses Pieces cupcakes, and I see the final Harry Potter movie with his nephew.  I begin to eat meat again, knowing the absurdity of my former lover upholding vegetarianism while in jail.

I move back to Boise.  I become president of an on-campus association, and I consider graduate school.  I write poems.  Sometimes I just speak poems on my long walk from home to campus.

I visit him in jail, past the fields of livestock and corn, until I don’t.

I stop asking the questions about contentment, and start once again asking the questions about identity, distinction, money, forwardness.  I stop asking about here or there, and decide that it’s all here.  I go from unceasingly gray to black and white.

When I later drive through Nampa and pass the train tracks, I see our old home, our silo, our rickety porch with half smoked cigarettes between the boards.  Perhaps this was a temporary distraction, but maybe it’s all a distraction.  I see the steam engine, black and still, and I drive on, newly obsessed with motion.

Stephanie Couey is an MFA poet and teacher at University of Colorado-Boulder. She is from Riverside, CA and Boise, ID.

Join Jen Pastiloff at one of her Girl Power Workshops or On being Human Workshops by clicking here.

Join Jen Pastiloff at one of her Girl Power Workshops or On being Human Workshops by clicking here.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It's magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

Guest Posts, Life

Step By Step

August 14, 2015

By Ginger Sullivan

It is hard to believe over 30 years have passed. I was a spry young thing. The mysterious underdog. Everyone worried if I ate enough. And why on earth would anyone be up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, dressed and out the door regardless of the weather?

Sometimes, I look back on those days and question my own sanity. What was I running from? Was I that intolerant of my own feelings? Was I masochistic to my own burgeoning body as a young woman? Was I trying to prove something to someone? Reflecting on those days, I often feel sadness and regret for all that I missed out on. The normalcy of adolescence. The girly-girl stuff. The endless giggling about sissy stuff that I passed up as superficial or uninteresting. And yet, there are the moments when I look back on that time with gratitude. I appreciate the life lessons that those experiences have embedded in me. After all these years later, I often find myself tapping into whatever it was that kept me going mile after mile.

As a nationally ranked, award-winning long-distance runner, I was a force to be reckoned with. When I started out, I just ran as long and as fast as my legs would carry me. It wasn’t until later that I learned that even the boys had a hard time keeping up with me. I moved through the system – elementary school track team, summer Junior Olympics, middle school cross-country. I was voted most valuable runner as a freshman on the varsity high school cross-country team. I was ranked nationally as a top miler, hitting sub-five minutes time and time again. I was awarded trips to national meets in California. The mailbox was filled with college scholarship interest. I won enough medals, trophies and ribbons to wallpaper a good-sized room.

But then, I grew up and in running years, I grew old. My knees creaked and cracked and could no longer bear the weight of the repetitive pounding. There were no more trophies to earn or newspaper reporters interested in talking to me. It was just me … facing life, without the constant pressure to perform and the corresponding glory of another race won. I had to find normalcy in the everyday that was not timed, recorded, applauded and rewarded.

The trophies are now packed away, gathering dust in a box in the basement. And I certainly have good stories to tell my children. However, the best showing I have for all that hard work are the internalized experiences that provide a constant supply of resources and reflections as my mid-life has taken on a different race – one that needs just as much stamina and strength. My life these days is like strapping on a backpack loaded with bricks, day in and day out. Some of those bricks are long-term challenges that need daily tending and care, with no immediate outcome or relief in sight. Others are shameful mistakes I have made and represent one step, one day at a time, climbing out of a hole I dug myself. Yet, just like that ten-mile training run, I start. One foot in front of the other. And then another. And then the next one. There is no end insight. You just do what you know to be right, mile after mile, day after day.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Life, Women

What She Learned

April 24, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Kim Valzania

When she was 5 she learned that when a boy hits you on the playground what it really means is that he likes you.  Richard belted her in the arm at the top of the slide.  She didn’t cry and she didn’t tell the teacher.  But boy did it hurt, and it left a bruise.  Her little friend whispered, “he likes you” but when she told her daddy he said that if it ever happened again, she should make a tight fist and hit Richard back, only harder.  “Right in the nose is always an option.”

When she was 6 she learned that even a daddy is afraid sometimes. She discovered just how fast her daddy could run.  A lying, little, sneak of a neighbor falsely declared that her brother had fallen into a well, up in the woods.   Her daddy, her terrified hero of a daddy, could have qualified for the Olympics that day.  And he almost had a heart attack.

When she was 7 she knew for sure that she wanted to look exactly like Barbie when she grew up.  She practiced by walking around on her tip toes.  She wanted to have the tiniest waist, and a closet full of clothes.  She wanted to live in a dream house, play at the beach, and drive a red corvette. Today she is living proof that those dreams can and do come true.

When she was 8 she learned that if she cut her hair super short like a boy, everyone would start thinking she was a boy and everyone in the neighborhood (even her own family!) would start treating her like a boy and she herself would start acting like a boy.  She even got into a dirt-pile scuffle that involved a bit of rock throwing with above-mentioned lying, sneak of a neighbor.  It was fun for a while.

When she was 9 she learned how to hurt her little sister’s feelings.  All she had to do was tell her she smelled like a cow, refuse to play with her, mess with her animal collection, and slam the bedroom door in her face.  She was wild, mean, and a little bit violent.  Do make note that she later apologized for said bad behavior.  Sometimes being a boy wasn’t easy.

When she was 10 she became suspicious that her daddy would ask her to go ice fishing with him just so he could legally put out more tip-ups and bring home more fish.  When she realized this was indeed true, as in he didn’t deny it true, she was okay with it.  Sort of. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, Life

Requiem for a Fallen Catholic.

February 12, 2015
requiem for a fallen catholic

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88 

Requiem for a Fallen Catholic

By Trish Cook.

Confession

I hate going to church. Especially funerals. I am only here in the hopes that my presence will comfort a hurting friend, not because I believe in this bullshit.

Sit, kneel, stand, cry.

Remember how losing a parent is like a having a body part amputated. How long the numbness where they used to exist lasts, how searing the pain is once the feeling returns. Remember why, ever since my dad died decades ago when I was twenty-four, I havent been able to sit through a religious service without getting angry, teary.

More pomp, more circumstance, more hollow promises.

Prayto whom, I do not knowthat my friend John, who has just lost his father and is the reason I grudgingly sit, kneel, stand, and cry today, finds comfort where I no longer do.

Wonder, as I have so many times since my own fathers funeral: Why would a loving God let us walk the earth so wounded? Lie so battered? Allow us to become so bruised, each and every one of us?

Continue Reading…