Browsing Tag

words

Guest Posts, love

Reading “Justine” in Milan

April 14, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Louise Fabiani

The sea is high again today, with a thrilling rush of wind. In the midst of winter you can feel the invention of spring. A sky of hot nude pearl until midday, crickets in sheltered places, and now the wind unpacking the great planes, ransacking the great planes…. –Lawrence Durrell, Justine

 

I am forty-four, married a decade, and in love with another man, a man I haven’t seen since we traveled together in Italy 17 years ago.

The matchmaking skills of a search engine brought us together last year. In a flash we re-established whatever had sizzled between us for four days in our late twenties. In my e-mails, I found myself echoing the quirky grammar and imaginative allusions of his Danish English, as if they were creative prompts. Those exchanges proved that we spoke the same language. A kind of intimacy, distance be damned.

Back and forth went the e-mails. Forth went a few of my letters and packages; nothing back from him. We conversed by phone a few times. We discussed meeting up in a few months.

It was all very cyber-Romantic.

Before long, a pattern began to emerge. He would let more and more time elapse between replies, and those messages appeared less intense, more perfunctory. He gave me the impression that he was overwhelmed by everything between us, maybe—as a therapist theorized—even scared. Of his own feelings or of mine? The most likely scenario: I no longer amused him. The responsibility of soothing and placating a clearly love-sick former travel mate outweighed any semi-illicit excitement she provided. We still spoke of meeting, in his Sweden or my Montreal, or somewhere neutral, but we both knew it was always too much to ask of the stars to grant us time and courage. They have more deserving people to line up for.

He vanished. I languished. For months. Not even a Christmas greeting from him.

So that is why I am here, six months later. I’ve taken a two-month trip back to Italy. Not to retrace our youthful steps (too painful). Not to forget about his most recent incarnation (impossible). Just to be in Italy. Isn’t that enough? Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, motherhood

Words Lost and Found

April 9, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Margaret Finnegan

She was in the tub singing Christmas carols. Mid-verse, she stopped. I said, “Are you okay?” She didn’t answer, and I knew then that everything had fallen apart. That after seven years seizure-free, my twelve-year-old daughter, Sia, was having a seizure. But what I didn’t know was that at that moment we were losing her, or, rather, we were losing the essence of her. And it wasn’t to the epilepsy. No. It was to the drug that was supposed to help her.

I should make it clear that I am a big believer in western medicine. I believe in vaccinations and mammograms and pills of all sizes and shapes. But this I know, when it comes to controlling seizures, everything is guesswork: Here, take this yellow pill. No luck? Add the blue pill. Still no luck? How about the white pill? Which leads me to Topamax, a little white pill about the size of one of your smaller baby teeth.

Topamax is an anti-convulsant, and it’s sometimes called dopamax because it makes you stupid, which is why no one starts your kid on Topamax right away. They wait until a bunch of other medications prove ineffective and then they prescribe Topamax. By the time Sia was prescribed Topamax two years after that day I found her in the tub, she had gone from being a spunky if quirky girl to a monster of fear. She was afraid to bathe because of the tub incident. She would say she had showered when she had only gotten her hair wet, and when she got to school her hair would dry into oily ribbons, and on her face she would wear a look of abject terror, and if anyone would talk to her she would tell them how scared she was that she might have a seizure. Of course, those are all excellent ways to drive away friends and to mark yourself as the sick, weak wildebeest of the middle school savanna. Kids she didn’t even know would follow her in the halls and yell, “seizure, seizure, seizure.” Whenever a teacher left the room, boys would turn the classroom lights on and off, knowing full well–because she told them–that flashing lights could actually cause her to have a seizure.

When you are watching your child fall deep into the rabbit hole of victimization and anxiety and depression and friendlessness and hopelessness and seizures, you eventually reach a place where you start to say, “You know what we should do? We should totally remove half her brain,” because that is a treatment for epilepsy. Neurosurgeons remove the part of the brain where the seizures originate and oftentimes that will stop the seizures. But Sia was not a good candidate for brain surgery so instead we continued her on a horrible cocktail of drugs that included the stupid pill, Topamax. Continue Reading…

death, Grief, Guest Posts, loss, Miscarriage

Finding My Vocabulary.

January 10, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Carly Williams.

I’ve learned a new vocabulary.

Dead. Death. Dead baby. Stillbirth. Stillborn. Neonatal death. Miscarriage. Bereaved.

At times I surprise myself at the ease with which death rolls off my tongue.

This fresh plethora of words flows easily from my unsilenced lips, slips calmly from my soured mouth.

For some, my emerging voice rings discordant. I wear, for all to see, the dark grief of random loss. Who wants to look at me, when my son’s death reflects the frailty of all life? Who wants to hear a language they don’t ever want to learn?

Language spirals uselessly around the death of a child or baby. I watch as the eyes of observers dart around, in search of an alternative to my truth. There is no alternative.

My vocabulary is the truth, my truth. Continue Reading…

And So It Is, Delight, Inspiration

It’s Going To Be Okay.

May 19, 2013

This morning, someone tweeted the question “What words do you turn to for comfort?”

It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be alright.

Those are my words. I couldn’t stop thinking them, even after I typed them in and sent them back to her through Twitter-land.

What words do you turn to for comfort? as if I am all alone, in a room, and these words are standing there with big, wide open, flabby arms. Here, now now, we’ve got you. Come here bubbeleh. It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be alright. Hefty words. Jewish words that smell like grandmother. Like Bubby. Words like brisket and floral dresses and wet mouths. Words that love and coddle and reassure. Words with hard “k” sounds, the “ah” in alright a sound like God. Powerful, all knowing. This is just the way it is. It is going to be alright. And so it is. Words that know their purpose in the world and deem themselves valuable and worthy even as you tell them how untrue they are, how much of a lie they must be, how they stand in front of you with open arms knowing damn well that thing are not okay. How can everything be alright when it’s not? you may sob into their blubbery arms. And the hardness of their bodies softens into a trusty thing and comfort is there in the room with you, sitting on the corner in your old chair like it had been there all along.

You turn to it and nod knowing that it’s that easy, that all you have to do is find someone to speak those words, to embody that grandmotherly intuition and just like that: Comfort is back in the room, helping you breathe and tie your shoes and get on with your day.

I’m a big advocate of safety. I like to feel safe. I seek out situations and people and words that make me feel safe to a fault. I didn’t have to think about it at all. The words buried under my tongue like little hopefuls.

They are always there, waiting in the wings. It’s going to be okay. Don’t worry in my mouth, fraying in the back of my throat, choking in my spit. It’s going to be alright buried in my gums.

I brought it as a the theme to my yoga class this morning after I saw Harriet Seitler’s tweet. This idea of comfort and how we seek out solace wherever we can, even in things as temporal as language.

I asked the people in my class what some of their own words were that they turned to for comfort. Answers varied from I love you to You did great to the ones-I-couldn’t-hear-because- I-am-nearly-deaf, but the gist was the same as my set of words. My own personal grandmotherly set of words were the same grandmotherly set of words for so many others. So many grandmothers walking around in calf-lengths, telling us all that we shouldn’t worry, that we were safe, that it would all be okay in the end.

May we all remember such comfort I suggested to the class before they opened their eyes and got up, moving on with their Sunday Starbucks and chores and kids’ soccer games. May we all remember the grandmother on our shoulders.  

We think that we deserve this stress we carry like it’s our birthright. I don’t deserve to be happy. I don’t deserve to be comforted when there is so much pain in the world. We think that if we keep ourselves busy, that if we keep moving, keep clocking in and out, the pattern of days all we have to keep us afloat, that we will succumb to the truth.

And what is the truth? That nobody is happy? That everyone is in pain?

Well, yes. Maybe there is some truth in that.

But that’s not the whole story. You can take comfort in that knowing.

Yes, people are filled with so much pain. Spend some time with them and you’ll see. It’s everywhere, this pain. This yearning for comfort and looking for it in even the most unlikely of places. Looking for it through drink and sex and the internet.

Anywhere really.

People are also filled with so much love. Spend some time with them and you’ll see. They are dying to be touched and also this: to give their love away.

People: so complex and different and so very much the same. Just like the words we choose to comfort us. Our grandmotherly words all so different and all so similar in their old lady shoes and wrinkled hands.

Everyone wanting to be told: You did good. That it’s going to be okay after all. Despite it all. Because of it all.

You did good.

Go tell someone you love that you love them. That it’s going to be okay. Right now. Go ask someone how they are doing and wait for their answer there in the doorway even if they stumble on their words as their eyes well up with water. Go hug someone. Hold it a little longer than usual. This is how we chip away at the pain. This is how we fill ourselves up with love.

Those words you turn to for comfort exist inside that place of love and they shift when you enter it. You may have thought they were one thing until you love so fully and find out that they were only in disguise. That they weren’t what you thought they were after all. They weren’t a grandmother in a floral dress. That they weren’t loud or big. They were soft, a whisper-like soundtrack, barely audible by human ears. Perhaps only audible by touch.

What the words speak: You are exactly where you need to be. They say things like It’s not going to be okay. It is okay. 

They stop speaking in future tenses. They exist only in the here.

I am a poet. I love words and the carnival of sound they create in the mind and how they etch a place in my imagination I can escape to when I am lonely or happy. Or when I feel nothing.

Words are powerful and I do believe that the ones that bring us great comfort should be duly noted, tattooed in our minds as needed.

However, they will change as we change. As we grow into adult versions of ourselves (as if that ever happens) the words we look to for comfort might fall away like old cells and although we might vaguely remember them like we vaguely remember our seven year old faces, we know that it’s no longer us. If we reach up and touch our cheeks we feel a roughness that wasn’t there at age seven. Our noses are bigger. We don’t break or stop working because we’ve lost parts of ourselves.

We don’t need those cells anymore to move our blood along, to wake up in the morning and make the coffee. We’ve made new cells. We’ve regenerated.

Touch your cheek and remember how it feels because when you are very very old, say, as old as your grandmother, your cheek will feel different than it does right now and perhaps that will bring you some comfort. This great big life you’ve led and how your face is weathered but the love! The love you’ve brushed up against with this cheek is worth every word in the world.

We might look back at the words that used to bring us comfort and shake our heads knowingly at them like someone we once loved asking to come back again. We have the wherewithal to know that the last time we let them come back they hadn’t changed, that things were exactly the same as they always had been and that the farthest thing we’d felt was “comfort”. Comfort was a mile away at all times. So we know this and look past the set of words that used to bring us comfort and accept that although we are not perfect, we have grown and what once made us feel safe as houses, no longer does.

All the words that you look for in your bedrooms and grandmothers and old chairs are simply a reminder of that feeling of safety. The thing is, if you ask me, comfort is all around.

Look, love is everywhere.

Look love, it’s everywhere.

Look everywhere, it’s love.

However you word it, it is. It’s going to be okay.

 

poster by Simplereminders.com

poster by Simplereminders.com

 

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