Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Like most teenagers of any given generation, I was filled with the usual angst of boy/girl relationships, girlfriend arguments and the never ending question of what to wear and who to sit with at lunch. Looking back, these events were hardly worth the time I spent brooding over them, but it was my world and my problems seemed larger than life.

I was the good girl. I went to church every Sunday and youth group Sunday night. I hardly ever swore, I made curfew and my clothes never revealed the assets God so generously bestowed upon me and I protected my virginity like it was a rare gilded treasure. I dated the good guys; the guys who wouldn’t dream of reaching for said treasure. It certainly didn’t hurt; however, that the one I dated the most just happened to be in the proverbial closet.

Unlike a lot of the others in school who leveraged drugs, alcohol or total abandonment as an outlet, the group of friends I chose to spend my time with had fun doing pretty much nothing at all. We laughed a lot, watched Monty Python movies, ate pixie sticks and drank Mountain Dew. Our hang out location of choice was Perkins or Wal-Mart and we highly enjoyed acting like goof balls on any school playground. We spent our hard earned or begged for money at the dollar theatre in town or splitting an entrĂ©e and Coke. We were the band members, the flag, a few theatre folks and some who were just plain cool. They were inspiring… life at the time was inspiring.

In my senior year, a few of my close friends and I chose to take a Creative Writing class in hopes of an easy A. Our teacher danced to the beat of her own drum. She didn’t just want to be the one lecturing and grading tests. She was close to our age, not far out of college and she wanted to be our friend.

It wasn’t long before the homework and her enthusiasm ignited a fierce passion for writing. Poems, short stories, streams of consciousness, that were quirky, edgy at times and full of life with all the joy and sadness in my heart. When I would write, I could go anywhere, be anyone. Whether it was simply ranting about something to get it off my chest, or creating my own world filled with everything mine was missing. Writing became a part of me.

Every time I finished a piece for class I would take it to my step-dad to edit. A life-long journalist, I valued his opinion above all others. He would be sitting at the kitchen table with his large, dark rimmed glasses on and his comb-over hair style slightly askew and would read with studied intensity. Those moments while he was proofing grammar with the dreaded red pen, I would hold my breath searching his face for any sign of approval. They were the longest moments in history. But it was during those encounters we shared a connection that even time will never fade.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quiet Passion

In the last six months, I find myself staring at that particular corner of my desk desperately hoping to be struck with some kind of clearly defined inspiration or a new direction for my life. Instead I’m filled with frustration. I imagine myself stepping into that scene, smelling the cigarette smoke and whiskey and hearing the stories and the laughter and feed off of their drive I seem to have lost.

Like every child, I had my fair share of experimenting with many different areas of creative expression. I participated in any type of dance I could persuade my mother to drive me to and foot the bill. There were brief dreams of becoming a professional dancer, but then again, what little girl wearing a black leotard, pink tights and ballet slippers doesn’t have that dream?

As a pre-teen I sported the 80s poofy hair, purple and pink eye shadow with blue mascara, rainbow bright colored shirts, denim skirts and cowboy boots with fringe. But one day in music class we were treated to an aged video on classical music featuring a classical violinist. I was stunned! How a simple box made of wood, horse hair and allegedly cat guts, make such beautiful music? It looked effortless and the woman playing was the epitome of elegance. I wanted to be her; to wear the long black dress with my hair falling loose behind my back and create auditory bliss. This was no phase for me; this was sheer joy.

I practiced until I had blisters on my nail-bitten fingers and my arms ached, but it felt wonderful and it sounded… well, in my early days of practice all three of my cats would leave the room I was in one by one. I didn’t care. To me, it sounded heavenly and I felt empowered as the creator of those sounds.

Through the years the violin, my cherished possession, became my emotional outlet. I would play that small wooded box so hard sometimes I would break strings and horse hair would go flying. In high school I began private lessons in addition to the school orchestra and local orchestra. But it was in my tutor’s two-story duplex downtown where I realized I would always play for enjoyment. Her demand for perfection had turned my joy into a chore. There would be no long black dress in my future, but rather a quiet passion I will carry with my entire life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Dream Stone

“Dream Again”. It’s a phrase that's been rolling around in my mind for close to a year now. It was the topic of a sermon in which our youthful and gainfully employed pastor used the receding economy and lack of jobs to inspire his flock to go forth and re-define their dreams, to take this difficult time and reinvent their lives and finally be and do what we all dreamed of doing. That God would provide for us and He would not close the proverbial door without opening a window, even if it’s just a crack. I believe this to my very core.

Before the service, each member of the congregation was given a stone as we walked into the auditorium. It is engraved with only one word. As our pastor hopped around the stage doing his best to pump up the deflated crowd, I simply stared at the stone and the word that seemed to simply belong there. A short five letter word that mocked me, and has been laughing in my face day in and day out ever since. I left the service clutching the sweaty stone feeling lost.

When I arrived at work the following day I found my eyes constantly being drawn to a picture I have on my desk of my step-father and two other gentlemen. The frame is cheap. Made of plain wood and painted faded gold and maroon. Although the picture is in black and white, one glance at their pencil thin ties, plaid suites and thick black eyeglass frames and you know it was taken in the 50s. Upon closer inspection, you realize they are at a hotel bar enjoying a cigarette and what appears to be some sort of hard liquor, more than likely good ole’ Kentucky whiskey. The framed architectural drawing behind them on the wall tells me they are in Cincinnati, Ohio at a Holiday Inn. The name tags donning their jackets and their boyish grins are tell-tale signs they are enjoying a work convention miles away from wives, children, lawn mowing and cat litter boxes. They are in their element. They are happy. They are, in this moment frozen in time, living their dream.

I remembered the stone weighing heavily in my purse. I reached in and drew it out. I rolled the smooth, brown stone between the palm of my hands over and over. It was cold, hard and lifeless. The etched letters were bold and cut deep. The more I held onto it, the warmer it became. I ran the tips of my fingers over the black letters repeatedly. Then, I pulled out the program of the service from my purse and my eyes were drawn to two large words printed in elegant script with swirls boldly printed on the front cover.

Struck by my fading artistic talent, I quickly took out my patterned scissors and removed the words carefully. The scissors left the edges of the paper as wispy as the words themselves. I then reached in the bottom junk drawer of my desk, and picked up a small light brown plate made of broken glass. I put the plate in front of the picture, which stands in the left corner of my desk, and carefully placed the stone on the plate. I then took the words freshly cut out and slid them into the bottom of the frame where it now reads “Dream Again”.