Everything, of course, is garbage. Meaning, everything I write; meaning, complete hamster-cage liner. I mean, yeah, I know that’s not true; just let me have this meltdown for a moment, ok?
So, October is coming up pretty quick, huh? Many things are going on in October for me, like moving to a new apartment, my husband’s 40th birthday (E has a b-day, too,) my first weekend running the shop on my own, at least one trip out to Erie to see mom, and Halloween/my sister’s birthday, wherein she turns 26 and I finally live in a neighborhood that hands out candy. Also…poetry night, featuring yours truly. Clearly, we are going to talk about that, since I started this post by telling you all of my writing is garbage. Hot, stinky trash.
Nope, that’s just me psyching myself out. I know what I want to do: a couple of pieces from, A Lovely Wreckage…gotta sell those books. A piece from the yet to be picked up (Un)Requited. Maybe VII from Me and Jesus etc. Some outliers…the ones I really like that I haven’t read yet. And maybe The Squirrel, and Halloween…y’know, because…Halloween.
See, I know what I’ll read, and I know I’ll read well. I don’t have the panic I had a few years back. Still, old habits die real hard, and I find myself judging my work through my most critical eye-which I despise, of course. I thought that my imposter syndrome was dead and gone, at least at the level of writing I have achieved. This is new, however…being a featured reader. I get like 15-17 minutes or something crazy when I’m used to doing 3-6 minutes at a time. I’m going to have to figure out timing on my performance as well.
Anyway, that’s what I’m going to go work on during this rainy Monday afternoon. If you’re here in the area on October 28th around 6pm, do drop in and hear me read. On one hand, I want to pack the place. On the other hand, I’d like no one to show up at all, besides the regulars I am already comfortable sharing with. But it would be nice, I think, to see some familiar friends in the crowd. So come on down to Dog Ears, and I’ll read you a poem about a squirrel.
The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective. She told me I was looking at it all wrong, and that if I would just tap into the well of power that I already knew existed, things would be fine. She was not the first to say this to me.
I went to Lilydale many years ago, a Spiritualist community in south western New York. The medium I saw told me I was psychic. At first, I thought maybe this was a gimmick she used on folks, after all, I’d never had a reading before. But then she asked me if I just knew things. I do, all the time. She told me there were spirits there wanting to speak through me, not just to me, but I couldn’t hear them because I wasn’t quite in tune enough to their frequency. She told me I was the most psychically in-tune person In the group I was visiting with, and I should consider studying…maybe even there at Lilydale someday. I assumed, still, this was a ruse of some sort…a way to drum up money for the community. But at the end of the day, no one else in my party was told they had a gift; just me.
Then, Salem last week. The reader was on the money about everything, so I’m going to assume she’s right about perspective, too. I wrote a piece in my Patreon about how the Salem Witch Trials affected me when I was young, and how it was difficult for me to understand why I was so deeply saddened over something that happened hundreds of years before I was born. And not like how I was over learning about a war, or even learning about the Irish potato famine with which at least my heritage identified. No, it was the Salem Witch Trials in 3rd grade that made me cry unexplained tears. A couple of years later, my parents and I took a vacation to New England and went to Salem, and I remember my excitement and joy and how I gobbled up every morsel of information presented to me. I wanted to see and do everything, but we were only there for a couple of hours. I do recall a live reenactment of Bridget Bishop’s trial…which leads me into my name.
I was named after St. Brigid of Kildare. I knew no Brigid’s other than myself, though a couple of “T’s” (that’s what I call the “Bridget’s,’) crossed my path. When small, I loved that my name was similar to one of the “witches,” so when my parents suggested we go to the reenactment I was delighted. Then, in high school, I read a book one day, on Celtic folklore…just for funsies. What a rabbit hole that turned out to be! I discovered that there was not just a masculine god, but a feminine goddess…many of them in fact…but the main one, the goddess of the country of my ancestors? BRIGID. With a damn “D!”
Naturally, I needed all the information on that immediately, so off I went to the library where I learned all the things as a child. It was right around this time that I learned that St. Brigid of Kildare may have been a real person, but it is far more likely she is someone that the early church in Ireland used to appropriate the goddess form Celtic belief structures to lure folks to Catholicism, which is of course exactly something the Church would do. So, from that point on, I started the practice of remembering who shares my name when I am feeling powerless: a might powerful goddess.
The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective, and I have. I won’t lie, I have felt a complete shift in my perception of the world in the last few days, which has made me question many things. Part of me, the part that is trained to silence myself, says these are all silly thoughts and to pay them no mind. But the part of me that knows, the way I knew where our car was parked that time it was stolen, or how I knew that there was a spirit talking to me when I was five, or how I knew that my best friend was throwing me a surprise party for my 16th birthday, or how I knew Mark was going to propose….in that way, I know-there is indeed a greater power within, and perhaps it is time to cultivate it.
As the constant reader knows, I needed a flippin’ break. I have been under massive amounts of stress, what with a sick mother, and an apartment hunt, and a new job. I was even diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder and my psychiatrist doubled my meds. As I like to say about the recent situation, everything is on fire, and has been for a few months. So naturally, when it came time for the girl’s trip I planned last year, I wanted to bail a little. The timing just seemed so terrible…and yet, everyone encouraged me to go, damn the circumstance. So, I did. And oh, am I glad I did!
Much in the way that a week in the Bahamas with my sister renewed my spirit many years ago, this little jaunt to Salem, Massachusetts did exactly the same. We were staying smack dab between there and Boston, and I was thinking we might take in both cities, but there was so much to do in Salem that Boston was easily discarded as a destination.
The first night we had dinner at a bar called The Witches Brew, where the waitress told us where to go and what to avoid-excellent information for the bewildered tourist. We walked around for a bit and got our bearings, then planned the next day and headed back to the hotel. In the morning we returned, and discovered Essex St, which is a walkable road with shops and tourist attractions and restaurants. (PS all of Salem is walkable. It’s amazing. Catch up, Buffalo.) Essex St. is probably the most touristy part of the area…when we were back on Saturday, there were street performers, too (and a ton more people.) Anyway, we took a red trolley on a ride around the city, where a colorful tour guide named Skip gave us interesting information peppered with corny jokes. It was nice to ride around and hear the history and see the sights, plus it gave me a sense of direction around the city. I am used to meticulously planned towns, not the wild growth of villages you find in New England.
After the trolley tour, we went to a magic shop called Pentagram, where I got a tarot reading. Oooh boy…that was intense. She asked if I had any questions and I told her: “Everything is on fire. When will that let up?” Short answer: next year. Long answer: the reader saw two issues…sickness and uncertainty. Further cards told her the sickness was not mine but my mother’s, so score one point for the tarot reader. The uncertainty cards unfolded to reveal my fears of change regarding “moving on,” as she said…as I am LITERALLY trying to move into a new home. Then she stops, smiles, and tells me my grandfather is there. No message…he just wanted me to know he was hanging out. (Later, when I told this to my father, he laughed heartly and sad “sounds like Dad.”) At the end, she told me I have power within me that I am not utilizing, which makes her the second psychic to tell me that. (More on this in my next blog.) She also told me that this time next year, everything with be different in a good way. So…only a few more months of fire expected.
Then we went to the Salem Witch Museum. It was…fine. They have these tableaus with terrifying mannequins that light up as a narrator who sounds like Vincent Price tells you about the trials. Then you go into another exhibit where a different loudspeaker narrator shows you three tableaus of witches through the years. One cool thing they have is a copy of The Wizard of Oz script, but sadly no photography was allowed. I also really liked that they compared the trials to McCarthyism, which was my term paper topic in high school. After, you exit through the gift shop. I very much remember the gift shop from when I went with my parents when I was 9…but I don’t think we saw the exhibit, because that horror would have surely etched itself in my brain. All in all, I don’t think it was worth the 17 bucks. Especially if you already know the story and if you don’t…why did you even come here? But I digress…
That night we had booked a private tour, because I wasn’t interested in the group ones where 50 people follow a man with a blowhorn around. Instead, I found a night time witch history/ghost story tour, and it was just us three following a cloaked and top hatted man with a lantern through dark city alleyways (we are so clearly not in Buffalo anymore, Toto.) Truthfully, it was awesome, because he had a tale for every step we took, and it was so cool that it was just the four of us out there when there were like dozens of mass tour groups floating around…we got to see nooks and crannies they literally couldn’t fit into, like a smuggler’s alley, for instance. The best spot was the Ropes Mansion Garden (the Ropes Mansion is Allison’s house from Hocus Pocus, in case you were wondering. Sidebar: Salem folk are NOT HAPPY Hocus Pocus 2 filmed in New Hampshire.) There was a bench there where you could sit and commune with the spirits that I thought was pretty neat.
After the two-hour walking tour, we were beat, and headed back to the hotel. In the morning, it was the day of the AFSP Out of the Darkness walk. I was missing the event back home, but I raised $750 this year, so I had to do my part in some way. We started our morning with coffee and a lovely little nature hike along a birdwatching trail near our hotel. It was shorter than expected, but since I got like 18k steps in the previous day, I figured I could easily make up the couple miles I would have done for the walk. (And I did. We walked like 17 miles the whole trip.)
We went back into the city and parked the car, then schlepped over to the Satanic Temple, fifteen minutes away. I was very excited for this because I think TST is really cool….and if you don’t, it’s probably because you don’t know anything about them, or you think they are connected to The Church of Satan, who are pretty much the “bad guys” of the Satanic world. I will go into this at some point in the future, because it would actually make for a super interesting blog post. Anyhoo, we got there and we didn’t have vax cards on us because we are morons, so we couldn’t go in, which was a dissappointm4ent.
So, then we schlepped back to Salem proper. FInally, the highlight of the trip: Witch Pix. Witch Pix is a photography studio that dresses you up like a witch and then takes professional photos. I dressed as a “warrior witch,” with a teal fur cape, black and gold brocade corset dress, and black horns. The pictures were STUNNING and we had so much fun.
After some more shopping and such, we headed back to the hotel and had dinner, and then we decided to perform a spell. Sahar bought a little kit for a healing spell, and we did it for my mother. The crazy part is that I was ending the spell by blowing out a candle, and the moment I did, Sahar’s bag fell off the table. Coincidence? I think not.
Anyway, we just hung out for a bit, then slept, and in the morning, I had the best and unhealthiest breakfast ever: fried French toast topped with Nutella and strawberries. Afterwards, we headed home. 7 hours and 4 pee breaks later, and we were back in the Buffalo.
So. That was my trip. Was it fun? Absolutely. Will I travel with these awesome women again? Yup, just tell me when and where, ladies! Did it change my entire outlook on life?
…tune in Thursday for the answer to this and more questions.
It’s Wednesday night and I’m typing on my phone because I’m doing this blog inbetween preparations for my first vacation in many years. Once upon a time, I went to the Bahamas with my sister on a cruise and it was magical in a tropical kind of way. This time I am on the hunt for a different sort of magic.
I decided to go to Salem over a year ago, in true “girl’s trip” fashion. I invited all my friends, and about 10 of them were down to go…until the months went on, and the numbers dwindled. I didn’t mind, though I was sad my friends had to bail, but then my sister got a new job and had to jump ship, too. That one made me super-sad. Now, a year later, my ten friends turned into two. But two of the best! (I mean, they’re all the best, but we’re highlighting my travel buddies today.) Sahar was, of course, ready to go from the mere mention of a trip. And Chelsea was on board right away, too. Neither were discouraged by our diminished number, though I feared they, too, would want to cancel. Alas, here I am the night before, packing a bag. I travel so rarely. This is quite exciting. Anyhoo, I am off to go on an adventure. I will be sure to tell you all about it Monday!
I’m over here with the world on fire, what with my mother being bounced around hospitals and needing to move apartments in less than 18 days. I have to pack and clean and find a place, all while dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of my mother being sick. Ergo, topics are scarce. So scarce that I didn’t write last Thursday, and then felt all guilty about it. I hate that; I always try to tell myself that this blog is FREE-I do not make money off it, so if I take a break one day, it is not a problem. I am disappointing no one, and if there is one dissatisfied individual out there who looks forward to regular, biweekly postings…well that’s just too bad. I ain’t getting paid for this.
But then I think about Wednesday, when I post on Patreon, over where I DO get paid. I haven’t written any new content, so I’m going to have to deep dive the computer archives to find a piece. For Patreon, I will put in the effort, and I will certainly make the time, because there is a paycheck involved. Again…this blog is free, now and forever. So, forgive me if I take a break.
Speaking of paychecks, work is also a priority that has sidelined some of the writing. I am working mornings at one job and will soon be starting afternoons at another. Work saps my energy, which leaves me plenty creative but with very little follow through. Like, I want to write today, but I also worked this morning and would love to go sit on the sofa and watch tv when I am done here.
I completely forgot yesterday was a Monday, so here we are today, with a little story from my morning.
As I was preparing to leave work today, an small elderly man comes in with a large woven basket. I assumed he was there to rent or return a car, as people tend to do at my place of employment, but no…he truly had no business with us. He explained he had just come to give us some tomatoes.
I looked at work-Mark for some sort of clue: was this a usual occurrence? Had we rented to this man before? Was this a thank you of some kind? Work-Mark gave no indication of anything other than to say “oh yes, I think I remember you,” and then suddenly the man was handing us tomatoes. Work-Mark went in back to get a box for them, and the old man asked if I enjoyed pears. I replied that I do, because they are actually my favorite handheld fruit. This gentleman starts talking about a pear tree that I assume he has in the garden with the tomato plants. He then tells us the tomato plants came over from Italy, so they are Italian tomatoes (he himself had a heavy Italian accent, and I imagined him carrying tomato seeds in his pockets when he immigrated.) Then he left, and I went about finishing my day, and five minutes later he was back again with his basket, now full of pears. Work-Mark then tells me there is a pear tree on the Avis property, and this man was aware of it, apparently, so he picked me some pears.
I thanked him, and wished him a nice day, and when he left, I turned to work-Mark with my questions, for which he had few answers. Apparently, he is just an old man who lives on a farm and drives around handing out his produce. I watched as this tiny elder climbed into the biggest Ford pickup I have ever seen and wondered what the hell just happened. I watched him drive away, holding my box of produce.
I took some to my aunt and my grandma, and saved some for my dad, and tonight home-Mark gets a BLT for dinner with pears for dessert. And I get a little story for my blog.
Today is Sept 1st which means I have held my job at Avis for a month, so let’s talk about it now that the adjustment period has passed, more or less.
Now, almost my ENTIRE work background is childcare. I have over 20 years’ experience. I have literally been working with children since I was thirteen…I started out teaching first graders to read during my 8th grade study hall when my old teacher asked for my assistance. Then, I took to teaching elementary level Religious Education at my church from 14-20, starting out as an aide and eventually getting my own class for a couple years. This was all volunteer…my first paying job had nothing to do with kids. It was Joann Fabrics and I was let go three days before Christmas. I learned very little at the job, and decided that I had to go with my talent, which was teaching kids. So, I started working as a substitute at Heritage Centers, a special needs day care near my house. This started me down the long line of professional childcare, taking me to schools and daycares all over WNY, and culminating in me becoming a nanny, which is probably the best childcare job you can get, so long as it’s the right family. And then…I quit.
Much like I did with theater, my other profession (and a longer, more tumultuous story that I am saving for my memoir,) I woke up one morning and realized it no longer served my life.
See, I never wanted to have kids, as I have expressed many times in my blog. I just do not have whatever it is that most women seem to have that makes them aspire to be mothers. Never wanted to grow a baby in my belly, and hold responsibility for it all the time. I much prefer the pint-sized relationships I do have where I birthed no one and can return them at the end of the day. Alas…I am also past that point in my life. The next time a small child is really Involved in my life, I would like it to be a grandchild. I’m not saying TODAY (kiddo who may be reading this- I am talking to you and your siblings,) but someday in the future. The point is that I am just not at my fighting weight anymore…I can’t be chasing around a 2-year-old, and I really do not want to very often. Do I miss it, of course, but there are other things in life, y’know?
So, I took a job at Avis car rentals.
Confident as always, I looked at the position as a challenge. Something new, a step outside my comfort zone, and a skill I could learn. I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t difficult at times. The computer program we use appears to be from 1986, and customer service is a world unto its own. I have picked up all the basics and some other aspects, but the nuances are plentiful. My manager (who is named Mark, like my husband, so that’s caused confusion) has worked there for a very long time and seems to know almost everything there is to know, and I feel like a complete moron when a customer asks me something and I have to go ask him. Still, when I get the answer to the customer’s question or see how he solves a problem, I try to remember for the future. I have been trying very hard to do this job right, and while work-Mark seems like he really needs a vacation (it’s just been him the last couple months, every day, all day,) he has been very patient with me and is a pretty good teacher to have. I just wish I could go faster…I feel like I am constantly thinking things out. But it reminds me of when I learned to drive. I overthought everything and it freaked me out to get on the road. I think I am in the same position now, but I know that driving is second nature after all that practice, so soon I will be whipping along, matching work-Mark’s speed.
Aside from that hiccup, though, everything has been great, and I actually enjoy going to work, and look forward to learning more. And at a place where there are no children! I mean, you literally have to be 25 to rent a car, so I am dealing with no small people at all!
But do I mis them?
Yes. See, those babies will always be babies to me. Take the H family…when I worked for them there were three boys, and mom was DONE. Now, those three boys are in middle school and there’s two more kids in the mix, but I will always remember that family as it was when it was smaller. I will always remember the then-youngest boy as the baby who fell asleep in my arms. There are a couple of moms I am friends with on Facebook, too. I am watching their kiddos grow from afar, via posts and pictures, but the truth is that in my heart they are still small…not starting high school or going to their first dance or joining the military. To me, they are forever young.
So, I will cherish those memories as I move forward in life, and I am pleased I have them, but I am ready for change. Shall it come in the form of car rentals? We shall see. Maybe I will really luck out and my other career of writing will take off!! One can dream, can they not?
The other day, I received a memory notification on Facebook that 2 years prior, I had been published in The Buffalo News. This was a momentous day which I wrote about in my blog back then, and am writing about now, as well.
See, long story made very short, I wanted to be published in The Buffalo News poetry column since I was about 15, and I did not accomplish it until well after I began my publishing career in 2018. On Fire was a special little poem I wrote for a poetry contest that I won, and I liked it enough to throw it into my submission packet, and then one day I got up the guts to actually send it to The News, with literally no expectation whatsoever. In fact, I forgot I even sent it, until the day it appeared in the Sunday paper.
I felt so accomplished. I know to some it may seem like hardly anything, but for me it was a dream 20 years in the making. I had already published several pieces, and my book had been out for a few months, but that was the day I truly felt like an actual author.
Well, folks, the paper dropped the column. Shocking, isn’t it? This left me with a hollow feeling, as if now the newspaper is completely devoid of hope.
The column has been run by Robert D. Pohl, a man I have never met but know of via socials and friends of friends. Despite not knowing him, I would run up and hug him if I could, because in my opinion he gave me the gift of a dream come true, and I am sad to see his legacy leave the newspaper.
Another thing Robert did was keep the literature calendar, which I believe I heard he will still try to continue to do, which Is a blessing to all us writers. The literature calendar told us who was reading where and when, and also who was hosting open mics and other events. Buffalo has a pretty broad writing community, and I am hopeful that we will still be able to figure out how to get together.
Anyhoo, I am very sad to see this feature go, but I am very grateful to have been published when I was. What we need here in Buffalo is an arts magazine again. We used to have one, but it folded, and now we have nothing to promote and discuss our incredibly vibrant arts scene. I wish someone would step up and create such awesomeness…I can tell you, you would not be short of content. We have enough writers in this city to bring it to life-shame I don’t know a single entrepreneur, though.
Today’s hot topic is student loan relief, and since it directly affects me, I’m obviously writing about it.
See, I went to a private high school, where everyone was expected to graduate with NY Regents diplomas and go directly to college. I never made the Regents because math exists, but I did get accepted to D’Youville College’s 5 year Master’s Education Program. Then came the task of paying for it. I knew I would receive some financial aid, but even then I thought it strange that despite me being over the age of 18 and paying for it myself, they were taking my parent’s income into account. Still, I got a little FA, and then it was time to search for loans.
I have no problem telling you that I, at the age of 18, did not know what I was doing. My parents told me that if I signed some forms, I could go to college-so I just signed the damn forms. I knew I would pay it back someday, but by then I would have my teaching license and could make enough money to do so…right? RIGHT??
Thing is, I had a breakdown when I was a freshman in college. My brain fritzed out on me and the next thing I knew I was literally pulling my hair out and could not get out of bed. I realized that I had no real desire to teach for the rest of my life…I was called to the profession, but I just couldn’t do what they do, at least not in that capacity. I realized I had just wasted a lot of time and money on a year of life that brought me nothing and took me nowhere, so that May I signed my resignation form.
That June, I got my bill…fourteen thousand dollars, for one year of utter disappointment. I joked that I wanted to return it to sender and demand a refund. I joked that I would be paying it off until I die. I joked that eventually the economy would collapse and I would be bartering with my college over chickens.
Then yesterday, Biden sends me $10,000 of relief, and I am thrilled. I hear that Pell Grant recipients get another 10G’s, and I am intrigued, because I think I got one of those too, which would wipe out most of my debt.
Oh, I say “most,” because there is still the interest. I truly do not know what the number is up to these days, after years of deferrals and such. I know I don’t get taxes back, because they swipe those right up, and once they garnished my paycheck. Truth be told, I’m not sure my loan companies even know where I live at this point in time, Other than this, though, I haven’t paid in years…because I have no money. I have no money because I have no college education. Hilarious, isn’t it?
I mean, I make do. I usually have enough to live on, but to pay off a massive debt on something I never should have been allowed to do in the first place? Not a top priority. So, I was quite happy yesterday to find that most, if not all of my loan is about to go away. This is good for me…I might start getting tax returns, and it puts me a decade closer to owning property. So, yay.
Wait, what’s that? Some folks are up in arms about it because they already paid off their loans and think we should have to as well? Oh, right… like if tomorrow we cured cancer with a pill but still insisted all the patients go through chemo.
Just because you suffered doesn’t mean others should, and the fact that you find satisfaction in other folk’s struggle is a bit telling as to your capacity for human compassion.
It is no big secret that I am a huge LGBTQ+ ally, even from before it was cool. As a result, I have of course never eaten at Chick-Fil-A. They get no monies from me, I don’t care how good that sauce is. See, I’m big on the boycott-if I discover your company policies are outrageously discriminatory, I will go directly to your more socially conscious competitor. So yeah, no hate-chicken for me and mine.
Then one day Mark spends an hour reading up on Starbucks and their union problem. As a man who would love to be unionized himself, he then comes to me guns blazing about how we are no longer a Starbucks house. I mean, yeah, I live in Buffalo, and we have the great and powerful Tim Horton’s, so I really never actually go to Starbucks. However, I do occasionally buy the Double Shots at the gas station when in a hurry. And that particular day, I was in a hurry.
Not that it mattered in the end, however, because I spent five minutes standing in front of the coffee cooler and debating with myself over whether or not to grab the usual. Finally, I came to the conclusion that if I would not allow Mark to purchase the hate-chicken (not that he has or would of his own accord, but in theory,) then I cannot, in good conscious, buy the Double Shot. It would not only show that I don’t care about unions, which I most certainly do, but it would also make me a flaming hypocrite. And so…I walked away. Goodbye Starbucks, we had a nice little run…now get your house in order.
That’s barely a blog, more of an anecdote, but it’s all I can manage because my hands are killing me right now. I drove to Erie PA and back on Saturday to go see Momma (no real updates) and ever since my hands have been numb or in pain. Stupid neuropathy. This blog is a day late because I couldn’t type yesterday…I barely could hold the vacuum cleaner at work.
Anyhoo, E is here so I am off to spend some time with her, and am hoping the sun comes out so that we can go do something.