“Buy Some Happiness” – Sweet Pittsburgh Sticker Feature in City Paper

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Two days ago late, late at night (like morning, of course), I happened to be on the internet Googling and doing a little research on my products. As I Googled, I came up with this City Paper article for back to school season, pimping out my PGH Fun sticker! Get out of town! More than my Pittsburgh vinyl sticker and a shoutout to my shop,  the article The City Paper curated stickers from a bunch of dope local Pittsburgh artists and makers. How cool is that?

Emily McGaughey’s Pierogi Dude, Yeah Yehlsa’s Go Away Heart, Zenspire’s Zentangle Pizza and Commonwealth Press’s Parking Chair... and more.

If you haven’t been tempted by the links above (already), please go back and hit them up. These cool Pittsburgh-based businesses/artists and those like them are what make this city tick. So make sure you add them to your bookmarks for the upcoming holiday season. They make excellent stocking stuffers and sweet surprises in your holiday greeting cards.

Cool Pittsburgh Sticker "PGH" Design by 1flychicken creations

JUST WHAT does one do with so many cool stickers, anyhow? Vinyl, weatherproof decals are perfect for laptops, water bottles, helmets, car bumpers, guitar cases, notebooks… just about anything you can stick ’em too.

I just ordered a boat load of new stickers and the beginning of a new project, so watch out for those. And thank you to Lisa Cunningham of Pittsburgh City Paper for the feature.

!!!

mt

Sweet-and-sassy Mother’s Day Cards

Funny, floral printable Mother's Day cards // by 1flychicken creations

Save the sweetness for dessert and give mom something better… laughter!

If you know me at all, you know I’m super obsessed with making cards. Besides painting, it sort of all started with card making. I love shopping for the perfect gift (and sometimes making the perfect gift), but I LOVE sending mail. I used to almost always make every one of my cards by hand. Just ask my pen pals! I still make them, but these days, I’m really focused on growing my collection of 1flychicken creations printable greeting cards so that everyone can pass on the fun!

This week, I’ve added three new printable Mother’s Day cards to the shop. They are super sassy and all with their own unique flower illustration. Inspired by fun and funky retro colors and a modern color block style, I drew these flower designs to be a pretty contrast to the jokes on the front. Sass comes naturally for me… especially when I grew up watching a lot of Golden Girls, you know?

Hope you love these as much as I loved making them.

Local in Pittsburgh? Hit me up for a printed version and stop by my 1FLY YART SALE this weekend!

CLICK on each to visit its Etsy listing:

Card #1: Thanks, mom.
Card #2: Not Shady Pines, ma.
Card #3: A little sibling rivalry never hurt anyone…

Funny, floral printable Mother's Day card // by 1flychicken creations
Funny, floral printable Mother's Day card // by 1flychicken creations
Funny, floral printable Mother's Day card // by 1flychicken creations

My first AWP at 12,000 writers deep

I can’t believe I’m here.

During my years of undergrad and graduate school, AWP—Association of Writers & Writing Programs—was the definition of cool, was the thing the cool students did. Yes, even in grad and undergrad there is cool. It’s not a concept reserved solely for the untouchables at the middle-school lunch table or the hunky highschool football team. On the other hand, the very lack of cool is a disease, uncool. It follows you. It’s on you. You wear it like a bad style. In adulthood, cool exists with a different name: elitist, bougie, yuppie, pretentious, hipster, etc.

You think I’m being dramatic, don’t you? Sensitive? Maybe. But it’s there and it’s been instilled in me, drawn-out and awkward as the “growing out” phase of a bad haircut. Cool is now ironic. It’s not for those of us that grew up in an age where sweaters, cat shirts, stretchy pants, thunder thighs and glasses were considered severely uncool. I was never cool, and so I can never be.

“I just never want to be the type to take myself too seriously, you know? I hate that,” I explained to Laura during one of my anti-academic rants.

“You just don’t like pretentiousness,” she clarified.

“Yeah, I guess. I just don’t want to be that movie. The one you hear all the hype about, and then you go to see it, and it sucks.”

Who knows? Maybe the movie wouldn’t suck so bad if expectations weren’t so high. All that hype.

I’ll admit that most of my adulthood accomplishments and sense of self has come from a heavy dose of “fake it ’til you make it”—a (clichéd) mantra I learned early. I mean, let’s face it: self-deprecation is embarrassing and uncomfortable for everyone. We can’t all be Alanis with her $10 words. We can’t all turn our insecurities and hyperawareness into some moody and attractive Canadian twenty-something with a record deal.

Ok, so this appears to have nothing to do with AWP at all… but I swear it does!

Just as I learned in school early on (again and again), doing something cool doesn’t necessarily make one cool. Sure, I wore men’s JNCO Jeans and Airwalks and memorized all the words to Puff Daddy’s album, No Way Out. (Clearly the definition of cool. Ha!) But even this didn’t affect my position on the highschool popularity chart. Likewise, attending AWP didn’t suddenly transform me into some poised, self-assured and impervious academic writer. Instead, it made me feel small and unimportant and squash-able: a feeling I wasn’t ready for, to be honest. But maybe that is the lesson too, a reminder of the lesson.

You can’t just put on the JNCO Jeans. You have to be the kind of person that wears the JNCO Jeans, you know?

Being uncool and remaining uncool kept me at a distance back then. I was overweight, reactive and super insecure. I might as well have worn a sign on my head. And if I am truly the alien that I say I am and I never fit into any community, I don’t have to live up to the expectations and definitions of success defined by that community, right? So maybe I’m just afraid of not achieving those successes. What if I am not more than this? (How many years of trying does it take? Have I even tried? …this could easily turn into the Question Game.)

That is what AWP was for me. Reflective. Figuring out my place. It was a trip away with sun. It was a chance to learn more about writing, about people and life. I got to see and experience so many things and people in just a few days, and yes, this was all very overwhelming at times (see: ugly-crying alone in my hotel room like a lost pup), but it felt worth it and necessary. And while it was hard to connect to anything too much, it was still a time of connections. These moments made an impact, even if they were brief. So thank you for them.

At the end of the day, it’s not really about cool, is it? I’m sure cool would help. I will always be an alien, though—whether I came to it by fear or innately—but I cannot navigate my life or my writing career on those feelings of inadequacy. Maybe that has worked in other aspects of my life, like kicking my ass at the gym, but I cannot allow the shame of Not Enough to stifle me. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of her—the chubby four-eyed, freckled-faced president of Poetry Club— but maybe that’s ok. I

If I could wrap up that “freedom to be” like a gift, I’d give it to us all.

mt

Feeling feels in a Post-Truth World

"Sweet Submerged" by Meghan Tutolo
It’s hard to have feelings.
No, really! I’m not sure if this is new or I’m just taking notice, but why is it that everyone is always trying to shut down everyone else’s emotions (and in turn, their own)? Lately, I’ve been feeling mega-frustrated with this—almost more of a heaviness than the original emotion itself. Does anyone else feel as if they are constantly defending their feelings? And no, I don’t mean in a political way or any conspiracy-crazed way. I’m talking personal stuff: friends, family, coworkers, etc.
This isn’t to say I haven’t been guilty of it. Hell, we all have. It’s part of this good-intentioned consoling power we think we must have. As if one might be able to wave his or her hands hands, instill some Should Be Grateful or Bright Side or Silver Lining… all better now. You know what I’m talking about. When’s the last time you DIDN’T hear these responses:
 
“It’ll be ok.”
 
“You have nothing to worry about.”
“Don’t be so nervous.”
 
“Oh, here’s 19 reasons why you shouldn’t feel this way.”
 
“Calm down.”
“I think you’re overreacting.”
 
“Don’t cry.”
“At least, this other dumb or horrible thing isn’t the case.”
 
No wonder we, as a society, have such a hard time with expressing emotions. We are constantly told to, expected to, asked to, shamed into “getting over it” and being grateful. Maybe if we were actually just allowed to have the feelings—to feel them and express them—we could work on our shit and really truly get over it, instead of just running from it. The catch-up or rebound or whatever has been hitting hard these days. There’s no getting over.
You know what I’ve learned to do? Shut my mouth. And it isn’t working for me. I feel empty and disconnected… and when the time comes and the world turns a bit more slowly (I’m usually driving or riding), what has been silenced becomes a monster. It feels like an anvil to the gut.
 
When was the last time someone actually just wanted to join you? Like feel your feels with you? And that’s it? Empathy. No policing, no 14 reasons why you’re wrong to feel the way you feel and no forced gratitude. What if we could just be in it with people? No more crossing our arms and deciding when and how much someone should be feeling? Actual empathy. Actual connection.
Yeah, perhaps some people and situations call for objective reasoning, some advice, some friendly ear flicks to wake up the disillusioned… but first, just let them feel. Listen. Listen. Listen, damnit. No one is wrong for having an emotional reaction, even if you think he or she shouldn’t. You can help he or she process it, if needed. But don’t tell your friends they are wrong or lead them to that conclusion. Why? What is that doing for them or you?
I’m going to work on this so hard. In my own need to shut off and run, I have imposed the same on those around me. Coward, I am.

Living and running

Pittsburgh scootin'

 

This is a year for living.

That’s what I keep telling myself. Every time I walk away from a blank Word doc. Every time I decide to take a ride rather than write a letter. Every time I put off what I should be doing (i.e. scheduling car appointments, doctor appointments, vacuuming, etc.)

If nothing else, this election and resulting presidency (along with all its little heartbreaks and setbacks and mini strokes) has me full speed ahead. Into what? Uncertainty, mostly. But definitely art, definitely risk-taking. I’ve opened my own Etsy shop, got at least one vendor show under my belt and have been riding around in a motor scooter.s

“I’m living,” I say to myself from the inside of my spaceman-like helmet as I cross the Birmingham Bridge one day.

Behind the silvery mirror-like shield over my face, I’m grinning like a wild woman. Admittedly, I’m mostly smiling there. Or gritting my teeth (on like every turn). Or crying. I cry a lot on the scooter. Thankfully I had enough foresight to order that damn mirror-like Bubbleshield that you can’t really see through. I mean, can you just imagine looking over on your commute home to see a red-faced woman crying on her black-and-chrome scooter weaving between potholes and tar snakes on Beechwood Boulevard?

A call the scooter my mindfulness in these hectic times. I can’t do 900 things. I can’t pace or run around or make things. I am focused and alert. And because of it, sometimes the feels come rushing back, as though I’d been running from them all along.

Living or running. Living or keeping myself occupied. Living or wading out the storm, up to my ears in art and art supplies, up until the wee hours of the morning because it is finally quiet and I can chill without feeling like I’m missing something—another headline, another atrocity, another outrage.

But there’s a beauty, a sensory type of travel and place that you don’t experience in a “cage,” as riders call the call. The tears are mostly good tears, or so it seems. I can’t say I’ve had that happen too often, good tears. Those were reserved for moms at weddings, not for childless 30-somethings crossing the Oakmont Bridge at sunset.

As I sit down once more to write, I think about my scooter… about the sun that will drop soon and how I could get in a few more miles, conjure some sort of errand or excuse. And hey, in Pittsburgh, a nice day isn’t one to waste.

I hope you are all living… doing whatever it is that can keep you sane in these turbulent times. Maybe later is for overthinking and processing. For now, maybe it’s time to enjoy what is in front of you. If you spend 1-2 hours reading the news, spend 1-2 hours playing the violin, or whatever it is you people do. Don’t forget taking care of you is a way to resist in itself.

<3

mt

Filling up my meter

Image from simqueen.wordpress.com
If you’ve ever played the Sims, you know that for nearly every action or interaction—whether it’s talking to a family member, pulling weeds from the garden or observing a new piece of art—your Sim (depending on his/her personality) will react with plusses and minuses. Every moment is more like a transaction. 

I once conjured a super anal, flannel-wearing Virgo with a shaggy beard, OCD tendencies and a love of classical music. His favorite color was green and his name was Aiden. The dude was annoyed with just about everything. In particular, he hated when his mother-in-law baited him in conversation. Most oft, he was just trying to make some pancakes (another of his favorites), but she would block him from getting to the refrigerator, waving her hands like a madwoman as she discussed dollar signs and gossiped about the neighbors. Not only did he not enjoy small talk, but if the toilet or the sink was dirty when he tried to get ready for work, he’d throw a fit and clean, missing his carpool altogether. Not even the act of cleaning nor the resulting sparkling bowls were enough to make tiny blue plus signs appear! And then I’d have to spend more time on him, trying to up his mojo for the day so he would want to go to work the next day (and so on). Difficult dude. 
I know how crazy this all sounds. But bear with me. The point is… we all have our Aiden days.
 
And on days like today, I think about that point system, how we are all just action and reaction… that simple (and that complex). Depending on how we were raised, our past experiences, sensitivity and mood, some of us are predisposed to get the feels, or not. Some of us are more or less affected. While some peeps are easy to rattle, others seem brick-like and unable to be touched. There are the sad and the overjoyed, the busied and the lazy. But no matter who we are, we might find ourselves in the negative… because we had a disappointing conversation with a friend, burnt our pancakes or came home to too many dishes in the sink. Or you know, maybe it’s just that all of those things happened in one day.

Shit, I know it’s me. But I keep bumping into blahs. Just one of those days whereliving feels hard and maybe even pointless, and boy, do I know how melodramatic it sounds… but like my mouse-hand, I an trying to find the things to up my meter. 7:05 p.m. And now, after collecting final papers from students, I can go home and paint, love on my cats and A… and fill up my meter. 

What do you do when you’re having a bad day? How do you make the plusses appear over your head?

Tell me things. 

mt

Building bridges and taking risks

Money Raised for Planned Parenthood (so far!)
Money raised for Planned Parenthood as of Feb. 25th, 2017.

I can barely believe it.

Over the course of a few months, my Build Bridges Pittsburgh design has raised nearly $8k for PPWPA. What started as a hopeful venture with no guarantees— an order of 50 t-shirts from Tiny Little Monster— turned into an epic movement. With the help of Tiny’s web store option, I was able to sell the unisex tees PLUS  a variety of Build Bridges gear, to include hoodies, onesies and totes.

I finally finished up with web sales through Tiny for now, but a limited supply is still available at Biddle’s Escape—my coffeeshop home-away-from-home in Regent Square. I might consider selling them on Etsy for the summer to help start up my shop business and to make some money of my own.

Speaking of Etsy…

1flychicken creations Etsy Shop
The not-so-fully-stocked Etsy shop I finally made, 1flychicken creations.

I finally worked up the nerve to launch my own Etsy shop, 1flychicken creations. There are only a few things up as of now, but I hope to expand my physical collection as well as my digital download offerings. If you have any ideas for either (anything you may have seen me doing lately or want to request), hit me up. I’m working on creating and scanning in some watercolor paintings to get greeting cards printed. I know cards are no moneymaker, but I love making them and the idea of sending sweet, thoughtful notes to people who might need a lift. Cheeseball, I know.

 

Build Bridges Pittsburgh - Billboard by Meghan Tutolo
Joe, owner of Biddle’s Escape, used his own funds to help spread the positive message.

One of the most surreal and incredible moments of this fundraising journey has been to see this guy on a billboard: my design and the positive message spread by yinz guys! #LOVETRUMPSHATE (And isn’t this proof?)

For as much as the last few months have disgusted and disappointed me (politically), this message and those who have helped to carry it have astounded me with their hope and generosity. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope we can continue to build upon it and to take care of one another.

xo

mt

 

 

T-shirt for a cause, yinz guys

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

 

If you know Pittsburgh, you know the implication of bridges.

Not just that they close for repairs causing confusingly intricate detours or that they clog at rush-hour in a stampede of homebound yinzers, but the meaning in it all (even in the frustration) is that they are so very important to us.

“City of Bridges,” we’re called.

Built on industry and the treasures of the mineral-rich Allegheny Mountains, Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where they merge into the Ohio—the three rivers form a triangle, if you can imagine it. With 446 bridges at last count, “City of Bridges” is an understatement, really. We’re utterly dependent on them.

The past year has been one for destruction, it seems: from the demolition of the Greenfield Bridge last December to the epic and nearly irreversible fire damage caused to the Liberty Bridge (in the midst of an $80 million reconstruction, no less). But the real threat to our everyday (in Pittsburgh and beyond)—detours and delays aside—has come from a not-so-concrete source: a certain president-elect’s campaign.

Like many, I have spent the last few weeks in shock and horror. Not just because my candidate didn’t win, but because we have elected an unqualified, overinflated and narcissistic hatemonger. Whether he believes in the bigotry and intolerance himself is irrelevant. He used a group of people—the hopeless worn-out underbelly of this country’s dying industry—as a means to his own end by scapegoating, making impossible promises and inciting violence and hate.

(Really, I don’t want to hear that you do not align yourself with such values, Mr. Almost-President. In fact, your “just stop it” admonition on television was as weak as it was hypocritical. You did this. You can’t just hit the stop button.)

I won’t lie. I’m angry, fed up. I’ve deleted Facebook friends. I’ve ignored. I’ve blocked. I’ve holed myself up in a bubble, comfortable only at my local coffeeshop and my apartment (with my two smooshy-faced cats and my partner.) I’ve wanted to punch out family members, pelt eggs at signs, scream at the top of my lungs, ram into the car in front of me just for donning the wrong bumper sticker… but I know it won’t help, that I will just be feeding the thing I am fighting against.

“I’m done being nice,” I’ve said, over and over. And I mean it.

But what I mean is… I refuse to be quiet, to be passive, to let this be normal, to watch people I love be badgered or bullied. No, I won’t clock the conservative with the “Make America Great Again” hat in the checkout line, but I won’t shut up either. So I made a t-shirt.

“Figure out a way to use your art,” said a wise man and fellow fixture at Biddle’s Escape, responding to the expression of my post-election helpless-hopelessness.

I created the BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS design because I needed to do something. With the help from my friends and their realized dream, Tiny Little Monster, we were able to create a snuggly soft tee with a powerful message. The best part? I will be sending all of the profits for t-shirt sales to Planned Parenthood of Western PA.

My hope now is that we’ll only get stronger from this division, that somehow this brigade of big hearts will triumph. Just as the Greenfield Bridge replacement takes shape over 376, just as the Liberty Bridge has been recovered from its near-collapse… we keep moving, we keep finding a way to the other side.

 

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT WALLS // Pittsburgh T-Shirt Design by Meghan Tutolo ©

Get Your T-Shirt

BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS shirts are available to pre-order online (shipping out February 7th) or drop by Biddle’s Escape in Regent Square to pick up a shirt and a French Toast Latte.

For special orders or ideas, drop me a line.

<3
mt

 

 

*Special thanks to Tiny Little Monster for their cause-loving discount which has allowed me to donate over half of the money from each purchase to the cause. 
**Also, a big thank-you to Joe Davis (a.k.a. Mr. Biddles) for believing in me and the cause (always).

You have to love you

 

Moon Blur

So many are hurting right now. What’s up, planets?

This I’m realizing more and more: being aware comes with a bit of sadness. Ok, more than a bit. Sometimes noticing the bs and narrowing down motives and intentions and behaviors can feel like a whole ocean of sadness that you have to (somehow) stay on top of, ride the waves. Besides sadness, analyzing yourself and the people around you can really take the magic out of shit. I keep picturing the Wizard behind the curtain in his shiny glistening green castle.

This year I’ve come across more personality-disordered individuals than I even realized existed. I mean, this isn’t to sound better-than or unempathetic (because typically those folks are the way they are for one reason or another.) But that’s just it—too much empathy and you’re letting in unhealthy, self-serving “victims” who are great at taking you on their drama-coasters. Worse still is that some of us are prey, easy because we are sad, insecure, unfulfilled, self-deprecating, etc. Not being well—in whatever way you want to put it—makes us targets. And at this age, after 20 or more years of unhealthy thoughts and behaviors? It feels damning and unchangeable. It’s hard to break habits and even to tell them apart from personality traits and whatever hole it is you got yourself stuck in.

Up to this point, if you identify with such a sitch, you might also be the caretaker, the dominant, the “control freak,” the anxious worrier—responsible, ever-guilty, shameful and a member of the royal court of Never-Enoughs. Maybe you grew up having to emotionally care for parental figures, siblings, etc. (this along with your young self.) So then what? You end up stubbornly independent and responsible, likely hyper-critical of yourself and possibly others. But under there, in a place you don’t want to admit exists, is a deeply buried need to be “taken care of”—the way no one ever really did for you. It’s ok. That doesn’t make you weak or wrong. Of course, you’ll never want to admit to it (see: stubbornly independent) and so you’ll repress it and it’ll come out in unhealthy ways attracting all sorts of characters (narcissists, borderline folks, basically those that can see what you need but also your vulnerabilities). Ugh.

These peeps (in particular I’m seeing, borderline folks) will see your dark because they, too, are a bit broken. Whether they are malicious or unaware, this crew will suck you dry. They are vultures. They might not make sense to you. They blame you. They surprise you. They have a different reality in which THEY ARE ALWAYS THE VICTIM. That’s a huge red flag in my experience. But you know, these people will make you feel good, so the drama is worth it. And maybe they are right; maybe it IS your fault (that’s when your insecurity feeds into the game).

I’ve been noticing this trend, though, and watching good people, people I care about, become involved/consumed by these individuals and it’s a world of hurt they don’t deserve.

I’ve kept myself mostly at a distance here for the sake of sharing somewhat objective knowledge with you all. (And hey, I think I needed to get this out of me.) But this distance doesn’t mean I have been without my own experiences. I still fumble with toxic thoughts and relationships and behaviors; I still let insecurity in. The difference is now I see it—both inside myself and around me (what it can do.)

Not to be one of those “brightsiders,” but this lesson is invaluable and a necessary catalyst to venture off of your unhealthy, insecure, sabotage-y  path (and yes, you can still be humble). YOU make you better now. This sounds boring, huh? Like too grownup and not so “fun.” If so, you might not have experienced bottom yet. You have to want out, you know?

Really, at the end of the day, the problem isn’t them. It’s you. They more than likely gave you all the little clues you needed to uncover their intentions, but you weren’t paying attention. You didn’t want to. The bad felt good and you lived there; it’s a twist cone you’ve indulged in all of your life. But now it’s time to work on you, not them. Good people will come. I swear. Fill up your cracks so no one gets in there and shakes up your foundation. If you are solid, those people won’t even bother. If you are solid, you will attract other solids (or at least, those will be the only ones to stick).

Today I felt it, the longing for the caretaker, the neediness I’ve learned to acknowledge and move through. Once in a while it comes—in the form of an invitation to some pity party I don’t want to attend. Why me. I don’t have. I never got. Why can I. Boom. I refuse to indulge for too long, even that comfortable hurt.

I’m writing this because everyone deserves to be ok, to be loved, to let healthy in. Not because I’m judging or pointing fingers. Shit, I still have to remind myself of this. I just came out the other side (mostly) not too long ago and hope to stay here, better. But days are still struggles and the ocean still has the ability to throw me off track.

All I’m saying is protect your heart. Even if it means you must love it to do so. Love yourself? It might sound yucky and cheesy but I won’t tell. (:

<3

mt

 

Even if you stop moving

scoot

Life keeps going.

If nothing else, that’s one thing we can bank on. Even in our stubborn complacency, our unhealthy comforts, our black-hole grief—even if the first thing you think about when you wake up every day is what you are not, or you don’t have, or worse, what you have lost.

This year has been a fierce, really, and in all the ways. Since D died, I have inadvertently split my life into two distinct time periods, before she died and after. Yeah, there are a ton of pivotal moments in my life that could’ve created a similar divide, but they didn’t. Mostly because of who I was before and after, and who I continue to be.

Three years this July.

The anniversary of her death came on so suddenly. It was physical. I was readying myself for a Chicago trip (the same location I headed to the day after her funeral), fussing to finish work assignments, worrying the semester, but then it came on… a wave over me. Not sure that I believe in much, but I do know when I feel her there. She kind of knocks you know. I’m sure you know. I’m sure there is someone you lost or miss and though often it’s the intensity of the missing that conjures them, sometimes they come uninvited. It’s a surprise. And no matter what your beliefs are—god or no god, spiritual or black and white—you invite them in. You invite them because it’s warm and nostalgic, the kind that hurts in the best way.

Do you speak to them? Out loud? A whisper? Inside? I do. I’m not embarrassed to say it—three years later I’m still sneaking in chats. Not like the daily texts and phone calls we engaged in, but car rides and bathroom breaks and walks to the coffeeshop. In that way, I never feel so alone. Not like I used to.

But for some good? Facing fears… and hopefully not foolishly. I got a scooter! It’s a “barely” used guy, a Yamaha Vino 125. It’s honestly been a source of pure joy. I can’t explain it. I’m just glad this summer weather is holding out as long as it is.

Latest poem published by Arsenic Lobster, “ONCE I DIDN’T DROWN IN A LAKE.”

And I finally scored a poem in my white whale of a lit mag, my favorite, Rattle. Scoop up a copy of your own.

But this. This is something that’s been haunting me, this poem and it’s sentiment. It’s so vital. While I wish I’d had discovered it long ago, I don’t think I’d have the Life Equipment to really get it.

Leaving you with it. Here.

mt

 

After Twelve Days of Rain – Dorianne Laux

I couldn’t name it, the sweet
sadness welling up in me for weeks.
So I cleaned, found myself standing
in a room with a rag in my hand,
the birds calling time-to-go, time-to-go.
And like an old woman near the end
of her life I could hear it, the voice
of a man I never loved who pressed
my breasts to his lips and whispered
“My little doves, my white, white lilies.”
I could almost cry when I remember it.

I don’t remember when I began
to call everyone “sweetie,”
as if they were my daughters,
my darlings, my little birds.
I have always loved too much,
or not enough. Last night
I read a poem about God and almost
believed it–God sipping coffee,
smoking cherry tobacco. I’ve arrived
at a time in my life when I could believe
almost anything.

Today, pumping gas into my old car, I stood
hatless in the rain and the whole world
went silent–cars on the wet street
sliding past without sound, the attendant’s
mouth opening and closing on air
as he walked from pump to pump, his footsteps
erased in the rain–nothing
but the tiny numbers in their square windows
rolling by my shoulder, the unstoppable seconds
gliding by as I stood at the Chevron,
balanced evenly on my two feet, a gas nozzle
gripped in my hand, my hair gathering rain.

And I saw it didn’t matter
who had loved me or who I loved. I was alone.
The black oily asphalt, the slick beauty
of the Iranian attendant, the thickening
clouds–nothing was mine. And I understood
finally, after a semester of philosophy,
a thousand books of poetry, after death
and childbirth and the startled cries of men
who called out my name as they entered me,
I finally believed I was alone, felt it
in my actual, visceral heart, heard it echo
like a thin bell. And the sounds
came back, the slish of tires
and footsteps, all the delicate cargo
they carried saying thank you
and yes. So I paid and climbed into my car
as if nothing had happened–
as if everything mattered–What else could I do?

I drove to the grocery store
and bought wheat bread and milk,
a candy bar wrapped in gold foil,
smiled at the teenaged cashier
with the pimpled face and the plastic
name plate pinned above her small breast,
and knew her secret, her sweet fear,
Little bird. Little darling. She handed me
my change, my brown bag, a torn receipt,
pushed the cash drawer in with her hip
and smiled back.

—From What We Carry. (If you don’t have this book, you need it.)