From Nostalgia

Scary shit

Dingy Diner Doodles

Sometimes I catch a feeling, a gigantic wind. It might be that I feed it, let it consume me. If I do, it will grow and so I count on it as I would any tangible thing so big, lake or mountain. It will become memory inevitably, taking up (I think) that same space.

Years later, something may poke at it—an image, a person, a song, a smell—and it seems the weight of those years has flattened it, a two-dimensional feeling.

Sometimes I am grateful that it isn’t so strong.
Sometimes I am disappointed by this.
Sometimes it makes the better poem, flat like that.

But no matter the outcome, the passive yet brutal way in which time can take down mountains… that scares the shit out of me.

Honoring the magic.

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I’m going to go on and say it: There aren’t many things that can rival the magic of Santa.

As a kid, of course. And even as an adult.

Maybe it’s the kind of feeling we spend the rest of our lives trying to find or to imitate. It’s cause for cliff dives and drop offs. You don’t find it in filler stuff, like grocery shopping or bill paying or tv watching. You think it should be in other people, so you dig around inside them like lost and ancient treasure. You cast it in shadows on the wall, form it in your warm palms like wet dough. You have to make it up.

But maybe it’s the kind of thing you never have again. And you have to be ok with that. And you have to live every day knowing that magic is somehow gone and that might be it, as far as magic goes. But you had it and so you’re grateful. That so-very-adult word, “grateful.” Because damnit, that’s what you should be. YOU HAVE ALL THE THINGS.

Ok. And you breathe.

I met that one person, like a mother and a best friend and an everything, and she was magic. And I didn’t know her for that long, but enough to spend one of the best holiday seasons with she and her family, feeling like a real loved and wanted creature. Feeling magical, amplified, the kind you can’t glean from workplace successes, fame or even romantic relationships… which I try to explain to A.

So it’s this time of year, I’m reminded of that and that’s what I celebrate so hard. Because I felt it once. And so every year, for two months in anticipation, I listen to Christmas tunes, ogle wreaths and trees, daydream about holiday events, shop for ugly sweaters and puffy Santa hats…

And that’s what Christmas is to me now. Plus the lights, like hopeful stars in every color.

Livejournal or bust

HermitTarot

Oh, I remember those days.

I used to spew my guts on Livejournal.com like some sort of uncensored, four-eyed mutant with a lead role and more feelings than dollars in my weekly Giant Eagle paycheck. Writing often, I would weave my emo thoughts and rants with bolded song lyrics. I would choose 100×100-pixeled avatar images of faceless girls in sad corners or dead-flower GIFs with flashing text reading shit like “it doesn’t even matter anymore.”

But that’s just it, it did matter. Everything mattered. Probably too much mattering.

Today as I ventured back into that world of “Everybody Hurts” and ambiguous crush speak, I stumbled upon a quote that struck me:

“The more profound you are, the more meaning you need.”

It doesn’t feel too long ago that everything hurt. I was an open wound walking, or so the cliche goes. I walked around like that for years in corduroys and striped sweaters, a heart dangling from my seams like a loose thread.

But the years wore me down, maybe. Here and there, we lose people to lack of humility or pride, to distance, to miscommunication, to disinterest, to one-ups and to one-downs. Each time a gut blow. (It’s tremendous, honestly, how much friends mean to me. Without much of a traditional blood-related crew, my friends have always been my family.) And then came a divorce-like split after so many years.That loss was more than familiar or romantic or plutonic, but all of it. Necessary and healthy, maybe. But not without pain. Still, even then, I went forward with my guts between my teeth, handing them out like hard candy.

And then my favorite person in the whole world died.

So that was it,  I guess. The last time I really remember feeling like that, a live wire under my skin. And I say, if this is growing up, it blows.

I told A the other day (after dealing myself a nearly-all-reversed spread of cards): “I guess I had to shut something off recently… to deal with the stress of small and big things. And maybe I just haven’t turned it back on. That’s where I am.”

I’ve never seen a spread that blocked and I’ve been reading cards since high school.

But it’s been more than just recently (more than this jet stream of bad luck I’m refusing to whine about any more on my blog). I’m stuck now wondering, years later, after her death, will I ever learn how to turn it back on? Don’t get me wrong, I feel a flicker on occasion. I’m absolutely ok, and you know, sometimes my heart gets full and round and I can hear the blood pulsing in my ears. But is that it? I just want to know.

Is strength, is growing up, really just dulling the nerves and dumbing down our hearts… is the only thing that really changes the things that change us?

I don’t buy it. I can’t won’t.

mt

Some serious flip-flop envy

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Ok, so I’m sitting here being a total creep.

A few weeks back, upon getting some worrisome news about a back x-ray, I decided to check in with Children’s Hospital to see if they had any of my old medical records. We’re talking about stuff from nearly 30 years ago. I wasn’t super hopeful, but my mom pushed me to try. At best, I’d get something out of it that would help me (and eventually my docs) to understand the current sitch.

Guess what? After signing off on some paperwork and paying exactly 49¢, the mail came today with my records. I got a CD-ROM with a locked PDF containing scanned in doctors’ notes and pre-op notes and WOW. It’s a little creepy, actually. Some of it is like doctors talking to each other and eeeeee… Why is it so unnerving?

Out of pure Meghan-like impulse, I started writing an understandably skeeved out status message on Facebook. But soon I realized, as the note rounded off its third paragraph, that shit was a little heavier than I first thought, a little too much for a status message maybe. I seem to be operating under this odd cocktail of nostalgia, pride and grief. In fact, I might have just cried as I was typing it, which is both embarrassing to admit and kind of sad to think about—you know, thinking those mean kids from grade school apparently still have that much power over me. (And to be fair, it wasn’t just them. I was pretty mean to myself in those years. So I’ll lump myself into the mean kids category here.)

Originally, the Facebook message was explaining how I was born with a funky foot/leg. A deformity, to be a little more scientific and unsettling. Soon after I popped out, the docs told my mom I would be in a wheelchair my whole life. Can you imagine? But so they ended up doing all these wild surgeries and procedures—ones that were setting a sort of precedence for infants at the time. I had to wear a big honkin’ cast up to my hip (until I was two-ish), but that didn’t stop me. I learned to walk in that thing. I was pretty much a monkey as a child, funky foot or not. No wheelchair, though—not even once.

As an adult it’s so much easier to look at that and feel grateful. I could’ve been in a wheelchair, but now I walk, run, jog… who am I shitting? It’s still hard. It’s still hard not to get frustrated with my foot, even for silly superficial reasons like not being able to wear flip-flops. And I guess that’s the place we live in, you know? I never ever felt “normal.” Now I know that it’s ok, that I’m so “abnormal” in so many other ways that my foot is the least of my worries. Ha.

But when I was a kid, I had no solace for myself. No one did. I used to imagine all the things I wanted, namely being a star on Broadway, were now out of the question. Once I figured it out, of course, and asked the right questions. How could I perform on stage in cool costumes with high-heeled and elaborate shoes if I couldn’t wear 70% of the shoes at the store for “normal” kids? To top it off, I had myself convinced that no one would ever want to date me. Would I be able to date someone and get away with never exposing my foot? Impossible!

I wish that was it, that my self-critique was all I had to put up with. But it wasn’t. Kids caught wind of my foot issues, maybe a pool party or something (those which made me the saddest of all), and they did what kids do—they ran with it. I mean, they really created some cleverly cruel nicknames, though. Some even rhymed! And if that wasn’t enough mean-kid fodder, I was fat. Hah! I absolutely had no chance. All of these things made me the most sensitive, poke-able pint out there… so you better believe the kids ate that shit up.

But hey, this is a big step right now. I’m telling the world the very thing I’ve spent my life trying to hide under socks and Chucks and Doc Martens and water shoes at the beach—I’M NOT QUITE RIGHT AND THAT’S OK. I can’t wear high heels. I can’t wear most shoes, actually. I’ll probably never be on Broadway. And if they make a Barbie of me (like I so thought they might as a child), it would have to have a screwy foot too. And I’m ok with it.

And you know, I’m always pointing a finger indignantly into the air (ask A), saying things like “…and that’s why I don’t want to have kids,” as if I have to defend my decision to be childless constantly. But this is something that stays so real with me. Thinking about how those kids made me feel every day… ugh. And I know how dramatic this all sounds, but it was sort of dramatic. And looking at these scanned-in documents, it still seems kind of dramatic. I just hope these days, we can show kids how to be more tolerant and loving, that we can find a way to make their hearts big and their hurt small. Because it’s one thing if I were to have a kid who is teased or picked on—something that would probably hurt too much to bear—but it’s another thing entirely to have a kid who does the teasing and the picking on. So let’s be the example for them, you know?

 

Oh, and thanks for reading this slop. <3
mt

 

EDIT FOR AFTERTHOUGHT: The point of this blog post wasn’t so I could garner pity or be commended. First, it was an emotional response to so many feelings. I felt empowered, like I had overcome some shit and can now speak about it and not be afraid.

Too, I think I’m feeling a little sad about how mean kids could be and how much it has affected my being. So permanent, really. It’s hard for me to even believe kids could be that cruel… and I hadn’t thought about it for a while, so it sort of hit me like a punch in the mouth. I’m glad that I still believe in people and didn’t turn out all bitter and spiteful. And that’s just luck, in my opinion.

Lastly, I think the bigger message is to teach kids to be kind. Not just teach, but SHOW THEM. I don’t mean you have to shelter them and allow them to be ignorant, but what about empathy? I didn’t mention it above (because I didn’t want to get even more cliche and melodramatic), but I’m glad for all that garbage. It helped me to becoming understanding, considerate and sensitive to people and how I make them feel. I have a lot of very real flaws, but I know for a fact that my heart is full. I’m glad of it. Despite. (:

Goodbye, 2014

New Year's Review // © Meghan Tutolo

2015. Are you serious? Ah, I can’t believe it. I can recall my 12-year-old self awake with the seemingly difficult math (of an oncoming Y2K)—how old will I be when the world ends? I was mad then, because if the world ended in 2000, I wouldn’t be able to drive yet. I’m glad those were my issues with the apocalypse. Driving and all.

I’ll be frank: I’ve put off this New Year’s entry for 3+ days. I had planned on something a little more froofy—a little more hippy dippy—but in the span of a few days, I’ve had my parked car plowed into (subsequently hitting A’s car and a telephone pole) and so I’m feeling a little skeptical. Do years really reflect their first few days? I hope not. But I did find 20 bucks in a used book the day before. Ahem. This is denial, isn’t it?

The worst year of my life thus far (2012) began with my good friend blowing chunks all over herself mere inches from me, while the ball dropped and the party hooted around us. It was movie epic. This was followed soon by my cleaning off said chunks from her and my other good friend’s floor. It was all too funny and embarrassing to be disheartening. And honestly, I learned something valuable— if pushed suddenly into desperation mode, I could clean chunky alcoholic puke off of people and things without puking. Even whilst drunk.

So there’s that.

Well, 2014, this is my ode to you: all gummy bears and cat photos and getting a chapbook published. And let me not forget, full of love. Love and letting go, that is. Maybe it wasn’t just 2014, maybe it’s been a few years in the making, but I’ve slowly come to realize that the company I keep is important as ever. You and your friends are sort of a team, you know? And keeping people around out of comfort or commonality isn’t enough. Or perhaps this is all just bullshit and I’ve just become lazy. I don’t know.

“Growing up means preferring silence over bullshit.”

I don’t know who the hell said this, but that sums up where I am.

 

Carrie Furnaces, Pittsburgh PA / © Meghan Tutolo

A few things I discovered in 2014
and that you need to check out ASAP

+ so much more…
Anyhow, I’m going to leave you with a poem. It’s gorgeous and so perfect for right now.

 

JANUARY / W. S. Merwin

So after weeks of rain
at night the winter stars
that much farther in heaven
without our having seen them
in far light are still forming
the heavy elements
that when the stars are gone
fly up as dust finer
by many times than a hair
and recognize each other
in the dark travelling
at great speed and becoming
our bodies in our time
looking up after rain
in the cold night together

Thanks for reading, being a part of my victories and my stumbles. <3
mt

Feeling lightning

You ever just look at something, a scene or an object, or maybe just the colors of light crawling through your window and get a feeling? A big feeling?

I can’t really explain it, but in an attempt to capture what it is I’m feeling, I write poetry. Sometimes poetry doesn’t make sense, people may think. It’s “obscure,” or “cryptic,” or “hard to follow.” For me, though, poetry is a way to conjure a feeling in me and in others… And sometimes those feelings are neither logical nor linear.

A good part of my academic writing career was spent trying to untangle it all, to make phrases and terms more everyday, to put a story or narrative to it (the feelings), but what I have allowed myself (post-college) is to just… write. I have silenced the committee, somewhat, and learned to trust what I write. But this isn’t just poems.

A couple years ago, a barista friend of mine from Starbucks asked to use my friend and I as her thesis project. She came over, made us doodle or color or paint, all the while allowing us to just be, just emote. Before that moment, I had rarely given myself the chance to draw or paint from me—instead I copied and mimicked the world around me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have loads of respect for those who can paint as detailed and realistic as a photograph, but this is the very thing that kept me from painting and doodling more. I wasn’t pressured to create an exact replica, but permitted to explore my own creativity. Wow!

I can only assume this is what happened with my writing. Once I was able to transcend the lines of reality (along with my own version of it) words became completely unfettered for me. It seemed boundless.

Today as I left my office, that 8 to 5 home-away-from-home, I caught a feeling. It was something in the way the sun, lower than usual, hit the glass door, the golden-orange of it. I don’t know how to explain the feeling. A cup of nostalgia. It took me somewhere. It reminded me that the world isn’t so linear, isn’t so black and white.

I can trace the world around me with a sharp pencil, memorize inches and hues, or I can take all that lightning in my chest and use it to shake the world, make it my own.

I hope you do too. I hope you wrangle your own storms and stop trying to chase everyone else’s.

mt

The big of it

“You never felt love so big? I love so hard…”

“I guess I just don’t understand. I’m sorry,” she said.

“Let me see. You know how you feel when you look up at the sky? All those stars, the moon, the planets?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s just beyond words. Amazing,” she looked up again in the dark, sighing.

“That’s how I feel when I see you. Every time.”

3:30 A.M. happens

I feel like musing. Humor me?

In one vein, I feel like everything has changed—from where I live to how I live. While it may sound dramatic, a part of my world has shifted, and in turn, shifted everything that rested on top. Hilariously enough, “Little Earthquakes” (Tori Amos) popped up on “shuffle” the other day and it made me smile. Since when did anything every stand still for me? It’s my life.
The ladies at work deserve a trophy or something. It seems nearly every week is another experience—for all of us! Picture it: me coming in each day wearing one of my many emotions like a glossy-eyed, ever-changing mood ring. A Horse of A Different Color! Ha! And the ladies… well, they know me: predictable in my spontaneity. Typical conundrum. Still, I hope in some way, I bring, at the very least, some excitement, something different.
C’mon! I’m trying to be positive here. [:
I’ve been telling my friend Ernie that there are 10,000 me’s. Real talk. But for as long as my brain can go backwards, I’ve wished to be… other. I’ve woken up on some tragically grey Sundays with iron-clad epiphanies, determined to be more: positive, thin, patient, untouchable, quiet, girly (god help me), realistic, talented—simply, more.
And once, in the wake of some dreamy self-disillusionment, I decided I would sew all of my own clothing. (Hey! I accomplished some pretty fierce handiwork in Dream Land, if I dare boast.) To extend the ridiculousness of this dream and my humorous blog-confession, I actually spent $300 to buy some dope-ass sewing machine that could stitch circles (or squares?) around the cheaper, less luxurious models. Listen: I never claimed to be anything but a stubborn, and sometimes impulsive, fool.
I guess what I’m getting at is this… (and I know you’re all waiting for the point, if you’ve even read this far):
For so much of my life and from nearly everyone, I’ve been dubbed lots of things—mostly labels that imply I’m too hard on myself or all over the place or that I expect too much from others… extreme, dramatic, obsessive, self-loathing, overly worried, silly, sensitive, sad, immature… la deeeee da. You get it.
My personal favorite—”Meghan, you’re too much”—I hear once a week but for forever. I remember being little and wondering what that even meant. I turned the words over so many times in my head (and yes, I did loads of over-analyzing even as a kid) but it felt… unfinished. More what? I never got an answer. My mom would just shake her head, smile or grimace, depending on what I had done to provoke it. Maybe that was why I was so confused! It could be both good and bad.
So okay, in summation, I think it’s odd. I long to be more and more and more, and people say I’m too much already. What is this? Some cruel joke? Nothing is ever enough. I had my cards read last night, and if nothing else, it made me realize that I need to be happier with myself. And maybe this simple concept is something I should’ve ingested years ago, but I’ve said it before—I’m in some ironic and eternal coming-of-age tale that never resolves. But that’s ok, right? That is me. Finally. Can I deal?
And for you all… and this is probably the most important part: love yourself. So easy. I can say it. You can read the words, think: “Yeah! I’ll do that then.” But I know it’s not realistic to think anyone is going to listen to me and change his or her reflection or something, but just try? Think about it? Just plant the seed, at least. I know someone of you are happy, maybe now and always. Kudos, yo.
For me, I know that my voids push me. It’s like food, man. But it isn’t healthy. Balance. We need balance. We need to love ourselves enough to be happy, but be a little restless, wonder about possibilities, scare ourself into new situations (and HAUNTED HOUSES… soon!), look at ourselves with both admiration and disgust. There can still be room for humble and kind and loving.
Make room for all of you: all 10,000 of you. But allow for no mutinies. Can you just try it?
Ah, Tori Amos. Thanks for inciting even more eruptions. (:
G’nite/morn,
mt

Advices

I’m in a bit of writing rut.

If you have known me in the last month or so, you’d say I’m crazy. I’ve been spending incredible amounts of time lost in my poems with a new manuscript in the works (perhaps!) and even the times when I’m not writing, I am thinking of it… but I guess that’s just it—lost.

During my time at both Pitt Greensburg and Chatham, I was faced with a lot of ideas about writing. Each professor had her (mostly her) own MO when it came to writing—everything from muses and inspiration to navigation within the poem via line breaks and internal rhyming… well, you get the idea. Strange, but sometimes their words stick in me even when I’m not reaching for guidance. I’ve got a little committee happening. The worst part is that much is conflicting and, at some level, I need to find my own methodology, you know?

Professor V said: “There is no such thing as Writer’s Block.”
J still makes good at setting aside a time, like a schedule, for writing.
Dr. M. told me it was okay to keep writing about the same thing, that sometimes you had to just write it out of you. Also: when you’re feeling it, like you need to write and you’re on a roll, the rest of the world comes second.
B always told me to “write the fucking poem.”

Just a brief snippet of what’s on my mind. These are all in encouraging in their own way, but never before have I felt so stifled by my subject.

No matter. I’m sure it will pass. Going to re-focus my energies in acrylic.

Getting a porch show tonight, like last. This night, though, it isn’t lightening, but UFO’s, which we have (for solace?) dubbed as paper lanterns. They seems to be on fire—something like a dying firework, but they float strangely then disappear. It’s a somber lullaby out here tonight, sung by the incessant, high-pitched snarls of neighborhood cats hunting each other.

I want another three-day weekend. Rightthissecond. I’m turning liquid again…
mpt

In with the… ew

I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to introduce the year. I feel a plague of pressure from this post, the first post of 2012. Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by those raw, new year’s hopes: Special K displayed on every endcap; hard-to-pass-up sales on silky, sweat-proof gym clothes; and a newborn “healthy options” section on the menu of every local restaurant. Honestly, it’s as if weight loss is at the heart of every new year’s mission, and while that is how I began my “healthy” lifestyle, it’s overwhelming. I keep catching myself sideways-glancing in mirrors and shiny windows, wondering if I need to lose more weight or what I should be wearing to hide my love handles.
Where once December 31st meant getting sloshed and recovering with free Sheetz coffee the next day, the further from 21 I get, the more I feel like I’m slipping into this thing called “adulthood.” I don’t like it. These days, the new year is kind of depressing—the saying goodbye to what (already) feels like an old friend, or enemy (depending on your relationship with the past). Am I already becoming this crotchety? Listen to me! For instance, yesterday as I drove through suburbia, I spotted a few kids playing in the yard, and turned to Tash:
“Wow. That’s something you don’t see… ever. Kids playing in the yard. Do you? When I was younger, they kicked our asses outside for the day. We got to eat and piss.”
Then I stopped.
Twenty-six can’t be old yet, can it? I mean, I bought anti-wrinkle cream last night—thinking preventatively, of course. I spent literally 45 minutes in the aisle at Target. I kept walking away with something, coming back to pick up something different, going away… back again. At one point, I left the aisle with nothing. I’m sure if the employees were eagle-eyeing the cameras at that moment, they’d have thought I was insane or trying to steal shit. (I have this strange guilt/paranoid fear of clerks suspecting me of theft. What is that?)
And to really push this new year into overdrive, I’ve got Facebook friends posting the “countdown to the apocalypse” daily. Not with an “end of the word” intro… just the number, ominous, and luckily at this point, three digits.
I’m not saying I’m not ready for a fresh start. I’m just saying this year feels funky already.
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