I feel tightness in my bones,
breathing at night is exhausting . . .
But morning gives me another
opportunity to appreciate life.
You notice that I cut
You tell me that you miss
the way it hung past my shoulders,
free-flowing like the wind.
I nod, make mindless conversation
with you, small talk.
our lips barely touching.
I feel nothing.
You remind me to take the
steak out of the freezer for
The red potatoes, you say, will
be a great partner.
I remember the fresh asparagus
we bought from our grocer’s
a few days ago.
We plan to be home by 6 pm.
I spend five hours at work
drowning myself in everything
You call promptly at 11:30 am
to inquire about the steak
as if I’d forget to let it thaw.
We chit chat, I tell you
a meeting is beginning without me
and we end the call.
I flashback to when my heart
thumped nonstop at the thought
of you, when I raced home to
sit near your lazy arms on
our comfy couch, and when
your voice stirred me up
with overwhelming feelings.
I come back to now
and do everything within my
power to forget who you were.
It makes loving you easier.
It makes living with you tolerable.
But, I am still lonely.
Here is another recently rejected poem by a prominent literary magazine. What better place to share it than here? Thank you for reading.
In my mid-twenties, I logged on to an online dating website. If you asked me today, I swear, I couldn’t even tell you which one it was. It proved to be a decent piece of my life at that moment as I matched with a handsome young man who was incredibly intelligent, independent, secure in his job, funny, and respectful. We lasted all of three months. In all honesty, we were unclear as to what we wanted from each other in the beginning. After that third month, I noticed we were good together, compatible. We enjoyed each other’s time, we did jigsaw puzzles together, went to the bookstore, walked in the local parks, etc. We had in-depth, intense, and impressive conversations. However, he did not want anything serious.
Thus, our end made its way in front of us all too soon. I think about him from time to time. Although we only dated for three months, those were a pretty damn good three months and I smile when I think of them. Every so often, I wonder how he’s doing. If he still lives in the Greensboro area. If he ever got his own business up and running. He was the first guy I dated who kept an immaculate apartment (much like myself) and at that time, I thought it odd as the only young men I’d ever dated, almost never really cleaned house or cooked, let alone had a place that was worth leaving my place for one night or two. He had all these things yet we did not work out.
The more I thought about him, the more I realized–I was dating a male version of myself and today that seems pretty creepy but that’s what it was. It was going to fail and fail hard and fast had it not done so when it did.
But, something pressed upon me a few weeks ago. I have been thinking of saddling up the old horse and getting back on it to give it another go. I did so on Thursday night. I e-trotted over to eHarmony, answered their compatibility questions and guaranteed matching assessment quiz, built a profile, tossed up a few photos, then promptly deleted it. I lost my nerve. The fear that landed itself in my lap was palpitating and real. One moment, I was excited about the possibilities and could not wait to see what my new age and this new year has in store in the land of dating and the next, I was the Cowardly Lion.
I no longer bite my nails, but if I were still doing this, they’d be nubs. Within seconds, an indescribable sense of nervousness overcame me and all I could do and think of was to back out and back off. Before anything could even begin, I shot it down. I did not let it live a life of two to three days.
I told my best friend about this and she said, “It is beginning to concern me of the rate in which you’re letting fear prevent you from doing certain things. What’s the worst that could happen?” And I instantly thought, “Well, the worst that could happen.” I did not tell her this, though. She can overcome fear within seconds–she just does whatever it is she wants to do. If it needs questioning later, it’s questioned. But, I overanalyze things and create a small place in which I dare not go and this is what keeps me from doing many of the things I set out to do.
Last year, I overcame several of my fears and I am learning to be gentle with myself about the things that need work–about the things for which I still have mounds of hesitation in my spirit. I won’t rush things, but I am planning on not remaining in the bowels of the unknown for too long either. I know what I want. I know who I’d like to have these things with, but I am still unsure if I want long-term or dating only. I believe the last thought makes itself known within the first few weeks of dating someone. From what I recall, one can usually tell after two to three dates if one surely wants to keep spending time with the person one is dating.
According to a few statistics compiled by eHarmony,
“Female users aren’t just looking for hook-ups . . . Only 33% of women who use online dating websites say they have sex on the first online dating encounter, and 60% of female Tinder users say they are looking for a match, not just a hookup.”
This is good information to know as I am surely not just looking for a hook-up. This next statistic is intriguing and gives me a little hope about the way the dating world does things mostly now:
“Online dating statistics show that 20% of those in current, committed relationships began online and 7% of marriages in 2015 were between couples that met on a dating website.”
I know at least four couples who met their mates online and they are still together, three of those four couples are married. That says a lot, don’t you think? But, the older I get, the more I know/feel I do not want to be married. This is mynow. Who’s to say what I may feel like or know deep in my bones one to three years from now.
So, I almost gave online dating a try again. I was so close. If I were to give myself another pep talk, build myself up to a place of belief that perhaps, a committed relationship could flourish for me too, there is no telling where my mind will lead me. But, will I stick it out, though? I guess there’s only one thing to do in order to know . . .
This year, I have taken a step outside myself, so to speak, to further look deeply within myself. The purpose has been to connect with and somehow tweak what I have or could be missing regarding my life. During many of my sessions with my therapist, we focus on how I can move from one way of doing things (the way I have always done things) to trying new ways, even if these ways frighten me. The one thing I have found to be at the center of holding me back is fear. I touch briefly on this in The Building Blocks of Me and Hello, Rejection.
When I comb through many of my missed opportunities, I allowed myself to dismiss them solely based on not knowing what the outcome was going to be. This is to say that I feared an unfavorable outcome. I counted many things in my memory bank and shook my head at just how easy it was for me to not see something through based on how I felt. In some instances, I felt a strong sense of not being able to move— my mind would not let me. Physically, I was planted in place on many occasions — unable to get myself going because I was afraid of not succeeding. I was incredibly afraid of failing.
Recent experience has taught me that in order to accomplish my goals, I must first take the necessary steps toward reaching them. If I am unable to take those steps, my goals will not be met. This brings me to motivation . . .
Essentially, I would categorize myself as a decently motivated individual, however, this is so because I am disciplined. I find it easy to rise in the morning, do my daily work, come home and walk my dog, feed her, prepare myself for the next day’s tasks, and edit & write with any time I may have remaining before winding down to read shortly before going to bed. All of these things are embedded within the characteristics of me and have become ritualistic over time. These are not things in which I need the motivation to complete.
What I am finding hard to begin doing are the different things that shift me away from my comfort zone. I operate on a schedule that has been the same for at least fifteen years and veering off course makes my heart race. It causes me to tear up sometimes and refuse to take a chance because again, I do not know what the outcome will be. To pull a paraphrased remark from my therapist, You are prone to your most anxious moments when it challenges you to change. You have become complacent.
So how does one move from being complacent to being open to making the changes necessary to get him or her wherever they wish to be? How does one know when those changes need to cease? This is not something that will happen overnight. Most of the things I have given myself free rein to tackle will take a few years or a decade, at best. But I am moving forward and in the right direction in order to see these things take place.
What is scary is the fact that I had blinders on, unaware that my complacency was and can continue to be dangerous with regards to my growth. Which brings me to list two definitions of the word complacent:
As you can see above, the first definition is what I have endured — what I am enduring. The third actually prompted me to apply more thought to my ways and question myself: “Am I really not concerned with how I operate and how comfortable I have become with not changing to better suit me? Is my comfort zone so important that any shift from it, breaks me down?” I am saddened to say that yes, I have become complacent. However, I am not the only one.
Americans are becoming more complacent. People socialize with similar folks on Facebook and get food delivered through Uber while sitting at home streaming Netflix. Folks medicate themselves more, keep to themselves and move less often. This isn’t the same restless America whose grit helped transform a British colony into a major superpower. — Tyler Cowen, The Complacent Class, 2017.
I would say that I am among good company, but I am not. The focal point for me is to shift from my comfort zone to a more formidable one, allowing me the freedom to further pursue my goals. I know that this form of change starts with me. I have to be the one willing to lift my feet up and trek forward. There is no one else on which to depend for this to take place.
Every single day, I say something encouraging to myself — something that will alert me of my strengths and help me leap over a few weaknesses that have held me back. What do I look forward to in my immediate future?
A shorter workweek — preferably from 40 hours to 36 hours per week. This will allow me more time for editing, writing, and submitting to literary magazines and journals both online and in print.
2. Pursuing a career that will not only provide an environment for my skill-set, but allow me room to advance and grow with the company without being made to feel like an underpaid, underappreciated, and unseen workhorse.
3. Create, enhance, and build a brand linked to writing, editing, and creative literary works. (A Cornered Gurl is the start.)
4. Move and settle in another part of North Carolina, preferably, Western, North Carolina. (Particularly, Arden, NC.)
When I step back and examine these four goals — visualizing them, I know I can do this. I have it within me to accomplish each one, however, I dread the potential death of each without even given them a chance to live. I am at an age now that is a constant reminder for me to “get it in gear” and do the work required to attain the aforementioned.
I am tired of the same old thing — the revolving door stops now. I am taking a stand against myself. This is my personal pact and it will be until I have accomplished what I intend to.
My motivation? Complacency will not be the death of me.
Originally published in The Startup via Medium. The link shared is a friend link which will allow anyone who clicks on it to read it for free via Medium as it is behind the paywall.
She tells her, “You are the Universe, baby. The perfect galaxy. The reason I love the way love feels on me.” She watches. She stares. She loves the way love feels on her too but not everyone is eager to see them flaunting their version of love outside the closet.
“Alice and the rabbit hole, baby. A neverending journey. A hunt for sustenance. Blazing moonlight over cherry trees. I’d never chop you down.” She’s still professing her undying love for her. The charm that lifts itself from her skin and lands on her lips is a ten. A twenty if anyone’s counting. She’s tipping the scales tonight.
“Blue envy. Gray passion. Red all over and yellow inside. I bleed you.” She smiles. She fidgets with her jean jacket, twirls her bossy curls around her index finger, and sets a giggle free. “I would tip a mountain over, my love, if you were on the other side of it.”
Her eyes widen. She steadies her ears on every word leaving her lover’s lips and finally speaks . . .
“If I am all of this you claim, why are we still hiding? Does your mother know my name? Are your sisters aware that roommates is a loose term for what we really are? Did you tell your brother what we do when you’re “on a business trip?”
Silence is thick in the room. She slices it with her words. “The Universe never hides, baby. The Universe doesn’t have to.” She walks away.
Her lover follows her to the kitchen. She watches her hips as they sway. She’s in a trance. Her eyes log her every step. She pulls a thought from the air and shares it with her . . .
“But the Universe knows that living in harmony with everyone takes many sacrifices. It understands that offering itself up on a platter is not how one gets full. Please, let me take small bites until I am ready for more.”
A few pots clang in the kitchen. She’s rummaging through old utensils, searching for a spatula. Her lover’s voice lingers in her ears — on her lips. She stands back on bowed legs and reminds herself . . . reminds her lover . . .