Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month... Unique Bowser

"No longer is there a haze, a blur or distortions of any kind
I see you better than I once did
I see your beauty as well as your destructive nature
Influenced by sin
I see your innocence
Tarnished by the guilty
But still I see the purity of your natural state 

It was my own demons
Seeds laid way before the semen
That sought to control the way I saw you
The way I saw myself in the midst of you
I carried more baggage than a bellhop
There were times when I thought my heart stopped
But it had only dropped from the pain
Although the stain remains
The way I see you has changed forever

Maturity is linked to the second hand
Time is the only indicator
Of what I once knew and what I now understand......." By Unique

Unique Bowser
Unique Bowser

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Peeking into Ezekiel's Bones...

Slamming the car door, Genevieve dashed across the driveway, through the open garage into the house. Regardless, the rain had soaked her and she stood in the mud room silently scolding herself for not using her blanket as a rain shield. Now she would have to figure out how to get a towel without getting the floor wet or dirty. Stripping off as much outer clothing as possible and dropping it to the floor, she stepped onto the slick wood floor of the kitchen.
“I just finished mopping, so make sure your shoes are off.” A tight voice drifted from the living room.
But the bottom edge of her jeans touched the floor, leaving wet grassy puddles as she headed toward the stairs.
She didn't make it.
“You are soaking my floor!” Her mother's tense face appeared in the kitchen, her neck craned forward enough to cause a cramp, and her eyes shooting invisible daggers.
“I'm trying to get a towel.” Genevieve kept her eyes fixed on her mother’s while cold water dripped from her hair down the back of her shirt. She forced herself not to shiver.
Her mother turned her head like a robot in slow motion toward the mud room entrance. 
Here it comes
“You just walked in the house. I spent half the day at work and then come home to clean and your stuff is already on the floor.” 
And there it goes.
Genevieve stood motionless, now dripping on the freshly mopped floor. There was no reason to answer. There never was. If she explained she was trying to not mess up the floors in the first place, and that's why she left her wet dirty stuff there, her mother would say that was wrong. And if she said she going to get a towel and come back so she wouldn't mess up her floors, somehow that would be wrong too. So she said nothing, which was sure to get her in trouble anyway, because saying nothing was almost as bad as smart mouthing according to her mother.
“Are you going to say anything?” She didn't even wait for an answer. “You know you're gonna get that junk up. Now! Not later!” The sound of her voice boomed throughout the house like the bellow of an angry elephant.
Genevieve crushed her teeth together. Her anger was churning inside like acid eating up the nice words she'd want to use to rationally explain that she'd intended to come back for her stuff, after she'd dried off, and after she'd changed her clothes so she wouldn't mess up the perfectly mopped floors, which were always perfectly mopped anyway. Finally, she gave in to the inevitable and said, “Since I'm sure I will have to re-mop your floors.” She leaned over, and with all the strength she could she shook her head like a wet dog, splattering water drops as far as the granite top island and the chrome refrigerator. 
She could have sworn she heard her mother growl when she lifted her head and looked at her through hanging, drenched hair. Before her mother could say anything else, she turned with swiftness and dashed up the stairs.
Darting into her room first, she grabbed some clothes and headed into the bathroom. Peeling out of her wet stuff, she put on yoga pants, a pink sweatshirt, and pink slipper socks. Then, turning on the blow dryer, she blew the soaked feeling out of her hair. Her new tactic was to take as much time as she wanted; pretty much avoiding her mother’s incessant ranting. 
“What'd you do this time?” Jackson's voice cracked as she passed his room. His voice had this new habit of dissecting and breaking when he spoke, thanks to being an eleven, almost twelve-year-old, boy starting the throws of puberty.
“You know, the usual. Killed some animals in the backyard, then got drunk and wrecked the car.”
He “humph,” knowing exactly what she meant with her caustic remark. “Was it those dogs that keep barking every night?”
Genevieve plopped down in the other empty video game chair next to her stepbrother. “Nope, only some frogs. Haven't honed my serial killer skills that far.” He glanced at her and then back to his game without missing a single zombie kill shot. Proving how efficient he was at multitasking and how much time he spent playing video games. Since they didn't deter the fact that he made straight A's in school, he was allowed to play as often as he liked, except past his nine o'clock bedtime. “The little genius” was what her mother regularly called him, with an endearing voice she would never use to address Genevieve. The term “little,” which he couldn't stand being pointed out, seemed a Freudian slip, because it really is a physical description. He is, in fact, little for his age. Only in the tenth percentile on the doctor’s growth chart, though what he lacked in size he made up for in ingenuity and intelligence.
From pictures, Jackson looked more like his mom than his dad Evan. His jet black hair was stick straight, and every haircut he received seemed to fall perfectly on his square face. Being half Asian from his mom, his eyes were angled like a cat, but they were also deep set and welcoming, like Evan's. Whenever Genevieve introduced him as her brother, strangers would look back and forth between them, curious looks on their faces at the contrast of her red-blonde hair, light eyes and pale skin against his sharp dark features and golden saffron-toned skin. Sometimes she and Jackson would say he was one of those Asian baby adoptions so people would wipe the crazy looks off their faces, which usually worked and made people swoon over how great their parents must be. That alone left them laughing and secretly mocking people's idiocy. Truth was, she and Jackson were products of widowed parents who were set up on a blind date by mutual friends. Jackson's mom died when he was six in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Even Genevieve remembered being on the news. And Genevieve's father died the day she was born. The nurses at the hospital had found him dead on the floor next to Genevieve’s medical bassinette. Once, she overheard her mom talking with a friend and blaming her father’s death on the nurse who stepped away for another emergency, saying if she had been where she was supposed to be, maybe they could have done something. His cause of death remained officially undetermined. The way her mother looked at her…no approval in her expressions ever, Genevieve always thought fate must have made a decision the day she was born, and since it picked Genevieve's life over her father’s, her mother somehow bitterly disagreed with fates choice.
She had always been curious about her dad, the same way she was curious about the fine folks in the cemetery, though she wouldn't be caught dead admitting it, not after the few times she'd mentioned him only to watch her mother’s face twist in horror before running to grab a glass of Merlot. Their house never displayed a single picture of him, ever, so when she was younger she'd sneak an old photo album from her mother's closet and wait until late at night to look through the pictures, hidden under covers with a flashlight. In every picture, her dad seemed to beam, even in bad camera shots when a person is caught off guard and they aren't supposed to look good. A touristy beach picture of her parents in bathing suits, labeled underneath “Honeymoon, Waikiki Beach” was one of her favorites. Not only because the look on her mother's face was genuine love, a look she'd never seen toward her, but also because she could plainly see her father's love for her mother.
That picture was how she knew she looked a lot like her father, minus the towering height and gladiator shape. His face was diamond shaped, same as hers, and they shared the same sharp chin and thin nose. Her thick strawberry blonde hair was an obvious mix of her mother's blonde and his hair, though his was a strange color of red, somewhere between a beet and a carrot. In every picture he appeared flawless and strong. His neck was the right length atop broad his square shoulders. His chest tapered to a v-shaped waist and he had legs that rivaled a track star’s. But that was the problem. On him his features matched, but on her it only  made her a girl with small boobs and a boy shape, with hardly any hips, much less thighs, and overly sharp, broad shoulders.
“Dad's home,” Jackson said at the sound of the garage door rumbling under their feet. His bedroom was over the top of the garage, the “beast” as they'd nicknamed it last summer. The garage door needed a new chain or maybe a whole new door opener, and it vibrated his room every time someone opened or closed it.
“That's my cue.” Genevieve stood up and headed out of the room.
“Cue for what? You still didn't say what you did?” he called after her, leaning over and peering into the hall.
Ignoring him, she scooped up her wet clothes from the bathroom and left them draped across the end of her bed to dry. Her cue had been the safety of her stepdad coming home from work. Her mom spit less venom around him. So now she knew she could safely head back down the stairs to get her “junk” up from the mud room.
Grabbing the surface cleaner and paper towels from under the kitchen sink, she quickly wiped down the now dried water spots on the microwave and the refrigerator. Amusing herself by imagining her mom had stood watching them dry up on her perfectly glazed surfaces, fuming with anger. 
“Hey kiddo.” Evan set bags of Chinese food on the newly shined island. The smell instantly infused the air with orange spices and hints of soy sauce. “Got you General Cho's and egg drop soup. Is that cool?”
“Cool?” She lifted an eyebrow at him. “Yes, that's cool.” 
“Smells perfect, Evan,” Angelica said, coming into the kitchen and heading toward the cabinet for plates, completely ignoring the fact that his shoes had made wet marks from the mudroom to the island like a trail of wet duck feet.
Genevieve tucked the spray cleaner back with the rest of the cleaning supplies, and without looking at her mom, grabbed a rag and put some water on it to clean up the mudroom floor. She could see Evan eyeing her while she wiped up the hardly worth worrying about grass and water spots on the floor, along with his. 
“Jackson,” Evan called, as Genevieve headed upstairs with her book bag. “Time to eat!” 
Putting her bag on her desk, she pulled out her laptop and her books and laid them neatly next to her calendar, wondering if she could impromptu a story to convince her parents to let her eat up there. Shaking her head at the idea, knowing her mom would never allow family dinner to be eaten anywhere else except torturously together, she flipped off the light and headed back toward the stairs, to a yelling, “Come on Gee. We're starving,” from Jackson. 
She was four steps from the bottom when the lights in the house went out. The sound of a lighter clicking, followed by an orange glow coming to life from inside the red candle holder on top the island, directed Genevieve past the glass door leading out back.
A blur of lambent fire caught her eye and she gawked out into the darkness. 
“Storm will probably keep the power out for a while,” Angelica said, sliding a stool out from under the island and sitting down. “This will be a cozy dinner.”
Evan and Jackson followed suit pulling out stools, then scooping from the white square boxes onto their plates.
Joining them, Genevieve looked outside for the glow of red she'd seen moments ago, then back to the candle on the island, searching for its reflection in the glass. It didn't match. The candle was off to the left in the windowpane, not reflected on the glass of the back door. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Are you a reject? I am.

I boldly claim that we really have no idea, and can't readily perceive what rejected people look or act like. Sure, we can think of all sorts of things we see on TV, or news, or even someone on the side of the road holding a sign that says they are homeless and hungry. But the truth, well, my truth anyway, is that people are rejected because they fall short of 100% scale we impose on one another. A scale that really is a farce of an image in our minds. It's usually made up of cropped depictions from all sorts of places, experiences, impressions and perceptions. Somehow we manage to mesh these all together and come up with what we believe is our concept of a perfect, none rejectable, fully acceptable human. And when a person doesn't match up to that image, we reject them...at least certain parts of them. Bullied kids would say this sort of sectioned rejection is true. Women and girls would share that this is true about their gender, their body size and shape, ethnicity and even personality. Men have their list too. In fact, if you Google "men's rejection fears" you will get a slew of posts saying that men simply fear rejection. In other words, a lot of men are afraid of rejection, period.

But what does rejection really look like...

I'm surrounded by some of the best "rejects" I can imagine. My husband for example was the funny man in school. He was accepted as the good guy, the likeable guy. He had/has good looks blended with a comedian's personality and gobs of charisma. He is literally the guy that everyone likes and has no enemies. But back in highschool, he was regularly positioned into the "friend zone" with the girls. He couldn't get a girlfriend to save his life! Poor guy...

The reason my husband ended up single for his high school years, I believe, was because he simply wouldn't change his ways to try to impress girls. In other words, he wouldn't be the bad-boy that girls seemed to gravitate toward. He was going to keep his goofy, good-guy heart and not sell out.

So, on one hand, he was accepted, and the other, he was regularly, heartbreakingly rejected. He could have chosen bitterness, or a self absorbed "playa/hustler" route, but it just wasn't in him...no matter his pain and experience with rejection.

My best friend experienced a different type of rejection during her high school/school years. Today, she's a loyal friend, with a very genuine heart and a full life. She also has a continuing thirst to improve herself, and a drive to give out to the world the gift of acceptance. However, some of these parts of her heart are because while growing up, her experiences with friendships were minimal. I believe the reason my friend ended up rejected more than accepted is because she had a powerful protective guard around herself. Today, she would tell you that she had always wanted to experience friendships and connections with people, but to do so meant she would have to make herself vulnerable to others. And for the life and home she was growing up within that would be like asking a homeless person to get naked and stand in front of you before you feed and help them...it won't happen...and honestly, it shouldn't have to happen.

She too could have chose an angry, bitter route. And she did for her early years of adulthood, but now, and for many years, she has chosen the courageous way of self-reflection and a journey to healing.

There is a secret I've found with rejects ~which is pretty much every person on planet earth ~ and that is that you have to be courageous and loyal enough to share and walk WITHIN their secrets and self protections. With my husband, what girls were not attracted to in highschool, I found to be an enduring faithfulness in a man. One who is fun and abounds with friendship and true, loyal love. There has never been a dull moment in our lives, or our house, as long as he is around.

With my best friend, I stumbled upon a life-passionate person, who regularly goes about making this world better for herself and for others. She would give you her heart even if it meant she'd suffer for doing so. She optimizes someone who, even with tears, will stand up under every failure and try and try again. And that safeguard she had around herself for all of those years, ended up being a fantastic shield that she now surrounds her loved ones with when they need to be protected.
Now THAT is how you take rejection, balance it, and then make it work for you and those you love. :0)

My personal rejection problem...
I make a terrible first impression. Yikes! That might not sound like such a bad thing, but it certainly can add up to regular rejection pains and some serious broken self esteem. They say the problem with first impressions is that you hardly ever get to go back and make up for them...and I've found this to be so very true.

Now, it isn't because I'm unprofessional or anything of the sort. In fact, though it's been explained to me, I still can't figure out why I'm easily rejected the first time a person meets or is introduced to me. Some have explained that it is because I look mad. Others say it's because I look over confident. And still, others say it's just an air about me that says "tread carefully."
But for me, it seems I'm trapped in two worlds. Basically, on one hand I know a lot of people (mostly because I grew up all over the world), and I am comfortably acknowledged within groups that already know me...thankfully. But that type of acceptance definitely won't/didn't happen on their first impression or encounter with me. And sometimes, not for a few encounters afterward. In fact, in person, I tend to make people uneasy, which in turn makes me uneasy. It happened to me just last week while I was at a public event. I'd purposefully worked to overcome a fear of mine, which was to go to an event all by myself, with no one to lean on and no coat tails for first impressions to ride. I sat in my car before going in and put on my best smile. I took deep breaths and told myself to release good energy and vibes. But it still happened...the people I spoke to hardly made eye contact with me, and for sure wouldn't carry on any small talk, no matter how much I tried to turn on the charm. The very charm I've tried to learn/steal from my charismatic husband.
(I still had a fantastic time at the event, regardless. I just had a fantastic time alone...a state I don't mind being in. Plus, I conquered a fear!)  :0)
Bottom line, people don't really care for me until they actually have a conversation with me and hear how I think and feel. When they find that I overflow with empathy and compassion that is usually the moment they realize I am safe, trustworthy, and exactly the opposite of my easily miss perceived exterior and countenance.

So you see... I happen to like rejects. I am one. And my life is filled with them! Gloriously filled to overflowing with people who somehow, not sure how, gave me permission ~after the first impression~ to know and share in their vulnerable, goofy, lovable, and totally loyal selves.

I happen to love the rejects of the world....so I decided to write a book about one.

*A friend once told me, "If I've ever encountered a person that was born a Warrior, it's you."  And my best friend, the one I spoke of above, says that I am all Warrior on the outside, but with a "soft squishy middle." And I agree. I'm short and fierce, with a tender heart and uber empathy...to which I would give up none of these in order to make a good first impression.*
Something that helps greatly...I write. :0) This way people hear me before they encounter me.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why I have no Plan B for 2014...

I had these goals and aspirations in life...

But they always manage to be followed with either a, "I'll wait until the right time," or a, "It's okay if plan A doesn't work out, I'm a strategist so I can do a plan B...and C...and D..." and so on. I humbly announce that I am great at strategizing plans and paths, and am always mentally armed and ready to step a different way if something comes to alter a path I'd plotted out. I was born this way. I didn't get this way by will but by DNA. And up until the last few years this way of living worked brilliantly for me. For example, my son was born with sensory dysfunctions, and I thought, "I got this. We can change our lives to accommodate him. We'll move the paths that his brain needs us to until he gets to where he needs to be." That plan worked great. Today he is a normal teenager without any sensory issues and plays the guitar and loves life and his family. Score for me! Right? Well really, it's a score for him since he's the one who put in the HARD work. But even those types of life challenges helped cement my self-determined ability to maneuver life as needed.

But then...

A few years ago I went to the doctor, and he said, "There is a mass on your throat." As usual, what did my brain do? Yep, my strategist kicked into high gear. It said, "Okay, no problem. What is my step one...and two...and on what date do I need surgery...and what part of nutrition should I change...and how can I keep doing...."  In essence it said, "Focus on that stuff, and make sure to plan B, just in case." And we all know what the "just in case," is when it comes to being told you have cancer.
But finally, after all the logical parts of me spoke up and had their say in my now immediate future plans, that's when the quieter, imaginative, creative heart I have inside decided to speak. It said, "You never really tried for that writing dream you always thought you would have time for."

And then regret set in...

They make movies and books out of stuff like this, I'd thought a few days later. You know, the ones where a Doctor says, "You have six months to live," and then the person goes out and finally lives the life they always wanted. Well my heart always wanted to have a career filling pages of books with stories and adventures...and to release the constant chatter that characters tend to make inside my head. *insert crazy, psycho smile here* :0)
Just the thought of a person sitting in a park reading words that relate to them as another human, and that spark their imagination, has always made my heart pitter patter.

But for those darn Plan B's....

It wasn't cancer that caused my plan B's to change; it was what cancer caused that caused the change. Confused yet? I'll explain. See, cancer caused debilitating illness to come to my world. My world immediately switched from me being at the gym five days a week, having a personal trainer, and living for the outdoors and regular travel. Illness changed/transformed my very orderly world into a dreary world of tiredness, fatigue, and constant bed rest. Even now, while I'm not in treatment, I get a limited amount of time out of a day. I usually sleep an average of ten to twelve hours a night and sometimes still have to take naps during the day. I go through weeks where my head feels too heavy to lift from a pillow, and then suddenly I wake up one morning saying, "What in the world was wrong with me yesterday? I feel great today."
I—and my family and doctors— have searched every corner of nutrition, exercise, positive thinking, vitamins, food sensitivities, even the weather, trying to find what triggers the bouts with fatigue, but to no avail.
Long term cancer fatigue is what it's called. Up to 30% of cancer patients get it, even after treatments are done and life becomes stable again. Yay me! Or not. o_0   If I were a gambler I would have gambled for me—not against me—as being one of those people who would go through cancer with a big giant S on my chest and saying, "I am Super Women! Bring it on Cancer! I can kick your butt!"  But, cancer managed to say back to me, "Ha ha, I am the evil villain, and though you may survive, your life will be altered forever."  Yes, cancer DOES indeed suck! (As my car license plate so boldly declares)

So plans, and more plans, and more life strategies went right out the door. How can you live your life and make plans when you can't lift your darn head? So, I did the only thing I knew I could with this altered life...I stopped putting off being an Author and jumped right in...I Pad in bed, keyboard ready, and no looking back. I'd write when I was awake, and I'd dream about writing when I was asleep. I was finally forced to open up to the suppressed adventures and the power of words I'd been trying to push to the side in order to be a "responsible" person in this life.

I admit, I'm still the same strategist I was before. I can master how to accommodate a bad fatigue day and still work, help my son, and run a business with my husband. I can maneuver a calendar to get things done by their due date, regardless of sleep-needing time. Though, I refuse to overdo myself either. Truthfully, I'll never be able to stop strategizing things that need to get done. It's just who I am, and I honor that...I like that about myself...but what I no longer do is assume that life will wait for my Plan B. I was simply, probably divinely, maneuvered into a place in my life where I have to make my dreams manifest in order to live. ~ And yes, to be practical and to pay off those medical bills~  ;0)

We as a family actually lost a lot because of cancer. Due to cancer medical bills, that lovely recession problem, and my inability to work outside of the house, we lost our beloved home, our sense of security and stability, and of course my physical health. ~ Though, I can't help but add right here, we truly lost nothing of value because we were already a very close family, whom I could brag about all day. And I also have an amazing support system of friends. ~ However, throughout the painful losses and life changes we've experienced, cancer managed to take one thing that I'm very happy about. It took my Plan B.

My motto now: What do you do when life forces you to give up your plan B's? You quit planning and start living!

My heart for the New Year, 2014:  There is no plan B because writing is who I am.

A selfie of me on a fatigue day. Head on pillow, ear buds in, and just the glow of my IPad and writing to keep me dreaming. :0)