Writing practice

People drink alcohol to heal their wounds.

My mother told me that.

She’s never drank before. At least that’s what I was lead to believe. For a long time I remember thinking my mother and father were virgins until their marriage night; I found out from my brother that my father had slipped.

I wonder why they would hide that from me.

My great grandmother died in a hospital bed. Her fiery red hair had faded to white and her skin was deflated over her cheekbones like a sunken balloon fallen on tree branches. But her fiery spirit remained. She fiercely witnessed to all the nurses, warning them, and going as far as to pray with some of them. I remember holding her boney hand, she shook it vigorously and said, “No drinkin’, no smokin’, and no dancin’.” These are the way the devil gets you.

I have broken all three of my great grandmother’s rules. All three in one night.

The first time I got drunk I was a sophomore in college. I was at a fraternity formal. My best friend was dating a Kappa Sigma and I went with his roommate. I turned to her and whispered, “I think I’m ready.” Everywhere around me people were drunk. It was my first experience with it.  I took two shots of peppermint schnapps with a chaser of chocolate syrup. The following day I woke up feeling horrible, but not from a hangover. I was wrecked with guilt.

Years later, I’m sneaking shots of bourbon and blue moons from the host tab at a banquet party.

If I have wounds, I don’t know where they’re from. And I wouldn’t waste my beer to pour over it. I don’t drink because I’m hurt. I drink because I’m bored at work and don’t want to drive home.

Ease my cares with front porch swings and rocking chairs

“You’re marked.” He told me very confidently. He even slapped his knee. Sitting there on my front porch swing. “I’ve seen you in action, you’re anointed.”

This praise elates me and I grin. You really think so? He complements my poetry. Old spoken word pieces I’d recite by memory in the pulpit. I watched a video the other day and I was striking. But it was hard to view. I couldn’t help but cringe at my words. But I was passionate and reverent. I noticed how my eyes avoided the crowd and the camera. I would close them or look above and I thought, oh wow, I really believed

But I was good. I had no idea. Because when I was complemented I’d shrug and say, well, it’s all God.

Faith astounds me. It’s strange.

My cousin confronted me on my front porch swing. Earlier we were picking through my late pop’s books (like he has vegetables) and he picked up one and said, “These are interesting answers.”

He’s a theology major. Also a music major. Has perfect pitch and leads a choir.

He was holding a study Bible. Old. His. Yes, but are they good?

“That’s when I knew I could talk to you. You’re a thinker. You’re smart. But I’m telling you that there are answers.”

Consider Christ, my cousin challenged me. And see what happens.

Old church of god is long winded. He presented his case of the Nazarene so well that he cried.

“Even though it’s intellectual. You can’t deny the experiential.”

Oh. Not this. Not this.

It is something I block from my brain like a traumatic child.

But in order to get where I’m going I’m gonna have to smash them. I believe in going in, digging deep. Into this. Into Life. Into me. And you. And that it will be good.

So yes, I’ll consider. I’ll consider it all.

Humidity

The hot Georgia heat seeps into your skin. The air here is so thick it traps you. It is 97 with a heat index of 110 and everybody walks a little slower, chasing shadows and breezes.

People complain in the heat. When you visit you will wear a streaming layer of sweat and your clothes will soak through.

Man, it’s hot. Tempers rise. Tourists stumble into my bar slouching. They all comment and stare off and fan themselves. I don’t wait to make them a glass of water. I smile and tell them to take a look. I’ll get you started.

Thank you! That’s what I need. It’s so hot.

I am used to this heat. I used to complain. Sit in the AC. Worry about my makeup running or my hair coming out of place. Now I embrace the disheveled look of a survivor of the sun.

My sunny demeanor warms them and the beer cools them. All the patrons are windswept and sunbeat, they have melted and sit and sip quietly.

They are soft and manipulative. Smile and banter. They open up. Bar stories are a real thing. People get sad, they get mad, they get happy. I work in a tourist town. I meet people from all over, hear their stories. I see so much and sometimes I’m elated and sometimes it makes me sad.

But I am used to it. I can’t complain.
I like this Georgia heat
Because when I cry it joins with streams of sweat on my cheek.

While my guitar gently weeps

They say that Insanity defined is doing the same thing and expecting different results. It is a saying I recall my father saying, my pastor saying, a people saying. So try something different.

And I know what they mean. And I know they mean well, these people passing me. Good Samaritans all who stop on their way to call, Come on! Hurry up! Looking down on me like I’m in a rut,

But I’m not.

Lindsey, are you on drugs? My mother asked me very calmly holding her iphone on the other side of the couch.
I considered her for a moment.
No, I’m not.
My brother is on drugs. Cracked out, coked up, but I smoke natural green. We are the two sides, he and I, and she and I, the perfect one who took a puff and her cheeks reddened with her eyes and she cried.
It’s like you were raised by a different family.
She says this calmly, too.
Yeah, like by one of your siblings. Her siblings. She picked up a new name proudly. My last name.
You don’t act like them.

I reach up and scratch my head proudly. There are two patches of poofy, dark hair protruding from my underarms. It disgusts her and it amuses me.
Lindsey, my hippy.
She hugs me.
We both realize I am more like her, like her side, than the others, and that probably produces bizarre feelings in her.

But I’ve got them in them. Me. Them. My roots. My kin. My crazy family.
One side big and loud and boisterous, goofy and loving, spreading hugs and kisses to everyone,
The other quiet and small and with lots of problems,
But they’re both family. They’re both me. I’m this mixed up hybrid and am okay with it.

Do I look okay? I ask my friend.
You look like Lindsey.
Yeah, but is that okay?
It’s you. So yeah.

Good Samaritans, all helping me. But by god! I am crazy! And I am me!
Embracing my roots and growing.
They say keep moving,
Try something different.
They move their whole lives, looking, wandering… seeking but not finding because they don’t look long enough,
Because it won’t load fast enough,
I’ll sit and wait here by the dust,
Digging,
Into the dirt.
Just a little bit farther and I might strike gold.

It’s just paper

I could drive home, but twenty minutes outside of town just to turn back to commute to work seems like a waste of time.
I’m not saying that my time is valuable. Instead I’ve decided to waste it but wondering around town. Today I have visited two coffee shops and walked to the park and sat in the grass for a moment and now I find myself sitting in an empty bar at 3pm waiting for four o clock to roll around.
Then I’ll go to work and make some money. Then I go back to a bar and spend the money I made.
After PA I was broke, walking around defiantly with a few bucks in my pocket, purchasing PBRs and cigarettes.
For a few days I was so broke I couldn’t even buy that and my dependency on my vices made me laugh.
I’m still broke, I shouldn’t be, but I am. I spend instead of save because I earned that hundred dollars and now I’m going to celebrate.
All I need is some money for food and beer and cigarettes and weed. I have a cute boy who is broke too and nothing makes me happier than pulling out my last twenty to pay for our tab. He feels so bad and I laugh at him saying, you know it’s just paper, right?
Funny thing is if I keep clocking in I keep making money.
I made a hundred and spent half on an eighth and everything felt okay in the world.
I’m going to work in an hour. This morning I rushed out of his house because he has jokes he needs to write for a show. Tonight I’ll make some more money. I had twenty five in my wallet and now only fifteen because I bought two blue moons at noon and you should always tip your bartender well.
My notebook is out and I’m filling pages with thoughts and not stopping myself to think that it might be bad.

It’s not all that bad.

Girl, go home and get some rest

Sunday afternoon. I’ve arrived at my back porch–finally! Coffee brewed, cigarette lit (I’m lit), journals out. I had four hours of sleep last night. Five the night before. Been up since 730am. (I see so many sunrises and sunsets, so close… I’m not sure what day it is.) I’m wide awake.

I haven’t been home in two weeks. Stayed in PA, I dropped my luggage off her without unpacking and took a nap, then drove off to see… someone. (Oh, someone!) And since Monday had been in hiding with him.
So… You wanna hang?
Sure. It’s the answer every time. But after a week I feel week. I’m amazed at my physical body. How can it keep up with me? (I barely can.) I don’t feed it or give it enough water.

I feel like a nomad. Like a dirty dirty hobo. Sleeping in beds that aren’t mine. And my beatup 2002 Hyundai my trusty steed.
(Aren’t we a sight?)

But I’m finally here. Back home. In my favorite spot on my favorite day. It is Sunday, June (wait, lemme check…) 26th.

Today

is the beginning of a new day. It is also the continuing of gears in motion. And some days I feel like I don’t quite fit and it is a struggle to arrange the pieces in their proper places. And some days are easy (like the fog has lifted). And some days are hard (the smoke has not cleared from my latest detonation).

But it is a new day. I woke up this morning and breathed in air that made me thankful for my lungs.

Last night I had the intention to drive home. I arrived at my shift in a chipper mood completely unaware that I was about to have the Shift From Hell. Things have been going swell in my life. I have many days where I’m thankful for my breath. It is a good way to live. I traveled to Pennsylvania on a train with my mother to visit my niece. One night I felt overwhelmed after handling E- all day and needed a smoke break.
mom i just need this right now, okay?
She wanted me to stay in the room so I wouldn’t disturb R-, but I was stirred up like a mixture in a shaker and needed to get out.
ill hang with you later but i need this. Then. Out of nowhere. You think you know what youre doing in life and that you have it all figured out but then one day you realize that you dont… and… i still have a lot to learn. and you’re still my mom. there’s so much i can learn from you.
I think there’s a lot I can learn from you, too.

And I have found myself swept up once more. But this time… something’s different.
Or am I imaging things?
(play things out. What’s the rush?)

I walked into a cloud of pesticide.
what the hell?
Roaches.
Fucking roaches crawling around everywhere. We had two hours to clean house and set up. By the time the graduated RNs walked in I was exhausted and pissed and honestly on the brink of another panic attack.
Sweep the room and check the corners. I squashed 11 bugs and spent the entire night pouring drinks for medical professionals who don’t know how to drink or talk to waitstaff or, for that matter, each other (Newest Pet Peeve: amateur drinkers…

Sandy goes to work every day and takes care of people with cancer. When she gets home she drowns her depression in Cabernet. She’s confused as to why she keeps smiling at people even though she hates her life. “Why did I ever have my children?” she thought bitterly and regretted it immediately. So she nervously took another sip.
[“Was that too mean?”]
[“HAHAHA”]
Sandy was so happy to have received Most Likely To Succeed at her college graduation. She framed the slip of paper and put it on her dresser to remind her of a promise she had made to herself. Lately, she kept forgetting what it had been she promised. It seemed like a dream and she could only sometimes grasp it. Then it would dissipate out of her hand like smoke. Never even there.
Sandy leaned over the bar and ordered another Corona Lite from the pretty little bartender.
“Killed it,” she slurred, slipping the bottle closer to her. Did Andrew look over? Sandy was suddenly aware that she was flushed. Yes, he side-swiped her. Gave her that little look from the corner of his eyes as she grabbed another beer. Sipping his Stella slowly and solemnly, judging her. She leaned further over the bar to grab the tender’s attention. “Excuse me. What’s my tab at?”
“Nix, right?”
“Like the singer.”
She looked around at the packed room filled with the newest pack of graduates. They were all so young and beautiful and promising. Their parents came out to celebrate and some had handsome men. She envied them. She felt like, not so long ago… something similar happened to her. That she had so many dreams, worked really hard to graduate and got a good position. Then Phil got her pregnant. And she made herself a promise.
But she couldn’t remember what.
“24.”
“Beers?” She stammered, incredulous.
“No,” she pretty young bartender said, and laughed, “total.” She turned back to the screen. “5 beers.”
“Oh.” That’s not so bad.
Sandy laughed along with the pretty young bartender and lowered her voice, “Well, I haven’t done this in yeears.
I work with them, they’re great girls. Real promising.
I’m getting an Uber home, all the way to Hillsville. Haha!”
The beer was almost gone and Sandy decided to down it.
“Killed it. Can I have another one?”
And giggled.
And felt like she forgot something.

Hm. Oh, Sandy.
Life is full of material. It is a new day, isn’t it?

I’m learning, I think.
Maybe I’m getting a hang of this whole thing.

I’ve been trying this crazy new technique called fucking sitting down and making myself write. Here’s a Personal secret–I longhand everything. I carry around three small notebooks in my purse. They all have different functions. One is my book for standup. One is my book of poetry. And one I have affectionately called my Thought Catcher where I literally just scribble every god damn annoying thing that comes in my head. (I feel like the older I get the crazier I get?)
Then I have two larger notebooks that I free write shit in. Start stories. The computer is intimidating.
And I like transcribing the story to the screen, and adding more meat to it as I go along.

I’ve been doing that a lot. Have an idea. Start the idea. And finish it. Writing is terrifying because it takes an incredible amount of trust.
Usually once I squeeze the first inspiration out I’m stuck, at a loss, and I give up, or excuse myself saying, Oh, I’ll give this one some thought and get back to it later.
NO!
Stop thinking! Just write. Do. Pen on the paper. Build the story.

Not like I have this down completely. I’m just beginning. I push myself, but I’m still barely finishing… not finishing, but…
I’m going for longer.
I think I’m getting a hang of this.
I’ve made myself a promise.