Tag Archives: human condition

How Does it Look?

With tons of help from my family, I built a lovely home in the woods. It’s my dream come true and I’m so fortunate in so many ways. My family is healthy, I have a job, I have food, and I can pay my bills. But I can barely pay my bills. Barely.

I was in Goodwill yesterday and again today. I made a small purchase each visit. If you’ve ever been to Goodwill, you know that they ask if you’d like to round your purchase up to the nearest dollar and your change will go toward education.

In theory, I think this is a great idea. It allows people to do something small that adds up to something big. Even if you’ve never been to Goodwill, I’m sure you’ve been to the grocery store or any number of other retail establishments that ask if you’d like to donate a dollar to a children’s hospital or the Children’s Miracle Network, or the Humane Society, ad infinitum.

While it’s a great thing that these places can raise money almost effortlessly, there is often pressure to donate, which I really really don’t like. Especially when there are people behind you. It’s like advertising you’re a heartless wretch if you say no.

Yesterday I said yes and donated almost 60 cents. I will choose products at the grocery store based on a 10 cent price difference. I bet you do too.

Today I said no. I kept my 20 cents. 20 cents is kind of a big deal. It’s a big difference when you’re talking about the price of a gallon of gas, or a gallon of milk. 20 cents is how much it costs me to list an item for sale on Etsy for 4 months. I pick up pennies on the sidewalk or the street or the parking lot. They go into a jar that accumulates, and when I cash it in it’s always about $100. The small stuff adds up.

There was no one behind me in line today, which is why I said no. It was only the cashier who I had to look in the eye with shame. And I felt shamed over 20 cents. Twenty effing cents. The whole drive home I felt terrible inside. I felt judged. I felt like I should have explained why I didn’t round up. I am trying to justify why I didn’t just donate the 20 effing cents.

I was so shaken by the experience that it makes me not want to shop in Goodwill again. But I’ve had that feeling before, and I always go back. Because, well, I can find good deals on things I need.

I know what poor looks like. I also know what poor doesn’t look like. Sometimes poor wears a disguise. Sometimes it looks miserly and stingy.

Dropping the two dimes into my change jar sounds like I got away with something selfish. But mostly, it sounds like music.

So what about you? How do you feel about being asked to donate? Are you happy to, or does it ever make you feel uncomfortable? If you decline, do you give a reason?

Men

I know exactly
how many of them
are out there
who would come
right now
if I called them
and they would happily
undress me
fuck me
with tenderness
and maybe even love me
but I am wasted
for another
for the one that ruined me
for the one that has never
had me
felt me
been close enough
to make me come
to my senses
and he is out there somewhere
like a cowboy
sleeping on the ground
wishing
hoping
wondering why in the world
I am so far away
and wondering
who it is
who gets to hold me tonight
and even though
I know exactly
how many men
are out there
who would come
right now
if I called them
the only one I want
is the one who knows
when to pull the trigger
and when to wait.

 

 

 

DeMaris
10-16-18

“The Parkman Outfit” by NC Wyeth

Standoff

He is out there somewhere
clinching his fists—
the man you ran away from,
the man who loves you anyway,
who brought you bleeding hearts
and lilacs and daffodils
and cayenne pepper chocolate bars—
the man who wrote your name
in the sand and on his heart
and would drive three hours
to see you for just one.
He is out there somewhere
wringing his hands
wondering where you are—
and why you still write poems
about how sad it is to live without love,
when his promise to you hangs in the air
like a thick morning fog
concealing a meadow full of sunflowers—
and all you need to do is walk toward him
and everything will become clear
and he will erase your doubts
with his trembling hands
but you are the skeptic
who believes that if you get too close
he will run away too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
8-4-18

“Sweets to the Sweet” by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1893

Conditional Love

What if it came to you broken
but still full of potential?
What if it made you feel
something like comfort
when you held it at arms length
to examine its flaws?
What if the glaze was chipped
and scuffed
and could never be restored
to its original condition?
What if you liked
the way it looked on your shelf
holding your beloved treasure?
Would you keep it on display
or go ahead and break it
because it wasn’t perfectly smooth?

Heart Failure

By accident
or maybe on purpose
you cross the yellow line
you accelerate
toward the small dark circle
coming toward you
and you have exactly
7 seconds to decide
how this is going to end
6        5        4
you return to your lane
your flatlined heart
beating again
as the lives
you decided you’d spare
speed past.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
6-14-18

Just a Little Lost

Anthony Bourdain. Kate Spade. Robin Williams. Chris Cornell. Suicide by hanging, all. There are others, of course. Many famous, even more not famous.

My first reaction after the shock and sadness for their families is, “Balls of steel.” My default position has never been to blame them. Or to accuse them of selfishness. Or to suggest they took the easy way out.

I’m writing this to work something out.

I’m writing this in a moment of weakness, after a long time of sitting secretly in darkness.

I’m writing this because from anyone else’s perspective, I have it all. I have three beautiful, healthy, impressive children. I have a reliable support system. I have a profitable skill. I have the privilege of free time to hike and enjoy the outdoors and build a house.

Yes, I am building a fucking house. I am the envy of my younger self. I am the envy of others.

But I would exchange almost everything I have to share a loving relationship with another human being willing to invest equally. I have never had this. I don’t know what balanced love feels like. I also struggle with why I feel like I need someone to share my life with. (I will keep the details pressed against my heart.)

I am unable to fully feel the joy that should be running in parallel to my current life experience because I have no one to share it with. I have no one who loves me so much that to be with me means more than everything else, or even almost everything else. And to admit this feels like I’m whining.

I believe that it’s here…this exact location, where people find themselves before they take their own life. And by “this exact location” I mean the point where they realize that to complain about ANYTHING while seeming to already have EVERYTHING feels selfish and obscene. So they don’t do anything…but fester. And then, overwhelmed, they make their exit.

I have so much good in my life that to complain about anything feels wrong. It feels like to complain is to conscientiously make a choice to not appreciate those things in my life that are positive. This inner conflict of guilt vs. appreciation is one of my most powerful demons. My rational self knows that these feelings are a normal and healthy. My rational self knows that my life is currently in a rut, but that it won’t last. My emotional self wants to avoid pain at almost any cost.

I know what it feels like to stand on the edge—that feeling of despair that tempts you to step off. But I’m going to work on my house today. I’m going to snuggle with my 10 year old. I’m going to be so kind to everyone I see. I’m going to fight tears, and I’m going to lose.

Today hurts. But I’m going to wait for life to smooth out again. It will. I have so many good people in my life. So much to look forward to. But what I don’t have, today, is balls of steel.

I don’t need this number right now. But here it is in case you do. Or in case one of us needs it in the future. Because no amount of intelligence, talent, fortune or fame is enough to exempt us from the realization that life is not only fun and beautiful, but often terribly empty, hard, and (deep breath) optional. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.