Archive of ‘Flashback/Throwback’ category

Flashback Friday – A Published High Schooler’s Poem

Recently I have been converting my old floppy disks to files on my laptop. Most of these are old high school writings, and, wow, are they bad! Angst, yearning for love, and an innocent view of the world. However, I admire my younger self and her need to write constantly. She was following her passion no matter how retched some of her poems or short stories were and had hopes of being a great writer. I miss this blind ambition that has been replaced by gray reality. When did this replacement happen? Oh well, all I can do now is to continue to write and to fuel that writer’s passion.

Here’s a poem that was published in O, Georgia Too when I was either a sophomore or a junior (eleven or twelve years ago). I felt it was quite an accomplishment because we got to leave our podunk town in South Georgia and journey to the Atlanta area for me to sign books.

“The Silhouette Within Myself”
My face is painted against a frost-bit night
My face is dark
There is no light
My heart is jumping against the cold, winter air
My scalp tingles as the wind blows my hair
My skin has somehow strayed from my bones
Leaving only my interior to be shown
I feel as if I’m standing alone
Here by myself
No one but me
For everyone to see
People stop and stare
At my brilliance and light
I seem to bare
That which comes from within
Since I lost my skin
My fingers are numb
As I clench up my fists
My heart is sore
I have one last wish
To receive my skin
To cover up what comes from within
For I would rather build a wall
Around myself
Than have them all
See
The silhouette within myself

At the book signing

Throwback Thursday – Just Another Uterus

This is a piece I wrote in January 2012 that I’ve decided to share for Throwback Thursday. The only thing I tweaked would be the amount of time my husband and I have been married so that it’s now the correct amount. While my views on whether we want children may have changed since then, I still believe it is a woman’s right to not have children if she does not want them and that there is nothing wrong with not wanting children despite popular public opinion. Beyond even the issue of babies or not, I think this piece may speak to the problem of people’s meddling in private affairs. No, it is not alright to critique someone on his/her size; it is not acceptable to critique someone on his/her profession of choice; it is not welcomed to critique someone on sexual orientation, reproductive rights, and general political views. There is a time and place to broach these topics if necessary (example: between two friends), and that time is hardly ever appropriate for a stranger no matter what good this person may think he/she is doing. Perhaps we would have a bit more harmony in our society if we could just keep our noses out of each others’ business unless welcomed in at the beginning. *Steps off soapbox.*

When Are You Going to Stop Having Sex Just for Fun and Do It For a Purpose?

I know this isn’t specifically what people are asking us when they bring up the fact that my husband and I have been married for three and a half years and still don’t have children, but it may as well be. Why are my ovaries such a fascinating topic of discussion? It used to be my hobbies, my interests, my mind, or, hell, even my makeup or my hair. Now, it’s my barren uterus. Even people who I just met find my ovaries up for discussion when they find out I’ve been married for over three years. It should no more be a question than for me to ask what’s your favorite sexual position or, worse yet, if your husband can still get it up in the bedroom. It’s personal, it relates to our intimate relationship, and it’s not something I share with everyone. Give it a rest, general public.

Not only do I not want to share it, but sharing details about getting pregnant just creates awkward situations. For instance, I had an experience at my previous job before substituting that I wrote down in my journal, and it went a little something like this:

“Crystal, you should be the next one to get pregnant at the bank. You’re the youngest, and the rest of us already have kids,” my co-worker informed me of her thoughts for my future.

“My husband and I are good with our life like it is right now. Kids just aren’t in our plans at the moment,” I replied, hoping to stave off the co-worker.

“Nonsense. Kids are in everyone’s plans eventually. How old are you, Crystal? Pretty soon, you won’t be able to have kids.”

“I’m twenty-seven, and Hans and I are happy with our dog, Bella. She’s enough of a child for us right now,” I said, praying this would be the end of it.

“Dogs don’t count as children. In fact, once you have kids, you won’t even want a dog. You better start having babies now before you get any older,” Mrs. Know-It-All informed me.

Luckily, a customer walked up and ended our conversation. Although this conversation was plenty awkward for me by putting down my love of my dog, offhandedly calling me old, giving me unwanted advice, and generally butting into my personal life, I could have flipped the tables and made it awkward for my co-worker. When she told me that I should be getting pregnant, I could have gone into detail about my sporadic cycles, my former issues with birth control, and my possible trouble with ovulation. Then I imagine I would have burst into tears in front of the entire bank for dramatic effect. Now who feels awkward?? Everyone in the room.

Forget whether my body is in tip-top shape or not for pregnancy. What if my husband and I just don’t want children? Why is that such a bad thing? Wasn’t the whole feminist movement about a woman’s right to choose? What happened to that? When we say we just don’t want kids rather than getting into the whole “my wife’s ovaries have run up the white flag” thing, we get looks of mortification. Most people treat that like we’ve said Voldemort aloud or—pun intended—dropped a baby. Why do babies equal self-worth? Carrie Bradshaw looked pretty happy in Sex and the City with Mr. Big, and there were no babies involved. Just a woman and the man of her dreams…and a few dozen pairs of awesome shoes. (Yes, I know this was just a movie, but I have known couples throughout my life that are content without children. I chose this fictional relationship, though, because it seems to be one that most are familiar with.) I’m pretty sure I could find a life of contentment without having babies. Just ask Julia Childs, Oprah Winfrey, Bettie Page, Katherine Hepburn, Helen Mirren, and Kim Cattrall.

So I guess the question behind this whole piece is… When did I stop being Crystal and start being defined by my uterus and what is NOT inside of it? Do I really have to be defined by my ovaries? I gave up my beloved last name; do I have to give up my body, too?

Throwback Thursday – Word Photos

It’s been a week since my incarceration. No, that can’t be right. It’s been a week since my surgery. It just feels like a prison sentence since I can’t get up from the bed except to gimp my way to the bathroom. Last night was the first night I slept all the way through, and I think the lack of sleep is sapping my creative juices. I’m waiting on them to start their flow once again, waiting for the needle to find the vein. Until then, I thought I would post a “Throwback Thursday” post on a piece I did on Word Photos. As you can guess from the title, when I wrote this piece for a writing class I was attempting to capture a specific moment in my life through words as if I had the snapshot that I was passing around. I chose three significant events that have shaped me into the person I am today. Enjoy!

June 22, 2010

 Word Photos

Red.  Cramps.  Pads.  Pride.  Mama and Grandma taking care of her.  Grandma whispering to Pop what was going on.  Shaving her legs for the first time.  The bouquet of pink roses* and fourteen karat gold hoop earrings from her Sue-Sue, a grandmother who’s now in the frozen Omaha ground.  A shiny gift for becoming a woman.  The first granddaughter to cross this bridge.  Proud little sixth-grade voice telling Daddy who’s somewhere in the Pacific about the news.  Pride from a father with a hint of sadness.  No longer his little girl but always his baby girl.

 ****

SmallTown, GA, that backwards town that values tradition over happiness.  Cold, brisk spring night.  Looking into his eyes to tell him the engagement was off.  Tears streaming down both their faces.  “I want your stuff moved out by tomorrow afternoon,” she whispers.  Hearing his sudden breath inhaled.  This time was for real.  No more harsh words.  No more charges by him for hotel rooms they didn’t share.  No more control.  Would he leave her alone?  No.  She’d have to move away.  Would she have to change her name to really escape?

 ****

Nip in the air but sun shining bright.  Children laughing, playing in the park.  Freshly cut bright green grass.  Heels clicking, black dress swaying.  Hard wooden picnic table welcoming as before.  Hard grains of sand felt through the flimsy dress.  Laughing, joking, as they watch the families and the birds.  He getting up to “stretch,” taking a knee in front of her.  Pulling out a box, asking a question, and putting a shiny diamond on her bare finger.  Tears of joy mixing from both.

*I have just a quick correction to the pink roses since I wrote this piece back in 2010. My father sent the roses, and my grandmother Sue-Sue sent the earrings. I had forgotten that in all my wanderings, so I’m sorry, Dad! I still have all the letters you wrote while you were “somewhere in the Pacific,” though! :-)

Also, I’d like to say a special thanks to my mom and my husband, who also stars in the third word photo, who have been taking such good care of me. You both are awesome!!

Flashback Friday – My Grandmother Sue-Sue

I missed Throwback Thursday yesterday, so I’ll settle for Flashback Friday today. I wrote a poem back in 2010 for my paternal grandmother who I lovingly called Sue-Sue and who died when I was in high school (keeping in mind I graduated from high school in 2003). She was one of the people who encouraged my reading and my writing. From the time I could start reading, she would take me to the library. She lived in Nebraska, and we always lived states away, so this was a big deal. Whenever we’d visit—which was usually just once a year—I’d get at least two trips to the library. Just Sue-Sue and me. She delighted in seeing me read and hearing all about the books I was reading. I’m sure I wore out her ears talking about them, but she never let on that I was boring her. I got in the habit of telling her about my reading list every time we’d talk on the phone each week.

Sue-Sue was also one of the main people that encouraged my writing. She explained that good writers become great because they know their craft, and they do this by being voracious readers. I already had the “voracious reader” part down; now I just needed to start writing, so I did. Every time I would write a poem or short story worth sharing, I’d call her in Nebraska to share it. She would love it of course being the supportive grandmother that she was, but more importantly, she would ask questions like, “Where did you get the idea for that? What more could you do with that? What are you working on now? How long did you work on editing it?” All these questions shaped my mind into the mind of a writer’s and more importantly, into the mind I have today.

One of the memories that stands out in mind (among many) of Sue-Sue was when I was in sixth-grade. My father was overseas on a special assignment for a year with the Army, and we lived with my maternal grandparents. I started my period at the beginning of the school year. I was a little embarrassed by it because everyone knew about it in the household. How could they not? However, they were very nice about keeping it quiet. Within two days, I received a package in the mail and a delivery of a dozen pink roses. My father sent the roses, explaining that every woman should be celebrated as his mother had taught him. Way to go Sue-Sue! In the package, Sue-Sue had sent me 14-carat gold hoop earrings to celebrate my womanhood. She wanted me to be proud of who I was becoming and to cherish being a woman. It would only get better from here.

Thank you, Sue-Sue, for helping me to see how wonderful the gift of womanhood truly is and for helping instill the writer’s heart and reader’s mind in me.

Metaphor Piece
July 15, 2010

When Sue-Sue was here, she was like a hot mug of chocolate filled with too many marshmallows,
Like cold peppermint ice cream paired with hot apple cake,
Like the clanging popping buzzing beeping of a good game of pinball,
And Ms. Pac-Man’s greedy little mouth gobbling up the yellow dots and depriving the ghosts.
She was the rush of a sled slicing through the thick, cold air,
Like waking up on Christmas to a snowy day, beckoning to go play after ripping open your presents,
Like patiently perusing the library shelves for hours,
And hummingbirds flitting anxiously to gouge themselves on sugary water.

Now that she’s gone, it’s like dead flowers callously decorating freshly plowed soil under new marble,
Like a snowman without buttons or a top hat,
Like warm memories under six feet of frozen dirt,
And a single pianist in an empty music hall.