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One, Two Buckle My Shoe

One, Two Buckle My Shoe

By Jacqueline Cioffa

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One, two buckle my shoe. I don’t know how other writers find their way into a story.
For me, it usually goes something like this. I hear a line in my head, a word, see a visual, and then the story plays over and over, until I release it onto the page. Its cathartic, sometimes it takes me back, some days it moves me forward when I am wallowing and can’t get unstuck. Most times, it’s just an honest, real interpretation of an emotion. I’m an emotional girl. Or, so I’ve been told.
I live with the image, words, sometimes for days, weeks, even months. Then, like magic or being possessed, I have to get it out. My fingers take over the keys; my mind wanders and dictates the thoughts, mulling it about until there is a clear picture. I see mere babies growing, learning the simple phrase, “One, two, buckle my shoe.” We are all preconditioned from the start. “Look at me, Mommy look what I can do. I can talk, walk and dance all on my own.” And we wait, for the love, the adoration, the pride on their faces. The loving adoration of a parent and their perfect can do no wrong baby girl. We wait, and then we wait some more.” Look Daddy, I dyed my hair red with a blond streak, I wanted to be different”. I got drunk in school, lashing out against the bullies, the in crowd, and the machine, desperate to be an individual. Daddy holds my head as I puke and strokes my hair, he tells the first lie. “It’s ok, baby girl, you are my princess, you are going to be all right.” And we wait, for the clap. Bravo, you are so smart, so beautiful they say. You are positive they mean it. You miss the roll of the eyes in frustration, or the bed time whisper and tears, “I’m so worried about her.” She’s too young to be this sad, so depressed, to be so oddly different. One, two buckle my shoe. I must conform to society, wear the same shoe, walk the same old boring old walk, say all the right things. I’m sad for the young girl, so miserably, visibly unhappy, in high school. I hate the way this feels; I take note that I am different. They say nothing, providing all the pleasantries and comforts of a supportive, loving home. I am so lucky like that. Maybe they knew all along, how horribly difficult things would turn out, how unusual I would actually become.
“It’s not her fault, it’s in her genes.” Oh my God, did they speak it aloud? She’s Mentally Ill. What?! One, two, buckle my shoe. I try to be normal, to please them, to see the admiration still on their faces. My daddy is gone, he died a broken man. Mental Illness got him, no matter how hard my mother fought. She did not win. We buried him in a grave and he has not yet come back. I wait for him. I still wait for him. In my dreams, during this sabbatical and these sick days, he hasn’t come. He can’t quite find his way back. One, two buckle my shoe. My mother has aged so. The bravest, head strong, caring, woman I know. Cursed in this lifetime to fall in love, make a family. One, two buckle my shoe.
With a baby daughter who would grow to walk in her father’s shoes. I didn’t mean it, as hard as I try, I can’t win. The Lunacy gene has taken hold of me, too. One, two buckle my shoe. I don’t care if I die see; the excruciating days are too hard to fill. I came back home. Home, to the safe, happy childhood home I once knew. It’s less happy now. There are fewer nursery rhymes. There are only mornings, where I wake shaking and take pills. Lots and lots of pills, I count. Ten a day, sometimes twelve. I don’t want them, fuckers one and all. I hide it best I can. Inside I am a ticking time bomb, shoeless, crying, screaming, I’m so sorry I didn’t make you proud. I gave it my best shot. I hide the pain, the fear, the paranoia, and the overwhelming anxiety the best way I know how. In the bottom of an old, outgrown, dated, and worn down shoe. I’m sorry, really so very sorry I never meant to lose my mind. I’ve always wanted to come back to you, to make my mother and father proud. I lie most days, I do. Sometimes that even makes me feel better. I can forget the ugly future that awaits.
I am penniless, wandering with no direction. One, two buckle my shoe. I end up in an institution or worse on the street. No one cares. They barely saw me before. You see, while my parents were busy clapping my way into adulthood, I saw it. The times they were preoccupied doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, getting on with life. They missed my first steps. Not on purpose, not without regret. I know they tried their best, I know they did. But, I’m still looking for that first and final clap. It never comes. I will always be out of step.
I drink Ginger with a bit of Ale to ease the relentless ad nauseam that is the day. It’s winter here. We have had an easy time of it. Today, the sun shines and I reminisce. One, two buckle my shoe. I can’t remember the full verse. I guess it doesn’t matter anyhow. I will ask my mother. No, no I must not. I must learn to walk on my own, however blistering and uncomfortable the shoe. The numbness fits.

originally published April 2012 brooklynvoice.com

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Shine On

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There is in fact a whole earth with enough space to roam, create, inspire, dream, conquer, share and uplift.

I believe this to be.

#truth.

I will not waste one second, one millisecond needing or lusting after your shine.

Stephen Hawking’s quote suggests, “There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe and what can be more special than that there is no boundary?”

No boundary, what a revolutionary concept.

The eminent, brilliant physicist agrees, “Women. They are a complete mystery.”

Yes, they can be.

In the simplest, rudimentary terms women are the enigma.

Most beautiful when they accept and reflect the luminous, radiant shine.

Not ignore, or deflect.

Comparison and envy are time wasters, dimmers that dull the reflecting pools of light.

Shine on.

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Grow Your Garden a love of self

FullSizeRenderLoving yourself takes time.

I didn’t know not exactly, not until this moment.

I never believed brushing aside the possibility of happy.

Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow I’ll embrace the quirks and eccentrities.

Tomorrow.

Funny time wasted. Not funny.

This end of April Sunday close to May, I stand at the fault line.

Middle-aged.

The compost pile is toppling from all the shit dumped over the years.

I don’t know about you, maybe you were born over-confident.

A chest puffer.

Never had to overthink it, actually liked spending time in your own company.

Didn’t fret about how you looked in a full length mirror, crap you never even owned one.

Happy, no worries. Happy, never mind the worries. Happy, because it feels better.

And maybe you weren’t born with a twelve pack but a Buddha belly and when you laughed it was honest from the gut, and your smile was fuchsia electric.

I’ve known people like that, really I have.

Infuriating sorta.

Well one that I can think of.

I wonder if Angelina Jolie is a brooder like me?

Angelina was the first perfect human that came to mind.

Let’s see, Buddha belly person is happy for realz, never asking, wanting or needing much of anything.

Seriously, just the jubilee of living and giving are enough.

I can’t speak for Angie but I wonder if she wears Crocs, doesn’t bother to shower or sits in the grass simply because she likes the way it feels against her unshaven, hairy-for-days legs.

Grounding.

I wonder.

I do.

I can’t help but wonder, curiosity careens through the wrinkles I now possess,

and the dirt under my fingernails from digging the earth.

I like how my back aches, moss green hands throb and sweat trickles down my neck.

I like that Jeff Buckley is blasting haunting, melodic melodies directly into my brain.

I like that this moment I am absolutely present just him and me, in fifty degrees that is neither scorching nor too cold uncomfortable but smack dab in the middle.

I like to use clichés, that make me happy no matter how incorrect or passe.

I like the physical task of creating something, something real.

Something beautiful.

That is the closest I’ve come to happy.

To loving myself.

Today.

On this end of April Sunday close to May, I stand at the fault line.

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Grow your garden.

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CRAZY, Now Get Out of my Head

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No matter how many times this morning I repeated I am in fact NOT full of hate, bitter, ugly, paralyzed with fear or consumed by the crazy, I could not reason my way out. I’m a rapid cycler, I’ve been hypo-manic for weeks and yes headed towards the inevitable come down, the hideous depression and the dark. Black nothingness is something I understand, the concept I accept and am accustomed to. It’s always there, lurking, stalking, circling a part of my DNA. No, I cannot wish it away or yank it out like an abcessed, putrid smelling decayed tooth. The crash and burn snatches the pretty pieces of me, my self-worth, joy, hope, strength, wonder. Yes, I’m constantly skipping ahead to the future, not in a happy-go-lucky way but trying to map the least destructive, less painful route. I don’t even understand what’s happening to me, which thoughts to trust or block so how could you?

My worst fear, the one that buries me like a sinkhole is that I end up alone with my crazy. On the streets or even worse, like my father who had no idea who I was in the end. His crazy consumed him over an agonizing amount of days and years. It is slowly and excruciatingly doing the same to me. Silently, while I am screaming inside. I realize I am not going to win this war, I understand that. So why bother writing books no one will read? Painting rooms in a house I will surely have to leave. Why bother? When everything and everyone I love will die and be taken away. Why bother when I will be left insane, why the fuck should I care? About anything. God doesn’t. I’m not sure how much pain one body can endure, I’ve had more than one soul can carry. Today, I do feel sorry. I am allowed. But wallowing is dangerous, heartbroken tears make my eyes puffy, my heart heavy and the guilt of hurting those I love too heavy to bare.

I didn’t start the day with bad intentions. Most days I pretend happy, hoping it will rub off. For you and for me. For my benefit that I am indeed strong enough to cope with this bullshit brain that never stops the whirring, annoying chatter. If I do end up in the streets, so be it. I’d best plan now, pick a pretty, warm corner where the sun shines with a soothing view. The bastard disease has not yet ripped away my imagination. No, not yet that’s all mine.

My BFF talked me off the ledge, the pity party granted until noon and that’s all. The number of hours wasted, screamed, cried and hurled accusations at my mother is more shame than I care to remember. I insisted to my friend (when my head controls the dialogue I CANNOT think, to say I become irrational is being charitable) that I was ‘happy’ once, a ‘free-spirit’ which she quickly shot down. “Who is this person you’re talking about, that wasn’t you.”

I’ve been pretending so long since before I can remember, I don’t even know me. The lines dangerously crossed in my mind.

I’m not going to write books, do anything anymore. Why the fuck should I?

I quit. Why fight when there’s no winning? I can’t battle an invisible disease. Well, you have two choices and one is true midnight black nothingness. The other, keep breathing.

Do not feel sorry for me. Do not dare feel sorry for me. I do not want, need or ask for your pity. I’m sharing this because these words, my most hurtful truths, this unbearable pain, the incomprehensible fear someone else out there in a parallel world might be feeling them too.

Don’t judge my crazy or put a label on it for your comfort.

I did not ask for this mind, it’s what I got.

Tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll feel better. I probably won’t given the logic and the statistics, but tomorrow will come with or without me.

Fear has never been a friend of mine. Fuck it. Onward.

CRAZY, NOW GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

I am writing.

truth always wins.

GEORGIA PINE

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When Dreaming of a Beach…

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…one must be more specific

There is beauty in ice sculptures, black leaves, sand granules and zebra mussel shells

Someone carved a number into the willow

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I wonder what it meant and how long it’s become piece of the bark

Are they dead and buried, the secret etched inside the tree’s history?

I cannot say

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I had not seen before

The biting winter air keeps me alert, alive noticing the minute details

I slow my pace, paying no attention to time and space, focusing on the grays above

and the black ripples before me

When dreaming of a beach one must specify the horizon

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