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Death of a Church

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There is a little church on the corner of This Street and That.

It’s been there more years than anyone can recall.

There is a grumbling inside, a dark cloud of doom.

Folks say, “Do things our way or this church will fall.”

 

They don’t care how many years this building has stood,

About generations passed or yet to be.

They care about ego and doing things their way,

They stomp their feet, complain and refuse to see.

 

They judge people and ways different from their own.

Sabotage attempts to be fishers of men.

Refute the teachings, grace and love taught inside,

Turn God into god while still praying Amen.

 

Spout threats and make-believe truths to make their irk known.

Submission from oppression seals the church fate.

Parishioners too shocked to believe what they see.

How could their own be capable of such hate?

 

For some it’s internal hate, for others the world.

Some need attention, power, to be in control.

Others site tradition is the issue at hand.

Regardless, control of church became the goal.

 

Parishioners pray, take sides or leave the conflict.

I hear them ask questions, answers only God knows.

They think their church is love and embodies God’s grace,

Unchecked power taints good seeds, kills them, nothing grows.

 

Plot to get rid of the man in charge and succeed.

Rifts deepen, paranoia breeds, people search.

Where is God’s love? What should we do? Where should I turn?

The victors say, “Hey God, don’t mess with our church.”

 

If only things could be the way they were before.

But there is no such thing as the good old days.

What they miss; their blind ignorance and perceived bliss.

Preferring spoon fed faith, unquestioning ways.

 

Jesus said, love God, love all, judge not, spread the word.

Some folks in church say, love us, we are the boss.

Our way supersedes all; it’s our club and our rules.

Jesus is a has-been on an old rugged cross.

 

There was once a church on the corner of This Street and That.

It’s now a center, soup kitchen and a home.

No one fights over when to meet or who does what.

There is love, healing and a sign that reads, shalom

The Lonely Canons – Of PTSD, the Unknown and an Unusual Interaction at Gettysburg

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Cannon on Little Round Top Over Looking Devil’s Den

We hadn’t seen each other all summer. For the past two years we’d taken a writing workshop at a place called Write from the Heart run by Melissa Green. It’s designed to encourage writers to put behind the critics of the past and learn to listen to their inner, creative voices.

On a whim, I asked my friend to check out an Irish Pub in Lancaster and she agreed. We got lost, driving literally in circles for over an hour saying things like, “Didn’t we pass that pizza place before?” Yes, we have.

Out of the blue, my friend says, “You know, there is some reason we’re supposed to be going in this circle. There is something or someone in the center of this circle that’s going to become very important to us. Isn’t that exciting? I wonder what it will be.”

A day later, both of us have talked to and signed up with Melissa Green’s Write from the Heart. Her place is located smack center of the circle we forged the night before. This event is not surprising to my friend and intriguing to me.

Melissa’s studio is an hour from us and I quickly find that the conversations to and from are not only affirming but spiritually awakening. My friend and I have had near death experiences and are on the same wave-length.  Together what blossoms are beyond what either of us could ever accomplish alone.

Life happened and each of us had to stop attending the workshop for various reasons. That was the beginning of the summer. Although both of us stated we felt spirit was taking us in new directions, to build on the journey we started with Write from the Heart’s wonderful experience, it was saddening.

The summer for me was plagued with death, multiple surgeries for my daughter, trying to run a new business and learning to live minus one income.  Every week when time came for our normal rendezvous for class, I could feel my heart and soul ache. Yes I missed the class, my writing buddies and Melissa. But what I really missed were the conversations on the drive to and fro.

It hit me, this was ridiculous. Call the woman and get together. We don’t need to drive to Lancaster to have spiritual conversations and enlightenment. We can go someplace else and talk. Gettysburg pops into my mind but I dismiss it. I want someplace spiritual, not historical. I think The Grotto.

The Grotto is a Catholic shrine to Saint Elizabeth Seton. It’s a fabulous place to relax, pray, meditate or just enjoy the mosaic art works and mountain environment. I’ve been going there since I was a little girl. This is one of the places I normally hit in times when I need to clear my head.

I gave her a call and find out she’d been experiencing the same longing. So we eagerly set a date, her house for dinner with her family then a drive to The Grotto.

Just as I’m getting in my car, a horrendous storm hits but I keep going.  The main road leading from my house to my friends surges with rising flood water. Cars stall, truck-made waves wash over entire vehicles. I pull into a parking lot, pull out my cell phone and call her. There is no way I am continuing. It’s too dangerous.

She tells me she is only a couple miles ahead of me on her own way home. She is looking at blue sky. I look out into the distance and see a small patch of blue. Okay, I’ll keep coming but I tell her The Grotto is no longer an option. She says, “Let’s wait and see which way spirit takes us.” I agree and head out into the flooding street.

By the time I get to her house, the sky is blue, the rain gone and the roads just wet.  We have a great chicken potpie dinner with her family and she says, “Well, what do you want to do?”

“I want to go to The Grotto,” I tell her. I’m looking out her kitchen window at the soggy ground. I don’t even know if The Grotto is open at seven o’clock on a Thursday evening. What the hell? “Let’s do it.”

We get in the car and drive the half hour to The Grotto while catching up on our summers. It’s a quick drive to the Catoctain Mountains. We climb the narrow road up the mountain and stop short. There is a gate across the road. The Grotto, situated at the top of the mountain, is closed.

“Now what do you want to do?” She asks me. “Where do you think spirit is leading us?”

Gettysburg pops back in my head. I am reluctant to say anything because I feel like I’m obsessed with Gettysburg Battlefield. But the feeling is strong enough to speak. “I keep thinking Gettysburg.”

“Oh my gosh! I’ve been thinking about Gettysburg all day! When you called I thought, Gettysburg! We need to go to Gettysburg. That is why The Grotto is closed!” This, in an odd kind of way, makes sense to me. I turn the car around and head to Gettysburg.

There are several exits into the borough and town of Gettysburg from US 15. She didn’t care which one we took. She says, “Clear your mind and head in the direction you think we are supposed to go.”  I took the Taneytown exit and wound up on the battlefield.

It’s now 6:45 pm. As we enter a main thoroughfare of the National Park grounds my friend says, “Whenever I come out here, I get this feeling that says stop. There is something about that location that I’m supposed to experience.”

“Okay, well, if you get that feeling, tell me and I’ll stop.”

“Stop.”  She immediately states so I pull over. We are about one hundred feet from the old Cyclorama overlooking the high water mark of Picket’s Charge.  “Did you see him?” She asks me.

The park is surprisingly busy for a Thursday night in September. The series of bad storms rolling across the county would have fettered any daytime visit. It looks like a lot of out-of-town guests are taking advantage of the evening’s clear weather. Among all the cars and people wondering in and around canons sits an older man with a very large, Irish Wolfhound.  Yes, I’d seen him. He and the dog were hard to miss.

We get out of the car and wander over and say hello. The dog’s name is Tanner. He stands seven foot four inches on his hind legs and weights two hundred and forty pounds. He is without a leash and his owner informs us it’s not necessary.

The name of Tanner’s owner is not reveled to us. This is okay because we are also nameless.  We spend a short amount of time exchanging niceties. He lives in Gettysburg and routinely walks his dog around the battlefield looking to meet interesting people and soak in the spiritual nature of the location. Normally, he states, he sits on Little Round Top but tonight he was called to sit where we found him.

The conversation takes a turn. The man has had a near death experience that changed his life. We haven’t told him we share this trait and my friend shoots me a look of, see I knew there was a reason we were supposed to stop here.  For about an hour we talk about crossing over, God, the universe, life as we know it and this place called Gettysburg.  The whole time we are talking, I keep looking over at several cannons and ammunition wagons positioned where original cannonades resonated across the field.

Tanner’s owner has not experienced anything he would call paranormal on the battlefield but definitely has at his home. He sees the battlefield as alive, as spiritual and it calls him here. My friend shoots me another affirming look.

I have experienced things on the battlefield and I tell him so. This prompts him to talk about a friend of his who writes books on ghosts in Gettysburg. He’s questioning some of the stories his friend has written which I think is funny considering he just told us several personal, paranormal stories.  I start telling him about my experiences with unexpected things in photos, voices and sounds I’ve heard, odd smells and apparent apparitions on or around the battlefield.

It’s nearly, completely dark. Tanner’s owner looks over at the cannons I’ve been eyeing off and on and says, “Don’t they look lonely? I often think of them as animated. They spend all day being touched, having their pictures taken with people, telling their story. But by night, they are lonely sentinels on this sacred ground.”

This hits me, really hits me and I take a photograph of with my cell phone and send myself a message that reads, lonely cannons. It’s profound in my mind, but I don’t know why.

The conversation comes to a natural conclusion and we get in my car. Tanner and his owner get in theirs. We beep goodbyes and go our separate ways never having exchanged names. We are just three people drawn to a place in time for an unexpected conversation.

My friend has never been on the battlefield after dark. It’s a profoundly sobering time to visit. There is a minimal amount of visitors. The place is quiet, shadows deep and the mind can better attempt to sink in what happened on those three horrific days in history. It’s incomprehensible. No matter how many times I visit in an attempt to understand it won’t sink in.

I deviate from the Auto-tour route to show her several of my favorite monuments and end up beside the area known as The Wheatfield. Our car windows are down. The air is different here. I’ve been here many times and I’ve never experienced this feeling. It’s a tingling on our skin like static electricity, our throats feel tight making it hard to swallow and my friend feels a bit queasy.

I have no intention of stopping the car.  We round the bend and the feelings stop – for both of us.  I pull the car over and we try to process what happened. It was damn odd and not pleasant. Both of us have experienced heightened energy before. Times when the air is charged where there are high magnetic fields, standing near large electrical towers or during lightening storms.  That’s what this felt like.

I pull the car back onto the road and we drive through the woods and end up at Devil’s Den. To my surprise there is only one other car here. Usually, at night, I find this is the most popular place to find other visitors.

I stop the car and we get out. Using the light from my phone as a flashlight, we wander past the granite megaliths known as Devil’s Den and walk up the road around to the back of the rocks.  In the not-to-far distance we hear the sound of a rumbling explosion and stop.

“Thunder?” She asks.

“Too low,” I reply and we stand quiet waiting to hear it again. We don’t and I tease, “Its cannon fire.”  Then add, “Maybe there is a reenactment nearby.”  We shrug it off and return to walking up the darkened hill.

At the top of the hill, directly behind Devil’s Den is a very tall, lone tree. It stands very close to the location where my hubby captured a white form of what looks like an apparition of a soldier. My friend identifies the tree as a place where she and a cousin spent several hours sitting and soaking in warm, positive energy.

Devils Den is made of granite. This entire area is granite and quartz heavy. I know both stones hold and radiate energy. That’s why we use them in computers, watches and why they don’t want you to use granite as a counter top. It emits radon.  I’m not surprised she feels energy here.

I get several feet from the tree and get a sensation of disorientation. I can barely keep my balance. Before I can say anything, my friend tells me she feels odd, her stomach is turning over and she smells something metallic. I don’t smell it but I immediately think of blood. I unfortunately know very intimately the smell and taste of large amounts of spilled blood.  It’s metallic.  I don’t tell her this. I don’t think she’d understand but I could be wrong.

She reaches over and places her hands on the tree. I don’t want to go near the tree. Every time I get too close the equilibrium problem hits again. She says, “Take a picture here, how about here?” I do this and nothing shows up but darkness, a shot of her with the tree and one that has some fog.

I really feel like the world is spinning one way and me in another. “We need to leave,” I tell her.

We start heading down the hill and she grabs me. Both of us are having a hard time keeping balanced.  I think this is nuts and tell her I want to do an experiment.

I walk away from the tree until I feel normal again. Then I turn around and walk till I start to feel ill. I do it several times. I have her do it. It makes no sense. I wish there was some meter or devise we could use to measure any static electricity or high magnetic current. Prove one way or another that what we are feeling is nothing more than being in near-darkness on uneven ground with over-active imaginations and low blood sugar.  We don’t have anything like that so we head back to the car with more questions than answers.

We get in the car and head up to Little Round Top.  Normally, I love to look out over LRT. The view is stunning and it‘s a favorite place for many people to lay on the large granite rocks and sunbath. Sunsets from this point are beautiful no matter what the season. This time, I slowed down but decided not to stop. Something didn’t feel right and besides, it’s dark, what was there to see?

My friend sighs and says, “I’m glad we didn’t stop, I don’t feel well.” Another oddity? I think one of us really has an over-active imagination, ESP or something. We stop at the stop sign and continue across the road.

Almost immediately, I feel like I’m going to vomit. My chest hurts like its being crushed (I actually know what this feels like) and it’s hard to breath.  I get a sharp pain in my eye and a vicious headache making my eye water.  If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was having a physical flashback of the car accident where I was partially crushed in my car, medevaced and endured medical torture before I died of shock.   The flashbacks come on that fast and are horrifically painful. Only I never damaged my eye and I have not experienced anything in the past couple minutes to suddenly throw me into a flashback.

I drive the van forward several hundred feet and slowly, the feelings subside leaving me with a mild headache, a watering eye and some mild agitation. My friend tells me her stomach is very upset and wants to leave. So do I.

The road ends up across from the old Cyclorama where we had met Tanner and his owner.  I look over one more time at the lonely cannons and am glad they are not as animated as Tanner’s owner imagined. They look tragic, lost, shocked and filled with pain, fear and disbelief.  They remind me of the me no one sees during the day and only a select few have seen at night. They remind me of my PTSD and my seaming lifetime of struggle to survive and thrive.

Those cannons are sentinels to the souls of thousands of men never identified, buried and forgotten, witnesses of horrific screams of agony and death. They are the watchers of a history we should never forget but continue to repeat. They are the lonely watchers of the ghosts of Gettysburg surviving through time, telling their story.

As we leave the battlefield I am reminded, there are some things that can’t be explained. Other things even if I could explain very few people would understand. But I’m not alone. Like my friend, like Tanner’s owner, we are a regiment of people having experienced something on the fringe and yearn for understanding. For this reason, we come to Gettysburg.

Death and Needing to Hear from the Neither World: Grief, Insanity is Thy Name

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When we have loved greatly, we will never walk alone.

My uncle is terminally ill in a Florida hospital with a do not resuscitate order. He is a father figure to me so this is very important. I live 900 miles from Florida’s sunny gulf coast. This plays horribly with my mind.

9:00 am: I get the phone call telling me to expect the inevitable at anytime. Notify the rest of the family on Facebook, keep my phone charged and with me, Mom says.

I’m sitting with my daughter, who is in her second week recovery from spine surgery. We are home, finishing breakfast and morning showers when the call comes in. Immediately, I realize the problematic nature of the timing of everything. I feel I need and want to be in Florida. My daughter needs me home. She can’t do this on her own. Not yet.

Fourteen years ago, my parents, brother and several aunts and uncles heard the calling of the snow bird at the retirement capital of the country – Ocala, Florida. They sold their homes, packed their things, bought RVs and waved goodbye.  Ending what was a very close knit extended family system with all the trimmings. This left me with my own little family.

It’s been difficult to maintain close relationships across the miles. Responsibilities, expenses and health have all played havoc. But we have succeeded with only moderate feelings of loss on my part, especially during the holidays. This is not a holiday, but like a holiday, I feel the pangs of not being in the same location as the rest of the family and it’s taking its toll.

I’ve spent most of my day trying to figure a way to juggle taking care of my daughter and her cats and still fly to Florida. I realize I not only want to be near family, I need to be there for me to nurture them and for them to nurture me. I want another chance to say goodbye to a man who will always be my other father.

It’s 5:00 pm and my phone rings. It’s my mother. I ask her if my dad can pick me up at the airport if I figure out the logistical nightmare.

She hems and haws and says, “Let us go to the hospital and see what’s what. Then we’ll have a talk and call you back between 10:00 and 10:30 tonight.”

Not a problem, I have class in an hour and I still have not figured things out, so this gives me more time.  I take care of dinner for my family, take the dog out another time, another glass of ice water and an ice pack for my daughter and leave for class with my assignment left behind on the table. I have my fully charged cell phone in my hand in case the call telling me it’s over happens.

Class ends and I get back in plenty of time for the mom’s call.  The phone does not ring and this is where insanity set in and never looked back.

By 11:00 I’m concerned. My daughter asks if there is any news – no. 11:30, I get this odd feeling of relief.

Enter crazy thought #1. He’s passed away, no longer suffering and this is the relief I feel.

I tell all this to daughter who says, “Why do you think they didn’t call? Why don’t we call down there to see what’s going on?”

Enter crazy thought #2. They are so busy with Uncle’s death; there is no time to call, too distraught to call.  Who the hell am I to call them during this horrible, intensively challenging time?  I’m not a part of the family anymore anyway. I live 900 miles away! They had a family portrait taken several months ago, of all of them – without me. I’m really abandoned and on my own.

Enter crazy thought #3. I flash back to my sister’s death when I was seven. I didn’t get to say goodbye then either.  She died; they whisked me off to Grandmas while things settled. When I returned, all my sister’s things and pictures were gone. We weren’t to talk about her, it was too painful.  As an adult, I get this. As a child, I did not. Sitting in my room alone waiting for a call that was not coming, perhaps the adult is not too far removed from the child.

Enter crazy thought #4. They are doing this again. Arranging everything with me out of the picture because they don’t think I can handle it.  Just like, I couldn’t handle my sister’s death back in 1968. I was seven years old then! I tell my daughter all this.

She wobbles over, gingerly sits down on the side of my bed and puts her arm around me. Our roles have reversed. She tells me things I would have told her in a reverse situation. The leaves don’t fall far from the tree.

12:00 midnight. Enter crazy thought #5. I tell my daughter, “Well, if I can’t be there to say goodbye, I’ll be expecting a visit from his spirit. At this point, he can probably get to me easier then I can get to him.”

She looks at me to verify I’m serious. I am.  I’ve heard of many people having death-bed visits from loved ones.  Family finding out someone died before the police or hospital called to tell them. Why not have my uncle come to me to say goodbye?

1:00 am. My daughter is back in her room leaving me and my over active imagination to run amok.  I’m writing the next chapter of a manuscript while sitting on my bed.  Behind me is a double window that overlooks a second story balcony. There I have a rocking chair where I drink my early morning coffee. The windows are open.  I have my I-pod on a speaker stand set to shuffle. The music is anything from tribal to Bach, Incubus to Frank Sinatra.

The writing is going well until I hear a noise. I shyly look up from the computer screen half expecting to see the materializing form of my uncle. I see nothing out of the ordinary.  I continue writing, fighting back sorrow. I can’t believe this is finally the end.

The I-pod stops playing and I stop typing, startled by the sudden silence. A sign, I wonder. Cautiously, I turn to see what song is listed on the screen. Was it Edelweiss, the song we danced to at my wedding? No, it says D00045.

That is the code for a series of voice recordings I’ve made. One of which is a lengthy conversation with my uncle where he tells me about his childhood.   I rummage through my computer to find the original clip convinced it is that recording (I-pod will not play it). It’s not.  It’s notes about muses in the Peach Orchard in the Gettysburg battlefield.  Not my uncle.

I laugh at myself and turn off the I-pod. The room grows still with the exception of the tip tapping of my fingers on the laptop keyboard. Behind me, I hear the sound of my rocking chair on the balcony moving. Is it the breeze? I don’t feel a breeze on my skin.

I want to turn and look but find myself griped in fear. What will my uncle look like? What if it’s not what I expect? I get up the courage to look but it’s too dark to make out the chair. Stealthily, I move closer to the screen, cupping my hands around my eyes to block out the ambient light.

Before my grandmother died, we got possession of her rocking chair and my father placed it in our clubbed-in basement. After she died, that chair rocked on his own for several minutes on many evenings. We always said it was grandma. Many a night, I would hear the creaking of the chair and sneak downstairs to watch it slowly move back and forth for just a few moments and then come to a stop.

The rocker on my back porch was empty. A swift breeze pushed back my hair and I sighed. It was the wind after all.

I return to my laptop. My nerves frayed and my mind on red-alert. The auto fan in the far window clicks on and the anxiety makes my skin feel it’s being peeled off my muscles. I push off the laptop, bound out bed and slam shut the windows, locking them and pulling the blinds shut.

If my uncle is going to visit, it’s not going to be through the window or in the rocker! He can visit but only on my terms. Whatever those are?

I go out to the bathroom in the hallway and return to my room, shutting the door behind me. I pick up the laptop and return to chapter three. Something outside my door bangs once, then twice. Everything goes silent except my heart.

I slid out of bed and mosey up to the door. I outstretch my hand to the glass door knob debating if I really want to see what is going on. I think, why in the hell would my uncle try to scare me like this? Followed quickly with the thought, maybe, he doesn’t have many options.

I’m the one that wanted to say goodbye and here I am cowering behind a door. I open it to find the empty hallway which does nothing to calm my nerves. Across the hall is my office.

I listen and notice the outside street sounds are louder than normal. I walk over and find the window open and several paperback books scattered on the floor. Lightning flashes and I assume the wind has knocked the books off an end table. I shut the window and return to my room thinking I’ve read too many Stephen King books and seen too many episodes of paranormal television programming.

3:30 a.m. and my stomach is growling. I need something to eat.

To get to my kitchen I have to go down the stairs and through the living room and dining room. The staircase is completely enclosed with a heavy wooden door at the bottom. I don’t like the staircase at night. In fact, I try to avoid it.

Tonight, my stomach says we’re moving forward through the darkness and down the stairs (there is no light on the stairs). I tell myself my apprehension is ridiculous. I reach the glass door knob and stop. On the other side of the door will be my living room partially lite by the porch light coming through the front windows.

In my living room is my late sister’s Chatty Cathy doll. It is my most prized possession. This doll is also a very special memento for my uncle and ties all of us together. I tell myself (enter another crazy thought) if he has any ability to communicate with me, it will be with this doll. Now I’m afraid to go into the living room for fear I will find the doll moved or moving, maybe talking. It is Chatty Cathy for goodness sake.

I chide myself again for thinking such crazy thoughts and bust through the door. Keeping my eyes firmly on my feet, I quickly work my way through the living room, dining room, slam on the kitchen light and sigh in relief.  Everything is normal. Everything is going to be fine. Uncle is not going to pay me a middle of the night goodbye call. Mom and dad will call later when they are able. I’ll figure what to do at that time.

I pull out a plastic bowl, the box of Lucky Charms cereal and some milk. I wonder what the family is doing now. Are they still up like me? Are they making arrangements for Uncle’s cremation in the morning? Why haven’t they called me? Don’t they know I’m worried sick?

A dark shadow whips by my feet and returns prowling towards me. I scream, dropping the milk, tipping over the cereal filled bowl, spewing Lucky Charms all over the counter, down the cupboard and onto the floor.

I clench my heart in absolute terror, convinced the world is coming to an end when the dark, shadowed creature speaks to me – Meow.

My uncle’s spirit, if it could, did not visit me because he was still alive. My parents didn’t call because they thought it was too late. Never thinking I’d be up all night in grief then terror because someone I thought had died, hadn’t and was coming to visit me but wasn’t.

“Why didn’t you call?” They asked me. A good question and I don’t have an answer. I need to figure that one out.

If this isn’t an example of the power of our thoughts and what happens when we let them run amok, I don’t know what is. I need to ask myself some serious questions about my mental behaviors. I can throw in, yes, I was tired, I have PTSD, and I’m grief stricken and feel helpless. I think while all those things are factors, they don’t negate the fact; I let the whole thing run crazy. I didn’t reality check. I didn’t use the resources at hand to help myself.

It’s 11:30 pm and I’m sitting here on my bed typing this blog. My window is open and there is a slight breeze from the balcony brushing through the rocking chair slats.  I wonder if my uncle will make it through another night. If he doesn’t, I wonder if he’ll come visit.  Perhaps, I’ll sleep with the light on.

Uncle died at 1:30 a.m. My daughter and I were in my office reminiscing through old photos of us with Uncle when it happened. The call from my parents came in directly after that. While there was no ghostly apparition, I still got to say my goodbyes in a much healthier way. Through all the fabulous years of memories that will last not only myself but my children as well. Thanks Uncle Joe, I’m missing you already.

The Show Must Go On – The Birth of an Adrenaline Junkie

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Loosen up; she says with a chuckle, you’re wrapped way too tight

With a grin, I know this but can’t stop

With extreme highs and lows I eat and sleep this

Loosen up, she says, and I hear her wisdom though she does not know

With regret and remorse my body won’t let me rest

 

Sisters laughing and pretending to be the fab four

A Hard Day’s Night left us screaming in the aisle

A hard day’s life when she suddenly died

Sisters at a cemetery, one of them reposed in the ground

A hard day’s night becomes a hard day’s life

 

Blonde on a kid’s show freezing in front of the camera

Sets that fall down and costumes that rip

Sets bright with large splashes of blinding light

Blonde kid so shy she hides in a dark world of her design

Sets up a place for an insidious void that convolutes

 

Universal horror monsters alive on TV late Saturday night

My first role, the fat witch on a flying machine

My attempts to memorize lines and moves

Universal applause and laughter when I fall off the stage

My parents smiling, happy, it’s all for my sis

 

Twirling a baton, I’m the youngest in the group

Talent and determination turns heads

Talent keeps everyone too busy to think

Twirling, is life’s temporary amnesia from blood and death

Talent, cursed or blessed, we still have Sundays at the cemetery

 

Learning to skate, meet Peggy Fleming, I’ve decided my path

Bruises, practice, auditions, rehearsals

Bruises, sprains, get up and do it again

Learning to tough it out, I’m the youngest in the show

Bruises, box dinners, homework and life in the car

 

Costume calls, pins and needles, hat is too big

Dress rehearsal is very boring

Dress is too tight, it’s the wrong size

Costume seamstress yells at me for getting taller

Dressed and made up by strangers

 

Homework on the run, another rehearsal, another dinner in a bag

Quick costume change, pushed out on stage

Quick roar of the crowd, flashes of light

Homework, remember how to stop skates from catching costume

Quick thinking prevents Ziegfeld Follies’ hat from toppling

 

Another day, another show, skate broke, costume ripped

Lead male skater is so dreamy

Lead female skater is such a bitch

Another dress rehearsal three hours too long, tempers flair

Lead me home, too achy and tired to think

 

End of the show, time to return back to the baton

Start at five and practice till school

Start homework on bus, practice till bed

End another day with drums pounding rhythms against my skull

Start tomorrow drum line pounding, choreography to learn

 

Stand before the directors, while they choose this outfit not that

Coaches for percussion, music and dance

Coaches for choreography, military baring and baton

Stand before the manager showing the upcoming schedule

Coaches not buses to carry all our crap

 

Run around and date actors, dancers, musicians and performers

Practice till my fingers blister and bleed

Practice till I can physically practice no more

Run around and find the most outrageous things to do to feel alive

Practice equals louder applause which equals perceived love

 

Awards come in a landslide of marble, gold and ribbons to many to count

Audiences bigger and applause profound, I want more

Audiences demanding greater feats, I’m willing to give

Awards for outstanding entertainer, how much higher can I go

Audiences are a fickle lover, self centered and giving

 

More, the press says, can we have your picture, please

Little one wants to grow up to be like me

Little one wants a hug; a group photo would be nice

More insanity, I love this but I need to find a release

Little pieces of me fly off into space, spirit catches giving me grace

 

Harder practices, demanding routines and radical ways to cope

Applause now an addiction, I can’t stop even if I wanted

Applause is drowning water, no longer quenching my thirst

Harder demands on my body, mind and soul, but I can give more

Applause has become the only way I feel alive and loved

 

Left, right, left, your positioning is not quite right, do it again

Redo the entire concepts of acceptance, love and peace

Redo the bandages on my bleeding blisters and take another pill

Left lying on the cold practice floor to fall asleep, nirvana

Redo the muscle rub while remembering the death that started it all

 

What do you mean you lost your step in stanza four

You call that making love to the audience

You call that a top notch performance

What’s wrong with you, we all have something at stake

You need some kind of help, something’s not right

 

Judges pass bribes, try to mess me up and get into my pants

Friends listen to my suicidal rants on the phone

Friends say I’m arrogant and need to pull in my ego

Judges demand more of me because I’ve been around

Friends back away, some say goodbye, they can’t relate

 

Dreams in dark music, applause, self hatred and death

Survival says be one with the stoned guy on the bus

Survival says join him and never look back

Dreams full of rage and remorse; I’m not good enough to last

Survival is swimming out to sea and never coming back

 

Ambulances are always ready at the end of my performances

Pain, strain and exhaustion, I collapse

Pain and hospitalizations, weekly events

Ambulance drivers joke, here she comes again, poor kid

Pain is having blown veins from too many IV pushes

 

Cemetery where my sister rests is inviting, I love to sleep there

Terror fills my soul, soon the applause will end

Terror is a free fall with no one there with a net

Cemeteries are great places to recover when in withdrawal

Terror is raging out of control and no one knows why

 

Rage is what I felt destroying my bedroom, leaving trophies in the wall

Traveling to Africa gave me new purpose in life

Traveling taught my internal camera how to see

Rage is what I felt about human suffering in the world

Traveling made empty audiences transform into humans in need

 

Begin college studying radio, television and film production

Fall into the world of anthropology and social work

Fall into finding paranormal ways to get my rush

Begin filming documentaries and stills for museums

Fall in love and make passion the new addiction

 

Digging in the dirt as an archaeologist assistant and living in a tent

Filming documentaries and stills is not enough

Filming and showing bizarre personal creations stirs my soul

Digging round for any evidence of my sister, the paranormal

Filming detaches me from my pain and shows others its gore

 

Deadlines for films, photo shows, exhibits and pass the popcorn

Give us just one more set by tomorrow

Give us a rough draft, get it right

Deadlines take the place of coaches and managers

Give me an audience to entertain, some caffeine, a pill

 

Drunk driver eviscerates my life, decapitates my friend

Medical torture, no time for anesthesia, you’re going to die

Medical surgery not going well, I see the monitor flat line

Drunk driver gives me a Near Death Experience and new birthday

Medical trauma fuels my rage and an addiction nothing will quench

 

My experience teaches me much including the delicate nature of time

Flashes of performing memories past embrace me

Flashes of my past performing show me a universal stage

My uptight nature gets in the way of spiritual awakening and growth

Flashes of my mangled body assault me and I rage again

 

Now I embrace, explore my surreal reality and help others find theirs

Education, degrees and life aid my helping those in emotional pain

Education, writing, photography and outreach in constant production

Now If I can only loosen up and not be so wrapped tight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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