Hymnal

Tell me your stories about revival

I want to hear them all

About you slain out in the spirit

about the fires on the wall.

Sundays haven’t done that for me

I’m still a stranger about to fall

Oh, can you tell me why

the light looks dim and I’m so small?

Tell me your stories about revival

I want to hear them all

About the hope from the altar

And the devil’s brawl.

I’ve seen your conviction

and the aisles turned dance hall

But damn, it’s so hard

To feel hope through it all.

Tell me your stories about revival

how you’ve prayed for the call

threw your cigarettes in the trash

and committed to the long-haul.

I won’t get to church this Sunday

but I’ll still play tetherball

with a body that’s fragile

and tangled in the drawl.

On the Front Lines

My husband is a second year pulmonary and critical care fellow. His specialty threads the needle for the coronavirus which (I’m sure you all know by now) attacks the respiratory system. He works in a busy ICU in Pittsburgh. He sees the patients who are at their worst – the ones who need to be ventilated or need EBUS or need lots of other care that seems to involve a lot of acronyms that I frankly don’t understand. Lately, he’s been clocking 70-85 hours of work a week. He comes home exhausted and emotionally drained. He throws his scrubs directly into our washing machine, starts a cycle on extra hot, and goes straight to the shower to wash off any potential remnants of the virus that may have hitchhiked home with him from work. While this daily routine happens, our son Townes crawls towards him in a chasing sort of “tell me hi!” way that is both adorable and heart-wrenching at the same time. He doesn’t understand why his dad can’t hold him.

Ode to Adam from Rosen Fine Art’s Pandemic Series (Source)

Being the wife to a healthcare worker always has its challenges. No one goes into a marriage with a physician thinking they will have a spouse who works a typical 9am – 5pm job, but being a wife to a physician on the front lines during a pandemic brings about a whole new set of challenges. There’s something about being in a relationship with someone who is saving people’s lives all day that somehow makes the regular 40hr/wk job of a non-medical spouse seem less important, less valuable, and less difficult. Toss in the weight and stress of a global pandemic and that non-medical spouse now becomes the lifeline at home who keeps the family ecosystem functioning.

For the first six months of the pandemic, the responsibility to keep our home life functioning felt rewarding. Managing the day-to-day concerns of our home and family seemed to give Jason the support he needed to get through the week. I felt as though I was playing a very small, behind the scenes role in helping him not get burned out – in turn helping people get the attention and compassionate care they need from their physician. I was (and always am) so proud of my husband. He has a unique ability to connect to his patients personally, no matter their circumstances or age. We can typically both trudge through tough times with no complaints and pick up each other’s slack when the other is drained.

But now, 10 months into this, I’m worn down and growing increasingly frustrated. There has been a lot to adapt to this year with becoming a new mother, balancing a full-time job at home, and being disconnected from friends and family. Jason’s 70+ hour work week only adds stress to the adaptation. His workload adds a pretty heavy weight on my shoulders that has slowly morphed into my bones for the unforeseeable future. Sometimes, I feel like a single mom on a foreign island, and recently I’ve noticed myself shift into a person who lives with genuine anger, frustration, and fear.

A lot of times, my anger and frustration is directed towards random people whom I barely know – like people on social media who claim this pandemic isn’t real. I’ve found myself recently responding to posts I never would have entertained in the past. I am offended, frustrated, and amazed at how inconsiderate and selfish people’s actions have become. Perhaps one of the more surprising things about all of this is that Jason doesn’t share my frustration. It doesn’t bother him that he works tirelessly to save people’s lives who didn’t believe that this virus was real. It doesn’t affect him to hear people demand medications that have become popular from obscure propaganda and have no scientific backing. He has a sort of natural ability to just continue to help – no matter the circumstances. Meanwhile, I’m in a tireless fit of rage over people broadcasting their feigned knowledge of the situation to the world. At first, I chalked my defense to these claims up as a way to defend my husband’s work, but now I realize they are a bratty plea for someone to see the struggle our little family has gone through. A plea for someone to recognize the individual lives that are shifting and working tirelessly without praise, without support, and without a collective belief in the threat they face daily. This isn’t a hoax, the numbers aren’t inflated, and no one is choosing to live the challenges this pandemic brings for a political agenda.

This isn’t one of those posts that ends with a happy, uplifting tone. I’m in a rough season of life along with so many around the world. I live 18 hours from home. My local support circle is my husband, who is also playing the supportive role to so many patients and their families. I am exhausted. I want to sleep. And I feel so fucking bratty for wanting all of those little luxuries while numerous people around the world are experiencing worse. This post is for solidarity. To tell the other spouses of medical workers that I am with you, and I hope we can all come out of this together with love and compassion.

Eleven

Life knocked and waited 

delayed breath – a boy! 

You nearly fainted. 

Breathe in health;

Breathe out fear. 

We chanted loudly

for only three to hear. 

Look at us now; we made it. 

Mom and Dad and Townes

for nothing could it be traded. 

Breathe in health;

Breathe out fear.

Together, always – 

another year. 

Through the Miles

pattperry

Sometimes – I think –

I’ve nearly found you

but my memory is fooled

by washed images that drew

from faces it never knew.

 

Can you tell me –

Which part of you I should search for

as the lost characteristics accrue

with ever voice I hear

that isn’t you?

 

Is it a song? A touch?

A look or a smile?

I’d like to think I’d find you –

even through the miles.

 

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Brim

Related image

How does this heart bend and mould

from a confined chest

into a hand to hold.

 

Does it move by one accord

or with a riotous play that

leaves you scorned?

 

Will it travel back and stray again?

I’ve heard trough time all pain will mend.

 

But can I stop the rampant rush?

The heat, the lush, the mush and guts.

 

I pushed it back, I clinched it tight.

I begged that demon not to fight.

 

But it’s still —

hovering.

Slowing seeping into my skin

rushing out at every brim.

 

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Catenary

I have a body 5,129 miles from my home. All seven organs, all 206 bones, and three layers of skin. A mesh of veins and muscles and tendons are all there, too. Ten toes, ten fingers, and breath in its mouth.

I tied two toes with big, red strings before I sent her off sailing into another dream. My body, you know, has seen a lot. But down here, I can feel she is starting to pop.

She’s walked 22.2 miles, traveled Normandie and Paris. She’s eaten a crate of cheese, and a whole fish with carrots.

I let her go on pretending she’s dauntless and brave, but I can see her strings are starting to fade.

So I gave her two toes a few tugs while she was out there – suspended and free – and I asked her nicely to remember me.

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You Get to Stop

I’m nearing the end of my graduate program. Life is hectic, my mind is fuzzy, and my brain seems to work in reverse. I mix up numbers and letters, I put milk in the cabinet instead of the refrigerator, and every three to four months I catch myself crying in public from a song on the radio or a bird in the sky.  Bright lights make my head pound, I can’t handle people walking behind me, and I’ve convinced myself there is a recorder in my apartment transmitting information into instagram ads.

My mom is starting to worry, “Do you have schizophrenia?” She asks earnestly.

“I just need to sleep.”

“Are you on drugs?”

“I just need to sleep.”

I believe I’ve grown immensely as a student; but for some reason, transcribing what is in my head onto paper (or onto a keypad) remains the most difficult task for me. This is bold to say, but my trouble with writing isn’t geared around fear. What people think of my work, or the weird sense of pride I must have to feel it is important enough prose to share, no longer haunts me. Instead, I’ve replaced that fear with a bigger one.

An indefatigable thought that asks: What are you saying?

Continue reading “You Get to Stop”

On Repeat

My whole day has gone and I’ve got nothing to show for it. I sat in front of a computer at 5am to write and, here I am; watching night fall with only a sentence or two down. I’ve done nothing to justify the adderall, three cups of coffee, leftover Indian, and three melted chocolate Lindt truffles I’ve consumed, but I keep up with the flow of bad habits in hopes that a life of monotonous suffering will somehow produce a prosperous return. What have I done all day?

I want to be a writer, or at least that’s what I’ve told myself for the past ten years. I want to be a writer, or a bird, or a duck, or even a band-winged flying fish. I tell myself I am a writer like there’s an optimistic guru hidden somewhere in my soul, but when the time is finally carved out to write I’ve got no authority. I am beat down and pessimistic. Which perhaps is a valid feeling for a writer, or a fish. I said one day I’d write about this giraffe that’s been walking around my head or about a kid named George being scared of the shore, but I can’t persuade those thoughts to leave the hidden corners of my mind. They’re trapped in a tangle of expectations, weighted with heavy soil-less potting mix like seedlings in a ten dollar garden kit under prefabricated light. I can’t force them out, so I break from the business of doing nothing to buy a bottle of wine in my sweatpants. On my way back to writing I watch dusk fall and street lamps flicker on; a whole day gone again.

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I Didn’t Get into Grad School [and other failures]

Wednesday I received an email from Pratt Institute. It said something along the lines of:

Dear Cap,

NO.

Okay, they didn’t say it quite like that, but that’s what it felt like in my gut/heart/tear ducts/legs.

Pratt was supposed to be my “sure thing”. I’ve applied to a few other dream schools, but Pratt was my safety net. To be honest, I’m still really confused why I got rejected. I mean, I may be a hot mess in real life, but I look pretty dope on paper. 

I got the email mid-way through my 13 hour work day, which meant I had seven hours to somehow figure out how to fake being okay and keep my shit together. I left work around 8:45, took a 35 min train ride home, walked a mile through a dark park, opened the door to my apartment, and headed straight to my bed to cry.

This wasn’t my normal Cap Cry. This was one of those devastating cries.

The ones where you feel like your life is ruined and you’ve got no future and everything you’ve worked for has gone up in smoke and you’re trying to live a life you can’t handle and you’re about to break from exhaustion and if you have to go to one more god damn PR meeting you’re going to break down in the middle of your office like a two year old who can’t reach their goldfish.

FOR REAL. EVERYTHING SEEMED LIKE SUCH A BIG DEAL. 

I cried for a solid hour still wrapped up in my wool coat, work shoes, and dress pants on my bed. I think at one point I even screamed “I just wanna write shit that matters!” (#kanyedramatic)

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Today, I’m still sad. I woke up with a little less faith in myself, a little less pep in my step, and a very bitter heart.

I couldn’t figure out why I felt so defeated. My career is always filled with rejection. I write something, send it off, get no answer, and try again.. and again.. and again. Sometimes it pushes me to work harder – sometimes it makes me want to build a tree house in Canada and change my name to something really hippie and carefree like Margot Sunshine. (Not sure why Canada is part of the escape plan) 

The blow shouldn’t have hit me so hard. I’m actually lucky to be doing PR for a great company, but there is still a side of me that just thought I wasn’t ready to give up on the end goal.

I’d actually just asked a friend – “When do you stop trying?”

I’m still curious. When do you realize what you want to do and what you can do are not always the same thing? I thought I would never settle, and while I’m lucky to have a great job – the idea of grad school made me feel like I still had a promising future. It made me feel like I was still on the path of becoming a writer.

Now, I feel like I’m done.

I think it’s okay to accept that some things don’t work out. Sometimes life does feel unfair. Sometimes your input doesn’t necessarily match up with the output. Sometimes you have to accept failure.

I’m not suggesting you give up on your goals. Try with everything you have to get what you want.

But if there comes a time when you realize you’ve given it all you can to no avail – It doesn’t mean you won’t be happy.

It just means you have to build a new dream.

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Come at Me, Bro!

My maintenance man, the one you may remember me talking about in They Outran the Rain just kissed me, and I don’t mean in a sweet, British, double cheek way. I mean in a flirtatious, is he going to throw me back in my apartment and have his way with me way.

He bear hugged me, squeezed me in tight, and kissed me in that awkward, high cheek area near the ear.  Let me rephrase that – his sloppy lips were on my ear and he kissed repetitively until the shock from the awkward encounter finally left my body and my limbs found the strength to push him off of me.

(#sorrynotsorry)

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Continue reading “Come at Me, Bro!”