A Poem for Poetry Month: The Terminal

The Terminal
By Brigitta Burguess

waiting at 3:05
I scuff my shoes
on trodden floors
sandwiched between
two strangers,
eyeing their lunch meat.

The Camera,
once hung cautiously
from my lover’s neck,
now slips into its bag
settling there images:
hands holding,
suns setting.
Never tangible, really
But living in pixelated specks,
Seurat’s playthings.

Lips once expanded by joy
beneath soft locks
in disarray,
now are twisted
by a thousand lemons
on a face left wanting
under a too-large hat,
drooping.

until the old,
hereditary scent
of a last cigarette
and a moment well-spent
returns, like a buddhist proverb
pitching forgiveness
to the life that destroys it.

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On Bowie

“My heart’s in the basement, my weekend’s at an all-time low.”

 

The way I feel about Bowie’s passing is strange. It’s similar to the way I would feel about a friend’s passing in that it carries with it some level of guilt.

 

“I didn’t spend enough time with him,” I find myself saying, though Bowie and I have never shared a space, really.

 

I don’t want to compare it to the way I feel about other celebrity deaths because that’s not cool. But this death stings so much for me because his music means a lot to me.

 

It was comforting knowing that David Bowie was alive somewhere, reacting to the events of the world and retaining himself all the while. It scares me in a way to know that the person who thought what he thought and was what he was is gone now from the Earth. I feel this sort of welling in each of my organs knowing that no one else is going to be that way for us.

 

It is very sad indeed.

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Rebuilding my System for Internet Safety

We are always trying to protect our kids, and our internet presences are no exception. We’ve all read the horror stories of sharing things publicly on the internet and we all know the risks. Or at least we think we do.

I always thought I did.

But then we read stuff like this (I’m not trying to encourage paranoia by sharing that, but I think this kind of thing is important to know) and we realize that maybe our systems aren’t always what we would hope them to be.

My system looks like this: I keep my Facebook profile private and dig through my friends once every few months or so to weed out those people whose profiles I no longer recognize (it has been a difficult task since I accepted many friendships during high school and college that were less friendships than situations of “oh hey, I randomly saw you at this thing.” We’ve all been there, I’m sure). I also keep my Instagram and my Twitter private. But I have gotten into conflict with friends and family at times because they have wanted to share photos of my son on their pages and what have you and I have said no. I have explained this pretty simply to mean:

I don’t want anyone I don’t know looking at my son.

I feel like that’s pretty understandable. But it’s a tough rule to monitor because I want to do things like allow my son’s grandparents to have photos of them with their grandson and tag my family and friends in photos I post of them with him. So I have made exceptions. I usually regret them, though.

A recent breach of security in my tiny internet world has prompted me to get the word out about my goals for my own internet presence. The story is a long one, as most stories are that involve things like cyber-stalking or real-life stalking. Some are short too, though, and that should definitely be considered when putting personal things out there. But mine is long, so I choose to keep it short.

For years I have tried to keep my information from getting to one specific person, and I don’t need to get into the “who” there. But somehow, before I had my baby, the walls were coming down and certain aspects of my life reached them (whether through mutual friends or accidental public Facebook posts). I realized that many people I was in touch with were still in touch with the person I wanted to be out of touch with, and that created conflict between me and a few of my friends (and, believe it or not, my family). And I almost never have conflict with my family members (I consider myself one of the lucky ones for that). Somehow I found that that person was reaching out to my fiancé at the time with threatening messages. Furthermore, because of an accidental public location tag of mine that I almost immediately found and deleted, that person had figured out where I was working and actually showed up there. This eventually cost me my job because I realized I was in danger when I went to it. And I really liked that job.

Anyway, I can whine about it all day, but it is my fault when that information gets out.

So it was also my fault when one day, a few weeks back, I realized that a friend had tagged me in a photo on Facebook. When I went to look at that photo I saw that more people had liked the photo than were accounted for in my browser (it showed something like five likes, but only four people). I’m sure most of you know that that means that someone who I had blocked like the photo. I knew right away who liked it and confirmed with my friend (who was a dolly: extremely apologetic and had forgotten she was friends with that person in the first place, like we all often do). But then I remembered that that same friend who is very dear to me had shared a blog post of mine a while back on her page. But I thought for sure that that person wouldn’t have dug back so far just to find other posts that this friend had mentioned me in. That would be pretty crazy.

But, of course, when I logged into my blog I found that there was one new view of my entire page that had been made within that small time frame. And with my blog, since I don’t use tags and I only have a few followers (I’m making myself sound real cool here), it is extremely rare for me to get views on days when I haven’t updated the blog to my Facebook or when I haven’t published anything on any site that is linked to my blog. In other words, there was a 97.8572 ish percent chance this was who I desperately wished it wasn’t.

So that was it. All of a sudden, in a matter of hours, my walls had come down again. People I didn’t want to view photos of my kid were viewing photos of my kid. And not just any photos of my kid, but my favorite, most beloved photos of my kid.

This is the reason I have been on a hiatus from my blog.

This is the reason all of my photos have been, and will continue to be, removed from it.

So much of my worry about who is looking at photos of my son has come from an avoidance of a specific person or a few specific people. But a lot of what happened there reminded me of those exceptions I had been making; those posts I allowed up because I didn’t want to hurt peoples’ feelings by asking them to take them down; those times I had made my Instagram public to try to make more connections.

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes…

But the fact of the matter is that we are not always going to have security breaches like that to keep us from making more exceptions.

So we need to have systems: rules in place to keep our internet world exactly as big as we want it to be. And clearly my system needs a bit of tweaking at this moment, so I’m wondering what my friends and family are doing that works for them.

Do you only post photos of your kids with adults? Do you keep closer tabs on your friends list? Do you post all but have a “no share” policy?

I’m currently working on researching this for a bit for another post I am doing in the future that’s less personal, and I plan to have some interviews from some acquaintances who are more internet savvy than myself. But in the meantime I’d love to hear from you about what your internet system looks like. Let’s share the love and keep all of our babies safe!

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Reflections on Fatherhood

I know Father’s Day was practically ages ago, but we have had a lot going on since then. Plus, in my family, since my Dad’s birthday is in July, we usually celebrate him more then, or kind of just intermittently during several weekends in the Summer when we can all get together. Anyway, I do want to give dads their proper praise, so here goes.

On Father’s Day, we did manage to get together and I had a great time celebrating my Dad and my husband, both wonderful fathers. My Dad wanted to go fishing, like he pretty much always does, so we all went to the beach and spent the day in the sun. It was wonderful.

It brought to mind to me the question of what it means to be a father and how our fathers teach us to parent even if we aren’t fathers (that is to say, if we are those other things called mothers).

It began because I was thinking a bit about those people who are raised by single parents. In society, when we talk about single parents we say that they are “taking on both roles.” We also often refer to the man in a child’s life as his or her “father figure” (put your tiny hand in mine?).  But what really is the difference between the role of a mother and the role of a father? I mean, it’s not the fifties anymore, so gone are the days of mothers waiting in kitchens for disciplinarian dads to arrive and put rules into place. Those days are gone, right? Oh, I hope so.

I think we are mistaken when we talk of single parents as the only ones who take on both sets of qualities, though, because a huge percentage of those qualities which we adopt for ourselves come from our own parents, male or female, gentle or disciplinary, protective or dismissive. It is for this reason that I believe it behooves mothers to learn from both their mothers and their fathers as they become who they are as parents over time. And here I don’t mean just to begrudgingly accept that we are going to be like our mothers and fathers in ways we wouldn’t have predicted, but to embrace those similarities and cherry-pick the ones we would like to cement long-term. So, perhaps, in some Darwinian way, we parents can become better parents than those who came before us, and our kids can be better still.

So that leads me to my own father. He is one of the most kind, dedicated, and personable people I’ve ever known. He is the kind of guy who always knows what to say and can pretty much talk to anyone at a party with ease. And he enjoys talking to other people (in fact, I think that’s a big part of why he is so good at his job, which is selling really nice cars to people who probably ask annoying questions all day). He isn’t the kind of salesman you hate because he also listens, which is just as important, if not all the more. I like to think he gave me some of that personality, because on occasion, I can be a real hoot! (Does telling people you are a hoot make you dramatically less of a hoot?)

My dad is not only kind to others, but he is also very enthusiastic. He made my brother, my sister, and I feel like we were just the best things God had ever created. When we learned new things he would always share in them with us with equal or more zeal. In doing this, he would make us feel like we were the first people on Earth to be good at these things, which instilled in us the confidence necessary to take on whatever was to come. Sometimes there was some overconfidence, of course, but kids are like that. I remember when my Dad made me feel so special for taking a gifted exam in Maths in middle school that I honestly thought I might have been the best sixth grade Math student of all time anywhere. And while I later found out that that wasn’t true, I did end up getting a degree in Math, so I am thankful that he was around to keep me going at it.

But more than his kindness, his personality, and his enthusiasm, I would like to bring to my family something all the more imperative. That is, in a word, fun.

My dad is just a fun guy. He always encouraged us to enjoy ourselves, whether that meant having friends over for elaborate birthday parties, picking out tons of junk food at the grocery store, or spending hours every Sunday afternoon playing kickball in the yard. We had fun. And tons of it. Whenever we developed new interests he would join in with us.  I’m thinking of the days when he turned our first floor into a Nerf gun war zone, built skateboard ramps for us during our x-treme sports phase, or turned our yard into a badminton court when I developed a mild obsession with the sport. He somehow even made chores fun, by singing songs or making games out of them. I think this might be the most important thing he gave (and continues to give) to me, and I truly hope to bring this fun to my family in the future.

My dad’s qualities are so important to me, and I don’t think they were dependent on him being the “dad.” Those qualities are thing he just inherently has and offers to the world. Would adopting those qualities mean I was working twice as hard and taking on the fathering role as well? No, not at all. It would mean I was trying to be the best parent I could be.

So let’s be the best moms we can be and learn from our dads too. Because parenting is always many roles and never simple, no matter how many parents there are. And that’s part of what makes it so great.

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Perhaps the Most Significant #tbt Childhood Crush

I am falling way behind on the #tbt childhood crush series that I began not long ago.  I know my readers have been waiting with bated breath to see who my next #tbt childhood crush would be, and I must sincerely apologize for the wait. Sometimes it’s tough to really differentiate between those nineties heartthrobs who I truly crushed on and the ones who simply took up space on my teenage fangirl bedroom walls. It’s a rough job, guys.

But fear not, my friends!  For I am about to present to you one of my biggest and most memorable childhood crushes of all time.

3.

….

2.

…….

1.

…………

GO!

fbreadpizza

Oh my gosh, he’s dreamy.

Yep. That’s right. My fourth and perhaps most significant #tbt childhood crush is the one and only Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza (PEPPERONI, OF COURSE).  He is the greatest microwaveable invention to come out of the nineties, with his gooey cheese that’s only partly burnt on the edges and his perfectly triangular pepperonis sprinkled on top.  I saw him at least once a week, whether it was after school or when I snuck a midnight snack on weekends just because eating at night was the coolest when you were eleven.

There were occasions when French Bread Pizza would act like he couldn’t care less about me, though, to be sure. I don’t even want to talk about those times when he would burn a massive blister onto the roof of my mouth, apologize by being extra delicious and filling, and then turn back around and scrape my mouth with his tough baguette crust moments later. He was never a constant lover.

BUT. The fact remains. French Bread Pizza is the only crush on my list who truly reciprocated my love for him, and for that, well, I will never forget him.

Congratulations, Stouffer’s. You guys rule.

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Nature or Bust

Summer is finally here (knock on wood), so I am really stoked to show Roland all of its greatness. Especially since he is a Winter baby and this is his very first Summer ever.

We are trying to do a ton of hiking and general exploration (insert “How I Met Your Mother” General Exploration salute) this Summer. So today we went out into the woods and made it pretty far, considering it was 77 degrees out (and felt like way more). I tried to get a shot of us after our hike, but it was a tricky angle for the timer. Just moments after this was taken some adorable old women came up to us to offer us some bug spray, since apparently the ticks are really bad this year. I didn’t have the heart to tell them how terrified I am of putting chemicals on babies, so I accepted a spray and we were on our way. They seemed like a very pious group of old women (potentially Catholic) and I always trust pious groups of old women, especially if they are Catholic.

Summer is the very best.

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Emily Dickinson Gets it Right

There is an Emily Dickinson poem called “Bee! I’m expecting you!”

Somewhere around my due date I was organizing all of Roland’s new books and I happened upon it.  I recall being big and impatient at the time (that was my rapper name).

Anyway, I read the poem and couldn’t get over how approrpriate it was to my current state. What were the chances I would read this poem about a bee being “expect[ed],” and “due” so close to the due date of my own little creature?  In fact, the first two stanzas of the poem were almost verbatim what I had been saying to my son over the past few days.

HEY, I’M EXPECTING YOU!

So, of course, like the millennial I am, I took a photo of it and posted it on Instagram with the caption “A perfect poem from the poetry book Auntie Niki got us.”

But at the time I didn’t actually realize just how perfect this poem was for us.

found this poem again this morning in yet another children’s poetry book (are children a huge part of the Dickinson demographic?).  When I read the last stanza I was nearly dumbfounded.

You’ll get my Letter by

The seventeenth; Reply

Or better, be with me–

Yours, Fly.

And what was it that happened on the 17th of December? Oh right, my little “bee” got “my letter” and chose the latter.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Fly.

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