Recovery

I spend a lot of nights making horse-like sounds as I tromp up the creaky steps of my Washington, DC townhouse, my sandy leather backpack slung over one shoulder, ballooning and nearly bursting open from its contents: my server’s uniform, consisting of a crusty, browning white button-down, an ankle-length apron, splattered with ink-markings, brushed about the surface like spin art in accidental waves of black and blue, and unbearable black shoes, wreaking and stale.  It’s on these nights that I breathe heavy, sometimes I cry.  I often don’t know why, sometimes things just get leaky up there late at night.  I like to lay down and look at my ceiling because it reminds me of limits, and I like to think about limits but then also imagine—launching, movement, surging speeds escaping boundaries and gracefully expanding the skies.  Sometimes my cat licks my face, presses his paws into my sweater, and coos softly.  This is his bliss, though it may not be mine.

I do quite a bit of recovering.  I’m getting very good at it; that’s not to say I brave the storm of various traumatic events that require recovery.  There’s something in between doing and not doing, and it’s recovering.  It’s not often spoken of, but it’s a state of being.  Even when recovery is discussed in an applicable context, it is inferred as rehabilitation or moving forward, moving on before looking at the limits and envisioning the breakthrough.  I’ve watched the ceiling quite a bit, it’s where I learn the most about myself; that and this playlist on Songza called Music for a Woodland Clearing, which is essentially Van Morrison sprinkled with near miniscule flavor bursts from other woodsy artists.  Regardless of its semi prosaic musical DNA, it helps me to learn about myself, and all things considered, it evokes wild and diverse spiritedness and life, which I’m desiring more than usual today.

I’ve received a few job rejections now.  I almost have to run back into the house each morning to grab my coat of resiliency.  I’m rather calculated now as I dress myself as someone whose cares are less numerous than they are when dressed in doubt and fear.  I’m afraid to face anything that might’ve once seen me as seamlessly and conventionally successful: the buildings, the faces, the mentors.  Sometimes I sit down to write thinking maybe I could write the story of non-success, maybe I could write my own story with more grace and beauty than failure and pain.  But the words are too close and not yet far enough to become story or tale.  I think maybe one day when recovery is past, when I’m not staring at the ceiling, concocting innovations and mental revelries of my untold flight through ceiling, stars, through woodland clearing, I’ll have moved enough to write the story of untraditional success—a sort of success that occurs when nothing else does.  When I’m walking up the steps late at night…

My mother sent me an inspirational yet delightfully childlike piece about her own life told in the fairy princess and her kingdom and castle-style.  She, the fair maiden, was described as having lost control over her kingdom, then claiming ownership over a kingdom that wasn’t fully realized until she believed in her ability to rule what was hers.  I, like the princess, need to rule that which is mine: myself, my time, my late night walks up the stairs, in the dark, with tears welling up in the pit of my stomach.  I have gifts of words like paint, voice like movement and song, hands accountable for change I can feel before envisioning it.  I make decisions like paintings.  It’s not even real yet, but I know it, think it, then it is realized like the artist, like the princess who decided life: the inner the outer—it was all hers.

Anyways, my mom doesn’t like Bob Dylan, but I bet the princess would like this song that makes me think of all I can do.  It’s simple, but really I feel the message of what one can do rather than not do is tantamount

She’s got everything she needs

She’s an artist, she don’t look back

She can take the dark out of nighttime

And paint the daytime black.

Recovery is in realizing that it’s all there; it just has to be taken and held in one’s arms, wrapped up and called “my own.”

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An Unlikely Cover Letter (Submitted)

My name is Leah Rosenzweig and I’d like to be your seller of ideas.  I will assume the challenge for the price of the opportunity to stand in the marketplace among other craftsmen and women, and perhaps, the price of a salary.  But I am most thrilled by the prospect of standing among the pretty birdhouses and hand-stitched tapestries with a cart-full of concepts.  I imagine myself positioned beside pedestrian-swarmed streets and shouting “Come, behold the unseen!  Tell me your ideas, your products, your marketable entities! My words will take something as banal as your sock and sell it to the world as if it were the loveliest prize!

Listen: ‘I have, in my possession, the loveliest white sock.  In its standard application, the sock would certainly belong on the foot, stretched and protecting its vulnerable skin, calluses and inclination to smell while fitted into the most burdensome of boots or sneakers.  The sock’s masked microfibers will clothe the tiniest or plumpest of toes in unimaginable layers of softness and warmth.  But don’t be fooled by its warming powers, the sock also allows for cooling in summer months.  Suppose you are partaking in a heated tennis match, the sock will allow flexibility, coolness, and breath to tuckered out toes.  A sock is also the ideal plan-B mitten for a child whose desire to run headfirst into an embankment of snow following a peaceful storm is too urgent a cause to waste time sorting for a pair.  The same sock can be used to warm a child’s rose-colored cheek when the game is over, when the snow is stomped-upon and tinted brown.  Buy this sock and you’ll remember it like I remember the socks I first wore after my first fall stroll down Charles Street with my boyfriend four years ago.’”

Although the sock may seem an exaggeration, it is the perfect example of how my mind constructs vehicles through which I frame something or someone, yes, even a sock, as desirable, beautiful, and original.  While at first, I feel I lean on vocabulary, sentence structure and wit, I almost always feel my mind drift toward a personal connection.  After all, this is how I won Second Place in Impromptu Speech the Pennsbury Invitational Forensics Speech Competition in high school (this is a true statement).  I was assigned a topic, and on the spot, I was able to draw in puzzle pieces from my own observations and life experience to create a wholesome speech that was both persuasive, innovative, and wholly my own.  I do this in my own writing now.  I believe my writing exudes confidence and a distinct style.  My invitational and personal style draws in a broad audience.  I don’t ever aim to capture a reader through entrapment or excessive hyperbole. Rather, I aim to sustain a genuine voice, one that tells the truth about a product, person, or idea, and tells it clearly, with a beginning, middle, and end—like a story.  This is the key to how I sell ideas:  I never alter or exaggerate; I just communicate well.

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Like the potter, I’ll write a small narrative essay or a review, and little by little, I’ll remember how a collection of poems on bullying reminded me of my days of feeling inferior, lost and alone as a starry-eyed middle-schooler.  I hold the cylindrical wad of clay and press the petal violently, yet gracefully.  Some ideas spit back and smack the wall, while others, create a personal, yet marketable review, a beautiful product that contains visible bits of myself.  Someone will spot the finished product in the marketplace among other similar beauties; they will sense, without knowing it, each particle of personality spreading news and ideas, continuing to create and exchange concepts, from the marketplace to the mantel.

Stream of Consciousness: The Middle

It is an occasion when a diner will ask his or her server anything about herself.  Rarely, do they open a door and whistle, beckoning my humanity to come out.  Here humanity, here boy.  It is rarely fun: bearing the “can I get’s?” and the “give me’s,” but then, as if out of some discreet pocket of air, I’ll receive a “What do you do?” and the heavens split right down the middle and light befalls us—an aura covering table 23.  Somehow, someone knew to ask what I do or what I want, what my passions and dreams may happen to be.  It is so brilliant that it almost seems to cancel out the following interaction that occurred at table 44 about two and a half weeks ago.

Father and daughter talk amongst themselves…

Father: “Should we ask, I don’t know.”

Lowly server (me): “Everything alright over here.  Are you all finished?”

Father: “Yes.  May we ask you a question.”

NB: This is all occurring after the gentleman told me that I should inform management that we have to do something about the room temperature maple syrup that causes the piping hot French toast to lower in temperature when it is poured atop the texas toast-y delicacy.

 

Me: Sure

Father: Do you have another job?

Me: I freelance write, which is my passion, but this is the only job I make money doing.  Why?

Father: Because we were just talking amongst ourselves and wondering how you could possibly make enough money as a waitress to live in a city like Washington, DC.

So these things sometimes happen.  I almost rather they are outright into heir debasement of me rather than closeted, discreet, huffy breathed, and blaming me for an undercooked something or other.  That guy tipped me about 40%.  It was the worst I’d ever felt about an overtly extravagant tip.  So back to “Here humanity, here boy.”  There is something very important that comes forth from being thrown into a life state that allows for expression, only if it is stifled by the impetuous wants and needs of others.  And believe it or not, regardless of how one may read my general tone, that something important is not boundless heaps of cynicism.  No, it is an achy urge to devote one’s time and efforts to extracting and encouraging the revealing of others’ humanity.  I want to name every face, or better yet, allow every face to name itself to me.

Odd as it is that the very people who cause me grief each day have helped me to want to aid and assist others in feeling whole, it’s a backwards recipe that certainly works for me.  It was in feeling suffocated that my truest loves in life arose to the front of my mind, battling off ideas and goals that had once held precedence because perhaps they looked better or would help me to move on more swiftly to a better post graduate degree program.  It’s not that bad—the middle—the mental or even physical place in which everything is a maybe, every move is impermanent, and every waking hour comes with something unexpected, unwanted, or unplanned.  I like the middle, at least more than I thought I would.  Yes, it is in the middle that I have regular panic attacks over rent payments, bemoan my erratic work schedule, and fight with my mother on the phone, but it also here in the middle that I can take a long walk in trail of sunlight I’d otherwise not be able to bask in until it was well faded, within a clump of bustling, uniformed workers; it’s here that I can submit a poem to a journal, fingers crossed, wondering and hoping that maybe this is the middle’s end, at least before the next middle, the next time I decide to thin before I do, to consider, to stop somewhere between this and that—whatever this is, whatever that is, I don’t really know, not now.

……Therefore I am

“Why do we wake up, roll over in bed, and suddenly enact our own miniature one woman marionette show?  Why am I, like a machine at work, moving toward this table of individuals I’d usually glance over, smiling and staring doe-eyed and beginning: ‘Hi folks!  Good evening! How are you?’”

My least favorite combination of too-often employed words is: YOU THINK TOO MUCH.  If there’s one form of expression kids and even adults are taught to not do too much of, it is to think.  Even feeling is permissible in large amounts.  The other day I was at it again, outpouring too much, so really any bit of, my thoughts.

The given response: “Leah, you think too much.”  And all at once, I felt totally full of rage, my perceptions of humankind surmised to something altogether negative.  Not only have we no more “Great Thinkers” or even the tendency to employ the term, honor the individuals, but we no longer cherish, admire, or merely regard thought as essential.

I think a lot, and although, as in the “you think too much” incidents, it may be marked characteristically perilous, it is my most favored trait.  I am most fully alive when on my own—executing a mental dance, praying over supposed scenery, which really shows itself to me as just another component of myself.  Aloneness is where the dance happens.  And I am pretty good at being alone.  I did it often as a child: usually in the “running away” format (to the backyard, in the grocery store, at the mall).  I loved a lot of humanity, sure, but my truest love, from very early on, was a world with which I would forever acquaint myself, and rarely produce any clear-cut decisions.

Philosophy was an obvious program of study for me, but again, my mere interests would herald “realistic” responses and naysayer’s jabs positing the things I loved as “dead” or “dying.”  But I didn’t care.  Even absurdist philosophy was all about living and life.  It encourage rebellion in the face of a barring universe.  It encouraged intelligence in the form of action.  Even in a seminar room, I was feeling like Sysyphus—preying on my truths, aware and in admittance of a world I am consistently ceasing to conceive.

I find myself wondering when being an intellectual became pretentious.  When Camus distinguished existentialism from pretentiousness and established thought as an act of claiming one’s freedom rather than a muted, loathsome passivity he was regarded an intellectual.  So, I guess I, too, am (shamelessly) an intellectual.  As my good man said:

An intellectual? Yes. And never deny it. An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself. I like this, because I am happy to be both halves, the watcher and the watched. “Can they be brought together?” This is a practical question. We must get down to it. “I despise intelligence” really means: “I cannot bear my doubts.

I am a thinker.  Thought is my breath.  How else is one to live?

Resurrection

I have arrived back to the world of the blog after extracting heaps of self-inflicted stress from my life.  After allowing for literally zero stimulation and no liveliness to even prick at or touch me in any way, I moved to Washington, DC–into a place that was strewn with death, weeds, poison, and darkness.  A first-time renters fantasy.  See below:

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The responsibility I felt almost immediately toward land that was mine only temporarily was profound.  I do this thing where I can’t claim most of what’s inside me.  I’m pretty terrible at it.  It’s one thing to be wildly free spirited, but it’s another to be wildly a mess.  I have trouble claiming myself, the wild mess.  But, I easily establish ownership over things outside myself.  You may be asking yourself: “Is Leah really edging closer and closer toward exacting a cheesy garden makeover::inner-self makeover analogy?  Maybe I am. OR maybe I purged a near trash pit and turned out a kick ass garden, while simultaneously ridding myself of a (metaphorical) poison that had me burrowed away, completely ashamed of my inability to land a dream job and represent semi-unattainable ideals to a world I was mindlessly cartwheeling to impress.  The result: I turned out a pretty kick ass garden.

Time to get real: In all truthfulness, when I am a sweaty mess, racking composted soil in methodically designed horizontal lines along my yard, I am creating.  Creating is a concept that is worlds apart from that of achieving.  In the past month since I’ve been here, I’ve met artists, real artists, who are crafting and practicing, sometimes even playing and experimenting.  They have shown me a beauty I forgot about: the beauty of persistence and self-discipline for the purpose of pleasing oneself, not others.

My kick ass garden grows awesome plants.  It creates and makes.  I do that too.  Me and my garden make each of our existences.  We are resurrecting.

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