The Coolest Thing About Me

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The Coolest Thing About Me

I have arrived at the supposed highway, halfway mark. That’s a median guess based on statistics, there are no guarantees. I have learned a few lessons along the way. I am not more of any old thing, prettier, richer, kinder, or smarter.
Sure, I was granted a great big superficial life for a brief moment filled with stuff, lots and lots of stuff. All disposable.

It sits in a closet waiting for someone fabulous I suppose, gathering dust.
I prefer to dress down these days. Forced to live a smaller, more manageable existence where vacuuming the rafters, doing the heavy lifting and hard physical work occupies the days.
Choosing life, and the 180 degree paradigm shift to survive means to move slow, forced to move painstakingly slow. Snail slower than accustomed.
I am a work in progress, and pig-headed acceptance of small town life comes with time, tables and variants.
Old friends who never cared about my moody hues whether fluorescent red, shady purple, mellow yellow or tequila blue help stay the course. Kindred spirits up for the walk.
Have I been lucky? Damn straight. Have I been unlucky? That, too.
Fate can be a greedy, sarcastic bitch.

Some would say I’ve been only unlucky. Perhaps, yes at times that’s true. Others might say I have been only thrice blessed. Guilty, I have been that ‘luck be a lady’ as well.
I have been all of it to varying latitudes, climates and temperatures.
But perhaps, just maybe, is it possible that you have been all that too?
Others cannot see or feel the colors I’ve been, the places I travel without ever leaving home, or the familiar, unfamiliar surroundings. There is nothing special or redeeming about me or you. No we’re not really that different at all. Not really.
I welcome the day I am set free from this imperfect mind- body left with only purity and lightness of soul. And, the love.

The infinite, crystalized clear water wishing well of love abundant, shared, given freely and received gracefully. To know love intimately is to recognize and accept your whole self.

“One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I am special, after all.

The halfway point overflows. The unconditional love of a four-legged blind in one eye, loyal, sweet, funny, kind, compassionate creature teaches me patience; pure, reflective, bounce back safety net self-love. Everyday, and whatever come what may season. No, no matter what came yesterday or might be on the way, no matter rich or poor, no matter the path as long as we’re traveling together.
As long as we take the walk, her and me. As long as I make the effort even when I’m unable and unwilling, that makes all the difference.
Me seen through her eyes, well that is touch the stratosphere something beautiful.
She is by far the coolest, most special thing about me.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” ― Martin Buber

The Coolest Thing About Me © 2015 Jacqueline Cioffa

The Highway Halfway Mark

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The Highway Halfway Mark 

by Jacqueline Cioffa

I wonder, I do. I cannot help but wonder what’s down the road from the place I have ever truly called home. The wood and grass and nails and bolts, the wet familiar dew smells and giggling baby sounds.The joy and the sorrow. I can’t help but observe and wonder. The funny, peculiar, crooked way of seeing the world that is all my own. The structure has cracks, fissures and deep gaping holes, pockets that need love and attention, there is patching and mending to be done. I don’t know if I have enough glue stored in the chicken coop to hold the facade together before the walls come crumbling down. I am for better or worse, at the highway halfway mark.

I mind I do, at times. I mind a lot.

Sometimes, I don’t mind at all. I laugh and live, and get lost in the hilarious, fleeting moments. I get scared, frightened, and paralyzed too. Funny, I was never scared as a child. I was wild, fearless fierce and strong.

Maybe I greedily used up all the miles and worn down the treads on my running shoes. New Balance 574’s. There’s nowhere, no road, no mountain, no distances left, no place far and enough away to hide.

That’s okay. It’s all right. I do get tired sometimes. Mostly, I wish I could bottle up the Lupita lovely creature cuddled beside me. Her warmth and heat and breath and beating heart radiate and rejuvenate my childlike spirit. Her smile makes me weepy. I can’t. I can’t keep her here with me.

I cannot understand the death concept, wrap my head around this curious mystery called life. I try, but maybe I can’t comprehend a life without all the people and places I have cherished and loved. Close, always close by even when separated by continents and telephone lines.

My mother and I don’t see eye to eye on so many things. I talk too much, worry too much, cry too much, am crazy too much and yet she is here in her first forever home and mine folding the laundry. Her pace slow, her gait sad, her grit defeated and still she is cemented together, red brick stronger than I. She realizes her halfway mark has long expired, and that makes me hold my breath.

As if I could stop time between the inhale and exhale before the next.

As if. I’m stalling, still. Silly me, I am a grownup who’s not very grownup at all. I understand that hanging on tight to the breath is wishful thinking and I will most surely pass out. I can’t help be hopeful and delusional at times. It hurts to catch my breath.

Here, at the highway halfway mark.

I hate the word #BiPolar. It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word.‬ #I’mAWhatever

I couldn’t resist responding to the lovely Carol Adriana Estrella‘s post on Facebook this morning.

“Doing a small survey:
What are your first thoughts when you hear the word “bipolar”. Being that is an illness, I see it used around A LOT as an adjective or a subject.”

Visit the very hip and informative blog Is Ok Not To Be Ok to view some of the varied responses (including my abridged one).

Carol explains, “I did a very informal survey today asking people what were the first thoughts that came to their mind when they heard the word: bipolar. I got an incredibly array of answers from the usual (and often not funny) jokes, to what a harsh reality is to live as a bipolar individual.”

Thank you, Carol Adriana Estrella for starting the conversation today.

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I hate the word, “bipolar.” It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word. Call me whatever. I’m a ‪#‎Whatever‬ if you must. Jackie works too.

The forward from GEORGIA PINE explains how strongly I feel about the word(s), “BiPolar Disorder.”

“Perspective

I wrote The Vast Landscape, the prequel to Georgia Pine at a dark, scary time in my life. Harrison, the brash heroine, was someone tangible I could cling to. She gave me reason to get up, to go on, to fight, a much-needed respite from what was happening in my real, everyday life. I made the conscious decision not to write about manic depression, the disease that has disrupted every neuron firing through my beautiful, chaotic mind. Bipolar Disorder, the label I detest, is en Vogue. It appears in trendy bestsellers, Oscar winning films and sensationalized television. It’s glamorized, modernized, made to look cool. Trust me, it is not. Mental Illness is the train wreck, the ugly, cruel, exhaustive, intangible, and solitary battle. It does not discriminate among rich, poor, smart, stupid; it brings grown men to their knees, ripping whole families apart. Writing The Vast Landscape freed me to live my dreams on the page. Harrison is I, I am she, mixed together so deeply the lines disappear. The outlines blur, intentionally. Was The Vast Landscape reality or fantasy? That is for the reader to decide. We are all disabled, broken parts, lost individuals, trying to find our way. Truth is what you know, here and happening now. There is only love and love is the bravest character of all. Harrison is the voice in our heads, asking the important questions. Where do I fit? Why am I here? Will I love, be loved? We are born with a fixed expiration date, yet we carry on, walking this earth the best we can until we’re pixie dust. Cherished, kept alive in memory and yellow parchment, we become precarious, aged photographs in a cardboard box. Lives touch, intersect in the most unpredictable yet meaningful ways. The essence continues because you do. Harrison leaves the door open a crack. I seize the opportunity to revisit my whole, healthy self a bit longer, live in the mystic beach home I adore, dream eyes open. Hope is our greatest asset. To choose hope against the worst possible odds is the true measure of life.
The story continues in… Georgia Pine.”

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Cioffa. “Georgia Pine.” iBooks.

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"One becomes enamored by the sounds, smells and tastes."

“The vast landscape was never ours to begin with, we are all tenants of the same good earth. Surrounded by the enchanting tourist attractions, one forgets. One becomes enamored by the sounds, smells and tastes. Time? Time mattered less.” – Jacqueline Cioffa

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"This first Friday in June, all I know is I am doing my best. My very damnedest. And it looks like this…"

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I felt like this today.

You don’t need to hear about the numbness, excruciating pain, overwhelming anxiety, residual anxiety, paranoia, dizziness  or that I prayed to whomever was listening to just end it. Fucking end the ridiculous, relentless, ad nauseam, non-sensical hours that consume my days. Frankly it’s wearing me down, ripping me to shreds and fucking exhausting fighting invisible monsters.

Yes, I know I’m sick. Yes, I understand tapering off benzos is worse than hell it’s maggot filled shit. Yes, my empathetic, cool therapist talks it out. Reassuring me I am indeed strong enough.

Resilient enough. Tough enough. However. Makes me wonder.

Where in the hell am I going to replenish precious missing elements when the planet is currently fluctuating between earthquakes, tornadoes and drought? In a constant state of chaos, flux. How to replenish when I can’t remember pieces of yesterday. Blurred and hazed memories clog and pollute the brain.

Where? How? Why? Great questions. With zero answers.

I said NO anyway. For shits and giggles, ya’ know.

I don’t feel like shit, I feel eradicated, violated and obliterated.

I go to the hairdresser’s armed with my peppermint and lavender doused washcloth unsure I can make it through the hour-long dye process without flipping the fuck out.

Home. I want, need, have a deep desire to be home.

Grey roots and I have a larger more burning desire to feel pretty, alive, and validated.

Breathe, just breathe. You are safe. You are fine. You’ve been through this before. You are safe, breathe.

Your stylist is your dear friend who knows and loves you well she will take you home if necessary.

FUCK YOU anxiety, fuck off, go fuck up someone else’s day/ existence.

It’s sitting there threatening strangling my neck, throat, cramped shoulders, tingling extremities and limbs. Sitting patient, greedily waiting to pounce.

I apply eyeliner (Armani #02 pencil my fav.) and concealer to brighten my shiteous, difficult existence and in spite.

Tomorrow will come with or without me, isn’t that the cliché? What they say? Whoever the hell they are, Martians maybe. Fuck if I know, can’t be sure.

This first Friday in June, all I know is I am doing my best.

My very damnedest.

And it looks like this… on the outside

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee

“The chaos comes with you,” simply stated my friend. -The Red Bench excerpt by Jacqueline Cioffa

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“As an artist do I need constant flux to create? How will I find words in the woods surrounded by trees and rotten cornfields? How will I find anything besides dying, wet leaves?

I cannot escape the volume in my head, the constant churning. The Jesus fucking Christ, turn it down chatter. I have been told to be patient. Wait for the drugs, the quieting veil, and the lavender calm to smooth out the ringing. My mind is full of death and black spots I’m sure, much like a stroke patient after a spell.

   “The chaos comes with you,” simply stated my friend. He was right. I am here, here am I. Sick and tired, tired and bullshit sick.

The blank paper waits and my hands navigate the keys and the thoughts go where they may.”

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-excerpt from “The Red Bench” by Jacqueline Cioffa