5.0 out of 5 stars GEORGIA PINE by Jacqueline Cioffa
GEORGIA PINE (Kindle Edition)
“An amazing read. The author weaves tragedy, love, family, suspense and disappointment into an amazing story. I have not read The Vast Landscape yet but after this, I know I’ll be adding it to my list of must read books. This is great fictional account of a tortured soul in the form of a fast-paced story painted with poetic scenes.
I was completely immersed in the story as the author switches from past to present. This is an engrossing read you will definitely think about long after you have finished it. An author who has poured her soul into creating incredible characters that are worthy of the big screen.” –Amazon Review
***I received a free book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.***
These Modern Ties
By Jacqueline Cioffa
You know what I despise sometimes?
‘Visualize your best life,’ social media posts. If only you meditated longer, dreamt bigger, brighter and better… a gulf stream, rolls royce and diamond solitaire would magically appear via Amazon. All your grandiose desires, jubilee shrieks and pixie dust sparkle whims before you and not behind. If I were a blonde, bombshell genie in a magic bottle… I’d obliterate global warming, nukes, little girls with shredded self- esteem, cancer, homelessness, poverty. Name it. Go ahead…make your wish. I’d stomp out every single injustice; I’d balance the scales.
Christ I hate when someone writes, ‘living their best life.’
It’s preposterous, deluded, and downright denial.
We are granted breadcrumbs of serenity; uncatchable, unmatchable, untouchable moments when life feels happy and snug. Calm and wonder overflow, and JOY is easily accessible. Perhaps. Yes, a few lucky upturned frowns sounds about right.
Time is spent de-cluterizing, looking back and leaping ahead. Humans are predictable. They prefer to skip past the hard questions. Me? I can’t seem to stop the verbal diarrhea, pondering, squirming and searching. Why don’t the scales even out? Why does the too young, too beautiful, sticky sweet new mother die? Her babes left to fend for themselves. Why do gray cover clouds mask the sun? Why is it mother knows best not to ask unanswerable, stupid, preposterous philosophical questions?
It’ll make you go bonkers, Crackle Barrel, cuckoo clock nuts.
I bet she that mom visualized her perfect baby bump life in pastel hues, fluffy white lambs and nursery rhymes. Dead dreams don’t exist, silly me.
Why? I sure as hell don’t know, but I’d like to. There are no answers when newborns know their mothers in passing, through birth canals, photographs and hand me downs. Someone’s misplaced, jumbled, embellished memories reminisced in haste.
Do not post some inspirational, bullshit quote without asking first.
Am I aware of the planetary spins, people hovering and circling around me? Did I attempt one kind thing today; did I go out of my way for a stranger? Did I do something good, something considerate without telling a soul? Did I do something for the JOY or the pain without running to boast on Facebook, Instagram, and the Twitter? Did I live behind a screen, inside the screen, was I that blind? Did I venture out to inhale the oxygen, to forget what felt safe and comfortable? Did I take risks beyond the pre-determined edges, color outside the lines, feel the rain and the sun on the inside? Well, did I?
Well, have you?
Have I been lucky? Damn straight. Have I been unlucky? That too. Do not say think positive; I might punch you. I fight to breath, to stay, to be alive. It’s hysterical; a dramedy. This life is not about me, and yet I take it personal. I’m a blip, a speck obliterated before the wind blows. I’m not complaining, but wait… hell yes I am. I not a Debbie Downer most of the time or even full fledged pessimist. I’m a realist, I’d surmise.
Close your eyes and listen if you’d really like to know about me.
To understand how excruciating and uncomfortable it feels to bleed under the skin. To smile through tears and forget the bad times…To declutter, debunk, and destroy the pain that comes from a chaotic, misfiring, and free-floating mind.
Do not suggest I try harder, or swallow my pride. Hey you, over there…look at the sunny side. What the fuck do you know? Tiny moments of happy are best lived inside the heart and eyes open wide.
I’m tossing them out the attic window. Since the beginning of time until tomorrow they’ll be teetering, tottering, balancing and unbalancing.
That’s pain. That’s JOY. That’s the high cost and the low maintenance.
And this is my honest-to-God get out of my face, in your face, best potluck shot.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a cheery, colorful, feel good quote.
Perhaps, maybe not.
One never knows.
How high the highs and low the lows.
These unfashionable, sufferable modern ties.
Still, it’s nice to see pretty colors and happy faces sometimes.
Someone asked me the other day when exactly did I begin to hate Christmas?
I couldn’t quite place the precise date when the cheery, bubbly, naive child stopped believing in the magic
Five, seven, ten?
Who’s to say?
It happened all at once, the snow globe blown out of proportion and super-sized colored lightbulbs scorch and burn
The neighborhood streets I stroll at night twinkle warmly while vanilla, clove and chocolate aroma fills the lungs I breathe deep
Are they happy I wonder? Are they okay? Are they loved?
Later dates rarely come or never right on time
I greedily want to hurry past Christmas Day and the sad memories missing the magic pieces I can’t reclaim even seconds gone by
Who drinks the milk anyway, does it get tossed?
I die each time I lose my mind, bits and pieces gone forever, and missing memories I shan’t recover
The spirit gets discouraged, wants to quit, to scream fuck it
What exactly are you hoping for when the future is not a guarantee?
Being alive scares the shit out of me, it’s the goiter in my throat and sugar overload tummy ache
I am terrified of being alone
I am terrified of losing my Christmas people and the only ones I have needed
I hate Christmas
There, I said it
I hate Christmas because it’s the in your face reminder of the incredible luck I have been blessed with and the over-abundant love and over-bearing souls
For them, I am more than nobody
I am worthy
I nodded and smiled, “no big deal.”
I am that Cioffa girl I thought to myself smiling proud
I hate Christmas because nothing stays the same, and life moves forward exactly as it should
I can see his beautiful smile, feel his goodness and understand he is here with me despite my doubts
Encompassing me in a safety bubble of the most spectacular pretty, plentiful colorful Christmas magic
We pretend smile and suddenly a baby’s giggles are infectious, and tiny flannel feet pitter-patter makes life less heavy and more manageable
Makes the magic real
I love the twinkle and sparkle of the lights, I will keep the starlight and the afterglowAs the reminder the magic lives in the light-hearted
Christmas, I hate you a little more and a little less
This is my Christmas wish to the brokenhearted
I hope your slumber is serene and the day’s beating heart comes tender, sweet and steady
I hope the joy finds its way inside your heart, hearth and home
Frostbite Nation by Jacqueline Cioffa
There are few things I know. I have never seen or imagined some better, happier version of me from the future.
No matter how hard I squeeze my eyes tight, I’m blindsided. I can’t map it out.
I visualize serenity, the modern beach home, transparent, quiet and clean. Made of clear glass to see the silly sun rise in the mornings, and mourning moon smiling back at me.
Perched high on a bluff, roiling waves crash below in a somber rich rhythm that soothes the wild child’s soul. The sun’s restorative warmth cuts right through the glass hitting my cheek just so, the wide open invitation to rest tired weary bones, and rejuvenate the mind freeze.
A four pegged, barebones desk and an antiqued typewriter sit off in a corner facing the north star, clean, clutter-free and cozy. White, oversized sofas are inviting and available for lounging. Lazy day Sundays are not the pre-requisite or prescheduled, they are the norm and everyday order routine.
The expansive ocean is warm and inviting, and the sea breeze feels like home. Almost, exactly like being at home safe inside the bubble of four walls and imagination. The skin feels wet from the ever present rising mist, dewy and reminiscent of salt.
Vegetables in varying colors and shapes decorate a wooden bowl. Plentiful, there is no hunger in my home.
The night sky is almost black not quite a midnight blue. Silver stars and a happy harvest moon fill me with, hope.
Dare I say. Hope. How dare I?
I see things differently eyes closed than how they appear. How can the world look so ugly, be so bloodied, hateful and cruel. Have we not learned anything after all these one trillion years?
How not to treat others kindly, how not to forget words like hate, greed, murder and rape.
Have we not raped each other’s souls?
Where do we go from hate to hate to hate?
It’s an evolutionary unevolved spin cycle, I suppose.
Take the word human, humane out of the equation. Throw it out to sea, it returns with with the tide pools, washes back to shore. Little itty bitty children play by the rocks, build sand castle dreams right there on the shores of our beaches and homes. Our children play on the same soil, the same good earth we call home.
Where are the pretty words like want, kindness, serenity, empathy, beauty and a sense of purpose.
Where did the plain, flowery words go?
Did they get lost inside the coarse sand granules, kicked aside, buried so deep under the Marianas Trench we can no longer reach them with small fingers and outstretched hands? They slip and slide out of reach, and our grasp gets harder to hold on to.
Follow the rules they say.
Rules learned as children, yet cruel fate intervenes.
Are we meant to be only unhappy, bound and determined to be defiant?
Life is beginning and end.
End of what? Massacres, more blood, sweat and tears?
End of what? Massacres, more blood, sweat and tears? No, No, No.
End of what? Massacres, more blood, sweat and tears? No, No, No. Say it isn’t so.
There is too much pain, too much suffering in this place, too much hate.
The karmic scales are way off kilter.
Are dreams so far and away from reality I shutter to think, my fingers and toes numb from lack of heat.
As I sit in my newly warmed comfortable dream home, I cannot help but worry.
About the less fortunate, left out in the cold.
What future might they possibly see?
Do not send me some fucking quote, “how happy, enlightened you’ll be if only you practice A, B and C, when we’re already way past Z.’’
The future doesn’t exist, plain and simple. This second is it. This one tangible second and then poof its annihalated.
So I dream of nothing, and everything. A new world order where bloodshed is not on the menu.
Come what may, I will be gone before May.
The future and past moments already given away freely and without want. I expect less than nothing but hope to see flora bloom wondrous in late May.
I can’t help but wonder if fate has a different future in mind.
Author Diaries is pleased to welcome C. Streetlights, Gravity Imprint author of Tea and Madness.
After writing and illustrating her first bestseller in second grade, “The Lovely Unicorn”, C. Streetlights took twenty years to decide if she wanted to continue writing. In the time known as growing up she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. Retired from teaching, C. Streetlights now lives with her family in the mountains along with their dog that eats Kleenex. Her new memoir, Tea and Madness is now available.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Tea and Madness is a collection of poetry and prose written during a time when I experienced a great deal of emotional pain, loss, as well as growth. In approximately 3-5 years I experienced the loss of a baby, sexual assault, debilitating depression, betrayal from friends and coworkers, memories of a rape from college, and severe anxiety. This collection is my way of showing how I survived.
Now for the juicy, fun part ~ discovering more about what makes you, the author tick.
Please pick 15 random questions from Proust’s Questionnaire and answer.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing one of my kids. It is the worst panicky feeling when you turn around for a second and can’t find one of your kids. It’s the kind of panic that makes you want to vomit. I am absolutely terrified that I will lose them. My son was always very timid in public places, always stayed close to me. My daughter, on the other hand, is 100% free spirit and gives me the slip constantly. I feel like I need a sedative by the time we come home from wherever it is we went. It is a very hard balance to teach your children the proper dose of caution while out in public and not instill in them total paranoia – even if you yourself are feeling it. If I could strap my little girl to my leg when we go out, I’d do it more than likely.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I have the inability to celebrate myself and my accomplishments. While this might seem like a small trait to deplore in myself, I have seen how it has affected my life and so many of my choices. It is because of this that I never studied abroad when I was younger and why I never attempted to submit any writing to contests or scholarship opportunities. It is because of my silence that I never spoke up in my defense when nobody else would defend me either. It is because I thought so little of myself that I relied on the wrong people to fill up my spirit’s empty places with even emptier words to make me feel whole. What’s worse is that I still struggle with accepting well-deserved praised; I still feel itchy with compliments as if I’m wearing wool sweaters. I am working hard to be gracious and say “thank you” without qualifiers. It is harder than some might think.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Entitlement. I grew up in a home that many would consider this hypocritical of me. My father worked very hard so that my mother could stay home with the kids. We lived in an upper middle class neighborhood with equally nice homes. I went to schools that were predominantly white with classmates that were just as fortunate as I was socioeconomically. Most kids were given new cars when they turned 16. I didn’t know of anyone who went without when I was growing up. When I talk about how and where I grew up people want to shame me – that’s the stylish thing today, shame – because I while we weren’t affluent, we were part of the Orange County beach community. However, none of my friends grew up feeling entitled to anything. I certainly didn’t. All of my friends had jobs from the time they were 15 and saved money to pay for college, car insurance and gas money. If we wanted to do something we had to work for it. And while my parents worked hard so that I wouldn’t have to work for college, they still made sure I knew how to work. I had a work ethic that meant doing a job well, not taking money unless I earned it and not until I had earned it. I was taking care of my grandma (who had Alzheimer’s from the time I was 8 years old) every Saturday once I turned 12 years old, from noon until 5. The kids in my graduating class went to top tier universities because they earned scholarships their, not because of how much their parents donated. And so when people look down their noses at communities like where I grew up and assume we had it all given to us while at the same time complaining they aren’t given enough to compensate, I have to bite my tongue. None of us expected things to be given to us. That’s the difference. The expectation that benefits of some kind will just be handed over really bugs the hell outta me.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
This was very challenging so of course I had to answer it. I would have to say honesty is most overrated. Everyone claims they want honesty in a person but in reality they don’t. What they are really asking for is to not be hurt. Nobody really wants honesty, if they did then politicians would be much more likable, teenagers wouldn’t be afraid of those in authority, and there’d be no need for most of our laws. In all actuality, what people want is to be seen for who they are and for others to honor the truth that is inside them.
On what occasion do you lie?
I lie to protect others.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My “baby weight” turned into “toddler weight” and is now “preschooler weight”.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
I really enjoy men. What I mean is, I enjoy talking with men and being their friend. I tend to have more male friends than female friends. I don’t know why this is, and maybe it has to do with communication style more than anything, but I like men who are straightforward and to the point. And I like men who can handle that same trait in a woman. I find that when I make a new male friend who is incapable of understanding my straightforward nature, we are not good friends for long. Even when I tell men from the start that this is my nature it’s as if they don’t know how to respond to it. So I really appreciate it when I find a guy to talk with who is not a game player and is capable of accepting the same from me.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
I like women who respect other women and their choices. Not all women will be the working mom, or the stay home moms, or even become moms – and all of that is okay. I despise “The Mommy Wars” and wonder how on earth we will ever close the wage gap when all we do is tear each other down? I love women who support each other, congratulate each other, and are willing to jump in and help when and where it is needed. We are not each other’s enemy, why are we criticizing each other constantly? Why are we so catty with one another? I am astonished by what women say about other women – whether it’s about looks, clothes, their children, their housework, their partners, everything! The best advice I was given was to surround myself with other women “who get it” and I have found that as I build my tribe of women who get it, I am feeling more empowered, more self-confident, and more encouraged than ever before. These are the kind of women I like.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
My Southern California comes out strong here, I overuse “like” for sure. Are you kidding me? Rad and stoked.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
By far the greatest love of my life is my children. Everything changed for me the moment I held my son. He had a way of pursing his lips as a newborn and he looked up at me with his enormous eyes, his sweet lips pursed, and I just knew that my heart belonged to him forever. And it has been that way ever since. He and I both nearly died when he was born. He had fallen asleep in the birth canal and just decided that birth was not exciting anymore. The c-section had to be rushed because I had to be put under and so I didn’t get to hold him for several hours until after I had woken up from the anesthesia. Even now I can imagine the warmth of my baby boy lying next to me. Motherhood is terrific wonder. My baby girl was rushed to NICU soon after she was born. I thought my heart would erupt into pieces when I heard the Code Blue being called for her and there was nothing I could do. I didn’t get to hold her until three days afterwards when she was taken off the ventilator. My heart has been complete ever since. My kids are everything to me and they truly are my greatest loves.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I enjoyed exercise and had the motivation to do it. Because I sure as hell don’t now!
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When I was on suicide watch this was, by far, the worst misery I have ever experienced. It was several days of terrible darkness and emptiness inside me, something I have never experienced before. I had no noise in my head, no thoughts or words, just a void. Nothingness. Days passed, one to the next, and I had no concept of time. Sometimes I slept but mostly I stared at my wall. All I wanted, more than anything, was to no longer exist. I truly believed that there was no purpose in my living any longer and my family would be better they didn’t have to deal with me anymore. I have never felt such numbing lack of emotion.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I have freckles on my nose that never go away and get darker in the summer. When people spend time with me or get to know me, they seem to always point out my freckles as if I don’t know they’re there.
What do you most value in your friends?
Love. I’ve been betrayed and hurt so deeply I need friends who will love me. With love comes loyalty, faith, and all the rest.
What is your motto?
You can’t dance with the devil and expect to lead.
What motivated you to write the book and what have you learned about yourself from the process?
Tea and Madness came about because I had no faith in myself, to be honest. I knew I wanted to have a collection of poetry and prose reflecting a time period when I when experienced enormous pain and struggle. I wanted to be real to the reader and that life is authentically messy. Everything is extraordinarily packaged for perfection out in the media and women in particular are sent toxic messages that their lives need to be perfect. Even their struggles need to be conducted in a socially acceptable way. I felt driven by the truth I learned for myself, that we are all incredibly messy with living messy lives and that chaos is what makes us human. I didn’t want my book to be one more voice adding to the “perfection programming”. I wanted it to be safe. I wanted Tea and Madness to tell people, “My house is a wreck and my laundry never gets done either, but I’m still a good person doing good things.”
Where can we find your book?
Thank you, C. Streetlights for chatting and taking the Proust challenge. I wish you continued success with your writing and Zen life!
ABOUT JACQUELINE CIOFFA
Jacqueline Cioffa was an international model for 17 years and celebrity makeup artist. She is a dog lover, crystal collector and Stone Crab enthusiast. Her work has been featured in the anthologies, Brainstorms, Feminine Collective’s Raw & Unfiltered Vol. 1, and numerous literary magazines. Living with manic depression, Jacqueline is an advocate for mental health awareness, and author of the poignant literary debut, The Vast Landscape, and soul-stirring sequel, Georgia Pine.
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. ~ Georgia Pine by Jacqueline Cioffa
Look for her new column, “Bleeding Ink” with Feminine Collective.
The Infamous Proust Questionnaire
In the 1880s, long before he claimed his status as one of the greatest authors of all time, teenage Marcel Proust (July 10, 1871–November 18, 1922) filled out an English-language questionnaire given to him by his friend Antoinette, the daughter of France’s then-president, as part of her “confession album” — a Victorian version of today’s popular personality tests, designed to reveal the answerer’s tastes, aspirations, and sensibility in a series of simple questions. Proust’s original manuscript, titled “by Marcel Proust himself,” wasn’t discovered until 1924, two years after his death. Decades later, the French television host Bernard Pivot, whose work inspired James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio, saw in the questionnaire an excellent lubricant for his interviews and began administering it to his guests in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1993, Vanity Fair resurrected the tradition and started publishing various public figures’ answers to the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of each issue.
Hands Off by Jacqueline Cioffa
I am not a patient person, no I am not. I bide my time, and busy myself with stuff. I should be writing, working, playing, struggling, worrying, and I am. I’m also waiting which is never good for an over active mind.
Yet here I am, hurtling forward going nowhere. Jumping ahead to anticipate the future. The past sneaks in, memories I cannot escape. They stick to me like a parasite drawing blood all around and everywhere I turn.
Can a five-year-old understand the meaning of true love?
I believed magic lived inside my daddy’s big, round, jovial belly instead of plain old spaghetti and meatballs. The sparkling lights on the Christmas tree, snowflakes stuck to the window, felt warm and fuzzy. Childlike wonder, tossing and turning the night excitedly awaiting the dawn and Santa. The yellow kick and go with the humongous red bow sat under the tree, brought raised electric hair of emotion. Spring couldn’t come fast enough, I’d be seven by then. A big girl, big enough to hit the streets. The alarm clock with the FM radio and ice cream cake at thirteen made me feel special. I believed that was L.O.V.E.
Seventeen came with an attitude, and a too expensive, fancy pink and white crepe silk al la ‘Dynasty’ dress complete with 80’s shoulder pads.
On to the first, real honest-to-God date. He was ‘hot-shit’ about town a decade older and he liked me. I had to beg, cry and cajole my parents to give in. They caved, eventually. High school was miserable. I left slivers of happy go star dust lucky behind, the lights flickered and dimmed. When the date with the man-boy got too steamy, I was the scared little girl way out of her comfort zone. I panicked, jumped, slithered, smoothed out the bougie fuchsia floral wrinkles and called home. My daddy was there in minutes, at 2:00 a.m. to scoop me up. No questions asked. It was easy to leave another piece behind.
By twenty I was a smart mouth grownup living on my own. I met a guy who said all the right things, bought roses, sweet treats and diamond rings. He promised to take care of me. I shrugged my shoulders, and believed the hype.
Until he punched me in the ribs full fist, split my lip and blackened my eye. Yeah it was real easy to let go of love, for good. Again. And again.
To discard myself like some frivolous afterthought, no good soiled trash. To give away yet another piece of my damaged soul. To give in, to give up, to give way.
What did I do instead?
I married the tick infested nuisance, to silence the noise despising every single thing about him. Stupid girl, you can’t wiggle your way out of white orchid floral arrangements, church bells, and silk crepe clouded visions against the skin. Too late to turn back.
The only good, kind, sweet, solid, funny man who never judged me walked down the aisle squeezing my trembling hand in his steadied way and whispered, “I love you.”
I let go.
How? Why? When?
I simply let go of his hand. I let go of his hand shaking and unsteady. I let go of his hand and mine entwined, for all the wrong reasons.
I plain forgot. I shut down, shut off leaving a trail of stale rice dreams behind. Crummy crummy, unholy crumbs for the birds. I let go of love, and walked towards compromise. The capacity, belief and desire to give away the sparkly pixie dust parts died with each passing step.
Thirty came and went, the dizzying panicked blur of regret. Poof. Dissipated, time wasted, more and more wasted time. Eyes closed, heart closed, mind closed, brick walls crushing down heavy on my iron clad lung and cement filled suffocation.
Of course I made feeble, wobbly attempts to come and go.
Weak, strong, strong, weak, nauseating and top spinning heartbroken. Time clouded by shrouded veil, dense fog illusion, and stowed away dollhouse dreams. Denial, muddied, muddled, shredded eight foot faded ivory train-wreck and vows long forgotten.
Pummel my face as hard as you can, I don’t care. The wet, warm blood feels warm and soothing dribbling down my chin and tastes oh so sweet, so much better than numb nothing.
I am alive and bleeding crimson red.
I can no longer want, ask, believe nor care about little girl dreams. I must pull up my big girl boy shorts and act like a man. The five dollar frivolous, white horse prince saviors, and romantic cowboy brass buckles, burr boot straps dead and buried inside little house on the prairie garish fantasies.
Ride along, move along, mosey along this is my dime store fantasy flick. I have no idle minutes left for regret, I’m riding shotgun.
Who needs some hot-shot, horseshoe, horse-shit, five o’clock stubble smooth talker on a Harley to whisk you away? Take the keys, turn the ignition, and drive. Don’t look back, don’t look over you shoulder, don’t ask and don’t give yourself away. Keep self-esteem in check, and your holy womanhood held high. Little girls, do not give your heart away. Keep it, share it, love it, dance around and around in twirly girly pretty sparkly shimmery circles. Your heart is not a bargain basement sale, it’s gold glitter and swirls of magic. The key to your heart should be kept close and cherished inside your tiny, innocent, girlie hands and extended, graceful feminine forever curious fingers. The lines and maps etched on your palms are forever yours to reach further, hold tighter and aim higher. The hands, funny face little one are yours to reach for the heavens, feel the tickle from a blade of grass, and massage away the rough, coarse granite experiences and, to understand.
To love with your fingers outstretched and wipe the tears from your eyes.
Your fragile, pretty girl pink hands were never meant to cover your face and hide, in shame.
There is something else, something better, something bigger, something precious.
There is something tangible to hold onto when you close your eyes and dare to dream.
There is something mysterious pulsating inside, that never lies.
Do not ever forget how safe the world felt holding the right, kind gentleman’s hand. And do not ever let go of the love.
Don’t forget to love the hands attached to the arms and a direct line to your heart. Love comes in many beguiling and bewitching forms, unloved is something different, something not whole.
Sometimes love is a jovial round belly filled with spaghetti and meatballs. Others, it’s quieting, stoic, stubborn, and unwavering. A mother’s illogical love that does not give up on you, and your trembling hands. Maybe, it lives inside the gasp of an unexpected hiccup or giggle, or the perfect timing of a handwritten note from a friend in the post with three simple words imbibed, thinking of you.
Sometimes, it’s finding your way home.
Sometimes it’s finding your way back home.
And sometimes it’s finding your own way back home.
That five-year old was wise.
She understood she held the key in her hands, never too tight and always close to her heart.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance” – Oscar Wilde
Turbulent waters soothe the gypsy, calming and evoking blue myth mystery. The maudlin, tumultuous sea, her wishing wells of fragile glass trinkets, forgotten treasure, and pools of sunken love, long discarded. The ocean and her black ink mystery whisper in tongue, tales only I can decipher. The beach house perched precariously on a bluff, is blurred and out of focus. Drifting farther and farther from reach, I am flailing and kicking. I scream sea bubbles trying desperately not to be pulled under. My weary eyes close, muscles go limp, as I surrender to the serene beauty. I am weightless. Drowning, I am finally free to listen to the sounds of quiet. Chimes dance and sway in the wind, calling me home. I know this place; I have been here before. She beckons. I am not unready, the flesh is not willing. I know I cannot stay here in the darkest, sublime solitude corners of the mind. With sea legs unsteady, I kick hard, resolute. I must embrace the riptides of imagination inside the forbidden, profound Mariana Trench depths of the mind I cannot fully comprehend. The sea is bound blue, white and grey urchin green, hauntingly transparent, and overly persistent.
I must stay, here, for now. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Drowning above water.
Buried In A Beach
By Jacqueline Cioffa
I didn’t start out like this. I was a goddess, a fearless warrior eager for the unchartered. I was happy at birth, an easy smiley baby; always trusting, overly naïve. I took for granted that kindness was around me.
I grew up, acquired the hate and problems and stuff and distraction. I do not want to live in any old house with four walls, filled with rules and regulations and misconceptions. I don’t want to be shallow, undisciplined, unaware, indecisive and unforgiving. I don’t want to be the enabler. I have not added the characters to this story because they don’t count. I prefer to stick with the simple, the animals and the trees.
I look out at the sad, pre-conditioned faces and am returned to the lost feelings. I taste the screams building up in my throat, the hurling accusations. I immediately remove myself from the physical, and loose the same old, same old. I practice deep breathing and kind thinking.
I grasp onto the red bench, the red robin, the positive forces rewiring my thoughts and I walk across the page releasing it all.
I don’t care if you see the weakest part of me, the ugly truths. I am imperfect, diseased, damaged and pre –conditioned, but so are we all. I am aware of my misgivings, and the surface. I am face to face with the short temper, the judgment, the fears, the Venetian masks I wear for your fancy. Right now, I am checking out.
I will not allow you to judge me, I will hand you all my unholy on a silver platter.
You may do with me whatever you please. I have begun; I am the walkabout. I have mulled it over on a red bench for days and months. I have sat and stirred and worried over nothing. I have worn down the rubber soles on my shoes. I am convinced that certain is nothing. I am loosing the broken record.
I am fearless, a fairytale princess young at heart, serene and at home on the beach. In my most perfect, well lived in modern, sea-legged, sturdy house. I am a deserted beach at sunset, with no timetable in view basking in warmth and color. I am healthy and mind free, delighted to casually wander about.
The Red Bench excerpt © 2009 by Jacqueline Cioffa. #Prose flows.
Looking Glass and The Windowpane
By Jacqueline Cioffa
Let’s face it; there’s no fooling. The sagging skin, the wrinkled face, the ridiculous forty something woman in short skirts and bottled-up Botox. The gravitational pull and the eventual flight back home were booked in advance. You already hold the winning ticket. I recognize the faces in the street, the fear, the familiar grimace and disgust at the sideways glance in the shop’s windowpane. I see the doubt, the two-second pause, the roll of the eyes in the rear view mirror. I’m going to rise above it, be the lady lit from within. I’m going to honor this body that works, that walks me from place to place. I’m going to love this heart that beats and eyes that see the sun and feel the heat, and arms that sway to the rhythm and ears that hear the beat. I’m going to resist the tug; I’m going to dig the features and the sum. I’m going to take the very best care. Every so often, I’m going to eat eggs with buttered toast and pancakes dripping in maple syrup. I’m going to drink beer without the guilt. I’m going to love a man head on without flipping the light. Sooner or later, I’m going to want to play the parts. I’ll be mother, daughter, sister, lover, and feminist right on time. I’ll want to write the appropriate words that answer the meaningful questions. I’ll get the joke. I’ll laugh out loud without bringing my hands up to cover my face. I am timeless, ageless and the perfect temperature. I will not grimace at the sight of a beautiful young woman. I will nod and offer her a secret, knowing smile and familiar glance. I will put away the minis, the boots, and the crazy forms of self-expression and store them deep in the back of my closet. I’ll hold onto them for a younger version of myself. I no longer have any use. I’ll walk the walk with conviction. I’ll talk the talk and hear the discussion. I will listen, with a mind that is open. I will wait ten seconds to answer. I’ll have a well-thought out appropriate response. I’ll take an interest in the world around me. I’ll be empowered, insightful, bright and impulsive in an instant. I will mellow out and leave fear, jealousy and rage behind. I’ll do all the things that a grown up does. I will act like a curvy, sophisticated, well groomed woman. I will see the face and body; I will embrace and endorse the beautiful. I will tuck away my first class ticket in the back pocket of my favorite pair of ripped, familiar blue jeans for a later date. I will remember where I put it. I’ll keep my head on straight, high upon my strong, beautiful shoulders. I will put one determined foot in front of the other. For now, I’m just going to walk. And face the window without the pain.