This Face

Image Jacqueline Cioffa © Chris Fanning Photography

This Face

If I only show you the photoshopped, concealed, makeup pretty me

You’d never understand the underbelly

The crunchy grit, rawness hidden beneath

The really good stuff, the honest kind that matters

This face is not the who, how, or where

This face is not the who, how, where, or when

This face is not the who, how, where, when or why parts of me

It’s cellular skin alive, hazel eyes, pointy nose, scarred forehead, potty mouth lips and cheeky cheekbones

This face cannot carry the weight of a life nor mask the beauty

It’s just a face like all others

It’s mine though

This face

Authentic, snotty nose

From the off-key tears I have cried

This face is at the highway, halfway mark
Raw and unfiltered

Scribbling notes between the lines

It gives a fuck less about herself

And more about the Bluegrass roots beauty

The lyrical tones

Of other faces poetically similar and ugly foreign at times

Jacqueline Cioffa

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ―Ansel Adams

Carny Days

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 Carny Days

What difference do the mad genes make when everyone is running? The speed of my thoughts makes up for the snail pace of the body. I pray one will balance out the other. The monotony of the same old, boring tedious routine gives structure to the wandering head. The walkabout has come to a screeching halt; words escape me, unsure of the new pace. Diamonds dance and stars sparkle the sky at night, wet grass tickles my feet, and I gaze up dreaming an entirely different life. The moon lights my way, as I spin around and around in circles humming alone in the dark, the five-year-old undamaged by defeat, calling on bliss and blind purpose. I reach down to touch the cool, green blades of grass, blowing a wet kiss towards the infinite, the stars and dead angels far from this place. I carry on. I must walk, wandering about and pray for smart, clean thinking lines.

– excerpt from THE RED BENCH

Pet Friendly on Bleeding Ink with Feminine Collective

“Pet Friendly” on Bleeding Ink with  Feminine Collective

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Pet Friendly

I am not a patient person and yet, somehow I find the patience, for her.
Maybe it’s because she needs no words to show me what she wants, just a tilt of the head to the left or the right. Her gold and grey swirls of fur glisten when she sees me, a smile lights her face accompanied by the back and forth velocity of her wagging tail. I understand she gets all the colors of me, the sliding scale blacks, blinding whites, kaleidoscope greens, envious purples, indigo blues, muddy yellow, envious green, sherbet pop orange and the griege in between.

Some days I don’t want to make the trek in the heat, the rain, the bitter freeze, walk the same block after block, be pulled and yanked in this direction or that chasing some unfortunate cat across the way. Some days I’d rather not walk at all, too tired of the monotone. I do it anyway, in spite of myself. In sub-freezing temperatures, sweltering unbearable heat, in all climates because she is my responsibility.

I’m grateful I didn’t have kids. I fear I would’ve been an inadequate parent and grave disappointment, too quick to lose my temper, too consumed with worry, too selfish probably.

Truth be told I don’t particularly get most humans, but she does.
They expect too much, disappoint too much, ask too much, or maybe it’s me. Maybe I do. We are the rare breed of misfits and misunderstood.

My girl, my spirit animal loves everyone. She does not discriminate, so I let her stop and say hello. Sometimes, I surprise myself with a smile and hello; the corners of my lips curling upwards like an emoji before I realize it. Sometimes the smile turns upside down when she sees a cat pulling my arm out of the socket. Sometimes I’d like to strangle her, she can be stubborn and doesn’t always listen, come to think of it neither do I.
She knows I’m not always 100 percent, and she couldn’t care less. She loves me anyway. Maybe that’s the beauty of mutual pet-friendly understanding.

If only people were so kind.
When she snuggles in between the crook of my legs for an afternoon nap, and I feel my breathing slow I understand what selfless love means. Her heartbeat calms the storms, the anxiety, and my forever-impatient soul. I’m a better person in that singular moment when she’s sound asleep without a care in the world.

The house is too quiet when she is not around. I missed the pitter-patter of paws the umpteenth days I did not see her. She could not visit. All the days I was committed, locked in a hospital ward with no air. I’d press my forehead to the glass trying to teleport myself the two blocks between her, me and my family. Two impossible tiny blocks from home, and later sixty miles farther away, but it would not matter. No matter how hard I tried, I could not escape the locked windows and doors. Walking out wasn’t an option.
At the least, the night sky still sang for me, and the stars shined brilliant the same for her and I. Lighting the way back to my humans, the ones who love me unconditionally, waiting on the other side of pane. The precious ones, who made sure she was fed, cuddled and loved while I was absent. I drew a map with a sharpie on the window in my room, so I wouldn’t forget my way or lose my mind deep inside the blacks and greys come morning. I wasn’t supposed to; I couldn’t give two shits. Eventually, they took all my pens away, my weapon of choice. Talk about writer’s block and cold, cruel punishment. Someone handed me colored pencils as if I was a five-year-old playing outside on the sidewalk. Give me a break, life is complicated and chaos lives outside the lines in a coloring book.

So what if I’d gone a little insane? I missed her warmth inside the cold, cruel sterile environment. The scratchy sheets inside the empty room where she was not allowed to visit. Too bad, she would’ve brightened everyone’s day. It was not a warm place, dog-friendly or inviting. It was indifferent. Twenty plus days is a really, really long time to miss being outdoors, oxygen, and the daily routine of a quiet life.
The simple task of walking the dog.

I’m home now, passing the grotesque, uninviting, terrifying inhospitable building, pausing short of breath questioning was it real or was it all a bad dream? I steady my footing, let out an amen and a great big “FUCK YOU, fuck the whole lot of you” under my breath while speeding up my gait.

My girl, pet-friendly crooks her neck way back, and her eyes tell me all that I need to know. I am less selfish, less mad, and more me than yesterday.

 

Spin Cycle

 

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I am forced to sit in the unpleasant, unfamiliar silence and hear myself calling. “Lady, so pleased to meet you. Take a load off. You’ve been running so long. Have the patience and fortitude to be still and walk away from an outdated life. Have the courage to know better. It has been such a long while since you’ve been home.

Passo dopo Passo

Passo dopo Passo

A photo by Andrew Branch. unsplash.com/photos/Wlm53j4te78

 

I cut the grass. Big whoop dee do. To some this might seem trivial, like why the hell is grass between her toes so important? Grass between my toes, in my teeth is of the outmost importance because it means I cared enough to push myself, and get off my ass. Out of my comfort zone. Some would say shake it off, the depression, but you can’t shake off a sadness that sits inside you making it hard to pull on your sneaks, and simply walk outdoors. To push when you mostly want to hide, tricking yourself into believing you might be getting better. And, you just might. Maybe, with the right combination of meds which is tricky business. Just maybe it’s because those blades of grass inside your sneaks, clinging to your socks and tickling your toes feels like an accomplishment. You get out of your head, and look up at the clear, baby blue powder puff sky noticing the clematis and smelling the intoxicating aroma of peonies in full bloom, planted lovingly seasons past. Someone asked if I was bed ridden? Should’ve I have been? I could have, but I didn’t. I’m moving slower than usual, writing much slower than usual, thinking at a snail slow pace. How can I be the same me but so different? No matter how bad my muscles ache or my shoulders tense, I keep moving. I’m wondering too, how much time do others spend doing things they don’t want because it hurts, is trivial, or seems menial? Like when not just your muscles ache but your skull and heartbeat hurt heavy too. Fresh cut grass smells like clean, green living, cool and inviting, not sad. No, not sad at all. I’m not sad for a beat, and that beat means mulched grass will grow back stronger, healthier with each passo dopo passo. That freshly cut grass smells just like heaven. Maybe I’m growing stronger too, standing taller and more resolute. The joyful, satisfactory memory of a job well done and sunburst yellow sunshine’s warmth, buried deep inside the muscle. I plop down grass stains and all. I lie on my back and look up at the wide-open ceiling, cracking the slightest smile. Hope lives. Hope is alive and well, grasshopper.

Fashion is Fickle

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FASHION IS FICKLE

When did we become a society of images scrolling past on someone’s smartphone? It’s nonsensical, comical and yet. Modeling was my life for two decades. I never felt entitled, prettier, skinnier or better than the next girl. In fact, I always felt a little less than. Maybe if I was thinner, smarter, or a skilled marketer I’d be a smarter brand, book better caliber jobs even though at the height of my career I was working for Vogue. I never let myself enjoy modeling. I took the lifestyles of the rich and famous for granted. Wait, before you crucify or criticize me. I understood the privileges, perks, and dollars being thrown my way. I understand how truly lucky I was.

I come from everyday middle class parents, nothing more than average but oh so much more beautiful than any pretty face I’ve known. Love, honor and respect mean more than some fucking photograph that would eventually crinkle and fade. My BFF who was a model too, said to me the other day, “I wish we had made more money.” Yeah, me too sometimes. Although money won’t solve any of my problems today. It’s all such a cliché. Small town girl leaves for the big city and makes it big. Well, you tell me what the fuck is big? How about doing something that requires brains, or better yet compassion? You’re not supposed to regret the past, or even look back, but I have a trunk full of old images staring back at me. I was a child who had no idea how lucky she was, traveling the globe, working one day a week making the same money it took others months and months to earn. A young girl who got caught up in the fickle that is fashion. It’s funny, I never thought it would end, and like most things that end abruptly and ruthlessly, I would find myself job-less and less, going through my savings in lightning speed. When you live in New York, and have to pay hefty rent money goes fast and furious. I always find it sad and a bit curious, when I post a modeling picture from a hundred years ago and they get way more likes than my serious writing pieces.

Maybe the world wants and needs to be entertained by unavoidable celebrities and Reality TV, to see pretty things because it is in fact, so brutally unfair and fucked up. Maybe. I loved modeling for a couple reasons, despite the plastic ones. My BFFs are the same beautiful women and ex-models I met when I was 19. They are, like me, normal and no longer immersed in the world of fashion. I got to visit, and actually live in cities I only dreamed of seeing, or watched on The Travel Channel. That was cool; to immerse yourself in a culture that was completely different than anything you’d ever known or called home. To eat cuisines you could barely pronounce. To try and decipher languages that sounded like gobbly gook. I discovered something along the way; people are pretty much the same. There are cool cats, interesting characters and funny humans across the globe. There are also beautiful assholes all over the world. Maybe I was an asshole sometimes too, entitled for sure. Not these days, no not anymore. I sort of cringe when I post an old picture from my modeling years, and then watch in wonder as the likes come flooding in. Not exactly flooding, more like a slow dribble. Fashion is fleeting, one must adapt to the superficial world we live in and move on. It’s high tide time to embrace the past, and hope the insides match the perceived beauty on the outside.

 

 

Rocking the End-Cap with Anne Lamott – Downtown Books and Coffee

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Guess whose books are hanging with the fabulously, talented and sublime author, Anne Lamott (squeek), at her favorite ‪#‎indiebookstore‬! (moi). 🙂

Thank you, Downtown Books and Coffee, and the community for the love.

Shop ‪‎Indie‬, and support local bookstores kind readers.

I purchased ‪Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by ‪Anne Lamott

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Pick up a book at DowntownBooks and Coffee and a ticket for the upcoming lecture, book signing and Q & A. I did both. 

I am in awe, and inspired.

P.S. Best- Selling author, Anne Lamott is coming to Auburn, April 8th! Get your tickets through Auburn Public Theater, “An Evening with Anne Lamott.” 

Let’s celebrate women, the arts and lift each other up!

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AUBURN PUBLIC THEATER:

‘Sponsored by: The New York State Council on the Arts, M&T Bank, The Citizen, The Holiday Inn, The Allyn Foundation, Senator John A. DeFransisco

*If you are visiting from out of town, The Holiday Inn is offering a special room rate for Anne Lamott attendees. Use the block code ALE before March 11th, 2016 to reserve your room. Call 1-800-957-4654 or visit their website.*

This event will be ASL interpreted. Please contact the box office for seating in an advantageous vieweing location. info@auburnpublictheater.org

BUY TICKETS
Friday 4/8 at 7pm – Auburn High School

Anne Lamott
Best-selling Author of Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions, and Plan B

“Reading Lamott is like having a chat with one of the angels, a smarter, wittier one.” – The Denver Post

***The evening will include book signing, lecture, and Q & A at Auburn Public High School***

Anne Lamott writes and speaks about subjects that begin with capital letters: Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus. But armed with self-effacing humor – she is laugh-out-loud funny – and ruthless honesty, Lamott converts her subjects into enchantment. Actually, she writes about what most of us don’t like to think about. She wrote her first novel for her father, the writer Kenneth Lamott, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. She has said that the book was “a present to someone I loved who was going to die.” In all her novels, Anne Lamott writes about loss – loss of loved ones and loss of personal control. She doesn’t try to sugar-coat the sadness, frustration and disappointment, but tells her stories with honesty, compassion and a pureness of voice. She says, “I have a lot of hope and a lot of faith and I struggle to communicate that.” Anne Lamott does communicate her faith; in her books and in person, she lifts, comforts, and inspires, all the while keeping us laughing.

Anne Lamott is the author of seven novels including, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, Crooked Little Heart, and Imperfect Birds. She has also written several bestselling books of nonfiction, including, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son’s first year followed by Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, and a writing guide; Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. She has also authored three collections of autobiographical essays on faith; Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, and Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. In her latest book of non-fiction, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Ms. Lamott gives us three prayers to assist us in trying times. Her most recent book is entitled Stitches; A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, an honest, funny book about how to make sense of life’s chaos (Oct 2013). She is currently working on a new book of essays to be called Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace (November 2014).
Lamott has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at UC Davis, as well as at writing conferences across the country. Lamott’s biweekly Salon Magazine “online diary,” Word by Word, was voted The Best of the Web by TIME magazine. Academy Award –winning filmmaker Freida Mock has made a documentary on Lamott, entitled “Bird by Bird with Annie” (1999). Anne Lamott has also been inducted into the California Hall of Fame.
*If you are visiting from out of town, The Holiday Inn is offering a special room rate for Anne Lamott attendees. Use the block code ALE before March 11th, 2016 to reserve your room. Call 1-800-957-4654 or visit their website.*
This event will be ASL interpreted. Please contact the box office for seating in an advantageous vieweing location. info@auburnpublictheater.org
Tickets: $50 – Event will take place at Auburn Public High School.’

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AUTHOR BIO

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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 and Unfiltered, Vol. 1, Stigma Fighters Anthology, Vol. 2, and numerous literary magazines. She writes the Bleeding Ink column at Feminine Collective.

Living with manic depression, Jacqueline is an advocate for mental health awareness. She’s a storyteller, observer, essayist, potty mouth and film lover who’s traveled the world.

Her poignant, literary fiction debut, THE VAST LANDSCAPE, gives new meaning to intense, raw and heartfelt.

Fans of the emotional, soul stirring first novel will not be able to put down the exciting 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

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00021]Georgia Pine