Poetry, Random Thoughts

Shadows Fall

“No matter how many hits I receive,
I have the comfort of knowing who I am
and what I’ve overcome.”

No, this life of mine has never been easy. It seems as though I’ve been fighting some kind of war during every stage. A fight to survive. A fight to fit in. Make friends, not acquaintances of convenience. Try to live a life that had some sort of meaning after everything that happened. But school didn’t make that easy. It felt like an uphill battle and I was a well-tuned wheel, ready to roll down to the bottom with an unceremonious splat. I kept getting up. Kept trying. After all, I’d survived worse. So I pressed on and realized the bottom of that hill became a chasm. One that awaited to swallow me whole and devour me in the next instant. A place where shadows fall and never retreat.

But I’ve come to the realization that this life is what you make of it. No matter how many punches or kicks I receive, I have the comfort of knowing who I am and what I’ve overcome. This life of mine was never a competition, except the ones I set for myself. And to the ones that have thrown hits of their own, I hope you find peace within yourself. I’ve never been a competitor and I never will be. I’ve never been an enemy, except the one created in your head. I’ve never been more than an easy mark to trample over when the time was right. And I suppose that fault is mine to bear for putting that welcome mat on my revolving door.

© Sarah Doughty

I repeat, this life of mine
was never a competition,
except the ones
I set for myself.

While this came pouring out of me this morning, I realized I had a lot of feelings about this that needed to come out. So consider it more of an essay about one aspect of my current situation.

This was written for day fourteen
of November Notes.
Shadows Fall by Random Forest

Random Thoughts

SMITTEN Is A Must Read

Indie Blu(e)’s Smitten should be your newest gift of poetry

By Mariah Voutilainen

Before I begin to review Smitten, a book that lays bare and re-frames (in a very personal manner) the love that women have for women, I must be equally open.  As I formed my thoughts, I realized that I was (and am) extremely nervous about how to respond to these poems from my own heterosexual, cis female lens.  I felt this because I am a woman of color, one who feels the simmering heat of frustration when those who cannot ever know my experience want to take a stab at relating to it.  What I can say is the following:  While Smitten is a book about women who love women (from every-which perspective), of course, it is about love.  And I can relate to love.  I can understand first love, last love, forbidden love, unrequited love, the love of someone lost, the love of someone found.  The love of someone who saves.

But in truth, even as a woman of color married to a white man, I have not experienced love that is criticized or fetishized by outsiders, that is closeted by well (and not-so-well) meaning family.  I will never feel the excruciating pain of those who are beat down because of whom or how they love.  So, as I opened up my advance copy of Smitten, it was with delicate hands, an open and reverent heart—because that is how I wish my own poetry to be read.

Over a hundred poems about women, by women.  Can I say how exhilarating it is to have read so many at one go?  I happily recognized quite a few of the poets—hailing from an independent poetry network often curated by Indie Blu(e) Publishing:  Tara Caribou, Candice Louisa Daquin, Christine E. Ray, Kindra M. Austin and Georgia Park, to name a few.  But there was a mélange of poets new to me, whose unique voices were employed in a variety of styles from musical to prose to concrete poetry.  Among my favorites were Paula Jellis’ “I want a woman with a big bouffant,” Katherine DeGilio’s “Sunburned Shoulders,” Nick Kay’s “The Value of a Rusty Coin,” Jessica Jacobs’ “Out of the Windfields,” and Susan M. Conway’s “Letters to my Love.”

Would that I could list every single poem (my list is long), as they touched my sensibilities in different ways.  Some entreat us to dance to an inaudible tune; others confide to us the secrets of nerve-wracked first kisses; they relate the early-in-the-morning and late-at-night mundanities of love. But we are also invited to the troubled history of these loves in poems such as “Love is Our Theory” (Sean Heather K. McGraw), “Letter from Lock Up to the NYPD, June 1969, Christopher Street” (Melissa Fadul) and “You Don’t Deserve to Read About My Life” (Georgia Park).  These such poems are the ones that will be hardest to bear, but among the most important to read.

This is a book that should be gifted.  In spite of its implied audience, Smitten is not just for women who adore women.  It is for those whose hearts flutter and skin goosebumps at romance, who know the flight of butterflies in their stomachs and who long for the feeling of home in another’s heart.

 

SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like: Poetry by Women for Women an Anthology is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.   Request it at your local/international bookstores.


Mariah Voutilainen writes poetry and prose about all manner of things at www.reimaginingthemundane.wordpress.com.

Random Thoughts, Updates

Year In Review

The last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the rest of this year and what it might entail, as well as setting some goals for 2019. You see, I’ve realized that it’s far more important for me to be who I want to be, rather than whoever or whatever I might have been. This year brought a great many wonderful things my way and I couldn’t possibly count them all without forgetting some.

One of the most important reasons I set out to share my writing is to help people going through hell (or recently freed from) their own hell. No one deserves to feel alone. We Will Not Be Silenced was an anthology and a cause I am passionate about. Because I am a survivor.

I’m not sure what roadblocks 2019 has in store for me, but I know I’m not going to let anyone hold me back from being me, as I did a few times this year. I’m going to do my best to be a better friend, a better writer, a better mother, a better wife, and a better person. Like I’ve always been.

But I won’t hold back any longer. I won’t let the actions of anyone in my past that has hurt me, used me (or anyone I love) dictate how I move forward. With luck, I’m going to be me, only this time, without chains. Without dragging any dead weight behind me. I’m going to continue with my ethos and try to help more people, as well as myself, along the way.

I’ll do my best to be a better person going forward.

~ Sarah Doughty

Poetry, Random Thoughts

Pretty Lights

“Don’t put dangerous things under
a pretty light and call them beautiful.”

If fiction is truth disguised in a lie, then poetry is the same, on a much smaller scale. But there should be a line no one crosses. If you don’t have intimate knowledge of something, don’t write about it. Don’t tell lies as truths. And don’t romanticize something dangerous. Ever. Especially if you know little or nothing about it. It’s not only irresponsible, but it’s reckless and could cost lives. Be careful what you put out into the world. You never know what your words will do to someone.

© Sarah Doughty

Self-harm might be better than suicide,
but it’s still incredibly dangerous
and needs to be treated
by a licensed professional.

Random Thoughts, Updates

Saving Her

A few days ago, I wrote about something very important to me. How she’s helped me over the years. I thought it was fitting to share actual photos and a little history about her. To celebrate her life, as she was then, and how she is now. Before it ends.

Lovelies, meet Pumpkin.

This was taken shortly after she was rescued, and she’d put on the much-needed thirty pounds of weight. Looking back, I can almost see the gratitude in her eyes for giving her a new chance at life. From the first day, she was always by my side….

And from the first moment she met this little boy several years later, she was smitten. Anytime he cried, she was there to soothe him. Her favorite moments were the ones like these….

Ever since, she has taken care of him, just as she has done for me. My family has been lucky to have her in our lives for over twelve years. The only problem is that we don’t know how much time is left. I see the clouds in her eyes and how stiff she feels when the weather changes or the temperatures are too cool. But, despite all that, she never stops taking care of us.

Every day, she leaves me
with this question:
Who saved whom?

© Sarah Doughty

Random Thoughts

Life

Hello loves. I am here to bring you a quick, albeit grim report. My activity here has dropped the past two days because my mother is in the hospital with heart failure.

I don’t yet know the extent of the damage or the prognosis. But I will try to keep everyone updated and try to keep up with posts as I’m able.

Please keep us in your thoughts and please don’t think I’m disappearing.

Sarah Doughty

Poetry, Random Thoughts

Running Low

“My well of hope is running low.
There’s only a few drops left and
they’re evaporating at an alarming rate.”

I’m sorry that I’m not perfect. I’m sorry that what I’ve done has come up short. I’m sorry for always being sorry. As much as I try to be a good friend, a good wife, or a good mother, somewhere along the way, I mess up. And I fear that no matter what I do, or want to do, nothing will be enough. But that’s the way of the world. At least, it’s my world. And today, my well of hope is running low. There’s only a few drops left and they’re evaporating at an alarming rate.

In grade school, I was the one parents forced their kids to accept. And while I was tolerated for a little while, I could always hear the snickering behind me. I could hear the irritation in their voices when they finally told me I was no longer worthy of being a friend of pity. That I was the one hated — the one they bullied and said it was only a joke.

High school wasn’t much different. I was the one with access to a car so I could be one they called when they wanted to see someone else. I was the smart one. Tolerable just long enough to cheat off my tests or to copy my homework. I was the one too miserable to make any profound effort — because nothing was ever good enough — what my abuser told me at home every night was reinforced each and every day at school by people. My friends. My enemies. My bullies.

Over the years, not much has changed. I’ve found a few real friends. They are few and far between. And, though I do my best, it’s never enough.

© Sarah Doughty

No, I’m not okay. But I will be.
Random Thoughts

The Dreaded Block

“The words may be on a break. But they’ll
be back. They always come back.”
Returning

I’m often asked about writer’s block. What to do? How to overcome it? How long will it last? These are all good questions, but they only really need one answer. Keep writing. Every day.

You may feel uninspired, like nothing you put on paper or type on the screen holds any value, but odds are, there is something there. Don’t delete them or throw them away. And the worst thing you can do is to put the pen away and do nothing.

There’s millions of things you can try to wake up your muse, but even if your mind comes up blank, you should write something. Even if it’s only a journal of what happened during your day.

My first fiction novel, Just Breathe, was based on a dream. Back then, I tended to forget my dreams and move on, but I was fortunate enough to journal the next day, and my mind kept going back to that scene. My focus shifted, and the story began to unfold. So, lovelies, don’t ignore your muse when it stirs, you might miss something incredible.

© Sarah Doughty

In the comments, let me know what you do to overcome creative blocks.

Random Thoughts, Updates

This Current State Of Being

Hello lovelies, I thought it was about time to check in again. As you’re probably aware, I’ve been suffering from various illnesses for the majority of this year, and as far as I can tell, this is only going to continue.

While the horrendously long migraine ended, I’m still plagued several times a week by them. So, I suppose one positive is that not every day is bad in that regard.

Once I kicked the Springtime cold from hell, the next round of issues popped up. A few months of physical therapy to fix my back thanks to a sagging mattress and a couch that was well beyond its life expectancy was just the tip of the iceberg. Apparently, my thyroid isn’t performing correctly, which several specialists are optimistic that resolving this issue would improve the frequency and severity of my migraines, as well as help with other health-related issues, I don’t share their happy perspectives.

These migraines have been around for some time, and I was still able, most days, to do some of my therapeutic activities. But now, there’s more than just my C-PTSD and migraines to nag me. My concentration is worse, and my physical energy levels have been declining.

You’d think a simple pill to fix my thyroid would do the trick, but unfortunately, I’m one of the unlucky few to have the opposite reaction. Rather than helping that little gland perform, those meds hit the off switch. Let me tell you, getting out of bed just to go to the bathroom made me want to cry. And this went on for over a month while my doctor tinkered with the dosage to see if I would improve.

So now, I’m waiting in limbo to see a specialist for that, while I continue to feel like half of my functionality has been taken from me. I remain hopeful that this will be light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m not holding my breath. A worsened depression can be thanked for this current mindset. But could you blame me for feeling a little extra down?

This, of course brings us to now. As you’ve probably noticed. My Thirteen Reasons Why series was never completed, my next novel and poetry book were never finished, and my newsletters have gone unsent. In the rare days I’m feeling productive (using the term very loosely), I have been able to mock up new book cover designs for my fiction, which I hope to begin unveiling once I finish this novel that’s been collecting dust for months. But I have no idea when that might be.

My ability to keep up with blog posts has significantly diminished, as have my responses to comments. I really need to make more of an effort to keep up with those, at the very least. And I do thank each and every one of you that continue to leave comments, despite my silence.

I miss the way things were, and I cannot stress enough how much I want to get back to that. As always, thank you for letting me vent a little, and know that I’m doing my very best to get back to where I was before, at the very least.

© Sarah Doughty

Random Thoughts

Discussion of “IT”

*Minor spoikers ahead. Proceed with caution.**
The thoughts expressed here are mine.

This was written in response to the discussion posted by Tyson Adams.

I was a fan of the Goosebumps books when I was six. So naturally I thought I was perfectly capable of handling the “It” miniseries when it was released. To say I was terrified was an understatement. But I was hooked. I dropped those Goosebumps like a bad habit and started reading Stephen King.

It, the book, was quite engrossing, but not so much scary. I liked the way the news reports were presented, and even the narrative of Pennywise gave us a new way of seeing him. But the chemistry with the Loser’s Club was really the core of it. Of course, there was that strange scene near the end of the kid’s journey that unified them and allowed them to become adults all in one go. Let’s just say, King’s voice of how was quite the odd method of achieving that goal. But otherwise, I rather enjoyed the story.

I’ve seen the miniseries from time to time over the years and remember those frights with fond appreciation. But I waited to watch “It” again in favor of having a somewhat cleansed palette. The theatrical version was so far beyond what I’d hoped for, that I saw it again a second time this past weekend. (Trust me, having C-PTSD and carefully planning an excursion into a dark theater full of people wasn’t easy.) The new Pennywise isn’t like Tim Curry’s portrayal, where he was apt to start cracking jokes, playing on actual clown humor around the few “scary” moments where he appeared as period-specific monsters.

Bill Skarsgard’s version is childlike in nature, but he has a deep hatred for kids. You can tell from the first, and notably more infamous “Georgie” scene. The way he terrifies his victims before attacking them is almost like marinating his food just the way he likes, and when the kids are good and terrified, he’s ready to save them for hibernation time. And he does this in various forms, depending on the individual fears of that child. For instance, rather than seeing Pennywise as the wolfman, Ritchie is just afraid of clowns, and naturally gets stuck in a room full of them. This adds a bit of timelessness to the movie. But when It is ready to take them for good, he toys with the kids in an almost animalistic way, much like a lion might play with a gazelle before ripping out its throat. But when he does this, his movements, voice, and abilities to shift reality are erratic, sometimes disturbingly fast, and very unpredictable, which is ultimately what makes this Pennywise so terrifying.

Of course, after my second viewing of the new movie, I went back to watch to miniseries. I have to say, the miniseries doesn’t do the movie justice. I spent most of my time rolling my eyes at the horrid acting (aside from Curry’s portrayal) and wondering how I was actually that scared at all in the first place. But the eyes of a young child, see much differently than adults. I can’t imagine how kids will react to this movie. I’m certain I won’t be allowing my son to see it until he’s at least the same age as the Loser’s Club.

© Sarah Doughty