NPM – 18 of 30

what do you make of a day
that begins deciding if
you’re well enough to
return to work

you do

your ten years of working
is celebrated with the
head honchos and others
who have also endured
for a decade

you eat mediocre pizza
and must recount how
you came to work there
then share a favorite story

because you are who you are
your voice almost breaks in
recalling this past portion of
your life in some pithy story

it’s not that you’re terribly emotional
about this position, it’s that you want
to do a good job, even at this awkward
task, and the responsibility of it
almost overwhelms you

you finish

listen to other stories, collect
your crystal award, and return
to your desk, where you have
been invited to be a featured poet
at a new reading

you accept

you leave early to attend
to a yearly exam, the walk
down the corridor seems
so long, you feel grateful
you only have to come here
once a year

you undress

you are glad that the
technician is nice, encouraging
(again with the need to
be praised for a good job!)
but it always works, you
feel like you nailed
the way you held your arm
so she could press your flesh
flat to check for abnormalities

you dress

an hour to get home
your neighborhood alive
with baseball & sunshine

you walk

and now here you are
baseball outside your door
work open in the
next computer window
reality game shows
a click away

but first this poem
this snapshot
this recounting
of a day

 

NPM – 7 of 30

day in the sun/a night in the night

there is nothing quite like
the feeling you have after
a lazy day in the sun

your face warm
your skin slightly salty
your hair maintains
a sun scent

you decide to take a walk
as evening comes
to shake off the haze
mix up the mindset

the people are drunk
from sun, baseball, libations
they’re mad with Friday
with no thought for
the end of the party

NPM – 3 of 30

uneven

last night, my chin gushed blood
due to an unfortunate launch
of the cat from my face

in sleep, an apology given
soothed a troubled mind

in the morning, as I brushed
my teeth, an unexpected
tilt
I tried to balance myself
tried to steady what I
didn’t understand

it turned my day upside down
from the start, brought a
foreboding I tried to manage
mostly successfully

as the workday wore on
I distracted myself from
fear, telling myself it was
in my head

but now as I prepare for bed again
I still feel like I’m trying to right
something

NPM – 2 of 30

flight plans sparked daydreaming of Savannah
orange blossom honey lotion soaked into hands
that seem too old to belong to me
my first mocha in 10 days went down smoothly
as I hoped it would
then the meeting ended with, ‘thanks, gentlemen’
focus
wait
anticipate
read
focus
plan (always plan)
warm hint of a breeze at the end of the day
satisfaction
~~

I wrote this one in a writing workshop at the beginning of March. Ironically, it was a prompt that the instructor, Jill Badonsky, uses regularly that is called “the Lizzie Wann” because it’s based on my poem, “Declaration.” The idea is to make a list of what happened to you in a day and find the poetry.

‘we’re going to die in this stairwell’

Mid-morning yesterday, the emergency alarm sounded at work. Unlike our last building, this one’s alarm comes with a voice that says, “There is an emergency in the building. Exit the building immediately,” along with a piercing alarm sound that continues repeatedly.

I work on the 6th floor of an 11-story building. In the last building, I was on floor 3 of a 6-story building. I made my way to one of two stairwells along with everyone else on my floor. We merged into the mass of people heading down from the floors above. It was slow-moving, and then we stopped.

We all assumed it was a drill (which it was). But as we were stopped, literally not making any progress to exiting the building, several people joked how we were going to die in the stairwell.

I was surrounded by people I didn’t know. I could see some of my co-workers above and below me, but no one I knew was immediately next to me. Even though the majority of my heart and mind understood that this exercise was a drill, and that the people saying these things around me were joking, there was a small part of me that went to the other extreme. What if this wasn’t a drill? I mean, it’s not unheard of in the times we’re living in, that there could be an actual situation somewhere in the building that other people wouldn’t know about. My mind flipped through scenarios — a gunman in the building, a bomb threat — my thoughts even registered that a fire might not even be as bad as those things. I thought of the stories I’ve read about people who were in the stairwells of the World Trade Center, then I was back where I was, in the stairwell of my building, not moving an inch, surrounded by all these bodies, people who didn’t comprehend or consider that we actually might be in danger, and I came within moments of a panic attack.

Thankfully, I was able to calm myself before I fell off the edge of rational thought, and also it was around that time that we slowly continued our descent. I still am not sure why things got so backed up. Once outside, I made my way over to the 6th floor safe zone and talked with a couple people and waited until the all clear.

When the all clear call came, I knew that the line for the elevators would be crazy. There are 5 elevators for all floors and 1 elevator (express) that goes to the top three floors only (meeting rooms, executive offices). Instead of waiting in line, I decided to use the rest room and try to collect myself further away from the mass of humanity that would be in the lobby.

Even after I used the bathroom, I could tell from the din coming from the lobby that it was still crowded, so I decided to use the stairs to go back to my office. My friend Mike often asks if I want to take the stairs up after we get coffee in the morning. I always say no. And now I know that my answer is justified. I wouldn’t want to be huffing and puffing next to him. I had to take breaks as I walked up to the 6th floor. My legs buckled on the last couple flights. I get why the stair climber is such a popular exercise apparatus. It’s a great workout. But when you’re dressed for work (even though yesterday was College Student Friday so we could dress down), it’s not cool to be sweaty when you return to your desk.

Ironic isn’t it that people said we were going to die in the stairwell on the way down, and me thinking of the way I might describe how I felt as I was on the way up.

hello, Spring

It was a good day. I won the NCAA pool at work (could there be a Google Home in my future?)

After work, I went to Jerome’s and bought a couch! Thanks for the dough to be able to get it, Mom & Dad! It will be delivered in Friday. I chose that day mostly because it would give me some time to think about it, haha. 

When I got home, I changed quickly and went out for a walk. It was slightly chilly but the sun was still up & it felt good to get out & into the neighborhood. It’s supposed to rain later this week, so I’m glad I put off the relaxing time to pump up my heart rate a bit. 

After my walk, I made a simple dinner of pasta in butter & garlic. 

There is something to be said for these small joys. 

# 14 – goodbye Barcelona (memories of Barcelona a year later – a series)

Sorry for the delay. Life got in the way a bit. Here’s the last installment.
~~

27 September 15

I was ready to be home, simply for the fact that there was no more time to do anything.

We tried to find something to eat but it was so early, there weren’t many places open.

Sonia & Eric drove us to the airport and came in with us, which initially annoyed me. (This will be a running theme for the day).

Barcelona is an amazing city, but the airport leaves a lot to be desired. It is chaotic and a bit of a nightmare. However, we finally found where we needed to check in. We didn’t quite want to say goodbye, but there wasn’t really anywhere to hang out. So we said our tearful goodbyes to Sonia & Eric and got in line for security. I was no longer annoyed that they had come in with us.

It turns out it was a good thing we’d gotten in line because it was for passport control and was super long, and by the time we got through it, it was almost time to board.

Mom was wearing sunglasses as we waited, which annoyed me (I told you). But then we realized that she was crying, and I felt terrible. While I was just eager to start the long journey back, my mom was leaving her homeland, and she was sad. I calmed the ‘f’ down, and we finally boarded to head to Atlanta.

We had 3 seats together in the middle aisle. Between the two flights, I watched 6 movies, but I only remember 4 of them (Inside Out, Get Hard, The Wedding Ringer, and Into the Woods). I was trying to stay awake because when we got to LA, it would be 7 pm.

When we got to Atlanta, we had to go through security again. That’s when we discovered that Mom had put the oro de Toledo letter opener in her carry-on bag. I had to rush back to a counter to have it checked. I told Mom & Sandy to go on and that I’d catch up with them. Atlanta has a huge airport, but I made it just in time. We were the last ones on the plane (again).

Mom & I had aisle seats, and Sandy was next to me at the window. I don’t remember much from that flight. I probably watched some of those movies I mentioned.

When we got to LAX, we got our luggage and found a taxi to take us to La Mirada. Mary & Dewey were there with Dad. It was good to see him. We were tired, but we chatted with them a bit. It was difficult to encompass two incredible weeks to chit-chat. We went to bed around 9 pm.

The next day (Monday, 9/28/15), we caught up with Dad. He had had to go to the ER once. Mary ended up taking care of him better than the nurses who came by. We told him stories and showed him the album that Sonia had made for us. Suddenly it was nearly time to leave to take Sandy to the airport and for me to drive back to San Diego. There were teary goodbyes all around. And the vacation was over.