All posts by Michele Sayre

I Need to Tell Myself (poem)

What I Need to Tell Myself

 

I need to tell myself the following:

 

First, I need to tell myself to take life one day at a time

Because today is all I have to work with

 

I will tell myself not to let the past gnaw on my ass

Or worry about a future that hasn’t happened yet

A future that probably won’t happen the way I imagine it will

 

I need to tell myself I made it through the day

Because I woke up with a roof over my head

And I was able to put food in my belly

And my car didn’t break down

And I had money when I needed it

And my pets didn’t barf on the floor

 

I need to tell myself I can change my future plans

Because they haven’t happened yet

I can tell myself it’s okay to let anxiety and bullshit play out

And it’s okay to sleep in a little

 

I need to tell myself to focus on doing things I want to do

To focus on projects that are deep in my heart

 

And most of all

I need to tell myself not to think about what people might say

When I break my silence

And tell of my changes in plans

Because it doesn’t matter why it takes so long to do something

Nor do I owe anyone an on-the-spot explanation

 

I don’t need to bow my head in shame

Or stand up with attitude

I just need to get through today

And know that changes can always be made

 

Realms of Romance: A Heated Return

I am very happy to announce that I will be having a story published in the ‘Realms of Romance’ anthology coming out on December 15 (pre-sales are now available at Amazon.com). The anthology will be published by Rhetoric Askew for the Writers Unite! Facebook group which I am an administrator for.

Here’s a blurb for my story:

Nick and Chloe work for a top-flight security firm out of London and have been friends for some time. But upon Nick’s return from an overseas assignment, they finally take a chance on their attraction to each other. But when Nick gets another assignment in a dangerous place, Chloe can only watch from afar and wonder if she can handle loving a man who regularly courts danger.

Here’s the link for pre-order HERE

 

 

Guts to Change

Guts to Change

 

I know I need to have the guts to change

I need to find the courage to change my life for the better

Despite not having a lot to work with

And most of all

I need to find the courage to stand up to Fear

 

I need to find the courage to stand up for myself

I need to find the courage to stand firm in the face of criticism

No matter how well-meaning

I need to find the courage to tell myself I’m not a worthless idiot

 

I know I’m not perfect

I know I don’t know everything

But neither does anyone else

I need to push myself harder than I ever have

And if someone doesn’t like that

I just need to ignore them, and not engage them in any way

I know this is an old fear

But it is a fear that refuses to die

 

I need the freedom to write what I want to

Then find the pattern to put it all together

I need to do things without worrying about what someone might think

I need to tell myself I can not only survive

But that I can thrive

And that I can do it in an unconventional way

 

I tried to live a conventional life

A nine-to-five sit-down job with all the bullshit that came with it

And all I got in return were back problems that might have disabled me

So I have no regrets about walking away from that old life

 

So now I write poetry to think out loud

And I want to record my poetry for the world to hear

And I want to write social commentary

Individual pieces to get thoughts and feelings out

Maybe someday they’ll go into a book

A book of commentary on society, politics, religion, and other topics

My intention with this commentary is not to upset

So I’m still trying to figure out how to write it out

I will work my ass off to write well

To edit well

To focus and keep the profanity to a minimum

 

I will also go out on the road more

Hustle more for money

I will battle my seasonal allergies with lots of peppermint and water

And I will succeed

 

For although I’ve needed this time to rest and reflect

I know I can’t do that forever

I need to write

I need to hustle

And I need to make my dreams come true

And not let my somewhat mythical fears hold me back

For as I think the thought of ‘what will someone think’

I need to tell myself that thought is bullshit

If someone has an opinion about my life they can tell me

What I do with it is up to me

 

But to be honest

I live and work mostly in silence

On my own and out of everyone’s way

It’s not always what I want

But I’ve done it for so long I don’t know how much I can change

I want to believe change is possible

But I also fear that change could be upsetting

It’s not like I’m out to break the law

Or rain on someone’s parade

I just want to be a writer-gypsy someday

And to get on that road I need to make this writing of mine happen

And if changes need to be made

I need to make them without silence

**************************************************************************

I feel better after I write and poetry comes pretty easy to me as it’s just a stream of thought that I can lay out line-by-line. It can give me reference points that I can then go into more detail about.

So here goes:

The blog went silent because I couldn’t come up with an entry for the so-called ‘political book’ project. And when I began to avoid that project like the plague I had to go silent and think through to why that was.

I realized I don’t want to limit myself to just one topic and if I focused on just politics and crafting political arguments I’d be regurgitating a lot of what’s already been said. I realized I wanted to do something different, and I also realized I needed the freedom to just write and then once I began to see a pattern to look at putting it altogether at some point in the future. The term ‘social commentary’ came to my mind and it hasn’t left. In the past, I’ve written on just a single topic sometimes prompted from a news item or something like that and it worked well for me.

Now I’m sure someone reading this might wonder why that’s not the case with the ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project despite that being much more personal. I’ve done a lot of writing in the vein of ‘Breaking…’ even though the vast majority of it has been deleted into oblivion. But the work has been done where the ‘political book’ book project hadn’t been. So the individual pieces of ‘social commentary’ that I’m now calling this are the work I need to do to get that project to come together.

I will also freely admit here when I do go silent from the writing a lot of old fears rear their ugly heads and I have to confront them, too. Yes, I do go silent when I’m trying to deal with things but that’s just what I’ve always done and like old habits, that silence will die a hard death. And right now, it’s still got some considerable life in it. I’m sorry for the slightly gruesome imagery but the good news is that this bout of silence was nowhere near as bad as what happened over the summer months. I don’t think I’ll ever get that down again because I did make it out of there and now know what to look for to stay out of that place.

So here I am back in the saddle after falling off my horse. And now I’m looking for the guts to change things for the better in my life.

The Ballad of Darcy and Ronan

The Ballad of Darcy and Ronan

 

Darcy is my dog and Ronan is my cat

Darcy is a rescue so I don’t know exactly what breed she is

She looks like a mix of border collie and retriever

But she’s a total diva

Tell her she’s beautiful and she’ll love you forever

 

Ronan is a black-and-white medium-hair cat

As he is a rescue like Darcy I don’t know what breed he is

He’s also pretty fat now

But he is cute and he will only sit on half of your lap

 

Ronan came to me on a cold winters’ day

Tired of hanging out with the feral cats

He ran into my apartment and curled up on my sofa

I couldn’t be mean and toss him out

So I let him stay

Checked around to see if anyone claimed him

But no collar or microchip he became mine

I gave him a cool name

But he’s more of a klutz

As just this morning he ran headlong into the garbage can

(by the way, he’s fine)

 

Darcy came to me through my friend

Who called me up one day to ask

“You know how you’re thinking about getting a dog?”

I told her I was still thinking about it

Then she told me of the two dogs she’d found on the side of the road

I told her to bring them by so we could put our heads together over them

When she pulled up with them

I told her she could have warned me

They were beyond cute

I took Darcy and we found a home for the other dog

 

Now I had never had a dog so I really didn’t know what to do

I should have stuck with training classes but alas I didn’t

Darcy grew fearful and anxious

Which in turn made her bark at everything

But I found an angel of a trainer

And for almost two years’ worth of Saturdays

She trained both Darcy and me

 

Darcy still doesn’t like other dogs very much

As she thinks if they bark at her

They need to be barked back down into silence

She likes most people as long as they don’t crowd her

Or ignore me

And be sure to tell her she’s beautiful

 

Both Darcy and Ronan cuddle with me every day

Both of them have to have belly rubs every day

They sleep with me on the bed

And I wouldn’t have it any other way

Darcy is always happy to see me come home

While Ronan will always meow his welcome

(though in reality he’s just telling me his dish is empty)

 

I don’t think I was in need of rescue

But I’m glad I rescued both of them

And I will always have rescues

When the time comes again for rescue

I’m sure the Universe will have me rescue a dog and cat

Without having to go to a shelter

For although I always plan to go to a shelter to rescue

The Universe always saves me this step

 

But I hope that day is long into the future

For Darcy and Ronan are entering middle-age for pets

Like I am for humans

I hope to take them on the road someday with me

But for now, we’ll just take things one day at a time

The Four Seasons of South Texas

This was originally published in January 2011 in the San Antonio Express-News.

 The Four Seasons of South Texas

I have heard many times that there are only two seasons in South Texas: hot and not so hot. I don’t believe that because it does get below ninety degrees after September and the trees do change colors.

But how do you know the seasons have changed?

I know it’s Spring when I see the first bluebonnets along the side of the road. Spring is a sea of wildflowers and trees budding out along with grass turning green. It’s mornings that have a bit of nip in the air and afternoons that are warm but not too hot. Though if you’ve lived in South Texas for more than a year or two you know to be on the lookout for that last cold front that drops temperatures fifty degrees in one afternoon along with a blast of cold rain. But once that last cold front moves through, it’s blue skies and sun all the time.

Then there is summer, the most famous season in South Texas. Summer is blazing blue skies with a side of haze, and humidity that makes you want to wring out the air. That first blast of heat ignites a burning desire for cold drinks, water parks, and fun. The grass is green if we’ve had rain and brown dust if we haven’t. You see yellow lantana blooms along with hibiscus and bougainvillea in every planter in the city. It’s the smell of barbeque, cold beer and margaritas at every party. It’s ice cream and raspas, shorts and flip flops. And if all else fails, you can find someplace with air-conditioning to get out of the heat.

Fall comes later in this part of the hemisphere though you know it’s here when there’s a chill in the mornings and the afternoons aren’t as hot. It’s traveling through the Hill Country and seeing the trees changing color and the grass turning to light-brown and swaying in the fall winds as you drive to the Hill Country. Then there’s that first blue ‘Norther cold front, and the burnt dust smell when you turn on your heater for the first time. It’s also time to put away the flip flops and pull out the socks.

Finally, Winter comes. Temperatures stay below burning-hot and above bracing cold unless a cold front has blown through. Winter is snuggling in coats as you shop or take in the lights on the Riverwalk. It’s also abundant sunshine on Christmas so kids can go outside and play with all their new toys. It’s bright blue sky, star-filled skies at night, and tamales and sweets at every party in town.

The seasons do change in South Texas in sight and smell, sound and delight. And all you have to do to see that is look at the changing colors and savor the delights of each season. And remember, the cold never lasts more than a few days.

Unlike the heat….

Breaking Radio Silence: Reclaiming a Feeling

Introduction

Reclaiming a Feeling

 

A few months ago, I was in the car alone when the song ‘Flashdance (What a Feeling)’ by Irene Cara came on the radio. I didn’t change the station like I always had done before when the song came on because I was in heavy traffic. But I’m grateful for that traffic because for the first time in close to thirty-six years, the song put a smile on my face. So when I got back home I put it on again, listened to the lyrics a bit more closely, and bawled my brains out in my kitchen over a plate of breakfast tacos.

Why the tears?

Well, there’s a line in the song about crying all alone silent tears full of pride. And that made me break down because I’ve done that since I was a little girl, before that song came out even. But that day in the kitchen those tears began a healing process that has me looking back at my younger self with love and kindness.

The reason I grew to hate that song and never wanted to hear it again was because I heard it five days a week for an entire school year in gym class the year it came out. Every day we started class with exercises done to that song and I was always at the back of the class trying to keep up. And I could never keep up or do anything right physically because I was an overweight girl with terrible balance and coordination. I would always drop something, trip and fall, and get picked last for any team.

So you can imagine my childhood had some pretty miserable times. What saved me from drowning in that misery was my imagination. I have always had a vivid imagination and have spent a lot of time in my imaginary world. I used to think that was a bad thing but looking back I see now it was a matter of survival. Because I have never fit in anywhere and was made to realize that from as far back as I can remember.

For the longest time, there was a part of me that felt like I was at fault for not fitting in. That I could have been less klutzy, learned how to talk to people, or just somehow found a way to fit in. But for some reason, the Universe deemed me to be someone who wouldn’t be like most everyone else. I’m fine with that now and I see that being the odd one out didn’t make me a bad person. And as for all the bullies and assholes back then both child and adult, I’ve left them behind.

Leaving someone or something behind is my form for forgiveness. It’s saying I’m not staying back in the past and I’m not going to let my past define me. I’m not going to think any good I do is wiped out whenever I make a mistake or have a klutzy moment. Because I’ve come to realize no one has all the answers and if they say they do they’re full of shit.

When I talk about reclaiming my past I mean I’ve begun to think like the little girl I used to be. Because back then I didn’t look in the mirror and see a fat, shy, and klutzy kid. I saw a girl who could smile, sing, and dance without fear of failure. I saw a girl who found the courage to stand up and speak even if it meant risking failure, ridicule, or ostracization. I like the fact that she was stubborn and proud, but would have apologized all over herself if told that.

What I like about my younger self was that she wasn’t hard and cynical. She hadn’t let the world grind her down yet and she did that by knowing deep down she wasn’t a bad person. Granted, as a little girl I spent a lot of time in my imaginary world but it was time well-spent because I think it was my way of surviving the bad things. Because when I’ve gotten away from that imaginary world I get hard and cynical.

The feelings I’ve reclaimed from my past are a sense of wonder, of imagination, and of joy in the simplest of things. It’s a feeling of knowing I’m not perfect, but that I’m not a bad person either. And it’s an acceptance that I’m not destined to fit in anywhere, something I’m feeling much better about than I ever have before.

My silence wasn’t a bad thing. It was a way of surviving sometimes. But it was also a way for me to find my own voice, even if it was inside my head most of the time. And though I’ll never really sing or dance very well (my vocal chords have been trashed by my all my years of chronic allergies and being on the phones, and I can’t dance very well because due to my scoliosis I really am off-balance). But that’s alright because my world hasn’t ended because I can’t sing or dance very well.

Like back then, I know life will go on. And I can decide how I want to go on with it. One thing I want to go on with is looking at myself and thinking that at least in my own imagination, I can sing and dance.

 

 

Extras: Driving Tips Not for the ‘Fast and Furious’

The first thing my father taught me when I began to drive was this (warning: strong language here but I want to quote my father exactly): “Act like each and every one of these sons of bitches is going to do something stupid that can get you killed and react accordingly.”

So for the year that my dad rode with me teaching me how to drive, he would constantly say things like ‘what if this idiot over here swerves over towards us, what are you going to do’. Yes, I will freely admit it was annoying but it was very good teaching as all that repetition turned thought into pure instinct. And those instincts are still intact to this day and much-needed as much I’m on the road.

Because on an average day, I probably see at least three near-miss collisions in front of me and sometimes I come close to being in one of them. And yes, I use lots of bad language (in my head if I have people with me in the car, and out loud if I don’t) whenever I see bad driving.

There’s a commercial on the radio here for a big personal-injury lawyer and it says the top causes of accidents continue to be speeding, drunk driving, and tired or distracted driving. But I want to go a little further than the obvious here with my driving tips that I would like to see so I don’t have to use bad language every day on the road:

Speeding: Speed limits are not set arbitrarily. They’re the top safe speed on that stretch of road on dry pavement so if the roads are wet SLOW THE HELL DOWN!!! Why idiots want to hydroplane in the rain is beyond me but these idiots sometimes get other people hurt or killed. Also, slow down whenever you’re coming to an intersection, a lane you’ll have to merge over from, or a freeway interchange you’ll have to slow down to go into the curve with.

Tail-gating: This will have me cursing the driver doing this to me straight to Hell and back. It’s wrong on every level and there is no justification for it. And if you rear-end someone because of tail-gating you will be found at fault for doing it. If you’re running late, that’s no one’s fault but your own so grow the hell up and leave with enough time to get where you need to go.

Distracted driving: I believe people who are caught texting while driving or doing anything that takes their hands off the wheel completely should be arrested, or at least fined heavily and the ticket be a major moving violation. I see this all the freaking time despite the laws against it and there is no justification for doing this.

Drunk driving: I honestly shouldn’t have to say this at all but this is a big reason why I don’t like to drive after midnight or one a.m. now. I read about too many drunk driving crashes and I honestly don’t want to be a statistic. Not only do Uber and Lyft help people get around, they save lives. So don’t be a stupid-ass drunken cheapskate and drive drunk.

Now driving and navigating is not easy and I was recently asked how I do it. I replied that it’s taken a lot of practice to get to where I can drive and navigate as well as I do. If you don’t do this on a daily basis I suggest you study the route you’re going to take and try to learn how to read a map. And I hate to say this, most people don’t know how to give directions. I don’t mind landmarks being used but sometimes people honestly don’t know their right from their left. Also, people are not as specific as they should be so if someone gets turned around because of your crappy directions, don’t blame them.

Finally, watch out for the idiots on the roads because there is no cure for stupidity. My father always said driving was a serious business and he was right. So please, for the love of humanity, take your driving seriously and don’t drive badly, or like a dumb-ass entitled jerk who thinks he’s in a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie.

Life on the Hustle: Freedom to Be The Boss

At the end of May 2016, I quit my last call-center job after realizing I can’t sit for eight to ten hours a day in a chair anymore (the month prior to that was sheer agony for me as I was in constant pain from my lower back). In July of 2016, I took on my first gig-economy job which was food delivery. Then later that year I took a gig delivering packages for a contractor for Amazon. Both gigs dried up for me and I started driving for Uber. And I’ve been with Uber ever since.

Now I’ve read a lot of articles about the so-called ‘gig economy’ as its’ referred to. People in the gig economy are independent contractors, meaning we get paid directly and get nothing taken out for taxes, Social Security, and insurance. Which is fine because there are a lot of deductions available, but I won’t go into a tax-talk here (as you should always see a tax professional for any questions related to that). What a lot of detractors to the gig economy will go on about is how there is no minimum wage or benefits and no real protections. I will say a lot of these articles read like class-A click-bait written by people who have no real knowledge of what gigging is like. I spent close to twenty years in the corporate-call center world and all I got out of there with was a few thousand dollars in savings and a slightly-messed up back. And in corporate-call center world there was always the threat of being managed out the door if they decided they didn’t want you there anymore because you wouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid the way they wanted you to. (And yes I know that sounds terrible but it was my experience, and a story for another time)

The reason I keep gigging is that I’ve been out of the job market for too long and would have to do some serious ass-kissing and groveling to get a job and two, I like the freedom I have with my gig job that doesn’t involve Kool-Aid drinking with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Now with the gig economy you do make your own hours but in order to earn money you’ve got to work those hours, or hustle as we say. Which is fine by me as I’m not afraid to work. Yes, more money would always be a good thing (and that’s probably coming with the new incentive program Uber is introducing for its’ drivers). But if you ask any gig worker the biggest reason why they do what they do it’s simply put, freedom.

The gig economy is freedom from punching a clock and having a set schedule that life can really mess with. It’s the freedom of not having a supervisor or manager to report to who may not be the right person for the job. It’s the freedom to think on your feet and solve problems without someone nit-picking your decisions to pieces. I will freely admit that my views are seriously-colored by my years in corporate call-center world which is probably one of the most uptight and regimented work environments there is. But I’ve discovered that escaping from that and being on the road of freedom has made me hell-bent on never going back to that prison again.

Now with the gig economy there are ups and downs because supply-and-demand fluctuates. And yes that increased supply and leveled-out or lower demand can depress earnings, but those of us who have stuck with the gig know you just have to ride it out.

But as I’ve told a lot of my passengers in addition to the freedoms above, I’ve also discovered I like being my own boss. Because of all the bosses I’ve ever had I’m my favorite. This freedom and independence is why people like me do what we do and it’s what’s given me the courage to pursue a writing career. Because I know writing, like hustling an Uber, requires a lot of hard work and patience but if something isn’t working you can make changes until you find something that works. Because although a hustle can be a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, it’s never been a soul-sucking grind for me.

So if I had to sum up hustling for a living I’d say this:

 

– You have the freedom to make your own schedule as you’re not working to the clock.

– Remember the busier it is and the more money you make, the sooner you can go home.

– Be able to think on your feet and solve your own problems.

– Be good to yourself, and to the people who are paying you to do your job.

– You are your own boss so be the boss you always wanted to have.

My Top Ten Writing Guidelines

I don’t believe in writing ‘rules’ because there aren’t any. There are NO laws governing writing because even ‘rules’ on grammar and usage keep changing over time. What doesn’t change is the infinite variations on the writing process based on individual writers and their need to communicate with the written word.

But if I have to impart any advice to writers it would be the following:

1) Don’t write to perfection. There will be a few but very rare times when something comes out the first time and doesn’t require any significant editing. Most of the time, your writing will require multiple rounds of editing to make it work well.

2) Remember, you can always revise later. As one of my all-time favorite authors Nora Roberts once said, “You can’t revise a blank page.” Get it down first so you can revise and edit. Because revisions and edits are a fact-of-life with writing.

3) Edit and revise but don’t beat the crap out of yourself in the process. I know so many writers who write and edit while beating themselves up at the same time. Yes, there are times when you’ll read something and not have any idea what you were trying to say. But unless you were writing drunk, high, or seriously messed-up, cut yourself some slack.

4) Try to understand that writing is purely subjective. What one person likes someone else won’t. Accept that as a fact of life and try to figure out what it is that works, or doesn’t work for you.

5) Writing days can be up and down. Some days the words will flow out of you like a water tap turned on full. And sometimes it will be a trickle. And some days the tap will be dry. Yes, you can push yourself but if the writing isn’t flowing, you might need to take a step back to try and figure out why.

6) Don’t adhere to absolutes with writing. For some writers, adverbs don’t work at all and for some writers they’re good friends that can be very useful. Personally, I don’t have a problem with adverbs though I do make sure they serve a purpose and aren’t just marshmallow fluff.

7) Don’t compare yourself to other writers. You’ll always fall short sooner or later and then you’ll feel bad and probably not be able to write. I believe every writer has to figure things out for themselves and you have to do what’s best for you.

8) Read your work out loud to yourself. I believe in this because when you read something out loud not only do you hear the rhythm of your words, you’ll also catch a lot of mistakes, too.

9) Know that with writing, like anything else you do in life, you will get better over time if you keep at it. Because if you keep learning, you’ll push yourself to go further and deeper and your writing will get better because of that.

10) Don’t let Fear stop you from writing. This is advice I really need to take myself but knowing that I’ve retreated from my writing because of Fear is the first step in moving away from it. Don’t let the bullies and jerks of this world ruin writing for you, and don’t give them any power over you.

Good luck with your writing.

Catching Poetry

Earlier this year I began writing poetry after not writing it for more years than I can remember. When I was around twelve years old I filled spiral notebooks with poetry and entertained ideas about becoming a songwriter-lyricist before I moved into fiction. I enjoyed writing poetry and when I began writing it again this year I wondered why I stayed away from it for so long.

Well, when I began posting it online in a writers’ group I belong to, I was ridiculed and bullied by a fellow member. And I let this bully silence and shame me because I didn’t want to upset the group dynamic. I didn’t have the courage to speak out against how terrible I felt for what he was trying to do to me. Now he’s out of my life and that group and I’m forever grateful for that.

I will not let anyone silence me again for whatever I write. I enjoy writing poetry and will share it here and elsewhere. I have discovered not only a love for writing it, but I’ve also discovered that it’s a good way for me to organize my thoughts from the sometimes-maddening whirl of them in my mind.

But to pay tribute to Monty Python here, I’m glad I caught poetry again. For poetry isn’t like an STD or anything else you don’t want to catch. It’s something you do want to catch and keep.

January 18, 2018

Catching Poetry

 

I write to say I may have caught poetry

I would rather catch poetry than a cold or the flu

I would rather quote a great Monty Python skit than be without poetry

 

It is fun to write verses

Even if they don’t always rhyme

 

Oh my, this is the third poem I’ve written in the last three days

Now I know I have caught poetry

And I don’t want to let it go

 

For poetry does not give me a scratchy throat

Or a stuffy head like my allergies do

It does not exhaust me to write

Nor is it hard to edit

 

Have fun with poetry, I say

Let the words flow

Read them out loud to find the perfect rhythm

Because I believe anyone can write poetry

If they just listen for the words

 

And though some of us are able to put them onto paper

(or a computer screen in my case)

Or even find the courage to share them with the world

I believe poetry is within all of us

 

For the world needs poetry, like it needs all of the arts

It is joy and pain, thought and feeling

It is the human experience in us all

 

I am forever grateful I have caught poetry

And I will never let it go