Unexpected Friend (poem)

You came out of nowhere
Into my safe, sane world
You turned everything upsidedown
Made everything crazy for this girl
You found the key to my locked-up heart
That had been closed for so long
You made me feel what I thought dead
I fell in love fast and strong
You threw my heart into a tailspin
Faster than your drumsticks can fly
One moment my life was predictable
And the next I was swept away by your eyes
I fought it in the beginning
I scratched and clawed to push you away
But Fate had bigger plans for us
When she brought us together that day
In your shy heart I found a friend
My safe, sane world has been changed because of you
An unlikely pairing between two people so different
But perfect as friends, Fate knew
You shattered my protected world
With your smile and your eyes
And made me see a better world
Born of a fated meeting one night

By:  Carrie Leigh
01.30.14

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Lying Eyes (poem)

She stares at him
Through lying eyes
She puts a mask on her heart
To, her true feelings, disguise
He doesn’t know she loves him
That her heart beats his name
It’s a secret she’ll keep hidden
Even when her tears pour down like rain
She blossoms with his smile
Loses herself in his hug
Touchstones to cling to
When hiding her secret is too rough
She will never tell him
The only secret she won’t tell her friend
Because opening the door on what she keeps hidden
Would bring their road to its end
So she’ll lie to protect them both
She’ll hide her eyes and her heart
Because hiding the truth is easier
Than watching their friendship fall apart

By:  Carrie Leigh
01.30.14

Stars (poem)

Sometimes all that’s left
Is the only thing the stars can see
Staring into the black void
With them shining back at me
A constant in a world gone mad
A twinkle in an angry heart
A star, a tear, so much alike
A glimmer in the dark

By:  Carrie Leigh
1.28.14

Why didn’t anyone tell me that life isn’t a Disney movie?

We’ve all been in those situations where you’re having a conversation, a debate, an argument, and you are at a loss for words.  Yet, later when remembering the encounter you think of all the snappy comebacks and one-liners that you should have fired off in the moment.  And who hasn’t had a looming big event . . . a date, a job interview, anything.  We’ve all allowed our mind to wander and imagined that event playing out perfectly.  You’ve imagined what everyone would do and say, and in those fantasies you always come out looking like the rock start, don’t you?  Of course you do, because who honestly fantasizes about being a bumbling idiot?  But reality rarely lives up to our fantasies, and then we’re left to live with the disappointment, the hurt, the broken heart.

As delusional as it sounds that it why I enjoy writing so much.  Every situation that I put the characters into can play out exactly as I want it to.  Do I want the characters to kiss and fall in love?  Do I want the good-looking man to notice the shy girl across the room?  Do I want the wallflower to finally stand up to everyone that has wronged her?  With a pen in hand and a blank piece of paper to fill I can make anything happen.  So why can’t I do that in reality?  The answer is simple:  Because real life is not a scene that can be controlled by my imagination.  Real life is not a Disney movie.

I’ve fallen into a bit of a funk lately as that reality has really seemed to slap me in the face.  I’ve always had a fanciful imagination which has benefited me well when I’ve wanted to put pen to paper.  Yet when faced with a real life scenario I imagine the way I want it to play out and then go home disappointed when the fantasy fails to live up to my hopes, my imagination.

Girls are raised, no thanks to those beautiful princesses in Disney movies, that a Prince Charming will come along and rescue us from our dreary life of housecleaning and Lifetime movies.  We grow up knowing that a few songs, a pretty dress made by our talking animal friends, and a lost slipper will earn us the happily-ever-after that we want.  Then you wonder why so many women are so unhappy with the state of their love lives.  It’s because Prince Charming doesn’t fucking exist!  Life is not a Disney movie.  Animals don’t sing and make beautiful ball gowns.  There is no fairy godmother to turn a pumpkin into a royal carriage.  And if you lost your shoe at a party then you don’t find love, you are simply left with a bare foot.  That’s it.  That is life.  There is no catchy soundtrack.  We can only hope that we have a good song playing on the stereo when the pizza guy shows up at the door.

I’m feeling a bit jaded today, in case you hadn’t noticed.

I was raised on those same Disney princesses . . . Show White, Cinderella, Belle.  In reality we need more princesses like Fiona after she accepts loves true form as an ogre.  Girls need to be taught that there is no Prince Charming, but that the world is full of Shreks.  Men are just as broken and lonely as us.  Men don’t know how to admit their weaknesses because they are supposed to be big, strong, manly men.  Men who are just as afraid as women of not just falling in love but of even looking for it to begin with because they think all we want is Prince Charming.

This past weekend I found myself in not one but two different situations that I would have love to have played out differently.  I so badly wanted the man to get the girl, for music to play, for magic to happen.  Instead what happened was the girl was left pinning after the music-making-man, a few laughs, a few hugs, a kiss on the music-mans cheek, and a fairly definite feeling that the girl had gotten friendzoned.  That’s another thing:  There is no friendzone in Disney movies.  What a reality check that was the first time I encountered that horrid situation.

I know in reality we can’t make someone love us.  Yet we still try day after day.  We do nice things for the other person.  We adopt their interests as our own.  We support them.  We encourage them.  We fall in love with them.  But sometimes we end up in that land that is the basis of so many of the greatest poems, stories, and songs:  Unrequited love.  It’s a place that I am all-too-familiar with, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Yes, I imagined my encounters with the drummer going differently this weekend.  Yes, I hoped that maybe he would finally see me as a woman and not just as a friend and loyal supporter of his music.  Yes, I went home disappointed at the end of both evenings.  Why?  Because the fanciful imagination that benefits me well when I am writing laid out a scenario in my head that I knew would never happen but I still held out hope.  Because in my imagination I can put together events that work out far better than the reality that is before me.  In my imagination the drummer gets the girl.  In my imagination they do live happily-ever-after.  In my imagination she helps him overcome the demons that stand between them in reality.  In my imagination the girl is not just the drummers friend, but she is his love.

But in reality . . . she pines for him, she longs for him, she wishes and dreams for him, she supports him, she laughs with him, she hugs him, she kisses him on the cheek.  In reality she is his friend.

In Disney movies the Princess and Prince Charming are never just friends.  As a matter of fact, in Disney movies a female character is never friends with a male character.  Yet some of my greatest friends have always been guys.  My best friend is a guy.  He is like a brother to me.  Even when I am writing there are never any male/female friendships.  I am friends with the drummer, at least I think I am.  He may just see me as some weird fangirl.  He may see me as his “in” as the radio station when he has a request.  I don’t know, and honestly I don’t care.  I met him back in October and my life has not been the same since.  Not at all.

Crazy, deluded Disney expectations aside.  Overactive imagination aside.  I am happy that he is in my life.  I am happy that I met him.  I have been able to get to know him a little more with each passing day and am finally getting to know the man behind the drummer.  Do I regret meeting him just because reality isn’t living up to the Disney-inspired writers imagination?  Not at all.  Do I still imagine escaping the friendzone?  Absolutely!  Will I still see him the next time I imagine a new male character?  More than likely.

Life may not be a Disney movie.  I may let my imagination run away with me far more than I should.  But reality is the inspiration for the best stories and so far the drummer and I are writing a great story of friendship.  It’s been a long time since somebody has made me laugh the way he does.

My Heart (poem)

My heart is a fragile thing
But it’s not made of glass
It’s made of everyone who came before you
All the good memories and the bad
It’s the broken pieces of my heart’s darkness
that give my healed heart its future light
And everything that it’s been through
Makes it stronger, makes it fight
Know that if I give you my heart
You will have it till my end
I’m trusting you with all that’s built me
Because you are my friend
 
By:  Carrie Leigh
01.24.14

If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, putting off the inevitable need to actually do some work.  I follow the Facebook page for Writer’s Digest and they had a post for a writing competition.  There were two requirements for submitting a short story

1.  The short story had to be 750 or less.  ( I am not known for brevity with words.)

2.  The short story had to start with the following sentence . . .  “If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”

I stared at the post for a minute or two wondering if I could write anything, if I should write anything.  I wondered what kind of others short stories I would be up against if I were to submit anything.  Then I thought that the worst that can happen is that they read my story and set it aside, but even that will never happen if I don’t submit anything.  I can’t get read if I don’t put my writing out there to be read.  I opened up Word on my computer and started to type.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!!!

This was my submission . . .

If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.  It may be small to you, but it is huge to me.  It encompasses everything that I am and everything I hope to be.  It has no dollar value, but it is priceless in my eyes.  What I have in my pocket I have carried since I was a child and I will carry with me until the day I die.  Do you have any guesses yet?  Do you know what is in my pocket?
 
I found it one day while skipping through life.  It appeared in front of me and said, “Carry me with you always.  Keep me close to your heart.  I will show you where you need to go.”  So it lives in my pocket so that when I get lost I can be reminded of where I need to be.
 
I once tried to describe it to a friend but it seemed that my friend already had one of his own.  His was not exactly like mine.  His was a different shape and color, but his was there to lead him to where he needed to be also.  He doesn’t keep his in his pocket.  He keeps his on a chain close to his heart.  How are those guesses coming along?  Do you have anything yet?
 
Let me tell you a little bit about myself, and then maybe that will give you a hint as to what is in my pocket.  I am a woman.  I am a mom.  I am an appreciator of music, pretty pictures, and a warm hug.  I am an optimist.  I look at the world and see joy in even the littlest things.  I love to laugh and try to help others find happiness as well.  I am a firm believer in following your dreams and I will do anything I can to help you achieve them.  I had people help me along the way to my achievements and see myself as paying the good deed forward.  I see great things for you.  I see possibility and promise.  Do you know what is in my pocket?
 
I have misplace the item in my pocket a few times in my life.  When I lost my grandmother to Cancer I sat on the floor at work and cried.  I reached into my pocket to make sure that what had been there for so long was still there, but it was gone.  I didn’t know where I had lost it and didn’t know where to begin to look for it.  I mourned my grandmother for a long time.  As the sunshine started to slowly return to my days I would occasionally reach into my pocket out of habit.  One day I discovered that the secret thing in my pocket had come back.  It was small and it was weak but it was there.  Over time it regained its previous size and strength.
 
Another time I got into a really bad fight with my best friend.  I was the world to me, and a simple miscommunication brought that world crashing down around my feet.  He and I didn’t speak for almost five months.  My heart was broken.  I didn’t know how to get through the days without him.  I reached for the secret in my pocket the way a child would reach for the comfort of a soft blanket, but just like when my grandmother passed away, my hidden item was gone.  It had disappeared without a sound.  There was nothing left of it.  The loss of my best friend and the lost of my most treasured item left my heart empty and broken.  I didn’t know how to go on without the two things I needed most to survive.
 
My best friend and I eventually made up.  There were tearful apologies and healing hearts.  My world came back together.  But did the item in my pocket come back?  Just like after the healing started after I lost my grandmother I reached into my pocket one day and there was the item again.  It was bigger and stronger than it had ever been.  It shined and sparkled.  It lights my way when the road seems dark.  It keeps me going when I have nothing else.
 
So what is the item in my pocket?  Do you know?
 
In my pocket I have everything I need to keep my heart going and my dreams alive.
 
In my pocket I have hope.
 

For something that I wrote in about twenty minutes on a whim just to see if I had the courage to submit to a writing competition I am happy with the finished product.  It felt good to plant the seed given with the lead sentence and to see what my mind could make grow from that.  It was fun to write it and I will do it again.  I seriously doubt that anything will come from my little submission but . . .

In my pocket I have hope.

Don’t overthink it. Just write.

I had lunch with the drummer today, whom I might add was in a stellar mood (eye-rolling sarcasm intended).  He was tired and grumpy and still has a long day ahead of him.  I am of the naturally perky disposition most of the time, so seeing him today in a grumpy mood kicked my need to spread glitter and rainbows into overdrive.  He wasn’t going for it at all.

Perkiness is my shield.  It is my defense when I am down, if that makes sense.  When I am feeling less than happy then I can put on a false smile and skip around and nobody will know that I am feeling hurt.  If they don’t know that I am unhappy then I don’t have to talk about it and inconvenience them with my debbie-downer feelings.  It’s so much easier to spread glitter, rainbows and sunshine.

Right now I am feeling a bit down over my inability to write anything.  There are no ideas.  There is no urge to write.  My internal literary monster has gone into hibernation.  That scares me because writing is my release and I know no other way to purge myself when I run out of rainbows and glitter.  Writing is my voice when my mouth can’t find the words.

I told the drummer that I feel like I have lost my voice, that I am stuck in the writer purgatory known as “writer’s block.”  He said the one phrase that reminded me why I had not shared my unhappiness with anyone else about this . . . “Just sit down and start writing.  It doesn’t have to be good or make sense.  Just write.”  I wanted to punch him in the face.  Does he think that I haven’t tried that?  I sit down with my pen in hand and a piece of paper in front of me and my mind empties like a popped balloon.  I don’t know what to write about.  If I follow his advice I will sit down and end up writing a slew of disconnect words . . . orange kiss music lanyard ticket pig wonka . . .

I tried to put it into terms that he might understand . . . “Imagine sitting down behind your kit, drumsticks in hand.  You are ready to play, but the moment you move to beat out the rhythm you completely forget how to play.  You no longer know at all anything that you have learned since the moment you first picked up the sticks as a child.  What do you do?”

His response:  “You just start hitting the drums until it all comes back.”

“But what if it doesn’t come back?”

“It will.  It’s like writing a song.  You just start writing words until suddenly you have a phrase that makes sense.”

The drummer’s logic is correct, I know.  I should just sit down and take even a bad idea and write until my brain gets out of its weird little funk that it’s in, but what if hitting the drums doesn’t make it come back?  He even gave me an idea to write about, one that could be very interesting if written correctly, but one that could also turn to crap very quickly if not written correctly.

Of all the people I could have turned to with my current lack-of-writing-induced-unhappiness I turned to the drummer, the one person whom I have only known for a few months, but that I knew would not give me a line of bullsh*t.  I knew he wouldn’t try to stroke my ego.  I knew he would refute every excuse I tried to give him about why I can’t write.  He said it best one day last week . . . he and I are friends because he challenges me.  He was right.  Nobody else challenges me the way he does.  All of my friends are people of very similar personality to me.  The drummer and I are so very different.  I’m not used to that.  He does challenge me.  He does force me to look at things differently that I always have.

So, is he correct about just sitting down and writing no matter what comes out.  Should I take his idea and go with it and find out if it leads anywhere?  What if nothing comes out?  He offered one more bit of guidance before we parted at the end of our lunch . . . “Don’t overthink it.  Just write.”

Take a deep breath.  Open up the notebook.  Uncap the inkpen.  Don’t overthink it.  Just write.  Don’t overthink it.  Just write . . .

A writer who can’t write

I’m in a really weird spot right now.  It’s one that I am no longer used to.  I spent 6 months writing and editing my book.  If I wasn’t working on that then I was writing poetry.  Now that my book is done I have nothing to write.  My brain has gone to sleep, if you will.  Writing is what makes me feel complete.  The gratifying feeling of the pen in my hand as it pours my thoughts onto the paper in front of me.  It was an addictive form of mental release that I discovered in childhood.  Now I am going through withdrawal.

I don’t have anything to write about.  The few ideas I had for short stories have not been the greatest and my heart isn’t into trying to alter or expand on them.  I have no ideas for any new poetry.  I can only assume that my imagination is taking a little siesta after having completed my book, but I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not writing.  My hand feels like it’s missing part of itself.  It itches to hold a pen to paper.  I want to write, but nothing is there.

Is this normal?  Is this the post-workout nap, if you will?  Will the ideas come back?  Writing is what I love, but I’m scared that I sacrificed every bit of my imagination on a goal that took 6 months to achieve.

I’ve not voiced this concern to anyone else because the friends that aren’t writers (none of them) wouldn’t understand how I feel.  I feel like my voice has been taken away.  My best friend would just tell me to try to write a little bit everyday until it comes back.  But what if it doesn’t come back?  I stare a a piece of paper and my head goes blank.

I am a writer.  I am a storyteller and poet.  I am a girl with a fanciful imagination that sees the world through her ink pen instead of with just her eyes.  Or at least I was all of those things until recently.  Has my imagination run out of ink?  Has my notebook run out of pages?  Have I run out of words?

What do you call a writer who can’t write?

Broken (poem)

Toxic, angry, bitter tears
A wordless scream nobody hears
No more glitter in the heart
Laying in pieces, broken apart
The rainbow doomed to fade away
In the dying sunshine of the day
The soul is weak, the heart broken down
As the coward loses her false crown
 
By:  Carrie Leigh
01.15.2014

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Memphis is one of my most favorite cities that I’ve ever trveled to.  It is so rich with history, life, culture, and music.  Beale Street on a Friday or Saturday night is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life.  Not to mention . . . Elvis and Graceland.  I am a huge Elvis fan.  I’ve been to Graceland twice, and have cried at his grave in the Memorial Garden.  But there is more to Memphis than music, nightlife, civil rights history, and the world headquarters of FedEx.  There is a hospital in Memphis that makes miracles. Memphis, Tennessee is home to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital I got this from Wikipedia for you:

“St. Jude was founded by entertainer Danny Thomas, with help from Dr. Lemuel Diggs and close friend, Miami Florida auto magnate Anthony Abraham., on the premise that “no child should die in the dawn of life”.[1] This idea resulted from a promise that Danny Thomas, aMaronite, had made to a saint years before the hospital was founded. Thomas was a comedian, who was struggling to get a break in his career and living paycheck to paycheck. When his first child was about to be born, he attended Mass in Detroit and put his last $7 in the offering bin. He prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus for a means to provide for his family, and about a week later, he obtained a gig that paid 10 times what he had put in the offering bin. After that time, Thomas believed in the power of prayer. He promised St. Jude Thaddeus that if he made him successful, he would one day build him a shrine. Years later, Danny Thomas became an extremely successful comedian and built St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a shrine to St. Jude Thaddeus to honor his promise.[2] In 1957, Thomas founded the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), which helped him realize his dream . . . St. Jude opened its doors in 1962.”

He made a promise and he kept it and countless children have been saved “in the dawn of life” from the horror of childhood cancer.

The radio station I work for does a 2-day radiothon for St. Jude every September.  The hospital exists primarily on donations.  No patient is ever asked to pay a penny for the treatments their child receives.  The hospital doesn’t even have a billing department.  St. Jude Children Research Hospital exists, not to make money, but to save the lives of our children.  That takes a lot of money to do, so St. Jude does a lot of fundraising all throughout the year.  Hence, the radiothon that my radio station does every September.  For two days we throw all regular programming out the window and we hear stories of children that have been saved by St. Jude, and children who sadly did not win their fight.  We talk to children from the town my station is in who have been affected by St. Jude.  We put two of our sales people on the air who are a St. Jude dad and a St. Jude aunt.  We laugh.  We cry.  We help St. Jude fight for and save our babies, our sons, our daughters.  The radiothon makes for a long two days.  It’s emotionally draining.  It’s a rollercoaster of happiness when somebody become a partner in hope and sadness when he hear the story of a child that lost their fight.  This past September the toll got so heavy on my heart while I was in the studio that I sank to the floor and hung my head in my hands and just wept, wept hard.  It all paid off though at the end of the two days when our St. Jude rep, who courageously cheerleaded and kept us going for those two days, gave us the grand total dollar amount that we raised.  That one moment makes the whole radiothon, the sad stories, the crying on the air, the heartbreak, the mental and emotional exhaustion, worth it.

This coming weekend I am going to Memphis for the Country Cares weekend at St. Jude.  It’s basically a media weekend for radio, TV, and print outlets that fundraise for St. Jude.  There are seminars, a hospital tour, and patient stories.  I look forward to going, not because Memphis is one of my favorite cities, but because I will finally be able to see in person the hospital that I fundraise all year for with the radio station.  I know there will be tears.  I know I will learn how to better execute the radiothon.  I know I will stand in awe of the place that makes miracles everyday.  I care about St. Jude though and want to give them as much as my heart can.  They save our children in the dawn of their lives.  The fight each and everyday to cure childhood cancer.

I’ve been blessed to have a relatively healthy son, but I know that should my beautiful boy need them then St. Jude would be there for him.  That is why I love St. Jude.  That is why I do the radiothon.  That is why I cry on the air and fundraise.  I do it so that St. Jude will always be there for my son, your son, your daughter, your niece or nephew, your grandchildren, your coworkers children, every child . . . Because you never know which one of those children may grow up to find the cure for cancer that will enable St. Jude to shut it’s doors forever.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I will fundraise for St. Jude until childhood cancer is gone.