Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Shallow End by: Karen Pilarski

I remember the first time I took swim class in high school. Ugly black swimsuits recycled from decades past. It was 1995 not 1940. The hideous and tight swimming cap left a long red mark on my forehead. In the class period after there was always one smart ass who would ask if you had swim that day. If it wasn’t the imprint of the cap it was the repugnant smell of chlorine that lasted the rest of the day.  
I was a big baby about gym and swim. That first day I cautiously dipped my big toe in the lukewarm water.  Around me colorful swimming caps bobbed up and down in the pool. I noticed long arms of classmates stretching out making beautiful rhythmic waves. The swim coach yelled for me to get in the water. There I was clinging to the ladder and making my way into the watery abyss. My legs tensed up and arms flailing around like a fish out of water. As I gasped for breath I clutched the wall. Somehow I passed swim class with a C-. 

It is simple to stay in the shallow end of the pool. It is comfortable and protective. The bad part is all that is being missed by taking the easy way. While flopping around in water that barely goes up to the knees, others have the freedom to move. There are unlimited boundaries to see how fast it takes to make it to the other side. At times, I have clutched that wall and stayed in the shallow end. However, when I really want something I go full force like an Olympian going for the gold. It is hard to take risks and have a leap of faith when there is nothing stopping from dragging someone under the tide. Maybe this is where the saying ‘sink or swim’ comes from. The choice has to be made, should I try or just let myself give up and drown in effort? 

It is very hard to make the choice when it is a small fish in a big pond. Think of the job market and read a random job posting. There is always a requirement of a specific number of years experience. Others applicants are more experienced and skilled. Many are biting at the bait wanting that job. I’m educated and creative but the hook is I lack experience. How can a person make a splash if no one is willing to take a chance on the little fish? I often dream of writing and editing for a newspaper, magazine or news station. I do have my writing ‘sea legs.’ My work has been published. I just have to keep sticking my head out of the water to be noticed. The possibility of sinking is feasible but the opportunity to swim in the big pool is worth the dive.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Step Son, Myself by:Karen Pilarski

I joked with a colleague today about how I'm slowly turning into my parents. At times I randomly fall asleep at the table or in a movie theater. Temper flares up like a flame and then is extinguished after counting to ten. Somehow I have inherited impatience, weird health aliments and the ability to ride a wave of emotional ups and downs. Why wasn't I born with art, crafts, and cooking skills? My father likes to learn different languages and culture. Open minded to it, sure. Yet no real drive to fully engage in doing it. My mom and brothers are talented artists. I'm the odd ball who loves to write. Although I have no biological children, I have a step children. I hope some of my attributes have imprinted into their souls.

 My step son Nathan is fourteen. Fourteen going on twenty. Conceited and entitled sense of being. How quickly one can go from fourteen to four in a blink of an eye. My husband as my in-laws tell me, was the exact same way. My step son is smart and a book worm like his dad. He has the same large nose and the same smile. He is actually a very handsome mini version of my husband. If the contemptuous attitude would disappear, Nathan would be an actual human being. I meander. Youngsters don't understand it is not what they say that hurts it is the feelings that singe others. Nathan told me last weekend that he no longer wanted to come over by me and his father's house. "I can't take three days in a row over there." He also told my husband that he wishes I never married his father. Some of the haste comes with the territory of being a step parent. It is a given the "you are not my mother" card would be shown.

Maya Angelou said “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I love her quote! I have had some good and bad times in my life. The strongest memories come from the feelings that attached to those fading visions. What I felt carries more weight than the words spoken. A lesson I wish Nathan would learn is that it doesn't matter what over the top and dramatic words he says. Nor does it matter the cuss words spewed out of his mouth. It barely registers with me the stomping and throwing fits. What matters is the sadness I feel when he takes out his trouble on others. Specifically his father. A sense of failure as a parent for letting this child spin so far out of control. People often trivialize Nathan's attitude as 'being a teen.' A friend of mine said she thinks Nathan should be shipped to a third world country in order to see real suffering and difficulties. Maybe the feelings of hopelessness of those who lived there would sear the icy exterior?

 I know with time Nathan will grow out of the immature thinking and take responsibility for his actions. As  memories of his youth drifts into years past, I imagine there will be lingering unpleasant feelings that spring back up at times. When he becomes a parent himself I hope he remembers not how he acted, but how he made those around him feel. Perhaps he will be a better parent and person for it. One day he will remember me and his dad as good parents and not the controlling monsters he claims all authority figures to be. In the distant future he will jokingly and lovingly remark how he is becoming his parents.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Regret and Reality by: Karen Pilarski

I wish I met you years before
Avoiding the thunder and heavy rain that poured
All before the grave mistakes
Unearthed from underneath the ground
Ugliness of choices and feelings now decomposing along the floor
Scratched and bruised from the chances I tried to take
Only to be left shivering and dying in it’s wake

Longing the caress of the hand discovering the softness of my face
Hunger to consume the sweetness of your taste
Distance of miles and life stretched on too far
Unable to travel to where you are
Perhaps in another time or place
Yet reminded the bed chosen can’t be unmade.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I hate Cupid by: Karen Pilarski

Red cellophane hearts stacked on shelves. Children pressing buttons on those furry stuffed animals that sing off key tunes. Red Hots spilled on the floor. Chocolate and cartoon kid cards litter the store. It is Valentine’s Day. The single person’s dreaded time of the year. If you the reader are single, I’ll let you in on a secret.  People in relationships hate this day too. 

Where is the actual courting? If the relationship is a few years old most people wait until the day before or morning of to get last minute Valentine’s Day gifts. I know someone who thinks the day was created from card industry and he would be ‘fake’ if he bought into it. However, let me point out when he was married to his first wife and even before that he seemed to buy into it. There is a story of finding a crystal rose he bought for an old girlfriend.  While I love romance and lovely gestures, I don’t want to make someone do something they don’t want to do. 

Despite the lack of gifts, where is the actual romance? Is it enough to take someone out to eat or to a movie? Then what? A few winks and drinks and then it is time to hit the sheets.

It would be simpler to eliminate the notion that romance has to be forced.  I would prefer someone to hide treats in my desk or write a message on a foggy mirror. There doesn’t have to be some gallant answer that involves a huge diamond and flower strewn paths. 

The daydreams and fantasies that are built up in our heads never live up to the hype.  The cute waitress might actually be a chain smoking crazy cat lady. The nerdy and bald guy you are crushing on may have a gambling addiction and a weird infection.  For some single people anything is better than nothing at all. To be frank, married and couples share the same belief.  

While I am married, I loathe Valentine’s Day. The card never really says how you feel. The chocolate gives you a stomach ache.  The card I would like to get says the following:

Dear hon,
You look sexy and thin in everything you wear. I’d rather watch the ‘Carrie Diaries’ than some dumb game. I cleaned the whole house and made you a candle light dinner. Low cal of course.
P.S. I told my mother she is not allowed over until next year.
With all my heart and soul,

 So singles lets unite with married people and whip conversation hearts at those kissy faced jerks in the wooing stage of romance.