Archive | March, 2013

Seeing the Gray in Others – and Doing Something About it

26 Mar

When you go for a walk, while you shop at the grocery store, on a bench outside of work, on the sidewalk, in a class room, you see it…

The slouch of the posture
the roundness of the shoulders
eyes that seem to spill with sadness
behind a large swallow

Downcast eyes
searching for an answer
a tentative sigh
as if afraid to take the most natural step of life

Shakiness of a sentence
a heaviness of the body
sagging
towards earth

Life spent in a muted gray. Sadness, in its most cruel form: depression. What can you do? If you knew, would you actually do it?

A smile. A meeting of the eyes with kindness in your look, even if the moment is fleeting.

A connection.
A reminder that they are seen.
A feeling of validation that they hold a place in this world.
An assertion of existence.
Hope.

In our children, nieces/nephews, in kids of our friends, we learn how cruel words or actions by another can make a deep impact on their vulnerable and developing psyche and we have seen as a society a concerted effort to prevent bullying and the mistreatment of children at that impressionable age.

But what happens when those children who are under-cared, under-loved, under-appreciated, abused even, grow into adults? No longer seen as cute, vulnerable, or helpless – they are commonly tossed aside, dismissed – as if with age (and no help) they are magically cured of the fog that weighs them down.

A small gesture that might make you slightly uncomfortable, a smile to a stranger (I’m not asking you to walk around staring at strangers with wide toothy grins either), can make a difference, however small, on the recipient of your kindness.

My fellow Angelenos, whether native or transplants, I know what you’re thinking as you roll your eyes – eye contact AND a smile? But then I won’t be able to conserve my hip disinterested Hollywood cool look! Alas, no one is as cool as James Dean, and I bet that even he looked a little awkward walking around LA and would have benefited from a kind smile too.

If it’s someone who you know through work, ask them to join you for a cup of coffee or actually stop as you pass by their desk and say a warm hello. Nothing big. Feel the warmth and the kindness as you do it and they will feel it too.

Small acts of kindness, that’s not asking for much. On my first day to class at the local community college, I was frantically looking for where I had to pay the parking fee when a fellow student told me that the first week was free to allow for a smooth transition for students. That’s two acts of kindness there: that student didn’t have to tell me anything and could have walked off as I scurried around, and the school for giving a person a break! I asked the student where the B building was and they graciously showed me the way.

On my second week of class as I was pulling up to the meter to pay for the daily pass of parking, another fellow student gave me their daily pass as they were leaving and wished me an early Christmas (it was February) as they smilingly drove away.

On the fourth week of class, I saw someone else asking students for change (for the parking) looking increasingly frustrated as no one did. I didn’t either but when I walked back to my car to retrieve my belongings I noticed I did have the exact change and nothing more. My last $2 in cash. I walked over and gave them to him, and as he tried to hand a $5 I waved it off and said, “offer $2 to someone else who might need it as repayment”. He was very thankful and touched and I felt REALLY good, really ALIVE as I walked away.

Small acts of kindness, of human interaction, no matter how old we are or from what walk of life we are, make a difference. They pay in higher dividends than the bogus schemes of Wall Street bankers. ;)

Share your moment of kindness – given or received!

The SuperFlyingMonkeys at the San Francisco Golden Gate Slides

22 Mar

Release

22 Mar

Sadness pools at my feet
rolling slowly off my chest
leaving an icy cold behind

An avalanche of emotion
a substance removed
hollowed inside

Swallowing in silence
revisiting the sorry taste
of loneliness

A deep sigh
for pressure relieved
shoulders rolled back

Deep breathes
of heaviness
blow it out

Slowly
back to the calm
I am released

Mother may I?: When will women stop asking for permission?

21 Mar

It’s 2013 and women have not made up their mind as to what it means to be a feminist; whether we want to be celebrated for our achievements professionally, for the social good, as a mother, or as all three – whether we should be working outside the home and whether we should be telling other women how to live their lives according to our individual epiphanies for the holy grail: defining our version of a perfect work/life balance while being excellent mothers. We haven’t stopped wanting validation on how to live our lives within our desired parameters, in many ways we have not stopped asking, “Mother May I?” when shaping our role as women.

It seems we always have a need to espouse our personal beliefs and best methods for parenting unto unsuspecting innocent bystanders and expect them to join the madness of bullying and peer pressure until the world realizes that our mothering skills and choices are superior over anyone elses, as seen in recent stories.

I have no qualms about sharing what works for you personally; stories of self-discovery and joy are always welcome but blanket statements on who should be doing the majority of child rearing and house chores based on the belief that one gender is “innately” better at parenting makes me want to hurl, literally, on their kitchen floor.

I won’t make any attacks on either Kelly Makino, a non-profit employee turned SAHM, or even journalist Lisa Miller; the media tends to spin these gold nuggets of controversy into a frenetic storm so that you can’t help but go into the story already with an arsenal of prejudices. Ms. Makino is in her every right to CHOOSE the lifestyle that best complements her objectives as a mother, good for her and her family for coming to a compromise for the benefit of their vision of family bliss.

But to brand this personal choice made by two women as a trend of an emerging feminist domestic goddess while Dad goes off to work and gets a break from Mommy and the Kids is insulting. Not only because it lacks substantial research (Lisa Miller couldn’t find a third mom to prove her case?), scientific backing of statements made that women tend to have stronger “motherly” instincts than their male counterparts, baseless statements that women tend to be more efficient in the domestic realm (didn’t Lisa mention Ms. Makino’s dirty dishes in the sink?), and also irresponsible in ignoring an actual growing trend: the single parent and same-sex parents. The Boston Globe states that 1 in 4 children in the US is raised by a single parent. The numbers for same-sex parents are harder to identify as given the political and social climate in many cities, this is not a statement nor figure that is highly publicized.

I have friends who are same-sex couples and make wonderful parents, sharing both the responsibility and the joy of child-rearing without thinking about dividing the tasks based on gender identity roles. One parent might have more responsibility due to a higher flexibility at work while the other focuses on higher earning but no one stops to think about who was born with better pre-disposed patience and parenting sentiments.

In terms of the single parent, be it mother or father, how can you dictate that you are being selfish for pursuing a career and relying on supplemental childcare to carry your household forward if you are the sole bearer of that responsibility? I am a big fan of Sandberg’s “Lean In” initiative and I subscribe to the thinking that women’s rights is far from over, we are nowhere near an egalitarian society. I firmly believe that women should always have a personal choice to seek the lifestyle that brings them the most peace of mind and fulfillment and to have the right to define what their role will be in life without fear of judgement from others, especially from other women.

I get snide remarks, sideways glances, “well-intentioned” advice to scale back on my multiple commitments. As a single parent the onus is on me, and only me, to advance my family financially, emotionally, and to create a thriving environment for my two girls so they can grow to be happy (in whichever way they choose to achieve that satisfaction from life).

I have a full-time career that is demanding but also highly satisfying to my professional goals, my social network, my ability to push myself, and let’s face it, to my ego as well. I am highly involved in a non-profit, in a growing parent group that I founded almost five years ago, I am committed to my writing, to furthering my education, to being a good daughter and sibling, and to my social life. My children do not even make the list because items on lists are essentially line items, all of the above, can come and go and change over time; but not my commitment, love and care of my children. They are as part of me and essential and naturally occurring as breathing. They give me life, motivation, kindness, happiness, the ability to admire humanity – they simply are part of me.

I live my life the way it makes me happiest. I try not to judge others for what they choose but I do hope we can all agree on this: embrace who you are and your version of happiness and celebrate the ability to choose how to be a woman in modern society and what kind of mother you want to be including whether you want to be a mother at all.

LA Morning Commute with the SuperFlyingMonkeys

19 Mar

Helpless

15 Mar

The tide recedes
each time
a bit further
taking with it a little pain
and a little strength

When the sun is out
it warms my face
On my palms
it tingles
and I sigh
relief

I hear the birds sing again
the sky, a gorgeous hue of blue
beauty everywhere
fresh air
never tastes sweeter
sharp
full of promise

I want to run
but not away
towards something, someone, somewhere
Clearly defined

peace

I smile
wide and free
show my teeth even
and giggle endlessly

Self love
the color of my skin
the way it shimmers in the sun
the shape of my body
the softness of my lips
in harmony with my strength

I feel
and more importantly
I Want
to feel

A day, a week, or a month goes by
and I wake up
feeling strange
unsettled

Heaviness sets
my thoughts pained
a cold sweat
as the memories take hold

Alone
the quiet scares me
as it creeps in
the lack of sound

In a fog
everything hurts
my mind lays
Dormant
withdrawn

Those muted days
I don’t wish on anyone

Sadness fills me
at the thought of
Wasted youth
in a frenzy to feel nothing
to fade

Release the gray days
for the clear blue days
learn to feel again
Not so
helpless

Snapshots on Sunset Boulevard

14 Mar

Lush green hidden lawns
Legs tanned
skin glistening
Step, Step, Step
Running
Mansions
concrete pounding
4 o’clock

Fiery red hair
fair skin in a blue dress
Step, Step, Step
Running
up the stairs
4 o’clock

Blonde side swept
perfect hair
Taut bodies
walking in step
sunglasses
4 o’clock

Serving coffee
leaning over
taking orders
Hollywood pretty
side stepping
tables
4 o’clock

Mercedes G-Class SUV
Actor
Smiling
out
4 o’clock

By the Standard
at the Andaz
near the Plaza
glasses
clink, clink
smiling
tightly
4 o’clock

Amoeba beats
nights at the Bowery
red carpets
closing out
at
4 o’clock

101 snaking
to a crawl
rather cruise
down Sunset
past
4 o’clock

Empty lot
womanly curving
body dancing
Adams apple bobbing
in tune
performing

Hidden
reserved
ostentatious wealth
worn at the sleeve
of a $150 flannel
coffee
4 o’clock

Brown skin
worn clothing
sweat
Step, Step, Step
working
way past
4 o’clock

Shining Eyes, Burning Bright

11 Mar

I look around the room
Seeing smiles

I feel warm laughter
bathing me in
glorious luxury

Moments of spontaneous humor
Bursting fits of disengaged silly laughter

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in unexpected love

Walking in a dance of contorting limbs
body moving back and forth
trying
to cap the exulted happiness that bubbles up from deep within
Head back – melodious music – flowing out to the sky

Falling back onto my bare shoulders
tickling me
with sprinkles of kindness

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in reciprocated love

Holding hands
walking in unison
down a pillow-y pathway
of carefree embrace

Daylight outside
slowly receding
to a muted evening
giving way to the inner guide
of jubilant light

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in honored love

Everyone else melts away
Except
their kind smiles
follow us everywhere

Giddily joining us
in our quest for frozen yogurt
Eagerly following us
with dancing eyes
as we sing out an inside joke

In step
we fall
souls to match
walking down LA streets

Night greets us
In a sweet sleep
I lay my head

Waking to see you still here
by my side
Caressing my hair

Shining eyes
Burning bright
with intense joy
Found in unmeasured love

Bronzed Beauties

5 Mar

Running
little legs
Giggles that chase
fear away

Stopping only
for a look
a nod
and they’re off
running
again

Warm light
bouncing off
sun streaked hair
Bright red
shiny cheeks
Riding high on laughter

Smiles
growing wide
Eyes full of wonder
twinkling on the water’s surface
Breaking it
as they jump in

Endless giggles
Bouncing off

Jumping higher
Reaching heights
of carefree happiness

Sunning
Bronzed limbs
in the glow
of California desert nights

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Zack Hunter | Phenomenological Fiction

Zack Hunter is the pseudonym of a Californian poet, author, artist, musician, and researcher. He lives on a farm and spends his free time reading and writing about whatever it is he is passionate about at the time.

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