Monday, August 25, 2014

Skin (...a recent, rough excerpt)

(....excerpt taken from a longer work in progress, called Skin...)

I waited in my room listening to Pink Floyd all afternoon.  It was     almost night when Alex’s dad called.   I knew it was him, I could feel it.  I snuck out of my room and sat at the top of the stairs and tried to listen. Mom was the one who stayed on the phone even though dad was home.  I could hear dad watching the History channel in the den.  I wished he’d turn it down.

I strained to hear the conversation and went down a couple of steps and sat on the floor.

“She is just fifteen and I don’t want….” I heard part of her sentence and pieced together several more fragments,

“I need to make sure….”

“….you will be there?”

Half sentences in between silence.

“If I send my daughter….I need to know…”

I walked all the way down the stairs holding my breath and stood quiet by the trophy case.

“Well, you have my number in case you need to call…..okay…….okay…….bye.”

I waited for a minute, walked back up the stairs and then stomped down so mom could hear me coming.

“Was that him?”

Mom’s eyebrows lifted and furrowed down.


“He was really hard to understand.”

“I told you he…”

“You told me he was Hungarian….he also stutters.”

“Oh…I forgot.”

Mom collapsed her head into her hands,

“I just don’t know if I am making the right decision,”

“You are,” I said.

Mom continued,

“I don’t ever know if I am making the right decision with you kids….”

“Mom!”  I raised my voice so she would stop.

She looked at me through parted fingers,

“Mom….everything is fine,” I said “everything is going to be fine.”

“I just don’t want….anything bad to happen.”

I felt my body slump into the ground at her comment.  I huffed and sat down hard bench in the entry way facing her.

“Nothing bad is going to happen to me,” I said in monotone.

“How do you know?” She raised her voice at me, “you are just a child.”

“……and, I am your mother….”’

I sat inbetween mom’s worry and dad’s History Channel sounds.  I felt like putting my hands over my ears. 

“What bad things could happen, mom?”

“You could get pregnant Allison!”

Her eyes shook back and forth at me.

“Mom!” I shouted at her.

“You have to know all women in our family get pregnant easily.”

I jumped up, turned around in a circle and threw my hands up.

“Did you talk to his dad about that?!”

She didn’t say anything,


“I just don’t want you to make the mistake my family did.”

Mom turned her back to me and walked away.  She stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned her face to look at me.

“Well you can go aren’t you happy?”
She walked up the staircase.  I got up and followed her,

“Mom, I am not going to get pregnant.”

She didn’t turn around.
Allison Distler

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Stigma of Depression

Robin Williams stunned the world when he committed suicide on August 11, 2014. I was deeply saddened but not stunned. I've always thought he had the saddest eyes. I believe there were many reasons why his death touched so many people: Millions of us can relate to depression. Unlike many celebrities, he didn't die from a drug overdose. He had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and was on medication that had a side effect of suicide.

When you think about how physical his comedy was and how lightning fast his mind worked, he must have felt his career and way of life were over. We cannot know what goes on in another person's mind, nor is it any of our business. The laughter he gave to all of us and his kind spirit to all he met will be sorely missed. After his death there was a lot of information and misinformation on every form of media you can name. I'm disheartened that so many people believe that fame and fortune will guarantee happiness. This prompted be to write the following post on Facebook.
I don't usually post much of a personal nature on FB, but I feel strongly about the topic of depression, so part of my writing today is going to include my thoughts on depression, an illness with the stigma of shame attached to it. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago, I felt a lot of things, shame was never one of them. I didn't hide it. I had support. I got well. Depression is a whole different game. We often try to hide our depression or deny that we suffer from it. The tricky part of depression is that sometimes you don't even know why you're depressed. This starts a lot of self-talk. "What's wrong with you? You don't have anything to be depressed about. Get up off the couch you ungrateful piece of shit." When I had breast cancer, not one person said to me, "Stop having cancer." But I have heard people say, "Stop being so depressed." Not helpful.I was never so depressed that I felt suicidal, but I have wondered how I could keep going. Many people think it's weak to ask for help. Asking for help is just the opposite of weakness. It's one of the strongest things you'll ever do for yourself. I think that sometimes, people are so worn down from fighting depression, that they feel they have run out of options. My two cents.

Laughter and smiles hide a lot. Take care of yourselves. Put your own oxygen mask on first. 

Rebekah for the Poplar Grove Muse. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

When I Wrote My First Poem
                                               (September 2013)
I probably didn’t write it
I probably sang it as I skipped to the creek
As I jumped from rock to rock
As I returned home up the hill shaded by buckeye trees
And smelling of wild roses
Or maybe it was when I climbed from tier to tier
In our old tobacco barn
Playing pretend games
And finding something new and exciting
In every spider webby corner
Every slant of sunlight dancing with dust motes
I still write poems like this
Not writing them, I mean
I sing them
Sometimes rhyming
Sometimes loose and free and flowing
More like the creek in our valley
Than the woodpeckers’ steady rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat
On the hollow beech
And I sing in the car and in my kitchen
And in the garden when I’m picking green beans
Trouble is, I rarely remember these poems, these songs
For longer than a minute
And I lament that I don’t carry pad and pen in my pocket
Or recorder in my car
How many profundities have found no ears
But mine to inspire?
How many beautiful noticings have blessed my heart alone?
I regret for a moment or two my lack of memory
But then I forget what I’m regretting
As a swallowtail butterfly catches my eye and carries it
Far beyond my soul searching exercise
Or my old cat begs to have his ears scratched
And can anyone give full attention to a purring cat
Without losing track of most everything else?
And maybe it’s okay that I don’t remember
That first poem I wrote
Or the one I sang this morning as I lay in the early morning stillness
And listened to my husband’s soft breathing
Maybe what I get from it is enough—I am being
Myself, in the moment, spontaneous
I am (as Mary Oliver put it
In her poem she remembered to write down)
“Married to amazement”
And what a fine state of marital bliss it is!                 

Glenda for the Poplar Grove Muse