What happens when my brain splits in two.

dear hearts

Unkept may be the two sides of my brain, but Dear Hearts is the two sides of my heart.

It was difficult to write, not only canvassing the pain that comes when infidelity inflicts a marriage and family, but writing from the perspective of a man who loves said family and adores said marriage yet has an affair with another man? Well, all I can say is life is gritty and Mitch’s life? It ain’t no exception.

Each word sheared away a piece of my heart.

Mitch and Elena are characters that are deeper than characters. They’re a pulse, working together and withering apart. They are victims to their own love story, craving happy endings when understanding what true, devotional, Godly love is has never glimmered on their radar.

They’re the prime example of what happens when life shuffles its cards and you’re left empty-handed.

What can we learn? Appreciate everything you have, even when  life feels like a single grain of sugar boring through a tooth.  Talk openly, honestly. Do no judge but do not blindly accept either.

Love with a sacrificial heart and an expanse of pure dedication.

Know that we only flicker here for a little while. So use every moment.


Dear Hearts is for the over eighteen crowd so please keep that in mind. Also understand that this book is not a promotional platform for any particular viewpoint. It is an examination into the human mind and heart and the struggle life brings when you leave God out of the picture.

You can read Dear Hearts for free here on Wattpad.

Click here for the ebook.

Click here for a paper copy.

Advertisements

Why I’m no longer Catholic.

Why I'm No longer

A friend of mine wrote a post about doing yoga while Catholic, and I of course had to scour every word because I’m a true blue Christ follower who happens to practice yoga. My comment on her post led her to ask me why I stopped going to Mass, but before I get into that lengthy and layered explanation, let me give you a little insight into how I replied to her post:

Cristina, are we the same person?? Seriously, if I don’t meet you in this lifetime, I’m gonna get cranky. I am a Catholic (although I go to a non-denominational church now) and an incredibly strong Christian and took a hiatus from yoga for the following reasons:

1. Before I committed my life to Christ, I was battling depression, sleep paralysis, night terrors and astral projection (I was going through some serious shiznit) that I feel were all related to demonic activity due to my pushing God out of my life. I was also heavily into yoga and doing it for the spiritual benefits, not just the physical. After committing my life to Christ, I immediately stopped suffering from the above craziness and stopped practicing yoga so I wouldn’t accidentally venture down that path again.
2. Everything I read that was in any way Christian-related told me yoga was a no-no.

So why did I start practicing again? Because, much like you, I enjoyed the physical benefits of yoga and had grown so strong in my faith in Jesus, I knew there was no way I’d be persuaded to leave God’s side again. It wasn’t until we were reviewing 1 Corinthians that I realized yoga was a lot like the “sacrificial meat” issue that the early Christians were dealing with. Followers in the early church were wondering if it was sinful for Christians to eat meat that was sacrificed to the gods. Here is what Paul says:

1. No, it’s not sinful as long as the Christian has a truly strong faith in Christ and is merely filling his belly. To insinuate eating the meat is sinful is to insinuate that we believe those gods exist which would therefore mean the meat is a no-no. And obviously, we don’t believe that.
2. Should we promote eating sacrificial meat to non-Christians or those not as strong in their faith yet? Nope! We can eat the meat all we want but shouldn’t advise others to do the same because they may start venturing down the road of worshipping the gods, not having the same relationship with God we do. Ultimately, we live to love others, and if we mislead them, even unintentionally, we aren’t loving them and doing all we can to bring them closer to God.

I find yoga to be our “sacrificial meat.” We don’t believe in the Hindu gods, so for us, yoga is a fun stretching exercise and nothing more. But if we’re constantly vocal about it and teaching novice Christians that it’s all good in the hood, then we run the risk of changing a person’s heart.

Make sense? Or do I sound like a crazy person? Hashtag wouldn’t be the first time.

So Cristina respectfully asked me what made me stop going to Mass and of course my brain and heart started whirling away into what I hope is a coherent blog post:

Like I mentioned in my reply to Cristina’s post, I used to suffer from depression, night terrors, sleep paralysis and eventually my good friend, astral projection (insert sarcasm here).

I started having panic attacks and depressive episodes once I turned sixteen. I used to go to an incredibly challenging private high school (it was an academy actually and blazers were definitely involved), and our way of life consisted of doing whatever we could to have the highest GPA while all the other girls around town were focused on landing a boyfriend.

Snort. Silly girls.

What I didn’t realize is that I’m not as smart as I thought I was, until of course, I actually started to realize it. All that stress, all that concentrated criticism that started like a soft whisper in my ear had me running miles in the Houston heat and knocking on anorexia’s door before the summer to my junior year had ended. I used to try reading Cold Mountain, the book assigned as our summer reading, only to slam the cover shut each time I started to read a line just so I could cry in my closet.

Loathing grew and never really took a breather. But let’s fast forward a little bit, shall we?

I’ve seen some strange things. Ghosts, I guess, although I don’t believe in ghosts anymore. I believe that evil exists, and I believe he can work our minds like a fine piece of glass. Mine stretched to its limits and there was a deep-seated fear that even that psychic could sniff out when I visited her on my twenty-fifth birthday.

The “Oh, girl!” look on her face was priceless. She could practically taste the possession.

I don’t know what made me so weak to the evil, although deep down, I truly do. I had denied God for so long that the denial set like concrete and broke me apart, inside then out.

I was smarter than everyone else. A feminist. Brilliant. Talented. Better. There was no room for your silly God in my life.

And yet? And yet I was miserable.

I was Catholic but I wore it more like an ethnicity than a transformation of spirit. I think a lot of us who grow up in a church, regardless of denomination, do that very thing. We become used to “a” plus “b” equaling “c,” never stopping to take a good look at “x” in the corner. We check off boxes, consider ourselves a good little religious girl or boy, but sometimes the world wants more than your Sunday morning attendance.

Sometimes the world needs every inch of you, every moment of your life.

So let’s slow down a bit now, focus on “the moment” as I like to call it.

My brother’s sister wanted us to go to their church. We had stopped going to Mass for awhile now and even though this was the case, I would never ever ever ever go to a church that wasn’t a Catholic church because I was a good little religious girl deep down, right? I would never break the rules.

But eventually we went if only to say we did, get this whole shebang over with.  And then the best worst thing possible happened. My heart changed.

I wanted to go again, thirsty for more words, the Word, and during this time the worst of everything was happening:

Night terrors where I could feel the stench of evil on me, my soul ripping out of my body and spinning on the ceiling, paralytic attacks where my body couldn’t move and no sound would leave my lips.

Fear of sleep.

But one night in November, after a rough year of battling my personal hell, I gave my life to Jesus before I closed my eyes to go to bed that night.

And ever since, that hell has been a thing of the past.

I was blind and now I see. I’ve been transformed, born again, made anew. I never in a million years believed in that kind of talk. As a Catholic, I believed in doing good works and holding my breath, holding out hope that one day that would be good enough to get me close to God in Heaven.

As a follower of Christ, I know I’m already accepted and that absolute love and grace is what drives me to share that kind of hope with others. I’ve gone beyond the rules and focus instead on life’s every day moments and the ways I can deliver God’s message through my actions, not my empty words.

What it all boils down to: The way I feel now, the way I feel about Christ and his love doesn’t perfectly align with the Catholic philosophy I used to hold onto, and that’s why I no longer go to Mass. I’d be denying the truth I know now, and that wouldn’t be fair to anybody.

Things I’d like to address:

  • I am in no way insinuating or implying that a Catholic can’t be transformed by Christ.
  • I am insinuating and implying, however, that the Catholic faith for me was a series of rules I forced myself to follow and then felt guilty if I faltered. I think we can all agree that this is no way to live. Not everyone encounters the Catholic faith the way I did, and that is a very good thing.
  • I currently go to a non-denominational Christian church.
  • My beliefs do not align with Protestantism either.
  • My beliefs align only with Christ and his message, and I do what I can to live that message every day.
  • A lot of times I fail.
  • A lot of times I get back up.
  • I don’t believe one religion is better than another. In fact, like Jesus, I’m not a huge fan of religion altogether.
  • I am a fan of people. Of meeting with church friends on Sundays to pray and meditate for about an hour. To check in and see how everyone’s doing.
  • I am a fan of hanging out with non-Christians, getting to know them and their lives. Their stories.
  • You never know who you’re going to meet or why God wants you to meet them. Always, keep an open mind like Jesus.
  • This is all a journey and each one of us is at a different point on the path. Knowing this tends to soften a heart.
  • Keep that heart soft, y’all.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I just published a new book of poetry online. Click here to read for free.

Energy

IMG_3630

An

incredible amount

of energy

is spent

forgetting

all that’s left

to remember.

-e.c.

Gold

Ava's Soccer.jpg

Once, I was a little girl, too, until the sun prospered then withered and all the gold drained to gray.

But now I see it in your smile.

Dear Ava,

running away letter

DEAR AVA,

I hope
This
Finds
You well and
The kids
And Jack
Are safe
And happy
And set
To swimming
In the beautifully
Blue pool.
The picture
Was lovely.
It looks
Like a long
Shard of glass
And that bird
Reflected,
Hovering up high
Reminded me of the one
That swooped
And ate your
Newborn butterflies
That hatched
From that kit
I bought you.
I should have
Paid more attention
But butterflies
Are a nasty thing
To own.
How’s the cat
And that gerbil
That I’m always
Afraid the cat
Will eat?
Is Lucille
Still eating
Her fingernails
Like you always used
To do and might still?
Funny, the dedication
taken
To shredding
And imbibing ourselves.
I’m well.
The postman
Asked the other
Day
About your father
And I said, “Still Dead,”
But no smile on his face.
What a waste because
He looks a little
Like
Dicaprio in Gatsby
And a smile
Would do him good.
Me, too, I guess.
But not to get down
And out.
Have to keep the spirits
Up.
Have to keep on keeping on.

Sometimes, I talk to God
And dare him to listen.

I have to get on
Now
And I know
You’re busy with the
Glass shard pool
And Jack and the kids
And all the minutes
That feel
Like hours
Until your glass has
Spilled
And all you see
Is your damp
Eye hovering
From
above.

Touch

  

If it feels right, you know it’s meant to be.

There’s an organization called Scarlet Hope that is everything the world should be.

It’s aim is to help women remove themselves from the adult entertainment industry by offering transitional-living, career counseling, housing, mentoring, transportation, and drug rehabilitation. They give women the option of living a more hopeful life for themselves and their children.

This organization has gotten me think about ways that I can help. Volunteering my time is a little difficult right now, so I figured I could offer my talent and treasure instead. This is why I’m relaunching Tipsy Lit, and I’m currently looking for poetry submissions.

tipsy lit books

My aim is to regularly publish poetry chapbooks that reflect the human soul and raise money for charitable organizations like Scarlet Hope. Published poets will receive a free PDF, ePub, or mobi copy for the amazing gift they’ve given the world.

Below is a chapbook of my own poetry that I’ve published under the Tipsy Lit imprint. The book is a $1 (it only comes in a PDF version), and all proceeds will be going to Scarlet Hope.

Thank you to everyone who purchases a copy.

too human

 

Too Human: A Poetry Chapbook

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

*If you’d like your ebook sent to an email address other than your PayPal email, please make a note of this in the “Note to Seller” box. Please also note if you would like the PDF, ePub, or mobi version.

A Little Bit of Runners

Music has prompted my writerly brain to keep concocting, particularly this song:

Now for the result. A sneak peak of the novel I’m currently working on, Runners:

The first thing I do when I wake up is think, Well now now, don’t you look like a whored up clown? because that’s exactly what the mirror tries to tell me. I have these boots Mareck swiped from the Good Will which is across from the Piggly Wiggly where he works obnoxiously long hours, like I’m talking until ten at night. He’s nineteen, still a senior though, but he can work late because he’s not an “underling” like me.

Anyway, these boots, they’re the bane of Mom’s existence and so are the fishnets, the Catholic school girl skirt, the Insane Clown Posse t-shirt that is pretty rank no matter how many times I wash it. And the makeup? The makeup is like a piece of food trapped in Mom’s teeth. Thick eyeliner, red lipstick, glitter on my eyelids. They can’t even tell me not to dress this way at school because two years ago a girl slapped White Smoke High with a lawsuit claiming they were stifling her freedom of religion by threatening to expel her if she kept wearing a t-shirt that said “Satan Lives.” She won.

So just looking at me has to cramp up Mom’s stomach worse than a plate of enchiladas from Los Gallos, but she does this pursed lip thing as if to say, “I’m not worried about this. You’ll come to your senses soon.” And really, that’s what makes me laugh the most.

In the mornings, she and Jimmy leave before me even though she thinks the opposite is true. I swipe a pudding cup and a metal spoon – mmm, breakfast – and head down the staircase of our apartment building after throwing her a few air kisses. I get on my bike and pedal around the back of our complex and wait until she takes off in the “GrandDamn” to Hattie’s before I return to the stairs. I sit under them and wait for Mareck to meet me, scraping chocolate pudding onto the spoon and coating my tongue.

“Your father loved chocolate pudding,” Mom told me once when I was, God, I don’t, know ten maybe? I had already known that about Dad but hearing it out loud was like flypaper. Weird, the things that stick with you. To you, really.

“There she is, Miss America!” Mareck says and he’s all sound. His pants are lined with zippers and chains, a thick one that hooks from his wallet to his pants, pat-pat-patting the side of his leg. He kisses me hard on the mouth and licks the taste of chocolate from his lips.

“Ready to set this shit on fire?” Mareck asks and he means am I ready to walk down the hallways of White Smoke and give those bitches hell.

“Fuck, yeah,” I say but don’t believe it. My stomach hurts, more than usual, because today I’m supposed to annihilate Leslie Buell who’s going around saying she gave Mareck a BJ like the dirty whore she is. I mean I may look the part, but at least I’ve got boundaries, you know?

Mareck takes my bike and straddles it, and I sit up on the handle bars. It’s easy for me because I’m tiny as a crackerjack, just five feet and thinner than a whipping rod like Aunt Tammy says or used to say when we’d head back to Helena and eat turkey and listen to them hero worship Dad. Dead, he became a god to them. Living? Not so much.

It’s cold and it batters me. My coat’s too thin for this. But things have gotten murky lately with the finances so no new coat. Mom and Jimmy could just up and leave tomorrow, and there’d be no one, and I’d be okay with that, just Mareck and me scorching the night hopped up on glue and Skittles and the beer his brother gives him to stay quiet about the drug deals he does inside their trailer. I’d be just fine.

Because really, when it comes down to it, Mareck loves me, you know. But on the other hand, I can’t always be completely sure about that. “You think I’d willingly put Senor Stud in Buell the Mule’s mouth?” Mareck said when I had asked him if it was true and then he started braying like a mule. But he didn’t say no.

We skid up to the front of the school, and I jump off and don’t look anyone in the eye. It feels like a play, like I’m Juliet or the one I like better, Ophelia, and I’m taking my crazy to the stage. But no one applauds, just gape like fish even though they see me do this dance every frigging morning.

“Late,” Principal Zinberg says, and he hands me and Mareck tired slips of paper from his pocket. Detention slips. They smell like sweat and boxer shorts.

We cattle call in with the rest of the last minute crowd and head to the locker we share. It’s Mareck’s and it’s against the rules to share lockers, but beside the soiled detention slips for arriving late, no one really gives a monkey’s ass about anything at White Smoke.

“Spanish, right?” Mareck says and his blue eyes flash across my face. They’re not a grown up’s. They belong to a little boy and that’s what I like about the bits of blue and grey flecked tight into a ring. They make me remember we’re kids.

I nod and Mareck kisses me on the mouth – another broken rule – and heads to his homeroom. I take the books I need and launch them into my empty backpack. I slam the door shut and as I turn around, whose ugly mug is inches from my nose? Buell the Mule’s.

Her face is nearly touching mine when she says, “You look like a whored up clown.”

Told you.

#

Classes are match strike fast because of my system. I sit in the back which is the best place for people watching even if that means having to take in Jeremy Hunt shedding his dandruff with his long, dirty fingernails. Take for instance, Senora Howser’s class. She’s up there muttering in gibberish, smacking her doughy hand with an unsharpened pencil while I examine the back of Claudette Pinski’s bubbly blond head. I match her up with Mr. Dandruff and draw in the blue lined margin of my notebook what their baby would look like.

It’s not as weird as it sounds.

Look, babies are cute okay? Babies are what happens before life up and smacks you hard in the face. I’ve been obsessed with them for awhile. Like when I was younger and my mother dropped me off at Little Chicks for preschool and, apparently there was a baby there, Helen, and I’d called her “Baby Helen” and would scream and cry and threaten to propel myself into the busy parking lot when my mother wouldn’t take her home with us.

Okay, not really. I was kind of a quiet kid. But that’s what my insides always said.

Anyways, I’ve always wanted siblings. But it’s more than that. Maybe I just wanted them because my mom couldn’t have them. And I know, I know, it’s not her fault, never Saint Elena’s fault.

I didn’t mean to say that.

So really classes are just a blur of poorly drawn babies and dirty hair until it’s lunch time, and I find my phone without even realizing what I’m doing. It’s cheap, like drug deal pre-paid burner cheap. Mom didn’t even want to touch the thing (“money’s tight” being her favorite two words of all time), but she hates that I love Mareck and broke down and bought it on the off chance he bops me over the head and tries to cut me into little pieces. I told him that part when we were camped out in his brother’s truck, shoving pork rinds into our mouths while his brother, Travis, scored off some itchy white trash couple tripping for crank. He laughed.

I take the phone and I go to the bathroom, not the one on the ground floor where the seniors are packed sardine style but the one in the basement off the cafeteria where nobody takes a shit unless you’re Principal Zinberg and are convinced it don’t stink. I go into the spacious wheelchair stall where the rest of us are forbidden to piss because Melissa Stowe lost a leg in a four wheeler accident last year, and I lock it, slide my back down the cold tiled wall.

I don’t call her. I can’t hear her voice.

Any news? I type like I’m asking how she likes her new highlights. I stare ahead of me at the thick lime green streaks of paint covering the penciled in graffiti on the stall walls. It’s weird because the walls are blue so the green is a frank wide block of color, a memorandum for the “shits” and “fucks” students just don’t give.

It dings at me, the burner. No, not yet, Mom writes back.

I don’t know how I know, but I do. I think because when I read it, that simple worded strand, it reminds me of when my mother said once and only once, “This doesn’t have anything to do with you.” Right there, my face peering into my father’s casket, hovering like Peter Pan with her hands around my waist. A lie.

Mom’s lying to me. And it hurts my heart.

The door slams open. There are two sets of feet and I can tell they belong to two preps because they’re fitted into ballet slippers, a silver pair and a purple. Their ankles are long, slender and I think of mine in my dirty boots. Thick as bricks.

“You can’t be in the retard stall,” a lazy voice says from one of them, maybe the silver pair and I roll my eyes.

“Just leaving,” I say and pop open the stall, barely missing a short one with red hair. Her eyes go wide, and I know she’s a freshman which automatically means fun, and the fact that she’s obnoxiously pretty will make it that much sweeter.

“Fuck off,” I growl and she backs up as I preen myself in the mirror. I do it for her benefit, so she remembers my face, and for mine, too, so I can see what she’s wearing and remember it for later when I’m lying in bed.

I do this thing where I think of the clothes I see the preps wear and imagine what they’d look like on me. It’s not weird either.

They huddle the two of them, the other one taller but wider eyed, and I laugh, a loud obnoxious laugh and try not to think about my mother, her lifelong sentence. My damaged heart.

#

The most horribly pathetic thing about The Mule is that she’s the most popular girl in school. And she really plays the part, I mean like puts a ton of effort into it. She’s one of the preps and has this purse she claims is a real Louis Vuitton but all it looks like is a bottle of mustard and a diaper full of poop threw up on it. Her mom is the manager of the Dairy Queen and her dad is a cop so there’s no way that bag is real unless they’re not working with a full deck. Which, by the looks of The Mule, could be true.

“You’ve got this, you know. I mean look at you, you’re short but you’re a scrapper. She gets that. Bet she’s shittin’ herself right now,” Mareck says, rubbing the last centimeter of Chapstick against his lips.

“Sure,” I say. He was supposed to have met me in the girl’s locker room during lunch. We sit across from the shower stalls and pick at our food, another pudding cup for me, a bag of chips for him. But he didn’t show and this is the third time in two weeks, and we just don’t talk about it. I don’t want to be a harpy and I don’t want him to be a liar.

We go outside and trek around the side of the building to The Yard, me on the bars of my bike while Mareck wobbles it along a patch of dry, cold earth. The Yard is basically a square inch of pavement reserved for the seniors. You can smoke out here and people sit around, making out or talk about keying the teachers’ cars but a lot of times it’s used for a fight so they chain it up once the last bell rings. I jump over the gate.

The Mule is already there with two of her cohorts, Donkey and Horse Face. Those aren’t their real names, one’s Alice and the other starts with a “w” – Wanda maybe? – but it’s a lot easier to keep track of sluts when you label them appropriately.

“There’s Clown Whore now. We were just talking about ya. Ready to get the beating of a lifetime?” I have to admit, looking at The Mule, I believe she’ll be doing just that. She’s tall, five-ten maybe and her hands are kind of manly. The nails are painted though, a bright cherry red and the sweater is knitted, navy with a tiny whale sewn into it above her right breast. I’ll have to remember it for later.

“Cut the crap, Leslie,” I say. It comes out soft like I’m talking to a kitten. I hate my life.

“Cut the crap, Leslie? That’s all you got? You know what that limp dick told me?” The Mule says, and she moves her beautiful blue sweater into my personal space. “He said you’re nothing but a prude, and he just uses you for your money.” She takes a step back to look at my face, and I give her a full shot of me laughing. My money?

“Yeah okay, bitch. That right Mareck? You all on me so you can hang out at my mansion?” My arms are wide like Jesus welcoming the little children, and I turn around. Mareck is gone. And so is my bike.

“Now that’s just awesome,” The Mule laughs in my ear and I think about it, about my bike, about Mareck strumming through my life with picky fingers. About my father and how everyone thinks my mother killed him, and what Mom said to me this morning before I grabbed my pudding cup and walked out the door. “It’ll all work out.”

And then before you know it, my fist is in The Mule’s face and there’s a sharp pain currenting up my shoulder until it snaps inside my brain. I look down at my jacked up boots, a line of plaid skirt edging my knees and think, Maybe it will.

What’s Been Going Down in Erickaville

Getting one’s shit together feels pretty damn good.

How do I know this? Because I’m in the process of it, my friends.

A lot of you know me as humor blogger, some a published author, others a crazy lady who is a self-proclaimed health nut except when it comes to Cheez-its. Or as I call them, God’s nectar.

But here lately, I’ve been trying to focus on what makes me happy (other than those two people who manage to live with me without finding high places to jump off of…no easy feat, my friends) and here’s what I’ve come up with:

The creative writing I’ve already got in the bag. Sure, the bag smells slightly of stale milk and REALLY needs an editor, but I’m chugging along on For the Love of Chuck and can’t wait to publish my latest updates to Tipsy Lit. (Shit gets crazy, you guys, so stay tuned!)

So let’s talk about the professional writing/marketing thing.

I kind of love it.

And I’ve kind of been obsessed with it for the past seven years.

That’s why I’ve decided to kick up my freelancing career again and actively seek writing and online marketing opportunities with The Copywriter for Hire.

the copywriter for hire

So if you know of any writing gigs that you think I’d be a good fit for, throw ’em my way. Oh and don’t call me for funsies ‘k? Unless you have Cheez-Its.

I’m also getting my ‘gram game on and have finally come up with a fitting public Instagram account for my writing career. It’s called @poemsinpieces and I’d love for you to follow it to get your daily dose of stanza goodness.

poems in pieces

And lastly? I’m making a Spotify playlist for the The Love of Chuck, so enjoy Courtney Love’s soothing voice as you read along.

For the Love of Chuck sound track

I’m pretty insanely happy about being happy. And Cheez-Its.