Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: Birthday Edition

So, like I said in my previous post, today is my 26th birthday. I've been having a hard time blogging as of late, because, quite frankly, my brain is bogged down with a lot of personal and financial issues that I don't necessarily want to address on the Rainbow Chronicles.

Basically, my boss at my internship summed it up this morning when she looked at me and said, "You're really having a month or two."

Yeah. That is for damn sure. But while I have been going through a difficult time lately, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how during this time, I've also had the unwavering support of some pretty kickass friends up here in Chicago. Without that support, I'd be pretty lost. I have some major decisions I need to make in the next month. My lease is ending, my job situation is beyond pathetic, and everyday is a constant battle against myself. By that I mean, I can really be my own worst enemy. Beating myself up for stupid decisions I've made (and I've made a lot of them, both financially and personally). Questioning myself. Doubting myself. Worrying about what everyone else thinks.

Enough is enough, I tell myself. Just. Stop.

It's hard to do that, though. And even harder to recognize all the wonderful things that have happened in the last couple years, in spite of—and because of—decisions I've made. Sometimes (okay, many times), I feel like a big fat failure because I've been waiting tables, barely scraping by, and interning for the last two years. But yesterday I caught myself giving a friend advice about whether or not to go to school, and I realized everything I was telling him, I also needed to tell myself. Things like: You're living your life. You're not a failure. Do what YOU want to do. Do it on your own terms.

I'm 26 today. It's about damn time I learned how to take my own advice before I dish it out to others. So tonight, when I'm out celebrating with some amazing friends, I'm not going to be sad. I'm not going to worry. I have quit jobs, and I've found new ones. I've been lonely, and I've been surrounded by friends.

Recently, a really important relationship in my life ended, largely due to mistakes I've made. And yes, I'm sad. But I can either wallow in self-pity and regret over what I've done wrong, or I can wish him the best, hope he finds happiness, and know, deep in the pit of my gut, that even though I messed up, I loved him, and no one can take away all the wonderful moments we shared.

I'll also know that in spite of, because of, everything I've done in the last two years, I've made some wonderful friends, I've learned a lot of life lessons, I've hit the bottom and come up again standing, and I've loved and been loved by a wonderful man who taught me a lot. (It's my birthday. I'm allowed to be sentimental. Get off my back.)

Now that I've said all that. Ahem. Today's poem. It came to me after I opened a birthday card from my Aunt Kerry. She didn't just say happy birthday and leave it at that. She gave me some much needed encouragement. She wrote:

"...it is important to follow your dreams and live your life on your own terms."

After I read the card, I went to my shelf and grabbed the W.H. Auden collection my brother got me for Christmas in 2005. I bookmarked a poem in it a few years ago. It's called "Leap Before You Look" — and I think it's appropriate for my birthday, and especially this particular birthday.

Because one quality I am able to recognize in myself is this: I'm always willing to leap. Even when half the time I fall flat on my ass. "Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap."

W.H. Auden
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
And break the by-laws any fool can keep;
It is not the convention but the fear
That has a tendency to disappear.

The worried efforts of the busy heap,
The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
Produce a few smart wisecracks every year;
Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

The clothes that are considered right to wear
Will not be either sensible or cheap,
So long as we consent to live like sheep
And never mention those who disappear.

Much can be said for social savoir-faire,
But to rejoice when no one else is there
Is even harder than it is to weep;
No one is watching, but you have to leap.

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear;
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.


  1. Hi Alison,
    I like alot of your posts.FYI there is an organization called the Eleanor Foundation that focuses on working women and the financial pressures they face.
    They have a big fundraiser May 19.Wave restauarant at the W hotel is catering it.
    They are looking for press and we are doing what we can to help them.
    If you are interested in profiling them,and submitting a story somewhere,we could facilitate a contact for you at Eleanor.
    You can read more about Eleanor Foundation at Eleanorfoundation.org.
    Our chef and GM are both women.They are passionate about Eleanor.We are submitting a seperate profile on the female management structure at our restaurant.
    If you are interested let me know.The more press we can instigate the better.
    You would have to find your own angle to write from.
    Scott McIntosh

  2. smcintosh@waverestauarnt.com

  3. congratulations on 26.

    on this planet, if you are going to share the space with the rest of humanity, you are either coming out of a crisis, in the middle of a crisis, or heading for a crisis.

    take joy in friendships, children and rediscovering innocence whenever possible.