A toast

As a writer, I’ve come to understand the reality of cliches. As a writer, you try to stay away from them. However, there’s a reason situations become a cliche–there’s some truth to them. That’s how I felt the week before my wedding. One. Big. Cliche. I was a stressed-out-bridezilla.

There are so many meticulous details that require your attention. I am grateful that by the time I made it to the rehearsal dinner everything seemed to slow back to a normal pace. The night before the rehearsal, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about how much my life had changed over the past year. I guess falling in love will do that to you. I realized as I was tossing and turning that I would have one moment to commemorate my feelings about Jon to our families. So after a tear-jerking speech from my maid of honor, this is what I came up with.

“There are different ways I have tried to describe Jon and I’s relationship. What I love about our dynamic is that I wasn’t a damsel in distress and he didn’t have to be a knight in shining armor. It’s more like a Wizard of Oz scenario. I’m Dorothy and he’s my Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion all rolled into one. We only needed to find one another to find our way home. But please don’t look at it from the other way. Then I’d be lost and he would have no brain, no heart, and no courage. That’s absolutely not true because we are here today.

On a serious note, I’d like to point out how incredible this moment is. Some people never get to experience this–being surrounded by family and friends. Life is short and these are the moments that matter. We try to define life: understand it and label it the best we can. I’ve tried to label myself as a few things: a writer, a teacher, a liver…But there is always one thing I have strived to be and that is, faithful. As of tomorrow I will be putting my faith into Jon and I and to this family. Because I think there is one thing we can all agree on and that is, ‘There is no place like home.'”

Now the toast was in the moment, so it probably came out a tad differently. Regardless, I wanted to remember a fraction of what I said because as I learned during the reception, the months of planning become a complete blur of six hours. All I know is that the next phase is sure to keep me guessing. It really will be domesticated training wheels…Cheers!!!

The preamble to proposal

This was something I wrote a few months ago when Jon and I first returned from Oregon. It’s remarkable how things grow:)

MARRIAGE TALK

We have now talked about marrying one another more so than I have with any other suiter….combined.

This morning we discussed what weddings meant to both of us while nibbling on an egg and cheese omelet that he overcooked in one of my great grandma’s thirty-year-old pots. The subject first came up during our drive back from Oregon. We were rounding a curve outside of Astoria when he mentioned that his stepfather asked if I were the last girlfriend he was ever going to bring home. He said he replied that he, “hoped so.”

That was an emotional first for me. I respected the fact that he pointed out that we don’t know what the future brings, but that it would be a cruel joke of the universe if we weren’t to work out. However, I’ve never really had anyone say that they wanted to spend their life with me. Any doubt I had prior to that moment seemed to disappear and the hopefulness has yet to wear off.

Most of my doubts were caused by initial fear of our differences. But as I allowed myself to not necessarily be “right” and I remained as nonjudgmental as possible, he grew to be something I never expected.

Both of us have been exposed to  fast-paced marriage traditions. His mother met his stepfather online and then he moved from Germany after several meetings to marry her. Not only did I just witness the whirl wind romance with my sister Meggan, but it turns out my father’s parents met and wed fairly quick as well.

The kicker: the couple who introduced us only dated for a few months and then were married. Seven years later, they are still such a strong model of love that lasts. I know that he and I both take the commitment pretty seriously and I can’t even believe that the discussion resurfaced again as we cooked for the first time in my home.

While cooking turkey fajitas, he told me that my father had stopped by the shop that afternoon to pick something up. Ronnie, his uncle,  told him later that his “father-in-law” had stopped by. At first Jon was confused, but then once the connection was made, he laughed.

I reveled silently, as to not make any assumptions. Hmmm. Most guys would not even retell that story due to it’s nature. He could easily have not told me at all, but part of him wanted me to know that they joke on that level. I was about to tip my head to overanalyzation, when he made the comment that the thought of marrying me wasn’t scary.

What?

I knew the thought was mutual for me. I mean who wouldn’t want to marry me? Turns out, quite a few. But could it be that there is someone actually really right for me? Or was I just starting to like the idea that he felt that way?

Stop overanalyzing.

When I listen to my heart, and more than just the accelerated beating pace when he touches me with his any part of his being, I feel a sense of security that I have longed for. He has seen my whole family, my whole history, my whole self, and yet he embraces the future.

Maybe we just both wanted to find one another. He had once said over the phone, “could this be it?”.

I was starting to reflect the possibility with each passing day. I felt more vibrant, yet I no longer had this drive. Most people would say the drive is what was to make me. But what they never saw behind closed doors was that same force drove me to self destruction.

With him, I face my insecurities and welcome the challenges in a much more peaceful manner. And I say to myself that as long as we can move forward through a few phases of our life, then maybe this can lead to our mystery ceremony.

Tradition versus Elise.

I am open-minded and accepting, but I am still a Cajun. And a Cancer at that! Home and family is a big part of me. So when it comes to ceremonies, I still want to be a part of what everyone else has done. But then there is a part of me that says “Change it up!”

While I sat in St. Joseph’s church (which is now just two blocks away from my house) for Meggan’s wedding rehearsal, my father made the comment that he wouldn’t have to worry about this hoo-rah for me, because I would probably have everyone outside, barefoot in a field somewhere.

I laughed because I saw its plausibility, but then told him I couldn’t specifically say because I did not know who my groom would be. He replied that he would, “probably be some moon martian just like you.”

Moon martian. Great.

So maybe I should embark upon something out of this world. It’s funny that finding something steadily comfortable is what will take me to such great heights.

But I wouldn’t make any bets yet. It’s still the honeymoon. And we’re still just talking jibberish over omelets. I would be lying though, if I said I wouldn’t be terribly hurt if these thoughts ever got scrambled.

Faith, my dear. Faith.

Cornucopia-Part 2

The following was submitted for a short story contest last year. Some of you may not think it’s very short, but there are certain spirits that can speak to you while you read it, if you let. I hope you enjoy.

CORNUCOPIA                              (Written 9/23/09)

By Elise H. Peltier

If you find yourself reading this, you have finally reached the age to understand just how intertwined your spirit is with the great abundance of life. For years I wondered how I was supposed to relate to you how you have helped me to grow into the woman that I am; or how I could possibly be the one chosen to guide you along your path. Either way, here I am now. Alive in this moment because you are reading my words. Our words.

There can be a fascination with words: how if you link them together they can become sentences. If those sentences are combined properly, they become great ideas that then become actions. But most intriguingly,  sometimes just one word can mean it all. In order for me to tell you our story, I have to tell you its story.

Most people in Western civilization immediately associate the word “cornucopia” with a cone-shaped horn overflowing with fruits and grains. This symbol often appears during the autumn season before the Thanksgiving holiday. It is during this season where our story begins.

My mother walked into my bedroom the morning of October 22, 1998, her 40th birthday, to awaken me with the news that one of my best friends had died. Waddy was a senior at the neighboring Catholic high school, Notre Dame. It was the week of their homecoming football game. He was driving home after the parade on a road a half-mile from his house. We’re not exactly sure what happened, but his truck overturned. His window was halfway down and he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He was killed instantly.

When my mother broke the news to me, I was beyond devastated. I had yet to experience the death of someone close to me. I remember walking around in a daze for days. I kept thinking of different reasons as to what he was doing in the truck to make it flip. I figured he was probably changing out a CD and went off the road into the gravel, then over-corrected and the truck flipped. It was no surprise to me that the windows were down. They were always down, so everyone could hear his music from miles away. I’m sure he was excited that night too. The coach had told him he was going to start a game for the first time. I could just picture him smiling as he drove his big maroon, Chevy truck down that country road. The same wind that flowed through the surrounding fields probably danced with his freckled face as he reached for a CD…and that’s when it happened.

I remember crying waterfalls at the funeral. I remember going sit at his grave with a few of our mutual friends after the service. One of the guys had “I really miss my homies” by Master P blasting through the stereo of his old white Honda Accord. The ten of us sat scattered across the grass with unspoken questions churning through our saddened, unsuspecting minds.

I reminisced about how Waddy and I originally met. Although his younger sister and I had played softball summer league together, it wasn’t until middle school youth group that we formed our independent friendship. We both allowed our stubborn personalities to cause arguments at first, but slowly our bond shifted when we recognized our similarities. He became a big brother figure to me. Since I’m the oldest of four girls, I was used to being my own protector. Although I refused to give up any control, he taught me how a real man gives genuine compliments to a woman.

We remained very close despite the different schools we attended. I was with he and his friends every weekend. He was the first friend I really discussed and shared the presence of God.

The day after the funeral, we decided to make t-shirts in his honor. The back had a quote Waddy said once at a youth group meeting, “To live and believe in God is a great adventure. To die and be with God is a greater one.”

It may seem strange that I am talking about death, when cornucopia means quite the opposite. However, some religions view death as the surface level appearance of the true birth of the soul.  According to a modern dictionary, Cornucopia is derived from Greek mythology, which continues our journey with the word into a deeper history.

When Zeus was a baby, his mother Rhea brought him to a cave on Mount Ida in Krete. There, he was nursed by a she-goat, Amaltheia. Legend has it that her horn was cut by a tree and never-ending fruit came from thee.

The relevancy of this story is quite intriguing for our own purposes.

The shape of a ram’s horn is like a spiral. Waddy’s death began this cycle in my life; a spiral.

In January of 1999, my aunt Carla, who was only seven years my elder, asked me to be a godmother to her daughter. I was a junior in high school  and was to make my confirmation into the Roman Catholic Church in March. For months, I awaited the birth of my first godchild, Malorie. I thought my role would be to teach her about our faith, attend all of her sacramental rites, and give her presents for holidays.

It was mid-June and Carla was patiently, but crankily ready to have Malorie. Who could blame the uncomfortable nature of a woman who is pregnant in South Louisiana during summer months? To my surprise, Malorie was born on June 27th, Waddy’s birthday. After careful consideration, I knew in my heart that it was no coincidence. The connection would be strong with my godchild.

Here is an interesting twist to our correlating stories: a godmother in South Louisiana is often called “Nanny” ( this is the case with me and Malorie).  The term nanny is used to describe a child’s caretaker. In older times, it pertained to a wet nurse, which is derived from Almatheia.

One more tid-bit before I continue: Greek mythology is very similar to the Cajun lifestyle due to the nature of story telling and parables in order to explain valuable life lessons. Also there is a congruency to Greek and Cajun heritage: the lushful nature of drinking and eating. I soon became abusively involved with this culture.

It’s odd as to how fast one’s life can change. A year later, I started college. The direction of my spiral went downward with the speed of a vacuum-like black hole.

For the entirety of my adolescence, I was the good kid. I was involved in school activities and youth group. I graduated ninth in my class. Once I moved out of my parents’ house, I guess you can say I went drunk with freedom. I joined several college organizations, but I was more active in night life. Eventually, I flunked out.

I could delve into detail here, giving examples of anonymous adventures, booze and bad decisions, and crazy connections, but that can be revealed at a different time during a personal conversation–should the need arrive.

Let’s just say I had to abandon everything I once practiced to make sure I was choosing what I believed in. I never lost this sense in my heart that there was a truth for me to know, understand, and feel. The void kept me searching.

As I approached truth from a more intellectual level, I began to see how many different people throughout the history of humanity, held different truths in their hearts and minds. Before college, I didn’t realize there was really a religion outside of Christianity. There isn’t much religious diversity in Rayne, Louisiana. I knew there was St. Joseph’s, the church I attended where pretty much every family tradition has occurred, and there was another Catholic church for the majority of our black community, and then there were a few Baptist churches and a Methodist Church.

After researching different religions and world history I started to ponder this possibility, “How is God only experienced through one type of worship or lifestyle?” The notion made me very weary of the validity of everything I was taught while growing up.

I started to-study Eastern philosophies. I would read the teachings of the Buddha every night. I began having conversations with people around me about what they believed. Did they have faith in anything at all? I needed something to happen.

That’s when I felt God again. It happened out of nowhere. I had been talking about philosophical principles with a group of friends and a pal made the comment that I was more of a spiritual teacher than I realized. I walked from his apartment to mine considering if that statement were true. By asking questions, did people think I had the answers?

I brushed my teeth, contemplating if it were possible to feel the answer. The song switched on  iTunes and I found myself closing my eyes. Suddenly, everything drained out of my brain and my being felt like a frequency of light. I no longer felt like I was a person standing inside of a small bedroom in a corporate complex. I felt like I was a part of everything. There was no boundary between me and the objects around me. I felt alive. I felt like nothing. I felt peace. I felt me.

I opened my eyes and the room seemed to possess a hue of God’s residue; because everything was God to me.

I fell asleep with a smile and hoped to awaken with this same knowledge. I didn’t want it to disappear as fast as it appeared.

The next morning was Mother’s Day and my family was celebrating the occasion at my mother’s sister’s house. I decided to bike there since it was such a gorgeous day. Breezy, non-humid days during May in Lafayette, Louisiana are almost unheard of. Normally, the humidity is as thick as gumbo and your sweat drops are the size of nickels. Instead of claustrophobic weather, I felt like the universe wanted to me to soak up the proof I had experienced the night before.

As I biked to my aunt’s, I began to think about the importance of Mother’s Day. I was 24 at the time and had no children, nor prospects of a husband. This is rare for a woman my age around these parts. One of my younger sisters was planning to be married that July, the other one was in a fairly serious relationship, and the youngest was only 14…but I think she even had a boyfriend at the time.

I contemplated how fortunate I was to have such spiritual, genuine women in my life as role models, especially my mother. I have never seen anyone strive for such a positive existence. She follows the rules, but also goes above the guidelines. She’s the kind of woman who saves bottle caps and popsicle sticks for the kindergarten classes. She volunteers to babysit, what seems like the entire town’s children. She recycled before it was cool. Needless to say, I always felt like I had a lot to live up to.

My thoughts reverted to my internal explosion the previous evening and the same burst of peace created a lightening of proactive force in my mind. I needed to explain this type of experience to Malorie. That was my role as godmother: not just to be there for the rites of passage, but to explain how to reach God, which is not having to reach or search at all.

She was only seven at the time, so I knew I had years to develop my own understanding.

My life took a more upward spin in the spiral. I left my secure job to return to school in order to pursue a more purposeful calling.

The following Christmas, my sister asked me to be the godmother of her child, almost precisely the time Carla had asked me nine years before. Of course I said yes. I felt I was at a more mature level to handle this responsibility.

June came around and it was no surprise that Ellah was born on June 27th. It would have been Waddy’s “golden” birthday –27 on the 27th. I cried in the waiting room because I felt the connection physically bonding the three of us.

The need to relate this story became strong in my heart, but I knew it needed time to mature.

I finished school as Outstanding Graduate of my college, then took a four-week road trip to the Pacific Northwest. I returned home in order to celebrate another sister’s wedding…on June 27th.

From death, spiraled birth and commenced with matrimony. It is the classic definition of cornucopia; abundance.

For the first time in a decade, I found myself living back at home, just in time for me to celebrate my 27th birthday.

It’s peculiar how the comfortableness of your home town can appear to be just a setting of past memories through matured eyes. I spent hours driving through familiar roads listening only to my thoughts.

One afternoon, I was lost in a daydream, taking rights, then lefts that turn into long stretches of country highways that suddenly curve without much warning. The serenity of the wind through my open windows made me wonder how I ever left this peace for a busy, dramatic lifestyle.

I found myself taking a right onto “Coin Road” and I was immediately plunged into the present moment. This was his road. It had been years since I drove past the cross that had his initials and football number, “W.F. #59”.  I realized I had never told his mother about how I had two godchildren that were born on his birthday. In fact, I hadn’t talked to her about him since a few months after his death. At the exact moment I contemplated trying to write out our story, I passed in front of his cross and my cell phone alert went “DING DING”. The text message couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I had goosebumps and I knew it was more than a coincidence.

I was listening to NPR that night and the DJ used cornucopia to describe something…from that vague description you can note that nothing else stood out to me. Yet, the word haunted my memory for days. Finally, I looked up its meaning and everything made sense to me. It was the word that defined my life experience for the past 27 years.

Humans have tried to explain our purpose for life since the beginning of recorded history. For centuries, It has evolved through different religions and philosophies in order for each generation to understand and relate their own internal journey. Some stories sound absurdly ridiculous to a differing culture, but it doesn’t make it any less real to an individual searching for their own truth.

Waddy passed on before ever having to question anything. He died with an unwavering faith and childlike wander. He never had to worry about social media or what information appeared when you googled your name. He is that innocence in my heart.

The only conclusion I have come up with is that if you pay attention, we are connected in more ways than one: through words, numbers, dates, people, places, interests, etc. Life can occur anyway you choose to view the lens of your glasses. The beauty of today is you have more options of what color or prescription you want in your frames.

Waddy was right when he said “To live and believe in god is a great adventure. To die and be with God is a greater one.”  Once you are no longer physically here, you can spiritually be present to multiple people at the exact same time. This knowledge brings me such a sense of joy and that’s how I feel every time I look at either of my godchildren. I experience the possibility of abundant opportunity and connection. Waddy has made my life a great adventure and affirms my belief in God.

You see, sometimes you just need a reminder as to why it is imperative to stay optimistic. Pessimism will lead you nowhere. Hope, however, will always bring another day. Then your life will be your own creation, your own cornucopia.

Cornucopia – Part 1

I have been in the process of cleaning out my life for the past few months. Last week I made a donation to Goodwill: five boxes of clothes/accessories, sporting equipment, and a printer. This past weekend, I consolidated three boxes of pictures into one, by shredding duplicates and memories that no longer serve me.

As I was going through one of my boxes, I found a paper that was written in my English 101 class, 10 years ago. It was titled, “Just Waiting for a Friend.” There are tons of things I could change, but I will share it now as an example I refer to as, “The Process.” For the same reason I shared “Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine.” Great pieces of fiction and art are not created in a day. I cannot write about a concept that I do not clearly understand. Many of the concepts I am working on have taken me a decade to comprehend…and the perfectionist in me has yet to be completely satisfied with any of these versions. I am, however, ok with releasing them into the universe in order to let them become refined.

As I clear out the clutter in my house, I am clearing out the worry in my mind. It’s time to be free.

Without further adieu, here is the first piece.  My next entry will be the a version written 9 years later.

“Just Waiting For A Friend”

By Elise H. Peltier

There was a soft, subtle breeze when I stepped out of my maroon Nissan Sentra. I strolled down the old, cracked sidewalk as I waited to see my best friend. It was late in the afternoon, but it was still very sunny. The sky was baby blue with long, skinny, puffy clouds. I took in a long, deep breath and the scent of flowers entered my body. It was quite a lovely afternoon. The scenery eased my mind and helped me to feel relaxed. I stepped off the sidewalk onto delicate dark-green grass. I looked up and there he was.

He would have gotten my attention even if Pope John Paul II was there in his little pope mobile. His headstone read in big, black, bold, capital letters:

GIVEN TO US

JUNE 27, 1981

WADDY ALLEN FAUL

GIVEN BACK TO GOD

OCTOBER 22, 1998

This was written in a square, outlined in black, centered on his headstone. Under the square, was a long rectangular box, which contained his quote “To live and believe in God is a great adventure. To die and be with God is a greater one”–WF.

In the top center of the square headstone was a silver, oval picture frame with “SON” engraved on the cover. I turned the cover to the right to reveal Waddy’s senior picture. He wore a white, collared, button-down shirt with a black bow tie. The buttons on his shirt were black and a dark sports jacket completed the outfit. His hair was a dark brown color and it was shaved on each side of his head, but a little longer on top. He had almond shaped eyes, which were chocolate brown. Above his peepers were bushy, cinnamon eye brows. A faint smile accompanied his expression. His olive skin was covered with light brown freckles. He kind of reminded me of an older Opey, just without the pointy ears.

During Waddy’s high school years, he played football for the Notre Dame Pioneers. Honoring his loyalty and dedication to the sport was a tall, rectangular, cement vase located to the right of his headstone. The upper part in a  rectangular box outlined in blue, filled in with red, and written in white, capital letters was “NOTRE DAME.” The bottom part was written in this fashion, but with “CLASS OF ’99′” instead. In the center was a brown football with “#59” written in white and outlined in blue. Inside of the vase were some of the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. There were small white carnations and daisies, accompanied by huge purple flowers, which were a little bigger than a softball. Although I am not quite sure which type they were, the purple flowers had about four small toothpick-like stems pouring out of the center. Hunter green, star-shaped leaves sprouted from beneath the beautiful blossoms. It took my breath away to see such an elegant sight.

As I laid my hand on his grave, I felt a sudden chill due to the freezing marble. The tomb was speckled gray and black. I looked up for a moment and as far as I could see, was white. It almost looked like it had snowed in certain spots on the green grass. When I returned my gaze back to Waddy, I noticed a candle at the foot of his grave. It was a red, glass holder with three gold skinny bars around the container. The top formed a small dome with a cross as big as a credit card to complete the ensemble. The candle was lit, but looked very dim inside of the glass.

I sat and pondered a while, thinking of my friend. It was very hard to believe that this was his final resting place. It seemed like it was only yesterday that we were riding around in his maroon Chevrolet, and that I would go visit him in his warm, comfortable home. Now the only way I could see him was if I drove down to St. Joseph’s cemetery. It wasn’t the same pleasant atmosphere we used to be associated with. It is very strange how quickly death can occur. No one knows when they will die, so we must live every day to the fullest. Live life with no regrets, but also live it wisely. Make sure the ones you love know you love them. For you will never know when it is your time to travel to your final destination. I know that Waddy is now waiting for me to make my trip to visit him eternally.

I was shot in the back

My dream world lately has been quite intriguing, including visits from Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer (we’ve been watching the “Friends” series every night for two weeks).

Last night, however, stole the show.

Somehow I managed to miss my first day of teaching. I wake up within my dream during the second day of school and frantically rush to greet my students. (Of course the school I arrive to is not my real classroom, nor are they the students of my intended class).

I try to introduce myself and one of the kids makes a very smart alec remark, so I return the sarcasm. I don’t realize that one of their parents is actually sitting in the classroom and she starts buzzing around saying that she thinks I am incapable of teaching her child’s class.

That’s when the alarm goes off. And not my clock to wake me up from this ridiculous panic attack of worst fear-actualization. Someone says over a speaker that there is a gunman on campus.

Suddenly I am roaming the halls trying to find this person. I’m guessing the agitated parent stayed to watch my class while I sought out harm. I make my way to this open green courtyard and I see a kid I formerly babysat standing there with a gun. He raises the gun towards me and I calmly say “Please don’t kill me.” I hear a ruffle in the grass behind me and I swiftly turn to see a long rifle pointed at me. It was held by a man with a blurry face. He was wearing a bright red button-down collard shirt, tucked into brown camping pants, with bulky boots. His hair was brown, but his face was completely blurry. (For all I know he could have been the “Brawny Man”).

I turned to run and that’s when I hear the gun shot. I jumped in the air and felt as if I stayed there for eternity, waiting to feel the pain. Or waiting for death. Or hoping that I could turn around to see the kid I once cared for had saved us.

That’s when my alarm clock woke me up.

I think Freud or Jung would have loved me. I think we would have sat in coffee shops for hours and analyzed dreams.

Here’s what I think is interesting about this dream. It’s obvious I’m super nervous about teaching. Anyone and everyone in this position has felt these nerves before. It’s a huge undertaking that I do not take lightly.

I can laugh at why the dream played out the way it did for a few reasons: I ran into the kid’s mom at the grocery store last night (he just bought a house next to their’s); Jon and I heard a car backfire last night and we mistook it for a gun shot (when it sounded we both paused, waiting to see what happened next); and I have been reading about “Inception” all weekend long (so the whole dream within a dream thing makes sense).

The strangest part, however, was the feeling I had when I woke up. There aren’t many dreams that leave me with the feeling that I was actually there. That moment when I was dangling in the air, awaiting my destiny, it pulled me into this realm of anticipation.

Is a dream just a dream? Or is it really a way to play out your future based upon past and present experience? Does it give our mind a way to objectively look at something by twisting our reality into fantastic stories? And if you normally don’t remember your dreams, but suddenly have a soap opera going on, shouldn’t you pay attention?

All I know is, I can still hear that gun shot. It reminds me of when I ran the mile for track in high school. The loud “BANG” that indicated the start of a race. Except I didn’t feel as though I was in control of the situation like I did when I started to run.

Am I starting a new race in life? Am I finally on the right track? Which lane will finish first? I guess only time will tell.

Or maybe tonight’s dream.

How much do you want it?

Do you ever have a seemingly innocent conversation with someone, but walk away with this one line that you just can’t seem to get out of your head? A line that somehow turns into this alarm clock in your brain. It starts repeating loudly as it lulls you from your comfortable bed, forcing you to accept that you are awake and a new day has to start right now whether you want it to or not.

That new day started a week ago for me.

I was having one of those mother/daughter conversations that almost inevitably end in a fight. It seems as though my Mom and I are repeat offenders – we always tend to bring up the same topics that are just too sensitive to discuss.

Before I continue I must place a disclaimer. Always understand this is just my perception of a two-person situation. I could have forgotten key factors in the conversation or certain events that actually happened in the reality of my 28 years of existence. She may very well know more about me than I actually know of myself. After all she held me inside of her belly for nine whole months before I even had a conscience. However, I was gone from her daily life for almost 10 years. But I guess that’s what this blog entry is getting at…

The culprit of this particular conversation was how I ended up not going to LSU after high school graduation.

See when I was a senior, I still wanted to bleed purple and gold as a Tiger. I wanted to move away and finally be this person I knew I was always destined to be. I wanted to meet new people and join the staff of the Reveille. I wanted to roam that epic campus and one day rule it.

I watched way too many Disney films growing up.

My high school experience was one of active participation. I didn’t have to work or tend to home matters. For some reason I had it in my mind that college was to be the same way. I thought if you worked hard in high school and got your tuition paid for, the rest was handed over to you on good merit. Ha.

As I write this, I realize I wrote something similar to this a few entries ago about life after college graduation. Seems like once again I think life is somehow supposed to be easier for those who do good.

Enough back story. Back to the conversation.

With my youngest sister about to start college, it tends to bring up stuff that happened to me ten years ago, which sometimes makes me feel like I am perpetually not allowed to forget any past mistakes.

My mom begins to talk about why I didn’t go to LSU. It seems like we had different versions of the same story. My version is that she practically scared me out of going. I was going to have to get a job and live in a dorm and wouldn’t have time for extracurricular activities. I understand that these are the realities of going to school. But as my mom used to tell me when I talked back to her, “It’s the tone in how you say it!”. I didn’t feel like she was encouraging me to get through it, I felt like she was trying to talk her oldest from leaving the house. Especially because I had no desire to go to McNeese like my parents did.

My view at times is that after driving through the Boulevard in Rayne my family wants to go left towards Lake Charles and I want to go right towards anywhere else. Cowboys versus Cajun.

A few weeks before I was to start college, I decided to switch to UL Lafayette and commute my first year.

As my mom and I discussed this scenario, again,  she said something unique to this repetitive cycle, “I just wanted to see how much you wanted it.”

We kept talking, but that line began to haunt me like the exorcism of Emily Rose.

She wanted to see how much I wanted it.

Maybe she saw back then that I wouldn’t have been ready to handle such a change. Maybe I  always want to blame someone else for my lack of success.

Either way, it made me think–hard. How much do I want it? How much do I want to be successful? I have always chosen the harder route, even when an easier one was paved for me. My poor parents. They really are phenomenal. I just have this obsessive need to experience life.

I would just like to finally put down this luggage of guilt that I’ve been carrying around. I can’t change the past. I chose to do things differently and I have to handle those consequences. I understand that it would be easier on me to be around people who are like-minded. But what’s the fun in that? Didn’t I just discuss that I never choose the easy route?

One thing is for certain, I want it. There aren’t many decisions that I can make. There aren’t many things I can clearly define. However, there is one thing I have known since I was a little girl in the first grade, I am a writer.

Even more so I understand now, I want to be a successful writer.

I feel at this point life has given me enough circumstances to understand just how difficult it may be, but has also prepared me with the skills and experience to master it.

Along with the guilt, I am leaving behind these immature patterns of thinking and reacting to old conditions. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I was told as a child that God will do whatever it takes to bring his children safely back home. I believe that home is a sense of peaceful understanding. I feel that bringing me back to my earthly and familial home has definitely matured my perspective–especially that of myself.

Remember, you can’t change the past, even if you really want to. It’s awful heavy to carry it around, too (takes up a lot of brain space to find places to store and organize it). I can now look at it this way. Were all party members trying to make the best decision based upon available information and experience?Yes. The rest is history.

Everything is as it should be. In the words of Amy Steinberg, “I am exactly where I need to be. I need to be exactly where I am.”

More importantly, I WANT to be exactly where I am.

Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine

the logo

A-LIVE-R

After much deliberation, I have decided to share a draft with you, my readers. I figured if you are loyal enough to read my daily thoughts, than you qualify as the perfect critics for one of my upcoming endeavors. As many of you may know, I am dabbilng with composing a few children’s stories. This can be quite a daunting challenge, but alas it is well worth a try.

I have been working on this story for the likes of three years. Please feel free to give me some feedback. If you like it, feel free to share it. Just please don’t steal it…that would surely be a way to break my heart and my trust. Hope you enjoy this LeeCeeLand Production:)

“Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine”

By Elise H. Peltier

“Malorie has a secret. It’s one she wants to tell
about a special family and a hidden magical spell.
The tale starts at the cradle, with a grandmother’s loving care.
Malorie was the oldest grandchild and Mom Mary had so much to share!
As Malorie grew, so did their bond; through kisses and milkshakes and magic baton wands.
But accidents happened and Malorie grew sure
When she was sick or hurt, there really was only one cure.
Mom Mary had a medicine you won’t find from the doc or the store
It’s a gesture from the heart, but oh so much more.
There’s a twinkle in her eye that dances through her hand
It echos in her giggle, it’s music to the band.
At first Malorie thought, it was just in her head
But every time she was sick, she never had to stay in bed.
A kiss on the cheek, a day on the couch
Would fix any ache and soften any ouch.
As soon as there was pain or sickness would begin
Malorie would ask her Mama for Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine.
It didn’t take very long before Malorie’s curiosity
Conjured up the her courage to find the magic recipe.
She watched and she waited for any type of clue.
But laughing and praying for others was all Mom Mary would really do.
She tried to find a potion or a hidden book of tricks
But nothing showed a sign of a medicine that’s magic.
Time flew by and Malorie was no longer a girl.
She grew to be a woman in this new-age type of world.
Things were not as simple now that she was 25
But through the bonds of her family, she was grateful to be alive.
As she explored her life, meeting people from afar
She wished she had found the potion to keep hidden in a jar.
To share with those who hurt or those who need a giggle
Those who need a friend, even those who want to wiggle!
Then news came one day, it changed things pretty quick.
Her sweet loving Mom Mary was so very terribly sick.
Malorie felt helpless, she didn’t know what to do
Neither did the family or doctors. No one had a clue.
Mom Mary could not use her magic on herself.
It seemed like the medicine had to come from someone else.
As Malorie realized this curse, she also grasped the spell
In order to help Mom Mary she had to tell the tale
About the magic medicine that proves of powers from above
It’s invisible yet solid, It’s a simple act of love.
So the more you share the gesture, you’ll learn the trick again
Prayer, laughter and love is the magic medicine!
So remember Mom Mary’s gift, it’s important and it’s pure
Because you just may never know when you’re giving someone their cure.”
————————————–

Consume something

What makes a good writer? It’s not that I have developed any new words. Although, I would like to take credit for, “philosophize,” which I feel I used 9 years ago during early college years.

A great writer knows how to construct words into a form that causes an emotional reaction from the reader. More often than not, it’s for the writer themselves.

The greatest writers may have original ideas, or insight to preexisting texts. Because all they do is read other people’s works and correlate it to personal experience and current social “norms”.

You become a strange medium for your audience. Someone who can see things that most choose not to view. Either way is correct, because both are just personal perceptions.

I just hold the ability to regurgitate the information I consume in a slightly less botched form. It’s far from perfect and totally my own view, which I am willing to share with the sole intention to keep you less frightened to regurgitate your own. So,

Consume something:)

On the road again

The alarm went off before I knew it.  I splashed some water on my face, tried to blow my sinuses through my nostrils, and attempted to get the guys moving. I knew I was in for a long day. Our goal was to reach Fort Collins, Colorado–which was 24 hours away.

I opened the door to find a gentle rain pouring. It wasn’t huge drops like in Louisiana. It was more thin, pin-like pellets that seemed to bounce off of you, rather than dissolve into your clothing.

We packed up Louis and were on the road by 7:15 a.m.

Rick called David to locate their position. The plan was to eat lunch in Bend, Oregon. According to Tammy, we would get there right before 11 a.m.

We drove through windy, mountainous roads past several Oregon State Parks. The view was breathtaking. I felt like a sponge trying to absorb any last drop of this experience.

We arrived in Bend right on time. I received a text message from my aunt Carla to check my email ASAP, so I grabbed my laptop and connected to the restaurant’s wireless Internet.

My sister Meggan was to be married in a few weeks and her bachelorette luncheon was that afternoon. The message said “Wish you were here.” The picture was of my grandmother, mother, a few aunts and Meggan’s friends and they were all making a peace sign. Except for Carla, she was sticking out her tongue.

"Wish you were here"

It was the first moment of the trip where I felt like I was missing out on something important. I knew I had missed a few parties and such, but I had the whole “Out of sight, out of mind,” mentality. Had I not thought that way, I would have been homesick the whole time and would not have appreciated the experience right before my eyes.

I smiled to myself and made a peace sign back to the picture, then closed my Mac. I would be home soon enough.

Interesting tidbit here about Bend. My brother-in-law plays online games and made a buddy through a particular game. They played for years but had never met. A few months prior to my trip, his online friend came visit Louisiana. I didn’t meet him personally because I was still living in Lafayette at the time. He was from Bend.

Once I arrived home, I was listing the cities we visited and my brother called his buddy to tell him I went through his small town. When bro told him where we ate lunch, his buddy said he could literally throw a rock and hit the restaurant from his backyard.

Small world.

We had an amazing lunch that day, shared some intimate hugs with our new friends and piled into Louis again.

Then we drove.

And drove.

And drove some more: through the high desert of Oregon, through the SMELLY dairy farms of Idaho.

We decided I would switch from the driver’s seat once we hit Utah. When we were an hour or so from the border, we realized we were at a quarter left on the tank. We hadn’t pushed Louis yet to see how “E” was “E”.

The gas light came on and we all three grabbed our iPhones to see how far it was to the next gas station. I turned off the A/C and dropped speed to 60mph. The next stop was 50 miles away.

It was the longest 50 minutes. No one talked. The uncomfortable tension between Nick and I could have made Mr. Rogers cringe. Rick said we were going to be fine and he calmly read a book.

I wish I were as cool as Rick sometimes.

When we got to about 10 miles away I started to breathe easier. Every mile that passed at that point was one less that I had to walk and I knew it would be easier and easier. Finally we saw the lights of a gas station and a “Welcome to Utah” sign.

The sigh of relief sounded like a tsunami crashing against the shore. There was now a vibe of peace after the tension storm.

Rick filled up the 14-gallon tank with 13.48 gallons.

We stocked up on water and jerky. I sat shotgun and smoked an American Spirit as we drove through Salt Lake City. I was contemplating my role in the universe and what I may do upon my arrival home. Did I want to move away? Did I want to stay? What is this path unknown?

The hour was creeping past midnight and I was getting nestled into my seat when Rick tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a letter with my name on it.

I was quite confused. Then I recognized the handwriting.

Alison.

My little chief. She was taking my position at the Vermilion and told me she was trying to plan a surprise for me. I had completely forgot.

I opened the envelope and found a novella written on journal paper. No sooner did I start reading her words did I also reach for the Kleenex. No one has ever written anything like that for me before. It was beyond an Ode to myself. It was the truth. About  friendship. About life. About sharing. About learning. About everything.

It made me cherish the relationships I get to experience with people. It cemented my understanding of what I know Alison will accomplish in her lifetime; and made me grateful that I will get to witness her achieve it. I am fortunate to have the bonds that I do.

Rick was given the mission to give this letter to me at an appropriate time. He had been carrying it around with him for a few days and that was the first moment I would have had to read it. Given what I was thinking about when he handed it to me, it was more than perfect.

“Lafayette, she needs you,” Alison wrote. These words have haunted me since Utah. It sounds like such a boost to the ego. But in all actuality, sometimes I think I’m just the one who needs Lafayette.

I fell asleep after rereading the letter. My heart was smiling. Part of me felt like I had just accepted this mission of a lifetime.

I went through one rem cycle and awoke to my phone ringing. It was Neal. It was 3 a.m.

Neal has done a complete 180 in the past two years. He has become very involved with social activism and environmental issues–very far from Pub daze.

He had just gotten into a very heated porch discussion with a friend and the friend’s ex-co-worker; both of whom were just laid off from oil field related companies. We were starting to see this happen more and more where we lived.

It was a very twisted point for Neal to have someone very dear to him challenge everything he had been working for, especially when those individuals were shafted from the source of his frustration.

(P.S. Since this situation things have evolved)

Either way, it was a cool moment for our friendship because we realized the value of how we can level one another out. We both live in these big imaginative worlds inside our heads, and somehow those two fantasies collide into reality every once in a while. It’s even more exciting to know we will see those fantasies become reality one day during our physical existence.

Our conversation ended as Nick pulled into a gas station. We were at the edge of Utah and Nick said he had a few more miles in him. I decided to try the back seat out for the first time of the trip. I curled in the captain’s seat and looked up at the stars through the view of the back sunroof.

There were so many shining throughout the sky. I suddenly felt like a shooting star: flashing through the eyes of thousands of strangers for a moment as I travel to an unknown destination. Unknown to myself and to the viewers.

Hopefully I spark something inside of them as I shoot by. Cause them to take a breath and realize they are awake. Alive.

I fall asleep to the thought, but my vessel kept moving.

USA Today article…

Yesterday, the cover story of the life section of USA Today is about America’s space exploration, or lack there of due to the recession. Next to a picture of a satellite is Brad Pitt’s year-old beard.

God I love my country*. (P.S. this is a *sarcasterick)

The thought of exploration forced me to think of what good has come from exploration in general. Sure, there has been expansion, which has now lead to a population problem, but has it ever really satisfied mankind?

My father has made comments to me throughout my life about man’s need to discover and explore. “It’s what we do.”

From my point of view, which happens to be seen through the form of a Southern white female (although I would argue my shape-shifting abilities), this drive hasn’t really lead us to a place of peace. It has always ended in war. It has always ended in dividing rather than unifying. It has created more labels to argue for or against.

Should we continue space exploration and discover more intelligent life, what do you think the odds are that we will end up fighting them? I have a feeling they already know about us and are just waiting for us to kill ourselves and then they’ll come in and restore our planet.

I was watching a National Geographic movie called “Journey to the edge of the Universe.” Sometimes I feel like that geek in science class who falls in love with the mystery of how we are even alive. Seriously. We are the only planet in our solar system to be perfectly aligned to allow life. How does that not give you chills when you realize this incredible truth?

And how do we celebrate this life? By watching the Golden Globes and argue over who is dressed better? By paying attention to Brad Pitt’s beard instead of human beings in need in Haiti?

I am not saying that our drive to solve problems hasn’t helped us progress as a species. Modern medicine has helped people to survive. I wouldn’t say live, because most of the time you have to pay an outrageous medical bill, which causes you to work more rather than live.

I just can’t help but share the question that stays on my mind every single day.

“What are we doing?!?!?!?!”

Observe what you do on a daily basis. Does it make you feel worth anything? Maybe I’m just really a depressed person. Or maybe I’m just trying to wake some people up so we can LIVE together.

Are we driving technology or is technology driving us? Weren’t we supposed to invent this so we can live simpler lives? When is it supposed to happen?

I’m still waiting.

Maybe I’m just a nutcase who doesn’t know what to do with my own life and I am selfishly shaking up everyone else’s. Or maybe I’m just relaying the message I get when talking to dozens of people a day who talk about what they wish they could do and what they really do.

I am not biased either. I’m not talking to just one genre of people. It’s not just college kids and professors. It’s people working at a grocery store, or music store or bank. It’s people standing next to me in line. It’s people at restaurants. It’s people in public office. It’s engineers. It’s teachers. It’s people in retirement homes.

It’s everyone.

Except for maybe some kids. Kids who still play outside and have imaginations. They are few and far between.

What’s the point of this ramble?

Although space exploration is important, I question the intent behind it. We already have so many problems here that we can’t take care of. Should we really add more to our plate anyway…just to be proud and say we were the first? Where has being the first gotten us anyway? Let’s sink that money into our current state of reality to make it better. Let’s focus on how to LIVE together. Then maybe one day when we are actually ready to handle the consequence of discovering a vast space, we will be responsible enough to follow through accordingly.