You are the practicality that keeps me grounded;
I am the spontaneity that drags you along.
You are the reason to my irrationality;
I am the tumult to your calm.
You are the answer to my questions;
I am the words to your quiet deeds.
You are the engineer I cherish;
I am the bookworm you esteem.
You are the chef I rate as top;
I am the baker you adore.
You are the handyman I can count on;
I am the seamstress you prefer.
They say opposites attract, and it seems that might be true.
Like two pieces from the puzzles we both love,
We fit together seamlessly.
To be cliche, you complete me,
But in ways I never knew weren't whole.
The words tumble from my lips
before I can stop them.
He tells me to stop apologizing.
I – catch myself before I say it again.
I don’t know why I feel compelled
to offer up this utterance as a surrender
when I’ve done nothing wrong.
It’s become a habit that I can’t break,
this expression of contrition
where no sin is apparent.
And so I wonder...
What is it I’m apologizing for?
If it’s my words,
why can’t I own them?
If it’s my actions,
why can’t I back them?
If it’s myself,
why can’t I love me?
I mean what I say.
I trust what I do.
I like who I am.
It is time to stop apologizing.
People ask me all the time what my major is, what I’m going to do with my degree, as if that somehow defines me, somehow is a mold into which I should fit. As if being a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a mechanic, or a nurse makes me real; as if calling myself a statistician, a technician, a psychiatrist, an ophthalmologist, a zoologist, a gynecologist, an herbologist is any more definitive than calling me by name. Because somehow the letters AA, BA, MFA, LDS, EE, DD, or PHD are supposed to make me who I am.
I cannot be defined by the classes I took or the papers I wrote or the tests I failed. I am far more complex than that and I refuse to be satisfied with a label, so when you ask me what I’m doing in school, what I’m going to do afterward, and I tell you I’m gonna teach home economics, don’t look at me like I’ve gone off the deep end, like I’m wasting my brains and wasting my time and wasting my money, like I’m negating every feminist victory and reinforcing female stereotypes. Don’t look at me like I’m never gonna make a living, never gonna make anything of myself, because it’s my brains and my time and my money, my living and my self.
And how else can I be, how else can I fit my definition if I give in to the pressures of you, the pressures of him, the pressures of them, the pressures of it, and do what someone else thinks is right for me because they want me to be defined by what I do instead of who I am. I am a girl who snores when she’s sick and hiccups after she eats. I’m the girl who dated your youngest son and had a crush on your older brother. I’m the wild woman in love with her mountain man. I’m the girl that is sometimes eloquent and often awkward and twice as likely to hug you as shake your hand. I am the adult who eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a tall glass of ice cold milk and the Floridian, who if offered a slice of pea-can pie would say “Don’t you mean pe-cahn?”
I’m the girl who loves to cook and cooks to love, and if you don’t know what I mean by that think of how a homemade meal makes you feel and then get back to me. Sometimes I’m the girl who crochets and is learning to knit, but I don’t know if I like it yet. I am a victim of the techie generation and I am helplessly addicted to facebook and youtube and myspace and stumble and twitter and flicker and all of that stupid stuff. I am a junkie who loves movies and has to get there early because it’s just not the same if I miss the previews and I’m the girl who loves to eat but hates to exercise and always complains about her flab.
I am the daughter of a sweet southern woman and a hard working ex-Marine and I am the sister to the brother who is almost taller than me and the granddaughter of the four most amazing grandparents you will ever have the chance to meet. I’m a family and consumer science major who loves biology and algebra and is fascinated with the manipulation of words and sometimes sings a song or two and used to play the flute and is practicing piano. I’m the girl who works in the weight room and turns on the light when you come to play racquetball in court number three and mops up those scuffs you left because you didn’t wear non-marking shoes. I’m the neighbor at your apartment who’s always sewing late at night and parks her car in your space.
I’m a best friend, a sister from another mother, a daughter, a niece but not a nephew, one day an aunt, a roommate, a one-time lover, a student, sometimes a teacher, a cousin, an employee, a visitor, a customer, a someday-degreed-and-lettered member of society, but before that, during that, and after that, I am Jennifer Marie Cassell.
The dragon in me
Controls my thoughts and deeds;
At times propelling me forward,
Other times holding me back.
The dragon in me
Is whispering softly,
Building my confidence,
Riling my doubt.
The dragon in me
Does no fire breathe;
He really doesn't breathe at all.
He's merely my ego,
And I the knight
Trying not to be burned.
The pieces that define.
A shirt, a shoe, a ribbon, or a sock,
When seen day to day mean nothing at all,
But when scattered along the water's edge
Seem symbolic and slightly melancholy.
Each bit a small part of somebody's life
That is no longer there-
But does that make it any less whole?
What sort of debris will I leave behind?
Words and music and bits of crafty things,
Perhaps children and families,
And certainly friends,
For this is my life debris:
The pieces that define.
It was neatly formed in my head last night,
And I thought to myself, "I should set this down right",
But my dreams were calling,
And I was falling
Into the arms of sleep.
So that one is lost, like its brothers ahead,
And this one is here to be in its stead.
A poor replacement, I am sure,
But it will just have to do
Until I can find
In a corner of my mind
That which is just out reach.