When I grow up

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When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I think my first answer to that question was a mommy. I would play with my dolls and pretend I was their mommy. I would change their clothes, pack a diaper bag, and have my dolls ride in a toy car seat buckled into the car. Basically, I would imitate how my mother took care of my baby sister.

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Next, I wanted to be a teacher. I used to play school with my stuffed animals all the time. Looking back, I find this ironic because there were times when I hated school. I felt lonely and left out sometimes. Other times, there was too much attention when I would have preferred to blend in. Adolescence can be difficult for the meek. Thank God for great teachers, friends, my family, and a lousy guidance counselor (or was she?) who had reservations about me “making it” in college so far away from my comfort zone. At any hard time when I briefly entertained the thought of quitting, I thought about that guidance counselor’s comment and decided that succeeding—if only to spite her—was worth it. Continue reading “When I grow up”

What does depression (and anxiety) look like?

Most commercials for antidepressants show people in despair, lying on a couch crying or dressed in baggy clothing with unkempt hair.

Is that what depression looks like? Yes. Sometimes.

But often, depression can look like a person who has their shit together. A career woman who gets things done. A soccer mom with perfect hair and perfect kids. A lawyer. A doctor. A musician. An artist. A movie star. A writer. Me.

Anxiety medication ads often depict a person having a panic attack, complete with hyperventilating, rapid heartbeat and sweating.

So that’s what anxiety looks like, right? Sure. Sometimes.

It also can look like standoffishness. Indifference. Disengagement. Irritability. Forgetfulness. Me.

Continue reading “What does depression (and anxiety) look like?”

One Night in a Coffeehouse

“One Night in a Coffeehouse” Free-Verse, March 20, 2017

He sings in the near-empty coffeehouse
About alcohol addiction and love.
He thinks no one in the lackluster crowd is listening.

Two employees try their best to acknowledge him,
While a college student studies his books,
And a lady whose whole life is a musical hums her own tune.

Annoyed by the six laughing ladies in their bible study group,
He changes his line-up to include
All songs he knows that take the Lord’s name in vain.

The ladies talk over the too-loud guitar music,
Determined to finish their lesson,
While he plays louder and louder to drown out the noise.

The ladies ignore him, all but one.
One listens to the man sing out his soul,
Reminded of the coffeehouses of her youth—now long gone.

Where did time go? She wonders.
How did they all end up there,
And is it still art if no one appreciates it?

I wrote this a while back after an unexpected encounter with a traveling musician, Rue Snider, at Penny University in Russellville, Arkansas. I don’t write poetry near as much as I did as a teen and in my early 20s.

-Brandi Easterling Collins