Author Archives: Ryn Cricket

About Ryn Cricket

When I talk to people, I always hear, "I always wanted to do that," or "You're so lucky!" I NEVER want to be the person who says those things. I am not lucky, I make things work. I don't think "I want to do that." I do it. When I was in the seventh grade I wanted to do three things when I grew up, I wanted to be an English teacher, a writer and a mother. All of that traveling, adventure, and Peace Corps was just research for what was to come. After more than twenty years of being told I would never be able to have children, I had two beautiful baby girls, a year and a half apart. I spend some of my time teaching English in Shanghai, China, and the rest of my time, inspiring my two little girls, or being inspired by writing at the writers’ workshop I call “home.”

Song of Myself

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I was teaching Song Of Myself to my students and I asked them to write their own song, and promised them I would write mine too.  Here it is..

Song  of myself

I’m tired

I’m always tired

I’m mother AND father

I’m teacher AND student

Cook, mechanic, housekeeper

Cattle-herder, grocery shopper

Nurse, teacher, zoo-keeper

EVERY DAY

…in my free time.

I’m tired.

And excited.

I climb 108 stairs everyday

To see 120 sixth-graders.

When I walk in the room,

I hope they love poetry

As much as I do.

I have energy in the classroom

(I drink a lot of coffee)

I lose energy on the stairs.

When I get home,

I collapse on the couch,

Because I’m tired.

 

Sometimes, I forget I’m in China.

Sometimes, I feel like gravity doesn’t hold me

On this side of the world,

And I’ll fall off if I’m not paying attention.

 

Sometimes, I miss Cleveland.

I miss Lake Erie and pierogis.

Indians games and LeBron James.

Trees, parks, fresh air

and quiet.

I miss American Chinese food

Real Apples, and fresh sweet corn.

 

I miss driving.

I miss going to work

On the shoreway

Along the lake

Through downtown

Down Martin Luther King Blvd.

Between all of the International gardens

Gandhi waves at me

Past the columns of Greece

And the statues of Italy.

I don’t miss an empty refrigerator.

I don’t miss not having money

To fix my car.

I don’t miss not being able to buy

Shoes or Christmas presents for my babies.

I’m still struggling

But there is food in the fridge,

We all have new shoes 

–even me.

And I took them to Disneyland

–Which I couldn’t have dreamed of,

5 years ago.

It’s good to know

I’m in the right place

At the right time.

Even if I’m tired.

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Bloodlines

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Quick History lesson

101

The Civil War.

The South lost.

The Confederates were not Americans.

They left America and fought REAL Americans

As traitors..

And they lost.

More than sixty years later,

Many cities started erecting statues to the Confederate “heroes.

Why?

Why sixty to a hundred years later?

The KKK and Jim Crow.

We might be the only country who erected statues to the losers.

(Thank the Daughters of the Confederation).

You don’t see Hitler’s statue in Germany.

In fact, you see nothing of the Nazis.

Does that mean they were erased and we can forget all about them?

We all know that if we forget our history, we are doomed to repeat it.

It means they are embarrassed that they let it happen,

And they will never glorify evil again.

You don’t see statues of Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden or Benedict Arnold.

We don’t glorify people on the wrong side of history.

And you have to wonder why Nazis are protesting this.

What do they have in common?

Because even the relatives of these confederates, want the statues to come down.

And we have to stay away from the rhetoric of “whataboutism”

It’s a weak and immature argument

That has no place in this conversation.

If you want statues to remember history, make a statue of

Harriett Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, or Henry David Thoreau.

Glorify the heroes.

I have a hobby…genealogy.

I can spend hours researching,

And it’s fascinating to me, because it reminds me

that my history is our history.

I found out that my great, great, great, great, great grandfather

On my maternal  grandfather’s side

Was a Patriot of the American Revolution,

And although he could not fight, he provided food, including beef for

General Washington’s Army.

Later, President Washington recognized him as a patriot,

and there are statues and parks named after him.

His great-grandson Robert, in Fredericksburg,

fought in the Civil War,

As a confederate.

He was captured by the Union, and released when the war was over.

He paid $10,000 to the American government for an official pardon

For fighting on the wrong side of history.

He later became a minister and wrote books about spiritualism.

And he was related by marriage to Robert E. Lee,

and they both pledged their allegiance to the Union.

120 years later,

after my dad served in the Air Force in Viet Nam,

And my brother served in the Navy in Bosnia,

I served in Peace Corps,

Because, that’s who I am.

I know all stories have two sides,

But rarely do they have two “right” sides.

When you think about these things,

Decide what side of history you want to be on.

How will you be remembered in a few hundred years?

Cubist eye

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Glancing behind me
There’s a blurry Monet
Sweet smelling summer sunshine
followed by the
dark, dense, details of Rembrandt
and the disturbing over-tones of Gougin.
I’m searching for peace
somewhere between Rodin and O’Keefe,
but I’m stuck in the puzzle of Picasso.
Pieces of life
sectioned off
and divided by
those dividing moments:
joining Peace Corps,
realizing I was pregnant,
the day he walked away,
getting cancer…
And everything changes.
I mean EVERYTHING changes.
Divides into moments
of before and after.
Each and every cell
recreates itself
with the pieces twisted
like some unfinished Rubic’s cube
until the person I used to be
can no longer
recognize the face in the mirror.

Vicious Circles

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Some days I get a bad case of the “poor me”s.
I can list every problem
Every little thing I wish was better
Every frustration
Every worry
It’s so over-whelming that I want to scream or cry
And the list seems to grow
And even get worse.
Sometimes I do cry.
More often, I scream.
Sometimes I feel so inadequate
And I wonder What the hell am I doing here?
Or even just, What the hell am I doing?
Period.
Sometimes I think I’m doing a disservice to my daughters
Sometimes I think I try too hard.
Sometimes I over-compensate for all that I think they are missing.
Sometimes, maybe, I set my expectations too high.
Sometimes I think I’m doing what’s best,
And it turns into something horrible
Or I trust too much or too easily
And it’s sometimes the wrong people
Who take what little I have
And crush my spirit into a tailspin of disbelief.
Sometimes, I think too much.
Sometimes I look at my daughters swimming in a pool
Yelling, “Watch me, Mommy!”
And I’m proud.
Oh yeah, those two adorable, very good swimmers are mine.
I made them.
I get to keep them forever.
I see them in the park, running and happy,
And I see Rumi’s bad foot.
But it doesn’t stop her.
And I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner.
I see Raine learning to write
And her eyes light up when I show her new ways
That make more sense to her.
I walk to work over the white, stone-carved bridges
Watching men fishing on the banks of the rivers
Lined with weeping willows and colorful flowers.
A man might be standing on a flat boat
pushing it quietly along the river with a long pole.
I get to my desk, and create new projects and lessons
With helpful co-workers for enthusiastic students.
I have free time to be quiet and creative,
and money in my pocket for a good lunch.
Then I get a phone call,
“We had such a good day today, mama!
We went to the playground and played with our friends.
The nanny made delicious food.
And now I’m doing the writing pages you made me.
Raine is doing her math.
And you won’t believe this! When we went to the store,
We got to feed some rabbits.
Did you know rabbits love carrots and lettuce?”
Then I walk home with my co-workers
Across the stone-carved bridges,
And I walk in the door to, “Mommy! Mommy!”
I’m tired.
I want to sleep.
I wish I had more energy and
I feel inadequate
Like I’m not good enough…

Free Dumb Reigns

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I have never been afraid to fly

At nine, I flew in a

150 year-old stunt biplane

Open cockpit,

Leather helmet

Flowing white silk scarf

 

My second flight ever

Was at age 17

In the pilot seat

Of a Cessna 172

My dad was the co-pilot.

I flew …

before I could drive.

 

As I got older

I started collecting stamps

On my passports,

And riding elephants

Through ancient cities

and up Asian mountains

People share pictures of their

Grandchildren at birthday parties

And their pets sleeping

I have pictures of my preschoolers

Eating meat on a stick

And giving Santa directions

To our new flat in Shanghai.

 

So when you tell me

I don’t fit your definition of what

a divorced, middle-aged, American,

cancer survivor, teacher,

single mother of two

(Insert label here)

You are right.

And I’m ok with that.

PTSD

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When a soldier comes back from battle

With no legs

His friends don’t say, “Oh man!

How do you do it?

Go everyday without walking.

I could NEVER do that!”

 

I can’t eat chocolate.

“OH MY GOD!”  I hear.

“I would DIIIIEEE!

I need my daily blah, blah blah…”

As if the word “can’t” didn’t register.

“Can’t” is not a choice.

If it makes you sick,

If it feels like poison,

You don’t miss it.

 

Then there’s,

“Why did you wait so long to have children?”

“It’s so selfish.”

–Yeah, I’ve actually heard that.

Well you see…

Truth is

I had sex everyday

Sometimes more than once

for twenty years

then BOOM!

Jackpot!

That’s the truth,

–but it’s not what people think.

They think I chose

To have my first child at 38.

Because our life is our free will, right?

Our choice.

I love being a mother at my age.

I’m so happy it happened that way,

But I didn’t plan it.

 

TMI: I haven’t had sex

since the first bomb hit.

I was hit with 3.

That will probably keep me out of the game.

No one asks the soldier about sex.

It’s understood.

No one even mentions it to him.

This seems to be a problem and issue for others.

I’m told, “Can’t you find someone?”

I suppose I could…

If I wanted to…

But why?

It’s so trivial

When you don’t have legs,

You figure things out

And move on.

 

How does pretending to do something

Or need something

Or want something

Make me feel better?

I’m not the one in denial.

 

I live without a car.

No one questions it.

I can’t eat turkey.

No one mentions it.

I can’t drink alcohol.

No big change.

 

Why would I mourn

some little piece of chocolate

Or random night?

 

Dead Beat

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You should have been born a man

–No disrespect to men, or anything

–But one of those stereo-typical,

Narcissistic, paranoid, irresponsible,

Statistic, inconsiderate,

Lacking of commitment or

Understanding of anything outside yourself

Prepubescent with no aspirations

To do anything

Other than say…

lay around

Until years pass

Over-night

And you’re almost 50

Out of shape

Constantly complaining about some ache or pain

Or crazy neighbor

Like a crotchety old man

30 years past his prime

“Those kids were talking behind my back.”

You grouse.

Because, you know,

That’s what preschoolers do.

But here you are

In the middle of life

With an expensive education and no experience

Or common sense to back up

Any flippant remark like

“The dinner your nanny made was so good,

I didn’t save you any.”

“It’s not about you,”  and

“You know, you should get more “me” time.”

These things spout from your mouth

With no reference to open eyes,

Useful hands or a brain that processes

Outside information in any more

Complex way then a two-step process

That can’t possibly result in a conclusion other than,

“What about me?” in a whiny voice.

And the no-guilt sense of entitlement,

As if all the water you drink,

The food you eat,

the A/C you keep on 24/7

Should be a right and free

So you can spend 3 times more for a gourmet meal

To be delivered

than a family spends cooking fresh from the market.

Every lunch bought,

Every Starbucks coffee,

Every taxi ride to work

Was taken out of the pocket of

the single mother

you stole thousands from

Who walks to work with a thermos of coffee

and left-overs in her backpack.

And you and I know

deep down,

that missed opportunities and advantages

have nothing to do with

skin color, gender, or age,

Some people are well-trained

to catch the red flags I missed.

Because once the money ran out,

So did you.

Poor little victim of circumstances

Your karma created.

Misery repels company.