Life in the Real World

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.

Where do I begin? In June, I graduated from Southern Oregon University with my Master’s degree. It still feels so weird to say that. It still feels weird to be done with school. Someday, I’ll go back to school for my PhD, but for the time being, it’s a weird feeling to have the whole world in front of me without school in my direct line of view. It’s so exciting, but at the same time, so scary. For years now, I’ve had financial aid to get me by, along with various part-time jobs. Now with financial aid obviously out of the picture, panic mode has set in. I have definitely learned over the past few weeks that I need to take each day as it comes and only think about the bills and the stress and the debt when it’s necessary. The most important thing to me right now is happiness; the happiness of my family, my friends, and myself. I refuse to let debt or stress get in the way of the most important thing to me. I know that everything will work out because it always does with a little hard work and dedication. I am living proof of that. I am so blessed to have the most amazing family, friends, and partner; I have a roof over my head, food in my tummy, a beautiful car, and everything I need. The rest will fall into place in due time.

In July, I took the plunge and adopted a baby into my life. His name is Cash and he is now an almost-3-month-old bundle of joy and energy. He is a maltese and yorkie; what they call a morkie and I don’t think I could love him any more than I do. He’s a handful and keeps me on my toes, but he is worth every second. I already can’t imagine my life without him.


Last but not least, I wish I could announce it on all of the rooftops in the world: I’M IN LOVE! I’m in love with someone that has been right in front of my face for years and years. I am so lucky to have him in my life and I finally feel like all of heartbreak I have gone through happened for a reason and was worth it for this. This is how it should feel. He knows me better than anyone in the world and I can completely be myself with him. So if you’re reading this and waiting for something good to come along, keep waiting. DON’T SETTLE. Those words have been thrown to me for years, and now I finally understand. It was worth the wait.

For now, my life is on a day-by-day basis and I’m always looking at the positives in my life because there are so many.


Lights and Cards

Lights and cards,

Cards handed to strangers,

On these cards, half-clothed women,


Printed on the little cards,

Like advertisements.


Little cards,

Scattering the strip,

People stumbling over them at 3am.

Lights surrounding the people outside,

Making them feel like it’s daytime.


But in the daytime, people don’t act like this.

Out of their bodies,

Out of their minds.

Bad decisions

And black and blue bruises.


Bruises from tripping and bruises from stripping.

Legs hitting poles as men watch,

Like children watching a circus act.


Dollars in their hands given to them by tricky machines,

With a side, pull-down handle.


When the sun starts to rise,

So do questions.


Strange places,

Strange faces.


Smeared make-up on the pillow,

The dress from last night lying bedside,

Tangled motel sheets.


Downstairs, the bells of those tricky machines,

Still sounding,

Poison still being served on trays,

Whether it’s the first poison of the day,

Or last night’s binge continued.


The cycle never ends,

The machines never shut off,

The poison never runs dry.


In a few short hours,

The lights and the cards will reappear,

And the bumped legs on metal,

Will turn to black and blue bruises,

While new bumps will be made only for the same to happen,


-Caitlin Gray