Sunday, October 24, 2010

UT 08: The Tumbling of Cogs and Spring-Loaded Clasps' Release

[xpstd fb]

My friend Patrick noted the "occassional glimpse of the Big Picture," and questioned whether it happens to anyone else:

"Just once in awhile, for a moment, I sometimes feel like I understand my life a little better. It's a momentary insight that I often struggle to hang on to and just as often lose my grip. I know this must not be a unique feeling, the epiphany, but I wonder how it happens to others."

I believe it does. In varying extents and perhaps to varying degrees of recognition, but none the less existent. Within the span of those moments, it feels to me as though the clockwork of myself is turning - truly turning for once instead of merely ticking away, turning towards a more effective way of telling time... Not just keeping track, but creating a whollistic mechanism by which to encompass the whole mess. It feels in those moments as though every other moment of my life is a hazy side-step from The Truth, that being a more authentic paradigm of living in which I would be more myself, more fulfilled, more cognizant.

More alive.

Yes; sometimes they are insignificant and at other times grand. The insignifant come with a nagging feeling that if I just stepped slightly to the left or right, mentally, of where I am at that moment, that I just might grasp the whole damn mess and perhaps life would change. Perhaps I could understand it. Perhaps I could become, in a word, cohesive. Standing in the supermarket, waiting to purchase some eggs and cheese, knowing that my life is going to change once I am finally finished with school - knowing that, somewhere, I will become that person I always wished I could be as a young child. That feeling in itself, too; I remember being that small child and looking away into the distance of Virginia, seeing the mountains in their purple haze and feeling that one day, I might be able to have a normal life. I would be able to go to work and come home and be one of the other people I saw walking around. Hang Halloween decorations, bake for neighbors, create small nicknacks for the students. Be fulfilled. Standing outside waiting for the bus after drama club in Camden, staring at the skies and realizing exactly how fervently I wished on the stars just a few months ago, while I walked the dog, truly wanting to believe I could wish my way into another life - realizing, then, exactly how far away they were... But that those same stars are seen all across the world.

There have been moments in my childhood in which I felt that maybe the whole mess was for some good. Laying in my bed at Christmas time, my parents blasting carols, singing at the top of my lungs and thinking that maybe... maybe some day, it will all be okay. Perhaps, I felt then, there is a way for every life to come to its own version of fruition. That perhaps there is a way to link all of the shit points and make it into some sense. In the backyard of my grandparents' house, staring up at the trees in the sunlight, feeling that maybe even if that didn't happen, this was all part of making me who I am and will be. And maybe that is okay.As I grew older, the moments became more defined and therefore more grand. By this I mean, the shadowy thought of life Becoming, of life Progressing, was lent more edges. The Moments of my childhood, lent more definitive outlining through the context of my experiences up to that point. Remembering being in the living room at 4am with my mother, realizing even then that sometimes things just will not be okay but that it has no bearing on my own potential and freedoms, not ultimately. Recalling every time spent laying on my stomach in my bed, doing homework or reading, and realizing that it was a small child's escape into normalcy. Watching television the other day and realizing that in many ways I've learned more about family and family values from watching televsision than I have from my own life... and laughing when this became clear. Realizing during an internal outburst of rage subsequent to being railed in the head by an open dryer door that the anger I always felt after being hurt was a result of a childhood of hurt. This was the catalyst to unlocking the rage I didn't even know I was carrying.

These moments have served to help me to grow as a person, even when they feel so ephemeral and tentative that I cannot hold onto them. These moments sometimes do feel slightly out of my grasp. I may stand there, silent, with my head cocked to one side as though I were a confused puppy, waiting and listening for the rest of The Moment to arrive. In those times, I feel like a train station waiting for the last train to come in to port. I do feel small, insignificant, in these moments. I feel like I am awash in the situations and experiences of my life as well as those I could have had. I am a conglomeration of my life as well as the things that I could have had: my dreams of moving to New York and becoming a beat writer, lurking about in cafes and learning about poetry and prose that has yet to be discovered; thoughts of leaving it all and driving across the country in an old pickup truck held together with prayer and primer paint; ideas of becoming a minister and talking to people about the concept of God being just another way for us to maybe, just maybe, create a world in which we might actually be able to understand some of this whole thing.

More often than not, the feeling escapes me from its entirety and I am left alone, as I was before, listening to the echoes within my own head.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

UT07: A Few Words from Our Sponsors

This is the story of how we came to be

The purple-red graffiti on a wall,
hastily scribbled and well-meaning,
but ultimately illegible. This is
the letters on pages well-worn
with re-reading; creases about
to crack, edges dog-eared. You and I
stand on some precipice of stone.

While looking at a painting called The Nightmare

I thought of flowered curtains,
speckled with deep rose-colored buds
on a purple backgoround. These curtains
do not belong in a man's bedroom. You
said you had picked them out yourself. I
watched as you laid on your back, staring
at the coffered ceiling, missing your wife.
I wish you'd told me you'd given her a kayak
when you sold your tractor last week.

Pelt Music

Waste-want and worn
all of the ribbons torn
there is no clickaclack
saw the beach that day
with the pier waving
to and hither

There is nothing anymore
but the silence of dogs
laying with their heads
resting on paws

It sits there, without rust
on its smooth silver cusp
shining for a moon without a name
saw the papers beneath
fluttering in the wind
letters a-run from rain

I suppose I would tell you I'm sorry

I never thought to help you
learn new things; I never asked
you questions that would make a laugh
rumble from deep within your belly -
like a whale it was there, bloated
and obvious, waiting to swim. I wish
I could hold your careful hands, look
into your well-water eyes, and say
I will treasure Christmas forever
if you could only realize I loved you
as best as I was able. Incidentally,
I'm feeling much better now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

UT06: More! Existential Quandaries

When is a writer not a writer?

Typing this makes me think of that silly movie, I Heart Huckabees

How am I not myself?

I have become increasingly concerned with my lack of writing. I have become concerned with the goals I have set up for myself, and with my expectations. Just call me Pip. I am concerned with the idea that perhaps I'm less of a writer than I ever thought myself to be and, just maybe, I've been a one-trick pony this entire time. A writer good for a few sparklers - bright, snapping with fire... but ultimately ephemeral. Am I ephemeral in type?

I have grown to consider a few of my collection the"magnum opus" of my "writing career." As though it's all over as though I'm half-blind and crooked with age, mind infirm and reeling constantly into jags of clouded and hazy half-recollection and consideration. I question the fact that it matters to me - does this mean I am or ever was? I question the fact that it doesn't matter more - does this mean I can't be any longer or never was? I question why I ever thought I had a "voice," why I ever thought I had a discernible "style." What is that voice I hear within my head? Whose words are those committed to paper?

Could I ever have enough to say to fill the endless pages?

Could I ever write anything again that is as raw, as honest, as striking?

Was it ever, to begin with?

Of all of the things that I could be stripped of, this is last on my list. The missing-ness of it has come sneakily, stealthily - as shadows sometimes come creeping up the lawn, as fog seems to swell and swallow and recede all at once while you drive through it... So much so that I didn't know it had left, until it was gone. What's worse - for me - is the bulk of my writing for the past two years is being held hostage in some house in Lodi, wrapped but never mailed. I wonder if my feeling will fade when (if?) that is returned to me. Perhaps it's like a mother hen needing all of her little chicks in sight?

I do wonder, and heartily wish I knew what on earth to do with this feeling. This entry doesn't really do the creepy-crawliness of it justice.

Monday, February 1, 2010

UT05: A Writing Exercise

Write "Dear ______, it's not you, it's me." And continue.

Dear Attractive Man from the Gym (Whose Name, I'm Fairly Certain, is Gary),

It’s not you. It’s me. Look… I know the things I leave on your doorstep get thrown out the next day. I’ve seen them there, when I look through your garbage. I always hoped I’d find just one decent piece of clothing, or maybe a discarded perfume bottle that still held the ghost of your wind. Just a small whiff… I could cherish it forever. I know you see my car from the way you have gotten quite artful at dodging me as we wind through traffic towards your yoga class Tuesday nights. You must be taking defensive driving classes. It used to make me want you all the more. Unfortunately, I was sitting behind you at the movies the other week, and I distinctly heard you pass gas. That is one boat that I do not want to sail away on. There was even someone sitting right beside you. You didn’t even look embarrassed. You didn’t even turn to say a meek, “Oh, excuse me!” Nothing. You just kept eating your nachos. Now that I think of it - who gets nachos at the theater, anyway? Why not just go to Taco Bell or something? Then you can pass gas in the privacy of your own home – or your car, if you can’t wait that long to let it rip. Anyway. It’s been swell, our saucy little tango of cat-and-mouse… But I don’t quite feel the same way about you any longer. My apologies.

The one who has been in your rearview for the past eight months,
Woman with the floral-patterned silk scarf, and sunglasses.


Dear Writer's Block,

It's not you. It's me. I've grown weary of sitting in inspiring places, pen poised above pad, the silence in my head so deep you could hear a pin drop. I'd rather the pen dropped. I've grown weary of reading page after page of prose by other people, hoping to be enlightened, to garner some hazy inkling of an idea from the stark black ink of their words. I've grown to be weary of flashcards of adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs; I've grown tired of the post-its stickied around the house - "think of the vicissitude of the pupils when entralled," or "the veil of Isis above a coffer." They all have failed me. I have failed me. I fail to yield any remarkable segue into the realm of my third eye, I fail to yeild any work. I just think of you. You see how this could become a problem. I, then, have vowed to take my leave of you, to walk the other way. I haven't the patience for you, the talent for the depression, to savor the moments of wordlessness. I am simply meant to crank out letters. I'm sorry. I wish we could have worked this out in some way that would not involve our estrangement.

But I guess we both know that's already happened.

With nostalgic reticence,
She of the clacking typewriter.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

UT 04: A Cross-Trek of Book Stuff

My first poetic love was for Edna St Vincent Millay. I am particularly a fan of "Dirge without Music" and "Time Does Not Bring Relief..." I read Dirge first and spent a good amount of time just sitting there thinking about it, as I was not of a particularly revolutionist mindset and had no idea that feeling "resigned" was a thing, much less a thing against which to rebel. Shortly afterwards I read Time, and then spent about a week floating around wondering what it would be like to feel like that - I was too young to have experienced love, much less the burn that comes of loss. I think that she prepared me for it, in a way. I think that's one thing great writing can do, sometimes - prepare someone for things they had no idea they could be prepared for.

A few years ago, I read a book called
Venus Envy. It is NOT to be confused with Venus Envy as it relates to transgender issues!!!! I specify that because I told someone I liked the book and they immediately referred to Erin Lindsey's web comic Venus Envy ...Now that I think about it, I have to ask them why they knew about that.

Anyway. The book to which I refer is not a good book, really, and it is actually pretty bad in some aspects... But it makes a great popcorn book, especially if you're good at ferreting out little nuggets of language-gold. To be perfectly honest, I don't really recommend reading it unless you really have nothing else to do on a rainy day. I do sometimes return to it, so I guess it's probably worthwhile. Maybe. Point is, I read it and it made me think about the idea of thinking about goddesses, by which I mean how previous societies must have viewed the deities - in what ways they were necessary, you know?

There's a book called
Cunt that I read last year (someone gave it to me as a gift in like, 2004, but I never got around to reading it). It traces the origins of the word and made me think of the idea of women as a whole - I was on a total Isis kick at that time, which is probably why it popped into my head as related. Because, well... There's a lot of menstruation talk in the book. And Isis is the goddess of fertility. So, yeah. I wound up writing a series of poems about it. (Dork-factor = through the roof, I know.)

I don't think I would recommend this book if you're not EXTREMELY into feminine empowerment. The book borders on fem-nazi. Just saying.

OH, while I'm on the subject, for those of you who have not already read it (Terry, Krista)
Fear of Flying is sort of in this same vein and was a delightful little smack in the face. Some of the ideas that surround goddesses can be found within these pages. Less blood than the previous book, but Jong can be pretty infuriating in her see-saws from mature to insane. You'll see what I mean. (Is that a good enough teaser? Buy, buy, buy. Go. Come on, you probably spend that much on a week's worth of coffee. Or tea. Or soda. And a book lasts longer!)

I'm a knitter, and there's a book that my aunt (the walking library and Jill-of-most-trades who taught me how to knit!) gave me to read when I told her I was taking Goddess Mythology this semester - it's called
The Knitting Goddess: Finding the Heart and Soul of Knitting Through Instruction, Projects, and Stories. Great book, from what I've read so far. Here's a quote from the introduction:

"As I researched [various mythological archetypes related to knitting], I grew to anticipate that a heroine's ability to use yarn and a wheel or a spindle or loom - or, later, a pair of needles - would promise a story that shared wisdom about the potentials of feminine power. I was never disappointed. My knitting goddesses, as I came to call them, knew how to use passion, love, strategy, and patience to change or heal worlds and to travel between them."

Monday, January 18, 2010

UT 03: I've Always Fancied this Dream... which I am driving an old pickup truck, maybe something hanging from the rearview mirror that whirls and whips around whenever I hit a pothole or bump while going too fast on back roads; headed god-knows-where with no one else in the cab but maybe a dog in the bed with the wind in his ears and excitement in his bark - no friends, no family, just me and the country. I know in my heart that I have friends to call on when I get back home. I know there is family somewhere out there for me. These are comforting thoughts, yes. But right then and there, the deepest comfort comes from knowing I am completely and utterly alone. The freedom of being in motion. With occassional pitstops for the adorable barking companion.

As I pace around my room, being unemployed and quite antsy, I find myself returning to this idle daydream. That's when I stop moving so fast that the pacing could be seen as aerobic exercise and I sit in my rocking chair, to list and to contemplate. Sometimes, the daydream seems more prophetic than poetic.

I love driving. It's among the top therapies of which I am familiar. Some others include rearranging furniture, organizing closets and sock drawers, knitting, meeting new people, and making profiles on dating sites so that you can feel better about yourself when you get twenty zillion messages a month. Good time-waster. (Note to self: the last therapy can and will backfire when you meet someone you actually like and they prove to be apparently completely unwilling or unable to reciprocate for "reasons" that almost every other person our age currently experience at little or no detriment to their dating abilities.) Another top therapy: deleting your dating site profile?

There is little more precious in the world than the sense of our own freedom. And we pay dearly for it in many senses. Take the parenthetical statement, for example. I pay for my freedom by consistently missing the security of having someone that I know will love me no matter what I do or am going through. But I would take freedom over living in a place where I don't feel I can be completely myself. The other aforementioned person pays for their freedom by turning down people they probably enjoy being around. But I'm sure they'd take freedom over being in a position for which they don't feel they're ready. It can be hard, stretching into your freedom and realizing that most of the time freedom means being alone. It can be daunting, even frightening, to realize that all you have is time and a whole lot of "what are we going to do now?" coming back to you in the sound of your own voice. So, at first, you do what you can and you wait for when you might be able to tie yourself up again. And somewhere in the middle of all of that, you realize that it might not be such a bad gig, after all.

Thus is the tricking power of freedom.

It has some awfully big clown shoes to fit into and let's face it - no one's feet are that big. So it's a lot of clomping around and shouting in empty rooms with reflection-distorting mirrors and time, time, time. You see the best of yourself, you see the worst of yourself, and if you're really lucky, you see which parts of those are bullshit and a way to piece all of it together. You see what you want, you see what you have, and you see how to get what you want out of what you have. Sometimes you see that it's just not possible and that you'll have to wait. Sometimes you see that you want something and you might not have everything you wanted to have in order to get it, but fuck it - you'll try anyway. That's the best part about freedom. Nothing stops you from being free. Except you.

We can forget that we are free and feel completely trapped by our situations when really, we're just placing meaning on something that doesn't need our lousy "meaning" to exist in the first place. Dead-end jobs are jobs whether we love them or hate them; working for idiots is working whether we recognize the incompetence of our superiors or just go with it for the sake of the paycheck; the job does not care if you do not like it, so do the job and just get home so you can be yourself, unfettered.

To feel trapped when unemployed, however, is the slimiest trick to turn over in the world. It's so easy to feel like you are trapped in being unemployed because you need money. You need money for bills, you need money for rent, you need money to live. You need money for the car that you need to keep so you can get to the next job that you have. You need it to keep sane, to go out with friends and to drive. You need a job to feel like you see more than just the walls of your house every day, to feel like you actually accomplish something - even if the accomplishment is just "Hey, I made money by leaving my house. Good for me." And of course, a job ensures that you can be on your own and that you can take care of yourself. There is also that cute little thing where almost anyone who has been out of work for three or more months is just assumed to not be putting enough effort into the job search.

Silly societal standards.

The irony of the thing is, while you care that you are unemployed, the world does not care if you are unemployed. So apply to as many jobs as you can and if you have a way to earn money on the side DO IT and for the love of God just accept whatever good things come your way instead of just closing yourself off like the little hermit I'm sure you'll become if you don't get a job within the next year. If freedom can be described as a yawning void with the distinct ability to make people completely neurotic then let's face it - unemployment is definitely a version of freedom. If you can find someone that understands the way that you feel and all of the freedom that you now have - and that freedom sometimes means pacing around in your head for hours on end trying to figure a way out of the huge gaping chasm that is your current state of affairs - and is willing to work with you on that... I'd say leap at the chance, because finding understanding people in this world is not a common occurance.

Especially in New Jersey.