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.