Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Three Writers with Good Advice

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you are inclined to write ‘very’ and your editor will delete it and your writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain

“I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” — Valdimir Nabokov

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” — Stephen King

Thanks, Connie, for sending me these.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It Was Quick and Merciful

Went to see the colleague who had read my writing and he was incredibly helpful. I knew going in that he was wielding a knife that I had placed in his hand, but he didn't draw blood.

His comments were specific about some things and general about others and overall very encouraging. The maddening part is that he gave me so much to think about. Not only can I see the points he made, and know how to use them in revision, but I also have ideas for the fresh writing yet to come. Even more maddening is not having enough time to get it all done before school starts. Same old story of freak-out in the last month of summer.

One thing he said that I especially loved: When we were on the subject of cutting out the sentences that are unnecessary, he said, "I always thank a sentence as I'm cutting it. I say 'You were a wonderful canoe, but I've made it to the island now.'" It's much less painful to think that my "bad" writing got me to where I'm going and then I can just let go of it, rather than thinking I've somehow wasted my time writing it in the first place. I knew this, but his canoe metaphor drove it home, so to speak.

On the topic of moving from scene to scene in a memoir, we discussed the logic that needs to be in place. I've been playing around with time, weaving memories about my dad in his healthy days into the more recent segments of him in dementia. The logic has to make sense to the reader, moving naturally from one time to another based on the emotional connection. And, my colleague pointed out, this can be very satisfying to the reader when the puzzle of the book makes sense to them as it falls into place, when "your logic clicks in their head."

It would actually be fun to mess with all this if I weren't trying so hard to get it done. I need to retrain myself to enjoy the process, and not to have the default emotion during the writing to be panic. (Even though panic is kind of my default emotion for life. Damn. There may be a lesson to learn here.)

Oddly enough, the dental problem that I had gotten worked on this past Tuesday (and thought was all better now), started randomly bleeding as I sat in my colleague's office. So there I was, nervous about his feedback and suddenly I literally tasted blood. Seems a little primitive in retrospect. Cave woman about to protect her "baby" from the threatening other-tribe member? 

Back to the writing cave again.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Still Climbing the Hill

Tomorrow I'm going to see a colleague to discuss my writing. I gave him 10 pages of my in-progress manuscript a couple weeks ago and he now has some comments to make. He's published half a dozen books, so I decided to ask him for some input.

It's a weird thing to hand over some writing, to gut yourself like a fish and then wait for the reaction. But at this point I'm smack in the middle of the attempt to write this blasted thing and I go back and forth between feeling completely crushed and overwhelmed by it, and feeling as though I'm almost ready to break through the wall of "stuckness." A different reader/critic might help. We'll see.

I have a new friend who emailed me today with wise and perfectly timed words. Among them: "The point is, I think, the longer the project, the more lows and highs you will  have.  And, my guess is, the longer the project, the lows are even lower, the highs higher (hopefully)." I might have known this already, but I hadn't identified it consciously. All I knew is that every few days of work on the book, I have a horrible bout of devastation/hopelessness/near-paralysis and lie curled up on my bed crying. I end up back at "Why am I even writing this (expletive) book? What is the point?" Then I take the endorphins provided by the crying and get up and do something different (dishes, usually) and reevaluate.

It was good to hear these words of wisdom from this friend and fellow writer. I'm often overlooking the obvious, and although I've said the words "This is the longest, most difficult writing project I've ever taken on," I somehow don't give it permission to knock me down and pull me back up as much as it does. I think you need to do that, to have sort of an agreement with it. So I'm giving it permission now.

How could it not be this hard? I have to revisit scene after scene with my father, both in his sickness and his health, his decrepit final year and his younger, snappier ones. And then I get a really unexpected twist (it perhaps shouldn't have been unexpected, but it was for me) when I discover after 70,000 words in, that this book is at least as much about myself as it is about my dad. This is the way of the "memoir." It's unavoidable. As my close friend Connie says, "Or else who is writing it?"

Today I was driving to my hair appointment and was in a writing trance. It was as though the book were riding in the car with me, coaxing me to see it more clearly, like when you have someone's name on the tip of your tongue. As I was sitting in my salon smock thingy, waiting for my turn, I was apparently so transfixed on staring out the window that Brenda, my hairdresser for 20 years, stood and watched me, wondering what I was thinking about, before she finally called my name.

You know what's great and scary at once? Feeling that deep immersion into the project itself. It's a combination of three things: exhilaration over the closeness to the work, the cold anchor of existing in a pocket of isolation (just you and the constant search for the slow skeletal building of the book), and the realization that there is no abandoning this wretched thing until it's finished.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The 1-Day Stay-cation

Scott just finished his summer class yesterday morning. It was an 8-week difficult bore for him. When I woke up this morning he was reading a book for brain candy. I'd left J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy out on the top of his stack of books for him to devour. It's OK, not great. Neither of us could get through more than about 60 pages of Harry Potter so we're not exactly fans, but I was curious about her first "adult" offering.

I'm a horribly slow reader, plus I read about a dozen books at a time, switching back and forth depending on my mood, so this Rowling book took me a month to finish. Scott read it all today. I hate him for this. And he retains what he reads, which is not usually the case with people who breeze through. Sickening.

It was a great Sunday. Lazing around, exceptional dinner (he grilled scallops outside, and corn on the cob) and then we had another insanely raucous reading date on the couch. My productivity was limited to doing dishes and laundry. I've totally backed off the writing of the book until Tuesday when I'll be meeting with a colleague who's read a small (very, only about 10 pages) chunk of it and has feedback to offer. So we'll see how that goes. It'll be awkward, for sure. Always tough to bare your throat this way, especially with a colleague that you know will be blunt. I'm hoping it primes the pump and I can return to the writing with more momentum. I'm vastly sick of working on this book. If I didn't feel compelled to finish it, I'd love to drop it. That made no sense.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Class of 1981

Scott and I went out to dinner tonight with two friends from my undergrad days that I hadn't seen in 32 years. Very few things are as cool as reconnecting with people you really liked when you were all freakishly young hellions and finding out you like them just as much, if not more, as middle-aged hellions. Right when you think nothing could outdo last night's "Hoarders" marathon, you are proven wrong.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Indiana Evening

Went to the one and only local Mexican restaurant with my brother (visiting from Ohio) and mom. Then to Dairy Queen, and then a drive out to the cemetery to see my dad's grave. It was an outstandingly beautiful evening. My brother and I went out for a post-Dairy Queen walk in the park. This does not happen often. Almost never. Tomorrow it's back home to Illinois and diving into summer work again. I'm seeing very clearly that this book will not be finished this summer. Not even close. But I'm learning a lot about writing, about my own innards, and about my dad's life, and I'm trying to let that be enough for now.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hair Day

My mom has gone every week on Thursday afternoon to get her hair fixed for as long as I can remember. When I'm visiting her, I go along. It is a fascinating place, watching the "weeklies" come and go to get their fresh coifs from Marcia. Mom is almost 91 but not the oldest customer by a long shot. My former English teacher is 100 and still goes every week. She doesn't like to talk to people about her age. "I just think when people find out you're this old, they think you're useless."

Hardly. Especially this woman. A huge intellect, wonderful sense of humor, and until her eyesight went bad, she was a classical pianist. And just a couple weeks ago when her kids held an open house for her hundredth birthday, her older brother and sister attended. I haven't gotten to see her since my sister and I visited her at her home about 7 years ago. I hope to go again soon, but I will keep my trap shut about her age. That's going to be one humongous elephant in the room, but I'll step over it and ignore its trunk wrapping around my ankle if it makes her happy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nobody Ever Seems to Know Where the Years Go, Do They?

Today I got together with my favorite professor from my undergrad years, Mike. I only see him in person every 2 or 3 years and it's always like walking into a space where there is no time.

But of course there is time. I could never have imagined, while sitting in his literature class as an 18-year-old that I'd be sitting with him 35 years later in a Pizza Hut in a random small town in Indiana, catching up on our lives. (Mostly because I could never have imagined being this old. I couldn't even fathom being 30.)

He's on the short list of the people I truly trust. I think there are three of those. I'm very happy to have that many.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dentus Interruptus

I know that's not a phrase. It is just my way of saying that I had carefully laid out plans for today, including going to see my mom for 4 days, and all kinds of stuff planned for when I got there.

Then, the tooth. The problem I'd been putting off for about a year suddenly became a little urgent. A lot urgent. Two appointments today with the periodontist (one to check problem out, one to conquer it), 4 shots in the gum and roof of the mouth, lots of tools, scraping, bleeding. They call it a "gum scraping." Yeow. I call it dreadful. The shots were the worst part, as they probably are for everyone.

So the trip is put off until tomorrow. My only goal tonight is a shower and relaxation and early bedtime.  I feel that I must admit that I cried from the freak-out of the shots. Holy crappanappie, how a dentist visit can humble a person.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Old Dog, New Trick

It's disheartening to be middle-aged and still grappling on the mat with "issues" (oh, how I hate that word) that you've had your whole life. They just put on different clothes and a fake nose and glasses to come ringing your doorbell again. I'm constantly amazed that it takes me so long to see the disguise and rip it off.

One thing I'm grateful for is the extra dollop of willingness to try to be more forgiving of myself that I've gathered somewhere along the way. It's actually a very specific "somewhere." It's almost entirely from being with Scott for 8 years. Love, the real kind, the kind with muscle and tenacity and  trust and goodness, does have the power to heal some wounds. I'm not making Scott out to be a wizard, but I am grateful for every speck of the Scottness of him, and the way it's changed me.

Years ago when I got together with my first husband after 25 years of not having any contact with him, we sat and talked for a couple hours. He was three months away from dying of melanoma. He was happily married, had three kids, and was telling me about his wife. She was a "healer" for him, emotionally. (I should be clear though, that I think there's only one true source of healing, and that's God, even if it comes to you via other people.) ((If you're gagged out by such talk, I'm sorry about that, but then I did say my blog was for honesty and this is mine.))

Anyway, one thing he said to me about his marriage really stuck: "I taught her about God, but she taught me about Jesus." His wife was not a Christian when they met, she later became one, and as it turned out, had a whole truckload of stuff to teach him about love. Same situation with my marriage to Scott. He's been in the trenches with me, in the dark hours. He's chased down that part of me that believes she is wildly unlovable, a defective factory recall, backed it into a corner, and given it no choice but to reconsider, no matter how uncomfortable that is.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Resorting to the Old Stand-by

I had a really bad night last night. I hit what I hope is rock bottom inside some things I've been struggling with and, as it usually is down there, it was dark and very lonely. I was awake until 5 a.m. so we didn't make it to church today and now, past 7 in the evening, I still have my pajamas on.

I don't know why I'm writing this. I guess I think that blogs are made for honesty or else why bother?

There was no way I was going to gather enough of myself together today to write anything, so I did what I usually do when I'm really stuck, really done in: I cleaned. The bookshelf area (it was no longer just a had expanded and taken over) in our bedroom is where I concentrated. I still felt exhausting things in my heart and I was physically exhausted, but I needed something I could see positive results from. Scott was his usual kind, loving self as I traipsed around in last night's aftermath. I took a pretty serious beating last night, self-inflicted, and tonight I'm going to take a long bath and look into the possibility of being good to myself. I've never learned how to do that, have never truly been on my own side. If not now, when?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Couldn't Quite Get the Needle on the Record Today

I did revise three poems, but did not work on the book. Scott's taking a summer class toward his degree and he didn't feel like doing work on that. He instead devoured the last half of a John Grisham book for brain recreation. Sluggery was in the air.

Then tonight we dug up some Amazon Instant Video and started finishing off the final season of Fringe. We loved that show and watched it faithfully until we got wildly busy during that last season. I think we have 7 episodes to go.

I missed my dad even more than usual today so I got out some of my old Hi-8 videotapes to transfer them to DVDs and popped in a tape of an army reunion I went to with Dad and Mom in 2006. I always think it'll help to see his face and hear his voice, but it doesn't. At all.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Date Night

We're fancy at this house. Our date night usually consists of sitting on the couch together watching a movie or sitting on the couch together to read. Tonight is low key. We're reading. Maybe it's the draining heat we slogged through today or just the need for some end-of-week silence. I love these dates. It's pretty much all I ever wanted out of life. Or at least the main thing. I sneaked away to write this. Going back now. Hope you're having a good weekend.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

If Writing a Book Has a Face, It's This One

Things coming up from the depths. Unexpected things, unable to predict. Will they just look you in the eye and move along or rip into you with their formidable teeth?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Feel Young at 53

Go to a class called "Cholesterol 101" held in the evening, one night only, at the local hospital's "wellness education" building.

I was the youngster in the room except for one of the presenters and the high school girl taking care of the coffee supply. I was shining with radiant youthfulness. Did I enjoy it? No. My default emotion is not one of enjoyment. I mostly sat there thinking about the really hard stuff coming in the years ahead. But really, how can you not think of that sort of thing when the topic is coronary artery disease and lipid levels?

They served cake. Why not just a dollop of lard with a swizzle stick skull and crossbones flag?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yesterday's Plan Collapsed

The idea to write summaries of the three parts of the book was a good one. Just not for me. I could not feel even a smidgen of authenticity when I tried it. So I dumped that plan and started writing another piece of the manuscript, an important piece of background that has to be included.

Thud. I ground away on that for 2 hours, and then got hugely lost again. I laid flat on the living room floor and tried to get my bearings. Then I went to curl up in bed and think/pray/rethink.

Something that is an overwhelming obstacle for me in the writing of this book (as in, it leads to panic attacks and debilitates me physically now and then) is the multi-tasking of it. I have never been a multi-tasker. I describe myself as a dog with a food bowl and a water bowl and I can eat from one and drink from the other. The end. That's what my brain is capable of. I can handle the complexity of, say, having the TV on while answering emails, but it has to be on really low volume.

So, I have a story I'm trying to tell, covering 50 or so years, winding in and out of itself with flashbacks, and it completely freezes me in panic about three times a week. I do what I can to calm myself and just write another small chunk at a time. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't.

Yesterday it didn't work because (and this catches me off guard every time, which seems ridiculous) my grief over my dad hit me freshly amid the confusion. Suddenly it wasn't about figuring out the writing; it was about the gut punch of missing him, and realizing that this book is my way of trying to work it out.

I also take the book with me to bed, in my brain, whether I want to or not. On the most difficult nights, I get up to use the bathroom in the wee hours (ha) and then can't turn off the book and go back to sleep. It is a mental version of herding cats, and several times a week, day and night, I run into a forest where one of them has sprinted, to lure it out with a bag of Pounce treats. Cats almost never fall for that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Next Step

I'm still flailing over the form, order, content of the book manuscript I'm working on, but Scott had a good suggestion yesterday. It's one of those simple things that I overlook and he's so great at pointing out.

Since I've always planned three sections, the idea now, at this confusing midpoint, is to sit down and write out a summary of those. The separate summaries have been floating vaguely in my head in various forms. I realize that I can't nail those down completely until the writing takes me wherever it's going to, but as with anything else in my life, if I need to figure something out, I need to write about it. So simple, but so easy to forget.

If I revisit the "goals" of the writing (for lack of a better way to put it, since generally having a goal is going to sink the writing, like when one of my students says "I wanted this poem to show people that they're wrong about _____.") I might find some small piece that will launch me into the next phase after that. Here goes nothing.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mental Break

You can read that title two ways, can't you?

Today is a break from writing. Scott did lots of outdoor work: Cut the grass, trimmed the hedges, broke up a bunch of fallen branches and bagged those. I kept him company by working in the garage. We have pictures of the inside of our garage but I'm too embarrassed to post them here. Definite "Hoarders" potential. I have at least part of a good excuse for it. Our house in Phoenix was 2 and a half times the size of this one, thus, lots of crap is stuck in the garage. Unfortunately the rest of the story is that I have way way way too much stuff.

So, today I was messing with the boxes in the garage, some of which have not been opened in the 4 years we've lived here. There are around 200 boxes of stuff and about 80 of those are boxes of books. And just think, I got rid of 600 books before we left Phoenix.

My goal for the summer (one of them) is to get rid of 500 things. I'm only up to 45 since I haven't had time to sift through and toss. Too busy writing.

Scott is of course thrilled any time I get rid of anything. The fact that I've made it well into double-digits is giving him hope. He won't have anything to say about it on Candy Rant because I still haven't told him I'm blogging again. Hiding in plain sight. That's me.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I'm Afraid to Even Say it Out Loud

But I think I've made some progress on the book. I've been really agonizing over the form it's going to take, especially the very beginning, and I think I've figured something out. That's all I'll say right now.

Last night we had a great time at dinner. I forgot what it's like to just hang out and get away from work.  How can I be so lazy and undisciplined and such a workaholic at the same time? I get nervous when I'm away from work/writing/grading for very long. I need practice at having fun. Pitiful.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Leaving the Bubble

I know I'm not the only person who, given all other options, would rather stay home. My mother is the same way. We are also similar in that, when we are forced to go out and socialize, we usually have a good time. Still, there is the working up to it.

Scott and I are going out to dinner with another couple tonight. At a restaurant. We almost never do this. Not the restaurant part, but the going with other people and I find it endlessly bizarre. The whole time it feels as though I'm watching the whole thing. I can enjoy it, but I'm still sort of just watching it. I have no idea what causes this kind of social freakishness, but for me there are 3 forces at work. First, Scott and I didn't meet until we were both 46. We crave time together. In fact, it always feels as though we're making up for lost time. We've talked about what it would have been like to meet when we were 26 or 36 instead. Thank God it wasn't 76, or not at all. So there's that: not wanting to share our time with other people. I'd much rather be sitting on the couch with Scott in total silence than interacting with the outside world.

Then there's the summer. I get so used to not being in the classroom, and not having to see other people that I turn our house into a cocoon. I don't transition into a butterfly; nothing that elegant. I only turn into someone who can almost bear going back into the classroom after three glorious months without it. Without the angst of college students. Trust me, nobody gets the angst like someone who teaches creative writing. They pour out their wounds and their sorrows onto the paper as though into a big metal saucer sled, and I jump in for the whole semester and shoot down the slope until the end of the semester when I reach the village. I tumble off and am nursed back to health a la Three Cups of Tea. Instead of imaginary villagers, I'm rejuvenated by my books and my TV and the absence of people.

I love my job. I love reading about the real lives of my students, the ones behind the parties, the gazillion Facebook photos, the striving for acceptance. And I love helping them to unearth their real stories in their writing. I like to watch them become brave about sharing it in a workshop. It does, however, wear one out. Thus, the staying home as much as possible.

Force number three: I'm an introvert. Two hours of talking with another person means I need about six hours of total quiet. I'm a party, ain't I? But I'm busting out of that zone we hear so much about, the one with all the comfort glowing inside it. I'm going out into the world on a date with a guy I'm more in love with every day, and therefore, the zone will be going with us.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Very Very Very Out of My Element

Today I spoke to someone from the Disney Cruise Line Human Resources office. One of my former students had applied for a job there, something to do with working with children, and she put me down as a reference. I'm very happy that they seem to want to hire her, and did all I could to further the cause.

It would take a good long while for me to think of a job that would be more vastly outside of my personal circle of interests. A cruise ship, saturated with Disney logos/characters/singsong-ery, flung into the ocean and filled with activities. And groups of children chirping, jumping around, crying, fighting, throwing things overboard, complaining. There are definitely children in my life that I really like. Groups of the children of strangers, no. Being trapped on a Disney voyage with them, God no.

When the phone call was over, Ashley of the Disney HR said, "Have a magical day!" Glitter fell out of my phone.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cholesterol, Flash-Floods, and Wanting to Call it a Day by Noon

I had to go get a blood test today to check cholesterol and A1C (3 months worth of blood sugar). The reason I started this blog back in 2006 was to rant about the candy I was no longer able to eat because of my pre-diabetic condition. Yeah, well, I've remained in the "pre-" condition for 7 years. Why? Because I've never fully dedicated myself to quite enough exercise or quite enough sacrificing the delicious, deadly foods, and in middle-age, that flattens you.

What an adventure this was. First, I had to fast for 12 hours, so I hit the sack early to avoid getting hungry and then not being able to sleep. During the night I got really sick. Terrible stomach cramps and nausea, was awake from 4:30 to 6:30. It finally settled down. Not sure what that was about, but I laid there moaning for over an hour and Scott was ready to take me to convenient care. It finally settled down and I got back to sleep for a few hours.

Then I got ready to leave for the blood test at 10, and a huge storm started. It looked tornado-y, limbs falling, sideways rain, etc. I called to let the nurse know I'd be a little late. Got to the hospital, and started having a panic attack in the office of Cindy, the friendly outreach nurse, and she was very patient as I freaked out and had to sit and try to settle down.  After she took my blood from my finger, she gave me my numbers (after I told her not to tell me any until I was ready, because I was still panicking like some pathetic female version of Woody Allen).

My numbers were not great. I need more exercise, 15 pounds of weight loss, better eating. I knew all this going in. Now it's been underlined. Again.

Did I mention that I also prayed really loud on the way to the hospital when I got caught in water about a foot deep and thought sure I was not going to get out of it? Neither did the guy in front of me, who was no help at all moving at 10 feet per hour, trying to drown us both. What a morning. It's still crazy-storming and I just want to crawl in bed for the day, read books, ring a little bell to have someone show up and make me a better human being.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

One of My Favorite Mary Oliver Poems

The Uses of Sorrow

Someone I loved gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

Monday, July 08, 2013


This book is the biggest, most difficult project of my life thus far. There is so much complexity to weaving the pieces together that I crumble and go lie in my bed in despair about every two hours of writing. I'm getting used to the pattern. The hardest part is to avoid worrying about the Entire Finished Product and instead, just writing the next small chunk and letting things come to me as they do. This mindset does not go well with my angry insistence that I must finish a first draft this summer. It is not going to happen. Especially when I'm working on poetry submissions, too. I would so love to have the focus and stamina to write for 6 hours a day. Maybe I do have it and I'm just a lazy hog.

Sunday, July 07, 2013


I couldn't go to sleep last night. Third night in a row of lying in bed for 2 hours completely unable to quiet my brain. I was just about ready to get out of bed and go watch TV, around 1:30, and suddenly someone rang our doorbell three times really fast. Imagine the adrenalin rush. I jumped out of bed and looked out the window in the bedroom and saw no one. Scott can sleep through anything, so I had to wake him up. We walked out to the living room, leaving all the lights off, and were standing near the front door when something suddenly bumped against it from the outside. I called the police. A young (scary young) cop showed up from a block away and said he hadn't seen anything. Was it post-4th of July asshattery or something more sinister? I wish we had a device on our front stoop that turned the cement into a human-sized glue trap. Then we'd know who it was, wouldn't we?

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Back on the Wagon

Just returned from visiting with my mom for two days. Which means I've reclaimed the two pounds that I lost during the two weeks previous to the visit. Which means I'm back on eating twigs and seeds and trying to learn to love my elliptical so I can lose those two pounds and then go back to Mom's in another two weeks. Hamster on a wheel, going exactly nowhere. All attempts at breaking this cycle have proven ineffective.

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Annual Treat

Just once a year when the carnival is in town, I have a candied apple. They've been my favorite "fair" food since I was little. Something about the red glowiness of it, the crackly red coating like a king's grand robe over the lowly peasant apple. I walked over to the last hour of the carnival with my niece and her son, and we ate sugary sugar and then some sugar. The great-nephew was the winner of Most Glucose Intake: he ate a bag of pink and blue cotton candy that was a foot and a half tall, and washed it down with a Coke. And then he did push-ups. He's 16. He's like a frickin' colt running as fast as he can from one end of the meadow and then back again just because he can.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Between the Lines

I don't know where other people go when they write, but I'm going to start asking around. We tend to talk too much about the logistics of writing. The when and where and music-on-or-no-music, the struggle of the discipline itself. But there's a bigger "where." I'm exhausted from going there today. I was revising 4 different poems and was especially stuck on one of them. I'm in my 15th draft of it, and just can't get it quite there. As much ambivalence as I feel about writing (I hate the grinding work of it; I love having a completed piece of writing that I really like; I hate that no matter what I'm doing, I think about how I would write it), there are moments of being really deep inside it that are literally breathtaking. I sit at the screen and start this shallow breathing that occasionally leads me to hyperventilate. It happened the other day and scared the shit out of me. I thought it was a stroke or some other thing I definitely did not want to be alone with. One Ativan and 30 minutes later I was OK. Anyway, the shallow-breathing thing usually is more like a "don't breathe too deeply or you'll scare away the words that are forming right on the cusp between the brain-dark and the accessible." I don't realize I'm doing it. Today was like that. I was inside the poem, almost like stepping over the bottom rung of it to look at it from the inside. Trying to see the innards that just weren't cooperating. My eyes were burning from the staring at it. I don't know a good metaphor for this, because the first ones that came to mind were either being deep inside a cave, or being deep below the surface of the ocean. A deep sea diver. Neither appeals to me. But it's when I've gone there that I feel most like a person who is truly connecting with her art/craft/essence/deepest self, etc. etc. These past 3 months have been sickeningly difficult at times. I've been so depressed that I've had chunks of time where I could not move from my bed. Not a nameless clinical depression; a situational one. I've thrown myself at productivity just so I can say this situation didn't destroy me. I need more moments like the ones inside the poem. I need redemption.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Today's Workout

I spent hours writing yesterday (working on poems), so I was ready for something else today. Something physical. Our garage. Since we moved back to the midwest from Phoenix 4 years ago, I have not been able to locate my "good" jewelry. Not the Hope Diamond, but things holding lots of big fat sentimental value to me. Why couldn't I find it? Because our garage is filled with boxes. Probably 200 or so. Our house in Phoenix was almost 3 times the size of this one, and all the too-much-ness of my crap (It's mine, not Scott's. Scott is reasonable.) took up residence in the garage. About half of it is books. I've messed with the overload here and there, stewed about my lost jewelry, hoped it was in this bursting house somewhere. Today, on about the 60th box, I found it. I was stunned. There it all was, in its lucite box, inside a moving box that had never been opened since we got here. It was labelled "Last Minute Living Room Stuff." Yeah, that's how my packing went. The most important find: the diamond earrings that Scott had custom-made for me in Phoenix. There is a lesson to be learned here about being a good steward of our possessions. I hope I'm finally going to learn it. It's a lesson I've trampled on many times.

Monday, July 01, 2013

I Missed a Day

I sat here like a moron last night, watching old episodes of Nip/Tuck, and forgot to post something. But now I guess the pressure is off. I can accept that I broke my new unwritten rule, the one where I promised myself to post every day, and exhale. Move on. Because I never have trouble moving on. I accept any and all of my mistakes and treat myself with kindness and understanding and never ever ever dwell on things. It does no good, right? So logic would prescribe letting things go. Let go and let God. Or just let go and get out of God's way. Or your own way. My psyche is like a junkyard of old wrecked cars, lined up and unusable as far as the eye can see. Rusted doors hanging on one hinge, headlights busted out, weeds growing up around each wreck like cozy green sweaters. I don't even want to go there to get parts from these things to put on something else that might still be running. But I do. So I guess missing one day of posting on a blog that's being read mostly by the Google-bots in Mountain View, California is a horsefly buzzing around the hood ornament of an old pimped-up Buick. The one that was pulled from the river.