Monday, December 8, 2014

Look What They've Done to My Brain

It occurred to me, it might not be water pressure - it could be the shower head. I, then, did what anyone would do. I took the shower head off. It was disastrous for a moment, a fleeting and soaking moment, I probably should've waited until I was OUT of the shower, but it didn't seem right.

I had this weird little minute in the shower - water was unpredictable and heavy on my head and hot on my skin. Clark vacated, so I was alone in the bathroom. I don't know how to tell you this without just telling you this: I was having fun. This brief, chance moment in time nothing *really* was happening. Nothing really except everything was happening.

And as I stepped out of the shower (with a clear plan in mind: after work stop by Meijer to pick up a new shower head, new vinyl linings, and maybe, a loaf of bread) I realized that probably (knock on wood) I am coming back around. I survived this summer. I survived last winter. I survived the fall of my humanity. I survived hurting everyone around me (they survived, too). While kicking and gasping and fighting for life, patient people presented themselves to gently hold my head out of the water or convince me, wildly, to not give up.

There were other people, too. People who would theorize about my undoing and let it be known they had their theories. One certain person came to mind this morning: she's just doing this for attention she told one of my friends. He, of course, told me. That's okay, I needed to know who and how and why people were fighting me when I was fighting me. It's a particularly cruel thing to say about someone who, on a good day, could only stand up to lie back down again. And cry.

She's still out there in my immediate surroundings, I haven't seen her and that's okay. I don't really want to. I can't shake the thought that while I was crying myself to sleep she was telling mutual friends caviler-like that I wasn't hurting. Like she knew. Like anyone knew. She's still out there and I'm still out here - needing a shower head.

I'm coming back around. I survived summer and the winter before.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hard Way Home

I have divided you up into camps. Three of them. I have discovered your camps more than created them. True, it may be unfair to clump you all together, but I have exactly no emotional energy to waste anymore -- so you are where you are. Most of you surprised me, ending up in sections of my heart that I never thought I'd put you. Keeping me on my toes.

I want to thank you all. Even the ones in the "doesn't give a fuck" camp - you've helped me along, liberated me. Down to bare bones vulnerability, in my darkest closet of self-loathing, you set me free. I don't have to worry about you anymore. Now, don't get me wrong, ok? This isn't to say that I don't *care* about you. Because I do. I just know that in times of need or reciprocation, I can't count on you - so I won't expect it. You know what I mean?

There was a moment, crying in my hallway, I didn't think I could stand up - nor did I want to - ever again. Decomposing in my hallway in July was exactly what I wanted to do. Sobbing paralleled to a grief untouched by daylight. A few of you came in with your flashlights -- everyone else walked around, barely glancing my way.

Those of you with flashlights: holy shit, I am the luckiest. And you know who you are.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Not Going to Spend My Life Being a Color

The damn sun is shining like a homecoming queen, prettiest dress, serious mascara, and all that.

Days like today it's difficult to not listen to the Jackson 5 super loud, and tap your foot while you write blog posts for money. You know?

Things are going to be okay.

Somedays I don't believe it, but days like today, I do.

Friday, August 22, 2014

You're a Human Thing

"I am, thank god, a writer and editor, not a father confessor. But I do believe that our culture is set up to maximize individual guilt, and that one needs to resist it. Whatever happened may or may not have been wise (you have to make that decision), but it is not unusual, or damnable, or changeable. Whenever we mess up--if that in fact is what you've done (I'm not so sure)--the only thing one can do is vow to change; nothing else is useful or doable. I've been married to the same person now for approx. 125 years. We don't think marriage is something ordained by god; it's something that two people decide on because they're happy with one another (despite of course ups and downs).

I've been writing a poem...and in it I quote David Ignatow, who says to himself after a stretch of self-loathing: 'so finally I wave myself back in.' Good advice."

One day I will die. Right? And hopefully my shortcomings are overshadowed by the good things - I'm not sure they will be, but I have no control over that. I just know that until I can come to peace with my fuck ups and failures, I will try and try and try to surround myself with people who still see me as a human, and a deserving one at that.

The two paragraphs opening this post are two paragraphs from my current professor/mentor. I've read them a million times.  If there was a way to steep my body in these words, I'd do it. And I have a list forever scrolling in my heart of the handful of people who surrounded their wagons around me when I was shivering in the darkness -- one day, when this thing isn't defining me, I'm going to write each of you a love letter. (I've started composing them already)

And here's what I want to say and I mean it: Right now I don't have enough bones in my body to carry what's on my back, but little by little (some days not) I'm learning to.

I'm learning a girl can keep it together.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Wish I Could Be Alone but Not Lonely

My cat, Greg, caught and ate a moth yesterday. He's heroic. He knows how much their erratic flying causes me panic, so he marches downstairs from his swanky spare room, bats them around and then, inevitably, eats them.

I'm usually grateful. I was yesterday, too, don't think I wasn't, but I felt pity for the moth. There was a point when the dusty creature was still alive, barely, and Greg dropped it on the floor to investigate it before chomping it apart. Broke my heart.

When Greg relinquished it, it hobbled towards his foot. Greg moved his paw away. Then, the tattered moth did it again - ran towards his attacker. I had to put my head down; the poignancy of the moment was worth regarding.

I'm still seized by the entirety of that minute. It was a micro-world, life changing bit of the universe. I'm stuck there, swirling in pain for the living.

I am living, but slowly dying. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Freeze Tag

Brett Elizabeth thinks I'm a better writer than I actually am - she decided to tag me in this blog-fellow-writing-linkage activity that I surely don't deserve. She did it, though. She extends too much grace to me. She's my writing mentor, overall life coach and best friend - so, if she asks me to do something, I will.

The rules: get tagged. Tag two people. Answer questions. Hope your tag-ees answer the questions. The two people I'm tagging: amazingly smart, witty, and genuine Katie Pruitt and Danee Pye who is a crisp well of creative ideas, grace, and elegance. Once, they both worked together to keep me alive. I owe them more than I give - I regret it almost on a daily basis. (I am sorry)

They both deserve your readership, but mostly, your respect as amazing people and great writers. 

The questions:
1. What are you working on? 
MFA. That's what I'm working on -- holy shit. And life. I can't express the amount of overwhelming all things are right now. I'm lucky if I can spit out a poem once a week. This winter was a wick to all goodness in my life - sopped that shit right up and has left me a shell. Summer is working her sweetness and I'm trying to pick up the little pieces of shiny that might be left and shake them down into this hollow mess of a heart. School and staying alive, that's what I'm working on. Artistically, I'm working on line breaks. And how to handle negative critiques. I have in my headspace an idea bumping into braincells -- I'd like to write a series of HOW TO poems. I have two that I loved writing; I think it'd be fun. And also, poems on or about or mentioning saints. But those are future messes to tidy up at a later date.

2. How does your work differ from other writers in your genre?
I don't know. I'm figuring that bullshit out as a I go. I'm a strong defender in the idea that no poem is original - I'm' just telling it from my fucked up perspective. So, in that way, I guess I'm different: I'm a foul mouthed hillbilly who has a serious drinking problem laced with an ever decreasing self-worth. Putting it that way, though, tosses me in the bag with lots of you chumps out there, right? :) I once had someone tell me my voice can sometimes be "Southern Gothic". I'll hold on to that. Oh, he also said I had a knack for creating moments and disregarding narrative. I don't know if that was a positive.

3.  Why do you write?
Like Brett, and I suppose many writers, I've written forever. There was never a genesis like, it just always was. I have a weirdly saturating sadness that I can't understand - so I put words together. Over christmas I found an early story (holla' to my fiction roots) I had written maybe in the first grade called A Sad Day. It was about a baby bird who died. AAaaaaand, there you go. Basically: I write because I have to, you know?

4. What is your writing process? 
Well... that has changed significantly since I've started this Bennington gig. I used to get really sad (so easy to do), drink cheap wine or whiskey, and write the night away. Now, I get all fizzy-stomached and nervous and think about how shit is going to get shoved through a meat grinder. I try to suppress that. And then I write. Lately, I haven't been happy with anything I've created. And it's been a hurtful few months. It'll happen again. In the mean time, I carry my notebook where ever I go. I get ideas from phrases I hear during the day or standing in line for coffee or wrangling the ache I have for western adventures. It comes and goes and if it's not there, I write anyway. Not so much a process. Just a way of life, right?

Thanks, Brett. Love you.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Want to See What You Got in Store

I just had an quick, but meaningful, email interaction with Major Jackson. Let that sink in.

What the hell happened? How did I stumble into this luck? How is THAT poet even reading my words and AND AND and taking the time to comment? He called specific moments in my poetry "magical". He called my heart a fledgling. He calls me by name. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief.

And this morning, I had a question. I asked it. He responded in THREE MINUTES. If I ever take this opportunity for granted, please, please, please someone punch me in the throat. 

This sounds braggy, I know, but that isn't my intent. (Maybe a little, but moving on...)

I get to learn and sharpen my craft and panic and ball my fists, shake to the sky and drink and dance (like, literally dance) with other writers, some of them famous as hell, twice a year - AND correspond with them all year. I'm lucky.

Holy shit.

And even if we bare bones this whole overwhelming situation: I was afforded the opportunity to learn to read. To learn to write. To punch my emotions until I vomit them up in poem form. To have people who encouraged that from an early age (even if it was misunderstood).

So glad I didn't die from rabies.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Know There's Pain

Here's this: my bike was stolen.

I can't seem to settle my heart. I can't calm down. I can't seem to quit kicking things; fantasizing both about explaining to the bike thief the emotional earthquake he's thrown me into and standing on his throat.

To say the very least, I'm struggling with resentment - the kind that is so pure one drop out of the little glass vile I keep around my neck would burn a hole through an oak tree.

I'm sad.

But also, something beautiful is happening. I posted on all my social medias about my Fuji folder and the rush of sympathy was instant. And wonderful. My posts were shared and reshared and commented on and then reshared again and again by friends and friends of friends. On all platforms. There are eyes everywhere in my city looking for my Fuji.  And I can't help but feel sugary in my browbeaten bones. So thank you. Thank you, universe. Thank you, Fort Wayne. Thank you, West Central.

But one man has destroyed me with his kind words.

I knew your dad and he was mature beyond his years. He was taught to be nice and respectful to everybody. He always greeted me warmly with a smile. His deep voice and kind eyes were very inviting to everyone who talked to him. I'm very glad to have been a friend of his. He had a super mom and dad, I believe that is where he got his personality and character traits from. I'm sure that he would tell you that what's in your heart far outweighs what that bike represents to you. Dayne wouldn't want you to harbor any resentment. Let it go and free yourself of the bondage of resentment. You need look no further than his friends to have mementos of your dad. There are plenty of stories of him to go around. 

And now, I'm looking for a new bike.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Everyday is Like Survival

Decomposing is the easy part.

Watching things decompose, though, that's the challenge.
I don't really know why - surely we've gotten used to it, right?

Everything changes and all of that -
everything is temporary.

Sometimes I'll call my Nena and I'll sob and sob and sob into my little phone and she'll listen. She always does. Afterwards, she says: "I didn't understand a thing you said" or: "Life's about change, nothing never stays the same". (It's usually a toss up between the two.) Now, I know that's not original to her -- but every time I hear her say it, it resonates.

Everything is temporary.

Anyway - right?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Don't Expect Me to Cry

In middle school, I tried to learn to sew. It didn't work out too well - my  Home Ec. teacher, Mrs. Bunner, looked at one of my seams and, defeated (as one must get teaching middle school kids how to sew), asked me: "What are you doing at that machine, Erica? Riding the wave?" (Don't worry, guys. I told her No.)

I won't forget Mrs. Bunner. Honestly. She taught me how to write a check. And to clean up the kitchen as you go. And that it was just fine that boys wanted to take Home Ec. She was a good lady, really. I shouldn't have called her Mrs. Bun-Head. Not only did it NOT make sense, it wasn't very nice. She also practiced a thing she called Uppers. If she heard a student say something negative about another student, she made the sour-puss say 3 nice things about the other kid. It's a nice ritual, you know? I can get caught up in negative shit so easily. And I do. Even if it was just to make Mrs. Bunner happy, the naysayer would have to buck up and pick out good stuff.

It's a goddamned attitude changer, I'll tell you that much. So, today I'm going to find some Uppers in my life - and even though, instead of being grateful, I want to be mad, I'm going to Mrs. Bunner the fuck out of today. You ready?

1. I have a bike. I have a bike that I love - It's sturdy and big and it folds in half. I inherited very little from my dad -among strong teeth, a slight problem with alcohol and easily toned muscles, he, also, left me this bike.  I ride this fucker with a serious outlook.  I ride it with a backpack and cutoffs and look like a 12 year old boy. I ride it with dresses on. And through high water. And to the bars. I'd ride it to hell and back.

2. Nirvana's Unplugged Album exists. It's so good and it's so good every single time I listen to it. I remember when I first bought this cd. Sirens started sounding: "Alert! Alert! This album will outlast most albums for you, young Erica." It has. I've grown with it. And who would've thought some punk-ass young kids from Seattle could do an acoustic set that would resonate with so many people for so many years? Jesus Christ, you know? Just listen to it. Listen to the first 3 seconds of Oh Me and tell me you don't feel it in your bones.

3.  One day I know I will be far from the spot I'm in now. And that's the best Upper I can think of.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Three (three, three) for my heart-ache

I want to make a grand statement, but I'm fearful.

Declaring that I have survived the winter is probably a little premature. I want to strain my ears for the spring time quartet. It's too early, though. It's too early. Be careful.

Proceed with caution. Quit longing for day-lilies and bumble bees to get wrapped up in my hair. Help me stop thinking about mud to my knees in May. I want to throw a few stones to see if I can hit summer in the face, is she that close? (She isn't.) I want to dip my cup in the long-evening purples of dusk and drink it like smooth bourbon (I can't). I want to walk around and grab little squirrels by their little hands and hold them close - congratulate them for living. (I won't).  Anyway, winter is still here. She's dying, but even fading things can kill someone's spirit if one is not careful.

This is what I want to say: I survived the worst winter to date.

This is what I want to say (also): I barely survived. If you see the magnolia buds on my street, ask them to hurry - and to please bring reinforcements.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Now, I Crave You

My neighborhood is quiet. And white. People are sleeping. I just put my last Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale to bed. My kittens finished grooming hours ago. The TV is still on, but muted.

This whole city is yawning. Almost like it's too bored to keep it's eyes open: Biology during 6th period. Training for the new job you don't really want. Early character development in that one movie you've seen 46.5 times.

It's okay to be tired.

I'm tired, too. But a different kind.