Thursday, December 10, 2015

You're My First Love

Monday I sat incredibly still for the first time in two years.

Added the last line breaks, capitalized the D in dad I forgot to, took out a few commas, and saved my 54 page manuscript-thesis as a complete and finished document.

Yesterday I packaged up two of these little babies and sent one to Mark Wunderlich and another to Ed Ochester. And as soon as I stepped outside the post office, I felt differently than what I anticipated. Empty. I felt empty. And maybe 'empty' isn't necessarily the *right* word; but I didn't feel great or light or unburdened.

I found a baby bird, almost dead. I brought the tiny thing back to life with care, intention, and food, lots and lots of love, mornings of conversation and even my own breath, sometimes. And, as time went on, that thing got gorgeous. She preened and perched everywhere; she fluttered throughout the house and slept quietly on my pillow. I loved her, you know? And when I sent her into the sky (when it was time); she didn't even turn around to watch me wave.

That's how I felt. Is that the same as empty?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I've Walked with You Once Upon a Dream

A woman I barely know told me, as I sat topless in a warm, quiet warm, that I am destroying my body; I am allowing stress to devour the structure of my physical being. I have allowed trauma to anchor itself along the fibers of my muscles -- I can't shake it and because of it, I'm breaking down.

I don't know how to exercise the chaos from my body. Where do I start? I suppose the better question is: when do I start, what time frame?

Life is, mostly, a hungry pandemonium. I want to starve it. There has to be a way -- so, I'm reaching around in the dark.

I'll let this healer heal me; knead my muscles and help me put my emotional injury in a box. I'll never be rid of that box, but I'll just pack it away in my attic and not in my tender back.

One day. One day.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

This Gun's for Hire

Putting my manuscript thesis in a specific order and setting up an outline for my graduating lecture are the two things I have to do this month. Right now I have 37 poems finished. Waiting. They are waiting to be put in order so I have a manuscript. This is happening, people. I'm graduating from the Bennington Writing Seminars on January 16, 2016 with a Masters of Literature and Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry. This is happening.

I am overwhelmed.

But, surviving is not in the forefront of my headspace these days. In the way that all survival is instinctual, I am aware of it. But wondering if I'm going to die because of heart break or cellular decomposition due to grief, that's not there. Life is level. No vomiting over the starboard due to rough waves. And, I'll take it. I want my brain to concentrate on being overwhelmed with poetry. What an enormous thing: POETRY. But it's my thing. And I'm feeling ok.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tomorrow We Can Drive Around This Town

All these things and what to do with them/ we carve up the world all the time.  - Richard Siken

There are parts of me everywhere. Lost in slate along my favorite lake's shore, in the sunshine that sets my hair on fire, at the bottom of a Gin and Club Soda, the crease along the spine of my favorite book, on the curve of every word I write, under my husband's fingernails, balling up on late summer leaves, in the quiet fizz of neon... just everywhere. I'm noticing this more.

I'm doing a thing where I'm listening to those tiny parts of me scattered around this world. It's proving to be beneficial on many levels: heart levels, brain levels, social levels. It is a good exercise on what is right and what is well; I'm excited about what this means for me. But also, sad.

Leaving the winery was not an easy decision; the dissonance is (still) tangible. I learned so much under the guidance of Eric and Dennis,  blossomed with creative freedom,  honed skills I knew I had hidden somewhere, made incredible bonds with people I would have never come across... Two-EEs has been good to me. But lately there has been a fragrant and deafening pull for elsewhere. I noticed when the pull was more of a subtle tug, and now I'm listening.

So. Onward! as they say.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

This is Your Heart, It's Alive, It's Pumping Blood

I admit it, okay?

Most of the time I do not think I'm a deserving human. I don't know where it originated; actually, I have an idea but I don't want to get into it today. But now that my poetry is being combed through by professional poets the issue is getting recognized. And called out. It's terrifying in all the ways it could be and therapeutic in ways I can't understand.

First things: 1) In your letter you say (casually), "I, mostly, am the worst person." No. You aren't. Dick Cheney is the worst person. You know what else? I think this steady self-deprecation of yours is really some kind of mask -- something you deploy to ward off the world and to beat others to the punch -- or something. 

That is an excerpt from the letter Mark Wunderlich wrote. To me. Yes, THAT Mark Wunderlich. And this Mark Wunderlich - and even THIS Mark Wunderlich. This man is my poetry mentor during my final term with the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. Can you believe the goodness? My luck? Can you? I can't. I still can't. I'm overwhelmed.

I ripped open my correspondence with Mark as soon as Andy put it in my hands, sat down on our kitchen floor and sobbed.

You rely on writing how you're a bad person, how you hurt other people, how you had an affair and everyone hated you, etc. Life is too fucking short. He goes on: I wonder what would happen if you just wrote a poem about being awesome? About how much you love the parts of your body, or your mind...? What would happen? 

The letter went on and on with the most beautiful, personal, soul exposing words. He went through ALL of my poems and personally noted each one. Every single poem has his handwriting all over it. I am lucky. I am overpowered by what I get to experience, moved by my mentor, and down right scared to address the juggernaut of self-hate. But how exciting to think that I might deserve attention from an incredibly important poet, to think that I might be better than what I give myself credit for, to think that maybe, just maybe, I'll be okay.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I Don't F**k With You

I am not *just* your wine girl.
I am not a dying flower in your goddamned garden that needs dead-headed.
I am not just my figure, or my toned arms (though both are exceptional - I know).
I am not rude.
I am not just a loud energy you can't avoid.
I am not just a wife or a recovering adulteress.
I am not just the friend who suffers with depression.
I am not a gardener,
but I am a nurturer.

I am a writer -- a poet, to be precise. I am thoughtful and quite hospitable; someone has described me, even, as having a small town charm. I can navigate social situations with ease - avoiding awkward interactions with grace and making people feel comfortable are my specialities. With that said, I can also destroy you with just a few moves - strike that - with just a few words. I can be rowdy and reckless with your feelings, but only if I'm reciprocating. I am part hillbilly girl and sometimes she claws to get out. I am goddamned gorgeous, but that isn't it. I'm smart, too, you know? And passionate about a few things that could change the world if more people gave them the acknowledgement they deserve.

If we are friends: I'm tenacious about your feelings. If we aren't friends: I'm considerate and gentle. I can be rabid if you offend the sentiments of the people I care about. I know just what to do when emergencies happen -- all kinds of tragedies. I am familiar with birds and some trees and with geography. I can maneuver Indiana country roads with a crazy finesse. I am a hard worker -- I am an emotional worker. Nothing I do gets done without elbow grease and a tiny piece of my heart. I am a wife to a gracious, handsome man. I am mother to two beautiful kittens. And to succulents I'm trying not to kill.

So, let me tell you this: I am so much more than YOUR WINE GIRL. Limiting me exhibits more about your character than mine.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dice Were Loaded from the Start

My therapist, recently, said that the universe is rigged in my favor. The energy I put out into the world is absorbed by an ever-loving, ever-growing, and balanced universe. I might find nuggets of love and little shoves forward hidden under rocks or in tall grass. That this whole big thing is some how tilted in my light.

My therapist, who recently, saved my life, said that to me in all seriousness.

I looked her straight in her eyes and told her, "I don't buy it." I don't mean to be contrary -- but come on. I didn't have time to recreate images of my childhood: alcoholism thick as humidity, emotional manipulation heavy on my little towhead, losing my dad to a hungry fire, my tiny best friend dying in my lap when I needed her most, holding on to what I could until my little finger nails were ripped from their beds... If the universe is rigged in my favor, why did I (why do WE) have to fist fight with it outside on the playground with rusty swings screaming in the wind?
Riding bikes downtown yesterday, I came across the carcass of this female Belted Kingfisher. It sickened and unsettled me in a way I can't really describe. She was roasting on the hot asphalt outside a bank pretty distant from any river where she should be diving. Yes, I took a picture. Yes, I screamed FUCK to the construction guys who were 4 stories up and heckling me: we shot it, they laughed. Yes, I took it as an offensive omen from the universe.  What an aggressive affront. A dead kingfisher might symbolize anything: my death or an act of terror at the winery via terrible customers or a foreboding cloud above my little head or plague or famine or drought. It might not, though. Who really knows. It could just mean everything is chaos and nothing makes sense.

In which case, nothing is rigged in our favor.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Heaven's Waiting on Down the Tracks

Jesus was either 30 or 32 when he volunteered to hang on a crucifix and die for me. Not SPECIFICALLY me -- not that he had visions of a small blonde sometime in the future, pouring wine, bad mouthing creeps, wearing all black and bright lipstick, and writing poetry -- but ME in the large sense. ME meaning you and me and my black cat and your mother and your mother's best friend's brother and his wife and his side chick and the person who checks out your library books. You get the meaning. The man was 30 (or 32).

Now, whether or not his dying for ME did anything in the cosmic scene  -- he felt he had to do it, so he damn well did it. He was a kind man, or at least he was rumored to be (except that one time he lost it and flipped tables (but who HASN'T done that)), who thought about other people constantly. He told the truth, though he sometimes talked in puzzles. And, if you ask me, suffered with anxiety. (How can one be part of the holy trinity and NOT have anxiety? Especially if you got the human third.)

This isn't about Jesus. It's about me. You knew that already, but I needed to point it out just in case. I'm a 32 year old human being. Let me be honest: there are only a select few of you I'd die for -- there are even more of you I'd NEVER think about dying for. I'm not like Jesus at all. But I'm going to start embracing his fervor for doing what I need to do.

I don't know exactly what that means though I have some ideas. And I feel the stir. I feel the stir and I know it's happening.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sweet Potato Pie and I Shut My Mouth

Today I held 87 poems in my hand -- hot off the press -- I held 87 of my own poems in my own hand and had the incredible urge to cry.

I haven't had much experience with pride but today is the day I french kiss self-satisfaction. I might even get to third base. I held my poems in my hand. They aren't all great, most of them aren't even good, but they are mine. Each little word and line break hatched from intention. Each stanza a pick ax for mining my emotion with craft. Each a micro-universe. Each one breathing. And it's me, I'm the creator.

I can't stop touching the pages.

Today is pulsing.

Friday, May 29, 2015

I Got the Month of May

Let me tell you about what I did yesterday: I got out of bed, made my husband coffee, packed him a lunch, did chore related items, showered, marched up to my office and polished off a 20 page paper (31 pages with Works Cited and an Appendix).

Today: I got out of bed, made my husband coffee, packed him a lunch, did chore related items, went out to breakfast, and saved a nest of baby sparrows. It's true.

I watched a Blue Jay fly up to where I assumed a nest was - all the while 7 sparrows are screaming at him - so, I saved the day by hopping out of my car, clapping my hands together and screaming, "GET OUT OF HERE, BLUE JAY". He and 5 sparrows flew away and immediately, the petite female jumped right in the hole. I save birds in public. 

I've been taking walks when anxiety dips his toe in. I made hummingbird food. Bought pink roses. Wore my husbands dirty shirt. I'm doing important work, you guys. Every single thing I've done today and yesterday I register on the Extremely Valuable scale.

Three years ago, I was in the Painted Desert. Last year, in an emotional one.

And this year, I'm a better human than I've ever been.   

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Got to be Something Better Than in the Middle

Saturday night, after a ridiculous shift at work, I had a few friends over to sip on a little Pecan Whiskey and talk about our lives before bed. Unwinding with girls and pecan whiskey is a good way to unwind. After Saturday shifts at my current job I mostly feel like blowing up buildings. Consistently. Instead, I drink and then go to bed. Where, coincidentally, I don't sleep well because I dream about the job soaked with job-related anxieties. What a terrible cycle, right?

Anyway - there were moments Saturday after work that I realized things have to change. There were moments in the goddamned craziness Saturday AT work that I realized things have to change. What a constant and terrible proverb for my life. So, these girls were sitting in my living room lamenting about bigger things in life, much bigger than jobs, and it hit me: I'm missing it because my brain is wrapped up with job related cellophane. I'm missing it.

How does it happen?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Life Is Such a Weary Thing

I woke up this morning in the center of a paradise I know I don't deserve.

A warmth swept my entirety - my sweet husband's body curved around mine. His breathing ever steady in my ear. His familiarity surrounded me, the comfort I've known for over a decade. He knitted himself close even in his hurt, his tenderness always existing even in his sleep.

Draped over my shoulder, a purring cat. And another one sleeping on my exposed foot. I felt his little heart beat against my skin and his cool, tiny pads.

We were a winter tangle, a beautiful nest of gentle heat and sleepy bodies; tame mammals cooing and clutching one another. 

And for that one moment, I was the one thing every living soul in my home needed.

It only took a few seconds to remember that I don't deserve any of it. And that in a few hours (or minutes, who even knows about time in the middle of stolen contentment) I would wake up and it'd all be gone. And that the day wouldn't let me meditate on that sweetness. That instead I'd swell my eyes shut, crying, before lunch.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Feelin' Myself

I put my bed by the window because why wouldn't I? Why not wake up and look right out to a virgin Vermont morning, Green Mountains in the background? Why not be taken with a baker's dozen of crow minding their own business against a hazy-blue sky?

Sorry I'm bragging again. But I can't stop.

This is hallowed ground. I feel like I paint it like this: writers and deer and birds frolicking and bonding around a crackling fire, a world where poetry is even more a blood line than usual - and other people acknowledge the importance while braiding a bear's fur... I mean, it's not REALLY like that, but kind of. And books stacked up to my knees wherever I walk. And (this is a truth) a Red Tailed Hawk living in the trees near my room. Chickadees screaming their names and hopping from branch to branch -- and me, a part of it.

When did it become a reality that I, a poor girl from flat-Indiana, might actually be a writer by way of the mountains of Vermont?