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December 14, 2015

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It’s around that time of year when everyone starts to get a little self-reflective. The holiday season is here and when people aren’t completely forgetting about any sort of manners or decency by acting like savages in the name of giving, they’re thinking about the things and people they have in their lives (sometimes in the form of anger, as it tends to be with families, but we’ll focus on the softer, kinder side of the holidays for now). Moreover than that, the new year is quickly approaching and, even though the flip of the calendar (I suppose a purchase or gift of a new one makes more sense here, though it kills the flow of the metaphor, so just go with me on this one) means nothing more than the just natural order of things (assuming you believe time is real and not just a human construct because of the brain’s limited memory, size and processing capabilities), we attribute rebirth and renewal to the emergence of a new year, in a season that’s usually wrought with death and stagnation (on an unrelated note, how bout this weather we’ve been having, huh? If climate change means an infinite autumn, then sign me up!)

Ok, enough asides (we’ll see about that), what I’m getting to is that the time has come for looking back upon our personal successes and failures in the previous year, and how we plan to improve ourselves in the upcoming one. It’s hard for me to look back on 2015 with anything but starry eyes; I’ve done a lot. But why revel in happiness when you can dwell on disappointment? A lot of change happened in 2015. I moved out of my family’s house for the first time ever, I boarded a plane for the first time in my life, I traveled to another country, I got married (in another country).

So yeah, to say it outright: 2015 was a banner year for me.

Other minor things of note: I wrote a bunch of stuff. I got published (at least online) a bunch. That should make me happy too but, it doesn’t, really…

Because even though people liked my writing enough to give me a chance, a lot of that didn’t last. Articles written and published have somehow disappeared from the world wide web, leaving behind only unedited and unfinalized drafts to showcase. Computer glitches left a hard-worked submission to be revoked from consideration, yet the notes on it still remained. The notes were middling at best: some people pointed out flaws I knew of, while others highlighted strengths I didn’t expect. Yet another reviewer ripped it to shreds with no remorse (whatever happened with emphasize the positive first? Geez), while another focused on only the negative, though my essay was their top pick (were the others really that bad?). Personal projects creaked to a halt. Many essays and articles were written and left in the cold to die. Promised funds were not transferred over pieces that did see the light of day. And at least one article was rewritten to a point where it wasn’t even recognizable. I’ve also been publicly humiliated about how bad and unfunny my writing is BY a head editor (I’ll decline to comment on whether or not those last two instances were in any way related).

So, suffice to say, this latter part of my writing year has had me pretty down in the dumps. I keep wanting to pick up my pen once more and give it another go. I keep wanting to submit to another writing contest. To reach out again to the magazine who has always held me in a fairly high regard and who has consistently been extraordinarily kind and complimentary of me and my writing. I want to go back to those stories I’ve left behind, the ones that deserve that extra attention, those final few lines. But I feel stuck. So like the other losers, I assume that the new year will, for some reason, bathe me in new opportunities, new projects and, most importantly, a renewed interest in things I’ve soured on.

In reality, it’s all me. All of that bad writerly shit that happened doesn’t have to follow me around like a black cloud. I can be that change. And I can start now—because fuck people’s expectations of a new year. Change can start mid-December because—well, why not? If I want it to, then so it shall be.

Sure, I have my resolutions of being better both in finance and in health, but I can start my creative ones now. Like, right now. Ok maybe a little later in the evening, but in the figurative sense of the word “now.” I can take those pitfalls, challenges, critiques (especially the critiques) and use them to improve my writing. I can take my discouragement and turn it into something worth writing about. I can stop being quiet and actually use words to express my discontent, instead of letting it fester inside me until it bubbles into depression or unjust rage. I can be better. My writing CAN be better, but it doesn’t mean it was bad to begin with. It’s time to channel the negativity into something productive. Maybe not positive, but productive.

And that’s my resolution, to just keep going. Do what I love even when it doesn’t love me back. And you should do the same.

(Also, in my head there was a whole part of this blog post that involved a quote/life tip from Nick Offerman, but in the end it didn’t quite fit into this particular piece. But I left the image of him in here anyway because I mean, look at that beautiful man.)

 

 

I  started this writing prompt a week ago but did not get the chance to finish it. Now, wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket fending off the freezing cold, I figured it’s time to get back at it.

I can tell you what I wasn’t thinking about Monday morning as I was sitting impatiently in my car, waiting for it to melt: writing. I can mention a few colorful words in between shivers that may have floated across my brain, but nothing I’d be comfortable putting down in writing. But now, safe and warm inside, I’m ready to write. Inspired by Marilyn Armstrong’s “Odd Ball Photo Challenge,” I’m going to take this cold, brutal winter and turn it into my muse. 


What is it about icicles that makes them so beautiful? It’s just frozen water–we don’t take the time to just stop and stare at or photograph ice cubes, but why are we inclined to do so with icicles? Is it the way they hang there, seemingly suspended in mid-air, dangling before us like naturally-occurring wind chimes? Or is it because they’re dangerous? Gaze long enough to appreciate their beauty, gaze too long and you’ll never gaze at anything again.

Winter isn’t beautiful because it’s picturesque, winter is beautiful because it’s deadly.

Time seems to stand still in the cold months. Stagnation settles in and there’s nothing but whistling wind to cut the eerie silence as the night creeps in early to take over the day. We grow tired, weary, exhausted from being tired and weary and hibernate from friends, family, obligations and life–awakened only by some form of tragedy. We rear our heads from our long winter’s nap only to say goodbye, never to start anew like the false promises of New Year’s bring. Funerals seem to happen more often in the cold months between fall and winter. Maybe it’s because black attracts the sun and no one wants to be sweating while they’re grieving–even God knows a thing or two about fashion faux-pas. We pile layer upon layer of black on ourselves and shiver through the tears. We impatiently wait for spring to bring with it the good news.

But why does that make winter beautiful?

Because of the temporal nature of the shortest season of the year, because it’s a constant reminder of how life is fleeting, because it’s the time of the year when you most often want to cry and give up, the stillness of the season is simultaneously frightening and comforting. To take the time to stop and survey the beauty around you can be the only calming thing the world has to offer–drink in those sheets of white covering every surface before they melt or deteriorate into gross mixes of earth and dirt and street debris. Appreciate everything as it’s frozen in time, because it won’t be for long.

Stare directly at those icicles hanging above you. They might kill you, but they’re reminding you that you’re still here, now.

Zen Writer Challenge: 9.16.14

September 16, 2014

I’ve just downloaded a neat PC program called ZenWriter. I recommend it for anyone who wants an app that will help them totally zone out and zero-in on their writing. It provides a full-screen notepad with calm music and scenic backgrounds that help you block out any background noise that might interfere with your work.  I was busy editing a piece I had been working on, and I needed to step away from it, take a little break and just go into zen-mode. I figured it would provide the perfect space to just do some stream-of-consciousness-style writing based on some ideas I’ve had floating around in my head. Sometimes I come up with lines I’d love to write, but no story to build around them. I think this will be a great way to capture those thoughts as they occur and share what I’ve come up with: unedit, unrefined, just pure from my own zen.  I’m going to try to do these sporadically, but without any sort of time constraints. I challenge anyone who has this program, or just anyone who likes this idea, to do the same. Here’s my first one of, hopefully, a series.

 

My notebooks are graveyards of words. Unfinished stories left to wither away and die in pages forgotten by time. Ideas that were once so fruitful and full of possibilities have stopped producing fruits of wisdom, instead just collecting dust and grammatical mistakes. Why is it so hard to return to a work that’s gone untouched for so long? Is it because even though new ideas form, you can never quite recapture the emotions and creative surges felt at the time, and therefore can never have any soul left to pour into those words? I’m afraid that all of my works will never be done, because my body fills with creative energy in small spurts of time. I become to enraptured in the ideas of creating that I forget to do just that. I get too excited and must put my pen down to take some time to think, but it’s so tough to pick it up again after that because, by then, the feeling’s already gone.

Is it possible to have creative ADD?

What would be the knee-jerk chemical solution for that? Maybe whiskey will flow through my veins, through my blood, into my fingers and they’ll keep moving and moving and moving and moving the words and thoughts and ideas and notions escaping before I even have time to notice and give up on them.

I fear I’ve noticed them already

I’ve taken the time to read this. Reading has become the enemy of my writing. The more I read the more I hate the words I wrote and the more I want to stop. Maybe I’ll stop reading now and go at this blindly. Put this out there for someone to read and hate but not me–someone else’s hatred of my words bears more fruit than my own. Because if someone hates what I write they’ll be compelled to challenge it with the written word and a new conception of words and a birth of ideas will be formed. But my own hatred will just stall me.

And so more pieces of verse will lie in their coffins. Abandoned, neglected, abused.

But I want you to abuse my words. Abuse them and reuse them and confuse them.

Because if you do, I’ll have to challenge it. And write and write and write and write and write.

 

 

….I’ve stopped.

Think about your life in relation to the seasons. What is your favorite season and why? During which season were you born? How did you feel as a child about each season? Have significant events happened during one season over the others? How do you see the world around you change at the start of each season? Use these musings to fuel an essay about one or all of the seasons. 

As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m in a quaint park on a residential street. It’s close enough to the main, highly trafficked road to be distracting—but just enough to serve as a reminder that my time here is temporary. Not like my time on Earth or anything existential like that, just that I have about 45 minutes to write this before my lunch break is over and I have to return to the office.

But as for now, now I’m in this park—just close enough to reality to keep me grounded but far enough away to let me live in my own fantasy world, if only for a short while. I’m perched upon a stone stool, situated in front of a matching stone chess table, created for someone with all the time in the world to just sit, play, enjoy—not for people on borrowed time like myself. Not for many at all really, since no one ever seems to be in this park. The sun is beating down upon me, but there’s a breeze just cool enough to keep it comfortable. There’s a bed of vibrant pink tulips to my right. There’s a child singing in her front yard just across the street. Birds are chirp, chirp, chirping away… all of that good shit. Spring has arrived… and about two months too damn late.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit unfair. Technically spring equinox is on March 20th, which means that spring is really only just over a month late. And sure, the weather never really changes in accordance with the seasons on the first day of their supposed arrival. And yes, there’s also that pesky climate change to factor in—but screw that noise—I’m getting older and more and more impatient in my advancing years.

I don’t think of the seasons in terms of dates and meteorological facts and science—I think about seasons and weather in relation to years passed. Last year, spring “arrived” around the second or third week in March, and then stuck around for a while. The same goes for the spring the year before that. And, come to think of it, the year before that too. Right now it’s the first week of May and the month of renewal is only just barely, cautiously approaching—like a middle-aged woman slowly dipping her toes into a just-a-tad-too cool swimming pool. But for me, it should have been out there, past the kiddie pool, and wading around in the 4’2 foot section by now. (Are these pool references indicative enough of my yearning for summer?)

Sure, we were “due for” another snowy, long, “bad” winter, but that doesn’t mean I have to be cool with it (forgive the pun). I remember analyzing a piece of poetry in the first literature class I ever attended in college—I don’t remember the poem itself, but it prompted a discussion of the “rhythm” of the seasons. Spring is a time of rebirth while winter is a time of death. Death doesn’t have to be taken in the most literal sense—it could also mean a stoppage of creative thought and expression. To me, winter is a time of stagnancy. The cold air and obtrusive, dirty snow forces me to retreat, cowering under my fortress of blankets, cut off from any outside creative influence that might be trying to break in. A time of idleness.  A time of waiting… and my God, do I hate waiting. With each passing year, the “winter blahs,” as I affectionately call ‘em, get me badder than the year prior. The cold, the grey, and the wind hits me harder each time.

So the fact that it is May and it still feels as though winter hasn’t quite left the building, the fact that it’s bitter chill hasn’t yet been found keeled over on the toilet, means that I have a harsh pile of excuses to fall into and make lie-angels in instead of creating. The humid, bitter rain is only just approaching—even  the April showers are late to my pity party.  Summer seems so far off that it feels like the only option is to create my own “summer,” or even my own “spring” for that matter. Albert Camus once said “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” That absurd bastard. But I do suppose he has a point… imagination is my tool and my pen and paper is my broken toy that needs repair—it will just take envisioning the perfect season I want to experience and creating it myself, even if only in writing.

…Hey, that’s not a bad idea. Maybe I’ll start working on that when Mother Nature stops being such a bitch

I’ve been pretty down on myself lately. In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t really been following up on my resolution to post fiction, non-fiction and poetry based on weekly writing prompts. That’s no one’s fault by my own. I’ve got writing prompts from weeks and months ago saved across multiple computers, email inboxes and USB drives. I return to them every now and again and—if I’m lucky—maybe add a sentence or two to each piece. If I let them go long enough with few enough paragraphs, I lose interest in where the piece was going, or forget the genius idea I had for it because I forgot to make note of it because didn’t have a pen on hand, or whatever. In the 21st Century Digital Age of iPhones and tablets and mind-to-walkman transmissions (that’s a thing, right?), I’m not even certain if that’s a viable excuse anymore. (EDIT: No, it’s not.)  In short, I’ve been coming up with more creative excuses to not read or write than creative words to pen on paper.

I recently read a wonderful post on Looking For Pemberley on writing even when you don’t feel like it by Miss E. And just a few minutes ago I read another excellent piece on continuing to write after your work has been rejected on The Rumpus. And I soaked in every word. “I get it…” I thought. “I sooo get it…” Especially in regards to Miss E’s post. I read it in the car on my iPhone, and just let the sentiment resonate with me. But what did I proactively DO after reading it? After reading it on this magical technological device where I can not only READ but also WRITE? Nothing. I did nothing. I thought about how true it was and how, no matter what, I must push through and write, but I only thought—I did not act.

I guess a big part of my problem is that I WANT to be writing. I want to be writing a lot, actually. I’m just NOT. I’m thinking A LOT but writing A LITTLE. And again, the only person to blame for that is myself. I’ve found myself in a rather strange predicament lately where I feel a bit unsettled and uncertain of some things in my life—nothing too earth-shattering, but enough to leave me feeling sufficiently… bummy. And I’ve been coming down pretty hard on myself and my place in the world because of that. My only resolution has been to do some things on my own accord—mainly get back to writing regularly. Finish pieces of prose I’ve been dying to finally cap off and edit. And read voraciously—finish the three books and zines I’ve started reading but can’t quite complete. Stop over-analyzing why I haven’t been able to finish them and just DO it instead.

Today after reading that wonderful post on the Rumpus, I decided to search in my backpack for my notebook instead of just numbing my mind with Facebook games (sorry, Disney’s City Girl!) and actually work on one of the six or seven pieces I’m “in the middle of.” And in my search, what do I find? Two notebooks, one novel and a Poets & Writers magazine. That’s not that bizarre, but it made me realize that I have the tools at my disposal, with me on my person, literally every day of the week. And what do I do? Let them sit in that dark knapsack waiting. Being unused. Adding weight to my back but very little else. I also found at least three different blue pens. Why so many? Because when I start writing something it bugs me if I start in one pen type/color and change to another. It also creates a good excuse for me to NOT write “Ugh, but I started this short story with a blue fountain pen—I can’t finish it with a black ballpoint!” (Again—creativity wasted on excuses and not on actual writing.) Well, I’ve got both blue and black fountain and ballpoint pens AND even some pencils on me right now, so that solves that tremendous dilemma.

What’s ironic is, now that my lunch break is winding down, I won’t have the actual time until after 5:00 PM to get back to writing with those utensils and those notebooks I found. But you know what? It’s ok. Because while it may seem like I instead decided to procrastinate by posting on here, I did it by writing. And that’s at least something. And hopefully a sign of good things to come.

Cheers, and keep those pens and pencils (or styluses and fingers!) working and your creative waters flowing.

Think about an aspect of your life story and rewrite it, telling the tale from another angle or perspective. For example, if your family always considered you to be a difficult teenager, write about other interpretations of your behavior. Or if you’ve always been considered successful, write about the fear of failure that lurks beneath the facade. Find a way to reconstruct an aspect of your personal narrative that explores the complexity of who you are.

 

“She’s nice and all…but she’s really quiet.” That’s what they would write in the 5th grade slam book about me. If there were a slam book, that is. Those are the words that would float around in the theoretical slam book of life. I was in the double digits, dammit, and I didn’t even have a good slam against me. What would that say about me? Other girls had “Cool” and “Hot” and “Sporty” and other Spice Girl-alias like terms to describe them, along with a list of guys they’ve kissed during rousing parent-in-the-other-room-monitored games of spin the bottle played at family super bowl parties. I had never even been to a party before—my time instead being holed up in my room reading the Michelle Tanner novel series. I squealed with delight when I noticed that Mary Kate and/or Ashley donned a pink dress that I owned on the cover. In this particular issue, Michelle is bummed because all it said in her class’s slam book was that she was a good speller. She was in the double digits, dammit, and all her classmates could say about her was that she was a good speller?!  I think I’m a good speller too, but not enough for that to be my only quality but at least it’s descriptive! “Quiet” means nothing, and that pesky “nice” is outright insulting. How dare they think that about me?!  I’ll make my mark in that book of life one day, and that day begins today…

 

“Jamie buys all her clothes at the flea market,” Stephanie whispered behind my back. I looked down at my pea-green leggings and green striped sweater. I distinctly remember my mom purchasing those leggings in the clearance section at Kids R’ Us and the sweater I got as a gift for Christmas. My outfit was not only NOT purchased at a cheap flea market, but was much nicer than what she had on. In a Catholic school, dress down days came once in a blue moon, and you always wanted to make sure you wore your coolest, most in-style outfit you begged your mom to buy for you. Being a rather poor kid in a private school located in one of the richest towns in Westchester made that a little difficult, but I made do with what I had. Who was Stephanie to talk, anyway? Last year during the big children’s Easter mass I had on a beautiful Easter Parade-esque dress and bonnet from Lord & Taylor while she showed up in a tie-dye shirt and jeans and picked her nose for 40% of the mass. At least I knew when to dress up and how to do it in style.

 

“Yeah, she said all of your clothes are from there because your family’s too poor to go shopping anywhere else,” my friend Julia confirmed that what I heard was true. Anger coursed over my body. I thought of going over there and setting her straight and letting her know exactly where my outfit was from, and about the Abercrombie and Fitch shirt I purchased over the summer. (Sure, it was an irregular-sized A&F shirt from the flea market, but she didn’t have to know that.) Maybe a good portion of my clothes were from the flea market, but at least I had style. I gathered my thoughts and turned to Julia, “I should punch her in her stupid face!” I said, as I made a fist with my tiny, weak hand. Then the bell rang and break was over, and it was time to study vocabulary. The battle was soon forgotten when Stephanie would be last in line behind me during the spelling bee, rooting me on…  “She kept touching me, and made me nervous. That’s why we lost,” I’d explain to my friends later when I blanked during the last round. “She didn’t win either, so whatever.”

 

I realized that it would be hard for people to think of me any other way than “quiet,” but it didn’t matter, and “nice” wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe “buys all her clothes at the flea market” would be my description in the slam book of life, but at least that means I’m resourceful. And if anyone complemented my style and found out where my clothing came from, I could be a fashion trailblazer for the lower middle class. At least they couldn’t have me down as “a good speller,” maybe “kind-of good,” but that would be downright silly. I could rest easy knowing that I had once again had something in common with Michelle Tanner, and this time, I may have even had something better.

Why does everything good in my social networking life have to change in the blink of an eye?

 

New format. Raw. Real. Uncensored. In your face. Girls Gone Wild. Live Nude Girls. Girls Girls Girls. Smoking in the Boys Room, I think you get what I’m getting at now.

But, for those not at my superior level of intellect, basically what I’m saying is that this blog will no longer be my attempts at creative…pretty writing. No more lyrical-esque, floweryish, pseudo-poetry about rain storms and lilacs and rose hips…you know, the stuff chicks with small tits write about. I’m focusing more on the day-to-day of life. The stupid, silly, bizarre, fucked-up shit that pops into my head on a daily occurrence. Because in the end, that’s me.

I haven’t done too much with my life. I’ve never been a “risk-taker,” I can only write memoirs about people whom don’t exist. I can’t draw, can’t sing, can’t dance…so don’t ask me. Actually, I can dance. So long as it entails me swinging my hips in an overly-sexualized manner and putting my arms up in the air. But I can’t dance in any sort of choreographed fashion. I’ve never done drugs, I’ve never drank with anyone famous, I can’t even ride a bike.

But I can hate people for funsies, flawlessly look like a doofus in every picture/video of me ever in existence, wrap my arms behind my head, stumble awkwardly over my own words on daily basis, eat meat like a savage, let my thoughts (and words) trail off mid-sentence, knock back whiskey like a classy broad, paint my nails every week, swoon over 90s nostalgia, swear far too much, constantly worry about how long-lasting my deodorant REALLY is, blatantly adjust my boobs in public situations, regret the shoes I chose to wear for nearly every occasion, diagnose myself (and others) with my own psychotherapy, occasionally spew some radical, intellectual thoughts about literature, be creepin’ at punk shows all over the city, be a slut in my mind,  tumblr like it’s going out of style and play ukulele. Ok, I can only play the beginning intro of “Backseat of My Car” on ukulele, but it sure makes me sound cuter if I say I can actually play.

Also, I’m learning how to play bass for a psychobilly band. I’m spastic as fuck but in my head i’m the baddest bettie you’ve ever met.

Now…who WOULDN’T want to read about my life?

 

Oh…and as for my creative writing…all of my unfinished short stories [once they’re finished, maybe] will still live on at my webzine.  But that’s still in progress. I have far too many websites and a different alias for each one to ever keep up with. But I like to consider it “social networking with the best of ’em.”

 

Now, love me?

 

 

 

We’re all so toxic

May 5, 2011

and we’ve all made mistakes. We’ve paid for our sins & we’re still paying while all the others are getting by just fine. It’s just because we care too much. Over-thinking, over- drinking, over-caring. Fuck it, I’m over thinking & over drinking and especially over caring. But then again, I say that ll the time. My words come out like vomit. I only think as I’m speaking and as much as I try to mend the pain I end up digging the splinter in deeper and deeper. To myself, mostly. I’m afraid of picking at the flaws too much, but I suppose it’s better then glossing over them and letting the hurt hit my heart with an iron fist instead of just tearing it off my chest altogether.  As much as I don’t want to lose is as much as I can’t stand keeping the dead beats around. Like sickle cells infecting the flexibility of everyone’s morals and standards, complicating friendships and situations. Maybe our standards are too high. But maybe they’re all just infectious, hazardous leeches. Latching on for prosperity and posterity, sucking the life out of the hosts who have done everything to provide them with life. Maybe it’s best we keep ourselves living. We’ll get over it in the end. There’s been a reason I’ve burned every bridge I’ve crossed. It’s kept me standing. It’s kept me living. It’s kept me myself, not connected to anyone who only needs me for their own selfish needs. I don’t want to influence you. I don’t want to make my needs yours. I don’t want you to hurt. But we might be just one being, morphed together because we have the same world view. It’s good to know you’re not always alone. But in the end, will the same mistakes be made? Will we get caught in the same traps? Maybe. But it’s only because we care too much. It’s just a cycle. A toxic, fucked up cycle, but such is life.

Heart’s Words

April 27, 2011

There’s a fire burning

and in your heart you’ll find it.

There’s a constant yearning

and in your heart you’ll hide it.

A need for learning

and in your heart you’ll bide it.

There’s a resistance spawning

and in your heart it hates you.

A lack of care with each day’s dawning

and in your heart it berates you.

You neglect all you’ve been wanting

and in your heart it sedates you.

Keep ignoring your instinct

i’ll just sit by and watch.

Keep forgetting what you’ve been searching for

i’ll just stand back and cry.

Keep ignoring me

i’ll just be the death of you.

when all is said and done

and everything has come to pass

you can live your life of sorrow

for i’ll have had the last laugh

and you can ignore what your heart may want and need

but in the end, you’ll regret it

for i’m the one who allows you to breathe.

(but after all, what have you learned?)