05 April 2014

Poetry & happiness & plagiarism

Some of you may have noticed that, despite my resolution to the contrary, I've hardly written anything on this blog since the start of the year.  My inactivity, sadly, reflects a similar dearth of productivity in my waking life.

Cry no more, blog fans.  Because I am somewhat incapable of living an original existence, I am happy to tell you that I have copied all the things that Miss Jennifer Rodewald does in her life, which comprises participating in National Poetry Month by writing one poem every day, as well as participating in a thing called 100 Happy Days wherein I take a moment to post one picture each day of something that makes me happy.

I never really considered myself a poet, but for some reason poetry (or some approximation thereof) has come much more easily to me recently than anything resembling fiction.  In fact, I haven't even had an idea for a fiction piece in what I believe to be several years, though I'm always hopeful that something will come.  Ah well, for now I can more easily capture my emotions and striking images in poetry and hope that one day my fiction muse will return to me.

I've actually written far more than one poem per day, though the time spent on each (minimal) makes me feel like they are not quite as good as they could be.  I have been focusing more on capturing some raw emotions that have been giving me trouble recently, so bear with that.  But here, for the interested, is some of what I've written.

Day One - April Fools

I wrote a letter to the fireflies
about the late March
thunderstorm.  I told them
how their lightning
cousin electrified
a snowflake, and it
burst into raindrops.

I sent a photo to the earth-
worms of the brown dead
grass roof above their
heads.  I zoomed in on
the green sprout of hope
that grew last Monday
in the elusive sunshine.

Day Two - 4/2

The sun runs away and I understand:
we'll never feel anything together
except in dreams. I'll gaze at your lips
whispering words large in meaning but small
on the page & melt into your
arms like we'd never spent a day outside
of each other.
I'll wear that dress and feel your hand
at my lower back telling me, "I'm
here, I'm listening."
Sometimes we fall in love before either
of us can speak but your smile
said all I needed 
to hear.
I saw you in my mortar bowl,
in my coffee cup,
in a piece of pie,
and I wondered if I'd 
forgotten something
significant.



Day Three - 4/3

Even the synthetic roses
drooped under my care
or lack thereof
so when I set your rosemary
plant outside to bloom,
it uprooted and ran
for sanctuary
in someone else's pot.


I count my footsteps
LEFT foot on the DOWNbeat,
a perpetual member
of the marching band
But there is no drumline,
is no conductor, just
sometimes a song
in my head --
other times only
compulsion.


I wrote two poems about flowers & feelings
which isn't material fit for a "writer"
as I affectionately call myself.  

I've wanted to write words that change 
the way the world spins, 
that turn my bleary eyes into 
kaleidoscopes or magnifying glasses, 
but my lashes seem to be glued shut 
& the days are mostly 
one shade of grey.  

So this poem is no different then 
because here is a line about lilacs 
and a vague yearning for
something I once knew.



Day Four - 4/4

Don't like the poem I wrote for this day, so instead I'll give you a poem that's forthcoming in Rust magazine, an endeavor started by my friend Alison that will have its first issue on shelves in Milwaukee soon!

letter from the future v 3.0.17

cling to the beebuzz
summer, skin glowing tight
across an empty abdomen
when even a snooze wreaked
of purpose behind sunglasses

pretend away that seeping chill
of grey slush sidewalks, a spider
frozen in your bike tire
spokes, rusted to the side
of the world

we laid in the center
of the equinox once, our
hands and the earth running
parallel, whispering in
the grass you are enough

huddled now in spurts & wracks
your voice an icicle before
it hits the ground, shatters
sharp fragments, melting
the morning & glaring the evening

in the summer you can see
the wind in the wildflowers’
manic headbobbing, the desperate
flight of a baby sparrow, even
the pregnant swirling clouds

in the winter it sneaks in
the cracks, invisible, breaks
them open as wide as they’ll go
until all you can do

is shiver and pray.

I'm hoping to keep up with this daily writing for several reasons, so hopefully expect some updates in the future.  Also I'm finally making use of Instagram for the 100 Happy Days thing, so feel free to follow me on there (ash_writes) to see what makes me happy, I guess.

Also thanks to Jen for being my unintentional life coach.

05 February 2014

a frozen moment

Tonight, after hearing several stories of a cold summer yet-to-come, and never-ending snow and cold in the forecast for the foreseeable future, I was feeling a little blue.  I almost got frostbite on my hand waiting for the bus and attempting to check the schedule sans a mitten.  I walked quickly from the bus stop toward my apartment, my body fraught with tension and anxiety, protecting myself against the wind and whatever else was waiting for me down the road.

Then as I came upon the last block between me and my apartment, I noticed a sparkling feeling on my nose and between my parted lips.  Beyond a tree, the light from a streetlamp glowed orange against the grey sky, and I saw the tiniest snowflakes swirling in the air.  And in that moment I forgot about my discomfort in the winter night, about whatever else has been troubling me, and simply stood on the unshoveled sidewalk, gazing at the light and feeling the flakes touching my skin so gently, like a hundred tiny kisses.

So far, 2014 hasn't been my favorite year, and I think it's going to shape up to be a difficult one.  So it's all the more important to take note of these tiny moments of beauty and hope, when the world stops and nothing else seems to exist except that particular oneness with the world, that connection to what is naturally occurring around me.  Even when I am stuck in a rut, or everything seems to spiral out of my control, the world keeps spinning and despite the particular awfulness of this forever winter, beauty still abounds.

Now please take a moment to enjoy this catchy classic tune.  Its timeless melodies made my evening a bit less somber than my words would indicate.

18 January 2014

another moment into your gravity

Tonight I am awake after furiously scrubbing my shower and bathroom floor with bleach and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I spent a good amount of time this evening sitting quietly in the bath, reflecting on various things that have plagued my mind recently, staring at the hard water deposits on the walls and in the grout that have gone untouched for what seems like forever.  After spending much effort scrubbing between the tiles and in the crevasse between the wall and the bathtub, I realized that much of what looks like dirt (or... ugh... mold) is actually the result of a really shoddy caulking/grouting job, courtesy of our mostly inept landlord.  And I stared at it, and kept scrubbing, even as pieces of the caulk and the Magic Eraser sponge flecked into the drain, and the bleach residue stung my nostrils and burned my fingers.

I drank a whole cup of coffee today on an empty stomach, a 16 ounce cup of lukewarm Bruegger's house blend that some customer brought as a gift to little Mary, our cantankerous cashier-turned-bagger who apparently had had enough caffeine for the day.  I think I can still feel the effects of the caffeine in my irregular hearbeats, though I drank it over twelve hours ago.  Although who can tell these days - I get myself all worked up over the most trivial things - it could just be anxiety fluttering in my veins.

I've had this annoying tendency, all my life, to define myself based on the actions and opinions of other people.  I think I did this subconsciously at first, adopting the interests of my best friends and behaving accordingly.  Although I was a rather shy, quiet little girl, I developed a keen interest in theatre and musical performance because my first best friend, Amber, was into that sort of thing.  To be honest, I really wasn't good at public performance for a very long time, up until my later high school days, because I just didn't possess the charisma that some of my more outgoing friends did.  Eventually I sort of taught myself to perform, though I never could dance or act as well as the naturals.  I wonder where I'd have ended up if I hadn't started on that path with Amber?

I spent a lot of my formative years attaching myself to one person or another, floating through middle and high school with obsessive attachments to particular friends.  The other part of this equation was my constant desire for boys to pay attention to me.  I always had a crush on a boy or two, and spent hours of my life thinking about how I could get them to like me.  Once I solved that equation - by learning a particularly difficult lesson about maturing too quickly - I began a rather destructive cycle of boyfriends that continues to this day.  I've never apologized to any of my ex-boyfriends (however fleeting the dalliance) for how I treated them, because at the time I don't think I understood how poorly I handled relationships, their beginnings or endings.  I continued in one relationship until I found another, more desirable situation, at which point I promptly ended things and moved on.  I wish I could apologize now, but I'm not sure it would make much difference.  We are all at very different points in our lives.

What this signifies to me, though, is that I never gave myself the opportunity to define who I am, outside of any friendship or relationship.  I had a real problem remaining single, and even for the one summer that I was "single" after high school, I was undeniably emotionally involved with someone.  And this conundrum still exists for me today.  For the past two weeks I've been home alone, and up until C left for Central America, I had pretty grand ideas about what I was going to accomplish.  I was going to spend time with friends I haven't seen in ages.  I was going to clean the house from top to bottom.  I was going to cook some excellent food for myself.  I was going to write a ton and exercise and grow as a person.

What I really did wasn't quite so grand.  I did have a few social outings outside of work: one night I accompanied two of my favorite coworkers to a (clean, non-dangerous) warehouse and listened to them make music together, while I wrote bad poetry on the back of a grocery store receipt.  The other night I ventured out to a house party wherein a coworker I don't know very well drunkenly tried (and failed) to woo me.  I also did manage to clean and cook a bit (see Lady Macbeth style bathroom scrubbing above, and the Tupperware apocalypse mentioned on other social media outletss).  However most of my time was spent sleeping and catching up on several seasons of TV shows that ultimately didn't mean that much to my life experience.

What is troublesome to me is that, even when I am not being actively influenced by a person, or persons, in my life, I am perhaps instead defining myself by these fictional scenarios that I devote myself to watching, or the characters in the books that I halfheartedly read.  I haven't felt a desire to write or to create or to do really anything productive, and that's pretty terrifying to me, because I was pretty sure that by this point in my life I'd at least have an identity, if I couldn't have anything else figured out yet.

I'm not sure why I am writing this except that I needed to get it all out of my head.  It was circling on repeat and I don't think that was helping anything.  However I am not trying to get any kind of pity or encouragement or anything like that.  I would just like it if you read, and understand, and... I don't know.  That's probably it.  I know that a lot of people see a lot of things in me, and sometimes I see those things too.  But not all the time.  And I'm not sure what it is I need to do to bring those things out more often.

03 January 2014

second verse, same as the first

So what's new?

Not much... haircut!

Obviously, it's been a long time since I've written.  My last post was published on August 22, over four months ago.  I have several reasons (excuses) as to why that might be, but suffice it to say, I just haven't put my energy into writing for a long time.  Which is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do!

Naturally, the arrival of the new year has once again prompted me to delve into writing and reflection on the past year.  Last year I wrote a rather revealing, comprehensive list of goals for 2013.  Looking at them now, some of them were entirely too broad, without any specific plans for achieving them.  That being said, I only came close to realizing one or two of these goals, which isn't exactly something to be proud of.  In fact, reading over that post, I find myself in almost exactly the same position I was at the beginning of 2013, which is depressing to think about, as I sort of thought I'd come a little bit further in my journey to realizing my potential as a human.

Thinking about 2013 as a whole, I wouldn't categorize it as one of my best years.  I graduated from college, and actually received the best GPA out of all of my semesters studying Creative Writing, but I really slacked off a lot and almost wasn't sure I'd pass all my classes.  I was only barely employed for the first eight months of the year, working at Braise when I could but mostly dwindling the days away doing unproductive things.  I did spend the entire summer searching for a "real" job, only to end up at Sendik's as a cashier, which I believe has sparked a very long depression that potentially has contributed to my lack of creative inspiration.  I suppose I did receive a promotion, which makes work significantly more bearable, but I wouldn't say I am happy with where I am at in my work life.  I also struggled heavily with emotional and relationship issues in many aspects of my life, and felt as a whole very reluctant to deal with those issues.

In sum, I'm not exactly pleased with the person that emerges into 2014.  The few things I did manage to accomplish with relation to last year's goals are something to be proud of, however.  I did spend a great deal of my summer writing, struck with a spark of inspiration from muses unnamed.  I was published thrice in furrow, as well as several times in The Shepherd Express, something I didn't think I had in me.  I explored my talents for poetry (though I am not sure I understand them just yet).  I also lost 25 pounds, half of my 2013 goal, which is nothing to be mad at.  I completed my first 5K and even ran a bit for fun.

This year, I'd like to get a little bit more serious about myself and my future.  So, while the turning of the years is ultimately an insignificant transition created by the calendar, and truthfully means nothing, I will take this opportunity to revitalize myself and try again.

Lose 25 more pounds.
This goal isn't for anybody but myself.  I want to feel better about the way I look and feel in my body.  Last year I did spend a bit more energy focusing on fitness and healthy eating, though I admit that did taper out quite a bit once September came around.  Ignoring the fact that I ate ice cream for breakfast today, I really want to continue the trend I started last year of eating healthier, whole foods instead of quick fatty eats that make me feel "better".  I really did notice an upward swing in my well-being when I ate well, versus the quick gratification of cheese popcorn and soda that later turned to self-loathing and acid reflux.  Being that I work in a grocery store that's laden with better-for-me foods, I'd really like to take the time to make myself good food and eat it wisely.

As far as fitness goes, I will get back on that horse and stick with it.  Last spring I went to fitness and yoga classes with my friend Ellen, and this was really excellent for my mood as well as for my health.  Aside from the fact that I was staying active, it was also a really positive thing for my social life to be spending time with someone in that way.  What I am going to do is, during this horrible winter, work on videos whenever I am home for a half day (which is most days).  I want to focus specifically on yoga to start because I hurt my back falling on the ice recently, but also because I really need to clear my mind and get into a better place.  Once I'm a little bit more in shape that way, I'll start some more fitness videos.  And as soon as the temperature gets up to about 55-60, I'm going to start running again.  Maybe I can find a partner who wants to take some classes with me at the parks & rec center again?

My ultimate goal for 2014 is to run at least two 5K's, or maybe a half marathon if I can get myself to that point.

Find a job (that could lead to a job) that I love.
There are definitely some things that I like about working at Sendik's, and I still work a little bit at Braise, which can definitely make me happy at times.  However, I feel ultimately unfulfilled by both of these places, because I know that I am not reaching my potential by limiting myself to the service industry.  Granted, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to apply to some more "professional" positions, and really had no luck over the summer, but after I got hired at Sendik's I stopped out of sheer exhaustion.  Right now I feel I need to put some time into this place because it might lead to further opportunities, but deep down I know that I really want something more concretely tied to a career.  I want to be doing something with my skills, whether it be writing, copy editing, or something else.  Right now I still don't exactly know what I want to be "when I grow up," and I really need to be somewhere where I can figure that out.

I've started working with a recruiting agency, and the rep I spoke with is working to help me find a job that's more closely tied to my interests and skills.  I'm attempting to update my resume to be more relevant and purposeful.  But most importantly what I need to do is to put myself out there.  I'm starting to look at open positions myself, and soon I'll start sending my resume out again.  I don't want to abandon Sendik's, because I actually am growing there, but I also don't want to be taking myself off the market for opportunities that could be more permanent.  I know I've got to pay my dues before I get anywhere real, but that doesn't mean I can't look.  No matter how I spin it, a job at a grocery store isn't going to look *that* good on my resume.

I need to capitalize on my connections.  I've got a friend, a former Stone Creek (and current Sendik's) customer who teaches ESL who's mentioned an opportunity to me, who I should really get back to.  Maybe my future is in teaching English.  Maybe I need to travel abroad.  Maybe I'll be a journalist.  I'm not going to know if I don't start trying to figure it out.

WRITE.
This was another goal from last year that never really got where it was supposed to go.  I intended to write every day.  There were some days or weeks when I did that, and then of course there was the four month hiatus at the end of the year.  I was at my happiest when I was writing every day in the summer - granted, I was also taking long walks, talking to people, exploring the city and myself on those days.  Of course writing is tied to experience; if I am holed up in my apartment all the time, I subsequently have nothing to write about.  But I'm not a writer if I don't write, and that's just the facts.  Everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to write a novel, or whatever else, and the truth is I don't have any ideas in my head about that.  But that's because I'm not taking the time to write anything down, or to even think about it.  I'd certainly like to write a novel someday, but I need to have an idea before I can do that.

Some of the things I want to do this year: I am thinking about getting involved with a magazine that my co-worker is trying to start up.  Speaking of that, I need to sit down and think of article ideas to submit for the next meeting they're having, which will be the first one I attend.

I also want to work more on my poetry.  I was most fascinated by the poetic endeavors I had over the summer, although any of the things I learned in my poetry workshop sort of went out of my head, and I just wrote whatever I wanted without editing or paying attention to the language.  Should I write more poetry, I will try and do it more purposefully than the weird free-writing stuff I was doing.

I want to write some new fiction, and edit my old fiction.  I want to submit my work to various literary journals for publication.  For this year I'm going to set a very low goal of twenty submissions.

I will write something every day.  No matter how small.

I will write a blog post once a week.

And I will get in contact with Evan from the Shepherd to revisit the idea of freelancing.

Be more sensible about money.
Now that I'm working full time, I'm taking in more money than I ever have, which is incredibly helpful.  I'm making tiny strides toward paying off my debt, but I have not really started to save any money.  I don't have a savings account with any money in it at this time, and I'm realizing how incredibly stupid that is.  Coming up, I have an FSA with Sendik's that'll give me a little bit of security health-wise, but I don't have any backup money in case I need to make drastic changes in my life.  Starting with my next paycheck, though, I've got all my money going into one account (rather than the stupid debit card thing they gave me) and am going to start setting aside a little bit of money each payday.  Hopefully now that I'm making a little more, I won't need to dip into my savings to save my butt on a bill or an overdraft, and I can start building up some kind of security net.

I also am swearing off online shopping.  It's convenient but can be really dangerous.  It's a lot easier to click a button and receive clothes or whatever, than to go and pick them out and bring them to the checkout.  There's something about swiping the card and holding the items in your hand, hearing the total and looking at the receipt, that makes buying things a whole lot more real.  I don't think I would do this as much if I had a car, because a lot of times I don't have easy access to physical shopping.  Which is why I am also going to save my money and get myself a car.

Related: if anyone knows or hears of a pretty cheap car that won't immediately die, please let me know.  Particularly if you are a person who knows cars pretty well.  I am not in the market to get a new-ish car from a dealer.  I mostly just want a junker that can get me to work and to wherever else I need to go.

Improve Social Relationships
Like I mentioned, I've been spending a lot of my time alone, especially since I started my new job.  I have so many great friends and acquaintances who could be friends, and I really don't put any energy into spending time with them at all.  I've been completely sapped of energy because of work, partially because I've been overworking myself, and partially because I let myself become lethargic, because I am naturally a low-energy person.  As a result I feel a lot of my relationships are sort of swept under the rug or taken for granted.  I have many friends who I have hardly talked to or seen over the last year, and that's simply because I don't reach out or respond to those people.  I think I am inherently social, although I do love my alone time, because I am always in much higher spirits when I am spending time with people.

Part of this goal is to really assess who I am spending my time with, who really makes me happy, and who brings me down.  I feel that sometimes my time is spent with or worrying about people who don't care about me or my happiness, and perhaps it's come time to take a paring knife to those toxic relationships, and start focusing on the people in my life who bring me happiness.


If you are reading this, I really appreciate that you took the time.  I'm sensing that 2014 is going to be a year of big changes and I'll need some hands to hold along the way.

I really, really hope I don't write this same blog at the beginning of 2015.

22 August 2013

that old devil, moon

I wish I had the inclination to make short films.  I would create an avante garde film of two strangers meeting each other in the moonlight, set to Debussy's Clair de Lune, perhaps even to a recording of myself playing the song.  Debussy's compositions touch my being in a way no other composer has, and it is only at this moment that I realize with regret that much of my time spent on Chopin compilations was wasted, as even the romance of his Nocturne in E-Flat Major is insufficient in satisfying my craving for ethereal sparkling sounds evoked by Claude's moon music.  I dream of the moment when I return to my piano and play this piece to its fullest extent once again.

Clair de Lune was in fact my first foray into advanced piano repertoire, and while some people might find it incredibly cliche, I also find that it is the most beautiful, transcendental experience to play it.  If done well, if characterized correctly, the piece accurately translates the experience of being at peace during a full moon, experiencing the universe in such a way that one is suddenly and acutely aware of his insignificance, but also reveling in the way the moonlight touches his skin even so.

Yesterday was a technical blue moon, for some reason that I can't remember and don't feel like looking up.  I think perhaps it was the fourth full moon during a season or something like that.  I actually thought the full moon took place on the 20th, so I didn't get a chance to observe it yesterday because I wasn't trying to find it.  Though perhaps it may have been too cloudy to find the moon last night.  I had been noticing the moon over the past few days - it was an early riser, showing up bright in the sky while the sun still occupied the same real estate.  I liked to imagine that the moon was courting the sun, but she left him hanging as she seductively disappeared over the horizon in her red dress.

Sometimes I just feel like writing romantically.  Anyone who knows me will know that the way I've been writing doesn't really coincide with the way I speak and act in real life.  Is this strange?  I sometimes wonder if I should act more "artistic" in person, because these thoughts always exist in my mind but I have trouble giving them words.  On the other hand I sometimes feel that I should consider writing more colloquially.  I used to do this more frequently in my older posts - I noticed in my stats that a few newer readers (I assume?) have been going back through archived posts which makes me feel simultaneously flattered and embarrassed - but have been feeling more artistically satisfied by the recent posts.

I used to feel very bashful about sharing my work, and now I don't feel so bad about it.  I think ultimately that is a good thing, as long as readers are enjoying the experience as well.  I write mostly for myself but I post these things ultimately for other people to read.  I've had conversations about whether this is a valid reason to be sharing my work or posting my blogs on social media... and I guess ultimately I don't care much either way.  I'm just going to keep sharing things and hope that at least one person in the blogosphere enjoys the experience of reading my thoughts and my words.  Because to be frank, I enjoy writing it and sharing it.  I guess there is one anonymous person who likes to send me encouragement, and who I presume does enjoy my writing, who is really super awesome even though I have had a weird fixation on figuring out who it is. Potentially there will be a post dedicated to this anonymous commenter in the near future.  Thanks, person!

On that note, some new words for you, whoever you may be.

Up in that tree in his manmade perch a medium-sized osprey displays its wingspan and hollers a warning for us to take our canoes and go.  A dragonfly, that presumptuous entitled asshole, uses my knee as a resting point, as though his bug eyes and phallus of a body gives him priority over the real estate of my skin, although I might admit that on days like this I do tend to give the sun preferential treatment, inviting her into my pores even as my epidermis sizzles into a pinkish medium rare.  I try and imagine the way my naked torso would sink into the shifting lake's floor even as I realize that thousands of things have pooped right where I'm standing.  Still if I could fold this afternoon into an envelope and mail it to myself on the loneliest day of winter, I would in a fidgety heartbeat.  I can't, though, so the best I can do is slow the shutter speed on my retinas and pray for this to be the longest moment in recent memory.

A tomato love poem, co-written by Mr. Nathan Heck:


Haiku time:
you roll all your r's
even with your heritage,
that germanic lisp

And here is a shaky start to a series of poems I am thinking of writing, inspired in vague part by an old friend's inclination for posting Missed Connections (although his content differs vastly from what I'm thinking about).  These initial efforts feel a little poorly conceived but I will share then anyway because I am nothing if not brave?  (this isn't really true)

W4M - overage drinking

you bedazzled your macbook
and left an earbud casually
hanging round your neck
maybe so your flip flopped
feet could hear some tunes.
you attempted to be nonchalant
but your tucked-in shirt
and fidgeting hands
betrayed you.  I bet your
daughter looks a lot
like me.

M4W - coffee shop vandalism

You stole my Americano
and dressed it up when
I would have drunk it
black. I really don't enjoy
sugar but it seems like
cream could be okay.
I watched you sip my
drink even as your real one
dripped in my hands
and I think your lipstick
all smeared on my cup
was the most disgusting-
ly beautiful sight of my
afternoon to date.

M4W - toddler romance at rehearsal dinner

you wore a frilly white thing
 i wore a bowtie
& a slicked-back side
part.  you rested on your mama's
hip, your long eyelashes
all wet with dew.  little
lips circled around your thumb
with its red painted nail polish
and sucked, like there was
nothing else left in the world
to suck.  i liked that.

I do feel a little creeped out by the latter poem, the original of which is lost to Braise garbage history.  The concept is to create missed connections between unlikely subjects, though the first two were based on actual people and observations while sitting in a cafe the other day.

In other news, I am on the last page of my rainbow notebook [but left my new notebook in my parents' van... oh noes!] so I have to write something in there and make sure it's good.  I'll let you know.

15 August 2013

boxers, beards, battlestar galactica (?)


if it really matters, i prefer briefs
to boxers, which leave everything
to the imagination & cannot abide
that hideous hybrid of the two
that sags over your manly bits but clamps
your chicken thighs like sausage casings.
white briefs recall twelve-year-old
locker rooms so best to stick to darker hues
even if they downplay your girth,
not that i've thought much about girth.

if i’m being honest, i like a man
with scruff who manages not to be
abrasive like a scrub pad but rather gentle
with a touch of masculinity, scratchy
facial hair framing soft lips that smile
when they kiss me goodnight,
and they do kiss me goodnight.

if you want to know, it’s not that i want
to be rescued or even taken care of,
just to be looked at sometimes in that
i-think-you-are-the-most way,
as mostly i think of things that way.

I wasn't going to share this as it felt quasi personal or inappropriate but I like it so much that I did.  This happens to be the edited version.  Wrote this poem late last night in a food coma when words came into my mind and exited through my fingertips.  These are the best moments because I feel ideas flowing through me like energy and I might even consider calling myself a poet.  

I've also written fiction; a piece of my fiction published in furrow is now up on their website for any interested parties.  As I read the piece further and as it's become indelible in publication, I become less and less happy with it, though I haven't been much of a fiction writer recently.  I'm hoping to edit one of my less creepy stories and submit it for publication elsewhere, though new stories haven't found me in a while.

09 August 2013

you, yes, you make me ____

Perhaps inspired by my previous post regarding singing, I spent the majority of my day off today making music in my little office/den space.  I call these days Piano Days when all I want is to lock myself in my parents' windowed room with my beautiful Yamaha and my voice as loud, angry, or delicate as I feel.  Sometimes this is the only thing that makes me feel human, and it's excruciating because all I have here is an apartment with paper-thin walls, a keyboard that doesn't even have all the octaves so crucial for rounding out Chopin nocturnes and showtunes, and a ukulele that is still the master of me, refusing to hold its tuning as I play.

Even so, at times (like today) this urge takes a hold of me and I feel as though I will literally tear apart if I don't at least try to fulfill it.  So, I did.  Some of you might be aware that I have a Youtube account, and up until today I never posted anything on it.  This is due in large part to the fact that I mightily resist the idea of just recording myself singing into a camera for the sole purpose of other people watching it.  I tend to crack under scrutiny and make weird faces when I sing or play.  However for some reason today I felt magical and wanted to capture it for posterity.  I'm not going to post new videos very often and when I do it will likely be unannounced, but for those who are interested, the link is here.  Quality isn't great.  That is all.

Another thing I wanted to share is that I think I overdosed on caffeine yesterday.  As a result of that I went out and wandered the downtown/Third Ward area of Milwaukee and wrote a million things about my thoughts and observations.  The remainder of this entry will consist of those things.

I took the bus to the coffee shop on a Thursday to see what I could see about the day and its particulars.  The man in the blue shirt and striped tie looked important with his papers but I caught him in a staring contest with a little bird who wanted something to nibble on, and it made me smile even as the sun turned my ear red with heat.  As it turns out, sparrows rather enjoy pumpkin bread.  The little bird hopped away with my crumbs in his beak.  His head bobbed up and down so rapidly like a stop-motion film.  I wondered briefly if he was even a real bird.  Even birds get itchy sometimes, but my empathy made them think we were friends.


It's perfectly natural to cry in the morning is what I told myself although the caffeine heartbeats begged to disagree.  A train grumbles on the nearby tracks and I think it sounds like rain murmuring dissent but then again it could just be the sound my brain makes after too much coffee or the pain in my lonely fingers that haven't played a piano in 1 2 3 4 5 6 months.

I put on lipstick so I could write a song and so many words came out but when I moved my mouth in time with the beat I felt the Royal Red drooping wetly like a sad clown.


I hope I never write words to fill up space although ultimately, that is what my thoughts tend to do - take up residency in my brain and corporealize onto lines of paper previously blank, now occupied with words.

I wander the afternoon dancing between the minutes, seeking out the light and slipping through the shadows as the sun sags into the horizon, drooping faster every day as though she gets tired of seeing our faces for so long.


Perhaps drinking this much caffeine is imperative to staying bubbly and creating thoughts although finding a muse had a decidedly less frantic effect.  Affecting a persona of introspection and forward looking really did a number on my mental output; this artificially inseminated product of my brain and caffeine may tend to lack real meaning although if I'm being truthful any words and thoughts are superior to the lack of productivity that comes with turning myself off and surrendering to my non-life-threatening addiction.  Although I might admit that my life is indeed threatened because in my reluctance to face certain excruciating truths I am endangering my ability to lead a happy and fulfilling existence.

It's perfectly natural to cry in the afternoon when someone calls you "favorite" and the breeze aggravates your tear ducts even if you are so content.  I wonder if a squirrel in the city lives in constant fear or is it something more like curiosity and amusement?  I know I've drunk too much coffee because my heart is racing and my hands are shaky but then again it could just be nerves and a touch of hunger.


It's easy to miss the beautiful things when you don't make time to experience them in the first place.  I'm not sure how it happened but something broke my spirit and I'm having a terrible time of mending it, though in some moments I feel like I'm coming close.

"and in this moment, I swear we are infinite"
-Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Incidentally I just finished said book which is rather beautiful, I hadn't read it before, and now I am onto The Fault in Our Stars which is also proving to be stimulating.  I am being asked nonverbally to turn off the light and let my parents sleep in their hotel room, but I want to post this tonight for someone's enjoyment.

07 August 2013

word drought at sunrise

The last few weeks have been extraordinarily busy, and in that whirlwind of obligation I seem to have lost that inspiration I found a few weeks ago.  It is even hard to get past these first few sentences.

The cause of my morning insomnia... the eater of all food and occupant of all boxes.
I'm awake early this morning, because young Stuart so kindly insisted on eating my hair until I woke up enough to feed him properly.At which point I remembered that in my bleary haze last night I made a mistake uploading something to the Shepherd Express website.  Thankfully someone seems to have caught the mistake, and fixed it for me, which is swell.  But now my computer is open and my lights are on, and pre-dawn has always seemed like a lovely time to write.

It is cloudy and still dark outside, but I don't think it will rain.  I wondered what time the sun would rise today, and on a whim I googled it.  It turns out that right now, this exact minute is the time that the sun is supposed to rise.  I might search for it in the turbulent sea that is the sky.

I like to sing myself through tedious tasks, softly, just above my breath so that someone could eavesdrop, but never be quite sure of the melody so he can't bring it up directly.  Unless of course I am in my own space, more consciously able to inhabit my voice without that pesky bashfulness covering it all up.

I think the kitchen guys at work must think I'm crazy because I'm always singing to myself, particularly when I am closing up the barista station.  I don't know if they can hear me or if they tune it out.  I just like to sing, sometimes more than I like doing anything else.  Singing is the one thing that can take my mood and turn it upside down or right side up.

So I will be singing a lot through these next few weeks.  I am on a mission to reclaim that inspiration, that muse that flickered in and out of my consciousness not so long ago.  I like myself far better when I am creating, and right now I feel unable to create though I have had the time.  Just lacking the energy.

Thank you, my lovely reader.  As always, you make my day by reading.  Hopefully more words to come soon.

02 August 2013

long hair, don't care

The blankets crawl over my skin and my legs try to grow longer and my brain is a melted marshmallow.  If I turned off the light I might glow in the dark but my handwriting would be terrible.

Usually I like the things that I write before I fall asleep the best.

I've got this little rainbow notebook in which I capture all of my thoughts and artsy-type writings.  There are some things in there that have yet to be released to the world, so here is a little something for you to read with your breakfast (or lunch or dinner, for the early risers and those who are not tethered to the internet at all times like I tend to be).  It's a weird little micro-fiction I wrote a few years ago.  Bah.

Pitfalls of the Bob

Just a little off the shoulders, and a soft bang.  Nothing too short, and easy on the layers - but definitely a change.  She just wants something a little different.  Just a cute bob to accompany the change in season.  She leaves the salon with the breeze behind her.  At home she's all optimism and renewed determination; today is going to be the day her life changes.  She runs a hand through her freshly shorn hair - stylish, with a sense of new purpose, she thinks - each strand a resolution toward change, toward progress, toward a Bigger and Better Future.

Her new, whimsical bangs inspire her to do responsible things, like washing and drying the backed-up dishes, reorganizing the closet.  She makes sandwiches for lunch - she Eats Lunch!  Dinner is on the table and planned for the next week and a half, all before 5:00 pm.

Isn't this new haircut great?  She shouts it from the rooftops.  He is relieved to see her smiling again.  The two join in a passionate embrace, pot roast forgotten in their impulse.  The night closes in a whirlwind of emotion, and just before she sleeps, she thinks, why didn't I think of cutting my hair before?

She wakes up.  The sideswept bangs, just yesterday so daring and lovely, now sit at right angles, disheveled in sleep.  This side is shorter than that.  And with horror she realizes this cut, the cut she gets every time she wants to change her life on a whim, does not suit her at all.

Life moves on, dishes pile up, hair grows longer until it's just passed the point that she can recall the pitfalls of the bob.  Suddenly she has just the idea to turn her thoroughly depressing life around: maybe she should get a haircut.

I got this piece stuck in my brain a while ago.  Clearly there are some autobiographical elements to it.  I wrote it out and then couldn't do anything with it, so it just sat in my journal.  And now here it is for you.  I haven't cut my hair in a long time, but reading this really makes me want to go out and get a cute short haircut.  Alas, I won't because I am fervently trying to grow this beast of a mane out.  Every time I cut my hair I always really regret it afterwards, so I keep having to remind myself of that.

But sometimes it's really fun to have a new look, a new perspective, a new lease on life.

Superficial things aren't that important to the way I live my life, and that is the thing I really need to remember.  A clown is still just a frowning person even with a big painted grin.

01 August 2013

creation fixation contemplation

I have a tendency to become hyperfocused on particular things.  For example, today I created a list of things I wanted to accomplish - boring things like washing dishes and going to the bank, things like that.  But I became intent on two items that were not on that list: writing a blog, and eating sushi.  I have not yet done either of those things, though as you can tell the blog is in progress.  But more often the things I fixate on are feelings or ideas, some of them positive, some not so much.

When I was in Spain, one of the things that I learned contribute to effective and connective writing is the use of what Bensko called "obsessive images."  My obsessive image as of recently has been the moon, something I've always incorporated into my writing, but also just something I tend to think about and notice a lot.  When the moon is particularly beautiful, I find that more often than not I am inspired to write something.  Perhaps it is something about that image of the moon, and other times it is completely unrelated.

This photo was taken during my last round of nature writings... I thought the perspective to be particularly fitting.  I felt very small compare to the rest of the world around me.
I always love the way the sunset colors the buildings, especially against the backdrop of a stormy sky.  This is another of my obsessive images.  I have yet to write about it.

What I've sort of determined from this tendency to obsess over certain things (besides the fact that I may have a mental disorder) is that perhaps these obsessive images are in fact my muses.  My oblivious, unwilling muses.  This potentially explains my tendency to wax nostalgic over particular emotions or situations that are long past.  I tend to zero in on the way some combination of words, social situations, or images made me feel, and endeavor to recreate that feeling with my writing.

The flip side of this is that I do tend to obsess over negative things too, at which point I am essentially unable to produce anything, either in writing or in my actual life.

I am not sure if this fixation on things that exist in my past is really healthy, whether positive or negative in nature, because I tend to dwell on things that no longer exist, and sort of resist the present.  I certainly feel a lot happier and more productive when I am inspired to write and create, but if there is a cost of not actively participating in life in the present, I wonder if it's really okay.

Not sure where I am going with this.  I guess I will leave you with some words I wrote about riding my broken bike at dawn on a particularly happy morning.

ravenous, the wind nibbles my earlobes, devours my naked
upper arms - summer frostbite
I breathe in quick bursts through my morning mouth
the sun, a bleary waking haze
thinks about her to-do-list
just before remembering her potential
to light up our little corner of the world
for the next while.
riding a mountain bike for a kid
through the sunrising city is better
than riding a bike that goes nowhere
but behind the couch
wheels squawk & wobble & hum
in protest between me
and the broken pavement
and my muscles threaten mutiny
but if I stop I think the world will swallow me whole 
so I pedal pedal pedal painstakingly up the incline
until it falls back down
and things become
a bit easier.

And here are some pictures of inspiration, because my blogs never have enough pictures...

A mini library on my 2nd Street walk.  There weren't any books inside, which I liked because I thought that meant people had taken them all.  I am going to bring some books of my own to put in, and see if they get taken.

I might be a bit of a poseur with my ukulele at the moment.  I want to learn to play it better because the sounds of the strings make me feel bubbly.

And some more words, just because:

The concrete and gravel turn the sky grey and the sun's an anemic pat of butter.  Behind the seagulls, the thrum of highway traffic and train tracks bore into my mind until all I hear is noise not natural.  The sound of an engine is far less pleasant than the wind in the grass or raindrops dancing on the pavement.  Should I sit like a lady?  How do ladies sit.  I'll rest my head in my hand and my heel on a chair and write the world's story in a candy cane dress.  Everyone sits inside a silent brick building drinking coffee and creating a faux "social network."  They give me startled looks when they see me at a table outside but it's lovely weather for a written word or two.  And even in this concrete jungle there's so much more beauty to take in and to learn about - now in HD/3D/RealD - than could ever be truly experienced through pixels.
--
A distant train whistle floats in on the after midnight breeze and the way the world sounds, the way the night blows against my skin reminds me of a feeling, or a time when love and life were uncomplicated by reality.

Blah, blah.  I haven't actually written in a while.  Those negative thoughts have been more prominent lately, despite some good news coming in.  Speaking of which, please do check out my most recent article for the Shepherd Express about the Colectivo rebranding.  I'm really proud of it.  Secondly, I'm going to be a contributing writer for OnstageMagazine.com, so I'll keep you posted.  Currently I'm listening to India Arie in anticipation of my first concert this Saturday.

The latest bit of good news to arrive... I have officially graduated, and with a higher GPA than I thought!  Yay.

As always, thanks for reading.  You are wonderful.