Tuesday, October 30, 2012

so long, october.

The grey, it's here. Shoved in by disaster of a natural kind. I type it in various correspondence this week: nature is king. Leaves accumulate on my living room floor, their wet bodies unhinging from my boots. I count the months as they fly like lines in the road beneath me. I can't keep up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

good ol clumsy pete

"Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence. Pete fell off so who was left?"
(deep breath) "Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence..."

It's one of the most annoying jokes I can remember from childhood. Still I had a soft spot for it, and now it's a weird comfort as well as an annoyance--this is kind of what life starts to feel like. Just Pete and Repeat, sitting on a fence. Pete with the shittiest balance known to man.

I picked up my manuscript and paged through it for the first time in nearly two months. Mind you that distance was on purpose and necessary, and of course I'm thankful for it. But you know. Time is so ridiculous. Now I want to tear it apart again. Stitch this, hack away that, shove bits of it in the back of a drawer or under the bed--away from any witness. Encore becomes the album, entire thing needing surgery. Am I back at square one?

Then Pete slides off the post.

This entire process is fascinating to me. I am, once again, rewriting poems that I could've sworn were done forever and always. Paul Valery said "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." A quote that ties me conflicted when I think about my work. I will look at a piece and wonder: is this what I have to say? Is this how I need to say it? Some will find ways to change while maintaining the exact crookedness of the original skeleton. Framework there, limbs spinning different.

Doing what you love is never done. Did Repeat whisper this to Pete when he climbed back to perch? Does that mean Pete loved falling off the fence? Does that infer that I love the scroll of drafts stretching out behind me, that this madness of process is my exact source of fuel?

Yep. I'll take the rewrites and late nights of line sharpening. Gotta take the rejections and victories too(trying as hard as I can to celebrate every step of this damn waltz). It's never going to be done but that's kind of why I have to keep going to begin with. I will keep immersing myself and frustrating myself and giving the mirror and pen pep talks. Do. Not. Stop. Like the cake walk. It's in a circle, repetitive til the music stops but guess what? THERE'S CAKE.

Monday, October 8, 2012

old 97s

I first heard this song in high school. I played it on repeat. I closed my eyes and wrote to it. Something, undoubtedly, resonated with me. I could actually visualize my departure when I listened to it--from future things, mostly the small town I lived in.

It held my heart when called upon--I played the song after more than one heartbreak and felt better and more understanding of what doesn't last.

So perhaps it's a given that I think of it immediately after learning of an old friend's relocation to Florida. A little sad that I may not see them for a longer while, but moreso surprised and wildly happy for them. I get bewildered by time and objects in motion. This tangle of reaction and feeling is becoming familiar. Not in the sense that I will ever get used to it(I can't)--it is becoming more often. It is appearing around more corners. This is age this is time this is life. This is us. This is a span of existence and all that you witness within it--this is change. If nothing changes, nothing changes. And there are too many brilliant moments to chain ourselves to just one forever and only. Change and redirection happen all the time but man...sometimes shit happens where you really notice it. Especially, it seems, with departure.

Couple this with driving back to Pittsburgh today after a weekend in Ohio and here I am hitting play on a song that I've played so many times for damn near fifteen years at this point. One that still reminds me of leaving and gives me reassurance about, I guess, change. Part of that is wild to me. Absolutely wild. Most of me knows that I'll most definitely be playing/singing this song under my breath again some handful of years down the road when my aorta skins its knee again or another migration reveals itself. Shit, that's music for you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


me, age seventeen

I thought I was ugly. A teenage girl with misbehaved hair and thick eyebrows straight from her father's face. I thought I was strange-looking and cried about it out of frustration and envy. I flipped through magazines and seethed at perfect teeth. I felt awkward around the popular girls and envied the straight hair, expensive wardrobes, tiny mouths and upturned noses. That strange american standard of what is beautiful and accepted. For years I dodged cameras. If I did see a photo of myself I would often be horrified. When we received our school pictures, I flipped mine upside down on my desk immediately. I did not look at them until I was alone or at home so that I could inspect them in peace.

Among friends these things were not discussed. I was confused about my appearance to others vs. my appearance in pictures vs. my appearance of myself. I could not connect them, and so they remained separate for a while. I do not know where such a strange thing begins, that loathing of the self. As a kid, it was a lie to dive into. In retrospect AND reality it simply wasn't the truth.

senior picture. thrift store shirt, hemp necklace, sun-in.

I dated and maintained A's and lived & died for sports. I didn't act like a lump on a log, didn't scurry about with nervous hands in front of my face. I was simultaneously scared and intrigued by my reflection. There was a disconnect, a long distance string between the me staring back and the me I was in, the body running piles of miles every week for cross country, owner of a hand that flickers with joy across paper.

Why write this? Why share such a personal, kind of embarrassing thing? I don't know...why not? Because the other day I was looking through pictures(from long ago, ones I keep in a box, can hold with my hands). Those images surprise me in a different way now. I can look at an image of myself and remember how awful I felt, how certain I was when it was snapped that I would look like a monster. I look at it now and recall that disconnect. I look and see youth, I look and see before. There is no monster. How did I see a monster? Are we really so cruel to ourselves, even in strange times like high school? The mind is a peculiar and convincing thing. "...Thinking makes it so." Even in thought there is routine, and in routine there is habit. Habit becomes comfort, and that's where we are poured into the looking glass.

I cannot go back and rewrite it--I doubt I would if I could anyway. I graduated, grew up, left town. Victories and mistakes. Reassurance came from not disappearing, from survival. Basic things made me feel beautiful, and feeling beautiful meant that I was inspired. A pair of hands holding my face, a poem released, reading in bed. I learned to connect. I learned to tug in that long distance string and cross stitch self to self. I learned to not fear my reflection. And to that me back then I say you did your best. I say I'm in your corner. I say you are inspired. And that, dear self, is stunning.