Monday, December 31, 2012


I am not one for New Year's Resolutions.  They just seem to be a set up for failure, which leads to self-beratement.  I gave those things up a long time ago.  As for that end of the year reflectiveness that many people get, I do that in July just before my birthday.  Yunno, when MY calendar year ticks over.  I have always been bad at herd mentality.

I decided to take a break from Women Writing for a Change this semester.  Lots of reasons for that.  I anticipate a busy spring at work.  Hoping we can coax my mom into the swank senior center nearby which means cleaning out her house and moving her and all the emotional fallout around that.  I have been working in a long format that isn't a good fit for the classes, and have been pressuring myself to write shorter pieces just for class.  When that fails, I have been dipping into the reject pile and recycling previous material.

But really all of those things are just excuses for what I am feeling, have been feeling for a long time.  I started at WWfaC in the fall of 2007.  I have done 17 consecutive semesters over the last five and half years.  I have loved every minute.  I love these women like family.  They ARE family.  My writing family.  It is here I found my voice.  It is here that I was finally supported enough to speak my truths - all of them.  It is here that I met Mary the writer.  I like her a lot.  I cannot speak highly enough about this circle, about the energy they spin of the vision they hold.

Earlier this year, I first began to have feelings of unsettledness.  I tried to pass it off as related to those other parts of my life, but that tasted a lie.  Those feelings of unsettledness progressed to distate.  For instance, there is a certain language used in class.  Lingo, just like there is in most jobs or hobbies.  That lingo began to annoy the shit out of me.  Every time a soul card was read that contained the word rich as a way to describe a shared reading, I felt like someone had removed my skull and scraped an industrial file across my grey matter - v.e.r.y.s.l.o.w.l.y.  Every time I heard someone talk about pieces they had heard and say they were rich or amazing or powerful I wanted to climb up on someone, beat them in the face while shouting "Gawddammit.  You're a writer.  Can't you find some other words?"

I found my  attention wavered during readarounds that lasted more than an hour and took to doodling in my notebook to compensate.  I have always been a doodler, but the last two semesters have seen some kind of marginally bound explosion of doodles.  I chastised myself for being such a poor component of the circle.  I stopped doing read back lines and blamed my introverted nature.  Which is kinda true, but not wholly to blame.  I pretty much stepped back from the circle as far as I could without stepping out.  And I faulted myself as the weak link.  This circle that other women cherish deeply, that I had cherished deeply, just felt like pinchy saddle shoes and I wanted out.

The thing that kept me in was small group, which is the work horse.  It is the place where MY writing was addressed, where other people's writing was laid bare and tinkered with.  It is a place of close association and it seemed I had finally landed in small groups that did not have the one person no one else could stand in them.  There is no screening, so everyone is welcome.  As a result I had done semesters with a seriously psychotic women, with someone who took passive aggressive behavior to a new all time high, with a mostly deaf 94 year old woman, with someone who wrote nothing but talked about her problems.  I had finally busted out of that pattern and things got amazing pretty quickly.  They remain amazing still and any second thoughts I have about this decision are based on the love for my small group members over the last couple years.

This year, I finally saw how bad it had gotten.  I never really bonded with the new member of my small group who was an amazing writer and it is my loss not to have done so.  I just kinda showed up and went through the motions.  I feel like I shortchanged the circle and, more importantly, I was shortchanging myself by insisting on continuing in the face of all those indications to step out.  The circle of WWfaC no longer contained me, it fenced me in with its lingo, with its rules, with its need for pretty (my perception here - but there is a leaning toward the pretty truth in the circle instead of the raw vulnerable truth).  There was nothing to do but opt out and see how things went without the crutch of the circle.  Would I write more?  Would I write at all?  Would I just walk away from writing?  All of those behaviors are in my MO.

So, what comes next?  I don't know.  I want to run back to the circle and fall back into the familiar.  But I know that it would just lead to more of the same.  I will miss them when they start back up in January and my chair is occupied by someone else.  But it will be OK.  I don't think this is forever, although I don't know that for truth.  And if it is, I am OK with that too.  Whatever is coming next clearly needs me not to be there, not to be snugged up in the nest but out testing my wings.

I know the nest will always be there.  This semester has to be about flying.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Going Somewhere?

Photo is the Blue Train South Africa

Lately during my meditation/journeys I have found myself on a train.  Not a bullet train or even modern Amtrak trains, but a 1940’s passenger train.  I blame the continuous loop of White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life for part of this.  At this time of year, I fall deeply and madly in love with both Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby.  Sigh…..

Back to the train thing.  I almost always find myself in the club car surrounded by interesting people of all sorts dressed in 1940’s clothing, sipping martinis and manhattans.  The only thing absent is the smoking.  The club car is a roving erudite party.  Gandhi gives haircare advice to Jack Sparrow.  Kerouac paces the length of the car reciting obscenely fine poetry.  Barbra McClintock sitting in the corner with Stephen King telling him stories about jumping genes.  Thomas Jefferson chats up Kandinsky regarding color.  My friends are there too.  Fabeku is wearing a fantastic zoot suit and holding court in the spacious corner booth with Joey and Gaga like always.  Sherry is dancing atop a table for her Hump Island faves.  My forever small group has invoked the cone of silence to assure privacy.  Sno' is discussing treasure hiding strategies with Blackbeard (who looks an awful lot like Keith Richards in PoC). The low thrum of conversation and the rhythm of the wheels is exciting.  Sometimes there is a loud guffawing from one group or another that rises above it all.  In that moment, people stop, smile and then it collapses back into that steady exhilarating thrum.  The train rarely stops, but when it does people exit and enter with little fanfare.  daVinci and Marilyn get off, MLK and Eminem get on.  So it goes.

I stand there pondering the new passengers, wondering why the old ones left, where they have gone and why.  Kerouac sees me noticing, stops pacing for a moment as he leans over and whispers “We all get where we need to go on this train.”  Then he resumes his pacing and poetry. 

I am going through what appears to be another purge cycle in my life.  The last one happened about 12 years ago.  I quit drinking, lost all my friends, spent some time feeling really really sorry for myself for what I lost.  When I finally stopped that silliness, I met an amazing person in that empty space I had created.  I met ME.  Things only got better from there. 

So once again habits, friends, family members, projects I once loved are disembarking from my club car.  I can’t get too caught up in the why of it.  People get what they need from a relationship or they don’t.  They move on for reasons wholly their own that have little to do with me.  There is no hard feeling in this, in fact there is quite a bit of love toward them, and I have learned that the little achy place their absence creates will soon be filled with something/someone else if I let it.  If I obsess about it then not only does the new thing not come in, but I tie this person or thing to myself that wants/needs to move on.  That’s an energetic booboo that will need fixed later on. 

Many friends have ducked out.  I feel like a move is coming, even though that is the LAST thing I want to do.  The poetry book stalled out and like Icarus seems doomed to crash and burn on melted wings.  I keep hoping for a reprieve.  But then Kerouac slips his arm around me and whispers in my ear “Does it matter?” and I know that it doesn’t – not really - and that someday soon, this disjointedness will feel as comforting as the rocking train motion in my club car.  

Now, excuse me while I slip into something slinky, silken and white.  I see Bing and Jimmy sitting in a booth waiting on me.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Beauty Experiment

I have been thinking about this since yesterday morning, rearranging things in my mind's attic trying to find the end to the tangled thread of thoughts around this subject.  I never did find it, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

First of all I am a fat woman in Middle America.  I watch Project Runway.  I see Vogue.  I have endured some time on  So trust me, the cultural notion of beauty is familiar to me.  I know I look nothing like the women our culture deem beautiful.  I also know that I AM beautiful.  Therefore, one of us must be wrong.

This is where science chica rears her sleep-filled vacation head and mutter something about doing an experiment to see which view is correct.  Then she falls back into the pillow face first and returns to making her soft snorgeling sounds.

What a wonderful idea!

Any experiment begins with a hypothesis

I hypothesize that beauty is common, that it is everywhere and that we step over or rush past a million breath-taking things every day.

Next comes data collection that refutes or supports my hypothesis.

So my goal for January is to find one thing every day that I find beautiful and post it here.  Could be a thought or a photo or a joke.  I may not hit every day.  The goal here is to try to document things that I find beautiful.  You won't find a single supermodel on the list.  Yes, they are beautiful, but they are NOT the only form that beauty takes in the world.  I want my eyes to stop singularly focusing on one kind of beauty.

I blame this small holly bush for the whole shebang.  It was sitting in front of the bank where I had to shell out a large chunk of change to pay my county taxes.  Hence, I was not in a stellar mood.  This little bush stopped me in my tracks.  The roof melt had over dripped the gutter onto this small bush encasing it in ice.  It was the perfect winter storm of red and green and transparent ice.  I stood there photographing it while customers came in and out of the bank.  Most glared at the crazy woman standing in the cold with her iPhone out taking pictures of a bush, but one older gentleman stopped next to me, looked at the bush I was photographing and whispered conspiratorially "It really is quite lovely."

I wanted to hug him, invite him to tea and do an impromptu waltz right there in the snow in front of this staid suburban bank.  Instead I smiled up at him and told him he had a good eye.

When I walked into the bank, I wasn't miffed anymore.  I was lightly happy.  All because of a little ice covered shrub with red berries.  A little shrub did that.  Giselle Bundchen never did that for me.  Not even close.  The cool thing is that I will never see this little holly bush that I don't remember how beautiful it was on this one day.

And it will just make me smile.

Oh.....and feel free to add your own beauty observations in the comments.  A good experiment is always made better by more data.  Especially when sampling biologicals.  And Honey, we ARE some biologicals.

Friday, December 28, 2012

BuhBye Hater!

I have been away from the blog for a while.  Many reasons for that.  Busy with my mom who has Alzheimers, busy trying to meet a grant deadline at work, blog stalker.

Mostly the desire to continue to put bits and pieces of myself out there kinda waffled for a minute.  Waffled, but it didn't topple.

I know there are like a billion blogs out there, some of which are incredible.  Chances of someone picking up this blog and reading it are therefore pretty slim.  Blogging seems an overused and kinda dying medium for those reasons.  Everyone I know has a blog, after poking around in them I'd say about 90% of them probably shouldn't.  I'm just sayin.

I realized that the blog, like every other bit of writing, is NOT for you people who read it.  If you like it great!  If you hate it GREAT!  (Great and move along please.  Don't just stand still and be a hater).  The words in here are for me mostly.  I know that flies in the face of everything we're told as writers about audience etc.  But fuck it.  Why would I write just to please someone else's taste.  Why do I care if you "get" it.  Not my problem.  Besides, where is the joy in that?

The joy is in having the words fly faster than I can type.
It's in having the characters do something I never knew they would.
The joy is in finding a single word that sits perfectly in a poem.
The joy is in between the lines.
It's in the seamless flow of ink, words looped and slashed on paper breaking the still whiteness.

That joy is mine alone.

I tried like hell to get rid of the blog stalker.  Mostly these days, I'm in kind of a FUCK YOU mood toward this person.  I don't know how I hit your radar, but point your aluminum foil covered head in some other direction and keep your hate-filled eyes off my page.  There is no place for you here.

BuhBye Hater!

More Than My Sign

Stephanie's Hawtness (
What follows is a five minute rant/fast write re: astrological pigeonholing.

I have had a few friends who studied astrology in depth (and some who haven't but pretend to more knowledge of the subject than they posses).  More power to them.  I actually kinda like having someone plugged into the heavens around me.  It can be annoying to have them chart and re-chart things looking for optimal alignments for ev-e-ry-thiiiing.  What I don't like, and what is way more than a pet peeve of mine is how they will toss off things I do/say in a dismissive way with "Well, you're a Cancer" as if that explains my entire being.


It even pisses me off to type it.  It is so reductionist in its thinking.  And the girl hates reductionist ANYTHING!  It makes me literally spit (wipes off monitor).  People are rich and layered beings, or so they seem to my eyes.  I will admit some only have one or two layers, but those scant depths work for them.  I like to think of myself as a very layered and deep being, unable to be pigeonholed into an archetype that also contains roughly 1/12 the total population of the world, over half a BILLION people.  Like there are only twelve cosmic cookie cutters for humanity and you must forever be known as the Crab Tribe and behave according to carefully prescribed tenets so that the weak minded and dull can take you in in a single go.  That alone makes me feel rebellious.  Where is the concept of free will in that?

I will admit some of those descriptions are sometimes me - hedonist (check), intuitive (check), introvert (check), hard-shelled (chekeroo).  But other traits - not happenin.  I am NOT overly nuturing.  I can be nurturing, but too much of it giving or receiving annoys the fuck outta me.  I am not a homebody.  Puhleeeease.  I spend so little time in that place, it sometimes seems wasteful to pay for it.  I am not a nesting, cooking, cleaning Betty of a woman.  I will admit to a soft gooey center under the hard shell, but if you tell anyone, I will kick your ass.

I like to think that the heavens influence us.  That the alignment of stars at the time of your birth influence certain traits.  That maybe we choose the time of our birth to learn from it while we are here, to augment what we already know, and ultimately to overcome it.  Maybe that is why those preaching reductionist rhetoric annoy me so.  I may be part of the Crab Tribe by birth, but I, and I alone, choose my actions.

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...