So, This is a Nothing Post

Hi there, Reader.  Let me just say upfront that this is the third blog post I’ve typed up today.  I was working on one that got away from me & that I’m saving for another time.  I wrote another based off today’s Daily Prompt that I started hating halfway through.  But, I’m already signed into WordPress & my inner critic is demanding I put something up because its been nearly a week without a post.  So, here we are, this quiet little unnoticed section of the internet.

Y’know if this was a cafe or even just a little restaurant, I’d be staring out the window, people-watching & making notes in my journal.  Or, if we were together as friends, I’d recruit you into listening into the conversations around us, so we could pick apart the minutiae of strangers’ lives & maybe feel a little superior.  It’s really not even a challenge nowadays, though, because people conduct their entire lives through the cell phones for the most part & cell phones are so ubiquitous, people think its no thing to have arguments, discuss lab results, hire a landscaper, or tell a friend about their kids’ school problems all while standing a foot or two away from you.  Trust me, I work in a library, I know a lot of stuff about my patrons I shouldn’t.

Have you ever watched House of Games?  That’s a classic David Mamet movie that shows you just how easy it can be to deceive someone.  I would imagine in some ways it’s only gotten easier, while in other ways. . . I read an article a few years back about how pickpocketing has nearly died out as a way to scam people because wallets & their contents are quickly becoming redundant thanks to cell phones.  Although, I would imagine the surveillance panic about said devices has shifted things some.  Tides come & go, right?

Let me tell you a secret about writers.  Probably an unsurprising secret.  We’re the respectable voyeurs–or at the very least voyeurs who want to pretend that we’re respectable.  Everything we read, witness, overhear, suffer & otherwise choose to pay attention to & catalogue?  It’s all material for “The Piece”.  Or at least we tell ourselves that.  It’s all going to go into words somewhere, as we try to figure out why the hell writing makes sense to us & not to others.  Which is why I brought up House of Games earlier.  It’s all about wanting to observe, collect, & understand the layers of the world around us only to discover that what is some esoteric pursuit for us is life-and-death for another person.  It’s about a girl who wants to run with the bad boys.  It’s about intention, and action, & Ricky Jay’s ridiculous Southwestern jewelry.  You should totally watch it.

Well, I think I’ve probably wasted enough time.  I’m feeling less-than-terrible about not having written anything today.  It was nice talking to you for just a brief moment, here in the maelstrom of internet.  Hope to see you again.  I promise the next post will be at least somewhat more interesting.



Spread the Word

Over the past two months, an sneaky anonymous artist has been leaving small takeaways in the library where I work.  Typically, we’ll find a small plastic bag on the shelves filled with small magnets made from dichroic glass & a printed message inviting whoever finds them to take them & enjoy.  Patrons have found them too & in general, coming across the packets are a nice little unexpected surprise.  A disruption of craft & charitable feeling into a regular routine.

The whole experience has gotten me thinking about some of the more experimental writing prompts we undertook in my last year of Creative Writing at Mary Wash.  We students were encouraged to think of ways to get our stories in front of people: whether it was fliers we posted in the department hall, mini-books with flash fictions, postcards, or blogs.  The anonymous artists has inspired me to spread some found stories around my little town.  There’s even a sort of romantic element to the fact that we have a working rail station running through town & that anyone could come across my words.

But here’s where I trip myself up: thinking about what to write & to send out into the world.  I ask myself what I would want people to come across & the immediate response is, well, not my own words, maybe a bit of poetry or a collection of famous sayings.  Pardon me, self, but that is not the point of the exercise.  Then I think, oh well, I could root through something I’ve already polished, maybe pull out a snippet or two?  Again, self, this is about spontaneity, not a practiced recitation.  I mean, c’mon, you write a blog with entries you give not much though to.  You can’t think of anything?

The truth is, I can, but I’m nervous.  I work in a library in a small town.  I keep envisioning how one of the Libertarian regulars would react to finding my little anonymous work.  Or one of the homeschool moms.  Or what if one of my illiterate patrons came across it, realized there was nothing they understood, & threw it away.  Or or or or. . .

As you can see, dear Reader, this post is really just a way for me to talk myself into both the act of creating & the act of letting go control.  Because really, that’s the crux of any creative act & it is one I struggle with still.  But when the tension is resolved &, as a result, a stranger sees the world anew, something magical has truly happened.


Thoughts on Journaling

With the turn of the New Year so recently behind me & so many good intentions struggling to reach the top of my to-do list, there is something cathartic in writing the following: This time, I’ll be worse.  I’ll be late; I’ll be unorganized; I’ll be intemperate & I’ll be selfish.  After punishing myself for the last few days for being stuck in my old habits, it’s nice to have a temper tantrum, even if it is a written one.

I’ve noticed recently that I’m keeping two different types of journals.  One–a black plastic-covered volume with a succubus on the front–has all of my fond regrets, thoughtful frustrations & deeply-felt unhappinesses written out in cursive in a more eloquent, formal style than how I normally speak.  The other is a bright orange, laminated paper book labelled My Dysfunctions & contains lists of why I’ve decided to hate myself or anything else in terse, caustic, self-pitying language.

This is not the first time I’ve split my attentions or my types of writing across multiple pages.  (Case in point: you are here reading this public performance I stage for strangers & friends.)  Part of my would like to think that I’d have learned my lesson in the 25 years between my first journal & now.  I have constantly vowed to myself, “Ok, once I fill this one up, I’ll start the new one right.  Creative works, interesting dreams & mundane thoughts all put together in one journal, side-by-side like a sketchbook.”  But I never hold myself to it.  Instead, I put my detailed reading dissections in a huge green tome that gathers dust on my craft shelf, my creative seeds in a small portable two-way journal that stays in my purse, my actual drafts & workings in a leather bound book that lives in my secretary desk, my dreams in a dollar-store blank book with shitty, nearly-kindergarten-grade handwriting paper, & of course, the self-indulgent thoughts that are laid out in the two journals I mentioned above.

I go back & forth on why I spread my words all over the place.  Part of me likes have certain places for certain things, even when it takes more effort to maintain the order.  But also, journals have never been just places to purge one’s deepest emotions–at least to me.  Raised in a culture that valued written records & personal research, journals were held up as priceless documents that connected someone to another person in the past. & honestly, that sort of reasoning has not been unlike being told, as a kid, that God is always watching & judging every action & choice.  Someone else might pick up my journals & see my fights with my sisters?!  Or even worse, my secret crushes?!?!?!  No no no, hide the evidence, bury the key, no one is seeing these.  Not even because what they might read is that damaging, but because you can’t control your words anymore once they are rattling around another reader’s brain.  And I want to feel like my words are mine, even for a little while.

Maybe I’ll learn to loosen up in the future, maybe one day I’ll drop the protective act & have that great large integrated journal that’ll hold a more complete look into my perspective.  But I will say that I’ve held Nathaniel Hawthorne’s example of burning his own letters (& the copies he sent to his friends) throughout his life as a secret ambition.  I’ll be worse–I’ll be intemperate & selfish & no one will have any proof.


Message In a Bottle: Nov. 21, 2016

Dear Reader,

It’s been nearly a month since my last post so I’m sitting here now, trying to figure out what to say.  There have been a variety of reasons for not writing: the emotional American election, scrambling to finish up my Dante reading, my seasonal struggle to motivate myself, reading reading reading as a way to escape & also to find answers.  I’m trying to break the habit of sleeping in but setting my alarm early to get up & write.  I end up turning it off when it rings & crawling back into bed, trying to fall back asleep to the argument, ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow–I’ll be better tomorrow.’  And so giving myself a pass to not write at all today.  But, the page & the muse are always waiting, no matter how much I put it off, so here we are.

I’ve probably written before about how books are my shield & my barrier.  And in these last few weeks, I’d thought about just posting reading lists just as a way to communicate ‘here I am, this is my survival kit.’  But people don’t read books the same way that one does–not in a better or worse way necessarily, just different.  So the books I choose to pull close for comfort will not mean the same thing to you, as much as I’d like them too.  And with the high emotions running through my immediate family & community, I wonder if recommending something will even offend someone.  And that’s a hard thing to consider, for someone who works in a library.  It’s a hard thing to consider even as someone who’s read books that warn of the fading relevancy of text & writing.

Ok, maybe not follow that thought down it’s difficult track–at least not for the moment.  If this was a true message in a bottle, I would write you a story, something fantastical to come across & savor for the rest of the day so why don’t I try that.

I wake up dizzy in the mornings–sort of the reverse of that feeling you have sometimes when you’re falling asleep, like you’re falling off your bed but when you jerk yourself awake you’re flat on your back.  I’m bewildered in the morning, floating on the sunlight & the flannel sheets, trying to figure out where I am.  He is still asleep next to me, the details of his face sharp in the sun pooling on the pillow–fine eyelashes against his cheekbone, the faint freckles at his temple, the pulse in his jaw.  Risking upending myself completely, I roll onto my stomach to look out the window past the cat’s impatient tail as it keeps watch underneath the curtain.  Where I should see the house next door, all I see are trees & a bright horizon.  Our room sails over the tree tops, swaying gently & confidently to avoid larger limbs, toward a young, custard yellow sunrise.  Before there is time to panic, time to worry how this happened & how we can escape, all I can think is, “Well, at least that explains the dizziness.”


Message In a Bottle: Oct 24, 2016

I wanted to put up a post today but I really have no idea what to write.  But, considering that each time one sits down to write about their day & figure out what really on their mind, I find you actually end up capturing a moment in time, either for yourself or an unintended audience.  So, thinking of this post as a mini-message in a bottle, bobbing on the vast waves of the internet, I thought I’d give myself at least 10 minutes to write to the unsuspecting reader.

Continue reading “Message In a Bottle: Oct 24, 2016”