Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Seeking:

An employer which allows me to work part-time, flexible hours. Somewhere that lets me put in my headphones when I've had enough of people. A job that keeps my mind free to be creative: a place that doesn't clog me with pettiness and politics. Must be near a good coffee shop. I will show up, log in so you know I'm "there," then immediately leave to get coffee every morning. It's cool though, I'll bring back some for the people I like.

A place that doesn't discriminate. No sexists and no sexual harassment, for god's sake. Also, speaking of god, a place that doesn't pray together or only hire Catholics. A place that doesn't discriminate against Muslims because they pray at certain hours of the day. A place that doesn't fire me for speaking up against injustices (because it's only a matter of time). A place that doesn't discourage friendships by forcing us back into our cubicles like cattle in stalls.

A place with cool ass people, a refrigerator, and plenty of parking. I offer a shoulder to cry on, jokes that go way too far, and unsolicited commentary on anything and everything. I'll send you my resume as a PDF, not that you need it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

adult camp

When I was a kid, I spent some babysitting money on Pringles and Snickers, but most of it I saved. I gave it to dad who put it in his safe and occasionally brought it out for me to count. Camp money. I spent the year adding $5s and $10s, looking forward to that week over the summer. The week of intense friendships. A week where I could shrug off my chores and obligations and just be.

On the last day of camp every summer, I signed the back of my friends' shirts with a Sharpie. The grass was always dewy, I remember.  "Keep in touch," we instructed. That week was life-changing. We would be friends forever. Until we weren't. We returned home, crying in our parents' sedans. We did the dishes, homework. We told our brothers and sisters about our week, but they didn't get it. Couldn't. You had to be there. I sent letters to my best friends from camp and they wrote me back. Pen pals. We stayed friends as long as we could, but real life and camp didn't have any crossover. We couldn't recreate camp. We lapsed back into our lives, unsure of which self was real.
That's what residency is like, but with life crossover. It's a week of intense friendship. There is constant camaraderie with people who get you, people like you. "Our tribe," we call it. We spend a lot of our time in lectures and readings in this conference room in the Lied Lodge. In the center of the room, above the fireplace is inscribed a quote by Thomas Jefferson: I never before knew the full value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write. read, and receive my company. 
 
We do just that. We eat jiggly eggs and we workshop each other's writing and we scribble notes during lectures. We laugh and we cry at readings. We get rowdy and obnoxious on the terrace with a lil vodka. All my best friends are there. Imagine writing your heart and sharing it with people and them doing the same. There is nothing like it, no greater vulnerability, no stronger bond. Like on the last day of camp, so many summers ago, I cried yesterday in the car ride home. I thought about Chad Christensen's poem: People cry in cars. The guy who holds the stop sign during road construction knows this. 

We will wash our laundry and unpack our suitcases and order our books and real life will slam its way in. Our cock tattoos are gone now, but we are bonded nonetheless.
 
Unlike camp, we come home, knowing we will do this again. We will send each other our writing, our hearts, and we will respond, delicately but honestly. We will be pen pals. We will write and we won't quit. Those kids I went to camp with were campers. But we are writers. We will never stop writing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

with joy and pride

Writing is hard.
Because it's lonely and draining.
Because it takes a long time to get it right, or right enough.
Because it is a discipline.

Because we're not getting paid. That makes people think it isn't that valuable. Because we are doing this with merely hope that one day it will be something that other people value.

So practically, writing gets pushed aside. Money-making ventures take priority. So I waitress and freelance. Those I do for money, but not with joy or pride.

Sometimes I think about all the time I'm spending working a job I don't love and I wince, but then I finger the dollar bills bulging in my pocket. And then I think of all the writing I might have done instead but didn't and I wince again. 

My kids are here and until a few weeks ago, I didn't leave them in someone else's care to write, because I felt guilty, and because that means not only does writing not make money, it also costs money.  But now I do. I'm spending money because writing isn't only something I do, it's something I love and I will throw money at the pursuit of happiness for the rest of my days.

I could write in the evenings, or on the weekends, but that's my only time when Steve isn't at work, that's our only time together, his only time to himself. I still do, but I feel guilty sometimes. I'm working on not feeling guilty.

Writing demands it.

And although it doesn't end with a paycheck, it does have other positive results. Like a clearer head, a happier mom and wife: one who laughs and dances in the hallways and sings because I am lighter, lifted, without my unsaid words weighing me down like an anchor. I remember that I am more than just a mom and a wife, that I have a craft and it is a gift and to squander it would be sadder even than that waitress apron I stuff into a cupboard because I can't bear the sight of it.

You can be a writer once you stop giving a fuck. Or once you start giving fucks about yourself.
With joy, and with pride. It's a pretty badass thing, if you think about it: writing yourself into your dream.  Selfish as fuck too, but that's writers for ya.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Do I still have what I carried east?

Most of it has disappeared.

I lost some flip flops in a lake once, when I was drunk. I walked barefoot to my car the next morning.

The car I drove here inmy first car, a black Saturn SC1I cried over as I sat with my husband at the Mazda dealership, trading it in for something more dependable.

My Abercrombie clothes were sent to Goodwill as I replaced them with slacks and sweater vests.

I sold my books to Half Price Books, the religious ones, at least, because I don't believe in God anymore.

My CDs are still here, but only because no one wants CDs any more. Stacie Orrico. Backstreet Boys. Joe Diffie (there's something women like about a pickup man).

And I still have my notebooks filled with poems. And a chapbook from my undergrad writing professor. I still have pictures. And a couple of camp T-shirts. A little remains, but mostly, what I carried east has blown away like dandelion seeds.

What remains reminds me of who I was.
And on the right days, when the wind doesn't blow, of who I still am.