Tuesday, October 24, 2017

why i write


I am overwhelmed sometimes and feel a great deal of wonder at words, just simple words and how deeply we can touch each other with them, though I know that most of the time language is the most abused of all human abilities or traits. 

On the river a few weeks ago, we wrote about why we write.  Here's what I came up with:

I write as a way of wondering aloud about people. Who are we? Why do we act the way we do? What are the traits that connect us, the emotions that fuse us? Although we have such varied experiences, there is a universal humanity that we all share.

How do we move through the world in relation to other people?

We wouldn't be able to navigate completely alone, without those connections that sustain us.

I write to join in. To add to the conversation, sometimes by distracting it: by thinking of it differently, challenging why we are this way--imperfect and flawed. But are we, if there is no perfection, no pinnacle? We are only not good enough when measured against others we think to be better, only OK when measured against who we think to be worse.

There is no scale, no scoring.

We are people moving through the world in ways so differently they can divide us but with motives so identical they could connect us.

*

Writers often seem like loners. And we are, in social ways, a lot of times. But we write as a way to connect to people, to understand ourselves and the people around us. In that way, we are not loners. We just do our work alone.

We use language to fuse ourselves to other people.

But through stories from each other we can feel that we are not alone, that we are not the first and the last to confront loss.

*

All semester, I have been writing my own story. A self-indulgent past time, it feels. But it has been cleansing nonetheless, to say the words I hadn't, admit my faults, wonder aloud about my future.

I am wrapping up what I have to say about myself, but I am not done writing. I will finish out grad school writing fiction again, telling stories.
  
I often wish I had more to say, but somehow it comes out in a story. such as these. 


(Italicized quotes are Leslie Marmon Silko's, pulled from her letters to James Wright. They can be found in The Delicacy and Strength of Lace). 

Friday, October 20, 2017

fly in my coffee

I had plans today: clean the toy room, do the laundry, take the boys to the wildlife safari.

But instead of following them, I allowed spontaneity.

Today was one of the last nice days of the year, before the winter winds blow in, freeze us, coop us up. So we played outside, me and Holden still in our pajamas.

I read Annie Dillard, who is something like a naturalist and a scientist and a writer and a quiet thinker all rolled together. She is the queen bee of being present, of observing.

I put down my book and watched my boys as they played. I noticed what I usually don't: the way the wind ruffles Holden's hair, how in charge Brandon is. I watched a fly land on my leg then fly away, again and again.

Brandon brought out cheese and chips and we had an accidental picnic.

We lived the day as it wanted to be lived.

I drank around the fly in my coffee.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

hear us

Recently, spurred by Harvey Weinstein, women have been posting #metoo online to show how widespread sexual assault and harassment is.

I have not been assaulted, but I know so many women who have been.

I have been harassed, I guess you'd call it, but only with words.

Once, by my boss when I closed down the bar. I went into the office and said, "anything else you need me to do before I leave?" and he spun around in his swivel chair, his bald head shining under the florescent light and said, "you can suck my dick." Wordlessly, I left.

Another time, a co-worker from the Olive Garden came to my apartment between lunch and dinner shifts and while I was filling up Tucker's dog bowl, he said, "are we gonna have sex or what?" and when I looked up, his pants and his sailboat boxers were around his ankles, his arms outstretched. I chose the "or what" and drove him back to work. I never saw him again.

Both times, the men were not aggressive and I had an escape. I am one of the lucky ones.

I know from my friends who have been physically assaulted that the pain is deep and doesn't go away. I know that they feel they can't say anything or shouldn't. I know they feel like it's their fault even though it isn't. I know they feel helpless and afraid to ask for help.

I know I feel helpless, knowing this happens so often to so many. 

So what I'll do is everything I can to keep my boys from turning into demonic men who see women only as sexual objects. I will teach my boys that women are people with the same rights and liberties they have, with brains and humor and ambition. I will teach my boys to appreciate girls for who they are, not what they can offer. I will teach my boys to never use a position of power as a manipulation. I will teach my boys to be gentlemen, not depraved goons.

To the women who haven't had it as good as I have: every day you have been brave and courageous. You are beauty in the world, making it despite the ugliness.

To the women who have had it as good as I have: we are lucky and relatively unscathed but don't let that blind you to what is happening around us. Let us raise our sons to be better. Let us rally around women who haven't had it so easy. Let us teach our daughters they have a voice and we want to hear them.

We are women, hear us roar, howl, wail, and growl.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Q317 songs

Dark Side - Bishop Briggs
Habits of my Heart - Jaymes Young
Summertime Sadness - Lana Del Ray
White Lightning - The Cadillac Three
False Alarm - The Head and the Heart
Like I'm Gonna Lose You - Jasmine Thompson
No Diggity - Chet Faker
Bloodstream - Stateless
Sparks - Coldplay
The Night we Met -Lord Huron
Copycat - Billie Eilish
Dive - Ed Sheeran
Feel it Still - Portugal. The Man

Monday, October 2, 2017

writing on the river

This weekend I spent on the Missouri River, at a writer's retreat. A writer's retreat is a place full of artists, other tribe members. These retreats exist so we can be learn from each other, inspire one another, read, write, and watch the birds fly south overhead.
On the first night, we each wrote on three scraps of paper what we were leaving behind: a role, maybe, like mother or wife or job title. Or maybe it was grief or blockage or being a public figure or guilt or chores.
We dropped our scraps of paper into a jar and Karen screwed the lid on tight. We gave ourselves permission to focus on writing, to do writerly things.
We have to do this, give ourselves permission to focus on what doesn't pay bills and what doesn't serve anyone else (yet), but what is important because it fuels us, this exploration, how we find our place in the world.
Because then we go back to our lives and our roles, the ones that distract us from our writing but also give us something to write about, fuel us differently. We are finding our place, these misfits who write because we must, it's a current running through us.