Poetry

As usual, an idea (several ideas about different things) popped into my head while trying to fall asleep.  I assume this happens because it is the one time that I am not surrounded by either my children or technology such as the television or my 3DS.  I had this idea a while back, but at the time I dismissed it.  I have been thinking about self-publishing a book of poems.

When I was younger, like nine, I was assigned a poetry assignment titled “I am”.  The idea was to write a poem about who you are.  Write about the things you like, how you feel, your dreams for the future, whatever.  You were also supposed to create a book with a cover that you design with watercolors for your future poems.  I completed this assignment and for the next few years, placed typed, finished poems into this book.  I still have it after all these years.

Now a book of child’s poetry doesn’t sound like much, but it could be.  Remember when you were young?  Your ideas were so grand until life beat them into tiny cubes.  These poems have the perspective of a child.  Yes, they also have the skill of a child, but who’s to say that they were not artfully written?  What if we included later poems?  Wouldn’t that be interesting.  You could see the evolution of a writer, of a person.

My biggest concern–besides someone stealing this idea–is that poetry is often overlooked.  It is often shorter, seemingly simplistic depending on how much you rhyme and what words you’re rhyming with, but it can be more poignant, more insightful than the three hundred page novel.

Maybe this is just a crazy middle of the night thought, but maybe it’s the beginning of a great idea.

The challenge of writing

Obviously, I haven’t written much of anything in awhile.  I have excuses that sound like reasons when I’m feeling guilty.  I’ve been working, school started back up, the kids keep me busy, I’ve been job-hunting, whatever.  I recognize that when I’m watching The Wire with my husband, I could be writing instead of playing my DS.  If I can get homework done while my kids run around, I can probably get some writing done.  All of that is true, but it does not cover the biggest problem I’m having with writing: Honesty.

I’m realizing that I need to get down and dirty and write things that could make me uncomfortable.  One example is the book Beloved.  If you haven’t read the book, it’s worth it.  It’s a ghost story/fictional former slave narrative/fictionalized retelling of an event.  However you classify it, it’s unique.  It can also be awkward.  It’s got all the good stuff, sex and violence.  When I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think, there’s no way I could write this.  Okay, so don’t write that.  Simple enough answer, but I’d like to write with some depth.

The deepest, rawest thing I’ve got is my own life.  I grew up with a mentally ill father and now I have my own children.  There’s content there, but I’m scared to piss off the wrong people.  Besides, most people don’t care to read biographies unless they’re about celebrities, which I’m not.  What if I was though?  What if I became a celebrity?  It would open doors, but I’d feel the need to shutter my windows.

When I was younger, I was a classic example of “over-sharing”.  I still engage in TMI every once in a while, but after a relationship that encouraged me to keep to myself and discouraged me from… most everything, I confess I’m meeker than I once was.  They say, “once burned, twice shy”.  You could say that about me.  For the most part, I’ve stopped gossiping.  I don’t talk about my life as much any more and I definitely don’t share my true feelings about things or people, especially people.

I asked my husband the other night, how it is that people are comfortable being themselves even when they’re obnoxious.  I thought of Billy Eichner (whom I love!) and a friend of mine that can be very offensive.  I’m not offended, but I’m sure other people are.  They’re loud, obnoxious, and make snarky remarks or flagrant comments.  That’s part of why I love them.  Sometimes I think I’d like to be like them.  I know it won’t happen.  I was raised to be conscientious of everyone’s feelings.  My father stressed the importance of not bothering people.  When our house needed fixing, he’d wait until the last moment to go our landlord because he didn’t want to bother her.  We couldn’t go to a store within fifteen minutes of closing time (I wish my store’s customers felt the same way sometimes).  Now, if I receive the wrong food, I just eat it.  If I buy something that’s defective, I don’t usually return it.  It’s like Curb Your Enthusiasm: Don’t bother Larry.  I’m Larry’s mom.  Even if I’m dying, don’t bother Larry.

I’d like to break out of my shell, to be that person.  I thought trying new things or things that scare me would do it, but conveniently enough, I had work during a day of auditions for a play.  I couldn’t find any acting or singing classes that meet on Tuesdays or Thursdays when I’m already at school.  Most other events are Fridays when my husband has to stay late at work.  So far, the closest thing I’ve done to scare myself is to quit my job before I secured another one.  I have to say, it’s worked so far.  I’m terrified.  Truthfully, I even feel a little braver, a little more honest, and a little more like myself.  Today was the day I decided to share that.  Maybe tomorrow, I’ll risk the ire of my small ones and write something else.  Let’s be honest, I’ll probably just play my DS.

Sitting outside

Sitting outside

Rocking in this faux wooden chair

I want to cry and I don’t know why

A gentle breeze

blows through the trees

The yellows, reds, and greens

They rock with me

The orange leaves

They wave this way and that

Treetops sway to and fro

In a tender autumn dance

Azul sky splotched with wispy pillows

Shining in the afternoon sun

Sitting, rocking

Watching the world move around me

Waiting for me to move with it

Interesting things about writing

The other day I was feeling particularly enterprising so I did some reading for my Lit class and started writing a short story based around this feeling I had.  Every once in a while you have these days where you just want to pack a suitcase and run away from your life, a vacation from the day to day minutiae–or maybe that’s just me. 

I started thinking what my son, who is two, might think if he woke up one day and Mommy was gone.  Then I added a few years to the character’s age in the story, more like my daughter’s, so his theories could be fanciful,  but also comprehensible.  I ended up getting fixated on the idea of Mommy going into space on an alien ship.  Nothing scary, just fun thoughts like wondering if the spaceship has life jackets like a ship in the sea.

When I got to the part about the routine that Mommy is an integral part of, I unintentionally started rhyming and had to break out of it before I had a poem halfway through my story.  Maybe because I was tired or maybe I was being lazy, I decided to write a separate poem later using what I had already written and expanding on it. 

Which brings me to today.  I set out with the intention of doing just that, but for whatever reason, I didn’t feel it.  I know writers are supposed to push through and do it anyway, but I have the sense that I’m better off leaving things in their present form then separating and reworking them another day.  At least the words are out there.

Necessity is the mother of invention and fear

I read a quote on Twitter from an author that said something about how desperation creates material with which to write (major paraphrase), but even though I feel the beginnings of desperation, I don’t feel I’m any more creative.  In fact, I’m just scared.

When I was a child, I used to write fan fiction.  I didn’t know that’s what it was because I was seven, but to be frank, that’s what it was.  I wrote about Godzilla and the Boxcar children, creating battles and mysteries that would result in Godzilla emerging as the hero and the Boxcar children demonstrating their resourcefulness and cleverness.  I even wrote some short stories in middle school involving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, most notably stories of Leonardo falling in love with me.  Nothing gross, just romantic (except for the mutant turtle part).  I also went through a moody, angst-filled adolescent poetry phase.  To be fair, my mentally-ill father experimented with not taking his medication, I went to a boarding school, transferred to a friends school, and got two part-time jobs.  I had shit going on!  The poems were decent though.  If I had any skill with an acoustic guitar, I could maybe make something out of them.

As an adult, I had backed off writing until I went back to college.  The four-year university I was interested in transferring to (not sure that I still am) required a score of five on the AP exam that I took in high school.  Wonderful, I got a four so I took first-year English again.  The best part about it, besides the A I got, was a re-invigoration of my passion for writing.  I wrote a short narrative about the day I knew I needed to get my own motorcycle.  It was amazing and my professor said that it was one of the best essays she had read.  My confidence shot up.

Since then I’ve had ideas for books, but haven’t always made the time.  Besides that, I’ve never been desperate enough to overcome my fear and write about what really matters.  Things like my childhood, adolescence, marriage, postpartum depression, and other topics that readers can connect to.  Now though, I feel myself nearing the cliff of desperation as I struggle to find a job that pays well enough for the amount of bullshit work entails (at any job).  I grapple with the indecision in my educational path to a career (what major, what college).  Sometimes I wonder if I should be a “big kid” and accept I’m not going to do better than my retail job (pays better than you think at the “store manager” level), knowing I’m disappointing myself by taking the easy road, but providing income.  Like I said, the sense of desperation is creeping in.  There’s a part of me that hopes the fear of doing nothing overwhelms the fear of doing something scary, something like becoming vulnerable.  Maybe then I’ll actually write material with substance.

Sadness

“Sometimes I’m sad
And I don’t know why
It makes me want
To sit down and cry”

This beginning to a poem came into my head as I was feeding my youngest and feeling emotional.  Just given that knowledge, one might think I’m depressed, but I know otherwise.

I’ve had several bouts with depression over the years.  Most notably in middle and high school while experiencing the normal growing pains adolescents go through, when my mentally-ill father was alive and off his medication, when he passed away, after birthing my first child, and different points during my separation from my now ex-husband.  I know what depression feels like.  It feels like looking into darkness and seeing no light, not at the end of the tunnel nor around the corner.  Depression feels like hurting yourself to know you can still feel.  It’s believing the world is better off without you.  I know what depression is.  Life with hope or dreams, without living. 

Like most people, I get in ruts.  They are little and temporary.  They often involve feeling like there is something missing or like there’s something there that doesn’t.  It’s that nagging feeling that something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it. 

Sometimes the sensation goes away on its own.  You wake up the next day and it’s like you were never down at all, like it was a bad dream.  Other times you can chase it away by engaging in a fun activity or something you’re passionate about, a hobby, whatever.  Sometimes it’s just a low-pressure front moving through the area or a cloudy day.  Those always make me funky.  Sometimes it’s hormones and you just need to wait it out.

Today is sunny, warm, a perfect September day.  I watched some football (my team lost), played with my children, and took a nap.  I get anxious about money, my job, my school work, and I always worry about my kids in just the way a parent can.  My job is like a black hole I cannot escape (ten years of retail can do that to you) and I feel my lack of a degree like an invisible badge of shame.  I’m making progress, but it’s slow-going.

Today though, I’m pretty sure it’s just hormones. 

Gaming and my Lit class

I am taking a required literature class, specifically African-American Literature.  We recently read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, among others.  They’re depressing, obviously, but they really make you think and evaluate our culture and country today.  To be honest, I don’t really want to get into it.  This information is more for context.

I’ve been playing a lot of Destiny and a little of Diablo 3 on PS4.  For some reason, I got a craving to play Assassin’s Creed IV, which I have on PS3.  I put the disc in and start-up the game.  I have 97% completed; that includes side quests, additional requirements, treasures, etc. so I decided try the expansion pack I received with my season pass that I had bought when I purchased the game.  The expansion is called “Freedom Cry” and features your first mate, Adéwal

In “Freedom Cry”, you, as Adéwalare a trained Assassin fighting against the Templars.  You start the game on a ship (pretty sure it’s the Jackdaw, from the main game) in the process of attacking a Templar fleet.  After boarding one of the ships and obtaining a package, you attempt to escape by sailing into a storm.  Naturally, you get ship-wrecked.  It turns out that you are in Saint-Dominique, a French colony that is heavily involved in the slave trade.  Long story short, you free as many slaves as possible while pursuing the Templars.

What are the chances that I get the urge to play that game while I’m in this class?  I haven’t touched that game in months and I think my PS3 was becoming melancholy.  I didn’t even know what “Freedom Cry” entailed.  I knew that Adéwal

Missed Opportunity

On Tuesday I missed a great writing opportunity.  I was feeling discouraged (more on that another time) and I wasn’t sure why.  Overall I was just dissatisfied, with school, work, life.  I walked around during the hour and a half that I have between classes, not really sure what to do with myself.  I ended up going outside past the designated smoking spot and down a path towards a patio.  This patio area had rocking chairs, picnic tables, and arches with ivy.  It was like I discovered the secret garden.  There was even a volleyball court back there.  It was empty, but it exists, which is something.  The tables and rockers were under some trees; I can’t say which ones, but they were overlooking the mountains that surround the school.  The sun was out.  It wasn’t too hot or cool, just right with a slight breeze blowing through.  I sat at one of the tables looking at the vista and tried to convince myself that things weren’t that bad.  I longed for my chromebook that I had accidentally left at home.  I wrote nothing.  I ended up doing some statistics homework some time later, but I did not write anything.  Why?  Because I didn’t have a computer?  Ridiculous.  I prefer writing with pen on paper, but the thought never occurred to me.  What a missed opportunity that was.

Legitimately, I wrote today

Today I am on a roll.  I just completed a seven paragraph post about my experience with the new Bungie game, Destiny.  I also worked on my story about my son and his bedtime.  If you didn’t notice, I also responded to the Daily Post on WordPress.  Overall, it’s been a productive day of writing for me.

I’m feeling extremely positive about my writing now that I’m starting to do it.  I think that the more I write, the better I will feel too because as I was typing, I found myself getting more descriptive and more sensory as I fell into the material.  I have a feeling that the more often I write, and the more lengthier my product, the more successful it will be.  What do I have to lose anyway?

Even though I doubt my interest in writing (truthfully, I doubt most things about myself), the more I engage in it, the more confident I become.  Eventually, my content will reflect that confidence and will communicate my passion more clearly.  It’s time to stop writing for everyone else and remember that the true purpose of this blog is to keep me honest and to encourage me to practice my craft.  It feels weird to call it that, but until I treat it like I would painting or any other passion of mine, it will remain a fantasy, and a faint one at that.

Here’s the link to the other post, if you’re interested: http://heysotoday.blogspot.com/2014/09/destiny-game-not-philosophical-power.html

Here’s a few lines from my kids story:

“Night, night, MaMa”

“Night, night” to baby brother and big sister.

DaDa follows after

Flop, flop, flop, go padded feet up the stairs.

Five things

Don’t know how I never noticed before, but there is a daily prompt located here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/to-do-done/.  That would be an excellent way to ensure that I actually write a little every day.

The prompt for today is a to-do list of five things that you’d like to change in your life and a post about the day all five are accomplished.

My list:

  1. Choosing a major (because I need to stop being indecisive)
  2. Getting a job I feel really good about (no offense to current job–don’t fire me!)
  3. Regaining my confidence (it got lost somewhere along the way)
  4. Actually organizing my house (trust me, it would be a life-changing event)
  5. Saying no and meaning it

I’d like to believe that I will be happy the day that those things have been accomplished, but like getting married, having children, and buying a house, everything worth having comes with some amount of work, and likely some anxiety as well.  Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that I will accomplish those five things (and sooner, rather than later).