My Guest Interview with Madness Muse Press

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Madness Muse Press is all about “Enacting Social Change Through the Power of Writing.” The founder, Adam Levon Brown, is a poet here in Eugene, Oregon. He features writers both near and far in his “Your Voice” campaign centered around social justice, activism and discussion. In short, he’s right up my alley. Adam is a soft soul with a penchant for social activism via creative expression. I was honored to be a part of his Interview Series over at http://www.madnessmusepress.com.

Check out our interview here! (Excerpt below.)

Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A: People are going to hate this but, whenever it strikes me. Yeah, I mean, I’m not a 9-5 writer. I find the best time to write actually, if you can manage, is right after a life-altering (large or small) event happens. Almost in-the-moment. After a fight. After a job interview. After a psychic reading. When you’re really feeling something. Also, if it works out, writing in the middle of the night is fantastic. So quiet. So people-less.

With Child

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Along the edge of the spilled water, a wavy black line. The length of a hair. It could have been my mothers, mine, my daughters. Indistinguishable, this edge of liquid on the countertop; this long black hair. Was it clean or dirty, the countertop? Should I wipe it or leave it be? Disorder of any kind makes me nervous. A disorder of disorder. That’s me.

Would I make a good mother? Me, who baby talks the dog, hogs all the blankets, possesses a double Scorpio, Aries moon, a combination of eldest-child-and-only-child syndromes, a born and bred rebel, a seeker of balance, the receiver of highs and lows, a giver, a taker, withholder of personal truths, sharer of haphazardly selected anticdotes and flower petals, she who is happy most of the time, plunges into run-and-write-go-panic-go-take-all-my-money-and-hole-up-somewhere-with-chocolate-and-fantasies-in-the-dark-nights, some-beach-that-is-close-enough-to-home-far-enough-to-be-full-of-strangers-days. Me, who waited all this time for for the “right” man to make the “right” baby. Poor guy. Me, with my own apartment at 17, a babys-name list at 22, collecting baby books and sneakers at 23–one-decade ago–me who they told “had a nice stomach” (I never personally loved it til now). Me, afraid of marriage and 2-year contracts of any kind. A sock wearer in summer. A fixer upper. A devotee of solitude, craft, words-on-page, food-on-plate, words-in-brain. A devotee of simplicity.

Do I have it? The patience, the selflessness, the love? If not, where within myself might I find it? The soles of my feet? My stomach? My brain? I’d ask for help if I knew how to receive it. I don’t.

Me. of fierce independence, wild with child.

Me, swollen in summer, begging for rain.

Me, grasping at time for the chunks of it lost, donated to others, these days on the calendar.

Me, the selfish and selfless colliding within me like the earth shifts and tidal waves of impending labor.

Me, melancholy yet smiling in July.

Me, the weight of adult-mother-time anchoring me in bittersweet duty.

Do I have what it takes? Is suddenly irrelevant. The invitation-to-dance has long been RSVP’d within my womb.

My wiser self nudges: do you, with child. Read, write, love. Even if it hurts at first: unearth deep peace. Take baby steps and mine for it. It was yours all along, this peace. It is not in the soles of your feet or the curve of your belly, but down where the spirit meets the bone.

 

Everlast

I have the ideal life
please don’t mess with it
the bow is straight
the self centered
after years, decades,
almost a lifetime of
uncertainty and whim,
certainly the train is rolling now,
the one I’ve been engineering for
some time, piece-by-piece, move-by-move,
lesson-by-lesson, man-by-man, through peaks
and valleys I Am Here now

Course I fear car accidents
and fire and, worse than that,
untapped demons and fury
but then again maybe things can be OK,
ideal,
undisrupted,
normal

the one where children
get driven to their bus stops
warm in their mittens
lunches in their bags
smiles on their faces (!!)

This love, no longer longing but
ACTIVE
This home, no longer empty but
HUMMING
This body, no longer just mine but
part of something bigger,
begging,
him or her?
October or September?
Can you love her enough
to not fuck it up?

This ideal life,
I command you to stay
on track
on point
ON
the opposite of
NO
a blessing, a gift
everlasting


Mother Wasn’t There

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Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo, 1946

Mother wasn’t there
when I bled in the JR high bathroom
I looked at the gray stall wall for reassurance
I found none
Mother wasn’t there

Mother wasn’t there
when I needed feeding
in the beginning, in the middle, nor in the end
Mother wasn’t there

Mother wasn’t there
when I was felt up under my red primary school dress
Mother wasn’t there so it happened again
and again and again
As it will happen, inevitably,
when Mother isn’t there

Mother wasn’t there
when I cut my own hair
Mother wasn’t there so
“cut it like Dads” I told the barber,
uncertain of my role in the world,
girl of boy or boy of boy
cause Mother wasn’t there

Mother wasn’t there
but when she was there she covered me
in slobbery, 9-years-over-due kisses
They smelt like smoker’s saliva and
how I hated them and how she always
showed up just under one decade
At 30, that makes it three times mother showed up,
only the third time it didn’t happen

Mother wasn’t there
Mother isn’t there
I regret that someone I so despise personally
can leave a love wound this big within me
like a boy who never, ever deserved it
only not, because this is like the Grand Canyon,
(if I am being honest)
and the boys just leave a rivet in the sand
some laughable could-have-been

I regret the biological yearn for mother, father, whole
I regret, I regret, when Mother wasn’t there
I capitalize her name, the sick parts the sad parts,
she imparted to me insatiable love and passion
and now I can’t get no satisfaction
I am free child, free woman, wild baby, always have been
I built a shelter in my heart, for refuge from the wind
I learned to withstand life’s letdowns on a whim
I laugh in the face of pain, but I still fear it so
Mother wasn’t there when learning
all there is to know

 

 

This is What Democracy Looks Like!

Hello friends, thank you for stopping by to view my latest creative project: a pictorial about the 2nd Annual Women’s March. When I first heard about the march taking place on Saturday, January 21st in Eugene, Oregon I was honestly concerned. I mean, I knew I was going to be there, but would everyone else who participated last year show up too? Was this really a movement or a just one-off deal, spurred by the widespread anger regarding our just-then-official president-elect? On the Indivisible Eugene Facebook page, only 33 people had registered for the 2018 march. A handful more were “interested” but wasn’t Facebook where life, like, happened now? I mean, if only 33 people said they were going, what was this march going to look like? Indivisible Eugene was one of the main organizers of the event, so where was all the hype?

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Nevertheless I registered and I vowed to go. I texted all my local gal-pals and they seemed stoked about it too. Many of them were planning on going already…Facebook confirmation or not.

The day of the event I had a massive head cold but, motivated by the march, which was such a powerful experience for me last year, I put on my hiking boots, grabbed my camera, and met my gal-pals at Laughing Planet Cafe a few blocks from the march.

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Laughing Planet has the best virgin hot toddys, I was pleased to discover.

Waiting for my friends, and hoping they would forgive me for arriving sick and contagious (we will see), I spotted my first other march-goer…who just happened to be male. “Not just a women’s march, but a men’s march too,” I’d stated a few days early on my Facebook page. I worried that the language “Women’s March” dis-included some men, men who didn’t realize what this march is: effectively an anti-Trump, pro-women, Peace Protest. Nothing to be afraid of.

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A young man grabbing a bite to eat solo before the Women’s March.

Arriving at the Women’s March it was clear that wayyyy more than 33 people felt passionate about women’s issues, freedom of speech, the DREAM Act, and other current political, economic and social issues. The crowds extended from the Whole Food’s parking lot to the complete other side of the courthouse, and even up our main street bisecting town–a major thorough-way. The place was humming with a sobering yet optimistic energy. “This is why I come to these things,” I thought, as my headcold drifted to the background and I became engrossed in the scene unfolding before me. The first thing I noticed, right away, was the number of children and men compared with last year.

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This is the first photo I snapped. In this picture, there are three men and just one woman, something I didn’t even notice at the time.

 

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The crowd of protesting Eugenians was said to be in the 5,000+ range. Last year, it was stated there were 7,000 participants. But no official count has been released yet, according to the Register Guard.
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A woman honoring the legendary Latina feminist Frida Kahlo,”Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” -Frida Kahlo
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A sea of signs.
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He’s just sayin’….
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Check out their signs: “Feminism means Equality!” … “What She Said”
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Some signs focused exclusively on Women’s Rights, an age-old battle. (Note: I’m pretty sure those pink things are IUD’s!)
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While others blatantly ridiculed our current President, Donald Trump (above, below).

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A picture speaks a thousand words.
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Immigrant’s rights and the DREAM Act were at the top of the agenda for Eugenians, too. The keynote speaker addressed the crowd bilingually, and she drummed up the crowd in anticipation for the march.
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After the speakers finished up, the crowd began marching, chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and other protest ballads.
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Lest we not forget that Native American’s have been fighting the good fight against white patriarchy in our country for hundreds of years.
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On the day of the protest, Donald Trump tweeted “Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!” So, first of all: don’t tell me what to do. And second of all, um, just…you’re an asshole.
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Women make prettier signs.
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And they were clearly pumped to be marching!
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Some signs were meant to be ironic.
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While other signs (like my dear friend Linda’s!) were a nod to the Women’s Liberation’s Movement of the 1970’s. (If interested in brushing up on your Women’s Lib, I can’t recommend the documentary (below) enough. It’s available on Netflix.)

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The truth is: Strong Women Scare Weak Men.
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Be like this guy.

We shall overcome.

This is what democracy looks like!

No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!

A Meditation on Darkness and Resurrection

The problem with our demons
is they are often in disguise,
they are never far from us
and angle

angle is everything

They come at you from
your blind spot when you
were so comfortable and confident the
things had ceased to exist all together
…like they just up and flew away
hitched to some other wildflower
in the wind
but no,

B A M!

there they are
they did not go out
with the New Year
or our Wish Upon a Stars
our golden addictions
(as precious as gold)
our fantasies that
derail reality
obsessions
and
never-gonna-get-its
and poor-mes
past and present

so you fall
down down down
you go from your
pedestal of control

along the way some
handsome character
holding your hand
some glittering
promise of love
and connection

connection
connection
connection
sparks and
sparkles

it’s what we are
after, after all
whether acting
like devils or angels
we just want to be together,
held by others in our experience.

truthfully,
I am equal parts light and dark
I am the underside and the top
I am physically here while
simultaneously someplace else
altogether

I am gloriously beautiful
and devastatingly eroded
in all the wrong places
I try to hone in on my truth
but am a liar-in-the-making

when he pushes I pull
when I commit,
mouths to kiss suddenly
fall from the sky

I am a wannabe wife
and a runaway bride

So I stick to
what’s safe
and simple:

I pull my head
back into my shell
for reflection

I carve out
squares of time
for poetry and planning

I shower in
the dark

I purge

I dress in costume
when alone

I question the benefit
of Himalayan salt lamps
when they’re tucked into
corners cluttered and dusty

I reckon we all want to buy
a little peace sometimes,
but can’t

I travel life through
alleyways, basements, bus
stations and doorways
littered strewn
settled with
homeless
folk

I always have, always will
coalesce with the
underside
of life

but I post-it note happy quotations
on my mirror
I write my D R E A M S
in Sharpie bold
I worry the word
is too vague, too loose
so I adopt vim vitae instead,
Latin for life force

I pep in my step
I boogie in my woogie
every time I fall I bounce
a little higher baby

I stick to what’s safe
and simple:
intuition-following
kindness over coolness
coffee, the single
addiction I can life with

I dance with all my lovers
in the dancehall of my mind
I’ve got my eye on the prize
even if I don’t get it

I question my own authority,
let loose into creation
I take the dirt of my experiences,
spit and make clay of it
I shape of my experiences a bowl
to contain them all

I shrine it and stow it away
I will never forget certain
moments of certain days
I watch my life as if on stage,
a wall-leaning observer,
a sometimes orchestrator,
a container of both chaos and order:
this body, solid
this mind, wandering
this spirit, pulsing
I observe the play of
night and day
I close my
eyes and
I pray

 

I Survived My First Camp Out with NaNoWriMo

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Bar graph provided by NaNoWriMo. When you click on the line it tells you how many words were written that day. Notice the spike near the end.

Proof of what a procrastinator I am. Or not. Notice how the bar graph spikes once I learn that can rewrite 10,000 words in a day, instead of just 1-2,000. Plus, pressure. Plus, full days off. Plus, momentum and flow. Plus, I didn’t think I’d be saying it, but I did it!

Sure. Writing a book is hard. Writing a book is hard whether it’s over the course of 2 and a half years or the course of one month. Over the course of a lifetime or a weekend. What’s difficult about it isn’t the number of words. I’d bet there could be a compelling masterpiece that was only 50 pages long. What’s truly difficult about it is the emotional terrain one covers.

I suppose I can only speak for memoirists in these regards; only no, I am certain writing horror stories is draining in it’s own way. All the closing of the blinds, the paranoia, the bumps in the night. When you are writing you are in that place–you are in childhood or jail or both.

As you can see I barely reached my goal today. I ended at 50, 817 words but three days ago I was way down at 27,000. I cannot explain it but: magic. And those other things I mentioned above and the fact that, yeah, I’m not a quitter. I am not bragging but when things matter to me, they matter to me. If they matter enough to me they will happen. Years ago, I am unsure if I would have accomplished this. Not out of lack of talent or drive but out of FEAR. This time, FEAR almost stopped me dead in my tracks too. Save the fact that I have learned that FEAR has a bigger bark than bite. Little by little, bit by bit, bird by bird–that’s how I navigated the first 28 days of NaNoWriMo. Then I panicked, was provided the luxury of two days off of work, and busted the shit out.

It may sound difficult but I basically kicked it into high gear seeing that I wasn’t going to make my deadline on time at the rate that I was going.

Wanting to be a WINNER I rolled up my sleeves and dug in deeper. This determination, paired with the grace of my story loosening its grip on my heart (the material was highly emotional in the first part of my memoir, then lessened as I got closer to my 50,000 word goal) gave me the boost I needed to reach my goal today.

Fact: my memoir is a lot longer than 50,000 words, so my work is not over.

Fact: because of NaNoWriMo, I have a kick-ass third draft of my memoir (well, almost).

Thanks, NaNoWriMo.

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