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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Current Events

Now that #metoo happened and Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are going down. And that one comedian is going down too, and even he admits it…I mean, where to start?

9/10 women I know have been assaulted. 1/10 men I know, at least. When I worked in the social field I was required to report whenever an individual brought up a case of sexual abuse, and I did, only to be told on one occasion, “Oh yeah, she always says that but she’s lying.”

Is she? I mean why would she lie about something like that? The girl was so psychologically traumatized by the event she couldn’t escape it. She punched mirrors, and then was reprimanded for it. She spent hours in the bathroom crying. “She’s just trying to get attention,” my superiors told me.

Well for fuck’s sake, let’s give it to her.

What I didn’t say was: I punched mirrors too.

What I didn’t say was: you keep crying. You let it all out. It’s totally, 100% okay to be sad, and angry. It’s normal and healthy to feel that way and I’m glad your dealing with it. Oh yeah, and, FUCCCK HIMMM.

Regardless, the girl was hard to get through to. But I believed her. Why the hell not? What is the goddamn harm? Something’s hurting her, it’s clear. What really angered me was the way  the counselors  shut her down–no matter what did or didn’t happen. You don’t do that. YOU don’t KNOW that.

***

Uma Thurman, just this morning, was quoted on NPR. Angry, she said.

Angry.

She had always been afraid of revealing her anger and rage toward men. Those were her primary emotions.

Uma Thurman, coincidentally, is the actress who stars in Kill Bill and assumes revenge on a team of assassins, wielding a sword.

***
I have three essays on the topic that NPR is keeping, gracefully and rightfully, in the forefront. One essay I submitted two or three months ago, before #metoo, but it was declined. “Too short,” the editor told me. “It felt like it needed more of an ending,” she said.

I have read enough stories about publishing to know by now that I could potentially resubmit the same essay, new ending or not, and it would be more likely to be published. Timing. It’s half, or more, about the timing.

But I was smoking in the essay and I’m not smoking now so if I use that essay I would have to make that clear (take it out) and if I were already doing that, well I might as well change the ending.

But boy was I angry in that story.

***

Another story is called Stench. I wrote it in an attempt to just State The Facts and not skirt around the issue like I do in my poetry and in a good portion of my other writings. Sadly, the essay is far too revealing for my tastes.

I’d only publish it if someone paid me for it. Not much. Candy even.

***

In the final essay I braid one of my experiences with the experience of a girlfriend who was assaulted while travelling abroad and staying in a hostel. I also want to add to the story of another friend of mine who was flat out assaulted when some “friends” of hers drove around the block again and again refusing to drop her off until she performed a sexual act on one of them.

These were stories mentioned to me in passing. Nobody called me up and said “You’re not going to believe what happened to me!” No. Ha. That’s not the kind of world we live in. These stories are commonplace. Not that they should be. They are eventually told over tea and whispered in coffee shops and are rarely mentioned when men are in the house.

And they are just these sad little stories that  took us women farther  and farther from our bodies in a world where these very bodies are used against us in nearly every mainstream advertisement. “He won’t want to abuse you if you don’t look like this,” the world seems to tell us. Not fair. Not fair all around.

And they are not just sad little stories.

No, they are LARGE and ANGERED stories. Sword wielding stories, if we were to act like like barbaric men in the matter. But we only do that while playing dress-up and acting.  Because for the lot of history, we women have been civil.

And they are not just sad little stories just like Weinstein and Trump (!!) are not just dirty old men.

That’s what I was always told growing up: “Oh he’s just a dirty old man.”

I think we can all agree, it’s time to take “just” out of the sentence.

Oh, he’s a dirty old man.

Stay away from him.

Lock him up.

Fire him.

SHAME

him.

***

There is no synonym for pedophile.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 17

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NaNoWriMo.

At first, all the letters just ran together, they didn’t make sense. I fumbled on the pronunciation when speaking with my grandmother on the phone. “Anyway,” I told her. “It’s a good thing. The idea is you write a novel in a month.”

I was at Target, talking on my cellphone while browsing the “school supplies” section. I absentmindedly placed a white wire wastebasket in the cart. It was a good deal. $5. Then I took it out–nobody as broke as me needs to be spending money on something as trashy as a wastebasket. But I could just picture crumpling a piece of writing paper into a ball, tossing it into the cute wire wastebasket. Real “writerly”. But I already had a system for recycling paper–a medium-sized Priority box at the foot of my oak dresser. The paper goes in there, uncrumpled, and becomes firestarter. Quick. Easy. Cheap. Not glamorous but not frivolous either.

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Nah – noh – rye – moh.

I’d never set big writing goals for November, though I had heard of NaNoWriMo. My novel (my memoir) was written first over many, many years of recounting and recording painful and joyous events from childhood–scene by scene. Then in 2016 I spent one full summer preparing the manuscript for submission to a Portland editor (getting it into chapters). I got the manuscript there within the deadline, but it became apparent that the manuscript still needed a LOT of work! Especially the ending.

I took a few days off-the-grid in January 2017 to work on it. It felt like my coffee had barely cooled before I already had to pack up and go. I didn’t get a lot done. I had barely “tapped into the mindset” before I was thrust back into reality: moving, since my partner bought a home, starting a farm and small business, taking care of myself, working and earning money, and um, using Social Media. You know, RL stuff.

I guess NaNoWriMo kind of takes all of those excuses and RL factors and throws them to the wind. Like a 48-hour film contest or something. You get a lot done in a small (ish) amount of time. In essence: you fucking hustle. Boundaries are set. Word counts are recorded and, importantly, we writers are all in this together. Social Media outlets like Instagram unite NaNoWriMo participants unlike any other previous club. Local libraries support the cause by hosting weekly groups for local writers participating in NaNoWriMo.

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At Target I settled on one large Sketch Pad. Sleek with a black cover, wide blank white pages that opened nicely and stayed down on their own. Some journals are made for looks with cheap paper or kitschy covers. Not this one. I put two in the basket, but at $8.99 a pop, I put one back.

I started really thinking about NaNoWriMo: would I start a new novel? I have a fresh idea rolling around in my head. Do you have to be just starting out with your book? In a lot of ways I am. I have “only” been working on my book for a decade. Some people spend twice that. I can’t see the end in sight: I should probably work on this one then. Wouldn’t you say it has the most potential? Hell, if I am about to write a book in a month it better be the one I’ve been writing for the past 10 years.

Step One: Google NaNoWriMo, again. See that local literary group Wordcrafters is hosting a free event at the Springfield Downtown Public Library Saturday’s through November 1-3 p.m. Record in weekly planner. Write with finest print.

Step Two: Email Wordcrafters to confirm event and “network.” Also this helps make the dream more likely to become reality. Establish accountability, in essence.

Step Three: Pace excitedly a bit. Make coffee and decide today I will “prepare my life for NaNoWriMo”. Pick up a few items around the house, because the dog chewed them up and has strewn them about–mostly gnawed on pieces of kindling. Add wood to the fire. Sip coffee. Plot inside mind. Decide I will sweep,  then clean my office. First, I eat a banana.

Step Four: Start a blog post to share rare enthusiastic rush of inspiration. Write because it is what I do and cannot be contained. (Also: then worry that said writing is getting in the way of “real” writing.)

Step Five: Get an email from Wordcrafters: No need to register. See you on Saturday! Decide it is time to sweep the floor.

Step Six: Music. Coffee. Radio. Broom. Paper. Office supplies. Could leap like a leprechaun today “feeling like a writer.” It is my first day alone in over a week and my last day off before going back to work. I am amazed every time I get a rush of fresh energy and doubly amazed at all that can be accomplished, reset, and improved over the span of one “Sunday”.

Step 7: More coffee. I’m taking advantage of this whole cool-weather thing.

Step 8: Dust desk with damp, then dry, cloth. Shuffle things around until they look feng-shui’d, American-girl style.

Step 9: Face, with a deep optimistic breath, the “memoir section” of my office. Note at least 11 unrelated items encroaching on the scene: local newspapers, greeting cards, and “watercolor pens”. Weed out unrelated materials. Dust again. Lightly finger manuscript for good luck. Smile at the fortune of having an office.

Step 10: Register for NaNoWriMo on NaNoWriMo.org. Complete profile, book title & description, and select a writing “region”. Select Eugene/Lane County, Oregon for my Home Region and San Francisco/Bay Area and Portland, Oregon for my other regions. Review this article written by a more experience NaNoWriMo’er to insure that I know what I am doing. Set aside 4 blank notebooks, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, a decent ball point pen, a chipped empty vase from Mexico, vessel up; and sit back in my fuzzy slippers, grateful for the permission and support of writers from all over the world who are joining together in their own living rooms and offices to make magic and make words, sentences and waves.

For more information on NaNoWriMo, just Google it. If you want to support my cause, kindly ignore me for the next 31 days. Sending Corn Nuts or Jelly Belly’s is okay too.