man’s first winter.

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first and foremost, I’d like to say: I AM SO HAPPY FOR SPRING! however, if summer is half as warm as this season has been so far, Louisiana will come the US National Nudist Colony. It’s so hot!!!

Now on to more serious things.

I’ve been bitten by the writing bug…finally. The end of this college chapter is requiring a deal from my brain and I feel like the only thing to do is keep the words flowing in order to avoid gridlock.

I recently connected with a short story by Jack London , a writer I wasn’t necessarily fond of until I was required to read this: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London

This is beyond an excellent read, and most certainly worth your time. If you’ve got thirty minutes to spend looking around on Facebook, you can read London’s sixteen page creation.

I was so inspired by London’s words, I had to write my own. I didn’t complete all of my thoughts, which is normal. I stew on stories like this, can’t shake them. The blog I wrote about muses the other day was so obviously about Edna Pontellier, though I didn’t notice that then. While I was technically inspired by the grade I was hoping to get, I’m sincere in my feelings towards this story. I understand not being able to invest in long, American tales about outdoor labor and oil and shady politics and porch talk; those stories are important as well, but it takes a certain momentum and desire; they are terribly dry sometimes, I know. This story is not that. You will become so engrossed by the man’s journey and absolutely commit to following through to the resolution.

My essay is below. If you haven’t read the story, these words will mean nothing as my thoughts are not a summary. I offer a little support from the text and a few articles. I wouldn’t mind taking these ideas a little further, so if you’ve got questions or comments, feel free to post below.

Enjoy either over coffee. Or whiskey. Or both.

 

 

Man’s First Winter

Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” though bitterly cold and hard to read in parts, is an inspiring moment in American literature as far as the words “humanity” and “triumph” are concerned. As humans, we all endure a “first winter,” an awakening of sorts. It often feels like a season of sheer bewilderment and uncertainty, though we endure these things over various landscapes and under unimaginable circumstances. Is it a classic, “man’s search for meaning?” I wouldn’t go that far; our protagonist seems too far removed from any depth of emotion for that. It is, however, a snowy explication of fortitude, and is particularly raw in description; a true tale of perseverance, a relentless, icy test of endurance. London personifies how far we can push the mind and the body, how to make the two work in conjunction in the most bleak of circumstances, and how to accept defeat with grace and “death with dignity” (London, 638). The struggle – and failure – to provide one of man’s most basic needs leaves the protagonist literally fearing for his life; what he does with the fear is the lesson to be learned.

The best way to find London’s intention for the story is to explore the text carefully, with caution, step by step. This is a story of intention and carefulness, though our protagonist may not hold up to our method. “The trouble with him was that he was not able to imagine. He was quick and ready in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in their meanings” (London, 629). This is a troubling thought considering that hiking the Yukon in such conditions as “fifty degrees below zero,” was not ideal. Imagination is required to assess and carry out thought, to put “the thing” in action. Was this man prepared? London seems to believe so, though he portrays the man in a gently flippant way from the beginning of the story to the attempt to build the third fire. He says several times that, “a thought never entered his head” (London, 629). It’s hard to decide under these tones if the man was actually prepared, or passing off his flippant attitude as confidence; those are very different things with very different circumstances in “80 degrees of frost” (London, 629).

The man seems to subconsciously and continually,survey the knowledge obtained by his person, and justify his actions because by his own estimation, he’s mentally and physically prepared for his journey towards the camp. “He paused to breath at the top. He excused the act to himself by looking at his watch” (London, 628).Why is it necessary to justify his breath, excuse the action? If London’s intention was to weaken the character, reducing the audience’s faith in the man before the outset of the journey, that’s the seed that was planted. “And to get his feet wet in such a temperature meant trouble and danger” (London, 631). London exploits arctic doom and the fear of freezing before the man has reached mid-day. I can’t help but immediately assume the worst is upon this man from the beginning due to lines likes this and others, though by the end, I am fully aware and in support of what kind of decision he has to make. It is so raw, human in a way I think other writers find troubling; London remains accurate regardless of difficulty.

It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailness as a creature of temperature, and upon man’s frailty in general, able to only live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man’s place in the universe” (London, 629).

This excerpt is a blatant example of the man’s ego, and obvious lack of imagination. One might think of or survey their days as they walk such tumultuous earth. That was no nature-walk or a stroll in the woods for pleasure; his journey was out of need to meet and make connection with other humans. He seems to border on cheekiness with his soft dismissals and overconfidence in the harsh Yukon conditions. The Yukon is located directly in the middle of Alaska, British Columbia and Northwest Territories in Canada; in plain terms, this means it is frigid outside. I spent a few summers in Canada in high school and the days were pleasant when the sun was out, but the evenings – especially on the water – were freezing. I cannot imagine staying any further north for an extended period of time, let alone meander, then wander, about in the Yukon. The mere thought is chilling.

The body deserves a moment of speculation here, as it reacts to the cold in a specific way. In a BBC article, “What Effect does the Extreme Cold Have on the Human Body?” Stephen Dawling explains that, “The human body is not designed for polar cold – most of us live in temperate and tropical climes, where the mercury rarely dips below freezing. There are populations that have adapted to polar extremes – like the Inuit in Arctic Canada and tribes like the Nenets in the north of Russia – but the vast majority of Homo sapiens has no experience of living in such sub-zero temperatures.” Without getting overly scientific, Dawling reiterates the instinctual notion that human bodies are not meant or designed for freezing temperatures. This man was on a journey in a country unknown for the first time. No matter how mentally prepared he was, it was no match for what the Yukon had in store. London doesn’t even bother equipping this man with proper attire; mittens are surely tossed out when considering what other sturdy, weather-bearing garments the man wore and carried.

Lois Josephs’ article Man’s Relationship to Nature: A Sub-theme in American Literature, offers a blanketed introduction to the sub-theme, “man’s relationship to external nature, unifies ideas and encourages critical thinking” (Josephs, 180). This seems in clear opposition with the man in London’s story, but there is absolute truth in her reflection. If a man possesses no imagination, it’s hard to believe he is in possession of critical thinking skills. Joseph reminds us that Henry David Thoreau, “suggests that we learn from nature,”(Josephs, 181) and I agree, though Josephs finds this notion, “impractical.” I don’t believe observation and note of nature leads to anything but further understanding of what we innately possess. Yes, we are human and bound by social construction; however, at our innermost core, we possess instinct. Our protagonist follows his instinct as long as he possibly can, until eventually allowing his mind to be consumed by a force greater than his own power: nature – the experience of a lifetime, man’s first winter. The awakening, as previously mentioned, is the line that’s drawn between instinct and knowledge, the difference, being nature.

Natural elements that drive the man’s experience in the story are his possession of and connection to the husky, the rigid, unforgiving elements of the Yukon (previously mentioned,) and the excursion to build – and maintain – fire. To begin with, we must observe the man’s inability to maintain the fire he builds. It would have been nearly comical had London not emphasized how dire the situation was. This frozen man attempts to build three fires, essentially failing all three times as none of the fires eventually save him. The element of fire reigns supreme here as it is the thing he needs most while simultaneously being the thing that will ultimately kill him; there is no chance of survival without a flame to keep him warm.

The dog represents nature in working companionship. This “big native husky,” (London, 630) is figuratively said to be “man’s best friend,” but London doesn’t necessarily depict it that way. The dog has far more realistic reactions and views to the bone-cold weather, as it is naturally efficiently equipped to bear it. “To permit the ice to remain would mean sore feet. It did not this. It merely obeyed the mysterious prompting that arose from the deep crypts of its being.” Once again, man versus nature, instinct versus knowledge; the native dog knew how to handle cold to this degree, and possessed the mental capacity to understand that over thinking action would be a waste. It appears that the dog carries a deal of sympathy for its master, and is truly distraught after his death. However, the it demonstrates it’s allegiance to it’s true master, nature, when it departs from the man’s body and, “trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food-providers and fire-providers” (London, 639).

In my mind, the dog finds the boys’ camp alone, signally the man’s fate to the other men, who survived their trek to the camp, by nothing other than luck. “The man drowsed off into what seemed to him the most comfortable and satisfying sleep he had ever known.” He becomes a legend of the Yukon, the kind the old-timer from Sulphur Creek recalls from time to time, heeding other, similar men of no imagination of singular thought of survival, “be mindful, winter is upon you.”

Works Cited

Dawling, Stephen. “BBC – Future – What effect does extreme cold have on the human body?” BBC News. BBC, 7 Jan. 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.

Hudson, John C., ed. GOODE’S World Atlas. 20th ed. N.p.: Rand McNally & Company, 2000. Print.

Josephs, Lois. “Man’s Relationship to Nature: A Sub-Theme in American Literature.”The English Journal, vol. 51, No. 3, 1962, pp. 180–183., http://www.jstor.org/stable/810294.

London, Jack. The Norton anthology of American literature. “To Build a Fire.” New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. Print. 628-639.

to name a muse.

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What is a muse? To most, and to me (for the most part) it is a person or thing or whatever is in the noun’s position that inspires; the things that draws or spurs or ignites the senses and sends the body and brain in to familiar nostalgia. As an artist of the pen, I think I enjoy writing about things I’ve seen in my mind a time or two, but never in real life — until I make the observation or correlation and then WHAMMO! Deja vu! then it’s all I can do to sit down and write. I’m not sure what got me thinking about what or who my muses are; perhaps the paper I have due can be blamed for this evening’s inspiration, though I’m not sure. It could be the blurb I’m writing about JG’s book, or notes I’m making for a novel I hope to write after graduation. It’s 100% possible I could be annoyed that each year on Neil’s birthday I hope to write him the best thing I’ve ever written and I’m stuck working on a paper about Jack London (though I don’t think Neil will mind — he’s gonna love this paper.) It could just be the blatant emotion I feel when I think about the fact: when I need inspiration, all I need do is look up.
Am I supposed to reveal my muse? I feel like that’s lifting the veil too high, but tonight….I’ll vaguely indulge. Y’all, I am surrounded by them. My bonds in life, my friendships, the people I randomly happen to share everyday-life with blow my fcking mind sometimes. I have been so gifted with wonderful, wild spirits, creative, passionate geniuses, and soft, genuine souls. I am often bewildered and frustrated with what took so long? Shouldn’t these things just exist? We’re responsible for the manifestation of our own happiness, right? So why is it SO hard to find the peoples/places/things that inspire you?

Because we are guarded.
Because we are confined.
And we are often too busy to notice.

I have been fortunate in the past few years to dedicate time to explore things that are most innately important to me: passion and peace, and the journey to organically find those things. I’m not sure when we lose our will to do that, but it crushes me to think some people live their entire life without knowing either. I didn’t get here by accident, to this place of complete wonderstruck; I was quietly led by the people that inspire me, the people that impress a certain envie upon my soul. I am lucky enough to share my life with more than a handful and I am so beyond curious as to how I got to this wonderful, never-boring place with all of these amazing characters. (I’m sorry, but you’re all going in to one book or another — y’all know that, right?!)
This post should serve no other purpose than to be inspired to ask yourself, ” who (or what [insert noun]) is my muse?” If you can’t think of a thing, get out there and open up. Let the guard down and look away from what’s consuming you….be inspired.

The Everlasting Muse

ignorance is not bliss.

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Disclaimer:: I guess what I had to do to start writing this “blog I’ve been working on,” in a coherent, eloquent way, was to get angry. Apologies ahead of time if you read this and find it offensive; you may want to skip it all together if you voted Trump or don’t believe women to be equal to men.

 

I just saw this post on social media and I nearly vomited in my mouth:: 16123159_238817179895045_253878076667068416_n

To say I’m appalled would be a lie…I’m mortified to know that some people think this way. People are individual of other people. A woman’s anatomy differs from a man’s, and I truly believe that to be our only difference. I don’t think our skin color, religious affiliation, sex or etc defines who we are. We do.

SO. MANY. WOMEN. and men and children showed up to march in unity on Saturday, January 21st, and I was not among them. I have been in a world of my own, pretending that my rights as a woman will stay intact for the next four years. That I wont’ have to worry what kind of world my kids grow up in. That’s not reality. I felt more than shame about it this morning, while reading through articles and skimming the news. I was consumed with the thought that I’d missed my opportunity to take part in a movement that is so pressing, so important to who I am as a person. I feel like I have no right speaking about an event I didn’t participate in, but I am a woman and my heart was certainly there.

I am upset, enraged, and genuinely hurt because I, like many others, feel zero support from our leaders and legislation. I am here to get some of this off my chest, so if you’re not interested, here’s your second opportunity to click the X at the top of your screen. I implore you to stay, comment, share and so forth because that’s how change happens.

I shared this awesome, heartfelt blog on Facebook after nearly reaching tears at its words. Reading the lines made me so proud to be part of this world, even with all of the ugly in it. Then the comments starting pouring in and it became clear to me by 2pm that I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning, you know I have things to say on just about anything.

I’ve been drafting a eulogy of sorts since I found out Trump was running for POTUS; originally intended to be satirical, entertaining, and semi light-hearted because I never, not in one million years, thought that man would win.I re-read my notes now and feel an overwhelming sense of grave correctness.

I remember thinking to myself, when reality TV became a big deal, that these people have incredible, fake power because of their platform. I was young and dumb and didn’t realize that the scripted, dramatized, “realistic,” platform he was standing on then — being overly tanned and screaming “YOU’RE FIRED”– would eventually win him the US Presidency. Now all we hear is, “that’s fake news,” or my favorite, “we have alternate facts.” I just watched Anderson Cooper debate with Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about some damn BuzzFeed article. ARE. YOU. KIDDING?

Cooper vs. Conway

I am blinded by how openly misogynistic he is, even more so by his flippant attitude towards every person who seems to differ from him. I’m not sure why, but he’s made it a point to hand select the worst cabinet of inexperienced billionaires in the world. <— that statement is more directly about the Secretary of Education that anyone else, really. I can’t get started on my gripes with the Department of Education, I’ll give myself two migraines.

a little info on Betsy. <–incase you were curious.

I suppose I should get to my point.

To me, the things happening in Washington D.C. are truly horrifying; like we’re taking a play right from the House of Cards script or some obscene Hollywood farce. Isn’t a President supposed to listen to his people? Trump is operating in direct defiance of, “Make America Great Again,” his own slogan. Women’s rights are being threatened. The LGBT community is being berated. The education system is in jeopardy. Health care is questionable. Though I am not as thoroughly researched as some of you reading this may be, I can say that the above issues are enough for me to feel fed up with living in a country that promises the best and gives nearly nothing. I know we should write, call, knock on doors, sign petitions, write petitions…get moving. But what happens when there’s no follow through? What happens when we’re shouting just as loud and as fast as we can, only to be silenced with no promise of an answer?

I understand that as an American woman, I have a considerable amount of liberty in comparison to women in other countries. However, the seeming impending decline of women’s’ rights we are facing is menacing at the very least. We are supposed to be the leading example, not the epic failure. The bra-burners of the 60’s didn’t fight with grit in their teeth for nothing. Right?

In a social media sparring round, over the aforementioned blog, the leading commentator began with, “My generation fought the womens’ rights battle and we won.” Grammatical error aside,  I thought, “Awesome, okay. Here is a woman with experience and insight and is no doubt going to show more support for a movement that needs nothing but.” Wrong.

Though she did make some valid points (I’m paraphrasing) :: We should be doing instead of complaining. We should be speaking up instead of staying silent. We should be writing, singing, screaming, and so on…I wish we all had the power to be heard. However, as it stands now, at the end of the day, there’s a cabinet full of men ready to take what former trailblazers worked for. Bras burned for nothing. Innocents beaten for no reason. Uncontrolled emotional chaos. I seriously can’t believe I’m writing about any of this…it seems like the twilight-zone. I think about the First and Second Wave Feminists and I shudder; their thoughts could probably blow DC to smithereens. I am happy to live in what is referred to as Third Wave Feminism, though I have no shred of doubt this particular time in history will have a completely different label by the time its all over. Trump’s threats and attitude towards women’s rights (among a long list of other things) absolutely goes beyond the technicality of law…this movement is dealing with emotion, morality and dare I say it…humanity. There seems to be many humans out there with nothing left but a jaded bitterness on the tongue. Hate is not a remedy for peace. Bigotry is not a remedy for understanding. Ignorance is not bliss.

During the lite inquisition I’ve endured for the last few hours (procrastination at it’s finest) the question was posed: well, what’s your solution? She followed her question up with a motherly “complaining without action is just whining,” to which I rolled my eyes at. If I wanted to complain, I certainly wouldn’t take to Facebook. I would just bore my blog audience with an alphabetized list and move the hell on.

Here’s how I answered::

I have no fcking idea what we should do. I think we should have left Trump at his desk in the middle of Manhattan and let someone else do the job. Am I responsible for the solution? Sure, we all are. That’s why the march happened. That’s why the movement will continue. That’s why the term “feminism” is exploding all over again. That’s why I’m engaging in this obnoxious FB debate with you. I am doing what I can with what I have, yet you say it’s not a solution. Voicing my opinion sounds like a solution to me.

Y’all I will take this honest, sincere moment to display the weakness I absolutely feel in this situation. I feel so helpless and quiet and just generally unheard in a group at any given time, but especially in our here and now. If I deliver any message at all during this less than eloquent rant, it’s this: These are not just “women’s rights” issues, these are human issues. We will continue to face these jarring, momumental moments unless we keep standing together to find a solution. It’s our time. HAVE A VOICE. Keep marching. Keep singing. Keep writing. It is the duty of our nation’s leaders and legislation to hear us, to actualize our needs and feelings, and to take action. We MUST keep holding them accountable. The people we elect in to these offices have to share our values, desires and will to move forward, or nothing changes.

In order to hold these people up, we have to let our demands be known, in addition to providing reasonable, positive solutions. I’ve made a list of my personal wants, with personal ideas on how these problems can be solved. I have listed my main three grievances because I’m sure you’d like to get to the end of this post.

Issue #1: Reproductive rights need improvement, not dissolution.

Solution: Do not shut down funding for Planned Parenthood. So much more than abortion happens there, the doors must stay open. The threat of “punishment” for anyone seeking an abortion is positively antiquated, so eliminate that term all together. Maybe add more real life women in on these discussions, to help with creating the laws.  We live in a world where women are drugged, beaten, raped, and left for dead. Some of you are rolling your eyes, thinking, “nothing has changed, it’s always been that way. I was raped, beaten, drugged, etc” and that is the attitude of complacency I am advocating against. We have the power to change, to be better, to provide our people with more. It shouldn’t be a debate, it should be fact.

Issue #2: Equal pay for women and men should be the standard, not an exception.

Solution: Equal playing field from jump street. Standard qualifications for men and women alike, be that degree or what have you; those requirements need to be the same across the board and communicated to future and present employees. None of this “if your performance is up to snuff” or whatever…equal for the dude who is always five minutes late and the girl who is always early.

Issue #3: Affordable health care should be within reach for every income level in our country.

Solution: This is easy, a no-brainer honestly. Standard health care for each and every person regardless of class or color or whatever stupid stipulation that is in place now. Limit the hoop jumping and circus that is healthcare and help out the doctors and nurses and insurance companies — I feel like this may make me sound unintelligent, but if the healthcare is affordable, and people can afford to have insurance, doesn’t that mean the insurance companies do well too? Call me crazy, but I think that works.

 

I could go on, but these are the main headaches that touch my life and many of the women, men, and children I love. I’m really sick of us just standing around with our thumbs up our asses. Missing the march was enough to make me realize, missing the mark is no longer a standard I’m willing to accept from my country. You shouldn’t either.

If this entire post is blind-siding you, here’s a concise run down on Trump’s plans for Women’s Rights check out what Time had to offer.(if you can call them plans) It is very, very non-committal and doesn’t quite do gravity of the situation justice, though it is factual.

 

29: purposefully defiant

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you know, I  was a little more than disappointed when I realized my birthday was going to be on a Wednesday this year…until I realized that basically gave me the weekend before AND after to celebrate because it’s directly in the middle of those two things. I have debated about what to do and where to go because I always make a big deal out of my birthday, but this year? Nothing. Not a shred of interest in planning. I couldn’t land on a specific taste bud or wish or thought. I knew I wanted to blast Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj all day while driving to and from things, but that was it. Normally, I could honestly care less about any other holiday or break or whatever — I just want to celebrate the hell out of my birthday; every year, always have, always will. This year was different; I felt…underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it’s the idea of rounding the corner to thirty that’s scaring me or if I just don’t care about a number that seems so lame…either way, I didn’t really give a fck about my birthday until everyone else did. That’s never happened. I have people in my life that give a shit about me. ……..weird. right?  I seriously hope some of you are out there experiencing some amazing friendships and love BECAUSE IT EXISTS, Y’ALL. I could expound, but we’d be here until I turn thirty.

I have hit the stride in my life where the people who don’t want to be around aren’t and the people that give a shit are. I heard from all of the major players today before 10am; I’d say that’s pretty good for a bunch of millennials that don’t have normal working hours, most with children, most still in school and balancing a millennial’s worth of work. I am beyond impressed with where my friends are and what we’re doing and accomplishing for a generation that seems so lost to the rest of society. Yeah, it’s hard. It’s ridiculous, it’s a circus; it’s far too emotional and involved than it should be, but that’s the way the cards fell. We’re the Jetsons; we’re creating everything and displaying everything and gathering humble credit by the heap. Sometimes we make it purposefully difficult for ourselves, but that’s everyone I think. For the push, for the drive, or just out of sheer laziness. I’m closer to thirty and honestly no better than the rest of the world at making decisions or choices. I keep thinking that I’ll hit thirty next year and just know what the hell I’m doing; those that I know over thirty hear that and laugh. “We make it up as we go,” a friend says in a reassuring voice, and I know it’s true.

twenty-eight led me to doing more and seeing more and waking the fck up….way more than I thought. I taught 115 (maybe more, maybe less) yoga classes. I traveled to several places in the US and visited Mexico; put on more miles than since my father was alive. I tried new foods, read new authors, explored new religions, and music and ideas. I discovered this whole new me I didn’t know was there, but felt familiar once I found her. I am a more open version of myself; less judgmental, more rational, understanding and willing to forgive. It’s a hard thing to know you don’t want to forgive a person, or situation or moment…but once you do. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. Wowzers. The introspection is ridiculous and the clarity is unparalleled. Seriously. Approach thirty and get over yourself. It’s amazing.

entering year twenty-nine has made me realize a number of things. I made this list as I laid in bed with my best friend last night (I slept on a giant, fluffy, pink unicorn after laughing my ass off about nothing at all.) I was fearful I might not remember by morning, and I may still be leaving some things out, though these are more observations than anything else::

  1. [most] my tattoos are ten years old. they have been on me and part of my body for an entire decade. I remember walking in to the old location of Speakeasy (a place that does not even exist any more) and thinking, “Okay. One down, 100 to go.” While I don’t plan on have 100 tattoos…I don’t regret them yet. I think they make me unique and I like the idea of maybe one day having to be identified by the treble/bass clef on my right rib cage.
  2. I cannot handle a hangover. Though it does not keep me from testing my limits every now and then. (Last Thursday night was proof, though worth it. Laughter always is. Laugh hard, deal with the hangover, keep going.)
  3. when I am tired, that’s the end. there’s no going back, no second wind, no hope. I am a lost cause to the room I am left in and lets hope there a blanket and a contact case with solution in it.
  4.  i constantly miss my father. the ten-year anniversary of his passing sifted right before my eyes this year and all i could do was blink to acknowledge it. it can’t possibly have been this long. how fast does time pass? is there a way to measure grief? i can’t possibly be continuing on without my best friend, but that’s what I’ve been doing because that’s what he taught me to do; I’ll do it for ten years more, I suppose.
  5. I am finally able to find the humor in abysmal situations. I feel like I could elaborate on this, but if you know me, or if you’re over 25, you know what I mean.

twenty-nine years has really gone too fast. ten years since my dad passed, nearly eleven years since highschool, still in college, no kids, no husband. But I am whole. I am learning, growing, connecting, disconnecting, reflecting, and moving forward. Social formalities seem to allude me.

I know it’s normal to make New Year’s resolutions, but I always wait until my birthday to commit to things. There’s something about being a January baby that just makes your commitment to the happenings of the new year more connected and final. I am aware that everyone has 364 days between their birthdays, but I feel like it’s much more refreshing in January. (and how appropriate for the most OCD star sign, the Capricorn.) This year, I have promised myself to be  better to my mind and my body; to make selections on what I do, drink, eat and etc. that will have only positive effects. I have committed to being purposefully defiant. It’s in my nature to go against the grain, to feel and empathize with minorities, to always be way outside the box and color outside the lines. This year, I’m following the rules to get where I need to be; I’m defying myself — in the sense that I’m reinventing/reshaping what once was — and isn’t that refreshing?  It isn’t always easy for me to say “yes” to what is expected, but sometimes, it’s necessary. I’m following along certain paths to make my dreams easier to reach, and I feel confident certainty is the most adult gift I could ever give myself during this pivotal year. “Thirty, flirty, and thriving,” doesn’t happen over night. I cannot disappoint Jenna.

As I close my eyes to sleep tonight, I am fully aware that:: I am focused, loved, happy, driven, subtly eccentric, and smart. I’m a weirdo, I’m wired backwards..and I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Happy new year and happy birthday to me. May the rest of this twenty-ninth year be full of discovery, travels, and nothing but daily celebration of breath and life.

 

 

EDIT:: I would like to make a note that after I posted this, WordPress notified me that this was my 100th blog. I believe in coincidence and milestone. happy birthday, indeed.

sleep inside of this machine

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my friend Kevin recently shared this most accurate article on Brand New’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, a record that at nearly twenty-nine years of age, I still can’t shake. you can read the article here.

Ryan Bassil’s words penetrated my thoughts and set my wheels turning. I’m pretty thankful for that considering I’ve had plenty to say and no real inspiration to say it. I vividly remember purchasing the CD a few months after my dad passed away; I would sit in my car for hours, looping that record until my ears couldn’t bear the weight of the words. I’d fall to sleep with “Jesus/Jesus Christ” on repeat and wake up to “Welcome to Bangkok.” I really couldn’t get enough no matter how much it hurt me to listen to it. The entire thing blends, echos and separates so much love, loss and pain. It’s still hard for me to listen to it (but I do.)

This notion got me thinking: what else do we cling to in this way? My initial response to Kevin was the idea that I connected to and rejected the record every time I listened to it, and it’s true. But why? What else do we treat this way?

I’ve spent the better part of this Brand New morning talking over coffee with friends,  in seemingly distant reflection, and it may have just served me more than I realized. That tends to happen when we aren’t really paying attention. Personal reflection is luxury I don’t often take these days because I’m never quite sure what I’m going to find there. Maybe that’s why I’ve avoided my voice here for so long because I’m not sure what will come out. Today, I’d like to sing.

In regards to the record, and the time it landed in my hands, I’d surpassed “teenage angst” and launched full-fledged in to “mad at the world.” Brand New’s 2003 record, Deja Entendu was really what fueled all of my wildly out of control emotions all through high school; there’s just something about listening to that kind of poetry. It’s inspired me to write similarly nearly every time I sit down to write.

I’m not sure if those sort of innate things ever go away, but perhaps, change shape and intention. I’m still slightly angry at the world, especially now with all of the extra hate and violence and general heartlessness, but my will to do something about it has stemmed and blossomed.

Bringing back focus to my actual point with this random ramble: Do songs ever leave us? Does anyone else believe that they shape who we are? The way we communicate? Let me hear your thoughts; mine are everywhere.

 

 

do the write thing

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I decided tonight would be the best night to get it over with; let my fingers meet the keys with no real intention at all, to figure out what the hell I’ve been doing, and where I’ve been for the last few months. It seemed like it was just March and I was making a mental note to write that short story about things I’ve read, make that one correction to a piece I started in February, draft that outline (a singular novel about my father.) And now here it is, middle of October, and I’ve done nothing. I’ve been avoiding this chair like the plague. Today, it caught up with me. This will make little to no sense at all, and without a doubt with serve no other purpose than to empty my thoughts of these thoughts, so please feel free to skip and scroll down to the song I’ve left you if that doesn’t sound alright.

I was antsy with the thought of how good it was going to feel to sit here and write something profound and well-stated for my mid-term paper, but those thoughts can’t come out until the rambling ones do.

The notion to write has been there, the inspiration and all that. I’ve got more characters in my head than I possibly know what to do with, each adding a little layer a day at a time, filling future books with all sorts of excellent nonsense. That’s if and when I give it much thought; it’s either all at once or nothing at all, and it drives me up the wall. It occurred to me that I may be dwindling my own craft by not putting pen to page, as it were. I saw another pen-plagued friend the other day, and it reminded me why we do what we do, and how well we do it when we finally decide. A decision not easily arrived.

It’s a heavy thing, this pen. The strength which it takes to pick it up is not a burden I’m inclined towards, some days. You have to sort and sift and bury and camouflage and that is so hard after you’ve been about the business of living all day. Other days, like today, I cannot get the words out fast enough, silencing the organized-chaotic around me.

I am shaking my head as I type this. I feel positively drowsy with inspiration sometimes, which makes me avoid it all the more. It’s a commitment I begrudge because I do love it so much, almost vainly.“If I start, I’ll never stop.” I wish I were kidding, but I think if I allowed myself to just sit and write all the pieces I wanted, I’d be in this chair for four years. FOUR. YEARS. I’m sure someone is sitting there, interpreting this as a humble brag, but I am really distressed at the thought of having to organize and manage these individual thoughts for longer than a minute. Hell, four minutes is agony, I can’t imagine more.

I’ve really missed the noisy corner of my mind, but the accidental quiet was a nice surprise. When you spend a certain amount of time with your characters, you sort of lose your wits a bit; much like when we get lost in a book we’re reading. – I just finished The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau and it was absolutely wonderful. If you haven’t, you should. – But the writing process is longer and so much more treacherous. Why did that character say that? Why did she phrase it that way? Does that sound feminist? Do I want it to sound feminist? Do I need to switch gears and go in a different direction? I hate this. I’m deleting the whole thing. I wonder if there’s coffee in the pot. I hate heating up old coffee. Caffeine. [walks to coffee pot] OH! I KNOW WHAT I CAN – [walks back to computer]SHIT! What was it I was going to say?! FCKKK!!! It really is annoying and wonderful and I have truly missed creating space with words.

I suppose the real issue I’m circling here is: what comes next? There are a few scary things I want a write, and I want to make a collection of those. I’d love to finish the follow-up to The Anchor but I don’t want to spend too much more time there, not now. I’ve been in Beulah for too long to want to visit so soon. But what next? The short stories, I feel, won’t be satisfactory and I have too much going on to write another novel, which seems twice as appealing because I can’t do that at this time. I’ve got the itch so bad and I am not allowed to scratch. So, what is this? Writer’s block or indecision? Or can I just not commit?

feel no ways (all ways)

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something strange happened tonight. I didn’t know it was happening while it was happening, but I somehow managed to seamlessly and mindlessly unblock my write brain.

I have said many, many times – and maybe it jinxed me – that I have been fortunate enough to avoid the feared writer’s block. I wrote an entire book – I can’t say “first novel,” it feels pretentious – in a span of five months, ideas constantly flowing, shaping and reshaping the story. I’ve written whimsy pieces since then, short scary stories and a few travel blogs. But nothing of substance.

Tonight, my relentless question of “why?”-  for literally everything – got the best of me.

I was pouring a cold brew this morning before I knew what my hands were doing, mentally making notes about Mrs. Peach (a future character from a maybe-novel). I randomly found myself at Marshall’s after work, smelling candles for forty-five minutes, attempting to find the perfect scent. I grabbed a fancy-schmance macchiato from the best barista in town on my way home, purposely lingering to avoid getting in my car. I found a podcast to shut my mind up, but I couldn’t silence  Madeleine Peyroux’s voice, crooning in my ear. I “forced” myself to eat left over samosas before I sat down in the chair. I painted my nails, watch some trashy TV, cleaned up the bathroom and neatly organized my clean laundry into a body-pillow. <—— all the things to keep me from sitting down to write this pour-over.

Once I finally realized what was happening, what I was dying to do but didn’t realize I wanted to do it, I began asking myself a series of the questions, in a rather shouty, British voice: Why are we killing each other? Why are we hateful, on purpose? Why do we hang on to shit that’s two or thirteen or twenty-five years old? Why is a celebrity running for PRESIDENT? Why did it take me so long to read Harry Potter? Why are we constantly trying to defend ourselves?

Y’all, I just don’t know. This is really just a free-flow conversation, I want to know what the hell is happening out there? How is it hard to come to some sort of peace, in any given situation? It’s mindbending to think that we’ve managed to digress. I’m genuinely plagued over the well-being of society and where we stand morally as a group and as individuals. I am free-spirited and open-minded and yadda yadda until I can’t see straight, but I’ve really got the blues.

It seems that everyone I talk to is facing some sort of larger-than-life adversity and I just don’t know who to talk to about it. Is there someone I can see or speak to about all this? The thing is, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Do I start with student loans or the fact that we’re still having an issue with everyone using the same bathroom? Or how about how women treat women and how men treat women and how almost everyone is actually shitty and limited in emotion and honesty?

I promise I’m not flinging myself off an existential bridge or anything, but if we’re technically responsible for our own happiness…WHY THE HELL ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES? ON PURPOSE!!??!!!??? WHY CAN’T WE JUST LOVE EACHOTHER?

 

Ugh. Okay, I’m sorry. Pen down, I promise. Rant over. More to come in a more cohesive, less (or more) caffeinated frame.

feel no ways