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?

the welcome back and the gold standard

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I’m pretty positive I may have been temporarily checked out of life this weekend, thanks to one of the worst stomach viruses I’ve ever experienced. the time alone though was really amazing for a true, “welcome back,” to my body yesterday evening. into this morning.

I decided I needed to post this, as some sort of accountability to keep myself in check. I need to get back to eating green or grilled only. I need to cut the crappy, fatty foods and all of the sugar I’ve been indulging in – no really. I know most of you that read this know how much I adore sweets. I’ll admit to it…I killed so many Cadbury’s Eggs last week it should be illegal. The sugar has completely, and quickly, become out of hand. I end EVERY meal on a sweet note, every day. How I haven’t gained all of my, “wedding weight,” back I’ll never know (stress is my guess?) Unless it is Saturday night or Sunday afternoon…nothing fried, nothing sweet. AND NO ALCOHOL UNTIL FRIDAY, for Pete’s sake. My bank account will appreciate this too!

I need to start the day, EVERY DAY with a slow vinyasa and push myself at night to float. I know I can, I’m just being a lazy ass and not doing the work.

I need to finish my book (TODAY!) and make sure I’m getting enough rest. I’ve been so down in the dumps about my skin looking like shit, when honestly it’s no wonder. I don’t sleep but more than four to five hours at a time and I haven’t been in the habit of washing my face every night before I go to bed – it’s ridiculous and gross and I’m admitting to it here in hopes that it will embarrass me enough to get myself together. Now that I’ve officially gone pixie, I can’t afford to have spots all over my face!

I’ve completely bored you, but I must make confessions about The Anchor, my beloved book. I unofficially announced in a Facebook comment that I would be finished with it yesterday and sending it off to the editor. Due to my illness, I didn’t finish quite yet, but that’s what’s on the agenda today during and after lunch, as well as this evening. I am totally wiping out all plans for the week, except for writing, yoga and playing some tunes (which I haven’t done in a while.)

I am so afraid of ending this story, even though I’ve already started the process on its sequel. I can’t even begin to think about the agony I will feel when I complete the Walter&Bridget story entirely. I don’t write about the story’s inspiration much – why, I’m not sure – but I think it’s okay to do so every now and then. Their story is something extremely simple and complicated. It’s what we struggle with every day: timing, correctness, considering others. It’s about assessing all of that, then factoring in your own feelings. What happens then? What happens when your feelings win? Human nature alone dictates that there is no way to predict reactions to any of this. It’s easy and complex. You can prepare to an extent to deal with the consequences, but there is no actual way to ever be ready. The same can be said for almost any situation you come across…it’s shit like this that really makes it abundantly clear how much writing this story has taught me.

The story started as a weak song, one I knew I’d never finish writing if it stayed in that format. I played around with the words a little, then turned it in to this long prose and the next thing I knew I had twenty pages. I said to myself, “let me just see what happens if I write a little more,” so I did. A week later I had 150 plus pages and my fingers wouldn’t stop flying. I was completely addicted. I had to answer all of the questions in my head, I had to know what was going to happen. At the time I had so many unanswered questions in my life, it was necessary for me to explore. The answers I chose to write down may not have solved anything in my own relationship, but that exploration healed me in ways I haven’t discovered yet.

That’s the long and the short of it honestly. The Anchor has nothing to do with intention, as I previously thought before. It is every bit as honest as your best friend telling you about their relationship over coffee. The gold standard.

Regardless of what happens with the book, if it is ever published and successful, or if I just pass around a hard copy to my friends and have them doodle in it, I will forever be grateful for what those characters have done for me. It was the push that I needed to move on, the realization that freed me.