2019-09-18 Words.. The Lost and Found Edition

When I was at residency I had a flood of words to work with. It’s always an interesting experiment in immersion and the impulse of spontaneous thought lingers for a while after I return home. This time around I was given an extra push and had some strong emotion to propel me forward and keep the words coming.

Now, miles away from that and approaching the halfway point in the term (yes already), the impulse is gone, the topic seems to have exhausted itself and though I know I have a few more in me, they just won’t come. It’s been blurred with all the assignments with the other class I’m taking which is moving way too fast for my taste.

Yesterday I did some reading and some critical writing, but it was all starts and stops and so slow going. I also tried to free write but got nada. One line. Ok, I got one damn line. (Btw I don’t think one line is a poem.. perhaps a title.)

I tried to build on that one line and it just never materialized. I mean, you have to have a message or what’s the point? What’s my message? What’s so urgent? Problem is, there’s not a lot that feels urgent right now. Urgent in the sense that I get sometimes when something in me wants out. The post on Monday was a giant shrug and that seems to be the theme for my week.

I guess I’ll just press on, with Mario at the wheel, reading and critical thinking and attempting these assignments. What else is a girl to do?

In other related news, we did an exercise in class where we were put in groups and told to behave like we were editors of a new literary publication. We had to choose our genre/theme and the title of our mag and then review poems anonymously submitted by our classmates. We had to choose the one that was a good fit for our genre, the one we would accept. It was an interesting exercise that consumed a lot of class time.

One of the groups came up with the name “Pumpkin Spice Confessions” which was advertised as “basic bitch” poetry appealing to the masses. They chose my poem. Ha!! I mean, an acceptance is still an acceptance no matter what the pub is right?! And believe me, I know my poetry is pretty basic.

I’ll never be like any of these great writers I’m reading. Just now I wrote “I don’t have a traumatic childhood”, then erased it because, well, yes I do. I would say I’ve never been in an abusive relationship, but I have. I might confess that I’m just a layer of motz cheese on top of a pizza with nothing underneath, but yo! I got spicy pepperoni and artichoke hearts and red onions and some savory tomato sauce. Yeah. That.

Or maybe I’m just hungry because I’m starving myself to fit into a heavy white dress. It’s not white though.. it’s ivory because you really only get one shot at white and that was wasted, because I was already wasted at 19.

I was already rehearsing lines of white pages, a script handed to me before I could read. I toddling tot with my baton in a purple sequin leotard, with matching skirt.

My mom pierced my ears before I could talk. It was a botched job by a family friend that left me with puss filled ears my entire childhood. And you know that line in the script, “if at first you don’t succeed”, when I was finally healed we tried again.

On my wedding day I wore pearl white earrings that belonged to my paternal great-grandmother. Something old.

I followed all the instructions in the brigade handbook, a recipe book with clear descriptions of ingredients and exact measurements. Recommended Process and procedure for best results.

36-24-36

I checked again this morning, my numbers haven’t changed.

***

Ok.. that went somewhere weird. But, that’s just Luigi stretching and flexing.

I really need to do Jazzercise today.. I haven’t gotten to it at all yet this week. And for clarification, it’s not needed for the aforementioned numbers, but is needed to get my heart pumping, and because dance, and also… the current theory is that the free-weights and activity are helping with my tennis elbow situation.

More on that soon I hope. Until then..

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-16 Just Shrugging Along

Monday again and I had class which felt really long today. We finished a class exercise we started last week and it took 77 minutes. I didn’t count .. the prof was apparently keeping track. It makes me realize these things are sometimes just as tedious (or more so) for the person dreaming up, conducting discussions about, and then grading assignments. There’s a teeny-tiny fraction of a percent in me that thinks that would be good, fulfilling work. Working with aspiring writers. Watching them grow and flower. The rest of me is like.. “nope”.

If I ever become a teacher I think middle school would be my main Jam. Fresh minds who need to be introduced. Not jaded human beings who have already suffered enough to want to write through their pain. I dunno. /shrug

Anyway.. class was ok and I happily turned in my poems and reading response and feel good about that. Rewind one hot minute Before that and next week’s assignment was passed around. This weekly class thing, yeah, I remember how this works. Kinda. I’ve been spoiled by a program with big deliverables and deadlines but a lot of time in between to work with. We have to be good at time management (which is sometimes a problem for me because of procrastination), but I can crank it out if I need to. /shrug

Monday again and the kids are back and I’m catching up on the parenting thing, checking grades and trying to cook a meal. My Son is already struggling and I went to bat for him convincing the powers that be that he can do well if he’s motivated. He said he wanted to take AP World History. “It’s one of the toughest classes at the high school”, I said to him.

He said “I know, I can do it”. I want very much for him to be right. I want him to show them what I already know.. that he’s a very intelligent. He has a logical, and strategic mind. He’s got a huge capacity for vocabulary and great reading comprehension. He just needs to be interested or he shuts off. Now I know life doesn’t hand you “interesting” on a silver platter calling it your life. Nope. But in this one case I’m hoping he’s not all talk and no action. What’s a mom to do? /shrug

My darling daughter had a baby sitting gig this evening and I had about 10 whole minutes to figure dinner out (because of unexpected traffic after class) and I said “chicken in a skillet and Mac and cheese?”. She said “no”.

I said “pizza rolls?” She said “ok”. I made pizza rolls in the toaster oven (and started the chicken and Mac for C and I). When she came down the stairs she looked at the plate with a frown, “I’m not eating that and I don’t have time anyway”. She grabbed a package of pop tarts and went out the door. Grrrrr.

The pizza rolls were offered to every other human in the house and it was a big fat round of “no”s. Fine. Whatever.

I ate 3 to spite them and dumped the other 9 in the trash. /Shrug

I mean none of the things on the menu tonight were very healthy. I admit it. I didn’t go to the grocery store today for supplies. I’ll go tomorrow. /shrug

What else is there? (I’m doing an hour on the treadmill tonight to make up for the lack of exercise I did today, my butt in a chair most of the day). I dunno. Work maybe? There’s been a flare-up in the last few weeks and right now it feels like the hours I’ve put in are pro-bono. There no bucket to log my time and I know how this goes. We gotta our in some work and then if the project gets picked up for real, then it will be billable.

What can I say? I’m on the bench right now and they are still covering my health insurance. So I kinda feel like I owe my employer anyway, for keeping me on and covered. So I do the requested tasks, which are all not too difficult, and see where it leads. /shrug

Speaking of health insurance. My kids still don’t have any. And my ex is ignoring my requests to help pay. He’s a total ass-hat and I’m going through paperwork which is super painful with the DHHS and the hospital. I hate hate hate it! I don’t want to think about that or it will pull me from my /shrug down to mind on fire driving a burning stake straight through his left eyeball. Nobody wants that.

Simmer down.

Simmer down.

/shrug

That’s better.

I’m on a new sleeping plan prescribed by my fiancé. We are, one thing at a time, eliminating factors that impact our sleep negatively to try and find the thing that’s going to help improve the situation.

Step 1: Remove the cats from the bedroom area. No more walking back and forth all night, taking baths right by my ear, and sleeping with their fluffy bits in my face.

Step 2: Stop drinking water several hours before bed to reduce waking up to go. Yes, we’re old. Whatever.

Step 3: Use a noise app to generate white noise. Not sure why that’s a thing but I know lots of people who can’t sleep if it’s too quiet.

Step 4: Reduce caffeine intake. Oh, this! We’ll see. Never really been successful trying to do this. Willpower = weak sauce. More on that in another post soon I am sure. Maybe /shrug

Fitbit now has a “sleep score” and even if you get like 8 hours, it can still be poor. Though I’m sure duration is a factor in that score. So all of my nights of sleep are “fair”, not good. Good would be my new goal though hitting my last goal, 7 solid hours was a dream realized only for a short time before it tanked again. Makes me think my issues are chronic and or age related.

Yet, Jim is hopeful this will work for me so I have to have a little faith too. Still… /shrug

Times up! Time to shrug my way into pajamas and onto the couch.

Xoxo,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-14 Leaps and Bounds of Faith

I don’t have a religion. You might say I’m areligious the way an asexual has no need for sex or an aromantic has no need for romance. All three of those things are real words with definitions attached, I just checked.

But, just as an aromantic can still have and want and need love, I still have faith. Sometimes it wanes and changes the axis it rotates around, but it exists.

And that, my friends, is the most educative and creative way I can introduce the fact that in one week, I’ve Come face to face with this faith of mine, in not one or two, but three different ways. And like everything else in the universe, it’s all connected.

The first is an extension of yesterday’s post which was about making sense of nonsense. I have an assignment for my current poetry studio class which has three options with very specific requirements. I stared at the descriptions more times than I’d like to admit. Then, multiply the time I spent doing that and you have the number of minutes I spent thinking about them. Of course I wrote a little too, but it was a struggle and most of it had nothing to do with these assignments. It was just more free writing, you know, to get the machine running.

By Thursday I had a lot, but it wasn’t in the subject or form and didn’t have the requested lenses. I wound myself up about it (no surprise there), but deep down I knew it was there somewhere. I trusted that it would work itself out.

Then, on Friday morning I had a huge breakthrough. I pulled some notes from residency and used the details from a generative session about place/rivers/bodies of water and went with that. Once I started to put the pieces together, it all just floated into place. That was option 2. Then, miraculously I also found the connections for what I had written for options 1 and 3 as well. It was freaking amazing!

I spent almost all of Friday on all that and this morning did some final edits for turning them in. Of course these things are so new that my emotional attachment to them is strong, so it could still be garbage or nonsense to everyone else, but a little twinge in my gut says “naw, it’s good shit”.

That’s me having faith in myself and my abilities. It’s there. It hides sometimes and gets overshadowed in fears and doubts, but it’s there. It’s the part of me that won’t let me give up on these writing pursuits. That’s one of three. Are you still with me?

Number two came on Wednesday which also brought a storm of other events all happening at once. I was writing through the aforementioned assignments (there’s the connection), the meet and greet and reading for the students and faculty at UNO (for the folks in undergrad fine arts/writing programs) was at 4pm, it was the first meeting for a new local writing workshop group I’m participating in at 7pm, I had a meeting/conference call for work-Work at 3:30pm, walking campus at the same time to get my student ID, not to mention that it was also 9/11 which always has an impact on me.

Rewind to about 11am though, and what shows up on my freaking doorstep? A wedding dress. That’s right, I went wedding dress shopping a while back and that was an interesting experience, but I threw up in my mouth a little looking at the price tags of all those fabulous gowns. I ended up shopping online and found one that I really liked, with a price tag I could swallow. It’s atypical I know, and anticlimactic as hell, but whatever. At the end of the day, it’s just a dress.. right??

I opened it and put it on. It mostly fits, perhaps is a size to big, of course it’s too long and will have to be altered. I looked at myself in the mirror and it was like that moment.. it’s really happening. We have a date and a place and now we have a dress. Yowza!!!

Anyone who really knows me knows I have so many doubts about getting married again. At one point in my life I vowed to never do it again. Then I met Jim and in a whirlwind so much changed. But Gawd, I’m still unsure at times and terrified. This dress is proof that I do have faith that it’s right, that it’s going to be all right. I don’t think I would have pulled the trigger on ordering it if I didn’t have that faith. That’s proof number 2. Are you still with me, good Gawd there is still more.

Number three is so closely related to two, they are hard to separate but, selfishly, I want to write about it anyway. It’s not about the wedding but the marriage, and life after the big event that’s happening on 02022020.

Last Sunday I received an email from Z Publishing that the latest installment of their “Emerging Poets” series has been released, which includes 5 poems from yours truly. What’s that got to do with faith or my pending marriage? Well, to submit work and have it published you have to have a bio and, of course a name. I’ve written about this before. It’s a conundrum for me.

I’m a girl in transition. I don’t have a last name. I have a maiden name I haven’t used in 26 years. I haven’t been that girl for a very long time. I would still go with it to honor my grandfather but my relationship with my dad is so fractured, it wouldn’t feel right.

I just refuse to use my current, married name. That would be like looking back and staring when what I should be doing as looking at the future. That name led me to the place I am now, both the good and bad parts, but as I build my new life, I can’t use it. I don’t want to.

So that leaves me with what’s to come, my future name. My soon to be married name. I’ve written it, seen it on the copy for editing, and now.. it’s been released. Other people will see it. It’s out now even before it’s actually mine.

The book is available for sale on the Z website. My poems are in the 2019 Nebraska anthology, which includes work from 10 Nebraska based writers.

Z Publishing Featured Products and Collections

Submitting with a name that isn’t even mine yet was a huge leap of faith. Things could still go horribly wrong somehow. That doubt still lives in me too. I guess they are just buddies teaming up inside of me to wreak havoc.

I tell myself that if it all goes wrong, I can just say it was a thoughtful pen-name which I changed when I got real serious about all this writing business. Not that I’m not serious now, but I gotta have some exit strategy ready, you know?

That’s it. One two three, easy peasy (10 pages later).

It’s Saturday now and I’ve exhausted my hour on the treadmill and have to get down to some other business.

Ciao for now,
~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-13 Making Sense of Nonsense

This week has been a mess of nonsense. One minute things are fine, the next there’s an urgent letter that arrives and I spent time trying to decipher it, then I realize what day it is and go spinning back in time to try and make some words for that. I have assignments that are due and all I could do was try, but it came out as nonsense.
The more I thought about the subject and form, the aesthetic requested, the more frustrated I became with my inability to execute. I searched my words for a connection I could use to make what I had written qualify. I failed.
Then today, 91319, I woke up and realized what day it was. Another glorious palindrome, Friday the 13th, and the crescendo of the Waxing Moon. Behold, now it all makes sense.
Of course with Friday the 13th there is fear. The letter, what I’m most afraid of.
Of course with the full moon there’s a swarm of human emotion and longing.
Of course with the day, the date, there’s a strong desire to think logically and make connections.
The nonsense I had written was not nonsense at all. Now it all makes perfect sense.
It’s first draft Friday again and what I have is not yet in its proper form, but it will do, for today…  Aftermath of the Swell
Finding joy in beautiful messes,
~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-11 Nine-Eleven, 18 Years Later

Today, nine eleven slipped into the forgotten space of a busy world where so many other things insist on being necessary. Every year, as I type the date, the words, I’m reminded instantly. Every day I type the date because that is how I begin. It is part of the fabric of my beginning the day. It’s stitched into me like waking and wandering to the bathroom, involuntary like breathing. Today I typed the date and then, due to another anomaly with the date – not because of the date, I typed it again. Its 9/11/19 but I made a typo and thought it was the 10th of September and so glossed over the actual date, didn’t realize it until hours later when I was retracing my steps. I saw the typo and fixed it, and when I fixed it, that is when it hit me.

How could anything be so insistent and necessary as to eclipse this day and the remembrance that it deserves. The day does not demand being remembered. It doesn’t ask for it.. no day would ever ask for a tragedy such as that so that it can have some claim to fame, some grief forever scarred on it with endless books and poems and stories and pictures and memorials.

I was, like most, moved beyond words by the tragedy of the twin towers falling, and the plane crash that followed. I groped for words so I could, individually, come to terms with what had happened. I strung some together and then a year later, I did it again. Every year I do this. I pay my respects to every single human being whose life was altered by the events of that day, and the aftermath.

It was not until this year, when I visited New York City, that I got a more complete picture of what actually happened. The picture was made more whole because at the memorial site and museum they also tell the story of all the things that happened after. A day after, a week after, a month after, months and years leading up to the present day. The collapse of all the buildings on the World Trade Center campus took a very long time to excavate and hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly on the effort for a long time. Many got sick. Many are still sick.

In the basement of the museum they have a few of the concrete columns that were originally support structures for the towers. These had to be brought down, they have been written on, they were turned into a memorial and now they will be preserved forever, for future generations to get a glimpse of a very human aspect of the event. Amidst all the concrete and steel and rebar, the individual notes and messages have been preserved.

There is a set of stairs that were kept, mostly in tact, because they led so many people to safety. The people that used these stairs and found their way to safety lived. There are giant support beams on display, a visual testimony of the forces involved on impact and collapse.

There’s a mangled fire truck, half of it crushed under the weight of something. None of the men who rode in on that fire truck survived. There was a recording of a call back to the station, the steady voice of a man reporting on what was happening inside the building, what floor he was on. He was keeping his cool. Before he hung up he thanked the person on the other end of the line. He probably knew he was going to die in that building. Yet he kept climbing. That should never be forgotten.

It should never be glossed over because we are too busy doing all the things that we feel we must. We should recognize that we can go about our business of the day today and tomorrow and the next day because we are fortunate to be alive. I cant really do anything about what happened but Continue to think and feel and try to find the words.

It has been 18 years. The connection for me will always be that the anniversary of this day preceded my daughters birth by 6 months. She will be 18 next March. At the time I Was pregnant and terrified of bringing a child into a world with people who were capable of that kind of hatred and destruction. To be honest, I’m still terrified. My children went through the memorial with me. They have talked about it in school but I felt it was important that they, too, got more of a complete picture. It is important.

It remains important and should not be overlooked or minimized. When I type the date I want it to have all the immediate necessity that a call into 911 would have, and even if it cant stay in the foreground for long – a minute, an hour, a day. I want to try and show honor and gratitude. Not for the day, but for all the people, my fellow human beings, who lost their lives that day and so many more whose lives were permanently damaged. My hope is that the living continue to hold on to life and make the most of the time they have left….

Keep Climbing.. because you can,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-10 OR..91019!💃💃💃

What’s with the dancing you ask? Well.. my dear friend Michelle pointed out to me yesterday that we are rolling into a glorious 10 day stretch of dates that are PALINDROMES! Let me tell you that when she texted me that yesterday it made me grin from ear to ear, not only because I’m a numbers nerd, but more because I have people in my life who really get me. That’s the secret sauce you know, and it shouldn’t be a secret which is why I’m making that my Fall mantra. The statement “teamwork makes the dream work” is overdone, but there’s a reason for that.

Things that are true get a lot of reps. That stands for both repetition and reputation. This reminds me of a topic I’ve pondered lately because of a craft essay I recently read for school. It was An excerpt from Marge Percy’s “Midgame: Making It Better, Truer, Clearer, More Gorgeous” and one of the sections talks about trend and cliche. Anybody that has studied poetry for even a hot minute knows that you generally try to shy away from the cliche. Comparing something beautiful to a rose, saying something is as deep as the ocean, or referencing the moon (or really any thing that happens to exist in the realm of the celestial). I mean, there are no rules really but if something becomes cliche then that means it’s sort of exhausted itself in a literary sense. The essay speaks a little on why.

It has to do with universal understanding and trends to some degree. Every poetic era is slanted by the thing that all the cool kids are doing. Back in the day (when the Rose 🌹 found out its claim to fame) iambic pentameter was king. And so too, was the traditional sonnet form. But how many traditional sonnets do we see in contemporary poetry? Not a lot. Why? Because it’s payed out and been replaced by free verse.

There was a time that end rhyme was all the rage and that’s like death to a poet nowadays. I mean, I still do it, because it’s in my blood but none of those little nuggets of deliciousness will ever be published. It’s not cool. The landscape of the current poetic discourse has evolved into something else, in which the rhyme and form still have a place, but are changed.

In the essay she says that yesterday’s trend by the nature of the beast becomes the very thing that people avoid, almost detest “today”. So what’s the new cool kid on the block? Believe me, that is the question de jour.

My mind bends into this question and the answer snaps back from a couple different places… The first is from the exploration of contemporary poets. People who are being published today, winning prizes, being celebrated. What their work is IS the essence of the current landscape. Absorb that. Lean into imitation and you’re a third of the way there (the other two thirds come from instinct/individual voice and careful attention to craft).

The second part of the answer comes from the mouths of mentors and classroom professors and conductors of workshops and peers. Over and over again it’s “make it interesting”, “make it weird”, “make it different/unique”. There is so much poetry out there. Millions of poems and more being born every day. They exist, but to survive and persist they have to call attention to themselves. They have to have a hook, to get someone’s attention. That someone is a gate keeper that looks at hundreds of poems all day every day. They see ordinary, cliche, antiquated form and that poem goes right into the bit bucket, trash bin, or paper shredder. So today’s landscape is the anti-cliche.

Death to the Rose and Moon. So long slow sunset, fading away with your seven different luscious fruit flavors into to the void of yesterdays fame. Goodbye Ocean Tide, ocean swell, ocean magic. Isn’t it just tragic.

But.. here’s my dirty little secret. I don’t care. It’s a glorious feeling. It’s freeing really, that I can get my head around all of this and come to an understanding with it and let my inner voice reign supreme anyway. It too, will evolve with every poem and poet I’m touched by, and perhaps it will be altered naturally into what it is meant to be. I can remove “perhaps” from that statement because it’s already happened, and is happening — daily. The evidence is staring back at me every time I compare yesterday’s work with what I am writing today.

That’s why I don’t have a problem dismissing the notion that cliche is taboo. I embrace the bone white moon in all her glorious phases. I drink the sunrise and sunset. I feel Teamwork making the dream work pulsing in my veins. And I’m not afraid to say it!

If you made it this far, thanks for staying with me, it’s you I’m talking about! We have 10 days of magic starting today.. make them count!

Dance Dance Dance,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-10 Turn and Return To Center

It’s taco Tuesday again y’all. Let’s just be honest though, everyday is taco day. It’s just the way of things.. you know?

So here’s where my brain is at today, cuz that’s as good a place to start as any. Things have definitely leveled out since the major spin-out I had last week. This time last week I was circling certain doom. I forced myself to connect the dots with some important peeps and that helped tremendously. The weekend was very average and aside from a mini freak out Sunday/Monday about an assignment for class on Monday, all was well.

As a team, Jim, Z, and I made great forward progress on clearing out the room that is on the opposite side of the garage, intended to be a workshop/craft room but became a dumping ground for all things we didn’t know what to do with when we moved in. We sorted through stacked storage bins, furniture, and a whole bunch of random shit. It’s all out now and mostly moved to more appropriate places. There’s a little more prep work required, but we’re almost to painting. It’s a good thing for all us. More on that in the future. Perhaps a before and after post. I know Z took pics and she’s ga-ga for diy YouTube channels and Pinterest and all that stuff so we probably will end up with enough content for whatever we would want.

As far as today is concerned, there will be no tacos. I’ve literally got the whole day to work on house chores, writing, reading, and more work on that room if I get super motivated. The writing biz is blowing up now. I’m working on several projects for my Poetry Studio class which are very specific. For real. It’s all like.. here’s the subject and the form and also put a slant on it with this lenses/context in mind. I’m so used to free writing, fitting myself into a certain shape box is interesting. I’m still unsure how I feel about it, but I get the exercise. If I can do it, I’ll be a better writer for it.

I also need to make forward progress on the 3rd term craft paper which has me looking at other poets. Though I have permission from both my profs to cross the streams, it may not exactly work out that way because of timing.

Speaking of timing.. my time is up today and I need to jet.

Wash.. Rinse.. Repeat,

~Miss SugarCookie