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

2019-08-21 Tick-Tock

I’m checking the calendar again.

How long has it been since my last cortisone shot? How many days until my next period? How many months until my wedding? How many days until my next assignment is due? And at the moment, the biggest elephant in the room.. how many days until next Monday, when I will be another year older.

Time is fatal.

Ohhhh so much drama. It’s like the perfect storm right now, due to the ticking of the clock against all the aforementioned events. I’m so damn grumpy and while I’m left-brained enough to know that it makes sense and is completely within my control, my right brain is stomping its feet in tantrum. It wants to be upset which makes me wonder if it’s just for the sake of something else. Oh, hell, the human brain is so flawed.

You want to know how you know it’s so screwy? Ten minutes before I came down to the treadmill to walk and write, I had some caffeine. Now as i feel it kick in, I’m suddenly feeling better. My mood is improving and it’s not just the venting words that’s doing it. It’s the chemicals mixing in my system affecting my brain. How can one tiny little variable, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or a steroid shot or a hormone like testosterone make that much of a difference. But they do, the science (of which I know nothing about) is there. It’s real. And it’s all connected.

I’ve historically been concerned about my health, getting enough sleep, eating right, getting exercise and making better choices about what chemicals I put in my system. I had to learn some lessons the hard way, but I’m better now. And now I’m in maintenance mode trying to figure out a good balance, practicing moderation. I’m doing ok, but struggles persist. That’s life.

I’ve moved beyond the diet and exercise and sleep puzzle for the most part (maybe not sleep) and am now facing age and the ticking of that clock and mental challenges I’ve not had before. The fatigue and brain fog are real. The pain in my arm is real. The lack of desire is real.

Yesterday I complained that I didn’t want to just get a shot or take a pill or have hormone pellets inserted into my rear again, but today I’m all like “maybe” if it will help, then why not. And now that I’m caffeinated, I’m sort of convinced that I should make those calls today. Wondering if I can get in yet this week so my tennis elbow will be better by Monday. Perhaps.

See how my tune has changed in just 30 minutes??!!

Anyway, now that I’m feeling better, it’s time to get this Wednesday party started. Time will always be fatal, but that doesn’t mean we should waste it.

Cheery-oh, let’s go!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-08-20 How Much is Enough?

How many things can I cross off my list? How many things do I need to cross off to feel as if I’m doing enough? That I’ve done enough? Enough for what?

To earn my keep here?

To feel like I’ve actually accomplished something substantial and worthwhile?

To earn some reward or rest or treating myself to something selfish?

Don’t get me wrong, I spend plenty of time on selfish pursuits. But if the joy is not in them, then there must be something wrong. Right?

Between yesterday and today I’ve crossed almost every task I’ve written down. All but 1, and I have it in my mind to get that done before Friday. Roll into the weekend easy.

Sometime today I talked myself out of throwing a “dog days of summer” party on Saturday and that released me from the responsibility of doing about 4 things on my list, including extending invitations for the shindig. I told Jim at lunch and he said he was not surprised about that. I procrastinated the invites and that means I was still very much on the fence about it.

I got the idea after our last party which was, as it always is, a family affair and it was about 25 relatives from his side and a big fat zero from mine. Nothing like feeling like I’m alone on an island, albeit a beautiful one. I decided we would have a party and invite friends instead. But, as I said, I drug my feet on it until it seemed more a chore than anything else. Cleaning and preparing for guests and such involves a level of effort I just lost the heart to take on.

I’m supposed to go wedding dress shopping again tonight and my heart is not in that either. Whatever. I’m just feeling unsatisfied and I’m not sure how to fix it, and it’s only Tuesday.

And while we are on the subject of me being a spoiled brat and not satisfied with anything with nothing real to complain about.. my arm hurts. Damn it, it sucks to get old.

Jim just says “call the ortho”. That’s right. Get a shot, take a pill, rub some creme on it. So you say you are exhausted every day by 10am and not sleeping? Here’s a prescription for Xanax and we can try again with that hormone replacement therapy.

We can drain that HSA that nobody is contributing to anymore and we’ll worry about the fact that the kids still don’t have health insurance when it hits bottom. But all that will be fixed next February when I get married. Because that’s a reason to get married. What about Love?

Maybe I’m just not feeling very loved and appreciated. Maybe I’m not giving enough to get some back. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough.

Again, I ask, how much is enough?

Well this is certainly enough of this blog post. All this complaining.. ain’t nobody got time for that.

Peace and love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-08-15 Nightmares and the Spoken Poem

I don’t have much to muse about today. I could ponder longer the nightmare that I had last night which was super creepy but I kinda don’t want it to linger any longer than necessary. What was interesting was that I was having trouble falling asleep and at about midnight I got up and went upstairs to grab my phone off the charger where I keep it overnight (I don’t usually keep it by my bed anymore .. to tempt me into distractions). I brought it down to put the noise app on thinking that might help with my sleep.

Last I checked my Fitbit the time was 12:10. Incredibly I was stirred awake less than half an hour later by the aforementioned nightmare. I woke up and looked at my Fitbit and it was 12:38. That means that I fell asleep and fell into REM sleep and had a dream all in like 25 minutes. Who knows how long dreams actually last but it felt like a long sequence. It makes me wonder if we dream in fast motion. Is our brain playing out a scene that in real life would take 10 minutes in like 1 or 2?

I don’t have much insight from the Fitbit app interpretation of my sleep cycles other than the confirmation that I was in REM around that time. I also had a spike in heart rate which is another stat that is tracked. I’m like, no shit, that dream was terrifying, no wonder my HR was elevated. It was one of those that was so real so when you wake you’re all like over the top grateful that it was a dream. Why does our brain make nightmares. What is THAT about anyway?

***

Today the kids are back in school and I have the whole day to work on reading and writing. After my morning walk and Jazzercise, I’m gonna get down into it.

Tonight there is another poetry reading I want to attend. I know two of the readers, sort of, and am interested in hearing them read. I find that some poems are better read on the page and some are better heard out loud. I can definitely say that I’ve written a few that I think really suck on the page but with a little performance they kind of “pop”.

I enjoy slam poetry events too but sometimes I feel like the poems all end up sounding the same. Same topics, same drama, same voice. People don’t slam about their gardens and actual love poems are rare. It seems to be that slam poems and the rest of the written discourse doesn’t intersect very much. Perhaps that’s just a green assessment from someone with fairly limited exposure.

Whatever.

That’s all I got today..Time to Jam.

Cheers,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-30 NYC Day 5 – A Girl and Her Limits

Nothing like trying to remember exactly what life was like 48 hours and 1,241 miles ago, especially when traveling has created a haze around everything. Where was I at again? Oh yeah, New York City. It was a Monday in the year 2019 and I was just a girl traveling with her family and trying to do every last damn thing… which pushed me to my limit.

Our first stop that Monday was to the new One World Trade Center. The time was 9:30AM. We had tickets to go up to the observation deck on the 102nd floor and experience NYC from the highest point in the city. From there, you can walk 365 degrees around and see for miles in all directions. Their slogan, “See Forever” feels spot on. You can see to the edges of earth where it starts to curve under. The advertised “experience” included a bunch of electronic nonsense — iPads, video clips, and interactive displays. As if being shot up 100 floors in less than 45 seconds and pondering life from such a height wasn’t good enough. Guess I’m just a simple girl.

The second stop of the day was a short walk from the new trade center. It was the memorial site and museum for the original buildings that were destroyed on 9/11. All of the 16 acres of land where the original seven buildings stood has been reconfigured into new buildings, a green space, and a memorial and museum. We did a 1 hour guided tour and also walked around the area above ground where the twin towers stood.

Those two locations have now been transformed into a pair of water features where the water descends into the middle past where the eye can see and the stone on the perimeter of the pools has the names of all persons who lost their lives etched in it. That was quite touching and the tour even more so. Our guide did a great job walking us through the museum and relaying information about the day, the towers, the structural collapse of the buildings, stories of people involved in escaping, rescue, recovery, and clean up in the months to follow.

I learned a great deal of new information and was moved to tears watching video of the bringing down and “laying to rest” one of the great concrete columns. The city has done a fantastic job with the space and it was time well spent.

Our third stop of the day, and last ticketed attraction, was the cruise out to the Statue of Liberty and trek up inside the statue. This was also memorable, but for very different reasons. This, “pilgrimage”, if you will, is a thing that most tourists who visit NYC do. An icon of the city and of our nations history, it is one of the most toured sites in the country. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people piling onto the cruise ships which departed about every 20 minutes. It was a massive moving crowd of human bodies on and off and through three different airport like security checkpoints. If they were going for the “huddled masses” effect, they were successful.

We had also not eaten since breakfast (and some of us don’t eat breakfast) so we also had the pleasure of being packed into the food court for what was arguably the worst cheeseburger I have ever had. Let’s make that official – Crown Cafe Cheeseburger, a solid 1 (terrible) on a 5 point scale. TO be fair, Jim had the “New York burger” and said it was delicious. There were lots of cooks on the grill and perhaps our line cook was having an off day. To make matters worse, our tickets to go up in the statue were for 3PM and we were pressed for time and had to eat in about 5 minutes.

We gobbled the food, headed for the statue at a good clip, and then proceeded to climb the 215 steps that are inside the pedestal of the statue. Bear in mind, by this time of the day the heat was at its peak and there was a heat advisory on the island. I got to the top of the pedestal, quite winded, where you can walk outside and look. I took my time walking around and would have taken longer, but the rest of the crew were impatient to go up to the crown. They only allow a few folks a day up there and we bought our tickets months ago.

They let us through the roped-off section to the stairs that led up into the top of the pedestal where the statue is secured to the base. That is as far as I got. The next stairs to climb were a tight spiral that wound around the center of the statue. When I say tight, I mean narrow and steep, and confining. Once you commit to going up, there is no going back down. You have to get all the way to the top before you can descend down the other side of the spiral. I got about 20 steps up and a panic came over me. I felt trapped and hot and dizzy and nauseous. I went back down those 20 steps and waited at that level, alone, while the rest of our crew went up and came back down.

That is the first time in my life I was not able to do something because of a panic. I’ve been afraid of things before – rollercoasters, public speaking, driving up and around cliffs on mountainsides, scuba diving, snorkeling – and at no time have I ever let that fear get the best of me. It’s just all in the head, you know. You have to push past it and things always turn out just fine. This was different though. This felt less like a mental block and more like an actual physical limitation. As I stood there alone I briefly tried to talk myself into heading up and then, upon realizing it was not going to happen, I instead tried to reason out why my body was reacting the way it was.

All I could think is that it must have been the perfect storm to create such a commotion inside. The heat, the emotional draining from seeing the 911 memorial, the being packed on a rocky boat, the pounding food into an empty stomach, the physical exhaustion from climbing the first set of stairs, the lack of a break in-between hikes around the island and up. All of these things culminated in my having a meltdown at the base of the steps that led up to the crown. All these things were responsible, I told myself, and not just a simple fear of being trapped. It couldn’t be just that. I sat down and wept. It was the second time I cried that day and would not be the last.

When Jim and the kids came back down, we all descended the rest of the stairs together and once back inside the air-conditioned lower level, both Jim and Z took me aside separately to ask me what happened. I still couldn’t say anything more than “I just couldn’t do it”. Z put her arm around me and gave me a light squeeze. Then Jim did the same. That’s when the tears came again. I just wanted to be done, and magically transported back to the apartment, back to a cool place to rest. There was no magic, of course and It would take about 2 more hot, sweaty, physically and emotionally draining hours to get back home.

***

That evening would be our last in the City. I didn’t want to waste it and was quite sick of “vendor and cafe” food. The area we were located is called “Hells Kitchen” which is named partially because the area is so densely packed with exceptional restaurants. We had only been at a sit down place twice the entire trip and that was a damn shame. It was mostly easier to satisfy the kids needs by eating a quick slice a pizza or hot dog or hamburger on the go.

So after our recovery Jim and I went out to a real restaurant, just him and I. I wanted to go to the “Hell’s Kitchen” restaurant which was literally less than a block from our apartment. It was Mexican food and a margarita sounded like the perfect refreshing start of the evening. It was.

We had a great meal and got a buzz on over our tacos and nachos. It felt like a normal night out at home. It also gave me the pep I needed to venture out, one last time, to Times Square with Z. Everyone else was over it, but realizing that it was our last opportunity, we went for it.

Jim stayed back with the boys so it was a girls only night out. We hit the Disney store and one of a dozen “I ❤️ NYC” souvenir stores. We stopped in at the McDonald’s to get her fries and a soda, “dinner of champions” in the heart of Manhattan. We sat at a table between the streets and giant electronic billboards. We caught some more Pokémon and laughed a lot and then wandered back, carefully avoiding the group of mini-mouses and other cartoon characters. It was a great night and a good end to our Big adventure in the Big Apple.

There’s more to write (and remember) as always. Words that go forever and curve under the edges of the earth. But even the longest day has to end sometime and this one is quickly fading into the haze.

Next Stop.. Nebraska!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-18 MFA Res Day 4 (And 5 And 6)- Going Beyond the Pale…

And trying to get back.

I’ve pushed past cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and have moved into territory that is a little unfamiliar. Is this what this is supposed to be like? This has happened a little in the past two residencies but not like this one. I’m in such a strange headspace, bodyspace, universe space I’m not sure what to make of it.

Yeah, I’m out my body and out of my mind and trying to figure out if I’m ever going to be the same. Think, if you’d like, that I’m being overly dramatic, but I’m not. I’m being nauseously, wrecklessly serious. I’ve lost 5 or 6 pounds in the last 5 days (verified this morning). Every time I eat, I feel sick to my stomach. I’ll stop short of going into the other sketch physical details, just know, it’s not pretty.

The problem manifests with physical symptoms, but it 90% mental, I am certain. I’m trying to maintain some sliver of routine, but it’s damn near impossible and my brain fixates on an idea and I can’t shake it and it throws me off whatever well-intended course I have.

My morning rituals, for example. This morning is the first morning I’ve really been able to find my way to the treadmill. When you don’t start like you normally start the day, it’s already off the rails. Then it goes into the weeds and grass on a paved path which turns into dirt trails leading into the woods. The packed brown earth beneath the feet begins to narrow and the canopy becomes more dense and you can’t stop and before you wake from the rythem of the daydream of your silent footsteps, you are lost, and when you turn and peer back and squint you can see the pale behind you.

Yesterday I was still in that place and so punch-drunk with the euphoria of the freedom that comes from being in an unfamiliar space. It’s exciting and you know you should leave, call for help, retrace your steps, ask for a map (you are not alone), or just slow down. But you don’t want to.

The instinct of logic has left your side and your left-brain, being absent, leaves your right brain scurrying around wild-eyed and manic. It just wants to know how far this path that is not a path goes.

***

I’m back on the treadmill now and need to get my act together because I have a lot of important business to take care of today. Fighting through the constant distraction of seemingly brilliant beginnings of thought is probably going to pose the greatest challenge. Every shiny object popping up right in front of me will be tough to resist. I need to try and stay on task.

As if on queue it happened just now. I started thinking about a person I got to know a little better yesterday who introduced me to some new music and I spent at least 74 seconds on that thread of thought. I just can’t do that and I have to resist the impulse that that is EXACTLY what I should be doing. Following those thoughts off Into the woods. “Isn’t that why we are here!”, my right brain insists.

When I got to the workout room this morning Bob was on the treadmill already. There is only one. I was here on the start of the first full day which feels like about 25 days ago now, and he asked me how long I would be. I had just started and selfishly replied “about 50 more minutes.” He left.

The second encounter was the following day when he sat behind me in lecture and asked me, as I was scanning the room before the start of it, “What time are you going to walk tomorrow?”.

I still felt guilty for presumably bursting his bubble previously and looked at the schedule and said “I’m not going tomorrow because the nature walk is that day and I don’t need to.” I shied away from explaining that I can’t predict what might happen over 12 hours in the future here. I can neither predict or commit to anything as concrete as a time of day. I just can’t. Ask me what I’m doing for the next 4 hours, sure, but tomorrow? Forget it.

I could tell a lot about Bob by the simple detail that he never formally introduced himself to me in those two encounters (I didn’t either). I thought about it after the fact so this morning I made a point to do it before he left the room. So that’s Bob.

He left less than 5 minutes after I arrived. He said I had good timing and I smiled and replied that that was the first time anyone had ever said that to me. I withheld a wink.

That’s it for now. As I said I need to focus and stay on task today. Get back to crossing necessary things of the mental list I’ve composed for the next 4 hours. After that. All bets are off.

Wandering Back,

~Miss SugarCookie