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

2019-09-10 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

2019-08-18 An Abundance of Fresh Water and Wild Wanderings

“The poem is the lie we tell to reveal the truth.”

It’s a comment/quote that came back on my packet .5 and I’m a little stuck on that, but not in a bad way. In a very satisfying, mind-winding way. This is the first semester in the program that a mentor has given me such specific direction. I’m not dismissing the approaches of my previous mentors, who both seemed perfect for where I was at that place in my progression. Extremely Academic followed by a polar opposite open door to consider all possibilities. But this time, I’ve got someone who has listened to me and tailored quite specific assignments to lead me on a particular path.

In some ways, I very much thrive on (even need) that kind of direction to urge me forward. And I’m following his direction despite the fact that, at times, it’s going against my instincts. We came to mutual agreement about the topic of my craft paper for the term. After the submission of my first draft, which was a hot mess of trying to define my topic in different ways over and over, he suggested to me a possible structure, with subtopics.

This week I tried to pull apart what I had written and put it back together under those five headings. It felt wrong. There’s overlap and somethings that don’t fit anywhere at all. It led to me cutting entire paragraphs and putting them aside. I’m not used to writing longer pieces so each word and sentence and paragraph and page seems as precious as clean water in a third world country. I don’t want to waste anything I’ve squeezed out and collected.

Then I finally forced myself to get down to the real work which is evaluating a set of poets and the voices that emerge in their poems. The first of which is Robert Creeley who was, upon a examination, a god-damned genius. Open any page of his current “final” collection and behold, brilliance. It’s hard to pick poems to use as examples as they are all shining examples of the work and life of the man, and his poetic voice.

Cheating a little bit, I returned to the essays that I wrote in my first term that included his work and used that as a jumping off point. I quickly moved from that to re-evaluation based on my sub-topics and found a wealth of other things to comment on and include. If I incorporate the entirety of three poems I’m using as examples, I now have 12 pages on Creeley.

Keeping tabs on the situation, I’ve already written 10 pages (some of which will be lost in revision) and 12 new pages. I’m over 2/3ds the way to my goal and haven’t even started on the other 3 or 4 poets we discussed using in the paper. Yowza! I thought it was going to be painful to try and write a 30-45 page paper on anything and now I’m all like “this thing is heading for like 50-60 pages”.

I’m going to have to cut and compress and in my wildest dreams I never thought that would be the case. Life just amazes me sometimes.

Anyway, so I’m going to be continuing that quest this next week as the next draft is due at the end of this week, along with the next installment of creative work which my mentor maintains is where most of my energy should be going. And believe me, it certainly feels like it is.

It’s waking up in the middle of the night with flashes of phrases that won’t let me sleep until I write them down. It’s driving in the car and suddenly dictating something into my phone. It’s eating or showering or cleaning the house and having to rush suddenly to my notebook to scribble something down. I’ve experienced this at times before but not like this. This is exhausting.

I brought my notebook to lunch with a friend a few weeks ago and he said “what’s that for”. I said that it was for writing things down in case he said something brilliant (really it was for if either of us did).

I have been quite exhausted lately indeed, zapped of energy sometimes before noon. But if the writing is the culprit, I’m ok with that. It goes back to my comment about it all being as precious as clean water. I want to collect all that I can and store it up for later.

The other thing that this mentor is allowing me to be, or giving me permission to be to the point of encouragement is messy. I’m not a messy person and my writing has always been somewhat controlled with a purpose and intent from the start. Now, I’m just writing all these things down, scribbling them with reckless abandon, on the page without a worry that it’s good or bad or organized or serves any purpose at all. That, my friends, is quite freeing.

I’m allowing myself to write the lie. To fabricate some situation beyond what actually is, and if you boil all of that down, it’s as true of a thing as the fact that the sun rises every day. That’s incredible.

Given all of that, I may go into a bit of a hiding-hole this week, focussing on my second poet of choice and transcribing my creative chaos into electronic format.

It’s Sunday today and for the record, my stats are shit again and I don’t care. How can one care when things feel so magical?

That’s enough walking and wandering for one day. See you on the other side.

Let it Rain,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-11 Hung Over Sunday Status

We had a shindig at the house last night and I’m feeling it this morning. Jim has a lot of relatives and so when we have a family gathering, it’s a pretty good size crew. No representation from my side. My one brother and one of my sisters live in Colorado and my other sister is on vacation this week in Yellowstone. My mom couldn’t come cuz she’s watching my sisters animals and my dad wasn’t invited. Such is life.

I’m on the treadmill trying to walk off the crummy side-effects from too much vodka-cran and so far, it’s not really working. I’m not really in a writing mood either and that makes it the perfect time for a Sunday Status Cheat Day. I haven’t done one of these in a while. That’s something noteworthy I think.

With that, I’m going to just take a quick look at the entire month of July and compare to August so far since we’re already a third of the way through that. Eeeeeek!

For steps in July I got an average of 13k per day, which is over my goal of 12k so that’s pretty good. August, so far, has been only about 8k a day and that’s pretty rotten. Hard to balance out to 12 with that much of a deficit.

In contrast, my sleep was poor in July and I only had about 6 hours average per night. I blame residency and NYC. So far this month I’m back up to about 7.25. Seven and a half would be better (I just need two more bits). I think I can shoot for that. I think I’ll start right now.

***

That’s enough of that. I needed a do-over so I took a half a Xanax and had a fat nap. I needed the sleep more than the steps. And I needed to find my way to some sort of normal Sunday. Not sure I’m there yet

I put on my kitty cat earrings and left my engagement ring on the shelf after my nap.

My tennis elbow pain, which woke again from its cortisone sleep somewhere in New York City is just really angry now. I went to lift a water bottle off the counter and pain surged up my arm. I’m gonna have to get back to the ortho again. /deep sigh

The kids who also missed the family party because they were at the wedding of one of their first cousins (on their dads side of course) which was somewhere in Kansas. I miss them, and perhaps that was one thing that contributed to my being a little loosy-goosie with the vodka last night. They have seven 1st cousins on their dads side and I haven’t seen most that crew for 10 years. I saw pictures posted on Facebook last night. That made me a little sad too. They are all grown up. Life happens.

When I was at res I met a guy named Jackson. After the lodge switched me to the second floor because of the wasp problem my room was right next to his. I hung out on the patio real late a couple of nights and he’d follow me down to my room to chat after. He helped me eat the hummus and crackers and cheese I brought with me and I was grateful since I couldn’t eat it. I hate when food goes to waste. Sharing a wall, we devised a “knock code”. Two knocks for good night and three for good morning and the classic “shave and a hair cut, two bits” knock for “hi, is anybody there”. It was sweet.

We’ve been to lunch twice now and I sat with him and another newbie of our little UNOMFA program at a poetry reading Friday night. Jim was spending the evening with his son who is headed back to college this week and I was grateful to know a few faces at Kaneko and not sit all alone.

Not sure if I mentioned this after residency but my kids went on vacation with their dad to Yellowstone and glacier national park while I was gone. Lots of driving and camping and their dad proposed to his girlfriend somewhere out there on some beautiful scenic overlook. It’s been a long time coming and there’s a little part of me that wonders if my getting engaged has a little to do with the fact that he’s finally pulling the trigger too. Ten years really is a long time for two divorced people to both remain unmarried. When I got divorced I vowed to never get married again. Guess I was wrong about that.

He told me a couple of years ago he would never marry that girl. Guess he was wrong about that too. That’s life. February 2nd is going to sneak up fast and I have flashes of inspiration about the ceremony and the reception, but mostly it’s all still pretty fuzzy. I think I need to think about it some more, but today is certainly not the day for that.

I’n a little bit the kids will be coming home and I’m going to have leftovers from the party for dinner. I don’t think I’ll be quite back to normal until tomorrow. It sucks to get old. I remember when I could drink like that and have a grand time (like I did last night) and wake up the next day feeling great by 10AM. Now hangovers seem to last about 24 hours. It’s rotten.

What I should have done this weekend is a lot of reading and writing but just never got down to it. The weekend hours are waning now and I may do a little light reading and see if I can get myself into it. Maybe.. no promises of course.

I guess this qualifies as a status. Status minus most of the stats. Ha.

Two bits and I’m gone,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-08-07 The One About Fluff and Stuff

No.. those are not the names of my kitten cats, but they could be since they are so super soft.

I didn’t get to walk this morning, or this afternoon like I had planned. The whole day has been drained away by other duties as assigned. I had a solid 4 and a half hours of sleep as I was up late writing and then woke around 4:30AM to start wrapping up my first major assignment for school. Aside from cooking breakfast, I wrote through till about 10am in order to hit send on a bunch of “stuff”.

“Stuff” is the best way that I can describe what was in the collection of writing we (my mentor and I) are calling my “packet point five oh”. It was an agreed upon acceleration to the typical schedule for the semester, which would include sending the first official packet, “packet one” around the end of August. The “stuff” included a little bit of brilliance on what I want my craft paper to be about this term surrounded by a very large amount of “fluff”. “Fluff” being all the filler of words you use when you are wanting to fill up a page but have nothing of real substance to say. The packet also included four new, very messy poems about a topic we discussed with some measure of detail during our time together in July. Namely, my house (AKA, the Castle) and my new life.

One of my goals this term is to be less general with my creative work, and really get into the weeds of the details. Some of those details will be about my current life, and not some rehash of all the same ole, same ole I’m always going on about. Mind you, I write about my every day, well, almost every day, but not in my poetry for some reason. It seems I’m always sticking to musing about the world in quite a general way. You know, the meaning of life, and why we are all here and things like that. I shy away from details. That’s where the devil hangs out. But that’s gonna change, apparently.

I submitted my stuff today with a fairly high level of confidence that those pages are never going to amount to anything. I’ve tried to prepare all the parties involved (which at this point is just my mentor and I). I’ve written past the end of the story on three of the four narratives and not sure there is an actual poem among them. I guess I don’t need to think too much more about it, because it’s sent now and out of my hands (for the moment).

I’m not inclined to wait for feedback before I dive into the stack of books I have acquired for this term. I’m totally excited to take my time and spend my time on some high quality reading. As it is late in the day now and the sun is heading for the horizon, I think that reading may just have to be something that gets started tomorrow. But, perhaps I’ll have time to take a peek at one of the more bite size books after I put on my pajamas and get comfy on the couch. Perhaps.

The rest of my day was all snoresville. A few errands around town, very limited QT with my children (they have better things to do), and lots of cleaning and yard work as I continue to prepare for an onslaught of houseguests which starts tomorrow and will continue through Saturday evening. Amazingly, the sink is full of dishes again. I gotta believe nobody is going to want to read a poem about endless dirty dishes in a bottomless kitchen sink. Aint nobody got time for that. Certainly not me.

I suppose that’s enough fluff and stuff for today. Those pajamas and that book are calling my name… I just need to be able to stay awake long enough to get that far.

Sweet Dreams Ya’ll,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-24 Wild Wild West…

Or Wednesday or whatever.

I have so freaking much I want to write about. I feel like I stepped out of the car when I arrived home on Sunday and right onto a carnival carousel that doesn’t have a stop button. Round and round I go.

I still have thoughts from residency I’d like to wrap up and reflect upon. That ended on Sunday and I have neither had treadmill time nor enough alone time to collect my thoughts. Please don’t mistake this for complaining, the transition from one kind of crazy to another was completely necessary.

The kids came home Monday and Jim went back to work. Oh how I missed all my favorite people. I missed the cats and the birds and fish too and tending to the needs of others. I had some nice QT alone with my Z in the afternoon on Monday as my son was at his friends house. Then we were back together for family dinner (which turned out to be steak burgers and fries from Freddie’s). I still was feeling off in the stomach so I just sat at directed conversation.

While I was at Res, they were on vacation with their dad, road tripping to Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier. We never did anything like that when we were married. But I’m glad times have changed and the kids are getting the benefit of that. I lived vicariously through the lense of my darling daughter who took a lot of really spectacular pictures. She even got a few of her brother which is about as rare as seeing a bear in hybernation season.

He just refuses to let people take snaps of him. He’s not on any social media sites (except discord which is for gamers) and gave me and his Spanish teacher a lot of grief over not wanting to create an account for an app that they do their verbal assignments on. I think that was mostly because he hated Spanish. I digress.

I was so supercharged with ideas all of residency and with each conversation I thought of more things I wanted to write about or read. I kept a running file of random thoughts and have yet to even open that file. I haven’t finished translating my lecture notes into the Submittable form. I therefore had to make the command decision to bring the laptop with me on our next big adventure which starts today.

I spent most of the last couple days on trip preparation which involves getting the house in order, packing enough for 2 adults and four teenagers, and making sure things are taken care of as far as all the rest of the animals are concerned. That and having continued flashes of brilliance lingering from Res. Most of that was on my first assignments which are due in less than two weeks now. I agreed to that accelerated deadline for my own damn good. I need to push myself this term and take advantage of not working. And also get as much done as possible when my classes start.

As a consequence of all this chaos, I have still not been sleeping well and my stomach is still off. I wake up at 2, and 4, and 5am and then have been exhausted during the day. I eat little bits of food and then feel all kinds of naucious. The body count on this is now down about 7 pounds. 😱

On the bright side, I’ve got a solid handle on that first assignment and feel like I’m on track for the expectations for packet #.5. I wrote a partial start and conclusion for my 30 page craft paper and a lovely prose poem that goes perfect with that.

I also got inspired sitting on the couch Monday morning folding laundry and wrote a little bit that’s not related to anything else. It’s not really a poem and it’s too short to be a short story. Perhaps flash non-fiction. I’m not even sure that’s a thing. I’d say it’s nothing really except that it’s personal and therefore I feel emotionally attached to it already. Funny it came out of nowhere. Perhaps these things just want to be born.

I met a guy at Res who asked me a question about poems and poetry. He wanted to know what a person does with a poem that they have written. I clarified his question which led to more questions to which I replied “These are the kinds of things people get a masters in poetry to answer.”.

My follow up response was probably more on target with the way I truly feel which is “sometimes things just need to be written, and thought about, and shared.” Yes, that. Believe me.. these kinds of things float around my mind all the time. I’m really coming to the conclusion that it all comes down to the human connection. People sharing and collaborating and enriching their lives with what other people have to offer and what they give in return. Or the giving happens first. Someone has to be the initiator.

Anyhow since I have not had time to get steps on the treadmill and write I’m kinda feeling off my normal routine or rather that I’ve not made it back from Nebraska city. My body is (was) back in Omaha but my mind is somewhere in limbo.

Now, at this moment, I’m really in limbo because I’m transitioning again and I’m 10,000 feet somewhere over Ohio or Pennsylvania, on my way to NYC. It’s the Big Apple baby!! I mean, if I were doing this thing by the book of SugarCookie, today would be day 0. Travel day. The day I freak out about flying and lament about the evils of air travel. But these days, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” (Lucky for you.)

Perhaps I’ll have a few minutes to write once we get settled into our appartment and get our bearings with the area. Probably not. For this Wednesday edition, musing on the wild, wild west will have to do. Tomorrow I’ll get to New York Day 1 – Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire.

Literally! We are staying in the Hells Kitchen district. That sounds interesting. It should be quite an adventure indeed!! Until then,

Take care of each other,💕

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-21 MFA Res Days 8 and 9 – Tough Choices

The last two days I’ve felt less anxiety and less pressure, mostly, yet still inspired by so many shiny objects. On the downhill slide, the back of the back 9, the preparing for a return to reality from the dream, I find that the most difficult task is the necessity to chose between things, people, places, moments, activities, and food. A sense or acknowledgement that I cannot, infact, have it all as it is an impossibility and am faced with decision making. Not my strong suit.

Do I hang with people I just met, or my closest allies here who have grown more dear to me by the hour, or perhaps the faculty who I would get more wisdom from. It is not lost on me that everyone is on their own back 9 and also having to choose.

I had to choose between watching the sunset and talking with one of my previous mentors. We both kept crossing paths all week and promising each other we would take some time and catch up, but the time never materialized. We have similar dispositions and both worry about doing everything that needs doing and focusing on the next thing at hand. We were both prioritizing (though some of mine was dictated by basic needs sort of stuff). I chose the conversation, the sunset behind me. It was one of the easier choices and well worth it.

Later I had to choose between staying at the lodge and leaving for a walk with a few folks. Should I stay at the physical place that embodies the spirit of the program with its diversity of great people and potential conversations and possibilities for fun and games and amusement? Or do I leave the place and choose to reward myself with physical activity and the opportunity to have a more intimate conversation with a select few? More of a difficult choice, but I went with my gut. What I needed.

Some walking and digestion. Less sensory input, not more (except for that one bar we stopped in along the way where it was all just much too much). Less drinking not more. Less chaos of conversation not more. I made my choice and In return I was again rewarded by the universe by having a wonderful walk and conversation with two really incredible people. One a mentor and the other, a woman I met in the program who is now more than just a fellow writer, peer, safe space at the dining table, she’s a friend. Not the ‘see you later, let’s do lunch’ type of friend, but a genuine human I want in my life for a long time.

The walk deserves a whole blog post of its own, perhaps a collection of poems. Isnt that something!?! But my time for this one is getting short now and I’ll have to wrap soon. You know what they say about time.

This morning I woke naturally after the most amount of sleep I’ve had in 9 nights. I opened my eyes and shortly thereafter heard the low rumble of thunder. I got up and opened my window which revealed the pouring rain. I thought to myself “how god damned appropriate is that?”. “IT” was still happening, the serendipitous-ness of the program and the place and its people, even as everyone was well on their way back to their own realities.

The release, the transition, the dramatic change being echoed by nature. Or felt by it, or being mourned by it. It took me two trips to get all my stuff loaded into the car. I closed the trunk of my car and looked up at the sky, the rain on my face felt wonderful.

With peace and so much love,

~Miss SugarCookie