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

2019-09-14 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

2019-09-10 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

2019-08-31 Autumn Declarations 🍂🍅🌼 and Life Proclamations

I woke at 7:22am after sleeping for a solid 8 hours and 55 minutes. That’s the most I’ve slept in months, my average hovering at about 6.5. I feel great. Not just good, but great. Well, well now.

Despite a few bumps, August was a success. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, tip-toes, tipping over into September. A few days ago I said “I hate mums”, which is harsh. I dislike mums but I can’t hold it against them that they are the signature fall flower that pairs best with pumpkins and nights getting longer and first frosts. Its a terrible job, but some flowers got to do it.

I can’t remember if I’ve always disliked fall or if this is a relatively new development. Have orange and moon white and deep purple and maroon been stained by the September’s and October’s that have scarred my past lives? And why do I remember falling apart in Fall instead of falling in love?

I did that. A whole section of one of those lives titled “August and Everything After”, because I really believed at the time that it was finally my very own happy ever after that would last for the rest of my life. I was so head-over-heels in Love. That was 2011. It’s true, I’m not over it, I haven’t “let go”, not completely. Why must we?

I’m here today, standing in the glow of in the best possible light to make a declaration. I still regret mistakes that I’ve made but must also acknowledge that without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be somewhere else living a different life and only the Universe knows what that alternate reality looks like. Let us not “let go” ever. Let’s instead hold on to all of it and look back once and a while and just resist staring.

Do we need to reject nostalgia? Is it harmful or very useful? If we dismiss the past how can we learn from those mistakes?

A few days ago I was writing a poem and had a “need” to incorporate something I wrote in about 1989. I went on a hunting expedition and found myself knee deep in memories. Back then everything was hand written so it’s a lot of paper to go through. It makes me very, very grateful for my left brain organizational tendencies. I loved organizing my writing as much as I loved writing it. It’s all sorted and dated and labeled with clever, appropriate titles. I love coming up with titles for things. A few days ago I wrote a whole page that was just potential titles for unwritten poems. I digress.

I found what I was looking for but also found several hand written journals I didn’t know I had. #truth. I flipped through briefly and was like “yup, that was my life”.. back when I was married, not the “August and Everything After” guy, but years before that with my ex-husband. I just looked and didn’t dwell. I put all the collections back in the boxes and back up on the top shelf in my closet.

So that was a life, and that was a different life, and this is a different one too. They are all my lives and that’s life.

The real declaration is that Fall doesn’t have to be the enemy. I don’t have to dread it. I can build a life where fall means we look forward to sweater weather and Wearing boots and sitting by the fire-pit and enjoying looking out across the lawn and seeing the mums bloom, their deep reds and sunset oranges coming to life as the leaves begin to fall. It can be whatever you want, you just have to know what that is.

See you in September..

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

PS.. Here’s the poem I was looking for from one of my former lives (don’t hate, I was like 15 when I wrote it)…

Stacey’s Proclamation

I thought that life was blue
And that mosquito bites were red
But life is green I guess
Because that’s what Stacey said.

2019-08-22 Word of the Day Weirdness

About a month ago Jim started forwarding me these random “word of the day” emails. It’s just some website spreading daily content to a list of subscribers. I like words, and was like “way cool”. The email and site, if you click on it, has the word with the definition, pronunciation, origins, example usage, and a relatable image.

Learning about the origins of words is interesting to me and discovering how different words are connected is good to know when you are in the business of working with language. But that’s all tangent to the weirdness I’ve encountered with regard to this word of the day thing.

He didn’t forward the emails every day, just random days with super cool words. While in NYC he sent me ‘portentous’ and I, as I naturally would, developed a poem around it (https://shyspark.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/portentous-man/). I thought, well this is something. I’ll just try to do this now. And I’ve done a few since then, which is cool, but still not to the weird part.

A short time later, I was working on a different poetic endeavor, and came to a place where I wanted to use language from the song, “America the Beautiful”. As it turns out the song, which had been through multiple versions in its lifetime and was originally a poem written around 1895, first published with the name “America” according to Wikipedia.

The first line of that poem was “O beautiful for halcyon skies”. The line was changed in future versions written for musical compositions to what we are familiar with now, “O beautiful for spacious skies”. There have actually been quite a few changes and permutations in the last 100 years. Interesting.

I really wanted to use the original language and pulled ‘halcyon’ out for my poem, as well as some of the other, lesser known phrases.

Last week one of the words of the day was halcyon. The definition.. denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.

It was an interesting coincidence that this word, strange and antiquated, would cross my path so notably twice in just a few weeks. I was like. Hmmmm.

During that same time frame I have also been studying a few specific poets for a paper I am writing for my masters. One of the poets is Natalie Diaz. I read her book, “When My Brother was an Aztec”, in which the second poem is “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Reservation”. Whew – that is a mouthful to say and a finger twister to type. I had mostly glossed over the title when I read it and thought a few of the words were made up (or at least misspelled). One of those words was Abecedarian, which, is actually a word and it is spelled correctly. It means: arranged alphabetically or rudimentary or elementary. Each line of that poem starts with a different letter of the alphabet, in order.

It showed up last week as one of the words of the day. So, twice, in a very short time this “word of the day” site has issued forth some word that I have already been thinking about. Isn’t that strange? Now I’m all curious what the word is going to be every day to see if it happens again. Three times, and I’m calling the cops because somebody is breaking and entering into my brain.

Anyway, that’s enough about that. How is your Thursday going?

Keep it Saucy,
~Miss SugarCookie