2020-06-02 Introducing… The Good Life Review

I’ve sent some of my darlings out into the universe and it’s so tough to let them go when you know life is tough and people are critical and maybe they (my babies) are not wanted or needed and their message will land in the hands of someone too busy with chaos or wrapped up in their own confusion.

I open the door and let my toddling poems wobble out to these strangers in a strange land and I kiss them on the foreheads and wish them well and wave goodbye as they disappear out of sight.

I fear for them, that I haven’t prepared them enough for what it s next. Afraid that I myself am not prepared.

Someone, somewhere equated writing to having children. To babies. To little darlings. I understand this to my core. It echos inside of my body as I realize I gave them life in the same way I gave life to my actual children.

I probably should submit more of my writing but haven’t been very diligent about it. Still, there are a few out in the wild, wandering about the digital forest, looking for a home.

Wouldn’t that be something. A place where all the writing could congregate and the publishers would have to visit that place and convince the writing to come to their home. Flip the script so that the poem has a choice where it wants to live and.. AND go with the one it likes the best, where it feels like it fits in the most among the other poems. Ahhhh… aren’t daydreams satisfying?

You know what else is satisfying? Listening to Sara Bareilles singing “Sweet As Whole”. If you’re having a tough time trying to do good and frustrated with people who just insist on making your life more difficult, I highly recommend listening to this song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IcqRbPk_bk If you are anything like me, I guarantee it will make you smile and also feel empowered to do what you want to and say what you want and write what you want. I won’t spoil it, but check it out and let me know what you think.

I’m going to avoid the elephant in the room for a moment to do some shameless self promotion. Self promotion is definitely not my strong suit. I’ve got well manicured Facebook and Twitter and instagram accounts out there and am not particularly active and frankly hate what these platforms have become and how they have destroyed real human connection and any hope we ever had for uncovering truth.

Still, the world has latched on to them as if it’s a lifeline. Like the blood running through their veins might cease if they don’t get their social media fix or find someone who will listen to what they say and agree with them with tiny like and love buttons. I’m only human, I’m susceptible as anyone to the pull of it all. I can get sucked in my some I m age or video or story and fall down the rabbit hole.

See that? Just there I got sideswiped by my own soapbox! Have you ever been hit in the head with your own soapbox? Incredible!

Anyway. Last week I launched a new website. It’s been about 5 months in the making and I’ve spent literally about 100 hours researching, doing setup for domains, securing accounts at various agencies and building the site. I’ve been organizing meetings, conducting meetings, trying hard to work through issues and solve problems. All of it leading up to the moment when the site was live.

I learned a ton about block editing on WordPress among other things and now have the opportunity to learn a lot about how the submission platform, Submittable, works.

There I was, sitting alone in my living room and hit that “launch” button. It would have been great to throw a party. Gather up all the people who have agreed to be a part of our team and raise a glass to the vision becoming a reality, but alas, that was not meant to be.

No. Instead there is a pandemic and riots and curfews and we’re all sitting in our little corners of the universe alone.

The good news, is that the evil social media beast is good for something and that’s advertising. The word is out and there are little thumbs up and hearts and even a few comments.

See how terrible I am at self promotion? I should have led with the links instead of closing with them. Here’s the shiny new website for the new online literary magazine for which I am the Managing Editor and frankly also playing Oz behind the curtain pushing all the buttons and working the levers and knobs.

Welcome to the Good Life!

If you are a fellow writer and, like me, looking for a good home for your babies or toddlers or teenagers or adult children who don’t seem to want to move out, send them our way. Submissions are now open for our inaugural issue!!

https://thegoodlifereview.submittable.com/submit

You can also check us out on FB (https://www.facebook.com/TheGoodLifeReview/) or Twitter (@goodlifelitmag) if that’s the kind of thing you are into. Kindly remember that we’re just getting started. But like most things in life, you gotta start somewhere or you won’t get anywhere.

OK, that’s it today folks.
Wishing you peace and love,
~Miss Sugarcookie

2020-05-21 Mother / Daughter Stuff

I’ve got some venting to do but I can predict the future so I’m not going there today. If you live long enough, you too will be able to predict the future. The disclaimer on that is that it all comes from experience. Ride that record right round enough times and there’s no question what the next song will be.

All that to say, I’m skipping the vent session and writing about a relationship topic instead. Not my love, or my kids, or friends who I’m tethered to by responsibility and dedication and love. I’m writing about my mom who has always been a person In my life, albeit not in the forefront, ever.

There’s not enough time or motivation to trudge through all the backstory of why our relationship is the way it is. You know, but it’s always colored by the fact that human beings are mostly self-centered and when it comes to parent / child relationships I sort of feel that the parent should be more selfless but it’s not in my moms nature.

Don’t get me wrong, she always does those things that in her head are requirements of the job… remembers birthdays and sends a card. She reaches out every so often to see how we are doing. She makes a big deal about getting together sometimes. And in the flipside she also expects these things in return.

That being said, outside of one other person, she’s the only one who wanted to talk to me about my Thesis. She genuinely wanted to read it and was happy for me getting my degree and my 4.0. I have a small group of people I’ve met in the MFA that are wonderful and we chat about all things MFA of course, but my mom is the only one outside of that that goes deeper than skin deep in conversation about it.

As I said, she asked for my thesis so she could read it, and I made a few edits and sent it to her. All 138 pages. Within a day she had read through all the poems and sent me back a long text with her feedback. She took the time to really evaluate some of them with her experience in mind and let me know her favorites and why.

She also let me know that reading the “Castle” poems made her sad for me. I’m not exactly painting a pretty picture of my new life here. She’s concerned for me and I told her we could meet up to talk about. It’s too much to text and I’m not one for phone calls. I guess we could do a call but I feel like any week now I’ll be able to see her in person.

Her husband has Parkinson’s and his condition has deteriorated enough in the past year that she’s had to employ help. All his medical stuff is handled by the VA as he served in the Vietnam war and there’s been a direct connection made with his issues and his exposure to Agent Orange. There’s not enough time now for me to elaborate on how absolutely Fucked Up that all is. But you can guess.

So she’s about to start getting weekly visits from a care person because she’s not physically able to do some of what is required. She’s been under tremendous stress with all of it for a while now so the help is a huge relief to her. It also means she can actually leave the house while the care person is there and so she’s looking forward to resuming our lunch meetups. I am too.

People need people yo! I miss all my meetups!

Anyway. It was so wonderful to me that she read my words and she said she’s proud of me. It means a great deal to hear those words from a parent. Inside I’m still that tentative, shy girl who just wants a little recognition from the people who are important. No matter how old I get I’m still seeking approval and hoping to loose my invisibility cloak, even if it is for short little bursts.

I love my mom. Things I write might focus more on the negative side of life, because that’s in my writer’s nature. It’s not often I bust out a happy poem or a positive one, though I’ve written a few of those over the years. I don’t know why I don’t think they are as interesting. It’s the opposite problem of my “poor me” tendencies. It’s too self-congratulatory or boastful or feels too much like bragging. I have to solve that puzzle too.

Anyway, maybe next week my mom can get away. She doesn’t want me to come to her house because she really wants to get out of the house and away. She’ll probably come to my house which Jim has given the OK on and I’ll make us some lunch. I’m looking forward to that.

On the flip side, I think about my daughter and our relationship and I’ve tried hard to make sure she knows she’s number 1 in my book. Her and her brother are tied for number 1. She texted me after midnight last night (she’s at her dads house) and said she needed to talk about something important. No clue what it was about.

She wants me to come get her for lunch today. So that’s what I’m gonna do. Nothing could be more important. Not work, not Jim, not school or writing or anything. About 12:30 I’m gonna cut my day in half and just let go of anything that needs doing. We’ll see how it plays out.

I did confirm with her that it’s not a health issue. So that’s a relief.

That’s it for today. Can’t believe it’s Thursday already. There’s never enough time. Why is that?

With Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-26 Sunday Un-Status

Well.. today is the actual deadline for getting my thesis submitted for a formal format check but since I sent that off last week, I’ve already got my reply.

There are changes I have to make because it’s an official university document. Some of the choices I made for section headers for the 5 sections of the manuscript and images for those section separating pages just have to be removed. It’s a bummer. I was so proud of how those images fit perfectly with my theme.

I was reminded that it’s not an actual book so even though it’s common for poetry manuscripts these days to have images, mine have to go. Ok.

I was also told the left margin has to be 1.5 and though I have not gone back into word, I know that’s going to seriously mess with my table of contents. Each of my 60+ poems has to have its own line item and it’s all gonna probably shift. Fixing all that is one of the items on my to-do list today.

More work in my garden is another. It’s going to be a lovely Nebraska day out there and I’m looking forward to spring. The garden on the northwest side corner of the back yard is one of the places I feel I actually own where this house is concerned.

It might be a big house, but the room decor and furnishings were all established before I moved in. It’s all super cool, but I would not have decorated in the same ways. In fact, that’s been a tough part of my adjustment process. I went from being the person who made all the decisions and being really independent to really not having any say.

Of course, that’s not an absolute and it certainly doesn’t provide a complete picture. We completely re-did the room that is my daughters before we moved in, among a few other changes since then. On the whole, though, there’s not been a ton of changes or decisions. Except the garden.

I’m the consummate gardener in the house and as such, I’ve got free reign over what goes in the garden. It’s my happy place and I’m rolling into my second year figuring out the space. It’s a great space to work with and I’ve got the former owners to thank. Gardening was one of their pastimes too so there’s already three garden beds encompassed by railroad ties with the rest of the pathway set with brick pavers.

Wood does what wood does when it’s exposed to the elements and so the railroad ties are starting to rot. Still, they will last for a few more years. My focus is deciding what arrangement of flowers and veg is best and perhaps how I might finally be successful with herbs like cilantro and dill and whatever else we might use in our summer cooking.

Anyway, there’s some of that in my future today and that makes me happy. This weekend has brought a lot of happiness and contentment thus far. My kids are at their dads and though I miss them and am looking forward to their return tomorrow, I’m still grateful for the time I’ve had both alone and with Jim this weekend.

As for an official report of my status, I’m sort of feeling very “so what” about it. My steps are down, my weight is up, my sleep is sub-par, and oh.. by the way.. I’m healthy and don’t have a life threatening virus. How’s that for a Status?

Now that my thesis is pretty much wrapped up, I turn my attention this week to the lit mag startup and developing the forms for Submittable: somehow we went from 3, maybe 4 genres to like 8 different sections. It’s pretty ambitious. And since the content will be online only and not formatted in an actual book (which is what I wanted to do), I guess it doesn’t matter as much how many pages the whole thing collectively would be. I might lobby again for an actual “pdf” of each issue, and if we do that, the volume might become more important. I’m probably overthinking this.

I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm of the people who have graciously volunteered their time and effort to this project. I hope we can keep that energy up as we get closer to “going live”. It feels like each time I start working on something new it leads to uncovering more tasks that need done.

Hopefully the Submittable thing won’t be like that. Perhaps I’ll dip my toe in that today and see if I can figure it out. I have to remind myself.. one thing at a time. “Stay focused!”

That’s it today. My hour is up and I need to go make some coffee.

With Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-21 Longest Day EVER!

There I go being overly dramatic again. If you ask me how I feel about my dramatic tendencies, my answer will depend on my mood. Today I’m feeling plucky so I’ll just say, it’s part of my charm.

It was a long day though. And quite an atypical one compared to most of the SugarCookie days lately.

I skipped my morning walk/cardio because I wanted to go to the grocery store and just go early and get that over with. We tried to stock up on stuff before the shut-down, but it’s a healthy household and there’s only so much in perishable goods one can keep in fridge and not be wasteful. So yesterday was my day.

The whole thing makes me nervous. Good gawd one should not have this amount of anxiety about making a trip to the store. Yes, I have a mask. And no, I’m not afraid of getting the virus. So what is it that gave me such pause? Who knows. But I really had to give myself a pep-talk as I pulled out of my garage and down the street.

I actually went to two stores as supplies are low with regard to the lactose-free milk and protein. In between stores I checked my email and received a bit of good news that literally brought me to tears.

I’ve kinda been on an emotional edge lately (not unlike a lot of people) and just let the tears come. I was actually standing in my kitchen alone and didn’t even know what to do with myself for a few minutes. And this was from GOOD news. The Universe help me if I get bad news during this strange time!!

Anyway, I needed to go to the other store so I got myself back together and did that. When I arrived home I put the groceries away and got online for my morning work call. That 30 minutes was the extent of my work day yesterday, which was so odd.

Instead, I dove into the arduous task of packaging my thesis in Word, with all the sections and table of contents and formatting. It should not have taken me all damn day, but part of the thesis is the craft paper I did last semester and I could not just paste it in at the end and forget it. It was a flipping mess.

I’m actually embarrassed that it’s what I turned in last term. For one thing, I was using a google doc which does not do as good of a job as Word at flagging mistakes. But the bigger issues have to do with mistakes I’ve been making all along with grammar and punctuation. All the things I learned about this semester were glaring at me from the screen.

Not such a big deal fixing a few pages but this is a 45 page document. It literally took me all day to go through paragraph by paragraph, page by page and fix them all.

Now I’m certain that I make these mistakes habitually in my daily writing, and I’ve resolved to try and catch those if I can, but ok if some slip through. That craft paper, however, is a part of my masters thesis and mistakes are just unacceptable. So I needed to spend that time.

At this point I’m close to being done but not quite there yet. The formatting blips with copy and paste from gdoc to word are also troublesome and the whole document is going to be about 140 pages which is a lot to go through with a fine-toothed comb. I’d like to get back to it today but I’ve got a busy day stacked up ahead and it’s not likely.

Anyway, after I closed down Word for the day yesterday I had 2.5 hours of lit mag business to attend to, including 2 hours on a zoom which was super draining. What on earth have I gotten myself into??!

It’s going to be good, I just know it, but we’re not there yet. I’m still trying to figure out all the personalities on the team and super sensitive to potential issues. I’m probably over thinking things as is my way, but I feel like I’m already in damage control mode and we’re just trying to get started.

By the time that was all done last night it was 8pm and I hadn’t eaten or said boo to the kids or Jim since like noon. I ate some comfort food (for me that’s like 3 pieces of toast) and vegetated on the couch. We watch a bit of TV and talked for a while and then I shuffled myself to the bedroom and just let the long day sink out of me horizontally and into my bed.


(Hours later)

I had to scoot my booty off the treadmill and up to my office for work real quick like and did not have time to finish. But, as it turns out, I have no more to say about yesterday anyway. Nothing worth writing about anyhow.

As it is, I really don’t have a ton of time today and already had to defer one meeting for another so there’s no rest for the wicked (or the plucky) I guess.

Cheers to Taco Tuesday,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-18 Wavelengths and Pages and Need for Connection

Exactly one week from today is the deadline for getting my MFA thesis completed and in the proper format with all the required sections and content. Should be a snap cuz most of it has been done for weeks. I’ve just been fiddling with some of the poems and negotiating with my mentor about a final decision on what’s in and what’s out.

The good news on that front is that I finally wore him down on that one Poem I’ve toiled for so long on. I sent yet another version with an explanation of why it was important that it have space in the book. The bad news is that I think I wore him down and now have no confidence about it. Did he just give in? Does it matter? Good grief! A girl just can’t win.

Then I’m all like. It doesn’t matter cuz nobody’s gonna read this manuscript anyway so I tell myself to just “shrug it off”. Package that shit up and ship it off to the void.

I sent a copy of the preface and creative portion to my second reader about a week ago. I received an acknowledgement from him that he received it, and nary a peep since then. The second reader is not obligated to offer comment or feedback. Just a signature that it passes muster, but I know in my heart, with as much as I respect this person, that I will be disappointed if they don’t say something to me about it.

But it might not happen and I have to be prepared for that, you know. Get my “shrug off” ready for that too. Kind of a bummer since I felt like we had such good connection last semester and I don’t want to have any more thoughts that it was fake somehow, because of obligation.

It’s been so different this semester from the start. I don’t think my mentor and I have ever been on the same wavelength. And believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve not felt comfortable just having a conversation. He’s not intimidating, but makes me nervous somehow and no matter what I say, he’s off on some other planet showing me something else.

Just this week I sent an outline of my lecture (which is based on my 3rd semester craft paper). It was more than an outline and less than just writing it all out. He comes back with a bunch of suggestions, which is great, but it’s all for going down roads which would require a lot more research. I already did that work. That’s that 44 page craft paper.

Now perhaps I didn’t make the best choices for poets to examine in my topic, but I just need to use what I have to get it done. If I wanna go read up on the lives and poems Wordsworth and Hirshfield and Merwin, I can do that. But I’ve learned enough now that I can just go do that on my own.

It’s not required at this point, and I just wanna be done. I know I sound like a complainer but whatever. It’s only a 40 minute lecture and the requirement is just to do it, so that’s what I’m gonna do.

I also suggested adding some examples from my own life and put some of my own philosophical commentary in there and he just said don’t go there. Not in those words but that was the point. And I think back to past student lectures and the ones that had those elements are the ones that I remember.

Let’s not forget that I am a student and I don’t do this teaching thing for a living and nor do I want to. It’s my time and my MFA and the lecture is an opportunity to teach something I’ve learned and maybe connect some dots, and, more than that, connect with people. That’s part of the point.

Ok. Enough complaining. All roads lead to the end of the road no matter what kind of rocks the road is made of.

It’s Sunday and after wrecking myself Friday night and spending all day yesterday recovering, I’m looking forward to feeling good today and just getting some long procrastinated things done. Taxes for one. More with forms and bills that have been piling up for a few months now. Maybe some communication I’ve been putting off. We’ll see.

Last night when I got my appetite back I started having a craving for Panera. More specifically a green goddess Cobb salad with spinach. It’s healthy AND satisfying. I think Panera drive through is still open. I wonder what kind of push-back I’ll get about that since it’s technically against “house” rules right now.

I hope this Pandemic doesn’t linger much into the summer. I’m starting to not care. I know the rules are important, but ugggggghhh!

Enough is enough.
~Miss SugarCookie

PS. In my decimated state yesterday I was unsettled and just wanted to get away from everyone. I wandered around the house and took like a hundred pictures with my phone. They might start showing up here. Just sayn.

2020-04-17 I’ve Got Too Much “Poor Me” in My Poetry

To be fair, I’m really referring to just the one poem I’ve reworked a hundred different ways and each time I try to sneak it into my manuscript, my mentor says “nope”.

To be fair, he’s only seen two versions of it and not the fifteen I wrote before or the 30 I thought about writing but didn’t or the hundred times I cried about the central subject matter when I was living it in 2016.

I’ve got a handful of poems that he’s tagged as “too melodramatic” and I get it. He says it turns the reader off if there is too much “poor me”. I get it. I really do. I read Natalie Diaz and Rachel Mckibbens and Robert Creeley and even good ole Emily and there isn’t a drop of “poor me” one can squeeze from any of it. So I have to figure out how to lament about my poor broken heart very “matter of fact” like. Either that or just give up. Sometimes I wonder about that option.

Take the last 24 hours for example. I met with the Poetry crew for the new lit mag last night and we had a good chat. In the sprit of getting to know each other better, we shared out a sampling of our own stuff. I only needed to read as far as the first persons poems and I already felt like I didn’t belong. Pile on poems from the other two and I end up feeling like I have no business in this business.

I have to remind myself that everyone has a different style and voice but it is hard not to compare AND not to feel a little like “poor me” is the best I can do. My poems are boring. The subject matters are very “so what” and once I start down that road, all shapes of doubt start to follow.

What’s a girl to do?

I haven’t written anything worth while this semester at all because I’ve been too busy revising and the world has been too busy with its pandemic and aint nobody got time for first draft nonsense (well, lots of folks do actually, just not me).

So how do I take my stupid unrequited love broken heart poem and make it matter of fact? I mean, the section of the manuscript is called “In Cataclysm” so what do you expect?? How about something like this….

I said “I love you”
And he just turned and walked away.
Echo of silence.

I cried after parent teacher conferences
And every day and night after that.
Echo of silence.

The election came and went
And I couldn’t even care.
Echo of silence.

I became a hollow bone white husk
and no-one seemed to notice.
Echo of silence.

I hosted a New Years Eve Party
and drank myself down the drain.
No more echoes. Just silence.


(I left out the part where I wanted to die. Cuz that crosses the line into “poor me” territory). Perhaps the answer is to kill myself in the poem. Just matter of fact like. Dead, done.

I hosted a New Years Eve Party
and drank myself to death.
No more echoes. Just silence.

That’s attempt 221 folks. Put another talley on the board.
Now switch all the abstractions to images and waa-laa!

I swear, if it is the last thing I do for this damn thesis it will be to figure out some way to get this stupid poem into a format that is acceptable.

I little part of me (OK a big part), is just so sick of revising poems. I’m starting to have all sorts of ideas for other projects and just want THIS project to be done. Yes, I want it to kick-ass, but I’m over it.

There I said it. Maybe if I get all the “poor me” out of me in this blog, I can just go edit those poems like a boss and be done. That’s enough pondering for now.

Time to Make the Donuts,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-12 Hoppy Sunday Status 💜🐰🌷

It’s Easter. I rarely went to church as a kid (as in almost never) and so for me the holiday is all about bunnies, and baskets, and egg hunts. I actually collected stuffed bunnies when I was a kid and so each Easter, another member was added to my little family. I never owned a Barbie. My “playing House” was done with bunnies.

I had a momma bunny and daddy bunny and all the little ones had cute names like jelly bean and candy cane and cotton candy. I might have had a sweet tooth. I might still. 😜

The bunny collecting wasn’t limited to a Easter though. I had Christmas bunnies and anytime some other fad came around, like beanie babies. I received those bunnies too. Even as I became too old for stuffed animals, people still gave them to me as gifts. It’s a tradition I tried hard not to pass down to my kids, but people love to give stuffed animals as gifts. They ended up with giant piles of them also. Whatever.

Easter around here is kind of a non-event this year. Jim put together little baskets for his kids (and me) and left them for us to find when we woke up. It’s funny because yesterday I mentioned that the first gift he ever gave me was an Easter basket.

We had just started dating and he picked me up on Easter Sunday from the airport where I was arriving home from a trip to visit friends in Austin. The basket included candy and a few eggs for me to open. One of the eggs was a key to his house, which was a very sweet symbolic gesture considering where our relationship was at at the time.. like 6 weeks in. Yeah, it moved that fast.

The other egg had a paper in it that said “look under your seat”. When I did I found a carbon monoxide detector for my house (which we previously discussed my not having one). He said “that’s for you and the kids. I’d feel better knowing you’re safe from that threat”. It was thoughtful and practical.

Yesterday on our walk I made a joke about how now that we’re not “courting” he doesn’t do stuff like that anymore. Low and behold, there was the basket this morning by my closet door. Did he plan on doing that or did he scramble to get it together after that comment yesterday? Who knows,

My kids aren’t here this weekend so our egg hunt will have to wait until they return. So today instead of celebrating Easter, I’ll be going about my business and using the time to catch up on other stuff and check in with myself with regard to goals.

For the purpose of this Sunday Status I’m gonna start with school. I’m so happy to report that the Thesis I’m working on for my MFA has been packaged up and shipped off to my second reader. I’ve toiled over revision after revision and am frankly sick of looking at it. There’s always more tweaking I could do, but I just want to be done with it.

The Covid has not really affected the schedule and deadlines for this final term of school as it’s a low-Res program to begin with. But it does have an affect on that “Res” part that is in person. Normally, the students and faculty would gather in July for ten days of intensive collaboration. This year, however, that’s all being moved online. It won’t be the same.

They are giving the graduating students the option to do their final graduating requirements as a part of the remote residency or waiting and doing it in person next December/January. Hopefully all this Covid crap will be behind us by then. The Universe help us all if it’s still going on!!

In any case.. I’ve sent that thesis off and I’m going to spend the next week ignoring everything that has anything to do with school.

I could use the time to focus on work, but I was told late last week to reduce my hours to 15 a week.

With no school and minimum hours at work, I have no excuses left not to focus on exercise, healthy eating, sleep, and, of course, home schooling my kids!

All of these things have suffered recently. Last week I logged less steps than I have in a long time. I haven’t been able to hit my sleep goal In a while. And both my kids currently have Ds in classes. No time like the present to make some adjustments and improvements.

The question is.. will I immediately get distracted by something else that feels more important. Cuz that’s a real thing too. Like now.

I’m thinking of getting all my bunnies out for a family reunion. Doesn’t that sound like fun?!?! 🐰 💕 More fun than doing taxes or cleaning my house!! 😉

Hoppy Easter Everyone!
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-09 Naturally Nervous

It doesn’t matter if I’ve known you my whole life or if we’ve just met. I’ll be nervous thinking about getting together. I’ll spend too much time thinking about it, worrying, wondering how it will go. It doesn’t matter if I’ve conducted a hundred meetings, each next one is a challenge. I’m naturally nervous.

We had our first team meeting last night for the online lit mag we’re starting up. The night before I was fussing about it big-time and I’m sure that was evident when I spoke to my “co-founder”. His style is very go with the flow and I tend to be very exacting. Gawd I wish I could be more go with the flow. He said “I lost my nervous gene years ago”.

In my head, I’m like, hmmmm, I thought a person was stuck with the genes they inherited from their parents (which makes his comment a poor metaphor), but that’s exactly it! I get stuck on logistics and specifics. And I want to present things in and organized and polished fashion, because I want to establish legitimacy and trust.

If you can show people you know what you’re talking about then they will begin to trust in you and once people believe in it, they can get behind it and believe in it too. I guess my approach sometimes comes across as controlling. In my line of work, people love it. They want order and control, so my nervous, perfectionist tendencies are valued.

I’m still figuring out how that translates to a group of super smart creative people who want to be a part of our little lit mag party. I’m sure Ed is already annoyed with me.

Anyway, the meeting went great, I thought, and everyone was engaged and enthusiastic. Afterwards I was so relieved! Today, at this moment I have less angst about the one on Friday but give it a day, you know, I have no doubt that anxiety will climb again.

Today I have other fish to fry anyway. The clock is ticking and my entire thesis is due soon. I’m turning a blind eye to the pandemic and marching forward as as if nothing has changed (so much has changed). I have had some serious misgivings about my writing lately and the negativity piling up around my these was not helping.

I broke down yesterday and reached out to my mentor about it. He responded right away with an email that left me in tears (tears of happy relief) and followed that up with a phone call to reinforce what his email said. Then we talked through some of his recent feedback and he helped with edits while on two poems. It was a good conversation. I’m glad I reached out and I’m glad he was receptive.

I’m a tough cookie sometimes, but still super soft in the middle. 😉

I’ve now got the motivation now to dive back in and keep on it. I have to use that feeling while it’s hot.

I also used the spark from yesterday’s conversation to finally submit to the Universities Annual poetry contest. It’s a nationwide contest that starts at the MFA level (I think) with universities across the country choosing one winner and runner up to represent their school. So I sent off 3 poems and now my fingers are crossed.

What else? It’s almost Friday and Jim is off tomorrow so he has a three day weekend. I still have lots of work today and tomorrow and the sooner I start, The quicker I can get to more important stuff! 😉

That’s it for today, ya’ll time for this nervous Nellie to get to work.

With Goodwill,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-04-05 Rolling Eyes and Shrugging 🙄 🤷‍♀️ 😢

What is a girl to do. Yesterday I was all “everything’s going my way again”, you know and am I so fragile that just like that I’m down again? It’s Sunday and I’m alone and grumpy.

I’ve just finished going through the thesis preface feedback returned from my mentor a few days ago, for the second time. The first time I just skimmed through enough to see that most of it was his pointing out stupid mistakes I’m making with syntax and grammar. At this point I should probably be catching these things on my own and I get that. I do.

I appreciate his diligence in continuing to point all of these out. I need to try harder with regards to copy editing my first drafts before sending them out. I have some bad habits I need to break. But today I was looking for more. What else did he really say about my writing?

First let me explain that the thesis preface is the writing intended to explain the influences and aesthetic aims of the manuscript which it proceeds. In that way, it’s like writing about the writing. Part of that is expanding on my chosen theme and also giving some backstory on how some of it came to be. At this point, the speaker of the poems is me and therefore, I’m letting the reader in on my life.

That’s key. It’s my life. It’s personal. So when I read comments about the speakers perspective not being unique or how I’m putting the cart before the horse when I call this body of work a part of the collective of poetic discourse for future generations, I take it personally. There are dozens of comments about my mistakes and how tedious it is to mark them all and among all the comments only one positive statement. One. Uno. A single solitary statement about how it’s good work.

I’m so discouraged by this. At times I’ve lacked confidence in myself and my writing and let me just say that this does not help. It makes it worse, it makes me want to just give up. It makes me wonder what I just spent 40 thousand dollars on? Good grief!

I’m not looking forward to getting the comments back on my poem revisions today. I’m not looking forward to any phone call that might follow. Yes, I’ve learned a lot, but it’s come at a cost I fear. The cost that it’s all been for nothing and I might as well quit now. (Yeah, that’s the melodramatic attitude I’ve been told to cut from my poems).

I’ve tried to stay positive all semester, you know, saying that this tough treatment is what I needed to whip my writing into shape and Used that to stay focused—listening to everything he has said. I’ve acknowledged my mistakes and bad habits but clearly have not learned to apply those edits with diligence.

Now today I read these comments and realize there’s a tipping point. I’ve detected a trend where I will make a statement, an opinion based on my observation or feelings and he makes a point of telling me I’m wrong.

I said I thought the perspective of the speaker in the 4th section of my manuscript is unique. He just said it’s not. Well it’s an opinion and it’s actually something my mentor last semester said to me that I’ve put a lot of thought into. That’s why it’s in my preface. That’s A whole section of my book he’s dismissing. Saying that It’s not unique is akin to saying it doesn’t matter and that stings.

I said my writing would be available for future generations. And he basically said I couldn’t be so sure because it does not have an audience yet. Really? Really??!! All writing has an audience and purpose even if it’s only in the mind of the writer. It’s had a huge purpose for me in my life. And I’ve got children. I’ve got loved ones who will care to read my writing even if the rest of the world never sees it. It’s not like I declared myself to be Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson for Pete’s sake. Again, good grief. 🙄

And the last statement he commented on was that this manuscript, as it is, is probably too long to be published and would have to be refined further. He basically said that I was wrong and that the length is about right for a typical manuscript. This one, at least, I can concede as I haven’t been able to figure out the difference between a manuscript and a book of poetry.

I actually googled how long a typical poetry manuscript is, and found various responses that indicated longer than 50 pages with no upper limit defined. I just know how long all the books I’ve read have been. Most are not that long. Like I said, I probably just don’t even know what a manuscript is and how it is different from a book of poetry. 🙄🤷‍♀️

In any case, the original set of poems I sent were like 80 pages and that’s for sure way too long. I Can fix the preface by taking that statement out. Easy. Done. But I’ve cut and changed so many poems based on his feedback and now I’m wondering if some of that was a mistake.

Am I sacrificing my own voice in some way? I’m trying not to change the meaning at all, just tighten the language. But it’s all based on one persons opinions and ideals. What if I gave the same set of poems to a completely different person?

I’ve come across conflicting advice between my four different mentors in the past and that always gives me pause. I trust what I’m being told, but when some of it is contrary, I lose confidence.

Yeah, I’m losing all kinds of confidence. In myself, in other people, in the process. It can’t just all fall to shit when I’m so close to the end. It just can’t. Please, tell me it’s not all just been a waste.

So that’s where I’m at on this lonely Sunday morning. Not awesome. Like I started, how can I be so fragile? And like a broken record, I keep going around and around and never seem to get to the end of the song.

What am I supposed to do?

Asking the Universe for an Answer,

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-03-31 Crisis, Evolution, Kaczynski, and Poetry.. Oh My!

If you’re into drama and the sob-story of a broken cookie, I’m all about that today. If you’re here for the poetry, skip to the end…

Yesterday I was hoping to send my thesis preface and manuscript revisions off early in the day. You know, release myself from the hold it had on me. But it did not happen until much later in the day and once I did pull the trigger on that communication, I was not released. I could not let it go. I was still toiling in my head over certain sentences and the end and the worry that I had repeated myself too much somehow in my explanations. I need to let it go.

Even as I tried to sleep, I was plagued with ideas and little bits I want to change. It’s a good thing it was just a draft and not the final. The preface is 17 pages of elaboration about my personal journey and the internal and external influences that were important to the development of the manuscript contained within the thesis.

On one hand, 17 pages is a lot of words to string together in a succinct and organized fashion. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to condense so much into that space. It’s like saying, there’s so much more, but here’s the highlight reel. It’s not easy.

Making the cuts for the manuscript was very much like that too. Of all the hundreds of poems I’ve written, these are the very best and also the most relevant to the story I want the reader to experience.

See how I just can’t stop thinking about it or writing about it?! Insanity. I had intended to pivot this morning and write about something completely different but my brain hijacked itself. Good grief.

I was going to write about the document-drama Jim and I finished watching last night, Manhunt. It’s the story of Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) as seen mostly from the perspective of the profiler and linguistic analyst who put the puzzle pieces together in order to solve the case. It’s such a well made show— I highly recommend it.

The last episode was so moving, I was on the edge of my emotional seat and teary-eyed through the last 15 minutes of the show. Some of that was the way the writers and directors set up those final scenes, but more than that it was the thought provoking nature of the entire story. Did I say I recommend it?? Yeah, put it on the list.

Thinking about it right now is giving me chills. It’s so tragic. And I’m not talking about the bombing victims (which is of course horrific). I’m talking about Ted and his life—his ideals and his misused intellect, the disturbing psychological experiments he was subjected to as an adolescent, and his subsequent lack of empathy and compassion. That a person can be so broken is hard to wrap your head around.

For me, the ideas he believes in hit pretty close to home. And he didn’t just believe them, he lived them and maimed and killed compete strangers to make a point and get his message, his manifesto out into the minds of millions of people. I know only the sliver of it that was portrayed in the two shows I’ve now watched on the subject but it makes me want to read the manifesto.

From the shows, the essence of the message is that technology is the root of evil causing a downfall of society. And that if we turned our back on it and pursued a simpler way of life, we would all be better off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this same thought.

And who am I? Just some girl sitting on her couch watching a show. I’m so afraid of the destruction humans are causing to this planet. I’m afraid for my children and future generations that will certainly see the polar ice caps completely melted, the rainforests reduced to flatland, creature extinct, and not enough clean drinking water.

Can tech solve? Or will humans have to change? Can we invent our way out of this fix or do we need to really heed Ted’s warning and change our way of life? Will we evolve or will we die?

And just like that, I look up and see myself in the mirror. I cut my own hair yesterday and could not help thinking about how good it looks this morning. How in the world can that be? I wrote about a year ago about the same exact experience and here I am, and it’s happening again. I’m reliving that moment. That’s unnerving.

It’s an anchor poem in the final section of my manuscript. The evolution of self and the poetic voice is one of my central themes and my manuscript preface gets pretty far into describing that theme and the aesthetic aim of this particular body of work.

See, just like that, I’m back thinking about that damn preface. I’m stuck in a viscous cycle. I want to go with the flow, but when your flow seems to be circling back on itself, it’s tough.

This damn pandemic is not helping. People need people. But sometimes those people also need to be alone. For real. This morning I listened to the news on Alexa and when they started talking about what is happening in New York, I just stood there and cried. And other major cities are not far behind. Soon New Orleans will be at the same point that New York is now, the healthcare system taxed beyond its capabilities. I can’t even think about it without becoming emotional. Here I am worried about my thesis and my hair and whether or not I will actually get to go outside today and people are suffering and dying in mass. My God!

I have to stop there, you know, I’ve already gone on way to long again. I’m ending with that poem “What’s in the Mirror” which was originally written May 31st 2019 and is now a 6th draft. It certainly does not adhere to some of the “rules” that govern this craft, but it is an accurate reflection of my experience.

With Much Love and Virtual Hugs,

~Miss SugarCookie

***

What’s in the Mirror

It’s morning again and I’m looking in the mirror.

Natural curls cling to each other in fluffy waves

on top and tight, smooth spirals underneath.

I flip it forward,

check the length,

and flip it back.

I admire how it looks better after waking up

but something’s not quite right.

Something inside is throbbing

and aching—winding up and unwinding.

Could it be my heart—too heavy?

Or my mind stretching

to get around some grief

like the sky being too big

or the possibility of a world without a sky—

existence where the words “blue”

and “rain” and “clouds” have slid

away from lips

into oblivion.

What if it’s not me at all

but a different girl, Sarah,

who I barely know.

She was raped on a date last week

and wrote a poem about it

and posted it on Twitter.

I’ve laughed with her

over giving the finger to the moon.

I want to reach out to her

and stand next to her in solidarity.

Or just hug her.

But what if it’s that other girl, Kala,

who I used to know.

She died of the cancer

that crept through her body

and sank its teeth into her bones.

When she died she left

two babies behind.

They will only remember

their mom as a person fighting

for her life. They will never know

the bright, fiery strawberry blond

who hung out at Billy Frogs on Fridays

after work drinking cheap vodka crans.

We laughed at our co-workers

and split nachos. I can’t reach out

to her or hug her

because she’s gone.

It could be that it’s that other girl, Z,

who I know so well

because I gave birth to her

and she’s getting ready to fly

and the sky is impossibly vast

and could collapse in on itself at any moment—

strands of air clinging together as they spiral down

and crash into the earth

and leave her drowning in a dirty brown sea

with nothing blue or green to hang on to.

My mind flinches and stops

on that ominous dead end street.

I can’t stop time

or un-melt the polar ice caps.

I can’t save anything or anyone

from the certain doom that happens naturally

when human beings are involved

because they are inherently selfish

and sometimes only think about

how their hair looks

when they wake up.