2019-08-13 “Everything Now”

At residency Jackson introduced me to a band. It’s not a new band, they’ve been around, but they are new to me. That’s how my life goes. That’s how everyone’s life goes, you know. You don’t know something until you know it. That’s why we need people. Other people. To know things and show us things we might otherwise miss. I digress (from the start, good grief!).

I woke up sometime after 4. I think the Fitbit on my wrist read “4:46”. Whatever. I laid there a while and let the thoughts in my head roll around like stones. It was something about stones, and rocks and cobbles and pavers. Something I was thinking and writing about just before I went to bed. It was something that wants to be something but can’t find the shape of itself yet.

It’s something about addiction or maybe just doing drugs and getting stoned and quite honestly I don’t know enough about the subject matter to put the right language into it. It’s just another daydream that emerged as the story of a witch who was being ushered to the stake. Burning in the Fire was the trial that had been used to determine guilt or innocence. But of course as the story goes, if you are innocent. It’s too late to save you anyway. The deed would already have been done. Damn those Putnam girls. (I digress again… damn!).

So this witch is walking toward the stake and lifting her hands and reciting incantations and her words are turning into miasma and evaporating from the air leaving a trail of copper dust behind her on the cobble stone path.

She’s dooming the village and it’s inhabitants to drown under a field of ash. But I fell asleep before the volcano could erupt. See, the language was just all wrong. It wasn’t what I was wanting to say and I let it go.

As I lay in my bed at 5:29am I was trying again to conjure the words I wanted about rocks and stones and this semi-charmed life, this hotel in California place I’m in and again, it turned into a different daydream (it’s technically almost day, right?). I was driving in a car on the highway. I was waking up behind the wheel. It wasn’t what I wanted either but I went with it.

At this point, I got out of my bed and went up to the room where my notebook is so I could write it all down. I began in a familiar phrase, language that’s so me it’s muscle memory. I wrote and wrote and came to the end of the poem and when I came to it, I knew it was the end. That’s how you know sometimes, when you are so sure about that last line you just put your pen down and say out loud “that’s it”.

Then I began to cry. The tears came out of nowhere, literally, and I had one of those feels-so-good-to-cry-and-let-it-out moments. Such a release. I looked at my Fitbit and it said “6:01”. I was crying at 6am. That’s something!!

6:01am and I had just finished writing what I am sure is my best poem yet. Damn this is a good life.

It’s 8:16am now and I’m on the treadmill and recounting all these minutes and listening to “the best of Arcade Fire” playlist on Amazon Music. Every single song is about my life RIGHT NOW and it’s amazing to me that it’s all just coming to me now. It’s “Everything Now”.

Modern Man

Everything Now

Keep the Car Running

We Exist

Wake Up

Black Mirror

The Suburbs

We Used to Wait

Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

Reflektor

No Cars Go

City With No Children

Electric Blue

I’m so damn grateful. I just want you to know.

Stay Frosty,

XOXO

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-18 It’s Finally Here

Yesterday was my last day on contract. (I promise this post is not about work, again). Today is the first day of my new life.

How Many Moons Does it Take?

It will be many moons before I let go of feeling ultimately responsible for any outcome but I’m done with that life for now.

They may throw me under the bus, silently, without my knowing and I’ll feel it even if it isn’t true.

They will keep on smiling, telling me how great I am and I’ll be confused about the tone of their voices and wondering what their facial expressions or body language is saying that I can’t see. From 1000 or 2000 or 3000 miles away, wherever we are today.

I’ll be home, digging in my dirt and looking forward to picking up my children even when I know they will be moody or silent or falling asleep in the back seat.

I will be reading a page, not able to finish because I’ve had a thought so overwhelmingly important it demands attention and a keyboard and a screen.

I will be debating with myself about getting a coffee (ie. Sugar and cream and caffeine) and then lose, and then win.

I will be walking miles and miles under the sun or overcast skies or moon or whatever the Universe has decided it should be today.

I will be thinking of my love or sinking next to him on the couch to conspire about our future or grabbing his hand to go to a different room because we’re alone in the house that day.

I may be in the park down the street or far from home finding adventure on deserted backroads or crowded streets or in some restaurant that sets cheap red wine on the table like water.

I will stop everything and demand everyone direct their attention to the myriad of colors on the horizon when the sun rises and sets. Even if it’s only me and only blue. Because.. priorities.

The moons will be plenty and full and…

there may not be as many as I thought before I let go.

***

Happy Caturday!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-10 The Problem with First Drafts

I’m pressed for time today. Splitting my hours in two to get enough of everything done. That just means that nothing will be done right. You know.. things take as long as they take and half the time is never enough for that!

Last night I transferred about 10 new poems from paper into electronic format. I made small, obvious, edits as I went and was struck with inspiration for other changes a few times. Is any of that going to amount to anything? One never knows.

Before sharing in workshop or anyone else for feedback, every line is still subjectively evaluated on a singular mind. Namely the writer. That’s why I sometimes have no idea what might be well received and what might be looked at with wrinkled noses or unengaged eyes.

This is a problem I am not sure how to solve and it’s particularly challenging for me as one of the issues I have with my poetry and flash fiction is that it makes complete sense to me, but comes across as misunderstood. The connections and meaning are clear in my own head. I often think “this is perfect for my point”. And then I get other eyes on it and am met with comments like “what does this even mean?” And “I don’t understand what’s going on here”. Or “who” or “what” or “where”… or the worst one “why”. Oh My!

I try to “fix” this by making things more obvious, less abstract, but I always feel that’s a terrible compromise. The whole thing often turns into a terrible amalgamation of mixed metaphor and direct diction for clarification. I end up hating it and abandon the piece altogether.

I know my other problem is image and still struggle with using too much statement and not enough concrete nouns that elicit the desired visual or sound or feeling. I was born into a world ruled by free-verse that values Phanopoeia. Most of the time that’s just not how my brain works.

So what is a girl to do? I suppose since I am out of time, the answer is “nothing” right now. These problems will continue to roll around in my head and maybe I will find my answer at some point in the future when I least expect it. An epiphany in the shower perhaps, or whilst I’m pretending to meditate and falling asleep. Who knows.

Ciao for Now,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-28 These Are Strange Times

Here I sit in a random dentist office in the middle of the Universe. It might not be accurate to say Earth is in the middle of the Universe, but I suppose any planet that is not at the edge of the Universe is technically in the middle. Maybe not the center, but who knows, it’s all relative anyway right? I mean the Milky Way is, itself, a spiraling set of stars spinning on some other larger/unseen axis. We are just tiny little beings on a spinning rock that is spinning around a star. We are all spinning on so many levels it is a wonder that we aren’t all just falling down all the time, dizzy from rotation. Life is like endlessly attempting to walk straight lines while sleepy or drunk, until the end.

Human beings were one ignorant and arrogant enough to think the world was at the center of the Universe (and that the Earth was flat too). We may know a little better than that now, but not much. I mean, we are still arguing about borders and trade sanctions and starting wars in the name of beliefs and ideals we made up in our tiny little human brains to explain the unexplainable. I often think about how insignificant life is, and it is comforting in a way. It is comforting to know that no matter what happens in my life, that it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s just one life after all. And if I fuck it up, it will not matter and if I achieve everything I ever set out to achieve beyond my wildest imagination, that will really not matter either.

I wrote a poem about all of this recently, and even putting that through the revision process that I have now become accustomed to seems a little pointless. I mean, didn’t I say everything that I was inspired to say the first time around? If I mess with that, and tweak it to make it better or more clear or more consumable or enjoyable for my fellow humans will that really matter? I think not. In any case – here it is (the revised version)…

THESE ARE STRANGE TIMES

Cats and cats getting along like republicans and democrats
yeah just like that / scratches appear
across fingers crossed / keep your arms and legs inside the moving vehicle
at all times / it was the worst of times – it was the worst of times / I’m afraid
nobody will ever be nostalgic for 2018 except maybe yours truly.

I was falling in love while the rest of the world picked sides, stood
ground / grinding their teeth yielding pitchforks and torches / a set of fine china
(or Koreas) stacked too high waiting for one wrong move / shootings and
and sanctions and troops at the border / oh my / but they can’t touch me no
not even brutal murder in Turkey could keep me from my Thanksgiving feast.

2018 was the year that truth became a man, a myth, a legend / a story
you want to believe but the cake is a lie / Zoom out
to discover it doesn’t really matter / All matter and mass and energy
expanding in the vast universe is destined to go nova.
In Spanish “nova” means “it doesn’t go” / How appropriate.

***

So that’s my update for today. Random poetry. I hope you like it.
(but if you don’t that is fine too)
With Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-21 The Art of Thinking Differently

In residency last sumner for my MFA program I attended a lecture where the faculty talked about being an artist and experiencing the world differently. I think she alluded to “seeing”, but I think it applies to all the senses. If you can see the world differently, then you can most certainly hear the world differently and taste and touch and smell too. I think this is an interesting topic. I desire to experience the world differently. The question immediately following is what is considered “different”. In her lecture she went into this a bit and talked through the difference between describing a plant, a peony I believe, with a textbook description versus an artist description.

You have to take time to consider everything about the peony. It’s not just about the way it looks, how big and what color, but how it lives and grows. The tendencies of the plant and its history. What it thinks and feels. That last statement seems to take it too far, but not really. You have to push past the normal way of thinking. You have to question everything and unlearn what we are all programmed with from a very early age.

In my view, that programming is somewhat necessary. It’s provided the building blocks for understanding. It’s the collective consciousness finding common denominators. We are taught language and definitions and how to classify and categorize things. We learn how to fit things into boxes with words and a big part of that is so that we have a solid foundation and can successfully communicate with the people around us.

Our brains and souls are all very different and we inherently think differently. Our experiences are also very different and so the context of our personal thought processes vary widely. The education and upbringing we are indoctrinated with shape how we look at things and how we hear and what we think. The more we have in common, the easier it is to communicate and make connections.

Therefore, these common ways of thinking are required for a fully functioning society. We have to have some mutual understanding or we’d all be walking around in our own little worlds unable to make forward progress as a people. The trade off, however, is that along the way we lose some of the natural ways of thinking that we were born with.

In essence, our brains are retrained and part of what is sacrificed in this process, I believe, are those unique pathways that are able to see and interpret and understand differently. I would propose, however, that these alternate patterns and processes are not really lost. They are just buried deep within the soft tissues of our brains. The human brain is an amazing organ and a massive data collecting machine. Science has theorized that we humans use only 10% of our total brain power. That leaves so much untapped potential. Given this, it’s not a stretch to say that the original programming we have as children still exists somewhere in there. The accessibility is severed and the conscious self rewires the connections to lead to the newly learned thought processes.

If this is true, then those original ways of thinking can be found, or rather, re-discovered. We can put effort towards this objective and uncover layers of context and thought that are deeper than the common understandings that we have all been taught. In doing so, we are connecting with that part of ourselves that is capable of “seeing” like an artist. We can relearn how to consider a peony and all of the qualities that make it unique. We can see beyond the green, bushy foliage and dense blooms of pink and purple and white.

We can uncover nature’s design for its existence. The way the blooms become so heavy with themselves the stalks droop to the ground. The way that ants are drawn to the plant and swarm the blooms, attracted to the sweet vibrations of it’s nectar. The joy they feel with this symbiotic relationship and the inevitable sadness as the spring season comes to a close and those heavy flowers, no matter what color, turn brown and wither. We can, if we put in some measure of effort in, discover how a peony thinks and feels.

Make no mistake, however, it’s not easy and truly does take time and effort and a focused intention to get there. A person can’t just wake up one day and decide to see the world differently. Well, they can decide they want that, but in order to get there, it takes work. What that path looks like is a whole other essay entirely. In short though, It takes blood, sweat, and apparently lots of tears. It requires time and experience, and yes, even practice.

Connecting that with poetry and the writer’s life, it becomes almost essential to maximize one’s potential. Every poem is a work of art and those alternate pathways contribute greatly to any body of work. To write like a poet, one must live like a poet and love like a poet. They must be able to experience the world on many different levels, with all the senses engaged and in a particular frame of mind or rather, with a more open mind.

Understanding this and desiring it are the first steps in the right direction, especially for a person like myself who was not brought up to value the artistry in music, or nature, or words. I’m certainly not professing that I’ve got it all figured out, but am now well on my way. There’s a limitless amount of discovery and rediscovery ahead and the prospect of that fills my cup. I want to fully immerse myself in exploration of thinking differently and in doing so, hope to create some beautiful art of my own.

Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-10-10 When the Situation Calls For Chaos (or Poetry, Take Your Pick)

Strange Times

Cats and cats getting along like republicans and democrats,
yeah just like that / scratches appear
across fingers crossed / keep your arms and legs inside the moving vehicle
at all times / it was the worst of times, it was the worst of times / I’m afraid
nobody will ever be nostalgic for 2018 except maybe yours truly.
It was the year that truth became a man, a myth, a legend / a story
you believe but the cake is a lie / Zoom out
to discover it doesn’t really matter / All matter and mass and energy expanding
in the vast universe is destined to go nova.
In Spanish “nova” means “it doesn’t go” / How appropriate.

***

Sometimes.. well.. most times I like things neat and organized. I want the day to be planned out. I want things to have nice and neat beginnings and endings that are clear cut. I don’t want a lot left to interpretation. I want defined processes and things that make logical sense. I like it when everything is buttoned up and tied with a neat bow. I prefer order to chaos. I think most people do. I think I’m very average and not out of the ordinary with regards to these preferences. I believe that very few people wake up most days saying, let’s just see how crazy I can make this day. I could be wrong. I mean, I’ve talked to such a small fraction of the people alive today. It doesn’t matter anyhow, my point is I operate a certain way and don’t ever drift very far from that because it makes me uncomfortable.

I’ve tried to approach this whole school thing very methodically. Last semester seemed to go fine, but then again, I had less going on. This semester I’ve procrastinated and then scrambled – twice now – to get things done. I don’t like it. I hate missing deadlines and I’m beginning to get very frustrated with the fact that I can’t seem to find 2 solid hours to work on stuff. I’ve also tried to approach revisions and essays methodically. It sounds absurd, but I actually made a checklist of things to cover with each poem to make sure I’m following some sort of set of pre-determined rules. “Ask the poem what its about”. Sure sure, because I established early on that the poem has a mind of its own and has something it wants to say. See there, I started to rant about one thing and ended up on a whole tangent topic. That’s not organized.

What I am trying very hard to say, and not doing a very good job of explaining, is that this approach is not working. This daily balancing act, this paint by numbers approach to revision, this logical application of process and procedure. It’s just failing me. As I sit here, well past when I normally go to sleep, pontificating about how organization is failing me I’m leaning toward the brilliant idea of embracing chaos and allowing the random forces in the universe to work their magic. I’m feeling like letting things just fall apart and be messy. I want to try nonsense on for size and see how that fits me.

Consequences will always be tip-toeing behind me, sneaky bastards. I can’t stop them from whispering in my ear but I can hum a tune real loud in my head to drown out their incessant demands. So what? The kids need to eat vegetables, “let them eat cake” I say. Sure I’m supposed to work 30 hours, but what happens if I don’t. What will happen if I ignore all the emails, and notifications, and text messages. What will happen if I don’t vote or renew my car registration or change my furnace filter. Nothing that will keep the world from turning around the sun. What will happen if I write a poem and it has no point? If it’s really just nonsense? If it’s a drunk dream about dancing around with black licorice in a devastated dystopia? What if?

I can ask the poem what it wants to be about.. who the speaker is.. who the audience is.. where.. and when.. and how – but I don’t have to if I don’t want to.
I want to throw the rules for contemporary poetry out the fucking window. My heart sings in rhyme and you can laugh at that if you want to, because I don’t care. This situation I’m in has resisted organization. It’s a math proof that is un-verifiable because the steps don’t ever lead to the answer. So what if my brain writes poetry that doesn’t fit the times. I always knew I should have been born in the 17th century. Well, I didn’t ALWAYS know that. Maybe it’s all just an excuse. A thick plot to enable me to continue living under a rock.

It sounds like a rant, but it’s really not. It’s just me trying to fit this square peg of a tired mind into the round hole of a meaningful life. What other answer could there be than Chaos.

Love Always,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-09-21 On Inspiration and Nostalgia

Some days I think about writing poetry and I’m all like “I got nothin”. Other days I start thinking about life and my history and the music in my ears and everything seems like a poem begging to be born. I’ve been around the block and I’ve experienced a lot of shit. Some of it you would not believe. My closest friends would not believe it. Stuff in my past that I never talk about with anyone. When people have events they never talk about, it’s typically something they are ashamed of and wanting to hide. Or sometimes it’s painful and they don’t talk about it because it stirs up too much heartache.

I’m no exception to that rule. At my last residency one of the faculty gave a lecture where he talked about nostalgia and the wavelength we are all on. It starts out as a flatline before we are born and the amplitude and frequency grows as we get older. Once we reach adulthood we can have wild swings up and down and life hands us a lot that we have to figure out how to deal with. We may have events that rock our world, and other where we feel like we just got “Rick Rolled”.

He talked about how, as writers, we gravitate toward exploring those events and often return back to them again and again for inspiration. He indicated that there are typically four or five things that we cycle through. Most of the time, it’s deep, tough stuff. I’ve definitely witnessed this phenomenon in my travels.

In the last few years I’ve been more active in my local writing community. I’ve attended readings and workshops and poetry slam contests. I’ve become somewhat familiar with the local artists and their work and also read books published by visiting poets. My observations validate what Jim Peterson talked about in his lecture.

People have had tough lives. Mental illness, drug addiction, suicide, abuse, poverty. I’ve listened to poets use their art to express what they have experienced in their lives. I’ve also witnessed the trend of individuals who use that circumstance over and over. A few times I’ve felt that it’s the same poem rewritten in a different way over and over. Perhaps I’ve just heard the same poems recited by the same person again and again, but in reading collections I do detect themes. It may be that that is what was intended with a particular book, but my mind keeps returning to the idea of nostalgia and artists accessing their past to create something beautiful.

In the lecture JP made a point about how nostalgia can happen with both positive and negative events. We can look back longingly at some previous time, wishing for things to be like that again. That’s the traditional thought invoked when people talk about nostalgia. He made a case that it’s also looking back at a difficult time which evokes a different set of emotions. Both can be a challenge to process. We have grief, longing, sadness, and regret but we can also have joy, peace, humor, and hope.

When I think about all of this I recognize I have a wealthy history of experiences to draw from, I may not be ready to face my demons, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sharpen my sword with some interesting peak-wavelength moments, or at the very least something more interesting than the hum-drum that most days are composed of.

I could tap into the time in my life I lived in Las Vegas or the time I traveled to the UK solo just to go to the Snow Patrol concert or my experiences traveling other places. I have written only scraps about those times. I’ve got tiny snippets from times when I was falling in love and magical moments with my babies (now teenagers).

In days like today I look around me and am inspired by everything. The sunrise is a different shade of amazing each and every day. I’m grateful for so much and want to express that in my poetry also. I’m sure most of it is just Fluff, but that’s no reason to hold back. If I want to celebrate the Man in Black on the treadmill next to me, then that’s what I’m going to do. I mean, Bird Girl is way more interesting but I haven’t seen her for months. So many possibilities.

On that note, it’s time to wrap here and go write a poem. Yeah, it’s as easy as that. What’s a girl to do?

Looking on the Bright Sides,

~Miss SugarCookie