Writing Practice – 6/1/2018

Pen is running dry…

I like to watch the progress of the ink level in the barrel as I go along. Slow and steady it is, but it keeps going. The more I write, the less I have left to go until it’s all gone. Like footsteps, paradoxically, the more I write, the more evidence there is that I was here. The more pen on the page, means less pen ink in the tube.

I wonder if the people who made this pen thought about how it would be used. For grocery lists or for calculus homework. For taking notes in a quarterly divisional meeting at a large multi-national corporation, or for making doodles on the side of a notepad while waiting for the doctor.

The possibilities inside this pen are endless. There are whole worlds, whole universes, to be set free. Inside this plastic cylinder are dragons and demons and fairies and magic. Inside are robots and hyper drives and a new ansible and a Crucible. Inside are epic poems and haikus. Inside is a resignation letter from the President, alongside and mingling with the phone number scrawled on the back of my hand at that bar last week.

These things are all in there. They’re all potentials. misspellings and transgressions, sleights of hands and phurns of trase. Malapropism. Aproprisms. Run-on sentences. Adverbs. The month of September, and how it smells like sheep ready for shearing, how it feels like the ground is turning its own nose up at the change of seasons. Inside is a butterfly, dancing merrily on the edge of my shoulder, its delicate leg somehow caught in the uneven weave of my shirt, fluttering and flapping to try and escape, yet still entwined with me, so that I have time to take out my camera and snap a selfie, two, three, four, five, before I watch if finally leave, and take off and leave me wanting more once again.

It is a desert, and Antarctica, and Pluto, and Polaris, and protons, and Protease, and protein, and prescriptions and purses and pennywhistles and Pennywise, all in one. It is the large infinitely large and the small infinitely small together – mashed, waiting, uncertain as to whether it will manifest on the paper as power or pusillanimousness. The possibilities are infinite, a regular [unclear] Pen of the word, an infinite universe of quantum potentialities which do not coalesce condense collapse into one until I set pen to paper and become, in this world, the almighty.

Extremely Bad Advice – How to Deal with Sentimentality

Stealing from Abby once again – ’cause I’m too lazy today to write a new question.

DEAR ABBY: My adult son passed away two years ago at a young age. We were very close while he was growing up. He married young, and I maintained a great relationship with both him and his wife. They gave me the most precious grandchildren any woman could ask for, and I am extremely active in their little lives.

My daughter-in-law has moved on. She met a nice young man, and they are planning to be married in the near future. Do you think I would be out of line to request to have my son’s ashes back home with me? We live near each other, I love her very much, and we still have a great relationship. I don’t want to damage it by asking this if it’s not appropriate.

I would pass his ashes on to his children when they grow up, of course, but for now, I’d love to have my son back home with me and his dad because she has started her new life. My husband is noncommittal about the subject. When I broach it, he says he “doesn’t want to talk about it.” I really have no one to ask or confide in about this. Your thoughts would be most appreciated. — STILL BROKENHEARTED IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR BROKENHEARTED,

Well, what can I say? I would say I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m not. I think “sorry for your loss” is about as meaningful as “the sky is really blue today”. If I was saddened by your loss, I’d tell you that, and perhaps that would do something. If I was interested in showing how much I care about you, I’d ask, “Oh, that must be hard. What do you miss most about him?” But, again, I don’t care, because your sorrow and misery really don’t affect me on the daily. Other than to provide fodder for my advice column, for which I will gladly say, “Next victim!”

Okay, here we go. The classic dilemma – who gets to keep the crispy bacon that used to be your son’s body? Because, let’s all agree, your “son” is no longer there any more, just like the dream I used to have of being an Abercrombie & Fitch model has blown off into the wind with that first hit of the mind-altering substance known on the street as Jif Extra Crunchy. Your son disappeared from the shell that held him the moment his cranial electro-activity ceased. What he left behind was the meatbag for DNA that did its job incredibly well by providing “the most precious grandchildren” [hold on – just threw up in my mouth a little].

And in order to do that, he had to procreate with his wife, your daughter-in-law (DIL). Who is now his widow. So, for that you should be grateful to her, not jealous.

What’s left is sentimentality. I get it. People have good memories of the past, and it’s hard to move on. It’s hard to imagine that your progeny wouldn’t love you as much as you loved him. How could he? You’re a mother, and everyone knows a “mother’s love knows no bounds”. He couldn’t reciprocate your devotion to him. And he proved this by not pulling an Oedipus and fucking you! He shagged the DIL, knocked her up a couple of times, gave her good memories, and now his burnt ends occupy a silver chalice on the mantle. Good for him and her.

But – you’re a selfish hag who has nothing left in her life, and you’re trying to fill your own void by commandeering what should be left to her in order to appease your own shortcomings. As evidenced by your question to me! Don’t do this. Would you be out of line? Absolutely. Don’t do it! Leave well enough alone. Your husband “doesn’t want to talk about it” not from an ethical or emotional perspective, but simply because you’re looney-tunes and he recognizes a bear trap when he sees it.

However, because I suspect you won’t take my advice above, being as reasonable as it is, I’m going to give you a bonus recommendation of some Extremely Bad Advice. This you’ll probably do with gusto. Have fun!

Step one: Offer to babysit the grandkids for a night. Give the DIL and her new guy a chance to go out and have fun.

Step two: Prepare for the switch. Get a plastic bag, about a gallon, clear (not white), full of ashes from your backyard barbecue pit. Take along a second, empty bag for holding.

Step three: Once the kids are in bed, make the transfer. Go full Indiana Jones. Play dramatic music, sweat profusely, look over your shoulder for booby-traps.

Step four: Revel in your glory. You now have your son’s actual remains, and she, the grandkids, and your husband are none the wiser. Dare I say they might view you as a hero for how magnanimously you deal with the situation? Visit a bar and order a glass of Chablis to celebrate. Send me the bill – I’ll gladly treat you for that job well done!

Writing Practice – 3/18/2018 – Concerning Happiness

Prompt: How far would you go to achieve your happiness?

I admit- this may be limiting me. But I won’t push past the boundaries of another’s satisfaction or happiness in life to achieve my own. If it requires me to leave a wake of destruction in my path to achieve that “happiness”, then I have the wrong idea of happiness or the wrong idea of the ideal.

I should not have to go to such great lengths, either. I should be able to find happiness wherever I am, whenever I am, without needing to search and seek and journey. I should be able to get to a level of happiness by my everyday interactions – by the things I am doing for myself, for my children, for my community, for my nation, for my world.

I should not need to look far. I am and should find happiness in the alarm clock – in the running shoes. In the dirty dishes, that transform themselves under my great care and safe tutelage into sparkling clean ones.

I should find happiness in a well-folded shirt. In an empty e-mail inbox. In a to-do list completely crossed off. In watching my son hit a double. In reading a story my daughter has written. In throwing crusts of bread, in throwing the whole piece out for the squirrels and the chipmunks and the sparrows and chickadees.

I should find happiness in the pen – in using it dry from my words on the push. I should find happiness win a well-covered page. I should find happiness in a well-read book. In a philosophical insight. In a historical lesson I can only now understand.

I should find happiness in ladybugs – in empty wine glasses – in watermelon rinds and runny noses on a winter’s morning. I should find happiness in a lit candle, burning to fend off to ward off to beat away the darkness of night.

I should find happiness in a hug from my mother. In a smile from my brother. In the touch of my lover. In the morning wind, in the stinging rain, in a subway car too full for me to squeeze in. I should find happiness in an evening newscast, and in laying my head on the pillow at night.

And – I should – So I Do.

What is love? (Postscript)

So, over the past 10 writing practice sessions I have been exploring what love means to me. So what does it mean? What did I learn? Remember – those sessions were not planned. They were spur of the moment; they were following a thread of emotion or thought. They may not represent reality for me always, but they DO represent what I thought right then. In order to figure that out what it all means, I have taken some time to organize my thoughts.

Well – love is messy. Love is fraught with danger. Love has great potential for risk, great opportunity for reward.

Love is also beautiful – endearing – satisfying like a cool stream in the middle of summer. Love is the comfort of a lover’s hand in yours as you walk. Love is sitting quietly reading a book on the couch while your lover does the same, or does something completely different. Love is trust – trust of another, and trust of yourself. trust in the growth you both are experiencing. Trust in the words that were said, in the feelings that remain hidden.

Love is valuable. Love is a treasure, to be searched for and sought out. Love is a purity, a great price. And it should not be given lightly, and should not be valued as a gaudy, plastic bauble. It should be viewed as a gleaming lamp set upon the highest hill, a beacon calling out to all those who hurt, who fear, who hesitate. It says “come to me, and rest here. It might not be easy, no. It will have heartache. It will have disappointment. It will have highs and lows, higher than you dreamed and lower than you believed you could survive. It will be wonderful and terrible. But it will be worth it. It will be precious, and encouraging, and essential to you. It will lead you on, and on, and on. It won’t be easy. It will be worth it.”

So – Love. What is it?

Love is … worth it.

Love is (10 of 10)

Love is…

Love is growing a garden and being able to do it without saying a thing. Love is a partnership in which one supports another through good times and better. Love expands. It is not restrained by rib cage, or heart cavity, or space, or capacity. I may love one, and yet also love another. Love does not limit itself; it is not bound by the conventions of the physical world. Love is truth encompassing a lie. Love separates in order to build up and reintegrate that which it has once separated.

Love believes in the other – it watches the other to see the small changes that even it did not know were present. Love is caring and concern. Love is causing a tear in your lover’s eye, and kissing it away. Love is causing the next one, and still letting it linger, glistening on the edge, waiting for redemption that does not come. Love is the way we whisper into the ear in an embrace. Love is kissing her under her chin when all you want to do is walk away.

Love is walking away when you want to stay. Love is staying when you want to shout in exasperation. Love is shouting when what is needed is the most gentle touch on a shoulder. Love is a gentle touch when really, what you need is a blindfold, candles, and a towel to catch the mess. Love is a blindfold when you ask for it. Love is a safe word. Love is a dangerous word. Love is an intimidating phrase, love is the destruction of pretense; love is the hope of glory and the glory of hope.

Love is a high culmination of feeling, of emotion, of trust. Love is dangerous. Love is treachery. Love is deception. Love is revelation.

Love has no bounds, no rules, no stigma, no “should”. No Shame. No regret. No fear. No wimpiness. No fear, no doubt, no hazard, no morality, no immorality, no loss, no gain, no win, no pain. Love has a core [illegible] center more precious than diamon – love has a covering more valuable than titanium. Love preserves. Love believes. Love win.

Love is (9 of 10)

Love is…

Love is passion, emotion. Love is a kiss, love is holding hands as you walk. Love is a caress on the shoulder when things have not gone well. Love is a gentle squeeze of the arm when it is a perfect night, sitting on a blanket, relaxing under the stars, thinking of nothing, experiencing the peace of time together.

Love is a kiss, soft as the warm summer breeze, lifting the fall of hair from off your temple. Love is the weight of the world’s cares fading into the background of the cicadas, as you stare at your lover’s eyes and wish you could dive into and never return. Love is temporary, but powerful. Love is the way you think about another, not only how you act, and not only how you think but how you talk. How you breathe. How you lie still.

Love is waiting. Love is caution. Love is tentative steps forward, as you wonder just what it is you’ve gotten yourself into. Love is hoping; praying? Demanding, begging. Pleading. Asking, and waiting for an answer.

Love is accepting that answer, even when it is not the one you want to hear. Especially when it is not the one you wanted to hear.

Love is asking again. And hearing the same answer. And asking yet again, and hearing even more of the same. Love is perseverance, faithfulness. Love is patience. As much as it is a virtue, at times it is a burden, too. Move on? Not from love. Forget about her? Never, with love. Pretend you are better off without him? Impossible once love has reared its head between you two.

Love is a dance. Occasionally you lead – you direct the path of the other. At times you follow – she knows how to navigate the paths surrounding. Most of the time, though, there is a mutual uncertainty, a parallel discovering of what might be – what was – what we wish would never be again. Most of the time, it is this trepidation, this fear, this unknown and unknowable that leads both into the maze of emotion, of feeling, of give and take, of, frankly, heartbreak.

Love is there. It is here. It is invisible and impossible to ignore at the once. It is inviolable and irrefutable and ignorant and naive and bullheaded and wistful and selfish and destructive and violent and soft, gentle, a rain on a daisy. Love is true, and false. Love is patient and impulsive. Love rushes forward, and then hits the brakes hard. Love tears down, builds up, encourages and demeans. Love is in all, and through all, and absent from the void. Love is…

Love is not. It is the great everything and the miniscule nothing. Love is? No. We are. We are. We may love, but love is not. We are. We. Us.

What is love? (8 of 10)

Why do we ask? Why do we put labels, definitions on this emotion? Is it because everyone has such a varied experience of it? Or, rather, instead, maybe it is because everything that we experience label it as is inadequate to describe that emotion? We use language which is not up to the task. How can my words convey, in you, the reader, the same things within my heart I feel? How could it possibly? Even were I to be successful in the first formulation – that of what I experience – into a written description which resonates with my own heart, my own emotion ,my own soul – even if I am able to SOMEHOW find words to express the depth of what I’ve felt – the breadth of how my experience has gone – the width of how far I wish to stretch my arms in order to encompass the feeling – even if I were, against the odds, able to share this, able to transcribe, able to capture (for that must be the right descriptive – capture – as if my feelings are a wild, [illegible] animal dangerous and roaming free on the savannah) even if I were able to capture that word, that desire, that joy, that openness, that lightheadedness, that world beyond sound and experience and smell and taste and touch – even if, If…IF I were able to detail, adequately, the impact of action, I know, know KNOW that without a doubt it would not, can not, should not, must not evoke the same and likely not even similar feelings within you, for my experiences are not yours. My heart is not your heart. My spirit is not your spirit. My past is not your past. And so we cannot read the same thing and interpret, feel, emote, move in the same way. Were I to read back what I wrote, I would be reminded of my experience. If you were to read what I wrote, you would be reminded of the [illegible] experiences in your shared history. Perhaps they are similar to mine. Perhaps they evoke radically different thoughts – memories – reflection. Perhaps it means nothing at all to you, and thus you decide to ignore it altogether. Perhaps it gets you close, but not quite there – Perhaps it is one of those “almost to orgasm” moments in which you have all of the built-up pleasure but none of the final climax. Perhaps it means exactly the opposite to you as it does to me. And thus one can never completely, adequately, fully share in this experience of love, of like, of hate.

So, then. Why do you ask me of love? Shall I disappoint you and tell you what it means to me, so you can misinterpret, fabricate, obfuscate your way out of understanding for yourself? or rather, and I think this is what I shall do – shall I tell you, “I know, but it is for you to discover on your own –“? Yes, I rather like that. That shall do for now. 

Good bye. Good Bye. GOODBYE!!!