2018-04-20 Timing is Everything

I’m well caffeinated this morning and just flush with thoughts about what I’m reading and the music in my ears. I’m so inspired about all the things I could pontificate about in my next set of essays for school. The renaissance, history, evolutionary biology, the invention of computer language. It’s wild. The book I’m reading is fucking tough. It’s like the author made a point of making it as difficult as possible for what purpose, I’m not sure.

I’m equating it to Organic Chemistry. The class that they give med student hopefuls to weed out the cruft. If I can consume this book and come away with some higher level of understanding, then for sure I’m qualified to be a poet. I’m grateful for the opportunity to try. And since I don’t care for failure or the words “I Can’t”.. then I will get through it and I’ll write the most kick-ass essay about it. There’s only two people who will read it, but that doesn’t matter to me. Like so many things in my life, I’m driven from within and inspired from being without.

I may or may not have stated before but my resolve to continue with my current course has waned considerably this past month. The struggle to do well in all things has caused a stress I never wanted to feel again. I wrote a poem about it and even felt my hand move closer to the emergency stop lever.

The contributing factors are time and money. Probably time because of money. I’m just now coming into the black again. The combination of not getting enough hours into work these past few weeks and seeing another semester on the horizon which will put another 10 grand hit on my safety net has caused a serious pause.

Despite that, I pulled the trigger for Residency this summer. That decision was made easier by tempering my anxiety by holding off on the fall semester for now. I’m waiting to see how this semester ends and also waiting until I hear back from my program advisor on questions I’ve asked.

Timing is sometimes everything though. My thoughts about the program, my goals, and my responsibilities vary day to day and swing certain direction based on my moods. How am I to ever trust any decision when I’m so swayed by emotion. I try sorting things out with logic and reason and separating the feelings from the main equation. That’s where my left-brain analytics and desire to see a visual list of pros and cons come in handy. This usually helps me come to the best conclusion on life decisions.

This time, it’s not as easy. What happens when one side of the list is abstract and un-quantifiable. How to I put money on one side of the equation and “the meaning of life” on the other?

What is the price of fulfilling your life’s undefined purpose? Is it priceless? Is it worth risking the very life you are trying to define? Is that life so insignificant that there is actually no risk at all.. only perceived risk? Have I now travelled so far down the rabbit hole that any conclusion I come to fails to carry any weight at all in the real world?

You see, I’m failing to explain myself because somehow in the midst of all my self doubt about the right course of action I’m blinded by the light of poetry. I’m blinded and called to it and it’s so bright and hot that it’s literally melted everything on the left side the equation.

There’s a certain event in my life that I equate to punctuated equallibrium. That event set the wheels in motion like the Turks capturing Constantinople. Like the Greeks, I fled from that scene with all my texts, Poetry, journals, and art in cardboard boxes and electronic files.

Margo Street was my Italy. Thus began the Renaissance, thus began the evolution. Everything that has transpired since then has been moving me forward and now, today, when I’m faced with a decision about what the right course of action is, it feels as though the answers to all those questions don’t even matter.

Timing is some mystical power the Universe uses to bend us to the will of fate. We might try, with our primitive brains, to explain or even describe it using science and mathematics and history, but the essence of it evades.

That or it’s just the caffeine making me loco. 😜

Back to Reality,

~Miss SugarCookie

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2018-04-17 Broken Records

Balance.. procrastination.. balance.. sacrifice sleep.. social anxiety.. steps forward.. struggle.. too much to do. Rinse and repeat.

I’ve been writing this blog for 15 months now and when I started I was very much a broken person. A broken down broken record repeating the same sad story week after week. I was all “too much and poor me for my misery”.

But my goal was to get it out of me. I unpacked my insides and laid it all out on the floor in front of my own eyes so I could see pick through and see what I’d been collecting.

It was heartbreak and stress and sadness and grief. Life is too short to carry all that around. I looked at all of that and slowly started tossing it in the trash. I say slow because there’s no way to pay any price to speed that up. It takes as long as it takes. And it took a while but I got there.

It also took some big life decisions. Quitting my job for one. Going back to school for another. These are luxuries afforded by a long history of being a reliable employee to a few organizations. I always put my best foot forward and saved my pennies and then when I most needed it, I could gift myself the sabbatical that would propel me into the future.

Those five months were priceless. Being healthy, writing, relaxing, working on other projects I otherwise wouldn’t have time for, and going on vacations became my lifestyle. I slowly recovered from 2016. And in that time I also mostly recovered from the end of my five year relationship with Matt.

I say mostly because I’m forever scarred from what we did to each other. Two good People who couldn’t force love into being enough to make a life together because there weren’t enough pieces to complete the picture. We were right for each other but our lives weren’t meant to be intertwined the way one with my heart strings requires.

It was tough for me to say “no” and remove myself from that relationship. I’ll be forever grateful for the girl that swooped in and blocked me from that door opening again when I cried and screamed and banged on it. That girl I hated despite never meeting her. She’s moved to Cali now and the Universe only knows what’s become of their relationship. I’m grateful not to care too much.

I know I still care some. I know deep down I’m still in some state of perpetual grief about all of it. Good times I wish I could recall without being drowned in sadness and regret. Bad times and problems my brain has tried over and over to solve. Time has helped the answer to be more clear. It was a puzzle all along and like I said, for all the right pieces, there was just too much missing.

Still, when I got feedback from my mentor on that one poem that was inspired by him, I could not help but cry as I cut and created that 3rd draft. That’s my life now.. words and poetry and allowing all of it out for examination and criticism.

I was broken open and I’m no longer broken but I remain open. I’m open for whatever this new life path brings my way. If I submit a hundred poems and they all get rejected, then so be it. I think about the fact that I don’t have a goal. I think about how all along the goal has been there and my grand failure was not recognizing it.

A person can’t help but believe in fate when they look back at the path of their life and see every choice they made and why. Day to day, you can’t see it. It just feels like the same record spinning over and over and, at times, extremely boring, but those broken record repetitions are what lead to what exists now.

Two beautiful, loving, happy children. A new loving relationship. The loving pursuit of a life dream. The security of a job that allows me to maintain my current way of life. The beauty of spring blooming around me despite the long winter. The prospect of a future full of love and positivity. The new broken record looks pretty great.

There will always be struggle with balance and hard work and health and social hurdles. The difference now is that I’m not packing it all down inside myself. I’m open and therefore free of repeating that part of my history.

Now.. time to go write some poetry!…

Poetry is the New Black,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-04-03 A Critique of the Critical Essay

I’ve done a lot of forced writing in the last week. By forced I mean writing that I wouldn’t normally do.

Poetry comes easy.. and when it happens I always enjoy it. I rarely pick a topic and say to myself, I’m gonna write about that this time.

Journaling usually comes easy. I just start by having some thoughts (and of course I have an endless supply) and start steaming. There are times I sit down to write about my life and times and come up empty, but it’s rare.

The point of assigning critical essays as a part of the MFA curriculum serves a couple different purposes. The main reason they give is that any practice writing is sharpening a persons skills. That’s true! It’s part of what I think I’m getting out of journaling every day.

Of course there’s almost zero feedback on journaling so there is no measure if it’s actually making me better.

A secondary purpose for critical essays, especially for me (but it applies to everyone), is that it shows what I’ve learned in my studies. If I successfully analyze a poem or provide a very insightful comparison, that means I’m learning. Hey, that’s the point of school. My uphill battle coming into this is that I’ve got a lot to learn. I have the challenge of reading, comprehension, and then the task of applying that to the other poetry and poets assigned. It’s a lot.

Most people in the program probably got their undergraduate degree in fine arts, English, ir something along that same line. They came in with so much more knowledge than I did. I’m that comp-sci nerd that hasn’t had any literature classes. The last class I had that’s somewhat related was English Comp 2 like 20 years ago.

When I originally submitted my application, I was worried they would not accept me for that reason. Well, that and the fact that I don’t have a clearly defined reason for wanting to be in the program or life goal that is associated. I don’t really want to be a teacher or anything like that. On the surface it appears that I’m doing it just because. I’m not, but it’s tough to articulate.

In truth, I wonder if they accepted my application because enrollment is down. I wish I knew how they did decide. I often worry that I’m just a fraud. When I wrote out my goals for the semester I actually included that. One of my goals was to defraud myself. Externally? Internally? 🤷‍♀️ Both would be nice.

Anyway, this week I struggled with my critical essays. In part I think this is because I set a high bar early in the semester and I want to, like the high jumper, inch that up each time and continue to clear it.

The other reason is that I’ve not been particularly “inspired” to write these essays this month. I continue to enjoy Creeley and now Glück and even Langan, but I just want to read and enjoy. They have inspired me to write poetry but I haven’t really wanted to put more of a critical eye into any of it or connect the dots with my theoretical texts.

That’s another reason the essays is good.. it forces us to write despite obstacles and challenges. If we can do that, then hell, we can write anytime about anything. That’s real talent!

I reached out to my mentor for some suggestions and he came back with a few very specific topics, which was helpful. I still struggled to write those though. I felt very much like I was just restating the obvious and not being critical in any way. I hope it’s still ok.

I’m submitting to him today and he’s going to provide feedback by the 7th. I guess I’ll know the answer after that.

After that, I’ll probably go into hybernation again with the essays. I suppose as long as I continue reading and perhaps taking notes about possible topics, then when packet 4 is looming I’ll be in good shape to write for that.

Time to do Tuesday,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-03-24 Law Of Attraction and the Gift Of Time

You know that some people subscribe to the theory that all you have to do is send thoughts about what you want and what you need out into the Universe at large and that opens the door to make those things possible. If I had to put this into actual terms people have come to agree on, it would be the “Law of Attraction”. There’s a wiki page on it so I know there must be just a few people who at least agree that this concept is worth trying to define.

I can’t say I believe in this, but there’s compelling evidence in that positive thinking begets positive thinking and that negativity, too, is a communicable thing. I wrote about this about a hundred years ago and that was published in my office newsletter (back in the good ole days at the Hospital).

It must have been something I thought was pretty good because I posted it on my blog. A quick re-read, and its probably more worthy of someone’s time than this is.

Let’s Get Happy Together

But I still have a point to make…

Two days ago I started freaking out about my schoolwork. I had a mini-meltdown and though in hindsight I was probably exaggerating a smidge in my head, the angst and stress were very real. I didn’t specifically request that I be given more time, but believe me when I say I wished very distinctly for it.

And what, can you guess, I found in my email a short time after that?!.. A message from mentor stating that he will be out of the country and will not be able to get to my packet until he returns and suggesting I delay sending it by a week. WHAT?! Are you freaking serious?!!! (I did a, not so silent, happy dance in my kitchen when I read that).

Ask and you shall receive. Or so “they” say. Like I’ve said before, I’m a realist and a skeptic too, but a growing list of evidence is hard to ignore.

Time is a gift. Last year I bawled my eyes out at the conclusion of JohnnyDepp’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland. That was the message from the movie and a realization that you have to cherish every minute here and now, and not waste it caused my heart to ache.

Now that I’ve been given this gift, I’m going to make the most of it. This brief reprieve has eased my mind and allowed me to regain my focus. Last night I happily worked on revisions and this morning I successfully typed in all the hand written notes and first drafts from the past month. The next step is to select what to submit and start thinking about what I need to communicate.

I also finished part 1 of 2 in one of my texts and have, for now, put the critical essays on the back burner. I’ve actually written some poetry about a few of the concepts I’m collecting, but I’m sure that’s not what they had in mind when they made critical essays a part of the curriculum. 😜

As always, balance is key and the extra time also means I don’t have to sacrifice QT with the kids or sleep or exercise or my newly blooming relationship. That makes me happy. I just hope the Universe is not planning any unpleasant surprises for April Fools day.

No Time to Waste,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-03-21 Time to Shift the Balance

I’m quite sick of overcast days, waking up to freezing temps and snow/sleet. My spring bulbs are coming up and probably happy to have that moisture, but pretty soon they are going to want to see the sun too. I good balance of both rain and sun would be perfect. The same goes for school and work.

It’s the middle of the week now and I’m faced with things I’ve been procrastinating again and really have to get myself in the right frame of mind to kick ass and get shit done. I’m good with work, and quite happy that I have enough to fill my week now because that eases my financial concerns quite a bit. I have to be careful though because it will be too easy for me to slip back into familiar patterns of taking on too much. The consequence of that would be not spending enough time on school. I’m behind this month and haven’t looked at the schedule lately, but feeling like I’ve done less reading and writing than both prior months thus far. Not good.

I think tonight I may take the kids downtown to the bookstore so I can pick up a few things and they can look for some new/old stuff too. I have several new authors to check out and I’ve been inspired by those I’ve read already and perhaps doing this will help jump start me this month too.

I’m also toiling over some of my revisions and it’s more challenging than I anticipated. I don’t have any issues with cutting/changing things, but I’ve solicited feedback from several sources and there are conflicting opinions and I’m not sure what to do with that.

Poetry is, after all, subject very much to the individual perspective. It may seem obvious that I fall in the side of my mentor who has made it his life’s work to study, write, teach, and mentor. However, if I’m appealing to a larger audience, I have to thoughtfully consider the other readers and their ideas.

Some of those people are a part of a group I was introduced to locally by a fellow student. They are all, in their own ways, deep in the poety circle and each has projects and ideas they are working on and it’s inspiring just being around them.

I may have aspirations for being published and they have all been traveling that road already and there is much I can learn. At this point I’m just sort of sitting quiet (or trying to) and soaking all of this in.

I hosted a workshop at my house last weekend and just listening to people discuss what they have going on is eye opening. It’s just as valuable as the feedback on my poems. It’s also really great to meet new people. They have welcomed me to the group with open arms and that’s a pretty strong measure of their characters.

Wow.. it’s quite amazing how just writing and thinking about this has shifted my focus and now I want to go work on school stuff instead of work. That’s pretty powerful. As soon as I’m down in it I’m sure I will have the same problem pulling myself out the same way I do with work. These are truly great problems to have.

Life is really amazing right now. If my biggest concern is loving everything so much, I don’t have enough time and picking what I want to spend it in is a challenge, then we’ll, that’s pretty fantastic!! 😃

Since I’m a creature of habit who likes routine, I feel like I would be best served by putting some more structure around my day and instead leaving school to the end of the day when the kids are home and I’m potentially tired and winding down (like last night), I take one or two days a week and block out a longer time earlier in the day. Perhaps I should start today by making today a “school” day and put work on the back burner for a day.

We’ll see once I’m back home and in front of my computer. It all starts with those first choices. Aaaaannnd…. now I’ve hit my morning step goal and the Man in Black has arrived at the gym so it’s time to go put those choices to the test.

Happy Hump Day!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-03-01 Part 3 – The Hangover

When we last left our fateful hero’s, they were staring down at the bottom of a bottle of wine, with empty glasses in hand. Their fingers were on the keyboard possitioned and ready for brilliance to flow as easily from them as the cheap wine that had just played out a most impressive disappearing act.

But the words were elusive. As it turns out, at least in this case, drunk texting is easier than poetry. Channeling Mayer again and taking my own advice, I said what I needed to say. No regrets right?!

There was a brief exchange and then, according to my FitBit, I was in bed asleep by 10:08PM. Yes.. my life is that exciting.

I was urged awake l just after midnight by a buzz on my wrist frim that very same FitBit, letting me know I was getting a call. It was HL. Knowing that being awake at that time meant an inilabulity to fall back asleep, I promptly returned his call.

My head hurt so I walked about my house getting water and OTC meds for that as I engaged him in conversation. He had just arrived home from a night out drinking with a friend. Way less lame than my drinking alone sitting in my office with only my cat and my laptop to keep me company.

It had been a while since we talked so we had a brief catch up session. I recounted the circumstances and events surrounding the end of my relationship with Simon. He filled me in with details about a new girl he’s seeing. It’s not a competition, but my story was more entertaining than his. It stands to reason though, I’ve had a loner time to find humor in mine and everyone knows the ends of relationships are way more interesting than beginnings.

We talked for maybe an hour or so. I’m not really sure because I couldn’t sleep after that and got up and was up for a while. I humored my left brain by making a few lists on my new white board (yes, I just could not resist). My right brain was still stumped by the problem it’s been struggling with.

This is, specifically, how to write a poem about the idea I had a few days ago about that Violent Femmes song, “Outside the Palace”. If you are playing along, this was explained in Part 2.

Here’s a fun fact… I’m supposed to avoid cliche phrases, metaphors, and overused topics in my writing. Really? Really.

At residency I learned a ton of things and one of those things, although seemingly not a big deal, is quite a discussion. It has to do with using things that are overused and therefore considered cliche. If you subscribe to this rule you would not ever use the following in any writing: The heart, Soul, sun moon, flowers, mothers, fathers, any sort of weather, the ocean…. Theres way more, but you get the idea. I will probably stumble upon them sometime in the future by way of some constructive criticism because I employ these in my writing often.

I may be repeating myself , from days or weeks ago, and if so I apologize in advance.

One of the mentors at Residency actually said in workshop in response to another student’s work, which made a reference to the moon.. “Don’t ever do that. EVER”. She (the faculty) was very emphatic about her point and pontificated about it for a a few minutes. Later that day the girl who was subject to that criticism and I laughed about it over a glass of wine. But apparently it struck a chord with me because here I am 2 months later and still thinking about it.

Counter to that was another faculty member who actually gave a lecture about the use of “flowers” among other things in writing and he argued that there was still a place for it, in some cases. I swear over half of my poetry is about broken hearts, flowers, and philosophy of life and I really appreciated that lecture. It felt like some sort of validation. Even if the result is juvenile and will not be taken seriously. If I am not writing what I think and feel then why am I writing?! It brings up a good question, which is “Who am I writing for?”

The faculty member who gave that lecture is now my mentor for this semester. I have not brought up this subject yet in our correspondence, because there has not been a need and I have somewhat avoided submitting anything that would be a blatant direct violation of the “cliche rule”. Haven’t I? Maybe. Probably not. Again, half of my poems use some common metaphor or overused phrase so it is highly likely something like that was in what I’ve submitted. Who cares anyway, this is not really my point. What was my point again?

Oh yeah, the song.. which contains, in its chorus both the moonlight and the dawn.

The question that came to my mind yesterday, which is why the cliche topic is on the tip of my brain, was how is a person to distinguish the moonlight from the dawn. And how can I ever hope to fashion a poem from this thought when I have to invoke both the moon and the sunrise? How is one supposed to talk about those two things without actually mentioning them?

Am I supposed to find something else that equates to the moon? Some other celestial body that gives off light but is not the moon. The sun is off limits, the stars are off limits, and the other planets don’t emit light. You know what else does not give off light? EVERYTHING!! If I said “light bulb” well, that just doesn’t do my feelings justice. Not enough weight and it makes people think of ideas not some mysterious, shining orb in the sky. Seriously.

I tried “Yin” as a substitute. I guess that’s ok, but it is kind of obscure and people might not get it. Even if I figured that out, the next problem is right behind it… the dawn. Even tougher. Whatever.

So I might have to give up on that one which is kind of a shame but it’s not like there are 10 more right behind begging to be written.

I think being up in the middle of the night, drinking water and milling about my house actually saved me from having a hangover this morning. Thanks HL!

He urged me to not give up on Bumble, but I’m fairly certain that’s the right thing to do now. He suggested that I widen my net by also being on match and eharmony and also to not take any of it too seriously. That last bit is where I think my problem is. I can’t seem to help the daydreams and fantasies.

It’s just part of my nature. And why would I want to change that? Who am I living this life for anyway? Just like that question about my writing.. the answer is me. So I shouldn’t really worry too much about writing about the moonlight because the rules only apply if you care what other people think.

Perhaps I should give that poem another try.

But first.. time go go make some $$$. It’s the first of the month and First National and Capital One are knocking on my door.

Covered in Moonlight,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-02-24 Look Who Just Showed Up

Procrastination

From deep within a three week slumber
With first a slow and sleepy lumber
The monster moves, now cocks his head,
Instilling thoughts of sudden dread

And In the wake of Panic’s stare
I also wake, acutely aware
Long days and nights I’ve been remiss
Choosing something other than this.

***

I just couldn’t help myself there. That’s the nature of poetry sometimes. It just shows up and when it does, it’s like, BAM, you thought you might do something else with that little bit of time but (and with a finger wag) it say’s “you won’t”. Just add that to my growing left brain list bearing the title “Why Poetry”.

In this poem I’m referring, of course, of our beloved and sometimes long hibernating panic monster. A few days ago I was thinking about how I haven’t made much progress on revisions or reading my assigned materials. I really was thinking I had a few weeks to go before the next packet is due. Then I looked up the schedule. I was wrong.

One week.. and that was 2 days ago. So now I have 5 days to finish everything. I have made some progress but not enough to equate to 4 weeks of work. Where did those days/weeks go??!

So I guess that’s what I’m doing with my weekend. The good news is that I have no other plans so I should be able to dedicate a lot of time to what I need to do. That’s the positive side of having a slim social life right now.. not a lot of other things consuming my time. I think it will also help that there is a lull at work right now and literally nothing for me to do again. Aside from “running the household” I can focus solely on this and hopefully knock it out in just a few days.

Last night I did have a commitment to keep (happily) to go watch my friend Amy play in her band at a bar. The band is called Dirt House and they are picking up traction in the metro area. The singer is somewhat like Sara Bareilles and plays keyboard and she’s backed up by a very good pop/rock sound with guitar and drummer and then my dear friend on the violin. Superb! The bar was an OK venue but either their sound system was garbage or the guy running it was. I’m guessing the guy running it because when I wandered over to that area, the board was pretty sophisticated. He was acting as if he was paying attention and making constant adjustments yet oblivious to the negative feedback and also the drums being way to loud and drowning out the voice of the singer. Duh! At one point Amy’s husband came to stand beside me and he was looking at the sound guy like he was about to knock him out so I know it wasn’t just me.

Amy had a whole crew of people there to support her including her friends and family and I was really glad about that because I went alone and would not have known anyone there otherwise. As soon as I walked in, one of the women I met at her wedding urged me over to sit with them at their table and that was a huge relief. For the life of me I could not remember her name and felt incredibly stupid about that, but it worked out OK because it never came up, and I can ask Amy later without feeling so stupid.

Anyway.. I really wanted to get this in because I’ve not posted in a couple days and it might be a couple more before I am able to write again since I’ll be heads down in my MFA work. Now that the Panic Monster has officially arrived, I need to feed the beast. Oh the woes of procrastination.

I don’t know if the ideas in the Ted talk I watched about procrastination were original, but that’s where the Panic Monster originated for me. It’s a great talk and definitely worth 14 minutes of one’s life.. especially if you are among the mass majority of people who operate on principles of procrastination. Tim Urban: Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator

Time to Write (Something Else),
~Miss SugarCookie