Shake it out. Seriously: Shake – it – out…
I’m sitting here, a glass of wine in my right hand (because it usually helps me to talk a lot more than I normally would and maybe, the same goes for writing?), waiting for inspiration to strike me – like lightning, or at least, like a tiny spark.
I’m sitting here, fairly uninspired.
Last night, I did manage to get a start on what bears the potential to become a fully-grown and respectable story. And yet. It already has a fair amount of brothers and sisters huddled in drawers, crouched together in notebooks, sitting and waiting in long-forgotten files on my laptop: none of them ever made it past the literary toddler-stage.
There must be something in the air that constantly stunts their growth – maybe the occasional incense I light, or maybe there’s asbestos within the walls of my apartment, or maybe an old case of writer’s block, drawn-out.
Still, I’m sitting here, fairly uninspired.
Story Beginning, Pt. I:
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.
It was early, merely dawn. The sun hadn’t had its morning coffee yet and was stumbling across the sky, still half-asleep. Much like her.
She didn’t even know what time it was. She had been awake for hours, flipping through pages, pages and pages. Running her fingers over every single word, every single letter in the book. Breathing them.
She’d taken them all in, had almost choked on them. It was his handwriting.
Now, she knew all of it by heart. And yet. She just really wanted to know him. Understand him. Understand it all.
March 23, 2012 in the upper right corner. Then: Mary. Then: Mary. Mary. Mary. Mary. Mary. Mary Mary Mary Mary Mary Mary Marymarymarymarymary.
Because there wasn’t another day, not for him.
I’m sitting here, a glass of wine in my right hand (three or four sips emptier than before), waiting. Maybe not even for inspiration. Maybe, I’m just waiting.
I’m waiting, inspiration?
I opened a window to air out the past days’ heat that’s collected in the small room, gotten stale; some of the past days’ memories that have collected in the window curtains like cigarette smoke (I am sorry; Don’t apologize; I am truly sorry; I know; I am sorry things are so complicated; So am I…).
I’m waiting, inspiration?
Story Beginning, Pt. II
“Why is the sky so big?” His question came out of nowhere, like always.
A minute ago he had been busy biting off the crust of his peanut butter sandwich. Now, he was looking at her through his thick-framed glasses (the ones she didn’t want to buy him because they made him look uncomfortably grown-up – but he had insisted).
She tried to think of an answer that would make sense to him, like always.
Usually, she couldn’t come up with anything that seemed reasonable enough to him. Scientific enough. Once, she had tried to put on her favorite high school teacher’s tone – simply to sound scientific. She really tried. She wanted to explain the world to him. Yet mostly, she couldn’t. She knew that. Mostly, the world was too complicated for her to understand, let alone explain it to anyone else. One day, she hoped, he would be the one to explain things to her.
“Or do you think we are just so small?” He was still looking at her. Crumbles of toast and smears of peanut butter stuck to his mouth and tiny fingers.
“That’s probably it, Coop” she said. She smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
Still, I’m sitting here, fairly uninspired.
I’m waiting, inspiration?
Still, I’m waiting, fairly uninspired.
I’m sitting here, inspiration?
Story Beginning, Pt. III
She’s standing at the edge, bent forward a little. Her thin, white dress is fluttering in the wind: one moment it rests calmly on her legs, like a second skin almost, entirely covering the pink scar on her left knee; the next moment it shoots up into the sky, maybe wanting to cover up other scars (ones that are not pink but black or some dark shade of blue or purple); scars that lie way beyond her left knee, beyond anything really.
She’s standing at the edge, bent backwards a little. Her smooth, brown hair is fluttering in the wind: curls are flying through the air, like migrating birds – always headed South, South, and further South…
She’s squatting. Her hands feel their way along the two ropes they’ve been gripping tightly for the past several minutes (maybe hours). She’s sweating. It’s October, but unusually hot – the summer has melted in its own heat and oozed into the cracks of fall, sweet and sticky, like syrup (maple).
The swing creaks as she’s moving: backwards, forwards; forwards, backwards.
I’m sitting here, a glass of wine in my right hand (it doesn’t help to loosen my tongue, it just make it numb, which is just as good, at least for tonight), waiting. I’m here she says, I’ve been here all along – you just didn’t want to see me, her voice sounds unusually high, accusingly. I know, I do know. I try to reassure here. I’ve been here all along (a pair of eyes; grey, almost blue). You just didn’t want to see me (I couldn’t bear it; I already feel you all the time — I can’t feel any more).
I’m sitting here, not waiting but wondering. I wonder, now that inspiration has found me, what I am going to do with it.
We always claim that it is inspiration we need. And yet. Inspiration is not like an invisible friend that whispers stories into your ear and keeps your nights from being too lonely, too dark. Sometimes, it’s an invisible friend that pushes you into the lonely darkness (a pair of eyes; grey, almost blue), makes you dive in deep in order to find the stories that are hiding at the very bottom of it.
I’m sitting here, slowly finishing my wine. I’m here she says, I’ve been here all along.
As I spent some time looking through the pages of my notebook this morning, I found an unfinished poem that’s probably about a year old. And, as it sometimes happens with writing, it felt oddly appropriate at this very moment in my life – maybe even more so than back when I first started writing it. So I decided to finish it today. And that’s what I did – here it is:
Piece by Piece.
Words, words, words —
so stuck in my mouth
and then all of a sudden they fall out:
tiny milk teeth, white and edged
I must have touched you
one too many times
lost my fingerprints
all over your skin
they ran out of my hands
like sand out of shoes
it’s the curse old women
have always warned me about
I lost myself –
but does that make me free, liberated?
Now I’m no one
Take my hand, would you?
Or my eyes, my legs, strands of hair –
you can have a piece of me
if you don’t want it all
these are merely moving pictures
and it’s hard to hold on to something
that’s always on the move,
in motion, motion, motion
sometimes it strikes me:
we’re nothing but cold light
we’re already dead
but too busy to notice
My heart is flip book —
First: The obligatory apology for having neglected my blog for so long. It seems, I have been quite the neglecting being lately. I may have been neglecting not only my writing but also some people over the last couple of weeks. My apologies for all of that. I didn’t really mean to, I have just found myself being somewhat – scattered…
Coherence! – an angry voice is yelling, somewhere in the back of my head: Coherence for crying out loud!
A number of thoughts are twisting and shouting in my mind – freestyle – while some are standing by the punch bowl (spiked, f*** yeah…), holding on to whatever there is, staggering, trying not to fall over. Other bits and pieces of me are hiding in broom closets and niches: getting high, making out, writing their last goodbyes before jumping into the darkness…
Coherence! – was lost somewhere down the road.
I’d like to twist or shout or get drunk or get high or make out or write my last goodbye – I don’t feel any need to jump, though. I’ve been collecting my own darknesses in a shoebox since I was four. They come in all shapes and sizes. And different shades of dark. They are, in fact, pretty to look at and feel quite nice. Like tiny pieces of velvet. Coherence! What’s one got to do with the other? She asks.
This angry voice again; it sounds like my second grade teacher who I was scared of.
Shut up! I’m feeling scattered.
Sometimes, it is a nice feeling. Sometimes, it smells of empty roads, summer rain, the sea – of i-can-do-whatever. Other times, it feels heavy, like sinking. It feels like missing a piece, a limb; lacking. Because there are parts of me scattered all over. I’ve been leaving them behind like pebbles – to make my way back, someday, in the moonlight. In spite of monsters lumbering. In spite of the dark.
Coherence! – has been annoying me ever since writing my first essay in second grade for the teacher who I was scared of. Coherence! – is highly overrated, for crying out loud!
I’d like to do a million things at the same time. I’d like to be in a million places at the same time. I’m dreaming a million dreams at the same time.
I want to be there for my friends and family whenever they need me I wanttobethere for myfriends – my family – whenever (Coherence!) I want to be a writer a teacher I want to make adifferencein childrenspeoples (Coherence?) livesatleastforsomeofthem I wanttoteachand notbescaredIwanttoteach and not scaremystudents I wanttowrite astorypoetryanovelabook. (Coherence?!)
I want to be.
Shut up –
I am scattered. And sometimes, it is a nice feeling.
First, let’s create some atmosphere. Here’s the soundtrack that goes along with this post. This song is to this post as is the frosting to the cake, Elmo to Sesame Street,
the oven to Sylvia Plath, the road to Dean and Jack – caring is creepy…listen, read, enjoy. Well, actually, just do whatever. But the song’s really good.
1. Care – ful.
I’m a carer. I care for a zillion things – some of them important, some of them as irrelevant as one speck of dust in relation to the entirety of our quite enormous universe (that is, consequently: very irrelevant).
This doesn’t necessarily mean that I am also an action-taker, a mover or a shaker. Demonstrations unsettle me; I’m not a loud person – so yelling out catch phrases while angrily raising my fist into the air is really not my thing. Also, it doesn’t mean that I’m a convincer – I just don’t like enforcing my beliefs onto innocent victims that are being perfectly happy simply minding their own business. I’m more of a live-and-let-live-type-of-person. At times, I wish this was different. Because at times, caring just for the sake of caring is – let’s face it – somewhat tedious.
So at times, when I remember that also I am a writer (or at least, trying to be something close), I pick up a pencil or let my fingers work a keyboard – I write to let people know I care. I don’t have to be loud and I don’t have to be enforcing – I just put some words out there, for anyone to read – if they care.
I’m afraid, I am too care-ful.
2. What? (Objectives.)
My objectives, admittedly, shift – depending on my state of mind, the amount of caffeine in my system, how much time I’ve spent reading (terrifying/ridiculous/ *insert other adjective here*) news headlines/ a good book/ a bad book; simply on whatever’s been going on during my day. Of course. I suppose it’s the same with most people. Here an excerpt from today’s list: Several friends having a hard or stressful time (dealing with things I can’t, for the life of me, help them with – not in any other way than caring), international education policies (dear politicians: stop the cutting of funding, please – not all children have the auto-didactic brilliance of our dear Abe, for the most part they need at least books and teachers showing them how to use these books…), finals/presentations/papers (and their nemesis – procrastination – looming in the not so distant distance)…
3. Now what? (Post-caring: Taking action. Or not. Or…)
I don’t know. Honestly. I’ve taken to writing, and… now I’m out. That’s the tedious part I’ve mentioned earlier. That’s the thing with being care-ful. It doesn’t make a difference to anyone else, really. And yet. If you care, it’s because you want to make a difference. So here’s some more writing:
For a friend: I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you and although I know that I can’t actually change the situation you’re in right now, I can maybe change the way you’re feeling about it – you’re not going through this alone. Because I am thinking of you. Because I care.
For a politician: You’ve got to be kidding me. Do you even know what you are doing? I don’t think so. Yet, you’re probably not even the one to blame – because back in the days when you still went to school, there were other politicians just like you and they were already eagerly cutting the funding for schools and universities. That’s why there was no one (or no good book) left to teach you any better. And you’re just not an auto-didactic. It’s not your fault that you’re not the brightest crayon in the box.
As for the rest on the list – I’m going to stop procrastinating now (because this is what I’ve been doing writing this). I should probably make the best of my education now, before they cut half of the teachers on my program. Or the program (I’m not certain, they wouldn’t – even though it’s a teacher training program). So I can eventually kick one or two politician’s *insert any body part here*. And teach my students to know better. I’ll teach them to be care-ful, I think.
“You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. (…) [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the other.” – Martha Graham
Whether it’s always blessed, I am not sure – but there’s been a lot of unrest lately. Everywhere. And it still keeps people marching. Often, however, I do not wonder what it is that moves the masses – I wonder what it is that keeps so many in a state of (blissful?) ignorance…how come, there are people that are less alive than others?
Out of Joint
and the scary thing was
not that the earth
would not stop
all the salty
water flooding our doorsteps
and hidden corners of our
hearts (like widow’s tears: bitter. angry).
it wasn’t the nauseating fog that
grew around the city – a second skin
extremities (misshapen or simply redundant or odd)
dreams that lay dead:
– there goes the stuffed bear you just bought your babygirl – it almost seems to flinch…
– there goes your babygirl – motionless like a stuffed toy…
(and all the time this irony, mocking you, a grimacing gargoyle)
– but say, did you hold her too tight so she couldn’t breathe or maybe it was the fog or perhaps…
— there goes the answer…
now, the scary thing was
that still, there were
many that (while
lives) didn’t even
try or seem to
notice they had
Time flies. I would even argue – without touching at any scientific data, just indulging in the plain metaphor here – at the speed of light. Maybe it’s got rocket propulsion. Maybe it’s got a fancy back-to-the-future-like rocket propulsion backpack. In neon colors.
This is not my Monday blues speaking. I don’t mean time flies in a simple didn’t-the-weekend-pass-too-quickly-sort-of-way (although, that too, of course). And I don’t even really mean it in a oh-gosh-it’s-already-Thanksgiving-sort-of-way. I mean it in a I-grab-my-food-to-go-and-I-wish-I-didn’t-even-have-to-chew-it-because-I-really-don’t-have-time-for-this-sort-of-way. In a no-one-has-time-for-anything-anymore-sort-of-way.
No one has time for anything anymore. Let alone time to wait for anything.
I remember when I was little, I used to wait all the time. I was waiting for a friend to come over in the afternoon. Year round, I was waiting for holidays – Easters, Christmases, birthdays. I was waiting for my Mom to read me a bedtime story in the evenings. All the time, I was waiting for my Dad to come visit and take me to the movie’s. But really, I would have waited for anything. For the grass to grow taller. For something, anything to happen.
Today, who is still waiting for anything?
You don’t wait for a friend to come over – you just quickly check whether they’re on facebook and then you send them an instant message. Not just a message. It’s got to be instant.
You don’t wait for holidays – there’s no chance, because they blend into one another. There’s a Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-fair going on in most of the shopping places (and the advertisement and and and…). Santa Clause’s already been working since (at least) August this year and is pretty overworked by now. If only he could join a union or whatever. But he’s the only one and he wouldn’t really wanna go on strike anyways. Think of all the children.
You don’t wait for a bedtime story – you can look one up. Youtube it.
I think, I want my waiting back.
Or at least, I want some time to take a breath. I want to be anticipating things rather than just rushing through them. I want to think now – not tomorrow, next week, or come next spring. It shouldn’t be that hard. But even now, as I’m writing this, I’m finding myself thinking of things I have to do later or tomorrow – my mind is just drifting and I can’t even really make it stop.
I think, I’d like to be waiting for – what? Maybe Godot. Because no one else is waiting for him anyways. I’d like to be waiting (maybe for a while). Not for Godot to actually show his (possibly) beautiful face, just for the sake of waiting. I just might do that.
What are you waiting for? (Not as in, what are you waiting for – get moving! More as in, is there anything that makes you stop and actually – patiently – wait for it?)
PS: Or I might start sitting, WAITING, wishing instead…
I. Leaving, pt. 1
I wasn’t sure where exactly I was. I felt a bit lost, to be honest. After all, I’d thought I had found my place –
But, about 5 minutes earlier, it had turned out that I was wrong. I was sitting in the wrong seat of the train. After a confusing journey through several cars – always carefully (neurotically) checking the car number to find out where in this train I actually was – I seemed to be running out of them: I was in car 32 and I needed number 24. Looking ahead, there didn’t seem to be an awful lot left. I was, in fact, being short of train. My reservation (car no. 24, seat 41) – that had cost me almost 5 euros extra – seemed quite useless.
Then, I decided to just opt for seat 41 of the car I was standing in. I thought, that was my best option. At least, until a girl at the next train stop claimed to be the actual owner of the seat I had grown fairly attached to within the last hour or so. So I got up and went (again) looking for the seat that belonged to me and that I belonged to.
First, I decided to find out how much train there was actually left and whether, possibly, someone might just have made a mistake when they assigned the numbers to the cars – something like, here goes 33, 32, 31 and last but not least: 24! 24 does come after 31, right? Well, in reality and my train, it sure didn’t. After 31…came nothing.
I headed back in the other direction, slightly grumpy, a little disoriented and very confused.
Then (in beautiful car no. 31) I spotted a seat that didn’t seem to be reserved to anyone yet. It was completely and utterly free and didn’t belong to anyone. So, I decided right then that it would belong to me. Or maybe, that I belonged there. I sat down and that was that.
Sometimes the places we think are calling us, they’re not actually where we belong. And sometimes, while trying to find them, we end up somewhere else and it’s unexpected, but it feels right nevertheless.
“There’s no place like a home”, a friend told me a day ago over lunch. I smiled and tapped my heels together three times as I usually do upon hearing just that. She smiled back at me (we’re both hopelessly in love with Dorothy and Toto, always looking for the yellow brick road). But, she insisted: “I mean, there’s no place like home – there’s no such thing!” She was all red in the face and excited as she said this. She told me that she was writing a paper that talks about how there is no place like home –
That home wasn’t really a place.
As I was sitting (finally sitting) in my lovely train seat, I was again thinking about that: There’s no place like home? And what was that anyways: home – the place we (think we) belong to? So in my case at that very moment, it would have been my seat. It felt comfortable enough.
A bit of background: I was taking the train to visit another friend – it’s safe to say one of my very best friends. We’ve known each other for close to ten years (wow, I’ve never done the math here) and she knows me better than most people. She’s someone I can tell all my dark and/or silly secrets knowing she won’t judge me. I can get drunk or smoke too many cigarettes or get up in the morning looking how you do when you get up in the morning knowing she won’t judge me. She just lets me be. She gets me to stand still. She gets me. So going to see her: it, in fact, felt like going home in a way.
III. Leaving, pt. 2
As if someone or something was reading my restlessness from my train ticket or whatever: When I was heading home, my train was late due to some construction work on the tracks – I missed my connecting train, the last one to leave the station for the night. By then, it was about 11 pm. To say I was a bit angry about that is a huge understatement. I steered towards the service point (to the big dismay of the lady sitting inside the booth) and told her the story. I would have liked to do some yelling, really, but I didn’t, because I knew the people who deserved the yelling in the first place were lying in their cozy beds right then – unlike the lady here and me, involuntarily night owling in the train station. She placed me in a hotel nearby for the night and handed me the information for possible trains I could take the next morning. So I was staying on the road for a bit longer. And although I was angry, because my plans for the next morning were being messed up (like going to university – things you’d do on a Monday morning unless you miss your train), I didn’t really mind not sleeping in my own bed for another night.
Now, it’s 6:30 am and (finally), I’ve been sitting in my (next to last) train home for about an hour. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch my connecting train for once (I do have the generous amount of 7 minutes to do so, which I’m absolutely thrilled about). If I had more time on my hands, I wouldn’t mind doing the extra traveling, in fact. I find it soothing – the very act of moving (on a train, bus, plane) gives me a comforting feeling. Like it’s okay to be a little restless. While being on the road, there’s no need for any attachments after all. It’s normal not to feel at home. Because you’re not. And yet, I feel more at home on a train, bus, plane at times, than anywhere else. Whoever finds some irony in any of the statements above – well, keep it.
This is not going to be great literature – Shakespeare, Goethe, Proust. Nothing like that. This might turn out to be confusing, lacking coherence, the thread that teachers are always looking for in students’ essays. But I don’t care, really. As long as, at the end of this, a couple of words will have found their way out of my mind or my mouth or whatever is keeping them in, I’ll be content.
Because there are so many of them. They are fluttering around in my head and heart like tiny moths and they’re gnawing on anything they can find. They’re keeping me awake, while at the same time, they’re having me daydreaming. They usually come in groups, they’re no lonesome travelers. They travel in stories or theories – things I remember, things I don’t talk about, things I want to talk about. I could fill a notebook from cover to cover. And then another one. I would like to be shouting all these things at the top of my lung. I would like to be shouting right now.
But nothing comes out.
I’m staring at computer screens and keyboards and nothing, except for worn phrases, clichés, ramblings: Once upon a time, there was an ugly duckling that dreamed of being a beautiful swan and of being allowed to eat nothing but cake day-in and day-out and drink chocolate milk, but it was lactose-intolerant, the poor little chick and this and that and some more and blah and blah blah and the end. I’m staring at a white piece of paper and still nothing, except for some scribblings: a nice house with a lawn, and oh so beautiful flowers, and apple trees and clouds and rain and I’m afraid a thunderstorm is coming up in the back of the picture. I have a few beginnings, a few sentences for maybe some middle parts, but that’s about it. No endings. I get stuck all the time and I don’t know why.
And I really love to write.
I always did write. I’ve written since I knew how to properly hold a crayon – all I did write then, of course, was my name followed by a couple of letter-like hieroglyphs. Still. And a lot of the time, writing was my home. I lived in my writing. I spilled my deepest darknesses onto paper when I couldn’t take them anywhere else. I made up silky sweetnesses to hide in when I couldn’t turn anywhere else. It’s my home. It’s the one friend that knows me entirely, because with people, I find it even harder to get the words out. I don’t know how to talk about things – so I write about them. Now, I don’t even do that. I’m stuck. I’m stuck with this thing that I love and that seems to be all there is. And maybe, that’s the problem.
There’s too much at stake, there’s too much pressure, too much tension. Things don’t come easy anymore when the pressure builds up too high.
Then you can do one of two things: You can try and try and try to make it work again – or turn your back on them.
It’s clean and ironed and very pretty to look at. So pretty in fact, I don’t even feel (too) bad holding it up: My white flag.
I openly admit it, I’ve surrendered. I’ve eventually given in to the idea of web-logging, although I’ve never been patient enough to keep a diary for longer than half a week and I’m generally suspicious when it comes to all web-related matters. For what it’s worth, I’d be perfectly fine mailing letters all pen-paper-stamp-mailbox-style. However, the writing all pen-notepad-style has caused me not only a headache but also a dogged case of writer’s block. So instead of jumping into the deep blue ocean for the sake a dramatic finish (as writer’s love to finish dramatically), I’m throwing my concerns overboard. May they sleep with the fish.
The idea is to motivate (okay, honestly: pressure) myself into writing when I know there’s a slight chance for someone other than myself actually reading it. Let’s see if this will work out or if the Blog Stats will make me reconsider my dramatic finish in the ocean after all.