Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reverb 10, the one where I write a bunch of stuff, admit I misunderstood and write more stuff

We sleep in this morning after the long, long week of too many tests for my child, too much introspection and too little real work for me. I plan to rise at 9, but instead, lie in bed on my back staring at the swirls in the ceiling paint, thinking I really should conquer the small cobweb in the corner over my lingerie chest (which holds T-shirts and cotton underwear. Pretty much tossed out anything even remotely resembling lingerie years ago).

The cat leaps up onto the bed, walks around in his dainty circles, finally curls up tight against my legs, trapping me with the weight of feline sleep. He probably weighs no more than 8 pounds, 6 on a bad day, but he feels heavy enough to trap me there. I’m the contents of a bed burrito, fall asleep again because of the purring.

After my daughter and I both finally surface to consciousness, we have the usual sorts of exchanges mothers and daughters have late Saturday mornings.

“Are you hungry? Do you want me to make you some breakfast?” I ask.

“I don’t know! I don’t know if I’m hungry.”

“You want some eggs and sausage?”

She glares at me. She has finally hit 100 pounds and is afraid that now she that she weighs in the triple digits, she will be more inclined to become obese. Eggs and sausage are not on her list of healthy foods.

“I want something sweet,” she says, ignoring the irony. “But I don’t know what yet.”

“OK,” I say. “Let me know if you want help. I’m in my study being all introspective.”

I know she doesn’t know what “introspective” means. I don’t bother to define it. It will slip out of her overstuffed brain, anyway.

This introspection exhausts me. I ordinarily spend a lot of my time thinking about stuff. Kind of goes with the territory when one writes. But this, this Reverb 10 business. It’s a little overwhelming. I like my own company just fine, but I don’t really like thinking about myself this much. I’m not that interesting, not to me, anyway. I’ve been with myself for too long. The romance has worn off.

I frankly don’t know how to write an interesting response to either yesterday’s or today’s prompts.

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

(Author: Tara Weaver)

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

(Author: Kaileen Elise)

Yesterday’s prompt inspired me to create my own prompt, which tanked, of course, because I let myself wallow in morose memories. Today’s just makes me feel like turning up the music on my Pandora station to drown out the words “try,” no, “do,” but “try,” before, “do,” “try,” “do,” try do trydotrydotrydotrytrytrydododododo.

I admit that when I signed up for Reverb 10, I didn’t read the “fine print” too closely. I glossed over the part that stated, “It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead.” All I could see was, “Prompts! Daily! December!” When I realized I would feel obliged to be all "I'm going manifest things in a positive way for myself in 2011 after I consume my liver by analyzing my successes and failures for 2010," I sort of freaked out. But, but, but, it doesn't have to be that way. The creators of Reverb 10 are trying to inspire, not nauseate. Today, I read The Story and have found what I needed to find:

"We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us. We look forward to reading yours."

That's more like it. One of the reasons I write, despite my assertion that I will write even if no one reads (because I'm really bad about submitting), is that I want to share my Story, whether the story hides in a poem, an essay, a blog post or a novel.

Some story:

I have not had happy experiences with New Age philosophies. I don’t know what else to call things like “letting go of negative ‘self talk’,” or “manifesting what’s next.” A friend of mine once scolded me when I began to succumb to an asthma attack after encountering a plant to which I was allergic. “You know how to take care of that, don’t you? You just stop letting yourself have asthma.”


For a brief time, I attended a church where the members practiced a kind of “metaphysical Christianity.” I still have my Metaphysical Bible Dictionary but haven’t looked at it in a decade and a half (yes, it’s possible having a kid makes everything a little more literal and less metaphysical). Meditation was our prayer. I suck at meditation. I always end up writing poetry in my head or making to do lists or grocery lists or writing letters to people I’ve let humiliate me.

We had a guest speaker one Sunday, and I was talking to him after the service. Boy. It’s been so long I can’t remember the topic, but at the time, it was kind of cool sounding. Anyway, it was all about making the best of one’s moments. I’d had yet another issue with asthma the previous night, but being awake most of the night had allowed me to get to know a kitten I’d just adopted. She curled up on my chest (probably exacerbating the asthma since I’m allergic to cats) and purred for hours while I stroked her head. I was trying to tell this dude this, but he interrupted me and said, “You know, asthma is merely a manifestation of your anger at your parents.”


People at that church began over-emphasizing the notion that each of us chooses our own predicaments, including our diseases, that we choose these things because there is some lesson we need to learn about ourselves.

I gave up on them at that point, never went back. I had just lost one of my best friends to AIDS, which he had contracted through a blood transfusion he received in the mid-1980s during a surgery that was meant to correct another, serious health issue from which he had suffered since he was about 3. My friend was an incredible human being. The world is worse off without his brilliant mind and unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He wanted so badly to live. I couldn’t ever accept that he chose to contract a virus that would kill him quickly in such a horrible way after being born with a condition that made him suffer in other horrible ways before he was old enough to know what kinds of lessons he wanted to learn.

So I’m struggling with the tenor of some of these Reverb Prompts.

Today's... I keep forgetting what it is. Oh. Yes. The one about trying. Maybe I gave up trying for Lent last year. I consider, I decide, I do, I quit, I succeed, I fail. I might say, “I’ll try to do that for you,” or “I’ll try to get that novel finished by January,” but I don’t mean “try.” I mean do or don’t do.

That is all.

As for yesterday's lesson prompt? I suppose the above story about that wacky church might explain why I haven’t tackled it.

That’s enough now. This is WAY too fucking long.


  1. You have no idea how glad I am you commented on my blog so I could come over here and visit you. I LOVE the way you go about blogging - it's like open mind, compose post - and it reminds me OH SO INCREDIBLY MUCH of me. Especially when I started out, but even still. Keep on keepin' on. It's never too fucking long. It's just ... write. ;-)

  2. I loved this post- I love the way you "free" write and yeah the reverb10 stuff can be a pain but it gets me blogging and that is a good thing I like to think!
    I am with you on the word "manifest" I have never manifested something before- didn't know it was a verb.
    Thanks for visiting my blog too. Such fun getting to know other people this way.
    Keep on manifesting and thinking and writing I enjoy it/your writing so hope you do too.

  3. Like you, when I signed up for reverb10, I also just saw daily prompts. Somehow I overlooked all the other stuff and thought it would be about being challenged as a writer. I agree about daily introspection being too much. There are also unspoken assumptions about having a certain world view that comes with the prompts. You know how I feel about it all. Just wanted to say though that even though I feel about it the way I do, reading your responses makes me think - now THAT's what I wanted to be doing with this project. Writing like this. So yeah, my point? Keep doing it your way. It rocks.