Friday, June 10, 2011

storms, deadlines, teens

I think the storm is passing. A friend spent the night and was actually supposed to leave at 11, but when the sky cracked open and roared, she decided whatever she needed to do could wait until the grumbles and shouts stopped.

I am stretched out on my bed, kitty is nearby, head flipped upside down, a sign he is happy. I have a couple of forms I need to send to the MFA office. Can't think why I didn't ship them off Wednesday. They're simple forms, accommodation selection, mentor preference. All of the poets who teach in this program have something wonderful to offer. I'm selecting based on whether they are likely to hate my work or like it all right.

What is that about?

I read their poems and think, "They really are going to hate my shit."

I don't think it's true that any of them will hate my work. Maybe I don't write poetry that's connected to mythology or William Blake or Kafka. Maybe I write closer to home both geographically (as in my living room or the high school) and intellectually. That doesn't mean my work doesn't connect or count.

I want to write poems that connect, communicate, touch, reach, mean something, implore, explain, open, crack, weep, laugh, dance.

Lately, I've been wanting to write more and more poems about the teens I know, though it's difficult because I know too many of their secrets, and I place those secrets in my imaginary vault.

But a conversation (email) that I had with one of my oldest and dearest friends, a woman who loves me and loves my child because my child is mine, made me wonder about something related to adults and teens, maybe to adults who don't have teens or don't have kids or who don't remember what their own children were like when their children were teens.

What I'm about to write is a terrible generalization, and I should be slapped for it. But it feels like many people lump teenagers, all teenagers, into this giant box labeled, "Rude, untrustworthy snot. Set aside until ripe."

Teenagers aren't their ages. My daughter, who is 16, is more mature than an acquaintance of mine who is 53. Because she is experiencing everything for the first time, her reactions are more intense than an adult's might be. But her thoughts, emotions, ideas, reactions are just as valid as mine. She is wise not beyond her years; she is just wise.

So are some of her friends.

I often write, "I love teens!" It's not really teens that I love; it's a specific group of young people I've gotten to know through volunteering with the marching band or giving (free) poetry workshops in the schools. It's not even their potential to become amazing adults that I see when I work with them. It's who they are now that charms me, even the boys who don't know what to do with their growing bodies that control so many of the boys' actions (who sometimes harass my beautiful, little daughter. She can handle herself, though. Some of her friends who are boys are extremely protective, so I don't worry as much. Also, those tenor toms she'll be hauling about this next marching season are going to help her build muscle. She'll be strong and able. Well, she already is strong and able).

The storm has passed, darn it. I've lost the thread of this post. Did it have a thread? A theme? I think I'm mixing up my grad school stuff with mothering. This week has been intense and too busy. I've been carting my child and her friends all over the place, happily, but it breaks up my day and exhausts me a bit. I find I can't focus much right now.

But I have to. I need to dash off those forms then build a workshop manuscript of poems I don't mind sharing for comment (see, I also think the other students are going to hate my shit).

Tomorrow, my Girl takes the ACTs for a second time. She thinks she'll do better on the science since the last time she took it, she hadn't actually learned all the things that were on the test in her classes yet. A disadvantage of taking the ACTs when you're still in 10th-grade. She'd already done fairly well on the language portion and will do better on the math, too. She's aiming for a 29 this time. We'll see. She's got time to improve.

Next week, she wants to try to get her drivers license since her permit expires Thursday. She needs to practice maneuverability and night driving more, though. If she doesn't pass, she doesn't pass. We'll just get her another permit, practice another week, take it again.

Hell, there's probably a poem in her putting off this rite of passage.

I suppose I could find a poem in almost anything, even this hour of sitting on my bed writing a bad post, texting with my daughter (who is just upstairs), and petting the cat. I could call it "Hungry Minutes under the Angel Blanket."



Just a note. I am listening to some Zoe Keating right now. Twitter is not my favorite place to hang out because it feels like a time black hole. But when I first started lurking there, I discovered Zoe through a good friend (who is one of the most delightful people I know, so delightful that my daughter gave him the precious nickname of "Weird Guy" and remembers him best for his deep, cello voice. We've only met him once in person, and that's just not enough).


I am also listening to my daughter and her friend laughing and whining at each other. I swear, there is nothing like my kid's laughter, nothing.

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