Thursday, May 31, 2012

the one where I wait

1. last band picnic for me forEVER is now over.

2. I like the sound of "ever" and "over" in the same line. it feels like a mouthful of "r"s, like strawberry candy or something.

3. I've been home for nearly two hours, but I can't seem to settle.

4. My Girl and a gaggle (I use this word a lot) of kids are going to the midnight showing of Snow White and the Huntsman. 

5. "Can I go?" I asked when she asked my permission.

6. "No! We're teenagers. Parents aren't ever allowed to come to the movies with us!"

7. "Just kidding, mama. I love you."

8. I can't get the scent of potato salad out of my head, but at least I didn't have to serve the meat.

9. I seem to be off meat.

10. can't even stand the thought of the beef in my own bolognese sauce.

11. it's a pity.

12. I need to write some marching band poems even if they don't have the heft of the dead parents poems that I was writing last term (and the term before).

13. the band is real life, is my life, is hilarious and sometimes not hilarious.

14. I adore the kids.

15. Have I mentioned that I love teenagers?

16. Since my kid won't be home until after 2 a.m....

17. ... I might drink some coffee

18. because I'd rather wait up than wake up from a deep sleep

19. though I don't really sleep that deeply any more

20. and I wish I could remember what I was dreaming just before I woke up this morning because it was rich, read, lush (kind of like spaghetti sauce, but it didn't involve food. I think it involved cabaret).

21. My feet hurt from standing behind the food table for such a long time.

22. I did a project for the boosters (I AM a booster. I feel like I have to keep reminding myself that I'm a booster, and if I'm doing a project for the boosters, I'm doing a project for me)

23. that made the new president aware that I have certain skills

24. that he does not have and that others don't have.

25. uh oh.

26. has something to do with my ability to piece things together creatively and competently using a computer.

27. he was a little disappointed that even though I can write, I cannot draw.

28. (two different skills, dude)

29. I think I'm going to have just as much trouble saying "no" to the new president as I did to the last president.

30. Sweet man

31. with a sweet wife.

32. I signed up for things - waffle batter, chaperoning, uniforms.

33. but I put a qualifier by my name - "if school allows"

34. there's probably a poem in that.

the one where I try to break through a wall

Went on a "what if" bender a couple of days ago that suited the title of this post. The first sentence was, "What if I never write another poem?"

It wasn't a healthy line of questioning, so I deleted the words, pulled up some poems in progress, did some things offline, lived, sorted, thought about cleaning (ahahahahahaha!).

The wall is imaginary. It is made of pollen and insomnia and insecurity. I can blow it away with an asthmatic breath or scrub through it with a Mr. Clean magic eraser.

What if
what if
what if

In two hours or so, I give myself to the Band Boosters for a few hours of volunteering. It's time for the annual band picnic that kicks off the 2012-2013 marching season. I'm helping with either food service or volunteer sign-up sheets. My Girl is now a band senior, and she and her classmates are taking their jobs as leaders seriously. They will take the freshmen under their capable wings and keep the other underclassmen in line.

(wow. clichécichécliché)

Drum line.




Fundraisers (waffle wagon, waffle wagon, waffle wagon)


I reformatted and printed off all the sign-up sheets for parent volunteers.

I'm thinking I need to keep my name off all those lists.

Packet of poems for my summer residency is due June 24. I haven't written a single new poem since April. Need no fewer than 10 pages worth.

(Will I ever write another new poem?)



My Girl went to Cedar Point with the Key Club yesterday, parked her car in the high school parking lot, came back to this:

She had made a comment a couple of days ago claiming she wouldn't notice if a friend had put sticky notes all over her body. Since she was out of town, but her car wasn't, the friend decided to try to make her notice.

I love these wicked teenagers. Love them.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

after the outing

And my hands now smell like soap, finally, after two hours of smelling like onion, potato salad, meat, grease. The golf outing was, I suppose, successful. People returned from the green laughing and happy, even happier when they saw the spread the Booster mamas had put on (I am a Booster Mama).

I love these people, the band boosters. I love that they work so hard not just for their children, but also for mine. We worry about the kids whose parents neglect them, and even when those kids are difficult, we have ways of recognizing when we need to allow ourselves to spare some extra love.

Sparing extra love for a child, even a child who is a head taller and weighs a hundred pounds more and tends to break things or stop listening, is worth it. It's always worth it.

I love the Boosters, but I love their children more. In the fall, I don't know if my school workload will allow me the time to help in the intense and regular way I've been helping since my daughter was a freshman (she's about to become a senior. GAH!!!). I managed it last fall, but my professor was not that demanding (I now realize after a term with a mentor who made me feel like I was really in grad school, bless her, and I mean that). This coming fall, I need to keep writing poems toward a thesis and also have to pound out at least 20 pages of a major critical paper.

I keep joking and saying I can pound out 20 pages in three hours.

And I can.

But not quality writing, not well researched and well thought, not formal, not organized.

I can't wait to dive in.

My Girl is off to Subway with two friends. She took a pasta salad with her. Something happened earlier at another friend's house that she doesn't want to talk about.

So I won't. We won't, you and I, discuss my daughter.

I ate a hotdog for lunch. I eat one hotdog a year, so that's it for me. When the band picnic comes up at the end of the month, I'll just be eating pasta salad and chips, I suppose.

My body is rejecting meat. Or maybe meat is rejecting my body.

There's a poem in this.

I started writing it two days ago.

I keep starting various poems because I have so many I want to tackle, but I am distracted, and I haven't been able to focus through to a completed draft, not even a completed shitty draft. I'll pick one in a little while and stick with it until Monday.

For now, I need to be domestic. I need to run a load of laundry.

And boy do I need a nap.

the one where I dash out words and then dash out the door

7:28 a.m. My daughter sleeps. I'm glad. She was thinking about joining a friend at our farmer's market, was going to help her "sell shit or something. Someone in her family makes stuff, and Friend helps sell it at the farmer's market."

The friend makes stuff, too. I hope she's selling her quirky little treasures.

I am off to a golf outing this morning.

What's a golf outing?

Really, I'd like to know.

The Band Boosters (I'm a band a booster) are sponsoring the outing as a fundraiser to help us pay off the new uniforms. People pay to play. There are all these little tweaks or prizes or whatnots.

To me, golf is like some alien being's form of performance art. I have never understood it, not even when I had a couple of days of golf class during college gym. I found the grip unnatural and the club oddly angry.

I'm going to the golf outing as a worker bee, food staff. I've got tomatoes and onions to slice up, a huge rectangle of sliced American cheese, baked beans, etc., all of which I will load into my little car after I do something with my terrible road of hair that's likely to get me more lost than I would be if I were bald.

This will all be over by 11 or 12, and I can come back here to think about that poem that wanted me to start it. It's about a man I used to know. Thinking of trying a persona poem, though I don't relish climbing into this man's head to find his voice.

Odd man.

Broken man.

I didn't know him well, but I knew him well enough to know that after my daughter was born, when I encountered him and his girlfriend (who was my good friend) at a concert at the college, my girl in my arms, and he reached out to touch her hand, I recoiled, and made sure his fingers did not touch her baby skin.

"Recoil" is not a word I use often.

I have no time to be here. But I needed to write this morning, a freewrite. Boring maybe.

At some point after I get used to writing out loud here, I'll stop apologizing for my posts. If they are boring, people won't read them, and that's fine.

It's all practice anyway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Girl didn't tell me the drain was clogged after she took her shower this morning.

Had been slow
portents of hair rats growing in the pipes

oceans of hair rats
slimy, nude black tails
flicking across my Soft Scrub clean tub

The plunger does its job first
sucks out a clump of schmutz that's the exact size and shape of that rat I once saw in an alley in Texas in the neighborhood
a little too close to the train tracks

but I don't trust the plunger
it's too carefree

I take apart the outer bits and pieces of tub plumbing - the drain in the tub's body

the lead into the wall where the stopper is

is the true access to those tunnels of muck and hair mice

My auger is broken
though it works
if I work it right

it's just too difficult for me to shove and spin and twist, then watch it spit and fling where the black bit won't stay attached to the other black bit
bend in the pipe ridiculous and too sharp
like some bend in a terrible
mountain road

My knees sore on the hard floor despite the old towel I use for a cushion.

I will buy a new auger, the kind I can attach to my drill to make an electric auger.

I will be professional

This means Lowe's, that terrifying store where the employees all look official and competent but refuse to meet a desperate woman's eyes

when she is lost in the plumbing repair section.

I know what I want.

I've done this before.

I will churn through the bowels even though the drain is now draining more smoothly, the plunger did its job,

joyful job

a temporary fix, though.

My Girl will be home in less than an hour.

I will put the bathroom back together and wipe the rust stains and pipe rat droppings from the tub

bleach, baby, bleach

rubber gloves

yellow and new now soiled

I'll buy the auger a little later
soil my sore knees tomorrow

It's a beautiful day out there

there's a village of angry memories in my pipes

somewhere, someone is cutting down a tree

and I hear the ocean in my bathroom fan

Sunday, May 13, 2012

a Sunday in May

Special day? Mother's Day? Mother every day even when my Girl isn't here. Felt her first flicker in me around July 1994, those little fetus feet slamming against the walls of me. So grateful to have her.

As a daughter, well, I'm not one any more, though you could argue that I suppose. Once born to someone, whether they live or die, you're still theirs, right?

Nope. That's not the way it feels. Gone is gone.

But not.

I feel my mother constantly and recognize her in my reactions to the world, see her in the mirror, hear her when I laugh or my daughter laughs. So. I'll argue with myself about this motherless mongrel business. I am a daughter, I had a mother, she is gone, I'm not a daughter, I am, I'm not, I am, I'm not.

Both true. Both lies.

Words are lying assholes.

Everything is making me cry today. A post on Facebook by my daughter's best friend still has me crying. Her mother died when she was 13. She's now nearly 17. She's a beautiful girl, so articulate, so aware of what she had while she had it, what she doesn't have now that her mother is gone.

Motherless mongrel?

My own daughter treated me to surprises last night: a batch of what she called chocolate muffins (really just cupcakes without the frosting because she knows I don't like frosting) that she baked at a friend's house, a bouquet of fake flowers (fake because she knows our cat eats real ones), a bag of Ghirardelli's Dark Cocoa squares. Little things that mean something to me, proof that she knows me and sees me even when she's rushing out the door to live her lovely life.

We will invade her father's house later this afternoon. I'm bringing my own pasta sauce; he's supplying rolls, salad, maybe some wine. "We'll have family time," my daughter says. And even though we're a weird family, two separate houses, connected mostly by our past and this child of ours, we are a family.

So. I feel great joy today because I have my beautiful daughter in my life, but I also feel great sorrow for all my motherless friends or friends who are not mothers and are sad about it, and because I miss my own mother fiercely even after 18 1/2 years.

This is the way my life wants to be. Joy and sorrow sitting next to each other, touching, noise and color turning to some kind of funny, sad song.

so there.

Friday, May 11, 2012

no title

I want to write like no one is watching because that's when I am best able to get to the heart of things. I write to learn and to communicate, to connect. I can't seem to write free, though. I feel self-conscious and kind of stupid even for trying to keep a blog I insist isn't a blog.

I've been writing in an online "diary" for more than twelve years. I started in February 2000 just as my little family and I were in the process of moving from the Yale house to the pink house. I was still administering my father's trust, was spending gobs of time with my preschooler, was working hard not to fail in my marriage. I was writing a novel, writing poems, doing some freelance editing. I was busy and sad. I missed my father, was trying to allow myself to grieve peacefully, but the trust work overwhelmed me, and every fresh chore created a fresh wound. I discovered that diary site through a grief discussion board, I think, followed some really angry women who hated one other grieving woman to the hated woman's diary (grief does weird things to people, sometimes makes them mean), started reading her and was smitten with the process of writing true in partial publicity. (She's a lovely writer. I still read her.)

That website. Wow. It's gone through some changes, and I suspect won't be around much longer because its owner has a "real" job now and can't be arsed to take care of his space. He's just one man (with three volunteer "admins") trying to take care of what? Let me check the number of members (some paying members, some not). Ah. Close to 400,000 members, but that could be inaccurate since he doesn't much update.

That's not what this is about. I'm trying to convince myself to make the transition from writing privately to writing publicly. Why? Because I want to. I have things to share beyond the poems I'm writing for school. When I decided to start the MFA, my mantra was "Be open; be brave." I want to extend that beyond school, beyond poetry.

The blog is so different from the diary, though. Writing in the diary is like stretching or like chatting with a friend over coffee. Writing in this blog is like giving a speech to a roomful of critics without realizing I have spinach between my teeth or my skirt is caught up in my pantyhose, and I moon the room when I turn around (true story. not the speech part, but the mooning a roomful of people, teenagers, actually. yes, yes, I am a true dork and proud. those teenagers still love me).

Even though only about five people wander by to read here, I feel protective of the "characters" I normally write about easily in that less public space, including myself. I'd like to figure out a way to be open and brave without sacrificing security (I am a contradiction - a private person prone to too much self-disclosure). May not be possible.

Today, I just want to write here, straight in the window, no writing in Word and then copying and pasting. I want to allow myself to write about anything, about cold feet, about how my coffee tastes funny today, about Band Boosters, about plastic wrap, about my husband's new Corvette, my desire for a second tattoo (another one my daughter designed), how I love my changing/aging body, the section poem about lizards I thought I'd have finished by now, walking, sun.

The dog a couple of houses up the street has been barking all morning. I like him, though. He's a good dog. I don't mind his barking. I can hear him clearly from my bedroom, but not as well from this study. I want to hug his big head and tell him everything will be fine.

So, I was going to try something with this blog, thought it was time, but I was wrong. I will wait until I feel braver, less sad about some of the shifts in my life, less inclined to be hyper-sensitive. I'll get there eventually.

Sometimes words are lying assholes. What I write here or anywhere is true, maybe, in the moment I write it. But it might not be true tomorrow. Sometimes what I write is nothing. The words are just words.

wild onion

just words.

the end.

Monday, May 7, 2012

just words

more loss
more thunder


waging a war against myself lately. I say, "Why aren't you writing?" then pound out journal paragraphs on my laptop. I see an old woman when I look in the mirror. I'm not ready to be her, so I won't be her. I have poems that need writing and revising, friends' words I want to read so that I can comment in a helpful way.

the urge to sleep has been greater than the urge to write or to do anything, really.

I'll see my way to wakefulness soon. Exercise will help if I can only work through aching joints and motivational problems. Who do I live for?

That's the stupidest question I've ever asked. Also, I ended that sentence/question with a preposition. No gold star for me.

My daughter will be home from school soon. Or she will text me and tell me she is going off to do something with someone before she comes home. No, I am wrong about that last bit. She just walked in the back door.

So. Without proofing, I will post this and hope no one reads. Or hope someone reads and sees something that matters to them.

Something in you matters to something/someone in me.