Considering Poetry

As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m a podcast junkie. Especially since I drive so much for my goat cheese gig. One of the newer podcasts that I’ve come across is called Examining Ethics. I’ve only listened to about an episode and a half of it so far, and from my understanding is run by students at DePauw University in Indiana. The episode that I listened to in full was called “What Good is Poetry?” In it, they interview poet Tarfia Faizullah, who wrote a book of poetry called Seam. The poems are written about the women she interviewed in Bangladesh who were raped during their war with Pakistan in 1971.

After listening to this episode, I was completely blown away by poetry. It has never been my thing, never really been anything I’ve wanted to pursue (except when I was nine and wanted to be a singer and tried to write my own songs, but I don’t know how much that counts).  This woman told a story through her poems.

Of course, this is nothing new. I’ve taken plenty of literature classes that I’ve read old poems that were the telling of stories (“Epic of Gilgamesh”, “Beowulf”, etc). However, this was so different, so simple, so perfectly formed. I fell in love with it.

Seemingly separately, I posted on my author Facebook page that I wanted to write a page a day for August, since I failed so direly at my attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo (I think I only made it to 27k of my 50k word count goal). I sat down this morning, and decided I’d get going on that page-a-day goal. Except that I had no idea what to write. All I could think about was the half-written novels I’ve been working on, whether or not I should continue them for my page-a-day, or if I should start something new–and if something new, then what? I couldn’t really stomach working on my stories any more, not right now. I would get sucked into the editing of them rather than the continuation of them, and my most recent project is such a mess that I can’t bare to look at it.

But…

But…..

This poetry thing was kind of ringing in my ears.

I began thinking about the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2014, and my most recent project. There’s a shared theme to both of them…If I could only just tap into that….

Before I knew it there was a poem on the page.

Not a good one. Well, it might be a good one. I don’t know. I’m terrible with reading, writing and analyzing poetry. It’s never been my thing. However, I’m quite inspired by Tarfia Faizullah to try my hand at it. So my goal is to take my stories that I’m struggling with, and see if I can summarize each chapter into a poem. That’s my goal for the month.

And no, you can’t see the poems.

Being Still

Sitting on my ten minute break at the coffee warehouse, I’m indulging in the excitement that my first cup of coffee in three days is bringing me. In theory, today is my last day here (though I volunteered to work on Monday, due to scheduling conflicts, if they need me), and my manager asked me what it is I plan to do during the summer now that I’ll actually have days off.

I’ll still be working my farmers market gig, and putting in a very few hours in the Writing Center, but over all, my plan is to learn how to be still again.

A few weeks ago, I was attacked by anxiety. I couldn’t sleep, I was in pain from my warehouse job, and I knew I had to go in the next morning at 5 a.m.. I ended up taking the day off, though I was still riddled with anxiety of not being productive. I was hurting, couldn’t walk very well, and yet I scolded myself vigorously for not utilizing my time off in a productive manner. It prompted further anxiety until I was in a full blown panic, from which my boyfriend had to calm me down (and did a remarkable job, I might add). After talking for a long time, we came to the conclusion that I have been so stressed for so long that I don’t know how to be still any more.

So this is my goal for the summer: stillness, though still meeting my productivity standards. 

I want to do yoga in the morning, to strengthen my core, help my hip and back whose pain has been brought on (again) by the repetitive motions of my warehouse job, read two fiction books (at least), finish writing my novel and editing it. Also, go dancing least once every other week. 

It’s shocking to me that I can’t get through fiction any more. The only time I’ve completed a book has been if it was assigned to me. The last fiction book I read on my own was The Exorcist, two summers ago. I’m currently reading Watership Down with my boyfriend, but I’ve already read it. I think that allowing myself to read fiction has gone against my definition of productive, and thus hasn’t been done. If it’s homework, the  I have to read it. Butts it’s lesurely, then I could be doing something that needs to be done.

As a writer, I need to remember that reading fiction needs to be done! It is productive! And it’s also important for me to allow myself that enjoyment as well. 

Traveling Kitty

Now that the plane tickets are out of the way, the next complicated thing to figure out is just how to get my cat over the pond.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that it’s silly for me to invest so much in bringing my cat over, but know this: that kitty’s my homie. I’ve had him for six years, and next month we will have lived together for seven years (he was originally my roommate’s cat). He’s been with me when jerk boys broke my heart, when chocolate wasn’t doing the trick, and those times when over-consumption got the better of me. Boot is my homie, and it’s not cool to leave a homie behind.

That said, I’ve been looking into what’s required. Now that I’m not flying from Vancouver, it actually gets a lot less tricky. They require quarantine while the UK doesn’t (with a few exceptions). From my understanding, I need to make sure he’s got a microchip ID, he’s up to date with all his shots, he has a follow-up appointment 30 days after his shots, and gets a note from the vet saying that he has a clean bill of health within 10 days of him traveling. Super easy. I don’t know what the cost will be like, but it’s part of my research.

Boot is also not going to be traveling with me. Even if I weren’t going to fly from LA, and was flying from Seattle or Vancouver, it would mean a 2 hour drive to the airport, three hours at the airport, whatever lay-over time there is wherever, then the two-and-a-half hour drive from the airport to Durham. I’ve traveled 24 hours, door to door, trying to get from one country to another. I’m not going to do that to my cat.

So I’m currently looking into just what it is I need to do for my kitty to be shipped to me, where he will meet me after I’ve made the house nice and organized and Boot-friendly.

My First Rejection as a Writer

A few weeks ago I sent in a story for potential publication. I’ve never done this before, and it’s somewhat terrifying. It’s not something big, mind you, this publication. It’s a local anthology that’s looking for writers. I was recommended by a friend.

I chose a story that I thought would be relevant, though it is something that I wrote in high school. I of course made copious revision efforts before sending it in.

My friend emailed me the other day, saying that he had read it. “I’d rather talk to you about it face to face.” Knowing that I wouldn’t see him until Thursday (today), this was something painful. It’s like your teacher writing on your paper that you get back at the end of class on Friday to see them on Monday to discuss your grade. You have all those days to obsess and worry about it, create horrible scenarios of what’s going to be said. I wrote back and told him how mean he was for letting me know that so long before I’d see him–nicely, of course.

I have seen him at work, I haven’t talked to him about it. In fact, he’s sitting at the table next to me as I write this, and I still don’t have it in me to ask him about it (he seems very busy).

I also got the response from his friend, stating that my story isn’t ready to publish, that there are some suggestions, and that I should join a critique group for writers.

All my fears gathered up and dished out at me. I’ve spent the last few days since my friend talked to me considering how I’m going to handle this. I went through alterations of telling myself to toughen up, of course this is going to happen because I haven’t given myself the chance to shape my fiction. I’ve been too afraid–of exactly this–to show anyone my work. My essays I have absolute confidence in because I’ve had reviews. Not my fiction, which is where my passion truly is. The other intense feeling is the overwhelming feeling of doubt: that I should give up being a writer, and that all my personal projects that I’m trying to get going is just a silly fancy; that I should just give the Freaking Ugly Cat Kickers up–with writing, school and everything. I’m just fooling myself.

I haven’t read the suggestions for my story yet. I’ve been trying to muster the bravery, trying to remember the last line of the email:

“You’re a good writer, and I don’t want to discourage you from writing or from submitting. I recommend joining a critique group to help you develop your kills.”

So I sit here, trying to get up the courage to read the damn suggestions, revise my story, and resubmit within five days. Yep. Still battling the above.

Noisy Water Review

Yesterday, while I was having coffee with my boyfriend and his mother, I happened to spy the teacher I had last winter quarter for my very first Honors class. With suppressed disdain for her rummaging through papers and sipping of coffee, I watched her from the corner of my eye. She caught it, mumbled a displeased “Hello,” to which I responded in  kind.

As we left the coffee shop, I vented my frustration at the woman to my companions, enough to simply relive the anger I felt the day I received the email regarding my 14 page paper which read, “I haven’t read your essay yet, but you need to rewrite it.” My very first B followed soon after.

However, this morning, as I was willing myself to be pulled out from the warmth of bed, and scrolling through my Facebook page, I spied a post that my cousin tagged me in. It was an expression of excitement of the release of The Noisy Water Review, that is, the publication in which one will find my essay, “The Self Examined: Exploring Bergson’s Idea of Absolute Knowledge via Ben Jelloun’s novel The Sandchild.”

After bumping into my teacher yesterday, I felt a sense of poetic justice, though perhaps not int eh truest sense of the term, but rather in that there was as satisfaction that she can be as up herself as she wants to be. But at the end of the day, the essay she rejected is the one that got published.

Trying to Use Wattpad as a Tool

I realized that I’m not writing like I should be. It’s ironic really, doing all this work so that I can get into a good school to be able to get my foot through the door of a publishing agency–and I’m for the most part neglecting my writing.

Last quarter I only wrote one essay–well, two if you count the re-write I had to do due to my Humanities teacher. This quarter I haven’t had to write anything aside from reflection on movies for my Gender, Science, and Literature class. Though, I suppose, that being said, I did create a video, though it was a collaboration of writing between a coworker and I–well, she wrote most of it.

The fact remains, that I’ve been neglecting the side I most strongly associate with being me.

So to push myself, I’m putting what I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2014 up on Wattpad. It’s for the most part unedited, so if you read it, critique easily. There’s a good chance I know the problems, I just haven’t gotten to fix them.

I’m doing this to essentially light a fire under my ass to write more, edit more, and pay attention to what I love doing. I’m hoping that being more involved with the writing community will help me to accomplish this.

With that being said, feel free to follow this link to The Usual, my 2014 attempt at National Novel Writing Month.

P.S. In reference to my blogging gripe the other day, WordPress seems to have fixed the problem. Hurrah! I can now write in a box larger that four lines (I know you all were just itching to know!)

A Word on Gender Equality

For whatever reason, Feminism has earned itself a bad rap – and it’s appalling that that’s the case. From my understanding of what feminism is, there is no need for it to have earned a negative connotation. After all, it is simply a branch of humanism.

Of course, I am a bit bias since I, myself, am a woman. I live in an extremely liberal part of the world, and (to my knowledge) haven’t experienced any wage differences. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I believe that there are parts of the country that do. I have, however, had a male landlord refuse to speak to me because I am a woman. I’ve had a cable guy come to fix whatever it was and not listen to anything I said until my male roommate arrived and said the exact same thing – which he did listen to. I have been called out on my ability to work or opportunities to do my job due to my weight or that I wasn’t blond. I have been cat-called, had my boobs the only thing worthy of eye contact, and I have been grabbed at repeatedly. I’ve worked in bars and pubs, and run my own little experiments – I get more tips the lower cut my shirt is, regardless of how crappy of service I give. I’ve given excellent service – chit-chatty, smiling, pleasant, and making sure that glasses were never empty – while wearing no make-up and a respectable shirt and gotten hardly anything for tips.

Woman are still objectified, and this is a problem. What’s more, is it’s not just men that are doing it. Women are playing into it. Women know that sex sells, as my bar example shows, and they play into it, knowing that’s how they’ll get ahead. It’s terrible. What’s more, it’s exploiting men. Though, again, men exploit women just as much. Neither set of circumstances is tolerable.

In my town there were a group of girls in one of the middle schools that were sent home because they all chose to wear skirts. The school said that it was distracting. The girls took a stand, and said they shouldn’t be shamed. They were in the newspaper, and their skirts were no shorter than any pair of shorts they would wear in a month. They were not provocative, the tops they wore were high necked and long sleeved, and some of the girls were even wearing tights. (edit: this was not the case. There was no cleavage or bra straps, but not all dresses were “high-necked) There was nothing inappropriate about what they were wearing. The problem in this situation was certainly not what they were wearing, but that those that were distracted by it had neither the discipline nor respect to not be distracted by it.

(for more information on just what these girls were wearing, here’s a video)


(You can read more on the event in the Bellingham Herald)

I am not a man hater. On the contrary. I think men are just as necessary and capable as women, and women are just as capable as men. I believe in humanism. I believe that we are creatures crawling around on this earth together, and that no one is worth more than another person.

We are coming into a time where lines are being blurred between gender roles – and thank God for it! men are becoming stay at home dads and women are being career driven. Thus, partnerships are developing, which is ultimately what is needed.

The most important thing about gender equality is that it opens up the conversation for those that identify with both or neither gender. How can we create and accepting atmosphere for people to be who they feel they are if we can’t even give people equality for their biology? Those that are transgender fight a battle that those of use that don’t identify similarly can’t understand. And for society to make it harsher to come to terms with the person they want to be is disgusting.

We are long from the dark ages. However, we are long from an enlightened era where people can simply be, and allow others to be as well. There is no equality for the moment, and it’s a sad truth. However, I believe that the more it’s talked about, the more the issue will come to light, and the more things will change. There is nothing to be gained from keeping other people down. All it does is stunt the great minds that could enhance our world. These are men, women, people.

Remember that no one is their encasing. Everyone is their own being existing along side the rest.