I’ve started another writing course and I think this 2 minute write may eventually evolve into something more…
This is what happened. Just give me a second to catch my breath and then I’ll tell you the whole story. The whole story of me and my life and how I got to this place in the woods, where you caught me dancing with the moon. I’ll tell you about the journey, the rocks in the road, the thorns in my sides, the broken glass that took over my voice, and the very moment I thought I would be no more. But the end was my beginning. I was falling and falling for so long, waiting for the proverbial bottom to appear, or a time keeping rabbit to stop by, but the fall continued until one day I screamed for it to stop. I screamed and screamed and fell no more.
I don’t know if I ever was an earth girl. Of course, I’m an earthling, born and raised here, but the earth itself was never my favorite place. There’s a lot to be wary of, here on the blue planet. Growing up, my favorite place was my closet. The old-school closets the home builders of the 70’s constructed, long and shallow, with sliding doors. One side held my clothes, the other side held me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a shy kid. Ever. I’m the first book I ever tried to write, sharing page after page over my 47 years here with only a few footnotes still kept to myself. They’ll likely come out at the end though.
Earth has always been a tricky place for me. Beautiful and dangerous at the same time. Lush and liquid here, baren and broken there. Careful where you step, careful what you touch. Everything is tricky when you have hay fever. Allergic to everything called a grass or a bloom. The linden trees my dad loves, the marigolds meant to keep away the mosquitoes, it all brought out my love of winter, when it’s easier for me to love the earth. When the tricky things all die. Well, the tricky plant things. People are still here in the winter.
Of course, I don’t mean it. I didn’t want the stuff to die. I don’t want the earth to die. It was the easy way out, the excuse not to look at what was happening. I grew up in an ancient lake bed, dried up and carved up, the mountains around me like walls. Inside my mountain valley it was easy to think we were loving the earth. The green lawns and mountain escapades. Climbing the red rocks to the arches. Look at how much we love her, our mother earth, don’t you see it in our pictures? We didn’t know. We really didn’t know.
A little self love experiment from class tonight.
Damn girl, Look what you’ve done. Pregnant at nineteen, single mom at twenty, now you’re a wannabe fairy living your dream life in the forest, just missing her wings. Yet, you haven’t let go of the guilt and you gotta do it. That shit is getting heavy and it’s time to put it down. No one is mad at you. He’s not mad at you. You did everything you needed to do for him. Some of it was right and some of it was wrong, but that’s life, you know? Nobody’s perfect but look at him! He’s told the world himself he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for his Mum. Allow yourself that one.
For real, girl, look at what you’ve done. You dipped your toe in the emergency services world at twenty-one, almost your dream job. The closest you thought you could reach it with the single mom thing you took on first. Through phonelines you delivered babies, you instructed breaths, you helped people, you directed officers, you cared. Maybe you could have cared for yourself a little more? Maybe you could have helped yourself a little bit more. But you did it until you couldn’t, and when you had to pivot, girl did you pivot.
Wooee, it was a twisty pivot. Twenty-five and laid off with a five-year-old, sure, you’ll work for a Stevedore. As soon as someone tells you what a Stevedore is. You figured it out and it didn’t take you long at all, though after you got a hold of it they didnt want you to succeed. Specifically, HE didn’t want you to succeed, but for thirteen years, you did. You fought your way through it all every week, work impeccable but personality flawed. He thought you could have laughed at his jokes a little more. He thought you could bow down a little more. He thought you could have been a little more timid, but that’s never been you.
Insecure, yes. Self-doubting? Of course. But, timid? No. A girl who bows down? Not a chance. You’re 5’2″, how much lower to the ground did they expect you to go? You left when you were ready and he even ruined that, taking away the goodbyes you deserved to give, but it was time. Not because you hated it, but because you hated having to defend YOU on the daily, and good for you for that. Fucking good for you.
You might cuss a bit too much. It’s not ladylike, you know? I know, I know, you’re not a lady, but you’re afraid of water, so a sailor’s mouth you shouldn’t have. But you know words, I’ll give you that. You know their power, you know their purpose, and you know how to use them. But you probably don’t need to swear so fucking much. Maybe you get a pass on this one. We can see that when you fucking decide to use the fucking swear words you make sure they go in the right fucking order. And you’re at least proper enough to cut back around small children and the elderly. Well, some small children and some elderly, but still, fucking good enough.
So, what do you do next, girl? Start believing in you. Start believing them when they tell you you can write. You wrote the book, you landed the agent, so trust her. Trust her and move on to the next one. You’re 40% there already and you know where you’re going because they’re telling you where to go, the ones in you’re head in their world you created. People love to hear about those pretend people you put on the page, so finish it already and remember who the fuck you are.
I started taking some writing courses recently. It was a bit intimidating at first. I haven’t taken a writing class since high school but these classes with Laura Lentz have helped me hold on to my vulnerable side while writing about the emotional things I’m trying to hammer into a novel. Durring the class we do one-minute writes and 13-minute writes, and some of the one-minute bursts have been some of my favorites. I’m going to share a few here to hold on to them. The final poem, Glass Warrior, was a 13 minute write.
We are all pinned against time. It moves through us, around us, and eventually without us, continually ticking after our own hearts stop. How reckless can one afford to be with so little time to hold onto?
We bless each other with our voices, speaking, singing, shouting, words of praise, of power, of protection. We bless each other with our words of truth. Don’t whisper, though. Raise your voice. Let it ride on the echoes of the ones who came before and be the guide to the ones who will come after. We were warriors once, women of the world, stopped by a cold storm that left us silent. Do not let silence be the sound of the future. Rile it up with the warrior’s scream.
My heart, my heart, my heart
Can you help me find my heart? I was pretty sure it was here yesterday.
Or maybe that was last Tuesday?
Still, I was pretty sure it was all here
Today it seems to be missing
The beat silently ungiving
So, can you help me find it?
My heart, my heart, my heart
What is My Heart
My heart is glass, fractured but not shattered. My heart is the warrior’s shield, knicked and battered. My heart is the dragonfly wing, iridescent and glowing. My heart is the part of me that believes it is all knowing.
She lives in a sacred cavern
Hidden by its secrecy
The rhythm of her, her only betrayer
Sounding out to those close by
Ba-boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom
To be hidden is crucial
It’s a must if she wants to survive
Glass things shatter if hit hard enough
Her fractures are deep
Her structure barely holding
She welded her shield in front of her
She lashed her sword to her side
She is a fearsome Warrior
Even if her mighty spirit she must hide
To give in to self-destruction, is not of her mind
Glass things shatter if hit hard enough
(And she’s come oh so very close to hard enough)
This Glass Warrior now must hide
A little course work on ancestors…
They remind us they love us in their own peculiar ways. Janice with her flower talk, Ilene with her frosting. Giving bits of themselves in place of the stories that are too hard to tell. The stories of their beginnings, their hardships, their truths. For if they don’t share the hurt, they believe they’re only planting happiness. They do not realize the void left behind by their secrets. A void that would be happily filled with truths.
We pause and remember the early years. The years of our youth when history didn’t matter to us. Our concerns then were of homework and test scores, and who could play night games on a Thursday night. How our line of humans came to be didn’t cross our minds then. It is only now, as we age to point of self-reflection that we think back on all of the stories we never thought to ask.
I like to think that somewhere inside of me, the women who came before me stand tall. I like to think they would look at where I’ve taken myself and be happy for that. I like to think they would read my words and admire the way I use my voice and tell my stories. Maybe they’d even get a kick out of some of the not so perfect parts, like my grandma Buster did, giggling when my cousin Hayley and I said ‘fuck’ in family conversations. I like to think they would look at me – the latest in these lines traversing like the brass inlay on a fancy globe – and be proud of where they ended up in life. With me.
I didn’t get to know them all well enough, and I think on that now as an adult. I know Janice changed her middle initial to M so she didn’t have to completely give up her maiden name. A name that wasn’t even correct, changed by her ancestors after coming from Sweden. I know she loved her garden. I know she loved cooking a meal and having her family share her table. I know she loved reading a good mystery, and that she loved wearing glasses. She thought they gave way to the fact that she was smart.
I wish I knew what she wanted when she was girl. I wish I’d thought to ask more questions when she talked about starting school to be a nurse, deciding quickly it wasn’t what she wanted to do. Did she know what she wanted to do? Was it something that would have been allowed at the time? I think not. See, I think of her as being a little more feisty in her youth than she was at a grandmother in my years. She was funny and vibrant, and I think she would have embraced that more if she was part of a different generation. But I don’t know because I didn’t think to ask.
I think about my grandma Bear, and she is another mystery in my timeline, never to be solved. I know a lot about Ilene. I spent oodles of time with her during my childhood. So many hours of just the two of us, crafting or cooking, making cakes. I know her pinky was crooked because she cut her little finger off in the stand mixer. I know because I was there. It was a favorite story to tell in elementary school after the trauma. I know about her ailments and illnesses. I know she loved to listen to a man with a guitar, as we all did, reminiscent of nights at her parents tiny house, listening to her dad sing his songs while the smoke swirled in waves along the ceiling.
I know she loved my grandpa enough to marry him 3 times, and I know she was difficult enough for him to divorce her 4. I don’t know what she wanted for herself though. Married and a mother before she was eighteen, is that all she saw for herself? The daughter of a fix it man, mink rancher, gold miner, bar singer, and his wife Thelma. Did her own mother’s lot of just a mother and a wife influence her, or did she dream of more? Would she have opened a bakery? Would she have traveled the world? I wish I’d thought to ask what the real her had wanted for herself.
Growing up, I was a Barbie Girl. I had everything a young girl in the 80s needed for the perfect Barbie World and it occupied most of my closet floor. I had the multi-level Barbie mansion complete with working elevator. I had all the furnishings Barbie needed for her mansion, including a “flushing” toilet. I had the giant Barbie pool with wrap around deck and water slide. I had the fancy silver Barbie Corvette with Barbie Pink interior. I had a massive Barbie closet with an enviable wardrobe and more tiny shoes than I could keep track of, and way more than my dozen or so Barbies could wear. Twelve Barbies is a guess because I don’t really remember all the Barbies I had as a kid, but there were several. And while I had several favorite Barbies, I only ever had one Ken, and he was a gift.
While my Barbies had many adventures, Ken was decapitated in a horrible, single-car accident in the convertible Corvette. Yes, I started writing death scenes early in life. In my mind, what did I need Ken for? Ken didn’t have a fancy mansion with an elevator. Ken didn’t have a pool with plenty of space for entertaining (even when the water was left in the closet a little too long and went a little funky). Ken didn’t have a killer wardrobe or a cool car to drive around in. In fact, all the things Ken “had” belonged to Barbie. I didn’t hate boys any more than any other ten-year-old girl who thought boys had cooties did, but I didn’t need them to be in my play world for it to be complete. When Mattel told me Barbie could be anything, I believed it. A Veterinarian? Of course! An Astronaut? Absolutely! In my Barbie World, girls could do everything that wasn’t encouraged in the real world, and that was why I loved her.
Even though I loved Barbie in my day, I was pretty uninterested in the Barbie movie that’s been everywhere. It wasn’t because I have anything against it, or Greta Gerwig, or Margot Robbie. I have a weird taste in movies. For storytelling, I like books. Rom-Coms and typical “Chick Flicks” don’t usually interest me. If I sit down to watch a movie and it’s just two hours of things blowing up, I’m happy. We haven’t been to a theater in a long while, and I know my husband misses it, but I had no intention of the Barbie movie changing that. Seeing the vitriolic reaction to the movie might just get me back in a theater seat though. It’s not the GOP flipping out over a cartoon map that piqued my interest. It was a rant that went on for over 40 minutes by a guy I call Dollar Store Tucker that pushed me over the edge. The whiny little twit went on and on about the movie being anti man. He accused Barbie of misandry. Misandry being opposite of misogyny, isn’t what Barbie is all about. From what I understand, this movie tells girls they can do anything, and no, they don’t need a man to make them successful, and that message really hurt his feelings. So much so that he went out and bought some Barbies to burn them, and then got upset that people thought he was a little over the top about the whole thing.
Barbie isn’t a Man Hater. She also wasn’t created for forty-year-old men who fear empowering girls. The people who are trantruming over this message in the movie missed the entire point of what Barbie has always been. Growing up with her as a role model of sorts, Barbie never told me men were bad. The message she’s been giving to young girls since the 1960s is that Women are pretty awesome all by themselves and it is fucking vital for young girls to know that. I loved other dolls as a kid. I still have all five of my Cabbage Patch Kids from the 80s, and I played with them constantly too, but that play was different. You were just playing Mom when you played with those dolls. You were in a pretend pastry land when you played with Strawberry Shortcake and her Friends. But with Barbie, she told you you could be anything, and that message was so important to me.
Barbie lets you play a grownup in her world and no matter what the real world told you, in Barbie World the sky was the limit. Young girls need to be encouraged to be themselves and follow their dreams. They need to be told that they are equal to the boys in the world. They need to be empowered. Young girls do not need to have adult men politicizing their play and making it into something hateful. They do not need adult men feigning offense at the message that girls are good enough. They’re already living in a country that won’t call them equal almost 250 years after the signing of the constitution, they don’t need adult men interjecting that same insult into Barbie World. Now it looks like I’ll be going to the movies…
I started a writing class recently and last night we wrote about finding our voice and I decided to share here what I wrote for class. While preparing for the class I realized that using my voice, especially my written voice, was something I learned long ago…
I’ve learned many things from my mother. She is who I modeled my heart after, and she is where my drive to fix everyone in front of me comes from. But, I couldn’t learn her sweetness, and she is not who taught me to use my voice. My voice came from my dad. “You have to fight and scream no matter what they say, because if someone gets a hold of you they’re gonna kill you anyway, so you have to fight.” That fatherly advice came after a news story, sometime in elementary school, around the age of eight. It stuck with me my whole life. You have to fight.
Sometimes, like when the Adam Jepsons of the world hit you on the school bus, you have to fight with your hands, but sometimes you have to fight with your words. He taught me about fighting with words when I was a kid. Words he’d type out on his powder blue typwriter. Words that formed one clever op-ed article after another for the local paper. Words he’d throw like darts during family “debates” in his parents living room on weekend visits. Words can be mighty and forceful, and you have to be able to stratigically use them. My dad taught me that.
I write, in a lot of ways, because of my dad. I started with poetry and op-eds like he did, and I express my opinions with forceful conviction because of him. My thoughts on religion. My thoughts on love and guns and police and drugs and addiction. Even my thoughts on womanhood, personhood, sisterhood, I can speak of because of my dad. More often than not,, those thoughts are far different from his own.
Even though our opinions on most things deemed important in life are more varied than a box of unusuall crayons – Mine, an eclectic collection of purple and grey. His, stark shades of black and white – I have the voice to speak to those opinions because of my dad. Even though he is the person I no longer argue my opinions with, I use my voice because of my dad, and I know, deep down, his daughter’s voice makes him proud.
So, it finally happened. We went out into the world and brought home Covid. I was in denial for the first 24 hours or so, but Rich’s fever spiked over 102, and I had to give into the idea that we needed to test. After the torture that is the covid test, it took less than two minutes for the dreaded red lines to appear. Even a faint line should be considered a positive result, the instructions said, but there wasn’t anything faint about it. Nothing to question. We had covid.
I know there’s lots of talk about it being nothing but a cold, but this shit is not like any cold I’ve ever had. I can’t stay awake but I can’t sleep because I don’t feel good. My whole body aches, my head hurts, and my chest is heavy. I’m coughing a lot and I can’t breathe. The one thing no one warned me about though is the fact that I am ornery. I’m so ornery I’m tired of myself! At this point, I’m putting mysefl in a timeout and I’m not trying to do anything at all until I feel like myself again.
Wow…It’s almost March already in this year 2023, and my non-resolution resolution obviously didn’t stick. I”m to blame, but I have excuses. I mean, I’m a writer, I think we always have excuses! I’ve been trying to work on new stuff, trying not to rewrite old stuff that seems to be in a perpetual stage of being written instead of being finished, and dealing with…well, life. Life has had a lot of ups and downs these past few months, but I am trying to regain my balance. With my balance will come more posts.
The fog was rolling in when I took the girls out for their morning yard inspection and, by chance, I had my phone. This might be one of my favorite shots from my yard since we’ve been here.
I’m not a big new year’s resolution kind of person, but this year I said the one thing I was going to do was get back to this blog and keep it up. I had every intention of starting it off last week and have no good excuse for being late, but I’m going to keep trying to keep at it.
For today, I’m putting this here because I love these two goofs so much even though some days they make me question why.
Torvi & Astrid