Please note that I have merged my blog with my website, so if you are following my blog, please note the change! Thanks for reading!
My posts for this blog have always been about honesty and self-discovery. It makes no sense to seek answers to questions that make the mind spin if honesty is not an integral part of the process.
I’ve been hitting the Y the past few days to try and get my head on straight. My personal universe is fraught with first world problems that make me feel like I’m under the weight of a hundred tons. This time of year is always difficult for me as I tend to reflect equally on my successes and my failures. This year felt like it had more failures than successes. I have gone through a tremendous amount of transitions that have not been for the better. Though I go through momentary bouts of depression and self flagellation, I work hard to get through the rough spots, but this year has been exceptionally difficult.
I was sitting in the hot tub at the Y, when two men approached. One was an older man, leading a younger man by the arm. He asked another man in the hot tub if he could assist in leading the young man to a seat safely. All eyes were on this beautiful boy/man with the tatted chest and arms as he mouthed words we could not hear. They were father and son. For whatever reason, he turned to me and said, “that’s my son, Andre. He’s blind and deaf. Just before his year in jail was up, he was beaten up and this is how he came home to me.” I will not get into the details of who did this to him, but suffice it to say, he is yet another statistic. He then proceeded to tell me that his son is always mouthing words, he hears them and doesn’t process that he can’t speak them, yet they still flow from his mouth. There is little hope he will recover, though his father prays to God every day for that miracle.
When I got home, I picked up my Granddaughter, smelled her sweet baby smell, looked into her big, blue, trusting eyes and shed a tear for that father, and for myself. My first world problems suck, but in the midst of all of them, I wake up every morning with another chance at life, and I can wrap my arms around the miracle my daughter brought into this world.
I’ve been going through some very intense transitions the past few months. That saying of, “when it rains it pours,” has been quite apt for my current life track. There are so many factors that occur to throw a person off the rails, the end of a relationship, not having a home, fighting the drudgery of poverty, struggling with self esteem, losing faith, and the list goes on.
Despite these hurdles, I have always persevered. I have been through far worse and managed to come out mostly unscathed. Every time I look at my children, I realize just how strong and committed to life I am. The problem is, I conditioned myself to do whatever it took to feed, clothe, house, and provide love to my babies, and in the process I forgot how to take care of myself.
I am trying to learn who I am, what I want, and what I have to do to BE.
The greatest discovery that has pushed through the walls of the box I placed myself in, is the realization that I have a gift I’ve never really embraced. I LOVE words. I have a PASSION for words. I want to share that gift with as many people as possible. I have sought out menial jobs to supplement my teaching income in order to minimize the stress of trying to survive. I don’t just want to survive anymore. I’m past that. I realized while sitting alone in a mass of people reading and writing at a bookstore coffee shop, that menial just isn’t good enough. It’s time to place my future endeavors on the foundation of my love for writing.
I had a conversation a few nights ago about my frustrations when viewing poets and their very hard earned words in comparison to other artists.
I live in a city that is very focused on the arts. On any given evening I can go to a local bar and hear a local band. On any given evening I can go to a gallery and view paintings, sculptures, sketches, etc. On any given evening I can go to a theatre and watch a play. Our larger venues have local, as well as out of town talent that graces the stage. If I want an evening of poetry, I have to go to an open mic.
I host an open mic that I feel is quite successful and promotes the art of poetry. A drummer and a bassist back up the poets as if they’d been playing together for years. That’s how great the musicians are. A young lady quite adept at gracing the canvas paints to poetry. A photographer captures every nuance and moment that defines just how powerful poetry is.
My frustration is that finding venues for poets is difficult, almost impossible. The argument I get is, “who wants to attend an event where they just sit and listen to poetry?” “When people go out they want to drink and dance, not sit and listen to poems.” “I can’t justify wasting a couple of hours on any given evening to poetry when I can have musicians play. It’s what brings people and encourages them to drink or eat.” I’m not kidding, these are real responses.
Interestingly enough, I have opened (with poetry) for The Betty Fox Band (a Suncoast Blues Challenge winner who represented St. Petersburg in Memphis, TN for the International Blues Challenge) and received an incredible response. I had people approach me and state they’d never experienced anything like that and had no idea that was an available form of entertainment. For the most part it’s not in my city.
I also recently participated in an event at The Studio@620 where a classical pianist and three poets performed for about 90 minutes. We brought people to tears, created laughter, deep thought, serious emotions, and were told by all that attended that they had never experienced anything quite like it. Attendance was sparse, but now that the word is out, people keep asking when it will happen again.
I feel the biggest issue is that people just don’t know how powerful and life changing it is to sit and listen to poetry, knowing that most likely that poet is laying themselves bare upon the stage on so many levels. Poetry changes lives, circumstances, viewpoints, emotions and the list goes on.
My mission is to integrate the arts and create a fusion that brings the power of creative thinking to the forefront.
I awoke this morning to a myriad of emotions and thoughts rolling through my mind.
* I’m three months away from completing my MFA Program. It has been one of the greatest rushes of my lifetime, but not for the reasons most would expect. I already have a Masters Degree in Communications from Arizona State. I’m proud of that accomplishment. Why did I decide to go for an MFA in Creative Writing? Well, initially, I wanted to have a terminal degree to increase my chances of being more in the academic arena than an Adjunct. From the first day I entered a College classroom, I felt teaching was my calling. Truth be told, it’s one of the most difficult fields to get a job that compensates on the level of a “full time Professor.” I am grateful to have my Adjunct position at UT, but I struggle, really struggle, to support myself financially.
* Four terms into my MFA, I realize that the dream of teaching will always be in my mind, but I’ve risen to another level. I have connected with some life changing mentors: Erica Dawson, Alan Michael Parker, and Sandra Beasley. I have also connected with some phenomenal poets that have inspired me in so many ways, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Tarfia Faizullah, and Jamaal May. I have a bucket list of writers I still want to meet and of course on the top of that list is Patricia Smith.
* I have always written, always understood that writing is like breathing for me; I can’t exist without it. The shift from pre MFA poet to Post MFA poet is profound. My love for language has grown exponentially and my love for words means something different. I used to bang out poems in a short amount of time and feel I’d reached unimaginable depths. Not so then, but definitely now. I find myself pondering over a word for days, a line break changes several times before it feels right, and so on.
* Most importantly, I have become aware of the world around me, the people in it, and how I fit into the big picture. I no longer write big, now I write about the moments in the big picture that capture me, befuddle me, anger me, sadden me, etc. Writing about a moment in time allows me not only to share it, but to feel it. There is nothing more gratifying than stopping time for just a second to inhale life and then breathe it out onto the page.
Well, here we are, another year has passed and we are posting on our social networking sites about 9/11.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from not being empathetic, but I started to think about how this all works.
I suppose what got me thinking was how much emphasis we put on the commemoration process of tragedies that cause a loss of life in a way we can’t fully comprehend or accept as truth. Is it not something that lives with us every day of our lives? How interesting is it that on the anniversary date of such tragedies we feel the need to take it upon ourselves to revisit the memories, the pain, the fear, and the sadness? Does that all go away the next day? When the flags and crying eagles are posted today, does that mean it’s in the forefront of our thoughts all day, or are we doing what we feel me must to honor the dead? Is that not something we should make a daily practice?
9/11 — Waco, Texas — Oklahoma City — Columbine — Sandy Hook — Trayvon Martin
This list goes on and on. I suppose if we had to carry these memories and the pain they are wrapped in, every day, we would implode. Maybe the solution to future tragedies is a global effort to give a damn about human life. Maybe releasing the hate, accepting diversity, and being human should be in the forefront of these commemorations. I don’t begrudge the need to post, discuss, or feel enraged about these travesties, but I do feel it should all be backed up with discourse – possible solutions to our inherent need to kill in order to make a point.
Having grown up in Germany, I reflect often on the fact that Concentration Camps have been left standing to continually create awareness of the atrocities of human extermination. It’s there 365 days a year, and it’s brought to light every day of every year. It is there you learn about the truth of Kristallnacht. It is not something my other homeland does once a year. Quite the contrary, it is always prevalent, because the belief is that is how such tragedies being repeated can be avoided.
I know from experience if I talk bout travesties that have taken place in my lifetime, here in America, I’m told to get over it, it was a long time ago, people move on. Why do you suppose that happens? Could it be because the only appropriate time to fight for change is on the anniversary date? Is that the only time we truly come together as one and realize we really do have the power to create change?
Just food for thought.
How much time have you actually spent sitting in a silent place and letting your mind run free?
We are so conditioned from day to day on putting one foot in front of the other to follow a predefined track, a path, and to some a belief in destiny.
How many homeless people believe in destiny? How many terminally ill people believe in destiny? How many parents that have lost children believe in destiny? Is it easier to believe that the sad, horrific, negative and life altering things that happen are predestined? Or is the need to cling to the idea of who, what, or why was your life chosen to deal with trauma.
I was a devout Christian until January of 2007. I had just one more life defining moment that made me being to question my believe system. I wondered why God would allow so many bad things to happen, after all growing up with the word of God pronounced to me every Sunday, led me to embrace the idea that a benevolent being had his hands on the wheel and we were all just along for the ride.
I began to focus more on human nature, on what people do. I concluded in my need to feel some sense of a spiritual connection that there was some sort of god, I just wanted sure what his/her/its purpose was in the grand scheme of things. I listened to what people going through hard times were saying. I understood their need to pray, reach out for answers. I did the same for most of my life.
As time has moved on and I’ve gotten older, the world I knew as a child ceased to exist. Time must change things or we would cease to evolve.
I certainly do believe in some kind of benevolent energy, a Higher Power, if you will, it makes sense. I also believe that whatever it is, it suffers right along with us. We, this human species, are responsible for the condition of our existence. Everything that defines people inevitably comes down to choices. The choice to kill, rape, batter, condemn, hate, and the list goes on endlessly is just that, a choice. In times when we choose to love, embrace, support and elevate each other, the dynamic of human interaction changes.
Love is not a wanting or needing, love is a state of being and a choice.
The past 24 hours have been a time of reflection and decision making.
I have dedicated a tremendous amount of my time over the past 7 years helping, promoting, and encouraging my fellow artists. I have a profound sense of gratitude for everyone I’ve met and I am honored to be a part of so many talented peoples’ journeys. I love you all from a deep place in my core.
I have also spent a lifetime giving of myself to the people I love and cherish, often to the point of not taking care of myself. No regrets and I will always be there for my loved ones. The time is here, however, to do what is best for me and let go of so many fears that surround the relationships I’m in.
I spent a day in solitude yesterday and it gave me the time I needed to make some decisions without any influences or opinions outside of my own. I’m ready to travel the journey I have always dreamed of.
I have so many projects that are near and dear to me that have gone into the “Some Day” folder on my desktop. I suppose all artists have one of those. I was perusing them yesterday and realized I have a wealth of great reading! I was made aware of my love for all genres. I’ve dabbled in pretty much everything. I suppose I should have renamed my folder “Self Doubt” rather than “Some Day.” My need to have a sense of validation from my peers has been a tremendous deterrent in my forward movement. I imagine there were some lingering issues with seeking that in place of the constant condemnation and negation I received from my father. I realized yesterday as I perused my work, that I am a talented and dedicated writer. This time I actually believe what I am saying. That gives me all of the validation I need and want.
I have made the commitment to forge ahead with my projects and believe that fulfilling the need to feed my passion is the most important aspect of my writer’s life. I’m proud of myself.
Please bear with me as I take a brief hiatus from Blogging.
I am dealing with a medical issue and the mind is not very focused right now.
As soon as this is resolved I shall return, stronger and more determined than ever to make a difference
in this crazy world.
I’m on warrior status right now and am putting all of my energy into dealing with this.
…and yes…I shall come out victorious.
Thank you for your continued support.