Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Sunday, October 23, 2016
|Teenage Angst in that Mode|
As they moved in circles of light and iridescent happiness, I remained in the darkness. You know who we are. We remain on the frontiers, occasionally letting the anger in our jokes flash out.
“That’s a good one…” may be forgotten by you in minutes, but I would hold onto it for a year, writing it down on college ruled lines next to the nascent work like this, borrowing—as all language does—from others. Sometimes your name and mine were written together, my last name became yours so sodden was I to be possessed: I was certain it was the way out of the void.
“You didn’t have it all bad…”
A few friends of mine say this and I agree with them. I’m far enough away to know that there is no competition in the Void. We only bring that nonsense there ourselves.
Ghosts in the Void: across all that lost time.
I didn’t fill the Void with wine coolers. Three men did not rape me like Heather at that party. I did not fall off the back of Tom’s motorcycle into the Void like Anna. I did not get pregnant and abandoned like Carmen and I never ate my mother’s sleeping pills to disappear forever from the men I loved like Kyle. I did not vomit into the Nothing until I died like Melanie.
My heart was not yet fully formed. I did not understand. These whispers waited in the Void until I was older and they haunt me now—a kind of eternal homecoming.
The Void is not hungry. It will not kill you. It does not look back into you and find you wanting for breasts, a perfect nose. The man who completes you.
The Not-You is empty and therein you will not find an answer.
So make one.
Support my 30-30 Writing Challenge today! Did you know Hugo House provides programs, classes and events for Teen Writers wherein they can find and write down their voices? Visit my FirstGiving Page and make a tax-deductible donation to a place I wish I had when I was a teenager.
Monday, October 17, 2016
The Puget Sound region is famous for having only two seasons: the brief paradise of summer and the relentless grey over all other times. From October through June (more or less) we find despair and comfort in the routine of gray: the sky under which we live.
But is it such a routine?
I take transit because I abhor driving and usually find the expense of a car to be a chain. I have no children, so that reason for a car does not count. I have been fortunate and deliberate in my commutes, since I don’t require a car for them either. Driving from home to work—along a prescribed route that hopefully ensures as little time behind the wheel—affords us little choice in living.
But isn’t taking a bus, or train or ferry even more regimented? One has no choice but to be at the stop, station or dock at the same time. That is true is you always sit in the same seat, reading the same news, playing the same game: thinking the same thoughts.
For a time, I worked on an island from which its inhabitants would go into the city every day, and I had the boat to myself in reverse commute. It was a temporary job, but aren’t they all? It is merely a matter of perspective.
One day, and no other, I was returning on a nearly empty vessel. I found a vantage point on the island end of the boat as it sailed toward the city in mid-afternoon. The wrack of clouds moved in the singular perfection of that one day. The wake upon the water traced on unique lace-work testament of passage—and then was gone.
I enjoyed it for a time. One time. The next day and the week following I went to that vantage point that was always changing, and then I went to the other end: not to wait for getting off, but to see how much the world can change within a day.
Let the world change a little. You only need a slightly different view. It is a different day. Are you wearing the same clothes you did yesterday as though the seasons have no hold on you? Read some non-fiction that disturbs you, or fiction that transplants you into someone else’s world. Fiction is particularly adept at disturbing routines since its makers strive to throw novelty and change in the way of its characters desires. Poetry affords you even more universe for variety. You can read the same poem, speak it aloud in your mind, and if you are in a different seat, wearing a different coat, the rhythms of the words or lack thereof provide all the illusion of permanence you require.
Listen to different music, or explore the structure and timbre of the notes you’ve heard so many times but never in that way. Because you haven’t.
The course remains the same although the ferry never makes the same crossing twice.
Support my writing for Hugo House during the 30-30 Challenge!
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
|Die Nachte: Max Beckmann 1919*|
Insofar as Politics is concerned this year...
...I will offer up a sample of the Max Beckmann painting above because it is a version of the America we are being promised by a certain candidate. Oh, he may say he is going to make it "Great" again, but I have heard that rhetoric before and it was used quite a bit in the place where the painting came from.
Half of my ancestry is German. My mother's father was German and my father (whom I have never met) was half German as well. This is important for me during this particular election because it means I carry that weight. What is that weight? That a supposedly civilized country allowed a narcissistic bully with one testicle and severe emotional problems to become its leader. For years afterward, the words Nazi and German were fairly synonymous. In the movies, German/Nazi villains were safe from the point of view of the screenwriter. I was often ashamed of my last name, even though it is Wendish in origin, going into that was not really an option in grade school. And what was the result of all that fear and self-loathing: the same sort that drives Americans to evidently support a fascist who says many of the same things?
It becomes the men invading the home in the Beckmann painting.
I have another part of me—the Latina part—that hears echoes of what the Nazis did to the Jews, the homosexuals, Roma, slavs, and developmentally disabled to name a few and she fears that the fascist dictator running for president—wrapped in the Red, White and Blue—will round up brown people like myself. Our stories, and our lives will be forfeit. Yes, there are other crimes of magnitude in other places, but few that I can think of that are consciously chosen, such as Hitler in 1932. What are we to make of the check-box next to the GOP candidate in the United States of 2016?
My Grandfather left Germany in the late 1930s because he knew there was war coming. After Kristallnacht, the family realized there was better work and better people elsewhere, so my grandfather left for work in a brewery in Mexico. He eventually eloped with mi abuela for Sacramento… but that is another story.
I simply ask for you to vote for a better world and not one of fear, brutality and bigotry. There is no 'greatness' to be found in a country ruled by terror and the promise of bread and circuses.
When I despair, I remember when I felt bad about being a Ludenow: part of a race that committed abominations. Grandfather would tell me about the other people who left Germany: the scientists, the artists, the musicians. These were the people who had made Germany great and gave the language and culture its dignity. I can still remember the Plattdeutsch accent in his Spanish:
"Aquellos que no podían salir murieron o se ocultó escondidos durante muchos años. Lo que quedaba no era un país ni siquiera una raza. Es por eso que perdieron la guerra. Eso es lo que sucede cuando estúpida, asustadas personas venden su alma al diablo. Ada, tienes que ayudar a la gente a aprender, pensar, y amar. Eso es lo que va a encontrar en la música de Bach. Y lo que se ve en el mundo es lo que llevas en tu corazón".
*Max Beckmann: Die Nachte Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Max Beckmann was one of many "Entartete Kunstlers" or "Degenerate Artists" who were forced to leave Germany when Adolt Hitler came to power.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
The writing moves within me, just as the earth is moving, spinning—taking me into the sunset.
I stretch and consider. I have my litany, my agenda, my vespers.
I am a machine. I am desire, thought and memory. I am a ghost moving upon the waters when the Earth was young. I am a woman. I am unrelenting. I submit to no one. I give. I am indefatigable and I know when to step lightly on the water or with force upon the stones.The continuum of Space and Time is most subtly evident during the paradoxical dance of this moment—when the day bleeds into night because I know the safety of this place does not last much longer. I know when it ends and I run towards the sun and conveyance home. I search for danger. I look for my allies here. I stay aware and I am wholly in the present.
By now I know my pace without thinking about it.
The pathway comes to me. The sky and the water reflect one another but I shall not be dazzled by them. There will be another sunset. There will always be more running because that is what I do.
I am a machine. I am desire, thought and memory. I am a ghost moving upon the waters when the Earth was young. I am a woman. I am unrelenting. I submit to no one. I give. I am indefatigable and I know when to step lightly on the water or with force upon the stones..Support my writing for Hugo House during the 30-30 Challenge!
Saturday, September 24, 2016
I went to visit my friends Jon and Miguel in their new home. It's a very new home and it looks very much like the other homes in this development. Miguel is despondent about this.
"But look at that view of the Mountain!"
He shows me the view from their bedroom, the breakfast nook and the top of the garage. It is always the same Mountain, but I don't tell him that. I sympathize that they must commute a long ways for this house and this view.
Jon has a longer view of things. "In forty years, if a lahar hasn't taken this all out, these homes will all look different, and we'll probably be in Yucca Valley."
Jon is an architect and knows that buildings grow and age just like people.
This wall isn't going anywhere. It will wait here for the seasons to change it and make it something people find attractive in the patina of mutability. But it works fine for me now. I can lean here and smell Jon cooking the bratwursts I brought. I think of gold beer and red leaves.
"Welcome to your first Fall, Wall."
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
It's that time of year again. The leaves are beginning to fall and the day and night are equitably sharing the sky right now.
That means it's time for the 30-30 Writing Challenge! Throughout the month of October I will be writing at least thirty minutes for thirty days. And I'm getting started a little early this year!
You can encourage me and help support a truly wonderful organization:
Richard Hugo House
Donating is easy and tax deductible. All you have to do is go to my giving page and drop some lucre in the digital jar.
Through its classes, events and specialized programs, Hugo House helps writers of all stripes. From Teen Scribes learning to find their voices, to seasoned authors, and everyone in between. Playwrights, novelists, memoirists, poets, screenwriters, non-fiction authors: if there are words involved, Hugo House is a place to read words, hear words, and make your own words better.