Where’s your joy?

March 26, 2015

There was a fire drill or an unexpected fire alarm at work on Tuesday morning. I finished up the thing I was doing, grabbed my coat, and headed outside with the rest of the building.

When I got outside, it was like a rush of freedom. We were outside, even if only briefly, and our time was our own, until the call came to return indoors. I noticed the magnolia tree on the front lawn was starting to bloom, which is exciting, because it means the cherry blossoms will be in full force at Ault Park very soon. I was happy and bouncy and excited to be outside and away from anything work related, even if just for ten minutes. Not that I hate work or my job, quite the opposite, I was just reveling in the oddity of the unexpected.

And it seemed to me that a lot of people were looking at me like I was crazy to be so filled with joy and delight. And it seemed to me that, in contrast, some people were acting like they were at a funeral, instead of happy to have been given an opportunity to get up and walk around for a bit. To me, it wasn’t an annoyance so much as a chance for a change of scenery and some fresh air.

I guess it got me thinking a bit about perceptions. I mean, I guess you don’t really know from someone’s blank stare what they are thinking. Maybe that I was clearly insane, or off my meds, or maybe that they wished they could act less rigidly and structured? Not really sure, but it left me with a feeling like, “Hey y’all, where is your joy?”

It made me want to infect people with my own joy, to rain delight down onto them until they felt it, too. To let them know, you don’t have to stand in the yard all sad and deflated looking, or act any kind of way that is expected of you, or look at me sideways when I spin around in a circle, because “Yay, we’re outside and it’s impromptu recess!” I mean, do those things if they make you happy, I fucking guess.

The other thing about perception it got me thinking about is how when you make art, you often don’t really know what people think of it. But then, you don’t really know what people think of you unless you tell them, or unless they’ve been talking about you behind your back and word gets back to you. I suppose. I think back to February, when I went to an Emily Dickinson read-a-thon, and the people I respected most in the room stopped their conversations and sat down to listen to me read. Me, specifically. And one of them told me later it was because I infuse such joy and personality into her verse. I was so moved and humbled by this, and I wouldn’t have known, I wouldn’t have even considered that anyone specifically wanted to hear me. But Dickinson loved words and toying with them, and I shine a light through that lens when I read her. I can’t help it. I suppose I just can’t help myself.

I think that’s the core of me during the fire drill. People see me just being myself, because I give zero fucks what anyone thinks, really. ‘Cept when I find out someone respects and appreciates my work, or the way I read a poem, and then it turns out, I give quite a few fucks after all. And it makes being that kind of joyful, free-spirited person all the more important to me.

52 Weeks

March 8, 2015

52 weeks is a lot of writing. I think I want to qualify that with an “especially,” even though it doesn’t need to be done. I know from a lot of writing. I did NaNoWriMo for 10 years until it seemed to outlive its usefulness to me as a writing exercise, and after the passing of a dear friend and writing buddy. It lost a lot of its charm and fun after that. And besides, once you’ve written over half a million words and done next to fuck-all with them, there comes some time to start working harder on revisions, if these things are salvageable to begin with. Or to pick some shorter writing forms for some instant gratification, maybe? Also, there is a lot of value in the experience of writing for its own sake. The more you write, the better you get.

In 2008, when I moved back to Cincinnati after my marriage imploded, I picked my guitar back up and tried to turn some of my poems into songs. It was weird, because the breakup was difficult, as you would imagine, but it was also an incredibly positive driving force that was about to lead me to awesome changes I could have never foreseen. But those changes were still a few years away.

In 2008/2009, inspired by an open mic called “Creativa” that I started attending, I wrote a poetry project called “Seven Deadly Sundays,” where I wrote poems mostly on Sundays, when I actually had free time to write. Now, I think I approach writing a bit differently, as I tend to make time for it rather than penciling it in as a maybe. But the songs I was trying to make happen never manifested. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t make it happen. I wasn’t ready for it, yet, I suppose. Then I broke my arm in 2009 and that set me back. And then I moved again, and started grad school, and moved again, and then life took what might sound like an awful turn… but all was very much for the best.

The first song I have really liked that I have written since I started going to the 52-week songwriters group is about this major shift that happened back in 2010. It was essentially about this one day where everything changed. The prompt was “bridge,” and I used to have these epiphanies while driving home from grad school, and they would usually hit me as I drove over the Big Mac bridge, so I felt compelled to write about that. On this particular day, November 11, 2010, to be exact, I lost my job that I despised, made some new friends, and made some serious decisions about my future. I remember driving across the bridge and suddenly realizing that everything I was before that day was dead, and that someone had essentially killed me, and that I was grateful for it. I could leave behind all those pieces of myself that I hadn’t much liked anyway, and learn to love myself, and be this totally new person who other people enjoyed to be around, and just let go of all the bullshit that I had let drag me down before. It was incredibly liberating, and I have to confess, I broke down and sobbed as I crossed that bridge that night, and it was such a lovely, happy cry.

I remember driving past my exit, and to a little bar in Silverton, because it was NaNoWriMo season and there was a write-in there that night. I met up with my now departed friend, and she said, “Okay, we’re going to your place, dropping off your car and I’m taking you to karaoke.” So we went to the Northside Tavern and I got stupid drunk and sang Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera,” appropriately. I picked the song for a few reasons, one being that it was the song I heard right before I got proposed to, just randomly, and how I remember hearing it and thinking, “I am about to make such a big mistake.” Funny how sometimes you know a mistake even when you’re in it, and you’re the kind of person who goes through the motions anyway. After that fateful day in November, I decided I wasn’t going to willfully make those kinds of life choices, not anymore.

Anyway, enough stalling. Here’s the song. There’s some audio issues that I didn’t notice til I uploaded it (oops), my camera is a fan of auto-focusing to hell and back, and my hair looks like I haven’t brushed it all day (spoiler: I brushed it half-assedly), but I don’t really guess I care about any of that, even though I took the time to mention them (more stalling, perhaps?). I’ve said I would share my art, bad or not, and I’m nervous about it, but I’m sharing it anyway. Also, I am still learning about this whole singing thing, so if you want to see the lyrics, click on the link, as they’re posted on youtube. Oh! And also also, I stole the line, “Where were you the day you died?” from my friend Eric Adams’ comic book Lackluster World. Just to point to where I did my thieving.

Post-Move

February 28, 2015

I moved almost a month ago. Unpacking came in bursts on the weekends, until almost an entire week of snow days happened and there was plenty of time to get more organized.

Migraines have escalated, to a point I had been hoping they wouldn’t reach. But they achieved a feat not many can claim, and that is finding my breaking point. I am not sure what has been worse: the pain or trying to find a doctor to help without just throwing nasty meds at it that I don’t want in my life. As of today, three days into the second medication they have prescribed, after the first one managed to increase the pain to a crippling amount, help seems more promising. I probably don’t have to explain to anyone how hard it is to function when all you want to do is curl up into a ball in a dark, quiet room, and cry until the relief of unconsciousness.

If that was my mid-week, today is better by far. The headache is still trying to catch my attention, but the meds seem to be trying to mask it, at the very least. So I can function, which is great, because I have been so behind on grading for my classes, I hate myself a little for it. I got caught up to a manageable point earlier this afternoon, and will easily be able to get all the way up to date tomorrow.

Writing-wise: In late December, I finished preliminary revisions for the piece I wrote last summer. I will probably start looking into the next phase of re-writing that soon. It’s a fun, weird little thing, that most likely I will just post on this website, or maybe try to get published as a chapbook somewhere.

Also in late December, I started going to a songwriting group in Ludlow, KY. The place that hosts it is Folk School Coffee Parlor, and it’s a really lovely space. The first time I walked into it, I thought, “Oh holy shit, this place has a really nice creative vibe about it.” It reminded me of writing with my friend Sherry, back when we were doing NaNoWriMo, before she fell ill in 2010 and was eventually lost to this world. Anyway, since I started going to the 52-week songwriter’s group, I have written 5 songs, and 2 of them I kind of like a lot. The next post I want to make here will be one of those songs. I just have some more practicing to do before then, and also to decide which song I want to post here first.

There’s a lot going on right now. I am still settling into the new place. Unpacking was one thing, but getting organized is quite another. I keep finding more things I just need to get rid of for good, which is lovely, because having less clutter around is always a positive. Working 40 hours, teaching 7 credit hours (3 classes), working on the lit mag, and writing songs. It doesn’t really leave a lot of time for other things, but this is how I have to face the winter, anymore: make myself so busy I don’t have time to let the SAD get the best of me. I’d rather put the best into my writing anyway.

This year, I have faced the winter in a few other ways. Sometimes, I have gone outside and spun around as the snow fell, pretending this world is self-contained in a snowglobe and that I am trying to figure out how to break out of it. Today I went to the park to recycle boxes from moving, and I saw abandoned snow forts on the hillside. A lady with a box called out to her husband to help her lift the lid of the recycling bin, but she didn’t shout loud. I said, “Oh, I’ll help.” But she said, “I was talking to my husband.” I glanced over my shoulder and could see he wasn’t coming over to help. I said, “Nah, I’ll help. I had one of those once. That’s how I remember it.” I was jesting, somewhat, and she didn’t laugh, but then she stayed and helped lift the lid for me when I was dumping my boxes in. Her husband started their car and sat inside where it was warm. Nice lady, even after I made it weird. I drove home and went a way I don’t normally go, and because of that, I saw giant snowmen with huge gaping mouths and far-reaching branches for limbs, like something out of Calvin and Hobbes. I felt good about most of those choices.

Last night, because the sun was shining and because I wanted to, I sat outside on the front porch and played a song I wrote. I think I felt a lot of things in that moment. Proud that I actually wrote a thing I have been trying to do for years now, and glad that it doesn’t sound terrible. Happy that this place is just so damn awesome and that I am glad I found it and jumped on it without much internal debate. Hopeful for more positive changes in the coming months. I have weird feelings like something bigger and better is coming, and I won’t know it til it’s here, but I’m not going to wait around, either. I’ll keep working hard, writing things, learning and improving my skills, and then see what’s what.

Moving Day

January 10, 2015

Moving day approaches. So many hours I spent in this tiny space, cluttering it up, more and more with each month. The more time I spent outside of it, leaving the clutter to its own devices, the more impressive the disarray became.

I think part of this happened because I was staying in one place, whatever you want to infer from that. The thing is, I had moved just about every year for the 4 years leading up to landing here, and moving a lot teaches you a lot about how unimportant stuff is. This place was just supposed to be convenient while I was in grad school, but it’s been almost two years since I graduated, and here I have stayed.

A lot happened here. Three weeks after moving in, I lost the job that was taking every bit of my sanity that I would foolishly let it have. I temped a lot, threw myself into grad school and writing, got a pretty sweet job in academia, and things have been generally okay. Well, aside from the time I threw out my back. That was the worst, but my mom came to stay with me, and helped get me literally back on my feet.

I have been ready to move on for awhile now, but I was being picky when it came to finding a new place. I wanted something closer to work, but I wasn’t really loving anything I looked at on the west side. So I started hunting in the Desales Corner area, but gentrification… so that stuff is already out of my price range. I stalked Craigslist nearly every day, and then one day, early in winter break, I found a place in O’Bryonville. It had a few flaws, but nothing that was ultimately a dealbreaker. And for roughly the same price I pay now, at least 200 more square feet. So, room to move around without knocking things over. No more walking out into a hallway and feeling like I’ve stepped into a bong. No more turning around in neighbor’s driveways because on-street parking is a pain in the ass on my current street.

And then there were other little things. Like the street number is a palindrome, and there’s a front porch and a firepit in the yard. And I only have an upstairs neighbor. And the oh-so-tempting bakery down the street keeps weird hours, when I am usually at work, so that won’t be a problem.

So anyway, I am excited, and packing, and purging crap out of my life for good. I am enjoying the feeling of change that a new year brings. I think I will be making better positive choices this year. At the very least, I plan to try.

On that note, here is a photo I took of some trees last November. I love the contrast in it, if that is even the right word.November Trees

Factory Upgrades

September 14, 2014

The Factory of Ideas has been run down a bit lately. Out to sea, it sat adrift, near dead stopped in a motionless ocean, waiting for some sense of life to be breathed back into its sails. The tanks had run dry awhile before, a stuck-gauge telling lies about its fullness. The skeleton crew was half-starved and beginning to side-eye each other as walking entrees.

And then a sudden lilt in the air, a shrillness, a cool breeze blew in, suggesting oncoming changes in climate. The Factory of Ideas lurched forward and began to move, but towards what respite from the mind’s starvation?

That destination is still unknown, and while that could be worrisome, instead it serves as a simple data point, unbound by speculation. I suppose it could be tethered by speculation, but why attempt to throw down anchors when still so far from the shore?

The maudlin month of August in its dying days took its toll, and September crept in, offering no cheerier prospects, nor solace from the sadness. When the winds tore through, some things were lost, mistakes were made, and some damage was done. For awhile, the factory idled, festering in the waking hell of its own wastes.

Now, sea sprinkled with debris, the dullness fades into the background, swallowed up by a horizon that rolls into the next, recursively. Through the art of landscapes, the picking of the mandolin, voices that soothe, and unsteady hands that draw and erase and draw and erase, imperfect but trying, the factory of ideas sails on. The gears which had weeks before ground into silence have been oiled by observing, wetted by wondering, inspired by art. Again, they churn, not quite where they stopped, but happily moving past that and into a new phase.

There is a strange rumbling in the lower deck of the factory. Much speculation from the crew on this matter, if it is something wrong within the engines, or perhaps some sort of creature stowed away and has mutated in the wastes of the ship’s bowels. Perhaps it is nothing but the figment of imagination, like a gurgling in the pit of the factory’s core. Perhaps it is nothing at all.

As the days shorten and the night favors attention from the stars, these questions will be answered. The spoils of the factory shall be revealed, all in due time. Or in another time. Perhaps even in another dimension. But probably not that. Probably.

Too weird? Didn’t read? August was brutish. September, eventually, seems to fare better. The tanks were dry but are being refilled, by art, by music, by literature. Revisions are ongoing, and without an end in sight, eventually there will be writing worth posting.

Revising Time

August 6, 2014

I finished my writing project on July 24th. And then I threw myself into a new project that I need to finish before I go on vacation (read: DragonCon) at the end of the month. I really want to release that project (a pretty sweet non-fiction story) into the wilds of the Internets before the trip to Atlanta. But wait, there’s more. I also threw myself a bit harder into one of the classes I am taking this summer, because I felt like I was lagging a bit behind on it. One more week of classes and all of that is over. And then I’ll go to GenCon with some awesome ladies I am lucky enough to call my friends, and we shall just generally have fun being silly for a weekend. And I shall NOT crack if I happen to run into the worst dude I ever stupidly let into my life, if only ever so briefly. That is in the past and it can fucking die there.

So anyway, then I need to finish writing up that aforementioned project, which is a super rad interview about a super cool thing. *no spoilers*

So in the meantime, because even when I am busy as fuck, I seem to think I am not getting enough shit done, I need to start diving into some soft revisions, to ease myself slowly into that hot mess, and work out those kinks in my back… or whatever. Tonight, I am printing out the first few parts of the summer fiction project so I can start reading through it and making notes. A little over a week ago, I made a bunch of notes about what sorts of things I know will need to be revised. Name changes, points of view, consistencies, and so on.

Soon, this thing will begin to take on the shape I envision for it, and it will no longer be such a cluttered up jumble of words. I know what direction I want to take, I know the ending, and I know it is going to take a lot of work to get it there. And I’m ready to take this story where it needs to be. And then whatever cheesy shit about wherever the story is going to take me.

Outside

June 30, 2014

It had been two weeks since I ventured out into the woods. So caught up in my own head, in my own bullshit, I decided to take a break from being myself for a little while.

That might not make sense. I don’t really care. But I did go back into the woods this weekend, on a quest to catch some perspective.

There is this thing that happens, I suppose, at least it happens to me, when I am in the midst of a project, I might get a little too caught up in it. It could then twist me so much and turn me about that I don’t much care for anything else but thinking about the project.

I have been writing around 350 words a night, and have just passed what I estimate to be the halfway point of this current project. Even when I feel a bit stuck inside my own head, I write. Every damn night, I write. Afterwards, I like to get out of my comfort zone, go to places I have never been to before, or to places that have changed drastically since I last saw them.

I like to sit in places I’ve no reason to. Sit and think and stare up at the sky, at the surrounding trees. Listen to whatever sounds might happen, to whatever voices get carried to my ears. And really, really see. And truly, honestly hear.

Another important rule of writing: fill the tanks. I will jokingly refer to my brain as the factory of ideas. But it’s a fair enough assessment. And when the factory runs short on fuel, it needs more. The factory is a needful thing. And so I read whatever I can, absorb whatever words are not my own, get outside of my wheelhouse, and let all kinds of art filter into the void, filling the tanks, until they’re almost brimming with artistic energy.

Sometimes, I topple the tanks and fill them all over again. All the while, I keep writing something, even if it’s just a page a day, just to make progress, just to get some art out. Just to shake out the crazies.

And then there are days like today, when the tanks are full, but I am not sure where I want to go. Days like this, I really need to get out of my own headspace. So today I went walking around the neighborhood, letting the wheels spin, waiting for the factory lights to turn on, and for some words to spill out.

About halfway through the walk, the words began to take shape, or an idea began to form, really. Something that would push the stalled story along, get it moving towards the ending, especially now that the ending is nigh.

I went home, and I typed a mess of nonsense. It’ll all make sense in revisions. It’s all getting me closer to the ending of this project. And then the next one. And the one after that. Thing about this factory of ideas is that it’s taken a long time to secure the foundation, get it working all right. Now, I think it’s in a prime location, and it hits all the sweet notes in my head, and the writing is fine… it’s time to let it all outside, and see where it flies.

Recurring Themes

June 15, 2014

I have been having this weird recurring dream lately. For some reason, I am at my old elementary school, and it looks all different. I would expect it to look different, first of all, because nothing really is as you remember it from when you were a little kid. I don’t remember any specifics of the dream(s), other than the place.

I went to my hometown for awhile this weekend, and one of the things that happens when I visit my parents is that I usually take their little white dog for a car ride. It’s like her favorite thing ever, and it’s just fun to see her with her head out the window, tongue hanging out, enjoying the frak out of “bye-byes in the car.”

When I’m feeling lazy, I’ll just let the dog in the car, pull out of the driveway, back in, and then let her out of the car like she went on an actual car ride. Or I’ll just take her around the block. This time, I drove the full length of the street, and I thought about the lady who lived down the street when we were kids, who I rode the bus with to high school, who went to sleep one night this past February and never woke up. And I thought about walking to school with my mom, and riding bikes with my brothers. I noticed a lot more dead trees than I’d noticed last year, and places where trees used to be.

By the time I reached the end of the street, I thought about the recurring dream, and so I drove past the old elementary school. That’s how I found out it had a new name, and I was reminded of the name of the street where it is, which coincidentally is a name the street shares with my parents’ little white dog.

I drove around the block, taking a route my mom and I used to walk sometimes when I moved back home for a little while after my marriage imploded. I thought a little bit about paths walked time and again, old roads traveled, and the places they eventually lead.

All of this, I think, ties into the new story I am writing. I have been working on trying to figure out how to explain it to people. It’s about a journey, but it’s also about ending up places without knowing the destination. Kinda how a person can feel like their actions are taking them one place, but they find they have ended up someplace else entirely. And maybe that place is better than they had even imagined. Or maybe it is worse… but I think if the ultimate goal is to grow and learn and be better, the road is going to lead to a better place, somehow, some way.

The story I am writing is intended to be a bit like a fable, or a legend. Like a fairy tale handed down generation to generation. It is something I have thought about a lot, something to use as a unifying force in all my work, because that is a thing I strongly feel I need to write into my worlds. It works on several different levels, in many different kinds of stories, and it works in my head, because sometimes you get to writing, and you find you are writing the same story over and over, whatever one you need to tell. The characters and situations may change, but at the core of the tale is the same molten lump of truth. So I am specifically getting that nugget out there, in short bursts of just over 300 words a night. I like to stop when I am in mid-scene, so that I can pick right up the next day. I have never really written like that before, so this is a cool experiment with my process.

So far, I am almost at 7k words into this project. I have nine parts mapped out, very vaguely, and pages upon pages of notebook scratchings about the story, most of which I jotted down while listening to bands at various venues around town. I am trying not to edit too heavily as I go. I can already get a sense of the revisions that are going to be necessary, and don’t even feel a bit daunted by it. I will just take them piece by piece, bit by bit, just like I did with my thesis. This story will grow, mature, and evolve, and I am looking forward to every single step of it.

Abandoned Rails

June 1, 2014

I have moved on from wandering the gardens at the park to wandering the trails. It was inevitable, as the trails are less crowded than the gardens, and I am not one for large clusters of folk. Also, when I wander the trails, I have a tendency to let my imagination run even wilder than usual. Maybe I am on an away team mission, exploring some planet, searching for a beacon in some old civilization… some old civilization that sure kept up its nature trails nicely, and had even removed the honeysuckle in places. When I am walking the trails, I usually don’t bother listening to tunes, I just enjoy the sounds of nature, the skittering of critters, the calls of birds. And I explore.

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I am a discovery writer. That is how I work best. I was thinking about this a bit the other night while watching a friend play tunes at yet another venue in this city I’d never been to before. I have been doing a fair bit of that lately, going to places that are new to me, and listening to things outside of my usual preference. In my head, this is another form of exploration, another method of discovery. And all of it twists and turns to the same destination: the joy of storytelling. Some of these paths are meandering and misleading. Some of them have so many obstacles they seem insurmountable. And all of them are combinations of these and other kinds of wanderings.

There was a post somewhere online of some pictures of some abandoned rails alongside the very same nature trails I have been exploring lately. I immediately looked up a map of the trails to see at what point I would need to diverge in order to find them. So last week, I set out to do just that. Only I hadn’t looked at a detailed enough map, and so I chose the wrong starting point for easily finding it. I have a pretty decent sense of direction, so I figured out pretty quickly that I’d gone right when I should have gone left.

Because I went right, I saw some lady stretched out on a tree stump, working on her tan. Nearby her, someone had scrawled some words into a felled log. It wasn’t anything profound or deeply poetic, so I don’t even remember exactly what it said… something along the lines of how it must feel powerful to saw down a tree that had been growing for years. I shrugged at the thought, because I guarantee that tree was cut down because it was dead, or dying. Doesn’t seem to me like there is anything all that powerful about laying the dead to rest, besides being alive enough to do so.

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Because I went right, I saw a stone being strangled by a root, quite the appropriate metaphor for things that have managed to upset my world in the not-so-distant past. At this point on the trail, I was pretty sure I had figured out where it was going to end up. And I was glad, because if I was right, it was going to end up near where I parked the car. As I walked, I thought a lot about this story I am working on. It’s a bit meta-textual, and a pretty bonkers idea, but given the source (me), that is not terribly surprising. I got this idea to create a story, based on this year’s garden and trails observations, and to thread it through everything in my writing backlog.

I walked along what I later discovered was called the “Cliff Trail,” stepped over a log and accidentally slammed my right arm into a branch. I hit it hard enough to know it would bruise, and that it did, epically so. A week later, it is still purple and finally starting to turn yellow and fade away. And, for the record, I did end up finding the exit was super close to where I had parked the car.

When I got home from trail walking last week, I searched for another map of the trails, and found a more detailed one that would have led me straight to the abandoned rail… which had I started where I started yesterday when I went for a walk, I could have saved myself the trouble. Sometimes, in discovery mode, bad choices are made. But there is something to learn from going right when left would have been the smarter choice, and I am definitely glad that in my life, most wrong choices haven’t exactly led me into an inescapable miasma of despair. Instead, I have learned, grown wiser, and hopefully learned how to be kinder, to both others and myself. Because I learned from my error, I re-calibrated and marched right back to the trails this week, determined to find the rails.

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I stepped over this metaphor of a stone partially encased in earth. This one is more about perspective, I think. This could be just the tip of a much larger stone. I think it works like that, and also like the glass half full… is the stone being swallowed by the earth, or escaping? Or maybe I don’t care, so long as I don’t trip over it as I walk along the path. And it didn’t trip me up.

It turns out, the rails were even easier to find than I had imagined. There was a path to my left, a path that was rocky as frak, and littered with coal. As I climbed up, I steadied myself with a nearby plant, and let out a huge exclamation of “FUCK!” when I caught a look at the leaves, which were quite suspect for poison ivy. I looked a little closer and decided it had to be a young box elder, whose leaves are quite easily mistaken for poison ivy. Still, I was extra cautious from there on out, thinking it would be super lame to break out in a rash, being in possession of a botany degree and just generally knowing better.

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Once I was up on the tracks, I thought, “Well, this is pretty cool.” But honestly? The search for the tracks was more fun than actually finding them. I saw trees that had fallen over and crashed into other trees. There were trail joggers and folks with dogs not on leashes. Three of the unleashed dogs ran past me at one point, almost scaring the pee out of me. I also found a bench in a rather peaceful clearing, and I will probably return to that spot to chill and write some words someday soon.

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Once I was up on the tracks, I saw a lizard sunning itself. It let me get pretty close to take pics, which was cool. And it must have some damn good hunting grounds up there, from the size of it. After looking around for a bit longer, I decided that the trails themselves were a bit more fascinating than the abandoned rails, so I scooted down the path I had climbed up, getting coal dust all over myself.

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I got a new camera lens this week, and so I took it out into the trails with me, to see if I like it better than the one that came with the camera. This lens essentially turns my camera into a light-weight point and shoot, which is nice. It also gets some mighty nice details. I still want something with some zoom to it, so that is next on my list of things I am saving up for.

One of the things I have noticed when I choose to go right instead of left, or vice versa, is that I often pick the less traveled road, like some total dork who is super into Robert Frost poetry. The thing about the road less traveled is that while walking down it, you will break a lot more spider webs with your face than if you had chosen the other road. So all I am really saying here is you should be ready for that.

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I want to close this with these two photos, which I took last week in the “Garden of Old Trolls.” Or it might have actually been earlier in May that I took them. The roses were just getting around to telling their stories. A lot of the focus of my current writing project has been on this small stretch of land. Walking through the trails has pushed those ideas along a bit. But nothing has pushed them along like getting out into the world and watching my friend play music. It’s kinda weird of me, I guess, and might even seem weirder still to this friend, who is a pretty new friend. I have been spinning my wheels for a short spell now, and it feels awesome to finally be getting some traction. And I can’t honestly say what for sure has given me the push I needed, other than it is probably a combination of things, not the least of which is that I was ready to be nudged along towards some new discovery.

Half a Year in Blues

May 17, 2014

It has been almost six months since I dyed my hair blue. As it has grown back out, I have kept it cut short, freshened up the color every so often, and enjoyed being a chameleon. Right now, there is probably more brown than funky color showing, and I’ve re-dyed some of the blue to a deeper intensity, and all the rest, dyed purple over what remained of blue. I like to call whatever is going on now with my hair “blurple.”

Being blurple isn’t a lot different from being blue. I still get hit on by folks I am buying stuff from – hey there, two different dudes at two different bread stores. Most of the time, I forget my hair is any kind of weird color. I go to the park, and people look at me sideways, or smile and say “good morning” or whatever. The sideways glances trigger the reminder my hair is blue more than anything. And the polite folks always just make me smile and say “good morning” back because apparently friendliness is in my nature. Except when Team Introvert takes over.

Friday night, I was feeling stir-crazy and hormonal, so I went to see a coworker play some music on the outskirts of this really cool market I totally need to revisit sometime when it is actually open (and dang, I cannot believe I have never gone there before). Team Introvert held dominion over my actions, and so I just sat and listened, observed and wrote. And I wrote some pretty damn important things, all about cleaning up the chaos in my writing life, and setting up some structure on the projects I want to finish. Once I was satisfied with my organization in my notebook, I sat back in my seat a bit and looked up at the sky. Watching the clouds pass by overhead and not worrying about a damn thing while a two-man band played in the background was entirely peaceful and felt like exactly what I didn’t know I needed. And at that moment, nothing could break that feeling of serenity, except, in my head, one thing: engaging the other humans in conversation.

blueskies
This was my view for most of the performance. For awhile, there was a cat sitting in the window of a building just outside the right side of the shot. It looked like it was listening to the music, and it also looked a lot like my departed cat, Baron von Stinkerton. It cracked me up the way it just sat there, looking down at everything, most likely more interested in the birds that were hoping the humans would drop some food, than anything else.

And then, like a total dick, I left when the music stopped, instead of even saying hello to my work friend or telling him they sounded good (and they did, really nice ambiance). Selfish in my peaceful frame of mind, I returned home, sat for awhile in contemplation on my attempt at organizing my writing life. At the very least, I did end up messaging my friend to say the music sounded good, even though in retrospect, I should have just said so in person. Duh. Selfish writer brain. Seriously, it knows damn well that interacting with others helps spark ideas.

And then, back at home, I fell asleep with my clothes on, which was weird, but thankfully I had taken my bra off because that would have been a world of ouch to wake up to. It was comfy, too, because the weather took a chilly turn this week and it’s like we’re having an actual spring this year. So when I woke up, I bundled up and went to the park, this time remembering my hiking boots, and that if I parked at the bottom of the hill, that meant the hard climbing part of my hike would be first. So there was this:
naturetrail

And then I climbed up a massive hill when I should have gone sideways and up a little more gradually, and I ended up leaving the trails before I was ready to. I’d gone to find interesting nature bits for my sculpture class that started a few weeks ago. So I wandered through the park a little more slowly than usual. And then I sat down next to some flowers and took a selfie. Likeso:blurplehair
That’s me in the “Garden of Old Trolls,” beginning to wonder if it was going to rain.

I wandered around the grounds a bit more, found some nice acorn caps and a pinecone, and I pocketed them. There were tons of photographers in the park this morning, taking family photos and/or photos of kids. I was going to go check out the view of the sky from the top of the pavilion, but I was getting weary of the crowds, so I bailed. It began to rain as I headed to a plaza in search of Second Breakfast, and by the time I got done running errands, the rain had stopped. The air smelled rich and fresh of petrichor.

I went home to finish packing up some things that needed to go out in the post. I sat my acorns and pinecone on the floor and watched my orange cat bat them all to various corners of the apartment. I still haven’t found at least one of the acorn caps. And then I proceeded to fritter away most of the day lazily, getting a few chores done here and there. All the while, in the back of my mind, this writing that I am trying to push to the forefront. I am going to figure out how to focus my energies into that. And, since this post has deteriorated into a ramble, I’m gonna take this full circle, and do this thing while my hair is bright blurple.

In reading back through this a bit, I think the key point I figured out on Friday night when I was just sitting back and relaxing was how important the act of relaxation is. Just letting go for a little bit, sending worry off packing, was such a hugely positive moment. In the instance, where nothing else mattered, where I turned off my overactive imagination and just observed without comment, a glimpse at the sky a selfish act not to be shared with anyone… I feel like I am breaking free from whatever I have been letting hold me back.