I’m so close to saying what I want to…and can’t.
I’ve cut sentences and put them back.
Started new paragraphs and deleted them.
This is the piece I want to be perfect. The one I pitch…and actually get a yes to.
I can hear everyone saying “NOT ALL STRAIGHT people!”
I can hear the “but it’s not the same as racism.”
I can hear everyone tell me how progressive America is. I can hear the way Ellen Degeneres will be brought up.
I already want to say fuck it and I haven’t tried.
I worry about how this works.Inspiration.
Six am I was roused by a feeling of restlessness that led me right to my office. I wish I could say I had an idea but this is never how this works. Not a thought, just a feeling; go. Make.
Each time it happens, I sit and touch the beads, savoring their textures, their shapes, their temperatures. Gemstones are always the coldest. I have smooth, round ones that I roll around in my palms until they’re warm, rough one that look and feel like they were just ripped from a cave wall. Bone and horn warm up to your touch the fastest. I like the weight of bone in my hand, the weight it gives the pieces I make with it. Horn feels like plastic. I’d hate it if it wasn’t so beautiful…and resilient. You can put a flame to horn and it doesn’t burn or warp. I find that…amazing. Natural materials, I prefer them to all else. Man cannot outdo Mother Nature.
I think thoughts like this until a particular bead stays in my hand. I’ve tried to pick them before, to force this- it doesn’t work. I never like what I make when I try to force a design and on the rare occasions I sort of do, my customers don’t.
I have a bag of these failed designs. I methodically take them apart so I can use the materials again. Nothing gets wasted here. I have bullets, furniture parts, keys, and broken vintage jewelry that i will one day make into something else. In their own time.
It must come naturally.
In the moment it’s beautiful. A peace settles over me as I begin to pair, discard, pair again materials and findings, creating something where there was just potential. This is art, I know. Some people say making jewelry isn’t but it’s the ones that don’t know how the parts fit together. They are the ones who do not see or appreciate detail and small beauty. They don’t know about the liver-of-sulfur and the soldering and the wire wrapping. They don’t know about the patterns and the attention to color,the pairings or the revisions.
They don’t know about the six am wake ups by some muse. There are few things concerning beauty that cannot become art. And I enjoy them all.
It’s how it works that worries me. I spent my day in my office, happily. I didn’t speak to anyone until noon and didn’t speak again for another four hours. I rarely moved from my seat, discovering what could work and what didn’t. I live for these days but I want to learn how to pick them.
For now I just wait for that feeling that whispers, go.
by Lesli- Ann Lewis
We are women -
and not parts
that you may delve into
The only reason I’m even writing today is because of this challenge. Despite my best efforts, today didn’t go as planned. Still being accountable to this community has forced me to sit down and write.
So what do I even hope to accomplish with writing at least 5 minutes a day?
- to become a writer worth reading
- to lay out the things I’ve kept hidden so I can better understand them.
- to come to terms with all parts of myself
- to be published.
Of all the things on this list, the last is the one that makes me most uncomfortable. I feel so tacky, so self serving somehow to actually want to be paid to write and to have people read my words. Someone called my post on coming out “one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking things” she’d ever read. I felt so guilty for the flush of pride and happiness I felt reading those words. I don’t know why I can’t shake that feeling. Does anyone else struggle with this? What is this?
#Write2014 Day 7
Today I’ve been editing and building a piece that I’d like to get published eventually so no sharing today. So instead I’m sharing some mood music for anyone else working on an emotional piece today.
Hang in there!
The beginnings of something more:
This is ‘coming out’
I don’t know these streets. It’s nine at night and I didn’t plan things right so I’m on the very last bus. I’ll have to take a cab after this. All day, every day since I moved, I’ve been trying to hold onto the hope that this could be some great adventure filled with art and new dreams but right now it’s just cold. And I don’t know where I am really or how to get home. I look out at the skyline and wonder what these strange streets will look like on New Years Eve and the first tear comes. After that they come fast and hurried.
I can’t stop the tears. Not even when I saw a tired passenger do a double take. I would feel shame normally but there isn’t any room for it in my hollowed out chest.
Alone on Christmas. Without my family on New Years Eve and weeks away from my birthday, I don’t think that will change. “I hope he kills you tonight when he finds out.” Moved is such a novel way to put it. Ran is more like it.
In the cab, my breathing becomes labored. When he says he doesn’t take debit card, tears become gulping sobs. It’s a reminder of where I am and how little time I had to plan for this I cry so hard he tries to console me.
I know whenever someone congratulates me on coming out, on being brave and courageous I’ll remember this ; wishing so hard for a closet and my mother a cabbie started to pray for me on a night I couldn’t pay him. This is coming out.
(I’ve decided to use the real names of the guilty. Because 15+ years later, this still hurts. 15+ years later, I don’t forgive them.)
She was nondescript. Plain. I can’t remember anything about her other than her eyes.
Her face doesn’t matter I suppose.
It’s more about how she stiffened and glared, how that plain, nut-brown face transformed when two little girls told her how a group of boys tried to hold them down. Her particulars don’t matter, I suppose because she represents a legion of women and men.
In my life she was rape culture itself. Like any demon, it needs a conduit.
Y. barely got out why we wanted to see the principal before she interuppted her. “Y., don’t think I don’t know you’e a trouble maker. “
Y. had just been suspended for punching the very boy who tried to pin her down today. He’d underestimated her the first time he tried to feel beneath her skirt. He was older than both of us but Y. was vicious. He touched her butt and got a black eye for his trouble. The next time, that day he made sure to enlist help. That day I decided we would too. Real help, not our teacher, a friend of his grandmother’s but the principal.
I tried to interupt her. I wish I remembered her name now, because I’m sure I said it then, as polite as I was.
"You don’t understaind. It’s Albert, again. He keeps bothering her and today he and Lincoln-"
"Albert, Mrs. Martin’s grandson?"
Her face told me now I was in trouble, too. Mrs. Martin was the fifth grade teacher at our school for over 20 years, a fact we were reminded of that day.
I tried to explain anyway. I don’t remember how far I got exactly when her eyes narrowed again.
"Didn’t your mother just start teaching here?"
I was young but even then I understood the implication. This job had been hard won for my mother, a recent immigrant. Before this principal had called her back, my parents had been fighting in hushed tones about her setting her sights even lower,taking anything to keep the heat on.
I shut my mouth.
Not just that day but every day after. We both did.
We learned to lie to get out of recess, to never wear our uniform skirts after school.
And many years later when no precaution kept me safe, I realized I’d learn to question my own role. I’d learned help wouldn’t come.
It’s strange how much she’s crossed my mind lately, how much it bothers me I can’t really remember her face or name. Today is the first time I’ve wondered about her, tried to really imagine her.
Did she have sons? Daughters?
Did she ever think of the things she said to us? How she called us fast and said we’d probably been playing nasty with the boys for attention? I wonder how she could have said that to 9 year olds about boys who were so much older.
"You don’t get to cry in here when it’s gone too far," she said before turning us out. Did she feel anything when Y. began to cry loudly then?
I wish I could tell her how those came back to me when my crush became my rapist. We’d talked about sex. We’d planned on it, even scheduled to get tested together and then he decided he couldn’t wait. I remembered those exact words after.
I remembered that secretary looking at two young girls with fat, ribboned braids and told them, they somehow deserved it. How could I, then, at 26 be innocent?
Today was the first time I wondered if someone told her that. What man, what woman had taught her all boys were predators that must be tiptoed around? Was she repeating words she’d heard when she came asking for help?
Maybe she felt guilt when we walked out. Maybe she had to take a moment before she got back to work because she felt uneasy. I want to think that she went home and paused over her dinner. That she decided to have a glass of wine because she remembered our faces and felt sick.
In this scenario, she’s human and pauses in her prayers wondering if she should ask for forgiveness for herself or the boys. I know it’s more likely she prayed that we’d be forgiven for tempting the boys with our existence.
I wonder if she knows the way she’d changed me, how she left an indelible mark. And that’s funny in a sad way, isn’t it? I cannot even remember her face.
Only posting an excerpt today. It’s one of those days where nothing comes easy and you don’t like anything you wrote. This is the best of the worst:
If she was being unkind she could call him insidious. He lived in every part of her now. She wanted to be unkind to him often. She hadn’t meant to think of him always but he didn’t give her much choice really. The half finished conversations, the moments they weren’t supposed to have…they were like sweets she used to steal as a child. She’d slip them into her mouth quickly and when she wanted to remember the flavor she’d touch the wrappers in her pocket. With him she rolled his words over in her mind hearing and tasting them over again…
Not sure where this will go but I think I’ll work on this again tomorrow.
There is a long, sad, and complicated history of white women being active participants in the (ongoing) colonization and exploitation of Black and brown women the world over…We see this history come out to play when mainstream feminism shuns Black celebrities for the very things they laud their White peers for.
The fact is, Rihanna doesn’t get dubbed as a feminist icon for the very same reasons her white peers do: the black female body is deemed as overtly sexual. So much so Miley Cyrus can derive a sexual identity just by associating with Blackness and Lily Allen can make a critique of hyper sexuality on our backs. Rihanna being Black and female must work from proving she isn’t just a sex object…Read the whole thing here
It seems this challenge was just what I needed to explore some of the things I’ve been stuffing deep down. I won’t be posting yesterday’s or today’s writing so I thought I’d share a piece I wrote a while back instead. This blog, is after all, a place where I want to gather all my writing together anyhow.
They’ll be in the next posts.
I’m participating in the Twitter challenge #write2014 and set my timer to 30 minutes today. I tried to finish an article I was working on but that didn’t work so I free balled it instead. Here it is:
I have the attention span of a squirrel now. This is so shameful. I am 26 years old and I cannot sit and write without wanting to check my phone, Facebook (Twitter is off limits since they know what I’m supposed to be doing. DAMMIT) eat, clean…CLEAN! I want to clean my damn near spotless apartment that I cleaned yesterday because I’ve sat down to write. Well, my office isn’t spotless. I’m still trying to figure out how to arrange it so there are still boxes and Christmas gifts etc that I need to organize. I’ve been avoiding this task since I moved in a month ago. I’ve made some progress but usually I just pretend my organization isn’t fucked. But now? I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DO IT RIGHT THIS MOMENT, OMG,OMG HOW CAN I JUST LEAVE THINGS THIS WAY??
I’m scared of writing.
What if nobody likes it? What if I’m not as good as I think I am? What if the one secret dream, the one thing I thought I was always supposed to be but bills got in the way …isn’t for me? Then what?
I don’t know.
Checked a text message.
Waiting for that rising tide of fear to crash against my distractions. They’re the wall that keeps me from drowning. Sitting down to write feels like drowning now.
I’ve been working on a piece about my coming out. I cried for hours last time. I don’t want to go there again. I miss people who don’t love me enough to love who I am. That sucks. I don’t want to detail just how much that sucks, I’m afraid I’ll fall apart in the face of it.
Remember your first heartbreak? The one where you thought your heart may have actually, really broken somehow? And when you passed out crying and woke up the next day, you didn’t understand how the pain didn’t kill you? Imagine that, multiple times, at once. Imagine your heart breaking, imagine that hole in your chest, imagine wanting to call someone, anyone about it and you can’t…because almost everyone in your life is responsible for this hole. That is what I’m trying to keep at bay.
Time isn’t up. HOW IS TIME NOT UP?
Ok. Maybe I should move onto why I’m doing this since it seems like torture. It wasn’t supposed to be torture. I’ve committed myself to #Write2014 because I’ve always written. I won awards at every school I’ve been to for it (which is a lot, we used to move fairly frequently) , I was published in a state literary mag and I was asked to do a speech in front of thousands of people and our state legislators- I will definitely post it one day. Shortly after I wrote something on Dave Chappelle that went viral. But you know what happens between these outward confirmations that I may actually be good at this? The fear. I stop. I journal or I write things and I keep them to myself.
It’s hubris, I tell myself, to think I have something worth other people’s time. The height of arrogance. So I write and hide. Or write and destroy. Or do any, everything else. Still the desire to share, to make this a profession doesn’t go away. I’m tired of warring with myself over it. I have to try. I have to do it and just fail if I have to.
The strange thing about this rift with my family is that, it’s confirmed that I can live without so many things I thought I’d need. I miss my mother every day, I fight tears over this everyday and I lose that fight more often than I want to admit. My heart shattered in so many ways and I have shrapnel in my blood. But I’m not dead. So I could live with a failure as well, right? If I commit to writing and I don’t get any better, if nobody wants to publish me, it’s another small tragedy I can survive.
Times up. Half hour. I did it…ya, bish.
This blog was previously something else, a collection of whatever I saw when I logged onto Tumblr, whatever caught my attention.
I’m giving it purpose now. This is where I will hold myself accountable for the things I want.
I want to write. I want a more creative life, full of art and learning. I’m in a completely new city with so many opportunities that I have felt frozen in the glare of them all. That period must end.
I will do the things I am afraid of, write the things I don’t want to admit and finally, finally stop holding myself hostage for fear of my parents’ disapproval. That, that is an excuse I no longer have.
It starts here.