Keep up

Some days are better than others, on both ends of my emotional spectrum. Things this week have been rough, fast and electric, tumbling blindly. My brain has run much faster than I’d like, and it’s always difficult to explain what that’s like when I’m in the middle of it. So here’s a moment of a LESSER manic cycle from about six months ago. In the last five days, I have eaten twice, slept five hours, and twice considered the number of stones required for my pockets. In all, amplify this flash tenfold, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of my life as only moderately manic. At least I’m not stuttering…

I’m pacing around the classroom, meeting the students’ needs, lecturing, answering questions, offering suggestions, but my mind is doing everything else at the same time. I am thinking:

  • Why isn’t that student reading?
  • I need to order my camping hammock. What color? Size? When can I use it? Where?
  • Check my phone–nothing.
  • What’s going on with my supportive significant other? Am I still significant? Was I ever? (I read the note stapled to my wall-“You mean a lot to me. Be okay.” What if I’m not? I read the other note-“It’s all good. I ain’t running off. It’s all good.” I breathe. Doesn’t help.)
  • I should be grading papers, but I’d rather write. I haven’t even submitted anything lately.
  • I worry about my sister. She’s dying, and I have no control over that.
  • I think about everyone I’ve ever loved who’s died. There are too many, too suddenly. I think about Wade.
  • Brings me back to the significant other. I hope he can stay. I love him. Too desperately.
  • I’m writing haikus in my head. They are horrible
  • Pockets full of stones/Promises of finality/Not waving, drowning
  • There are things to say/Whispers in the soft of night/Past the land of fears
  • Song of the Sirens/Eyes the blues of the seas/My heart is capsized
  • My haikus are shit/All they do is speak around/The Truth that is you
  • Yup. Really bad.
  • Did I take attendance?
  • Back to a runaway. Where can I go? When? Will I have to go alone? Probably. Do I want to? Nope.
  • I used to be more productive in this phase.
  • I need to make biscotti.
  • I’m having looping catastrophic thoughts.
  • I’m impressed. Therapy has taught me lots of words.
  • Knowledge is power. (Schoolhouse Rock music begins to play in my head.)
  • Christ. It’s only been five minutes.
  • Still nothing on my phone. Have I done something? Not done something? Shared too much? Been too crazy?
  • Breathe. Still doesn’t help.
  • Back to running away. Geography cure.
  • I need to sort these books.
  • This is exhausting.

And it is. Every time. And each time I know that what goes up, must come down. And that’s worse. I wait for it, afraid.

More lists

Those of you who have known me longest know I am a person of lists. Even when I didn’t write, the lists survived, anchoring my brain, buffering it against the turbulent sea of chaos it creates. Today is one of those days, so I’ve decided to do what I do best. To counter the part of my brain that tells me I’m useless, things are hopeless, and nothing changes, I offer up this list of things that are beautiful in my life to the god of tangibility:

  • Pens that write with purple ink
  • Uninhibited laughter
  • Words that resonate with truth
  • Sunshine
  • Thunderstorms
  • Breathing
  • Childish curiosity 
  • Earl grey with honey and milk
  • Purposeful tasks accomplished 
  • Kindnesses
  • Melancholy folk music
  • Jangling banjos
  • Pony tails
  • Legos
  • Completed puzzles
  • Someone wrapped around me as I sleep
  • Stillness
  • Hiking boots that are dirty
  • The cry of the love dogs of Rumi
  • Notifications
  • Nibbles and wine 
  • Protest music
  • Convertibles
  • Homemade lunches
  • Talk of the day over simple suppers
  • Listeners
  • Empathy 
  • Spontaneous adventures
  • Honesty
  • Flowers on my nightstand
  • Giggling slaps on the ass
  • Colored paper clips
  • Idealism
  • Knowing 
  • Not knowing 
  • Hugs from people who love me
  • Smarticle particles
  • A tender hand on my cheek
  • Rapid cycling

Best Things

So it’s finally summer. Traditionally in the summer, I try to cram a year’s worth of writing into a couple of months. As you can see from the horribly few posts here the last few years, that may not be the most productive plan. Having published a couple of things this year, which is really all I hope to do, I’m trying to change things up a bit this summer.

I’m going to have more fun.

I deserve it. It’s been a tough year. I’ve lost my remaining parent, ended a relationship, and survived the first year of a new job. And the universe is telling me it’s okay to relax.

I’ve picked up my guitar a lot more lately (one of not a few changes I’ve made for the better), and as I was plundering in my case for my capo yesterday morning, I found an old piece of paper. On it, aside from some really cheesy lyrics that prove I wasn’t meant to be a songwriter, was a list just titled “Best Things.”

I don’t have any idea when I wrote it. Based on the song lyrics, I’d guess more than twenty years ago. I used to be a list person, even when I wasn’t writing, so that seems to be the right time frame. Regardless, the items on that list are some I still consider to be the best things life has to offer. So here they are, in no particular order:

  • Laughing children
  • Sunshine
  • Tuned guitar strings
  • First kisses
  • Running through sprinklers
  • Lazy Saturday morning cuddles
  • Shared sunsets
  • Getting mail
  • Watching someone you love be happy
  • Talking without talking
  • Warm baths
  • Wind chimes

By no means is this a complete list. And, at this age, I’d make some notations. Like–the age at which you experience these does not diminish them; lack of money is not a barrier, but time can be; Saturday is arbitrary and cuddles are good any day; long, lingering kisses that make you feel wanted can even trump those first ones; or listening can be as essential as talking, when you do it right.

But the list isn’t really about a twenty year list. It’s about the reminder that the time can slip by without joy, if you’re not careful. That these small joys are not always easily come by and often taken for granted. That we are too often struggling so hard to survive that it crushes our ability to live. That we need to struggle against that as fiercely as we can.

So I am. Things are finally getting easier, and I’m going to take advantage of that, filling my life with all the Best Things out there. Join me.

Published in Lime Hawk

More good news! The piece on my lineage of crazy, “Places I Will Not Go,” has been published by Lime Hawk in the just-released Issue 8. Give it a read. I’m sure my dad and grandmother are glad they missed this one. Creative nonfiction is a slippery slope for those people who surround us.

PUBLISHED–Watershed Review

The issue of Watershed Review is live. Check out my piece “Nothing Was Out of Control” in the Nonfiction section here. Let me know what you think. If you like this one, check out my previously published pieces in Brevity, Flashquake, and the innovative interactive novel project The Silent History.

Help with the Next Things

For those of you who may become alarmed–The following is not grandiose thought. I need a little help.

So today, I got some great news. My piece on Wade, “Nothing Was Out of Control,” was accepted by Watershed Review. I’ve been shopping it out, so I’m happy it’s found a home, but I find myself afraid to let it go. Small sections of it were the first pieces I’d written in twenty years, and now the larger work, shaping up to be Bone on Bone: A Memoir of Love and Manic Depression, has had three sections published (Most notably “Everything Was Out of Control” in Brevity.). My big question, then, is what am I to do with the larger piece at this point?

I’m a teacher. I’m a mom. I’m a writer. I am not, thank the gods, an agent. But I’m thinking it may be time to look for one. So please, weigh in everyone. I need some help here. How can I begin to make this happen? To get the memoir out there in its intended form, fleshed and breathing instead of stunted? Which way should it go?

So to all of you who have made the move, what now?

Come on in; the water’s fine

Welcome, new bloggers! The new year brings new students, and, as in the past, those students will be creating and maintaining their first blogs. It always makes me happy to see their excitement and enthusiasm over their pages. This year the blogs are as diverse as the students, and they have already begun personalizing pages with graphics and interesting text. I’ll run the new blogroll here, so that we can all stay connected and easily maintain our new community.

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