Checking in with you here at the half way mark of what has become an semi-annual thing – I spend a month twice a year blogging every day. Some years I make it, some years I don’t, but I always value the fruits of the attempt.
It’s been a bit hard to wrangle my time properly with all that’s going on. Some things are slipping off the radar – like the poeming, like the housework, like the self-care – because these posts do take quite a while to compose, and I tend not to write ‘lightly’ most of the time. I’m a digger. I like to excavate. It’s my jam.
That being said, today *requires* quick and light. I spent the last four days procrastinating on a bunch of stuff that’s very ‘eat the frog’ gnarly. Writing I have to do for a thing (it’s an interview. Believe it or not, I hate writing about myself. I find it irksome, but it’s good exposure, so I say yes to these things. Otherwise how is anybody new ever going to find me?), two bedside tables to put together, a kitchen that needs a deep clean, some laundry. I have to film a thing for a thing, too, rather urgently, actually, and in the midst of all that, I have a dinner guest tonight (my kid, but still – a dinner guest means I have to actually *gasp* make dinner instead of just grabbing a hunk of cheese to gnaw on when my blood sugar starts to tank) and I’m five or six poems behind, too.
In the interest of self-care, though, I’m going to start my day with a long shower, which feels a little bit indulgent given the size of this list. If I *don’t* start with a shower, though, the shower will have to wait until tomorrow, and that is what we call ‘putting ourselves last’ and that will not do.
I did art for me throughout the weekend (instead of tackling the whole eating the frog thing), so we’re going to call that a win, even if it did put me way behind on other things.
I wish I could tell you that all is peaceful with me, but I’m pretty stormy, and feeling all kinds of feels that I can’t even get into. I’m definitely *okay*. Fine, even. Just working through some uncomfortable things that I wish I could just slay like I slay my list every day. Some things need integrating, though, not slaying, so I’m doing the work as best I know how, gently, steadfastly, with my eye on the prize, which I’m hoping is some kind of sense of solid ground.
But first, a shower, because that will invigorate and motivate me, and there’s nothing like squeaky clean hair and a freshly scrubbed body to set the tone for the day.
This is from the archives, because Sunday is for silence.
Acts of love are important to me. Saying “I love you” is important, too, but it’s not enough. You can say you love someone ’till the cows come home but it’s the acts of love that really communicate it.
I once dated this guy who said he loved me all the time, but he couldn’t be bothered to clean his room before I arrived at his house (and it was a long-ish trip to get there) or have cream or even food in the house for my visits. While I was initially very excited about my relationship with this guy, my excitement wore off after realizing that this guy knew how to say the words, but he didn’t know how to actually *do* it. Love, I mean. To him, love was a feeling he had and that’s where it ended.
Love can start as a feeling or a collection of feelings, but it’s my understanding that those fuzzy feelings are chemically induced. Our brains create those feelings within us, and as intense as they can be, they can fade as quickly as they come on. Once those chemicals are flushed from our systems by reality, that feeling has to be maintained. It has to be nurtured. Acts of love are the fuel for that feeling. Maintaining it requires effort.
The thing is, though, that when you really enjoy and appreciate someone, doing little things that communicate caring comes easily – at least it does for me.
This isn’t limited to romantic relationships, either. Friendships require the same maintenance – remembering birthdays, little ‘for no reason’ gifts, babysitting and bringing chicken soup when flu hits the household. These acts of love are how we grow all our love relationships from little seedlings of potential to mature oak-strong relationships.
This is on my mind today because I am really pretty good at acts of love. They come naturally to me, probably because I crave the kind of love that can be sustained beyond the chemical flush – the mature “I’ve seen you puke, I’ve wiped your nose, You fart in front of me and I still want to hang out with you” kind of love. I believe in that kind of love over the initial rush kind that, while it is a great ‘fire starter’, will die without kindling, tending, stoking…
I have that kind of love. It may not have a label or a configuration that other people would recognize, but it exists, and I believe in it. Whatever happens to the framework, the foundation of this mature, in the trenches kind of love exists, and that gives me a metric butt tonne of hope.
I. My clothes are all in dresser drawers now, and that makes me feel so ADULTY. Before the ol’ switcheroo, I had everything on a little shelving unit, so my things were always all over the place, and my little rascal girl, Salem would help herself to things, like my underwear or socks, to chew and cuddle. Not ideal. Everything in the drawers = awesome.
II. I have a linen chest sitting at the foot of my bed now, too, so I can store sheets and blankets somewhere other than shoved into the linen closet wherever there might be room. It also serves as a great place to sit and meditate in the evenings, since the top is cushioned. Sybil the cat is a little annoyed because I used to have this chest up against the radiator in the living room, and was her perch, but she’ll live.
III. Thursday’s therapy session included some annoyance. My therapist was all ‘I’d like you to be more okay with needing people’ (I’m paraphrasing – she’s far more articulate than that), and I was like FUCK NO NO DO NOT WANT. I want to be resilient. I want to take care of *myself*. I am totally fine with being ‘wanty’. I am not okay with being needy. I told her all this, and I did not do anything to hide my annoyance. <—-What? When she asked me who or what I was annoyed with, I said “YOU, Leanne. I’m annoyed with YOU.”
She laughed, and said “Good. I’d be annoyed, too.”
We uncovered some of why, which made me cry fat tears of grief for the child I was who was legitimately not allowed to need anyone or anything. There’s a story I could tell you about being sick with a stomach flu and being so painfully aware of what an inconvenience I was. I was just a little girl – five? Six? Vomiting my guts up, blinking back tears, and saying “SEE MOMMY? I DIDN’T EVEN CRY!”
My fucking heart aches for that little girl, y’all.
ANYWAY. *Waves her hands furiously like she does when feels get feely*
At the end of the session she THANKED ME FOR TRUSTING HER ENOUGH TO GET ANNOYED WITH HER. <—–What?
Later, my boyfriend was being playful with me, but I was a raw nerve, and his banter was hurting my feelings. I said “I’m really sensitive right now, but rather than ask you to be mindful of that, I’m going to wander off for the night.”
He said “No. Ask me to be mindful.”
And for the rest of the night, he was the loveliest, tenderest, sweetest…because I needed him to be, and he doesn’t mind when I need things.
IV. THIS FUCKING SONG
You all know how much I love LP, but Noah Cyrus is new to me. This song MAKES ME CRY, my loves. It makes me feel all my feelings about love and loss and devotion and lack thereof.
Mostly, though, it’s just a true story about how I’ll take the punches for you, because, yes. That.
“Gentle” mixed media on paper
V. Whenever I tell him I miss him, I am always a little bit afraid that he finds it annoying. Because, my ex found/finds the whole ‘missing people’ thing problematic. Missing = needing and he doesn’t need anybody, and if I miss him, that makes me needy and that is also problematic…at least, that’s how it was when we were together. I don’t know where he lands now because I have long since stopped asking him if he misses me/telling him that I miss him. Who needs that constant sense of rejection? Not this girl. Not anymore.
I recognized this in myself last night when I was missing my love *savagely* and found myself hesitant to say it. Picture this girl, sitting with her hands poised over the keyboard, the sense of longing overwhelming, the words wanting to arise so that they could leave my body and give me some peace, however temporary. Picture this girl, going over all the million ways a person might respond to hearing that they’re missed, and feeling all the wobbles over such a human, tender thing…
I said it anyway.
Weekends without you suck, love. Fuck weekends without you.
He agrees, because of course he does. He misses me, too.
VI. Savage longing is really good for poets, but not so good for humans with trauma. Any strong emotion that arises within me comes with a trauma response. I want to *not feel these things* because feeling these things is fucking scary. But I’m leaning in. Letting it all arise. Working with it like I teach in Moonshine – being with it as though it matters (because it does). Taking it to my meatspace people if I need a witness. Writing it out. Arting it out. Letting it flow into poems.
VII. I had a good cry last night before sleep. I lit my Himalayan salt lamps (they take tea lights), sprayed the room with a purifying essential oil blend, listened to a sad song on repeat, and just let it flow. I *needed* it, needed the release, needed to be with myself in the sadness, in the longing, needed to let it be okay not to be okay for a little minute there.So I ritualized it. I made it magic. I gave my tears to the moon, and let her take them.
I have come a very long way since the days when I used to punch my therapist’s couch if the tears started to rise. I was all resistance to feeling anything that could be perceived as ‘difficult’ – or at least, I was resistant to expressing it. I’m getting softer with myself. I’m letting myself feel things. Sad, lonely, frustrated, annoyed, angry…it’s all (she says, begrudgingly) welcome. All of it.
VIII.I am learning how to wrap my arms around myself and love myself through every storm. I’m learning how to let other people wrap their arms around me and love me, too.
IX. I am so goddamned human, y’all. So. tenderly. human. In my next life, I’d like to be a robot.
I spent yesterday and today moving my bedroom to my studio and my studio to my bedroom. I wanted a larger space to ‘bedroom’ in, and a smaller, less ‘full of shit I’ll never use’ space to work in, so I made it happen.
My son, James, has been just epic. I called him yesterday mid-move when I lost my vision and couldn’t figure out how to make it all work. I cried a little bit, I am not ashamed to admit, and said PLEASE COME HELP ME. And he did, because he is amazeballs.
He was in charge of carting shit down three flights of stairs to the bin. We filled half of it yesterday, and will top it off today.
I am super happy with what I’ve done.
I am QUANKED, though, so I’m going to go shower for a solid hour, and then do nothing for 48.
I. Speaking of grackles, I was out with Crow last night, and I caught sight of a tree full of them while we were on our way into the restaurant. Of course, as soon as I took out my camera, a bunch of them flew off, but this one bad ass rusty door hinge stuck around in this perfectly crooked tree.
II. I had a hard wobble last night just before sleep, wondering about things I really shouldn’t really be wondering about, and I *caught myself in the act*. Gently nudged myself back in the direction of ‘Oh hey, all is well. You are loved. All is as it should be.” And drifted peacefully to sleep. This is huge, so I wanted to note it.
III. I am a day behind in my poetry course, but I spent some time getting caught up yesterday to the tune of three poems, which reminded me of the old days, when all I did with my free time was poem. My brain was completely fried once I was done churning them out, but it was so good to just dig in and make something out of nothing but the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart.
I’ve been enjoying making poems so much that I enrolled for Sage’s next offering, which seems right up my alley. Ritual and poems? Yes please.
Maybe I’ll see you there? (I’m not an affiliate – just a huge Sage fan!).
IV. This is my favourite of the three poems I wrote yesterday:
It only happens
at new moon,
but I’ve seen you
pull up your roots
like stockings, lash them,
your withes like garters,
toss your hair,
and dance with the wind.
On calm days, you stand sedately, holding the tire swing while I fly,
and sometimes in height of summer,
your shoulders sag,
and your hair tumbles full of jewel-toned bottle blue beetles, head on fire with chattering birds.
You wept with me once
when I told you my secret,
covered my head against the rain,
rocked me gently while the wind blew,
said ‘Oh, my child, we do bend without breaking, but oh, my child,
we dance, too.”
V. I wrote this about poetry for my Facebook peeps because I didn’t want them freaking out if I wrote something heartbreaking (which I tend to do). I thought I’d put it here, too.
A note on poems: Most of my poetry is confessional, by which I mean that I craft many of them out of experiences I’ve had, but that doesn’t mean they are all ‘true stories’.
Sometimes the things I’m describing are imagined ways of expressing true things, and sometimes, the things I’m describing are things I wish would have happened, or dreamed happened. Sometimes, I am writing as a speaker that is wholly unfamiliar to me in order to better understand experiences I’ve *never had*.
Most people read poems as though the speaker in the poem is the poet herself, and that’s totally fine and makes perfect sense, but often the speaker in a poem is *not* actually the poet.
In one of the poems I wrote today, for example, the speaker in the poem (who you may have assumed was me, but was not) was someone watching someone have an experience very like an experience I myself, have had. So, not a ‘true story’, necessarily, but still a true poem.
In I’m Your Man, Leonard Cohen talks about his poem, Suzanne, and how it was a moment he had with the wife of a friend that morphed in his imagination into the poem we love today. She was never his lover, he was never hers. The Sisters Of Mercy, he goes on to tell us, were just sweet girls who let him crash. There was nothing erotic whatsoever about the encounter.
This is what poets do. We mine the moment for its treasure, and then we run with it. Strangers become lovers. Trees become mothers. Jesus becomes a sailor, and whatever else, we hope you find something you recognize in what we write.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter if you think the poem is a confession or not. The speaker in the poem (whoever is telling the story) is put there in whatever circumstance they are in in order to make you feel things, wonder about things, or understand things.
If a poem makes you do any of that, the poet has done her job.
VI. Here’s the poem I’m referring to wherein the ‘speaker’ is *not me*, but rather witnessing me in a moment from my past. It’s a bit tidied up since yesterday’s frantic scribbling.
Overhead In A Restaurant
She sat, her hand palm up, fingers curled like a question,
in case, for once,
by some miracle,
he might want to hold her hand.
I recognized the way
she wore her shoulders
around her ears, the way
she kept eyes down, her other hand in her lap
clenched into a quiet fist.
She didn’t see him recoil,
but I did, watched as his face
as it turned to stone, the way he drew his hands in, tucked them up
under arm pits, so that his whole body was a hand held up,
the word NO in block letters etched in the centre of the palm.
I held my breath as, in time,
she raised her face to his silence,
and drew her own hand in.
She unclenched her quiet fist, and reached for her wine.
I knew she’d never asked again.
VII. Therapy was cancelled today due to illness, so I used the time I would normally spend gearing up for it to get everything that was due out to my A Year Of Rumi students up and ready for them to enjoy. And it’s only 10 a.m., which means I have an entire extended weekend full of hours to enjoy exactly as I like. Unfortunately, my love is not around this weekend, so maybe ‘exactly’ is a strong word, but close enough. I’m going to feed my kid a Portuguese thing with meatballs, roasted peppers, and homemade chimmichurri sauce. We’ll probably play some dice. I’m going to paint A LOT and poem A LOT and maybe do some things around the house – like unpack the vacuum I bought that’s been sitting there in its box since last week some time. Heh.
IX. The thing with poeming is that living + reading poems = poems. If you want to poem, live as fully as you can, and read poems. Lots of them. They will come into you if you let them, and baby poems will pop out when you least expect it. Yes, I meant that to sound sexy. Poeming *is* sexy, as is anything creative.
X. And, finally, this poem for Mary Oliver, which is still a work in progress, but it’s getting there.
Who will sit beneath the alder now,
exchanging poems for air?
Who will watch the dappled trout
jump and snap at winged jewels?
Who will tromp in summer’s gloaming, and then at day’s end come in trailing flowers
to tell me what is real, and what’s less so,
how to save my own damned life?
You were the net
that kept me from drifting too far into the mist of the unobserved life, taught me how to see, and how to love it all, wildly.
You made enchantment
out of the ordinary berry, bird, bear,
and helped me do the same
out of coffee cups, cigarettes, dust motes,
and rumpled sheets,
my precious life made more so
because you named it.
And that’s me for today, my loves. I’ll see you tomorrow with more of the same.