Friday, December 06, 2019

snapshots | december


I start kindegarten and learn to read.  Kindegarten tastes like graham crackers and milk in cartons. My mother chooses my dresses meticulously and matches them with tights.  I get chicken pocks during the Christmas party at school and am bitter I didn't get to celebrate with paper chains and stockings sticky with glitter and cotton balls.  I am pretty sure my favorite song is about a sad Christmas tree, which I make my mother play over and over on vinyl while I cry in the middle of the room.  


I'm 10 and in my first semester at a new school.  I immediately befriend another, older girl in my neighborhood.  We go to her house after school, where we drink regular soda and strange things like butter & sugar sandwiches every day while we watch Nickelodeon.  Her mom has a VW Rabbit and takes us to the Minute Man to buy jelly bracelets in mass quantities. . She has a rainbow bedspread and knows how to put on eyeliner, and I'm sad the next year when she goes to junior high and mean-girl-like ceases to be my friend. At school we have Colonial Day, where we make sad rendition of bread from yeast and churn our own butter.  I am still in my Rick Springfield phase, and spend most of my time at home playing children's things with my sister & cousins, or zoned out in my room with my walkman.  That year, .I stop wearing skirts, which up til then had been my favorite, mostly becuase the boys like to pull them up and they attract too much attention. 


I am a high school sophomore who is extraordinarily smug about my ability to knock out the 5 paragraph essay every English teacher dreams about.  I'm really into listening to Bon Jovi and assorted 80's hair bands--Def Leppard, Skid Row, Warrant--in an attempt to distinguish myself from the musical tastes of my friends (and me a year before) which mostly consists of Paula Abdul and Belinda Carlisle. I like mostly jeans, sweaters, and faux white Keds, laundered weekly in the washing machine.  I still french cuff my jeans & fight with my mother a lot. I remember movies and sleepovers with friends, but mostly we played board games and drank  a lot of Mountain Dew. Mostly I think of these years as a sort of restless limbo which I hoped would be abated by getting my driver's license the following summer and some false sense of freedom I imagined it entailed.


I'm in my second year at college, just beginning to work in the theater department and taking some demanding lit classes.  I wear a lot of black clothing as such, and spend my time listening to Tori Amos on repeat and re-reading The Bell Jar and Plath's letters in some attempt to guide my path as a writer.  (Basically, this describes every 20 year old English major in the history of the world.)  I live with my parent's who I see rather infrequently given our schedules, but I am mostly in rehearsals or the library between classes.  I also keep rather late nights in front of the sole tv after my parents go to bed watching a lot of randomness and working on poems propped between the coffee table and the front of couch. 


I'm 25 and just out of grad school and into my first real job at an elementary school library.  It has ridiculously early hours and startlingly low pay, but I weirdly love story hours and preparing bulletin boards and displays even still.  It's stressful and exhausting, and paid so little I still had to live with my parents, but it eventually gave me the requisite experience to land the job I still have today. I still wear a lot of black and gray sweaters and jeans or long skirts with boots or chunky shoes, as per 90's guidelines. My musical tastes were still rolling amidst girls with guitars and 90's bands from the years prior. A year later, I would be back in Chicago. 


These are the years that blend together.  I know I am in grad school (again, this time the MFA.) and working on the errata poems.  I'm pretty sure my 1st book fever was running high that fall, so there is a lot of compiling and sorting and sending to contests..  I had also just begun the adventure that is dancing girl press with an earlier chap of mine and our first official release that November.  Because I won a decent sized local award in the spring, I'm doing a lot of readings and beginning to get comfortable in the poetry world a couple years into publishing regularly and sending out work.  I am also just beginning to delve into the visual art, and mostly making rudimentary collages in secret.  I'm about 2 years into a relationship that mostly consisted of occasional visits due to distance and torrid, saucy e-mails back and forth in the interim. I am still wearing black sweaters and long skirts with boots. I listen to a lot of Damien Rice and (still) Tori Amos and don't have a computer at home for another year.  I read a lot more then, mostly fiction, and still work at the library, though I couldn't really tell you what I was doing in those years besides occasional paperwork and talking to a friend who worked in ILL. 


The etsy shop is in full-swing, so mostly I am exhausted making and stocking stuff for that & packing orders in the studio, which I'd moved into a couple years prior. My efforts are pulled in various directions--books, art, jewlery, soap & bath stuff, and I was making good money, but also feeling like I wasn't able to devote the energies to the things I needed to.  I was barely writing--a poem or two every couple of months, and was still in a weird post-MFA paralysis where it felt like too many fingers had been in my poems.  I am in a relationship with someone I shouldn't have been, and it's high drama and angry e-mails with his wife, and super good when it's good, but horrible when it's bad. . Because I had a hard time connecting to anyone else as well in those years, I try to hold onto it, but it keeps cracking up. Later I write a bunch of poems about it and chalk it up to my misguided 30-something doings.


Mostly what I remember about this year culminates a in bad pinched nerve situation in late fall that leaves me bedridden for a couple weeks.  I deal with the scaredness and depression by binge watching holiday romance movies and buying too many coats online. When I return to work, I can still barely walk or stand for long until into January. The year until then had been good--a nice summer, new kittens, pretty dresses.  But fall also brought the end of 4 year on & off relationship with someone much younger due to him moving to another city. I am really completely wholly single for the first time in years and it's weird, but also kind of nice.  I lie in bed and work on proofs for major characters in minor films, which will be out the following February. Musically,  I listen to a lot Lana Del Ray. 


Yesterday, I think again about how nice it is to be able to work on books at home and how much less stressed I feel since giving up the studio space   I am overloaded at the library, and we are vastly understaffed  , but I feel the things I have to do are mostly good things--exhibits and planning and such.  At home, I plot out a few Christmas decorations and weekend plans to watch horrible christmas movies.  Earlier this week, I send off the manuscript for book no. 9. I find myself weirdly in a stable, even healthy, relationship with someone who seems to suit me exceptionally well for the past 4 years. I mostly still wear dresses, and they're not at all black all the time, but only sometimes.  I find myself listening to a lot of country music, new and old, and am much less self-conscious about this fact. I determined 2020 will be the year I give up allowing mental real estate to people who are assholes.   


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