Evidence and Glimpses

I had one of those nights last night where accidental late-in-the-day caffeine ingestion renders my body incapable of sleep no matter how relaxed my mind is. In this particular state, there is a weird, otherworldly kind of creative half-magic that can set in – ideas arise in a whirlpool, midnight cauldron, youtube video watching spree.

So at 2:45 am, after I had gotten up to make some pasta (trying to offset the caffeine with a good old fashioned carb nap) and eaten it, in this strange ethereal half-body half-dream state that I used to utilize during all-nighters on floor 9 of the Sciences Library with a 3-foot-square drawing board and charcoal all over my face because yes the sciences library is a reasonable place to do visual art assignments at midnight…anyway, in this mode, I started recording voice-to-text memos. Half-poems. Dreams of performances melding dance and spoken word, about my body, about the bridges it can’t, right now, yet cross. Reckonings and musings and messes and dalliances with absurd verb tense.

And then, I started reading all the memos that were already in the notes app. Two years+ of memos- grocery lists, notes to myself, pre-poems, texts I drafted because I was too worried to send them without an edit, or copies of texts I sent, so I wouldn’t forget.

There’s something so tender and tickling to me, something surprising, vulnerable, and unabashedly sharp, about this kind of accidental collection. A map that wasn’t meant to be a map. When I was painting I used to keep all the bright dried strips of paint that had scraped off my glass palette with a razor blade, and gesso them on to all the narrow strips of canvas I had ripped off to one side when building stretchers- not to be “artsy,” not to ever even show them to anyone, but because I couldn’t bear to let go of their raw beauty and failed edge. I like seeing the back end process, how the sausage gets made and what’s left over, the discarded, the negative space that shaped the things making its own shape in its own right. The cut outs. The weeds. The pottery shards. I like riding trains and seeing the backs of the yards, factories, houses, creek beds, landfills, ponds.

Here is a bit of what has collected in the lint trap of the notes app on my phone in the last year, a curation of the actuality of days, and other days, and other days (and all the days never noted). Not to be finished or exposed or special, but rather just to be a lens in, from the rattling tracks, a curiosity about the breadth and surprises and the odd dailiness of, well, days.

[CW] Brief non-graphic discussion of rape culture

MEMO POEMS (In chronological order beginning October 2015, which is when I finally got my first smartphone)

 

I. What We Build

utilities spreadsheet update
Car reg. Phone. Call E. Free held tix.
Futurity connected to longing. Not longing
FOR but longing as entity act practice state

What we build belies
what we believe is beautiful. R.E.
cars freeways walls separation etc

Hippos star are star real threeeeee
Narrative arachnid*

“Because we can, therefore we
should,” or “therefore we get to”- the
underlying story about limits that
underlies rape culture
AND ecological exploitation via
exponential growth including
technological
expansion

Speculative futures.

 

II. Lists for Listing

1727 Delaware

-layer pellets
-scratch
-all the hay
-flax
-kelp
-alfalfa pellets

Peanut but Sugar Oil Tea Cheddar Spices

Bbq pork buns
Shanghai soup dumplings pork
Vegetarian Dumpling

Pry bar
Wheelbarrow
shovels
Tarp

-perm design descrip price photo
-spreadsheet for poems
-practice poem
-art pieces plus packaging and values
-text friends!

http://www.32auctions.com/nodapl2016

Benajmon Cake
Cinnamon
Carrots…

 

III. How Are We Going to Get Through / How We Are Getting Through

Waki
ng
the tiger

Jon fahey

Coaching with C_for birthday

Humbly hearted / we won’t be divided [lyrics continue]

Truth is that I have almost completely laid down
my school work and projects/vocations
over the last month because what’s happening with
my body has demanded such primacy at almost
every moment. It would be a lie to say that
that’s not getting to me-
sometimes I feel like a ghost haunting
my own life but
not able really to contact it.

[Memo redacted except for the phrases:] It’s hard to look forward to anything right now. I miss dancing –
[four paragraphs reflecting on
life with unpredictable daily chronic pain]
I miss myself
[I am so tired of this]

2:30 tues PT
1:30 thurs PT

X, the soup crew

[Skipped]


Michaels craft store is the 9th circle of hell

Tension between proactivity and surrender.

 

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*I have NO idea what is going on here. If anyone who’s reading this has a memory or hint as to what these two lines are for, please weigh in. Or just a wild guess.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cross posted at http://www.racheleconomy.com and patreon.com/racheleconomy

 

 

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The Drive

January 6, 2018

Day 6 Blog Post

When I couldn’t take it anymore I would borrow the car and just drive.

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It was the only way to really leave at night, for one thing. Sprawl-city, old-train-town-turned-car-paradise. And I was too invested in being a good kid to go out the window behind my desk (g_d it would have been easy, first floor right out into the backyard, down the path behind the backs of the houses, through the soccer field…but then you’re on a main thoroughfare with no people and few lights and cars, cars, cars, and you have to walk for miles to get anywhere, and do you really want to get anywhere anyway…). I didn’t even want to admit that anything ever got bad enough to justify taking off. But show me a life like that- can you? I don’t know that I know anyone who didn’t, doesn’t, at some point, literally or metaphorically, need to disappear into the night for a while.

Sometimes, they were small disappearances, negotiated spaces between the buildings full of people in the day, and the houses full of people at night, that were everywhere I ever was. There was nowhere, truly, to be alone, except the woods, and I got told too often what happened to girls who went alone into the woods at night to find that a particularly cathartic adventure. So I drove. There was something in the motion of it (still is), something in the lilt and speed, the shell bigger than my body hurtling, closer to the speed it felt like I was moving on the inside. I would loop the block three extra times to let a song finish, to let two songs finish, five songs, to scream or slam fists or get some salt water on the steering wheel, to speed up the hill just a little bit without killing any squirrels.

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Once, I drove to Borders bookstore by accident. It was, at the moment, the safest place I could think of in the world. It was bright and quiet and full of books, you know, books, those friends that demand nothing, not even sound, and offer whole other worlds. I left my parents’ house and drove without any destination or goal, just to move, just to drive, feeling that feeling of not being able to fit in my own skin, and of not being able to fit the world in through my skin. Implosion and explosion at the same time, intolerable. Kettle screaming and you can tell that when it boils dry the kitchen might catch fire but there’s no knob on the damn stove so what do you do.

I drove.

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I drove, apparently, to Borders. It was full of books and I didn’t want to read them, I just wanted to be surrounded by them. To know they were there. That I was neither alone, nor obligated to engage. No one in the aisles expected anything of me – they looked quietly at books, CDS, smiled when they found something that touched them. Simple. Slow. Quiet. No one needed anything from me, not even an explanation, not even a purchase. There was red carpet and warm lights and no raised voices and everything in the whole place was for imagining, imagining places, imagining space. I found an empty aisle and collapsed on the floor and, as silently as I could, leaning against the books, I cried.

I don’t remember why. I’m not sure I even knew at the time. Maybe that was part of the impossibility moving my body to the driver’s seat, the black night sky, the road. In the Borders bookstore on Ponce de Leon Avenue, years before it closed for good, before Atlanta ramped so far up into the momentum of gentrification that the peoples and communities and trees that the city truly belongs to and is made of started to get run out or over not in trickles but in droves, I opened my mouth, and I leaned my spine against the stained wooden shelving, against the spines of the books, and I silently screamed.

And then I got back in the car, and I drove again. I drove to a parking lot by a church, and got out, and looked up at the sky, and tried not to cease to exist. Tried to figure out how to make sound.

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I got back in the car, and I drove again. I looped and wound through the winding streets of a city that wouldn’t know a right angle if you hit it over the head with a T-square. That’s part of the magic, part of the motion. All foothills and bends, pulling me along, around the arc roads, the hip of a hill, and another. Music and silence, alternating on the stereo. Scorch scream and silence, alternating in the firepit in my throat. A city full of roads that move more like mountain highways, that move more like veins, in the off-traffic hours.

There is something about driving- soothe and power at once. Speed, sharp, the gentleness that comes from increasing the motion, not from trying to “calm down.” All my life I’ve been told to calm down, take a deep breath, ground, get still. Do you know what that does to a body that actually needs to move. Do you.

I knew, even back then, that environmentally I was not supposed to love the car. I knew, even back then, that in wanting to resist the myth of “American” individualism and isolation and independence at all costs, I was not supposed to love the car.

But I fucking loved the car. I still do. The place that is refuge and power both, that is a space with no one’s sound but your own. The thing that lets you move, meteor or molecule, hurtle, into night, into speed, into the safety of the bookstore aisle, into nothingness, into just a little more space, a little more silence and sound at your choosing and no one else’s. The dance, the disaster-turned-freedom. The drive.

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You Have to Go Back Down Again

Day 5 Blog Post
January 5, 2017

Head’s up: This is a book-nerd post (the book-nerd is me). It’s also about healing.

***

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When I was 16, I got to be one of 4 high school juniors (along with 3 of my close friends) in an otherwise senior-filled lit class entitled “The Story and/of the Community.” I went to a very intellectually supportive but/and also privileged/ pretty inaccessible high school. One of the incredible gifts (and massive privileges) it gave me was classes like this. But this course in particular was, and still is, one of the best literature classes I have ever taken, including college and grad school. It was a discussion seminar based around texts that dealt with stories about community, but also with stories about HOW communities’ stories, mythologies, and beliefs shape and limit those communities, and how they are passed on or changed. We read Exodus, The Canterbury Tales, Toni Morrison’s Paradise, All The King’s Men, Ridley Walker, Angels in America, and others. At the end of the year, we wrote our own version of the Canterbury Tales for our high school, each printed out our particular story, and went out on a walking pilgrimage, reading the stories aloud to each other as we made our way towards the Flying Biscuit Cafe (best brunch in Atlanta).

The class caught me (and I think a lot of us) when we were about to fall through a lot of different kinds of cracks of both adolescence and adulthood, including sudden and catastrophic losses, personal physical and mental illnesses, family and social stuff, myriad other things. It was, in and of itself, a community, in the context of a larger (tiny) school that was supposed to feel like a supportive community but which, to me, often very much didn’t. Have you ever been in a class where you might laugh till you fell out of your chair crying with hilarity? This was that place.

And it was also the place where I first read Beowulf.

Two things happened when we learned about/ read Beowulf that are still so alive for me today that I can taste them . First off, that book is full of this beautiful poetic thing called “kennings” (I think I remember that word right), which is when you combine two nouns with a dash: a boat-flute, a hammer-song, a knot-gut. I don’t know how to describe the utter visceral magic and pleasure this gives me, other than making some more kennings, so let’s do it: knife-tongue, thunder-mountain, song-rain.

And second was the reading our teacher, Clark, guided us through surrounding the monsters in this book, and Beowulf’s interaction with them. SPOILER ALERT FOR BEOWULF (a centuries old book but you really might want to read it) FROM HERE ON! This story’s imagery, metaphor, archetype, is so alive for me right now that it’s keeping me going through some deep well-dives, cavern-tumbles, briar-blood reckonings I am moving my self through (or that are moving me through myself) right now.

Here’s how, according to my decade+ memory, it went down (literally): Beowulf’s community is being terrorized and slaughtered by a monster, so at some point Beowulf, a warrior, and his crew travel down into the deep caves underground, to find, contend with, and slay the monster. It gets pretty intense, they do some slayage of said monster, and head back up to feast and celebrate.

In the night, as everyone is sleeping off the giant feast, something else comes up and keeps on slaughtering. The community wakes up to devastation.

What happened? Did the slayage not work? Was the monster still alive?

Beowulf and friends have to go on the journey into the unknown danger underground a second time, and this time, they have no idea what they’re even dealing with (I think? memory is a little shakey here) – is it the monster come back to life?

What it turns out to be is the monster’s MOTHER.

What we learned, what I hold onto and remind myself of today, the powerful sinew of the story, is this: it’s not just the thing you have to contend with, it’s the thing that gave birth to the thing. The pain, the cycle that keeps swallowing you, the pattern that keeps hurting or devastating – there’s the journey to change that, to keep it from devouring. And then, there’s the journey back down, again, into the well, into the cave, into the unseeable space, to find the thing that gave birth to that pain in the first place. You have to go down there a second (third fifteenth hundredth) time, to find the origin, the mouth before the mouth.

Today, for me, this is a story about old wounds, traumas, patterns (both individual and collective). Yes, I have to go down into the cave-well and get the thing that’s hurting me, address it, get some relief from its immediacy. And then, when I really just want to rest and feast and sleep, the cavern-dark demand that I go down into the unknown again. So I go down into it again, into the darkness, to find the source of the thing. The blades that gave birth to the blade. The mother of the monster. I don’t know its shape or scope or location, but I go looking.

There is the pain of the wound, and there is its source, both, down there in the cool dark shadow-bell stone rooms and echoes.

There is the thing, and the mother, father, parent, day 15 years ago, or 15 years of days… of the thing. You go back for it. You go back and stand and face her.

And I think I have to stay down here with her until she reshapes herself along the blade at my hip or the brightness of my eyes, until she shifts from something that swallows to something that feeds, feast. You will not devour this place. Compost, the change underground, the shapeshift, monster to medicine. Or until she subsides at least enough enough, until I learn the dance of her pattern just enough, to live alongside her rattling the boards in the basement, and still, fully, live.

 

 

The Morning Routine – INTERUPPTED

Day 4 (I am not posting what I wrote for day 3 for a variety of reasons, mostly that the things that emerged need more time to season before I decide if they’re public or not – we don’t have to be resolution/intention purists! Skip your day 3 if you need to! I got you).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

pexels-photo-641038Lately I have been interrupting myself a lot in the middle of my morning routine.

Like, interrupting myself out loud.

In the second person.

As in, saying, out loud, alone in my studio apartment, “What do I want for breakfast?” and then answering, “Well, you had eggs last night so that’s probably not what your’e in the mood for, and…” AND THE DIALOGUE CONTINUES.

Which is all fine and good, living alone is one of my great pleasures much of the time, I like befriending myself, talking to myself in the second person, being my own partner and bestie, it’s great a lot of the time. And I’m right, I did have eggs last night, and I’m not in the mood for that!

Even more, speaking to myself in the “you” (a habit often treated as culturally strange or dangerous enough that I get nervous when I think my neighbors can hear me) turns out to actually be extremely healing.

Why? Because unlike a lot of people I’ve talked to about inner stories and conversations, the self-critical narratives and voices in my mind don’t speak in the “you.”  They speak in the I. As in, “I have completely ruined this friendship” (a thought I had today that was wildly inaccurate), or “I should have done way better at that text I sent I need to be more conscious of how I might impact other people” (news flash: this is also inaccurate). Some people’s self-critics speak in the “you.” Mine doesn’t, which makes it slippery and wily and extremely hard to catch red-handed.

But in a strange flip, speaking to myself in the “you” means that I mostly only associate the second person voice with kind or funny things I’ve said to myself. It’s easier to be compassionate sometimes from this position, because there’s a little more breathing room between all the concentric circles of self. Like when you do a lovingkindenss meditation, and picture a younger version of yourself: a slightly different person, a slightly different reference point, with a little breathing room from but still a lot of overlap with your center.

So that’s all great and healing and everything, but meanwhile it’s 7:23 and it’s time to get up, and a different thing is happening, which is that I’m lying sideways on my bed having a second-person “you” conversation with someone entirely separate from me, like maybe a friend or family member or estranged co-worker, and the conversation is going full force deep into heavy territory. And I’ve been  having this conversation for, oh, about 23 minutes, since my alarm went off at 7. Sometimes, it’s a funny or sweet or exciting imagined interaction, but most of the time, it’s dramatic, intense, charged, sad, fearful, painful- all that fun stuff. It’s almost always with a “real” person (imagined version but they actually exist somewhere), I do both sides of the conversation (Why yes I did act in high school thank you for asking! Flowers? For me? Oh you’re too kind), and we dig in to something heavy. And I completely lose track of time.

I started doing this when I was in middle school, completely unintentionally, and for a long time, I hid it because I thought something was really wrong with me. Like, something dangerous was happening to my brain. It turns out, it’s not totally unheard of for people with wildly energetic imaginations, intense sensitivity, but also a high desire for intense experiences/ sensations, to do stuff like this.

It’s not unheard of, but I still feel a little exasperated and weirded out every time I realize I’ve been standing ready to crack an egg for half an hour, and haven’t cracked it yet, because I was busy telling a friend (who isn’t there) about my experiences as a depressed 15-year-old. Sometimes, inner critic jumps in – “I am so ridiculous what is wrong with me” – and sometimes self-friend jumps in – “Oh you did that again you sweetie! Let’s make breakfast now” – but I can lose large swathes of the morning this way. It’s particularly likely to happen on days when I’m in an emotional or physical funk that would, ironically, be particularly helped by going through my carefully crafted, extensive morning routine right away and as attentively as possible (Morning routine (NO SCREENS): kettle boils while I get dressed, bed made while tea steeps, make breakfast, play guitar in the kitchen while eating breakfast and drinking tea, write 3 morning pages at desk, light candles/ small ritual time, water garden, plan day and get ready to work out, work out). It can become hard not to get frustrated with myself in that context.

To be clear, I never, ever actually think there is another person there with me, except in the way that you do when you’re watching a play, or a movie- suspension of disbelief, but not actual replacement belief. The part that is disorienting is how deep I can go into it- it’s like writing or dancing or making art, in that I completely lose track of time, something I hardly ever do in any other context.

What I’m starting to wonder, in my fits of self-criticism about sliding from talking to myself into talking to others, is: am I doing some sort of healing work that I don’t understand here? Sometimes, I’m trying to work through a conversation I’ve been too scared to have, while other times I’m off-gassing a conversation I’m not going to have, either because the person is dead, or not in my life anymore, or I need to have an imaginary conversation that gets me to a place where I can have a more concise or different actual conversation.

And sometimes, often, actually, it’s just me figuring myself out. I have learned recently that I often have no idea what I’m feeling, what has impacted me from the past, what I feel in the present, what I’m longing for in the future, until I have the chance to lay it all out in some way. Especially in a way that leads to (but doesn’t necessarily start with) words. Particularly, words verbalized, with sound, embodied language in my mouth and throat and hands and gut, and even more particularly, words verbalized to another person. Even if that other person is imaginary and I’m filling in all their lines.

When I think about it, I’m not sure this is so different from a lucid dream state.

The past few years, I have been reorienting my relationship to the word “surrender.” It has to do with not understanding all of something, and still being willing to be in flow with it. I am a stubborn, stubborn human, and I often fight tooth and knuckle against surrender. And I also need it. Consensually, on my own terms often, but I need it.

Maybe whatever this thing is that I do, that is biting huge chunks out of my morning routine, is something needed, is time that’s worth it (cue inner critic disagreeing and pulling receipts on how hours in the day are spent and what’s actually most efficiently healing). Maybe there’s something in it to trust.

And also, if I’m late for brunch, now you know who to blame/thank: all those friends of mine who would not stop talking to me while I was trying to get out the door in the morning!

The Overcorrect

“What are you going to write about for tonight’s blog?”

I was standing in a friend’s kitchen earlier today munching on sweet potato fries hot out of the oven when she asked me this. And my honest answer was, I don’t know. Not because I couldn’t think of anything, but because, as I explained to her, the thing most alive for me right now, the thing I really want to write about and wish I could find anything to read about, feels like something I definitely. Cannot. Write about. On the internet.

“Why?” she asked. And when I explained, she agreed. “Write about that instead,” she encouraged, “write about the why.”

So I’m going to write about the why, which still feels pretty vulnerable. But I think it’s important.

I am, amongst other things, an educator. This continues to take many forms at different times- I’veworked as a kindergarten classroom teacher, a farm educator for young adults, a middle-school garden science teacher, a writing facilitator for adults, a permaculture educator for twenty-somethings, a spoken word teacher for high-schoolers, and a collaborator with elementary school kids who were weilding power tools and fantastic drawings of the wild structures we were about to build (e.g. the moon, an upside down house, the bay bridge- you know, stuff like that). And even though I’m not teaching in a public school setting right now, it’s something I’d like to do again, and soon.

That’s where things get tricky when writing about myself on the internet.

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For starters, I did not grow up here in the Bay Area.  My perceptions of what teachers can and can’t be out about / open about safely at the schools where they teach, either amongst the faculty or the students, are probably regionally skewed and also dated. I did not know a single queer adult until I was a teenager (or so I thought – it turns out I did, but I didn’t know that I did, because none of the queer teachers at my elementary school were out).

But context and specifics – not just region or type of school, but the specific school itself and its culture and community and pedagogy, not to mention the given day or constellation of people and how they’re feeling at any given moment – have so much impact on this issue, that I can’t possibly know anyway ahead of time what’s going to feel like a fit.

But I do know this: in my experience, and the experiences of other queer educators I’ve talked to, queerness is often automatically assumed by those around them (parents and faculty and administrators) to be a sexualized identity (whereas straightness is not- this is much wider phenomenon that goes way beyond the classroom). This can get internalized- I do it to myself sometimes by accident.

If I’m going to write publicly about my queerness (and that’s a BIG “if” – I’m still pretty newly out, the internet is not that friendly a place, and the whole thing feels vulnerable and shaky, like a newborn calf trying to stand for the first time and then immediately trying write a blog post with tender little hooves…you know, like calves do…don’t they?…#cowblogging)

Ahem. Where was I? IF I’m going to write publicly about my experiences with my queer and bisexual identity, it feels like I have to work extra hard to overcorrect, to de-sexualize what I’m writing about, in order to protect my future professional life and possibilities. This might not be true in every circumstance, but the fact that it COULD be, that I can’t be sure, and that I have to worry about and plan around it just in case in order to protect myself and my future- that’s a problem. It’s a problem I’ve never felt like I could articulate or claim, for fear of being told that I was “overreacting.” But it’s a problem nonetheless.

It’s a problem for a lot of reasons (which I can’t fully delve into on a 20-minute blog day although let’s be real I’m clearly way past the timer at this point), some of which have to do with wide and deep issues like respectability politics, sex-negativity, homophobia, double standards, and a myriad of other intersecting threads and threats. Many people are at much higher risk than I am- I am relatively protected by many privileges, including where I live right now. But there are two issues on my mind I want to briefly mention before I sign off, because they have specifically to do with being an educator, and wanting to honor and be responsible to both myself as a queer writer, and to queer youth.

The first is: young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, but especially LGBTQIA+ and questioning kids, need to hear adults, including queer adults, talking about sex and sexuality that INCLUDES LGBTQIA+ PERSPECTIVES. Having to be extra careful to “desexualize queerness” undermines queer educators’ ability to support LGBTQIA+ and questioning youth, and those youth are, statistically, in a lot of danger, most especially when they don’t have sources of information, representation, and support.

And the second is: I’m an educator, but I am also a writer, and a human in my own right, and there are things I need to write about, that feel important to me personally and in conversation with community, that I can’t write about under the “overcorrect and desexualize” rule.

I don’t have an answer. Just these queries (queeries!) and opening thoughts on what is a much bigger issue. I’m not certain what decisions I’ll make- I need to season and ruminate a bit more. Folks with internet presences- writers, educators, artists, people with more than one livelihood that might conflict in content presentation, others – what are your strategies and needs around this? Have you found things that work for you? Let’s talk!

WELCOME TO THE WORKOUT

January 1, 2018

Day 1 of 2-week daily blog (20 mins or less) challenge

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I decided this morning, in a fit of vision, to choose a set of new year’s goals (which were split into two sub-categories: habits I want to build, and one-off goals I want to check off a list), and to also choose a set of challenges – little or big “month of daily____” type-things that I want to try during the year. An 8 week meditation self-directed course for chronic pain. The Whole 30. Things like that

And even though I haven’t finished my New Year’s goal-setting/ intention setting process (I have to generate and then hone or else I drown in the overambitious unachievable sea of of my own ideas, and I haven’t honed yet today so we’re looking at perfectionist hell right now), even though there are markers all over the floor and my inspiration has been replaced with exhaustion and an unsettled stomach and some intense grief or tenderness about some of the journeys I find myself in the middle of, nonetheless I am starting on challenge #1. (That says “number 1,” not “hashtag one;” it’s an archaic text choice that you might never have heard of but I promise that’s what it means).

Because challenge #1 is: write a blog post, writing for 20 minutes or less, every day for two weeks. Post each of the first week’s blogs on the day they’re written. Save the second week’s posts as a backlog. And then, shift over to the habit of posting once a week.

That’s what I’m committing to. Y’all (if anyone is reading this) feel free to hold me accountable in whatever way floats your boat. Belligerent and encouraging and everything in between is welcome.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I get excited to do it quite often in fact, except for the exact moment, every time, when I actually sit down to, you know, do it. At which point, I realize I desperately need to clean the kitchen, research how to plant tiny succulents in cute ways, read about the midbrain, call my chiropractor, put reflectors on my bike, glitter paint my nails, etc. I’ve told my incredibly patient wondrous patrons over on my Patreon that blog posts were coming. I’ve reformatted my blog on various platforms. I’ve even started this habit and let it go several times. As I write this, every muscle in my body is screaming for me to GET UP AND GET OUT OF THE CHAIR AND DO LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE.

Why? I’m a writer. I want to write. I want to write in the world, not just poems that pile up in a corner. So why the resistance?

It’s been so long since I started a new writing practice. I think I forgot that even poetry, which now just sort of tumbles out of me almost any time I ask it to (not always good or even okay poetry mind you, sometimes its the kind of poetry you find on the bottom of your shoe in a dog park, but poetry nonetheless), even poetry was a rust-wrench, tooth-pull kind of disaster when I started. Every night, in the Providence bite of dirty ice and 4 pm sunset, 18-year-old Rachel would sit down with her tiny Moleskine (which she knew instinctively she was not really cool enough to have and couldn’t really afford to keep replacing), and write a poem.

This nightly “practice,” which at that point felt sort of like weight lifting with a small twig and yet somehow still spraining multiple muscles every time, was a mandatory part of the Poetry 1 workshop I took my freshman year. In retrospect, I’m pretty certain that one of the reasons I forced myself to keep lifting up that absurdly heavy twig was that I was a lot in awe and admiration of, and a little bit in crush with, my talented, poised, very kind grad student instructor (hi Nicole if your’e reading this you’re great I hope you’re having a happy new year!). It was kind of miserable, this nightly routine- possibly this was not the poetry’s fault but rather the immense hours of darkness at sub-freezing temperatures (I grew up in Georgia so…). It was beautiful and important, but it was also wrenching, and it didn’t get easier very fast, or sometimes at all.

But I did it. And I did it again. And I kept doing it. And then, at many points, I stopped. And then started again. But I did it for long enough at the beginning, and for long stretches at other points, and have kept doing it for long stretches enough, that the poetry muscles, almost non-existent at first, became established. And once your body knows how to use and recruit a certain muscle, it does it during daily activities as well, not just when you’re working it out. Once I had a poetry practice established, and re-established, my body, my metaphor muscles, could get back in shape faster. Their baseline has become very different. If you asked me to write a poem right now, I would resist for maybe 3 seconds, and then I would do it. I could do it Whereas I am still resisting the idea of this blog post. I’m not sure I can do it.

And the timer just went off.

When you start training a muscle for the first time, you don’t start with way overloaded barbells. It’s hard for me to remember that everything is a muscle, sometimes, but that’s what I keep coming back to. You stop, as my physical therapist constantly reminds me, when you’ve still got a couple reps left in the tank. That’s how you avoid re-injuring, sort of traumatizing the nerves and muscles into lowering the threshold of what they can handle next time. So even though I don’t feel like I’ve said literally anything yet, I’m going to stop, and I’m going to come back again tomorrow, and write again, and post again. Everything is a muscle. And, as some obnoxiously wise and somewhat corny part of my otherwise resistant and panting brain decided to tell me while I was running a few months ago, having trouble pacing because I just wanted to open the throttle and run fast and hard into or away from everything that was swallowing me:

you have to go slower than you want to, in order to get farther than you think you can.

Ugh. FINE. I get it brain. You’re right, of course. Here goes…

Happy New Year, folks. It’s practice time.