Tuesday, June 21, 2011


O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. 2 Nephi 9:41

I don't usually write about church, or about scripture, or about spiritual things on this blog. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I don't talk about them very often. But this scripture has been stuck in my head since Sunday. They used it in Gospel Doctrine to talk about the straight and narrow way we must take to come to Christ. It was a good lesson, but there was a phrase that seemed more important to me, at least right now: Remember that his paths are righteous.

Paths. Plural. Multiple paths. There is only one way, but there are multiple paths. Because God has multiple children, individual children. He's not going to set us all down the same path. He's going to give us our own righteous path.

I just said good-bye to four of the most important people in my life, people that I didn't know three years ago. They're the four poets I've been in workshop with the most. Three years ago, I was still mad that I wasn't in a PhD program, mad that I was living in Chicago, mad that these poets weren't the poets I had worked with before. And now I can't imagine my life, my writing, without them. Tonight we sat in my apartment, ate pizza, talked, and read poetry. It was a perfect night--even with the humidity and the thunderstorm and the flickering lights and the sirens going past my window. It was a moment when you know that this was the path you were always meant to be on.

I've said it many times on this blog--I don't know what comes next. But I can see where I've been, and I know that my life has become amazing. I can only hope that this path continues forward.

Monday, June 13, 2011

a story in which I will use an inappropriate word two times

now that that's out of my system: Anna, this story is for you.

I read Jane Eyre at least once a year. At least. And every time I brace myself when Rochester shows up, because I know that I'm about to fall hard for the bad-tempered, ill-favored perfect perfect man. (I do the same thing when Benedick opens his mouth in Much Ado. Which reminds me--how did no one tell me that this song was Much Ado in the most perfect way possible?)

So Jane Eyre. It was the last text of my "Large Romanticism" class. I read it, in the midst of writing my 15 page paper in less than 12 hours.

We sat in class, and we discussed Jane. We discussed Brocklehurst. We discussed Helen Burns. And then, finally, Rochester. And I'm silently swooning as the class begins the discussion--about how hard it is to like Rochester. Wait. What? And my face. . .

I'm not sure what my face was doing, but it prompted my professor to direct his attention on me as he said, "Rochester is a badass." Still not sure what my face was doing, but the professor asked, "Don't you agree?"

"Definitely," I said. And I was prepared to defend myself. But a few women in the class jumped in to discuss how Rochester isn't bad--he takes in Adele, he tries to save Bertha, etc, etc, etc--until I stop them.

I stop them. "Rochester isn't bad. He's a badass."


And then a few heads nod. My professor looks at me, shakes his head. And then says, "That's all I was trying to say."

See you next year, Rochester.

this is.

I was thinking about calling you, but then I decided I should just write. Fewer interruptions, clearer sentences.

Maybe not.

I'm feeling this crazy sense of loss right now. I have 17 days left in Chicago. I graduate on Friday, my parents and sister are visiting this weekend, there's a graduation brunch open house thing being planned. I have things to do, people to see. And I'm trying to pretend that it's not happening.

I got another rejection in the inbox today--this time for a journal that I've sent poetry to at least three times. And every time the editor makes a comment on how close my work is. Close but no cigar. Today's comment was "Interesting work and approach." (This is addition to "very interested, but not interested enough" sugar coated.) Part of me is so used to rejection. And part of me is so frustrated. And part of me is wondering if I just wasted three years of my life studying poetry.

Now you'll comment, say that I'm being ridiculous. But I'm not. I could have been working, could have been creating a future. I feel future-less right now. I want to publish, but I don't know what more I can do. And I want to teach, but it seems like every door and window is shut. And there are freelance and consulting opportunities, and I can get excited about those, but they're not enough for a life.

I've spent three years creating this life, and I'm walking away from it. And I can't explain it. I can't say that I have a plan, and I'm starting to wonder if I even have faith. I have fear. And this nervous sense that I'm not going to be good enough, ever.

It's this awful feeling, and it's not what I was going to write about. I was going to tell you how wonderful Chicago is, how lucky I am. How lucky I was. What do I do now? Where do I go from here?

. . . .

My last assignment to turn in was a cento. A cento is a poem created by using lines from other poems and poets--all the lines of this cento are from Susan Slaviero. It's a little more intense than what I usually write, but it's something--and I need something.


Naked, you are all hello, holograph.
Nothing especially miraculous.

This is something you might see
—these concrete constellations—

to simulate the stain of pomegranate.
to kiss the stump of your pretty neck.

In the right kind of shadow, she could be
starlike dents, a row of rivets.
                                                This Madonna
bribed to cut out her mechanical heart.

This is a beautiful horror
when everything bleeds sepia.           

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