“A woman in the shape of a monster

a monster in the shape of a woman

the skies are full of them”

Adrienne Rich, Planetarium

I want to learn the star-stories again. This weekend Orion hung over us as we drove back through the pass. A warm spring with hint of summer in her teeth, dirty snow at the road edge, a garden of ink. I want more mythology and scraped skin and calluses. I want to become a monster.

I tell stories in a scattered way. If it’s a story I know, I throw in names and places without reference points, I assume the audience knows the path and I barge forward. If it’s a story I’ve been told, I forget names almost as a matter of course. Is it Perseus or Theseus? It was Andromeda chained, not Ariadne, right? Ariadne was the princess with the Minotaur, the woman who gave the spool to unravelling, the lover of Icarus, right? Or Theseus? The names jumble and I remember bright slashes instead of the whole tapestry.

I am at a job right now where I feel I’ve become dumber. I push papers and I make sure contracts are signed and I don’t know that I’ve learned anything that’s really that noteworthy.  On Monday I’m changing to a new place, and I hope I get to dig in to technology again, to learn how things piece together. Is it strange to want to learn programming languages because I feel like it helps me write? I don’t really want to program anything. I don’t really care about databases. But I like the syntax, I like the logic.


This weekend, hiding away from the strong climbers, I chatted with another new boulderer about poetry. “It just doesn’t feel active enough” I heard myself say as I tried to figure out the first move on a V0, and it felt like I was reading a script. Why aren’t I writing? I say that it feels to dull on the page, that it’s not motion and I want motion. And yet, when given the chance, I spent most of the day standing still, watching other people move. He was excited to find out more about the poetry scene in Seattle, but I feel like what I told him was all old news, the world as it existed three years ago. So much has changed. And I say it’s because I’m climbing, but here I am, working on something a child just tried. I’m no climber. (And my ego rears her head, and she stomps me down into small pieces, and I am nothing, this is a farce, girl what are you doing here you foolish not-even-woman.)

And yet. And yet, when I read in January, I looked out and saw the friends I’m used to seeing in the gym. And I stood and I shook and I stumbled and I loved it. How is that not active? It was more exposing than a heel hook with torn pants would have been. And stop yelling at yourself. Breathe. Put your hand on the rock and just fall when you have to fall – no one is judging.

It’s so frightening for me to give voice to want. To say, out loud- This. World, I want This Thing. But I feel a yawning opening toothy want inside me, and it’s crawling out of my throat whether I feel ok with it or not. Want. I want. I want to become a monster. A star woman. (I am shrouding this all in metaphor, I know. I am still evading. I am still refusing to claim anything as mine.) The problem with wanting is that you risk undoing. You risk losing. A goal is something I can fall shy of. A goal is something I can miss, I can fail.

All I thought I wanted was a book of my own. Something that I created, put in this world, in other people’s hands. That feels less important now. But I can become a monster who is not a book, and this is not failing.  I am not writing a book. I am hanging up that piece of me for now, and that’s ok.

My goal—to fall. To fall and fall and fall and fall.


Women and Olive Branches

Last night I went to my friend R’s housewarming/decorating party. It was the first party I’ve been into with mostly women, and for a long while the only person I knew was the hostess.  I have a fair degree of social anxiety (as do most people, I think) and I felt, for a while, like I was bludgeoning around with laughter that was too loud and stories that were just a bit off.  Again, I think this is a normal fear and I doubt it came across as such.  Still, that largeness in a room is what keeps me to my common paths.

At the end of the night I left feeling completely different.  The women R knows are an incredible collection.  There was another writer, a woman who can sing the same songs I can from the 90s, a woman working in the same industry.  Not to mention, strong climbers, funny conversationalists and  just, Nice. I left saying, let’s connect and entirely meaning it.  When I got home I found my order from MIEL had arrived. Glorious night! 

Éireann Lorsung, one of the founders of MIEL, is a poet and artist that I’ve had a crush on for a long time.  I was given her book Music For Landing Planes By by Susan Straight and Éireann became someone I watched from afar.  She makes beautiful crafty things, has a lovely blog and now runs a press that puts out wonderful work. I highly suggest checking it out. One of the women I talked to last night said that a fiction instructor she had said that no poem is memorable. We both disagreed, even though she hasn’t read much poetry.  Éireann’s work sticks with me, and it was great to come home to a project of hers at my doorstep.

Perhaps because I was thinking about all of these things before sleep last night, I awoke with poetry in my head.  Specifically, Adrienne Rich’s poem The Eye (from her collection The School Among the Ruins).  It’s strange to shower and try to recall lines from one of my favorite pieces.  I could remember only snippets (I’ve never been great at memorization) but the tone was there.  I think this poem sticks with me because of the ordinariness– hope not as an extreme effort, but through remaining.  The Eye- Adrienne Rich

I am someone easily waylaid off of my course.  Ask me if I want to do something and my answer, in general, is YES! It’s partly social anxiety– the fear that if I say no, the request won’t come back.  It’s partly because yes, I honestly want to spend time with You (whoever you are).  So much of my summer was rocked around on whims. Do you want to go to Squamish? Yes. Do you want to go to Vantage? Yes. Do you want… Yes. I went on many adventures, I learned many things, but I think I lost some of what I wanted along the way.  I wanted a summer reconnecting with myself and my women friends.  I wanted Project Bad Ass.  I got distracted.  Men do that to me. Last night felt (like so much the past few weeks) as if I’m finally back on track. (Thank you, R!)  And in the middle of it– my phone flashing. An olive branch. Drinks? A month ago, I would have tapped back an answer.  And I might have woken up with a familiar skyline, away from my lovely apartment, away from my books and my poetry.  I doubt I would have woken up with a poem in my head.

Last night, I looked, I put my phone down, and I returned to the conversation at hand. And this morning I have coffee in a mug given to me by my best friend, books strewn around my living room, CocoRosie on the stereo, and a file open full of work to send D. so she has more poems to remember. I’m right where I need to be.