Friday, January 30, 2009

Not a Poet

I appreciate everybody's interest in my poem. I hope it doesn't disappoint. You have to realize that I write almost exclusively prose, and have done so since college. I write articles; I write young adult novels; I write fairly bizarre literary short stories. I draw; I paint; I make prints. But poems? Gah. No clue. Beyond my ken and my ability both, though I appreciate poetry massively. Anyway, here it is.

A Poem about Why I Don't Write Poems

It could be a poem,
But I'm not a poet.

Even the words on the page correct themselves after I write them.
There could be an egg buried in the sand, but who would know?

There could be words,
But who would want to read them?

A poem is being naked in front of everybody. It says, this is me.
There are no layers of story or paint to protect it.

Give me something in return for my nakedness.
It is embarrassing to give this to you for free. I expect a fair bargain for stripping my layers away.

I gave you not just me
But me, bare, open to the sky.
I cracked an egg and let it slip slimy onto the page.
Tomorrow I might wish I hadn't.

You listen:

It doesn't hatch by itself. It doesn't break by itself. It spills mystery onto the blank white until a vine slowly grows, twining around a ruined foundation and reaching for the sky.

I sit naked at the root in a broken eggshell, forced to let go.

© Sarah J. Stevenson 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Strange Days Have Found Us...

Today has been a little odd. First, as I was driving from Costco to Trader Joe's, running necessary but irritating errands, I suddenly remembered a bizarre dream I had last night. Normally my dreams are a bit strange, but often they're too chaotic to remember properly, and I don't write them down upon waking like I really ought to. Anyway, I only remembered a piece of this dream.

In the dream, Rob and I were going to have a baby. I was giving birth in a standing position, and then a nurse or midwife held the baby up for us. It took me a moment to realize that the baby had eight limbs instead of the usual four--it was the size of a normal infant, but it had four little arms ending in tiny fists and four little legs dangling down, like some bizarre human-octopus hybrid. I was strangely calm and accepting of this.

That's all I remember. I hope that isn't a prophetic dream telling me we're destined to have freak children. Any kids we might or might not have would probably be weird enough just being born into a family with two artists for parents, and not because we've been eating the cadmium red. (Which we haven't been. Just a joke.)

The second weird thing that happened today was in Trader Joe's. I was buying some groceries and a case of two-buck Chuck when the cashier asked me for my ID (argh). I showed it to him, and the following conversation ensued:

Cashier (peering at me suspiciously): Are you sure this is you?
Me: ...
Cashier: It's not, like, your sister or something?
Me (flatly): I can take my hair down if you want. [My hair was in a post-gym ponytail, while my ID picture has my hair loose.]
Cashier (completing transaction): No, it's OK. It's just you look really young. (Said in a tone that was somehow apologetic and still suspicious at the same time.)
Me (flatly and insincerely): Thank you.

What I really hated about this was that HE made ME feel uncomfortable, like I didn't have any right to buy my case of wine, so then I felt embarrassed and nervous and probably acted like a nervous kid illegally buying booze. Not that it doesn't say 1977 right there on my driver's license, with a picture that is clearly me and actually DOES LOOK like me. The point is, I was made to feel weird about buying something I have every right to buy and have had the right to buy for almost 11 years now. And, I swear to you, I'm pretty sure I look at least 21. I don't look like a minor, unless you are very very old. I know cashiers are required to card you if you look under 30, and that's fine, but they don't have to make me feel self-conscious about it.

Anyway, rant over. It was just a strange situation because I don't think that the validity of my ID has ever been questioned before. Here's hoping I have a much more conventional remainder of the day. Writing...blogging...ahh.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Revisiting Resolutions

Today, as I folded the laundry about a week later than I would have liked, I realized that I've fallen off the wagon as far as my 2008 New Year's resolutions are concerned. One of those was to get out of the habit of leaving the baskets of clean laundry to languish in the living room until I needed the baskets for the dirty laundry the following week. I actually did really well on this resolution until a couple of months ago. Then somehow I stopped being able to find the time to do on-time folding of laundry. Granted, this is not a particularly huge problem. Housework only takes priority insofar as routine maintenance needs to be performed (i.e., dishes, laundry, occasional vacuuming and tidying) and is generally of the keeping-the-house-from-being-a-complete-shithole nature, not the anal-retentive, must-keep-surfaces-immaculate nature.

However, as you can see from the images, one resolution from this year that I'm so far managing to keep is practicing my figure drawing. These are from the second session we attended, and they're somewhat better than the ones I produced in the first session (which I've deemed not good enough for public viewing). The drawings up top are one-minute gesture poses using graphite, and the ones just above are 30-minute poses, the large one charcoal and the smaller one graphite on toned paper. I still need practice, though, so I'll be going to Rob's figure drawing class from time to time. I'm realizing that the figure drawing class I took way back when was less technical in terms of learning bones, muscles, etc. and more focused on using various media, which is fine, but also means I don't have as much knowledge of anatomy as some artists. Rob is teaching that to his students, so I'll probably absorb some by proxy.

Re: my other resolutions for this year, so far--well, I thought I was halfway to my goal of losing 5 pounds, but evidently it was all negated this weekend when I was visiting my parents. My dad routinely tries to get me to eat more, MORE! and has the added quirk of possibly not knowing what a vegetable is. Meanwhile, my mom is strangely fond of breakfast/brunch, so when I'm at her house, I end up eating a lot more in the morning than I normally do, as someone who generally only has coffee and toast or fruit first thing.

The morning meal often also consists of unwanted personal conversation with a cafe waitress, since my mom is one of those people who will start conversations with just about anyone. This means that the waitstaff at her favorite haunts will know far more about me than I would normally divulge to random people. There's also a lot more talking than I usually want to do in the morning, as someone whose preferred method of communication pre-coffee is mainly caveman-like grunts and pained moans.

Anyway, I did go to the gym for an hour today, though, so I'm still holding out hope for the pounds going away again. The meditation resolution has yet to materialize (or immaterialize, as the case may be). I have a meditation CD that my therapist, Dr. Yoda (not his real name), kindly gave me, and I keep meaning to listen to it. Haven't yet. It's been a couple of weeks. I'm hoping to get to it before our appointment this week so I don't seem like a complete slacker. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fine Time - A Music Meme

I must thank Interactive Reader Jackie for this most excellent time-waster of a music meme. The meme is structured as follows:

Take your iPod in your hand:
1. Put your Music on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!

The songs form the answers to a series of ridiculous questions about the, uh, meme-ster. It's hard to resist a music meme, so here I go...with a rather lengthy disclaimer: Since I have a really lame iPod Shuffle that only contains songs I've deemed suitable for working out at the gym, I've used the shuffle function on my iTunes computer software instead. Also, I've skipped past any songs in the playlist that are "Rob's songs"--i.e., music that I don't tend to listen to on my own. I hardly think that a song I don't actually listen to would in any way be relevant to this meme--not that randomly shuffled songs are going to provide answers to the mysteries of life, anyway.

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Modern Love - David Bowie. ("But I try....I try..." Okay. Maybe.)

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Here's Where the Story Ends - The Sundays. (Huh?)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
We Live Again - Beck. (Dude! That's not bad.)

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
It's Over - Tom Waits. (HAHAHAHA!)

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
The Hussein Skank - Skankin' Pickle. (Jeez, I hope not.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Sugar on My Tongue - Talking Heads. (Are we taking the song literally? Food? Sex? I guess it doesn't actually matter.)

WHAT IS 2+2?
Ma and Pa - Fishbone. (Yeeeeah. Ooookay.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Money - Pink Floyd. (Gosh, that isn't very nice. Unless we're talking about Rob, in which case "Money" is one of the songs I remember him learning on the bass early in our relationship.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Karma Police - Radiohead.

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Make Believe Mambo - David Byrne. ("Havin' sex and eatin' cereal/Wearin' jeans and smokin' cigarettes now..." HA!)

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Christine - Siouxsie and the Banshees. (So I want to be a goth? A strawberry girl? I don't get it.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Long Way Home - Tom Waits. (Oookay.)

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Vaka - Sigur Ros. (If that means they think I'm from a faraway land and speak in an unintelligible language, possibly.)

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Get Up Offa That Thing - James Brown. (Sweet! Except we already got married, and there's not a lot of music when you elope.)

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Breakdown - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Post Cold War Politics - Fishbone. (I am laughing my ass off here.)

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Buena - Morphine. (Well, since the song sounds like it's about a stripper, I might have to call this a bust. And no, I'm not known for abuse of opiates.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
Sleep on the Left Side - Cornershop. (Since I'm not sure the lyrics make a lot of sense...I dunno.)

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Think I'm in Love - Beck. (Har har.)

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
A Little Respect - Erasure. (Death by synth-pop! Oh noes!)

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Burning Inside - Ministry. (Yes, spontaneous human combustion WOULD be regretful.)

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
The Ballroom Blitz - Sweet. ('Kay.)

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Israel - Siouxsie and the Banshees. (Yes, the situation in the Gaza Strip does make me want to cry. Go figure.)

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Time Bomb - Rancid. ("Black coat, white shoes, black hat, Cadillac..." Or not. See wedding-related question above.)

IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
When I Live My Dream - Seu Jorge. (So...I respond in Portuguese?)

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
My Problem - Dance Hall Crashers.

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Nightshift - Commodores. (Evidently I'm not alone.)

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
Untitled 6 - Sigur Ros. (If I could go back in time, I would...become an Icelandic musician?)

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Salvation - Rancid. (Evidently, what hurts is the growing divide between the rich and the poor.)

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Fine Time - New Order. (Yes, I did have a fine time doing this, thanks for asking.)

I hate tagging people for memes because I'm always afraid they'll be annoyed. So I'll let you choose for yourself. If you decide to do it, leave me a comment.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thirty-Something-ish

As I get closer to the 32 mark--a little over two months away--I've started thinking a little about what it's been like, being "in my thirties." (Actually, to be entirely truthful, this was more of an in-the-shower kind of musing than a profound and repetitive pondering.) It's something that seemed so far away for most of my life. Even when I was in my twenties, thirty sounded pretty old.

But there have been some pluses to being over thirty. Although I'm still sort of baffled whenever I get carded for buying alcohol--and this still happens more often than not--I DO find it incredibly amusing to see the look on people's faces after I whip out my ID and they look at my actual birthdate. Yes, that is a 7, as in the 1970s. Yes, I played with an Atari as a child, and not one of them fancy 2600 models, either. I played a text-based game called Zork on the Commodore 64 and distinctly recall wanting to throw it out the window. Yes, I remember who Oliver North is. I am Old Skool.

As I get a little further into my thirties, though, I'm also noticing a distinct feeling of...let's call it an underachievement complex. I wonder if this is something that affects people who were overachievers when they were younger. There are days when I feel like I'm wallowing in lost potential. I'm more likely, of course, to have one of those days if my dad happens to call to tell me So-and-So is going back to school to get a second master's degree (that actually happened--So-and-So, in this case, is already a medical doctor and is exactly my age). I know my dad does it to get my goat.

And believe me, my goat is well and truly gotten. I probably could have arrived there without his help. After all, I'm notoriously good at comparing myself unfavorably to other people. And it seems very easy for me to list all the accomplishments I've failed to check off, rather than the things I have done. The latter seem truly trivial; the former, staggering. I know it's a lost cause, a pointless mental quagmire, but I can't help it. I don't even feel like I've accomplished many of my personal life goals, but then those always seem to change in the face of reality.

Here's the thing, though: I don't think I truly regret anything I spent my time on, getting to this point. Sure, there are a few minor "whoops, shouldn't have done thats," but it seemed right to spend a year at art school, just as it seemed right to decide that I should work for a while afterward before deciding whether to return.

Yet I still have mixed feelings about where I am now. And I don't feel like I should be having mixed feelings. Which is the other thing I'm noticing about my thirties: I'm still too young to even take myself seriously, evidently, but I'm too old to be cool, too old to be a prodigy or a young overachiever, and too old to pretend I can go back to change anything.

**************************

One thing I can change, though, is my woefully imperfect novel manuscript, which I swear I am now about to continue doing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Netizen's Lament

I've got a serious problem.

Yeah, Web 2.0, I'm talking to you. We've had a good thing going for a little while now. The past couple of years have been pretty great. I got to know you on more than a superficial level, and it was a whirlwind courtship. I took your Facebook movie quizzes. I commented on your Flickr photos and explored your many Wikis, cruised the ins and outs of your group sites and dutifully threw myself into your blogosphere.

Oh, you helped me get connected in ways I never imagined. And you and me--we were tight. We had our trysts daily, sometimes multiple times a day.

And then, Web 2.0, you started to wear me out. It was just all too much. I think, Web 2.0, that things are getting a little too deep--or maybe not deep enough at the same time. I don't know. Maybe it's just me. But your apps are feeling a little stale. Your Twitter has its delightful moments, but your Ning is a little bit out of control. I can't even tell you how many logins and passwords I've amassed because of you, how many of your RSS feeds are languishing unread. Some days I can't even bear to look at you.

Do we need a break, Web 2.0? Do you really need to know my status every moment of every day? I mean, you brought so many people together; but instead of feeling integrated, I feel more and more fragmented. I just don't know what to do. Yet I can't seem to wean myself off of you entirely. I'm dependent on you. I'll admit it. Without you, a huge part of my life would be missing. You've changed me and everyone else around me.

The question now is: How will YOU change?