Teacher Me and Writer Me and Chapter 1

While preparing to move back home til June, I stumbled on a box I hadn't opened since undergrad. Pushed in the very back of the closet and moved without being opened for 5 years, I had no idea what was in it. Paul has been reading Thoreau and has suggested we burn our belongings every three months and he is on to something. It's time to purge. The box was filled with an enormous pile of half-used notebooks, folders with scores of loose leaf papers, wrinkled-up typing with even more editing marks in the margins. All proof that I used to be a writer.

I was pretty good. If it wasn't the constant criticism and the crippling reality that I could fail, I think I would still be. But going through that box was rough. I missed those days more than I ever thought I would. It made me feel old and resentful, like the way the neighbor kids make me feel when they're LOUD playing drowns out Pat Sajak (IT'S 7:00 P.M. YOU SHOULD BE IN BED. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR BIKE TRICKS.)

"Three years after we move to the city, we walk home from school and throw rocks at the Hot N Now. We hold our breath in the grocery store aisle when we pass by the wine. I hate my long hair.

Three years after the 8th grade, I claw my way out of a moving car. I hate the color orange. I can hold my breath for 45 seconds.

Three years later I am in a laundro-mat thinking of violins and wide eyes and how pretty bruises can be. I am waiting for the dryer to end. I want it to be quiet.

Three months later, I kiss my first 25 year old in an empty theater after a Bruce Willis movie. His big hands grab my face and I can think of nothing else for weeks. During the day, I think of how we'll look when we're 65 and what we will name our Doberman Pinchers. We drink fancy beer with dragons on the label and giggle in bed.

Three years later, I write novels about airplanes and he still loves to hold my hand."

I wrote that on my typewriter three months after meeting Paul. It was clear what I was going to do after graduation. But as soon as I was done, I couldn't do it. I wanted stability and a clear-cut career. One that was predictable and solid and where I could plug in without putting myself "out" there like I did with writing. One that wasn't going to be critical of me. Something black and white. Something simple. And now I'm right back where I started. Loving to do something but not knowing how to make that reality. Re-reading through my crappy poetry about how I hate the mall and social situations made me more excited about blogging than I have been about teaching since that fantasy of what teaching "was" died with my first, second and third year.

I have tried so hard to forget how writing made me feel as I've told myself it cannot be done how I want it to be. My 'zine writing days were fantastic, wading through old encyclopedias in the library for days, photocopying weird pictures of insects and pasting them on the backdrop of Tokyo. But, as Chapter 1 begins, and we pack up this dusty old mayo jar with out entire lives drooping awkwardly out of boxes and storage bins and laundry baskets, my writing starts again with this. This blog is going to suck sometimes. It's okay if you think that. But it's also going to be fantastic most of the time. And doing what you want to do first starts with giving yourself permission.

(the back of my first 'zine.)
I want this to be my life. I am allowed to make this my life. I want to maybe be unstable and uneasy and worried about money but do something that I'm good at, that makes me feel like getting out of my pajamas was not done in vain. I don't want everything to be all right. I want everything to be really great.

                          ('Zine #2, sold it for 2 Canadian things or 2 American things)

                                (short story on typewriter "Basketball in Prom Dresses")

"Now I have been going to the fire escape to spy on the dentist office across the alley.
And when loneliness starts driving my thoughts
I sometimes start shaking the same way.
I think maybe he would make my insides not so hollow.
Or maybe I mistakenly loved him in between moment of
naivety and
sugar highs.

But it was extraordinary how well I could see into patients' mouths."
                                                             (prose poem in Chicago)


Grams shoves her tongue in her cheek and stares at my wrist.
"I can't wear 'em," she says.
"They always stop at two o'clock."

She shows me a tired wicker basket underneath her twin bed.
It is a field of weakened nickel
Bawdy gold
Quiet leather bands bound to
Eyeless faces
Hiding their gnarled chins,
Weaved together in one huddled mass
Like a family of sleeping snakes.

I count 16.

As we drive to lunch, my wrist lingers by my ear.
I wait for the ability to slay watches
With my absent-minded pulse.
                                                                          (Portfolio, UT)