Announcing: Live Poetry on Instagram

Announcing: Live Poetry on Instagram

In celebration of National Poetry Month, while in keeping with social distancing, I will be performing some of my poetry for 30 minutes live on Instagram every Sunday in the month of April. You can mark yourself as “going” to the events on Facebook.

Please follow me on Instagram to be notified when I am live!

You can also watching me perform “Cross Roads” at Inner Moonlight in December:

‘Language Barriers’ is a Best of the Net Finalist

‘Language Barriers’ is a Best of the Net Finalist

Part of me wants to say, “I don’t know how this happened!”

But I do.

It was one too many comments in a day of exhaustive, unsolicited feedback from strangers who felt ownership over my body by virtue of its existence in their presence.

My options were to scream into the void or put words on paper. Thankfully, I did the latter.

Over months, I edited the words into a poem. I sent that poem to nearly a dozen journals before Kissing Dynamite sent me the email that changed everything.

They wanted to feature my rage in their May 2019 issue.

I provided commentary to readers. I got to tell the why and how of the words that had poured out of me that one angry day that could have been any angry day.

The feedback I received was empowering. I hadn’t felt so validated in my feelings of violation and indignation.

In September, I received an email with the subject line, “Surprise!” Inside, the KD team announced that they had nominated ‘Language Barriers’ for the Best of the Net Anthology.

To be nominated was itself an honor. It was enough.

Last week, following a string of bad news, I received another email with the subject line, “Congratulations!” Inside, the lovely Christine Taylor, EIC of KD, told me that my flicker of fury had been named a Best of the Net finalist for 2019.

This is how it happened: I turned my hurt into flame into a story. I shared that story with someone who found some beauty in it, who shared it with their corner of the world, then shared it again with an even bigger corner of the world. Someone there saw some beauty in it, too, and decided to share it even wider.

There is magic in how it happened, and something so desperately human that it can’t be named.

Thank you Christine, the KD team, the judges and readers and producers at Sundress Publications. Congratulations to my fellow finalists, the winners, and all the other digital poets just trying to make something of the everything. Keep doing.

I have been on the internet for too long

I have been on the internet for too long

Now that we know each other, maybe I can explain the point of this blog.

That’s a strong maybe.

I started blogging in 2002. Back then, my friends and I shared our innermost thoughts and all that hot goss—passive-aggressively, of course—on Xanga.

(Which is still around somehow? Sometimes, I feel like a digital senior citizen.)

Since then, I have created too many blogs to enumerate here—mostly because I can’t remember half of them—on Livejournal, Tumblr, Blogspot, and Medium. The one site I’ve stuck with is WordPress, and let’s face it, that’s probably my one good decision after all these years of internet citizenship.

Most of my blogs have been online diaries, a smattering of personal meandering and half-assed poetry. They haven’t had much direction other than the direction of my life which, let’s face it, isn’t as interesting as it was when I was sixteen.

(No shade on my current self; it’s just that I spend most of most days at work, which I refuse to write about, and the rest of my time resting thanks to chronic illness. Not many want to read about that, and I don’t particularly want to write about that—at least, not exclusively.)

Instead of chronicling my daily life, I want this blog to be more of a meeting place for my head and my heart. I want to deep dive into topics that interest me, like personality tests or professional wrestling. I want to share factoids about random historical figures I’ve found on one of my many Wikipedia info-lust spirals. I want to catalog the research I’m doing for the novel I’ve just started writing. I want discuss books I’m reading or movies I’m watching. I want to write about Fleabag because OMG have you watched Fleabag?

Basically, I want this blog to make me seem much more remarkable that I actually (think) I am.

I promise my next post will be less meta (read: boring). In the meantime, enjoy one of my favourite videos from YouTube’s youth:

I am an expert in starting over

I am an expert in starting over

I spent my third birthday in a hotel in Utah or Colorado, on a scenic detour from Edwards AFB in California to Lackland AFB in south Texas. I don’t remember much about this birthday, so it couldn’t have been too scarring, but I know how it sounds—lonely and sad, like I was denied something.

I assure you, I wasn’t. If anything, being a military child gave me a greater appreciation for unique experiences—and for constant change.

From San Antonio to Little Rock to Woodbridge, VA in a little more than three years. Another six homes over the next 10 years, not counting temporary housing, which became a standard step for the final four. Twice I lived with my mother’s parents for the summer. Twice we lived in temporary base housing, which is basically like living in a hotel-style apartment that you must leave in better condition than you found it, lest you incur a fee. So not like a hotel actually, but not like a home, either.

In Georgia, I remember spending a lot of time on a nearby playground, squeezing my nearly-pubescent body into spaces clearly designed for smaller children.

(I had a fascination throughout childhood with contorting myself into spaces not designed for my body, but that’s a story for another day.)

My first sixteen years were in a constant state of flux, and as a result, I mastered the art of starting over.

I did not master the art of following through.

This is not to say that I have no follow-through—I have written a couple of novels (one of which was “published”—again, later), completed graduate school, completed years-long work projects.

But follow-through is always a struggle for me. I get three-quarters of the way through something and I’m ready to move on to the next thing. I have a series of ideas all at once, and choose to binge-watch Parks & Recreation instead of working on any of them. I create blogs and YouTube channels and social media accounts, then barely use them and eventually abandon them just as they are gaining steam.

I think part of me is terrified of seeing the end of something. I watched my parents’ marriage end, and while I believe it was the best thing for our family, it was extremely difficult to be a part of. I watched my grandmothers’ lives end in rooms filled with their loved ones, and felt buoyed by that love, and was still devastated by my loss of them.

If I don’t finish my projects, commit to my blogs or channels, then I don’t have to face the other side. I don’t have to deal with edits, or critique, or failure. They can remain pristine in my vision of them, without taking a single risk to make them real.

Now I’m 30 years old and have met nearly none of my personal life goals.

This isn’t completely the fault of my routine of starting over—I have dealt with chronic illness since I was 13, and in the last three years have seen a steep decline in my health, which has forced me to rewrite the plan I had for my life—but I can’t deny that my fears have held me back to an alarming degree.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because I want this time to be different.

No—this time is going to be different.

And the only way I know to start is to admit all the times I’ve failed before and promise to be different.

Which in retrospect is probably the worst way to start—look at all the times I’ve not done what I’m pledging to do this time! Who would subscribe to a blog or channel that provides evidence of its inevitable demise in the first post or video?

I hope you do.