‘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.

a study in the things i need

yesterday

i’m not sure what compelled me to seek out my copy of emily dickinson’s poetry, but i couldn’t leave for work until i had it in my hands.

the front flap was tucked into the pages. i pulled it back, trying to set it right, when i noticed the signature hidden on the inside cover–my grandmother’s name in beautiful, distinctive flourish.

i don’t know how long i stood in the kitchen, fluorescent light casting blueish shadows on the floor. i don’t know how long it took the tears to form, to fall.

eighteen months ago

april in texas is a kind of first summer, wet and hot and relentless.

my mother called me on a sunday. she said my grandmother had fallen in her home and had been taken to a major hospital in a nearby city.

forty-five minutes later, i was navigating the maze of bright-light hallways and shades of antiseptic melancholy. underneath the hum of activity was the ever-present beeping of machines.

i found my way to her room. my grandfather offered me the only chair.

she seemed far away, numbed by medication and shock, but it wouldn’t last. the eight broken ribs would make themselves painfully known, throughout her body and ours.

within a few days, our extended family–my mother and her siblings and all but a handful of the grandkids–had taken over the wing. we claimed the waiting room, blankets and snacks and electronics strewn around us. we talked late into the night. we shared stories and laughed and cried when we accepted what was happening.

six months ago

how did i hear about it? an article? an ad? the trailer, maybe, on a social feed?

a film called wild nights with emily proposed a new interpretation of the emily dickinson’s letters and works–that she was in love with her brother’s wife, sue, and not at all the fearful, unrequited lover of unavailable men we’ve come to believe she was.

after a particularly challenging week of work–and while my mother lay in the same hospital her mother had died in, recovering from surgery to remove a 13cm tumor from her abdomen–i sat in a dark theater and watched molly shannon kiss susan ziegler as a narrator recited the version of the story i already knew.

molly’s emily felt more real to me than any other, this vibrant being of passion and humor and regret and sadness so deep that she didn’t know a way out. could i call her my sister then? fellow poetess with an affinity for the same kind of love?

yesterday

i shared a photo of the book with my mother. the day after chemo is usually one of her best days of the week, steroids like buoys against the grey of sick sleep.

“i must have stolen this at some point,” i said. “i want you to have it, if you want it.”

instead, she said i should keep it. maybe it was meant for me. maybe it was my grandmother’s way of letting me know that she wasn’t really gone.

i’m not sure i believe something like that can happen. more than likely, it was serendipity, or maybe the vague tugging of memory, grief leading me back in time.

however the book came back to me, i’m thankful it did–if only for the reminder of books’ magic.

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: