Fifth Season, End of Summer

She dangles her pointy, ultra white fingers

Into the water, never fully submerging any

Body part for fear of losing herself

To a moment, her black rimmed sunglasses

The only reminder she is in the Oklahoma sun.

 

Her bowed back and curved smile

Glimpse from behind a thick, dark curtain

Of uncertainty.  Four Seasons pushes its way out

From the indoor vinyl record player,

A humming of the air conditioner competing

Against a lawn mower’s muffled spin.

 

Hushed voices fill the crowded classroom

As high pitched murmurs await

The arrival of the sweat browed professor.

Bare knees barely touch as the whispers

Of the September heat hint at crunchy grass.

Fall is just her beginning, her first

Season of non-childhood, first choices.

 

Portland Orb

Green lights appear a siren’s song

Tonight, transport me like an alien in

My own town, the bicycle wheels spoke

I could have lived a thousand lives

In a hundred cities, dropped them off

The pier like jacks,  an earthy ball

From my right hand, swept away

By a spinning moment and collected

All the nothingness into more

Nothingness, matter no matter.


Dukkah

Frida, almost freedom but not

Sylvia and her daughters carry

Her canvas free, fjords

Of possibility, afford me

No, afford me nothing

But this pen, this pin drop.

 

Dickinsonian in its loneliness,

A vast space where no one is

Tethered, time a mercy,

A song for almost there,

Not quite reaching my hand around,

Leaving a necklace unclasped.


 

Braiding Her Hair

She stands as a giraffe would

For the first time when hitting

The ground. Born of grace

And confident incompetence,

She unfolds herself to reveal

Spots of wisdom as her legs

Assemble into a configuration

Never known before now.

When she leans over my head and bends 

For a kiss, for approval, to be told

What she already knows deep

Inside her wild mind and mane,

This is her power, her new life,

Meant to live among the tall 

and beautiful animals

Who have this, their height, 

their stature, their privilege

Just until the prey rounds the Savannah.

  

How You See Yourself

Below is a picture of a piece of art in our Norman community downtown.  Every time we pass this piece, my toddler age son Blaine says, “There you are, mommy.”  He SEES me in a completely different way than I often see myself.  I want to be the woman he sees, cool, confident, wild.  Unfortunately, I don’t usually feel this way about myself.

I hear creative people talk about self-confidence a lot. I mean a lot. Some of the most creative people I know have the lowest level of confidence.  I have had to work on my own confidence in order to be creative.  Following are some thoughts that help keep me sane as a writer, professor, and mom.  Being a mom is one of the most creative endeavors I could imagine.

1. Practicing yoga has taught me this:  Keep your eyes on your own mat. Out of the billions of people in the world, there is truly only one you.  Who cares if you will never write like _____?  You were born to write like you.

2. At the same time, realize you are but one grain of sand in the entrance of an ocean. While 1 and 2 may sound contradictory, they’re actually complimentary. In other words, yeah, you’re special but not that special. We will all be replaced at some point. Let that idea take some pressure off you.

3.  You are not doing the world or yourself any favors by keeping your creativity to yourself.  Creativity is meant to be shared. Creativity in its purest form is love.  Why should you keep all the love packed away?  Who are you saving it for?

4.  Related to number 3 is this one, You are meant to create a tribe of people around you to stimulate your creativity, push your buttons and your boundaries, and hold you accountable to continually create.  When I teach Creative Writing, I share my work sometimes with my students.  They need to see what real writing looks like, and we continually inspire each other.  I still keep up with many of them on Facebook and through texting.  They help remind me of my bigger purpose.  I have colleagues who do something similar for me within our pedagogical relationships.

5. Read, read, read.  Write, write, write.  I am my most creative when I read.  This relationship remains magical for me and has existed since I was a child.  Reading begets writing, and vica versa.

6.  Do something that scares you every day.  Every single day.  Your getting used to being afraid will contribute to your desire to be creative.

7.  Fail miserably every chance you get.  If you are not failing, you are not taking chances.  Creativity invites you to mess up.  Some of biggest messes have become my proudest moments.

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Submission for Listen to Your Mother Show

Recently, I submitted a piece to the local  Listen to Your Mother Show, and then I was asked to audition for the show.  While my piece was not chosen for the final show, I had so much fun writing the piece and performing again.  Following is my piece titled “The Questions That Accompany Having It All”:

3:00 a.m.  (In Bed but Not Sleeping):  Was that the baby?  WAS that the baby?  Was it the dog? It may have been definitely the baby?  Was it the dog?  Did that sound like a baby?   Was it more like a woof or a waah?  For sure a woof. Or a waaah.  Will someone please hear the dog and let her out?  Are the baby’s vaccinations up to date?  Whose birthday is next?  What if no one hears the dog and she pees, and then I have to clean up the pee?  Will I ever get back to sleep if I have to clean up pee?  Will someone let her back in?

 

3:10 a.m.  (In Bed but Not Sleeping):  Was THAT the baby?  That WAS the baby.  Definitely.  Is the cry an I’m hungry cry or I’m just waking up but need to put myself back to sleep cry?  Should I give him a few minutes?  Will the crying affect his SAT score because he feels abandoned?  Is he attached to me enough to let him cry?  Should I feed this crying baby?  Will he be an entitled adult if I go right away?

 

4:30 a.m.  (In Bed but Not Sleeping):  Do I want coffee this morning?  Hahahahaha.  Was that a hypothetical?  Do I want my coffee on the way to work?  Could I sleep 10 more minutes if I have the coffee in the car?  Do I want to sit up and watch the sunrise and drink my coffee while everyone else sleeps?  Wait, did I take a bath last night?  Shower yesterday morning?  Then I should have coffee on the way to work, huh?  Did I shave my legs last week?  Did I shave my legs last month?  Could I go back to sleep for a few more minutes if I do not shave my legs?  Should I set an alarm to shave my legs?

 

8:38 a.m.  (At Work but Groggy):  Did I not set an alarm?  Why didn’t I wake up on time?  Did I drop off the kids at the right schools?  Did I leave the bills in the car or take them to the post office?  Did I shut the garage door?  What were the kids wearing?  Should I know this in case they are kidnapped?  For sure I should know this, right?  Who do I call if I need an Amber Alert?  Did I tell my kids they are the best thing I’ve ever made?  Oh, and that they’re so smart?  And beautiful?  Do I tell them this too much?  Will they take me seriously if I tell them too much?  Did I bring my coffee in?  Is it on my desk?  Is it still in my car?  Do I have time to run and get my coffee before the meeting?  Will my boss care if I just run and get my coffee?  Does my boss think I’m doing a good job?  Should I call my best friend really quickly and ask her to meet me somewhere for coffee instead of going to the meeting?  Does my boss think I’m doing a good job?  Did I remember to update my computer before I left yesterday?  Did I send that email, or is it just sitting in the Drafts folder?  Click-click-click-click-click.  Oh good.  I sent it.  Noooooo….Did I forget to send the attachment?

 

9:01 a.m. (At the Meeting):  Was I supposed to bring something to this meeting?  Do I have a pen?  Do I have anything else besides a diaper and fruit snacks?  Did I do this spreadsheet right? Did they get the attachment before the meeting?  If I didn’t do it well, will people say, “That’s the risk we take when we have mothers in the workplace.”?  Is this my dream job?  Will I retire in this job?  Is that 20 more years in THIS job?  Is there really such a thing as a dream job?  When is the best month to look for a new job?  What month IS it?  Are taxes due this month?  How about my driver’s license?  Is it expired?  Is my insurance paid?  Is that bill in my car?

 

12:00 p.m.ish (Walking to the Car):  Do I want to eat lunch or have a pedicure?  Should I go get my license renewed?  If I get a pedicure, could I eat a granola bar at my desk later?  Could I skip lunch and pick up a nice dinner for my husband?  Does it matter what you are eating when you eat it in five minutes?  Should I at least get a nice bottle of wine to go with our five-minute dinner?  Should I get a babysitter for the weekend?  Should I spend all weekend with the kids?  Should I save the bottle of wine for after I’ve shaved my legs?  Does my husband see me?  Should I get my hair done or go to the dentist?  Do I want bad teeth or bad hair?  Do I have time to stop by the gym?  Do I have gym shoes in my car?  Is my coffee too cold to have it now?  Does coffee spoil?  Will my husband still like me after the kids leave home?  Should I go to anger management?  Should I take pills like my friends do?  Should I do yoga?  Could I meditate on the way home from work?  Is that dangerous?  Does that sound dangerous?  Should I Google it?  Should I text my husband and tell him I didn’t believe in soul mates until I met him? Should I call him instead of text?  Do people call anymore?  Would he think we need an Amber Alert?  Does he remember what the kids wore to school just in case?  Did I switch over the laundry?

 

5:03 p.m. (Back in the Car):  What did I decide about meditating and driving?  Would podcasting and driving be dangerous?  Are those rain clouds?  Did we clear the gutters this year?  Did I pay the lawn guy?  Uuuugh…does the lawn guy charge interest?  Why didn’t I go to the post office?   Should we be this stressed?  Should we move to a national forest and home school?  How much would that cost?  What would our house go for?  How could we sell it in this market?  What about retirement?  How do people in the woods retire?   Are the bears a real threat, or is that media hype?  Could Trump really win?  What do we think of Hillary?  Ted or Bernie?  Did she forgive her husband?  Really?  Does she like being a grandma?  What do I want my grandchildren to call me?  Did I donate to NPR this year?  Was that last year?  What if I don’t get to be a grandma?

 

8:58 p.m.   (Standing in the Kitchen Contemplating What to Do Next):  Do I have time to watch a movie?  Is there a movie worth my time?  Maybe a documentary?  Should I take a bath instead?   Do I have time to shave my legs?  Should I start my coffee now to make sure I get caffeine in the morning?  Is there a car coffee maker?  Should I try to patent a car coffee maker?  Would I be able to retire in six months if I started selling it on Amazon?  How do you get a patent?  Would I want to retire?  Would I get bored?  Did the kids finish their projects?  Did they start them?  Did I remember to buy the Styrofoam balls for the projects?  Do we have milk?  Do I have time to get the milk and the balls and take a bath?  What if I read a book while in the bath?  Okay….what if I finish two pages of the first chapter of the book I started last summer?  Is that the baby?  Is that the middle schooler?  Does is sound like an older child crying?  Is she being cyberbullied?  Did she meet a boy on Snapchat?  Do I have her username and password? Where did I put it?  The same place I put the Facebook one?   Does she believe me when I say she is beautiful?  Do I ask her what is wrong?  Will she go out of state to college?  Will she marry?  Will she feel happy?  Did I start the dishwasher?  Did I ask my husband about his day?  Should we go somewhere on Spring Break?  Will we get a tax return?  Did we have sex this week?  Did we have sex this month?  Could we find cheap bikes on Craigslist and bike together with the kids?  Should we volunteer?  Shouldn’t I be able to keep my eyes open longer than this?  Was that the baby or was that the dog?