You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2012.
Last week, I discovered IndieInk.org, a site where you can sign up for a challenge, give one of your own, and then share what you write. Here’s my first entry! I had fun, and I look forward to participating in future challenges.
On the Devil’s ark, the passengers had a monkey as their ringleader. At his command, the cats, both domestic and feral, marked their territory nonstop, a contest to see who could claim the ship over and over again. The horses and bears and elephants grew restless, throwing off our equilibrium, fighting with the rocking waves. The mosquitoes tried to eat me alive, thriving in the moisture from the flood. The skunks wouldn’t stop polluting the air with their fumes. Perhaps I shouldn’t have hoped the scorpions would behave, but we all make mistakes. We all have to watch our steps, in situations as volatile as this. I needed a mask to protect my face from the yellow jackets, angry at the world, taking advantage of the gift of flight. The hogs were already rancid, though still alive; there was no way I could thrive upon their flesh; starvation was imminent when the roaches infested my food.
Even the guardian angels had been corrupted beyond belief. So what’s a frantic captain to do? Fire, icebergs, tidal waves, all methods tried and true. But then I’d be without salvation, thrashing in the terrible blue. Basic drowning would suffice. By then, the strung-out beasts were so wasted, they barely noticed their ringleader’s commands. The bugs had all gone sedentary; I scooped them in a net, sent them out to sea. Even the larger mammals went overboard, though it took some coaxing, and a very heavy plank. The monkey was the last to go, his mind still alive. He brandished a pistol, but I kept my head, lured him to the edge. In a moment of inattention, even he went down to the depths. At last, I had peace, and steered my ark toward calm shore. Judge me all you want, but I’m know what I saw. If you’d been there, you would’ve thrown the monkey overboard, too.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Jay Andrew Allen challenged me with “If you had been there, you would’ve thrown the monkey overboard too.” and I challenged SAM with “Listen to one of John Cage’s pieces for prepared piano (most are available on YouTube if you can’t find them elsewhere). Write an ekphrastic poem based on the piece you selected.”
I have a poem published in the newest issue of Southern Women’s Review, which went live on Saturday evening. The issue is available as a free PDF, so you have even more reason to check it out.
I wrote “S/m” in July, when we were in the thick of the horrible drought that plagued Texas this year, and struggling to keep my garden alive despite 1) the crippling heat that had experienced gardeners struggling, and 2) the fact that avocados are not really made to thrive in Texas. It was inspired by one of the exercises in Wingbeats, though at this point I can’t remember which one.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, four of my avocado sprouts survived the summer. Let’s see if I can make it work two summers in a row!
I haven’t read through the entire magazine yet, but I do wholeheartedly recommend Beth Copeland’s “To a Dead Friend Who’s Still on Facebook.” It was especially timely for me to find it, as yesterday marked one month since Reesa died. I’m also a fan of Beth Slattery’s “Reservoir” and and Cindy Small’s “Master Manipulator with Sequins” so far.
Over at Drew Myron’s blog, I mentioned that I had recently nuked my Facebook account, and, six weeks later, did not regret a thing. She was curious as to my experiences with it, and I decided that rather than write a lengthy comment, I’d put up a blog post, especially in light of the fact that several other people asked why I deleted my account.
I was an early adopter of Facebook – I set up my account in the fall of 2004, back when it was still only available to college students, was ad- and app-free, and all you could do was poke people and write on walls. In fact, I had a Facebook account before I had a cell phone (although this is because until I was about 20 I had some strange Luddite attitude toward portable technology; I preferred that both my computer and phone stay confined to my room).
Back then, Facebook was fun. It was a nice little diversion from studying, and nothing more. You couldn’t use it to send event invitations or instant messages. The reason it was fun was because it was so simple, so bare-bones. You didn’t have to waste time trying to reconfigure the privacy settings it had changed without your permission. You didn’t have to search around to figure out how to make the ticker disappear. You pretty much just left silly messages now and again, and that was that.
In the seven years (seven years! I feel old!) that I had a Facebook account, so many things changed. It became open to high school students, and then to the general public. Apps came out, and those apps spawned games, none of which I actually wanted to play. You could send messages, instant messages, and event invites. You could post photographs and notes and links. Ads showed up. Most of the time, I either accepted or embraced these changes.
But then, about a year ago, Facebook became more trouble than it was worth, at least for me. It seemed like every three months, my privacy settings changed without my knowledge or consent, and I had to put them back. That timeline ticker showed up, and even though I made it go away, my settings got usurped by some upgrade or another, and it came back. At that point, I lost interest in trying, and consigned myself to an ugly layout. Worst of all, Facebook kept deciding which of my friends’ updates I wanted to see when. Even when I adjusted my settings to make sure I was getting everyone’s updates, I would eventually realize that people had somehow gotten excluded again. Facebook stopped being fun in part because it become more trouble than it was worth to keep my settings the way I wanted them.
Eventually, I became concerned that I wasn’t really connecting with friends at all. I was getting brief updates, and while they were sometimes substantial, most of the time, they were not. This wasn’t friendship. It was just bits of information crossing my consciousness without contributing to my life. Of course, deep down, I always knew that. But when Facebook was just a fun diversion, that lacked clutter and frustration, it didn’t matter so much. When it began to feel like work, the lack of meaningful connections happening on the site became all the more apparent.
For a while, I still resisted quitting. For one thing, Facebook is my primary place to find photos, especially from dance competitions. And I also worried that, without Facebook, nobody would ever bother inviting me to anything ever again. In fact, mere hours after I deleted my account, a friend admonished me that by quitting, I ran the risk of not getting invited to parties.
And then I thought of this line from Infinite Jest (and yes, I know I didn’t actually like the book very much, but it’s the one line from the novel that really sticks with me):
He . . . realized intellectually that the feeling of deprived panic over missing something made no sense.
As I was doing yoga on Christmas Eve morning, I realized I’d had enough. I didn’t care what social events I’d be missing. I didn’t care that I’d have to work a little harder to find photographs of dance events. I was just done with the whole mess. Facebook wasn’t fun, and I was done with it. So I decided to keep my account for the rest of the year, and deleted it moments before leaving for a New Year’s Eve party. I started 2012 free of Facebook.
Six weeks later, I don’t regret a thing. Yes, I know I’ve missed a few social events that I discovered after the fact, but it’s not as though I spent those nights holed up in my apartment, pining for something to do. But I have no interest in bringing my account back. I don’t miss it in the slightest. I still have Google Plus. I still text my friends. I still blog. That’s all I really need, and I don’t think my life is lacking from the avoidance of one little social network.
January did not go as planned, and I let myself get sidetracked. But it was a conscious decision to let things slide. As Fiona Robyn wrote earlier this week, real life sometimes interferes with your plans. And you can’t always force your mind or heart to carry those plans out. And as Kelli Russell Agodon wrote at some point recently, even if you don’t complete a goal, trying and getting something done is better than doing nothing at all.
But here is what I did manage to accomplish, in spite of everything:
- Wrote 49 poems, 30 of which were small stones for the River of Stones challenge
- Submitted 18 poems
- Submitted my chapbook to 2 competitions
- Went out on a limb and applied for a creative writing fellowship (not part of my initial goals, but I decided to follow my heart when the opportunity came up)
- Submitted a short story
- Completed Kelli Russel Agodon’s Poetry Resolution Party
- Attended one of the Wingbeats writing workshops
But, I let a few things slide:
- While I did write a lot of poems, I did not sit down to write every day
- I did not actually write 31 small stones for the River of Stones challenge
- I did not complete any drafts of prose pieces
- I did not complete the revisions of my epic poem
Ultimately, though, taking a pass on January was the best thing I could have done for myself. I’m ready to start February anew. Here is what I plan to accomplish:
- Continue my regular writing, revising, and submitting practice
- Finish a ghostwriting project I have under contract. No, I can’t say anything else about it. I’m Casper-ing it up!
- Complete a draft of a prose piece
- Complete the first round of revisions of my epic poem
- Attend at least one of the February Wingbeats workshops
- Go through all the neglected prose drafts on my hard drive and decide which ones are worth finishing and which should be trunked indefinitely
- Make progress on at least one of the prose drafts that I have decided to keep