“performance studies”

Reading the chapbook of the friend I miss the most & I realize I don’t know when to shut my mouth. The voice of my poems is the voice of my voice & it booms with obnoxious vibrato.

I assembled a chapbook today. I applied to two jobs. I went to yoga. I made split pea soup.

I can focus when I sleep & eat so much protein/am a protein machine.

Routinely forget about how dangerous poetry feels & yet the stupid safety of language.

I don’t feel safe when I am writing a poem.

I am drinking the ginger beer I bought for us to drink tomorrow when I make us soup.

Even my poems sound safe but the practice of writing unleashes some BULL within me.

Bull in all senses of bull.

I like myself better this way. With just one horn.

*

The chapbook document is called “Performance Chapbook.” The last two poems don’t belong but I’m going to wait for H to tell me this–

I don’t know if I want the manuscript to end with the hope for domestic certainty or not. Megan Williams of the manuscript wants certainty but is skeptical about it.

Open on my browser: “Performative turn” via Wikipedia–

I don’t know what to call it. I can’t be completely sincere / I don’t know how to be completely sincere

I need to ask why I why sincere / what is wrong with you?

Today was a successful day but I didn’t say hi to anybody.

I read the summary of the newest Mad Men episode to relieve whatever dramatic tension I experience when I go watch it in a couple of minutes.

Millennials just want to be good, okay? We want to mean good.

(I had to double-check how to spell millennials.)

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The Weather.

It feels like last summer outside.

Though I am not drunk enough to risk a scar on the skin by my Achilles tendon. Though I am not looking in the window of every bar for someone I might know, or might be able to connect to–

In theory, I am a whole different person, & wiser. Nevertheless the trees perpetually look like they did the second time I dropped acid, peaceful & wiser than I could ever be

comfortable with cliche

because I still (still) want ways to honor my darkness.

*

“to love you in a way that means stopping”

is a line I keep deleting from poems because someone (CPH?) said so many of my poems say that anyway–

the end of desire

the end of paradox

unconditional acceptance, even when I have this impulse to destroy things

sometimes I think I’ll destroy the destructive force when I am good enough/comfortable enough

but it’s probably more like the Joss Whedon commencement address P & I watched last night. Peace accompanying the acceptance of paradox, of contradiction, of living in a world that I deeply question, that I deeply want to be accepted by but also want to destroy & change. I want to do it differently. I want to accessorize–

& yet we sit by the fountain & count blonde haired blue eyed toddlers & you wear a suit jacket & yr right we’re like metamodern Edward Hopper or

I want to take that painting & smear menstrual blood on it

but my period is a little late & that’s cliche by now.

*

I (still) don’t know how to identify any real constellations but I like when the stars are out.

I like biking home. Almost so much that I don’t want to apply to any more jobs in Caldwell.

I am a different person, but probably not completely.

*

I want to stop writing so biting my nails may have to be an adequate form of destruction–

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the condition.

Dear Joe Hall,

To be honest, I had a little trouble getting into The Devotional Poems at first. It probably did not help that I was drinking fernet & sad & the First Wave station was blaring on the restaurant patio, but I was determined because when I told people whose opinions I trust more than my own that you were coming to read they immediately made what I now consider a curatorial decision that you ought to read with me. & your work seemed stronger than mine. (When I read my own poetry, I tend to only notice the letter “I” dotting the page like a pockmark, a failure, something that feels wrong but I want to get away with because I cannot rinse it–)

Tonight I put the envy aside. I read a poem to P in the car. I wanted to get excited about my “curatorial decision.” I brought your book to the bath with Yoga Journal & the Food Issue of Smithsonian & read all about local food before finally reading more than half of your book aloud to my honey bison beer–

Joe Hall, your book makes me want to write about God.

*

I had noticed that I had given up on it lately. I was busy. I was teaching my freshman to question everything– the shitty job market, gender, capitalism, art. I had not gone to yoga. I had not meditated. I only said the serenity prayer when I was sure the only alternative was lashing out on my coworkers or roommate. My bodyworker told me that the masculine side of my body was more tense. I felt constantly too smart to be a waitress.

I barely wrote a word.

Many of my freshman concluded that poetry only mattered as a form of masturbation. I took to writing poems about masturbation.

“The magazine womb is so sexy but I need a career first.”

I didn’t get a fellowship. I did get impressive credit card debt.

P introduced me to metamodernism

which is perhaps everything I wanted to talk about as an undergraduate & didn’t have the words or philosophical grounds &/or the framework I’ve always wanted for my spiritual practice

because I want everything to be meaningful but I want to be critical of that meaning.

I want to write about God/god again but I haven’t really felt compelled. I’m back to the mat & the cushion & I have to read with Joe Hall in less than a month & all of my new poems are about masturbation.

*

“Everything is at stake & it’s only Tuesday”

is something M.H. said about my poems in graduate school & is essentially what P said about my work in the car & I was flattered because I love him & because he is talented & smart & I am so excited for him because K.G. liked his videos enough to want to solicit them for The Volta &

what can go wrong on a day that starts like that & leads to reading poems out loud in the bathtub & blogging urgently as it drains so I can go shave my legs in the shower

then perhaps read poems by my friends & strategize getting myself to yoga in the morning because P & I went on a long hike & I am purposely trying to create a life full of things I value

but I oscillate. I try to view my patronage of Whole Foods as Metamodern performance art, or my desire for a full-time job (I’ve been seduced!) but maybe the metamodern condition, if there is such a thing, is merely accepting that some of your actions are going to be a result of seduction, or your upper-middle class upbringing that loves the idea of drinking cappuccinos under ball jar light fixtures while he wears the baseball cap of yr home team & you talk about iPads, how the Atlantic claims they might be better than TV for your kids–

*

& I am, or have been, seduced into the idea of things getting “better.” I’ve been hiking & doing yoga & cooking & barely working, sometimes writing, but mostly cover letters to these jobs that are opening up that I want

because even if it’s false, I feel frustrated &/or too smart to be a waitress, or server, or whatever it is I do to try to seduce people out of their money

P is trusted at his job.

I keep thinking of sitting in A’s kitchen over the holidays, reading our horoscope forecasts for the year. Mine said something about career. Fortune cookies also keep pointing in that direction. Job postings. My feelings.

& my therapist has finally convinced me to convince myself that maybe it is time for me to try some ADD meds, stop relying on meditation & coffee & frustration alone. To focus & stop strong-arming & making excuses & NOT finishing my manuscript & stop being a slave to my sensitivity, my need for attention/love–

I’ve always been deeply skeptical that I “have ADD,” or even that there’s something wrong with it, & I like having the mind of a gatherer or whatever metaphor was used at my session last week, & I’m proud of myself for organically figuring out how to manage it. But I’m sick of feeling incapable of finishing projects or holding a job & need a temporary means to an end, even if it means more debt/less money.

& I keep concluding that for the time being I will go crazy if I work more than four days a week & don’t take the time to write/cook/meditate/hike/cry in the bath.

& like so many things, I’ve stopped problematizing it. It’s a theme of my 27th year, so far. Stop problematizing the fact that I want kids, or that I occasionally want to go to Whole Foods or eat someone’s beautiful chicken soup.

& generally, I’m happy. I may not be happy with my job, but it’s not the worst. & I’m doing what I can to create some temporary form of order. I will always oscillate to chaos. I will always temporarily take on too much. I will have enough money, then not enough when “enough” changes. My relationship with P will inevitably provide a container where I will feel safe enough to exhibit both my best & worst selves. That’s how it always goes. We will be angry, we will forgive each other, we will build a narrative that brings us joy & tears & embarrassment but it will be ours. We are aware that it is ours, & of what is ours, & what is mine. & that is power when I can see it. Which is of course not always.

*

So thanks, Joe Hall, for inspiring this diversion, which may have little to do with you or with God/god or even trusting myself, but maybe is that exact same tired conclusion that I am grateful for my life, for living, for choosing for it to be exciting & most of all choosing to choose my own terms, even if sometimes they look like old terms or are self-indulgent or seeking external validation–

I still need to wake up tomorrow & groom the rabbit.

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Luteal Phase.

& the image that haunts me today is that of a shaved leg in a cowboy boot. The woman had asymmetrical hair, & dressed as I would dress if I fit into any of my clothing (or remembered how to have time to use my hair dryer).

I can’t remember the last time I felt put together. “Put together.” Out of context, it doesn’t necessarily sound like a good thing, though I like that the language affirms the constructed nature of presenting oneself. I am not a “natural” woman, perhaps until/unless I am lazy. Or “busy.” Which is the same thing.

Why am I terrified to do what I want, to look at myself / why do I say I MUST do this / must make ends meet, must..?

My biggest fear is that I don’t know how to do it. Find a career, to be “rewarded for my passions.” That narrative.

Moreso than writing, the thing I feel most passionate about is self-reflection & examination. What kind of career can I have with that, imaginary reader?

My therapist says that “narrative therapy” is a real thing but would I have to leave Boise to pursue it?

*

If I examine close enough, I was happiest when:

1. I only worked part-time at a job that robbed me of sleep but allowed me to write/submit poems.

2. I had a stable relationship (which I have now).

3. I made time to meditate nearly daily.

4. I made time to run/do yoga nearly daily (or at least 3x/week).

5. I didn’t eat meat.

6. I had health insurance.

7. I had time to write, or at least journal.

8. I planned my meals. I knew that I would have access to flavorful, healthy foods.

& how can I have this now & how can I know this traditional will work now when it didn’t stick before & I am now essentially a different person?

*

At the bottom of every complaint, a desire.

I’m too busy could translate to I want (to make) more time for things I enjoy & find meaningful. (& I want more time to take things slowly, to enjoy cooking my eggs in the morning.)

I hate my job could translate to I want to be able to stick up for myself & insist on my life reflecting my passions, intelligence, & worth.

My biggest fear is that I don’t know how, that somehow I missed the “how to find work &/or a career” memo.

*

My student wrote about wanting to be a bohemian & basically described what my life had/has been.

Am I really okay with not knowing what time it is right now as I write this? It smells like potato time in my house.

The list of my traditional means to happiness provided a stability. I want stability. I want a degree of comfort &/or faith so I can work on the essay ideas about which I’ve been passionate–

I wish I could have been one of those writers who couldn’t see their lives any other way, couldn’t see failure as an option & knew that they could take that correct path to write for magazines or have a tenure-track position.

I am grateful to have done everything I’ve ever wanted but now I don’t know where I’m going–

*

I do know this:

1. I do not exercise. As a result, I do not fit into my clothes.

2. I do not meditate daily. As a result, I watch myself participating in blame games & ego defense at work.

3. I haven’t submitted poems to journals in a year.

4. I do not like working in a restaurant. I do not like whether or not I get paid to be determined by the time of day that I work & the mood of the people that I serve. (I want a steady income. I feel as though I deserve one, though hesitate to work hard to find other work…)

5. I do enjoy teaching, but find it difficult to do while working at the restaurant. I am also afraid of the slave labor wages it pays, of not adding enough to my “household economy,” of possibly relying on P for health insurance.

6. I am in love with P & it’s that limerence kind of love that has an addictive quality & most of my happiness lately (besides things like the bath I snuck in between this & commenting on student essays) has been derived from that which is wonderful that I’m doing something (& someone!) that I enjoy BUT it is also unfair. Still, I want to frame it this way: since I want to build a life with this man, it is only fair that I too am stable, that we build our house upon rock (as the Bible & new age teachers & myriad other metaphors suggest is THE way).

& what if I am being very stupid & missing something here? Is it a red flag that I’m missing red flags or is it possible that I’ve actually found someone who wants to create what I want to create & wants to treat me well & if so, what did I do to deserve this?

7. I have been neglecting my finances. & my rabbit.

 

*

So from here, I need to get through this semester. I need to sleep enough. I need to think beyond instant gratification: 15 minutes of meditation goes a much longer way than a donut.

After the semester is over, I need to start bike commuting again. I need to work in yoga & exercise.

I need to ask around about jobs.

 

 

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Naive Song.

I wrote a long post & I deleted it because I decided it reconstructed a narrative of doubt/lack of self-trust that I no longer want to reinforce.

*

P & I have promised that we will find full-time jobs because honestly, it has to be less tiring than what I’ve been doing over the past 3 years in order to have “jobs that allow me to write”

that actually rarely allow me to write.

I’m sick today, the perfect amount of sick that allows me a guilt-free “stay home & write” pass. Or stay home & read in the bath & not grade papers because I have been unacceptably tired…

or perhaps it does oscillate, between a self-imposed “busy” & a “so bone-tired from surviving that I frequently cry re: others’ negativity, & my own.”

*

I don’t want to be this tired anymore, or be busy.

I want to be able to articulate what I feel for P, but I can’t. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited about another person, & I’ve certainly never been this excited about a person who I know is also excited about me.

I want stable work.

I want to cohabitate with P, to build a life/co-construct a narrative, to have bunnies & chickens & babies–

I want to be able to pluck my eyebrows & not have it feel like a special event.

I want to write. I’m not going to check my email tonight, just revise poems.

(& this is the first step, to know this. To weed out what’s not in service of this. & to take it one day at a time until the semester is over…)

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AWP fucks you up. (& by “you,” I mean “me.”)

It is 6:17am EST & I’ve already thought about a million things for this blog post that probably sound more profound in my head than they will on the screen.

I am up this early with a feeling that I never thought I was going to have again, & I was perhaps happy to never have it again because it would mean that I successfully stopped drinking–

I’m up because I went to bed without hydrating, with more booze than I’ve had in my system since October 4th.

*

I don’t think I’ve had any new revelations about drinking.

I do it because I feel anxious because I feel unimportant & feel like nothing is “real” & poetry is so small & the world of poets is so insecure & ego-driven. By which I mean we write to construct mythologies of ourselves so we can go among each other & be loved. We make currency out of our ability with language.

& I like to drink sometimes to feel out of control, out of my mythology, my cage of language, or simply to change the way I’m feeling–

Nothing matters, so in my everyday, sober life I build a palatial cage of significance out of my time–

I manage a restaurant, I must matter.

I run a poetry reading series, I must matter (to poetry).

I adjunct, I must matter & be very intelligent.

I farm & have a savvy, realistic business sense, I must matter.

Mattering will make me feel something, which I simultaneously want to be the end of feeling, which I don’t know if I actually want to reach

even though I am afraid of my feelings. The tender darkness from which I feel deeply–

*

I purposely keep this in check in Boise by being very busy. At some point I decided, again, that if I were to not show this to you I could love you safely.

I associated it with the drinking, I called drunk Megan another person who wasn’t real.

But who decides what is real? (Doesn’t the Velveteen Rabbit associate realness with devotion? Where’s that quote.)

I got messy. I was sensitive to this construct of sensitive poets anxiously constructing things. I rely on another, a “you,” to keep me in check & safe. With a grounded “you,” I can better perform myself, better feel important.

That’s what I want to tell amg. That she makes me feel important, which is what I needed last night.

All my planned “yous” bailed on me for this trip, even if accidentally. S had a plane ticket that didn’t go through. A had a bus ticket that didn’t go through. & the comforting bit is the coincidence, that maybe there could be meaning to it, a lesson that I could learn–

*

If I didn’t show you this, I could love you safely, but I had another feeling I didn’t want to have again, that part of me that D would call “desperate” which is really a desperation to express myself

to another person, to let them know that they matter because they are real because they make me feel real & safe

& I couldn’t help myself, when I sent you those texts, it was the best I could do & now I’m awake & my skeptic is awake & the voice of the world in my head is awake that that kind of love & devotion is codependent &/or scary &/or wrong & when I’m experiencing it it is drunk Megan & when I’m experiencing it I should keep it to myself & when I’m experiencing it I should punish myself with self-examination, look back to my childhood, see what I haven’t “fixed,” what I’m doing “wrong”

& what narrative am I buying into that I want to love & be loved in this way? I feel ashamed that I want to make this the real

I decide what’s real, which is a terribly vast thing to look at.

I get a feeling inside & I want to map the shape of it with language.

*

I feel so ungrounded right now.

I guess if I were actually crazy I would not have the awareness of “crazy,” but I feel crazy with the awareness of crazy & it’s kind of exhilarating.

I had to step out of “Boise” to see what I had done to “Boise” how I made “Boise” safe

& continued to make choices by not making choices by saying “yes” to everything in pursuit of matter/mass the end of emptiness (oh god the metaphors the language makes too much sense) because I want

to be a monument in your worlds, something you project specialness onto

even you, who may not read this, who I never wanted to have to see me this way, scared & scary because I want to continue to feel worthy of co-constructing a narrative with you & “worthy” in my head is apparently defined by stability, by not derailing like this.

I want to make you feel both safe & exhilarated.

This is likely for a purpose: if I “make you feel” these things, if you feel them with me, then maybe, someday, we’ll mate.

Or you will be the stable place from which I can perform myself, even if you are not always stable neither am I & I think that’s okay.

Always the hope of being generative.

God I am licking all the seams of artifice & I want to penetrate them

I want life to have a phallic trajectory but it is definitely much more cyclical

which could also be interpreted as “not learning anything” but what if I don’t want

to dwell in that hopelessness, what if it feels better to reimagine it as a feminine learning

a failure narrative // if I can frame it in language, in a concept it becomes comfortable

& acceptable & has the bonus of making me feel smart, a rarity these days.

*

From the outside I can see that maybe I am inarticulate with fear.

*

Writing this makes me feel better, makes me feel like I’ve apologized or tried to understand why/how I’ve experienced the last few days

*

I don’t want to construct time as a cage anymore.

I want to learn to say “no, not now” which I think was my New Years’ Resolution.

The only thing that has changed is that I feel even more capable of describing my motivations & mental states

but it’s still perhaps wrong to think that my ability to put them into language makes me solved or sane.

Maybe it does just mean I’m a “poet,” even though I spend so much time running from it, staying too busy from it

because what does it mean to be a “poet,” anyway? Who gets to construct that meaning? Do I buy into history’s narrative, which is so large, so many ways–

Do I really want to be a poet if all it means is that I can adequately feel safe in moments where it’s clear that everything is artificial

even the safety of language is artificial.

*

I want to go back to sleep & not feel so afraid that I broke something.

I wouldn’t blame you if you asked me for silence but I wouldn’t like it.

I’m afraid I forgot to say something.

 

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I’m not tired

but I’m in love & I want everyone to know it.

*

Seriously.

 

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