Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I don't approve-Corporate Radio Edition

If I slip into a coma at my desk any time in the next seven weeks, blame the soft rock emanating from the radio in the next cubicle. Some of the songs are alright, but I wonder if it is turning my brain to mush to hear “Hotel California” every day. Not that there is anything wrong with that song in and of itself, but the radio station plays the same stuff over and over day after day. It is making my eyelid a little twitchy. If I have to hear Bette Midler’s “Wind beneath my wings” one more time, I can’t quite be responsible for the violence that is sure to ensue.

I have a lot of complaints about radio stations in Reno in general. I don’t know what it is, but we seem to be at a lower rung on the new music ladder. All I know is that when I visit my friends in the San Francisco Bay Area, I hear songs I never heard before on the radio. BETTER songs, too. Songs I am sure to just about never hear in Reno. What the hell? Who decided that I don’t get to hear that? Did some market-survey test group flunkie make the choice for me? I disapprove.

And while I am at it, allow me to complain about the talking. Who the hell made the brilliant choice to create the “morning show”? What was wrong with playing music in the morning? Why is it all yakkity-yak-yak when I haven’t had that much coffee yet? Ugh. And they are so never funny. I have a job that involves listening to people talk all day, so I don’t need to get a jump on the “listening to people bitching” action during my commute.

I wish I could listen to my ipod at work, but no dice. The earbud competes with the phone I have permanently affixed to my ear. Plus, listening to music I actually like might make me smile. You know that would just never do.

As it is, I rely heavily on my coastal-dwelling friends in SF or Seattle or Boston or LA to provide me with tasty treats for my ipod. Thank goodness for my friends. I would have absolutely no cool at all without them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poetry-Frail Flowering Words

They call it a rib cage so my heart can’t escape.
Trapped against straining strings, beating feebly,
Stretched against bonds that keep it from flying forth
In search of the cherished other, leaving its home.

Protest songs from a coal mine canary.
High and sweet, echoing into the deep.
Longing for fresh air, pure as dreaming,
Scented familiar and laced with memory.

Words woven, a gentle bower made,
Illusory as incense smoke wafted prayerfully.
Even scorched earth pressed to my lips
Tastes of home beneath the burning landscape.

Pole-star driven through shifting winds.
Reaching blindly to finger the raw edges
Gingerly binding, close the wound
Leaving a scar that rises as proud flesh.

My mind keeps touching that empty place
Like an old soldier with a missing limb.
No matter how gently I approach
It still startles like a filly at the starting gun.

Restless pacing and losing the race
Crying out from behind muscle and bone
Muffled but still clear enough to hear:
“Forget me not, I beat for thee.”

© Stacie Ferrante

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Despair of the Creative Mind

I like to think of myself as a writer first above all other things. An artist soul with a decent day job, as it were. I have lots of writing projects percolating on the back burner. Even more are on the prep table and haven't made it to the stove yet. I am currently waiting for my head to clear a little bit so I can select which to give my attention to. It has been a rough couple of months for being creative.

But every once in a while I read a book that makes me want to abandon all of it. I love to read, and I have a voracious appetite for books. Not all books are well written, perhaps especially the best-sellers. Right now I am reading "Bad Monkeys" by Matt Ruff, and I am in despair.

I wish I could have written this book. It is clever, witty, and has gripped my imagination. It is a thriller in the sense that it lacks thriller cliches. I can't wait to see what happens next, but every sentence I read keeps telling me that this is something that I couldn't have written. I am not that clever, perhaps. Or my writing has a different rhythm. Something about it is both delightful and degradingly other.

I was in Barnes & Noble yesterday, Borders Books the day before, and Zephyr used books the day before that. NOTHING caught my eye, and I didn't buy anything. I was contemplating how difficult the wold of publishing is to break into these days, and yet some writers make it even though merit isn't always the reason. This isn't sour grapes, as there are many writers I admire greatly. But I think you'll agree that the bookstores give up a lot of real estate to the common denominator, mass-market pleasing sort of stuff that is destined for the bargain book rack as much as for the faced-out, top of the escalator position.

Sure, I write for the sake of it. I write for catharsis. I write for the joy of creating something I shyly call art. But even Shakespeare needed to get paid sometime. I don't relish being ink-stained for life so that I can die with boxes of unpublished quasi-genius.

I have my moments when I am writing something really good and true where I am gripped with a fever. Words flow. It is the most awesome feeling in the world, as riveting as sex but more civilized for polite company.

It is time for me to do some more writing, but this book is so good it makes me falter. My confidence is rattled by it. Of course, it has been edited and polished. I can't even get to the point where I could get edited or agent glanced. Ugh, that sucks. And thinking about that will not help me write anything.

I want to pick Matt Ruff's brain for process methods. I want him to notice me and encourage me. I also want to hurt him. I want to blink back tears as I strangle him for throwing me into a state where I have to look too closely at my own mediocrity. The battlefields of the world are littered with the unburied bones of half-decent swordsmen.

I gotta get burning again. Gentle warm fire will not uncover anything in me. I need to be incendiary. The energy I am wasting in the echo chamber will get me absolutely nowhere. Fuck.

I'm coming out of the fog into my own personal dystopia. I'm almost ready. Things are percolating. But damn, I am creaky. It could even be argued that the energy I put into blogging takes away from the whole, but we will just have to wait and see.

Perhaps one day some other writer will feel that way about me. When someone breaks into my reverie to tell me that my book is so good that they must murder me to make themselves feel better, I will know I have finally done something worth talking about.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lost Mitten

My house is full of evidence that up until Friday I was a mom. Just little things here and there, art on the fridge, stray puzzle pieces under the sofa, and silky blonde hairs in the bathtub drain. We are still in the process of cleaning the house after moving our foster daughter. There is this stray mitten that I guess I need to throw out, because I never found the mate to it so I could send it with the rest of her stuff.

It is just a little purple mitten. So small. By next winter she probably would have outgrown that pair anyway. But my eyes keep gravitating to it, and it would probably be healthier for my well being to toss it out or put it away, rather than picturing the soft little hand that belongs in it. The hand that fit so well in mine.

Better to discard it lest I do something crazy like sew it on the inside of my coat, so it can lie over my heart, secretly where nobody will see it. Because the rest of the world will become accustomed to my childlessness so much faster than I will. They won't have to think about her every day and wonder how she is doing, worry about whether she is happy. Worry about the unseasonably cold mornings and if she has something to keep her hands warm.

I have an empty mitten, and she has a cold hand. That is how I see it. She hasn't even been gone long enough to miss me, or notice that she isn't coming back. She'll figure it out in her way and probably get the reasons for it all wrong. I am sad for myself, but even more I worry for her. I just want her to be happy.

The county would gladly fill our empty bedroom with another child if we wanted them to. But there is just no way I could take that on right now for lots of reasons, so we are waiting. Need to heal. Need to get through nursing school. I feel like I need to conquer the world a bit and get my confidence back and get out from under the watchful eyes of the gaggle of social workers that in the end don't do any of the heavy lifting that foster parents do.

I don't know how long I will keep this mitten. I guess until I don't need it anymore. Maybe I need the proof that while I had her, I took good care of her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bend, but don't Break

I am sorta half decent at yoga, but being emotionally flexible is a bit more challenging.

I’m bending into some unlikely and highly uncomfortable shapes these days. I’m angry. I’m full of sorrow. I’m hurting.

Bending. Bending over backwards and twisting sideways and sometimes inside out. Last night entailed very little sleep, because when Little A can’t sleep, neither can anyone else. But it is understandable because last night we had to tell her that she is moving on Friday. Tomorrow. We told her kindly, somberly, and truthfully. She took it ok, which just means to me that she doesn’t fully understand it.

And the things she says these days! Tearful proclamations that announce her fear of abandonment by us. A fear, I am sorry to say, we are going to have to validate against our will. I wish I could repeat them here, if only to get the plaintive voice out of my head and on paper. Out of my body where it drains me.

I did tell her that this wasn’t our choice. I told her that I will love her forever. I told her that every time she sees the moon in the daytime, smiling at her, that she should remember that I love her. I hope she remembers.

In the meantime my whole body aches. My heart is utterly shattered. If I didn’t know for a fact that my symptoms were a result of extreme stress, I would think I had cancer or some other serious illness. I feel like I am dying. I feel broken.

Little A, you have been a wonderful daughter. I will never have another like you if I live a million more lives after this one.

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