Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Random Notes from that Ballard Girl

First snow: the girls and I woke up at three am and watched it fall. We had our mouths against the glass, dreaming and in the morning the car was frozen and Bella had to crawl through the trunk let us in. We spent our time trying to protect ourselves from what we thought was beautiful: hats, mittens, boots. This is so much like love I thought. What am I wearing to keep warm?

Monday a water pipe burst in our basement so when we got back from school there was a foundation. I tried to shut it off but I couldn’t. I ran upstairs to look for help and realized once again, I was the only grown up here. I was the help. I hit it with a hammer. It worked. Note to self: hit more things with a hammer.

Olivia asked when it will stop being like this. When she will not feel like she is falling too fast out of childhood. Never, I wanted to say. Now it begins. You will be 12 soon, it is falling. But I think I said there are special places inside ourselves where we’re always children which we never loose. Today I want to believe that.

Everything I do, I process with writing. The foundation, the snow, my girls. Someone who loves me, yelled at me this week because it is not fair really to be in love with me. Everything is open. I operate in this medium which is so vulnerable. Do not love me, you will be naked. I mean it both literally and metaphorically.

The conference with Kate DiCamillo went well. She said, I could spit right now and hit someone more talented than me but it's all about discipline. How badly do you want it? I sent four manuscripts off the next day. I want it that badly.

I decided I will be a children’s book author and write about dogs that die, parents, that die, friends that die. Really, it does seem if you want to be a children’s author you need to kill something off. I am already a girl who can use a hammer.

I am mad at the poetry god. I want it to be worth more, this thing that I love. In the world in which I live I want poetry to be worth something. Why, when you say you are a poet, people think you write about death. No, I say I write about life. Next time I will point them to children's fiction.

Today I do not want to look at the poetry manuscript. I want the house to be clean. I want to bake bread. I want to listen to Eva Cassidy and watch the snow fly in the backyard. I want to be a woman who wants nothing more than happy children and a clean house. Why is that not enough for me? Maybe I should try the hammer on myself.


Charles said...

"She said, I could spit right now and hit someone more talented than me but it's all about discipline. How badly do you want it? I sent four manuscripts off the next day. I want it that badly."

I feel this way every day.

And every day I work harder.

Radish King said...

No, no hammer on the TE, please.
I have given up on poetry. I hate it. I'm going to become a musician, a truly stellar musician, and have concerts every 3 weeks and have double-reed players lusting after me because they want to know what it would be like to have such fluid graceful hands on their bodies. If you want, come to my house. I'll build a fire and teach you and your girls how to bake honey bread with sea salt and little bits of lavender in it. And don't forget, I'm only an hour and a half away from the ocean.

LKD said...

I wish I wanted it badly. Were you born wanting it badly? Can you give some of that wanting it badly to me? I know I should want it badly. I know that writing day in and day out, writing poem after poem after poem after poem, writing 2 poems and a short story all at the same time as I did today, should make me want it badly. Yet I don't. Do you have to be born with it? Why don't I want it?

First snow here too, though no frozen cars--at least, not yet. It was snowing when I walked out to my car tonight after work. Everyone was groaning and moaning as we crossed the street. I was smiling. I was grinning too broadly. Hell, I was practically skipping. Why am I so in love with everything that falls?

I'm glad you want it badly. It's what I've always most admired about you.

Oh, and if you don't have a hammer, kicking always works in a pinch. I'll hit or kick just about anything that doesn't work. Sometimes, all that what has been broken needs is a hard, swift kick in the arse. (grin)

I wish you weren't so damned busy. I'd ask, beg, plead, beseech you to be my life coach. Guess I gotta start kicking my own arse, eh?

early hours of sky said...

Right now Rebecca all you would need to lure me is HOT WATER. I'm easy.

Charlie, did you get it? I am enjoying yours ver much. It is good to want things badly, I think.

early hours of sky said...

Oh Laurel, sometimes I think you are more a writer than I am b/c all you do is write. You don’t think about anything else. I get so caught up about where I am suppose to go with it, what it is I’m building. I am sure both have their own heaven and hell.

The pipes are leaking downstairs again and the plumber can’t come till tomorrow. I tried hitting, kicking and I’m really close to screaming.

I would be a horrid life couch—you would eat chocolate and sleep late.

early hours of sky said...

I would also be a horrid coach...there's a freudian;)

Lyle Daggett said...

Sending out four manuscripts in one day. Just off the top of my head, having four manuscripts in the first place seems to me, all by itself, to be a sign of wanting it badly.

Your post led me to think about hearing Judy Grahn, many years ago (early 1980's) here in Minneapolis, at the Great Midwest Bookshow. She did a lecture, or more like an informal talk, in a daytime event along with Joseph Bruchac and Nellie Wong. Grahn talked about being in the Air Force when she was much younger, then she left the Air Force and was working at some type of administrative clerical job, may have been at a university, I can't remember. She may have been writing poetry at that point though if so she wasn't doing much publicly with it. This anyway is what I remember from her talk.

She said that at about that time in her life she became ill, was very sick for a little while with what the doctors described as a swelling of her brain. She recovered, basically, however apparently as a result of the illness she lost, as she put it, all of her academic and administrative vocabulary.

Sometime not long after that she came to confront some basic questions of the directions she wanted her life to take. Especially about the place writing poetry would have in her life. She said that she finally realized (again, as she put it) that she was either going to go ahead and do the things she had always wanted to do, or she would live her entire life without ever having done them.

I'd been writing poems for a number of years when I heard Grahn make those remarks. What she said was a profound confirmation for me of my own desire, my own really wanting to. I've found myself, in years since, from time to time making decisions by putting the question to myself -- either I'm going to do this (whatever it is as the time) or I'm not. Once I get to that point I usually know that I want to.

Grahn also did an evening poetry reading when she was here back then. It was in a huge packed room (the auditorium at the downtown Minneapolis library). She read some poems, and from her prose book Another Mother Tongue which was published shortly after that. As she read, as the reading went on, I gradually had the uncanny sensation that her body was giving off light, that she was emitting rays of light out into the room. It was one of the great poetry readings I've been to. I'll never forget it.

Ivy said...

Don't forget - you are brilliant.

Turquoise said...

beautiful! Yes, YA books ARE predominately about dying.

Melissa Jones Fiori said...

This was an incredible entry. It hit me square between the eyes, and pierced the skin there ... I sort of feel the same way exactly about so many of these things: the children, and the other talented people, and Eva Cassidy, and the epiphany of being the only adult around, and the need for that hammer. I could use that hammer today. Enjoying your blog, --Melissa