Don't Forget the Margins

Category: MFA

A True Non-Fiction Writer Now: I Failed to Delve into Sentimentality at My MFA Graduation.

I graduated from my MFA program at Goddard College this weekend. Now as I scroll through what seems like yards of social media posts from my fellow graduating classmates, those amazing (and I really mean it) people smiling next to their diplomas or reaching out with final words on the event that led so many of us beyond ourselves and to ourselves simultaneously, I’m seeing so clearly where I’ve been or rather who I’ve been through all this.

I hardly took a picture of the event. Or of myself with my friends. Or even thought to “require” that someone take a picture. I mean, yea, I thought about it but I didn’t care in the moment. Maybe care isn’t the right word.

photo (39)

I took this picture today. Because I felt guilty that maybe future me would be disappointed in me for not marking time with an image.

I’m not much for sentimentality, at least not now. I was, I think, more into all that at another time in my life where I knew less of my own boundaries and my own worth. That’s not to say the being sentimental involves not having boundaries or not loving oneself, that’s just to say that I was more sentimental in another time when those things were true for me. Part of it seems that I may have the propensity to be too sentimental, to meld into other people and other stories that are in the past or not my own. I also am not able to be with the present moment and fully take in if I’m doing it in a way that feels like finality or scarcity.

I don’t do sentiment gracefully.

Pictures to me don’t tell too much about the moment once you’ve forgotten it a long ways down the line. My internal memory, though malleable as it may be, at least feels like its doing the work to root down the important bits. I choose to be at peace that what needs to stay will and that all else will blow into the wind. I choose this mostly because I have a terrible time letting go of things and a worse fear of forgetting.

13517542_10209043108612951_9012180573681383799_o

I am in a picture after all!

Sentiment is one of those tragic flaws of non-fiction. One must skirt the edges of feeling. Name the emotion but not become the emotion. I can’t tell you or show you what something means if I myself am not yet slightly removed from all the mess. Emotion is telling but it is not trustworthy.

I think at the end of this MFA program in particular, I had so much I needed to say and express that I wasn’t willing to engage with sentiment. I was too grateful, too needing to be with the final moments of all that Goddard was for me that I couldn’t mourn it all quite yet. I suppose I’m mourning it now—and wondering if maybe I should have taken more damn pictures.

 

 

 

Advertisements

I’m Actually Just Beginning.

2016-02-01 11.56.03The end of my MFA program is nearing and while I don’t think I expected to feel any particular way by this time, I am surprised by how it feels less like an event on a timeline and more of an inevitable coming together of parts of myself. There is the slightest speck of relief but mostly what I feel is excitement, like I am beginning and not ending something.

How to Start Again, and Again.

There’s the concept of the mind as a well, the imagination as a spring: liquid metaphors for the finite and the soon to be dry. It’s about watershed management, isn’t?

That’s why, one month ago, I bought a handful of brass finished, perfectly round, 1/2 inch in diameter magnets from the boutique next to my work. I took them home and put them on top of my desk. When I look at them, sitting there in the limited variety of shapes they make, I remember that I spent 15 dollars on decorative magnets. This feels like faith and tells me that I must be a believer.

This is when watershed management turns into pantomime.  But then of course, it’s never been about anything tangible. It’s belief.

Writing, Obsession.

First of all, the fact that I’m even dealing with the word obsession, is stressing me out. This is not me being obsessed with my writing. This is me writing at my obsessions. Not about. At. This isn’t skimming the surface of old habits, this is going back and holding on tight.

 

obsession

ob·ses·sion

noun.

An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.

 

Writing into my hard spots is making me wish I’d never made that pact with myself to stop writing about love and romance.

This was me: In the style of Miranda July’s short story “It Was Romance— Hard Times. Love poem. Break up? Love poem. Relationship. Love poem. Real life. Love poem. Restaurant Job. Love poem. Car Breaks Down. Love Poem. Genocide. Love Poem. Queer Politics. Love Poem. Parent’s Divorce. Love Poem. Decrease in Minimum Wage. Love Poem. Sex Worker’s Rights. Love Poem. Paleo Diet. Love Poem.

At least I knew where I was headed when things went badly. Writing into my body issues, my near constant fragmentation of self, insistence towards using my mind to reason through the unreasonable is like unwinding a yarn ball that’s been sitting in an abandoned wet then dry again then wet again desert shed for 15 years. It may have at one time been your grandmother’s but nature has taken over.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on The Desert and Making More Space.

I just got back to Tucson after 10 days or so in the tree cover and green of Vermont. It’s a slow adjustment. While I was there I hiked twice and hardly saw any wildlife: just flying insects, in my ears, around my head and birds. At night there were fire flies, which I didn’t realize were fire flies at first and I thought I was witnessing a miracle. In a way, even in my knowing, it still feels like a miracle.

I commented on the lack of wildlife to my MFA peers. One responded, “This trail is the highway of this forest with tons of tourists like us tracking through. Would you want to be seen if you could be hidden?”

I want to be seen no matter what.

photo (8)

Goddard College, Plainfield VT

The desert has few places to hide. It’s all space and water retention. I was walking up Tumamoc Hill the other day in the afternoon heat and I saw everything. I remembered what it felt like to be so uncovered. The tree-lined heart doesn’t usually survive in the too hot desert, so I made sure to make space on the way up. I moved my arms all crazy, like I was trying to push and pull all the universe at the same time, because it was the middle of the day and I was alone. On the way down, more people came, so I stopped.