Micropoetry Monday: Anti-Love Story

Dark heart

Her wedding had been a bright dot
on the timeline of her life,
her divorce, a dark one.
The line connecting the two
turned clear,
for the way it had all gone down
had blurred the happy memories
they once shared.

When he was alive,
she was a hypersomniac,
for she slept to escape him through dreams
that led her into the arms of her dreamboat,
but when he died,
he haunted those dreams,
driving her to insomnia,
& into the arms of the man
who would become her lifeboat.

He chased ambulances,
she chased dreams,
but when he helped her see that
the new American Dream
was as shallow as suing those
with deep pockets,
she got herself a settlement
to pay for law school,
becoming a bank breaker for some
& a dream maker for others.

Practical Minimalism: Things Can Lead to Experiences

Shelfie

Experiences are better than things, but a thing can lead to experiences.

The minimalistic creed that experiences are always better than things is untrue, for I say it depends on the experience (and the thing).  

The experience of going to the library was okay, but the experience of a book I buy and read multiple times is better. Since Covid, I have subscribed to Amazon Kindle Unlimited for me and have added many more books to my daughter’s physical library.

The experience of shopping for a new phone was a hassle, but using that phone to group text my friends for a girls’ night out, promote my Instagram poetry, or play Scrabble is better; buying a new TV was forgettable, but having a 42″ screen where my husband and I watch Wheel of Fortune is better. We bond over skewering Pat for some of the !@#$ he says and the contestants for the bad calls they make. 

The experience of going to the Pensacola Interstate Fair was all right (I make better, and cleaner, fair food at home), but I’ve had just as much fun playing with my daughter in the big blow-up pool (a “thing”) in our backyard.

Some experiences have sucked (like revisiting the Italian restaurant where my husband and I used to go when we met ten years ago), where my time would’ve been better spent watching the current Holiday Baking Championship.

However, some experiences have been wonderful. Sometimes, the simplest experiences are best, such as having a meal at Chick-Fil-A with my family (before Covid), meeting friends for drinks and tacos (or one-on-one for coffee), reading a new bedtime story, playing board games, singing Christmas carols, trying a new baking recipe (will be making my first savory cheesecake next week), making Christmas placemats (a laminator is a must for any homeschooling classroom), creating unique Christmas cards via TouchNotes for some of my friends, and so forth. 

Experiences like these are what life is made of, and most of them aren’t Facebook or Instagram picture-worthy.  

There’s a great quote in the movie Tully, in which Tully tells Marlo (a married mother of three young children who seems to be struggling with the baby blues) that she hasn’t failed but has made her biggest dream come true: “That sameness that you despise, that’s your gift to them [Marlo’s children]. Waking up every day and doing the same things for them over and over. You are boring. Your marriage is boring. Your house is boring, but that’s … incredible! That’s a big dream, to grow up and be dull and constant, and then raise your kids in that circle of safety.”

You don’t have to experience something new every day because every day in and of itself is an experience. My best experiences haven’t always included pictures but are in the stories I tell and the memories I share.

When my job situation often changed (the nature of being a student worker), with my husband and I moving every two or three years (you have to go where you can afford to live), I found myself in a constant state of anxiety. However, we are finally reaching a level of homeostasis that feels an awful lot like contentment (not to be confused with complacency). 

I love my life as it is, which doesn’t mean that I don’t want more; I am just working towards being more. I tell my daughter in homeschool: The more you know, the more you can do, and the richer your life will be, for the more you will be able to do for yourself and others.

I remember a motivational speaker once saying that the two things that make us happiest are helping others and creating something. This Christmas season, I have been fortunate enough to do both. I would also say that staying connected to friends and family (in-person, if possible, or via telephone, not text) is the third part of that, for being giving of your time is the greatest gift.

” … remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

What I Learned from a Memoir Writing Independent Study

2003 (2)

Dad, me, my brother, and Mom (circa 2003)

Memoirs are autobiographies for those who have a story to tell, not for those whose story has been told.

Last year, a friend and coworker from the Writing Lab mentioned that she had taken a memoir writing class. Though I’ve written a few novels, several short stories, and numerous poems, as well as a handful of personal essays, I had never, to my knowledge, written a nonfiction piece that read like a fiction piece, in which I was the protagonist.

My teacher, whom I’d had for Fiction Writing and Careers in Writing, agreed to do an independent study to meet the two-class requirement I needed for financial aid. Despite the pandemic, online options were still limited. 

Though I didn’t get feedback from other students on my pieces (which can be a hit or miss kind of thing), I got feedback from someone who has been doing this awhile—who doesn’t just teach about writing but is a writer herself. 

I’ve always struggled with coming up with essay-like stories about my life: I’d written about my summers in Poplar Bluff, when I was a live-in nanny in Montana, and when I left the Mormon Church, among a smattering of others, but these were all significant events, not everyday ones. Through this class, I learned how to take something small and write about it in a way that highlighted its significance.

I learned how to write a literary piece of nonfiction and improve my essay writing skills (and the differences between them). For literary nonfiction, I learned how to dig deep and remember things that were said, maybe not precisely (like you’d have to for a journalism piece), but close enough. This class inspired me to pay more attention and jot down things people say.

We discussed publishing for our last meeting, and there are many markets (not blogs or platforms, but paying markets) seeking personal nonfiction. I decided to avoid markets that prioritized authors who fit a certain demographic over stellar content. I am an average person writing for ordinary people, and I write about my life as an individual, not as a member of any special interest group. 

I learned more about myself through this process and felt more comfortable writing about myself in a way that made me human rather than the ever-sympathetic character. I was just thinking tonight that even though I don’t want people to think I’m not a nice person, I’d rather them think that than be a virtue signaler (and an obvious one at that). It is much more intrinsically rewarding to do something good in private. Before I post anything on social media, I question my motivations. Usually, it’s nothing more than just to entertain, show off my wit, or engage in a fun conversation. Once in a while, I share something that shares my values because I think it’s important not to be ashamed of what you believe. (Just don’t let yourself get into a long Facebook conversation about it. Ain’t nobody got time for that.) 

Though I came up with a dozen ideas for stories, I wrote about what it was like living in a shelter and being an expectant mother during this pandemic. I also wrote a humorous piece on growing up with avid genealogists for parents—a suburban Hillbilly Elegy but in a stable family environment. 

The last I consider one of my finest pieces of work. 

Though I love blog writing, most blog posts don’t have the timeless quality that memoirs do, for memoirs tell a story; they don’t try to convince you of anything (and they’re certainly not a rant). You get information from a memoir, but it isn’t informational, and it is something I will do more often—now that I know how to do it well.

Micropoetry Monday: Love Story

Sepia heart

Martin was into building blocks,
Mary, dollhouses.
He liked to build homes,
she liked to decorate them.
When a bulldozer named Suzie—
a wannabe homewrecker—
came along,
she was bested by these newlyweds,
for when they’d gotten married,
they had thrown away the receipt.

When she looked across the table—
over candlelight & roses
& dinner for 2—
she wasn’t reminded of why she’d said yes
but rather,
why she’d continued to say it.

He was a comedy of manners,
she, a comedy of errors.
When they fell in love,
going so far as to do
that nauseating heart thing
with their hands at sunset
(becoming an Instagram cliche),
she realized she’d taught him how to lighten up,
to not be afraid of putting off others
for not being a put-on,
even as he’d taught her how to apply a little polish—
not to cover up who she was,
but to reveal the wonderful woman she was
underneath the social awkwardness
that she had learned,
out of necessity,
to embrace.

Micropoetry Monday: Anti-Love Story

Dark heart

She liked vintage dudes,
vibes, & threads,
but when she met the man
who was just the right age,
he told her
that she was too young
for him.

He had delusions of grandeur,
she, of persecution.
They made quite the mismatched pair,
for he believed that she wanted him
only for his awesomeness,
even as she believed that he wanted her
just so he could do away with her.

She was the kind of trophy wife
everyone got for participation,
he, the consolation prize for
coming in last place in anything,
but they made it work
simply because
no one else would have them.

Micropoetry Monday: Love Story

Sepia heart.jpg

He wouldn’t have loved her whole,
but when he became half a man,
he loved her wholly,
for she was willing to be
his more able half.

In the worst of times,
she wanted to set their life on fire,
drown his sorrows with gasoline or
punch hers into confetti,
for the entire picture was too painful
to take in all at once;
in the best of times,
she forgot the worst of times.

He took a vow,
she took an oath.
Though his wife was difficult,
& her terminal patients were
in pain,
they remained steadfast,
but when his wife left him
& a particular patient passed away,
he found refuge in the nurse,
& she,
as a wife with but 1 patient:
her husband.

Micropoetry Monday: The Lighter Side

In the valley of the dollhouses
there lay the site of the Calico Critters’ Lumberjack Festival.
When the Hopscotch Bunnies decided to participate
alongside the Eager Beavers
rather than fell trees,
they were needed on the roofs
to get better reception.

When 10:10 met 8:20,
10:10,
an annoying, perky sort,
told 8:20 to turn his clock face frown
upside down
& 8:20,
taking his advice,
cleaned 10:10’s clock
with his longer hand,
so that it took a minute
rather than an hour,
making 8:20 feel like an a.m.
rather than a p.m.

Mr. Gherkin always found himself in a pickle,
Miss Cherry, a jam,
but these 2 accident-prone soul-mates—
1 sweet, 1 sour—
had never met until they were joined
in sandwich-style matrimony
by the pregnant bridezilla.

Micropoetry Monday: The Lighter Side

Mary Katherine McFeeney
of Washingham High School,
Class of 1988,
had been a “Who’s Who?” in her heyday,
but Hellen Devlin,
the girl who’d watched M.K.
since their freshman year—
becoming an unofficial M.K.M. scholar
& penning the M.K.M. Fictionary—
had wondered why & how
“the girl most likely
to spread more than good cheer”
had ever achieved such acclaim,
for M.K. had never known what was what
but rather,
who was on first . . .
& second . . . 
& third,
giving the word “Homecoming”
a whole ‘nother meaning.

Born a “Children of the Damned” blond,
The Girl grew up believing
that she became invisible
whenever she closed her eyes—
only to realize that with invisibility
came blindness,
but as she grew & her hair darkened,
she actually got brighter,
that is, until she became nostalgic
for her happy-go-bumpy childhood,
& she reverted to the bottle,
lamenting the dark roots
that were just a branch
of the Black Irish part
of her family tree.

He had a face for radio,
she, a voice for print journalism.
They were only 10’s,
that is,
if they were added together,
so they married not up
but equal to one another—
with her writing what he said
& him saying what she wrote,
they lived fair-to-middlin’ ever after.

Election Day

Since coming of legal age,
she had voted her conscience,
though this time,
she knew it wasn’t so important that others knew
why she voted the way she did,
but that she knew why,
& she needed to justify to no one of her reasons,
which were her own.
In remembrance of a life well-lived,
she recalled her grandpa’s words
when someone had asked who he was voting for,
& he had said,
without apology & without hesitation,
“None of your damn business.”
She realized then
that just as everyone had a right to their opinion,
no one had a right to hers.

Micropoetry Mondays: The Lighter Side

When Sticky Fingers Sal & Pickpocket Pearl
were strolling out of Curl Up & Dye,
Sal, distracted by a Grammar Nazi on strike,
slipped & fell into a plot hole.
Pearl, always quick with her hands,
reached into the man’s pocket
& stole the ultimate weapon—
his dangling modifier.
She held it down for Sal who,
even after her rescue,
just wouldn’t let go of it.

He was a tautogram,
she, an anagram.
They were socially-awkward individuals,
for he got his tongue all twisted,
just as she was all mixed up.

He was White Wine,
chilled to perfection;
she was Red Wine,
perfect as she was.
Then along came
Pink Champagne,
all fancy & bubbly in her flute
& saying to Red & White
that they were mere
lunch & dinner accompaniments,
whereas she was the star
of holidays & weddings.
But then she met Beer,
who was enjoyed out of the tap,
the bottle,
& the can,
& she realized that his fans
would enjoy him
from any vessel.