Thirty Thirty — The Fancifulnance Dance

Thirty Thirty — The Fancifulnance Dance

Hello dear blogworld bloggers! April is National Poetry Writing Month so I’m taking the NaPoWriMo 30/30 Challenge for the first time eva — thirty poems, thirty days. Yep, I’m attempting to write one poem a day all month long.  You can see my circus flips and flat-face tumbles at a special blog devoted to all the poets doin’ the damn thing: Thirtythirty.org.

The link to my site is: http://www.thirtythirty.org/fancifulnance/ 

Just request to be added as a subscriber! And maybe even start the challenge yourself. Day 3 was a good one. 27 more to go.

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Silver Birch Press

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A CERTAIN SWIRL

Poem by Mary Ruefle

  The classroom was dark, all the desks were empty, 


and the sentence on the board was frightened to 


find itself alone. The sentence wanted someone to 


read it, the sentence thought it was a fine sentence, a 


noble, thorough sentence, perhaps a sentence of 


some importance, made of chalk dust, yes, but a sen-

tence that contained within itself a certain swirl

not 
unlike the nebulous heart of the unknown universe, 


but if no one read it, how could it be sure? Perhaps it 


was a dull sentence and that was why everyone had 


left the room and turned out the lights. Night came, 


and the moon with it. The sentence sat on the board

and shone. It was beautiful to look at, but no one 


read it.

“A Certain Swirl” is found…

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What To Do When The Open Road Gets Lonely

This is not the same as the road getting bumpy. (Is it not?)

A bumpy road has tangible solutions — available, if not always easy, solutions. A road full of obstacles can have the advantage of testing your wits and strengthening your resolve, leading you further toward those heightened moments of “Aha! I triumph again!” that only fuel your fire forward. Testing grounds allow you to “vanquish your enemies” and keep sailing toward your own mystical island only you are 100% certain exists.

A broken string of lightbulbs need repair – aha! I will go to the hardware store. A period is misplaced – aha! I will replace it! A friend starts a fight with you – aha! It may be unpleasant but I will a) talk it out b) find a solution c) do some self-discovery d) realize I am better off without them.

All in the name of — The Big Vision. You will do whatever it takes to do what needs to be done. You feel in your bones a gripping, relentless motivation to keep moving in a certain direction and with the power of this behemoth courage, you will boldly carve away what doesn’t belong. Your mother’s nagging? Don’t need it. Your old friend’s constant bullshit? Why pretend you can’t see through it? Even your own self-doubt — do away with what does not serve your ultimate purpose. Chopping down trees of doubt as they come to plant a richer forest in its place.

Because — you are practically bursting with purpose, a staunch resolve thicker than blood that compels you to spend as much of your energy as possible on propelling you in the direction you know you must go in. If this realization is new, sometimes, first, the path must be cleared. And, sometimes later, cleared again.

So, okay, what happens when you’ve “vanquished” all your “enemies” and cleared space in your head to truly do what it is you’re meant to do? Well, then comes the terrifying part of actually having to… do it.

The bumpy road gives you something to focus upon — either give up and go home or fight harder than you’ve ever fought before to pave a path to later create a world you’ll be able to enjoy.

Loneliness, however, is a different sort of battle — the one with yourself and only yourself. Once all the heckling debris is cleared, or at least clear for the moment, you might catch yourself looking in all directions around you and noticing that in clearing away all the distractions from your work space, you’ve also done a pretty good job of clearing out those simple things that used to give pleasure. Have you forgotten about fun?

As it turns out, you realize, simple fun is very distracting. Once you felt your drive ignite, people who provided simple fun were naturally cleared out of the way. People who couldn’t see or understand where you were headed, who couldn’t get on board with your vision, but who may have filled a Friday night in nonchalance, are now nowhere to be found.

And what is left in their place? Just an echo of your obstacle-clearing battle cry. An echo of it must be. No distractions. Remember you cleared away all the distractions? Silence. The impossible takes shape in the realm of the possible and you are the only one to witness it.

Except now, after all the hard work of clearing an unfettered avenue for you to sit down and make genius on, all you want to do is call back into play the colorful distractions — we writers call this type of procrastination “every morning.” Creating is often a solitary path with no reward but what you afford yourself. So — this is a quick 10 step primer of reminders for when the big bus of lonely hits. (Skip to bottom to just see how Marge Piercy says it better than I ever could.)

So, when the day is spent and you feel too tired to do the work you have to do and almost at the point of mental exhaustion, and you just want to bullshit with the bullshitters, when you start to wonder where everybody went —

What To Do When The Open Road Gets Lonely
(A 10-Step Guide To Accepting Solitary Expansion For Visionaries)

NOTE to all current and future visionaries in any field: Choosing a path of big work that may as yet be unpaved will not net you a hoard of fun, familiar friends (not necessarily, anyway, and not, usually, at first). Fun, familiar friends tend to like to go to already established watering holes and splash and splash, and from your vantage point, you may very well miss the splashing, but as you’re out in uncharted waters learning how to swim and duckroll and tame sharks, you must remember to ask yourself, would it ever be worth it to go back to only splashing?

If the work you’re doing is truly soul-fulfilling, the answer will always be no.

So, when the road gets lonely and you suddenly find yourself in what seems like a vast, deserted landscape far away from all the people having all the fun, first, remember your work. When you remember your work, you step above your physical longing for easy companionship and see that what you are doing is much greater than the present moment. You are already fulfilled. There is nothing missing. Focus takes effort, sacrifice, and nothing is free. Feel into your work. Acknowledge it.

Second, ask yourself whether what you have given up would be worth undoing all the progress that you have made. Would you really want to retreat? Do you really want the easy fun as badly as the present moment alludes? Or can you see above temporary longing to the greater horizon ahead–

Third, ask yourself, really, if you have actually given anything up. Or whether old things that used to delight you just don’t scratch the itch anymore.

Fourth, dive into the itch. The feeling of missing something, of distancing yourself from simple pleasures that used to reward you, is a signal to explore what you really need to be doing in the grand scheme of your big vision. For example, if you are itching to party vacuously like you did when you were 21, you can either realize that you are not 21 anymore, that brain chemistry changes your perception of desire and you will need to move forward, or you can continue to party emptily until your skin reeks of alcohol and your wrinkles stink like cigarette smoke and you have accomplished nothing trying to live in the past. This moment could just serve as a reminder to be where you’re at.

Fifth, realize that focus does not negate pleasure. In fact, focusing on and actualizing a big vision begets a greater sense of fulfillment than the momentary senses. And also, bonus point: you can still party. Who says working hard makes Jill a dull girl? From here on out, the parties are just going to get bigger, better and more interesting as the real magicians start doing more than party tricks.

Sixth, because you’re not partying quite yet, do something to alleviate the temporary fixation on missing the easy, empty, already paved road. Maybe call a friend who understands and is riding with you on the big sassy bull of creation that keeps trying to buck you off, or maybe go running so that your thoughts have something else to do than simply bounce around in your bowling ball head of misguided misery. Sometimes, the right kind of distractions can be great.

Seventh, remember that “conformity proves nothing” and choose your fork. No one said breaking out from the mold would be easy, but you can bet it will be worth it. So, decide to keep on the path. I say it like it’s nothing, but every moment that loneliness or conflict or dissent rears its common head, you are given a choice to succumb to the pressure and give up, or to reinforce the positive thought patterns that will ultimately weave you a rich blanket made from the threads of deep, soulful satisfaction that come from living your life in the way that fits you best. The decision is always being made. (Yes, there IS a way out of a bleak Marxist post-modernism, and it’s being formulated as inner truth.)

Eighth, because you’ve now remembered why it is you’re choosing to go forward in the rambunctious way that you are, also remember that suffering is universal, yet, you have the power to choose whether to make it a productive or stagnant sort of pain. Choose productive. Do something tangible to reinforce the decision you have made. If you are a painter, paint. If you are a dancer, dance, a singer, sing. If you are a writer, by all means, write.

Ninth, congratulate yourself on overcoming another obstacle — because it is –, and give yourself a reward. A cookie maybe! Seriously, cookies. How about a third eye cookie? Chocolate, too. Maybe a brainlessly funny TV show. Whatever works. It may not feel like you just did a lot, but you did. You’re the one training yourself here, so you’ve got to do it right so it sticks. This is scientific positive reinforcement we’re doing here to lead to greater results – because, even though it looked like the road was cleared, perfectly cleared from all your hard work and ready for you to seamlessly, effortlessly stamp your imprint onto the world in one smooth motion (we wish, right!), loneliness often appears unexpectedly as the most profound, yet often seemingly invisible, obstacle that there is.

You have succeeded in clearing a path into yourself. And only yourself. Doing something new or unusual or bold won’t make you instantly popular — in fact, it usually does the opposite, and it’s not until later you get the recognition for all the wanton moments of stress and hardship. But, do remember – no matter what sort of success affronts you later on down your path, these private moments of sweat and heartache — they are yours. Not anybody else’s. You can do with them what you wish. Because you’re the one who’s created the pathway toward that future moment.

Tenth, appreciate yourself and others for the effort and the crazy maintenance of this abstract vision that calls. Even though it may seem like your social circle is shrinking in upon itself when time after time you have requested time to be alone, remember and appreciate those close people, supporters and collaborators around you who are with you as you chip new grooves in the grid — even if they are holed up in their rooms doing what they are doing, and not clinking glasses with you every weekend. Winner’s secret: That’s the way shit gets done. 

And finally, take solace in this poem if it strikes you. It may be the singlemost shining-est beacon of light that I can always, always, always rely on to give me courage and motivation whenever the bumpy road tends to get lonely, too.

It’s not an easy path, but it is a rich one. Proceed.

“For the young who want to”
BY MARGE PIERCY

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

You have to like it better than being loved.

Hail to Hegel’s Dialectical Explosive Synthesis

Let me name for you some of my contradictions. It’ll be fun. And then it will be your turn.

I’m a lazy… activist.

I smoke cigarettes after yoga. (Only sometimes!)

I teach reasoning skills to high school students. My psychic supports this.

I am the straight girl co-founder of a queer rights/ feminist/ group for equality, but I have a pretty singular attraction to rich white men whose debonair style and nice hair conceal an undercurrent of (blech) misogyny.

You felt the need to bring me down because sometimes too much joy is just too much and I still love your stupid face.

Enough about that, I’m reading Nietzche and a self-help book called The Happiness Makeover at the same time – it’s a race!

I’m the wisest person I know and also the most naive, the brightest and the dullest, so beautiful sweet and such a cold-ass bitch. Depends on which superlative you seek.

All we need is balance, balance, balance, I battle cry on my turbo dive directly into the deeeeeep end. Oh, the deep end, my bitter friend.

If I had a resume of ailments I’ve diagnosed myself with it would include, but not limited to: urgently exploding appendicitis, recurring anorexia and simultaneously a propensity for obesity, bipolar disorder, high-functioning autism, gluten allergies, a thyroid imbalance, schizophrenia, paranoia, clinical depression, neuroticism and hypochondriacism. Those last two are probably correct.

I lament that in all that, I’m not a little more OCD. My room would probably be cleaner.

I’m a messy perfectionist. An embracing critic.

I will cry with my whole body, quietly but deep breathingly, sometimes at things happening on television. And I will laugh until I shake, until tears squirt out of my eyes and I grab onto someone just to remember where I am, sometimes because of things happening on the television. Oh wait, laughing and crying ain’t a contradiction – but ask my ex-manfriends and they’ll tell you it is.

They just get angry. Human evolutionary psychology is some kind of crackpot joke in itself, but that’s altogether another story.

Paradoxes can get tiring, but what other kinds of truths have we got? I’m no painter but I’d like to paint a pair of docks shackled to each other. Somewhere deeply inland. With a tagline that reads, “Enough metanarratives already!”

Anyway. I’m a writer who usually prefers a meaty conversation to flashy devices.

All I want to do is leave my ego at the door and help people genuinely, authentically, the way my soul begs of me to do in the ways that I know how. I want to reach people who think they don’t deserve to be reached. I want to pull them out of the muck and laugh about how funny it is that once you thought that’s where you belonged. But then I doubt myself and become one of those people who needs some rope myself. Stuck in the muck. And maybe that’s why I do the pulling. Plus, that’s where most of the funny weird things are born. What would I do without those swampy friends?

I think there are too many people on the planet and too many dumb words already been said, but I want to nurse my own children eventually, and see my name in print again and again and again.

I love to backpack – up and down streams, boots soaking wet and tired and sore. The best meal of my life occurred out in the foothills – tuna fish on crackers. But I will binge on five star hotels that serve you oysters with lemon wrapped in meshy plastic whenever I can, oh honey, take me down to never never land.

I will compost my veggies like a mountain hermit and wipe worm poop all over my pants, then don an evening sparkle dress and throw cocktails down my throat like I’m a hotshot on some Real World trash.

I strive to live richly, richly, richly poor!  But I’d also kind of like regular sushi lunches and new things someday, maybe, finally.

My city friends think I’m a well-adjusted hippie. My hippie friends wonder how the city doesn’t kill me.

I have social anxiety so bad sometimes I don’t leave my house for days. But when you meet me at a party, I will radiate. It won’t be fake. It’s in me.

I want to express in wordy colors all my blah blah, sing out on the walls all my yeah yeah, spin and dance around all my hee hee, and also guard it up, not for the world to see. How much energy for you and how much love for me?

I’m an overgiver who doesn’t quite know yet how to fully receive.

“For such a colorful personality, you sure wear a lot of black.” Has been said about me.

I’d like to not care what you think of me. I’d like to stop saying me, me, me. I’d also like to stop this rhyming spree. But what other vehicle do I have to express what funny weird backward beauties I and you and everyone are, all the time, concurrently?

I want more than anything to feel life coursing through my body full and rich and light and true. But I am attached to the darkness like a shadow I can’t shake. I’m afraid if I shook it, I’d be floating, and floating and floating, but somewhere out there all alone. No safety rope. Misery loves company and maybe there’s another way to be, but I need dark company; it’s dangerous to be so light.

You can absolutely be too free. But rebirth is your right. As many times as you want it. And integration is the key. You can have your own language and speak another tongue, too. You just have to want to.

I’m telling myself, you can fall for the stars and still live a little large.

You can drown science in formulas, then close your eyes and rocket off to Jupiter.

You can wear your contradictions like a robe entitling you to be whatever you feel today. Right now.

And hey, news flash, you there swimming in TV ads and fake boob pornos and consciousness raising questions and comparisons with your peers, and all your wonderful, titillating confusion: you don’t have to be perfect. That’d be nonsense. And actually really boring. But you do have to try. To figure it out. You will have to work to let the old goo morph into newness or else what is it worth?

You can be as genuine as you are pretending and I know you’re good at pretending. Just take the real stuff, take the other stuff, take the inner and the outer stuff, take the messy stuff, and the gorgeous stuff, mix them all together and shake.

Look at me. Identity crisis ice cream sundae.

At least I’ve made hesitant friends with my shadow side – I’ve named her Rikoklyn; she’s snide and has mean teeth. Sometimes I like her. Just for something different. Capiche?

So it’s pretty much guaranteed – your multiple heads with all their silly hats will fight and fight and fight. But don’t fight the fight. There is no should, no supposed to be. Just you, some different outfits, and how every different day you choose to be.

So that’s it. How I let Hegel dialecticize me toward every new resounding, explosive synthesis. How every idea gives rise to its opposite, and something new is born. How you can learn to train yourself to let things die when they need to die. It’s simple but hard. And sometimes it takes a while before the birth. Survival is a spiral, adaptation on a level you can see. Slowly winding forward.

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The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. -F. Scott Fitzgerald

You Know You’re Living In L.A. When…

1. 8 out of every 9 people you know are either aspiring to be, or already are, a) screenwriters b) directors c) actors d) working with/for/under a, b or c, or e) somehow famous enough so that the first page of Google for their name is splattered with half-naked pictures of them. Or they’re despairing that this isn’t the case, and planning to go Kurt Cobain on the world if they don’t have a million Twitter followers by the time they’re 27.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Kurt Cobain. But just in general, stop being so emo.

2. You plan your days around traffic (ABSOLUTELY no freeway driving between 7 and 10 am or 4 and 7 pm), but if you DO find yourself driving on the 405 during rush hour alone, that’s when the voices start misbehaving –  for example, somebody screams, “SHUT UP ALFRED, Mama said stop whining. We’re going to get home eventually, but your incessant crying is NOT HELPING!! Don’t make me stop this car and start running down the freeway naked again,” to which somebody else responds, “What the fuck, yo, just chill the fuck out.”

Yeahhhhhh. He’s one of my voices.

3. You negotiate business rates for work that requires travel based upon how far you have to drive, but primarily during what torturous hours of rush hour. This is a completely acceptable and common form of negotiation. And when you say, “Well, we set up an appointment for 5:30 pm, but if I’m driving back at 6:30 on the 605, I’m going to need a little more incentive…” you simply hear them nod over the phone and go, “Ah yeah, the 605 at 6:05, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. Okay, we’ll see what we can do.”

4. You get a knock on the door from some guy at Fox who wants to film a scene from the new Kiefer Sutherland movie (or TV show or something) in your house. You act nonchalant. Even though, hasn’t it already been 24 fucking hours?

“So I’m looking for a place to film the new Kiefer Sutherland show. We need to destroy some stuff. Hope that’s okay.”

5. You have a parking pass for a lot near your work but goddamit they’re filming Dexter there – AGAIN! It makes you want to KILL something!

6. In the summertime, your brain overheats at 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, so you can’t think about anything except stripping down to the least amount of clothing you own, which is usually a bikini, at most. It’s not always vanity, people. It’s science.

7. You’re at the beach where the sand is practically exploding with overheated, beautiful naked people whose brains are mushy from smog, movies and sun stroke. These people labor all year long to sculpt their bodies into marvelous pieces of sex, while overhead flies a plane dragging along an advertisement for a huge, beefy cheeseburger accompanied by fries glistening with grease, which reads, “Upgrade to Jumbo size for only $.99.” And then it makes sense why you hate yourself.

Nope, sorry, this isn’t reality.

8. During the winter, you… wait a minute, yeah. There’s not really one of those.

9. You meet young professionals from New York who are like, “man, California moves so much more slowly. How do people get anything done here?” as you’re both reclining on an outdoor patio, enjoying a refreshing mint julip over lunch. That has lasted an hour and a half already.

10. All the girls smell nice. But probably have 4 out of 5 of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. And will whore around for dinners and/or spots in upcoming films. There are some wily-ass bitches in L.A. These are not the girls who give strong, smart, independent women a good name – but don’t look at me like I said it! Everyone knows.

11. At a swanky rooftop Hollywood party, it’s not uncommon to overhear fresh-looking, pressed young gentlemen in suits gushing to some blonde babydoll about how he just needs to get her in this commercial, then in a B-list movie, then work her way up the ladder. “You’re going to be famous, baby!” And also, bend over.

12. You’ve shaken hands with at least two famous directors, been to a few movie premieres, spotted Harrison Ford at dinner with that tiny little wife of his, and hung out with some high-level hotshots. But you know, they’re all just people. And you all go home to sleep at night. Except your dreams are about baby clowns, and theirs are about what to get Brad Pitt for his birthday.

13. You laugh when you see a bus full of ogling tourists bump’n around in one of those “Star Tours” vans with camera arms outstretched. You know personally where Michael Jackson used to live, and don’t really care. Plus, if you wanted to pay $500 to sit in a crowded bus on a hot day with smelly, overweight geriatrics, you could just ride public transit in circles nonstop for a year.

OMG HI everybody! Are you ready to pay a lot of money for something you could totally do yourself? Yes? Okay! Welcome to L.A.

14. The majority of people you know from college who moved to L.A. to “make it big” somehow just became assholes. Giant, prickly pink assholes who stink up the air around them with their premature egos paired with an obvious lack of genius.

15. You can never find a parking spot. AND THIS IS THE WORST THING EVERRRR

16. Wait a minute, no. Getting a parking and/or traffic ticket nearly every other fucking month is the worst thing ever. Fact: street sweeping was invented by Satan himself. And remember that point about driving all the time? Yeah, you’re pretty sure there’s a warrant out for your arrest. Fuck it.

Yes, I know. You see it, and you know it’s not real. But you want to cry and/or punch a baby anyway.

16. You’re sick right now and bored and tired, so you decide to blog about stupid things that happen in L.A. And because your brain feels like a lumpy sack of gel cups that used to be Sharon Osbourne’s breasts, this is the end of the list and who knows if there will be more later. Oh, wait a minute. That’s not how you know you’re living in L.A. when…., that’s just me. Right now. And yes, I technically live in Long Beach. But even though haughty Bel Air-ians refuse to recognize the lovely LBC as part of their sovereign nation, it’s still fucking part of L.A. Thanks. K bye.

17. The city of Angels brings out the snarky, aggressive edge in… some people. So what? I like it, and I’m going to go bathe now.

In my own vomit, I mean.