mistakes by the lake

sit down. let me tell you a story about ohmygod what am I doing?

Month: August, 2016

Work in progress: A poem I wrote while I was waking up

I love to look at pictures of other people’s artistic process, or creation process. Messy studios, a whiteboard covered in ideas, a rough sketch before it’s turned into a painting– yes please. The pencil marks that you see when you get close to a painting just feel so honest. With that in mind, I’m trying something this week, and I hope you’ll keep reading and watching.
As I wrote yesterday, with no purpose other than getting my thoughts out of my mind, I made a total mess. Super messy first draft. So much may get deleted, or changed, or expanded on. I don’t know yet. Instead of doing that work in private, and then presenting you with the finished piece, I’m going to treat it a bit more like an open studio. Every day, I’ll post the piece just as it is, wherever I’ve gotten in the editing process. Please leave comments Tell me what you think, or what you like or what you want to hear more about. While my writing is my own, I love the idea of it being more of conversation between me and the people reading. So, it’s Day One, and this is my unedited, straight from the source, run-on sentence laden post, that is not sure if it wants to be a poem or prose, for you.

I wrote a poem in my dream, and recited it to myself, as I was waking up. I wish I could remember it.


Listening to what your body and mind need requires a little more quieting down of the other sounds. Don’t fight the seasons. When you see people, tell them you are happy to be seeing them if you’ve missed them.  I need to stop apologizing for needing to be alone so often.


I went to the farmer’s market, and felt guilty for spending money on flowers because they’re just for me. I remembered, almost instantly, that the flowers were as important as the fruit. Fed my eyes, fed my body, because I was hungry.


The world feels so noisy. I don’t need to listen to everyone who wants to tell me about myself. I don’t need everyone’s input. This is not a group project, but I am asking for help. This is not a team effort, but I do need support. We’re our own little islands, little ecosystems, but we send out boats, to gather and deliver, and see what discoveries you have made, and to share ours. To give you art and to bring yours back home. This small island is floating, it is floating through my mind when I am waking up, as I begin to anchor it back to the shore we share, to anchor myself back to a shared safe place. Some days I don’t want to leave the island. Some days I do.


I’ve been thinking about what control means, and why it isn’t necessarily bad to want. I don’t want to control you, and I don’t want you to control me. I want to control what I can. There are things I can’t control, and that’s fine. Sometimes, when I don’t know how to move forward in some area of my life, I control little things, like the way the furniture is arranged, or the way the cups sit in the cupboard. I don’t have a person who tries to control my life, or if I do, I don’t know who they are, and they’re not doing a very good job. I feel the ways that society is trying to control me though, and it reminds me to keep sharing that with others. It’s like a light I need to keep on. I keep the light on in the lighthouse, to help the other islands make their way, to see what they’re doing over there.


I have to keep things quiet to be able to pick out the noises that I need to hear. When I’m mad, it’s too loud, and I need to walk away, or at least look away, look inside, duck inside, for a moment. I need to take a look around, to see the pieces, to hear the voices, and to decide if and when I need to react. Do I need to pick up my anchor, do I need to move? Do I need to stay, do I need to call my mom, do I need to run around the block, do I need to hug my dog, do I need to be held, do I need to be sleeping. Do I have a need, or can I sit still and wait. I need people to listen to me, and I need people who want me to listen to them.


 On my island, floating out at sea, bumping into the other islands some days, setting sail for your island to drink coffee where the water meets your shore, because we need more than our thoughts and words. Some days what I need is to hear someone else’s breath. The smell of another human and a “yes, I know what you mean” from their lips is a piece of magic, is a whole wrapped gift. Watching someone else smile at something you’re smiling at too, is the place where I want to live, or at least have a house. The deeper in love I fall with my own island, the deeper in love I fall with others. I always forget that love is not finite, and because you have some for someone else, it doesn’t mean you don’t have enough for me. The more I love myself, the more I have for everyone else. The more time I want to spend on this island, sitting in the garden, and writing and taking a nap because the sun is perfect against the bed right now, the more strength I have to listen when I set sail again, when I’m sitting on your shore. The more energy I have when we’re all bumping up against each other’s island, when we’re sending our boats out, when we’re discovering how far we can sail away and still find our way back. If it looks like your island is on fire, and you’re throwing everything into the water, including yourself, I want to be able to see you, and I want you to feel seen. Even if I can’t put the fire out, maybe you can see that I have my fire contained to just one candle, that I keep at the center of my kitchen table, and it would give you hope.


A case for quiet

I am not a natural at things that involve physical grace or balance. I practiced shoulder stands almost every day last summer just because I wanted to know what it felt like to hold myself upside down. It feels really good, by the way. Perhaps I was too enthusiastic about my balancing skills the other day when I fell out of a headstand and landed in a crunchy, awkward way. For the last 3 days, I have been icing and heating and whining a moderate amount. It hurts constantly, unless I remain completely still. Walking around like a robot has been annoying, but it did bring up some thoughts on stillness and listening that I’ve been noticing.

I recently found a picture from four summers ago. It was of my sister and I and my dog, hot, sweaty, maybe drunk, definitely giggling, on the porch of my studio apartment in Chicago. We lived together that summer. I feel like I was usually kind of dirty and sandy. I hated my job. I was desperately fighting for the attention of people who didn’t deserve it. I drank more than I could handle. I smoked more cigarettes than I wanted to. I had more than one instance of crying under streetlights with lovers who weren’t ready. I was a lover who wasn’t ready. I was a friend who wasn’t present. When I looked at that picture, I kind of missed how alive I felt then. That photo looked like it was pulsating. The things that matter are still true—I will still always want to be in a sweaty giggle pile on the floor with my sister and my dog. However, I don’t feel more alive when I’m fighting to be seen by people who can’t see me. I don’t feel more alive when I’m drunk and fighting under street lights. I do feel more alive when I feel balance. I had to think about it, because losing that level of energy can honestly feel like a loss of life. Like, oh, I am growing up and therefore life will never been as amazing as it was when I was a bunch of exploding fireworks, feeling everything to the extreme. I would argue that being still and listening more can make you feel just as alive.

I feel like I was fighting myself for the last 18 months or so, kicking and screaming through the transitions that I chose. Lately, I feel like I’m just watching the pieces falling around me. Like little pieces of paper, from some explosion, are blowing around, sunlight shining through. It’s a quiet place. It’s not scary, even though I have no idea what’s coming. I would go so far as to say this part feels like magic.  This is just the part where I listen. I can be gentle with myself here, but not because I feel fragile. Slow movements can be a way to take care. These are quiet realizations. I let my head slide under the water in the bathtub and realize that I’ve just let something go. I’m walking up a hill, and there’s a breeze, and I let something go. These are the quietest realizations that I always expected would be more dramatic. They do not make me burst into tears, or scream, or decide I need to pack up my things and move out of the state. Like that summer three years ago, I feel like there’s a lit pack of sparklers in my chest, but it no longer feels like an emergency. Just like, I lit these, and they’re beautiful, and it’s fine. There is nothing to scream about. Nothing is on fire. This is not an emergency. This is grace and balance, and it just slipped in the door when I wasn’t looking.