enter the mess

graffiti: summer hat, pink & yellow with a blue ribbon & flowerWe try things and try things, we find out what works for this moment, this timeframe, and then when it stops working, we try something else. Sometimes we spin for awhile, trying to figure out what changed: why isn’t it working anymore? But eventually –don’t we?– we relent, and let the change in.

Good Tuesday morning! This morning, Sophie and I walked down to the water, we saw a great blue heron drifting overhead, and she saw her first calling seagull, lifted her ears to the sound, got distracted then by the thud of the small bay waves hitting the seawall. As of last Saturday, she’s been with us a month. What changes we’ve all been through — and here’s this new life that’s pushed her warm face into both our hearts.

Today’s the first official day of summer, summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere — how are you going to mark this day?

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Last night was the second meeting of the Summer ’11 Write Whole workshop. We met at the LGBT Center just for this one session, because our regular space was otherwise occupied. I led my first writing workshop at the LGBT Center, back in 2002, and so I get nostalgic whenever I enter the building, I remember those women and their patience with me, faith in me, while I was trying to figure out how to lead a writing workshop. We claimed space in those concrete-block rooms and let our erotic writing sing and spin and sorrow and celebrate and dance. Hard to believe I was just 30. Hard to believe it’s been 9 years.

Here’s one of the prompts from last night — I offered these three fragments as starting places:

– To write is to enter the mess… (Aja Couchois Duncan)

-I feel less alone when I tell… (Eileen Myles)

– Years ago, she stopped…

(Choose one of these, or more than one, or notice which one is choosing you, and let that be your starting place — finish the sentence, and keep going. If you get stuck, you can begin again with the same fragment, or choose another one. You might also change the fragment in some way, adding the word ‘not’ or changing a pronoun, for instance. Let yourself write for 15 minutes, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go!)

This is what I wrote in response to this prompt (we had 20 minutes):

To write is to enter the mess, is to spill out all your syllables, is to devil all the precious eggs everyone else is carefully walking around upon. Writing opens the vein, lets in air and lets out pus, lets me breathe again, I mean, breathe with gills & webbed toes, breathe against the tide that’s coming, breathe through the mountains of fear I live within. To write is to enter the fuse, set electricity from my lips, ride open every agate and gate, close the circuits, let sparks fly, to write is to see what I forgot I was thinking, is to be unstable, grammatically incorrect, metaphorically questionable, raging through and without machines. To write is to pass the words forward, to dance around old truth, to hunger with pen and ink, to kill him over and over, he who is only saved by the unmentionings, the unsaying, the not speaking, to write is to put my blood to his lips and say, now there is what a real woman tastes like. To write is to understand I have enough blood to give. To write is to tell about his tiny dick, grey pubes — these details are not evil in and of themselves, but when I write, I set his truths to paper, I make them flat and 2-dimensional, I make his monsterliness just plain old boring patriarchal misogynist bullshit. Show the underside of one more regular old child molester, I lift up th rock he turned himself into hen he lay upon me and reveal the white grasses, tiny bugs, balled-up rolly-pollies, ants, beetles with shiny stained wings, all the life still making a way down here. Down here. To write is to go down, in, it’s the only metaphor I trust, to emerge with handfuls of something I smear on the page — I don’t stop to read, reflect, reinterpret, just stain what was empty, secrete all over the silented, and move on with more handfuls. To write is to mix up the wheat paste and poster the neighborhoods of my insides with noise & mess, to blur all the boundaries, remove, muddy the sharp crease between good girl office worker regular wage earner and the dirty girl who stands on a stage with the words of sex falling out of her mouth — to write is to lose track of identities, loose the tense muscles around neck, shoulder wings, belly, coccyx, thighs — is to set vowels, variables, into those muscles, transcribe a new calculus, slope new languagings for ease to ride itself on. This is what writing does. It marks up what we work so hard to make clear, it pulls tight all the lines it’s cast forth within us — knotting together past present future, allowing for no difference, allotting space and time for the true, brilliant catastrophe we were meant to be. Our skin, this singular organ, contains every possibility we ever laced with might have been and the writing sets all that possibling free, lets it step ginger or fierce into the world, lets us learn our own new all the way over again.

Keep writing, ok? Thanks for the way you trust what is unclear in you, the way you love what’s unresolved. Thank you for your words.

2 responses to “enter the mess

  1. Just want to thank you for being such a wonderful reader, Renee!

    xox!
    Jen

  2. To write is to mix up the wheat paste and poster the neighborhoods of my insides with noise & mess, to blur all the boundaries, remove, muddy the sharp crease between good girl office worker regular wage earner and the dirty girl who stands on a stage with the words of sex falling out of her mouth — to write is to lose track of identities, loose the tense muscles around neck, shoulder wings, belly, coccyx, thighs — is to set vowels, variables, into those muscles, transcribe a new calculus, slope new languagings for ease to ride itself on.

    So gorgeous these words. Thank you.