Last night I had a dream about Wheel of Fortune in which the contestants were so dumb, they couldn’t figure out the puzzle ‘S-A-E FURNI-URE’. No I have no idea what the hell “State Furniture” is… but when only the ‘T’ is missing… I don’t think I’d guess the letter ‘C’ which is what they did. So I started yelling at them for being idiots, and all of the sudden they were in my living room.
Not really sure what that one means. Unless it was somehow me getting out my angst for having to listen to the most god awful narrative/descriptive essay in the history of the written word. I don’t mean to sound like an elitist snob, but it really scares me to see America’s next batch of English teachers. Really, really scares me.
As if hearing this assault on language was not enough, I then sat dumbfounded as people actually praised it. What the hell! He kept referring to these two questions and answers without giving the reader any friggin clue as to what the hell he was talking about, he was way overstated in the sensory details, and gah. Oh the worst, the worst… my professor says “I think you could find a career as a story teller.”
Second worst… student (who at one point I regarded as one of the more intelligent of my classmates) says, “Don’t say you’re not a writer. Because you are.”
GAH! Look, I’m a bad writer. And I’m not saying that because I want everyone who reads this (with the noticable exception of Oliver because he actually tells me the truth) to say ‘No, no you’re a fabulous writer!’ but because I know what good writing is. And I’m not it. I’m getting there… slowly. But I’m not delusional. But this guy… this…
I think what made it worse in my mind was the fact that the girl who read her essay before him, actually was decent. It wasn’t a fabulous narrative, but she had some shining moments of humor and it never made me cringe. Well her accent did but that was unavoidable.
Anyway, next year I will be surrounded by ridiculously talented poets and I can go back to relaxing in my obvious inadequacy. My biggest fear is having them say, “Uhhh… maybe we shouldn’t have admitted you… because you really suck.” Poetry is hard. I keep forgetting how hard it is until I sit down and try to write something. Maybe that’s why I seethed so much when Oliver said that poetry was easy; I feel like it should be easy if you’re good at it. I feel like once you find your voice, that’s all there is to it. The words just flow right out of you. But more and more I sit there and look at what I’ve written thinking, “This sounds like prose.” I worry constantly about the language not being interesting and that’s just the first hurdle. Then there are the questions of “What are you trying to say” and the worst, “So what?”
Spring semester Junior year I wrote some really awful poems. Fall semester Senior year all of the sudden I was writing “good” poems. My Poetry professor said (and this is a direct quote), “That car accident was the best thing that ever happened to your poetry”. But why. What about smashing my head through a window suddenly made me a better poet? What changed? What was my process before the accident, and after. The problem is the answer I keep coming up with is “Damned if I know.” I think I’m worried that it was some kind of fluke.
Sometimes I feel like my life is just an act. I know I’m not any good at the things I pretend to be good at, and my life is devoted to tricking people to believe my self-delusions. Then I wonder if I can trick myself into really believing the delusions, and in doing that the delusions will be real. Because I’ve already seen some really crappy writing and hear it praised, why should I be any different?
When I was a little girl I used to go to Audobon Zoo and climb the oak trees. I never climbed anywhere that I couldn’t see a way down; always had to have an escape route. Some people barge ahead without thought to what happens if they get stuck. The act of doing is enough for them, and if they do get stuck… they just find a way to get unstuck. My mother once told me that as a baby I once sat looking at an Ottomon for the longest time… then all of the sudden I climbed up on top of it, and climbed back down. I didn’t want to get on top without first figuring out a way off. She said “Oh you were so conscientious, you could concentrate on a task until you found a solution.” Bullshit. I just refused to go anywhere without knowing I could back out. Just because I was patient (a virtue I seem to have lost), doesn’t make me any less a coward.
I’ve known this about myself for a while. It might be why sometimes I like to perpetually screw myself into a corner and laugh. I don’t know if it’s a conscious decision or an unconscious one, but I’ve done it too many times to deny that I’m doing it to myself. I don’t feel balanced if my life isn’t completely fucked over somehow. I like removing all my options, refusing all help, and wallowing in self pity. I like fresh starts just because I know I get to shoot myself in the foot all over again. Of course that’s not what I say at the time. In the moment it’s all about, “Oh now you’ll get a second chance!”
I do like writing. I did like climbing trees. I’ve been barreling ahead without really looking back for so long, that I don’t know if this is what I really want to do… or if I’ll get to the point where looking back, I don’t know how to scramble down. And when I finally run out of branches, will it be because I don’t need them anymore? Or because I want to laugh at myself as I fall into the abyss.