Monday Night Nonfiction: Arson

housefire

He said, Go write. Write what? Write something just for you.

Everything I write is for me. Get in the moment of ink in pen on page stop thinking thinning out like hair growing up going up to some height unseen uncomposed undreamed. Forget to plan the right word foot in mouth disease like the dis-ease of life watch my glass ice melting smoke fills this room in me. I am a house on fire, and inside me, someone’s choking on smoke. Those poems I used to write. I was a natural. I was brilliant beautiful unedited, uncensored, unplanned. I was surprise. On the page making myself, many versions of myself, cry. Laughing so hard at how ridiculous life is all the times you’re so desperate to feel something you’ll pretend to be in love. Then real love throws you for a loop, and you have to admit to all those years of lying. But you weren’t lying. You were just pretending. It was a game. I don’t care if she doesn’t get it. I don’t get a lot of writers and I don’t expect them to write me a preface.

There is no preface to me. This is, I am, writing is experience. I am asking you to submit yourself to this experiential learning. Conceptual ideas abstractions don’t work here. We’re talking about abstractions already. You can’t make abstractions about abstractions. That’s just stupid. That’s why we never get anywhere. So that’s it.

Stop and take a sip. Get your head together again. Relight the incense. Be glad you can’t erase this. If only all life really were recorded in some great book. Memoir is how we make up for all our lost belief. There is no god to tell me I’ve been good and treasure all my deeds, so I commit them to pages and leave them to you, world.

Stop stopping to think goddamnit. He said write something for you. Do it. I don’t know how. How how how to be mine and that’s what’s scary. Yes to the night. Yes to time. Yes to smoke filling that room inside me.

Get out goddamnit get out. Climb the ladder of my lungs and slide down my tongue to freedom. Open the shades of my eyes and jump for crying out loud. Get free. Get out. Smoke is filling that room, smoke from an infinite fire, and you’ve got to open up some doors or die.

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I Love Cindy Gallop

Cindy Gallop phptographed by Kevin Abosch

“Because it is uncomfortable to work with women, because we are different from you. Women ask tough questions, they ask them in life and they ask them in business. /…/ Greatness comes out of discomfort. Hire women, champion women, promote women, spend time with women. It is not as comfortable as hanging out with the guys, but it’s going to be more productive.”
Cindy Gallop on why you need to hire women

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I Am Not My Work

Art by Benjamin Gabriel

Not too long ago, I wrote about how being a writer is meaningless. I’ve continued to think about that idea, and today I just want to share some thoughts about it.

I used to want to be a famous writer. Actually, I had a very specific goal — to have my works included in literary text books for high school and college students. I wanted my writing to be considered definitive of an era. After all, anyone can write a book, but in order to feel that I was really a good writer, I needed to be the best writer.

My entire identity and self-worth was wrapped up in this idea of being a great writer, and if you’ve any idea of what the publishing industry looks like right now, you can probably imagine how this is a problem. No one wants to publish your book? Probably because you’re worthless as a human being. That was pretty much my internal dialogue for a few years.

The prospect of earning a living as a writer was terrifying. I loved writing because it was literally my main tool for navigating the world. I trusted no one but my own writing, and I was completely wrapped up in my own inner world, which is why I had no close friends for a really long time. To turn that into a source of income made me feel too vulnerable, and I was unwilling to do any writing I didn’t really love.

At the same time, my yoga practice was starting to teach me, “You are not your job. You are not your belongings. You are not your social status.” I still struggled with the idea that I needed to be something more, something better. I needed to be great but couldn’t wrap my mind around what that meant.

Only when I started teaching yoga did that change. When I’m teaching a class, I don’t want to be famous, to prove myself, or to impress anyone. All I want is to do a good job for the people in front of me. When they visibly improve from one class to the next and say “thank you” to me at the end of the day, I have the most amazing feeling of success I’ve ever had.

I no longer feel that need to prove myself as a great writer. I write because I love it and because it’s a good tool for me. Writing is now part of my yoga, part of how I understand the world, but it’s no longer my identity.

After all these years, I realize:

I am not a writer.
I am a me.
Writing is something I do.
My writing does not define me.
I do.

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Weekly Assignment: What Do You Need?

Take what you need

Here’s what I want you to do right now. Take stock of how you feel.

What’s your energy level like? Rate it from 1-10 where 1 is falling asleep and 10 is bouncing off the walls.
What’s going on in your mind right now? Just make note without dwelling on it. Are you thinking about 15 different things? Writing your to-do list?
Are you worried about anything? Holding on to anything? Obsessing about anything?
Are you bored, anxious, or angry?
Are you hungry?
Just pay attention for a minute to what it’s like to be in your body, in your life, right now.

Now, here’s the important question: “What do I need or want right now?”

I try to ask myself this question pretty regularly, and I get a variety of answers depending on the day. For example …
friendship
a hug
to be heard
a few minutes of silence
really loud music
an escape
money
something to work on
therapy
medicine
a nap
a walk
a kitten
a vacation
to get laid
to feel appreciated

The follow-up question, of course, is “What can I do to address that?”

Do it every day this week, and indulge yourself. If if what you want is an orgasm every day, you just go the heck ahead and do that, guilt free, ok? If anyone questions you, tell them I said you could by the almighty power of the internet. See how you feel when you grant your own wishes.

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