On Being Okay With Dying

The steps for writing a poem are as follows:

1.  Don’t write a poem for a year or so, only use previously written poems when people ask you for one, and wallow for that year in your inability to write anything quality.  Feel crushed.  Consider becoming a stripper to pay the bills. Buy only lettuce to try to channel and bask in that “starving artist” mentality.  Give it up cuz lettuce sucks and eat an entire pizza.  Feel briefly and primally satisfied.

2.  Stay up way too late one night so your brain is a mess of emotions and words and stanzas.  Read Dickens.  Turn out the light and listen to your bird make his way over to his perch in the darkness.

3.  The inspiration comes: it’s often just one line that just makes you want to take your muse by the shoulders and whisper sweetly

you are brilliant you are

 

(because apparently I can’t get through a post without including a Doctor Who gif)

4.  Your heart rate increases dramatically.  Gotta get the adrenaline going in order to make the trek across your room to notebook and pencil.  Much to the annoyance of your bird, you turn on the lamp again.

5.  Then you write.  It’s like how whittlers say the shape of whatever they’re carving is already in the wood, and they’re just coaxing it out–in writing a poem, you want to feel around in the corners for every scrap of imagery and line that’s supposed to be a part of it (I’m very spiritual about this okay) and make sure it all gets there somewhere.

Usually at this stage my mind is 90 miles ahead of my hand and sometimes words get combined or even whole stanzas.  Afterward I have to go back and disentangle them.  The important thing is just getting everything down.

6.  Stay up for another hour or so, heart still racing, unable to sleep because you’ve penned the Great American poem,  you feel it, and won’t your mother be so proud?  (It’s midnight now so you can’t rush to her and brandish it under her nose.)

It’s always much worse when you wake up, but, eh, it’s something.

Without further ado, I guess: the poem I wrote last night.

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On Being Okay With Dying

Maybe, someday, kids everywhere are gonna have to memorize your name

cramming first and last, middle initial, basic life stats

down their throats the night before History finals.

 

Maybe, someday, you’ll be a scorch mark in a family ledger

that obscure branch of the tree your nieces can’t quite remember

because, as far as they can recall,

it bore no fruit.

 

Maybe you’ll crawl into bed with someone some night

and to them your smile will taste like lemonade spritzers, watermelon sangria

and your laugh is like orchard workers tossing apples to each other from the tops of ladders

The way you move to turn off the lamp is peach brush strokes on a gray canvas.

 

Maybe you’ll start spending too much time in cemeteries

swaddling yourself in black and buttons and a scarf thrown over your mouth

walking with the crows and mostly trying to avoid one grave in particular

because you know how you’ll scuff your toe along the empty plot next to it, thinking,

Mine.

And who’s to stop you digging into it now,

folding earth around you like the cloak of a magician

performing his final disappearing act?

 

Instead you waltz, alone

slowly and gimpily

the way they never quite managed to teach you.

You can see your breath suspended in the chill

and you start to laugh

because you’re quite literally dancing on your own grave

and then you stop because you wonder if it’ll still be funny

down on the receiving end.

 

Maybe, someday, they’ll dig up your diaries

and you’ll be a relic, and a legend

a little girl in a checkered dress

imagined in sepia,

scented like yellowing old books and dust and sunbeams in an abandoned house.

Not watermelon sangria.

 

Maybe they’ll dress like you and your friends

at a theme dance at a middle school.

 

Maybe you’ll do extraordinary things with your life.

 

Maybe you won’t.

 

Maybe you’ll go down in textbooks.

 

Maybe you’ll go down quietly in the obituary section of your town newspaper,

circulation 800,

like a late-summer peach no one notices shuddering and bumping to the ground.

 

Maybe someone catches you before you bruise;

maybe something comes along a few days later

and leaves

with sticky whiskers and paws.

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So…that’s all, folks.  As always, things are ©The Girl in the Orange, BUT if you luuurve (or hate?) things then any feedback or sharing (via reblogging, Twitter, Tumblr, email, shouting from the rooftop of your school gymnasium, etc) is GREATLY appreciated.  I’m pretty serious about this writing thang; every bit of constructive criticism/exposure helps.  Happy Sunday! 🙂

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Three Thursday Things

1. I’m having waaay too much fun with da new orange camera.  Favorite present, hands down.

Breakfast this morning--banana custard oats in a peanut butter jar (the hot oats melt the nut butter into ooey gooey deliciousness!).  Also, Pluto spoon.

Breakfast this morning–banana custard oats in a peanut butter jar (the hot oats melt the nut butter into ooey gooey deliciousness!). Also, Pluto spoon.

2. By recommendation of my Language Arts teacher (surprised me too!), I am now reading the Bible book of Ecclesiastes.  It’s awesome.  It’s like a fantastical hybrid of philosophy and religion–love, love, love.  And a book that starts off with the bold proclamation ‘Nothing has any meaning!’?  I’m intrigued.

“No matter what you do, work at it with all your might.  Remember, you are going to your grave.  And there isn’t any work or planning or knowledge or wisdom there.” (NIrV)  Ecclesiastes 9:10

❤ Nice reminder.

3.Today I went to the doctor, again, to see if they had anything more to say on the matter of these dang knees.  They’re killing me.  I can’t run–I haven’t run for a month–I am SO JITTERY…

They still have no idea what’s wrong with me.  So they sucked the red liquid of life out of a hole in my arm (the phlebotomist asked me if I was 11 years old) to test it for what may or may not be juvenile arthritis (which apparently runs in the family), which may or may not mean that I can never run again, which may or may not cause an emotional breakdown and/or intensified interest in CrossFit.

I did get an orange bandage.  But still--I think I was entitled to the cookies that ensued.

I did get an orange bandage. But still–I think I was entitled to the cookies that ensued.

Sigh.

Happy Thursday.

Deep Thought of the Week: And the Meaning of Life is…

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…wait for it…

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…love.

I’m not talking specifically about romantic love, though I imagine that’s nice too.  I’m talking about the kind you feel for everything beautiful in your life–your parents, friends, family, strangers that do kind things for you, pets, teachers, the hole in your jeans you can’t bring yourself to sew up.  I am becoming more and more convinced that if we were created for a sole purpose, then that purpose is to experience love in all its dazzling guises–from the friend who you profoundly connected with at first sight, to those blind “flings” scribbled about in your journal, to the amazing solidity you feel leaning into someone that you know and trust with your life, letting yourself be warm in their presence.  Letting all boundaries and “censored” portions of yourself fall away around these people.  Laughing genuinely, with all of your soul.  I cannot think of a purer, more right emotion.

Love is tense sometimes, drawn out like a highwire punctuated by spats and I’m-never-speaking-to-you-agains and moving out of state and tears and long silences from the other end.  Occasionally it feels like someone is working on sawing the cable.  But never, ever, ever is it cut completely.  You stand on a platform high up in the circus of life, one million different tightropes fanning out in front of you, grounding you to the real world.  If, for some reason, one rope is abandoned, with no one on the other side, you still feel the hollow ache, the agony, the longing, when you toe the line.  That rope will always be there.  But it’s there along with every other, those glorious ones anchoring you to kisses and hugs and late-night talks and quiet smiles into your pillow.

You can find love in the simplest things: a cerulean eggshell under a cedar, a hollow of new life, graffiti on your school mirror proclaiming Lauren wuz here.  How many wars could love have stopped in its tracks?  If you have loved something or someone with all of your heart, you are leading a meaningful life.  Hold onto it.  Walk the tightrope with your head held high and a smile beaming from your face, positively radiating even more life and joy and love.

UPDATE inspired by the kind but noteworthy comments of Rachel: I suppose I am including a lot of positive aspects of daily life as love. I guess when I think of empathy and reaching out to people, being kind, I include that as “love”. When I think of charity or going outside of your comfort zone to connect with people less fortunate than you, I think that is “love”. Love, to me, is the appreciation and expression of the beauty and kindness that everyone in this world holds inside them. Love can be a sweet note taped to your locker door or love can be a soldier going into battle for what s/he believes is right, or a lawyer fighting for the same. Love is the realization that we are all in this together, and we all deserve to feel…love.

I do not mean to shoot down other important emotions here, like empathy, wonder, elation, exhilaration, or even profound sorrow.  But “love”, to me, is realizing all these emotions for the sheer realness of them, and recognizing that everyone else feels them at some point.  Maybe even loving them all, and willing others to feel them as well.

I realize it’s probably a bit audacious to post this–proclaiming that I have found the sought-after “meaning of life”.  And I know other people probably have their own answers to this question.  But think on this for a little while.  Come back to it, comment with your objections.  I want to hear them.