The value of information

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Too little information.

I can’t smell anything.

I can’t taste much.

I can’t speak foreign languages.

I don’t know when I’m going to die

Or how.

I don’t know what happened before I was born.

I can’t know how others feel about me.

Or what’s been said when I’m not around.

What it means when they say I love you

Or fuck off.

Too much information

I’ve been a therapist for 30 years.

I have a laptop and an iPhone and an iPad.

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Sunday NYT

Xrays, MRIs, CT scans

I was born again one time

I also kind of died once.

I was with my father when he died.

It’s confusing

All this information.

So the questions I ask myself today are ones I thought I’d share with you – what do we do with knowing that there’s seemingly important information that we don’t have, maybe even can’t have, at least not now?

And what do we do with too much?

And my answer today is not all that different than my answer to most dilemmas that I face. I root around – mind, body, spirit - until something opens and new words, strings of sound, pictures both moving and still life, come popping streaming sliding in as though all I had to do was ask. And then I slow down enough to write them.

I don’t know what I would be like now if I wasn’t like I am. I’m sitting next to a clear glass vase filled with fresh lilacs. They are … pretty. At some other time in my life I might have gone on to describe the Spring party of scents that erupts from their clustered blooms. I would have buried my nose in them just to reassure myself that they still smell as sharp and sweet and thick as I remember.

I don’t do that now because my nose and my mind aren’t speaking to each other.

I am mad at my nose and mad at my mind and mad at the lilacs and mad at the fucker that didn’t see me on my motorcycle. I could conclude that I do not have enough information here to smell the lilacs but, if you’re with me here, that doesn’t seem to be true. What seems more true is that there is some information, the kind that does not come in through the nose or the tongue, that can steal the show. Like mad. Or sad. Or scared. Or confused. I think this might be true elsewhere as well.

There might also be too much – too much information.

I don’t want to be cluttered with visions of rotted garbage and bloody corpses and plastic seas. I don’t want to hear about the awful things we do to each other or even the awful things we think of doing to ourselves. I don’t want to reach up only to fall back down and I don’t want to let go only to be hauled back. I don't want to watch someone I love go away. I want to understand what’s going on and how to fix it, I want that Serenity Prayer and I’m tired and I want to smell lilacs but I don’t want to smell or see or hear darkness and suffering.

So I guess that’s where some of the struggle is coming from. The more I go on here, the more I can see the problem I have created with my wanting and not wanting – they are not always in cahoots with each other. There’s things I want but I don’t want what comes with them.

I’m glad I didn’t die and that I get to be here today but today is cloudy and I want it to be sunny.

Okay, I’m changing that up right now. Because it’s also true that I love cloudy days – they help me stay indoors and write. Now, doesn’t that feel better?

I want to be able to use all of my body in the ways I used to enjoy and I want to be spiritedly engaged in my work and my not work. I want to feel sassy and smart. I want to make something new that lights up the room and the day and the faces of those I love and even those I don’t love. I want to be part of a wave of creation.

But for now what I will celebrate is that I am glad to be writing this, that I have the time and the space to do it. I’m at a women’s co-working space that has grown since I first joined. I drove my car here. I stopped at the Y on the way and rolled around on an exercise ball with a bunch of Baby Boomers to the tune of Shut Up and Dance With Me.

I’m smiling right now because I’ve read that it makes us feel better. It does. This much I know is true. I can start there.

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Slowing down for magic

On a recent evening we were walking on our rural road, my mother and I, when far up ahead we saw a whitetail deer crossing the pavement. A shadow nearby, her newborn fawn, no larger than a cat, born that day or perhaps the night before. We stood still, watching from afar as it followed its mother into the safety of the brush, spindly and unsure and looking wholly exhausted with the world.

We marveled at the deer’s tiny-ness and continued with our walk. We had been too far away to see exactly where they had entered the woods, but we gazed beyond the branches and greenery as we went to see if we could detect a sign of the mother deer and her unbelievably small charge. At one point we stopped completely and stared into the woods, trying to see past the leaves.

We were looking in the wrong place. I touched my mother’s arm to get her attention, because at the exact point we had stopped, a minuscule spotted bundle curled motionless in the tall grass next to the road.

To exhausted to follow, the fawn had lay in that spot, waiting for its mother to return. What reason or energy or strange ultra-accurate unconscious calculation had caused us to stop in that very place, we don’t know. I say it was magic or some earth spirit or higher force saying, look at this. Be connected to this beautiful moment. Stop and look.

There are some writing retreats that focus on craft, on critique, on the expertise of authors.

We stop and look.  

Can you remember the last time? Is it hard for you to remember that time when you were a child and you were bored?

Magic happens at a slow speed. We step outside of our lives so we can slow down.

What can you find? What will you see? It’s waiting to be discovered.

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Modern dance performances and amber stones, by Eline Van Wieren

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Last weekend I went to a modern dance festival where young dance makers get to share their work with the world. One of the pieces I saw was choreographed and performed by a girl who I think was somewhere in her twenties, just like me. She was wearing oversized soft pink track pants and a black t-shirt with what looked like a heavy metal band logo printed on it.

In the festival folder, it said that her piece is research on the pre-consisting ideas and images of the female body. An exploration of how her body deals with loneliness, rage and sensuality.

Her dance isn’t what you’d expect dance to be. It’s not elegant and flowing. The movements mimic daily life motions so closely, it’s hard to know what it is that you’re actually looking at. You could even argue if this is dance. But I don’t want to be like the average close-minded fifty-something theatergoers that I’m surrounded with. I’m an art school student. I’m cool and I have a well-curated Instagram account. So I tell myself: Dance can be whatever it decides to be.

 The girl on the stage has long blonde hair in a ponytail high on her head. The music intensifies and she starts head-banging. The music softens down and she starts to undress. The black shirt and the washed-out white sports bra. The track pants she doesn’t take off completely; she lets them hang around her ankles.

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She starts rubbing body lotion on her legs, her arms, her belly and her chest. I know what she’s doing. This is a performance of self-care. A performance I’ve do every Sunday night, without an audience, trying to make it look natural. She rubs the lotion on her perfectly formed breasts. Breasts that would do well in a black and white photoshoot with a girl between freshly washed sheets looking into the camera caught off guard, showing everything but the nipple.

There’s also bouquet of flowers on the stage and the puts them in her neon pink panties. I look at her, sitting on stage under the bright lamps and think: I know what you’re trying to do. Being naked on this stage, trying to show the world that you’re allowed to do whatever you want with your body. But this is not a statement. You’re pretty. You have the body and the breasts and the pretty face. You’re exactly what people want a girl to be.

After the show I go to the bar and order a drink. I look next to me and there’s the girl with the blonde ponytail high on her head. She smiles at me and says, I love your necklace.

Thank you, I say. She reaches for the gold chain with the amber hanging from it.

She holds the stone between her thumb and index finger. Her forehead is about as tall as my collarbone and I look down at her bright blue eyes. Standing here in front of me, she looks so much more fragile than on that stage. She’s the kind of girl a man could wrap his arms around, pick up off the ground and there’d be nothing left for her to do than wait until he puts her down again.

She says, amber is supposed to turn negative energy into positive energy, but I don’t know if I believe in that kind of thing.

She is so nice and smart. I feel like maybe I should say something, about how I call myself a feminist, but still manage to judge brave girls who happen to also be pretty. But that doesn’t seem like a fun thing for her to hear, so I keep quiet. We talk about other things and her eyes whenever she speaks, her eyes glance down to my chest, where the golden-brown stone is laying between the folds of my t-shirt.  

At night before I go to bed I look at myself in the mirror as I take of the necklace and think of all the work that little stone has left to do.

 

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Scars

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I wrote this piece during a session at our Marrakech retreat in November, and it seems appropriate to share it this week, when women are losing ground again in America, ranked 51st in the world in terms of gender equality. Check out the Daily Show’s “Desi Lydic: Abroad” for more on this topic.

In my dream, a bearded man compares his shark bite scars to the ones from my double mastectomy. He draws a line on the ground, wants to measure the length. Are they this long? he says, but he doesn’t know that my scars are three-dimensional. He seems threatened by my pain, wants to dominate that, too. He sees a power he doesn’t like and doesn’t understand. When I wake, I hear men’s voices downstairs in the house, ghosts or real, I don’t know. I hear footsteps on the stairs.

I am a monolingual drifter, learning languages I didn’t expect. I translate my stories through alternate universes. The alien who can leave her broken body whenever she wishes, the vampire who heals at the blink of an eye—still, both with psychic wounds they have trouble reaching.

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A dove perches on a TV antenna like a weather vane. Sparrows gather in a flowering vine. I contemplate loss and gain, a misplaced or sacrificed iPod, found sunglasses and gremlins or fairies, weakness and sickness and falling off a stone step, landing hard but without bruises, missing towels and caterwauling, sweet tea and magic places that hide in a maze of stone walls. I will see more clearly when I’ve gone from here, or maybe tomorrow or tonight or something will happen later and I’ll see how to end my novel the right way.

There was a man in a café in Madrid who angrily demanded my change, shaking an empty plastic cup at me until I demanded he leave me alone, and I think of all the times I should have gotten angry and didn’t, and accepted things because that’s how it was, these things happen you know.

A few random memories surface, bubbling up one by one in a tempestuous boil. The time when I was eleven and an older boy pinned me on a neighbor’s bed, demanding I kiss him before he’d let me up, the weight of his body crushing the air from my lungs. Much later, the time I was promoted to a job I was proud of, the first female to hold this position at the company, and a male colleague said ‘Wow…so, what’s up with that?’ Or how I talked one night at dinner not long ago about walking down the street near my apartment and two different men in two different cars stopped to comment on my appearance or ask me my name. Just be nice and keep walking, my father suggested, and I said why, why should I have to be nice when I feel threatened? That’s been part of the problem all along, that men have seen women as “for” them, to comment on or to offer the gift of their attention, because that means we’re valuable, even though they miss the dimensions, and they don’t see the ways we have to think six steps ahead of any situation, how it distracts us from the things we’d rather be thinking about.

Which brings me back to my novel. Back to making it right. Back to wondering whether I can carry it through, or the other one, and reading last night about Haruki Murakami, how he decided one day in the middle of watching a baseball game that he could probably write a novel and did, a few months later, sending off his only copy to a contest without another thought, only caring about completing it and not what it meant or whether it would ever get published, like a sand mandala, colorful and singular and temporary.

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A Meditation by Eline Van Wieren

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When I meditate, I sometimes imagine I’m on a tiny string connected to my crown that leads all the way up to a to a gigantic golden ball hanging somewhere between the roof of the house I live in and the clouds.

That might be a weird thing to do, but my yoga teacher says that gold is the color that represents love. I imagine the string being a like a leaking tap where it connects to my crown and the gold drips into my body. It fills up my feet toe by toe, all the way to my ankles. I get distracted by thoughts. Probably something about something I wanted to do yesterday but forgot.

When I get back to the leaking tap, the gold is already reaching up to somewhere around my knees. I hear a car drive by and I think about the children in the backseat and the radio station they’re listening to. For some reason whenever I think of people in cars, I imagine them singing along to a Tracy Chapman song.

I think, this is a strange thing I’m doing. Shouldn’t I be sleeping in until way past noon and drinking gin tonics and maybe sleep with some guy I care nothing about? Shouldn’t I be doing things that will turn in to stories that I can tell to make me an interesting person? But the gold has already found its way to my belly button.

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I sigh. The air I draw in reaches down all the way to where my panties start. When it leaves my body I sink a little bit deeper into my meditation cushion. A few days ago, a guy asked me why I sometimes wear make-up and I told him it’s so I can feel like a real girl. A soft and hairless girl. My aunt says I shouldn’t call myself a girl anymore, I’m a woman now. But most of my socks have holes in them and I often forget to change my bedsheets before they start to smell stale. The gold spills over my armpits into my arms.

Last week I went to a yoga class where at the end we sat in a circle to tell each other the things we had on our hearts. If you wanted to talk, you pressed your hand palms together before your chest and bowed forward. Then you waited until the group had bowed back to you before starting your story. In the middle of the group was a vase with half-withered flowers. Nobody was allowed to respond to what you told them.

When the class was over, one of the women in the group came up to me and asked me if she could give me a hug. I told her she could. I held on to her tighter than she held me and I was aware of it. Everywhere I go I look for mothers. I wasn’t sure how long the hug was supposed to last, so I tried to let go in phases. When our upper bodies were no longer touching, she placed one hand on my waist and the other on my shoulder. She said, ‘Don’t forget you’re a beautiful person.’ We looked straight into each other’s eyes and I hoped she thought my face to be pretty. I asked, ‘Can we do another hug?’ We said we could. She was soft.

I am almost filled up with gold. All of me is glittering and there’s no one here to watch. I don’t really know what love means, but at least I can imagine all this gold and glitter. All the weight of this body has sunken into the laminate flooring. As the last drop reaches my skull, the bell of the timer I set dings. I open my eyes and the gold is gone. I move on with my day.

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Origin story

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As I write this it’s May the Fourth, an adopted Star Wars celebration day (as in, “may the ‘fourth’ be with you…”), just a few days after the death of Peter Mayhew, who played the beloved Chewbacca. My favorite TV station, Comet, was playing a clear Star Wars knockoff, the 1978 Japanese film Message from Space.

And just a couple of days ago, I interviewed a young woman, who, through a flight scholarship program, got to fly a private plane with the original Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. I was trying to play it cool, but it was hard to hear her answers over the sound of my twelve-year-old self screaming at me from across time. I’m only one of millions of people who were hit with a bit of The Force growing up, and as a writer, its influence and impact on the shape of my imagination are undeniable.

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The original Star Wars film came out when I had just turned 7 years old. The truth is I wasn’t interested, or I was too busy with my Barbies to notice. I didn’t see it until a few years later, as I recall, when the library put on a showing of Star Wars in anticipation of The Empire Strikes Back. Then I was totally in orbit, so to speak.

The Empire Strikes Back expanded my understanding of storytelling. It was the first film I remember where I felt truly shocked by the twists and the pain inflicted upon a main character: Luke got his hand cut off! By his father! Who he didn’t know about until just now! It was also the first film I recall that didn’t have a completely happy resolution—what? They can leave us hanging like this? Where is Han??

While my young pre-teen/early-teen years I was mainly interested in Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, the presence and influence of Princess Leia was undoubtedly the most impactful. My mother likes to tell a story about when I was four years old and had said something about becoming a nurse. ‘You could be a doctor,’ my encouraging mother said. I apparently snorted derisively and said, to her horror, ‘Girls can’t be doctors!’

Clearly, such a notion didn’t come from my mother, and demonstrated how a misogynistic society had already wheedled itself into the unsuspecting brain of a toddler. To that point had witnessed no females or female characters in roles of authority. Princess Leia began to turn that around. Soon afterward Sigourney Weaver sent a scary Alien flying out of an airlock, all by herself, though I didn’t watch that one until much later.

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Also much later, I learned the screenplay for Empire Strikes Back was co-written by Leigh Brackett, a longtime novelist and screenwriter who died shortly after turning in a first draft of the screenplay. Early on in her career she was called in to work with William Faulkner on the film The Big Sleep by director Howard Hawks, who assumed she was a man. Brackett also wrote, among many things, the acclaimed post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel The Long Tomorrow. I found other ‘hidden’ writers, Andre Norton among them, and began to question why science fiction—a genre launched by Mary Shelley—was a ‘male’ domain.

The Star Wars franchise, like for so many others, also offered me heroes when I needed them. Around the time of Empire Strikes Back we moved to a rural town that seemed to have a different mindset and a different vibe. The kids were different. We moved in the middle of the school year, and I was something different to them, an easy target for bullies. I retreated into my imagination, creating my own internal fan fiction, putting myself in the Star Wars universe as Luke’s Jedi sister (yes, before I knew he actually had one!). Later I began writing my own stories, an oddball fantasy series casting my enemies as the antagonists.

I dove into other books—my mother’s Trixie Belden mystery series, the off-the-wall Hitchhiker’s Guide books—and I set the foundation for an inner world that has become a strange, delightful and gothic bit of architecture with lots of weird staircases. That’s part of my creative origin story. What’s yours?

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A Writing Tip by Eline Van Wieren

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It is a Monday morning and you’re ready to write. Your desk is cleared of clutter. A cup of your favorite tea is steaming next to your notebook. Maybe there’s music playing, something soft and instrumental. And the weather is nice and sunny. The pen that has the nice grip is hanging between your fingers, tip almost touching the blank page. Nothing happens.

The page stays blank, the tea goes cold. The blue sky of bright ideas for how the story should unfold totally covered with grey clouds. It seems like it’s going to rain, and you don’t like rain. But you said you wanted to be a writer. And this is what writers do. They sit their asses down and write. Because inspiration is a myth, there is only perspiration.

A sentence formulates in your head, but halfway through you think this is not is not a good sentence. I can’t start filling a blank page with a sentence like this. And you think of all those books with great opening sentences. And you think of all the bookstores filled with those books. Those writers could do it. Most of them aren’t even good writers, but they did it. So why can’t you do it? Why can’t you just tell the story? Just tell the goddamn story.

Get up. Get yourself out of your chair. Close the notebook. Get out your phone and google: ‘thrift shop near me’. Leave your tea to get cold and way too strong. Put on a coat, maybe even a scarf it it’s cold. Hop on your bike. (If you’re not from the Netherlands, walking or driving is fine too.) Skip the novels and non-fiction, go straight for the gardening book section. The ‘how to take care of your weird animal that probably shouldn’t be a pet’-section. Maybe even a classic like the artbook section. Definitely the section with books that fit in nowhere else.

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Look for the covers that make your brain go ‘ding!’. The one with the weird parrots. The one with all the floral drawings. The one from the seventies on fun holiday activities with pictures of model families. Whatever makes something tingle, wherever in your body.

Take them home. Get out your scissors. Put on something like Beyonce or a cool indie band that. Start browsing. Cut out whatever draws your attentions. Words. Pictures. A beautiful coffee stain. Do not stop until the entire surface of your desk is covered.

Next step: wander through your living space and gather your favorite books. The ones you read with a pencil in hand to underline the passages that struck you the hardest. And while you’re at it, get a glue stick and some blank paper.

Return to the desk. Now browse to your favorite books until you get struck again. Write the quote on a piece of paper. Lay it down on the blank piece of paper.

Now browse through the cuttings. Find things that complement the quote or do the opposite. Or maybe do nothing at all but are just pretty. There’s nothing wrong with a little pretty.

Find a composition that works and glue it down. Repeat once or twice or until you no longer feel like doing it.

Hang the pictures on a wall close to your writing space. Clear out your desk. Make yourself a new cup of tea, pick a different flavor. Get out the notebook with all the blank pages. Roll your favorite pen around between your fingers. Take a deep breath. Start again. Tell the story.

 

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Pathways

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Lately my mind has centered in on the places where I could’ve taken different pathways and what that might have meant for me. With our Costa Rica retreat coming up in January, it occurred to me that one of my divergences happened here at the young age of 24, recently out of college and feeling directionless and lost.

That year I had worked a temp job to scrape together the money for the three-week interim course on tropical ecology. I carried with me more than a suitcase—emotions I couldn’t sort out, rendered sleepless and raw, as I often am when traveling, though this was my first solo out-of-country trip, the first that put me far outside my element. The first away from my husband.

Like my mix of emotions on that trip there were terrible and beautiful things everywhere. Scorpions and tarantulas and a 16-foot boa constrictor captured in a swamp we were supposed to walk through. There were long bumpy roads and watery food and endless treks and mud and tiny tents and sleepless nights and fear of the unknown we had yet to encounter.

The magic flower.

The magic flower.

 I wanted to absorb all of it. Howler monkeys groaning in the treetops. Colorful hummingbirds, feathered jewels that buzzed around us like fairies. A walking palm, a tree whose roots grow on the outside, allowing it to slowly move itself to a place where it can get more sun. There was a magic flower that popped open into splendor if you removed the covering that hid it from sight. The beauty and magic were speaking to me, sending messages about turning my face to the light.

 One night we camped on a beach, waiting for sea turtles, and in the no-moon darkness we followed each other’s flashlights to a place where an endangered leatherback laid her eggs, surrounding her in a circle as she labored in a trance. In the depth of her concentration, we were invisible to her. We were invisible to time and place. I felt like a ghost haunting another world.

Out of my element, I found something. I couldn’t fully interpret what at the time, but something took seed and began to grow in that lush rainforest environment. On the dry side of the country, the winds blew strong, fanning an inner flame. I had come with a mission, fresh out of college and working at a suffocating job, trying to figure out my next steps, complicated by a young marriage and all of the expectations that came with it.

 I had this idea that I needed to choose between a pathway of journalism or one of fiction writing. Being far away from my life and sitting on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the setting sun, swirling around Roca Bruja (Witch’s Rock), I also had the nagging yet unreconciled sense that I shouldn’t have to choose. I became overwhelmed with the idea that the world was large and untamable and that I had locked myself away from it. I had the first true inklings that the cracks in my marriage were only temporarily patchable, that the roots of whatever was growing would eventually wind themselves in and pull everything apart, and it was too much for me at the time to accept.

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Practicality won out at the time and I returned to school for journalism classes that eventually led to an internship and then a career. Whether or not it was the right pathway, it was a pathway, and I’ve become a fiction writer regardless. The marriage fell apart regardless. Perhaps it’s telling that I chose to write a series of poems instead of a long report as my ecology class project. It was bad poetry but it was a beginning. Then I wrote a bad novel, but it was a beginning. I stumbled and lamented through much of this trip, but it, too, was a beginning.

I had gone to Costa Rica as a way to begin to repair a broken pathway, the lost dream of taking a semester abroad in college, and, whether conscious or not, to reclaim my lost self. Sometimes we know where our pathways broke off and sometimes we don’t but I think they want to turn and twist and converge to bring us back to where we belong.

Step out of your element with us. We’re headed to Costa Rica in January-- join us for 7 days/6 nights as we settle our body mind and spirit into the magical bounty of the Costa Rican Rainforest.

Fat by Eline Van Wieren

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My stories for Wide Open Writing so far, seem to all start with either coming home or finding a piece of mail on the doormat. Today’s story starts with both. Coming home and finding mail on the doormat. And for some reason, that makes me feel like a cheater. Like I don’t have the imagination to think of something more interesting to start with and so I’ll just go for what I know. But here we are. I come home and I find a package on the doormat.

I take the package in to our living area, where three of my roommates are. One of them is cutting vegetables for dinner at the kitchen table, another is sitting on the other side of the kitchen table, reading the newspaper. The third is laying on the couch, reading a book and listening to music. Coming home to this is something that has become so familiar to me, that I feel like I don’t need to describe anymore details to you.

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The package contains two things. A book and a small cardboard box. The book is written by a woman who I’ve never met in real life. But we follow each other on Instagram and we shared two long phone calls. Short excerpts from those phone calls ended up in the book that I’m now holding in my hands. The title of the book: Knap voor een dik meisje. (Which translates to: Pretty for a fat girl.)

In the cardboard box: a necklace made of gold string and a white ceramic plate. On the ceramic plate, in bold golden letters, is the word: ‘fat’. (In Dutch: dik.)

I laugh and blurt out, ‘Look how cool this is!’

I put on the necklace and show it to my roommates.

‘Fuck yeah,’ says the one cutting the vegetables and puts both of his middle fingers up in the air.

It is now the morning after opening the package. I just had a shower, after which I put on a plain black t-shirt on which the white ceramic and gold letters of the necklace proudly stand out. Fat.

It is also about an hour after I finished reading the book. My body is alive with recognition. This book has put to words some of the thoughts I didn’t even think were worth putting on a piece of paper. And now that they are here, that I can hold them in my hands, something has softly dropped within me. Something, I realize, that I’ve been holding up for quite a while now.

I think of a quote of which the last sentence every once in a while finds its way back in to my mind. Even though I can never really grasp its meaning. It goes like this:

“I explained to Warren the difference between male and female monsters. ‘Female monsters take things as personal as they really are. They study facts. Even if rejection makes them feel like the girl who’s not invited to the party, they have to understand the reason why.’

…Every question once it’s formulated, is a paradigm, contains its own internal truth. We have to stop diverting ourselves with false questions. And I told Warren: I aim to be a female monster too.”

-       From: I love Dick, by Chris Kraus

 I aim to be a female monster too. This sentence has something to do with the thing that just softly dropped within me. It has something to do with the idea of a universal truth. A truth that I am prone to believe does not exist. We all live under different circumstances, with different bodies and different memories. Different things ahead of us.

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It is easy to forget that under all those different circumstances, we long for the same things. Something that is maybe summarized easiest as: wanting to be seen. And the programmed thought that always follows after that undying desire to be visible: I must show less of myself in order to be seen as a complete human being. How weird is that?

How weird is it that I am a writer and that time and time again, I find ways around asking the questions that are most obvious to me? Because I tell myself they are too obvious. Because I’m scared that if I ask them, I will find that everyone but me already knows the answers. Because no one will understand what I’m talking about. Because, because, because.

Reading ‘Knap voor een dik meisje’ has been a fucking grounding experience for me and in my eyes Tatjana, its author, is a true female monster. We need these monsters. We need to come home, once again finding a package on the doormat. Opening it. Carefully looking at its contents. Going out into the world, wearing our necklaces. Writing about it.  

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Orbiting Tuscany

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At each retreat we write, prompted by words and a little bit of magic. Maybe a lot of magic. Sometimes we have the right convergence of souls, energy, landscape and wine. Tuscany holds a particular kind of warm embrace for the light seekers. In this prompt, we were asked to write about our map, our future, our manifesto. Here’s mine.

Space Girl.

Space Girl.

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My manifesto is this: Chart a course and let space girl fly. Make it so. Embrace my inner nerd, hug that girl who veered off course so many times to protect herself, to insulate herself, to keep from hurting. Did it work? Not at all. I see in my future more mapmaking, more stellar cartography. I’ve already seen the experiences start to make sense, or maybe I’m starting to make sense of chaos, when I put words to page. Let my senses be. I can be happy and sad at the same time. Maybe that’s what wisdom is. I can manifest light. I can dream things into existence. I can be afraid in my haunted house nightmares and still look into the drawer that won’t stay shut. I can drive into the tornado. I can use my special powers when I accept them as they are. I can care about the earth and still love to buy purses. I can be a caterpillar and chrysalis and a butterfly over and over again. I can edit the shit out of that piece. I can stop being scared. I can be grounded and leave the planet at the same time. I can learn to be okay with not being the thing I think other people want to see. I can admit it’s really what I have wanted to see and tried to be, and I can say I’m sorry to myself for judging and rejecting what was already there. I can be here now. I can live without all the answers. I can live with imperfection, or I will learn to, since this is future manifesto, and I will manifest pure acceptance. I will expand my galaxy, I will orbit, spin, love and live.

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We’re going back to Tuscany Sept. 1-Sept. 6, and there’s room for you. We nurture our creative selves through morning yoga, workshops, writing prompts, comfort/healthy food, wine, breathtaking vistas, and the company of Icelandic horses —a one hour ride is available this year to our retreat attendees. Join us.

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