Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Excerpt From My Memoir, 2 #YesAllWomen


* I also felt called to share this excerpt from my memoir, Corpses Rarely Wander, in support of #YesAllWomen. My experience as a young female in a fundamentalist church.


One Sunday, during my senior year of High School when our Youth leader asked for volunteers to take up the offering, none of the boys raised their hands. Becky and I volunteered. During the service, we walked the aisles passing the collection plate, and people dropped in their hard-earned, blue-collar money. It was a simple thing, but I remember the warm feeling of having a place in the whole. When our job was done, we sat back down on the blood-red velvet cushions. The preacher preached. We stood to sing. As Becky and I were leaving, the preacher stopped us. His face was red as the blood-red velvet cushions. His ears seemed even bigger than usual, like misplaced horns. He said, “Taking up the collection plate is a man’s job.” He yelled. “I won’t have this is in my church again. Do ya hear?” We shrank. I left shaking, but I didn’t give up. I went back.
The next week, it was Sunday again, and my preacher delivered a sermon in that hacking cadence favored by Southern men of God.  It happened when his sparse, grey head of hair and spindly limbs all leaned toward the congregation as he proclaimed: “A woman today doesn’t understand her place. They wear short skirts and makeup and then go crying when they get raped.” (I thought of the red haired man of God sliding his hand down my baggy sweatshirt, not a lick of make up on my face). His eyes rested on me as he yelled. At that moment, his love was a hammer, and I was a witch in God’s house. I dropped my hymnal and left with hatred in my heart, went home and yanked my grandmother’s green phone right out of the wall. But I didn’t completely give up. I just switched churches.
Then I went to college. 


* An excerpt from my memoir, Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad. #Feminist Memoir #YesAllWomen
In support of all women and girls: straight, gay, and trans.

Excerpt From my Memoir 1, #YesAllWomen


* I'm posting this excerpt from my memoir, Corpses Rarely Wander, about being molested by a man from church as a teenager in support of the #YesAllWomen movement.


I became involved in the youth group. Once a year for the two years I was there, the youth group would go on some kind of excursion adventure. Most of the kids at the church had wealthy parents, and they donated money toward a scholarship fund so that one or two kids could go for free. The first year, we went skiing and they gave the scholarship to me and another kid — a black guy my age. We sat together in the back of the van for the eight-hour trip, listening to Sam Cooke. The second year, we went whitewater rafting. The guy had stopped going to church, and I was the only recipient.
Both years, in order to receive the money, I had to agree to stand in front of the church while they announced to the congregation that, because of their generous donations, I was going to be able to go on the trip. After the opening Benediction, they motioned me up. My shoulders started trembling, my face red before I even got to the altar to turn around. The rest of the congregation, filled with wealthy children from my school, sat with their parents. I stood before them in my discount dress clothes and said, “Thank you,” when they put the microphone to my mouth.
The second year, the year of the whitewater rafting, I was fourteen years old. I waited for the day of the great adventure as though it were the day of the second coming. My mother drove me to the church on Saturday morning where I climbed into a van and we were off to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. It was a great trip. It had rained recently and the rapids were raucous. Possibly, thanks to my constant prayers, we never capsized, though the raft right next to us did. Our guide, a bearded, old grizzly laughed, pointed, and said to us, “That feller they’ve got is a new guide. He’s a takin em right into a whirlpool.” We gasped. He chuckled again. “Now jest watch this.” And as we, under the captainship of our grizzly, careened safely by, the raft next to us folded in half and was sucked under. About thirty seconds later, their raft was spit back out of the water as if from Jonah’s whale’s blowhole. People flew up and out in various twisted positions and states of panic. We ended the day with a picnic on the shore in our wet suits.
That year, a tall, red haired man came along as the youth leader’s assistant. He’d been involved in other activities, so I already knew him. I had trouble fitting in with the other kids whose parents had donated the money for my scholarship. I spent most of my time under the wing of the red headed man. We laughed a lot. We high-fived. He gave me noogies on my skull. We ordered our burgers together when we stopped at McDonalds. I thought he was funny, and I liked to exercise my wit with him.
He was probably eight years or so younger than my father. Even at the time, I was aware that I was getting and accepting replacement father attention, but I needed it, and I didn’t care if it was pathetic. He seemed to favor me. I spent the whole weekend basking in acceptance. It was only a weekend, a van, a hotel, and a river, but in that little corner of my life, for just a minute, I belonged somewhere.
On the way back home, we sat beside each other again in the van. There was really nowhere else I was welcome to sit. Everyone was tired from rafting. By about four hours in, the sun had gone down. Contemporary Christian music snuck its way back through the rows of seats, and people began stretching out and closing their eyes as the word “Jesus” repeated in varying melodies. My eyes kept closing, and my head dropped forward onto my chest, until the red-head man put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me in. I had only sat like that with my own father once in my life, inside that protective arm, and it felt like such a relief. I closed my eyes, and my brain began filling with the dark wind that precedes sleep.
I woke to fingers working themselves underneath my pullover sweatshirt. It took several seconds to register what was happening between the haze of sleep and the fact that I was in no way familiar with sexual behavior. I’d never kissed anyone, and I refused to shower after gym class. 
 His fingers continued a painstaking, halting decent beneath my bra. We were on a church bus. He was a man of god. I’d thought he was my friend. His large, rough hand went from one never-before-touched breast to the other. Touching and squeezing. He was the adult. I was already an outcast. What would people do if I pushed him away and accused him?  I didn’t think it likely that anyone would believe me, and soon everyone at school would know. It took probably five or six minutes for me to break myself out of the immobility of shock, and then I suddenly sat straight up in a contraction of rigor mortis. Without a word, I lay down on the floor of the van next to the seat, where I stayed for the last three hours with my winter coat over my head. The youth leader asked if I was OK. I said, “I feel sick.”
Hymns from the radio slithered under my coat, and I listened to the words, God, sin, Satan, and the same refrain that always came up, “Help me.” For just a minute as I lay there with the van rumbling under me as I tried to pray, instead of thinking to God, “Help me,” I was thinking, “I hate you.”
When I got home, I called Becky. She stayed on the phone with me all night. Soon after, I worked up the courage to tell a pastor and my boyfriend at church camp. They laughed and told me not to be so sensitive. It wasn’t a big deal. You know how guys are. I was so ashamed that I didn’t tell my parents or my sister. The idea of any sort of system being in place to protect me was out of my sphere of possibility. Part of me wishes I’d told so that I might have protected other girls from similar or worse experiences. On the other hand, in later dangerous situations, to correct this, I did call the police and reach out for support and was told perpetually that I needed to be more careful and that there was nothing they could do. This is our reality. To other girls, I say tell people anyway. Say something so that you’re not alone. Say something to shame the perpetrator. Say something out of love for yourself. Say something so that it doesn’t get stuck in your throat and strangle your voice for the rest of your life. Don’t be surprised if you’re met with ignorance, indifference, ineffectuality, or even cruelty. Say it anyway. Tell someone you trust first, and go from there.
The pedophile continued occasionally to help with events at church. I never knew when he would be there. A couple months later, my usual ride from youth group fell through, and he offered to take me home. I sat frozen trying to think of a reason to say no, but I had no one else to get me, and I shakily agreed. I didn’t know how to reach my mother, and for days after I was angry at her, though I never said why.
In his car, my body quaked with adrenaline, and I formulated plans about how I would jump from the moving vehicle if he tried to take an unexpected route. I gripped the door handle in that twitchy rush of fight or flight hormones. It was night, and his head was a shadow beside me. He said, “Why are you so quiet?” and I filled the whole car up with my anger. Words pummeled each other in my mind, until involuntarily my head whipped around toward him. If I were a snake, I would have hissed. At first no words came out. We were in a car alone. I was afraid he would retaliate. My voice came out lower and smoother than usual. I said, “You know why.”
I could feel his nervous system kick on. Through the terror, I was also smug as I felt him have a moment where he couldn’t avoid facing himself. I wanted to take him and smash him against himself until his witnessing self and his guilty self were both a pile of blood and bones. But we said nothing, and I did nothing.
Another switch was flipped in me. After that, I became wildly protective of myself, insisting, against the odds in the world that I should be the only supreme ruler of my body. When we got to the trailer park, I motioned where to turn. He pulled in front, and I got out and slammed the door. He stopped going to youth group, and I never saw him again, though for months, I was convinced that he would show up at my place and rape me. Because those sorts of things happen. 


*Thank you for reading. This excerpt is from my memoir, Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad. #FeministMemoir
In support of all women and girls.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

10 Clues that Shakespeare Was, in Fact, Shakespeare


10 Clues that Shakespeare Was Shakespeare


In recent years, many conspiracy theories have arisen about who actually wrote the plays and sonnets that have historically been attributed to William Shakespeare. Some have suggested that the plays of Shakespeare weren’t written by him but by a slew of apprentice writers, or by Christopher Marlowe, or a powerful Earl, or a woman. Nearly 70 alternatives have been suggested (LINK 6). Most scholars agree that some of the first and last of his plays were openly collaborative efforts (LINK 7), but let’s not confuse the issue; the bulk of them are thought to be solitary efforts. No one can yet claim to know the answer for sure, but listed below are ten clues we have that the person who wrote those famous plays and sonnets of the Elizabethan era was none other than a man who hailed from Stratford-Upon-Avon, who’s name was William Shakespeare.



  1. First of all, we do know that a man named William Shakespeare did exist at the correct time to have written those works of literature, in the mid to late Elizabethan era of the Renaissance. The first record we have of him is in a Holy Trinity Church of Stratford parish registry of baptisms that cites the baptism of a William Shakespeare on April 26th, 1564 (LINKS 2, 5). Again, this isn’t the date of his birth but of his baptism, which were often but not always, performed three days after the birth of the child. So we do have a baseline proof that there was a historical person named “William Shakespeare.”

  1. Stratford is a town located in the county of Warwickshire, England, and like most places, especially in that time, it had its own dialect. Some experts have pointed out that the author of the works in question is often caught using dialectical expressions that were particular to Warwickshire (LINKS 2, 7). For example, he referred to a bundle as a “fardel,” called a sneer a “fleer” and talked about a female servant as a “malkin.”  He also called a thin person an “anatomy”, and referred to a flatterer as a “pick-thank” (LINK 7). These are all dialectical words that point toward Warwickshire, or at the very least, toward the northern counties – not London.

  1. It’s clear that whoever wrote those masterworks must have had at least some education. Many children of that era didn’t have any schooling. The literacy rate was around 30% for men and 10% for women (LINK 8). But this Stratford Shakespeare’s father was for a time an officer of the town, and so they were of the social class that was privileged with education. It’s known that William attended school until age 14, where he learned Latin, history, and classical literature (LINKS 1,2). Whoever wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare most certainly had a foundation of knowledge in these topics.

  1. We know that a man named William Shakespeare entered his first poem, “Venus and Adonis”, one of his first works to reference the writer who is considered to be one his greatest influences, Ovid, into the Stationers’ Registrar on April 18, 1593 (LINKS 3, 4). He also registered his second poem, “The Rape of Lucrece,” on May 9, 1594 (LINKS 3, 4). Both poems contained dedications to the Earl of Southhampton and were signed by Shakespeare (LINK 3). With this little clue, we’re now able to determine that this William Shakespeare from Stratford who was afforded a modest education was also a writer who’s writings were officially recorded by the author himself.


  1. If you’re looking for a verified connection between the two known settings of Shakespeare’s life – the city of London where he spent most of his life working and the town Stratford, where his wife and children resided – you’re in luck, because in 1601 there were official records demonstrating both that the same William Shakespeare was living in a flat in London and also that he bought 107 acres of land in Stratford (LINKS 4, 9). The primary source of proof that William Shakespeare was living in London were a few paper documents that cite Shakespeare’s involvement in a dispute between his landlord and the landlord’s son (LINK 9).


  1. In 1596, Shakespeare’s only son died. His son was just 11 years old, and such a loss was surely devastating. A few months later, a new play, Hamlet, was released – a play about the engrossing grief of a son for his father who had just died. Today, Hamlet is well-known as one of Shakespeare’s most emotionally trenchant plays. As we know now, Shakespeare’s son had been named “Hamnet,” after one of his closest friends in Statford (LINKS 10,11) – a name, which creates an uncanny connection to that powerful play, which is so obviously drenched in sorrow and grieving.


  1. In 1592, Robert Greene gives us what is thought to be the first historical, rather than clerical, mention of Shakespeare when he writes a scathing description of this country bumpkin upstart in the theater scene: “There is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tyger’s heart wrapt in a player’s hide supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country” (LINKS 6, 11). We know that by this time, the plays Henry VI, Comedy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus had already gained some popularity.


  1. To add clarity to the Robert Greene reference, in case his mention of “Shake-scene” isn’t convincing enough, we can note that, because the above language was considered so strident, after Robert Greene’s death, his editor took it upon himself to publish an apology to the offended party: “…I am sorry as if the original fault was my fault because myself have seen his demeanor no less civil…than he professes” (LINKS 11, 12). The apology was addressed to “W.S.” (LINK 11). The wording of the apology letter is humble and makes clear that this “W.S.” is a person of rank in the literary/ theatrical community.

  1. One easy way to track the existence of an artist is via records of their reviews. In Shakespeare’s case, we have records of reviews of his writing from as early as 1593 on The Rape of Lucrece (LINK 11). Then, in 1605, William Camden, a notable historian of the time period cited William Shakespeare as one of Britain’s best contemporary writers (LINKS 11,6). Camden was, among other things, affiliated with Lord Burleigh, one of Queen Elizabeth’s most trusted counselors, who commissioned Camden to write the official history of the era. Not only did William Shakespeare officially exist as a London writer, he officially existed as a highly lauded London writer, touted by people in high places (LINK 15).

  1. In spring of 1616, William Shakespeare prepared his last will and testament and then passed away shortly thereafter. His will is our final clue. In the will, we see evidence of both the Stratford and the London Shakespeare together on one piece of paper. On one hand, the document stipulated that Shakespeare’s estate managers leave his second best bed (the marriage bed) to his wife, Anne in Stratford. And then it goes on to bequeath small amounts of money to his “fellows” John Hemings, Richard Burbage, and Henry Condell, with which to buy rings (LINKS 13, 14). These three men had worked as actors in many London troupes including The Queen’s Men, which Shakespeare is rumored to have belonged to.  Additionally, they had all acted in the plays attributed to Shakespeare, Richard Burbage famously having played many of their most legendary leading men.



LINK 15: http://shakespeareauthorship.com/pen.html


If You Like This Post, You May Also Like:

Great Writers Who Self-Published: http://corpsewander.blogspot.com/2013/10/lineage-of-self-publishers-ee-cummings.html

Great Writers Who Self-Published: http://corpsewander.blogspot.com/2013/10/our-lineage-of-self-publishers-virginia.html

SO YOU WANNA DO THE JIVE TURKEY WITH THE NOMADIC WRITER:


 * You may wanna read my memoir about growing up in a trailer park and leaving home early, then wandering around – Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad, on Kindle here: http://amzn.to/M2eix0
Or in paperback here: https://www.createspace.com/4418318



Or my Book of Poems about wandering and love – Two Birds and a Wolf, 

on Kindle here: http://amzn.to/1dsMfN8

Or in paperback here: https://www.createspace.com/4409014



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Monday, April 14, 2014

Excerpt From the Memoir Corpses Rarely Wander


*Excerpt from the memoir, Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad, about growing up in a trailer park, leaving home early, then wandering around, navigating the many faces of the American dream. 







It was 1993, I was nineteen, and I wanted to be Jack Kerouac. At the time, I was just a girl stuck in a trailer in West Virginia, but I wanted to take over the hobo cars on every train. I wanted to do yoga headstands in the hobo car and then mix together water and powdered milk before I fell asleep on the shaking platform, the ground spiraling away from the edge. I’d just read On the Road for the first time, the whole book in one night. I sat on my mattress on the floor, playing the same Counting Crows tape until dawn when I closed the book. The window was open, my mouth hung open, and I didn’t know who I was anymore.
The next night, as soon as I got home, I walked to my room and picked up the book. I pulled out my red sleeping bag and spent some time rifling through the living room closet to find a flashlight. I walked back out to the front porch of the trailer and sat down with the red sleeping bag wrapped around me, picked up the book, and started again from the first page.
The flashlight was dim. I was a hobo on my porch. I was alive, which meant I wasn’t yet dead. These ideas of aliveness and deadness had consumed me since my father and grandfather had died three years before. Since my mother had become bed-ridden with illness, and I’d broken my back in a car accident. I propped the book on my legs. My legs full of flowing blood and not yet rotting. This obsession had taken an active turn in my brain lately, and that night, even though I was just a girl living in a corrugated tin box, I was another Kerouac. The full knowledge of my mortality that I was sitting with gave me the yearning grew to leave, to travel, to overthrow my past with a continual present. (The moon. The moon. The road. The road. Other states. Other countries. Other afterlives.) I ate the idea of perpetual movement and perpetual leaving and meeting and letting go. Letting go of past offenses, of a divine punisher, of propriety.
I could see my grandmother’s bedroom light shining past the trees and past the creek. I imagined her sitting on her bed with her floral housedress bunched around her heavily veined legs. Blue interstate roads connecting with each other, carrying her insulin deficient blood all around the globe of her round body.  I wondered if she was perched in front of the window facing toward our trailer holding a set of binoculars that she kept beside her bed. As far as I knew, this was a new habit. For weeks, I wondered how she knew to call the house the minute I came home from wherever I had been. It started after I moved back to our town of 1,000 inhabitants from college 3 ½ hours away, where I had, in fact, been “sinning” by way of beers drunk and boys lasciviously kissed.
The shift in me over the previous year was obvious. I looked different. I probably talked differently. And most of all, I stopped going to church. I stopped bowing my head for prayer at the lunch Nanny made after church every Sunday. She and the rest of my family wanted to know what was going on, and I couldn’t blame them. When I was present, I was met with uncomfortable silence. When I wasn’t present, I would find out I had been the topic of conversation. Later, I understood that they felt I was abandoning them by abandoning our old, shared values. My deep love for them made my hurt deeper. Their deep love for me made their hurt deeper, even though it didn’t seem that way then. And, oh, there’s so much more for me to explain about these delicate family matters that isn’t for me to speak here. Suffice it to say that for many years, a dark veil dropped between us that our love couldn’t get around, and they went on living together as they had before I’d arrived, and I went out on my own. All of us feeling disowned. Deep wounds were created that didn’t even begin to find voice for another twelve years. Until then, we more or less lost touch.
In the meantime, I was getting more and more upset about the notion of being watched. Isn’t that part of the reason I gave up the idea of religion? To get rid of the idea of a remote figure watching and judging my every move? The haphazard freedom Kerouac described was giving me itchy feet and an itchy soul.
I fingered through the old edition of On the Road that I found at a used bookstore. I couldn’t stop reading even though the light of the flashlight was dimming as the battery lost juice. I was getting so into it, jazzing right along that soon I found myself all wired up with nowhere to put the energy. I hopped up and paced the porch like the slats were the streets of New York, and I prowled the porch like my body was a 1940’s car and the slats were the yellow lines of the cross-country interstate. I was yass yassing. I was talking to myself. I was feeling madly in love with the night and with the possibility of freedom. For the first time, I had something of a choice about my level of misery. I thought I might try for not miserable this time.
I couldn’t remove this vision that was in the back of my mind of my wonderful grandmother who took me in when I left home sitting across the old junkyard/ trees/ creek with her binoculars. I loved her floral housedresses and round body. I loved this woman and wanted her to love me. No, I thought.  I love her, but I won’t sacrifice myself. Instinctively, I stood up, grasped the bottom edge of my shirt and faced her house. I lifted the bottom of the fabric and yanked it over my head, my chest bare underneath. I raised my arms out to the side forming a cross and threw my head back. I hoped she was looking. I wanted her to see that I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t guilty. That she could look as hard as she wanted, but she would never again look at me and see a body polluted with the notion of sin. My pure naked breasts lifted and fell. I loved my grandmother, and I wanted her to accept the naked truth of who I was becoming.
When I calmed down, I settled back into my sleeping bag and kept reading. Soon my flashlight went out, but I wasn’t done with my adventure. I put on my shirt, grabbed the book and walked around the front of the trailer to the car Lena and I briefly shared. I needed to move, and I drove out of the trailer park and onto the road. I had just gotten my license a year before that and driving was, all by itself, an exhilarating act.
I drove fast through the corkscrew roads. Crickets and frogs attacked the damp air with chirps. The good ole momma old timey hills of West Virginny were kind hills. They snuggled into the dark. I felt deeply alone. Not only was I estranged from my family, but I didn’t know if I believed in true love anymore. Was destined to be alone, I felt. What I wanted was something mythical. I wanted something like a plump fruit that I could eat off the vine, full of sun and rich juices. I wanted a person like a fruit. Alive. With the heart like a second fruit and even more succulent than the fruit body. That’s all. Was that too much to ask? A fruit within a fruit? I wanted a love that could be tasted. Savored. Made love to with my mouth, or my mind, or the ocean of my body. But I had no faith in such things. I’d never seen anything in the world like what I wanted. I was alone. I wanted to be alone. The idea of hoping for such things was like jumping to my death. And it was a long windy fall with a messy ending.
The air was thick as sap. After about fifteen minutes, I pulled into a little patch of gravel off the road where the railroad tracks followed the river. First, I sat with the car light on reading, but then I had to go go go, and I hopped out of the car to make my way to the train tracks. My feet stomped through wet grass and twigs. I had no idea what I would do if a train came. My chest was all jumping and fluttering around at the thought of hopping one of those great steel cars. I wanted to ride through Memphis. I wanted to yell a hallo to the Mississippi River. I wanted to sleep in the great rocking cradle as mother clicked and clacked me safely past butterflies and smoke stacks. I wanted every part of me to be different than it had been. And I wanted everything else to change, too. I wanted a wheel to be more than a wheel. I wanted a gas
I was nineteen, and I wanted to be Jack Kerouac. At the time, I was just a girl stuck in a trailer in West Virginia, but I wanted to take over the hobo cars on every train. I wanted to do yoga headstands in the hobo car and then mix together water and powdered milk before I fell asleep on the shaking platform, the ground spiraling away from the edge. I’d just read On the Road for the first time, the whole book in one night. I sat on my mattress on the floor, playing the same Counting Crows tape until dawn when I closed the book. The window was open, my mouth hung open, and I didn’t know who I was anymore.
The next night, as soon as I got home, I walked to my room and picked up the book. I pulled out my red sleeping bag and spent some time rifling through the living room closet to find a flashlight. I walked back out to the front porch of the trailer and sat down with the red sleeping bag wrapped around me, picked up the book, and started again from the first page.
The flashlight was dim. I was a hobo on my porch. I was alive, which meant I wasn’t yet dead. These ideas of aliveness and deadness had consumed me since my father and grandfather had died three years before. Since my mother had become bed-ridden with illness, and I’d broken my back in a car accident. I propped the book on my legs. My legs full of flowing blood and not yet rotting. This obsession had taken an active turn in my brain lately, and that night, even though I was just a girl living in a corrugated tin box, I was another Kerouac. The full knowledge of my mortality that I was sitting with gave me the yearning grew to leave, to travel, to overthrow my past with a continual present. (The moon. The moon. The road. The road. Other states. Other countries. Other afterlives.) I ate the idea of perpetual movement and perpetual leaving and meeting and letting go. Letting go of past offenses, of a divine punisher, of propriety.
I could see my grandmother’s bedroom light shining past the trees and past the creek. I imagined her sitting on her bed with her floral housedress bunched around her heavily veined legs. Blue interstate roads connecting with each other, carrying her insulin deficient blood all around the globe of her round body.  I wondered if she was perched in front of the window facing toward our trailer holding a set of binoculars that she kept beside her bed. As far as I knew, this was a new habit. For weeks, I wondered how she knew to call the house the minute I came home from wherever I had been. It started after I moved back to our town of 1,000 inhabitants from college 3 ½ hours away, where I had, in fact, been “sinning” by way of beers drunk and boys lasciviously kissed.
The shift in me over the previous year was obvious. I looked different. I probably talked differently. And most of all, I stopped going to church. I stopped bowing my head for prayer at the lunch Nanny made after church every Sunday. She and the rest of my family wanted to know what was going on, and I couldn’t blame them. When I was present, I was met with uncomfortable silence. When I wasn’t present, I would find out I had been the topic of conversation. Later, I understood that they felt I was abandoning them by abandoning our old, shared values. My deep love for them made my hurt deeper. Their deep love for me made their hurt deeper, even though it didn’t seem that way then. And, oh, there’s so much more for me to explain about these delicate family matters that isn’t for me to speak here. Suffice it to say that for many years, a dark veil dropped between us that our love couldn’t get around, and they went on living together as they had before I’d arrived, and I went out on my own. All of us feeling disowned. Deep wounds were created that didn’t even begin to find voice for another twelve years. Until then, we more or less lost touch.
In the meantime, I was getting more and more upset about the notion of being watched. Isn’t that part of the reason I gave up the idea of organized religion to discover my own kind of god or not god? To get rid of the idea of a remote figure watching and judging my every move? The haphazard freedom Kerouac described was giving me itchy feet and an itchy soul.
I fingered through the old edition of On the Road that I found at a used bookstore. I couldn’t stop reading even though the light of the flashlight was dimming as the battery lost juice. I was getting so into it, jazzing right along that soon I found myself all wired up with nowhere to put the energy. I hopped up and paced the porch like the slats were the streets of New York, and I prowled the porch like my body was a 1940’s car and the slats were the yellow lines of the cross-country interstate. I was yass yassing. I was talking to myself. I was feeling madly in love with the night and with the possibility of freedom. For the first time, I had something of a choice about my level of misery. I thought I might try for not miserable this time.
I couldn’t remove this vision that was in the back of my mind of my wonderful grandmother who took me in when I left home sitting across the old junkyard/ trees/ creek with her binoculars. I loved her floral housedresses and round body. I loved this woman and wanted her to love me. No, I thought.  I love her, but I won’t sacrifice myself. Instinctively, I stood up, grasped the bottom edge of my shirt and faced her house. I lifted the bottom of the fabric and yanked it over my head, my chest bare underneath. I raised my arms out to the side forming a cross and threw my head back. I hoped she was looking. I wanted her to see that I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t guilty. That she could look as hard as she wanted, but she would never again look at me and see a body polluted with the notion of sin. My pure naked breasts lifted and fell. I loved my grandmother, and I wanted her to accept the naked truth of who I was becoming.
When I calmed down, I settled back into my sleeping bag and kept reading. Soon my flashlight went out, but I wasn’t done with my adventure. I put on my shirt, grabbed the book and walked around the front of the trailer to the car Lena and I briefly shared. I needed to move, and I drove out of the trailer park and onto the road. I had just gotten my license a year before that and driving was, all by itself, an exhilarating act.
I drove fast through the corkscrew roads. Crickets and frogs attacked the damp air with chirps. The good ole momma old timey hills of West Virginny were kind hills. They snuggled into the dark. I felt deeply alone. Not only was I estranged from my family, but I didn’t know if I believed in true love anymore. Was destined to be alone, I felt. What I wanted was something mythical. I wanted something like a plump fruit that I could eat off the vine, full of sun and rich juices. I wanted a person like a fruit. Alive. With the heart like a second fruit and even more succulent than the fruit body. That’s all. Was that too much to ask? A fruit within a fruit? I wanted a love that could be tasted. Savored. Made love to with my mouth, or my mind, or the ocean of my body. But I had no faith in such things. I’d never seen anything in the world like what I wanted. I was alone. I wanted to be alone. The idea of hoping for such things was like jumping to my death. And it was a long windy fall with a messy ending.
The air was thick as sap. After about fifteen minutes, I pulled into a little patch of gravel off the road where the railroad tracks followed the river. First, I sat with the car light on reading, but then I had to go go go, and I hopped out of the car to make my way to the train tracks. My feet stomped through wet grass and twigs. I had no idea what I would do if a train came. My chest was all jumping and fluttering around at the thought of hopping one of those great steel cars. I wanted to ride through Memphis. I wanted to yell a hallo to the Mississippi River. I wanted to sleep in the great rocking cradle as mother clicked and clacked me safely past butterflies and smoke stacks. I wanted every part of me to be different than it had been. And I wanted everything else to change, too. I wanted a wheel to be more than a wheel. I wanted a gas pump to be more than it ever had been.
No train came. I walked for a while and then walked back. I went home and didn’t even sleep on the porch because the mist was too clammy cold. Fifteen minutes away from home was as far as I got with all that energy. But by god I’d gotten somewheres in my head, I had. As Jack would say. Yass. Yass, by god I had.pump to be more than it ever had been.
No train came. I walked for a while and then walked back. I went home and didn’t even sleep on the porch because the mist was too clammy cold. Fifteen minutes away from home was as far as I got with all that energy. But by god I’d gotten somewheres in my head, I had. As Jack would say. Yass. Yass, by god I had. 


………………..


* You may want to read my memoir from which this excerpt is taken. I highly recommend it! :) Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad
is on Kindle here: http://amzn.to/M2eix0
Or in paperback here: https://www.createspace.com/4418318


Monday, January 20, 2014

NEVER GIVE UP PART I


Sometimes I want to give up. Give up on what, you ask? Well, on ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, for starters. But more specifically, I'm always cycling through periods where I want to give up on my aspirations and dreams. What are my dreams? My dreams are to make a living on my writing (memoir, plays, poetry, articles, reviews, blogs, a little short fiction) while traveling around as an art and literature loving nomad. Oh, and to do this in a way that's not leaving me living penny to penny as I have done, oh, let's see, yes, that's right, since birth.

But lately, as happens every so often, I want to give up. I find myself curled up in bed, in an alarming state of un-showeredness, watching Netflix rather than doing work. I find myself making lists of things to get done and then aimlessly wandering on Facebook instead, when normally I am an absolute slave to my To Do Lists. I find myself bullying myself and beating myself about the head and shoulders with words such as "Failure." I find myself water boarding myself with my own frustrated tears, which is technically impossible to do, but you get the picture. And, I find myself giving in to all the messages of the outside world that tell me I should just stick to the status quo where it's safe and secure – where one is far less likely to end up dying in the gutter clutching a sack of notebooks and leaking pens.

Everyone's got hopes, aspirations, and dreams – whether that is to travel the world, write a book, become a singer, get a real estate license, put your kids through college, put yourself through college, or just to be able to feed your family three healthy meals a day. OR just to somehow find a sweet piece of happiness in this crazy ole world. 

Everyone hopes, and everyone gives up hope. 

The trick is not that we must require ourselves to stay positive every second of every day and never consider giving up, because that's really, as far as I can tell, an unobtainable goal. The trick is, as soon as is possible, to then turn back around and Give Up On Giving Up. To pull up those boot straps and climb back in that blazing, golden saddle of dreams and possibilities. Now, please note that I'm allowed to spout annoyingly inspirational things such as this because I'm not some millionaire with a $300 hair cut. I'm down here in the trenches wearing long johns and sporting a head of hair that I've been cutting myself for the past 20 years.  

So on to more inspiration spouts.

I've just barely begun my boot straps operation as of yesterday, so I thought I'd share a couple thoughts below to encourage anyone else who is currently languishing in the icy grips of discouragement.

1) Sometimes, the most satisfying way to encourage ourselves is to give encouragement to someone else who needs it, so look around and scout out a person who could use a kind word. They're everywhere.

2) Right now, write down in your day planner one thing that you could do to start moving again toward your goals. What's the one thing that first comes to you as being one strong step you could take today? Now, write that down and set to doing it as soon as possible. Yesterday, I wrote down that I could revise a pitch letter for an article that I was working on. I revised the pitch and then sent it today.

3) If your step is a big step, take a moment and write directly under it all the micro-steps you would need to take to accomplish the big step. Now write one micro-step on each day of the week in the planner. Begin doing the first one now. Today. See, now we're cookin with heat!

4) Here are a few quotes about not giving up to get you stoked:

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, til it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time the tides will turn."

"If you really believe in what you're doing, work hard, take nothing personally, and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up."
Laurie Notaro

"Never give up. And never, under any circumstances, face the facts." Ruth Gordon

"Never give up. Never give up. Never give up!" Winston Churchill


Finally, I have some vision of people leaving their stories of not giving up in the comments, so please feel free to share that or anything else! Now go forth and prosper, friends, and, you guessed it: Never Give Up!

If you like this post, you may also like:

Never Give Up II (Inspired Version):
http://corpsewander.blogspot.com/2014/02/never-give-up-part-ii-inspired-version.html

Excerpt #1 From my Memoir:

The State of My Union

Why I Decided to Self-Publish and Other Tales of Doom and Angelic Hope






SO YOU WANNA DO THE JIVE TURKEY WITH THE NOMADIC WRITER:



* You may wanna read my memoir about growing up in a trailer park and leaving home early, then wandering around – Corpses Rarely Wander: How I Became a Loveless, Trailer Park Nomad, on Kindle here: http://amzn.to/M2eix0

Or in paperback here: https://www.createspace.com/4418318

Or my Book of Poems about wandering and love – Two Birds and a Wolf, 
on Kindle here: http://amzn.to/1dsMfN8
Or in paperback here: https://www.createspace.com/4409014


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