Tag Archives: writing

Growing Into (Grown Up)

I think that I am all grown up and blooming. I think that I am fledged fully, and ready to take womanhood head on. But even now I’m still growing up and out; I can feel my bones lengthen and the skin follow, stretching along to cover them up, to stop them from breaking through at the finger-tips. And if there is more space now, expanded and filled with more blood and more fat and more muscle, why do I feel things falling away? Why is it that I feel like I’m feeling less, even though there is more of me?

I was a teen ten years ago, thin skinned and thoughts thick with uncertainty, with desire to make noise and to remain unseen, invisible. And the joy was so easy to touch, and so easily taken away, sucked out like a vacuum and held from me until I found the conduit that might take me back; the book, the song, the laughter of a friend, the voice of a crush.

Now, everything is soft, and warm, things are good, and comfortable, and I love it, but where’s that vibrant kind of joy that used to be so easy to touch?

 I looked for it this past Saturday night, in the places I knew I had seen it before. I looked for it through the smoke, in the bright, pulsing lights, in the low hum of the loud bass. I looked for it, and I got worried because I was straining my atoms but I just couldn’t feel it. I think maybe it was because I hadn’t had enough to drink, and that I needed to open up my hands, (clenched) and my pores (closed) and let the music surge in and fill these new, heavy spaces and lighten them. I shook my body to try and stir something up, but it was all just a soft buzz, stirred and settled and pressing down on my receptors like a thick layer of cloud.

 On the Sunday, hungover and sensitive to touch, I lay in my hammock, beneath the oleandar tree; everything was stretched out beneath the sun, and I was writing. I was writing and I knew I was onto something good, because I could feel the familiar surge, the adrenaline that comes with the fast motion blooming of ink on paper, the insect click click click of my fingers on the keyboard. I could see the words, written on the waves of the corrugated tin shed wall, and I was so filled by what I had made with my mind and my hands that I could barely sit still; the hammock rocked as if it were tethered to the masts of a ship, charging through the seething sea.

I felt the joy moving in me, blooming like roses in time-lapse motion.

 

Is this it? Have I grown into a simpler bliss? I’ve always been skeptical of those people, the ones who fill my Facebook feed with demonstrations of their simple happiness, and that if only we all ate paelio and took more baths and stopped watching reality televsion, then happiness would come so easily, but. What if that’s the place that I’ve grown into? The life of growing my own vegetables and drinking tea instead of vodka sugar and writing, writing, writing. These are the things I want to sink into.

 I stretched my bare foot out to touch the the tip of the Aloe I had planted the morning before. The leaves are still thin, a young green not yet ready to practice healing. I remember looking not for joy, but for healing as a teenage girl; I was feeding on the world, devouring the gifts of books, of music, breaking things and running through the suburban darkness like a wild thing, uprooted.

But now, now I am making. I am building something of my own, I am creating a world! I am the one who is planting the flowers, and making the magic. I am still a girl, still growing, not up but into life. I am rooted, but I realise now, that I am not a flower, delicate and easily trampled. I am a girl,who is a garden. 

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Just come down already.

ImageI  am at a playground in Brookline and I am perched atop the slide, as I often am.  It is hot.  The vinyl seats of my dad’s green Duster made my legs feel like they were melting, in a bad way. We remembered to leave my Charlie the Tuna towel draped over my seat so I don’t cry like I did on the way over.  I have been on the slide for about ten minutes, or an hour, I don’t know.  I look around, and I see the rose garden.  I see the swings – the bucket ones are for babies, so I don’t go on them anymore.  I’m not a baby.  I am almost three.

I liked going down this slide the last time we were here but now I feel like I am miles away from the ground, like anything can happen.  I am taller than my parents.  I feel like I do when I put on their glasses – this is the view for grownups.  This is how far it is to the ground.  From here I can see everything, but I am also dizzy.  And a little afraid.  No – petrified.  There is an unspoken rule that you cannot go down the ladder once you have reached the top.  The only way down is to slide, which is fun, for that one moment that you barely have a chance to enjoy before you run up the ladder and go again.
On another day, in another playground, my parents would take turns riding down the big fat yellow twisty slide with me, like a family train.  When I went with them, the yellow slide didn’t shock me with its static.  When I went alone I was afraid I would be electrocuted and die, maybe in the tunnel part, and no one would know how to find me.
On the silver slide, though, I am always alone.  It is narrow, and on hot days like this I stick to it, melting onto the hot metal.
And now I sit, immobile.  My parents have been calling to me from the ground, at first the words were contagiously gleeful, then progressed to encouraging, then questioning.  Now they beg for me to just come down already, but I am distracted by a fly that has landed on the small bumper next to my knee.  It is green and shiny, with red eyes.  It is mesmerizing.  It is TERRIFYING and I scramble to my feet.
I am taller than I was, and I kick at the fly as I hold the railings, looking around at the small people forever away, kicking at the sand. Did they see that?  It could have eaten me.  Flies.  Not as bad spiders, but scary enough for me.
I hear a clanking behind me, and turn to find my neighbor climbing up the ladder.  The little grown-ups call to me that I have to share, that I have let go and slide so that other kids can, too.  And I know they’re right.  And my face crumples a little before I make a determined face where my eyebrows and mouth and chin all squinch together to meet my nose in the middle and I show that slide who’s boss.  I whiz down with reckless abandon and my face opens, I am laughing, gulping in air and lifting my arms from the bumpers they’d clung to so desperately before, and I land with a thud, in dirt, copper ringlets turning to a nest around my head and I say, “Again!”  And I run around just in time and clang my way back up the ladder before I can forget how wonderful it is to let go and slide.
My name is Jess Mullen, and writing is what I love to do more than anything in the world. And maybe this is a heavy-handed metaphor for my writing life at the moment. And in my own writing practice I can putter around and get scared of a blank page, but when I am writing it can be as exhilarating as flight.  And yes, sometimes it doesn’t always go as I want, but it’s all part of the experience.
I’m hoping that this year I can take more risks in my writing, commit to doing what I love more, and stop being afraid of whatever lies at the bottom of the slide.  And okay, I think the responsibility of working on this exciting collaborative project with other artists I respect will give me the kick in the pants that I need, even at the eleventh hour.
I have two other blogs that I post in, rather sparingly, called Jess Writes Every Day and I Prefer Saturnalia.  At present I have two memoir projects in the air, but which might be relevant to this Kindred Collective as the weeks wear on.

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Week One: Genevieve’s Foundations

I’m Genevieve, and I’m sort of all over the place. Besides making it a point to write something (anything!) every single day, I also paint, love to dance, and have a million artistic goals in my life that include learning how to sing opera, perform belly dance and keep bees. I’m also trying very hard to keep up with a blog I started a few months ago, The Maniac’s Path, a blog unashamed of navigating difficult topics like self-harm, abuse and body image.

Spooky wanted us to focus on the theme of Foundations for this week, and without a doubt my first love was the written word. Before I knew how to write, I’m told I routinely sat at the table with a pen and pad of paper and scribbled what looked like cursive in horizontal lines, page after page, until I had accumulated enough scribbled pages to bind into a book with a stapler. After hormones kicked in, the storytelling turned to poetry – love poems at first, hand delivered through a trusted messenger (and then promptly discarded by the object of my desire), but over time I began writing poetry about the things I couldn’t find the right words for in daily conversation. How do you define that feeling when the last school bell rings to let you out for the summer? What about the quietness that shrouds the land when it begins to snow at night?

Language is derived from the word “tongue.” But I began to realize that spoken language makes up such a miniscule portion of how we, as human and sentient beings, perceive the world. Through poetry, I question our daily experience of what we think language is, versus how it actually functions and plays out. Language is not merely ink on the paper, spit on the tongue – it may be an intangible aspect of the human experience, but it is one that serves as a foundation for all of our lives; in our dreams, our relationships, and how we use language to relate back to the physicality of our bodies and the soul’s wish to endure.

So, as silly as it may seem, here is my foundation: the alphabet and the dictionary. Two indispensable tools that have been my friends for years, and with them as my foundation (and these weekly artistic prompts!) I hope to find and fashion a language that can serve as a bridge between worlds we have been raised to believe as opposite: lust and love, the corporeal realm and the imagination, soul loss and homecoming. I can’t wait to start.

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