Tag: writer

Grammar as Part of the Art Form E2

EPISODE TWO: Grammar as Part of the Art Form

In this episode, I discuss the trend of writers refusing to learn or use proper grammar or techniques because they are able to pay editors to fix the issues with their work.

I also include some learning points from a book review on Asimov’s Foundation, and I include a couple helpful quotes on creativity and writer focus.



 


The Lonely and the UnQuiet Minds

Some of the times that I’m most convinced there is a God, there is no powerful glimpse, no experience of torrential downpour with the echo chamber of thunder to scream to me “Here I am.”  Sometimes, there is that quiet whisper and in nothing you were expecting, but in the trembling fulfillment of a promise that you have awaited for so long.

I see God powerfully and yet underwhelmingly in humans, more specifically, my humans.

Today, my husband finally came through on his promise to make me a CD of his music. HIS music that he wrote, that he mastered, that he brought from the recesses of his brilliant mind into fruition through technology. I had been nagging him to make me one, and he came through with two.

To test out the music, we hopped into my old car whose speakers deliver music more exceptionally than any newfangled add-in could, and we drove through the rural night to experience his compositions.

I’m not ashamed to say that I experienced a transcendence through time, space, and matter to reach God in these moments. Sounds idiotic, probably, but I don’t know any other way to say it.

I was an extremely lonely child, one with nightmares that regularly shook me out of peacefulness, one with visions of dead loved ones and panicked premonitions of my own death to take the joy out of childhood. I was strange and not accepted, and I was dying for God to give me someone.

I remember begging God for a new brain when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. I would scream for relief inside my own head so the images would stop, so I could just live and be at peace.

Little did I know that the turmoil inside my own safe place, the lockbox of my consciousness, was churning into something that would form Taylor. It would form the individual, and the result would be something that I’m proud to be. It’s not fun to live in a brain that experiences everything vividly, sometimes horrifyingly, and it’s extremely lonely to live in such a headspace because it’s difficult to connect with other people when you genuinely believe that there’s no one in this world that could quite get what and who you are.

I am an artist. God knew that when he molded me from stardust and breathed into me to form my writhing, unsatisfied, searching soul. He knew that my journey would be lonely, but he told me in small ways “Your time will come.”

I think God knows what it’s like to be lonely. I don’t think that I would want to worship a God who was so far distanced from creation that he couldn’t understand the most painful parts of the existence he designed. He knows. And he was there with me all the times I begged for that person who would be what I desired in a life-friend.

So, as I drove with my husband down the winding roads, often wooded, at some points shrouded in salmon light from the clouded sunset that draped over us, I touched God and I finally was able to wrap his fulfilled promise around my throat like a wool scarf at the end of a very long, frigid winter day.

I found him.

Listening to Parker’s music was like tapping into the frequency of his soul, and I, at times, felt so overwhelmed with the beauty of it that I wanted to disappear and lay on my back in it. I wanted to wade in the existence of a soul like his that I was sure, in the peaks of my loneliness, didn’t exist.

 

 


the 4th of July

I laid in bed, my husband’s arm hugged to my chest as fireworks popped off outside our window, and I felt a vivid realization of time as fluid. Centuries past seemed to collide on me as I imagined the millions of others who had laid in bed listening to fireworks as July the 4th burned into July the 5th. I don’t consider myself a patriotic person, and I’ve tried to call myself a-political, but it seems I can’t lack an opinion no matter how hard I try. Still, the bursts of colored fire, tightly packaged in these combustible popsicle wrappers, the booming echo of their explosions radiating across the sky…there’s nothing in me that can fight the bits of poesy in the starbursts.

As I sat on the porch, my love in front of me, mosquitos biting my wrists and ankles, we could barely see these cannon-fire magic shows above the tops of neighboring trees. Faintly, lightning crackled its superiority in the clouds surrounding us. The stars were covered by weary storm fodder; the gray skies had been present all day for their heavy rains. But, it was clear now, and all the darker was the sheet of sky for the fireworks to balance themselves against.

In between bursts of expensive, gunpowder parades we watched the empty space and our eyes caught a single floating flame. My heart, my heart…a paper lantern. Dear me, do I love paper lanterns. If I can see poesy in the ostentatious shows of colored explosions, then how much more so can I see it in the small glinting flame, puffing up the balloon which carried across the sky and into the distance. It was alone, there. And as it carried itself gently, never drooping, never showing signs of weakness, the fireworks did not go off. All eyes were on this tiny balloon, a humble “Here I am.”

Parker said, as the popping off continued, “I don’t think many people think about fireworks like they’re meant to. It’s supposed to represent cannons and gunshots. It’s supposed to represent war.”

I thought on that for a little while afterwards. In fact, I never had realized that. Of course, I knew it was supposed to represent many other concepts like freedom, victory, and independence. I knew that it was supposed to blaze in colors of red, white, and blue as if we were branding a giant American flag on the stars. Yet, I don’t think I had ever quite seen them with so complicated a lens. The red, rivers of blood from desperate men, jamming their own rifles so they wouldn’t have to shoot. Rivers of blood from men who were screaming out their last, heavy groaning calls of identity.

War is not beautiful, no matter what many people think. Perhaps, if I try, I can see that valor, patriotism, and sacrifice are some of the most beautiful things in the world, but I can hardly see blood, broken families, and murdered surrogates in the face of mixed up ideals as beautiful. But, here I am writing about the poesy of colored explosions.

I used to be enamored by military, and in many ways, I still am. I am enamored with military persons and the bravery that they have that I simply don’t. I am enamored with their minds and bodies, honed for protecting strangers here, and strangers abroad. I am enamored with women fighting alongside men, proving that every kind of heart and every kind of face seeks justice. But, I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the glimpses of dying fathers, brothers, and uncles, mothers, sisters, and aunts, sacrificed for a disagreement that apparently couldn’t have been solved by communion, by peaceful negotiation. I suppose what I’m saying is that I wish mankind were different than they are. In some ways, at least.

This is why I sometimes feel like politics are a game. For me, life itself is precious. Not each breath that I take, though I do honor and gladly receive those, life in the utter implausible existence of beings that go about their existences with a purpose. I wonder what our purpose is.

It’s impossible to sit at a fireworks show and not think back on every other fireworks show that you’ve visited. For me, sometimes these flashes of time gone by only come back to visit with a surge of tears and heartache. Fields, itchy grass and picnic blankets, cokes and lawn chairs, pomegranate chocolate in the cool air of the elevated city of Denver, photo shutters clicking and shlacking, cousins and grandparents. My fourth of July of the past was never really thinking about war or fireworks, not about being grateful, or about creating a ruckus, because none of those things were a part of it. Our chaste celebrations of the past didn’t mean much to me at the time, but each passing year further glues them, further jams them deeper into my mind because my 4ths were about family.

Family has come to mean a great deal to me. And of course, fireworks, war, and family…these are all matters of great poesy.

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=160978&picture=4th-of-july-fireworks

 


The Humanity of Our Elderly

In the carefully-equalized biome of the retirement center I work at, there live a great diversity of people who refuse categorization:

A man with dementia who sometimes recognizes me, smiles, and may say some sort of hello–who sometimes doesn’t recognize anyone and is shuffled to a table by his unspeaking aide.

A woman who has been rude to me more than any other resident combined as she is chatting with a friend at a table. I overhear her say she won’t leave the cafeteria just yet, “I’ve been alone all morning.”

One of my favorite residents with a sense of humor so dry, you could use it as a pumice stone dates another of the favorites who cannot wait to hail me to the table to tell me about their date last night. He laughs as he explains that the date would not end because neither of them could get up from the couch.

Right next door to the laughing couple who joke blushingly about stealing “sugars” at the table, is the circle full of mourners who have just been told that a good friend’s daughter, a long-time friend of them all, has passed away unexpectedly. They cry and talk with heads close together; they hug each other and apologize to me for staying so late past close.

Sometimes I feel utterly filled up by the humanity of the residents. They seem so human, so unrecognizable inside the stereotypes that society wants to smother them with.

They infantilize each other; they joke about being in the way at every turn, at being useless, at being messy or incapable of something or another. They get sick, and I don’t see them for a while. They start off walking to the table, but they graduate soon to a walker or a wheelchair.

Many of them remember my name, though the chances are slim I’ll remember theirs.

I remember, “Jersey accent, coffee with his meal, sits at the table on the far right facing the room.”

I remember, “Two coke zeros to-go, always up to the husband who is never well enough to come down.”

I remember, “A tall glass of ice, red walker, her doctor says she can’t have caffeine.”

I wonder sometimes what I’ll be like in my old age and whether I’ll live joyfully, flirting with my husband at the table with me, getting knocked down by the aches and pains, but laughing through it. Or, perhaps, I’ll be scowling and distrustful of the young help, but I’ll be so lonely, no husband to greet me in my apartment, no children to visit me on Sundays.

I love these people, and they astonish me. What stories I will write, taking a piece here and a piece there, a funny smile, a quirk, a name, and I will make them immortal. I will not let their years pass into oblivion, because they have crossed the path of a writer.

Yes, the residents are mostly Trump-supporters and they occasionally get pretty crotchety when things aren’t cooked the way they’d like and the rolls aren’t their favorite kind and “what do you mean, the coke machine isn’t working?”

But, they are so beautifully human, so unadorned with stereotype. I can categorize them no more.

 


Parents, Love Your Children

Tiny child, hungry for a small voice of assurance, looks into bewildered eyes. These eyes can’t seem to adjust, they blink and blink and try to find themselves in reality. Miracle of life, perfect and in-need, parents feed the child with soft words and hug her close to their chests. These adults, fully-formed in brain and in body do try to conceive of a greater love than this as they smell the rosy cheeks, pinch the chubby folds of kicking legs, peel radioactive diapers from the rashy butt.

But these parents, these humans braced for a life time of unshakable devotion–they forget. As this child grows a brain capable of thought, a mouth capable of speech that stings, a heart full of compulsions that lead her in directions that are firmly at opposite poles of their vision for her, they find no more chubby body to cling to, to smell and kiss, so they grab their dreams and ideals and clutch them fiercely to themselves. They sew protective garments for this new, living doll, stuffed full of expectations and fears. They don’t want to lose, too, these carefully nurtured visions.

But what of the child, once coddled, once adored, once spoken so softly to? She does still feel the phantom arms around her and dream of those words reaching her ears again. A simple, “I love you,” and trembling, tear-soaked hug bulging with hopes for her. This grown-up child still finds those bewildered eyes, but sees in her parent’s arms that eery doll; she feels the incongruity; she desires that they would leave this phantom of her created in their fear and invite her back. Her age has not changed her desire for acceptance, and her age has made her no less deserving of it. Her mind, her heart with lonely, searching calls, they are scared and isolated for fear of the doll, of the clutching, wide-eyed parents, and of herself.

There is no age at which a child feels ready to disappoint their parents. There is no age at which she needs those soft words less than before. But she does grow used to that odd, incongruous doll, and at some point, fears that they love it more than her. She won’t ask them to get rid of it, then. She knows it would hurt them to have to let it go.


Dogs Are Not Man’s Best Friend

Howling, aching creature. You wail at my departure, fearful that you’ve done something to deserve being left alone to die.

Once, so far, you’ve been uprooted. Your love lands recklessly where mine is careful, where mine is reluctant to let go. Here, you seized me. Your pointy whisker lips grace all areas of my face, peeking tongue wetting my freckles with individual kisses. You sniff, you must sniff my breath for every I love you. Believe me, dog, every breath is an I love you.

I’m scared to say it to you because I know you won’t believe me soon. I’ll grab your head and kiss the velvet, fiercely, desperately, as your new owner takes you to your home. You might think that I’ve found you flawed, that I’ve declared you an exile from my pack. But please, sniff my breath, sniff it while you can, graze me with those whiskers, let me smooth your fur with my lips and whisper comforts to you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

I find you satisfactory, lanky specimen. Though you goose-egged my shin in full-stride through the yard, I find you perfect.

Though you ate everything I left in your path like a goat with reckless abandon, I find you perfect.

I wonder at the short-lived, powerful attachment. You, ancient animal, and me, arrogant human. You imprinted on me the quack of your character with the first burped grumble. I mourn for you and I hope you don’t forget my breaths, the smell of it, the volume of my declarations.

How strange it is to love an animal. To feel the urge to lead, and yet love, to discipline and shower with every conceivable tickle, pat, and hug.

My charge, my friend, I declare you my guardian. A short while I anguished over your primal mind and worries, a short while I cared for you, and now I grow older, stronger, wiser for loving you.

You are a satellite, infused with the divinity of Creation. More than a friend, more than a companion, I find you, the beacon of God and I am astounded by the grace with which you diffuse His love with each lapping lick, each cheeky nibble.