Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Flash Fiction, Downward Dog & Post-Knowing

The Set Up

If this were a chapter in a book, (which it is of course the book of my life), I would begin by saying once upon a time there was a woman who was 38 and is now, freshly 39. Maybe not really use the whole once upon a time thing. Maybe, instead, and now the continuing adventuraga of a woman. of a goddess who was 38 and is now 39. I would also not capitalize the first word of a sentence because sometimes…as a creative writer, I don’t do that. Because sometimes I am the goddess of the page and I don’t give a damn about the convention of conventions. Furthermore, sometimes I do. I would also use the made up word adventuraga, composed of adventure and saga. And then I might delete it all and say something like…All the events leading up to the here (1-38) place me in the right now (39.) Who knows? After that, I’d give the readers a bit of back-story and preface it with highlights and low-lights. You would remember the previous pages and sort of put it altogether like a jigsaw puzzle in your head.

Pretend you are the reader. Pretend you are on the 5th page of the 39th chapter and you’ve been filled in about as much as you can be in five pages. Lets say that it has the set up flash fiction. Let’s say now you make that noise that readers or audience members make when they’ve read or heard something deeply profound. It’s a mix of grunt + sigh + gasp. And now you are moving on to page 6. [If you are wondering what is the deal with the 5 and 6 it’s symbolic. I am now in the 6th week or so of being 39. Work with me. Lets say the writer is particularly grateful that you have chosen to read about her journey.

The Story Starts (The Story Continues?)

There is a real sense of urgency in me. Not the kind of gotta-go-pee-badly urgency. More like a—oh shoot-I-forgot-to-take-the-biscuits-out-of-the-oven kind of urgency. What kind of biscuits am I baking? Last week I was baking a culminating project at Seattle Girls’ School called MISSION, two manuscripts and processing moving to Japan in July. And always, always, in the mixing bowl: mothering and partnering. I think the biggest biscuit I am worrying about burning is fear of the unknown. I keep checking on it. Peeking in. Anxiously wondering will I know what I am supposed to know yet? I can’t exactly prick the unknown with a toothpick and get the answers. I find the unknown is tricky for me because there are so many things that I intuitively DO KNOW. Pretend this is the part in the novel, chapter 39, end of page 6, when you arrive, (enthralled of course) on page 7, the writer does something clever like break out in a list or poem or some font-friggn-tastic asterisk. Oh my goodness. Maybe all three!!!

The Crux

Thirty-shh haiku

had it figured out.
i mean at thirty eight. nine--
i have arrived. right?

Note to self and readers on the above. Don’t use every cool technique at once.

Things I Thought I Knew:

1. I am superwoman and I can do everything for everybody.
2. I am superwoman and I don’t need any sleep.
3. I am superwoman and I can go an entire day without food or water.
4. At any given moment I can totally erase the thought of any bad memory and never retain it once I have done the “healing” work around it.
5. I don’t need anyone to help me when I need help. No wait…I don’t need anyone to help me because I never need help and if I did, you wouldn’t know. Nope.
6. I am a writer. I am not a writer. I am a writer. I am not a writer. I am a writer.
7. Fifth grade girls like to be called “fifthies” because it is a term of endearment. (You think this is random but you’ll see why it’s on my list.)
8. I have already had a child who has been 12 and so of course I know how to parent to that age again. Of course! Two kids/same womb/same parents. Everything same.
9. Tree hugging is only symbolic. We should love the earth. Actually hug a tree? Not.
10. I walk a lot and I don’t need extra exercise. Especially not yoga. Screw downward dog and sweaty yoga-ites.
11. My capacity to love has a cap. A big cap. A giant ass cap. But a cap.

Things I Know Right Now At This Moment:

1. I am superwoman and if I feel like it, I can do everything for everybody IF I have done for myself and my cape is not in the cleaners.
2. I am superwoman and I need sleep. (I do not feel guilty about napping.)
3. I am superwoman and I will faint if I don’t eat food and drink plenty of water. (Seriously who knew these human traits were gonna keep creeping in?)
(I can dress my water up with lemons and limes and mint to make it extra-extra good.)
4. I cannot erase bad memories. Memories are made in pen not pencil. I can continue to work through how I feel about bad memories and I can see the memory as my lesson or a lesson for someone else. I can tell the story if I choose. I can be healed and still have a memory because I mean…I don’t have that Vulcan touch ability to erase thoughts. Not yet.
5. Even though I am superwoman, I may need help. When I need help I can call on my superfamily and superfriends to come to my rescue. (Yall remember the bat signal right?) I do not need to feel ashamed about needing help. I can also offer help to other help-resistant superwomen/men.
6. I am always a writer. A writer, me? Yes. Always. I am not a hobbyist writer. I am an ever- evolving writer. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am writing everyday. Yes…writing in my head does count.
7. Fifth grade girls DO NOT want to be called “fifthies” because it makes them feel less than, belittled and “like babies.” I will not use the term “fif-----,” again. I will also never allow anyone to belittle me or allow myself to feel less than when someone…attempts this whether knowingly or unknowingly. (F.Y.I. the word cute in the 18th century was used in a negative way as a shortening of the word acute which meant highly intellectual. The current definition of cute is: pleasing: smaller than the usual size but nicely arranged or appointed; a term of endearment applied to babies or young animals.) I’m just saying…
8. All children are different! It doesn’t matter if they emerged from the same glorious womb or same set of DNA pool. Where is that parenting manual? Oh right. None. ☺
9. Hugging a tree in my own personal experience has totally changed my life. Call me a hippie. Call me weird. Call me whatever but I tell you being in/with nature, walking barefoot, hugging a tree, staring at the moon, has really made me realize how much I appreciate planet earth and all its goodness. Hugging a tree charges me on the inside. Hugging a tree makes me feel connected to a higher power. How small and big I am in the vast universe. (This is where you do the profound mouth sound again.)
10. I need exercise. I do not like downward dog and people with fifty-five yoga outfits, 18 mats wondering why I can’t put my leg over my head calls for a bit of extra patience on my part. But I need it. I need exercise. I need yoga. I need 55 yoga outfits. Well…maybe only 50. Most importantly I respect the spiritual/historical concept of Yoga before it went commercial. I understand in all honesty I can practice yoga wearing whatever I want, wherever I want, with whomever I want, in full mind, body and soul meditation and I like it. And afterwards a walk and some other exercise is great too! I am especially proud of certain fabulous people I love who have been exercising maniacs, running marathons, going to the gym faithfully and those of you who can, by now, put both your legs over your head while doing a hand stand and drinking green tea. You rock. As for me, regular yoga, meditation and exercise is a great start.
11. My love for myself and others has no cap. My love is big. My love is expansive.

The Transition

Pretend you have arrived at page 8. You’ve been so captivated that you haven’t stretched so your legs hurt. You notice page 8 sort of comes out of nowhere, as if the writer wants you to take a break.

A Condensed List of Words I’m Loving Today/Have Used in a Current Manuscript:
1. Telluric
2. Snippet
3. Tarradiddle
4. Indigo
5. Unambiguous
6. Beddable
7. Stealthy
8. Temporal
9. Navigable
10. Gut
11. Grit
12. Preternatural
13. Aight

Pretend you will now put a very meaningful bookmark here on page 8, stretch, get some water, hang up your cape and look forward to the next couple of pages of the spot on and often random but meaningful journey of 39.