Saturday, February 21, 2015

Writing Group Recap, Series Contemplation, How to Go Home

After God knows how long, this week I finally dragged myself from my lair on a weeknight, and went to a writing meet-up. I was a little nervous about it, but the second I got there, I felt welcomed, appreciated, and supported. It was amazing the difference it made to write in a group, just doing simple prompts and sharing in a creative space with other women. It was exciting and exhilarating, and I was invited to join a regular weekly “splinter” group that meets in my neighborhood just down the street from where I live. Overall rating: awesome. I really wish I hadn’t been pathologically and needlessly group-avoidant for so long. I am freshly inspired, and really looking forward to my weekly group!

I’m working on my novel edit, but taking a few breaks here and there to attend to poetry again. I have a few ideas for some new series, one inspired by a dream, and one inspired by a writing prompt at the group. Here's an experimental piece I might build one of the series around:  

How to Go Home

On the way home, the first hill is the hardest. Your hip will hurt, and you’ll take it as a metaphor for all of the nagging aches in your life for which you receive insufficient sympathy, and for how hard you have to fight for things you’re convinced just come to others. Once you reach the top of the hill, it’s straight down. Jog a little, but not too fast to appreciate the bright red painted door on the little stone church, and appreciate yourself for appreciating it. Watch for cars making blind right turns, while secretly wishing you’ll get hit, not tragically, not catastrophically, but just hard enough for a nice hospital stay, a week free of decision-making, a week of kind people delivering your meals on a tray. When you get to the bottom of the hill, prepare for a brief but unavoidable flash of bliss wrought by the mural of the Tuskegee airmen. A reminder of flight.

You’ll have an eight-minute wait on the south side of the street, the nice side, directly across from the not-nice side, with the shelter for homeless drug addicts. Watch prostitutes and junkies and lurching schizophrenics, and arrange your thoughts about their plight in a way that you find most in keeping with Buddhist principles, while keeping your real thoughts buried underneath, thoughts about why it’s not you on that side, and your lifelong fear of slipping. Thoughts about how your throat has become a hive of black bees, and how each bee is a thing you didn’t say, and how crowded the hive is getting, and what will happen when it finally gets too full.

Jostle for position on the Express, click your bus card on the black panel, and take absurd satisfaction in the green pass light and its attendant cheery beep. You passed! Find a side seat on the right--a side seat because you’re claustrophobic, and on the right because it affords a more interesting view. Assume you look exhausted, and that all of the flip techie hipsters are thinking that about you, that you’re exhausted. Poor sucker slaving away in the corporate salt mines. Hapless cubicle monkey. Soulless drone. Take out your phone in defiance and play that game where you shoot things. You’re forty-five and you still like shooting things. What’s in an age? Check your face in your compact mirror. You look exhausted.  Closer to home, glance into the huge picture window at all of the willowy white women in the trendy new gym. Roll your eyes at their attempts to deny their mortality through step aerobics. Pinch your upper arm fat discreetly and plan to go to the gym later.

At your stop, avoid the gauntlet of earnest clipboard-bearers asking you if you’d like to help stop bullying. The best route is through the tax center, up the stairs, and past the car tab renewal office. This spits you out onto the quiet street, where you’ll cross over into the skate park and walk past the church where if you’re lucky, the choir will be practicing and you’ll make your way to your door on their warbling notes of faith, the shivering chorus of trees, and the last of the sun singing itself into the gray casket of night.

--Kristen McHenry

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