Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sewing Debacle, Buddy and the Balloon, A Return to Poetry

Recently, to my great delight, my friend gave me one of her spare sewing machines. I was super-excited, because I was certain that this magical item was going to make it a cinch to sew the backing onto my three unfinished rugs that are lounging in the hall closet. Funnily enough, it turns that operating a sewing machine requires a modicum of skill and dexterity. Mr. Typist expertly threaded the bobbin for me, and suggested I do a few practice runs on some cheap fabric before going live. I scoffed at this, but to indulge him, I plopped down at the machine with some practice fabric, and was horrified at the result—long snaky lines of crooked stitches veering wildly off course. After a few more practice runs, my stitches got slightly less erratic, and puffed up with false confidence, I tried to sew a circle, at which time Things Went Terribly Wrong and I gave up in shame. I’m not giving up permanently, though. I plan to work in sewing practice sessions at least weekly. I’m never going to be good at it, but I’d be happy just to achieve a baseline of competence.

The normally unflappable Buddy found himself completely flapped this week by the presence of a red balloon, which was left over from Mr. Typist’s latest top-secret device-making experiment. Buddy is known for attacking inanimate objects with abandon, throwing his whole heart and soul into complete destruction, claws out, teeth sinking, banshee howl at full throttle. But the balloon completely stymied him. I don’t know how, but he seemed to understand instinctively that it was not a good idea to attack it with his claws. He sidled up to it suspiciously, staring at it like it was alien creature, and ever-so-gingerly nudged it with his paw. He was flabbergasted when it bounced lightly away and hovered in mid-air, taunting him. He changed tactics, trying a soft head-butt, and was equally stunned by it’s float-and-hover move. This little ballet went on for a full ten minutes, while Buddy emitted increasingly frustrated squeaks and meows. Finally, he stalked away in a huff. Since then, whenever he encounters the balloon, he glares at it resentfully and deliberately snubs it. It’s as though he’s encountered an enemy that is impervious to his weapons, and he has no idea how to take it. I think the balloon hurt his pride.

Last week, I had a dream that someone gifted me with an expensive journal, and told me that I must write in it. I thought that was vaguely interesting, but forgot about it until the next day at work, when co-worker gave me a beautiful new journal as a thank-you gift. I was all like, “Okay Universe, I get it already. I’ll write. Geez.” (I think the Universe thinks I’m dense. It’s probably correct.) Anyway, I spent a good chunk of time this week and last writing in the journal, and guess what? Yesterday I sat down and worked on two new poems! Part of what helped was re-vamping my computer desk—I removed the hard copy of my novel, and a publishing contract for a poetry book that will probably never come to fruition, cleaned, dusted, and cleared the clutter. Simply having the physical presence of the novel removed seemed to release me from its emotional grip and free me to focus on the new.

I also released the idea that the topic I was writing about needed to be forced into a series. It turns out, it didn’t need a whole series. It was just one poem, and that was okay—that was enough. That in turn freed me to start a second poem that came to me completely spontaneously. My poetry muscles are a little flabby, but I feel the full-headed feeling of momentum again; the tingling energy pulsing from my head and hands. I worked on the poems for hours yesterday, and happily. Writing poetry didn’t feel forced or frustrating or oppressive, like it did before I broke up with it to pursue fiction for a while. I don’t know how long this will last, but for now, poetry and I are on again.

 --Kristen McHenry

No comments: