Monday, December 14, 2015

The Quietest Year

2015 has been my quietest year on this blog since I started posting years ago. Busy year and quiet year, moving into this adult phase of living, partnership, solid plans and growth. Oh the growth is a motherfucker, this year wasn't easy in many places, I had quite a few dark days, probably more like weeks and months wherein I cycled downward into a grief I didn't understand. It wasn't a specific. I know biochemically I'm prone to depression and anxiety but this felt more, to quote a friend, an initiation. I came out softer and wiser. This artist/seeker/bruja/storykeeper/dreamer path is humbling as fuck. And also ecstatic. I wouldn't trade it.

The writing this year has been the best of my life. I have stories bubbling up in me that feel channeled at times. I look back at the writing and think "Wait, what? I wrote that?" I'm publishing more. I'm finally at peace with a struggle I've been struggling with for years. I had so much fear and impostor syndrome over being a writer outside of academia, community college dropout, no MFA, no piece of paper telling the world I followed a set of rules that spit me out on the other side "writer." This year I'm grateful I don't have any of that shit, I wouldn't be writing the stories I'm writing had I gone down that academic path. It wasn't for me and I think a program would have hurt me.  I'm sure it makes lots of people happy but here, in the sidelines and with a partner in an MFA program I see the writing on the wall. There will be a backlash against MFA programs and I think, the idea of college/university in general. I call it.

H is wonderful and happy in his program and he works his ass off. I work my ass off too, but in different ways. We're both writing a ton, sharing work, celebrating each success, nodding at the small disappointments and moving along, in our love/life/passions. I wouldn't be writing the stories I'm writing if it weren't for our late night balcony conversations. Wine, wind in the bamboo, Meow-Meow the alley cat back and forth between our feet. H and I go places in those conversations, not always, but often enough that I've come to count on them for sparks and inspiration. Stories and poems are born with a line one of says, with a memory tossed around, with wormhole talks that take us places we didn't even know we wanted to go.

The other day my sister called me to come over to her house. She had a story for me, one of the first stories I wrote in 1990, I was 11 years old. I wrote about becoming a butterfly but almost no one saw me and if they did, they called me a liar. Oh sweet little 1990 Lizz, impostor syndrome even then, invisible, wanting to see my wings/beauty/uniqueness recognized. In the story I fly up to a cloud and sit on it to cry. A blue jay comes and asks me not to cry anymore and tells me to eat a piece of cloud if I want to turn back into a little girl. The bird flies away. I eat the cloud and transform back into a child and go home. When I get home my mom hands me a butterfly made of crystal and tells me a blue jay dropped it off.

I laughed and cried when I read the story, remembering how invisible and ugly and sad I felt at that age, trying to cling to the invented magic of childhood, the secret world I inhabited because this world was too much for my tender heart.  And oof, the blue jay, the messenger dropping off a reminder to me of who I really was. I was in the myth of it, even then. Confirmation this is a long path, a long game, and worth it.

This year I restarted Brujas y Bellas Writing circle. What a gift to cycle back to. ByB back in the day met on Tuesday nights, mostly girlfriends and we drank wine and read poems and bitched and cried, chismeando and joyous. This time I structured it more, meeting Sundays during church hours, our holy time for writing and sharing. The group was mostly women of color, diverse in background. We had everything from a high school student to academics to elders and spiritual teachers. Every single one wanted to write. I structured it so that we had time to check in with each other, clear space, write, share and dialogue. (Being in a relationship with someone who teaches arts facilitation was invaluable in structuring it, thanks H!) When the session finished last week we were all sad to let go. It was something to look forward to and we all connected. I'm going to start it up again in January.

I finished a story yesterday that gutted me. Dark and vulnerable, I had to get up and walk away from the computer at times. But I love it, I do. I have quite a few stories in the chute right now, some start and fizzle out but others are patient, waiting for me to be ready for them. Every day I'm more ready.