This gallery contains 7 photos.
I see you, long ago Illustrator. Maybe things were pretty bleak then, too. Continue reading
This gallery contains 7 photos.
I see you, long ago Illustrator. Maybe things were pretty bleak then, too. Continue reading
As uncomfortable as it makes me, I have to admit that the election of our 45th president kicked my ass sideways.
I’ve lost some time on the blog to swirling anxiety, anger, and exhaustion brought about by insomnia—a condition that was itself further complicated by scream-o-licious nightmares when I could sleep. I never realized politics could feel so personally threatening, until, of course, the values on which we underwrite our lives were suddenly invalidated by a hijacked election and replaced with an ugly changling that handcuffed small children and raided hospitals to look for illegal human beings.
Once, I published a piece about the need for art during the darkest of times (and published it again at Sparrow & Raven in response to the election). My personal credo went into that piece, offering my view that art is a reclamation of energy from the negative fodder we too often find ourselves wading through.
Lately, while I’ve contemplated the probability that our still wet Ignorant Elect will usher in the nuclear end of us all, I have had difficulty making good on my own convictions.
But I remain in a state of conviction: Art is the beacon, the revolution, the necessary element in all other composites. We must be Robin Hood and steal the dark to create light.
Here, in order to shed some of that light, I celebrate the small achievements of many months allowed to slip by, both during my blog hiatus & during this season of our national flirtation with authoritarianism.
Most enjoyably, my long, long story, “The Big Tent of Sky”, appeared in Issue 8 of Tahoma Literary Review. My favorite part of this experience, aside from working with the lovely editors (Joe Ponepinto at the helm) and earning a very healthy paycheck, was the experience of submitting a recording for their TLRSoundCloud page. While I couldn’t record the whole piece, I made it through parts 1-6 of 15. Like I said, it is a long story.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of recording a sound file for my flash piece, “Southwestern Baptism”, when it appeared in the fabulous Adroit Journal. That was fun, too, but I did what most of us do: muddled through with my phone’s mic app, tinny little thing that it is.
For the longer piece in TLR, I was fortunate enough to be able to use a real mic and an Apple computer loaned out by a generous person who understands such things. The difference in the experience—and the quality of the sound—cannot be overstated.
On the no-sound side but also recently-ish, The Carolina Quarterly picked up a story of mine called “Rot-eye”.
There are other bits of Meto-news, which I have managed to dutifully record on my Published Works page, despite my Red Dawn Blues.
I will continue to post now that the membrane of Nope is broken. It should be an interesting year in this fracked up world, especially as everything is backlit by art—my real job, even when I don’t say much about it out loud.
And be sure to head over to Sparrow&Raven to catch our free Friday Flight prompts, as well as to sign up for our Stehekin Ranch retreat coming up in June. We only have a few spots left, so grab a pal you’d like to share a cabin with and let’s do it. There is more art to come at Meto-pen, I promise.
It’s time to embark on a new adventure. Robyn Lynn, of RobynLynnwriter, and I have teamed up to offer writing help, instant inspiration, monthly jolts of creative juice, and/or, big fun on the road. Our new website is beautiful and the journey is beauty in action.
Since we started this business, and it’s not even officially a week old yet, I’ve fielded several questions more than once, so I thought I’d address those:
Why start a writing business? True story: writers need day jobs, and both of us do this kind of work already. I teach and work with individuals, and Robyn has long promoted the idea of the connection between nature and writing, exploring new places to soak up the wild world and write. By combining what we do, we hope to give ourselves more ground to focus what we love in areas of professional strength. We also hope to gain more time to invest in the community of writers at large, as well as better ways to inclusively expand that community. And, by the way, inclusive means for everybody. If someone has a story to tell, we aren’t going to be parsing who gets to be a “real” writer. If you’re a living, breathing person and you’re writing, that feels pretty damn real to us. Also, and this is huge, we want to extend safety and welcome to our friends in the LGBTQI community to come work with us and travel with us.
Why did you call it Sparrow and Raven? Ravens are Robyn’s bird. She is of ravens; she befriends crows and ravens wherever she goes, or maybe I should say, they befriend her. Once, after we just met, I dreamt of her as a raven/dragon—black feathers and black wings, and a long spiked tale that trailed behind her. It was a wonderfully weird and vivid dream and probably the origin of why I have long referred to her as “Raven” any time I (barely) disguise her in my writing.
For me, sparrows have been lifelong loves. Flitting, nervous, industrious. When I was in college back in the 90s, with no money, no food, no nothing, I’d split whatever I had with the sparrows who lived in a mulberry tree just off my balcony. It was a scrabbling time, and they were good friends, reminders that life exists in the moment. Years later, I sat on a different porch nursing my two month old daughter, surrounded by sparrows, and felt their busy reminder to be right where I was. Now, this business is right where I want to be.
What’s your goal? My goal is to grow, personally and profess
ionally, and to keep excellent company while I do that. We’re in the building phase of our endeavor, so expect updates and evolution. Join as a member, download one or some of our prompts, take a look at our beautiful inspirational images just because, let me work with you on a project, or take a class with us! And most of all, I want you to come with us on some fantastic adventure. The writing and the connection to people who care about your writing will strengthen and sustain you. My goal is to be part of that process for anyone who’s looking for a writing community to get them started, move them along, or keep them going. I’m expecting this to be a lot of good, hard work, and I’m looking forward to it because it’s work I love to do.
What about metonymical pen? This is still my personal space. I will always come he
re to write from the feelings and experiences most germane to me at a given time. This has been a year of losses for my family, of scary political and social harshness, but also a time of personal development and interesting development in my writing and in my partner’s work as a writer as well. That’s all coming to a blog post right here at metonymical pen very soon. I will go on being delighted to share whatever developments come next in all the metonymical corners of my life. This blog is going to be this blog, not part of Sparrow&Raven, though of course I won’t keep any Sparrowish secrets from you.
I’m excited in case you can’t tell. And once this (let’s be honest) terrifying election is over, I want to get out and spread the happy around everywhere I can! Come over to Sparrow&Raven and tell me what you think. Both Robyn and I want to hear from you all.
You said, “I have something I was thinking about telling you, but I wish I knew how you’ll take it.”
Your truth wasn’t something I had to “take”. I love you, actual you, real you, all of you. Knowing more of your truth, more of your reality gives me more of you to love, and I’m grateful for that.
You said, “I thought you might have this image of me, and I’d ruin it.”
Nobody is entitled to hold an image of you over the real you. That nobody includes me. And I would never want you to be anything other than absolutely who you are, because I totally love you. And truly, my image of you has always been of a happy you. Anything beyond that remains blurry and terrific. Terrific blurs and I love all that, too, because whatever and whoever is in that blur? That’s what’s making you happy.
You said, “I hate keeping secrets, but it seemed safer.”
Secrets should be made of crushes and birthday presents. Have lots of all that good stuff. Let me giggle and crush on cute people and wrap presents with you. Identity is a big, hard secret, and I don’t want anything in your way in this world. I want you to be you.
And there was hugging and good food and the blurs began to seem less blurry and more terrific than ever.
Sending love, celebrations, and safe harbor to my LGBTQI family and friends. Happy National Coming Out Day!
Hey y’all, I want to talk about Billy Bush, so I’m going to.
Actually, let’s talk about the tape. I won’t embed it, but you can follow the link if you haven’t seen it in its ugly entirety. Please don’t claim you just can’t. You can. You should.
The emphasis, rightly so, has been on the behavior of the presidential candidate, who clearly used vulgar ideation and verbiage, who has been repeatedly accused of assault and rape, who pretty much embodies the scary stupidity of the addled right. The orange pustule is more important. Absolutely.
But could we pause for a moment to talk about the commonplace shittiness of Billy Bush?
We’ve all listened to the audio, but have you watched the video of Trump, Bush, and Arianne Zucker, the actress whose job it was to escort them onto the “Days of Our Lives” set? Did you see the part where Billy Bush gets off the damn dick-mobile and says to her, “How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus!”
Because getting off the bus is so hard, it requires hugs and kisses.
Zucker had offered the two men her hand, which is business-standard. It is Bush, notably, who turns their professional encounter into a sexualized performance. As the group walks the studio hallway, still on camera, it’s Billy Bush who insists she walk between them, who insists she choose one of them…for??? For sex, of course. As if. As if right there, right then, and at least Billy B. might get to watch.
I get it. I understand him. Billy Bush here assumed the venerable positon of rapey wingman. He made the heavier aggressor of the two seem passively preferable by forcing a kind of impotent frat-humor into an otherwise neutral, professional encounter.
Virtually every woman I know has experienced this virulent little weasel and suffered the consequences of his “I’m just kiddin’ around” assault-lite.
How did a grown woman get pushed into behaving as though she wanted to hang on Trump’s arm? How does someone who just admitted doing actual harm seem less pushy than the yapping pincher he’s with? This humiliating pushiness is a job.
The rapey wingman is a sexual predator’s best prop because he makes the aggressor look less obnoxious in public.
Think about Arianne Zucker. She hugged them (because wingman goaded her to do it in a way that would have reflected badly on her had she refused), she took Trump’s arm (because wingman was physically crowding her), she wound up appearing to flirt with Trump (because wingman made it clear he wasn’t going to stop the sexualized onslaught while he had a turn to speak).
Who are they, these buttresses of rape culture?
Picture the guy calling himself “little buddy”; the Eddie-‘at-a-boy who jumps into the passenger seat while you’re trying to get out; the jerk who starts Daffy Ducking you toward the asshole you’re really trying to avoid by calling you slutty names like it’s funny. How far will you have to retreat into real danger to make him stop?
In a few moments of video, we see that pricky chump, Billy Bush, turn a professional encounter into hugs, kisses, touches, innuendos, sexualized speech, and coerced role play. Should Trump go down for this? Sure, but in the sense that this can be added like an anchor to a long list of heavy reasons his cancerous candidacy is sinking. Billy Bush deserves the same cold deep.
A shout out in thanks to Mike Czyzniejewski, Smokelong’s interview editor, for letting me in on this gig. This is my third interview with SLQ, and it’s always a pleasure. The approach they take to the interview allows everybody to have some cheeky fun, framing the writer through the lens of their work. Sensible, really, since it is through a given piece a journal reader feels connected to a particular writer. Also, it’s nice to be given some freedom and a license to enjoy yourself when talking to someone new. As an extroverted introvert, I thrive under those working conditions, a feeling I hope shows in the interview. Zach was certainly a lot of fun to talk with through text. And like I always say, I love talking to writing people about writing.
Keep in mind, SLQ interviews every single writer they publish. This is issue #53. The math, people–that’s a bunch of writers talking about writing, which has to be a score for good.
Mostly, I have written here about writing. But sometimes, in a life of writing, things happen and then there is no way forward but through. Downer, I wrote this for you a long time ago. Now I imagine I read it to you and you liked it. Or maybe you explained to me how pine cones are really nothing like desert arroyos. You probably blushed and groaned–things like poems about you embarrassed you miserably, which is why I never read it to you. The closest I ever came was saying once, “Hey, Pop, you know I wrote a poem about you one time.” You pretended to be looking out the window at something that suddenly needed doing. Okay, later, Pop. Livy used to say, “Oh, Downer, my Downer.” And then she’d take your face in her hands, and you would make silly faces until she laughed or squished your cheeks, still saying, “Oh, my Downer.” Downer, always.
Papa knows all about pine cones/about their bowered nests that scratch/at the sky like cheek whiskers
Papa knows about their fall into hiding/where they wait for fire to burn them/free, where they wait for snow/to kindle their physics, where/children may find them/heaped in pirate caches
He can unwind stories of their/winding trails through/masonically secretive chambers/spiraled as tombs of warrior kings/who lay undisturbed under desert arroyos/dressed in armor, wearing masks, holding swords
Papa says, There are more rooms in the kingdoms/of a pinecone/than in all saltbox subdivisions/stacked rooftop to rooftop, folded in ways/the world will appear when/all heaves over again to mountains/and mountains are pierced
by the swords of seeds