(only)

photo (1)
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only her ghost
the sound of a drum
in the mirror

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It was my birthday today. I got up in the dark, got born again. (No, not that way.) Went to work early and as I walked down the hall to my office the motion-sensored lights politely flicked on ahead of me. No one had been that way in a while, apparently.

I struggled all morning with some hard rewriting. I had to try to explain something I understood to somebody else who didn’t understand it. Sometimes writing works that way, and sometimes it’s more like explaining something you don’t understand to yourself. I do that at work a lot too.

In the afternoon, I corrected a lot of mistakes, which I’m good at making. I sent a lot of emails asking and answering questions. I looked at the future and tried to predict how it would work out. Some parts of it I was optimistic about and some parts pretty pessimistic.

I didn’t have any meetings. Most days I have a meeting or two. Today I was alone in my office all day. My office has large decorative circles all over the wall. I put them there myself. It looks better than it sounds. My office also has a window and every day, every hour really, I think about how lucky I am to have an office with a window. My office also has an extra desk and desk chair because I used to have an officemate and maybe I will again some day. I work all day next to a potential person.

I ate delicious chicken for lunch along with some not-very-delicious guilt about eating a chicken.

Really, I have rarely tasted such delicious chicken.

Today was pretty much like most other days, except I was paying more attention to it.

Maybe I’ll do that again tomorrow.

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NaHaiWriMo, Week 4: On Being Weird

22    editing an elephant gray seems too vague
23    encoding fairy tales </eastofthesunwestofthemoon>
24    ovulation trying to locate the scent of apple
25    menstruation sinking lower in the waves
26    political protest a deathwatch beetle in the drum circle
27    the mouse in the kitchen does he also hear the owl
28    particles streaming from the sun we wait on this rock to receive them

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Whew. I made it.

I don’t know why this felt so hard. I’ve been writing haiku every day for ten months now. And, you know, sharing them with the reading public. I think it was just that I was trying to do something really different from what I usually do — trying to be weird and experimental, just kind of throw stuff against the wall and see what stuck.

And even though I told myself that this would be freeing and relaxing, I was surprised to find that I actually found it very stressful to try to come up with something Original and Interesting every day that I wasn’t incredibly embarrassed to let you guys see. Well, a lot of it I actually was incredibly embarrassed to let you guys see. This week may have started out the weirdest of all and then by the fifth day I was getting freaked out enough that I actually followed a couple of Michael Dylan Welch’s (excellent) NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompts, which until then I’d pretty much ignored in the spirit of experimental individualism. I just couldn’t take the pressure of marching to such a different drummer any more.

I thought sometimes this month of the title of the physicist Richard Feynman’s autobiography: “Why Do You Care What Other People Think?” This is a question his wife challenged him with when he was very young. Mostly Feynman didn’t care a lot what other people thought, which is part of what made him so brilliant. (The other part was that he was, you know, brilliant.)

So why do I care? I mean … no one scolded me for being too experimental this month, at least not out loud; people said nice things about the haiku they liked and politely kept their mouths shut about the ones that they didn’t. No one is ever mean to me on this blog. My readership didn’t go down, people didn’t unsubscribe. I still felt stupid and incompetent a lot of the time. Apparently I am way more insecure than I thought I was.

This worries me a little, because it must mean that most of the time I am trying to write haiku that I think other people will approve of. Of course this isn’t entirely bad, the point of writing is supposed to be communication after all, so if no one understands or likes what you’re writing … well, you can either carry on in the same vein hoping that future generations will be more enlightened, or you can seriously consider the possibility that there’s something wrong with your writing. But if you’re spending so much time worrying about what other people think that you never actually figure out what you think yourself, that’s a problem too.

Also, I think I freaked out a little at how good everyone else’s NaHaiWriMo stuff seemed to me. A lot of people seemed to take this exercise really seriously and put their best foot forward and come up with superlative work that really blew me away … and then there’s me, sitting in the corner tossing my word spaghetti at the wall, with a slightly village-idiot expression on my face.

Anyway. (She said defensively.) Just so you know, I wrote a lot of other haiku this month that are a lot more, you know, normal. You’ll probably be seeing a fair number of them in the next couple of months. So don’t unsubscribe! The worst is over … and I will be discussing my inferiority complex with my imaginary therapist, so don’t worry about me.