Monthly Archives: April 2008

Submission

The first time I submitted a piece of writing for consideration in a publication, I was 13.  I sent a poem to a local lit mag, very tiny thing it was, and I won some prize or other for my age group.  I was hooked.

Since then, I have periodically sent off my poems and essays and had some published in newspapers, magazines, online sites, and even a day planner.  The great majority have been summarily rejected, which I understand is the way the world works, not just in the publishing world but also the realms of employment, dating, even gardening; a sizable chunk of the desires we pursue and the projects we design do not take root.  I took some good advice a long time ago and started a “Rejection Slip Collection,” so that every new one I receive is a successful addition to my folder.  I see my moment of triumph being when the envelope slips into the mailbox slot, signifying that I have overcome my internal naysayer, who thinks that I have nothing of any import to add to the universe, and I’ve gone ahead, spoken my mind and submitted it for approval anyway.

 

But in the last few months that I’ve been blogging, I approach my submissions with a new attitude.  I do not feel as desperate to be accepted by an editor.  Sure, it would be wonderful to have the stamp of approval of a power player in the field, to see my name in the lights of the published word, but now, worst case scenario, I post my words on my blog.  There feels to be just as much chance for them to be read on the internet, where someone might be inspired to comment and thus make a personal connection with me, as there is for them to read me on the page, where the following silence would ring in my ears.

 

I can feel the power of the internet, the autonomy it gives us as readers and writers, the independence from the whims of the editor.  This can be a bad thing, as any old rot can appear “in print” online for the world to suffer through, or most likely ignore.  And I do not want to be misunderstood as disparaging the word that nestles itself on a piece of paper, because anyone who knows me is certain that one of my favorite circumstances is to be surrounded by books.  But as a plan B, when no one in a position to validate my voice chooses to do so, the fact remains that I cannot be silenced.

 

And neither can you.

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Can you afford offspring?

Not tickets to see the band.  I mean the small, loud, often times stinky creatures that make life so fulfilling.  Mine, at any rate.

As I wish desperately that I had some vocation I could dedicate my life to, a nagging but tiny voice says, “Um, pardon me but don’t you love being a Mama?  Don’t you find joy in every aspect of traditional homemaking, from cooking to gardening to organizing?  Isn’t is possible that this is your calling?”

Then of course the rational voice, the part that relies solely on reason, intelligence, logic, the one that has gotten me out of all manner of fixes in the past, the one that usually takes over projects, after my muse has flitted off to something new and exciting, and ensures that they turn out well, this thinking part of my persona retorts with something like, “Hello, you can’t afford to stay home.  Duh.”  (Although it certainly says it more intelligently, throwing out a couple numbers and inserting “thusly” at the correct moment.  I am currently using my feeling self to translate.)

I really and truly do understand the intellectual argument, but every once in a while I just gotta ask, WHAT THE HELL?

How did we get to this point?  Can you imagine a society evolving to the point where the basis of civilization, i.e. continuing the species and cultivating the space wherein it is nurtured, is a hobby or luxury that must be earned by abandoning said space and species and joining an assembly line or squatting in an office cubicle?  

I would never say that everyone should be a parent or that every household needs a full time homemaker.  Some people are obviously so evolved that they can ignore our fundamental animal purpose and have moved on to more lofty purposes.  Acquisition of wealth and power, I guess.  Maybe writing the great American novel.  I honestly have nothing but respect for these decisions.  

But when they turn to me and say, “And you shouldn’t have children either unless you are willing to leave them in daycare or unless you are independently wealthy or unless your partner can land an amazingly well paying job.  Otherwise, you are a lazy loser trying to mooch off of me.”

Why should a poor person not be allowed to choose parenting as a vocation?  Am I the only one who finds this absurd?  

I think the question “Can you afford offspring?” implies that a person’s financial situation is completely a choice.  You COULD have enough money if you weren’t so lazy.  You could earn the right to have kids be your hobby if you worked hard enough.  As though no one ever got stuck, against their will, unable to find work, or unable to find work that pays a living wage.  As though poverty were always simply a bad lifestyle choice (which it certainly is, in some circumstances.  Sniffing glue and ending up living in a dumpster comes to mind).

And if poverty isn’t purely a choice, if there is any element of luck or destiny to it, then the question “Do you have enough money to be a parent?” and our attitude of moral incorrectness that is directed towards poor parents are just cruel.  We are saying that, for reasons beyond your control, you are living in poverty, and therefore you are not allowed to have descendants.  That the continuation of someone’s genetic code, the enjoyment of having rugrats and the pursuit of the support of children in one’s old age are activities that only the financially lucky deserve to engage in.

Does any of this make sense, or have I gone off the deep end?  Is my rational self forgetting to remind me of some key logical step that makes our current view of parenting completely reasonable?  

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In a Black Hole

I tend not to believe in fate, destiny, in the movement of the planets and if they have some cosmic impact in our daily lives.  I like to think we have free will, that we can willingly and consciously choose to act or not, to speak or not, to assume responsibility for the path we walk.

And then there are times like these, when every project I begin is ripped out of my hands and flung into the abyss.  When odd asteroid-problems hurdle out of the blackness and take a chunk out of my reality.  When all attempts at communication are nothing more than pathetic soundwaves that cannot escape the gravity void and are pulled into eternal silence.

Are the galactic energies working against us right now?  Is there such a thing as a supernatural power or powers that can control us?  Do they always control us, and only occasionally, when our mortal whims happen to coincide with the overarching plan, do we start to believe, falsely and with supreme illusion, that we have any say in our lives?

I sit on the edge of the black hole and wonder.  It feels like all I can do for now.

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The Recession from the Trenches

The months after a layoff, waiting to be hired by a new employer, knowing you must relocate in order to continue the pursuit of a certain career, feels a lot like the end of a pregnancy.

As time passes, you wait, you know that something has to happen soon, you try to imagine which day will be The Big Day, when your water breaks/the phone rings, and it all begins.  You try to imagine the face and personality of your new baby/town, and what the new dynamic will be like.

Of course, it is my husband and not me that is on the job hunt at the present moment, but I must also live in daily wonderment of what the future holds.

Watching the news these days is not helpful; hearing of how badly the economy is sinking into an abyss might be analogous to a hypothetical situation like hearing of how maternity wards accept fewer and fewer women in labor.  Although, of course, with pregnancy, it must end one way or another, naturally or by inducing or even c-section.  A stint of unemployment might hypothetically continue on forever… and so the light at the end of the tunnel can be imagined to be very dim indeed.

When we are adults we are supposed to be a responsible and contributing member of a community.  To feel unneeded, unwanted, unessential to the project at hand is a horrible feeling.  The desire to sink roots, to sink my teeth into a situation and give it everything I have, is overwhelming.  But we will leave soon, so I must dam up my inspiration, my life energy, stay grounded as best I can when there is no ground beneath my feet.  Stay ready.

And this, too, is like the end of a pregnancy, when you’ve done all you can to prepare for the birth: organized your household, focused your mind, braced yourself emotionally.  You hold your breath, waiting.  You tense up, waiting.  You don’t know how you can possibly be more ready.  You spend every day shoring up the readiness which is daily eroded by being alive.

To all of us on the edge of a major life change… peace, good health, and a serious dose of positive vibration.

 

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