First make sure.

For several years of my marriage, I experienced debilitating anxiety and hypochondria. I became convinced I was allergic to foods that had never, ever given me problems, like peanuts. I obsessed over my temperature and symptoms when I felt even mildly ill. I nearly passed out while driving because a tendon slid over a bone with just the right amount of snap. I was terrified of driving in dense traffic. I was afraid to try anything new, afraid to encounter any amount of risk at all.

When I left, that all stopped. My first full day of freedom, I navigated city streets like a pro and parallel-parked on the first try. My confidence was back.

 

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down in the Texas of my heart

To say I miss Texas would be imprecise. I don’t miss everything about it: the neverending wind, the weird traffic customs, steaming my ass in a chicken suit on a tarmac in the summer…it’s not all worth celebrating. But then I think about the drives I used to make from Del Rio to San Antonio, especially the ones by myself, early in 2004, when my ex was in training and I had to feed the snake myself. (He had graduated from rats to rabbits and was getting cumbersome to handle. The snake. Not my ex.)

I would rouse myself at six in the morning, feed the cats, make sure no tarantulas were peeking out from under the bed. Then I would grab a few CDs and set up some music for the drive in my lemon of a Ford wagon with peeling paint on the hood. I was finally used to driving again after the accident the previous Easter, though driving past the Hondo McDonald’s never got comfortable. I would get in, ease down the road, stop half an hour later at the gas station/laundromat in Brackettville to check my tire pressure. There was nowhere to stop in between. Brackett was the first chance. Sometimes I’d peruse the flavors of Blue Bell in the ice cream case, but mostly I’d head back out and drive without accommodation.

Here was the Border Patrol stop, at Cline, the one that always closed during rainstorms because of the bend in the road. Our Congressman was fixing that with funds appropriated for a new covered station with a dog kennel on site and 24/7 surveillance. It’s probably there now, but I haven’t been back.

There was Uvalde, where my friends and I went antiquing that one time and the interior decorator in the group brought home a framed windowpane to hang from the ceiling, to separate her living room from her kitchen. There was the hairdresser. There was Wal-Mart. And then there was nothing again.

Here was Knippa, with a sign letting you know it was okay to blink. Everyone knew the only cop in town attended church on Sundays, so if you wanted to speed, do it before noon. There was Sabinal, where the speed traps got serious, but you could really start picking up San Antonio radio if you tuned just right. And then there was Hondo. I didn’t like to think about it much after the accident. I always saw myself on the side of the road, in the middle of a standing takedown and apologizing to the firemen on either end of my litter for whatever gas was about to escape from my loosened body.

Castroville was my favorite. Not only did it mark the edge of San Antonio, but it held an Alsatian bakery I loved going to if I could get there early enough. A chocolate milk and a cruller could hold me for most of the day. Most people know San Antonio is heavily Mexican-American, but I’m always shocked at how many fail to recognize the area’s German heritage mixed in. After all, isn’t norteño just polka with a different accent? If you want to know what’s unique about this part of Texas, look to the confluence of those two bits of culture.

By the time the sunrise stopped troubling my eyes, I was in western San Antonio, complete with Sea World and The Best Little Warehouse in Texas, scoping out the Best Buy and Super Target and anywhere else I couldn’t visit in Bordertown, U.S.A. I knew I only had a few hours to kill. I needed to head back before nightfall, before the deer took over the road.

Now I have Best Buy and Target and even IKEA within a ten-minute drive. I have an incredible view of Mount Evans and Longs Peak every day. But I don’t have that long, lonely drive. I don’t have an early-morning cruller, and I don’t have the occasional radio transmission from Victoria or Odessa, borne on a spring fog. I don’t have any sense of isolation, and so I don’t have gratitude. The natural beauty and capitalistic abundance here breeds smugness. I miss missing things.


this has the word “sex” in it

no real title yet, still a work in progress

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the curse of the zero draft

Confession time: I am a zero-draft writer.

I have never had to work hard at this. I read a ton. I have always read a ton. I have always paid attention to the mechanics of a sentence. But I have never toiled over words in the way that many of my peers have.

(Well, okay. Pablo Neruda showed me how evocative language could be when I was sixteen and crushing on a guy I met at a German competition, and I learned enough Spanish to deconstruct the poetry in the original. But that was solely because the boy had pretty eyelashes.)

You know what that’s gotten me? Goose friggin’ egg.

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new year, old goals

i first started this blog not long after i left the marriage that encompassed my twenties and overwhelmed my sense of self. i wanted to find my voice again. i also wanted to invite other voices to participate here, but so far that hasn’t happened. it’s possible my blog has never had the sort of focus that would create a space for other bloggers to contribute effectively. it’s also possible that my voice is the only dominant force here, to the exclusion of any unifying theme or format.

why do i blog here? i have a livejournal, but as friends abandoned that platform over the last few years, i did as well. LJ was good at a sense of community. i suspect wordpress is too large to do the same, or maybe it’s just structured differently enough that the focus is more on the writing than on the writer. that’s not necessarily bad. i feel less moored here. i feel as though i have less control over who sees what. maybe i should.

mostly here i do writing qua writing: poetry, stabs at short fiction, essays about whatever interests me at the moment. i frequently have The Feels on this blog. that can be an issue, because i like to write through my feelings, but i don’t always want to discuss the results with the people who read. i’m trying to remind myself that i don’t have to explain anything or reassure anyone.

wordpress is hosting a Blogging 101 course this month, so i’m going to try to follow along with the assignments. i won’t be perfect. i’m okay with that. all i’m doing here is practicing.


Fearful Symmetry

Friedrich Kekulé once said
he discovered the shape of the
benzene molecule, a perfect ring of
carbon studded with hydrogen,
by dreaming of a snake eating its own tail.
I am reminded of this story
every time I put my foot in my mouth.
I would like to believe in purpose.
I tell myself that this is destiny,
that my mistakes are not mistakes,
that the pristineness of my self-destruction
like the immolation of the phoenix
is an invitation to new beginnings,
to forgetting how broken you make
sure I know I am.
I would like to believe
that even thrusting combustion
out in all directions like
a frightened and flammable
porcupine,
even in this prickly state I am learning
atom by atom
how to live without your oxygen.
I burn bright
all by myself.


a promise for 2016

i have a habit-building app called Streaks on my phone. it gamifies all the little things you’re supposed to be doing regularly anyway. so if you have an exercise goal, for example, you can say you’re going to play tennis three times a week. if you achieve your goal for the week, you’ve started a streak. you keep it going by continuing. if you’re supposed to be doing something every day, and you miss a day, your streak starts over. but you can still look at all the days you accomplished something and feel good about it. so it’s motivating without feeling impossible.

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