wordjunkies

from one junkie to another!

Reality vs Fantasy (part 3) May 4, 2012

Filed under: Life — Annie Maier @ 9:09 pm
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May 4, 2012, oh, and May 7th. 

Previously on wordjunkies: blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah. Blah and blah, blah blah. 

Critical

adjective

  1. expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments
  2. having the potential to become disastrous (!!!)
  3. having a decisive or crucial importance in the success or failure of something
  4. expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music or art (more on this later) (perhaps much later).

Stay with me, the definitions/connections should become clear.

While writing/blogging/communicating, do you ever just want to say screw it? You write and parse and ponder, trying to come up with the perfect word combination/s, only to realize that despite the care you’ve taken, you’re somehow still missing the point. That’s how I feel. I wrote a sequel to last week’s blog, or at least the first few paragraphs, but even as I worked I knew it just wasn’t gelling. My words were factual, but not, technically speaking, true. Because by then, I’d lost my way. Cosmically speaking, what does it matter that I was late for an appointment? What do black holes, red undies, and uptown traffic have to do with anything? At least anything truly important? Not a damn thing.

My point, several hundred empty (and now discarded) words later, seemed to be that after decades of being me, I’d come to a conclusion: OCD may be controllable and anxiety familiar and perhaps inherent to Rizz0-dom, but juggling two personalities (Reality vs Fantasy) had become unsustainable.

But now, that is, a few short days, many bottles of wine (red, white, sparkling) shared with my lovely sisters-in-law (sister-in-laws?), 16 family members (beneath one roof), a dozen trips to and from the ocean, a message from a friend that I had to read 12 times to understand (thanks Drew) later, my conclusion has shifted. This moment, with my head and heart snuggled in the comfy throes of an alcohol-induced universal awareness, it seems to me that only thing crazier than my current state of having two people reside in my head would be undertaking to banish either one of them. Pragmatic and stubbornly delusional, I need them both.

So, forget the full brain overhaul. What I should do instead is focus on uniting the disparate sides of my personality in a way that is acceptable to both me (them?) and those I come into contact with. I need to be on time, yes, but I also need to maintain whatever quirks identify me; I need to control the bursts of smart-assed sarcasm that act as my only defense against the outside world, but without losing my (PG County born and bred) edge; and I need to accept that functioning as a “normal” adult may not ever fall within the ven-diagram chaos of my comfort zone. I can get up early, check the mail, and return phone calls in a timely manner. I can lay out my clothes the night before, make sure the gas tank is full, and keep  spreadsheets on debits, credits and receipts. But I can’t do any of those things simply because that’s what “responsible” people do. I’ve never been interested in being responsible (just as I’ve never believed in hell or obligation).All I want is to be a decent human being. If setting my alarm aids that process, then I’m all for it. But if clinging to a conventional ideal of normalcy is the only way to be accept-ed/able… well, I’m just not up to that particular task.

Nonetheless, I do want to accomplish a dozen or so things over the next 90 years, and one or two of them most certainly will require collaboration with other human beings, some of whom may have only one person tucked beneath their skulls. Yet another task that I have, up until this point, found if not impossible then damn near so.

And this, patient reader, is my point:

Think of my head as a plastic paperweight, filled with decades old water and in need of a good shake. Unsure of how to go about such a thing on my own (remember, I’m trapped in the paperweight), I sent an email to friend and not so long ago Qi Gong instructor, Jackie Burleson. Jackie is a life coach specializing in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). (You can read about Jackie/EFT here: http://www.eccoaching.com/bio.shtml ) This wasn’t a particularly inspired decision, nor was it made overnight. As a serial vacillator I’ve often considered seeking out someone possibly cheaper than and/or less socially stigmatized than a psychiatrist to assist me in approaching such matters as getting dressed in the morning, making dinner, and/or leaving the house each day without simultaneously provoking a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, Jackie was amenable to the idea. Our first appointment is in a week. Before then, I have to complete a few simple tasks meant to address my most pressing issues. These are, as I determined during our initial phone consultation, releasing my book to the world, launching WordJunkies Press, and learning to “connect” to and with my fellow human beings. The first two are pretty clear cut. That last one may prove a bit more problematic.

Back to my initial point of (critical) contention: is any of this truly important? No. Not in the scheme of world peace, hunger, disease, and whether or not Demi is a drug addict or Madonna has had work. But I don’t live only in the greater world. I live in my head as well, and after all these years I’d like to escape, however momentarily. Because hitting a wall is no excuse for stopping.

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Onward! or Life After Graduation January 27, 2012

Filed under: Naropa University,State of Mind — Annie Maier @ 10:44 pm
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A month and a half ago I was fretting over my thesis, wondering not if I’d get it done on time, as it was already completed, but if I could pinch and twist it to perfection in the time I had remaining.  I couldn’t of course; there is no perfection. But I did manage to get it into a condition I, with all my myriad OCD tendencies and accompanying anxieties, could submit without vomiting. Or at least one I could manage not to put my head in the oven over. (I know, suicide is not funny. It’s not a joke and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having more than once fought the temptation to become one with natural gas, however, I feel I have the right to employ it, at least metaphorically speaking.)

After four months of frenzied research, weeks’ long writing binges followed by even longer editing purges, and countless refusals to go to dinner, take a walk, meet for coffee, or even on occasion to bathe, I took one last breath and clicked send. It was done, two years’ culmination of studies out of my hands and into those of my reader. (A shout here to the inestimable Lisa Birman, writer, instructor and reader extraordinaire! Look her up here: http://lisabirman.org/)

Along with an overwhelming sense of relief and even, briefly, something approaching pride, I was overcome by… inertia. Not physical inertia, it was the holidays after all and my daughter was coming home, and there were cards to make, presents to send, facebook statuses to post and check, but emotional, no SPIRITUAL, inertia. The kind that reaches in, grabs you by the liver and squeezes so tight you immediately resign yourself to not ever being able to think walk breathe straight again. Much less actually find the stamina or excitement or faith to produce another coherent word, written or otherwise. Because, more than anything, what I felt had come to an end was not my graduate school career, but my brief, shining moment of inclusion. That magical time period when I had gone to sleep connected to words and writers, woken up connected to words and writers and thought about words and writers nearly every moment in between. How, I wondered, would I ever be able to recapture the absolute joy that was my two years at Naropa?

With that question, I went about life in December—spending time with my daughter (home from London for a month, Wo-HOO!), reading some of the books I had put on hold since 2010, turning another year older, celebrating my anniversary, travelling to Maryland, Florida and Costa Rica.  Then Lauren left to go back to England, my husband returned to work and I realized, sonsofbitches!, I was on my own. No classes or classmates for inspiration, no deadlines for structure, no reading lists or essays or poems coming to me via the university portal.

Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared. Otherwise, it would have been back to the oven.

 

The Power and Beauty of Words October 6, 2009

Filed under: Writing/Words — Annie Maier @ 10:15 pm
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October 6, 2009
A helpful friend pointed out that for a blog purportedly devoted to words (and the people who love them), I’ve said remarkably little about the art and practice of writing. I hadn’t thought of it that way – for one thing, my mind connects everything back to words: experiences are mused upon, distilled into a reasonable facsimile of thought, written and sometimes shared. For another thing, talking about words seems a bit redundant, harkening back to the number one rule of decent story-telling – show, don’t tell.
I do, of course, spend hours thinking of words as entities in and of themselves – they swirl about my head during the day as I’m driving to or from my local coffee shop, where all creative endeavors are born. They swirl in the evening, as I sit on the porch listening to the sounds of the afternoon winding to a slow and inexorable close. And they swirl at night, fretting my brain and rousing my curiosity, rendering sleep fitfull, if not impossible. Occasionally, they desert me, fleeing in the face of a blank page or empty computer screen, but that is thankfully rare. For although I often struggle to string five spoken words together without a pause or stutter, nearing incoherence in my enthusiasm or reserve or some combination of the two, given any implement of written communication I find it difficult to stem the  flow.
Not that whatever words appear are always clear or concise or even interconnected. Sometimes they simply dance and flutter, just within the reach of my fingers, spilling from brain to pen to paper in a continuous flow of consonants and vowels that may or may not express whatever it is I’m trying to impart. But that’s the beauty of words – given time and space to expand and grow, they inevitably come together, like cumulus clouds on a fall day, to form something new and beautiful.
I recently read a gorgeous, disturbing book – “Madeleine is Sleeping,” by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum – about a young girl who runs away to join a circus. In the course of the first few beautifully written pages filled with torments and dreams and desire, I realized my heart was pounding, agitated not only by Bynum’s characters and descriptions but even more so by her language. Barely into the second chapter, I was scrambling for pen and paper, jotting an inspired list of words that I couldn’t believe I had never used together in any one piece of work. I won’t give them all away, but among their ranks are the familiar – translucent, contortionist, topiary. And the new – cattleyas, petomane, proscenium.
Since making that list, I’ve penned ten poems on an array of subjects I had long puzzled over but had been unable to unite. Inspired by the possibilities of words at once strange and beautiful, I’ve written for hours at a time, expounding on subjects as varied as a wedding, Parkinson’s Disease and what happens when we stop breathing (permanently, that is). The poetry itself has been a gift, but what I’ve most enjoyed are the emotions and opportunities the new words inspired – as well as the subsequent lists I’ve made (books to be read, writers to google, dreams to fulfill) based on a previously unexpressed longing dredged to the surface by something as lovely as a “nocturne.”

 

 
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