That Was The Week That Was: Week Thirty-Two

My Dearest Denizens of the Blogosphere, it has been a Week.  It has been a Week of Things and Events and Occurrences, and all said Things, Events, and Occurrences have added up to be A Lot.  Since my journey to the emergency room on Friday, I’ve gathered a few kernels of wisdom, and since my gathering kernels of wisdom is a pretty rare thing, I figured I’d share them with you in this weekly wrap-up.

Kernels of Wisdom Gathered By Emma Bolden Since Her Journey to the Emergency Room on Friday

  • When life give you lemon-shaped kidney stones, especially ones which appear to be covered in spikes, drink a ton of lemonade to break those bastards up.
  • The ones we love most are the ones who hurt us the most.  By this, I mean Diet Coke.
  • If you truly love someone, sometimes the only thing you can do is let them go.  By this, I also mean Diet Coke.
  • There are plenty of fish in the sea, and there are plenty of non-carbonated caffeine-filled beverages.  Thank you, Crystal Light.
  • General Ripper was right.  Water can be dangerous, especially if it’s full of things that give you kidney stones.
  • It’s amazingly easy to make a kidney stoned themed iTunes playlist.
  • If one is experiencing what could be termed a medical emergency, it’s probably a good idea to go to the emergency room and not wait, like, a month to do so.
  • After one receives painkillers through an IV at the aforementioned emergency room, one can find any documentary on Netflix endlessly fascinating.
  • Also, after one receives the aforementioned painkillers through an IV at the aforementioned emergency room, one can find a television program about vacuum cleaners endlessly fascinating for quite some time before realizing that one is actually watching an infomercial.
  • Don’t shop and medicate.
  • Sometimes, remembering to put on shoes before you leave the house is hard.

And here are my photos for the week.  This should be interesting.

Day 242: On Tuesdays, I have a class during lunch and during dinner. I am terrible at packing lunches, but I’m getting better — and I’m really loving pears right now.

Day 243: The day of two doctor visits. This is office one.

Day 244: Listen: going to the ER sucks. There’s no way to soften that. But these beautiful little girls were there, waiting for their father to get stitches, and they were so sweet that they made things better.

 

Day 245: I was a day late, but I managed to send off all of my postcards for the August poetry postcard a day project. I have to admit that I miss sending them — and I really, really miss receiving them.

 

Day 246: A photograph of what’s happened every morning for the past ten years that Gertrude and I have been together.

 

Day 247: Despite the Great Kidney Stone Battle Royale of 2012, I managed to meet seven Really Important Deadlines. I was so excited that I decided this would be the rest of my Labor day weekend. And then I woke up the next day and worked to get a head start on eleventy other Really Important Deadlines.

Day 248: Um, so, here’s the thing: sometimes, when your body’s busy doing something like making and/or passing rocks, it doesn’t do so well with things like, well, communicating with your brain, especially when it comes to perception and thought. This happened on Tuesday when I saw there was one last big cup in the office for coffee. Then I got in my office and realized I had poured coffee into the coffee fund cup. Needless to say, I’m making a series of donations to the new coffee fund cup.

 

The Great Kidney Stone War of 2012: Battle Eastwood

If you’ve read more than one of my posts — wait.  Let’s be honest.  If you’re read even almost half of one of my posts, then the following Facts About Emma are probably very clear to you:

Facts About Emma

  1. I am highly prone to injury, illness, catastrophe, and other unpleasant occurrences, including but not limited to: being in the path of natural disasters; dropping very heavy things on my feet; walking into walls, doors, and/or columns; having no change when the Coke machine refuses to accept debit cards; and attacks by rabid raccoons.
  2. I am a major nerd.  In fact, I’m relatively sure that the next edition of Webster’s Dictionary will supplement its definition of “nerd” with a photograph of me at age eight drawing pictures of kittens while wearing Welcome to the Dollhouse glasses, death-trap braces, and a Hypercolor t-shirt.
  3. I love my job.  Love it.  My devotion to my job may be every bit as fanatical as the Monty Python Inquisitors’ devotion to the Pope.
  4. I am especially a nerd when it comes to Internet memes, and I’m especially devoted to my job because it means I get to teach a class largely devoted to Internet memes.
  5. I enjoy taking faux-artistic photographs with my iTelephoning device, though I haven’t yet figured out how to successfully use it as a phone.
  6. My parents are way cooler than I am. Continue reading

That Was The Week That Was: Week Thirty-One

My dearest Denizens of the Blogosphere — okay.  I admit: I was all set to say something really witty and awesome — okay, something I thought was really witty and awesome — about what it’s like to start the Fall semester with kidney stones and a kidney infection.  It was going to involve velociraptors and Rambo and Tabatha Coffey and possibly a Megadeth song.  But then I worked on campus all day, including a three-hour night class, with kidney stones and a kidney infection, so now I’m just going to point you in this direction and do the whole photo-a-day thing.

The Whole Photo-A-Day-Thing:

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Doing My Homework

In my Creative Writing and the Web class this week, we’re talking about identity and the Internet.  We’re starting the discussion with a little experiment based on a Facebook meme.  I promised I’d play along, so here are my answers to the forty or so questions on the meme.  Um, and WordPress changed the numbers, so let’s just consider this an experimental piece, okay?

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“She doesn’t want a husband, she wants a wedding.”

The title of this post comes from one of my mother’s wisest sayings — and when I say wise, I mean it.  If I can grow up to be half as smart a woman as my mother, I’ll be happy.  This saying comes into play whenever my mom hears about a woman who’s completely obsessed with wedding planning — in other words, throwing a magnificent party — but hasn’t seemed to give much thought to, well, the fact that a wedding results in a marriage.

What I’ve realized lately is how much this saying, with a little alteration, can relate to writing: “She doesn’t want to be a writer, she wants a book deal.” *

This is how writing feels, a lot of the time. See? It’s difficult.

Here’s the thing: being a writer is hard.  It’s difficult work.  It’s a LOT of difficult work.  It takes time and devotion, and then it takes more time and more devotion.  It requires one to admit she has failed.  It requires one to admit she has failed again, and again, and again.  It requires the humility to realize that one’s failures are one’s greatest successes, and one’s greatest successes often turn into one’s greatest failures — once I finally get something right, for instance, I tend to do it over and over and over again, and Lord, does that ever not work.  It means spending hours in front of the notebook and the computer, trying to find the exact thing to say and the exact way to say it — and then erasing everything you’ve done and starting again.  It means sitting down to start what one thinks is going to be a very easy, purely editorial, spelling-and-semicolons revision of a piece and then crying into one’s Crystal Light Pink Lemonade on the back porch because one has just spent two hours writing about the most painful thing one can possibly imagine ever writing about, which is also the one thing one promised one’s self one would never write about.

I digress.

Perhaps because writing is such hard work, I admit that I often find myself focusing on the reward.  I’ve noticed that I often fall into a vicious cycle: I’ll draft and draft and not get something right.  I’ll submit and submit and get rejection after rejection.  My mailbox and inbox fill with “Dear Author Thank You For Submitting This Piece We Are Sorry We Cannot Accept It Please Consider Subscribing To Our Journal Sincerely” messages, which my brain immediately translates as “Dear Emma Hey You Know What YOU ARE A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FAILURE” messages.  I open my notebook or my word processor and it’s like the word FAIL hovers above them in giant, flashing letters.  Then I close my notebook or my word processor and go out on the porch to cry into my Crystal Light Pink Lemonade because I’ve spent hours upon hours writing about the most painful thing I could possibly imagine writing about and I have gotten nothing, nothing in return.

I digress again.

And also, I miss the point.

The point isn’t getting anything in return, at least not in terms of publication.  The point is that even if a piece doesn’t get published, I’m still getting something in return — and something far more valuable than a page in a journal.

I’ve realized lately is that when it comes to writing, writing is the point.  Publication isn’t.  It’s the process, not the product, that matters.

Here’s the thing: writing may be hard, but life?  Real life?  Real life is far, far more difficult.  I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that to live is to suffer.  To live means being brought to your knees, literally and metaphorically, time and time and time again.  The body gets sick and hurts and betrays you.  The mind struggles to learn the lessons it needs to learn, and it fails, and betrays you.  The heart wants what it wants and feels what it feels, and it loves and it breaks and is broken, and betrays you.  You will be hurt in ways you cannot imagine.  You will hurt others in ways you cannot imagine.  You will fight and fall and fail and so little, so very, very little, will be under your control.

One thing that is in my control, I’ve realized, is the way that I look at things — especially my writing.  If I measure success in praise and publication, I’m never going to see myself as successful.  If I measure success in the writing itself – not how others respond to it, but in what it means to me – then, I’m a great success.

This is what I’ve realized this year, and this summer especially: I wouldn’t survive without my writing — or, at least, I wouldn’t stay sane without it.  It’s become a comfort of the most indispensable kind, and it’s the simple practice of it that’s been a comfort, that’s buoyed me through.  This summer, I’ve experienced pain of all kinds — physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, grief and shock and heartbreak and disappointment and fear — but through it all, I’ve kept writing.  I’ve kept to the practice of writing, to working through poems like puzzles, to fighting through revision after revision, to polishing and pushing myself to reach the next word, the next line, the next time I sit down and write.  It’s this practice that’s kept me sane, and it’s led me to realize that the product is one thing, but the process is another — and that the process is the thing that’s important.  The process is what it’s all really about.

I guess it all comes down to this, in writing and in all things: if I seek approval and happiness always from others, from outside of myself — if I measure success in terms of achievements, in terms of things that tell the outside world that I’m not a failure, that I’m a success — I’ll never really feel approval, or happiness.  That has to come from myself.  And that requires focusing on my marriage to my work and my words, not on any party the outside world may throw for me.

* I suppose that “she doesn’t want to be a writer, she wants to be on Oprah” is equally applicable, especially when it comes to me, because honestly there is nothing I’ve ever wanted more than to be on Oprah.  Seriously.  When I was a little girl, I never spent time dreaming about my perfect wedding — but I had every single word I’d say to Oprah DOWN.