Category Archives: Rant

Between The Lines

It’s been a good hard rain for two, maybe three days. The sun still sets at five and the glorious Oregon landscape, such a popular destination these days, is all lost on us locals, given the rain, given the dark. Out back behind the bar we all stand together on a wooden picnic table underneath a white tent cover too small for all of the smoking people, and drinking people, and people trying so hard to get along (this is a good thing) all so we can share our misery together. Misery likes company, which is just another cliché but there is a reason why clichés are catchy, I figure. I sit at the end of the table, on the damp picnic table bench in my red vintage overcoat, the one people always call me Red Riding hood when I wear, but I laugh inside because it doesn’t have a hood, the jacket. A young man tells me, “You’re gonna get your jacket all wet” and reply that this is my Party Jacket.

photograph by Kirsten Lara Valenzuela
photograph by Kirsten Lara Valenzuela

Looking up at all the party people—the ponytailed women and ballcapped men with logos from their respective logging companies (there are two in town) silhouetted against the snowwhite tarp like the people are all on stage, I watch and I write sentences in my mind. My most gregarious local friend (the girl I came here to meet) is spouting off about NOTHING and we are all entranced, absolutely spellbound, or at least we are pretending to be. Some people know how to keep an audience, they’re comfortable with it. I am not one of those people. Which  is  why I write. I  watch  Becky  and  I  vow  to   write   about her—silhouetted  and  spouting  words and  beer fumes in the rain in winter.

My boyfriend would no doubt say that this is not miserable and that no one, or maybe not everyone, is experiencing misery as they inhale and sip inhale and sip and who knows what else. My boyfriend and I, although we are at the same place now, come from different sides of the partying spectrum. He, raised in perhaps the most wholesome home environment I have ever witnessed, no smoking, no drinking, no cursing, is a rebel against stability. Where I was exposed to, most likely, all-of-it, and so have a deep-rooted attachment to the life. Which is something that I regret most of the time but fall back into it like a comfort blanket…still young, still free (see unattached, no babies, no nothin’) I may as well “live it up” while I can. We are at the same place now but he has not seen the end result, I have. I say let’s get out while we still can he says let’s stay for another beer. I say Okay, for now.

But my boyfriend isn’t with me tonight. (The question begs, then why am I even out?) My girlfriends and I had a quick and serious discussion at the beginning of the night—at the Mexican restaurant that serves marguerites where we were seated by the restroom, which I always hate…saw as a bad omen, but vowed to let it not ruin my night. I choked down an enchilada regrettably ignoring (not so much) the scent of artificial bathroom cleaner and Mexican food shit. Anyways, we discussed and decided that we wouldn’t let any men buy us drinks…cause if we did we might actually have to talk to them. One older local gentleman (who always sends a shiver through me no matter what) had swooped in and paid for our Mexican dinner. Then he left but we wondered, what would he someday want in return? I personally would regret even having to speak with him again. But this is all beside the point now as he is inside the bar, and I am safe outside in the rain with the chubby, domesticated late-thirty-something logger men and my expressive Aries girlfriend who is making animated moves with her naturally tanned mexican hands and her golden beer is sloshing out of its glass in the streetlamp—like lightning.

A woman next to her begins to tell a love story…about how she and her husband met in California in 1974, they had a child after a year or two, they were young, he was wild, so she had to set him loose (this was her talking, not me) and after 5 years they reconciled and have been together ever since. Nobody says anything in response, she starts to go on, and I’m thinking of saying “And it’s been sweet love ever since!” I want to validate her, I like her love story, I want one too, I want good love karma, I enjoyed her story (she actually had something to say) and I want her to know but as I am thinking, the moment passes, it’s a little too loud, the jukebox speakers, the rain, the conversations happening to my right, to my left, she is at the end of the table and so I do not shout it out, though I nod vigorously and smile her way as she finishes saying “I have never loved a man so much, never wanted to. He is my soulmate.”

Maybe tonight I came to the bar solely for this message. It certainly wasn’t for the beer, the music, or the food. This is a unique message because while I have heard soulmate, I have rarely heard soulmate plus forty some odd years. I hear soulmate then I see a breakup and I hear soulmate again and so on. I am thirsty for the truth of soulmate and long lasting intimacy. I think I am capable of this but alas my track record does not reveal such.

The bar is not a highly inspiring place. But in-between the lines there is a surprising lot of beauty. Awkward conversations between strangers, tonight: a girl from Houston who just flew in yesterday and hasn’t even SEEN Oregon yet, given the rain, given the dark, but keeps saying how she loves it here, how pretty it is, and how she might move here someday. I am getting to know a little better the freckled girl from the mini-market, who I see on Saturday’s when I deliver the mail, when usually it’s just a passing quick hello.

Ultimately, I am scared off by the man who sends a shiver through me every time as I approach the bar for water and he comes in close, tells me I am special, and I stumble backward, afraid. My eyes dart around for my friends and they are lost in conversations with other locals they know so well. I eye the clock and its 11:30. “I have to go,” I tell the man. He fiends concern asking me if I am okay to drive and I hastily reply that I have been drinking shirley temples and  cokes all night, as to say, what a joke you are, you don’t even know me. And I’d like to keep it that way.

The moment underneath the glowing white tarp is gone. It is time for me to take what I have gotten, the sentences gathered in my mind like supplies with which to paint the blank pages back home, and leave. “Do you live close?” The man asks me. His shitick is that he used to be a correctional officer, which makes him kind of like a cop, which makes him good, which is not at all true. I shiver and stagger out of the bar, waving quickly to my friends, maybe looking scared as this man has resurrected the flight response inside of me.

Outside I am walking on the gravel driveway and alone, I look back at the bar to make sure no one has followed me. I climb into my car, and lock my doors. I am shivering and who knows if it’s the man or the Oregon chill. As I pull out of the lot I look at the bar again and in the faint yellow-lighted doorway is a man—a silhouette. I gun it all the way home. I take the night for what is was, not good, not bad. Just life. I vow to write. It’s all I have. I am a woman who speaks very little. You talk, you act…I will read between-the-lines and write about the night.

Billboard People

Instead of regurgitating facts
why not digest the knowledge
Instead of claiming ideas as your own
shoving them down my throat
like capsules of lead
let them collect around you
and carefully handle the wisdom
grow to understand it
before you accept it
Everything has a label now
most of all, our own persons
are we not all tagged as this
or that?
Who am I if I do not
promote myself to you?
Do I exist at all?
Have I no life if
I am not on display?
Have I got no education if
I don’t wear it like a badge?
Have I got no past if
I don’t carry my albums
in my mouth
spilling them out
on the floor at every change
waiting for you to stop
talking so that I might
do my dance
How old are we anyway?
Still young enough for
Show and Tell?
Are my bones
my breath
my eyes
my body
all lost on you?
Is my presence
not enough?
I forgot my billboard
at home
You forgot my
address
my phone number
You forgot I’m
a person
not a number
Not friend
number 362
but a soul
a spirit
a woman
begging
authenticity
from
you

Nostalgic

Permitting my
mind to wander
like a small child
in a meadow
back before the
tablets and
animated games
when one would
examine the grasses
and discover its
many kinds–
Rattlesnake grass,
Kentucky Bluegrass,
the type with edible
lavender or buttercup
flowers
Nature was as close
to a child as the chest
of a mother and nature
was enough for the
eighties child
Allowing my
mind to wander
like water
around the bend
around the tangible
spaces of this life
reaching and touching,
smelling and lifting
avoiding the flashing
and faux

My Next Big Thing

71ff1ac339195a49da6e6052ed1812f9I always need a Big Thing in my life.  For the past year, my Big Thing has been a bi-monthly writer’s group in Portland. But now that I need new tires, new disc brakes, and more money and time in general, I’m finding that I can’t pull off going to Portland like I used to (it’s a three-hour drive). All the signals are pointing toward something new, and at this point, I’m looking for anything that will help me accomplish completing my manuscript. So I’ve decided to stay local and sign up for a class at Lane Community College. The class is “Crafting the Novel” and starts on October 3rd. Back to school for me! Fucking, yay. I know, I just know that this is the push I need to wrap things up and begin the editing (and publishing) process.
Here is the description of the class:

This class is designed to assist students not only in writing their novel but to get it published. Whether you have a completed draft, are in the idea stage or something in between, this class will help you develop the discipline, dedication and the skills you need to get that novel written and published. Week by week we’ll workshop our works-in-progress in a supportive and positive setting. Some of the areas we’ll cover include: developing character, plot, dialogue, organization, revision and finally how to publish and market a completed novel.

Major plus: the class is held at the brand-new downtown location, right next to the library and closer to home than the main campus. I am concerned that the class might not be the absolute best fit since novels are fiction-based, but I’m hoping the teacher is flexible (I know that I can be) and will help me adapt my memoir to the structure of the class, or whatever. Because if I’ve learned anything it’s that a memoir needs a plot, climax, and rich characters too. Wish me tons of luck! I really think this is the last leg, the final chapter of my memoir-writing–which all began a long five years ago!

Unplug–the Internet’s a Spiritual Rip Off

ed7638e386442fc8843e7f178fcf36fcIt’s not a simple time. It’s no longer a simple life. But the simple life is sold and we fall for it. The simple life is sold in t-shirts branded “Simple”. Simplicity is cropping up in your local malls and its shops are growing larger and its simple products are getting more and more. Simplicity is getting expensive. And trendy. But are you being true to yourself? Do you feel simplified?

Spirituality is promoted until it’s not spiritual anymore. The Dalai Lama preaches humility, thrice a day via Twitter. Ideas are exchanged and yoga studios promise enlightenment just… after… this… one… last… post…then its time for meditation. For real this time. “Off to meditate.” “Done meditating.” “Was great.” “Feel so good.” “Can’t stop typing.” “Don’t forget to ‘Like’ us for a dollar off your next workout.”

I personally can’t deal, can’t hang. My thoughts didn’t pinball around in my head until I was pulled every which way by technology. At night, morning and noon, like you, I groggily shuffle to the laptop and quest for information, enlightenment, validation, and discounts. I sit for hours and I find out a lot but I rarely find what I am looking for. And I NEVER find exactly what I’m looking for. Health. Love. Genius. I am disappointed. I am exhausted.

So I quit. Again. From now on I will no longer have a computer in the house, internet on my phone, or even a television. My home 8a2a0f52f232193ed232a70b43779489will house books, food, hot water and a bed. You know–the essentials. And when I come home from work, I will be able to hear myself think. What a concept.

I will no longer search for the things my spirit needs on Google. It doesn’t work that way. Ask yourself: are you exhausted? Let down? Out of touch with those around you? Out of touch with yourself? You might want to consider what I’m doing: unplugging. Already it’s been two days sans Internet and I. Feel. Peace.

Does that mean I’m done blogging? No. Not even close. I will still post weekly, respond to your comments, and read your work. I have computer access–I have my ways. But my Internet use will be scheduled and moderated. And no I will not be signing up for Google+ and Facebook like some of you have requested. I already have WordPress, Twitter, MySpace and Gmail. What more do you want world?

The only way my spirit will thrive is if it has space to breathe. End of story. The Internet is full of false promises. Beware. Truth lies in the space around your head and in the seemingly empty corners of your home. The world is magical if you just unplug and play with it.

Blog Hop!

I’m participating in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop–it’s a way to connect writers and readers and raise awareness about newly released or upcoming books or e-books. Lennon Sundance, who is basically the most bold, daring blogger I know invited me to join–so thank you Lennon! I’m pumped.

I have one week to locate 5 other participants and to complete a fun questionnaire (it’s already done! That’s how fun it is!) focusing on a work of my choice. In this case I will promote my e-book Poems by a Horny Small-Town Gal. As far as locating folks for the Blog Hop goes–I was wondering, would you be interested in participating in the Blog Hop? Oh come on, don’t be shy! Just answer ‘yes’ or ‘sure’ or ‘oh what the hell’ in the comment space and I will email you further instructions 🙂

I’m a Night-Creature Again (Warning: Life Rant)

While you sleep I watch and write.

Art by Kate Gabrielle
Art by Kate Gabrielle

When I first moved to Eugene I searched for work for a month or two before finding a night shift position at a group home for teenagers. I wasn’t sure about staying up all night five days per week but let’s face it: I’m no stranger to the night.

It turned out the position suited me well. My job involved insuring the safety of our clientele–and when it comes to wayward teens I am a claws out, karate-chopping mother-hen-type gal (I remember what it was like to be in their shoes, many having been abandoned by their parents and experiencing unimaginable amounts of helplessness).

After being laid-off (surprise!) in November I sulked for nearly three months, writing a bit at first but losing my momentum as it seems writing and life and work all go hand-in-hand (I’ve heard many writer’s attest to this). Then, last week, in some crazy twist of fate, in a “the more things change the more things stay the same” kind-of-way, I was rehired. I will sit at the same desk, I will walk the same grounds at three a.m. admiring the same moon and all its phases and I will cook breakfast at the end of my shift in the same kitchen for the same people.

I am ecstatic. I’d recommend that any writer consider the night shift. In between bed-checks and garbage-taking-out and pots of coffee: there is writing. There is quiet. There is time and space and somehow, money too. Graveyard work + Writer’s dreams = Happy camper.

Foot note: This position is only temporary. In March my boyfriend and I are moving to a small-town south of Portland, so that I can pursue my writing dreams “in the big city”–only we’ll be living in a little house on a farm. Cause that’s how I do.

What is a Dream?

You know those dreams you’ve had in life that you’ll never forget? I’m not talking about waking dreams (for once), I’m talking about sleeping dreams. For example, when I was about four years old I had a dream my dad picked me up in a hot air balloon and took me to Safeway to so we could buy some dream-mirror-dreams-can-come-true-31082814-900-900ABC soup, which was my favorite meal. Not much happened other than that but for some reason I’ve always remembered that particular dream. But why?

Then there are the recurring dreams–again, when I was just four years old, I’d say from four to six–which was actually a pretty traumatic point in my life–I would have this dream:

I’m in a dark dungeon. I’m lying on my back or my side and there are about five or six little elves running around and climbing all over my body. Above my head is a big roll of lead. Let me explain more: you remember Bubble Tape? They always had Bubble Tape on the rack at the grocery store at the check out stand. It’s like a carpenter’s measuring tape only made out of bubble gum. Yeah. That. So that’s what this big roll of lead is like. The little elves pry my big toddler mouth open, much to my resistance, and insert the end of the roll of lead into my mouth, shoving the lead down my throat. My throat expands and I choke but this goes on for what feels like hours and upon waking faintly taste lead in my mouth, metal in my throat.

I had this dream at least a few times throughout my childhood. I can’t help but notice–now I’m having a dream quite the opposite.

I had one just last night:dreaming-quotes-034

Sometimes it’s just me but sometimes, like last night, I’ll have an audience:

I’m back in Crescent City at a party and a lot of my friends are there–all grown up, having a good time, drinking beer by the river. I’m chatting with one of my male friends when I feel a noodle in my mouth. The flat kind–linguine. I put my index finger up to indicate “just a moment”, a break in the conversation if-you-will and reach into my mouth for the linguine. I grab hold of the linguine and tug. Well, that’s where my dream morphs into this recurring dream I’ve been having: pulling a never-ending mountain of noodles from my throat. The more I tug, the more I pull, the more noodles emerge. And just like in the lead dream–I can hardly breathe. My cousin Cevin and his friends approach and there I am, crouched down by a cedar tree, pulling out and vomiting up noodles, for what seems like forever.

What I appreciate about this new dream is this: it’s quite the opposite of my baby-Terah-lead-dream. Clearly, I’m letting it all out now instead of shoving it all in. For fun, I’ll retrieve my dream dictionary, The Complete Book of Dreams & Dreaming by Pamela Ball and interpret some of the imagery from both of these dreams:

Dwarf (sadly Elf was not available): A dwarf indicates a part of our personality which has not yet been integrated or has been left undeveloped. In a dream a dwarf denotes a part of ourselves which has been left damaged by painful childhood trauma or a lack of emotional nourishment.

art-lipstick-mouth-photography-teeth-Favim.com-349102Lead: The conventional explanation of lead appearing in a dream is that we have a situation around us which is a burden to us. We are not coping with life perhaps as we should be, and as a result it is leaving us heavy-hearted.

Throat: Dreaming of the throat denotes awareness of our vulnerability and also the need for self-expression.

Vomiting: Vomiting is a symbol of discharge and evil. We may have held on to bad feelings for so long that it has caused our spiritual system some difficulty.

I do believe there are connections between our dreams and our spiritual selves. I do believe that if you have, especially a recurring dream, you should pay attention to it and make changes to your life as needed. For example, if you are a man and you dream about a particular woman most nights, you need to explore your relationship with this woman. Or, if you dream about water, water, water, you should visit a spring or a sea–because your subconscious is begging for you to wet her.

Please, readers, share some of your dreams with me. I would love to use my dream book to provide you a little more insight into your subconscious. If you’re into that kind of thing.

Nighty-night. Sweet dreams.

You Can’t Tame A Wild Thing

To the east is wild. But to the west is even wilder. Always.
Nothing is more wild than the ocean, to me.
When I was young I had a birthday party at the beach and the sun went down and the tide came in and we while we all ran around the bon fire, the waves crashed in and took with it all of the birthday presents the kids had brought. Nice gifts, from their parents. I remember Tommy’s mom who was a beautician gave me a little fancy bag full of three or four bottles of nail polish. Blue and green and purple cause that’s what was in.
I remember I’d finally gotten that certain jacket I’d wanted–but the big bon fire was so hot in the sand and we were all running around, caught between kids and teenagers and I didn’t put the jacket on I just wore my striped long sleeve shirt. Us kids played back then. 
A boy who thought he was my boyfriend (I guess I was leading him on) took me to a big log drift wood and kissed me on the lips.
Happy Birthday.
No thanks.
Cara and I wrestled in the waves and got so rowdy that I ripped her earring out–or she ripped mine out, I cannot recall. Someone bled and we laughed.

~~~

Someday I’ll really be out there. I’ll travel as far out into the wild ocean as my birthday presents did that year. It’ll be me and the insane stark white and teal waves and the whales and the dolphins and the diamonds on the water–all the diamonds–and the sunset and west, west and more west.
It’ll be me and my memories.
I’ll let them go out there. I’ll free them.
One by one I’ll drop them over the edge like excess baggage that my ship can no longer stand to carry.
My liberated soul the only anchor I’ll need.
Onward toward the rest of my life as a woman. Onward to my Womanhood, letting go, knowing that dry land and home awaits me. Solid land to the east. My home awaits me. Letting go into the ocean. Being in the wild. Letting go of the weight, the abuse the neglect like wet clothing like lead like city like smog like ego like pride like fear.
I’ll let let it go alright. Out in the waves.
But not until I finish this flipping book.
I need an ending to my story.
And then
I will go
and let go
for good.

First World Story

Here’s the thing: I’ll let it all out, tell the world and no one will care. It will be the same as before I let it all out. No one will care. Enough. People may care enough to fix me dinner, buy me a coffee, buy the book, write a review, maybe send a letter. But no one will find me a good therapist or marry me. No one will give me a child.

But after I put it all out there…I’ll have no reason to kill myself any longer. I won’t be harboring resentment, guilt or secrets of any kind.

What a fucking idiot.

The stories will be released and I will no longer be poisoned. I can move on. Forgive as they say.

And to top it all off–my stories will be first world problems. I let that off my chest? Please. And for what?

For one more reason to put one foot in front of the other that’s for what.

I’ve always been in danger. Foolish.

I just now checked out a fifteen year old girl (probably) in a mini skirt. I’m sick and I keep telling you about it.

Foolish.

I’m letting go of the truth. Giving it to you. And moving on to make more sick memories.

Twisted. First world style.