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Stories From the Edge of Blindness

In 2002, Retinitis Pigmentosa changed my life. This is my story of a slow approach to darkness.

Category

Memoir

Gold Lame’

This will be my last post before I turn 50, and honestly, I may have the kind of hangover that takes a few days to recover from, so this may be my last post for a week or so.  I am still undecided what the celebrations will look like.  That said….

I am continuing my recorded poetry series today with a poem that was originally published in The Furious Gazelle.  The Furious Gazelle is a super cool and eclectic journal, with editors whose artistic sensibilities have range, depth and flare.  “Gold Lame'” is the first of three poems I was lucky to have published with them, along with a couple of essays.

My range as a writer may not be very expansive; I tend to write about just a few things.  But, one of those things is my city, and in my city lives a wealth of characters to write about.  All three of the poems in The Furious Gazelle were inspired by Hollywood…the real Hollywood.

 

Gold Lame’

Toothless ladies reign
over my Hollywood neighborhood,
holding court on street corners.
Gold lame’ and a slash of red lips,
she flicks you away like filth off skin
and barricades you from the
wreckage of her fortress.
She sits on a throne of fading glamour
and keeps watch over the tumble of
ravaged relics that house her memories.
She came to the city to be gild
and slathered in star light,
but settled for a crown of tin with
rubies made of glass.

 

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Frail

I was determined to become more disciplined, more succinct in keeping my blog alive.  I was going to post twice a week. I have a number of blog posts in the making. But I forgot about the ways that life creeps up and grabs me by the throat, dashing whatever lofty plans I may have conjured up.  I have imagined myself as so many things, believed myself to be so much more than I am.  I have accepted illusion over reality, climbed into the sounds of myself breaking and shattering, as if these were acts of bravery.  I convinced myself it was strength, believed that I was strong, but my reflection shows a woman who is frail and swallowed up by shadows.  Time and again I am a disappointment to myself.
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Eating Barbequed Iguana

I fell a few weeks ago, on the sidewalk, while gawking at another new group of hideous town houses that are being built in our neighborhood.  When I fell, I cried, not because it hurt, but because I felt humiliated, broken, slapped in the face yet again by RP.  My depression and self loathing voices took center stage and told me I was useless and really shouldn’t even be outside if I can’t manage to walk a block without falling down and scraping my knees.  I wanted to hide, from the RP and the day and the world.  I wanted to hide from myself, pretend I was graceful, dream I could float.  My sadness turned to anger and I stumbled home, terrified that every step may be the one to send me back into the unwelcome embrace of the pavement. Until very recently, this had been my usual response to falling.
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By Your Side

I have been in a bleak place lately.  It is a familiar place, a place of introspection where I can try to figure out what is bringing on the sadness.  I thought it was because of the shit storm of rejections I have been getting, but they were just the cap on feelings that were already dragging me under.  I have been feeling overwhelmed for so long.

After coming to the conclusion that it isn’t the rejections that are pulling me into the clutches of sorrow, I had to stop and breathe and look behind my eyes to see what has been troubling me.  This can, at times, be a herculean task, as I seem to be troubled far too often, and it is never just one thing. But, I have become good at peeling away the layers, seeing what lurks beneath.
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Stepping Back

April was a month full of the celebration of poetry, which was enlightening and exhilarating, but for me as a poet, it was a month weighed down by rejections.  March was the same.  I haven’t had anything accepted for publication since February and the constant rejections are beginning to pluck at my barely opaque confidence.

I am not sure why the rejections are hitting me so hard right now.  It could be the sheer volume of them or perhaps the nagging fear that all writers experience, of being a fraud or no good. I wish I could say that being published doesn’t matter, but it has become something that I look to in order to gauge the quality and relevance of my writing.  Right or wrong, it feels inevitable to me.

There have been some incredibly good things that have happened in the past month, with regard to my poetry specifically, but the rejections are tarnishing those good things, or I am allowing them to.  I can’t seem to get out from under the weight of defeat.  I don’t feel motivated to write.  All the words feel wrong, trite or inconsequential.  It feels pointless and it is making me feel sad.

I am not looking for validation.  I know that the validation can only truly come from within me.  I need to step back and try to gain some perspective.  Perhaps I need to step back from writing altogether for a while, or maybe just step back from submitting my work and try to focus solely on the writing.  I don’t know.  All I know is that it feels bad.  Every day I have to pick myself up from feelings of defeat and it is getting harder and harder to do.

Maybe I need to get out of the house, go hiking.  Maybe I need a juice cleanse or a therapist.  Maybe I need to take up mahjong.  What I do know is that I need to get some distance and try to look at all of this with different eyes.  The eyes I have just aren’t working.  I suppose they never really have.

Blank

I turn good things into dust, eradicate their grandeur and rebuild them into turrets of self doubt and loathing. When something good happens, something I should be proud of, I tarnish it with thoughts that it was a fluke, something that will never happen again. Whatever it is, it isn’t good enough. It will never be good enough. I will never be good enough.  I am blank.  I am afraid to write, afraid that what I believed to be in my blood is only vapor, opaque and insubstantial.  Afraid that I am insubstantial.

The affliction of self loathing, like blindness, feels like an unwelcome guest that creeps endlessly across the landscape of my life.  But, do I invite self loathing?  Is it a habit?  Some clichés are true; old habits die hard.  Or perhaps it is a stirring in my blood, adhered to my bones? Have I learned to loathe myself, or was I born with self loathing in my heart? No matter what I do, what I write, I am still the ugly girl, the child that shouldn’t have been born, the one who failed to do what she was meant to do, who failed to fix what was broken, and then broke apart from the weight of failure.
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Ink Sweat & Tears March Pick of the Month!

My poem, “Letches”, is the IS&T March Pick of the Month!!!!!!!

I am beyond excited and dancing on the moon!!!!! Also, I can’t deny, in a bit of a state of disbelief!  This is the biggest thing to happen to me in my writing career and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the love and support and kindness I received.  I have so much thanks to give!

You can read the poem and some of the comments here.

 

 

One More Day

I have been immersed in working on some pretty intense poems this week, which is both incredibly gratifying and exhausting.  I finally finished and sent them out and now I can breathe for a bit.  I am going to return to writing some new posts next week, but for today, I Just wanted to thank everyone who has supported me with votes for my shortlisted Ink Sweat and Tears poem.

If you want to, but haven’t  had the chance to, vote for my poem, “Letches” for the March Pick of the Month, you can do so here, until tomorrow April 15. And, please feel free to share the link with friends!

Ink Sweat and Tears is publishing some incredible contemporary poetry and they are worth checking out, even if you don’t vote.  I have personally discovered some incredible poets in the virtual pages of IS&T and will be sharing some of their work throughout the month.

Thank you for all of the love and support.  I am feeling so incredibly grateful!

The Flip Side

Ironically, given that this is National Poetry Month, this post is not about poetry (they can’t all be), and it may not be particularly poetic.  I just finished and submitted one of the most personal poems I have ever written, and although I am thrilled that it is the month of celebrating poetry, and I am reading it voraciously, I need to take a couple of days away from writing it.

I recently had what I now call ( thanks to Katrin),  a “sucks to be blind” day.  I need them every once in a while; I got through it, I always do, and I emerged from it on the flip side of what blindness and RP have brought into my life.

I have read a lot of blog posts, written by visually impaired writers, about the benefits of being blind.  I always scoffed at them.  What could possibly be beneficial about having a disease that is causing you to lose the one thing that pretty much everyone is terrified to lose?  I thought it was total bullshit.  I was wrong.
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