Bloggedy, Blog, Blog, Blah

I didn’t set a New Year’s resolution. I didn’t set one because I’m capable of shaming myself much better than praising myself. If I set a resolution, and it falls apart in mid-March, then I fall apart in mid-March. And I have a hell of a time getting myself put back together. I’m like Humpty, ya dig? I’m really funny looking, but I things cooking (insert music notes). So sorry. Essentially I’m saving a lot of strife by not setting myself up to fail, which is what would inevitably happen. Because I know me. The other reason I didn’t feel called to set a resolution is because there wasn’t anything eating away at me to change. 2019, for all the ups and downs it gave me, was actually a pretty good year. And I see no reason for 2020 to be any different, which means I can still work on myself and all the things I was working on before, and hopefully just get better at this new routine.

But I did feel compelled to do some digging and look at portions of my life that could use a little more energy, and I came up with two areas: My weight, which you all know is a constant, life-long struggle of mine, and my writing, which I can say the same about. My weight has its own things to work out, and I am working on it. Always working on it. But my writing, well that is something that can wax and wane, and I had noticed there were very large waning spots over the last few years.

Let’s take this blog for instance. I started it back in 2016. Between 2016 and 2017 I made 20 posts. In 2018 I decided to try a bit harder and I wrote 250 posts! Whew, that escalated quickly. So my inclination was to say that I could write every day this year. Or maybe not everyday, but make at least 365 posts. Then I realized how crazy that sounded and I reeled it back, promising instead to just beat my year’s number. Then I realized I might be selling myself short. Orchestrating smallness. So I said, “No, no, Missy, stick to the plan. 365 posts.” Then I got a good night’s sleep and woke up in sweaty thoughts, “What the actual hell, Missy! You can’t write every, single, day. That’s madness.” Then I wrote every, single day for the first two weeks of the year and now I’m back to maybe I could do 365. Do you see why I never get anything accomplished?

Here is my point, in as much as I have one, commitment is cool or whatever. Setting a resolution to do something is nice, but commitment without intent isn’t going to get me very far. I can be totally committed to writing on this here bloggedy, blog, blog, but if I don’t actually intend to do it, set aside time each day, think up wonderful things to write about, spend some time actually thinking about things, then actually writing them down, I will sputter out. Blah, blah, blah.

You get me? I think you do. Maybe in a very abstract, very “I’m hangin on by a thread here, Missy” way, but you get me. And that’s what I love about you.

Go forth and dismantle resolutions. Or create them. Or accomplish them. Or whatever makes you work, and be happy, and creative. I support you any which way.

M.

Sketching

Gratitude journaling came up in therapy the other day. I brought it up. I sort of hedged my bets that she might suggest something like that for me, considering I write. I said something like, “I need a way to work on the anxiety and stress of the day-to-day stuff,” and before I could even stop myself I said the word “gratitude,” then I winced. Patsy didn’t skip a beat, “Journaling, gratitude journaling, isn’t for everyone.” My problem, I explained, is that I am horrible at stream of conscious stuff because I am constantly editing. Not for grammar (as you can see) rather I’m always looking for how I fucked up the writing in some way (again, not grammar) therefore I can never let myself relax enough to just say whatever is top of mind, and then hope I make my way toward the gratitude. Then this here blog came up.

Just last week I explained to a friend that my blog isn’t my “real” writing. My “real” writing is much worse. So count yourselves lucky! My real writing takes AGES to actually accomplish, and puts me in such a tizzy most of the time that I can’t actually sit down to get the words out. This here blog, I explained to my friend and later to my therapist, is like if I were an artist (I wish) and this was my sketchbook.

You know how you always see really cool, artsy people walking around with little sketchpads? In my mind I’m that person. Except it’s my laptop, or my iPhone (yes, I blog from my phone), and whenever something strikes my fancy I jot it down here. That’s why this blog is a hot mess. That’s why the only things you can clearly gleam from my blog are my dislike of our president and the fact that there are no low-carb Cheeto options. Le sigh.

Why am I telling you this? Why do I tell you half the shit I do? To get it off my chest. To put it out there in this private/public sphere and hope that one of you will be all, “Oh yeah, that makes sense, Missy. I like you. You’re alright.” Also to say that maybe what you need to help you relieve stress or anxiety is something you do every day too? Because when I really think about it, this blog helps me with both my stress and my anxiety. It helps me get out what I need to get out, without the feeling that I will be judged or ridiculed for it. I mean this is my blog after all, and it houses my most ridiculous sketches.

So try it out today. Try out gratitude journaling if you haven’t. There is a lot out there about it, and how to get started. Or try knitting. Or try writing. Start a blog! It’s fun. Or make silly YouTube videos, or cook something amazing, use what you know and love to make yourself feel better. I’ll be over here in my corner dreaming about watercolors and oil on canvas. Sketching my day, my fears, and most likely naked, French women. Hey, we all have our thing…

M.

Mawkish

The first time I took a writing class where the professor instructed us to write creative nonfiction, I wrote a story about my sister. About how she would tease her hair, and as a child I would watch her in the mirror. She would tease, tease, tease, then she would ask if I wanted teased. Lots of teasing in the 80s. Lots of teasing with big sisters. I wrote my heart onto the pages for the first time ever. I made connections, pulled loose strings. I fell in love with the genre immediately. It called to me, to the little girl in the mirror, circling the big girl looking back through rose-colored glasses. I felt relieved that this sort of writing existed. I felt comforted.

I turned my essay in. My professor gave me a B. Made sure I knew he was being generous. He said my language was dramatic, yet lacking. He was a Shakespeare scholar. My subject choice, he said, was “saccharine”. Saccharine, I thumbed through my dictionary. Was that relating to sugar? Sweet, sticky? Overly sentimental. Mawkish. Why didn’t the Shakespeare scholar write mawkish on my essay? This was nearly fifteen years ago.

I’m hyperaware now of my own sentimentality.

I’m aware of what is expected, of what is tolerated in the genre.

I’m weary of bearded Shakespeare professors.

Still, I would have preferred mawkish.

M.

Writing Through It

I’ve been attempting to write my way through this bout of the blues. I’m feeling a teensy bit better today, but I think it’s because my husband has been home for three days. He leaves again tomorrow, and today is usually the worst day. The day before he travels. Because the day before he travels I try to smush in as much as I can. And that’s difficult on everyone. It’s difficult because we all know what I’m doing. And we all know why I’m doing it. And it makes it stressful. And to top it off my own anxiety is off the charts right now. Because depression doesn’t come without its host of friends.

The stress comes first. Always. The stacking up of things that I have to do. The mounting list of activities, parties, meetings, events. This month it’s Christmas cards, and gifts to those far away, the logistics of travel, the breaking it to the family that we won’t be there again, but hey, guess what, we’re traveling to see friends for New Years! People we want to see, are not compelled to see. That’s sits well, I’m sure. The dreams come fast and furious in those moments. The stress dreams. My mother yells at me in those dreams. My husband’s plane goes down in those dreams. Sometimes, in those dreams, I am a server and I am double, sometimes triple sat. And I’ve just been told we are out of hamburgers, or french fries, or beer. I have no pens in my apron. My hair is a mess. I burned my hand on a plate. The other servers call in. Yeah, I still have server dreams, 12 years after I served my last plate. Jesus, that’s when I know things are bad.

The stress leads to anxiety. Those plane crash dreams become part of my waking life. I check his arrival and departures times. I start to Google the plane he will be on. When was it last inspected by the FAA? How many passengers does it hold? I track his flights the whole time he’s in the air. I start to think that my actions are affecting his fate. If I flip out on someone driving down the highway today, then maybe that will upset the universe. Knock her off her tilt. Worse yet, what if all my anxiety and worry, my Googling of the plane, wills the crash to happen. What if I am responsible for my husband’s own plane crash? Yeah. This is real life, y’all. My real life.

I get crazy. And then the crazy turns to sadness because I am just so fucking tired of being crazy. I cry in the shower because why does this have to happen to me? I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do. I go to the therapist. I get my vitamins and my l-Methly Folate. I’m taking my meds the right way. But it doesn’t help. My brain is still off kilter. My brain still works in a different way than other people’s and it’s not fair. But Jesus I can’t go down that “It’s not fair” route, because if I do I won’t get out of bed today. So I press on. I just do so with my mind in a million different pieces, which makes it hard to fully invest in anything. That’s when I start knocking things off my list.

That friend that wants to meet for coffee. I text her and tell her I can’t. I don’t explain because she’s a new friend, and she can’t know yet what I’m like. If she knows, she will run. I postpone that meeting about that party I am planning. I tell a friend who wants to FaceTime that I have an event so I can get out of it. If I FaceTime this friend it might help me feel better, but at this point I don’t want to feel better. I don’t deserve to feel better. I have to ride this downward spiral down, all the way down now. I am committed.

Because at some point I go on auto-pilot. I’ve been in this spot a thousand times before. I watch sad documentaries and listen to Adele. I turn my phone off so I can say, “I didn’t see your email,” and really mean it. After I pick Jackson up from school, I tell him that I have a headache, and I lay on the couch with a blanket, and I let him play video games for three hours straight. At some point I realize I’m being pathetic, and I make it up to him by playing video games with him, or at least making him a grilled cheese sandwich. Then the next day it starts over again.

It’s tougher than I thought, trying to explain what happens in your head. Tougher because I don’t have the words to explain it better, and tougher because when I see it written out like this it does, actually sound crazy. I’m ashamed of what happens. How the wiring in my brain works. How one thing leads to another, even worse thing. But it’s my truth. Something I live with, and yes sometimes I get so upset by my life being this way. By the way my brain works, but I also know that I am not the only one with messed up wiring, and I know that many of us have lived in the shadows for too long. Assuming that we are too messed up to have a meaningful life. To be loved. To love others. So I’ll keep writing, if you’ll keep going. And together we will wait for the good days. The good weeks. The good months and years. And trust, there will be some.

Be kind to yourself today.

M.

Thoughts in the Car Line

Some of you may remember, from my earlier days, that I did a regular little ditty called, Thoughts in the Car Line wherein I waxed intellectual on a number of topics while I waited to pick Jackson up from school. At the beginning of my years in the car line I was always very early so I could be up near the front, which is in fact, a total waste of time. BUT, I did get a lot of writing and reading done in those times, and they will always be fond memories for me. Still confused? Let me show you a bit of what I mean with some classic Thoughts in the Car Line Moments:

  • I think Jon Bon Jovi lived on more than a prayer. Cocaine, y’all. He lived on cocaine. 
  • I bet I’d run more efficiently on cocaine. 
  • We’d all run more efficiently on cocaine. 
  • I’m not sure if the family behind me doesn’t enjoy my dancing or if they just hate Dwight Yoakam in general. 
  • There are men out here “surveying”. I keep yelling, “Hey, why don’t y’all come survey this” and then I pull my shirt down really low, but they just don’t seem interested. It must be the sports bra. 
  • This guy looks like he might be named Eddie.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t harass men? 
  • I dunno. I’m so conflicted y’all. It’s like, cocaine is bad, but then it’s good. 
  • What if Mumford doesn’t even have any sons and it’s all a damn lie?
  • I used to like Eddie Murphy. I thought he made a great donkey, but then he got all high and mighty and I was kind of like, you know what Eddie Murphy, I’m done with you. But I still like Donkey.
  • Butyraceous: Of the nature of resembling or containing butter. New stage name. Missy “Butyraceous” Goodnight. One woman act. I roll in butter while I scream “Suck it, Paula Dean!” Tickets can be purchased at Food Lion for $5 and one pound of butter.  
  • I’m not a scientist, but I feel what I lack in common sense I make up for by drinking copious amounts of wine. 
  • “I have a dancer’s body. In the trunk.” That would be a good bumper sticker. 
  • Some parents suck. Some are great. And some listen to Rod Stewart.
  • It snowed in North Carolina the other day and my mom called from Kansas to tell me that she saw Dale Earnhardt and he said not to drive on the roads, and I didn’t know if she meant that she saw the ghost of Dale Earnhardt or if she ran into Jr. at the Walmarts and he told her to tell me that the roads in North Carolina were bad, but I decided it could go either way, and everyone knows you should always trust a ghost who wants to share traffic advisories.  
  • How many raisins can I fit into my mouth?
  • 32. I fit 32 raisins in my mouth. 
  • I ate Jackson’s snack. It was raisins. 
  • If you’ve never bought a comforter from TJ Maxx are you even an adult?

As you can see, they get pretty intense. Luckily for you guys, I got to Jackson’s school a bit early to pick him up from Robotics practice the other day, and I created a new list of thoughts in the car line. No need to thank me, your kindness to each other is thanks enough.

Thoughts in the Car Line:

  • Does Santa drink egg nog every morning? Like does he just get up and dab a little bit in his coffee, then think, you know what I’m just gonna take a little sip straight out the bottle, then he takes a little nip and before he knows it he drank a bottle of egg nog? Then an hour later, when he’s laying over the toilet feeling like he bout to vomit, Mrs. Clause walks in and she’s all, “Sonofabitch, Kris, I told you not to drink a whole bottle of egg nog again. Christ, you need to be at the shop in a tight fifteen!” And he can’t look up from the commode, so he just makes little noises to himself and his white hair starts to fall from around his face, kinda dip into the water a little bit. Then she starts to get all sad that he lacks willpower and self-control, so she sits on her old, creaky knees on the heated bathroom tile next to him, and starts to rub his back in a half-hearted attempt to burp him, while he cries into the toilet bowl, and she remembers the man in college named Damien Demancus who offered her a life of luxury on his boat docked at the Margaritaville in Key West, and she sighs a little to herself. Is that, umm, probably what happens?
  • I’ve never been to Key West. I want to go, but I’m also scared to go. Cause I have been to Miami. And I have been to the Bahamas. And I sort of feel like Key West is a mixture of the two places. And I didn’t like either of them THAT much. So…
  • I think I just tooted, but like inside my intestines. That was weird.
  • There’s a Margarittaville in Tennessee. It’s over yonder by the Dollywood. I’m sure there is more than one Margarittaville in Tennessee. I just haven’t seen them all. But there are people who have. And those people are named Ricky. Not Richard. Ricky.
  • Do elves brush their teeth? All that sugar! I hope so.
  • One time on a cruise ship, we were at sea for two days because we were going from Puerto Rico to some island way the fuck out there and I had nothing to do so I went to the casino and taught myself how to play roulette. Then I taught Jackson how to play. He was in second grade. Rules are lax in the ocean. We won $700. Then we lost $900. Then I got pissed off, cause I was obviously drunk, and I threw my gin and tonic at Red #32 because I thought it was evil. But I think Jackson learned a valuable lesson: Always go find Daddy when Mommy forces him into a casino in second grade.
  • “We can’t go on together, with suspicious miiiiiinds…”
  • I wonder if they’d let me into Tyler Perry Studios? Worth a shot. Helllller!
  • Do I need to make banners for the robotics competition? And bring a megaphone? Or is it not that kinda deal? What about a charcuterie board? There’s always time for a charcuterie board.
  • Jackson can now play Jingle Bells on his trumpet. But I can play Mary Had a Little Lamb on a touchtone phone, so, who’s the real musician?

M.

Native American Heritage Month

Because it is Native American Heritage Month, and because I just so happen to have some work that I think highlights Native Americans, those in Kansas anyway, I wanted to share this with you all today. This is a poem that can be found in the Blue City Poets: Kansas City anthology, the link is below.

It was one of the first poems I wrote about my home, and I was lucky enough to have it printed by a small press in Kansas City who loved it as much as I did. I have another poem in the book, and a pretty fun bio page, so please go check it out on Amazon! You can buy the paperback for $12.99 or the Kindle version for $4.99. (There was a bit of a snafu with the graphic designer when the anthology first came out, and this poem was basically cut in half, but they fixed it!) Anyway, I hope you enjoy my work. Feel free to share this post with others who may also like it.

As for my Native American friends, I just want you to know that I support you. I adore you. I only want to honor you with this work, and my home state of Kansas. Shed light on the fact that many of our places, our honored names, our hallowed grounds, were yours first. Were named after you, to honor you, even though that is not what the white people of Kansas did to you.

And yes, I know horrible things happened there to your people, but honestly the guilt and shame I feel for what my ancestors did to you, can do nothing to help at this point, so I won’t even try. But please know that you have my full support and love regarding whatever is best for you and your tribe, your family, your history, and your life moving forward. I know I have messed up along the way (sorry for all those times I called my friends my “tribe” or I called something my “spirit animal,” ick, but I am learning everyday.)

As always, thanks for the support.

M.

Kansas
 
Your summer days are long
South winds cool, in spite of the heat
Cotton curtains lapping open windows 
Fresh apple pie air 
Skies reflecting rivers reflecting skies
 
We’ve galloped, arms outstretched
Through your waves of wheat
Stripped dandelions from Strawberry Hill
Smeared yellow down our wrists
Whispered your names, recited your song
Apache, Pawnee, Osage
I stand there amazed and I ask as I gaze
If their glory exceeds that of ours

Yes, we’ve perched atop your tallgrass mounds
Wakeeny, Kechi, Osawatomie 
Cradled a honeybee 
Scalped arrowed flint 
Dug limestone with our feet
Where the Wakarusa and the Kaw rivers meet
 
We’ve jogged your streets and avenues
Kissed your patchy pavement  
Miami, Pottawatomie, Dakota
We’ve stood on Cherokee, under the silo 
Looked up to the cosmos
Per aspera ad astra
 
Your sunflowers are resilient
Bursting from the grasslands in great numbers
Following the buffalo
Gazing west, despite boots on their necks
 
Your rows of corn have dulled
Your heritage now lost
Though your lines still show
Wyandotte, Neosho, Topeka
Kaza, Kosa, Kasa, Kaw
 
Kansas
 

Year of the Blog

Last October I decided to take this blog seriously. As seriously as one can take a blog with 100 followers. (Listen, I’m not being ungrateful. I see you all. And I’m grateful for your readership and friendship, or more likely that my life makes you feel better about your own life. Either way, thanks for the follows, y’all!) So, last October I decided to try to write as much as possible on here. It was more a test. A litmus test, to see if I was even capable of writing everyday. Or every other day. And I’m happy to say that I have been mildly successful. In fact, I realized pretty quickly that if I write, people come to read. Likewise, if I don’t write, people don’t come. It’s all very Field of Dreams-ish round these parts. If you write it, they will come.

So I’ve been writing. Some months are easier than others. This summer was a little slow with all my travels, but my blog has been on an uptick over the last couple of months, both because of my recent publication in an actual fucking poetry collection, and with a very personal blog that resonated with people. And you guys know that is my only goal with my writing, right? That it resonates with people. That people can read what I write and laugh, or smile, or get angry, well that’s all bonus material. What I really need is just one person to read my writing and shake their head in agreement, while they lick the Cheeto dust off their fingers and says, “Mmmhmm, girl, yes! Yes, girl! I have been there too! Thank you!” Which is why I write about things like mental health. Because somewhere, someone sitting in bed, wide-awake at three o’clock in the morning, needs to know they are not alone.

Anywho, this is a thank you post, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Man, I’m bad at this. Thanks for making my year of blogging successful. Thanks for reading my random thoughts and weird-ass stories. Thanks for liking and commenting and sharing. Thanks for, you know, just being there in the ether. I feel y’all. Not in a creepy way. In a real, spiritually-connected way. And I really do hope I make your day better.

As always, take care of yourself and each other.

M.

Brains are Funny That Way

I have this friend, I used to consider her a devout Christian, like when she’d say things like, “You can pray the gay away” (I’m paraphrasing), I’d wince a bit, but move on because we all have our unfounded beliefs, that’s how our brains work. This week she shared her belief on social media that good, Jesus-following Christians, should not celebrate Halloween. I pushed back. Because sometimes we all need push back. We all need reminded that just because we think a certain way, because we’ve studied what we think is “the” truth, there are many more “truths” out there. I ended up DMing her, hoping to explain this. Because she kept saying she was sharing “The” truth and I felt compelled to remind her, like all religions, these are beliefs, not truths. But I don’t think she understood.

That’s how our brain works though, y’all. When we believe something and we repeat it over and over again, “Halloween bad,” then our brain starts to go, “Oh yeah, Halloween bad. And people who celebrate Halloween, bad.” And I think I have a good handle on this friend. I think she’s just trying to serve people. I think she has a servant’s heart, for the most part, but she hasn’t yet realized that you can’t “Halloween bad” people into doing things. But, the post she shared came from a preacher, and the one she wrote on the topic was sparked by what she heard a preacher say at his service. Which means brimstone and fire is being pushed from the pulpit. I’ve heard pastors like this. I’ve seen what they do. How they work. These people believe they have Christ on their side and can say and do what they want. But, uh, don’t we all have Jesus on our side? Isn’t that like, his thing? Y’all, I know some of you who hang with me a lot get tired of hearing this, but, Imma say it again, and hope it sticks: Jesus is not a primary source. No one is taking you seriously when you throw down some, “Well Jesus told me…” Well, I guess some people are taking you seriously, that’s how preachers work. And you know what is at the root of that work? Fear.

Back to my friend. What was even more disturbing about this whole conversation with her, was the way she spoke of Halloween. The fear she had of it. She said she puts on an armor, practices “spiritual warfare.” She said this in the same breath (rather paragraph) that she said she doesn’t worry about things because “Jesus is above all of that.” So which is it? Do we have to be suited up, live in a warfare mindset to love Jesus, or do we trust that he’s bigger than any of it? If you ask me, any type of warfare is rooted in fear, and I have enough fear to last me my whole life, I don’t need my religion bogging me down with it too.

But that’s how religion works, right? That’s why our brains love it! Religion eases our fears. It gives us something to believe in, to cling to when life isn’t going so well. Religion explains a lot of shit that our overworked brains just can’t process. The meaning of life. Why we die. Religion can, and does, explain a whole host of uncomfortable topics for us. Hard topics. That we just don’t want to deal with. I mean if you ask me the Greeks did it the best. All those awesome Gods to explain away all the shit they just couldn’t wrap their minds around! Persephone was my favorite, the way she made all the flowers bloom! Girl, you so special!

At one point in our conversation I suggested my friend was a good writer, one who had the capacity to make people feel united. Help isolated mommas who were just trying to find a community, and sometimes a church community is all they have. And I suggested she keep to less trivial topics, least she be part of the cog that is turning young people, young mothers especially, away from church. I was thinking more along the lines of sharing her stories of redemption. The goodness in her church community. Helping to solve hated and bigotry with her words. She said that getting people to see that the celebrating Halloween is not Christ-like is VERY important to her. Right now. I guess I was calling her to something she just isn’t ready for. Spiritually or creatively. Because if celebrating Halloween is one of the worst things that we are doing in our world right now, then well, my friend’s brain is already elsewhere.

M.

Not About a Dead Dear

If you’re reading this right now, I’m alive! Well, maybe not. I wrote this two days before today and that means it’s Sunday. Or is it Monday? No, today is Wednesday, but I wrote this on Sunday. Or Monday. Or at some point when I was not 35,000 feet above the ground, but I planned to post it while I was 35,000 feet above the ground. I did this so that I wouldn’t use my blog as an excuse to write while I was on the plane, because I don’t need to be writing a blog post right now, I mean, not right, right now, but on Wednesday at nine am, because I really, actually need to be working on a project for my friend Megan who I work on projects for sometimes. But it is sort of a boring project (sorry Megan, but you know what I mean), so I have been putting it off all week in lieu of writing blog posts, but not writing actual writing, like that damn essay I’ve been working on for four months now about that time I walked into my Uncle Arthur’s barn and saw a hanging deer bleeding out and then we all ate deer chili. What? What, Missy?

Uhhh. Huh huh.

What, y’all?

Huh?

I don’t know.

I think what I am saying is that I am in a plane, probably above your head, right… right… now! And I am working on some editing, not writing an essay about a dead deer, and even though that is what I need to be doing right… right… then! I am not doing it then, and I am not doing it now.

Hey, do you guys remember Beavis and Butthead? Remember? On MTV? I didn’t watch it a lot because we were poor and didn’t have cable, but sometimes I did get to see it at friends’ houses and they always did this laugh, you know which one I mean: Uhhhh huuuuh huh huh. It was usually right after someone said a word like: Penetration.

Uhhhh. Huuuuuh. Huh huh.

I guess my brain is fried. That happens sometimes. Next stop, California!

Happy Wednesday!

M.

I’m a Poet, I Just Know It

See what I did there? Last year, there was a call for poetry from a small press in Kansas City, called Flying Ketchup Press. They wanted poems from people who call Kansas City, or Kansas or Missouri home. They wanted to share the sense of this amazing place with others, while promoting the voices of those who grew up on those streets. I saw it while perusing Submitabble one day, bookmarked it, then moved on. I have always wanted to have a poem published, I thought it would be so cool to be able to say, “Oh yeah, I wrote that poem!” Haha. I’ve secretly always wished I’d been born a poet, and not a foul-mouthed, wanna-be. But here we are.

I couldn’t sleep for at least a week. I tossed and turned at night, thinking about my home. Thinking about Kansas and Missouri. The time I’ve spent there (30 years) and all that it taught me. Being Midwestern comes with many fun little quirks, sure we say “ope” everyday, and sure we have a penchant for apologizing all the time, and drowning all our food in ranch dressing, but why? And how? Who came before us and made us this way? I started to wonder day in and day out about the place I call home. Then one day I was inspired to dig deeper into Kansas history, so I did. I meshed it with a little of my own Kansas history and the poem, “Kansas” was born.

What happened was I got an acceptance letter, with a note from the editor, a true Kansas City girl, who explained that they were happy to include my poem in their anthology, and that my poem was the favorite of all those submitted. I was shocked. Honestly. I was so shocked I didn’t know how to respond, so I just sent a thank you, not really believing it would ever happen. Geez, I have great self-esteem.

Then, well, it happened. The poetry book, titled: Blue City Poets, was officially published on September 10th of this year. Which happened to be my 38th birthday. Which happened to be the day I decided that my 38th year would be the best yet. And so far, so good.

Anyway, I appreciate you all reading my musings, my dumb political rants, and my stories of everyday struggles on everything from mental illness, to parenting, to my dumb-ass dog. And especially for following me along this journey of writing that I struggle with everyday. It’s good to feel like you’re not the only one doing something. Having struggles. Getting rejected. The whole shebang.

So how can you read my poem? Great question! You can purchase the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-City-Poets-Kansas/dp/197015196X/ref=mp_s_a_1_11?keywords=blue+city+poets%3A+kansas+city&qid=1570333582&sr=8-11&fbclid=IwAR3nuvgwRu1QoYXKBOJNbixFyI7Xwq-11h-FrKFjzZ__8MUxtaxoxD0URSo

The paperback is $12.99 and the Kindle version is $4.99. It’s part of Prime too!

So here is a giant virtual hug to all of you who tirelessly support me. By reading my blog, liking my stupid posts, and telling me to keep going, to stay positive, and that I am good at what I do. I hope to one day believe you.

M.

Tender Wings of Desire

I’ve been reading a collection of essays titled “Growing Up Poor.” I’ve been reading this book because one, I grew up poor and figured I could relate to some of the essays. Two, I am currently working on an essay about what it is like to grow up poor, and one should read what one writes. And three, the cover was so enticing that I had to buy it. Yes. I judge books by their covers. Le sigh. We all do. Am I talking about just books here? Yes. But also no. We do judge actual books by their covers because for the most part it’s easy to do. Some authors lay it all out there on the cover. Romance novels are my favorite. Not to read, just to look at the covers. Here, let’s look at a few together, shall we?

Boats, and horses, and hairy chests, oh my! That last one is not real, but man oh man do I wish. Colonel Sanders, a drumstick, and a pretty lady, that’s a love triangle I can get behind. And the other ones, well you know the whole plot before you even open the book: Intimate moments in a horse barn, with a hairy-chested dude who you should not want to have intimate moments with because he is:

A. A servant on your father’s farm

B. Your dead husband’s best friend

C. The stranger you met in the Motel 6 hot tub

I used to read romance novels. I did. When I was a teenager I got way into them, like Tina from Bob’s Burgers and Jimmy Pesto’s butt into them. Hormones. Gross. I read mostly V.C. Andrews. You know who I’m talking about, that Flowers in the Attic shit. Your mom thought it was no big deal because it’s most likely just a suspense novel. I mean it’s about kids locked in an attic, what could be romantic about that. #Incest

I’m a little more mature in my reading choices now, though I still judge books by their covers. A brightly colored cover can grab my attention from across a bookstore faster than the Dollanganger brother and sister can make a baby. I’m drawn to bright covers with geometric colors, just as much as the sad ones with a dark hues and an old dog sitting under a willow tree. I guess it’s not so much what the cover says about the book, as much as it is about what the cover says to me. Here are a couple of my current favorite covers (I have not read all of these books quite yet, but the covers make me want to):

I guess maybe I don’t have a book cover “type,” but I certainly let the covers guide me. I have read three books just this year based solely off their covers, and I enjoyed every one of them. But maybe I was destined to? Anywhere, these are the three:

And countless more pretty-covered books are waiting on my bookshelf to be read. That’s it then. I judge books by their covers, and I am okay with that.

M.

My Writing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my six acceptance letters into publications and my 24 rejections. Ouch. I know, I know. Keep on keeping on. Stay positive. Don’t worry about the number of rejections, that can get up into the thousands! But every time I get a rejection, I sort of feel myself curl up a little bit. I want to stay in bed, quit sending things out. I know I am doing things wrong. I know I am. I’m not sure how to navigate this terrain, so I am learning as I go. I don’t know quite yet where my writing falls. Which publications I should be sending work to. I’m afraid to go to bat with the “big boys” as it were, so if I’m being honest with myself, I’m choosing small publications where I might have a better shot. Then I have those days where I feel like I am selling myself, and my work, short. Then I get another rejection from a “small guy” and I’m like, no you’re where you need to be. Maybe you shouldn’t even be sending out. Maybe you suck and everyone is just placating you, you pile of dog crap! I’m a nightmare. I have never been a salesperson. Especially when it comes to myself. Anyway, boohoo, Missy. Okay, we are done with that now. But if you do have advice, lay it on me. I’m always looking for that.

What I really want to do is share some of my work with you today, for those of you who have never read my “real stuff” before. So I was just gonna put some links down here for you to try out if you are interested. The first link is a creative non-fiction piece I wrote as part of my grad school thesis and it means the most to me. You can read it here: http://mudseasonreview.com/author/melissa-goodnight/ This is where it was originally published. There is also an interview with me on this link, about why I write what I do. I had a great experience with Mud Season Review. Kinda sad it was my first publication because now I know how wonderful and easy the editors can make the process. People aren’t always so nice.

Then there is flash fiction. I love writing flash fiction! I love the small slices of life you can see in them. I only have two of those published, a third is set to come out with Lunch Ticket soon, but for now you can read them at these links. This first one is the first piece of FF I ever wrote: https://deadmule.com/melissa-goodnight-the-line-fiction-may-2019/

And this next one is my favorite: http://www.jennymag.org/fall-18-issue/the-center-wont-hold

Anyway, thanks for reading my work, even if you just check in here occasionally. I see you, and I appreciate you.

M.

PS… I have a poem coming out in the fall in an anthology of Kansas City poets! I will let you guys know when it releases.

Vulnerable Schmulnerable

Vulnerable. Ick. I don’t even like to type the word. Vulnerable. It sounds vulgar. Vulnerable. My trusty Pocket Oxford says the word means: “That may be wounded (lit. or fig.); exposed to damage by weapon, criticism, etc.” Vulnerable. Bad. Vulnerable. Weak. Vulnerable. How not to be. This word has been kicking around my noggin all weekend. Mainly because I started a Brene Brown book. And listen, if you haven’t read Brene Brown, well, I won’t tell you to read her. Or watch her Ted Talk or her Netflix special. But you know, if you are so inclined, I promise you won’t be disappointed. She’s a research professor at the University of Houston. She’s spent years researching shame and (gulp) vulnerability. She has a fun Texas drawl, and she doesn’t think prayer and cussing are mutually exclusive, so you know, she might not be your cup ‘o’ tea, but she is my kinda gal.

Anyway, Brene Brown has been teaching me about vulnerability. And when she first started explaining the concept, she said things like “exposed” and “easily wounded”. And immediately I thought to myself, “You’re not a vulnerable person, Missy. No worries. You have your ducks in a row.” Because who would want to be vulnerable? Weren’t we supposed to be strong and brave at all times. Especially now, in this dumpster fire of a world we live in? So I decided, nah, I’m not vulnerable. But then I kept going back to what I said, sorta like how my dog keeps sniffing his own butt, even when it appears to be fairly clean. I know my butt is clean. I am 100% sure of it. Right?

I couldn’t figure out why I felt like I was lying to myself. Brene was all, “Missy, girl, it’s okay to be vulnerable.” And I was all, “That’s bullshit, Brene! You’re bullshit, Brene! Just another whack-job, wanna-be-self-help-guru, and I’m not gonna listen to you!” Then I turned off the television and continued to eat my Cheetos, and tell myself I am strong, and I am brave, and I am not vulnerable. Then I woke up in the middle of the night with the butt itchies and realized, holy hell, I’m like, super vulnerable.

Let me try to explain. I’m a writer. No need to apologize, I did it to myself. I write mainly creative non-fiction. That’s my bread and butter. I love to explore my own life, my own stories, my past, my present, my future, and share it with whomever will read or listen. Full stop. That’s vulnerability, right? I mean, every day, just sitting at my desk, writing my random-ass thoughts out for the blog-sphere is pretty vulnerable. Especially in the age of social media, anonymous chatting and commenting, and the intense showmanship and competition that comes with all of this.

Then there are the friendships I’ve had over the years. I am a pretty open and honest person. I’ve come to learn over the last year or two that not everyone appreciates that about me. But what Brene helped me realize is that my friends do appreciate when I am honest with them. They also appreciate when I tell a funny story, or allow them to see me make an ass of myself, but they don’t appreciate my vulnerability because vulnerabilty scares the shit out of people. They don’t know how to be vulnerable, or to act around someone who is. And I get that, I really do. It’s tough to be vulnerable. We’ve been trained our whole lives not to be.

So what does this all mean? Look it, I don’t know. Brene seems to act like she knows, but I don’t think she does either. What I do know is that I am taking this new bit of information I have realized about myself (with help from Brene) and I’m moving forward in my life with a few new rules.

Rule #1: If someone is not ready to be vulnerable, or to watch me be vulnerable, then I am walking away. There are so many other people out there who can handle me, and my butt, and all that comes with it.

Rule #2: I’m going to try not to worry about the critics. There are a million people out there who will criticize me at the drop of a hat. Most of them are too afraid to be doing what I am doing. Most of them want to step out of their comfort zone, they want to make a change in their life, but they are too afraid. It’s easier to sit back and watch other people fail (and Brene says I will fail, a lot) then to find their own courage. Courage to quit their job and follow their true passion, relying on their partner, giving up control. Courage to take that step to put their lives out into the world. Courage to be open and honest with their loved ones. These people make up a million excuses why they can’t do it, and I try to rationalize that when they criticize me. But I can’t do that anymore. If you can’t stick your butt in the fire, you have no right to tell me about my butt, even when it’s in flames.

Rule #3: The people who do care should be depended on more often. The ones that have been cheering me on, those are the people who matter. Those are the people to listen to when criticism needs to come my way. They do it from a love-centered place. They do it because sometimes I need to be slapped. Sometimes I say and do crazy things, and they need to tell me because they care about me. And I’ll listen. I may be mad when they are saying it, but I’ll listen.

So, I guess, uhhh, wish me luck? And maybe watch some Brene Brown? And maybe try to decide if you are vulnerable? And if you are not being vulnerable, then ask your self why not? Wouldn’t it be worth a shot?

M.


Going Home Again

Home has always been a tough word for me. Home means sad, tragic at the worst times, ambivalent at the best. I don’t come from a place that is totally electric, or unusual, or even beautiful. I’m not from NYC, or Las Vegas, or one of those small southern towns with quaint shops around a city square, and rampant white supremacy. I am from the midwest. From Kansas. From Leavenworth. Perhaps you have heard of it? Maybe in an old John Wayne western, or a documentary on the military, or a book about famous serial killers? Perhaps you just know it sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place it? Yeah, that’s it. That’s Leavenworth, Kansas.

I left Leavenworth 15 years ago this August. It wasn’t the first time I left, but it was the only time I ever left and thought, yep, I’m never moving back there again. And this year was the first time in those 15 years that I contemplated moving back there again. I’m not sure what it was, the draw to go back home. But it was there, on my mind, when my husband and I were going through possible relocations with his company. Kansas City popped up on the list. Bonner Springs to be exact. Bonner Springs is in Leavenworth County. It is about 20 minutes from the high school we graduated from. Twenty minutes from my mom, and my sisters, and my best friend. And we thought about it. Like really thought about it. Then ultimately we decided against going home again. For good. For now.

But as I type this I am gearing up for a trip home tomorrow. I am gearing up in the physical sense. Washing a last-minute load of laundry. Making sure I have an appropriate outfit for a graduation. Gathering Jackson’s toys. Packing healthy road trip snacks. I’m also gearing up for a trip home mentally. It has been over a year since I have been home. Last year we decided to take other trips. We visited New York City, and Tucson, Arizona, and Chicago, rather than spending time at home. And while those are all lovely places, home still called.

It used to be that when I went back home, I wanted to leave as soon as I got there. I was immediately transported back to that feeling I had in high school. That feeling of being stuck. Of suffocating. Walking the tree-lined streets of downtown made me tense up. Seeing the same old buildings I had grown up with, the familiar people. Unchanging, other than the wrinkling faces and graying hair. After a weekend of being home, I would squeeze my husband’s hand and say, “It’s time to go.” I’m preparing for that feeling again, even though the last time I went home that didn’t happen. In fact, I wanted to stay longer. To enjoy the people and places more. I was surprised and I didn’t take notice of how or why it had changed. And I still don’t know. And I don’t know if this time will be the same, or if I will want to run away after 48 hours. But I’m prepping myself for both.

I don’t know what to do with these feelings about home. How sometimes I want to never look back, and sometimes that is all I want to do. Leavenworth is always there with me. Right on the fringe of my memories. It touches all that I do today, and most of what I write. And well, I should be grateful. Maybe this is me, becoming grateful.

M.


April

If you’ve been around long enough you know that Edna St. Vincent Millay is my homegirl. She’s no Joan Didion, but that’s a different genre. Edna, like Momma Joan, has been around since high school. We first met in a drama class my sophomore year. We had to recite a poem in front of the whole class, and well, I thumbed my finger through a poetry book and found the shortest one I could: My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — it gives a lovely light! I was such a wanker. But Edna didn’t mind. She didn’t mind when that poor, underpaid adjunct at KU made me “explore the rich tapestry of the sonnet,” or when my evil grad school professor said, “close reading”. Every time I found my way back to Edna, and every time she welcomed me with open arms. In short, she’s my ride-or-die. Which makes each season of life a bit different because, well, Edna was a bit different. Here’s the one that has been sloshing around the old noggin for the last few weeks:

Feel free to do you own close reading of this one. Or just read it over and over again, listening to the lullaby of the words. Appreciate the rhythm, the feeling. Or you know, shake your head and say, “Oh Edna…”

I’m not sure about April anymore either, you guys. I’m not sure about the rebirth of spring, or the way that we pin so much hope on a fresh start, but I did find out that one of my own poems will be in a book of poetry this year, and I am excited and so very surprised. I’ve grown a lot from the last April to this one. A lot. Maybe this time of year will grow on me now too.

Go forth in flowers and poetry today, y’all.

M.