I Can’t Not 

I tried sharing news with married friends, loose acquaintances rather, that I have decided to pursue a fully funded MFA program in creative writing after our wedding. 

They are both lawyers and the husband ex-USMC recruiter. 

They were so puzzled. Instead of congratulating me for a brave next step (or plan to make such a step) they tried to negotiate me out of it. 

“But why not get a master’s in a more general form of writing that you can use in the nonprofit world where you work? Shouldn’t you learn grantwriting? Why poetry or fiction? That’s a hobby.” 

I enlightened them that grantwriting is a skill you can take as a continuing education course at the community college. Wanting to be a writer is something I’ve always known was in me. But you can’t explain art and beauty to lawyers and recruiters. 

I didn’t try. 

But maybe anyone stumbling upon this can use it to their benefit.  Anyone else you know that is committed to the lifestyle and adventures of pursuing art, don’t treat them like a person that has signed on to contract tuberculosis. 

Writers and artists won’t be miserable and poor their whole lives if they do what they love. If they are not making art or writing, that is when they will find themselves unhappiest. 

Congratulate your artist and writer friends for pursuing truth beyond money. In many cultures around the world the artist is revered as a form of medium, communicating with gods and celestial beings and bringing their visions back to enlighten the rest of the people they live amongst. 

Artists are superhuman in that way. 

I majored in studio art for the education, not for the job prospects. Getting an MFA in writing is the same thing for me. Seeking exposure to work that will increase my intellectual capacity, and exploring how to contribute to that work in a meaningful way. 

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Workshop

I’m at an 8-day writing workshop. It is absolutely fantastic.

It’s so great to be around other people who are writers, and even though I feel like the amateur for lack of an MFA, all the MFA-holders or candidates and faculty are so welcoming and encouraging. 

People here think I am in an MFA program, from reading my work and the way I speak about art and literature and being human. 

This is unreal. 

You know it’s hard out there for an empath

I don’t often hear or say the word “empath” without a steep eye-rolling, but sometimes there’s no other word for me. 

The critic withinin me suggests, “Maybe a synonym for empath would be drama-queen? ”

But how can I explain that I’m affected by the emotions other people walk around with, hurl across rooms, and simply sit in, like a puddle of human waste? 

I can tell right away when someone is in a shitty mood. Especially someone I care about. Most people give clues, in word choice, diction, or body language. But people you love—people you live with— they don’t have to say a word to knock you out with a blow of negativity. 

When someone walks into a room with pissy energy, it doesn’t sting, like a hornet, it is a blunt and projected assault on my ability to function..like an uppercut to my jaw, and all I did to provoke my assailant was be near them, making breakfast. 

And then you feel hurt, and ask why they would walk into the room a-swinging, and they say they’re sorry but you can’t tell if they only feel remorseful or the toxic blend of resentment—that you’ve now pointed out a shortcoming or fault—combined with the genuine remorse for having hurt you. 

The resentment casts its own cloud of shit into the room like a bugbomg, and you can’t crawl under or float above it. 

Eventually one of you leaves, and you wonder what the other person is thinking, and all you’re thinking about is maybe you could do more for them…maybe they need you to come to happy hour more…maybe they need, maybe they need. 

And then the boxer in you feels, thinks, plans new defense plays. Maybe you’ll start going to the gym at 5am so you aren’t in the house when the loved one has the morning moods. Maybe you’ll get a weekend job so you’ll see them less and they’ll be happier to see you when they do. You’ll have more income, which is of concern to you, but you’ll have stronger defense against the moods—to be away is to be safe. 

But the warrior in you wants to face it head on, even if the other person doesn’t want to face it at all. Gnarled root causes, acetic cleansing washes, and dirt under both of your nails while you plant habits and routines like bulbs. An overgrown lot is only an eyesore until you take it back with sweat and pain and the vision for what it should be.  

Let no one ever tell you that an empath is emotional because they are weak. 

REI 

For years, if I ever made a purchase at REI, I used an old co-op membership account, which was irreparably linked to an ex-partner’s old phone # and name. He had abandoned it and never used it, and I was still an authorized shopper to redeem the dividend at the end of the year, but they could not change the phone # and primary holder to me. 

So rather than pay another $20 to open my own, I just suffered the reminder anytime I bought camping gear, of that failed relationship. 

Well today I had to order a pair of hiking boots, after I kept telling myself I don’t need hiking boots but I keep ending up going hiking, camping, or working in an urban farm, and I just decided to quit kidding myself. I’m gay enough that I wore my old pair of hiking boots as everyday shoes with jeans, all the time, and they were good for my back. 

So while I was at it, I started a new REI membership. Because I’m tired of denying my orthopedic needs and dealing with pain & discomfort. 

Been’a While

It’s been so long I don’t know where to start. 

I’ve been flipping between a few different writing projects….dropped some, picked up others…

I’ve finished 2 actual pieces of writing….one sort of long poem and one editorial for a website. I’ll share when it goes up next week. 

In the works is (who knows, maybe) a new website about being a grown up. 

I’ve also written some really beautiful letters I’ll be sending out to companies asking for support in a new program I’m building at our housing sites for formerly homeless individuals. 

Oh, and one more thing I almost forgot about. I got my voice published on the website for the organization where I work. Here.

In addition to all the fooling with words, I created a writing program with 5 published authors in Philly, and they’ve been leading writing and poetry workshops at our houses for a few months now. Our houses are supportive living sites for individuals who were chronically homeless and suffer from mental illness or addiction. It’s no small thing that these guys are coming together each week to read and share their unique voices and create stories. 

I’m working on, as I mentioned, another new program where residents and volunteers will partner 1:1 and cook a meal together, so our residents can learn how to cook for themselves and regain some independence and feelings of control in their lives. 

Also, in the planning stages of a charity pool tournament fundraiser. 

So I guess you could say I’ve been busy…

So little time 

I haven’t had time yet, but I was considering switching my posts about only shopping local over to my main website, comicallylarge.com
Not that I have kept that up, it’s a bit outdated, but rather than let it become a graveyard for my fine arts degree & portfolio, since I pay for hosting and my domain yearly, I might as well whip it into a place that does reflect who I am today. Especially considering I don’t Facebook anymore….

If I can find a way with code to make my posts cross post, that would be ideal. I know one or two of my regular readers might not make the jump to reading me outside of their normal blogosphere. 

Input?