Category Archives: Sorting It Out

Back Again, So Soon?

So.. let’s see. My last two visits to Telluride were from Oct 27 – Nov 10, and then Dec 14&15. And I’m back already — again, for just one night — and I’ll be back again, each of the next four Wednesdays : Feb 8, 15, 22; and March 1st. What gives with seven visits, one of them being for two weeks, within roughly a four-month period?

Well, things have turned out thataway. December’s Talking Gourds was rescheduled for when I could make it, and with a poet I wanted to see, and also on my birthday. Hard not to feel the Universe was in my corner. And this current weekly surge is due to a workshop put on by beloved poet and friend. Since my New Year’s resolution (Ick!) was to bring my writing more to the forefront, this is one of those steps in that direction.

But, then, a question remains: Why do I keep returning here, anyway? Well,… here I go…

The reasons are legion, and I may not even be aware of them all, but to put it succinctly, because coming here is good for me. The beauty, the smallness and quietness, that I’ve become familiar with the place (and also in no small part, familiar to the place and some of its people), and that it’s a place I know where I can escape to are some of the specific reasons I persist in returning. Too, it’s far enough away (four to four and a half hours) that I’m not able to constantly come here (It requires a commitment to come.), yet it’s close enough that it’s not huge burden getting here. As the Little Bear would say, “It’s just right!”

That said, I do love where I live, and am grateful for being able to continue living there. As much as I also love Telluride, whenever I’m here, the very fact that I’m here means I’ve stepped away from day-to-day life — I’ve no commitments, no work schedule, or nearly all the other things that come with a life that keep you from being able to do (pretty much) whatever you want whenever you want. As Gus McCrae tells Lori, in Lonesome Dove, “Even in San Francisco, life is still life.” If I were to move to Telluride, I’d also have to bring all the rest that comes with my life, which I’m currently able to leave at home precisely because Telluride isn’t home.

Anyhoo. As I said, I’ll be returning each of the next four Wednesdays.

And, each Thursday, I’ll be returning home.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Inspiration, re: Writing, Sorting It Out

Slip Sliding Away

This is gonna be a bit embarrassing, and I’m gonna feel a fair bit of shame in posting this blog; but those very-same reasons of embarrassment and shame are why I need to go through with this posting.

Last night I did something I’d never done, by calling a suicide crisis hotline. I wasn’t planning any harm to myself, but I was very clearly and definitely gaining ground in that scary direction. (The past two days at work had been brutal and crazy-making, and I wasn’t recovering.) In typical Ed fashion, I put-off calling, and was hesitant about following through when I did finally make the call. In fact, when the counselor answered, I immediately began apologizing, saying I wasn’t sure the reason I was calling was a proper and intended reason to be calling. Well, if it wasn’t he never said so, didn’t hang-up on me. Instead, as these things are meant to happen, when our conversation ended, some twenty minutes later, I was feeling sturdier and stronger, as though a weight had been removed from my chest.

Now, I wouldn’t be bringing this up if this were an isolated, singular incident; but it isn’t. Just a month ago, I was stuck flat-on-my-back in my Telluride hotel bed, slipping down the chute that leads to suicide. Once again, I had to fight a LOT of inertia and vulnerable pride to email my sister, and also a friend who lives in the suburbs of Telluride, telling them of my plight. I’ve been raised hard-fast and hard-wired to not be any kind of burden to anyone. I’ve been thoroughly taught to, “stay out of the way.” And, hey, I’m a southern man. I either suck it up, walk it off, or cowboy up—I certainly don’t give any notice of being anything other than full-bore, gun-ho, able-bodied, and ready.

As these things happen, my friend and I had already scheduled to meet for a short walk, the very next morning; and my sister, two states away, emailed me, encouraging me to hang in there; and she called me the next evening.

I still have three more shifts at work, this week. I’m currently not feeling as sturdy and strong this morning as when I went to bed. Therefore, my fight to stay in the light isn’t over. But, too, the darkness has yet to fully overcome the light. And I have allies; I’m not alone in this fight.

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By the way, here’s the crisis line number, always there, 24/7, whatever the reason—if you feel you might want to, that’s reason enough to call ’em: (719) 539-6502.

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Filed under Fighting Toward the Light, Not Alone, Sorting It Out, Suicide

Eight Days of Telluride

I’ve check out of my hotel room, packed everything into the van. After eight full days, it’s come time to leave Telluride and return back home to Salida, and all that goes with that. I’m not wanting to leave. It hasn’t seemed like eight full days. So what else is new?

Downtown Telluride, last Thursday afternoon, Oct 8th.

Downtown Telluride, last Thursday afternoon, Oct 8th.

And what else is also new in that I didn’t get accomplished pretty much any of the plans I’d made? But perhaps what I needed, more than anything I had planned, was simply to rest. As it turned out, I spent three of my days lying in-bed, watching X Factor and America’s/Britain’s Got Talent videos on my laptop; and on one of those days, I never left the hotel room at all—no shopping, no eating out, no anything.

One of the things I came here for was to take one of my periodic looks at my current life, and see what needs changing, and how I can go about effecting such change. I didn’t get, perhaps, as much of that done as I’d wished, but I did gain some significant ground in that direction. However, come 5AM, tomorrow, I’ll be back at work, back at the grind. What seems doable while you’re away from work, away from the usual tugs and obligations of your everyday life can suddenly seem ridiculous once you’ve returned to regular life.

But the time I spend in Telluride has a way of staying with me. And I did get a few decent walks done, two of them with an incredible woman that I’ve been graciously blest to have in my life. She and I seem incapable of having superficial conversations. Our talks always hit immediately into the essential core of what’s going one with one another. These, too, linger with me for weeks, months, years afterward.

Go figure, I’m already planning and scheming my return.

The labyrinth at Christ Presbyterian Church.

The labyrinth at Christ Presbyterian Church.

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What am I Doing Here?

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i’m currently at a weekend-long poetry workshop and retreat, in Breckenridge, about an hour and a half from where I live. Mucho months ago, Wendy Videlock invited me. I’ve known Wendy for about two years, and although we’ve actually met just once before, we’ve kinda kept up via Facebook and the poets’ grapevine.

I arrived here, yesterday early-evening. Just a handful of folks had arrived already. Many (most?) of us are staying at a lodge that’s a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). Wendy and Laurie James (who lives roughly just a mile from me) greeted and hugged me when I stepped outta the van. As more folks started arriving, I began wondering what I’d gotten myself into, agreeing to this workshop with who knows how many other people, and being jammed-in with twentysome strangers in a suddenly-not-really-all-that-huge lodge. I feared I was about to enter introvert overload.

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This first morning has been quiet and calm. Seems the majority of folks are night owls, whereas I’m an early riser. Fortunately, there was enough dawning light coming through the window that I was to be quietly active without (I hope) waking anybody. It’s being an overcast day, and we’ve had a bit of drizzle. On paper, the day’s schedule is packed. However, in practice, it’s being relaxed and open. My introversion is being nurtured, rather than assailed.

But, there’s this, and it isn’t something new: I’m looking around wondering, in a different sense, what I’m doing here. Because I’ve placed so much crap onto the notion, I’ve pretty much forbidden myself from using “belonging” in reference to myself and my place in things. But nonetheless, I’m at it again. With the likes of (what seems to me, correctly or not) the majority of folks here being published poets, and many with award-winning, or at least nearly-so, books, what am I, unpublished poet, and scarcely-so writer, doing here, hobnobbing with the likes of say, Valerie Szarek, whose most recent work is a Finalist for this year’s Colorado Authors’ League, Book of the Year; Rachel Kellum, whose, ah, is highly-regarded; and also Wendy Videlock, who’ll be in this year’s Best American Poetry, and Laurie James who is considered an Elder in the tribe?

One of the many reasons I’ve placed myself on hiatus in using, “belonging,” is because I’ve placed something of an unattainable extremism upon it—likely coming from my dad only being happy with me if, “you’ve done your best.” (What is, “best,” anyway? Couldn’t you have always done a little more, a little better?) What was my best was, itself, an unattainable extreme. But it’s still somewhat the ruler I measure myself by. So, amid such successful poets, such _actual_ ones, what the hell am I doing, thinking I’m worthy of hanging out with ’em, thinking I’m anywhere in the same league?

Well, one reason just might be because they’ve accepted me as, “one of us.” And one them, Wendy, did make a point of inviting, after all. If I hold these people as being higher than myself, then doesn’t it also hold that their perceptions might hold more weight than mine? Maybe. But, rather, I think it’s moreso the case that what they think and perceive simply, intrinsically, matters—period, never mind whether they’re “higher” poets/people than I. What they say matters too. I don’t have the sole and final word regarding who and what I am.

So, what am I doing here? I’m honoring an endeared one, Wendy, who asked me to come. I’m following through with what I wish my life to become: more writing-centered. I’m rubbing elbows with others of my tribe, some of whom, like Rachel Kellum and Valerie Szarek, make my jaw drop in humbleness when they act as though I’m their equal. And perhaps the biggest thing I’m doing here is stretching my comfort zone of my own perception(s) of who I am, and whom I can become.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer, Sorting It Out

Fiction Rising?

Back when I first got the notion to become a writer, it was short stories that I wanted to write, more that essays. So, that’s what I concentrated on most. However, as my writing life played itself out, it was my essays—and later, my book reviews—that received publication; although two of my stories did each make Honorable Mention.  After a couple decades of what felt to me to be failure, or at least, falling short, I decided to focus on what was working, essays and reviews. Roughly about the same time, poetry was becoming a rising star, thus pulling me further still from fiction writing.

Well, I’m thinking my fiction writing may not have been all the way gone, after all. Just a few days ago, I came across a book I’d feared I’d jettisoned, having probably included it among one of my many boxes of books contributed across the years to our library’s semi-annual used book sales: Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich. Too, I’ve had some time away from writing fiction, and I’m thinking I may have achieved enough distance from where I once approached doing it, that I might now be able to circumvent what had been my fatal flaw: not allowing my characters to struggle and suffer. Too, I’ve been getting the itch again to tell made-up stories.

All this said, my reading of such, shorts and novels, has been comparatively dismal, last year or two. I still subscribe to no fewer than four literary ‘zines, as well as New Yorker—solely for it’s short stories. Lately, I’ve gotten further behind in my readings than ever. So I guess it’s possible that’s it’s merely the idea, the image of writing fiction that I’m feeling drawn to. Won’t know until I take pen-in-hand, and see.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, recently-appointed Western Slope Poet Laureate, pointing the way.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, recently-appointed Western Slope Poet Laureate, pointing the way.

In other news, my esteemed poetry colleague, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, was recently appointed Western Slope Poet Laureate. Here’s the best link I could find, although you’ll have to scroll down a skosh to get the actual announcement.

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Filed under Changing Perspective, Sorting It Out, Staying With the Writing

This and That

Well, I’d planned on posting, Thursday, getting back into the swing of doing so every Thursday. Didn’t happen then, but here I am now. Reckon I’m still more en-fogged than I thought.

Last Tuesday, apart from being St Patrick’s Day, was also the release date for two books by one of my favorite poets, Jane Hirshfield: The Beauty: poems, and, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. I ordered these, over a month ago, from our local independent bookstore; and they arrived, Thursday. I haven’t had a chance to do more than flip through ‘em, so far. Perhaps next blogpost, Thursday?, I’ll have something to say about them.

Meanwhile, spring has sprung, and the weather’s warming up. As usual, I’m not ready to relinquish winter. This particular one started off strongly, but petered out too soon. (Even folks who don’t like winter were commenting, asking what’d happened.) We had huge dumps of snow, early on, and deep sub-freezing (and sub-zero) temps; but midway through December, it became more like autumn. Most of February had shirtsleeve afternoons. As much as I hate saying goodbye to winter, it does mean I’ll soon be able to plant my beloved sunflowers.

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Telluride is having their 2nd Annual Literary Arts Festival, May 15-17. I missed being able to go, last year, and (alas) I won’t be able to make it this year, due to getting clobbered by tax payments. Here’s hoping third time will be a charm, come next year.

That’s pretty much it. No theme. No ponderings. But, still, a post. A “something.”

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Filed under Inspiration, re: Writing, Sorting It Out

Outta the Fog(?)

It’s been a month since I last posted. When the Thursday after my last post came, I was feeling kinda forsaken and forgotten, wondering whether I’d be missed, so I didn’t post. Pretty much the same thing, the following Thursday. And after that it became a combination of broken habit and feeling I’d nothing to say.

All this is but one outer manifestation of where I’ve been, moodwise. Not that I was in a bad place, but it wasn’t a good one, either. A dull disinterest, a just going through the motions. A being there without “being” there. We all go through such spells, I’ve been told; and I may be more susceptible than most. For what it’s worth, it does seem that I am coming outta the fog. (After all, lookit: a blogpost.)

I don’t know what got me started into the fog, just as I’m uncertain how I began making my way out. Again, this happens, and (I guess) it was my turn. Maybe both times.

Yeah, some of it was certainly vicious cycling. And, too, a smidge of self-fulling prophecy. I believed no one cared about, was paying attention to, what I wrote, so I stopped the writing, and when no one said anything, I took it as proof of my writing not mattering. (Again, “it happens to everybody.”)

Sometimes you do indeed have to “fake it until you can make it.” Or, rather, fake it so that you can make it. Forcing yourself to take that first step, and maybe no insignificant number of the following steps, gets you to where you’re walking without any assistance. (I hate these sorts of platitudes, and it bothers me further that they’ve wound up being true, but they’re what I have, so here they are.) The small, simple things—like forcing myself to get out and walk to the river (two whole blocks!), and spend some time there; sitting in front of the notepad or laptop and writing something, even if it’s “just” puttering for no more than fifteen minutes—have maybe loosened and opened me enough to get out of the puny vortex holding me in-place. Have gotten me to begin doing the very things that override the whispering pesky nattering doomsayers in my head.

This morning, I put the finishing touches on a book review, and also wrote down some thoughts that might cause two or who know how many other writings to come forth. And the wonderful thing is I had to force neither of these. There was this tickling inside, and I heeded it.

By the way, the end-of-street mountains, this morning:

What's visible of the Sawatch Range, this ides of March 2015 morning, from the middle of my street, in front of my front door.

What’s visible of the Sawatch Range, this ides of March 2015 morning, from the middle of my street, in front of my front door.

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Filed under Sorting It Out, Staying With the Writing