I want to fall off the map. But anymore – is there a place unmapped? An unknown number called me yesterday and I plugged it into Facebook and there she was – my old landlord. She left a long 2 minute message of her breathing, clearly a butt dial, but why did she still have my phone number? And why is it so easy to find people you are no longer connected to? For the love, please don’t put your phone number on Facebook! How scary is that?!
I’m feeling some postpartum depression. Sounds ridiculous, but after 4 years of writing some of these poems (some are even from 6 or more years ago), I’m not sure where it leaves me now. I’m not sure what to do or what I want. I’m not sure where I’m going or why. When I moved here it was so clear, even the months leading to our exodus West. It was the goal. And now that we are here – what are we supposed to do? Where is the next fork? Where will we end up? Good lord, will I ever be settled anywhere? I have such wanderlust and no roots.
I’m worried about the manuscript. If it will mean anything to anyone except me. If it will even get anywhere. If it’s another first attempt to fall flat on its face. I’m also terrified that people will laugh at me for trying to write poetry.
What do I need to do for myself to feel internally legitimate? I mean fuck what everyone else says at the end of the day – what do I need to do for myself?

Anyway, I’m going forward anyway with the work which has to mean something. I realize there are always going to be people better than me. There are always going to be people worse than me and I will forever be stuck in the middle of something.

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8 Responses to Middle

  1. Ms. Moon says:

    No one but you on this earth can write YOUR poems.
    And if figure out how to be legitimate, let me know.

    • rachvb says:

      you don’t know either? Damn. I was hoping there was an easy answer instead of rewiring my brain of all self-perception.
      And thank you. You’re very right. I hope my brain absorbs this someday.

  2. LtoTheJ says:

    I think you’re already at the top because you strive to be there. So many people just float through life … live in the moment. Get caught in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day and forget to really and truly live. But you don’t just live, you CREATE. You’re always pushing yourself in pretty much every way you can and you’ve been that way for as long as I’ve known you! You’re the bees knees, my friend. ;(

    PS – MTB couldn’t have been butt dialing you bc she doesn’t wear pants! Does she even have a cellular telephone device? WEIRD!

    • rachvb says:

      I love you. And miss you. Thanks, dearest. I think you’re the bees knees too ;( Why do you live so far away from me?! Come closer!

      – it wasn’t MTB it was CATHY! Why does she still have my number?! That was like 5 years ago!

  3. Melissa Green says:

    Rachel dear, if you’ve written your poems as authentically as you can, you’ve already risen above the fray. As Ms. Moon so wisely points out, no one but you can write your poems. It’s a very big world out there, with a gazillion people posing as poets, bragging that they are poets, and some who actually are. There is a community of people to which you already belong, Rachel, they’re just not in the neighborhood or at work. It’s harder to hold onto. Leaving aside the fact of quality for the moment, you belong to a community of people who want to write, who love language, who wish to describe, define, dig down, climb mountains, do some spelunking of the heart. You’ve already been admitted to that group, Rachel, and you’ll never be shunned or tossed out of it. The fact of it is, we’re ALL in the middle, and comparisons only bring on migraine and angst. I hope that you will come to see that your poetry is marvelous because you worked damned hard at it–you didn’t just ‘express yourself’ to placate a wildly out of control ego. It isn’t about that for you. It is about creating, about making, about discovery, about lighting the dark corners. Already your work has lifted you up, and will no doubt lift others up too. Marylinn would call it a process—you don’t know what you are capable of yet, and won’t know that until you’ve typed your last period. You’re at the beginning of a wondrous journey, and it’s the traveling toward the horizon that is important. Your work will grow every time you write. You will learn from every book, every poem, every line, every new metaphor or idea. It’s all before you. Terrifying, your first book. You must be scared out of your wits. You can’t know yet how things will go for you, but as you learn to trust yourself, to half-quote Goethe, you will know how to live your life. Which means your writing. You’ve been very brave to write in the first place; you’ve been very brave to send the manuscript out, in the second place; and now you’re being very brave waiting for the replies to come back, in the third place. That already looks like success to me! Just remember to breathe!!

    Love, Melissa

    • rachvb says:

      From what beaming planet did you come from? Wow. Thank you. I needed that. And I think you’re amazing for having the energy to time and again pick my ass up when I’m feeling very pathetic. I remember someone telling me this should be the most exciting time in my writing career because I’m growing so quickly and learning so much and have so many places to go and it’s so hard to remember that when you’re scared off your ass – which I am most of the time. I think my own expectations are the root of my fear. I always want to be better which is hard to live with in the present moment. Always wanting to be better is something in the future for me. I need to reel it back in a little, I suppose. And I am better than I was, but not where I want to be. That must be pretty universal.
      I think that’s what I realized this morning – We are ALL in the middle of something – and I need to stop comparing myself to the other people who are ALSO in the middle of something. It’s maddening! I just need to work hard, trust myself and yes, breathe!
      You are wonderful and so supportive and a godsend. Thank you, Melissa.
      xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxo ….. xoxoxoxoxoxo … xo

  4. We ARE all in the middle of something, or on the fringe, or lost at sea in a not-visibly-reliable boat. We are all just simply here. I trust less and less the way a thing appears on the outside – an awful lot of people talk and dress the good game, leaving those of us whose seams always show feeling left behind. I give my attention to trying to understand the bigger picture, the real picture, the one in which our sense of bewilderment and inexpert living of life matter less than the moments we we show up and the words meet us. I think of it as learning to be the indulgent parent who smiles on any creative effort and unlearning the criticism that comes almost before the thoughts reach the page. How tiresome it would be to start out as the writers we want to be, for growing excites me. Doing something I never thought I could do excites me. There are still lots of people I’d like to be when I grow up. Mooshing them all together, I think I may get to be some version of it. Set your sights high, keep your heart soft. Melissa is right. I call it all a process. Go on with your brave self. xo

    • rachvb says:

      I don’t understand why people pretend to have everything together or don’t show their flaws or talk about them so readily. It’s not real! It just makes it harder for the rest of us who feel and know we are ridiculously flawed. Just own it! Stop acting like you have your shit together, you don’t! I used to think by 30, I’d have it all figured out – that’s what I believed when I was 15 years old because all these people in the media, all these adults appeared to know what they were doing. Now that I’m almost there, ha! Not even close, never will be. We change too much to ever have anything figured out.
      You’re absolutely right – how bored would I be if this weren’t challenging? I at least know that the poetic part of my life will never be dull. Thank you Thank you. Go on with your brave self too 😉 xoxoxo

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