Tag: poetry

Thought Stream: Buttercup

Writing online is a lot like shouting into the void most days.

You sit down, type, edit, start over at least once, ponder metaphors, pull up Thesaurus.com and wonder why you can’t think of synonyms for “call,” type more, look at Twitter, pretend to read through your work and hit publish. Your post gets 50 views. Your friends comment nice things. Your mom shares it onto her wall.

Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you hit a vein. People show your words to their friends. Hundreds of people leave comments. A poem you didn’t think anyone would relate to suddenly has 300,000+ notes. Strangers on the Internet nod their heads in agreement. You get to, for as long as you want to milk it, bask in the knowledge that you are a Good Writer. That maybe, just maybe, you weren’t coddled into thinking you were a writer or a poet. That you actually have skills and inherent talent. That you could sustain a living by writing. That maybe you could cobble together an collection of poems for publication.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work like that. You work for two days on a poem. You breach a painful dam in your chest and let yourself feel loss. You cry, head on the table in front of your computer, because things should have been different, things should have worked out. You write and re-write and edit and cry again and write and write. You push yourself into the crawlspace you’ve been avoiding, that realization you never wanted to see written out. And, terrified and proud, you publish it. It gets 16 notes, most of which are from close friends. Cue the panic that maybe you aren’t cut out for poetry. That your words are silly and cliché. That the metaphors you slaved over don’t even make sense. That you should have studied science and left your notebooks in your childhood closet to gather dust.

You pull it together. You wipe your nose. You absorb the hit, storing it away for a Later Meltdown and move on with your day.

***

I have a habit of repeating information about myself. People usually don’t remember things about me, so I add them into the conversations. Salt-and-pepper epithets to jog people’s memory of simple personal facts. Little answers to questions I got tired of hearing. Instead of answering the painful “Wait, where are you from?,” I simply beat them to the punch. I’m from Texas. I’m a writer. I’m a lefty.

I never really noticed it until two of my friends (Hi, Sparks and Nathan) poked fun at me for it. “Oh, you studied in Brussels?” “Wait, where do you work?” The painful (painfully funny?) part was that I didn’t realize they were mocking me. I thought they legitimately didn’t remember where I went abroad or that I worked downtown. Finally, after the 100th “I work at Chipotle,” Nathan laughed kindly and looked straight at me.

“Hanna, I know you work at Chipotle. I’m just kidding.”

***

I’m forever stuck between writing only when inspiration hits or writing every day as practice. Actually, let me rephrase. I want to write every day. To fling words out into the world and get better. But what actually happens is I sit down, can’t think off how to put my feelings into sentences, close down my document and go back to watching makeup tutorials on YouTube.

Imagine one of those Expectation/Reality scenes from “500 Days of Summer.” On the left is me publishing a collection of my writing, grinning next to my husband Matthew Gray Gubler (who fell in love after reading my poems online). On the right is me refreshing Twitter for the millionth time while trying to decide if I did anything remotely Instagram-worthy in the past few days.

I delete half of what I write. I don’t like half of what I publish. Most of my poems repeat themselves. The same phrases crop up time after time. They’re usually about a boy. I am always alone. It’s hard to put a pen to an exposed nerve, to talk that final step into recovering from a broken heart.

Why make yourself look sad and hopeless on the Internet time and time again when you could, you know…not? I could leave the writing to Andrea Gibson, to Shinji Moon, to anyone who isn’t me. I could stop trying to reconcile pain into poems.

But pain demands to be felt.

***

Today has been a weird day. I woke up angry, on the edge of a panic attack. I felt a misplaced shame for liking things that aren’t “cool.”  I felt ugly and too big and sad and exhausted. This happens to me every so often — the result of post-grad stress and wonky brain chemistry.

Every day I say that I hate writing. Today is no different. It’s okay to feel a little resentment toward the thing that keeps you alive, but makes you work for it. Writing is a solo act. It, by nature, isolates you. It makes you feel.

But I wasn’t alone. Leah texted me and assured me I was allowed to like whatever I wanted to like, regardless of rude people. Amelia reminded me that I am important no matter if I am lost or found. Jackson made me feel less weird about having a silly crush. My sister bought me tacos.

I put on some soft music and made myself write. I drank cold water. I let myself feel.

***

I learned (way more recently than I care to admit) that my voice is important. That I shouldn’t put up with bullshit from immature boys just for the attention of the male gaze. That people who don’t make me a priority in their lives should not be a priority in my life.  That love is everywhere I turn.

Every day I am reminded, with incredible clarity, that I am not in the same middle school setting which twisted my self-esteem so many years ago. My friends remember little things about me. They celebrate my accomplishments. They’re proud of me.

I learned that, despite every self-conscious anxiety-induced fear in my head, people listen when I speak.

That sunshine feels good. That it’s okay to lay in bed all day. That writing isn’t supposed to be easy.

So I shout into the void. I write apology letters with torn-up eviction notices. I throw poorly-folded paper airplane poems out of open office windows.

Sometimes, something sticks.
Sometimes, the void shouts back.

I am no longer invisible.

“Keep writing, kid.”

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A poem! And what poem would that be?

 I told myself (and y’all) I would learn to be brave and post more creative work on here, and I’ve been slacking. Here’s that poem I told you I wrote this weekend.

My Longest Love Affair by Hanna Jacunski

The grandmother in front of me calls out to a mop-top toddler.
She half-laughs the same nickname you gave me,
and everything stops for a heartbeat.

Just like that, I am in my room alone.
I was screaming underwater and you were timezones away,
playing music too loudly.
Crying cat-in-a-cage howls. Aching, desperate, hungry.

Just like that, I am beaming.
Holding my own ribs. Exploring my own skin.
A little sparrow preening because someone was proud of her
for making it through the night. Patient, new, open.

Just like that, I am dreaming about you.
A silly fantasy that you fit into, despite every worry otherwise.
A line of love threading year after year together. Warm, tired, constant.

The world jumps into orbit again. Mop-top and her grandmother
grab their bags of peaches and milk and eggs.
I trip forward and pay for my groceries.
You ebb at my ankles and then wash back to low-tide.

I’m okay now. I exist outside of your attention.
I stopped selling you for parts,
desperate to see you in the people around me.
They are their own chewed fingernails or half smiles or messy hair,
not yours.

I’m okay now. I don’t feel guilty when someone sleeps in my bed.
You don’t lurk in the corner of every sad song.
The aching went away with the wishes for reciprocity.

I’m okay now. The nickname is simply a serpent with good intentions.
The last puzzle piece pushed into place.
A key in a lock. The weight of two blankets in the dead of winter.

I’m okay now, bug.

 This piece means a lot to me, so please be kind. I’d love constructive criticism if you want to drop me a line. Also: these aren’t the original line breaks, but I had to edit the formatting a bit for WP specs.

Yoga Drought and Writer’s Block

Yoga gets me in my head a lot for an activity so focused on presence of mind and body. On Sunday afternoon, I went to practice for the first time since Alaska. My mom and I walked in two minutes before class started, giving us enough time to spread out mats out before a soft voice was asking us to take a seat and close our eyes.

I’ve always found that picking up yoga isn’t quite like riding a bike. There was no bobble of balance, no wind in my hair. My body moves with an ease and familiarity that I never quite expect. Flows feel second nature and breathing becomes intentional.  My heart centers and slows.

The aching I’ve been feeling for the past few days dissipated with each heart-center. Tired, weary muscles energized and came to life in every half-prayer twist, in every down dog. I moved with both instinct and intention as I sank into chair or warrior. I felt capable. I felt good.

A few years ago, I went to an early evening practice at the rec on campus. The sun was going down, and golden light poured into the quiet studio. Silhouetted against the mirrors, we stood in tree pose. I remember looking at myself to check my posture and realizing that I felt beautiful. Dressed in all black with leftover mascara, my hair pushed back with a soft headband, barefoot on my mat. Strong and still and surrounded by strangers.

For someone who has struggled her entire life with her body image, accidentally feeling pretty is enough to bring me to tears. There was no 20 minute makeup routine. There was no tugging at tops or fussing with jeans or changing into something that covers up more. I was not concerned with how others would interpret the jiggle in my arms. It was a singular freeing moment that I’ve been chasing down ever since.

Me practicing yoga is a lot like me writing poetry. I work really hard on it and then drop it for months. It stretches bits of me I didn’t realize were there. It usually helps keep my anxiety and depression at bay. I don’t know if I’m any good at it, but every time I do it, I want to go back for more.

I’ve been working on poems recently. Like, actively working. Like, sit-down-and-write-four-stanzas-and-rework-and-edit-and-write-more working. There’s a spoken word piece in the works, and I’ve been dabbling in flash fiction. I’m trying to embrace the struggle of creative writing. It’s nothing like blog posts. I can open up WordPress and dump my thoughts onto here with decidedly less effort. I type the way I talk and tell stories, without too much thought about meter or line breaks. Poetry, on the other hand, is much more labor intensive. And, for the same reason, much more cathartic.

I wrote one over the weekend that I’m actually really proud of, and I think I’m going to post it on here. There’s something so intensely gratifying in finishing a poem, especially when it’s been sitting in your drafts for days. I opened a vein I’ve been babying for months and worked out every drop of “I love you but.” It wore me out. It made me almost cry. I nearly trashed the whole thing, but the person I wrote it about read it and told me it was incredible.

When it was all said and done, I was left standing in the sun, feeling beautiful.

What I’ve been trying to say is that yoga and writing are the two things my soul is forever itching to do. It’s time to practice things that push us gently toward betterment. To work hard on understanding hard feelings. To letting pain give way to prayer and poems.

Here’s to strength of muscle and mind. Here’s to feeling beautiful.

“these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights”

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”

Maya Angelou died this week.

This woman whose words make me want to love my too-big body and dance with men I can’t stop calling beautiful. This woman with a voice like rocking chairs telling me to always say yes when someone asks for help. This woman who wanted nothing more than for little girls to never be afraid to dance.

I remember reading “Still I Rise” for the first time.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

I remember feeling like I was on the precipice of some sort of great feminist breakthrough within my own skin. That it’s okay if my thighs touch and it’s okay if I feel beautiful and it’s okay if it scares the men who scare me. That I was beautiful and should laugh in the face of anyone who told me otherwise.

When I saw her speak in 2012 at the Missouri Theatre, I cried twice while sitting in the audience. She was warm like honey and didn’t back down from tough memories and made me beam so much I thought my heart was going to explode. It was as if she was speaking directly to me. As if we were on chairs across from each other, talking about becoming rainbows in each other’s clouds.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I’ve never read a word written by her that hasn’t moved me, that hasn’t made me want to reach into the pages and hold her hand. She has fought for equality with an intensity and grace rarely seen before, and I cannot even put into words the amount she inspires me.

She is a larger-than-life voice and body and spirit and heart. She exists without apology or qualification — simply as a poet with something to say.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get down exactly why she makes me feel the way I do, but I will continue to write and write and write in hopes of discovering.

I am going to miss her as if she were a close friend, this magnificent regal wildfire of a woman.

I guess that’s what happens when you lose a rainbow in your cloud.

maya

The Road to Happy

I always joke that my backup job when I grow up is to be an inspirational speaker.

Fun fact: not totally joking.

I’ll tell you a secret — in high school, I was not like this. I was not a cheery little ray of sunshine all the time. I was run-down and overwhelmed and stretched entirely too thin to worry about anyone but me. I found more solace in being alone. I didn’t like this feeling at all, and I didn’t think I was doing anything to make people remember me.

At some point between graduating high school and starting college, in those three months of hiking a lot and kinda-but-not-really looking for a job, I discovered a love for quotes. Emerson, Mary Oliver, more Emerson. Bits of prose and poetry about living life to its fullest and finding love and finding yourself.

I now write down these kind of quotes as I find them and pin them onto my desk bulletin board or put them into picture frames in my living room.

Image

Because everyone needs a little pick-me-up every now and again, right?

It’s these quotes — telling me to go hike or to be kind or to take risks — that keep me humming. Is any of this making sense? My brain and my heart feel better when there are pretty words telling me like it is.

I’m going to end this rambling post here. (But comment with your favorite quote from a author or poet. Sharing is caring!)