One student wrote that a girl he was in love with had “eight million pairs of feet.” I complimented the line because it was strange and then later, he changed it to eight billion pairs. Even more impressive.
The next day at night, I ate dinner in a house big enough to get lost in: stone walls, smooth floors, plenty of books and windows. The stairs inside the home were wooden and had these little grooves in them, and if no one had been walking up them with me, I would’ve stooped down to run my fingers over them. I wanted to know if they were smooth, like the floor was, or if they’d give me splinters.
We sat outside at sunset, sipping wine on the terrace (yes, TERRACE). I listened to other writers talk about students, Italy, tomatoes, politics. Everyone there was definitely out of my league so I tried to lean back some more, listening and watching as orange went purple then blue then black and then I mentioned, a bit tipsy now, that I liked rocks.
One of the guys asked me what made a rock a good one; I told him my favorite one was out in the car and then brought it in with me before the evening ended. My mom had scooped the rock out of a river in Kentucky, I told them, context that added even more value.
We were drinking homemade limoncello at the table while everyone passed the rock around, many magical pairs of hands – writers’ hands – bringing the rock close to candlelight so they could get a better look at it. I watched them looking at the rock sometimes and then watched the city other times, Birmingham’s lights burning brighter in the darkness.
I knew the limoncello was too strong for me so I took a few sips and left the rest sitting there, a syrupy yellow-orange looking heavy in its clear, tiny glass. Just the smell of it (I sniffed it a few times, trying to understand it) traveled all the way down to my ribs, making them warm and tingly, more relaxed.
I recently decided to end the blog because (see here but note that the post is now pw-protected, meaning you’ll have to request access), but after several folks reached out to me saying they missed it, I had to admit that I missed it too. Why?
A. Writing routines matter. They keep your senses keen and make your language sharper and clearer — more concise and colorful and interesting.
B. Sharing my experiences connects me with people and works like therapy, helping me unpack and navigate through everything so that I can work WITH (instead of ignore or deny) my depression.
Because it isn’t the worst thing in the world, you know. Depression is just another aspect, layer, or characteristic of a person; one of many other things, although it is a more intense thing…
Depression demands honesty and requires a great deal of unraveling, and writing is how I communicate with and “untangle” my depression. It’s different for everyone, but I prefer writing to pharm-drugs and paid therapy sessions — for now, at least, it’s working.
So I’m not done writing. That’s the short version of the story.
Re: the longer version, let it suffice to say that I’m doing things a bit differently now, moving forward, with a mind to make things better for everyone.
Highlighting blog changes A, B, and C below in case you’d like to know about ’em.
A as in Adventure: EXPECT MAS PICTURES!
A few things have inspired me to get back into shooting photos recently and one of them was working w/creative writing students two weeks ago (remember the eight billion pairs of feet?). My internship adviser told me that, while I was teaching, I could bring in props, take the kids outside… whatever I wanted.
Well while preparing for my brief hour with students, I remembered two pictures hanging in my living room: cool shots I’d taken of Colorado and New York. I thought they might make for interesting writing prompts.
And they did! The kids were super into it. I lugged the pictures into the honors house that Thursday morning (it was warm and windy out), propped them up against the whiteboard, and then asked everyone to pick one picture to write about. Several students left their seats so they could stand close to the pictures, some of them bringing their notebooks with them.
We wrote about that single picture three times: in a melancholy mood, a romantic mood, and a humorous mood… trying to see the scene differently, to re-imagine it, by simply changing its atmosphere: lighting, language, tone.
Afterwards, we revised our favorite paragraph (the sad one, funny one, or romantic one) and then reduced that revised paragraph down to just one sentence that conveyed the “message” or feeling or small bit of humanity that mattered to us most as writers… that delivered the precise thing we wanted to convey.
I chose the picture on the right — the one of the Jewish girl. I’ve wondered about her (here and there) over the past nine years and when I gave students an example of cutting their paragraphs, this is what I wrote up on the board because this is what I believe about her: She felt something shift. In a way, without knowing her name or ANYTHING about her, she’s always felt like a sort of soul sister to me, and I genuinely believe that her soul shifted a little that day, turning inside her… I think it was very important for her.
Anyways, after students shared paragraphs and lines and we all said goodbye, I began packing up. Just as I was heading out the door, my adviser said I was a good photographer. It caught me off guard.
I don’t know how much she thought about it before saying it, but I thought about it a lot afterwards. And when I brought the pictures home with me that evening my best friend complimented them too, saying they were good, really good. I was surprised again and I couldn’t put it down, that feeling.
I hadn’t featured the pictures in hopes of receiving compliments and I hadn’t even presented myself as a REAL photographer because a. my equipment is a decade old now and b. I don’t even know how to take a good shot in the dark, but revisiting these old pictures and noticing the reactions of other people to my pictures (Tina called them evocative) reminded me of how much I enjoy taking shots.
So I’ll be sharing more pics on the blog… AND POEMS! I wrote a poem this week about how the washer being broken was making me depressed — it’s called lines.
the washer is broken and so am i
filled to full, above the line
FILLED with water — i tried, it tried
but we held too much above our lines
when water slipped under the things on the floor
it warped through some and mildewed more
and the clothes still sopping inside the machine
were too wet to dry or put on things
if hung outside the dogs would take them
tear and bury and burn and break them
and if left inside the gone machine
they’d end themselves for bottles of bleach
the washer is broken and so am i
water still rising above the line
a handyman’s coming, we’re going outside
down the road, along the lines
B as in Bunny: I’m going incognito, and by that I mean I’m going to disguise characters better than ever. You thought Captain Kangaroo was a clever cover? Ha! Just wait…
For real though, one of my biggest concerns w/the blog before was trying to write about my life and share my truth without compromising the privacy of others or making anyone I knew feel uncomfortable. Going to get more creative w/this and lock certain posts down to where they are, like the most recent one, password-protected…
And I want to set clear expectations right now: If you’re a coworker, I won’t be able to share the password (for these particular posts) with you… sorry, it’s out of my hands. But I’ll try to keep things vague slash “safe” enough that password-protecting isn’t often necessary.
C as in Careful: I’m not going to talk about old things, things that get me in trouble. I’ll leave it at that bc, post-ego death, I’m trying to be kinder and classier than ever…
But to be clear, let the vinyl record play that I don’t give a pirate ship who is or isn’t reading this — who does or doesn’t care if I’m doing alright. I know how I’m doing and I’m doing this for me now, meaning you can quit worrying about all that. And that’s just a general PSA.
Interesting little tidbit (and then I’m signing off FOR NOW): Before re-activating this website, two friends and I came up with the following alt blog names:
- aunaqui2.com (soooooooo lame! ❤ it)
- aunafuckingqui.com (HA)
- stillhere.com (domain = taken… really liked this one)
They’re cool and fun but I was (and am) too attached to the OG to deviate. I also didn’t want to pretend that erasing one’s history – mistakes, whatever – could be as simple as changing a URL. I believe in redeeming yourself by changing yourself and that you can change best when you forget nothing and learn from everything.
And that reminds me of something interesting I learned about myself very recently: I write it all down because I want to know more and I’m afraid I won’t remember. By that I mean, when I write something down, I know I won’t forget it, so I can then let it go and experience the next thing… over and over and over. It’s a routine. And to a significant degree, one almost as heavily weighted as Tycho, it keeps me here.