Of the Icebox

Words about stuff and sometimes things

The problem with being directionless — July 12, 2019

The problem with being directionless

If you look at the date of my last post you might have thought this blog (or this blogger) had died. It’s been a long time, friends. I’ve spent much of the last few months consulting my Magic 8 Ball (Google), on important topics such as, ‘Is blogging dead?’ and ‘Does anyone read blogs anymore?’ and ‘Has Instagram replaced WordPress and Blogger?’

The answer to all of these questions, if you’re wondering, is as follows:

I’ve decided I might as well put aside my many doubts regarding if I’m wasting my time and what lies beyond the right swipe and start blogging again. I mean, really, so my cousin took me to prom. It doesn’t mean anything deeper.

In short, I’ve spent the last few months making much ado about nothing. If people are still reading blogs, some of them might eventually see this and if not, time will put my Google questions (and these words) to rest.

Another problem, for me at least, was that I had never clearly defined what this blog was intended to be and I thought that I had to. The first lesson in telling stories always includes limiting complexity. Complications are plot but complexity is confusing and disorienting.

Am I a lifestyle blog, a humor blog, a poetry blog, a rambling and wacky anecdote blog, a blog about dogs, a blog about food, a blog about binge-watching Japanese reality TV shows until both of our hearts are fluttering like teenage girls? The answer to this?

There’s another problem to take care of.

By being someone that is sometimes melancholic, sometimes funny, sometimes nonsensical (aka: human), I didn’t have a ‘brand’. I couldn’t market myself. And this, we are raised to believe in the blogosphere and social media-laden world, is what we must do if we ever want our words to be read. I couldn’t sell myself and mother always said ‘you have to sell yourself to make money, dear.’ Sorry, mom. You should have given me a bigger a$$.

Not to droll on indefinitely but I’ve decided to post what I want to post from now on and not worry if it doesn’t make sense or if it complicates my ‘brand’. Because let’s be real, I never had one to begin with. I had barely even begun when I had an identity crisis. I’ve decided to be more open about who I am and what I’m trying to do with my writing.

So here’s a start. A lot has changed in the last few months. I’ve moved back to the US from Australia and am now residing in Florida because I’ve gotta swing that vote, b!tches.

I’ve made the decision to focus on writing full-time. A decision, by the way, which I waffle on every other day like I’m Chick-fil-a trying to figure out my stance on being a corporate member of the 21st century.

Anyways, I’ve decided to try writing instead of pursuing yet another admin job that takes away from me being able to finish that next, mediocre American novel I’ve been working on for years. I’ve saved up a bit of money from my last over-committed job to be able to try this whole ‘living-the-dream like a Millennial’ thing (for a few months, at least). After that, I suppose I’ll have to revert to eating $0.50 ramen instead of $14 hipster ramen from the local chef who studied how to boil the perfect noodle in Tokyo for 3 years before being allowed to touch an egg.

In short, I guess you could say I’ve fought a lot of self-doubts and fear to get to the place where I could publish this post and consider eating $0.50 ramen again. I’m still fighting them.

I’m not sure what you will get when you follow this blog but I’m committed to posting regularly and will tell you when I’m spiraling into my next identity crisis so that you can take the necessary precautions and abandon ship before it’s too late.

I’m also not sure what I’m trying to sell to you but you can be sure that I’m trying to sell you something. Hopefully it’s the truth. Hopefully it’s my life, my reflections, my struggles and musings. And hopefully that’s enough to distract you, even if just for a few minutes, from the self-doubts and fears that are weighing you down. Because there’s only enough server space on this blog for one of our self-doubts and, goddammit, they’re going to be mine! And, also, hopefully all of this will be enough to pay my bills cause a gal in Florida needs A/C.

I want to be fearless, friends. I want to finish that novel I’ve been working on, then burying in the Cloud because I decided it wasn’t good enough to release to the world. I want to finish those spec scripts and submit applications for writing fellowships. I want to submit short stories for publication and make a real effort towards making this writing thing work because it’s the only thing I’ve ever truly loved (sorry husband and dog, hyperbole demands harsh truths be established). Maybe I’ll even apply for MFA programs despite the many warnings against following this course.

Honestly, I don’t know anything about the writing world that I want to be a part of and that scares me because I’ve already jumped off this bridge expecting to soar on the wings of my millennial optimism. Flotation device was not included. I guess it’s time to learn how to swim.

Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to meet a few people along the river that will be kind enough to teach me how to backstroke instead of doggy paddle. Maybe that person will be you. If it is, I humbly thank you in advance for your guidance and assure you there were no sexual connotations intended in that metaphor.

Onward and upwards, friends. As my hero says, Together We Can. That was either spoken by Michelle Obama or the Disney machine.

When the Face of Failure is a Flower — February 13, 2019

When the Face of Failure is a Flower

You were promised happiness. The salesman said he’d never seen an unsatisfied customer. Said any person would love your selection, 3 varieties of roses, 6 colors of daisies.

Flowers received. Flowers she said she never wanted because she didn’t want to have to watch them die. She didn’t want to be the one to bury them.

You were promised foolishness. You feasted on consumerist legends. You were convinced the woman was being disingenuous. Every woman protests but she secretly wants it.

She didn’t.

Someday you’ll learn to read the heart without a map. Until then, you’ll just have to learn to read the map.

The Oxford Comma Debate — June 13, 2018

The Oxford Comma Debate

Unless you’re Cindy Knoke, you might be wondering why I’m dedicating a whole post to Oxford commas and subjecting you to the onslaughts of my full-blown philosophical panic attack about this relatively minor conundrum of the English language which occupies a significant portion of my non-productive hours. There’s a very good reason for this which I will likely fail to address. But onwards and upwards, as they say.

If you have read my About page, you will know that I have confessed to having the occasional philosophical panic attack over coffee-shop bloggers [editor’s interjection: Stop trying to guilt me into buying organic, free-trade, naturally decaffeinated early gray and lay off the sea salt hair spray already–if I want a latte full of fatty milk that belongs to the slaughtered calf I ate for dinner last night, I’m gonna pay my $5 and have it, gosh dang it], and Santa Claus [I can’t even talk about this one or it’ll make me so hot and bothered I’ll never get to the point of this post], and, you guessed it, Oxford commas.

What is the Oxford Comma?

Whether you have a hazy idea of what the Oxford comma is and need a quick refresher or are as intimately familiar with this hairy language mole as I am, I strongly encourage you to resist the urge to pull out a dictionary or conduct a Google search and just sit back and take my word for it. I am, after all, the resident Oxford comma expert on this blog and while you are here, the rest of the contextual world doesn’t exist.

Side Note: The Oxford comma is not to be confused with the Oxford coma, a deep-seated fear that gripped the heart of the English nation for 3 1/2 years in the 1950’s and led to this guys commitment to practice contemplative non-blinking.

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Let’s stop evading and define this melanoma, shall we?

Stage 1. Defining the growth.

The Oxford comma is when you have 3 or more items in a list, and you decide instead of letting the final conjunction (usually the word ‘and’) stand in place of a comma as is its entire reason for existing, you’re going to go ahead and add a comma anyway just for the heck of it.

Some will try to argue that it’s not just for the heck of it. It’s actually for clarity. I would argue that clarity is overrated. Some will also argue that if you have need of an Oxford comma, your sentence is already weak and you should rewrite it rather than trying to ‘rescue’ it with the Oxford comma. I would argue that I don’t believe in eradicating weak sentences, just as I don’t believe in eradicating weak children. You may choose designer babies but my writing is all natural and edit-proof, just as God intended.

Stage 2. Research the Prognosis.

You can read some fabulous examples (and more fabulous comments) on this Grammarly article. These lovely tidbits talk about Lady Gaga & Humpty Dumpty’s love child. Then an all out war breaks out in the comments section which starts with slanderous claims of one person being a terrible writer for asking a ‘proper use’ question and another person being accused of being a ‘grammar nazi’ (ahem…my spellcheck says that’s grammar Nazi, friend) for asserting a strong preference for the Oxford comma. It ends with the collective smelling of cheese and grass, as all good wars do.

I had prepared an example but I’ve lost all motivation to go on. The war was long. The cheese was aged. It was a good example too. It was about the size of the fourth dimension, ballerinas and Brad Pitt’s penis.

Or was it about the size of the fourth dimension, ballerinas, and Brad Pitt’s penis? You see here, I trust, the confusion I’ve created.

Was I talking about the size of ballerinas and the size of Brad Pitt’s penis in addition to the size of the fourth dimension? Or perhaps I was talking about Brad Pitt’s penis in relation to ballerinas, a separate topic of conversation entirely from the size of the fourth dimension. All distinct possibilities, friends. How many topics of conversation were there? Was it 2, 3, even 4? Was it as limitless as the dimensions we’re surrounded by? The world will never know.

Stage 3. Understand the origins.

Maybe you think this whole debate is an elaborate hazing ritual started by these dancing Oxford boys because it’s no longer enough for the elite to haze themselves. They must now haze all of us too.

source

And maybe if you’re not bound by a style guide at school or work, it ultimately just comes down to personal style. But if it is just personal style, which is more stylish? Because let’s face it, I need to be ‘on trend’ if I’m going to be successful at this writing thing.

Stage 4. Embrace your inevitable fate.

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On the one hand, I could be loose like an American poet who embraces, nay delights in, the grey area of interpretation between the size of the fourth dimension, ballerinas and Brad Pitt’s penis. Heck, in this world, my ambiguous reference to Brad Pitt’s penis in relation to ballerinas shrinking waistline and the invisible fourth dimension was more than intentional. It was art.

On the other hand, maybe you care about context. Maybe you think that clarity must always win. Maybe you drink tea with your pinky up and insist on using an Oxford comma even when it isn’t necessary for clarity, just to make a point.

Maybe we will never agree with one another on this point (the we I refer to being the two severed halves of myself). Maybe I will continue to waffle between embracing and rejecting the Oxford comma for all my days, spreading mass confusion and being judged for my failure to master any individual style throughout all my writing. Because we all know mastering is just another word for ownership and I don’t want to own the Oxford comma.

End Stage. Stopping treatment.

I hope now that we’ve come to the end, if nothing else, I’ve successfully passed on my philosophical panic attack to you. I ask that you take up the torch and extinguish my fire because I’m tired of carrying it. It’s time for me to #Brexit from this conversation. Until next time.

When happiness is a tree, you feed it to your children — June 3, 2018

When happiness is a tree, you feed it to your children

One day, you’ll realize that you’re not born with an allotted amount of happiness, that you can keep stretching it, keep growing it, keep pushing the limits of conceivable joy until you understand.

When you realize that the price of happiness is patience, you’ll plant a tree to watch it grow. You’ll count the rings, the branches; one year, you’ll even try to count the leaves. You’ll see limbs overtaken by tiny insects. You’ll see the tree expel a branch to save the trunk. You’ll climb up, sit beneath, walk around the seasons and at some point, after 30 years, you’ll realize deep in your bones the appeal of cyclical timelines. You’ll love every season, even the barren Winter because you could use a rest and the tree grants you permission.

You’ll dance when you learn the roots are growing into your foundation. You’ll cry when the doors start sticking. You’ll stand dumbstruck when a lightening storm breaks a branch over the roof of your car. Even more dumbstruck when your kid drives into the tree — a learner’s mistake—leaving behind a barely perceptible tilt that it never cared to correct. But still, you trust it to support your grandchildren through stories so wild your ageing mind struggles to jump from myth to myth. You trust it remain patient enough not to collapse into your house until you’re done using it.

And at last you’ve learned the secret to happiness, you’ve earned the right to claim it. So when your daughter decides to throw her failed attempts away, you drive her to the arboretum and you tell her that lasting happiness is never stumbled upon, it’s been built out of all the days you waited, out of all the days you sat in the driveway and decided to return. And when she rolls her eyes and curls against the door, you get out, buy an oak tree and tie it to the roof. One day, she’ll understand.

Destinations made of tin — June 1, 2018

Destinations made of tin

I watched as words strangled. I listened as nights buried. I walked every route back to you but I was always a visitor. Forget the journey, it’s the destination I’m afraid of.

When they say it’s not about the destination, they’re trying to tell you that if there is such a thing as destination, they have never found it. They’re trying to tell you that you will spend your life walking, that stopping to take in the scenery sometimes includes building a house, that building a house sometimes includes pacing empty halls.

To house your sorrows, I have walked. To escape my own, I have built a house from dreams that hardened into corrugated tin sheets. Not my own, these dreams. Not yours either.

 

Don’t Call Her No Tramp — May 29, 2018

Don’t Call Her No Tramp

In appreciation of bad-ass women who sometimes have to wear big-ass British hats.

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The indomitable, incomparable Ms Betty Davis. I don’t introduce her (despite what that past sentence may indicate) because a woman like this introduces herself.

betty_davis-revised1

I have a new standard to decide if my life decisions are worthy. I simply think, “Would I shock Betty Davis?”

If the answer is no, I go back to the drawing board. If the answer is yes, I check with the hubby just to make sure I’m not about to do something that he would leave me for, then I proceed.

All of which is to say, I’m the proud owner of this garden as of 2 minutes ago (thanks Etsy):

giphy

#BAMF (had to Google that just to make sure it meant what I thought it meant. Urban Dictionary says yes.)

 

Nip the Bud, Shoot the Kid — May 24, 2018

Nip the Bud, Shoot the Kid

Woman things happen to me and I speak of them and they call me a feminist.

Woman things happen to me and I don’t speak of them and they call me strong.

Some woman things:
bleeding,
learning to fear the night,
learning to hear the whispers,
writing in emotions.

Resistance is for feminists,
speaking is for feminists,
writing is for men’s education,
women’s edification.

To be identified is to be empowered, to self-identify is to debase, devalue, deflower.

I have been deflowered, little girl, I asked him to nip the bud of the flower.

Some girl things:
bleeding,
learning to fear the night,
learning to hear the whispers,
writing in emotions.

I am not a dirty feminist. I am not a clean woman, that is, a man

with the addition of two letters. Fuck, me-

n are more than the subtraction of two,
more than tools for staunching, more than fearless nights,

more than the roar of the whispers, the erasing of the voice
of emotions. I am not a cunt, bitch, douche container of womanhood waiting
to be expressed, raw sentiments waiting for a close shave, a hipster beard.
A loud quiet loud person once said it is brave to speak up, wise to sit down.

Bliss is living without doors — May 23, 2018

Bliss is living without doors

Let us live as if it were clear
Even if we do not know what clarity is,
Even if our clarity is thick
With sounds that don’t know how to stop
Occupying space, let us cease wearing ponchos.
I want to become bloated absorbing the clouds.
And if the sun shines for you
No brighter than the moon, let us drink
Of its craters, become the pores
Of its ancient rivers, fill our hearts
With a primitive devotion
And not feel less for our chosen ignorance.

When I am silent — May 20, 2018

When I am silent

And you ask me where I am,

There is a red umbrella and a green raincoat and a naked sky and I walk inside these boots that never understood breaking in as a process and I keep asking myself if I am too full or too empty but I can’t ever tell.

And you ask me where I am,

There is a ball of letters and a history of abusive suffixes and I mention your name sometimes as a swear word and sometimes in sentimental revelation and I keep asking myself if you are too good or not good enough but I never have been certain.

And you ask me where I am,

There is a fuck you for anyone who claims they have figured me out and a fuck me for anyone who has and future disdain for a past self that required impulse purchases and self-help books to understand happiness and I keep asking myself if I have become a stagnant pool of grievances or if I have just begun to heal but I never can tell.

And you ask me where I am,

There is a small glass of tea and a large puddle of sugared love and my mind is dancing on the barstools because the tables were unsteady and I keep asking myself if others think I am strong or if they think I am insecure or if they don’t think towards me at all but I’ll never know for certain.

When I am silent and you ask me where I am, I smile politely as though you are a stranger, I grip your hand as though you are a confidant and I look away as though I belong to myself. It’s all very civil.

 

Lessons from a Pharmaceutical Rat — May 10, 2018

Lessons from a Pharmaceutical Rat

Your sanity tied l(   ) s ely in a bow

How does it make.you feel to know

You are les s powerful than a dru g

Less real than a b ump on the head

That the .self. you. identified. with

Does not identify with you? Crank

Or tighten life’s screws dis lo d g e

The pi.ec.es. that holdyoutogether

Ooze. ( )pen this fragile existence

F-r the dis com bob ulat ed spectator

Keep askingwhy it makes youfeel

Prickly.The shrink wants to know

Your aptitude presupposes zealous

Tendencies. You like the straight-

Lines with power to secure a .self

Dis-joint-ed in its inherent be-ing.

Is a broke-n identity hazardous? I

Want to know, Iwanttoknow, I wan

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