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-nfusions of me

July 2, 2016

Mid-June, I began 45 days of reflection.

I’m reading less, and thinking more.

I check in with Twitter, occasionally — briefly! — to see what’s going on in the world. I don’t engage with people I know.

I’m working on a project to number all my poems. All the ones I can find, going as far back as I can. Doing so is showing me elements and themes I hadn’t noticed before. I’m getting a sense of my life as a whole.

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There are things I want to write about that aren’t me. It feels like, to do so, I have to “clear out” a bunch of stopped-up feelings and thought patterns that no longer work. (If they ever did work.)

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If I don’t write about me, as far as I can tell, (a recognizable-to-me) I does not exist anywhere. I don’t think anyone in my extended family of origin is a (creative) writer, but if they were, they wouldn’t write about me. No one would write about me. I’m the weirdo anomaly. I’m the puzzle piece that doesn’t fit. I’m the annoying exception to things thought to be understood.

I read a lot of books… partly to find descriptions of people or situations that seem to resemble me. It’s the closest I can find to seeing myself in print.

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When I was in contact with family members, on the very rare occasions that I received a letter, it generally did not mention me in any way. They didn’t ask me questions about my life; they didn’t offer opinions on things I told them about. Their letter could’ve gone to anyone.

I keep writing poems about how no one knows me. Then I feel like I’m a narcissist, like I’m being self-indulgent — which is of course the worst thing a person could be. What could be more truly terrible than to “treat with excessive leniency, generosity or consideration” my self? Reprehensible! Undeserved! Embarrassing!

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Is it possible it’s taking me sssooo lllooooooonnnngggg to make progress on excising myself from my writing… because that’s the wrong goal? Because that’s an impossible goal?

Because that would destroy the kind of writing I do?

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A week ago, pondering something I’d written to a penpal {the SFF writer I wish I could write like}, I actually thought deeply about the premise {me, writing (SFF) fiction}. And realized it wasn’t true. I don’t think in stories. I don’t want to write about imaginary worlds. I can’t spare the brainpower that would be required for verisimilitude. I don’t really care about any worlds but this one. The one that I’m in, but that I don’t seem to share with anyone (because when other people write about the world they’re in, I don’t recognize it).

Why write about a world only I’m in? Who would want to read that?

Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m definitely not the only being in the world that I live in! It’s filled with trees and critters and rivers and mountains. Waterbears and earthworms. Salamanders, skinks, and water snakes. Slime molds! Sycamores and sassafras and sweetgum. Butterflies and bumblebees and barn swallows. There are millions and millions of organisms in this world with me.

Mostly the people I know, though, only write about other human beings. (Occasionally, a pet cat or dog.) Doing things that make no sense to me. Doing things I would never do.

I’m missing something, but I don’t know what.

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Coffee break.

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Yesterday, I compared Spouse’s almost-prehensile toes to those of a loris, aye-aye, or tarsier. It became clear he’d never heard of any of those critters. I really lost him when I (aloud) imagined a version of him hanging from a tree with his toes.

As a kid, I “collected” learning about animals. Excepting biologists, I not only know the names of, but might recognize on sight, more animals than most people probably have ever heard of. I’m nowhere as skilled as a real botanist in identifying plants, but I can identify 50-100 shrubs and trees, and likely as many forbs.

I don’t know much geology, although I’d like to. I majored in geography in college. I’ve been reading biology, ecology, chemistry, physics for the layperson since high school (that is, 30+ years).

I’m not a scientist for a bunch of mostly-consent-related reasons.

The grad student TAs of my animal behavior professor at Purdue would sometimes bring to class the baby squirrels they were studying. Adorable antics! Bright eyes brimming with mischief! Cuddly and soft!                 Inquiries into what was studied, and how… “well, we kill them and cut up their brains, and then we look into…” No. No. No. Hell no.

It’s all like that. Herbaria? Natural history museums? Millions of organisms, hell, probably billions, removed from the world, and all their possible descendants also removed, so human beings can look into a question they wondered about. Nope.

Curiosity is a wonderful thing. Observation raises more questions than it answers, but so does Life. I’m okay with that.

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It seems like I’ve gotten off track. Maybe I haven’t.

When I was attending Purdue 20 years ago, I was still in contact with my parents. They don’t care about science at all, but boy howdy, my mother could’ve been a scientist, she was so cold and unconcerned about the quality of life of any organism that wasn’t human. Basically, “the Bible gives us permission, so we have every right to kill anyone who inconveniences us!”

The ‘us’ she found in Genesis, I never felt included me. {Not just because I don’t want to kill everyone who inconveniences me!} As a child, I was an inconvenience to my mother. Things were said, supposedly joking, that were really disquieting when you thought about them. And I did think about them.

As an adolescent, my mother hung over my head — for years — the threat of sending me away to a ‘funny farm’ if I misbehaved ‘too much’. The threshold was left deliberately vague. I could envision only too well being locked up for the rest of my life, for no real reason, and no way out. I knew no one else would endanger their own safety by defending my sanity.

How is that any different, really, than being pinned to a specimen tray?

I escaped my mother outwardly, but her strictures on how unnatural and disgusting I am linger in my mind’s ear. Years and years of therapy barely scratched the surface; I spent most of those sessions dealing with acute traumas.

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What if I stop trying to ‘escape’ being me?

What if I stop… trying?

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Captain Awkward’s “auditioning to be in people’s lives” swims into my mind’s ear, but really, if I’ve been auditioning, I think it’s more like to ‘remove myself from my own equation’. Or something.

Writing about things that don’t contain me directly, and also don’t sprout from my sensibility… is like writing about a donut hole? Writing about… nothing? What’s there to write, if I, the writer, am not there? Am not allowed to be perceived.

Why would such writing be ‘better’ than writing that I’m infused into? What am I supposed to get out of it? Well, praise for my ‘objective’ writing skills. Except that ‘objective’ doesn’t exist.

Even when I did technical writing, my sensibility infused my words.

Wait, praise. For my writing skills. (That remove my self.) Why is praise what I want? When have I ever received praise? This isn’t even my own wish! This is my mother’s sensibility!

If I excise me, I could then insert… her.

She’s not a writer. But maybe that’s what she needs me for. But I hate how she thinks! When I write about her sensibility, it’s to refute it. Not to endorse it. Still… I’ve been writing about my mother for almost my entire life. What if I stop?

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