Friday, April 4, 2008

Roses are Red Or Yellow Or Pink Or White Or...

It's national poetry month. This I know because I receive daily poems from Knopf thanks to their Borzoi Reader or a poem-a-day series each April (, which is national poetry month, but this you know because I just told you.

The poem-a-day email used to be torture for me. I could barely manage receiving, reading and then figuring out what to do with a piece of writing someone spent hours or days or weeks toiling over. I need a quiet space in which to read poetry. I need time to digest a poem. Time to think. Time to cry. Time to write. Then I need to know what to do with the poem. If it's a poem in a book or a magazine I can save it - put the book on a shelf, put the magazine in the rack by the toilet.

But email poetry blew my mind. Do I print it out? Do I delete it? It left me breathless.

And that is because I have a significant touch of OCD. It's not like I ever held a mint gently on my tongue without sucking it for the entire 30 minute ride from work to home lest it dissolve and a loved one receive poor results from her oncologist like someone I know and love once did, but I do engage in various other acts of magical thinking on a daily basis. When Faith and I lived together (for over 12 years) I was aware at all times which items (clothing, books, CD's, towels) were hers and which were mine and which we had purchased together. I can tell you the make and model of almost any car from only a glance at its headlights. (I thought this freakish until a friend of mine simply smiled and said, "I can do it from the door handles.")

Such a relief.

And of course I'm frequent host to any one of an infinite number of inappropriate and intrusive thoughts during the most mundane moments like while driving behind a green truck I might suddenly think: imagine a terrible infection that scarred and mamed a face in an instant you could contract it it could begin with a headache Betsy had a headache yesterday i hope it wasn't meningitis today seems good but anything could happen.

"Stop," I tell myself. To my brain at least once I day I have to say, "Ssh." On other days it takes, "Would you please shut the fuck up."

Anyway, with poems from last year still saved in my in-box. I'm trying something new this year. This year I am reading the poems immediately - no matter where I am - and then deleting them. This is huge and radical for a girl like me but what it means is that I am reading poetry, not hoarding poetry. And this is part of my new life mission: to live rather than to think about living.

I say this in light of lesbian divorce and upcoming dogs and imminent presidential elections and the price of gas and Eliot Spitzer and hypochondria (many of OCD'ers are also hypochondriacs which makes us even more fun to be around). Life for an OCD club member is like a Medusa's head of options, infinite avenues we can go down ad nauseum and ponder and analyze until the cows come home.


So much goes on inside while all the while we simply are standing still.

So I'm trying to act a bit more, not obsess over every last nuance of every little thing, just jump. The writer Elaine Soloway ( once wrote an essay entitled "Leap Before You Look." It's true, when leaping doesn't cause you to be killed or mortified or destitute, it actually can get you places.

Relationships might end, Hillary or Barack or Johnny Jet Plane might be president, the righteous will fall (come on where's the surprise in that?), a dog might poop or pee or chew up the house, and one day an ache or pain is going to be the last, and still it's okay to act, to make a mistake, waste money, or delete a poem, to be happy.

This actually all began last year when I made the conscious decision to stop thinking about which way to hang the toilet paper and paper towel rolls. One day I decided to just put them on whichever way they were facing at the moment and use that mental energy for something better like memorizing the headlights of the new hybrids.

I'm lucky, I can turn my brain off without the help of pharmaceuticals.

"Enough, brain."

What I'm trying to get at is, Happy poetry month. Geez. I always take the long way.


Ms. Moon said...

Oh my god. I get the poem-of-the-day from the Prairie Home Companion service and if it has to do with grasslands or Minnosota I delete immediately. Otherwise I scan and let it go.
As to the hypochondria- I am the World's Biggest Silent Hypochondriac- I have at least four deadly diseases going at all times but I NEVER discuss them. Ever. Or go to a doctor.
Even the word "doctor" sort of makes me want to faint.

Anonymous said...

Is it sad that i know that the pic is the front of a BMW, love those zenon headlights!!

Are You My Mothers said...


Jess said...

Wow, that's revolutionary. I am a definite email hoarder. Imagine deleting things right away...

Turning off your brain is hard. There's always meditation, but that takes time. I just did ten days of it, and it didn't turn off my brain for very long, but it was good for me.

soulspeak23 said...

i also have this headlight ability. I'll venture that that was a BMW Z4, to be exact.
Great blog, by the way.

Anonymous said...

No don't think so, as here in the UK the headlamps wrap around the corner. R x