A Letter to Myself Today

Dear Mina,

This is an important year. You are at peace, there’s a warm glow in your heart, and you’re living awake.

You’re strong, resilient, and pliable enough to know now that it’s not about one’s own might.

You’re worthy. And you’re believing in that, one day at a time.

This year you allowed yourself to be known and seen, to be helped and cared for. This is a wealth freely given to you by God. Cherish it.

The last 7 months have been a string of little deaths, the quiet execution of old plans, defenses, and traits. And there is a rumbling in the rubble, an equally quiet emergence of someone you’ll soon to get to know as the hidden you. A Mina that is not the final product, but certainly a first draft of the genuine you. You and I are both the process of writing the draft and living out the draft, one day at a time. We are the daily process.

A lukewarm wind is gliding past your arm. The sun is hot, it’s a calm and unassuming sweat today. It’s just us on this pier. There is some longing in you, for it to have been two. But this moment is enough. And you’re documenting the particular marks of this longing.

The party has come to our street. Let the contentment begin.

Lessons from My Longest Ever Relationship

Cranely, as I adopted him

In October last year, I took home from work an ordinary-looking potted plant. I was actually in the process of moving, so a new plant for my new apartment was an exciting prospect. It was both exciting and daunting. All sense of routine, maintenance, and discipline were matters still difficult for me to integrate into my daily life. And here I was, about to care for a plant.

My therapist said to me, take care of a plant, then get a pet, then you’ll be ready for a relationship with a woman. It seemed the wrong way around to me – you get the plant and pet once you have the woman and you’re living together! The delusion of the Middle Class Dream – the apartment, the woman, the pets, the boat, the villa in the countryside – was still upon me, so anything that questioned that dream-delusion seemed ridiculous. However, I had looked at my life and past relationships. It was just rubble. It wouldn’t hurt to try a new approach.

I gave the plant a name – Cranley.

Cranley, first day at home

So for the month before I moved, I watered Cranley every day, sometimes twice a day. I did no research or asked people how to care for plants. I just went on my own crazy conception of love and care, which was often full-on mania. Soon enough, my sister tempered my enthusiasm with some reality: you don’t need to water Cranley every day. I didn’t want him to die. I was on a journey, dammit! Plant – dog – woman. Nothing would hold me back…

I watered him every day. When I travelled, I made sure my sister or brother-in-law would take care of him. And when they were away, I asked another acquaintance to care for him. I made his watering a part of my daily routines. I sometimes played some music for him – classical, blues, jazz.

Just don’t die, Cranley. You can’t be another casualty of Mina.

He soon occupied an important part on the marble window sill in my kitchen. And I moved my medication next to him, so that there was now a marrying of my health and his health. Half of the glass of water is for me, the other half is for him.

I did this, day in and day out. I looked at him. Sometimes, I stared. I wondered if he would grow. Would he ever grow? I worried when he wilted or he didn’t seem to respond to the water.

I bought fertilizer and a special spray. I read up on about his species and how to care for him. After using them for a while, Cranley seemed to bloom and flourish.

I felt more secure in my part in the relationship. I was showing up and doing my part every day.

It’s been about 7 months now since Cranley came into my care. He hasn’t died. His arms are becoming gangly and there’s this wonderful light-brown tinge to some of his leaves. When I walk into the kitchen, I’m happy to see him. His arms tilt into the window, leaning into the Swedish sun.

Cranley has made no demands in this relationship. But now that he is in my care, I feed him, I make sure his pot is clean and not filled with water, and I prune his stems in order for more leaves to sprout. He gets the best sunshine in the apartment and sometimes, I just sit there and look at him.

That whole advice of a plant before an animal before another person is not about following a script, but rather learning how to be self-less, how to adjust your life so that another being occupies place in your mind and heart. In the center of this advice is the relationship with myself, one-half of Team Mina and Cranley. I care enough about myself to drink water and take medication every day. I do fun and spiritually nourishing things every day, like making art, to stay in balance. A healthy, present Mina is a Mina who is able to be present for Cranley.

I’ve had smirks and furrowed brows at having a plant as a pet because that’s how I introduce him – my pet Cranley! He doesn’t lick his balls or purr, but he is alive and he is worthy of love. He doesn’t even ask for it. He just sits there every day, living, breathing, and basking in the sun. And when I don’t feed him, he doesn’t complain. But over time, he dies because he hasn’t eaten.

When I looked at my past and examined what had gone wrong in relationships, I saw how selfish and reckless I was. Most of the relationships were about what I needed and wanted, and rarely involved being there for the other person. When it didn’t work out the way I wanted, I abandoned them. When I felt threatened or afraid, I ran. When I let others influence me, I dropped them from a great height. And all humans are made of porcelain, not stone.

That “all humans” includes me, too. The toll of what I have done is equal to the magnitude of the shame that I had made a part of my being. I’ve done shit and I am shit. Taking care of this silent, beautiful plant changes shame to acceptance and gives me hope for the future.

Happy anniversary, Cranley. You’re rather wonderful.

 

[New] Writing Should Be Read Out Loud – Why You’re Not Over Your Ex

Woman and Grief

This is a new idea that I’m exploring.

I’ve been reading a lot of good writing over the past couple of years. Do you ever read it out loud in your mind, as you go along? I’ve been doing that since I was young.

Writing, especially good writing, should be read out loud. Sometimes we can only hear the genius of a turn of phrase or construction when it hits our ears.

So, here’s my first recording of Why You’re Not Over Your Ex by Kris Gage.

Recorded with written permission from the author.

Featured image via x1klima on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

The Past Three Days

I know I went dark these past three or four days. It was dark and it felt dark.

Life revolved around keeping head above water. It looked possible at a few points that I would sink again.

By the grace of God, I didn’t. I just fought through it, a war of attrition through every moment until the enemy retreated.

I am left with a sense of longing, more than shame or guilt. The past weeks before this week’s toil were just great – immersed in the creative arts and blogging every day.

Back on track now. Till tomorrow!

My Complicated Relationship with Writing

I’ll spare you the platitudes of how life has been so busy, or I’ve been through so many changes, or any of that. I haven’t written in a long time, here, on this blog. The only reason is that my relationship with writing is complicated, not in the way that Facebook has now appropriated, but in that it was a non-relationship. Complicated could point at how I carry writing on my arm, as a trophy wife, but at home I beat her to death by neglect.

I didn’t write that novel I announced with much fanfare on Medium and here. I have been preoccupied with discovering who I am. Yeah, not rediscovering, but discovering.

I’m working on not killing you anymore, honey.

There will be no promises or announcements, no lofty goals or projects. I hope that there will be a public reconciliation with this thing I love and discard so much, writing – the closest I’ve ever been to a real relationship.

My Writing for You While I’m Away

 

I assure you that this is not a “I’m leaving Medium” piece!

I am going to not publish any fiction writing for a considerable period of time because I am working on my novel.

Words aren’t enough to express my gratitude, appreciation, and sincere cherishing of all the followers I’ve gained in the last 3 months.

Now that I’ve told you that I’ll be away, here is the corpus of everything that I’ve published, to both keep you company and to introduce you to my writing that you may not have read before.





Thank you again for all your support and keep in touch on Twitter or Instagram.

Submissions to Publications

I submitted my essay on the recent Muhammad Film to Salon.com. I haven’t heard back yet and after 2 weeks (they say 3 weeks means it’s a no), it doesn’t look likely.

I edited the essay further, took out the expletives, and cleaned it up to submit to NYTimes as an op-ed.

Let’s see what happens. I just have to wait 3 days this time.

Reviewing “The Shining”

“The Shining” is a searing piece of work, a film that sears itself on your emotions, imagination, and senses. Halloran’s line of “events leaving traces of themselves behind” sets up the rest of the film in a way that, even after a second viewing, still crawls up behind you and sodomizes your expectations. Torrance’s descent into madness spills over into reality and our earlier suspicion of the whole family, being open to the paranormal – seeing ‘dead’ people’ – is confirmed. Danny Lloyd’s character does see into the past and present, into the hidden motives of his father, Shelley Duvall’s does communicate with her son telepathically. Or not? We never know.

All the classic hallmarks of Kubrick’s style are present: poetic slow pans, the juxtaposition of serene classical music against scenes of destruction of humans, and the haunting experimental music that brings tension and suspense to a rapid boil.