Tag Archives: burning houses

Memoir as Bewilderment (workshop with Nick Flynn, Omega Institute)

Last week I participated in Nick Flynn‘s workshop, Memoir As Bewilderment, at the Omega Institute.

The workshop and the work that happened there is still sinking in. Magical. More when I can…for now I’m just full of gratitude.

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Experiments with raw

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I’m trying experiments where I don’t overthink some of the writing I release into the world. Where I don’t polish until it’s as perfect as my ego can make it (perfection is overrated and a lie, anyway.). This (below) is a raw something I wrote recently (some even tonight) and I will soon type it onto handmade paper by Sarah Strong for an exhibit called The Power Of Story, so I thought I’d also put it here.

**

I am from

1970s Osh Kosh overalls having
too much TV in the afternoon after school
Brady Bunch Courtship of Eddie’s Father, as sad a show as I have ever known.
What else in the afternoon in the house that is no longer there is the driveway even there anymore, I think not.
I am from a fire exercise a house burned down on purpose
it was my house but not really my house because we were renters.
Who did that fire serve, I hope someone, maybe it served my friend whose house burned down later because maybe the firefighters had learned something when they burned down my house.
Did they learn anything.
What did I learn.
Maybe just that stuff needs a place
but if you don’t have a place then
at least keep the stuff keep all the stuff you can from that place
from those days
(and later learn that whether or not you keep one damn thing it doesn’t matter
because stories stick to you better than the shadow to Peter Pan
and don’t need to be reattached by Wendy or anyone else.)

Excerpt from an essay I’m writing

In college drawing class, I learned about negative space.  If you look long enough at something, a shape forms around it: the thing where its object isn’t.  So I look and look at nothing, pining for the past, wanting to yank back that day when we planted the live Christmas tree in the yard, or that other day when the circus was in the park next door, and my parents collected elephant poop to fertilize our garden.  Elephants gone, dung gone too, no remnants now left.  I want back so many other days.  Memory provides only edges.  Pinning decrepit butterflies to velvet, I smell the dust, turn around, look back, and find another disintegrating wing of the few things I can recall.  I set out to order it all, by chronology, or theme; I make another list, “things that happened to my body,” such as falling down sixteen steps, such as running through the glass door.  Anything that helps me contain the mess.  But this story disobeys my desire for dramatic unity.  It won’t sit still.  Memory doesn’t fix itself close enough to truth, doesn’t allow our trust; the interior record is fuzzy, ephemeral.  I call the county office to gather facts.

I’d like to know, for instance, when my house was burned down, when it began its exquisite disappearance.

The end of a story?

It’s weird writing something when you don’t know you’re about to write the end of the thing.  This might be the end of the ghost story I’m writing.  We’ll see.  But it seems like the end.

This photograph faded with time, as he told the story to Cricket, as he counted to one hundred, night after night as he himself drifted next to his child, wondering how on earth such a tender thing could continue to survive.