Chapin City Blues

Writing is writing whether done for duty, profit, or fun.

A Memoir of My Voice

February 22, 2015

A few years ago, after Shaun was born (or maybe before Shaun was born), I started a blog called Letters to Shaun. It still exists, but I haven’t made a post in such a long time. Because I can never commit to writing projects that span more than a couple of pages. Because I lose sight of the projects. Rarely do I ever outline posts or, for that matter, stories. Everything is on whim. Whatever comes to mind as I clickety-clack on my laptop. As much as I lied to myself then, there was a lot of anger towards Jeanna after our separation. (I can’t call it a divorce since we were never married; calling it a break up seems juvenile.) A lot of this anger and resentment spilled into the letters. As much as I tried to cover it up. As much as I tried to say that the decision was mutual. I still blamed her for the breaking up a family that I longed for. In the long haul, I abandoned the project as I do most projects and continued focusing only on this blog. And even this gets ignored from time to time.

I go weeks without a post. I’m sure there exists a month without an entry. Spur-of-the-moment ideas grab me and I write. Several of these don’t get posted. For instance, I intended the Valentine’s Day entry for the second of February—the day after my realization. Even though the words existed in my head, they never poured out in a manner that I found worthy for a reader’s eyes. I suppose it’s as the saying goes: We are our greatest critics. I just want days where I’m not so hard on myself.

Since middle school, teachers told me I had a gift for coupling words into sentences, into paragraphs. They instructed me to work on my voice. To write the way I speak to others. In college, I honed in on my skill. I made my decision before picking up my college application. My hobbies led me to major in English. I imagined living in a house that doubled as a library—my own personal library. I saw a desk with a computer and a typewriter. (I typed my earliest essays on a typewriter, much to the professors’ surprise and dismay.) I lost myself in books and essays on the craft. And still, nothing hushed the voice that leaned against the back of my mind. “You’re not good enough. This is not good enough.”

Words poured and poured and I hit backspace each time. I yanked the sheet out of the typewriter, balled it up and tossed into the trash can, missing it each time. I spent hours late at night staring at my essays and just thinking I missed something. The ones turned in were shit. Second guessing myself led to rambling pieces which I shamefully turned in.

I started writing short stories. I started a LiveJournal blog. Every day, I wrote. Not caring about the style. Not caring for the run-ons or fragment sentences. Not caring for punctuation (something I’m still terrible at). I dotted my prose, these fragmented thoughts, with ellipses. I plagued each post with vernacular and clichés (No one instructed me to avoid them, yet).

I started reading other people’s blogs. I read online stories. Poorly crafted pieces that stretched for a few pages or for volumes. I tried writing poems, working on the scrawled pieces from my adolescence. But each time, I returned to prose. I learned sentence structure. What to avoid. How to punctuate for effect, and not for grammatical purposes. And still. The longer pieces eluded me.

Abby, a friend of mine, noted my habit of jumping from one blog to another. She called me the gypsy blogger, never staying with a blog host for more than a couple of months. I married WordPress while having a love affair with Blogger. (I cheated on LiveJournal with MySpace, who was a passing fancy.) Tumblr came later, though it didn’t please me the way the others had. I mended my relationship with WordPress, later buying a URL to signify my commitment to the blog host site.

And still, the style and purpose of this blog has changed violently over the years while remaining the same. I tried other projects. A Book Hunter’s Journal ended when I made this my full-time blog. I ended letters to Shaun when I saw what it did to me. How unhealthy I became remembering moments of happiness with Jeanna. There have been a slew of porn blogs. None of which caught on. There was one on Tumblr, Fuck Yeah Amateurs. I gave that up after receiving several complaints. Complaints made with good reason. I passed the blog along to another group deviants and made my peace with the disgruntled girls by purging every post and starting from zero. (Maybe there’s a post in this, but this is not the time or place for it.)

And here I sit, staring at my screen and narrating my thoughts. Remembering my history. Trying to recall my junior high self who brimmed with potential. Trying not to have the image of emptying a can of Coke into a glass and watching the fizz rise. Staring as it overflows the cup before it bubbles down until you forgot it was there in the first place.

Because that’s not the life I want to lead. Where potential just bubbles down and dissolves with the rest of me. It’s a frightening thought.

The Subtle Art of Getting Over It

February 14, 2015

February started as any other month would. Shaun decided to leave me with just enough room on the bed to fit my profile. I started my usual morning routine. I picked up a book. I read. When Shaun woke up, we played, danced, and ate. He realized that his time was better spent with his cousins, so he abandoned me to my reading while they played in the living room. I flipped through several issues of Batman Eternal, Nailbiter, and a few other titles that haven’t been picked up in months. Jeanna sent me a text asking me to hold on to Shaun for a little while longer and drop him off sometime during the evening. I buried my face in Tess Gerritsen’s Die Again. I drank Kool-Aid in my mom’s room as some banal tween sitcom on Nick played as white noise. I sent texts to Jenny. I replied to texts from coworkers and friends. I scrolled through Tumblr. And as I remember what a perfect month this would be (a month of four even weeks), I realized that it was the first of February. It took me most of the day for it to dawn on me what significance the day once held. Had we been together, it would have marked the twelfth anniversary with Jeanna.

The past two years, I spent the day in a catatonic state. I still mourned the loss of the relationship. There were moments during this three-year road where I thought I healed. I wrote proclamations about my strength. Mistook infatuations for romance. Nothing, however, lasted.

And I don’t think getting here would have been possible without the help of someone like Jenny. And while the strength of letting go came from within, she has been my guide through it all. And it happened the last night she was in Edinburg. That night at the park. Where she and Canaan crawled through the tube at the playground. And I stood at the opposite end. Crawling through tubes isn’t my bag. Especially when wet mulch lines the floor. Claustrophobic and a germaphobe, it didn’t matter. I wanted to stand beside them. Just wanted to hold her hand. I knew what this relationship would entail. I knew the hardships that would follow. And none of it mattered. Not the years spent and lost with Jeanna. Not Selina. Not anything that plagued my mind for all those years past. At that moment, I just wanted to build something with the girl on the other side of the tube.

So on first of the month, after I realized the significance it once held, I smirked into my phone. I opened my book and continued reading after sending a text to Jenny.