Tag: traffic

Want to Hear a New Poem on the Anxiety of Sunday Night?

So fellow poet and blogger, Scott Carroll (I hate to blow his cover, but he’s had poetry published in ZZYZZVA) wrote a poem about traffic called Topanga Canyon.  He dedicated the poem to me, knowing that I spent a lot of time in traffic when I was working at the rehab center and teaching creative writing.  That drive was horrible, but Scott and I understand that even in the middle of traffic, lined up like a bunch of tuna in tin cans, there is a way to find something poetic, something meaningful.

When I was dealing with that traffic, I would dread Sunday night.  I know, it’s weird, you think I would dread being at work or in traffic, but on the eve of the week ahead, I would have these terrible bouts of anxiety, thinking about the traffic — would it take me three hours to get to work? would there be an accident? would I be the one in the accident? — and I began to hate Sunday.  I enjoyed work, but I hated the drive.  Honestly, I wasn’t happy.  So I wrote a poem one Sunday night.  Clink on the link below to hear an audio version of me reading it:

Before the Week Ahead

It’s funny, though, and hard to describe, exactly, what I would like to say about traffic.  And I hope the poem does that.  The rest of the day, I’m going to enjoy being alive.  I’m going to go on a run.  I’m going to drink a tad bit of rum — we ran out of wine.  And I’m going to enjoy my family — Heron and my dog.  I hope you, too, are finding a way to enjoy the night, the day, the approaching retired space shuttle, the city you call home.

Revision, Traffic, and Guatemala

So for the last couple nights, I have been dreaming about being stuck in traffic.  The traffic on the 405 — the journey I used to experience every day, Monday thru Friday, on my way to work at the rehab center.  I keep seeing the red brake lights, the advertisements on the sides of the road, and strangers in their cars, looking into an endless line of machinery as if they were looking into a blank television.

I couldn’t be happier that I’m not on that highway anymore, but, judging from my dreams, there is still a part of me on that road; there is still something in my mind that hasn’t allowed me to leave.  The journey, the one I am on, isn’t always about the physical.  Yes, I have found some jobs, and I’m going to sell some ad space for a newspaper, but there is still a part of me that feels stuck.  My unconscious is still on that road.

Photo Taken by Flor

Maybe it has something to do with my book.  I started reading, “Running With Scissors,” as guidance for my revision.  And I am inspired by the book, but staring at a revision, cutting 100 pages, and beginning a rewrite of a period of my life that was traumatic, sort of feels like staring into that traffic.  I can’t quite get to where I want to go yet.  I still need to work hard.  And that feeling, well, it’s difficult.

When I was in college, I went to Guatemala with some of my other students.  We spent a week there, and we lived with some Mayans.  One day, we were going to climb a volcano, which was a 13,000 foot climb.  People jump out of planes at 13,000.  It seemed crazy.  And I’ll never forget, driving through the night in the back of a Chevrolet truck, the stars blazing in the heavens, and my  friend, Aldofo, singing while he tried to stay warm.  We stepped out of the truck, and I looked at the volcano.  It was bigger than any mountain I had ever seen.  And I remember that first step, that first moment of beginning that journey, and the difficulty of knowing it was only the first step.  Eventually, I climbed to the top of the volcano, and I stared out across Central America, a place so foreign and wonderful and beautiful it almost broke my heart.

That’s what I feel like with my book right now.  That I’m beginning, again, to write about a world and memories that ripped me apart.  And maybe I’m finally ready.  This process, well, it’s a way for me to write my way out of the traffic and beyond the first step to see the awesome and titanic in my story.  And the only way to grow, now, is to begin .