Emails

Various emails that elucidate my ideas.
To my mother, 1-16-09 5:41 AM
 “I Can’t Sleep”
I hate this.  My mind is racing and it’s all I can do to quiet my heart.  I wrote a great paper today but was late to class, barely getting there in time to present it.  I am already irritating my teacher because I know more than she does.  But, she does know different things and I am learning.  I often find myself blurting out answers when the teacher is stumped.  Some teachers are grateful.  Some are threatened.  I feel bad.  But, I am learning.
 
I had to get up to see if I accidentally emailed you one of my poems that is too revealing of me or too blunt or contains profanity, or worse.  Lots of people like to be shocked and it is getting harder and harder to shock people these days.  Somehow it comes easily to me.  All I have to do is tell a story of my weird life and people’s mouths drop open and their eyes bulge.  Other writers turn around and smile at me.  LOL.
 
I have found my place both at Clackamas Community College and at Marylhurst.  I went to that women’s writing group at CCC that I keep meaning to go to and I was a hit.  One very well dressed woman came up and sat by me and told me her mother was working class and she always wanted to tell her stories but didn’t know how.  She said I inspired her to tell of her mother’s strength and courage in a stifling life.
 
Another woman came up to me and said she wanted to touch my dangly crystal ear rings.  I felt her energy surge through me a little and I told her so.  She said she is a healer.  I said I need a healing. 
 
So this is how its going to be.  Strange but wonderful reactions to me breaking my heart open and letting the words fly out.
To Kate 1-15-09 12:11 AM
“Savage Writing”
Thank you for listening to me tell my stories today.  I think that is a big
part of what we do as writers, we tell a little of our stories and suddenly
strangers feel compelled to unburden themselves with their most intimate
stories.  I think that, as some indigenous people say, that “we are our
stories” but mostly, we are the stories we cannot tell, not even to
ourselves.  Telling these stories is beyond dangerous, it’s downright
savage.

I can’t tell the savage truth about my life, especially the present.  If I
don’t wait until things get better and I am no longer forced to engage in my
peccadilloes then how can we all chuckle about how “bad” I was in the past,
but not now, see how far I’ve come, I am good now.  Bad then, good now.
Redeemed by time.

If I tell the savage truth about my life as I am living it right now the sky
will crack open and flying horses will descend breathing fire, uprooting
continents, unleashing huge locusts on us all and everyone will melt into a
giant sea of blood.  If I tell the savage truth about my life, as I am
living it right now, my family will implode and my fragile hold on the
holidays will escape my grasp forever.  If I tell the savage truth about my
life, as I am living it right now, it will trigger the apocalypse and
pre-empt the rapture my entire family has been waiting for all these years.
The truth shall set you free.  The savage truth will get you exiled,
abandonded, rejected, ostracized, and locked up “for your own good”.  But
people will buy my book.  Hmm.. what to do, what to do?

What “savage writing” means to me, and I truly hope I have invented my own
genre because that would be a great way to start the revolution I am
writing.  So far, an Internet search has found hundreds of references to
writers whose family name is Savage (Dan Savage is especially prolific) but
only a handful even remotely resembling my own interpretation of savage
writing and, sadly, one that actually referred to aboriginal people as
savages and so described their writing.  What “savage writing” is NOT is
“Mommie, Dearest” kind of expose revenge revisionist memoir.  It is simply
telling the truth, from your perspective, of what really happened.  Is this
too much by what Tom Spanbauer intends with “dangerous writing”?

To Kate 1-15-09 1:13 AM
“Savage Writing v. Dangerous Writing”
I should just acquiesce to the writers who’ve come before me and just do what they do the way they do and hope to aspire to reach my goal of actually telling my story.  I read the definition of “dangerous writing” on wikipedia and Tom’s own words make it sound a lot like what I mean when I say “savage writing”. 
 
 
        The emphasis is on writing “dangerously”—writing what personally scares or embarrasses you in order to explore and artistically express those fears honestly. Most “dangerous writing” is written in first-person narrative for this reason and deals with heavy subject manner such as cultural taboos.
 
       “On the surface, that may not seem like a dangerous or even daring act. But it is. When the words one believes to be the truth about oneself are actually written, they take on a power that is no longer exclusively controlled by the writer. The spin that could be applied when the ideas were merely in a person’s mind or coming out of a person’s mouth melt away. The words lay the heart bare for all to see. Those words become a separate entity, an unflinching, unvarnished document of the self.” (Tom Spanbauer on his Dangerous Writing) 
I think he means writing about social taboos that others dare not approach in their writing out of either fear or simply because they are too nice to talk about it and prefer happier material.  I thought he meant fiction.  When I think of Tom Spanbauer I think of stories about gay men, mostly fiction, maybe mixed with autobiography as all fiction actually is.  When I think of Chuck Pahlaniuk I think of the first time I saw his hardcover for sale at Powell’s called “Fight Club” and how it sounded like the aristocracy carrying out the bloodsports normally done by the lower classes out of rage against the monarchy.  The lower classes have no need for secrecy, it would only be the upper class that would find it exciting to brutalize one another physically as they did not that long ago in competition for the crown, and need to do it surreptiously in a very exclusive, very private men’s club.  In other words, violence redux.  I never read it.
 
My intention is to use words to try to express the ineffable and the thoughts and deeds that oh, you get it, it rhymes with weeds.  Dangerous writing is tantalizing and foreboden.  Savage writing is the screaming of ghosts.
To Kate 1-15-09 2:38 AM
“A Few More Thoughts”
Relentless words keep me from sleeping.  Ever since my brush with death I live in constant fear that at any minute now death will find me and realize that he missed.  I am like an old person, seeking immortality by telling my stories to strangers the way some men run around fathering children. 
 
Savage writing is more than dangerous writing because it also dares to be courageous enough to have the humility to affirm the goodness in one’s self and in one’s life.  There were many good things about my life, and hopefully many more to come.  The tragedies stand out like dark pearls dotting a colorful, hand-beaded necklace.  When I review my life all I see are a string of sufferings I spend most of my energy trying to suppress.  It is painful for me to even breathe the good things for fear they will disappear when I call out their names, like so many I have loved.
 
These are my best poems written just before the bus crash.  If they had been my last it would have been enough.
 
 
My favorite poem is “words”. 
 
An afterthought.  It occurred to me that in the future it is possible you and I could be in the same journal or at the same poetry reading and people could ponder oh, two Grays, at the same school, I wonder if they are related.  And I could say, yeah, but I’m only half Gray. 
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