I think I’ll start off with the last poem of NPM 30 (of 2018, haha). Fortunately, I have a few to choose from. It’s from the same prompt group as the last two, but the prompt was “Life is but a dream.”
when I was younger
I turned to my parents’ records
two in particular
I remember vividly
a K-Tel 2 record set
released in 1978
that introduced me
to, among others,
as performed by Meco
“I Feel Love” by Donna Summer
“Disco Inferno” by Trammps &
“I Can’t Stand the Rain” performed by Eruption
I was going on 7 years old
letting the disco fire ignite
my young heart
Solid Gold Rock ‘n’ Roll Volume 1
released in 1972 on Mercury
another compilation album
with tunes from the 50s & 60s
“Chantilly Lace” by The Big Bopper
(the words still memorized)
“My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels
“Little Darlin’” by The Diamonds
“Running Bear” by Johnny Preston
about ill-fated lovers whose tribes
are fighting & a raging river
“Sh-Boom” performed by The Crew Cuts
opened the record with its
nonsensical ‘hey nonny ding dong,
alangala langala lang’
then into ‘life could be a dream’
if only you would tell him
he was the only one that you loved
I don’t know how many times
I played those records
those songs are stamped in my psyche
melodies melded in my mind
they are, no doubt, problematic now
but they filled hours of my young days
while I did homework
dreamed of someone
thinking I was that big-eyed girl
that made someone act so funny
made them spend their money
or to be the one called sweetheart
who would be loved my whole life
that life would be a dream
I didn’t do the poem-a-day challenge this year for National Poetry Month. You’ll understand why. Now to the news. There is really so much. When people talk about big life stressors, three of the top five are death of a loved one, job change, and moving. The other two are divorce and major illness or injury. Let’s recap my timeline:
April 2016: broke off my relationship of 16 years (aka sort of a divorce) and moved – check! check!
January 2018: death of my dad – check!
Thanksgiving 2018: thought of a new plan/direction for my life
January 2019: started having knee pain that turned out to be arthritis (not really major injury but enough for an x-ray and physical therapy) – check!
April 2019: quit my job – check! and
May 2019: moving (in 2 weeks!) – check!
That’s right! For you folks keeping track, that’s five out of five major life stressors in the last three years. Big fucking check.
But…all of these things have been, with the exception of losing my dad & the knee pain, really good. Talking to a friend yesterday, she said I’d been energetically asking for changes, and I was. Plus, I didn’t mention that since March 2018, I was working on a book of poetry that was released in April on Puna Press. In fact, my release party happened three years to the day that I broke up with my ex. Let’s talk about perspective! (For anyone interested, you can buy my book here: https://punapress.com/contributors/lizzie-wann/.)
So, yeah, around my birthday/Thanksgiving last year, I was thinking about what I could do with my life. I wasn’t loving my job, but it paid very well, and I didn’t know if I should give it up. But I have been since a year before trying to figure out how I could shift careers, start working in publishing or with books in any way. Then I had a brainstorm while looking at a jobs site. Maybe I could look for a new job in the LA/OC area and move in with my mom. That would work for me, but it would also hopefully work for her because then she wouldn’t be alone, and I could be there to help her with whatever she needed. After seeking counsel with my sister and some close friends, I proposed the idea to my mom when I went home for Thanksgiving, and thankfully, she was really behind the idea!
Then, my timeline got a little clearer. I was going to wait until April to leave my job because I was in line for a bonus and stock options in late March. So I threw myself, let’s say 85%, into my job, haha. Turns out we were rebranding the main company and changing the business model so there was plenty to do. Meanwhile, I was also working on edits of the book and reviewing and revising and planning the release show, oh and I’d decided to also go on a book tour over the summer to help promote the book and to take an epic road trip. Why the hell not?
In February, I had a solid week of art and music and poetry and community. I went to my first Lady Brain Collective meeting, participated in a recording session for my friend Lindsay’s song she wrote for the Women’s March, I went to a couple poetry readings of big-name poets (Naomi Shihab Nye & Quincy Troupe), and I was invited to a dinner party in honor of Quincy (a former professor). That was a great week. I wrote a poem about it. The week after that epic week, I started physical therapy for my knee that, thanks the gods, worked very well for me. Also in February, Sandy & MT went on an epic vacation to Southeast Asia where they visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia and various locations in Thailand. I’m really happy for them that they went. I know my sister was trepidatious about it, but she overcame took on some of her fears on the journey and in the adventures. Yay for adventures!
In March, I went out a lot: saw Dead Rock West, an art exhibit, music at various locations, participated in the March for Black Women, went to some readings (saw the U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K Smith), watched Opening Day from the roof, recorded a podcast, and went to another Lady Brain meet-up. Also, every month, I went up to visit Mom who has been busy getting the house ready for me.
April was here. A big month. I’d gotten my bonus and my stock options (which are basically worthless right now, but that’s not the point). We launched the new brand/company on April 2 when they also announced (unbeknownst to the majority of people) that the company headquarters would be relocating to Phoenix, AZ. I feel lucky that I was able to leave on my own terms. After a work from home day on the 3rd, I gave my notice on April 4 for my last day to be April 26 (and to have three days off the week prior haha). I’d been at that job since February 2007, 12+ years. I felt great, but at the same time, it didn’t feel real.
I went to a San Diego Poetry Annual reading at the Pt Loma library like I do nearly every year. I went to see Berkley Hart Selis Twang for old times’ sake. I went to see Lindsay play a house concert. Then the next week, I drove up to Mom’s and then picked up Sandy from Long Beach. The next day, April 17, we three drove down to San Diego for my book release that was happening that night.
Man, it was awesome. It took place at the Whistle Stop in South Park. At first, I wasn’t stoked that it would be in a bar. Given the melancholy nature of the book. It’s called The Hospice Bubble & Other Devastating Affirmations. It features many of the poems that first appeared on this blog in April 2018 as I wrote to process my dad’s last days. But it worked out great. I had 4 poet friends lead off the night. They were diverse and all very good. There were friends there from my 25 years of being in the poetry scene. There were Lady Brain friends, co-workers, and others. It was packed. I read for about half an hour and you could hear a pin drop. I held it together mostly as I read, though many of the audience members told me they wept or sobbed through much of it, which I consider a great compliment. After I was done, Lindsay & her band played and they were fantastic. My god, what a great night. Here are some photos:
The next day, Mom, Sandy & I went to La Jolla Cove which was super lovely. We drove around the beach areas, and it was a nice day. That evening, we watched some baseball from the rooftop then got Lolita’s. Friday, we drove back to LM and then really lounged and relaxed. I took Sandy to the airport on Sunday the 21st, Dad’s birthday and Easter.
And then it was last week of work! It was slowly starting to sink in for my boss and others, including me. We did a tapas lunch on Tuesday, and on Thursday for my send-off, we did a karaoke party! It was such a blast, truly. I was just so happy to get silly and sing my head off with these people. It was perfect. On Friday, as I transferred the last of my files to an archive for them to access, my boss took me to lunch for poke, and then he and Mike walked me out around 1 pm. That afternoon, I took myself to Himmelberg’s, a new restaurant on the corner, and drank and ate, read my book, and watched baseball. It was great. The weekend brought a last minute reading at ArtWalk which went well. Some nice friends showed up for that which was cool. It was a lovely day. Sunday was fairly uneventful.
Then Monday happened, and my anxiety took over. I had so much to do! Pack and book the mover! Take furniture to Goodwill or sell it! Work on the book tour! Cancel utilities! Figure out insurance! Figure out a budget! I had to take stuff to LM which meant packing ASAP! On the weekly call with Mom & Sandy that night, I basically had a breakdown. In retrospect, I think it was a natural down after all the hyper intense emotions of the month.
Tuesday, I was back! I packed and loaded stuff into the car, made a plan to go up to LM to help Mom with the house. So on the evening of May 1, I drove up and spent all day Thursday working: moving boxes, helping Mom pack some stuff, etc. It was very busy, plus Mom wasn’t feeling great so it was hard for her. On Friday, we had a conversation that became an emotional release for both of us, but we were able to talk and get it worked out, which I’m so happy about. I drove back to SD, and that night I was on a show to celebrate Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a really fun night. My friend, Shawn, put it together, including the history of Pete of which I narrated throughout the show. It all went really super great. We’re going to do it again on the 18th, so that will be fun.
That weekend, it was back to packing and taking care of the administrative tasks of moving, most of which I mentioned above.
This week, I had dinner with a good friend. She just got a new job after 9 months of being unemployed after she was laid off from SeaWorld. It was good to see her and catch up. Then Thursday morning, I had coffee with another friend, an artist who is also going through some big changes: moving out of SD at the end of July and making way for new possibilities.
I’m making strides in the administrative tasks finally. I have containers packed and plans for the rest of the stuff lined up for the next couple weeks. This weekend, there will be friends and music, a featured reading for me on Sunday (Mother’s Day – I love you, Mama!), plus all the same packing/planning/organizing of the apartment, the tour, and thinking about what comes after the tour, looking for a job and getting an income again. In the meantime, I had a poem accepted for publication in a journal out of New York (Beacon NY, in fact, home of Pete Seeger).
I can’t promise I’ll write again until the tour starts, but I promise to write during the tour.
Thanks for reading my long-ass blog. I know that part of the reason that I don’t write very often is because I know once I start, it will be long. Haha. Anyway, I think I covered everything (there was A LOT!) up to now. I hope whoever reads this from wherever you are that you are making strides to be your best self. I feel like I am.