Once, I was asked how many years it took for grief to go by, and I responded that it had been six years between Elizabeth, my first cat, running away and adopting Timmy, our new family cat. Timmy is alive and well, but Tango, the Bengal rescue cat we loved so much, passed away a bit over a year ago. Although he was old when we adopted him, he deserved the best life we could give him, and more of it in my opinion.
Pets are a strange subject to write about because they are both an eminent commonality and very proprietary. You risk adhering to the familiar and sentimental or boring your audience. I wanted to publish work about Tango; I wanted to prove that I could memorialize him in that way.
A while back, I wrote a blog post about list poems. I was experimenting with new forms, and that's how I won an honorable mention in the Binnacle's Ultra Short Contest this year for cat: a google search. Although I marketed it for the contest as poetry, it is nonfiction: a list of terms in my search history, curated over a year of owning a wonderful Bengal cat.
Why did this idea stand out? Well, after Tango's death it was hard for me to browse the web on my computer or ipad because I had spent a year googling cat terms including a lot of items towards the end of his life. Thanks to Google's autocomplete feature, which says, "Hey, you're searching for something that starts with 'ca'--let me suggest some things!" I couldn't look up anything, and I didn't want to clear my search history either. That, right there, is what grief is.
I haven't felt very productive in the past weeks. Ever since Hapax and my adoption piece in |tap|, I've accumulated a feeling of exhaustion that won't go away despite trying to push through. However, I don't have anything to show for my struggles except for a few key things:
1. The guild is stable.
2. I am stable.
3. I feel in my bones that a storm of productivity is coming.
(1) was the item on the list that plagued me in early July, as Aisthesis suffered its worst setback in a long time. I'm going to write a series of posts about the guild and its history, inspired by a post on our forums asking for reminiscences, but the truth is that when something is not quite history yet, it is often too painful and divisive to write about without stirring up drama or hurt feelings.
(2), of course, should need no explanation. After a lot of time spent on intellectual pursuits, the emotional worry of a very personal piece coming out in |tap| and a literary journal curated by me personally, along with a vast underestimation of the ins and outs of putting together a literary magazine, drained me. That this all occurred at the same time as (1) should speak to the vast absorption of my emotional, physical, and mental self in the odd way that life likes to stack peaks and troughs.
(3) is just a feeling I have, but it's often a correct one. I know the pressure has been piling up, but I also feel that creatively I am just gathering resources for my creative output. However, at the end of each day, I am not satisfied by what I have done during that day, even if I know that lightening up is good for me.
So, today is the time to turn the page and start writing, start creating, check in on those photographs I never post-processed, and try to do the best I can for this month.
Cheers! I hope everyone is having a good month.
My painting, 'In the Water,' is coming out in the New England Review online. It's been in their database for a while along with some other paintings, but after a false start with one of them, I finally have some good news.
My poem/short prose piece/list/hybrid whatever 'cat: a google search,' is coming out in the Binnacle as one of the Ultra-Short Honorable Mentions. I know it had a strange format, so I'm not surprised that it didn't place, but I'm happy that they selected it for publication nonetheless. Last week was the one-year anniversary of Tango's death, and 'cat: a google search' was my attempt at writing what is essentially nonfiction or documentary fiction that memorializes him.
I have some other pending submissions, but nothing spectacular as the summer is traditionally a slow time for submission and I'm focused on generating work right now.