Tag: Baby Girl Six

It’s Still A Dylan World

I’m searching for music to listen to that’s right for the beginning of Baby Girl Six and I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan because I feel certain the story is locked somewhere in there.  That voice.  The harmonica.  The woods.  People living on the fringe.  But “With God On Their Side” came on and suddenly I realized that this song is the perfect song to play through this whole 2012 presidential election period with the way God has entered so much into discussion – how the Catholics and the Mormons and the Protestants keep bringing religion forward or other people do it for them.  Everyone thinks they have god on their side and what’s funny is how all these Christian based religions are based on the same god but have a different interpretation of it – so all of them think they’re serving god through his son Jesus and they fight and discredit each other and the only time they can agree on much is when they all agree that the only thing more threatening than Atheism is Islam.

I would like this song to play every time a politician says the word “God” because there’s no place in politics for God when you are representing all kinds of people with all kinds of beliefs.  So we need a genius to step up and make this song automatically play every time politicians bring up the following words during a political debate or discussion:

God, Jesus, scripture, bible, Satan, Christian, Islam, Atheist, Buddhism, Mormon, church, Judaism, Pagan, the Lord, Our Father, the Almighty, heretic,  Talmud, or the Savior.

If you are the genius who can make this happen please email me at:


It’s still a Dylan world.  I suppose Lady Gaga might be saying important things that will still be true and important twenty years from now but I would like to suggest that Dylan wrote the flavor of our country, our people, and made astute political commentaries better than any other American songwriter.

As for the opening song for Baby Girl Six, I’ve got it narrowed down to either “North Country Blues” or “Boots Of Spanish Leather”.

*Please note that when Angelina says “all people” there are a few exceptions as follows: people whose beliefs cause them to or demand that they eat other people, kill other people, hate other people, rape other people, hurt other people.  “All” is inclusive of any beliefs outside of those exceptions.  Even though she may think your belief is weird or funny or stupid she will fight to protect your right to openly believe whatever you want as long as it is left outside of the government.

In Which I Break Promises

I’ve made you promises I can’t keep.  I’ve been working at plot development and character analysis and even made my first attempt at the first chapter of Baby Girl Six.  I was so excited by the idea of publishing a monthly chapter.  I thought it would shake me up a little and force me to – I don’t know – learn to writer better fast perhaps?  Here’s the thing (this is where I give you an untidy bunch of roses even though sunflowers are your favorite) I am not a good enough writer to slap a chapter down and publish it without regret.  Remember that time we were up at three in the morning and I was drunk off my ass but you were just sober enough to remember everything I said?  It’s like that.  Once I show you a chapter I won’t be able to scrape it out of your head to make it better.  You will always remember the horrible first draft quality like you remember my most unguarded and ugly confessions made unintentionally under the influence.

What I learned from writing both The Winter Room and Cricket and Grey is that apparently I don’t write great first chapters because in both cases the first chapter was the most rewritten one of all and it was worth the rewrites.  If I was Charles Dickens I might be able to do a serialized book keeping to deadlines and writing chapters that read like 7th drafts… but in spite of some insistent chin hairs attempting to masculate me, I do not have Charles Dickens’ chops.

I was going to try out this serialized book idea using Baby Girl Six because of all the story pitches I came up with that one seemed the most ridiculous and I wasn’t very attached to it.  The more I worked on Six’s character analysis and the more I worked on designing the story and the other characters the more attached I grew.  I sat down this morning to furiously tap out the first damn chapter and post it no matter what.  But I kept thinking about Six and how much I needed time to develop her more and how it will probably take 10 tries at the first chapter to set the mood of the whole book right.  First drafts are crappy affairs.  I don’t want to publish any first drafts.  So I’ve decided I’m not going to.

I know I made promises and when I made them I really meant to keep them.  I understand if you need to rethink our relationship now.  It’s not that I don’t love you – in fact it’s because I love you too much that I need to protect you from my first drafts.

Look, if you can foot the bill I’ll happily go to therapy with you.

Update:  So I tell Philip how I’ve decided that you deserve only the best and how I’m totally chickening out on putting out there something that might be pretty rough and he, naturally, thinks I should do it anyway.  He says that writing chapters and throwing them up on the blog even though they’re only first or second drafts is like throwing them on a big ugly clipboard and I can go back and replace the originals with better versions later like a living morphing story – like a book being written in real time for my readers to see evolving… I hate it when he does that.  He says this will probably make me a better writer faster and is a good exercise.  Which is what I originally thought and was the reason I was going to do it.  Damn him.  I always knew he was trouble!

Translating A Novel Into My Mother Tongue

Burning Hand

The first punishment came like road rage
scorching the pavement with friction
devils uncuffed with viscous screams
thick and rich and choking with blood iron
flooding the closed room filling with metal death
small hands buried in mud, elbow deep
constricting nightmares lapping at small skin
punishment like living threads of belief
frayed to a nothing point, to a nothing thought
a nothing pain, a nothing confusion
until the mud is tight and cracked with thirst
fighting for oxygen, crying with child’s tears
for being a dirty girl.

The Weight Of It

You will look at me, sisters.
you will remember me as I am today
you will not say my name but you will feel my hair
the weight of it will hold down your chests
the weight of it will remind you that I’m free
the weight of it will remind you of your passive life
how you stood and watched me hang
how you turned your eyes away, from a nothing face
how you shut your ears to me, a nothing noise
you will look at me, sisters
you will hear me, sisters and brothers
you will see me for the first time
I may die as I leave but you will envy me
when you discover how they lied
about the cost of the freedom they promised
how we paid in wages of skin and sweat
alone we are nothing at all, not even names
we only exist in this strange forest cage
we are their trapped dreams delivering promise
we are their weapons of war against the machine
we are their fevered delusions squalling in poor light
you cannot follow me into the road
you cannot tell me I am nothing anymore
you cannot stop the machine of change

Note: these two poems constitute this evening’s notes for Baby Girl Six.  This is how I grab onto my fiction.  It is always poetry first.  It doesn’t matter if it’s good poetry or not.  We need not attach value to it.  I don’t, and I would appreciate it if you offered no critiques.  That’s not what this is about.  It serves to let me get to know a character in my own language.  A repetitive emotional shorthand.  Poetry isn’t something to “get” unless you get it.  It isn’t really a puzzle to be solved so much as it’s a script for longer thoughts, for longer stories.

When I was 23 years old I realized that poetry was my first language.  I’ve written a couple of good ones in my life but most of them are worthless to anyone but me.  Poetry is my mother tongue.  It is where I begin.  It is where I will end.  It infiltrates my prose, my most serious discussions about life and death.  You hear me most of the time as a translation from poetry to regular speech.  I think in poetry.  I smell in poetry.  I see in poetry.  I am constantly translating.  It is no wonder, then, that things go awry in my life.  Translation is not a perfect art.  If I want to write a novel I must first hear it in poetry.

Other trends emerge.  Patterns of thought connected tightly to music.   I cannot write without a soundtrack.

Tonight I learned another lesson: there are specific stories I have to tell.  All of my stories are guided by an internal switchboard directing what is revealed.  I have a beginning point that is necessary for me to tell stories from.  You don’t need to know this because it will become obvious to you over time.

Tonight it is Six I’m hearing.  Her story is becoming lucid.

An Unkempt Brain

I have been so scattered in the last few weeks.  We’ve had one crisis after another and yet I still managed to enjoy myself quite a bit doing things like making my own laundry detergent.  Remember Pete?  That baby snake is still in my thoughts.  Last night I was convinced that I had something terribly wrong inside my body, that something was eating away at me without me knowing and that it was going to kill me.  This is not an uncommon thing in my head.  I spend a lot of time telling myself why this isn’t likely.  The more people I know fighting cancer and other serious health issues the harder it is to make myself believe it.  I’ve been meaning to respond to an article on The Huffington Post about enjoying every single minute of your child’s life.  The article was great because finally another mom besides me is saying it’s okay to not enjoy every single minute.  What a fucking enormous load of crap pressure to put on yourself!  I remember hearing that a lot too and it was a constant irritant.  But I’m not going to go on at great length about it because as you can see, I’m still quite scattered.  I will say this:

Enjoy the great, the good, and the decent moments of parenting and feel free to not enjoy the parts that tear your heart to shreds, exhaust you, annoy you, and stress you out.  You are not obligated to listen to anyone else’s edicts on what motherhood should feel like to you.  We all have different parenting experiences and if yours feels like every minute is precious then that’s great (and I hate you), but some of us struggle more than others and it doesn’t mean you love your kid any less if you don’t enjoy every minute of it.  So do what works for you but don’t put pressure on others they don’t need.  It’s also okay for your kid to know you don’t love every minute of parenting because it’s good for them to see that it can be challenging.  It’s certainly more honest than pretending you never wish you could erase the last few hours of tantrums.  Bottom line: if you love your child that’s what your child will remember about your parenting the most.

Also: It doesn’t really go by fast at all.  It only goes by fast when you look backwards rather than forwards.  Be in the present, whatever it’s like, and you’ll get everything worthy out of your life and your child’s.

Here’s something weird – my sweet friend Kelly sent me some money with which to splurge because she knows how tight it’s been around here and so this weekend I bought two blocks of cheese (one jack and one cheddar) and beer.  My two favorite things in the consumable world.  I have to say that once I had it around again I realize that it’s not as important to me as I thought.  I’m pretty okay with it being an occasional treat rather than something we always have in the fridge.  It isn’t really that I feel physically better, but I do feel like not feeling like I NEED to have cheese is kind of nice.  I’ve been eating tofu and toast for lunch many days, sometimes with collards, sometimes without (depending on what we have) and in the past I would have obviously had it with cheese, but I didn’t miss it much.  Plus, I love tofu.  I just felt a little freer.  Ditto the beer.

The sucky thing is that after almost three weeks of eating about 75% less dairy and 50% less volume of alcohol, I did not lose a single pound.  I’m not crying in my lemon water or anything.  It just would have been nice to see additional rewards.

I’ve been having a great deal of trouble developing my character outline for Baby Girl Six.  A lot of staring at the blank screen.  I can’t start writing it until I know who she is and that was difficult.  Apparently I really do need this exercise of writing on demand and doing it more quickly because apparently I find it almost impossible to write about what other people are most interested in.  You say “Baby Girl Six!” and I say “All I can think about is Jane from the Winter Room.  So shut up.”  I’m going to have to let go of perfection, to start with.  Writing a serialized novel and trying to offer up a chapter a month is going to make plot challenges and character black holes much more visible to readers because even though I’m trying to come up with a workable outline to go from, it will not be possible to go back and change what I already have because people will have already read it.  This is an exercise in soap opera writing.  I’m sure the writers plan plots out months in advance but because they put episodes up every day they can’t go back and change things just because they came up with a much better idea for a story arc for this character or that one.  What’s behind you is done.  There’s only moving forward.  That’s how blog posts are too but with blog posts no one really expects a clean arc or literature quality writing.

So last night I was finally getting into the book I’m reading that was boring me to tears.  I still don’t love it but I’m finally invested enough to (I think) read the whole thing.  What I really need is a brand new author who has tons of books that have the same voice and type of story that I can dive into.  I’ve now read all but one Anne Stevenson books.  I want more just like that.  Anyway, I couldn’t get sleepy but really wanted to be.  So I turned off the light at 1am and promptly fell into a bunch of thoughts about Baby Girl Six and why a 20 year old would just be leaving home for the first time.  (She was going to be 18 but I just can’t write a main character under 20 years old.  Won’t do it.)  I got ideas.  My head was finally moving forward with some key information and thoughts that will allow me to begin this novel.  That’s some useful insomnia.  I didn’t get up to write notes though because I was pretending my head wasn’t finally full of ideas and pretending I couldn’t hear Philip snoring, and pretending that I wasn’t still worried that my body is riddled with cancer.

So I’m going to go write some of those notes now.  Then I’m going to order some herbal supplies so I can get cracking on making more lotion, lip balm, salves, and shampoo.  Then I’m going to wrestle some blackberries.

Hopefully will be a more focused person soon.