This publication is the exclusive property of cj Schlottman, and is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this blog may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, cj Schlottman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting It Out of My System

I did a good thing yesterday, a healing thing.  I’ve been stewing over the MF’s treatment of me since January.  Now he’s come slithering around acting as though nothing happened between us, trying to chat me up in the gym.  He even sat himself down at a table next to where I was having dinner with my good friend Frances on the anniversary of Clint’s death.  Just plopped his ass down and turned his chair toward us, even asked if he could have a taste of our appetizer.
When he went to the bar to get a glass of wine, Frances, who is 83, and I looked at one another.

“What are we going to do?” I asked.  
“What any self-respecting lady would do - be nice and get the hell out of here as fast as we can.!  We don’t dare risk a scene.”
She was right, of course.  We ate and made our exit as soon as possible.
I’ve been a little distracted by the thing with Michael, but the thing with Loren has also been chewing at me.
So,  yesterday afternoon, I sat down and wrote a poem.  It was cleansing and healing, and though I may edit it some, I went ahead and posted it on My Poems.  
God, I feel better.  Click here to read it, but be warned that it is rated R.  If you can’t tolerate the f-word, skip this one.  
© cj Schlottman
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friends - Without Benefits

Michael has come and gone, has already called me from Houston to say he is home safe.
If you follow this blog,  you know that he and I were lovers nearly 40 years ago and drifted apart while life was going on around us.  We recently reconnected and started a phone flirtation over a month in length.  You know that he phoned me out of the blue when I was in the South of France at a Zona Rosa Retreat, saying he had important things to talk to me about, and that he wanted to come to see me.
He arrived on Thursday, June 23, and our visit ended last night when we said good-night and pecked one another softly on the lips.  The story of his visit is recorded on a new blog, a blog just for our story.  It may be a very short story.  Who knows?  It may be a very long one.  I chose not to write about my experiences with Michael here on this blog because this blog sprang from my experiences after the death of the love of my live, my Darling, my Clint, who passed away two years ago.
I had to give them separation.  I don’t want to make the mistake of co-mingling these stories, though they do have a few threads in common.
Michael and Me is the new blog, and it is not PG.  I don’t want any of my grandchildren running up on it by mistake, so if you don’t already have the URL, e-mail me, and I will send it to you.
I will continue to blog here on The Red Sweater.  This is in not way its end.  There will be essays and thoughts, but I’ve been reshuffling my priorities and plan to spend more time on poetry.  I will be posting links to new or reworked poems from time to time.  Please come by to visit.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's Okay, cj. It's okay.

It was in April of 1997 that I first visited Zona Rosa, the ongoing and the now nationally known writers workshop in Savannah led by Rosemary Daniell. It was there that the seeds of my friendship with Rosemary were first planted. She invited me to become a part of the group and in the ensuing years, we have become close friends, sharing not only our love of words and writing but also the difficulties of being the parents of sons with serious mental disorders. She is a widely published and internationally know author of both poetry and prose, and she was on the forefront of the Feminist Movement. You can read about her, her books, her workshops and more by clicking on the Red Lips button on my sidebar.

Now, can we talk about me for a minute? I have never been a prolific writer. I am congenitally incapable of sitting down and telling myself to “write.” I need to have something rolling around in my head before positioning my fingers on the keyboard of my MacBook.

It is true that I am capable of quickly creating small pieces for the memes in which I participate - Saturday Centus and Six Word Fridays. They are a great learning tool, and I am not dismissing them as inconsequential. They carry their own weight, but what I mean is what happens when my words flow, sometimes rush from my brain to my fingertips, racing to get on the page - without a prompt. It’s a little like what is happening now.

For a long time, probably since I joined Zona Rosa all those years ago, I have been critical of my lack of output. I have actually felt guilty about not writing a dozen poems and six or eight blog posts every month.

I am here to say that I have been too hard on myself for too long. “It’s okay, cj. It’s okay,” is my new mantra. Nowhere is it written that my talent is measured by the amount of work I produce. I used to worry that I would lose my readers if I didn’t post a blog post at least twice a week. Piffle. My readers are my readers. There are not legions of them, but the ones I have support my writing and return to read my pieces when they appear on my blogs - even if it has been ten days since I posted.

One of the wonderful surprises about the Blogger community for me came when I realized I had, indeed, made my way into a community of committed writers who sacrifice their time to read one another - and to leave comments. I am aware that I have readers who do not comment publicly because they send me e-mails letting me know they have visited and read my work.

And I reciprocate. I see this exchange of material as an opportunity, not just to enjoy good writing but also to learn. Our community is diverse, and more than once, I have been inspired to write a post after reading someone else’s. My only complaint is that I rarely receive real criticism. I want to hear what others think about the quality of my work. It won’t hurt my feelings. I may accept said criticism or ignore it, but it would be nice to have it.

It takes me a long time to write a good poem - usually a few weeks, sometimes longer. I edit and rewrite and sleep on it, sometimes for several days, before I look at it again. Returning to the piece from a distance enables me to, sometimes instantly, see areas that need cleaning up or expanding or reworking. Other times, I labor for hours, reading aloud and even reading into a tape recorder to know how my piece sounds. I struggle for words that carry the right weight. I distill the piece down to a poem in which there are hopefully no superfluous words or abstract nouns. This I learned from Rosemary, not only my friend but also my writing coach.

When I began blogging, I published often. I was in personal crisis, not working and in need a safe place to write down my truths.

Now that I am working, posting has slowed down. With the exception of entries in my personal journal, I don’t write on work days. I am on the job at 6:45 in the morning, and many nights I don’t return home until nearly 8:00 or later. Even when I get off on time, it is 7:30 before I make it home. I am not whining. I am stating the facts. When I have worked for 12 or 13 hours, on my feet the most time, I have energy only to feed and play with my dogs, shower and go to bed so I can get enough sleep to do it again the next day.

When I have time off, I do my serious writing, and I have already confessed that I’m a slow poke at that.

So, there. “It’s okay, cj. It’s okay.” I have given myself permission to take as long as I need to do my best work.

© cj Schlottman
June, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It Hurts So Good - Pain and Laughter

It is here, the 2nd anniversary of Clint’s death. I will get through it.

I woke, tired and aching, from a dream of blue crabs, some skittering around the deck, others dead, cooked to that bright orange they take on when heated. It was nighttime, no moon, and my dogs were chasing the live crabs all over the deck, ignoring the dead ones and trying to eat the live ones. I began to try to catch the live ones so I could to steam and eat them. I tried grabbing them with a pair of short tongs. The result was the picture of a frantic me, chasing the crabs and catching none. Then they were all cooked, perfect orange sculptures decorating the deck and glowing in the dark.

I looked into the dogs’ kennel on the deck, a product of my dream, and found the shells and flippers of large crabs scattered all over it. I got down on my knees and reached in to start cleaning up the mess.

Awake. Aware. Today is the 2nd anniversary of Clint’s death. I will get through it.

Two years ago, Clint lay in this bed, dying, scorched with fever but awake enough to say, time after time, that he loved me. The day unfolded and he was too tired to talk but would open his eyes when he heard my voice. The afternoon wore one, and I lay at his side, whispering permission for him to go, lying to him, saying I would be okay. He stopped opening his eyes, and at 6:33 PM he stopped breathing and I put my ear to his chest and his heart was still. Today, it beats within me, his heart so kind and good and loving.

This is the 2nd anniversary of Clint’s death. Will I ever get through this?

Clint fretted about leaving me alone. He wanted me to meet and marry someone else after he was gone. I shrugged off the very idea. No one in the universe, I told him, could fill his size 13 shoes, love me the way he did, treasure my very existence as he did. I had great romance with him for 35 years, and I could feed off that for the rest of my life.

These two years have been a time of transition for me, reinventing the parts of me that Clint took when he left. I have made some mistakes. I have taken great pleasure and gratification from my work. I have grown, but I have also shrunken. I have become more and more reclusive, less tolerant of fools. I don’t have enough time waste on prattle .

I have been dreadfully lonely, sometimes sitting on the hearth to talk to Clint, there in his urn. I have wept and laughed with him. When I sat down with him 10 days ago and told him my high school sweetheart had called and wants to come to see me, he smiled. He does not want me to be alone.

Now I am confused and crazy. I have always loved Michael as a friend, and we never lost touch. Clint grew to like him when he saw how important his long distance friendship was to me.

Now, in two weeks, Michael is coming from Houston to Macon to see me. I have a Gentleman Caller. We have not missed a day talking to one another since I returned from France. When he called me, I was in Aix. This sounds like something you read about, not something that happens.

I think God and Clint put their heads together and sent Michael back into my life at this painful time to give me hope, to help me through the tremendous pain I am feeling. When Michael calls, he makes me laugh and that laughter soars over my grief and covers it up, if for only a short time. This man and I have loved one another since our teenage years, a love born of great friendship and mutual respect. I don’t know what he wants, he won’t say until he gets here, but I believe he is coming to woo me.

Thus the crazy confusion. Am I ready for romance? Will I ever be? I’m lonely. Am I reading too much into this? What is Michael looking for? Do I have it?

Today is the 2nd anniversary of Clint’s death, and Michael is helping me get through it.