photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Changing Lanes

It’s 6:57 a.m.
I’m listening to Sonata 3 in C Major BWV1005 by Bach and crying over Sylvia Plath.
I’ve been on this Plath kick for almost a year now. I used to be so harsh and judgmental of her. (“Well that’s what she gets for sticking her head into an oven!”) I didn’t understand her, nor did I try to until I read Rough Magic- her biography by Paul Alexander. Sylvia and I share several things in common. We’re both writers (dare I make such a claim?), perfectionistic overachievers, we both lost our children, we both went mad, and we were both locked away in an institution many years ago- having suffered breakdowns halfway through our college majors (and before)- and then immediately dusted ourselves off and jumped right back into the academic ring- no small feat.

I have a new respect for her, and until I began comparing notes, I had no idea how similar our lives were/are. I think she’s one of the most courageous women I’ve ever known. It’s not easy to have a colossal breakdown (pardon the pun) then pick yourself up again and carry on in the faces of all of the inquisitive eyes and naysayers…dream shatterers…

I’ve been reading her recently published (very private) journals, all night in fact. What a privilege to be able to wile away the hours reading her personal diary! I clearly have a fascination with her, but not only that- her poetry is by far, my favourite of anyone’s- Anne Sexton weighing in at close second. For me, nobody can touch these immensely talented and troubled women, who were both personal friends of each other (In fact, they shared a poetry workshop class and Plath admired Sexton greatly) who took their own lives at their own hands.

I read this in Sylvia’s journal earlier, and this is what made me cry:

Remember about the shadow of past knowledge. Write about your own experience. By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others experiences in thought and action– stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way, the Spartan way – and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity! 

I’m listening, Sylvia. :0)

I received my audit from my University several days ago: my petition to graduate has been accepted and I’m expected to graduate this December on the 7th at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center. It’s been a long four years! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull off a Behavioral Sciences major- I had to face certain doom and unspeakable tragedy (sexual abuse as a child, institutionalization, the loss of my children, insanity, years of being battered relentlessly by an unforgiving system), but it’s been worth fighting for and I had to prove to myself that I am more than a “label” that has a fancy name of this disorder or that. I will not be defined by a clinical title or even the thought of another person, for I’ve chosen to maximize what I’ve learned in school and minimize the trauma I’ve lived through.

Still, I can’t help but to be heavily influenced by the likes of Plath- she stood up in the face of terror itself and fought as long as she could. But what an incredible talent! I’m going to heed the words in her journal and I’m not going to be ashamed of my past and what I’ve lived through. It’s a miracle just to be alive.

I’ve decided that after I graduate, I’ll transfer over to Southern New Hampshire University, which is a private coed and one of the best schools in New England to work on my BA- not for Criminal Justice- but for Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. Plath has inspired me, completely, and has reminded that I’m an artist and a writer, and have been my whole life. I have the skeleton already- which is the passion- but I need the BA in Creative Writing so I can flesh out the bones.

I’m already a starving artist, what will it matter?

Life has been a blur lately of exams, cramming, writing essays and reports: I have 5 weeks to go!
And, I have 5 A’s in all 5 classes still. Go me. :0)

Image

Josh stands in the golden hour sunlight down at the River.
Canon Digital Rebel/Super Takumar 135/3.5 film lens

And Heidi, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for your introduction to Plath at Olive Garden years ago.  If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t even be doing this whole school thing. xo

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10 responses

  1. yvo

    B . . . you are so amazing . . . i cannot put into words why I am crying . . . but really you awe me. You are probably the strongest person I have have ever known. Huge respect to you!! Congrats on the well deserved A’s. I hope you give yourself a chance to regroup after you graduate. Every grad student I have known Including me, found they kind of collapsed after they graduated. I musta slept a blue streak for a couple weeks. I can’t believe 5 weeks and you graduate!! Wonderful!!! xxx y.

    October 31, 2013 at 8:21 am

  2. Y, that means so much to me! Thanks. :0) Yes, I’m going to do absolutely nothing for a good four weeks other than watch Judge Judy reruns with bad hair in my PJs (and love it). I was going to take a year off, but I think a month will do me fine. When I transfer, my new schedule will be in 2 month/2 course increments (that’s called a vacation to me- compared to what I’m used to) so I’ll be able to scale back quite a bit. I’ll be returning to RB soon I think- I just miss the heck out of everybody. I love you too, and yes, I’m graduating……!

    [faints] heheh… xo

    October 31, 2013 at 9:29 am

  3. I think this plan is absolutely brilliant!!! I am so excited for you and think you will truly love that major. You already have the gift, now all you need is the degree. People that don’t have the gift but go for the degree are most likely screwed. I’ve read your writing, a few of poems from the amazon.com website, and seen many pictures. You have it. End of story. It’s just so obviously there. ❤ The dog groomer named Kathy, where I work, told me the other day that someone asked her once if she won the lottery what she would do. She had a business degree but said dog grooming. The woman told her THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING…. the money will come. She went with it, took a risk, and today makes more money grooming than she ever did with her Bachelors!! 🙂 I have full faith this will be you!

    October 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    • Thanks for sharing that with me, Jen- I love your insight. I’m totally stoked. I know it will be a lot of hard work, but I’m used to that, academically speaking, and I love new challenges. Only two days ago, I imagined spending the rest of my life working in a “drone-factory”- another brick in the wall, as it were. I began reading Plath and Sexton, and a new fire was breathed into me. Not because of the poems that I read, but the lives that they lead and how they pursued their dreams. There was a lot of rejection! But that goes with the territory; I know it’s the right thing to do when it’s burning this strongly. And yes, the “right things” will come. Notice I didn’t say money. :0) Money would be great too, but sometimes, we think money is what we need when actually, we need something that can only be achieved by pursuing another area entirely. For me, the best successes in my life have been when I wasn’t expecting them and was simply “living my life and doing what I enjoyed”. So, I’ll be able to do that. Thanks for sharing the dog grooming story with me! You’re always good for inspirational testimonials. I appreciate you. xo

      October 31, 2013 at 5:17 pm

  4. you don’t have a like button! I am immeasurably jealous and very proud it’s taken you only 4 years for your degree. I just have so much shame that my problems have influenced the length of my college career for l double that time

    November 2, 2013 at 2:58 am

    • I know…I can’t stand the whole ‘like button’ thing. (I never have.) So, I encourage people to write instead. :0) I always take the time out for others; I’ll stop in and WRITE- no matter how busy- I want to let them know that they’re important enough for me to do that in my “busy world’. So, I try to keep the Like button disabled.

      But, that said, thanks for coming in and for taking the time to write! And yes, it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do- getting my degree on time. I’ve not only completed my Behavioral Sciences (almost) but tacked an extra year onto it with a certification in Substance Abuse- as if the former weren’t hard enough on its own! Beat up, broken, taped, and glued- but I’ve done it. I hope I’m able to encourage you to do the same- it’s only going to be hell for a little while! I know the stresses that school causes- it’s incredible, so you should be proud of yourself for hanging in there. Others might have quit, given your challenges and battles; you’re hanging in there against the odds, which makes your story even more incredible. Good for you. :0)

      November 2, 2013 at 3:05 am

  5. Congratulations B. on successfully navigating that first degree! December 7 will be here in no time at all. Having never met you (except for your blog) I can tell that you are a very creative and determined individual. I can see you going in the direction of creative writing, but I also think your photography is very compelling too. It seems to me that you have many of the qualities needed to also make a good photojournalist. You can write, take excellent photographs, and bring a passion to your subject that connects with others.

    November 3, 2013 at 10:05 am

    • Thanks so much, Al. :0) I have to really harness myself in right now: I know it’s easy to let go of the reigns a little when the finish line is in sight. I have to force myself to study just as much! And yes, I’m pretty excited about taking Creative Writing. I feel like the Academics has darn near killed the creative writer in me: all of the crime and drug reports and sociological and psychological theories and perspectives- you start feeling like a robot after a while. I’ve actually considered Photojournalism but I want to foster and develop my writing: I want to be careful to not mix my passions with a career that I’ll “have” to do- it will become a chore then, or simply a job, you know? Besides, I want to work from home! (I may consider copywriting down the road for an income, but I always want to keep my art/photography/poetry/ and short stories, etc. “untainted” from the riffraff of commercialism and tying it in with a 9 to 5 in those areas.) I’m more than likely going to revise Peanut Butter Soup (my children’s book) manuscript and do a few more school readings: I love writing goofy, twisted, whimsical poetry for kids. :0) (Which is what that book is all about.) Anyway, I appreciate you popping over. Always. xo -B

      November 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      • Your internal, intuitive compass is your guiding star and will help lead the way. It’s a very beautiful day at the river today.

        November 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      • Absolutely. :0)

        And I’m pretty jealous of you right about now: I have a 5 chapter midterm due today. (Going to be a long day…)

        November 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm

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