Slept hard last night, like the dead. I think the travel took it out of me. I left my phone in the kitchen and managed to stay in bed until 9:30. Only part of the road that I really remember is stopping to stretch in a Vermont cemetery where most of the graves seemed to be over a century old. I scratched my eye somehow and spent part of the drive precariously trying to blink the blurriness out of my right eye and keeping the car under 80 mph just in case.
I feel a total lack of enthusiasm for my day job today.
Reading the other night went okay. I thought about reading a piece about my mom intended for use in a collaborative project with Sam, but it didn’t feel ready, so I switched to an excerpt from a prose piece about Olympia – a recounting of a sweet date with HP and the night W and I thought we were going to die. Felt good to write about a one and place that is safely relegated to the past at this point. I finished with a newer poem. Being onstage was at once both exhilarating and terrifying. I sweated it out under the lights in my Ben Sherman knockoff. I need to work on my inflection and delivery. I felt flat, on autopilot. I don’t even know how long I was up there. Time melts away onstage, especially when the venue is dark and the only lights are on you. I know I got a strong round of applause as I left stage, but I was too scared to look out at the crowd. I walked backstage a cathartic mess of nerves and wanted to hide. I have this feeling like I just want to be so real that it shines through everything else. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think sometimes, people just want to be entertained. It worked last time I was on that stage, reading about lost love and forgiving my momma. Tonight, it felt like it felt flat. I’m not sweating it too hard. There are good nights and bad nights.
I felt like a raw nerve after I read, and just wanted to hide. I found a spot behind some ancient bleachers way in the back of the theater and crawled under them to hyperventilate. The person who went on after me and closed out the night did this jokey nude performance art thing, where they walked onstage mostly naked and gradually had people who were in the know hand them clothes until they were dressed As they were walking off stage, they said: “Did you know that in Vermont that it’s illegal to take your clothes off onstage? That’s it. That’s the performance. Bye.”
It was funny, but maybe lost on me, prudish as I can be at times. The staff working the event asked everyone to put their phones in a box, so nobody could creep and sneak photos. Totally understandable. I got up from my hiding place and surrendered my phone and then went back to the shadows to try and remember how to breathe.
I hid until the house lights came back on and then got my phone and went outside. A few people told me they were into what I did and I think I smiled weakly and said thank you. I never know how to take praise, even though I know how much we all want it on some level. I guess it’s just that I bare my soul up there and I wonder how voyeuristic it might feel for someone else to see, and I also get that someone might wanna shield their eyes. I don’t know.
I’ve decided that I can always feel pride in how much of myself I pour into my writing, how hard I work at it, even if I don’t always connect with a reader or an audience. I don’t think I’m always necessarily palatable as a person, or a writer, but when I connect with people, I do so on a pretty rad level. All I can be is brutally honest and keep working.