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Lara Eckener

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REDA

REDA #2: Look Up

It snowed in Boston this morning. Yesterday it was 60*, today it snowed. What is that people say? Time is an illusion, springtime doubly so?

It was that movie set kind of snow–that light, puffed, swirling in the eddies of the wind and gently falling to the earth where it melts immediately kind of snow. I’ve walked through many different types of snow since moving to New England, but very rarely have I felt like I was walking through an actual snow globe. The city didn’t not feel like it was being shaken up. Perhaps the glass is just on the edge of the horizon.

It was snowing so I looked up. I looked up to inspect the bits of it clinging to my eyelashes and the low ceiling of grey clouds beyond my eyelashes that those bits had come from. I watched as it swirled in dance motes, the white flecks contrasting against the dark brick on some of the buildings around my office. As I watched I thought about all of the times I have been told, while touristing in some city or another, not to look up.

Looking up is conspicuous. Looking up signals that you have an interest in your surroundings and having an interest in your surroundings signals that they are new to you. I find this to be both true and untrue. True because there’s something novel to be found in every ancient patch of sky, and untrue because I am never not interested in my surroundings, even the ones I see every day.

My morning walk from the train station to the office takes me across an open square and up a back street. In that four to five blocks there is a crazy mash of architecture, brutalist structures standing square jawed next to gilded, tiered art deco architecture. One of the buildings butts up against the street with a wide, tan colored wall that I mentally describe as derezzed sandstone, even though it’s probably concrete. It’s just pixelated in parts, there appears to be movement in an otherwise imposing and still structure.

My walk from the office to the train station in the evenings goes around the other side of the block. It is through park squares kept colorful and open with trees and flowers when they’ll grow, and art installations at all times of the year. I’m quite taken with one of the tall buildings that skirts this cluster of squares. It looks like a giant grey vent. It’s interesting and enigmatic and I have made it one of the important settings in a novel I’m working on.

Yet another, darker building serves as a backdrop for the squat glass pyramid of the train station entrance. It towers over it and recently they have started lighting the facade of the building up at night with changing stripes of purple to blue light. I’m not sure what point there is to turning the side of one building in a hundred into dance floor landing strip, but I am not one to turn down opportunities for good bisexual lighting. If only I was tall enough to take selfies in it. About twenty more feet on my height should do me.

I look up wherever I go, because I am a restless soul who just wants to be in the sky, but also because I find that cities in particular reward looking up. If it’s not the architecture it’s the lighting. If it’s not the lighting it’s NO HATE, NO FEAR signs taped to office windows or sexy leg lamps perched in government buildings. If it’s not the lived in spaces it’s the forgotten spaces, the colonies of grime and swirls of black somethingness living along the ceilings of the train stations, or the whorls in the wood of the scaffolding you have to walk under during construction.

I don’t think everyone should live in the clouds, and I’m not trying to discourage anyone from looking down either. There are lots of excellent things to see if you’re looking down which I might make a whole other post about another time. I just think that, every once in a while, it’s good to stretch your neck out. When you go about your days take your wonder with you. And if that’s naive and silly well, it doesn’t hurt to be a little naive and silly from time to time. We all have a lot to see.

I think tomorrow we’re back to plain old cold rain. I have faith in spring, but you know what they say. April showers freeze over March flowers.

REDA #1: Reflection

At the end of December I had grand plans for getting this blog into swing and now here we are, in April, with one post to show for all my good intentions. If only I could teach my intentions to write good poetry, or even type up the bad poems I’ve already written.  Alas. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say, it’s that whenever I sit down to do it I let my brain bully me out of putting any words down at all. No one cares, my brain will say. Your words are ugly, your ideas are ugly, they demean you and the people who read them.

This probably isn’t true, but knowing that doesn’t make it feel any less overwhelming. No one will ever please every reader, of course, but I do have a small clutch of people who believe in me and the things I want to do. This clutch of people gets annoyed when I do things like tag posts on the internet with ‘no one cares kl’.

We care! they type angrily. Stop being so rude and let us love you!

It’s not you baby, it’s me, is what I want to say in response to everyone all of the time.  

The thing is, sometimes I want to write stories and poems that people might like, but mostly I want to write to purge these thoughts that run on a loop in my brain. Then I want to put both of these types of writing into the world, but somehow cloak the latter type under a lace of invisibility. When my attempts at literature are noticed I’m pleased and nervous. When my True Feelings are noticed I immediately feel like I’ve become a burden to anyone who’s ever talked to me.

Lara, you’re saying, what are you writing stories and poems for if your True Feelings aren’t in them?

And that’s fair. My True Feelings are in those things, but the focus is off. It’s softened, or it’s sharper, but it’s not on me as a human with a body I feel encumbered by and who doesn’t drink nearly enough water. There is a marked difference between things I tag for public consumption and things I tag so that I can sift through them later, and when someone comments on those sifting tags I feel somehow like I’ve also saddled them with all of the things I don’t like about myself.

This isn’t what I wanted for you! I yell at the notifications on my phone.

Too late! The notifications buzz back. I already care about you and can’t stop me!

I tried explaining this to my therapist once, about how pouring my heart out in a place that is both technically public but largely likely to be ignored makes me feel like I can let those thoughts and feelings go. It makes me feel lighter and more manageable. She told me that if I really wanted to get rid of those things I could just write them on a piece of paper and then throw that piece of paper away. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone seeing them, problem solved.

My therapist did not grow up with the internet the way I did and very rarely uses it now. It was hard for me to explain to her that my trash can feels very close to home in mental space and that dumb blue site I can access all the time via a phone that never leaves my person feels very far away from home. It feels far enough away at least that if I post my myriad fears and anxieties there I don’t still feel like I’m living in my own muck. Whereas my trash can is just a collection of muck that sits next to my bed. Technology is not clean, but it can be cleansing.

I watch a lot of Youtube videos. My day job is often tedious and repetitive, so in order to trick my wayward ADD brain into staying focused on my computer I will play videos in the background. April is the month when I always have the hardest time keeping up with my subscription box because of a meme called Vlog Every Day in April, which is exactly what it says on the tin.

VEDA seems to function for vloggers a lot like NaNoWriMo functions for writers, as away of getting people out of their heads and creating. The one crucial difference is that instead of getting to go back at the end of the month and edit your work, you have to leave it be. It already exists in the world and is no longer yours. Move on, make something else, make it better, rinse, repeat.

This is a skill I need to cultivate if I’m ever going to get away from the feeling that my words are a burden on those who read them, if I’m ever going to stop shutting myself down before I even start. To that end, I’m making April the month of REDA here at the blog. Reflect Every Day in April. Have a thought, write it down, fix it up a bit, walk away.

I’m not sure yet what the success of this experiment is meant to look like. Maybe success is that silencing myself will become less of a defensive reflex. Or maybe it’s that I’ll learn not to beat myself up if I miss a day. Or maybe it’s just in the trying. Who knows. Ultimately I want to feel more comfortable coming here and leaving my thoughts or story ideas. I want to feel comfortable simply being myself: unvarnished, without flowers, rough of tongue and pen. It’s where every writer starts. One cannot write if they stop every eight words to beat themselves up over how it’s not perfect from the get go. I know, it’s what I’ve been doing this whole time.

I’m a little old for starting, perhaps, but nevertheless, let’s start here.

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