Wednesday, August 06, 2003

What This Is And Who I Am

Technically, as I understand it, a weblog is a running piece of cyber-writing that is regularly updated, like a diary or journal, and usually presents links to and comments on other web-based sites. Some seem to be pure personal diary. Some seem to be pure collections of links with comments. Some seem a hybrid. The sum of weblogs is sometimes referred to the blogosphere. I have an image of a massive geodesic, nay, synaptic sphere of interlinked conversations. Some monologues -- you know, mad aunties like myself mumbling in the attic.

I kept a paper journal from 1971 to 1994. In 1994, long story short, I finished, at the late age of 42, the medical residency I began in 1977. (See "world's longest maternity leave" and "world's oldest intern.") Freshly board certified, no longer a lowly "GP," I was newly empowered to leap tall ICU's and primary care practices at a single bound, and work 200 hours a week at a life-blood draining profession that would leave me no time for anything else ! Eeek, muttered my ambivalence. The line from the Corso poem echoed in my mind : I should get married ! I should be good ! (something something something) Faustus Hood ! Forked Clarinets ! Pee-stained underwear ! Bring me penguin dust !

So I went to the movies.

Saw 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, Glenn being one of my strange (note to self: finally learn how to spell wierd weird), reclusive heros. Saw that he quit playing concerts at the height of his fame in order to do what he loved, recording, and to stop doing what he hated, performing. Fabulous idea, I thought. Get a nice little job that leaves time to write ! So I immediately accepted a Monday through Friday, nine to five, salaried, out-patient, walk-in gig.

And began cranking out poems. Something I'd been doing since infancy, but now with a new goal: get published. And I did. It's not hard. One must hustle some -- submit, resubmit. I did all that. Got one in Ploughshares, a few in Poetry, a slew in little mags of extremely variable repute and character from the pretty spiffy to the VERY iffy. Got a second Mass Council Fellowship in 1998 (first was in 1987.) Even did some readings. Me, the wall flowers wallflower, believe it or not. Oy. What demon possessed me ?

And about three years ago realized I was writing the same thing over and over and over, in an increasingly migrainous iambic pentameter, and that the whole "poet" thing felt like a sham, and who the hell did I think I was, anyway ? And why was I writing, for that matter ? One of my earliest poetry personas was "Dancing Bear," a persona with its roots in my compliant, eager-for-recognition-and-approval personality. I'd become Dancing Bear, monstrously redux.

So I lapsed into silence, sought reconnection with Buddhism, Merton, humility. The three kilesas had been deeply operatve: Greed (publish me ! love me !) Hatred (hey he got a book published, I'm better than him !) and delusion (I am a Poet !!). I am not a "poet." Nothing I have ever done has earned me the right to say that.

With the poetry factory shut down, I found that I was beginning to write prose again, diary prose. Later, a few poems. For fun. As amateur, dilletante. A hobby. I'm sure there are poets who'll insist one cannot call this "writing poetry" any more than a mom putting bandaids on her kids can call herself "practicing medicine."

And, little over a month ago, just before my little cracked axis incident, I let the dancing bear out of her hole and let her do a little blogging.

So here I am. Shameless, eh ?

So is this a "poetry blog" ? No. A Medblog ? No, although once I'm back to work (God Knows When, mid December at least) it may take on the flavor of one from time to time.

Let's just say it's "Paula's House Of Toast," pass the non-GMO vegan margarine.