Things I Do To Stay Sane: Push Myself


Last week, I did something crazy: I tried out for a musical. Now, I haven’t been in a musical since I graduated college three years ago (split-role of Narrator from Joesph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Before that, I hadn’t really been active in theatre since I was taking classes at the Academy of Theatre Arts in middle school. I love theatre, but circumstances in high school had discouraged me from pursuing it, so I had essentially let that dream die in the water.

Recently, however, I had been showing my fiance the things about theatre I had learned. The things I loved about theatre. He suggested that I should start doing them again. I had laughed at him: who would take me seriously? I might still be able to sing, but I hadn’t done acting classes since I was twelve.

Fast forward to last week. A local  theatre announced that it was holding open auditions for American Idiot. I haven’t ever seen the musical, but I love the CD and I liked the general story. Even better, they were considering females for one of the traditionally male leads. At first, I simply dreamed about what it would feel like to go to the auditions. And then I mentioned it to my mum, off-handedly. She suggested that I go for it. My fiance started picking out songs.

So I thought “What the heck?” and went for it. I chose ‘Disenchanted’ by My Chemical Romance as my audition song, and practiced it with a YouTube video of a piano accompaniment until I literally almost lost my voice (thank you, Throat Coat!). And, heart hammering in my chest, I went to the auditions Friday night. I tried out with four other girls- sang my song, danced a wicked cool dance combination, and then went home.

I woke up the next morning the to e-mail: I had been invited to callbacks, being considered for the traditionally male lead. I’d proven myself wrong- they’d taken me seriously. I had a full day to prepare for the callbacks and take this shot at getting myself back into theatre.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending. Come callbacks that Sunday, I ended up losing my place in the duet song and botched it horribly (my own reason for why I feel I deserved to get cut earlier on in the callbacks, there are a million of other reasons that I might have missed). Casting went out, and there was no role for me. I was disappointed in myself for messing up and ruining my own chances for going further. I ended up in an almost three-day funk because I had been so close to that dream again, and again was not good enough.

But the thing about this whole episode that keeps me sane, that makes me a better person and writer, isn’t the whether or not I got into the musical. It was the lesson that I needed to take myself seriously to have other people do the same. It was the lesson that I can still do things spontaneously. That I was good enough for a second look just as I am. Maybe if I worked at it more, who knows? I could try out again. Maybe get into the next one. Or maybe I take this lesson with me when I try to contact book stores for readings, or English classes for guest-lessons. Maybe I allow it to be just another one of those experiences that make up the vast library of experiences that I can put into my writing, both poetry and fiction. Maybe I take away the fact that I had an entire horde of people willing to support me, believe in me and back me up no matter what the outcome of the auditions.

New experiences don’t have to have one goal in mind for them to be considered good for us. We don’t have to complete things the way we wanted to. We don’t have to win for them to become another part that brings us to a more complete whole. That audition has become a part of who I am now, and propels me forward with what I’ll do tomorrow. What kind of decisions I’ll make. What kind of risks I’ll take.

So go for the new experiences. Even if you feel ridiculous. Even if you feel like people won’t take you seriously, or that you aren’t good enough to come in first place or do the experience ‘right’.

What new things have you been wanting to experience lately? What has been holding you back?

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New Tattoo: Gerard Manley Hopkins


On the first of this month, I ended up getting my fifth tattoo. It’s a quote from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem (my first poetry tattoo!), called “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”. The poem itself is about vocation- about that place where our deepest desires meet the deep need of the world.

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For me, this is a huge reminder to have on myself. I placed it close to my heart because it is something that I need to be reminded of every day- that I am what I do, and what I say and what I feel- not what others have done to me, or what evil they have brought into my life, or what other people think or say about me. I am also what I do, meaning that I have a duty to be active in living out my vocation in the world. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and no one will know the good in my heart, the passion in my heart, the God in my heart, if I do not make a conscious choice to do so, every day. And for that I came- not for the purpose of being successful, or being the most holy, or saving every person I meet or even being happy. I came to ‘do’ that which is ‘me’- to be the Self that God made to the best of my ability. He only made one me, and I’m not going to waste His gift by being someone else.

So in honor of all that, here is the poem in it’s entirety: (I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!)

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

 

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

 

On Loving Cold Weather


Yes, you can bet your sweet bottom that I’m one of those white girls who was putting Pumpkin Spice Creamer in her coffee as soon as September 1st hit. And I was so happy when the weather began to turn back down into the seventies that I was furious today that it was 85. I’m an autumn lover; lover of all things cinnamon and cold, crisp and cookie; I love wearing oversized sweaters and boots up to my knees and my collection of scarves and beanies is massive.

I’ve come to the realization that my mood tends to correspond with the way I feel about the weather. I know we’ve all heard about the winter blues and cabin fever, but I feel like I tend to have the opposite. When it’s summer I feel this immense pressure to be out doing something all the time. I get anxious if I sit down for too long (even if it’s to read or write), and I end up being really hard on myself if I don’t go out to enough social gatherings or don’t go on enough camping trips or experience enough new things. When it’s cold outside I feel like I can just be. I can type for hours with my tea in my hand, I can draft new manuscripts because it’s too cold to just go outside and hang out when all the shops have closed down. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons because I don’t feel so cramped, so sweaty and rushed. Something about the briskness in the air is just so energizing that I find myself in a better mood more often, and it’s easier for me to be productive.

Which just means that I need to get better with spacing myself out in the summer. I don’t think I’m at that point yet where I’ve shaken off the propensity to ‘prepare for fall’ the way that I had when I was still in school from kindergarten to college graduation. (By the time I do, I’ll probably be getting ready to do the same thing with my future children, so yay.) To a point, I think it’s alright that I go with this natural rhythm- to understand that I have this natural limitation in the summer that seems to run contradictory to what I think is going to be this time of boundless productivity. I need to work better with this limitation so that things don’t come to such a grinding halt (I get behind on my posts, I don’t submit manuscripts, I don’t produce new works, etc). It’s better for me to work at a slower pace for me not work at all, right?

So it might be too late this year, but next year I’ve got a plan: I’ll focus on working more efficiently during my summer time, instead of focusing to intently on working harder. The beginning to success if knowing where to start.

What’s your best weather, readers?

Updates: A Bit Frazzled


So we’re only five months in to the year and I’m already falling behind a bit on my blogging schedule. I would first like to apologize for that. I have unfortunately been full up to my ears with schedule changes and life shocks. Just this week I had a graduation, a funeral, a giant family crawfish bake and attended a comic-convention at the last minute. At work, my normal rhythm has been interrupted by changes in schedule as well as the boys I nanny now being out for the summer.

It’s a good lesson for me to learn. Sometimes you set schedules, and then life happens. At the moment, I have dealt with that fairly poorly. I have let something important, my writing, fall by the wayside just because I have become busy, instead of juggling my time in a more efficient manner. I have done plenty of self-care in the past weeks, and hopefully will be able to hold myself to a better standard in the months to come. Life won’t always work by my schedule, and I need to learn how to better handle that while making sure that I don’t give up things that are important, hoping that my good will will be enough.

Look forward to regularly planned blogs coming back again for the rest of the year. Thank you for being patient with me!

‘But This Volume Was Beautiful To Me’: Five-Star Review from a Christian Author


A five-star Goodreads review from Raelee Carpenter, Christian author of Kings and Shepherds and The Lincoln High Project, states:

I can’t pretend to know much about or have extensive experience with poetry, but this volume was beautiful to me, gritty and profound, drawing tears from my eyes.

Thank you, Ms. Carpenter! I really appreciate knowing when I have been able to impact my readers, and am grateful that you took the time to review my first collection of poetry.

If you haven’t read Drunk Dialing the Divine yet, now is the time! Order now from Amazon or straight from the publisher. (If you order a paperback copy from the publisher, you automatically get a free eBook copy as well!). I would love to see what you think about it- don’t forget to review on Amazon, or Goodreads.

Why Do I Write: About Babies


When I write about things, it’s usually a ‘once and done’ kind of thing. I write about this mountain once, or this retreat in a couple stages, or this kind of relationship… I tend not to dwell on the same exact thing over and over again.

Unless that thing is babies.

Going over a lot of the things I’ve been writing lately, I realized that a good bit of them focus on children, children at mass being one of the constantly recurring images. Whether I am writing a reflection on Christmas or Easter, I tend to write reflections on the Christ Child rather than the man, Jesus. I’ve written more poems for and about my nieces and nephews than I have all of my lovers combined. It seems I would prefer to write about the beauty of a child’s eyes than ever look another adult in the eye, period. babies

It would be easy enough to write this off as my baby fever beginning to bleed into everything I do. I’m a twenty-two year old woman who is unmarried and itching to change that. I’ve had horrible bouts of depression where my body longs for a child, and could only really be placated by getting a pet (hence why I welcomed Seviper, my ball python, into my family. My precious, scaly little baby :3 ) I could pretend that this writing obsession with children is just a phase, or a fad, that I’ll grow out of, much like I grew out of writing about high school and college concerns, as soon as I have my own children and become tired of dealing with children all the time.

It would also be easy to excuse my baby-obsession on the fact that I work as a full-time nanny as my day-job. At the moment, I work with three boys, but most of my time is spent chilling out with the infant (who I’m pretty sure thinks of me as the red-headed food-and-fun machine). With so much of my time spent with children, it could just be a coincidence that my mind tends to be focused on children most of the time, right?

I honestly believe, however, that that would be denying one of the innermost truths of my being. Almost since the time I began even thinking about the word ‘vocation’, I always knew that I had been Created to become a mother. Every other pursuit of mine- poetry, dancing, social justice, faith, love, companionship, understanding- every little thing I do I do with my future children in mind. And this is not because I have raging baby fever that can be calmed, or that my vocation to be a mother would begin and end with the act of having and rearing my own flesh and blood. I was already becoming a mother when I was a child- in the way I saw things, in the way I reacted to things, and in the way I anticipated things. In my friendships, in my relationships, in my work… in everything I do I behave in such a way as to make myself a better mother; a better me in general. I’ve come to the realization that I write so much about children, with the imagery of children, because it is one of the main ways in which I see this world; through the eyes of a mother, in which I have the responsibility of a mother to everyone and everything in my vicinity. I am more compassionate when I view my enemy as someone else’s child. I am more patient when I think about my friends’ mother talking them through the situation that is vexing to me. I am quicker to pity, rather than despise, when I look at others through the eyes of their mother.

So it is only right that I would display this in the purest way that I ‘see’: through my writing, and especially my poetry. It is in my metaphors, in my dedication to the Holy Mother, in manipulating the imagery of my own mother, in writing indirectly to my future children, and love letters to the children of others. Everyone is somebody’s baby- as someone who believes in her own vocation as a mother, it is hard for me to see the world in any other light.

How does your vocation in life change the way you see? Whether you write or read, how are you affected?

Holy Innocents


After thinking through some things, I have decided that I will now be posting on a bi-weekly basis, so every other Sunday. Pray that I will be able to keep up with this schedule.

So to start this off, have a fresh new poem written by yours truly. This was written way back in December 2014, on the Feast of Holy Innocents, which happened to also share a Sunday with the Feast of the Holy Family. This poem is a reflection of that juxtaposition of the suffering of innocent children with the impending suffering of the Holy Infant, as I was captivated by a young child in the pews in front of me at Mass.

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“Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”


I haven’t posted personal work in awhile and I figured I probably should, seeing as this is a poetry blog. Recently I’ve been running into a qualm with the idea of ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’, namely people believing that the sentiment holding true having some kind of say in whether or not love is true. I wrote a newer poem about the idea, and then realized that I had already written a poem about my feelings on the sentiment back in high school. So to parallel the two different points of my life, I have decided today to post the two poems one right after the other.

This first one was written when I was eighteen, so back in 2010:
distance

And this one was written this week, at the age of twenty-two in 2014:

distancesolves

What are your ideas on this well-used idiom?

Edit: I had to re-do the poems in graphic form as the post editor isn’t letting me put the correct line-breaks in the poems.

Why Do I Write: With Such Weird Titles


Sometimes in my poetry, my titles make sense. They fit the mood of the poem, or reveal something more about the poem if you look up what that specific phrase (such is the case with Laughter of the Spirit and Liminal Space).

But then there are the others. Poems with titles like ‘Ponyboy’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Monkey’, ‘Running Man’, ‘Aegipan’, ‘Snake’, ‘Mountain Man’ etc. If you’ve at all noticed, these kind of weirdly named poems tend to be love or lust poems. That’s because all of these weird titles are actually nicknames. Some of them are boyfriends I’ve had, some of them are flings, some of them are crushes or personal fantasies about people. Some of these men know their nicknames (and hence know which poems are about them), and some of them don’t (thank goodness). These weird titles are, in fact, dedications of sorts- while the poem itself may be open to being applied to the reader’s own sense of what love and lust may be, and may relate to the reader’s experience of such things in the consuming of the poem, the title belongs only to the person that the poem is dedicated to.

Now I’ve dated quite a bit, being a person who enjoys immensely the entire hoopla that comes with dating casually (dating seriously has always been an entirely different thing for me), as well as being someone who has always been fascinated by what I would consider to be the beauty of the opposite sex’s place in my own life, so I have a lot of poems about men and how I view them in different stages of awe, desire, longing and questioning. Not all of them are denoted with nicknames. Some of them have normal love poem names, ‘Your Fingers’, ‘Thirteen Years’, ‘I Like You’, ‘On the Shore of Coronado’, etc. These poems will never be as personal as the ones that have nicknames attached to them. While the poems themselves are always addressed to a specific person, the poems without nicknames are always a larger reflection on the feeling of love, desire, longing, etc. rather than the ways in which that specific man elicits those feelings, whereas the poems with nicknames will always focus on how a specific person makes me feel.

So there’s a little insight into how I name my poems (which all of my titles are important, I may expand on the other titles later). As a reader of poetry, do you take much notice of the titles of poems? As a writer of poetry, do you spend much time on your titles/ use titles at all?

Things I Do to Stay Sane: Get Out of the House


But Amber, getting out of the house is super fun, that wouldn’t take too much work would it?

If I was a more outgoing person and naturally enjoyed being out my room, sure. I’ve always been that person who could be locked up in her own room for pretty much ever and be perfectly content to do nothing but write, sleep, and maybe play some video games. I do have to force myself to text my friends most of the time- not because I don’t love them, I truly do, but because I am perfectly content being alone (as long as I can be productive).

Regardless, I am a firm believer in the idea that ‘alone’ was not the way that life was meant to be experienced. If it was, God would have made me and only me. (I may not agree with His sense of humor, giving me no desire to be with other people and yet putting me in a situation that begs me to be with other people, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) Being as I am just one individual in this cosmic whole, it is my responsibility to connect myself to the whole, to immerse myself in the community.

Sometimes, I enjoy it. Nights when I go dancing at the Rose with my friends, or get to go to a small house party or new movie. I don’t regret leaving the house, and I feel good about it. Other times, I hate it so much I taste acid. These are the nights when we go out to sketchy bars or to a crowded party where I only know one or two people (and often there is pot around, which I really, really don’t like the smell of) or dragged to some celebration where I know there are people there who don’t like me or we had a falling out or there’s no set plan for the evening or people invite me to hang out only to zonk out in front of the television and completely ignore the fact that I’m there…. you get my drift. With my autism, I often lean towards anxiety about these sort of things- I weigh the numerous bad experiences against the ‘few’ good experiences and nearly talk myself out of leaving my safe, cozy room. Just thinking about all the ways that ‘going out’ could go very wrong, I freeze up.

What keeps me going out, time after time, is this simple realization: I would be a horrible writer if I stayed locked up in this room. I’d become one of those self-absorbed, self-righteous writers that I hated in high school, loathed in college, and still like to pretend don’t exist today. For me, a lot of writing (especially with poetry) is about taking your life experiences and condensing them into a kind of pure image for others. Those readers in turn adopt those images into their own plethora of experiences and, if the experiences together are rich enough, there occurs a broadening, brightening and deepening of one’s understanding of the human experience as a whole. I would consider this to be one of God’s greatest gifts to His creation: little collaborative glimpses into the grace of eternity.

That’s what I want to be a part of. I don’t much care for the party scene, for drinking or for being seen. But if I can see just a little bit more of the world, if I can learn a new nuance of humanity, I’m going to muscle through it.  I don’t ever know if the experience of getting out of the house will rejuvenate me, or just drain every strand of emotional energy that I have left. It’s always a toss up. But I have decided that in either case,  getting out, giving in to the cosmic mess that is being with other people, is worth the pain just as much as it is worth the potential grace.

What do you do to ‘get out of the house’?