Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Day Got Away

Yesterday I had plans, a to-do list, et cetera. Nope. And also, yes. I did change the sheets. I did get 75 letters to my precinct printed out, stamped, signed, and addressed! It was a letter thanking my precinct neighbors for voting, reminding them that we have an election April 6, 2021, wishing them Happy Holidays, and reporting that we were the best precinct!--with 87.26% voter turnout! Wow, right?! I had planned to send the letter in time to say Happy Thanksgiving, but the individual precinct results weren't posted yet, so I waited. I had planned to walk into town in the sunshine yesterday to mail these letters at the post office, but the day got away from me, and dark was falling as I signed the last of the letters in red and green, drawing holly exclamation points. 

Before that, I had planned to meet a friend for a hike in the woods. But first I had to check my email... 

Yesterday's email contained a poem acceptance. So first I attended to the contractual details there. Then I updated all the files (physical and digital) related to that, because, these days, if I don't do it in the moment I might not do it. The poem was part of a 4-poem submission, and I wondered where the other 3 might go next. Again, I have to do this in the moment, or the moment gets away. For example, I had been thinking of a particular place to send these poems if they came back, but that deadline had just passed 6 days before. I looked at another journal I've wanted to send to--and, yay, they look at only 3 poems at a time. Perfect! But was it perfect? Was this the right place to send these 3 poems? Now I'm following two roads that are diverging in the woods I was supposed to be hiking--one road has poems I might send, and the other has places I might send them to. While I'm on the one road, I keep going down little unfamiliar side paths that turn out to be poems I wrote in April, or, when did I write that? Finally, I give up and fold the sheets fresh and warm from the dryer.

A few years ago, I joined other poets in trying to get 100 rejections a year, because to get that many rejections you have to do a lot of submissions. Then we'd report on our stats. Now it feels like I can barely count, that I don't remember how I tallied things. Yes, I sent out 20 submissions in 2020. That's all! I got 13 rejections, 6 acceptances, 1 pending response. Carrying over from 2019, my work appeared in 9 publications--a total of 16 poems, newly published or reprints. The more recently accepted work is forthcoming in 2021. I can do the figuring, but I can't quite see how it all adds up. Or, in an existential way, why I'm doing it, or, since I do keep doing it, and thus it must be valuable or important to me, why I'm sometimes forgetting the actual poems. Yes, I'll get back to them, see what they were about, revise them or leave them alone, but it's odd to feel so disconnected from a previous practice, one that I do in the privacy of my home, anyway, that doesn't depend on the previous human connections. The disconnect has entered my brain. 

Now, perhaps, the same thing is happening again, the day getting away as I write this blog entry, as I tally my statistics for the year, as I look back at things I forgot I did, poems I forgot I wrote. 2020 has crammed my brain full of worry and details and strange little poems...and to-do lists of things that do and don't get done.

And yet, I am glad of the voting stats, the super local turnout. I am glad that my tiny chalkboard poems reached the hearts and minds of those who saw them. I was connected that way, during the disconnect. Someday I may look back on 2020 with the cliched hindsight...and understand things I'm not understanding now. Sigh... I already wear tri-focals.

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