Blood On The Page

Sometimes I miss the diary days. They were therapeutic in their way(s). The blog posts crafted themselves from whatever happened to be inside me. Instead of following my intentions for them, each post unfolded unpredictably. Hemingway described it thus, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”


Sometimes I miss the days when it felt that simple (because it was that simple). When I didn’t have a mission or purpose for it all. When it was all just a stream of consciousness. This morning I opened my journal and let words flow forth the way I used to blog them. I used to fill up scads of bandwidth with mindfully blogging whatever was on my mind. Rereading this morning’s bleed, each little piece of it sounds like an Instagram caption.

Tahini on toast to break my fast. (Smashed seeds on incinerated wheat.)

Nut juice in bean juice. (Almond milk in coffee.) (Almonds are nuts. Coffee is a bean.)

The cat sat folded like a loaf on the kitchen counter, cozy on a hand towel, and bore witness.

I promised my body I would run a little today because we miss the gliding ease of it, like flying. I miss riding my own power.

I used my fingers to rub away the remnants of yesterday’s mascara. I was reading a book at the time. I unintentionally transferred the smudges to the cover of Danielle LaPorte’s bright white book. I got it dirty. Only makeup isn’t really dirt. The irony of sullying something with a substance designed to beautify and glamorize.

I wonder if Danielle would answer to DaniElle? Dani Elle.

Remember the Uncle Rico character from Napoleon Dynamite? Remember how he was preoccupied with his past glory days? Always wanted to go back in time and relive the best days of his life? The Chef and I have a friend who is an Uncle Rico. Every time we get together he wants to relive his glory days, wants to rehash and retell all his conquests and fast adventures and hardcore experiences. He can’t seem to tolerate anyone knowing him without knowing who he used to be back during the best days of his life. We are routinely treated to stories of all his studly exploits, liaisons, triumphs and dreams come true. After he exhausts his treasure chest of memories he wants to play the Fantasy Game.

This is where he wants each person present to go around the room and reveal their  own personal fantasy scenario based on his prompt. Fantasy vacation, fantasy occupation, fantasy celebrity hook-up, etc. The point of this for Uncle Rico doesn’t really seem to be to learn anything interesting about anyone else playing the game. The point is create another glory-day aspect of himself to discuss, even in fantasy. As in now you’ve heard how cool and amazing I used to be, now let’s talk about how cool and amazing I could be.

The last time we all got together he got juiced up cocktails, retold all his maverick stories, and then opened a round of the Fantasy Game. This time he wanted to know everyone’s fantasy name. I frustrated him. I like the old Germanic names that are made of a prefix and suffix smashed together into a name that means something poetic. It’s called a dipthematic name. I had to explain this to him, which dampened the spirit of his game.

Here’s an example: the name Hildebrand. Hild is war. Brand is sword. Hildebrand means War Sword. Cool, huh?

Take the name Baldwin. Bald is bold. Win is friend. Baldwin is Bold Friend.

I like Sigtrygg. Sig is victory. Trygg is truth (or true). Hello, my name is Victory Truth.

The best ones (for me) are the Germanic dipthematic names that are also hard to pronounce, like Aethelthryth. Aethel means noble. Thryth means force or strength. Aethelthryth is Noble Strength or Noble Force. Try getting a drunk guy (Uncle Rico) to say Aethelthryth. But don’t try unless you’re sitting a good distance away; you’ll get doused in spittle.

Anyway, back to the mascara all over Danielle’s book. When I see a multi-syllabic name I always mentally separate it into the above-mentioned Germanic style. Danielle is Dani plus Elle, only neither of those is a suffix or prefix of Germanic origin. If I thought Uncle Rico’s pickled brain could manage it, I would suggest a new round of the Fantasy Game in which we make up medieval Germanic definitions for Dani and Elle. Maybe Dani can mean empty and Elle can mean ale. She’s the patron warrior of those who find themselves entertaining guests who don’t know their limit.

I could do this shit all day, people.

I wrote next about a dream I had last night. I’ll skip that for now. I immediately switched gears because my handwriting changed, as it always days when I start a fresh page, only this time it caught my interest.

One of the benefits of writing with pen and paper is that I get to see the authentic shape of my expression in my handwriting.

I drew an arrow up to the text explaining my dream and wrote:

This (the writing at the top of the page) is not authentic. This is the script I tried to adopt in elementary school because I wanted my handwriting to look like the those of the pretty popular girls. This (the writing further down the page) is authentic.

When I first begin to write on paper I use the large round looping script I trained myself to use as a child. As the minutes pass and the page fills I gradually lapse into my original script, my authentic handwriting.

It’s true. I changed my handwriting shortly after I learned cursive because all of the pretty popular girls in my class wrote in a huge fat round script. Mine was smaller by comparison, legible, and neat but it didn’t look pretty to me. I studied the Queen of the PPGs (Pretty Popular Girls) and noticed she held her pencil differently than I did. She used three fingers. I used all five. When I changed my grip to mirror hers it was much easier to make fat round looping letters like she did. I practiced and practiced and practiced until my handwriting looked just like the PPGs. It didn’t help, of course. It didn’t make me pretty enough or popular or accepted. I would never ever earn acceptance.

I’m 45 years old. The top third of any fresh piece of my handwriting still looks like PPG script. When I really get into the flow of writing it changes back, closer to what my original handwriting probably would have looked like had I let it develop during my schoolgirl years. Bear in mind I grew up during a time when all school work was done on paper. We wrote everything longhand, pages and pages and pages. We were graded on penmanship, both printing and cursive. I suspect what I’ve got now is a hybrid.

It is remarkable that it took all this time to appreciate that my authentic handwriting is part of my authentic expression. I finished up my Morning Prayers time by deliberately writing words across the page authentically; trying to let the letters form in the way that felt most natural to me, holding my pen with all five fingers from memory, so I could see what the real me looks like in print.

This is probably why I miss my old blogging style. It was more like journaling. In this case I was literally journaling in a journal. Look what came out. Did you catch it?

“…so I could see what the real me looks like in print” indicates a hidden need for healing, going back to a wound (self-inflicted) from the third grade. At eight years old I believed who I was needed to be modified to be better; more like the little girls I considered so superior to me that I re-trained my fine motor skills to emulate them. I never realized the poignancy of this until today. I’ve been healing the Not Good Enough wound for decades. The ghost of it still lingers in my handwriting. In my signature. In the pages of my most intimate thoughts written on paper. Blood on the page, giving away my secrets. Hemingway was right.

The lonely little girl hiding in the loops of my G, the lunge of my V, the crook of my K.

She just wants to flow the way she was made. Stand in a T. Curl in a C. Dance in a Q.

So long she has waited. Today she finally found someone willing to accept her.

I’m a writer. Where would I be without her? I need her. And I need her to be authentically her.

— Mercy





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