Shaping My Summer Around “Jane Eyre”


The summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016 were rough for me. And by rough, I mean catastrophic. Each in succession was worse than the last, and at times I am genuinely astounded that I made it out in one piece.

This summer, on the other hand, has been totally palatable. Not amazing, but decent. Survivable. Nothing major has happened, and for that I am deeply grateful. There are a lot of reasons for the change (I have a job, college has empowered me, I’m not working through a breakup, etc.) but I feel like I owe a lot to a session with my therapist in June.

Historically, a lot of problems in my life are a result of the fact that I constantly crave validation from others. I sometimes behave in way that I myself abhor, and I know I annoy others with my incessant cries for attention. After my therapist revealed these facts about myself (which are demonstrably on-point), I gave myself a mantra that has been working really well. Every time I feel myself drifting from my resolve to rectify myself, I say this sentence quietly to myself and it will immediately bring ease to my bones.

Where else would a pretentious English major find a mantra but among the pages of Charlotte Brontë’s most famous work?

I admit that Jane Eyre is my favorite book. And while that fact may liken me to a slew of obnoxious YA protagonists, my preferences have a solid foundation (which I’ll explore further in another post). I’ve always wanted to attain the self-actualization that Jane achieves at the end of the novel, and one particular quotation is helping push me in that direction:

“The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” -Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Alright, so…it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But those are the best twenty-five syllables of my life.

A first read of this quotation sounds rather bleak. But it really isn’t––it’s a woman proclaiming that she can be alone, with neither peas-in-a-pod friendships nor assurances of her worth from other people, and still have value because she sees herself as valuable. Her self-opinion became the only thing that mattered, self-respect more important than optics or popularity.

Whereas in years past I have felt empty and lonely, I’ve spent this summer learning to prioritize myself. I don’t feel the need to be constantly validated by others––a need that had only been growing more dire during my tumultuous spring––and that has been more liberating than just about anything. For the first time in a long time, I feel entirely self-contained. I’m learning to stop relying on other people, and it’s already a rewarding fight.

(Then again, I might find just about anything rewarding if it involved Jane Eyre.)

Ciao for now,
Mikki

Why I Won’t Be Posting Any More Poems


Hello, everyone!

The title of this post makes it sound like I’m about to reveal something sad, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I won’t be posting any more poems on mikkiaaron because I am hoping to create a new chapter in my life as a writer. That is to say, I hope to become published.

“Wait a second,” I can hear you blurting, “Isn’t it true that posting a poem on your blog is a form of publishing it?”

Well, sure. But weblogs doesn’t mean anything to the literary community at large unless you’re really successful––and, well, let’s be honest. I don’t have a massive follower base on WordPress, and my posts rarely receive more than ten likes. This site is only going to take my writing so far.

“That’s fair,” you’re saying now, “But why do you have to deny us your gratis Mikki magic in the name of the New Yorker?”

It’s against the rules of most major––or even respectable––poetry journals to submit poems that have been published before. And yes, that includes poems that have previously appeared on personal blogs.

“Oh,” you’re sneering, “I see how it is. You’re giving up on your underdog dreams in order to be validated by the Old Boy’s Club. What a sellout.”

This blog has actually been really great for me, and I fully recognize that. It’s helped me grow as a writer by providing me with motivation, feedback, and a space for self-expression. I’ve been able to publish my own work without worrying about being funneled, which gave me the opportunity to be experimental and uninhibited. I’ve found my voice: if you scroll through the mikkiaaron archives, you can watch the evolution in real time. My tiny corner of the Web has given me the chance to uncover myself to the world, and from there I figured out the type of writer I want to be.

Unfortunately, as I said before, I can only do so much growing with a limited readership. I need an expanded audience that will include critics as well as supporters (which is not to say I don’t value those who have been supportive––see above paragraph).

Although you did get one thing right. It’s partly for the validation.

You sigh. “I’ll sure miss you. I like your blog.”

That’s so sweet, but I’m not going anywhere! I haven’t totally decided what to do with mikkiaaron now that I can’t upload verse, but I promise it’ll be good. The most likely option is that I’m going to write about writing, instead of posting the actual fruit of my labors.

“But your poems are so good, and I want to keep reading them.”

Worry not! That’s what I want, too. It’s just that you might encounter them in a different medium.

“No, I mean, I want to keep reading them here, for free.”

Surprise! Poets actually need money. Money is necessary for food, food is necessary for human life, and human life is necessary for poetry.

“You’re right. That was kind of inconsiderate of me.” All of a sudden, you get excited. “Oh, wait! Does that mean I’m going to see your name on a book one day?”

Hm.

I wouldn’t count on it.

“Why not?”

Excellent question.

Ciao for now,
Mikki

 

Poem Every Day in July 12: The Truth Comes Out


The women in Romantic paintings
are not always dainty. I admire Truth,

who pushes against beauty––
anger in the hoods of her eyes,

honesty in the folds of her skin
and fat as she climbs.

No mascara could glamorize
her whip’s brittle, broomy eyelashes;

her breasts fall so that her clavicle
can be fully confrontational;

her fingers are designed to propel,
not to nurture. We’d all do well

to meet her sunken gaze, to hear
the black voice that booms

from stone to stone, and to know
that the naked creases of her flesh

are a warning.

Poem Every Day in July 11: Hotel Blanket of Clouds


a moment’s pause when work
is rushed
reveals clouds outside
the window

grey and huddled
overhead
like a hotel blanket’s
woolly drapery

that can never reach
the edges
of the sky’s
wide bed.

it’s only a temporary reprieve.
harrows inside
the room of your body
can be put to rest

behind mostly-
closed eyes,
but before long the clouds
will dissolve––

you always wake up
to styrofoam cups
and cold powdered eggs
and cracked spoons.

Poem Every Day in July 10: Half an Hour


On roadtrips, we all moaned
of squished toes. The minivan lacked
legroom; it seemed our knees
were millimeters from goring
our eyes. One of us would pull a chair back
and smack into another––
like a humanoid chemical equation,
shifting towards equilibrium,
fluctuating and hitting
each other’s shins.

We spent hours like that. Days.
Mom pulled her hair
and drove with her elbows.
We bickered while leaving the hotel parking lot
in the morning, and we sneered
as the car screeched into the next at night.

That was years ago. With a bigger van
came less time for the road.
We pack lighter now, only seven days
of clothes. We stretch our arms outwards
and still can’t feel the window.
We have space, but no time
for chatter, for yelling, for chair-fights.
The clock moves too quickly
for laughter and violence.

Poem Every Day in July 9: At the Shoreline


“Oh, I’ll just call a taxi; I gotta get up early tomorrow again.”

-Dodie Clark, “6/10”

To think that the ocean came all this way
for a chance to lap at your toes

is foolish, but you can’t help remembering
the puppy from your childhood home––

his drooping brown belly, his tail wagging
along the carpet, never happier

than when you came back from school
and he could ride the surf of your arrival.

Although it shot aches through his aging frame,
your tiny grandpa never failed

to greet you. These days,
the people you love are more apt

to push you away from their warmer pillow,
sending you a little closer to the carpet

than the ever-thinning blanket.
You wish nothing more than to feel

the sweet sea wind of your love’s breathing,
soft as the eyes of a puppy grown old,

and to know that the tide rises for you,
that at least the water is happy you’re home.

Poem Every Day in July 8: Anxiety


A strand of hornets has formed a nest
around my aorta. I am contorted
as they wriggle and writhe,
a malicious mimicry
of the honeybee’s synchrony.

They must perceive me
as an acceptable host;
the most I can do is hope, mouth
agape, that they will vacate
my cardiovascular space,

granting me privacy,
allowing me to move
by willpower alone, on my own
without feeling their medical-needle abdomens
so tediously close to my blood flow.