The Letter Project

December 18, 2011

Special Delivery (163)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 7:01 pm
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8 December 2011

Dear Whitney,

I think we should do a little research on Kerouac’s biography, like the big events of his life, read “On the Road,” and then read the letters. I like to know about the writer’s personal life before reading because the book is richer for seeing what details pop up in the narrative. Maybe we should finish the novel before starting the letters.

That’s a great quote from the novel. I don’t think we choose to be unhappy. I think there are some people who choose to let life get them down and be cynical about life. Yes, life sucks at times. Yes, there are good times. Yes, it’s not possible to be happy all the time. But experiencing everything the world has to offer? I’ll choose that. And that is what the Savage says to me in this passage. I want to experience the highs and lows of life. Then I can write about those experiences and try to understand what life is trying to teach me. I am not perfect in using this approach, but after I’ve calmed down and enough time has passed, I ask myself what I learned. Like this semester was the semester from hell for me. Time was always an issue and getting enough sleep was a serious problem. So what did I learn? I tend to overwork myself. Why? I’m still not sure. Probably striving for perfection and doing everything I possibly can, test my limits. But I did learn to fine tune my time management skills and exactly how filthy I’m willing to live before breaking down and cleaning my apartment. Much dirtier than I expected.

I have imagined the world as a perfect place. I aim for perfection knowing full well that I won’t reach it, no matter how hard I try. I think if people were reading in heaven, they wouldn’t be able to relate to the characters having problems other than feeling sympathy the entire time. Oh poor dear, if only he lived here, his girlfriend wouldn’t leave him in such a quandary, etc. In high school my teacher gave us a choice to write about what we would do if we were in heaven or hell. I chickened out and wrote about heaven (plenty of time to read and write, cook great meals—yum). I regret not writing about hell, but I did think of it. Imagining it today is still pretty scary. Every fear I have is present and more so.

I admire you sitting down and taking the pill and working so hard to do it. I will have to try that the next time I have to take pills. Hopefully that will help. I hate sitting still. I always have to do something. It’s funny that you have to be dragged to hospitals too! I was in them too often as a kid for my parents’ and other relatives’ ailments, so when I scratched my eye sophomore year and sprained my finger this year, I willingly went to the ER, although hours after I should have. At least I went.

My finger is doing better. It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. When I saw the doctor for an upper respiratory infection (another rare occurrence—commence with the dragging!) he broke his thumb rollerblading. I have valued my hands for years because I write, play piano, knit, crochet and so on. Without my hands I can’t do what I love. I’m like Wing Biddlebaum in “Winesburg, Ohio.” Using my hands is how I express myself. I finished reading “Show Up, Look Good” and started “The Winter’s Tales.” I want to share “The Young Man with the Carnation” with you. I’ll loan you my copy. I’ve never read anything by Stephen King except “On Writing,” so I’m going to start “Carrie” and finish “Where She Went” by Gayle Foreman.

My Thanksgiving was good. I got caught up on NaNo and had some great leftovers. I hope yours was good too! I do have a lot of siblings—three older half siblings and two younger full siblings. Holidays tend to be weird in general because two of my older siblings have kids and in-laws to spend time with, and with my sister in Dayton, me in BG and my brothers in Columbus, get-togethers have to be planned carefully to accommodate so many schedules. It didn’t work out this year, but maybe Christmas will.

Envelopes can be tricky. Sometimes folding the letters gets complicated for me. I learned from an old boss to have the salutation on top, which makes me think twice when I need to fold something. Sometimes I rebel.

Christmas break—I want to read and write a lot, get caught up on my yarn projects and sleep! How about you? I don’t think it’s weird to enjoy sending out cards and wrapping presents. I love picking out gifts for people and seeing their reactions when I hand it to them. That joy is fantastic to keep in memory.

How did NaNo go for you? Did you make neat discoveries? I know Charlotte’s love interest Paul really surprised me with how he proposed to her. He made a scrapbook of her pregnancy and slipped a unique ring for her on the last page. I love it when characters surprise me. What books would you recommend others to read? We should exchange a list of our favorite novels. Luckily you’ve already read one of mine. Your letter found me in good spirits and even lifted them! I hope this letter lifts yours.


P.S. The monster was fun to draw:) I’m not much of an artist, but it’s fun sometimes to depict images instead of describe them.

P.P.S. You did a great job at your BFA reading. I loved the story! Oh Faulkner and burning barns. Factories are better.

December 16, 2011

Special Delivery (162)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 8:12 pm
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Dear You, 
Oh Andrea, how can it be?  How does the sun still rise and set in its due time, how can the earth not boil and blacken at such a burden?  No parent should ever have to bury a child of her own flesh, but how can we call it fair that a son must bury his father?  I do apologize for the great delay in this out-pouring of grief, but this has been a strange time to say the least.  One of joy and sorrow, great pleasure and infinite sadness.  My religion, my faith, dictates a celebration in combination with mourning.  I am in a state of flux over this; half wants acceptance, embrace of change, joy in an ascension- the rest defies, denies, derails, derides, hates and gnashes teeth and weeps in great, wrenching sobs for my father.  I want him back, Andrea.  I want to tell him that- how much I want him to come back, how my heart has been breaking for two years at the thought of his death.  Now, after all those tears, I realize this: it is want, not need.  It is selfishness, greed, which motivates my desire for his return.  He walks with the Lord in Paradise, and I would drag him back down to mud and blood and sin to soothe my unquiet mind, quench the redness in my soul.  What am I, after all, if not selfish?  If not human?
Do you know the word for “red” auf Deutsch?  Rot.  Pronounced much like “wrote,” if I recall correctly.  I know how smart you are, forgive me if you knew and rolled your eyes at that whole bit.  Dan the show-off.  “Reddening” is rotlich.  Quite the attractively ugly word.  This is a lapse into poetry, and as it is nearly midnight I cannot apologize.  All things have their times.
Red, red, red, red, red, red, red—
Ich bin hier und rot und rotlich,
and I hate mich,
for I am too simple, too fragile
to press the ideas into form,
my function is futility—
Let us digress, perhaps obsess,
not over blue-line lips or pink-cross strips
in 1986, but the Styx and a quarter
‘til six, maybe 5:20 of my last
good Thursday, an old man sailing away
into the Gray, and a boy running
along the shore ‘til he runs out of sand,
and stumbles in the surf to the chuckles
of seagulls, and the mourning songs of sirens.
I have no good stories to tell, Andrea.  There is a black and bloody mess in my head, full of harsh guitar riffs and pounding bass lines and drum-thunder to the tune of “My Apocalypse.”  I clenched my jaw, my whole BODY, against the tears on Monday as I walked by that graveyard and Angela purred those throaty vocals in my ears.  I need help.  I lie and say I am in control, but I am so deeply afraid of life beyond December and facing it without my father.  There is so much despair and self-loathing twisted up in me, so much anger at myself.  I could never tell anyone what is chewing away at my guts again.  I got the courage up once, but only to scare someone away.  I do not want to scare you.
I will write more if it needs writing, but this may as well conclude my first letter.  It is after midnight, and all sane poets would sleep.
Let me know if you meet one.
P.S. Red.  It is so many things, but most of all: the color of blood and love, and of STOP.  But no matter how much red, how many times the safe-word is uttered, the beat goes on.  Yeah, the beat goes on.


Special Delivery (161)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 8:10 pm
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20 November 2011

Dear Whitney,

Thank you so much for your letter. I’m glad you liked the painting. I picked up finger painting over the summer as research for a novel. Letters have helped me open up to Theresa, so hopefully what we do through letters will help. We can talk about anything. And that’s beautiful for me because we are not limited. We can share an interesting experience, a piece of writing, and more. We could pick an author’s letters and talk about them. Who do we want to start with, James Wright, Pablo Picasso, Jack Kerouac, etc.? I own a selection of Hemingway’s letters (picked it up from Grounds—I was so excited when I saw it) and currently I have Pushkin’s from the library. Last fall in Modern Poetry I studied Robert Frost, and he wrote letters too.

 I love “Brave New World”! It is actually one of my favorite books. I really connected to John too. I agree with “I think we’ve all been entranced by words, the beauty of language.” It is one of the many reasons why I write. It’s fun to discover new words and use them. I’m glad “innocent love” helped you with your thesis. Hopefully I can find it too when I work on my thesis next semester.

 I don’t think I would take soma because I can’t swallow pills. I’ve tried using different techniques to learn, but it hasn’t clicked yet. Regardless I wouldn’t take soma; I prefer to experience the pain (unless it’s really bad) because it shows me how to describe pain when my characters experience it. I can describe a sprained finger pretty well now. Tuesday I’m going to the doctor for a follow-up exam. We’ll see if I can take the splint off.

 We shouldn’t look away as writers, yes. I love how you said “…eyes taped open for clarity.” That is so true, and it is a wonderful image. Without experiencing the world around us, how can we write about it?

 I tend to read several books at the same time. Right now I’m reading books for class and “Show Up, Look Good” by Mark Wisniewski. It’s about a girl who moves to New York City on a whim after she dumps her fiancé. The narrative voice is original and hilarious.  

I usually write my letters by hand, so I apologize for only typing this one. And I plan to do mail art too, so expect art in your mailbox.

 Have a great Thanksgiving!


Special Delivery (159, 160)

Filed under: Mailart — Theresa Williams @ 8:07 pm
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From KDJ to Theresa Williams


From KDJ to Theresa Williams

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