Back before the world got sick, I forced myself to attend an open mic poetry reading at a local bookstore. Then, that ended because of the pandemic, and I retreated back into my little anxiety shell and didn’t come out for a year and a half. Then, last week I saw an ad in the paper for a writing workshop. There were only a few slots available, but I figured what the heck and threw my name into the hat. Two days later I received an email saying I was registered. Turns out, it was also a free event, so I was even more pumped because in case you were wondering, poetry collections are not best sellers.
But then, as it does, my stomach came out to play on Friday and sent me into a tizzy. Saturday, the day of the workshop, I felt better physically, but terrible mentally. Firstly, I did not take my meds the night before because I was fearful of throwing up again. Secondly, they pumped me full of the strong stuff at the ER and it was still wearing away come Saturday afternoon.
At 3pm, I was near tears, scared to go, unprepared, rushed…all the feelings of anxiety that like to stop me in my tracks. I was even a little sick to my stomach, which made me all the more worried. Mark did what he always does, and that is get me through it. He remined me how excited I as when I got the registration email. He reminded me how badly I wanted to get out into the world again, and he reassured me of my talents, as he does every day. So, I got dressed and drank some coffee and got in the car and went.
Awkward at first, as always, I was maybe the second person to arrive. I settled in and we got a box full of goodies (photo below) with a notebook and a journal in it, along with supplies for making tea bags. First, Julio (whom I met once before at that bookstore, so it was a little easing to see a face I knew in the room,) gave a talk about the histories of tea and the cultural and religious significances, and then discussed the tea flavors we had and what they symbolized, which was very interesting. I jotted down my combinations I wanted to try: hibiscus mint for mom, lemongrass mint for Bernie, and lavender chamomile for me.
After our selections, we took to writing about our flavors. I didn’t get anything very good, because I was writing longhand which is just TORTURE in my opinion. But I of course typed it up and then cleaned it a little, so you can find it below. Everyone else shared their pieces, and they were lovely. I like open mic style things because everyone’s flow is so different. You have free form, traditionalists, rhymers, alliteraters, slam poets…so much variety.
After the journaling and sharing, we put our tea in the bags and decorated tea boxes. Then, Bianca, who seemed to be the one in charge, gave everyone a personalized cup (and you just know I love stuff with my name on it.) We had a little open mic, where you could share whatever, and I read Sick Since Sixteen because it was the first poem that came up on my phone. It was a good choice though, because I received both snaps and “mmmh’s” which is like a standing ovation in the poetry world. Then everything broke up and most people started heading over to The Gypsy Parlor across the street for an iced tea tasting, and that’s when my brain screamed “NO. GO HOME.”
So, I gathered my things and thanked my hosts and left, dejected.
See, the mingling bit was the part I was looking forward to the most. I barely know any local writers, and it is so hard for me to get out of my shell and find actual humans. And my stupid brain said no, then triggered my stomach to agree with it, causing me to gag on the corner of Grant and Potomac. Sometimes I feel like that stupid brain-gut connection is truly ruining everything good and exciting in my life.
Anyway, I went home. I made my tea, and it was delicious. Soothing chamomile and destressing lavender. Very helpful. Then I typed up what I wrote in my journal, and texted Sahar to tell her of my woes. She suggested I try to network virtually, which I don’t know if I would be better at. I decided to follow the hosts of the events fb pages. Hopefully that will keep me on the radar for upcoming things.
Julio is having an ugly Christmas sweater open mic, which seems pretty cool, but who knows if anxiety will let me attend. I will try, though. I will always keep trying. In the meantime, I shall sip my tea and write in my journal and hope to make a new friend that I can talk about the business of words with. Someday…
4pm Gram was British, so 4pm meant tea time. Our cups, filled with cream and sugar, (honey and lemon if you were sick.) Biscuits were a necessity, though mother would say “It’s too close to dinnertime!” “She’s already overweight!” No mind paid by Gram, tea and cookies at 4pm. Rose Red tea, so I could collect the porcelain figurines, and terrible shortbread from a blue metal tin, She would have been one-hundred on Saturday, but I lost her when I was eight, her body as cold as the cup of leftover tea on her nightstand.