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  • The Flash Drive, the Mason Jar, and Pieces of Me

    Several years ago I began to write. I was working toward a degree at a liberal arts college and willingly handed my heart over to the world of weaving beautiful words and forming tapestries that resembled poetry. I met a professor there; a talented published poet who fed my hunger. I took all of his classes; all were assembled with talented writers who had the same ravenous appetite that I had. Collectively, we bled our beloved professor for every syllable that he was willing to spill; he nourished and quenched us; we wrote.

    I continued to scribble saving all my writing in Word documents on my PC. Some people are moviegoers, some spend their time dancing with the stars; I write, revise, and submit. In fact, I spend a lot of time writing, revising, and submitting... and getting rejected. Rejection is harsh. Those kinds of letters feel like a mauling, the words have jagged teeth and bite. The letters come with sharp blades that slash as soon as you read that your prized pieces aren't worthy of publication. According to Professor; my mentor, rejection comes with the territory. I have an entire collection of rejection letters that I keep caged. They act as roaring testimony that my peeps are not worthy of print; that they are unwanted drivel, mediocre little waifs. I've spent a truckload of money on postage for my ensemble of rejection letters; another reason not to get rid of them; they are bought and paid for.

    Last spring my computer crashed. I should have known the dreaded day would come, why didn't I prepare for my turn? We see it all the time, like when the water main on your street breaks and its 17 degrees, or when the hose on the washing machine jumps off its perch flooding the basement, or when the blizzard's blown through dumping 22inches and the snow thrower won't start. Sooner or later doom arrives unannounced. The conundrum called life is unforgiving, and even though we have safety nets sometimes we fail to use them. Some days it's all we can do to run a comb through the pussy willows that sprout from our ears (during a berating session after the crash, It was determined that I sprout pussy willows where my brains should be; cruel, but justified... you'll agree). In my world of bedlam I missed my safety net, aka, backing up my files with a flash drive. I had spent years stitching lines together saving them in word documents WITH NO BACKUP! What! What! What you say? I know; believe me... there's nothing you can say that I haven't already heard. "What are you, a box of rocks."? That's my personal favorite. And, the PC Junkie couldn't help; he wiped the death-toting virus clean, but couldn't save one word; nothing... not one endearing line. What's the point of virus protection when those wicked little demons can slip through all the latches and bolts and pilfer and scavenge the files like blood-crazed carnivores? All I had left after the feast was a black metal carcass and a keyboard. I had zilch; not a scrap, not even one of those lines that you purge when you're standing over a sink of dirty dishes muttering to yourself and then... eureka! One of those dreamy lines goes frolicking across your tongue and it falls out from between your teeth and you catch it before it hits the dirty water and you save it on the back of a food label that you just took off of a soup can that's headed for the recycle bin. Then you gently place it in a word document for safekeeping because it's bright, shiny, and crisp and you just know that it will fit snuggly into a poem... someday.

    Somehow a little trinket of luck came my way. At some point I had printed out a few poems so all were not lost, but the majority of them had been hacked up by the PC Junkie. I remember that day; PC Junkie guy called me to give me the grave news; I sobbed for my lost appendages.
    I envisioned my peeps pawing and scratching trying to get out of their files while the monstrous virus sat ringing its beefy hands as PC Junkie swooped in with his machete. I'm sure he wore a billowing cape to do the deed. All of my rejected offspring; my babies; all those little pieces of me... gone.

    After the initial trauma I sent out a massed email asking all of my friends if they had any writing that I had imposed on them over the years. And by the grace of the Muse Goddess, two loyal poetry fiends submitted a few of the lost pieces as per my fraught and feeble request. I am forever beholden to my poetry junkies; please don't ask me for my kidneys, they have both been claimed. Well, I didn't have all of my cherubs, but I had been reunited with a significant number of them. So, I purchased a handy-dandy safety net which I professed all of my loyalty to. And, I am now known throughout the rolling hills of New England for delivering a very eloquent and heartfelt Norma Rae speech regarding the use of the flash drive.

    Still, months went by and I pined for the missing pieces. Some of my favorite tots were still unaccounted for and I missed them terribly even if they were rejects. I had birthed that little band of broods breathing life into them from ideas and thoughts that formed in my head; (albeit full of rocks) creating each one from stitched linings that morphed and manifested throughout my days and restless nights. Had I not loved them enough to keep them safe? Those months of torment were surely my penance, and I deserved all of my suffering. I found myself wishing for a good old-fashioned tar and feathering; multiple days of hanging in the stocks; boundless pain and suffering to go with massive amounts of writers block. Any misfortune that would come my way would surely be justified.

    In life we are advised to keep our Karma clean... to make it happy so that good favor will be returned to us. Recently while looking for something; I can't recall what... I opened the bottom drawer on a desk that I rarely use. I removed all of its contents digging deep to find whatever it was that was lost. As my semi-clean Karma hovered, I found tucked under a stack of colorful paper a stuffed and tattered manila folder. In the folder were copies of poems and poems and stories, both young and old...the gates of heaven split and a glorious hallelujah opened the sky. I plunged through the folder taking attendance; I pulled them all close; I cradled them, I whooped... I hollered; I was elated. The reunion of all of the treasured peeps made me crazy with euphoria. I didn't recall being so organized; the copies came from all of the submissions; I had no memory of printing out all of those quiet little urchins, nor did I recall stowing them in the bottom drawer. There was such an assembly and I was holding them all in my contrite and grateful hands.

    It has since been decided that printing out hard copies and backing up my files on a flash drive would certainly adhere to the rules of safety net use. I am no longer a risk taker and have since made a very reasonable and sensible purchase to back up my backups. Now the question is; how many pieces of me can I fit inside a mason jar?

    Pamela Wilonski
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