Friday, September 30, 2011

October Blog Challenge

Things have felt a little stale in the writing department these last couple weeks.  Sometimes a good blog challenge will un-stale them.  So in October I will be writing to the following prompts.  I reserve the right to swap out ones that seem too pedantic, ridiculous or that don't appeal to me.  And I will still write about anything else I damn well feel like. 

1. Weird things you do when you're alone
2. How have you changed in the past 2 years?
3. What kind of person attracts you?
4. What do you wear to bed? (already pegged this one as sophomoric)
5. 5 things that irritate you about each sex
6. The person you like and why you like them
7. Your opinion on cheating on people (really???)
8. Something you're currently worrying about
9. Your last kiss
10. Your views on drugs and alcohol
11. Your current relationship
12. Things you want to say to an ex
13. A dream date
14. Something disgusting you do
15. The best thing to happen to you this week
16. 3 things you are proud of about your personality
17. Things that make you scared
18. Disrespecting parents
19. Something that never fails to make you feel better
20. The last argument you had
21. Something you can't seem to get over
22. 10 things about you people don't really expect
23. Something you always think "what if..." about
24. Things you want to say to 5 different people
25. 10 ways to win your heart
26. Your religious beliefs
27. Talk about your siblings
28. The month you were happiest this year and why
29. A picture of yourself
30. What changed this month and what you hope will happen next month?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When I Loved Myself Enough.......

One of my favorite tiny books is one called When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim McMillen.  Just a powerhouse of wise thinking.  Sometimes when I get a bit jammed up I will flip it open and see what comes out.  Like letting the Universe choose.  So that's what I did today......

When I loved myself enough

I began seeing the abuse
in trying to force something
or someone who isn't ready - 

Including me.

I understand this from the pushee stand.  How much I hate feeling nudged toward something someone else thinks I should do.  How that creates resistance to the entire idea AND the person who is exercising this behavior.  My take on it is to spend less time with people who do this a lot.  It seems so engrained in their DNA to do this that there is seldom change - although I do hope for it always.

Tonight I am thinking about it from the other end.  Who am I pushing?  How am I pushing myself?  Is this how the abuse is manifested these days.  So taking some much needed e-free time.  Spending some quality time with the person I love most and finding out what it is she really wants and why she is acting out in this way.

From the writing prompt……’I do not know how’

I did not know I was lost
I did not know the words to La Malaguena
I did not know a man could find me beautiful
I did not know your ancestors would speak to me
I did not know I could love someone else’s family
I did not know laughter

I did not know how to be part of us
I did not know when you were lying and when you were truth-telling
I did not know how to be who you wanted
I did not know you would break my heart
I did not know if I could lift my head, stop crying, move on

I did not know when I would see you again
I did not know that bitterness could be so fulgent
I did not know what I would find in my wanderings
I did not know loving you would bring me here.

I did not know where until I came upon them those four identical headstones a fist to my heart
I did not know the blades of grass that bent over them
I did not know who took care of this place
I did not know how to cope with the starkness of their graves
I did not know their silence would be so loud
I did not know how soon before you might join them
I did not know I would taste only ashes
I did not know if I was allowed to grieve for people who were not my own

I did not want you to know I had been there
I did not know it would hurt me so

I did not know.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Changing POV

One writing prompt that caught my eye today is to write the piece from a different perspective.  A few of my favorite writers do this - the first that comes to mind if George RR Martin.  He is able to sustain the story thread through countless POVs.  However, his last book I found exceptionally annoying in its constant POV switching.  So less is more for this girl. 

There are a couple places where this would seem to immediately apply.

The book.  Yeah I lost half of it.  But maybe this is my chance to make it stronger.  It exists in three parts in my head.  Each part could easily have a different POV.  That might make it more approachable.  Or get me back to a place of excitement about it again.  Funny how the steam goes out of a project when your computer eats it.  LOL.  Baaaaad computer. 

And there is a piece I am wrestling with about my mom and her impending memory loss.  I'm not sure if I'm too close to it or it's too present or what, but I have been unable to write the piece that is perking up in my head.  Maybe POV change would help.  Maybe not. 

Anyway - I'm off to experiment with this.  Shhhhhhh.......I AM at work.  Reason #5988 why science careers RAWK!

Monday, September 19, 2011


We have not loved like other people.
It is messy.
Harsh words are spoken here.
Judgment flaps back and forth
A damp wash in the maelstrom of our anger.
There is calm
but there is rarely communion.

As things are forgotten
the truth is uncovered.
It is there that we taste love.
In this brief moment
between remembering
and forgetfulness.

It is difficult for both of us
One day she will see a stranger
I will see myself as that stranger
In my mother's eyes.

And who will I be then?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Being in Your Passion

I have been asking the ancestors to plug me into my passion.  And no, in this case I'm not talking about the romantic kind.  Just imagining them gently plugging me into a never-ending power source that fuels me and makes it easy peasy to step into it.

The confusing thing is that I'm not quite sure what that is - the thing that I feel passionately about.  Somedays it's writing.  Somedays it's science.  Somedays it's simply taking a walk up a very big hill in the woods.  I am OK with that not knowing-ness for now.  I may not know what it is, but I can tell when someone is there themselves.

Today I had lunch with my friend Fabeku.  Seems unremarkable I know.  But he is someone who is in his passion.  Being around him made me feel clearer.  Made me realize that being around other people in their passion is important somehow in bringing that in for yourself.  So, maybe I'm going to find ways to interact with people who are there more often.

For now I'm just going to drum.  Because for the first time in a long time I want to and I don't have neighbors that it will disturb.

Wherein I Discover the True Art of Haiku

 I have been reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  I think my friend Kim from writing class mentioned it.  Or maybe it was in the writing prompts for that week.  The title alone would have made me devour it.  It's a book about how to write or how one woman encourages herself and others to write.  Sometimes those kinda books snore me.  But this one has chapters that are short and easily digested while one is sitting on the can.  (TMI?  Really?  I don't trust anyone who doesn't do this.  I mean what ARE you doing in there if not grabbing some down time to read while you go about your business?)

Anyway, this morning the chapter is entitled 'A Sensation of Space' in which she talks about the need to study the FORM of the kind of writing you are interested in doing.  Makes sense.  I wouldn't let someone drive my car without an understanding of how.  I wouldn't attempt to recreate some Julia Child masterpiece without knowing what I need and what steps I'm going to have to dance.  The exercise for this is to write short poems - 3 lines about whatever you see around you.  In 3 minutes.  Easy peasy - this is the kinda stuff the girl loves....

Pink shavings 
                                                            Removed into a bowl
                                                       Veiled the image for a time

OK.....diggin it.  She then goes on to discuss how what we are taught and know as the haiku form with its familiar 5-7-5 syllabic distribution is not really what the form is meant to be.  How that structure misses the mark.  And I think well then anything can be a haiku.........

And there is that little bit of breathing room.  It all can be a haiku.  It is all a haiku if we just look for it.  In fact, the River of Small Stones blog challenge was simply about writing haiku in their proper form.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Taking IT for Granted

Moon Gazing by Todd Young
I stepped out back tonight to watch the moon in all her full glory.  Truly nothing quite so magical as the late summer full moon.  When it disappeared behind some trees, I began looking for familiar stars.  Secretly waiting for Betelgeuse to reappear in my sky.  I noticed a little faint star near my neighbor's tall pine tree.  When I really looked at it I realized it was in fact TWO very faint stars separated by a fingernail's width of night sky.  And I wonder what else have I overlooked in my haste to get on with a day's living?

I'm dealing with a mom who will be 84 this year.  We have definitely had our squabbles through the years, but those are quickly forgotten in the face of watching her begin to struggle to recall basic details like how to get to my brother's house or church - places she has been countless times.  It doesn't happen regularly, just often enough to let us know it's coming.  I see how fragile is the thing we rely on to navigate our lives.

I, myself, am dealing with a knee injury of some kind that seems to have happened, not out on the trail where you might expect it, but walking through a flat-as-a-pancake cemetery.  Perfectly manicured grass with no places that might trip me up.  One misplaced footfall and I felt the knee squink and try to buckle.  I continued on knowing there would be lots of rest and ice to make it OK again.  I gave it a couple weeks off the trail.  Continues working - a girl has to eat after all.  This past weekend I just couldn't sit anymore and did a short 2 mile hike.  It has a bit of a climb but it's at the beginning when my legs were freshest.  I navigated the majority of the trail without incident.  The knee held through every upward push that I asked of it without griping.  The downhill part was another matter.  Every step carefully chosen and STILL i re-activated the squink.  Each step popping the knee and causing pain.  Two days of rest, ibuprofen, a great deal of energy work and a good massage and it is feeling much better.  Still hovering ready to resquink, but holding.

So, tonight I find myself thinking about things I overlook in my life.  Being able to navigate where I need to go without fear of getting lost, or of looking at a set of steps as insurmountable.  You just never know when those things are not going to be there.  And then what?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Loving Cafe

Sometimes before class on Wednesday my small group like to get together for dinner.  I like this.  It gives me a chance to visit and to know these women when they are not wearing their writer hats (although I would argue some of us always style those).  This week it was a pre-class powwow to discuss what measures we could take to make the writing class flow with better energy.  There was some venting ::raises hand sheepishly::, a bit of whining ::blushes and raises hand again::, and some problem solving ::looks around airily::  Sometimes these women amaze me with their generosity and true compassion. 

The last few meet ups have been pizza and I wanted something else.  So I suggested the Loving Cafe a vegan cafe with pretty good food when I was there last.  The four of us are crowded around the counter straining to see the menu with out 50+ eyeballs, laughing and relaxed the way that only older women truly know how to do.  A man sitting behind me makes a wisecrack (I so love a wise ass!) and I crack back at him then turn back to studying the board waiting for my turn to order.  Definitely the raw curry romaine soup (No I am not a raw follower.  Nor am I vegan.  But I do kinda follow my intuition about food) and this choice was dead phenomenal. 

The next thing I know there is someone holding out a small cup of pink smoothie.  I look around for who to pass it to but no one asked for this.  I stand there holding it confused.  It is for me?  The mental image that flashes through my brain is one of a penguin presenting a rock to another penguin.  Huh?  Amost simultaneously, my friend Jane leans over and whispers conspiratorially "He likes you".  Head snaps up as my brain goes "Who?" I look up and finally SEE the person who handed me the cup of smoothie to taste.  It is the guy who smarted off to me.  He tells me "It's wiseass smoothie."  As the thousand emotions play across my face, I look at him in that assessing way that people do when they are considering a mate.  I wish I hadn't done that, but what I find is pleasing.  My standards have changed considerably since my 20's (thank gawd) and he meets the new minimum standard requirements - kinda teddy shaped the way I like them.  This one with visible tattoos and yunno how the girl likes her some ink.  Like here being code for I wanna trace them with my fingers.  He has demonstrated that he has a sense of humor and that he is employed (2 big requirements).  I stand there kinda confused as I order. 

I get an odd feeling in the pit of my stomach.....the last time someone looked at me that way ended so very badly.  The four of us go sit and enjoy our food which was yummy FYI.  But a little part of me is still wondering about the boy penguin who presented me with a rock for my nest.  I took it.  I wish I had been more grateful, said something smart ass, yunno made an impression.  Instead I'm pretty sure I looked confused - which I hope, in retrospect, was adorable.  Because let's face it, in the last 10 years he is only the second wild penguin to look at me like I was someone he wanted and the first to give me a pebble.

Now all I have to do is find a way to get back to the Loving Cafe.  And yes, I got the irony immediately.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sweet Summer Reprise

‘Sweet summer of the heart’

What would that be like I wonder? 
A summer so sweet I remembered it always 
Made me forget the quest for the perfect peach
 the sweetness held in that moment
making even the best peaches of my memory seem small and dry. 

To have a summer ripe with juices
that dribble across my fingers at a single touch. 

A summer with room,
with endless sky
and a swing to ride into it. 

What would that summer be like 

Endless beach to lounge on
resting in the sun like that
peach swelling with juice. 

To have someone who touches me with such love
that I burst sweet all on them. 

……And then we laugh. 

An answer to 'Sweet Summer of my Heart'

Fall From Grace

Instead the peaches fell from
the tree soft and yielding
unloved by any but the bees
Who better than Cezanne for peach memories?
who croon their dirge. 
Sticky sweetness wasted
as it oozed onto the dirt. 

The swing lies limp
Rope frayed
Seat splintered
No dreams were launched from this platform
No breeze to stir it into motion now.

Frost rimes the tree
But still she remembers
Still she hopes
Even as she slumbers
Hopes for one more
Sweet summer.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Magical Thought #8

Always the magic comes in the Dreamtime.  Sometimes it's even understandable.  Today's afternoon nap featured a dream about stealing pumpkins.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Magic Thought #7

Because #6 was really yesterday's.

It always amazes me the things that make me giddy happy.  Today it's having the feathers back in my hair. 

I had these for 3-4 months before I went back to work, but then decided that they needed to go so I wouldn't look 'odd' on my first day.  I know!  What was I thinking?  Nerds are odd by nature.  

So WTF difference does a nerd with feathers make?  Why none at all - except to me.  

Magic Thought #6

Bringin' sexy back Chewbacca style.
When I went back to work I tried not to grumble about being placed in a garage farther away from the rock star spot I had previously.  I told myself there were people who parked much further away than I had to who were shuttled in and how that made me lucky.  But still I kind grumbled quietly and mostly in my head because complaining about something good you have around people who have it worse than you is LAME.  

At least until this week.  That is when I noticed that the elevator doors as they slide closed make a noise that sound just like Chewbacca howling.  That had me howling.  That makes the Kasota elevator highly cool and magical.....and my favorite place to park of all times.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Comfort of Ritual

I attend a well-known local women's writing group in Cincinnati every Wednesday night, just as I have for the last 3-4 years.  It took me a couple semesters to settle in, to trust that the people and the process itself would be safe to hold the words that I wanted to unleash - ugly words, rage words, sad words, laughing words, poignant words, geeky words, spiritual words and eventually elusive joy words.  Slowly, I began to let those real words leak out into the circle and there they found safe passage.  And my trust grew until I was a true believer in the magic that happens there.

Class is conducted in a circle - a circle of women.  Certain rituals exist that may seem esoteric in the beginning when one is nervously sitting in an uncomfortable chair - the use of a chime, passing a candle, naming yourself into the circle and those blasted little index cards.  But somewhere, you begin to understand the function of those rituals - how they link us like beads on a necklace into something larger, how they pass that necklace from class to class, from month to month and from year to year in an unbroken chain of women's hands that goes back 20 years.  How there is a certain holiness, a certain power that comes to us as women from this process. 

This little writing school has seen a lot of changes in the last 2-3 years.  But it has always grown and become more in the process.  Lately though, I am beginning to feel like something is broken.  Rituals are not observed, something magical falters and the necklace breaks scattering the beads across the floor. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Magic Thought #5

Sometimes there is true magic in a simple experiment 
well crafted and well done.  
That is all.

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...