Category Archives: #AmWriting

What Gave and Took from My Energy Supply Last Week?

The high point was Saturday when I attended the Barrelhouse writers’ conference, Conversations and Connections, via Zoom. I attended sessions by Tommy Dean (micros), Randon Billings Noble (lyric essays), and Claudia Gary (villanelles). It was a comfy way for me to attend a conference. Even so, I get a little overstimulated. Plus, I had to feed the cats their very complicated breakfast during the micro segment, so I couldn’t do the writing. I learned some interesting stuff, and if I ever get a clear head again I plan to make use. If they offer the conference online again, I highly recommend it. The cost was not high, and we get a couple of free books.

Also this week, I did the following:

  • worked (from home)–the usual crap–no more, no less
  • cleaned the living room and my daughter’s old bedroom (even got rid of stuff nobody is going to want)
  • was frustrated because of the pandemic and because I am tired and don’t feel so great (Valley Fever)
  • was in pain, particularly my arm and shoulder
  • wrote a review of Beth Ruscio’s poetry collection Speaking Parts for Main Street Rag
  • played with my art journal
  • worked on the beginning of the new draft of the memoir
  • got frustrated working on the beginning of the new draft of the memoir
  • cleaned up cat puke from several cats and wet litter dragged through the house by my old girl, Pear
  • groomed Pear every day and worried about her
  • was annoyed by the gardener worrying about the covid variants and the vaccines (he’s an overthinker)
  • was annoyed by an identity theft issue and the stupid bank it occurred at
  • attended a telehealth appointment and made more medical appointments
  • talked to my mother less than usual, but was glad to hear she got her second vaccine dose (I also owe phone calls to two relatives and a text to my brother–I can’t seem to want to communicate with people lately–maybe that’s why Perry chatted with you last week hahaha)

Almost everything this week, other than the conference and the art journal were energy sucks. I can’t stress enough how therapeutic the art journaling is for me (you too?). I know I suck, but I am learning techniques. I have to remember that I am starting from absolutely ground level.

Looking forward to an energy sprouting week ahead. Who’s with me?!!!!

 

 

 

 

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Interview on the Making of the Poem “Scrap”

You might remember my poem “Scrap” that was published last month at Anti-Heroin Chic. Poet and blogger Chris Rice Cooper has published an interview where I discuss the making of the poem–the backstory–on her blog over at blogspot.

Come join the fun!

INTERVIEW

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Poem Up at The Orchards Poetry Journal (Remember the Hawk?)

A big thank you to editor Karen Kelsay who has published my poem “Without Flight” in the new issue of The Orchards Poetry Journal. 

Last May I wrote about a red-tailed hawk that showed up on our patio. You can read the prose account here: An Unintended Visitor

 For the poem version, you can follow the link to the beautiful Winter issue of the journal. My poem is page 94 of the magazine–95 of the digital form:

WITHOUT FLIGHT

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This week was not as good as the one before because I didn’t feel that well, plus I had extra work-work.

But over the weekend, I created a chalky pastel background that I really like, a strange scribble background using pastels in similar but different shades, and a string ink background. 

I also was able to do some revision work to an essay that is in limbo with a journal. I’ll try to read it over today or tomorrow and see what else it needs.

So far in January I’ve collected a few rejections. Last spring I had two poems accepted by a journal that has not yet published them. They didn’t put out a fall issue, so am I waiting for the spring one? Hard to tell. I wrote to them, but got no response.

 

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Poem Up at Cider Press Review

A big thank you to editor Carol Andregg who has published my prose poem “Liminality” in the new issue of the well-known journal, Cider Press Review.

“Liminality” is a poem about my father. The poem begins this way:

Hell’s bells my father rolled off his tongue when frustrated or not pleased with the current situation. They weren’t the angry words when his temper swelled and overpowered his vulnerable body. Being only human, those other words . . . . 

 You can follow the link to the full poem, as well as an audio recording of me reading the poem:

LIMINALITY

 

 

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Year End

Goodbye, 2020. Go on, get outta here!!!

It’s hard to remember the trip the gardener and I took to Costa Rica 10 months ago. The monkeys were plentiful, which should have foretold the year ahead.

At least the monkeys in Costa Rica were very cute.

We all still need to be very very careful. Even if the vaccine works well for the majority of people, it takes weeks to work. You need about 3-4 weeks between the two doses, and then a week or so after the second dose before you can be reasonably sure you are not contagious. And they are going to be much slower about getting the vaccine to us than first predicted. That’s because human systems are involved, and human systems are very bureaucratic and plagued by human error and missteps. And laziness.

My 86-year-old mother lives in a garden home (duplex) by herself, but within a senior community in Kalamazoo. There is a current covid outbreak in the assisted living portion, and within the month of December half the infected residents have died!!! They were supposed to get the vaccine on December 21, then at the end of December, then January 7, and now the vaccine date has been postponed indefinitely due to “shortage.” I want you to know that this senior community is five miles from the Pfizer plant making the vaccine. I wrote letters to politicians about the situation, but it felt like dropping my iphone into the Grand Canyon.

On Christmas day, I watched an episode of Tiny Pretty Things on Netflix. My friend’s daughter plays Delia, and that is what drew me to the series. Four of my cats watched with me. (I’ve now finished the series). Then I wrote the first draft of a poem and painted a background page in my art journal. That was a good day.

I’m still plagued with a few symptoms from the Valley Fever and now the fall I took, but I am stuck at home anyway heh.

Are you living in a lockdown? Arizona is not locked down. In fact, I don’t even know what the rules are for restaurants and such because we have so few rules and haven’t heard much from Governor Doofus in awhile.

Please keep on staying safe for the new year. We all want to celebrate an end to 2020, but let’s not get carried away. It’s going to take 2021 a lot of effort to really get rid of 2020 altogether.

Hugs to everyone and make it the best January and 2021 you can for yourself and others.

 

Costa Rican sunset

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2 Poems Up at Anti-Heroin Chic

A big thank you to Editor James Diaz of the really fun lit mag Anti-Heroin Chic who has published my poems “Into Pulp” and “Scrap” in their latest issue.

 

The first poem is a response to someone else’s vintage photograph. I don’t have permission to post the photo, but here is a link: Wrecked archive image

 

The first poem begins this way:

Into Pulp

Lakewater pushes at my ankles
toes slicing an evanescent path
I’m at an age where I think I’m at the age
and I don’t imagine eyerolls
where I sense time abrading my surface
like this constantly moving water
stones and minnows distort into segments
molecules into a variety of atomic individuals
two purple, no, one hairbrush, a plastic ball
a swaying branch, leaves decaying
the insides of my grandmothers’ fridges
bubble and pop into shards of memory

 

The second poem, “Scrap,” relates to my memoir of the same name.

One of my father’s magical monstrosities

 

You can follow the link to both poems:

POEMS AT ANTI-HEROIN CHIC

 

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The Destroyer, The Quiz, and Me

When I first pulled a card from the Wild Unknown tarot deck, I got The Destroyer. My feelings were mixed. Mostly I felt very negative toward The Destroyer archetype, but I also felt the satisfaction of truth because 2020 is nothing if not The Destroyer.

I was reminded of a poem that I wrote years ago about my father and how I saw him as a destroyer type of personality in some respects. I say that, but at the same time, I think he also nurtured and modeled some pretty cool things for me. He never made me feel bad about what I wanted to do in life, whether it was being afraid to do cartwheels or asking to take art classes or just hanging around the house watching TV after school. But as I began to write more poetry, I realized that I saw him as a destroyer of sorts.

For the purposes of writing poetry inspired by The Destroyer, I analyzed the artist’s image of The Destroyer on the card. When I begin to write, I will go back to those notes.

But I figured I needed to look deeper than this to understand The Destroyer archetype. I admit I had a really hard time with this for the last few weeks. I didn’t want to deal with The Destroyer. Still. Here are a few of the many things I discovered as I read:

  • Although some people might be more associated with The Destroyer, we all must have bits of every archetype somewhere within us
  • The Destroyer is one of the 3-part Trio of Existence: Creator, Destroyer, Sustainer (Caregiver)
  • The Destroyer upends everything stable: jobs, relationships, any type of security
  • The Destroyer is often unexpected or rejected, even savage
  • Nature can be an antidote to The Destroyer
  • All archetypes have good parts to them
  • Destruction allows for rebirth
  • Even The Destroyer offers gifts and lessons
  • The Destroyer archetype is about endings and closure, of letting go
  • The Destroyer challenges the status quo

When confronted with The Destroyer, one should look for closure where it is called for and for rebirth where it will lead to a new positive.

Although the Wild Unknown tarot deck contains 78 archetypes, there are a smaller number that consistently show up in many books and teachings. I found a fun quiz online that identifies your own major archetypes from a group of twelve. I like this type of quiz because it’s impossible to see “where it’s going” while you’re taking the test. I like this because you (I) can’t inadvertently influence the results. I was not at all surprised when I calculated my results. (Here is the quiz: Archetypes Quiz–the traits of the archetypes are listed just after the quiz).

My two highest-scoring archetypes were tied: The Caregiver and The Creator. (Cats and poems?) LOL, I doubt anybody who knows me would be surprised at this. In fact, I had my husband and daughter independently guess and they both came up with 3 they thought would be tied: The Caregiver, The Creator, and The Seeker. They probably thought The Seeker because I am constantly asking questions. Drives everyone nuts.

After The Caregiver and The Creator, I scored high on The Sage and then The Magician. The first is about knowledge and the second is about spirituality.

The rest of the archetypes I scored much lower, and it makes sense to me. They are: The Warrior, The Ruler and The Lover (tied), The Orphan, The Innocent and The Seeker and The Fool (all 3 tied). Lastly, with the lowest count of all, is The Destroyer.

At different times in my life, the results of the quiz would have been a little different. For example, when I was a teen, I am guessing that The Orphan and The Warrior might have played a much larger role, whereas The Caregiver and The Magician would have been less. For some people, the results could be vastly different from one life period to another.

Possibly the reason I had such a hard time grappling with pulling The Destroyer card right off the bat is because it is the archetype I find the most difficult. It’s the most alien to me, but also it frightens me. I don’t like the upending of my secure world. I like change, but only what feels warm and cozy and pretty right up front.

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I am beginning to feel so much better from the Valley Fever. My exhaustion is lessening. To keep from overdoing it, though, I’ve been binge-watching Schitt’s Creek, recommended to me by my friend Sheila.

 

 

 

 

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Creativity is Play

Last year I wrote about starting to work on Julia Cameron’a The Artist’s Way with a local group of artists. I haven’t said much in a long time, probably since before the pandemic began. I thought I’d give you a little update about the process.

 

The group is still meeting once a month, generally with me in attendance. We moved to Zoom meetings when the pandemic began. We are down to four fully-committed women. Last week we worked on chapter nine where I learned that enthusiasm is more important than discipline (YAY!!!!) and that all artists make creative U-turns upon occasion. When we finish the book, we plan to start work on another book but haven’t yet decided which one.

 

If you’re familiar with TAW (The Artist’s Way), you know that there are two permanent parts and one temporary one. The temp component is working the book itself–reading it and doing the exercises. Though temporary, reading the book can be done over and over again. The permanent and most important parts are Morning Pages and Artist Dates.

 

I am here to fess up that I doubt I can ever complete TAW the way Julia Cameron wants us to. What works for her and thousands of people doesn’t work for me. I have to do it my way (can you hear the song there? hah).

 

First let me tell you the brilliant part of TAW–for me. It’s the Artist Dates. Because art is all about PLAY and ENTHUSIASM, I love giving myself permission to play in and about anything creative. So when I ordered the supplies for an art journal and got all excited about it, that was an Artist Date. When I started work on the Wild Unknown tarot cards, that was an Artist Date.

 

The book itself is fun and gives me ideas of how to think about creativity

 

and writing itself, but I am not a blocked artist, and I really think the program is geared for the blocked artist, the frustrated artist, or someone who is prone to getting blocked. Many times someone is blocked because other people have rained on their parade which is so extremely unfortunate. Luckily, I have not had a lot of those experiences or at least ones that I really took to heart. But I know others who have had that happen over and over again.

 

OK, now the last part of the program is the Morning Pages. Some people think these are the most crucial. I hate them, and after trying them, I refuse to do them any more. They are just work. More stuff that I “have to” do–about the opposite of play and enthusiasm as you can get. So why do I have to do them? 😉 (Hint: I don’t!) That said, I see them helping other people, so I am not dissing the concept or the application.

 

I’m just being honest about my participation in the process.

 

I had one of my stupid complicated migraines the other day and it has lingered, maybe because of the VF. Otherwise, I am doing fine, and I am sure that I am getting better. In two or three more months I should be completely well. Grateful!!!!

 

We had Thanksgiving on the patio with Mexican food yesterday with daughter and her fiance. Thursday the gardener and I will dine alone. Yes, it will include gluten free stuffing. Stuffing is the “Artist Date” of the Thanksgiving menu hahaha.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans this week. Please stay safe. With the vaccine on the horizon we want to be in good health to really appreciate life after the vaccine.

My boys . . .

 

 

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Poem Up at Coastal Shelf

A big thank you to editor Zebulon Huset who has published my poem “The Shape of Me” in the double inaugural issue of Coastal Shelf.

The poem begins this way:

The Shape of Me

Have I been removed from something bigger?

Something gargantuan with jiggerfish capabilities.

Some thing that attracts, precise and cold.

Looking around, I notice cars and trashcans,

and up, clouds suspended in a blue crisp enough to lick.

You can follow the link to the full poem:

THE SHAPE OF ME

 

By Cameron Cassan – cropped from Dancer Silhouettes. Explored, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10611704

Coastal Shelf is a paying market. Check it out for the good writing and consider submitting. 

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Learning from the Past (haha)

The gardener and I went to California for a couple of days last week. That was our first time out and about in six months. The only interesting thing I saw on the trip was a fire in the mountains near Palm Springs. A huge red helicopter was sucking up water out of a pond that had been created for the purpose of firefighting. Then it flew up toward the smoke pouring out of the side of the mountain.

This photo was taken through the car window as we zipped along the freeway. Notice the pond under the helicopter.

The day after we got back from California my neck went BONKERS. It was so painful that I couldn’t even lie down as the pressure was excruciating. It reminded me of when I injured my neck in sixth grade.

That incident belongs in the category of what were my parents thinking? 

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I was eleven, and we had been tumbling in gym class. I’d always been so-so to lousy in PE. My best events were sprinting and square dancing. Definitely not gymnastics.

The kids from both sixth grade classes were in a line, rushing through barrel rolls on a padded-top vaulting “horse.” As I eased myself over the vinyl for the third time, almost folding my over-long neck in two, I felt something crack. By the time I completed the mile-long walk home after school, the pain demanded attention. It gored me anew as if with an awl with every slight movement of my body.

At the emergency room, my parents gathered round the doctor as he pointed to the damaged vertebrae on an X-ray. “This is why she has to brace her neck. It will also help keep down the inflammation.” Mom’s shoulders were hunched. She had pulled into herself. Dad bounced on the balls of his feet.

At home, Dad wrapped my neck with a faded beach towel and pinned it with one of my brother’s diaper pins. The towel still held the out-of-context smell of sand and Coppertone.

After a night spent awake more often than asleep because of the lump under my neck, I finally fell into a deep sleep sometime after the glow-in-the-dark hands on my alarm clock displayed 5:30. But at 6:30, I awoke to find my arms wrapped around my limp ragdoll, my mother gently shaking my arm. “Wake up. You’ve got to get ready for school.”

I couldn’t believe what she was saying. “School? I can’t go to school.” I wrapped the covers tightly around my shoulders.

Mom pulled the cover down to the foot of the bed. “Rise and shine, Lulu. Your friends will be here for you pretty soon. I made eggs and sausage.” Every morning, the neighbor kids stopped by my house so I could join the group walking to school.

“What about the towel?” It had gotten twisted while I slept, and I tugged on it, trying to straighten it.

As Mom unpinned the towel, I could smell fried pork patties on her hands. “You have to wear it,” she said, as she re-wrapped the towel around my neck.

I didn’t think I had understood her correctly. “I can’t wear a towel to school!”

“You heard the doctor. It’s not negotiable.” I knew that voice, and I knew Dad’s iron hand lurked somewhere behind Mom’s no-nonsense tone.

Reluctantly, and perhaps in shock, I got dressed, ate a few bites of breakfast, and when the doorbell rang, I was ready to go, beach towel and all. When I opened the door, my friends all spoke at once.

“Gaaah, what’s that around your neck?!”

“What’s the deal?”

“Wha . . . .” Karen collapsed into a sputtering laugh.

That day I suffered. Kids pointed their fingers and mimed explosive laughter attacks as they walked past me in the hall. In class, they whispered behind their hands, staring openly at me.

I stood alone at my locker and caught a glimpse of my reflection in the windows across the hall. A girl with a giant donut around her neck.

A neck brace would have drawn attention to me in a negative, pitiful way. But a beach towel and diaper pin? That launched the pitiful on a swift path to the ridiculous.

Underneath the towel, the swelling increased, the pain intensified, and my voice began to diminish. By lunchtime, I could only rasp. Pain closed off all but the sensory part of my mind.

I sheepishly approached my teacher’s desk and croaked unintelligibly.

“Let’s go to the office.” Her suggestion seemed a relief. The office was far from the laughing eyes of the kids.

To the secretary seated behind the counter who stared with an open mouth at my beach towel, my teacher said, “I don’t think school is the place for her. Can you please call her mother to pick her up?”

In the car on the way home, my mother said, “Why didn’t you tell me it hurt?”

I thought I’d made clear that I was in no condition to go to school and that a towel did not make a neck brace that I could wear in public. But my mother seemed to think it was my fault that I didn’t communicate better.

“I did tell you! And it got worse today at school!” I gulped in some air. “It was horrible!” Sobs burst from my mouth before I could control them and that began a shuddery crying jag. Every time my mother would try to pat my arm with a jerky, awkward movement, I cried louder.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you disliked it so.” My mother frowned as if she were confused.

The doctor must have set my mother straight when she called him about the swelling and pain because she kept me home from school for a month after that.

Now that I’ve been a mother long enough to see my kids reach adulthood, I can see the scene through Mother’s Eyes. The reactions of my parents perplex me more than they ever did. I never doubted that they loved me, but they didn’t listen to me or imagine things from my perspective.

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Having lived through that experience gave me the idea the other night to wrap a pair of yoga pants around my neck. Perfect! I was able to sleep through the night wearing that “brace” around my neck. My neck got much better because the brace took weight off my neck. So now I am sleeping with the pants around my neck every night!

Do you have a childhood memory where you wondered what in the world your parent or parents were thinking?

 

 

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