Tiny Hobbit door available on Etsy :)
You know how sometimes you go to look for something online, like a little fairy door for the little garden area you're working on? The idea was in your head because you saw them while browsing on Pinterest this weekend, and you knew you had to have at least one. And then you go on Etsy, and you find all these beautiful doors, and then you see the prices (and the one in the pic is worth it), and you notice, hey, these are mostly made from polymer clay! I know how to make things with polymer clay, why didn't I think of that?
And then you Google polymer clay, and see how much the different clays have changed in the ten years since you really used them much. So you think, hmm, I wonder which of these clay types will work best for outside things like fairy doors, and toadstool table sets, because you saw those while looking at doors, and you have to have those too. Plus that acorn type lantern in the picture with the Hobbit door. So you watch a couple things on YouTube showing people rambling on about the clay, and you get impatient, because, really they all end up saying "but you should use what you like." So you decide to run to the craft store on the way home, to pick up whatever polymer clay looks good at that moment, and then you remember that you also told your husband that you wanted to paint some rocks for his food garden with the names of the stuff he's growing, because that will be so much better than those plastic things sticking out of the ground, and the dog is less likely to run off with them, too.
So now you need to remember to pick up the clay, and the paint and brushes, and maybe even some rocks, but your mind is already on the dog, and how to keep her better occupied while you're trying to work in the yard, because yesterday she made a point of stealing every single plastic pot or container as soon as you took the plant out of it, and as funny as it was at first, it did kind of piss you off eventually.
So you realize you have a gift card to the fancy doggy store and think maybe you should stop there too, but what she really needs is scent training, and so you go back on Google to find out who makes what, and which things won't ruin your life by being too stinky or training your dog to chase wildebeests And now you have three places to stop, because the doggy store doesn't sell that stuff, but hey, gift card! Plus the doggy store is on the way home just next to the grocery store anyway.
And you remember at this point that you opened the last beer last night but forgot to drink it because you were so tired. But then you still didn't sleep because of the snoring, and you notice how tired you are even after the afternoon coffee, and you think you should probably just head straight home after work and go to bed early. After you pick up some more beer.
And this is why computers are bad for you.
(Or is it just me?)
Writers write, always. Write, never stop. The key to writing is to write and write some more. A good writer reads and writes every day...
Okay, enough already! I can't freaking do it like that. I work full time, and have a ton of things going on, but I don't know if my life is particularly more stressful than anyone else's. I'll assume it's not, not by that much anyway. So this isn't about making excuses. I just can't create in the same way, day in, day out. I can't sit at the computer every night and make things work. I write because it's what I love. But these people tell me I have to push and push in order to "do it right."
The thing is, when I'm ready to write, the words flow fast and free, and it's easy, and it works. When I force it, it's because I don't feel like I have the right to call myself a writer unless I'm doing it every day, like all the experts say. And when I force it, it sounds forced. We think, here in America, in 2013, that productivity means "stuff I got done." We measure ourselves according to quotas and scales, and when we find ourselves lacking, we push harder. Or we give up and take Xanax.
In the rest of my life, I'm learning how to listen to myself, my moods, my needs, and go with the moment. I want to live as authentically as possible here in the crazy frontier. My life is a flurry of adjustments between needs for technology and open spaces. And my writing brain is like that too. I think everyone's is. The "best companies to work for" all seem to understand that their employees need downtime, respect, nice environments, movement, beauty. When they have these things, they work harder and produce more and better widgets.
And so it is for me. I love writing, except when I don't. And when I don't, it's because my brain needs downtime, respect, etc. It's because if I don't spend some time watching my dog playing outside, or relaxing with friends, or staring at a blank wall, or just appreciating the taste of a damn fine beer, I will be useless to myself and everyone else. My job is not to push myself into writing crappy words every day just to say I did it. My job is to listen to my own needs, provide for myself lovingly, and above all, to trust that I will be back at writing when I'm ready, and it will be good. Those moments I spend just breathing and feeling what it is to be a messed up human in this world are incredibly productive, and without them, there won't be any words at all.
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning.(Wikipedia)
I said something pretty close to the above off-the-cuff last night when my dad asked me on the phone to define poetry. Neither of us was satisfied with my answer.
He was asking because I had the good fortune to be selected as a winner in the NY Public Library's Twitter Poetry contest
(I'm under thunk2much/itsnothingreally). While my dad was very glad for the news, and even liked the poems I wrote (!), he had a good question. What makes these things poetry? Clearly, they don't rhyme. But there is a strong difference in the cadence of the things I call poems and the other stuff (like this here rambling blog thingie).
I've never called myself a poet. I have enough trouble using the W word. I've written lots of poems though. Some are truly terrible. No, really. But so what? It's cliché maybe, but I like to think it's the thought that counts. And that's what a poem is... sort of. A thought.
................................."All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."
~ Oscar Wilde .................................
I guess in my mind, a poem is always a self-contained thing, a mood, a feeling, something that defines itself as a big thing in a smaller package. Like the TARDIS
, it's bigger on the inside. It should reveal itself, even if it plays hard to get, and it should take you along for a ride of sorts. There is joy in writing poems, or at least release. Through the 14 Words for Love
projects, I've seen people who would never call themselves poets become... well, poets! And I've seen experienced poets practice clarity in amazing ways, with wonderful results.
I'm realizing I like the boundaries offered by short poems, but of course not too many rules. Take away the infinite space that is digital white paper, tell me to limit my words or characters, and I'm happy to try to squeeze everything I can, cat-like, into that tiny space. And when you take away everything that doesn't add to the thing you're trying to capture, it defines itself right before your eyes. But Wikipedia probably doesn't see it quite that way.
So then, what the heck is poetry to you?
I made it myself... :)
14 Words for Love
is back in action with PEN it Forward
for Pay It Forward day (April 25, 2013)
. There's an open Facebook event
, where we're gathering 14 word poems about, well, most everything this time. The focus is love in all its forms, but write what moves you! It's amazing to me to see all the great poems from people who don't think of themselves as poets, and the support from/for everyone is fantastic too.
On the 25th, the plan is for you, me, everyone to hand out these poems to strangers, or anyone at all. Maybe give them a few to hand out as well. There's templates I made up - hopefully they'll make it to the 14 words
site soon. Even if you don't feel like a writer, I challenge you to try writing at least one 14 word poem. It certainly doesn't have to rhyme, and you may just decide to write another. Me, I started with one during the Valentines Day event, and wrote over a hundred
I've been less prolific this time, but I still love the short format - nothing can help you say what you really want to say like a word limit! Here's a video
I made using some of the poems that were gathered and handed out for the 14 Words for One Love Valentines event.
And here's a few 14 word poems I've done this week for PEN it Forward:
hope and sorrow
won't share a heart
their incessant battles
break it into pieces
thirteen years ago
you and I
I understand waiting
you say I'm out of sync
but I'm matching my drumbeats
one for one
I stare contemplating
the nature of beauty,
wading and coughing
my dog, myself
mutts of unknown origin
of licking your face off
Praise is a flash flood,
too loud and fast to absorb.
I panic, drowning.
Come and join the fun - what's the worst that could happen? As always, many thanks to 14 Words for Love's creator, Jodi Barnes!
I've been running all my life, but I never seem to get anywhere. No I don't mean jogging. Good Lord no. I mean running. Away.
I come from a family full of walls, so it's pretty natural to solve problems or people by closing my eyes and pretending I can't see them. Life gets hard, and I think immediately, I could get away, start over, and maybe things would just be peachy. I think I'm currently the only member of my birth family speaking, or trying to speak, to every other member. Could I leave all that behind? Hell yes.
Sigh. Hell no. Because as much as I've wished at times it would, ignoring people and problems isn't going to make them disappear. The problem is, I want to open my eyes, and see what's in front of me, who is in front of me, and I need to like what I see. Lately I dream night after night about my family. I try to make things alright, and of course, I fail. In real life, I'm practicing NOT trying to make things alright, and it's downright refreshing. But my dreams are a reminder of failures of all kinds. I can't run away from them, either, so I have to look at them up close and personal.
When I first started dating my husband, the one I'm married to now that is, I warned him that I have a run-away problem. And indeed, there were at least three moments of panic in the first year, that involved me saying goodbye forever and walking out the door. He was very patient with me. I still have my moments, still talk about that bus to nowhere, to anywhere but here. I still yell and storm off. But see, this man wasn't raised like I was. He follows me, eventually. He tries to stay reasonable, which is not easy for him, either. He's far from perfect, but what he does works because he doesn't walk away like I do. He knows even in the terrible times that this, what we have, is valuable, that it will last through one stupid fight, that family is family even when that family is messed up with disorders, drugs, bad relationships, terrible behavior, whatever it is. I hate that it's so hard for most of us to get that.
Of course, some people are just too toxic to one another. They just are. I get that, and I don't know where those lines are. It's personal for each of us. Obviously, people have to keep themselves safe. But I do believe that the lines can shift over time, and with help. I believe when you write someone off forever, you're hurting yourself as well, forever. It's up to each of us to manage which pain is worth it. I believe in forgiveness, where there's meaningful apology. The kind offered willingly, with no excuses.
So I'm not getting on a bus, at least not so far. I'll be here a while, struggling, screwing up, storming, trying again. And someday, hopefully, I'll be here when my kids want to talk. When they realize that forever is really too big for hatred. It only fits comfortably with love.
In the quiet places
like the bench in the park
once you decide to just stay
something magical happens.
The noises change in time
the inside sounds
the running lists of things you've forgotten
slowly come to a rest.
Outside sounds begin to wake
and stretch into birds and leaves in the wind
nature's orchestra is playing
and finally you hear it.
And you listen then
as if your very life depends on the harmonies
because in so many ways
it actually does.
Dad, 2013, shooting the sunrise over Myrtle Beach S.C.
When my sisters and I were kids, we traveled a lot in the Summer. Our parents both worked for the public schools, and camping was a cheap and effective way of seeing the sights. I didn't know we didn't have a lot of money by the way, that sort of thing just never came up. We took things as they came, and I know I asked for a lot more than I got, but the same can be said of a rich kid who has more than I can imagine. Kids...
Anyway, we saw so much. One Summer, I was 5 or 6, we took the Chevy convertible and the Cox camper and drove from New York state to California and back. I didn't appreciate the heroics of taking 3 girls under 10 on a journey like this until decades later. The car was hot. It overheated often enough that each time spent waiting to get going again has blurred into an amalgam in my memory, and it lives as only one experience, rinse, repeat. My dad may have cursed about it, but if he did, I don't remember. I just remember him adding water and the waiting. And of course, I remember bickering with my sisters, arguing over the small amount of space we had in that car. I remember getting car sick in most every state we passed through. I'm relatively proud of how many states I've thrown up in actually. Sorry parents.
The thing I remember most though is the views. The things we stopped to watch, the things we drove by. Incredible things, Grand Canyon, fields of gold, the view coming down Pike's Peak (we lost power steering on the way down, and I was sure we'd die, but it was as beautiful as it was terrifying). And mostly, the sunsets. My father has taken tons of photos of sunsets over his years. He would often stop the car, and just as often slow down and tell us to be quiet and look out the window at the gorgeous sunset. He wanted us to gasp in awe, and we really should have. I don't think we did though. I'd like to say I remember gasping in awe. I do, however, remember the sunsets. I did look. And I don't know when it finally sank in, but at the ripe old age of 47 I can say that now I remember the sunsets over plains and mountains, canyons, and through ridiculous heat that you could see rising in waves from the earth. I remember, and I'm so grateful for the sunsets, and for a father who wouldn't give up on making us stop and appreciate what was right in front of us.
I don't think I stopped the car often to show my kids the sunset. But I slowed down an awful lot. And I nagged them, and forced them to put down the Gameboys and LOOK! I hope to God that they remember some day, and torment their own kids with the beauty of sunsets they won't appreciate until later on. I'm not sorry for nagging. I'm only sorry I didn't completely stop the car more often, and take more pictures.
I'm reading this chapter of a very good book
right now that describes the inextricable link between joy and gratitude. It's gratitude that brings joy so often, according to people who manage to be joyful on a regular basis. While I'm working on the joy, I couldn't be more grateful for the sunshine, and the stubborn will of parents who know something the children will eventually know for themselves, if they're very lucky.
I just spent the weekend at the beach with my father and stepmother. I was the first one up, at 7:30 Saturday, just in time to take some snapshots of a gorgeous sunrise. I was giddy with it. And I'd beaten my dad - he missed this one. But the next day, I peeked out my blinds at 7:32 and saw him on the deck, camera in hand, fully focused. I snapped my fingers old-school style; darn it, he'd beaten me. I rushed into my robe and hustled outside anyway.
I snuck up on my dad, took a couple pictures of him and the sunrise with my phone, and then announced myself. He laughed, but didn't stop shooting. And that was awesome.
Last night I dreamed that I could fly an airplane. Not just some little lightweight plane, but a bona fide 747 type thing, with room for loads of people. And I ended up carrying loads indeed, family, friends, and other people we picked up along the way. People were camping in my plane, and I think I remember some animals too.
In this dream last night, I was trying to take care of everyone on my airplane, and they all wanted different things, and everyone was telling me where to go, how high to fly, which people I needed to go pick up next… It started, I think, because I was trying to fly my loved ones to someplace nice, a vacation spot with beach and sun. But the jobs kept getting harder and harder, and then there was danger, and I was focusing on my job, and keeping everyone safe, and I forgot vacation completely.
Everyone on my plane was grading my performance, and telling me I was lacking. The pressure was getting to me, and people were complaining that I wasn't taking them where they wanted to go in the first place. Somewhere around the point where I was becoming aware in real life that I was dreaming, I woke up realizing I don't even know how to fly at all.
Now, I don't mind flying as a passenger in planes very much, but I am scared of heights – or more precisely, I'm scared of falling from heights. But in this dream, I didn't mind zooming up into the clouds. I wasn't afraid of flying. But I also didn't find it freeing, which is another dream I sometimes have where I'm like a piece of paper just floating and flying and looking around. I love that dream. This one, not so much.
A lot of people have dreams about driving. I've studied this a bit, and I understand the meaning is usually some sort of control over your own direction in life. You may dream that someone else is driving and you're terrified because they're driving like maniacs. You may dream that you're driving but the weather is terrible and you're losing control of the car and you wake up just at the moment you're sure you were about to die a flaming death.
So I'm pretty sure my airplane dream was like that, but, you know, bigger. To me, it means I've been trying to please everyone and control the direction we're all going in as well. It's classic enabler stuff, but also the dream of someone who is learning in the harshest possible ways real life can teach that I can't fix things for other people and all the worry in the world isn't going to change anyone else's path. And if I keep fighting to keep everyone in the air, I might make us all crash and burn more than we already have.
So, long story short, you all have to fly yourselves. Everyone! And I wish you a safe and adventurous journey. I hope for postcards and visits along the way. I hope you soar! But my pilot days are over, for now anyway. I'm going to focus my damnedest on keeping my own feet firmly on the ground until I figure out where to go next, and how to let go of the feelings that I am supposed to control anything at all except myself. Finding my own happiness and direction is a big enough job, and it's time I got to work on that. Fly safely!
Small miracles are everywhere. They're in the way the dogs dance when they go outside in early spring, their noses waking up to a thousand little mysteries. Or the way the cardinal in the bush outside my window just a few minutes ago bobbed and weaved in exact time to the song I was listening to, and then flew away exactly when it ended.
Small miracles. Little things. You can see them every day if you're looking. Of course, I'm the kind of weirdo who you'll see staring at the sidewalk after the rain stops, moving worms out of the hot sun before it's too late. I like to watch ants celebrating an upcoming feast of cookie crumbs while working together. Little things. Except, of course, to the ants and the worms. Notice someone, and you have given them a gift. It may be the best thing they've received in a long time.
Lately more and more I've been noticing things that are usually reserved for people on acid trips. Maybe it's from being in the dark so much, or maybe watching too much Dog Whisperer... Anyway, the exchanges of energy between people, well, creatures, are visceral but visual things. Just like anger, joy is catching. You can watch it flow. If someone is willing to meet your eyes, try smiling just a tiny bit, and you can see them lift up. You did that.
The effect of a smile can start in one part of the world and travel most anywhere. Small kindnesses are the things you remember and carry with you, so what makes you think nobody else notices? The cashier who was admiring my hair color the other day was amazed when I told her how lovely her highlights were (mostly grey and silver, nice highlights!). I could tell it was the first compliment she'd heard in a long time. It cost me nothing. In fact, it made me richer. I was having some real problems that day, and by some small miracle, my load was lightened by passing along a tiny bit of joy. And then she turned to the next person in the very long line with a smile on her face.
Mother Teresa said "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless". I don't even think you need words. I truly think just meeting someone where they stand, noticing them, smiling... I think that echoes too. So here's to starting with the little things...
Life right now is a subtle battle between getting into mental shape and hiding out, all stunned-like, on the couch. Every time I start working out, left brain, right brain, push push push, something else pops up, all whack-a-mole style, and me without my mallet.
There are sessions, and lies and drama, and a court date now for my son. And sometimes I get a headache from the crap, and sometimes I get a headache from the beauty of it all. There are many beautiful things and people in my life lately too.
Today's headache was brought to me by some creative stuff I can't talk about, but oh, fun while it lasted. And then someone asked me how I am, and I can't even answer that question. So the mental workout schedule is on hold for the night, and I'll let the muscles rest. Tomorrow is a new day, yes?
A short while back, I wrote something about wanting to be a shadow. I think it fits, just for today at least.
I'd like to be a shadow,
just that shapely outer beauty
made of darkness draped in the finest weaves of light,
adding definition to the scene.
I'd live on the sunny side of the street,
reclining blamelessly on the ground
while humans chug coffee and hail taxicabs through grinding teeth.
I'd imitate their madness with delight.
Scars mean nothing to this shadow girl
and garbage hides beneath her on the ground.
She has no past, no tense, no tension headache,
no smiles to fake, no face to face.