Friday, September 30, 2011

JE 12 See Things With a Writer's Eye

For as long as I can remember, people have commented on how observant I am.  I see things that others do not.  I see things in a different way - or maybe I look at things in a different way.

From my writing table I can see out three second story windows, two of which are casement windows with a crank.  The one directly in my sight line has always looked - to me - like the silhouette of a lady wearing an African headdress.

Like these - courtesy of -

Right?  Or is it just me?
Okay - back to work.

JE 11 A Brand New Day

Last night thunder and lightning threatened cooler weather, and though the air does have a bit of a chill it seems that today is going to be a beautiful day.  My shades are up, but my windows are closed - at least for now.  Wendy and Cliff are outside blowing leaves and cutting the yard, and I am paranoid. 

I try to make connections whenever I get a migraine and one of the connections I have made is that when pollen gets in the house - I get a headache.  So, like I said, windows are closed for now.  I am not really sure if there is a connection there but I would rather not risk it.

Yesterday was another migraine day.  It started out as a dull haze slowly building to a full on ringer.  Often I put off taking the rescue medicine because of the side effects, I did this again yesterday to feel the headache out.  Is it just a stuffy head thing?  Wishful thinking.

I don't like to write about my migraines - looking back at my writing until very recently - it is one of those subjects that is noticibly blank.  Let's call it avoidance.  But maybe that is the wrong thing.  Maybe calling it out in real words can be my defense.

Migraines - go away.  I reclaim my life.  You have no power over me.  I renounce you - once and for all!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

JE 10 An Inability To Listen

I know many wives and mothers who will claim this same afflicion of their husbands and children - an inability to listen.  But honestly, truthfully, 100% I struggle to read and to comprehend.  Unless there is complete silence and no time restraints and no other distractions inside or outside of my mind, I can't read.

Do you know how horrible it is to be an English teacher who can't read?  If I focus all my energy on listening and am able to submerge myself in the words of the story, lecture, directions then I have a good chance at comprehension.

I know this sounds a little bit crazy - okay more than a little bit crazy - but it is true.  I have an language processing disorder.  Somewhere in my brain there is a disconnect.  And no I have not been diagnosed with this disorder - I am not even sure this is what it is called, but I am sure that this is not the way it is for everyone.  That this affliction is unique to me, and maybe a few other lucky fellows.

I detested school.  Any chance there could be a connection here?  My son is in first grade and he is distracted.  A space cadet.  If he is like me he is providing enough entertainment in his own head he doesn't need to tune in to what's going on out there.  And I don't want this for him.  He is a smart, charismatic boy.  I want him to feel this way.  To be this way.

I mention this now because today in class we played the game Speed Dating, where you sit across from a partner and are alloted a few minutes to read their work as they read yours.  You then have a few minutes to respond to their work, they then have a few minutes to respond to your work.  This game for me is nearly impossible. It takes my entire concentration to get to the end of the piece, which I then have to reread to be sure I actually comprehended it.  The timed element of this activity is like TNT.  And then - to make things worse, all at once everyone needs to talk to their partner about the story they just read.  This activity makes me feel as though I am autistic - the cacophany of "I liked it!", and "bwah wah wha wha wah wha" all but paralyzes me and makes me feel stupid.

JE 9 Success or Failure

I left the house disappointed in myself, my story writing skills, and my indecision.  And pissed at my migraines.  They steal so much from me.  Days. Words. Lucid thougths.  Playing catch-up - after a migraine takes four days and the medicine swipes two more.  But this is my story, my woe, and it is every bit a part of me.

Migraine aside - I was disappointed in my own inability to get a story together.  Or rather to make a decision that will lead me to a story.  I was ashamed to have to show my three pages.  (Posted previously - short short story)  But when the time came to critique our work in an activity called Speed Dating, the feedback I got was suprisingly good - of course we were all looking for the good to say about one another's pieces.

Upon getting home, I have reread and did not cringe in horror, but now sit in wonder, wonder at where to go from here.  Scrap the idea entirely?  Leave it alone?  Let it be what it is intended to be, a tiny piece of a whole.  Rework it, continue on?  That is the road I think I will take.  But another idea came to me in the shower before class - another part of the same story.  But the question is how to tell it.  These things are not easy to tell.  This invention does not flow freely.  At times my mind even blocks the meaning of the words I have written so that rereading becomes impossible - it's just fingerpainting.

Short Short Story - Rough Draft (Unfinished)

Things didn’t turn out the way Sara expected, nor the way her mother had planned. At no point did she think she would end up in her parents’ house again, at least not before they needed looking after. But here she is amid a second adolescence, upstairs from Mom and Dad, miles from civilization in remote and desolate Cape Cod, which is kind of like living on the moon.

She finds herself smack in the middle of multigenerational living, biting her tongue as she never had done as a child or a teenager. She’s got this impossibly adorable boy; she gets migraines that take her under and a dog to complete the family unit. She can’t decide if she has a mild case of hypochondria or just plain bad luck. Her parents, Jane and Archibald, on the other hand are exemplary, put together, with everything just so.

Her lineage, Perfectionists. Her favorite line, “In my family, you DO cry over spilled milk,” spoken to emphasize the “do” but also to add the humor, although humor can often be misread or act as a shield.

“That’s all right… These things happen,” says Archibald to a friend on the phone, which seems like a perfectly fine thing to say, only it’s regarding the loss of his mother-in-law, granted she was 97 and dying of Alzheimer’s. He’s never been one for self-expression or emotions.

The same could be said about his wife, Jane, though regal and stoic at times, she has an unexpected charm. She’s been known to run outside in a rain storm with her grandson, Spencer, to stomp through puddles. Archibald, though he might hate to admit it, has this side too. His daughter calls it stealth humor and his daughter-in-law refers to it as shock and awe.

This is why the rule of thumb in the Baron family has come to be, expect the unexpected.

When Spencer stepped off the bus and said, “My dad’s a jerk.” Sara, not missing a step asked, “Why do you think that honey?” To which he shrugged his shoulders, flopping his backpack to the driveway.

“Spencer, I can’t give you a daddy but I can give you men who love you.” And she hoped that would be enough.

The next morning Spencer proceeded to stir the house into an uproar, stomping, protesting and responding to every question with a prompt, “No.”

The thing about living in a house with three generations is that everyone needs their own personal space – a place to be ugly, mean, and alone – having this space allows for fits to be carried out in privacy, for the most part.

Then again the next day, Spencer, “I wish school was a choice – I’d say no.” And soon he was bringing home notes; for goofing off in the bathroom, for messing around in line, and he couldn’t pay attention in class.

Living with extended family means plenty of opinions, ideas on parenting, and figuring the delicate balance of roles within this reinvented family. Everyone is compromising something.

Jane is most proud of the beautiful home she has made. She prizes her possessions, one of which is the baby grand piano handed down to her from her mother. The story behind it being that Grandma married the love of her life in her family home in Winters, California standing before the baby grand piano that now resides in the Baron’s living room. Spencer didn’t know this when he scratched his Lego figure up the piano leg, he only knew he was mad and gritting his teeth and gripping that plastic and carving into the soft flesh of the wood made him feel good.

“Spencer! Sara!”

Jane was furious. She lost composure. She almost cried, as did Sara, and Spencer ran away cheeks red and tears running down his face. Archibald stepped in to yell a bit too. No one was happy in that house.

“Fine, Mom! We’ll leave. Is that what you want?” Sara yelled.

“Great, go.” Jane said.

“Yeah, get out.” Added Archibald.

And everyone stomped their separate ways. But leaving isn’t really an option, and it’s not what everyone wants anyway.

JE 8 - Distracted By My Own Distractions

The rough draft of my short short story is due this evening, so essentially I will need to get something together within the next few hours because once Charlie gets off the bus - me time is gone.  It is on to homework and shower and dinner - some of which will have to fall on Grandpa as Mimi is in Arlington looking after a sick baby Elle and I have to leave by 5:30 to get to my class in Hyannis.  (The roads and flow of traffic on the Cape amuses me.  I do not know of another place in the world where driving 30 miles takes 60 minutes.  Another argument for my need of a helicopter...)

So back to the story - I have narrowed down the possibilities.  I have 500 words of, well, crap, which is okay.  It is 500 words, and it is on the right track - more like a rambling of thoughts preceeding the writing of the story, kind of working it out in my head.  The problem seems to be I see this as something bigger.  But seeing as I don't do bigger - short short seems like a good goal.

Life - and writing - is all about goals. And rewards.  Getting that carrot.  If it ain't dangling off'a no string - I ain't runnin' after it.  (And I think we all know my thoughts about running.)

So instead of distracting myself with journal entries, blog postings, vacuuming, or phone calls if you don't mind I am going to excuse myself and do some short story writing.  Au Revoir!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Journal Entry #7 - Breakthrough? Or Blue Lipstick

I am not positive but I may have come to a decision last night.  As I was reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg I got permission to tell the truth in a fictional way.  The section called Blue Lipstick and a Cigarette Hanging Out Your Mouth started it by saying - do something different.  The next section, Going Home, hit home - entirely.

"It is very important to go home if you want your work to be whole."


Living upstairs from good old mom and dad is a going home.  Having my son live upstairs with me adds an entirely new dimension.  Often I feel this is a second adolescence - a chance to get it right.  Having my son grow up before my eyes in this house with me - gives me a new perspective.

Being so close makes it hard to say what I need to say, and maybe even see it.  But here is where I am, so here is where I will write. Afterall, I've gone home.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Journal Entry #6 - Short Short Story Stress

Wednesday my short short story is due.  Stress? Yes - the short of it - what story?  I have a half a zillion stories zooming around my head, one I am too close to, another I put away for so long I fear I may be too far from, one I have written in my head - the list goes on..

But the block comes when I try to get it out - something out.  Write a short short story.


One time, she did this, and then he didn't like it so they got in a fight and things got really messy, but then, things turned out alright. (No not All Right - alright like okay).  The End

p.s. And by the way that was my 100th post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Journal Entry 5 ... @ Bowerman Beach Club (Notes)

September 15 - Thursday

Wiley coyote fast sandpipers running in the surf
fog in the air touching my skin
run up - run back - run up again

sea-green waves crest and fall
crest and fall
comical sandpipers twit and chirp
two speeds all out run and stop

people in pairs walk the beach
looking down walking listening
carrying shoes water bottles keys
moments of sun shining through

in groups they motor - one by one they fly

the man who stands watch as his wife - in bathing cap - swims backstroke far offshore
(you're a good husband)
kind and loving
the watchful eyes
front crawl back
slide in some side stroke

the clouds are flying by
but right now
right now
the sun is all I need
it negates the wind
it warms my soul
it dries the damp

and she rides a wave in reminding me of my nana

Haiku Hike

hot September night
crickets in the thick of trees
chirping joyfully

4. Writing Journal...Three Copies - Writing Down the Bones

So - I have been using my spiral notebook as the writing journal when I am out.  I guess this means at some point I will retype the journal into this blog.  But for now I am attempting to edit my poem and having a really difficult time.  I don't like to write poetry.  I don't even like to read poetry that much.  My attempt at editing my list of beach scenes did not go well.  I went back to it and did not feel like even reading it.  I moved around a few lines and moved them back.  I highlighted another for deletion then ultimately did nothing.  So for now that is what I will do.  Maybe I will print it out so the hard copy can speak to me.  Somehow words on a computer screen are less alive.  Or maybe it's because I feel like I am gonna puke.

Our next assignment is to write a short short story.  I have many ideas swirling through my head.  But it is my nature to first research.  So I assume that Thursday will bring a trip to the library, a stack of books, and some long needed inspiration. 

Also due this week - read the first 100 pages of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, which I already owned but had never read.  Since the book is in my Florida bookcase I attemped to check it out from the library only to discover it would have to be ordered.  In the meantime I went to Barnes and Noble and repurchased it.  And then it came in two days later.  Leaving me with three copies of Writing Down the Bones - all in different locations.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Today is a Poem Waiting to be Written - Rough Draft

Silver glints off wind brushed seas
White spray over wet jetty rocks

Tattooed man with cigar in hand rubs his darling’s ankle
She sits upon the seawall looking toward the ocean

A family plays at water’s edge
Small girl squealing in the surf

The flag gently blows toward the sea,
White fluffy clouds paint the sky
Gulls nestle into sandy ruts
Coast guard chopper nears the coast

The outline of my shadow sits on the blue-lined page
Toes buried beneath cool sand
Waves crash behind me
A grey seagull walks close by – revealing the human in his eye

People tucked to the seawall, a barrier from morning wind
A good breeze blows the hot off my back
Red isn’t a summer color

Grasshopper on the beach, so near the crash of waves,
Clings to my soft cotton dress,
Green legs bracing fabric trapped between
Seeking solace up my leg

The cold the water leaves my skin,
A memory,
A splash,
Before reality sinks in

Bus 16 dieseling by
Soon – snack and backpack and how was your day

3. Writing Journal...Notes on the Beach

As inspired by Poemcrazy

Today is a poem
Waiting to be written

Silver glints off
Wind brushed seas
White spray over wet jetty rocks

First sunny September day
First Friday since school began

A tattooed man with cigar in hand stands rubbing his love’s ankle as she sits upon the sea wall looking toward the ocean

A family plays at the water’s edge – little girl squeals, mom holds a plastic yellow shovel. Dad nearby, walks out to the rocks.

The flag gently blows toward the sea, white fluffy clouds paint the sky

Gulls nestled into the ruts of the sand

A coast guard helicopter scans the coast

People come and people go

The outline of my shadow sits on the page

Toes buried beneath the cool sand

Waves crash behind me

A grey and white seagull walks close by – close enough to see the human in his eye

People tucked close to the seawall seeking a barrier from earlier wind

Two ladies stand hands on their hips facing one another feet in the water

A good breeze blows the hot off my back

The reflection of me stares back from the rounded end of the beach chair, tan and blue, peace and tranquil

The urge to sink my head into the blanket – squishing the sand beneath

Red isn’t a summer color

Stolen escape

Two bridesmaids walking down the street purple dresses hiked slightly at the waist

Grasshopper on the beach, so near the crash of waves, seeking solace up my leg clinging to my soft cotton dress, green legs bracing fabric trapped between

The cold water leaves my skin, a memory, a splash

Bus 16 dieseling by, middle school drop offs, elementary next, time at beach drawing near, soon – snack and backpacks and how was your day

Before – the Island Queen passing through the Sound – the only keeper of time

Steam Ship Authority – time once again must be counted.

2. Writing Journal ... A Poem - and Perceive and Create

A poem, a poem
Oh, how I hate to attempt a poem.

I could talk about a fleck of dust
Suspended in a beam of light,
As has been done before.
Oh, the suspension of time.

Or perhaps I will lament the passing day,
Hour upon hour gone by.
Oh, the fleeing of time.

No, I think I’ll ponder the meaning of life,
And determine my place in time.

It’s not enough
To simply observe
One must observe
And then write

Perceive and create
Interpret, formulate
Get it down

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Poem - What I Believe by Michael Blumenthal

I believe that there is no justice,
but that cottongrass and bunchberry
grow on the mountain.

I believe that a scorpion's sting
can kill a man,
but that his wife will remarry.

I believe that, the older we get,
the weaker the body,
but the stronger the soul.

I believe that if you roll over at night
in an empty bed,
the air consoles you.

I believe that no one is spared
the darkness,
and no one gets all of it.

I believe we all drown eventually
in a sea of our own making,
but that the land belongs to someone else.

I believe in destiny.
And I believe in free will.

I believe that, when all
the clocks break,
time goes on without them.

And I believe that whatever
pulls us under,
will do so gently,

so as not to disturb anyone,
so as not to interfere
with what we believe in.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

1. Writing Journal

Just started a writing class at CCCC yesterday.  It meets Wednesday nights and I need 50 journal entries by December 14th.  Fortunately journal entries can be in the form of a blog.  Unfortunately I have three blogs, one on which I post nearly everything, one for books I have read, and one for things I have written. 

Our first assignment - write a poem.  Ugh.  Good poems are hard to write.  Bad poems are hard to read.  Many who write bad poems have a difficult time determining this, and they write more and more bad poems.  I dislike bad poems.

Today I went to the library to check out books on poems.  I got a few books on Keats' love letters and a book on poems.  Almost immediately I found a poem I really liked it started...I believe ____ but _____.  The repetition makes it poemy and the words and thought behind it makes it a poem.

Nice.  I will post.  After I get Chaz out of the shower, get him in bed, and read him a book.  In the case that I forget or am drawn in other directions - please forgive me.

Since this is six words short of 200 I will add this sentence – and then get my son out of the shower.