Category Archives: Poetry

This Writing Life…

Three chapters revised. Twenty-nine to go. Though at this juncture, there are two chapters that I think will be entirely cut as they really do not contribute to this story. The thing that I’m loving about this process is the time that has passed since I wrote the early draft. I’m far enough removed from the material to truly rewrite and revise.

Favorite line in the last week: “She presses Zach to her chest. His heart against her. She slows her own breathing and tries to feel, maybe even hear, the little extra click in his heart.”

For other writers reading this blog, feel free to offer your input. The one aspect that I’m most struggling is the POV. I’ve gone back and forth between first and third person (limited). It is nonfiction, and I know that traditionally, nonfiction work is in first person. But I like the feel of the “hero” being un-named and in third person for numerous reasons and creative ideas.

For the remaining goals in the last week or so:

  1. I’m counting anything fluid that I consume as “water” from here on out.
  2. I’ve done either core strength, stretching or meditation daily.
  3. My weekly family excursion was to Hagerman. This was extremely exciting for my youngest son who wants to be a Paleontologist. He loved the fossils, the teeth of ancient beasts and their eating habits. We ate at the Snake River Cafe and had a picnic along the river on our return home.

The backyard “oasis” is complete! Writing and creative space near a few chimneys and firepits along with my garden and flowers. The chickens are happy. The pugs are happy. The Chiweenie and Bearded Dragon seem to be living a life of bliss.

I need to carve four hours a day to writing. This is my goal. I know, realistically, I cannot write four hours in a row…but the sprinkle of time throughout my day is what I know I need to get the job done.

Wish me luck. Offer help. Keep on writing.


This Writing Life…

Twenty-eight pages. That is a good day of revision. One of my goals with this long narrative is that each chapter can be published as a stand-alone. Today, I feel that this chapter is complete and could carry the weight of story all on its own.

Best writing for today:  “I didn’t know I had so much blood inside of me. Feeling dizzy, I tenderly lowered myself onto the glass, lying on my back as if I were used to a bed such as this. I stared at the ceiling while waiting for Mrs. Heights to come help. The ceiling was the same gray cement color as the floor. There were thick cobwebs in the corners, and the ceiling seemed lower than I remembered. I watched as a spider dropped and trembled on a thread above my face. I was afraid of spiders. I tasted bile and my body began to shake.”

I know every writer has their own system, their method to “warm up” to write. I have a beautiful fountain pen with deep purple ink and I love both the sound of it scratching on paper and the way it feels as I write in my journals. It isn’t writing in a creative manner, I’m actually copying poems from my past journals into one place. This process connects my mind to my heart, my heart to my hand, my hand to pen and finally, pen to page. It is a quiet process. And slow. I have a permanent purple ink stain on my finger where the pen rests that looks like a deep bruise. This is one of those warm ups into writing.

Family Adventure = Bowling at Big Al’s. My gutter ball was so slow that it stalled in the gutter and I had to flag down a staff member to walk onto the lane and retrieve it for me. My youngest son beat us all in the first game. My disabled son won the second. I lost every time. I consider myself the entertainment factor for bowling as I roll it down the lane carefully so I don’t hurt my neck.

Water = forget it.

Core Strength = I held in my stomach most of today.

Guitar = it hurts to play. I can strum, but not pick and am only decent at three cords to date.

New Dish = Chicken Tortellini – Kosher, of course. Coated in salt, cracked pepper, olive oil, rosemary and a titch of lemon juice.

New Discovery = I enjoy my mid-life hot flashes. My feet are always cold and having this new internal heating pad doesn’t seem such a bad deal. At least for me.

Staying Bright.

 

 


This Writing Life…

Yesterday was a nonproductive writing day. I “warmed up” my pen, read for inspiration, rewrote bad poetry and opened the “working copy” of my manuscript four times. Nothing would come through. I worked on one sentence for 30 minutes and still could not get it right. I gardened, played a board game with my son, and then organized my desk. Then re-organized it two more times.

Some days, the line is meant to marinade while you live your life. I used to tell myself that my full life, single-handedly raising three boys (one who is disabled) offered me rich perspective and material in which I could draw from as a writer.

But yesterday did not feel much like a writing life. Instead, it felt like an avoid-the-writing life.

Today, I woke starving to write.

Best lines: “Even the original pediatrician, the one she painstakingly reviewed and researched for months, has a substitute because he is now unreachable, on vacation. Realistically, Zach wasn’t due for another seven weeks. Yet here the two of them are, her and Zach, mostly alone.”

These lines were almost two paragraphs, mostly nonsense detail that added nothing to the story. Cutting sucks.

Water intake = zero.

Rest = three hours in a row. Miraculous for me.

Core strength = 30 minutes with my disabled son yesterday.

Guitar = painful 15 minutes yesterday and today.

New dishes = zero. I’m on motherly strike this week in an effort to help my sons appreciate all that is done on a daily (and hourly) basis for them, so they are “cooking” meals this week.

My progress through two chapters a week = I’m only halfway through one chapter at this juncture. The progress to rework old prose is daunting. My hope is to complete this chapter by tomorrow and begin on the second (randomly selected) chapter by Friday.

Submissions = submitted two short stories yesterday to a few more literary journals.

Cheer me on please.


This Writing Life…

Memorial Day.

Writers absorb the world in more detail than the average bear. We feel things more intensely and notice what is less obvious to the naked eye.

Today was a day to take in the world. My sons and I prepared 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed lunches for those less fortunate, those without homes. Since many Veterans suffer from homelessness, this was our way of giving back to those who were willing to risk the most ultimate sacrifice for our many conveniences.

My youngest needed music while “working” and so we listened to the “Purple People Eater” almost 8000 times. I had over-purchased jars of peanut butter and jelly, so on our way to deliver pre-packed lunches, which included fresh fruit and bottled water, we paused at the local food-bank and donated our excess product.

We took to the streets armed with the hope of giving. Initially, we couldn’t find anyone in need. We went to the normal corners where we notice those with a sign, “anything will help” or “family of four in need”. It took us over three hours to hand out 50 lunches, but we found them, people in need tucked away in the crannies of our city. They were lying near storefronts and in parks. One man paused, shook my hand and then saluted me, saying “G-d bless you and your family.” Another just kept saying thank you over and over.

What stood out the most were three people, separate from one another. They each were clearly hungry, yet they declined our offer for a free meal. It was heartbreaking. I knew that they didn’t trust us. Someone, somewhere had violated that trust. Someone, somewhere had pretended to offer them something good and somehow took terrible advantage of them or someone they knew. They had been hurt or deceived or worse. I didn’t want to think about it.

Great storytelling involves scene, capturing the concrete details and creating a world that the reader can enter, like a dream. But it can also involve, sometimes more than anything, the main character returning to their ordinary world changed. We, as a family, returned home altered, changed. We felt great because we helped someone else in some small capacity. But emotions are complex and we felt awful that we could not do much more and that so many people are hurting.

My youngest announced, “we alleviated some suffering today, Mom.”

Later, I met with my writing group, my tribe and I thought it funny how most of us sat there with pens that glide and journals small enough to carry everywhere. How alike we are in some connected capacity, yet how different the stories we share with one another in the hope of feedback to help shape us into better writers.

It was a good day for writing, one of heartfelt adsorption of the world around me and a connection with like-minded people I respect and admire. It was a good day for living, one of opportunity to instill in my sons the greatness of serving others and appreciating all that you have.

 


This Writing Life…

I have one word for myself as a writer: Sentimental.

Ugh. My early writing is so sentimentally ugly, so overstated and over-written. I am thankful for the ability to rewrite and revise, because I’ve probably rescued anyone that would have read my story from enduring much pain.

My favorite line from today’s revision: “She silently hands over her baby and a warm imprint remains on the pillow.”

Honestly, today has been one of the most solid writing days of my life. I re-worked this week’s chapter for two hours, submitted a short story to literary journals, wrote a rock-star cover letter, and completed a Letter of Intent. The LOI is for Poetic Therapy. I’ve been training, pre-degree, and accumulating hours to become a Poetic Therapist for the last three years. Now that I’m heading to grad school, I can officially submit my LOI and hopefully be accepted into the NAPT program.

And….there is still no water in my diet. I did brew three pots of herbal tea, homemade Chai, without caffeine, so I’m counting this as my water intake from henceforth. This means that I’ve consumed about 48 oz of water. If all else fails, I’ll start counting my cups of Java towards water intake. Desperate means…

My disabled son and I went to the gym for a “workout”. He’s in Superhero training to write his scripts for his own stories. So we did a few core activities, some light strength for our joints and a bit of flexibility.

I practiced three cords of guitar. This is so difficult for me. And frustrating. My hands do not work right and trying to make my fingers stretch for each cord is painful. The nerve damage from my neck injury makes me think that I may not develop that “muscle memory” needed to quickly switch from cord to cord. I don’t think my brain and my hands are communicating. But I’m determined. And I think this will help strengthen what has been lost in my hand function.

Rest. Better. I watched Sherlock, listened to my “Calm” app and sprayed my pillow with lavender oil. Though I didn’t sleep long, I did sleep well.

I have an interesting family “excursion” planned for tomorrow, but you’ll have to wait to read until after the event.

 

 


This Writing Life…

“This is Not an Exit,” the sign on the door reads. She pushes through and the acidic aroma of sanitation singes her nostrils. With every step, fluid seeps from the bottom of her soles to the tiny crevices between her toes, a distinct squish. The open room is dim, clay in color throughout. The voices maintain a respectful hush. There is space between each isolette like a wide road separating oncoming traffic to prevent a terrible accident.  The babies don’t look like babies. They are small, some only the size of a hand, with a film of fuzz and skin darkened and wrinkled like a bad sunburn. She tries to avert her eyes as she weaves past, more out of horror than respect. Though the ward is full of babies, all is quiet. This is the passage. A substitute for the womb, thinly lined with hope that each baby will finish the journey of growth and miraculously reach full term.

This is the opening paragraph of  a revised chapter somewhere, somehow, in the center of my manuscript. The first day of truly writing was a good day. As I worked my way through this chapter, I realized my writing was less than adequate. What is funny to me is that when I revised this entire project five years ago, I thought I was a solid writer. I’ve learned an incredible amount of detail work and storytelling during my undergrad work and now I’m both exhilarated and terrified to discover how I will feel about my writing in two years from now when I finish my MFA. I guess you should stay tuned.

As for my other goals. I’ve yet to drink a glass of water. Not even a sip. I’m not sure what this psychological resistance is about, perhaps the desire to pretend I’m indeed superhuman? I’ve committed myself to stop analyzing myself and just accept my quirks. So what? I don’t like water. I know I need to consume water. It is on my list of “things”. Core strength consisted mostly of laughter and mostly at myself.

Rest today is a four letter word. Two of my sons graduated from Middle School yesterday and we spent the evening at Wahooz, arriving home after 11 p.m. and up at 5. I’m tired, but joyful. I do believe this counts as a family encounter.

We are only a few hours from Shabbos and I’ve baked 8 loaves of Challah to share with neighbors and friends. In observing Shabbat, I will not write, but instead, I will marinade the remaining 7 pages of this chapter.

I created a neew list in my journal. Throughout my writing academics, I’d jot a “side note to self” in margins as a reminder to write about a specific event or perception or experience in my life. I paged through my 7 binders of writing notes and listed each and every item in which to write. This added up to 7 journal pages.

I’m beginning to think my new lucky number is 7.

I’m off to light beautiful candles to bring more Light into my home tonight and to dream of living the writing life that I’ve longed for most of my existence.


Relationship Status

(Published Idaho Family Magazine 2015)

hat-pic-2014

Just like that.  You can change your “status”.  Instantly you can become single, in a relationship or remain vague and announce to the world “it’s complicated”.  Yes, I’m referring to the social media site, Facebook, the place that has become the definer for our existence.  Our status has become an extension of whether or not we are indeed alive, or if we have “arrived”.

It is easy to get shuffled in the jumble.  Easy to be part of the hype of looking like we have it “together” or are funny, upbeat or even, heaven forbid, normal.  Personally, I’m weary from the upkeep and am pushing against the urge of proving who I am because I clicked the “save” button on my profile.  Instead, I long for a relationship status that doesn’t seem to fit in, but meets me in the space I’m residing right now, midway through my life.

“In a relationship with….ME!”

That status isn’t an option.  At least not on Facebook.  Yet it should be.  Especially for a few folks like me.  I’ve spent the last almost-five years announcing to the world that I am single.  This means different things to different people, pending on the angle.  To some it might mean that I am completely unattached.  To another it might be defined that I’m in a relationship, just not married.  And still to another, it could come across that I’m so broken I’m not relationship material.

For me, single status once meant that I was in transition.

Our cultural pulse convinces me that I’m defined by my status.  In other words, WHO I am with (in relationship) defines me.  So not being with anyone, well, that becomes a statement of lack and abandonment.  Instead, “who am I when I am with another” should be a more accurate definition.  Who do I become?  Am I enhanced in this relationship?  And with those types of questions, if I’m fabulous when I am single…I’m fabulous regardless.

Back then, my singleness, at least to me, was a state of numb-limbo – someplace between relationships and marriages.  Until a couple of years ago when I began believing I was just too busy, too quirky, too analytical, and too….well, you can insert your own adjective here…..  I was simply “too much me” to really deserve being embraced and loved by another.  I arrived at acceptance.  Single status would simply be my life.   I convinced myself that being single forever would be just fine.

Deep down, I never bought my own sales pitch.  I just became busier to avoid becoming lonelier.  Busy insured that I would have no room in my life or my schedule to be unsingle.  I did take a brave step here and there – an attempt to dip my toe into the vast waters of the dating pool only to feel the icy chill and hurriedly seek the safety of shore.  Dating to me was a cluttered, risky business.  Unsingle seemed to suit me.

In my youth, I remember jotting a Dream Guy List.  You know this checklist even if you’ve not written it on the page – you most likely created a mental one at some point.   This is the list that kept track of the traits you thought mattered in a potential partner.  Someone spiritual.  A good provider.  A sense of humor.  Loves to read.

In the middle of my life, that checklist dramatically changed.  It is shorter.  Much shorter.  What remains when I filtered through the surface and short-term satisfaction are about three items:

  1. Character/integrity
  2. Honors G-d
  3. Loves me and my kids

The rest of the stuff was really fluff, but you’ll have to make your own new list.

So here we are, with my new status, my self-relationship, partner-to-one.  Now I need a new approach to this checklist.  I need to ask, does my new partner, me, measure up to my own checklist?  In other words, am I datable to me?

Almost.

The part that trips me is the “loves me”.  Attention is required here on the first part of item three.

The first step to change is the awareness that something needs to change.  The second step is action.  I’ve made a plan for this Valentine’s Day.  I’m taking myself on the town.  I’m making me breakfast in bed and writing myself a love letter.  In fact, I’m going to spend 2015 falling in love with me.  The head over heels kind.  All of me.  My quirks.  My edginess.  My analytics and my flaws.  I’m planning to send myself flowers too.  And in the evening, I’ll light a few candles and play the perfect song, just for me.  I’ve even written myself a poem.

Later, I’ll design a pillowcase with all the things I love about me written in brilliant fabric markers so I can “sleep” on my own acceptance.

What I’m only beginning to realize is I’ve not really been single at all.  I’ve been rejecting me, beating me down and neglecting me.  I’ve never really been alone.  I’ve been with the one person who loves me unconditionally all along – I’ve just lost sight of her along my journey as I tried to measure up.  I’ve had the one person who will never abandon me right here.

I’m inviting myself back.  Rebecca – meet Rebecca – the new love of your own life.  Status complete!


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