For the past near sixty-one days, I have blogged every single day. Last month for Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Writing challenge was arduous enough. That self-promise of thirty-one days straight of blogging, especially when I had posted barely a couple dozen times from all of May 2020 to March of 2021, was truly diving off the deep end to see if I can swim. [I actually did that dived into a 16 foot deep pool without knowing how to swim.] No, I still cannot swim – don’t ask. Luckily I was much better at following through on immersing myself into regularly blogging again.
Because it is following right behind the March challenge, April is its own war as it is all about poetry. Each year for National Poetry Month I look around and enjoy the work of other poets. Each day I also post original work of my own, honoring National Poetry Writing Month. At least I’ve tried to. I admit I in previous years I have been a spotty poster during April at best. If a dozen new works happen it was a good year. C’est la vie.
As I had naught else to do, I also challenged my self to try more of a poetry form I was not fond of the Villanelle. I absolutely knew I could not do thirty days of them, but I have managed one new one per week, the most recent as of today which I published this morning. Which means I now have five villanelles in my poetry portfolio. Having written four more it is better than the single one that has existed for nearly decade by itself, so that is a huge win in my book.
2021 is the only year in which I have participated in National Poetry Writing Month where not only have I not bailed halfway through the month from writing exhaustion. Granted some were posted late, like yesterday’s coming in at nearly 11:30pm, but I will have thirty new poems under my belt, including four new villanelles! With the finish line a mere three days from now, I am confident I will complete it. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of myself for this!
Slice of Life – Tuesday Writing Challenge – Two Writing Teachers
A year in quarantine has squashed my poor travel bug which is as antsy as a jumping bean right now. Reminiscing/Lamenting past travels brought good conversation and a good question.
If you had unlimited funds, and instant travelling with you and anyone you want to bring along at your disposal, what would your perfect day (24 hours, live it up) look like?
Teleportation and some serious Red Bull/5 Hour Power would be likely needed, but I would bounce around the world.
This is a rough estimate timeline as I have no idea of sunrise/sunset times are for most of the places listed and would have to adjust my schedule accordingly.
* 9am – Breakfast on the Nile, with a tour of the Pyramids and camel riding included.
* Noon – Zip over to Antarctica for an hour of up close wildlife watching because I just have to step foot on that continent, not just see it from a cruise ship.
* 1pm – Warm up on Ireland and Scotland coasts mid-afternoon; I want to personally see the beautiful vistas and at least one of the ancient castles I’ve only seen in movies.
* 3pm – since we’re so close, a quickie bite at the Eiffel Tower (and perhaps a different sort of quickie afterward should I have a S/O by then).
* 5pm – New Zealand, The amazing forest shown in Lord of the Rings I believe was shot there.
* 6pm – Machu Picchu – for the amazing history.
* 7pm – Rio, Brazil, Statue of Jesus and the divers – self explanatory.
* 8pm – Sunset dinner in the Potala Palace is in Lhasa, Tibet. Can you imagine how glorious a sunset that must be at one of the most amazing architecturally impressive structures and at one of the highest points in the world!
* 10pm – Tokyo, Japan – Just to see the only place brighter than Vegas at night – lol.
Though often (mis)attibuted to John Lennon, the earliest certain source of the popular quote was by Marthe Troly-Curtin in her novel “Phrynette Married” (1912).
I used this exact opening a couple of weeks ago when I attempted to have a day vegetating. Today I use it response to a complaint.
“God! Every time I call! Why are always writing a story, or working out a poem, or you’re painting something. Pick something, ONE thing and be good, really good, perfect at it. Maybe you could make money off it and stop wasting your time.”
My pithy response: “I write and I paint because I like it and because I have no space for carpentry workshop and a kiln.”
Oh, there was so much to unpack with that loaded statement and her not understanding why I was offended by it.
What is with limiting a person to one form of expression? The whole pick one thing and be good/perfect at it nonsense, is in a word nonsense. Dion Sanders and Bo Jackson excelled in both baseball and football in their heydays. Venus and Serena Williams are both phenomenal tennis players and wonderful clothing designers. Several of Hollywood and UK actors also excel in other creative outlets. It’s Art. You know that thing like beauty is in the eye of? So who determines what’s good or God help us perfect creatively anyway? Who determines its clock value? Is the pursuit of a second passion for pleasure only limited to those those who can afford it? If it’s not making money, it is waste of time?
As I understand it Art students study other art to learn what’s good. Though they both use pointillism, no one is going to confuse a Seurat with a Lichtenstein, but they’re both good. Rembrandt, Warhol, Monet, Max, Michelangelo, Haring, Picasso, Van Gogh, Pollock, are all amazing artists, not one looks like the other and none of them did what they did to be “good.” The artists painted what they wanted, the way they wanted – period. That others cottoned on and made some of them renowned during their lifetimes was a lucky bonus. Some of the names mentioned were not famous, until after their deaths. It likely wasn’t perfect, to some of them. It may not have even been “good” to them, but you know what it was? Good enough to make them happy or they tried again until they were. They did it for they were inspired, because it pleased them. I am 10,000 percent sure someone had said to each them at some point “stop wasting time.”
Why must damn near everything in life sans breathing, and bathroom functions, can only be considered worthy of one’s time if it can also potentially line one’s wallet? Stop that nonsense! Elizabeth Barret Browning, Alex Haley, e.e. cummings, Arthur Conan Doyle, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Octavia Butler, Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, Andrew Wilmot, Amanda Gorman: none of them wrote their very first stories and poems, because they were out to make money, they wrote because they had stories to tell. It just so turned out that eventually others liked the stories as well. The rest is the luck, ill or otherwise, of the draw. But we know their names in the first place solely because they had a story they needed to tell. The story got told. It was not a waste of time.
We blog, and some of have regular followers, but the mass majority of us are not, nor have any intent to be “influencers.” Still, we blog because we have stories to tell, in words or in art or both.
I create because it pleases ME. The moment it becomes something I have to do to make money, it becomes a job. And knowing me – it will no longer be something I enjoy. I create the ways I do because I want to. I’m not trying to be good, I am having fun. That others enjoy it is wonderful, but is never the impetus for me to type out pixels or pick up my pencil or brush. It is always time well spent, even if I hate the result. On the outside I am an adult exuberantly expressing my creativity through mixed media. On the inside I’m a four-year-old happily making a mess scribbling and finger painting. Ask any preschooler…
I spent most of this day wondering how I would close this month out. March has, as it does each year, dragged and flew. At the beginning of the month I knew I would make it to the end. Granted, I also knew there would be some very late night close encounters, which there were. And 2021 will forever hold the asterisk for when I published yet fell asleep before I could post as hubris, but I did it.
Most of all WE made it!
Whether you made all the way through all the slices, or missed a slice or two, or more, as always…
🎵 I’m so glad we had this time together… 🎶
* tugs on ear * [Some of you will get this]
We have survived an entire year of Life in the Times of Covid! It has not been an easy year for any of us. But with the vaccinations happening slowly but surely we can finally see the better days coming ahead. I imagine next year’s challenges will be sprinkled with the things we get to do again compared to now and it will be great.
Being that today is Tuesday, it seems fitting as we know return to our usual Tuesday slices.
I wake up to a nice quiet morning. Well “quiet” is relative given I live in New York City and it’s a weekday morning, but you know what I mean. I say quiet because in the past couple of years there are three multi-unit dwellings are in some process of construction within a block’s radius of my building. A three blocks away, people have begun to move into a new building that must house at least 50 apartments units. Another mixed-use construct rises across the street from it promising even more housing units, plus ground floor commercial space from the size of it.
Because Covid delayed much of for months, once they were allowed back it was with a vengeance. The usual 7am – 3pm became 5pm and later depending on where they are in the process. While clearly loud it was never so egregious to disturb any of the virtual training classes I hold remotely as I work from home. Suffice it to say, these days, any morning I wake up and am not immediately inundated with a wall of construction sound that has but become a form of white noise to my day is noteworthy.
So I enjoyed this moment of Zen. I rose, showered, dressed, made a light breakfast and sat at my desk prepared to work. Still quiet. Excellent. At 9:30am I begin my usual what I call “pre-boarding check” before each session to ensure I have everything I need at the ready. My screens display the correct information. I do not have spinach in my teeth etc.
9:45am I open the session in case there are early birds and sure enough 9:50 someone logs in. I chat with the student as others sign in and at 10:00am on the dot all are ready to begin and…
CRASH!–BANG! – RATTLE! – THUD! – RUMBLE!
What? On? Mother? Earth‽ Was‽ THAT‽ ‽
[Oh, my natural tendency to cuss like Martin Freeman (it’s safe for work I promise), becomes amazingly rated G when the audio is on for training. My students, all adults, don’t necessarily have that restriction and give a Samuel L. Jackson character a run for the F-bombs that I hear dropped in reaction.]
Oh, did I forget to mention the public school right behind my building? The public school that is closed as its denizens learn remotely? The closed public school which is surrounded by scaffolding and netting? The closed public school which is surrounded by scaffolding and netting that now is in the first stages of refacing its brick façade? The LOUD first stage where they break off chunks of bricks and dump it down a plastic and metal chained chute to land in a huge commercial dumpster oh so conveniently located right outside my [please stand by while I insert Martin Freeman’s imagined, albeit still impressive, string of foul verbiage here] window? Yeah, apparently that is going to be a thing in my life for a while; at least while they work on this side of the building. Grrr!
It could be just my over-active imagination, but I do declare all of the constructions workers had a pow-wow this morning when it was quiet. It must have ended just before 10am because every room in my flat has construction noise seeping or thundering in from outside.
Just because I’m presumin’ That I could be kind of human If I only had a heart — Jack Haley [The Tinman] / “Wizard of Oz”
I so often joke about the black hole, empty echo of space, where my pulmonary organ should be. Today I proved the utter fallacy that jest. At least the physical manifestation of said organ, though the emotional/psychological variant thereof may still be in question.
I chose today to finally get around to filing my taxes. I have never filed taxes this late before, even when I owed the IRS. No idea why I chose this year to be so lackadaisical with it, but C’est la vie. I mentally chastised myself for it and got down to business. I file online and it took the little over an hour the it usually takes to get it done. All was fine until I needed to verify myself by providing the document numbers on my state ID or license. I have a lot of things memorized – that is not one of them. So off I go to my bedroom to retrieve my purse and wallet.
Bedroom? Check. Purse? Check. Wallet? Wallet? Bueller? [insert Ben Stein followed by tumbleweed and crickets here.]
Oh! DUH! I didn’t use my purse yesterday. I must have…
…dropped it on the console when I came in? Nā.
…forgot it in my jacket pocket when I hung it up? Nee.
…placed it on the dining table? Nein.
…left it on the bed before it was made and it’s under the cover? Non.
…put it inside the drawer when I took off my jewelry? Nyet.
[That’s a negative in Bengali, Dutch, German, French and Russian for those who weren’t curious.]
Let’s just say I cycled between languages, rooms and locations in said rooms. I bought the wallet in a bright color so that, though small, it stood out among things and be easy to see. So why couldn’t I see it? I even checked the refrigerator, okay? Each negative added to the increased panic. Was I wrong, did I lose it while I was out and it’s all GONE? I was daunted by all the things I’d have to replace in my wallet: credit cards, ID cards, insurance cards, etc. All while being simultaneously glad that while I have most memorized; I also have photo copies of everything, including contact info, so I could begin that arduous process.
Forty-five minutes, and do not ask about the state of my bedroom, later. I plopped down in the club chair in my living room, head lowered in hands, another maybe fifteen minutes from tears of frustration when I spy a splotch of bright colored leather wedged between the side of the sofa and the broken paper shredder waiting to be picked up for refuse. That was when I remembered I had laid my jacket there before I hung it up, not knowing my wallet had fallen out and slipped down but did not make it to the floor I had checked.
The resulting emotional WHEW! was when I noted the palpations that began to ease. I hadn’t noticed as my heartbeat ratcheted up in my increasing panic, but I sure felt the release valve engaged. And me, being me, only had one thing to say for myself as I finished my taxes and put the rooms Hurricane Raivenne ransacked to rights:
Though often (mis)attibuted to John Lennon, the earliest certain source of the popular quote was by Marthe Troly-Curtin in her novel “Phrynette Married” (1912). <– And that right there folks is the most productive thing I’ve done today other than this slice.
Yesterday and today were NOT wasted days. Yesterday was so busy that I was out my door at 7:40am and was not done for the night until after 11:30pm. Saying I was exHUASTed didn’t cut it. I could barely keep my eyes open, but I was determined to get my slice in even if was only a couple of lines. At 11:58pm I published my slice and immediately jumped to the Two Writing Teachers site. With bleary eyes barely able to stay open typed my blurb, pasted the link in comment box and pressed Post. I start to mentally congratulate myself for just getting it done just in the nick of time when an error message popped up informing me I cannot post. What? I immediately look at the time; it was 12:17am. WHAT‽‽‽ Somewhere between 11:58pm and midnight my barely able to keep open eyes had shut on me that fast. When they opened I pressed Post unaware that any time had passed until that error message informed me otherwise. I had never seen that before. To be fair I had never been that close to the wire before. It doesn’t count to only get it done on my side, the slice has be checked in at TWT. I missed the post. All I could do was take the very disappointing L for the day, tuck my tailfeathers and take my over tired butt to bed.
And today, because I clearly am a glutton for punishment, I hit the ground running again this morning. That was a mistake and by the time I dragged myself in my body let me know it. Swollen ankles, sore muscles, aching joints. I haven’t done that much movement since before Covid. My body is not used to it back-to-back. All I could do was grab my Tylenol like a junkie needing a fix and crash. I tried to at least stay up long enough to season meat to marinate overnight for me to cook tomorrow. I had to stop, rest for a moment then go back and finish it. I could not even sit in my ergonomic chair at my computer, my body protested. It wanted to lay down. It was either on my sofa or my bed but I had to lay down and do nothing but heal.
So I did nothing but barely remember to slice. So here I am cutting it close yet again.
On this Flashback Friday we go March 26, 2013, when I learned of a magical thing called…
If, like I, you have never seen or heard of this before, let me introduce you to the marvel of it…
The Firefly Squid is a bioluminescent squid growing to a length of only three inches. The squid is equipped with special light-producing organs called photophores that emit a deep blue light. Large photophores can be found on the tips of the tentacles as well as around the eyes. Thousands of tiny photophores can be found throughout the squid’s body, giving it the ability to emit light along its entire form. In the Toyama Bay, in the central Japan Sea, the squid are found in fantastic abundance. Normally living at 1200 feet underwater, waves in the Toyama bay pushes the squid to the surface in massive numbers where they are fished by tons from March to June.
And as I stated back in 2013, I learn and/or am reminded of the wonders of this home terraform we call Earth. Regrettably, I have yet to make it to that side of the world, let alone to Toyama Beach just for this phenomenon. It remains someplace I would like to visit when, not if, WHEN, I visit Japan.
I’m in a conundrum I can’t recall having ever been in before.
My table easel is with blank canvas is up raring to go. My color palette rests between my and acrylics and watercolors.
So does my sketchpad with its plethora of markers and scores of sharpened colored pencils that lay in wait.
All while cursors blink on three different incomplete stories, a half-begun glosa, and a line for what is free form verse for now, but may become a villanelle, a tritina, an octain or…or…
Not to mention an idea in pieces malingering in Photoshop limbo.
And in the midst of the creative storm is not-so-little, not-so-old, but very frustrated me as I find myself singularly unable to do any one of the above because Muse wants to do each and every single one of the above…
So instead, I slice and see which comes out on top.
A friend will have been has been working with her company thirty years this weekend. Like all long termers at a company friendships old and new have developed over time; some close. As such she knows her friend/colleagues well and said to me over the weekend because we are in the time of Covid, she just knew they were going to try to surprise her with some sort of Zoom party. On Monday she commented on how a couple of people casually asked about her plans for the weekend. People who normally would not. We both grin in the knowledge that yes, they are definitely plotting something.
I happen to be passing by front door when I hear giggles approach from the outside. Recognizing it I wait and seconds later my door bell rings. It is my friend giggling like a mad woman as she shows me her cell phone. More precisely she shows me the text message she was reading. I read the message and shook my head laughing as I read it. One of the work friends chose an infrequently group text to announce the plans for the celebration this Friday evening. It includes the zoom link and everything. So why is my bestie laughing at being proven correct? Only one teeny-tiny problem…
It was supposed to be a surprise.
Apparently, the person who sent the group chat text completely forgot that my best friend is part of the said chat. We now have a pseudo bet going on when, or if, the person notices their faux pas. There was a question on if she should let them know or play it off. I told her I will hand her an Oscar for her acting. Mistakes happen all we could do was laugh.
Although I do think I will print out a picture of an Oscar to present to her for Outstanding Performance in Obviously Fake Surprise once its over…