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.
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.
At 4pm one year ago today, I walked out of my place of employment without a clue as to when I would return. My boss literally said the words “Don’t come back here tomorrow.” The pandemic had hit, we went into emergency mode and my unit was one that would be working from home. My agency is twenty-four hours. There were/are units that continue to come in. There was no way around it, some services must be handled in person, even in the midst of a pandemic.
That translated to even though the City quarantined, and masks, hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing became de rigueur, on occasion my work wife and I would have to come to the office. It was part necessity and part breaking up what had quickly become the monotony of being cooped home. However, as the weather got cold, every couple of weeks became, once a month and once a month became we have not stepped foot in my office since the very first week of January.
We knew we were entering a ghost town with the barest amount of personnel, so dressing for ‘work’ had fallen by the wayside for my work-wife. I would not wear a full out suit, but I wore slacks and blouses, in my mind it’s the office. Still, we may have visited the office a maximum of fifteen times in this past year. It has dawned to me, now that people are being vaccinated, I suspect my office may reopen by the end of spring. Whether it will return to a full week or some split schedule is undetermined as of yet, as the City as a whole is excruciatingly, but definitely emerging into a new semblance of normal.
I’ve lived in mostly jeans and t-shirts. My wardrobe, work or otherwise, has barely been used in the past year; that is going to change. I know there are clothes in my closet that have not seen the light since Winter 2019. I am not going to lie, I have gained the Covid 20+ and I am not looking forward to going through some of my clothes. And while I admit to the retail therapy I’ve done in the interim, it’s not going to be pretty for some of my wardrobe. Not to mention, 0I have not worn proper shoes in over a year. Can I even walk in my low work heels anymore?
After a year of various levels of quarantine, I am looking forward to regularly seeing friends and (certain), colleagues again, dining in restaurants, going to concerts and movies and Broadway! Above all, I am looking forward to travelling again. Other than a weekend jaunt to Philadelphia last November, I have not left my fair City since I returned from Cuba in spring of 2019. In the words of Lenny Kravitz: I want to get away – I want to fly away – yeah – yeah- yeah
Still, I find myself conflicted. Am I ready for real clothes, five days a week again? After a year of pretty much living in Hermitsville, am I ready for the noise… the people(!)? As much as I am looking forward to being out and about once more am I ready for the world again?
On March 3rd, Sarah Everard, 33 of Clampham, south London, UK left the home of her friends to walk home. She never made it. Police confirmed that the remains found in a woodland area yesterday was hers.
“She was just walking home.”
I remember it was an early summer afternoon, a school day. I was on my way home from the public library; book bag slung over one shoulder, wearing dark jeans, sneakers, a white t-shirt under a red, white and blue plaid with tiny silver metallic threads shirt. I was standing at the curb, under the elevated train tracks, waiting for the traffic signal to change. I noted the car slowly creeping forward as some drivers do when impatiently waiting for a light to change. I was not in the way, I paid no attention to it when I heard a male voice. “You so pretty, bet you’d be even prettier naked. You should let me see.” This was from a man, not a peer – not some boy around my age being horrible, but a man. A grown man who in no way could have thought I was an adult. I had not developed boobs yet. There was something about him. Yes, it was broad daylight, but I was at the corner by myself. There nearest person was a half block away in the opposite direction. I remember worrying: Do I wait until he drives off?Is he going to follow me?Do I need to change directions?What if he gets out of that car?
It was the first time I felt danger from a man. I was twelve.
In my twenties I was married with two sons. I went to the laundry every Saturday morning. One Saturday a man entered and decided he wanted to chat. I decided I did not want to. He insisted in asking for my name. I insisted I was married and not interested, so knowing my name was not any of his – good-bye. He showed up again the following Saturday. Clearly this was my neighborhood. I was pissed-offed, but not entirely surprised he suddenly showed up in my local market. I informed my husband, but naturally my wannabe Lothario was no where about the next Saturday at the laundry. As it turned out within the following week, as I was heading toward my building, a friend spotted me and started yelling my name to get my attention. Naturally, I ignored him because I HATE that, worse – guess who I spotted within hearing distance? However, the damage was done as the friend had reached me and it was clear he was yelling for me. The only saving grace was that Bill was exiting the building as I was busy cursing-out the friend out for being an asshole and why. Bill came up from behind, putting his arms around me, and yelled at our friend “Why the fuck are you screaming out my wife’s name in the middle of the street like that? Have you lost your damn mind?” At that point Bill saw the guy. He looked me, he looked at guy, he looked at me and I tapped the arm that held me in our code we had for problems. He let go of me and headed in the guy’s direction. Suffice it to say the guy was already backing away at the confirmation that I had a husband and said husband was not an exactly a small guy. I never saw him again. While relieved, it pissed me off anew that the asshole did not accept my rejection. He had followed me. He had my address and because of my asshole friend, had my name. It took seeing my husband’s physical presence before he stopped. I had to wonder were I in fact a single woman how long before I may have been attacked. I wondered if he moved on to another woman who was not as fortunate.
When portable music players became a thing, CDs first, then MP3 players, I learned to keep headphones on my head when so I could pretend I did not hear the nonsense thrown at me when in the street. But I never, ever have music playing in case I needed to deal with someone more aggressive who would not take the hint of simply being ignored. But that does not always help.
In my thirties, I texted my husband to meet me at the train station late one evening after hanging out with friends because of the way a man kept staring at me on the train. I had never contacted my husband with such a request before in all the time we were married. The man had exited the train when I had. He was about to follow me down the stairs when Bill appeared at the foot of them and greeted me. I heard as the man turned and went back up the stairs. Neither of us saw him come down the other side, as far as we could tell, before the stairs were out of sight. But we knew, he was going to follow me.
Twice as a widow in my mid-forties I have gotten off the train and jumped in a cab to ride the four blocks to my home because of that feeling. I will say both times, when I explained the situation, both drivers refused to take my money. All in the name of safety.
Many girls learn from a young age to change their behavior in order to try to feel safe when walking alone, because there are going to be times we will be walking alone. That onus is not on boys as such. Personal safety is a constant self-awareness in our daily lives. One we modify constantly. All in the name of safety.
Do I wear a dress or slacks? Do I wear heels or flats? If I wear heels, do I need to switch to a bigger purse to carry my flats? Questions I must ask each time I go out, in case I have to run. All in the name of safety.
Now in my fifties I don’t go out alone if I think I won’t be home before midnight unless I have taxi money. That also curtails where I go because a late night taxi ride across the City can run me up to $70 on top of whatever expenditures incurred while hanging out. All in the name of safety.
Once, I was meeting my husband for dinner at a friend’s apartment after work. I exited the train and headed towards my destination when I heard whistling behind me. I ignored it and continued walking. It became clear that the whistling was directed at me, coming from someone in a car on the street. I refused to look, because that can be seen as an invitation. A car suddenly turned the corner in front of me and I realized it was my husband and he was pissed I had not responded to him. “Why didn’t you answer me when I whistled?” “Do you have ANY idea how often I am whistled at? I can’t afford to so much as look!” That took him aback. For even the men that love us, that care about us, that know us, just do not understand, because the constant harassment rarely happens in their presence.
Some men still do not realize we single women share our addresses – or the addresses of the bars/parks/date locations of where we’re going – with each other via text or WhatsApp, to keep ourselves safe. We set up calls with our friends. “If you haven’t heard from me by X time, call me. If I don’t answer, call the police.” It is every female’s right to not fear walking alone; it is not our reality. Being a woman is constant worry for our safety — walking with keys between our fingers, being on high alert always — it is fucking exhausting.
When we hear/read of such attacks we each live with the susurrus that could have been me. So many women have lit up Twitter in the past few days on the many ways they have harassed and/or felt unsafe. And a constant theme throughout many of the tweets were the words “She was just walking home.”
“Not all men” attack but all women experience the fear of it. And we are so, SO DONE with being told we just need to avoid certain streets or areas, don’t be out certain at times or don’t dress a certain way. Sarah Everard was in bright colors, wearing clothes comfortable for walking the less than hour trek to her home. She was simply living her life. “She was just walking home.”
I’m sure Sarah Everard was aware #NotAllMen, also. She was on the phone talking to her boyfriend during part of her trek. She was not attacked by #NotAllMen. The only thing she did wrong was encounter #TheWrongMan. The one who could not respect one fact:
I have been up since 7:30am with the intent to give some time to a writing project I’ve let slip by the wayside for a couple of days now. I changed my sheets, had breakfast and sat down around 8:15-ish to begin. But first took a phone call. Then shot off a couple of emails. Then got coffee. I’m ready now. It’s now after 11am and the only thing I’ve done is open the Word file to review where I left off in the work. To be semi-fair to myself I needed to reference information I had bookmarked. Unfortunately, I’ve tossed a lot of things into the bookmark folder for this project, and others, over time. It was a mess. Notice I say was.
If I were Sherlock Holmes, then Bookmarks are my mind palace. I can find any piece information stored in my bookmarks, provided, like any filing system, I have stored it properly first. Regrettably, I’ve been doing a lot of just stick it here for now. A. Lot. Speaking of Sherlock, for instance, I have no idea what I was thinking when I dropped a bookmark of the Mars rover named Sherloc, with an assistant aptly named Watson in the midst of bookmarks for medical and forensics, but there it was. [Don’t ask, I (like to?) imagine I’m one of those people on a government watch list for the things I research.] A link to a YouTube video on the Maned Wolf was mixed in a folder on fencing, which also had a link on Wari Tombs (I said don’t ask). Suffice it to say the reorganizing of one folder, turned into an overhaul of several before my mind palace of bookmarks is a cohesive system up to my standards again.
An excellent sense of accomplishment on one end, but not what I set out to accomplish on the other. And in the midst of it remember I need to slice today. So this is me, now looking at noon creeping up on the clock, posting in the hopes that, after lunch, I have no other distractions and can buckle down to – wait- what was I doing again?
Listening to my iTunes, Non-Stop from the Original Broadway Cast recording of “Hamilton” is playing. It’s fitting as I have been on my computer for the past couple of week writing “like you’re running out of time” either for work or personal projects.
Loving that I am writing voraciously. Muse has been nearly excessively generous of late and I hope that I, her obedient servant, am in fact serving her well. She is wicked when takes away her gifts for lack of or improper use. I do not want to incur her wrath again.
Drinking nearly a gallon of water a day on average. I have done so for the past few weeks and I have to admit, other than the increased bathroom runs, it has been beneficial. My complexion is clearer and I actually feel hydrated.
Thinking about Love in the Time of CoViD-19. I was preparing to attend my cousin’s wedding in Boston at the end of the month. As I started writing this slice the word came down that while the wedding/marriage itself, now shrunk down to immediate family only will still happen, the reception afterwards has been officially cancelled. I know it was a hard decision to come to and not made lightly as there are family members, especially the international ones who, like me, now have to scramble to cancel hotel and travel arrangements.
Wondering now whether my trip to Atlanta for 221BCon in April will happen with the Corona Virus scare. I check the event’s social media pages daily. As of this morning the event has not been, nor look like it’s going to be cancelled – yet…
Wanting to behave like an adult. I have plenty of clothes. I don’t need to buy anything for the convention should it happen. I really should choose among the plenty I already have, but I’m also a girl at times and I saw this fabulous outfit online… Le Sigh!
Needing a vacation. We’re in the long period between President’s Day in February and Memorial Day at the end of May, with no government holidays between them. The convention in Atlanta, if it happens, would be a nice break, but it is an extended weekend at best. I want a full out week of vacation at the minimum and no, being quarantined is not a vacation.
Worrying about various friends who are each facing a major surgery over the next few weeks. Two will be close where I can be of help. The others are far in a way that I can’t even pretend about it. All I can do is send good healing vibes, well wishes and prayers.
Procrastinating ironing clothes. I can’t stand ironing. I have clothes in a bag to be ironed from the last time I did laundry a month ago and it’s time to do laundry again, meaning the bag is going to have new additions. I like wrinkle-free clothing, I just don’t like the process of ironing itself. Had I the funds, I would happily pay to have someone come to my home just to iron. Did I mention I. Abhor. Ironing? Maybe later this evening…
Anticipating with much hope that my trip to London, England for my birthday will happen! I’m scheduled to be a panel speaker at the inaugural HolmesCon 2020 and I’m so looking forward to it. Just thinking about it makes me have a banana almost to my to ears.
Reading other slices and later on some fanfiction to take my mind off the above mentioned worry for friends and disappointment of the cancelled wedding. And yes, I’m still procrastinating on ironing clothes. Maybe tomorrow…
And Thanking aggiekesler for this cool format I have used for today’s slice. It’s one I am sure I will turn to again.