A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I get to enjoy the sight of Venus in the late-winter, early spring mornings on my walk to the train station for work. It the very first sign of spring for me, but there are others.
The landscapers for The Commons around my job arrived last week. Gone are the winter evergreens, and the first shoots of the annual tulips are breaking through the ground. In another week or so the area will be awash in the reds, oranges, and yellows of tulips in the garden beds. With the addition of daffodils and lillies, the white blossoms of the dogwoods and always the pinks of the cherry blossoms the next few weeks will be awash springs bright colors. I will love it as I always do, but surprisingly, or not, for all the visual beauty that is the coming spring, it is not my favorite part.
My favorite part is aural.
The blocks I walk are tree-lined and have begun to bud in their own markers of spring, but it’s their occupants that hold sway for me. I step out my building, cross the street and there it is, a sweet trilling; the first calls of the day. Birdsong. For the next couple of week, my walk to the train station will time with the waking of the local flocks of pigeons and quarrels of sparrows. And as the mornings become brighter, if I’m lucky,I am also treated to flashes of robin and cardinal reds or the less frequently seen blue of a jay.
And yes, even the occasional caws of murdering crows and the conspiracy of ravens have greeted my mornings.
Oh, I am in no way, shape or form, an ornithologist. It is the decades of living in different NYC neighborhoods, and my penchant to look up, that have made me observant of more than just the people and pets that share the sidewalks with me.
The chirping of birds in my mornings is also a harbinger of the coming winter when their waking and my walking will again align, but we shan’t speak of such ill things right now. No. No. No.
This is the time for the most vernal of thoughts and I am here for it.
Let’s see how others are slicing it out this first Tuesday of April…
Tonight at the pub, Lisa tends bar and sets the season on a quadrille.
A quadrille, is simply a poem of 44 words, excluding the title. It can be in any form, rhymed or unrhymed, metered, or unmetered. You MUST use the word “season” or some form of the word in your poem.
I also cheat a little in that my quadrille is also what I’ll call an Reverse Extended Arun. A nonce poem created by blogger GirlGriot. An Arun is a fifteen-line poem in three sets of five lines. Each set of five lines follows the same syllable structure: starting with one syllable and increasing by one syllable with each line. 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x. There are no other rhyme or structural requirements. I inverted the syllable count and add two words to fit the quadrille requirement into a proposal of mythical proportions.
Much Too deep Much too fast You blazed red in Betrayal’s fury
From Tears that blurred the sight With lust’s white heat You let yourself fall
So Cold in Broken-hearted Blues of too much And not enough
As is now tradition for me, I open National Poetry Writing Month with the Arun.
A nonce poem created by friend and fellow blogger, GirlGriot, an Arun is a fifteen-line poem in three sets of five lines. Each set of five lines follows the same syllable structure: starting with one syllable and increasing by one syllable with each line. 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x. There are no other rhyme or structural requirements. Today, I follow the pattern she’s set, left aligned and un-rhymed. As always, I will take a little poetic license, in future runs of the form.
Today is the finish line for the 15th Year Slice of Life Story. It’s been a great run. I have not missed a day, and while I have definitely pants it close a couple of times this month, this is the first year I was never in danger of missing a post for 2022. I must say, that’s a pretty good feeling. Alas, another 31 days and flavors is in the books. Off to the next big thing, right. Hmmmm, not exactly.
Usually I go straight from the Slice of Life Writing Challenge straight into National Poetry Writing Month as I have done for the past several years.
However, there are 18 items sitting in draft mode here on WordPress alone. Some are partially done poems needing tweaking, some essay ideas to be fleshed out, three are nothing more than a couple of lines of an idea I want to work with at some point. There’s a book I’ve been working with off and on for a couple of years. There’s my fanfiction. And let’s not talk about the literal pages of ever multiplying plot bunnies clamoring to be fleshed out into something more. Thus, I know it is not because I do not have anything to say. Because in spite of Muses best efforts to get as much out of me and onto paper, canvas and pixels, it’s all bottle-necked. I don’t like that for all my output, the things I want out the most are not getting out there. And I don’t know why.
I don’t like not knowing.
I do consider myself a decent story-teller, and yes, it pleases me that some want to hear/read what I have to say whether in poem, prose, essay, blog or my Verbal Diarrhea Diaries, but I also feel something of a responsibility to that which will remain behind in these pixels long after I am gone. Because one edict I did have is this: if I felt strongly enough about something to put it out there, even if I must apologize later [and as a Virgo who abhors being -gasp- wrong, believe me, I avoid being in that situation like it’s plague], I may edit or tone it down, but I do not take it back.
Noticed that did in there?
It is that responsibility, where I have increasingly found myself thinking of better ways to express a thought coherently only after I hit ‘publish’, which has me galled to no end. Between the bottleneck mentioned above, and this lexical lethargy has become increasingly worrisome and hit its head earlier this week. La Impostrata, a personification of the Imposter Syndrome coined by fellow blogger and real life friend GirlGriot, struck big time and for the first time ever I trashed something I wrote. No, I did not return it to draft mode to be pondered over and reworked for another time – I trashed it. And then trashed the trash can in my perturbment. I can all but hear writer friends of mine gasp in the horror at this cardinal writing sin. I know, I KNOW! I sincerely apologize to you for that horrid lapse in judgement. But mostly I apologize to myself because as a person who has files with snippets of discarded writings in the belief it will be used elsewhere later, I damn sure know better. I am ashamed of myself. Something has to give.
So rather than submit myself to another month of more writing pressure, I’m choosing to press pause on challenges for now. I’m going to step back and sit out this year’s National Poetry Writing Month.
Oh, I will still write and post poems in April, fret not (not that those who know me were). There is no way Calliope, Erato or Melpomene are easing up on me. It just won’t be for the next thirty days straight. Naturally, I’ll be here on Tuesdays for our weekly slices.
I want to feel comfortable in what I write, whether it is poems, blogs, short stories, flash and fan fiction. That the something I say that makes sense. Sometimes I need to write because I feel confident that what I say that will inform or entertain others and sometimes I need to read so that I can be better informed and entertained myself. What I will always need regardless, are times when no matter what is going on in my life I pick up my pen.
I’m simply allowing myself the grace to ease up on the writing pressures I put on myself.
We made it! Day 31 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out this final day of the challenge.
How’s my day, well the past three days, going so far…? I’ll let my current Facebook post answer that:
** mentally inserts every facepalming gif in existence here **
Of course, the conversation started with the slap heard around the world. I segued away from it being about the men involved and focused on the woman involved that few are talking about. The trials of alopecia for any person, but especially women, and why it’s such a big deal for black women in particular. That naturally lead to the point of the Crown Act and why it’s important, just to be told “But it’s just a hair style” after all of that. Arrggh!
I know I gave her The Look. I imagine my face must have said everything while several generations of great-grandmothers, my grandmothers on both sides and Mommie all reached out from their graves and held back my tongue, as Jesus whispered in the person’s ear um -yeah, that’s a bit not good, turn and go, my child and Lucifer concurred Yo, even I thinks ya betta walk the fuck away from her right now. My jaw still feels some kind of way weird, from the teeth ground so hard in that moment that likely kept me employed as the person made their excuse and hastened away.
Day 30 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…
Last night as I chose on my clothes for today, I pulled out a turtleneck. Despite it officially being spring, by the calendar, I knew it was going to be cold today.
This morning I look at my footwear. Originally, I had selected loafers, I switched to booties. I knew it was going to be cold today.
I look out the window and see the tree branches yield to wind. Soft open knit beret? – Sorry, you’re on the bench. Tightly knit grey toque – suit up! I knew it was going to be cold today.
Last, but hardly least, I pull my red pea coat into service. After all, I knew it was going to be cold today.
Forewarned and armed, I open my front down and head down the stairs. I reach the curb to cross the street. Now away from my building protecting me from it, a gust of wind sneaks around and slams into me. I mean, I’m physically shifted from the ferocity of it. How rude!
So what comes out of my mouth: “Holy f—! I didn’t know it was going to be cold today!”
For the TL;DR crowd who have yet to google, in a nutshell, GISH is a Guinness World Record-setting, several day, international event that empowers players to push their creative boundaries, tackle hilarious challenges, and perform incredible acts of kindness, most from the comforts of their own home. The event features special guests, literary challenges and more. The Book Bash Mini-Hunt! this weekend is thirty-six hours and while more literary oriented, no less wonderfully chaotic.
Because I did not want to leave the house, I chose four out of the nearly 100 challenges to accept. Since I never attempted fumage art before, I did what I thought would be the hardest out and got it of the way first with yesterday’s create a sign protesting the banning of books. I was wrong. The next challenge turned out to be, not so much harder, but a lot more detailed and time consuming. Create a portrait of LeVar from quotes from famous black authors and activists. I have yet to see other artists’ interpretations, but here is my entry:
I posted my entry to my Instagram account, tagged GISH and thought nothing of it. And then THIS happened… So, imagine my shock of all shocks when I saw the first “Like” on it, and who it was from!
I’m sure this is something curated by his staff and all of us who took up this specific challenge also got a “Like”, but it’s from his official account and it looks so cool on my account.
My third chosen challenge was a breeze.@yung_pueblo posts lovely meditative poetry on Instagram. Write your own poem in his style. Post yours on Instagram:
Because I like futzing around with photoshop I was volunteered by our team’s captain to do the challenge of taking a screenshot of barren land from Google Maps and overlay a Photoshop image, as if you have carved into the earth. Make it, of a message or drawing that would be seen from space. The message should be a call for help, as if a passing space fleet of benevolent aliens might see and come rescue us from ourselves.
Because even aliens know Girl Scout Cookies are out of this world! (Or maybe they think the cookies are made from actual Girl Scouts. Hmm, maybe I should have checked the “To Serve Man” menu.)
And finally, I did it just because: According to GISH, not everyone knows this, but the first novel ever written and the world’s first science-fiction novel were both penned by women authors. In honor of these literary trailblazers, show us Frankenstein’s monster reading a copy of The Tale of Genji.
Yes, Creach -what? he was never given a name- is wearing earbuds and listening to “Monster Mash”, don’t judge his musical choices!
Still, as much fun as it was, it was a lot of hours on my computer without break. At 8pm, I called it quits. All I know is, if this was a mini one, I’m part excited, part terrified to experience a full one.
Day 28 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…
To give you just a tiny piece of how Book Bash works here’s a what I thought would be an easy challenge to try:
“It was a pleasure to burn.” Using pyrography or fumage, create a sign proOtesting book bans and censorship.
Fumage you say? Having never done it before, my (not-so) inner pyromaniac and artist vibe were both sparked to say the least.
Book Bash is a mini GISH, so I only have thirty-six hours. The very first step was to remind myself I’m using unfamiliar techniques. I won’t have time to dedicate to just one challenge for corrections or perfection. It’s not going to look exactly like I envision it in my head, but I can do this. Okay, pep talk over, let’s get some fire going!
What books shall I choose? I wanted a mix of classic and current books that have been banned and these quickly came to mind.
Let’s see: glue, scissors, paint and a fresh reminder to tell the Virgo in me to zip it(!), and the here’s end result:
I may yet do this over when I have oodles more time to block text, properly arrange the “logs” and about fifteen other things I am internally screaming about, but here it is.
And this is just ONE challenge my team and I completed. 24 hours down, 12 more to go.
Day 27 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…
It’s Book Bash! No, I’m not destroying or talking bad about books. At least I hope not!
Gish Book Bash, a virtual scavenger hunt that is part silliness, part art, part kindness and 100% fun, for readers & writers is hosted by actress/author Felicia Day and Misha Collins (yes, Supernatural fans THAT Misha Collins). IBook Bash is a breath of fresh Eyre for writers and readers around the world.
A portion of all GISH Book Bash registrations will help feed Ukrainian refugees through World Central Kitchen, a non-profit currently on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries. They are preparing for this to be one of their largest relief efforts to date, and they will continue to adapt as they scale up to serve more meals to families in need each day.
I joined a team of fellow book weirdos who will soon Get lit! and take on creative and kind challenges designed to help write a new chapter of fun in our lives. So that’s the post for today for I will be sorta busy for about thirty-six hours.
Day 26 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…
The subway was being extra subway this morning and long story-short La Raivenne emerged like a phoenix from the bowels of the train some thirty minutes later than my usual. All in all, per usual in such situations, conversation -aka gripes about transit- was struck with fellow passengers and despite the annoying delay, it was a pleasant ride; I was in good spirits. We had a chuckle when I joked that I was going to tell the motorman to drive like he stole drug money and had both the Bloods and The Crips on his tail, “but safely for us riders, of course“. I was accused of being thug because I mentioned infamous West Coast gangs. I jokingly retorted with my classic “I’m crazy, not stupid“. I don’t know what young blood on the train might be affiliated with an East Coast gang, I wasn’t risking calling one out.
I may have been kidding about the motorman, but apparently the motorman was not because the train then hauled arse in attempt to get something akin to back on schedule. I was only a few minutes late by the clock when I reached my station. At this point I was in for a pence-in for a pound, so an additional few minutes to treat myself to my usual TGIF Starbucks was not going to make that big of a difference. Because I have ordering down to a science, I had already pull out my phone and placed my mobile order for Starbucks before I reached street level.
It’s Friday, I’ve got tunes from my iPod in one ear accompanying me and I’m striding along to my personal soundtrack. I see a gentlemen coming from the opposite direction and we nearly collide choosing to pass on the same side of a street lamp at the last second. I smoothly circle around, barely missing a beat with the music. I hear “Daaayum, g’won witcha thug strut now woman!” in a lyrical masculine Caribbean accent behind me and know it is the man I just passed who was apparently watching me.
It’s not the first time I’ve been told I walk like a thug. I walk hard. I strut. I know this. My sons even mock me on it. Now that spring has warmed up the temps a bit, my cold weather arthritis has eased, and I’m not labored down in heavy winter clothes, my normal catwalk stride was emerging again. I grin to myself, give a little wiggle in acknowledgement of having heard him, but I keep going not inviting further conversation, priorities, I’ve got coffee waiting.
At last I walk into Starbucks. I’m some forty-something minutes past the time I usually enter, so there are more people on shift behind the counter. Lina sees me enter and waves. “Hey Raivenne! I’ve got your food here, your drink is…”
Before she can finish a familiar locced head lifts from behind the espresso maker and I grin. I have not seen Jaymes but once since my return to office and that was back in autumn. We always had bad jokes for each other and it was as though no Covid time had passed seeing each other as we pick right up.
“RAIVENNE! I thought you were dead!”
Because I am still plugged into my iPod, it was serendipitous timing that had me right at the chorus of a song, so I sing it. “You cannot kill what doesn’t die!”
Jaymes blinks at me as he finishes an order. I realize he is likely just over a third of my age. The song is not likely in his iTunes, but I am pretty sure he recognizes it. However another customer clearly knows it and picks right up behind me. “Live up to my promise, my full potential realized!”
As the guy and I high-five in musical comradery, I can see when Jaymes makes the connection. “Woman, I know you haven’t had your coffee yet because I’m making it! It’s barely eight in the morning; how are you thrashing to Anthrax?”
“What can I tell you Jaymes? It’s Friday: today, I choose violence.” I say ominously.
He laughs handing me my coffee.”If Death lives in your pocket, please keep him there.”
I grin at the reference to the song lyrics, I was right he did know the song. Still, while I leave murder to crows, I am a Raivenne.
I wink, take my coffee and turn to leave, “Jaymes, you’ve met me. You sure Death is a he?”
As I reach the door I hear the customer who had joined me in singing Anthrax say, “Damn she lit!”
“No, she’s thug!” Lina, who had been passing food orders to customers, laughs.
That’s three thug references to me within an hour’s span. I’m not choosing the thug life, the thug life is choosing me today.
We’ll see how the rest of the day thugs out …
Day 25 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…