On The Fly

Since I got the tiny little travel bug (think Mothra), I try to wake up somewhere that is not New York City on my birthday. This is the time of year I start thinking what am I going to do and where am I going to go. It could be a Bed and Breakfast in New England, a villa in Italy, a casa in Cuba, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, a hotel in New Orleans. As I said, anywhere but in my apartment. Sometimes depending on where else I might have gone that year, I may not have a choice -aka the money- except be home, such as the year I did Dubai in January and Cuba in July. There was nothing left to disappear come September, yet worth it for those two experiences. Also note, my best friend and I share the same birthday, one year apart, so she’s with me for much of this. Then Covid struck and the choice of do I stay or do I go (I know some of you sang that), was taken from all of us

By September 2020 local restaurants that had open air seating had become a thing, so at least Bestie and I were able to celebrate out of the apartment with another fiend – er – friend. However, by September 2021, I had not been on a out of the City in a year, or on a plane even longer and it showed. I was not risking international, yet so we compromised with a quick jaunt to Las Vegas for a few days. It was just what the doctor and the wanderlust within me ordered. But that was then….

I would fully blame this on having just renewed my Global Entry, but it’s also March. Specifically, it’s past March 19th, it is halfway to my birthday. My passport has not received a new stamp in three years. It’s NOT happy and that travel Mothra is pounding on my door HARD.

I have friends who have begun travelling internationally again, including a known hypochondriac, and following all the protocols, they have been fine. I do have a trip to London, planned for summer 2023, and maybe Japan, oh, but what to do for this year?

  • Local? – as in the on the East Coast.
  • Not so local? – as in the Mid or West Coast.
  • Perhaps international? – as in I still have three continents to conquer.

Decisions… Decisions…Decisions…

Anybody up for a visit from a Raivenne?

Day 23 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

Slice of Life 15th Annual Story Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

The Anatomy of a Challenge

Over a dVerse ~Poets Pub, Sarah, the host for the challenge, prompts to choose one of the below paint names and use it as the inspiration for a poem:

Trumpet, Tea with Florence, Chemise, Confetti, Goblin,
Mirror, Rolling fog, First light, Hidey hole, Masquerade

We are further challenged to incorporate as many of the words as we can and to have fun. While I can post to my blog at any time, the challenge is only open for two days.

As I responded: Oh, that was said to the wrong person. It is my natural wont when see a list of options with a prompt to select one to try to use them all. 

In other words – thanks for giving me free rein to do what I was likely to do anyway. 😁 And because I am a glutton for punishment, I’m thinking a free verse poem would be easier for this but noooooooo, Muse is all Oooh, look! Sarah posted an extract from Christina Rosetti’s “Goblin Market”, let’s do a glosa! I’m thinking, okay, a tradition glosa works for this, gives me up to forty lines to work all that in. Crap! What did I think that for? Forty lines? Pfft! That’s too many – you can do this in just twenty, c’mon, Rai!

I swear, I can’t with them sometimes – except clearly I can, so I don’t even bother arguing – a shortened glosa it is – I pick two lines to work with:

They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather
Goblin Market – Christina Rosetti

My next challenge: hidey-hole – what am I supposed to do with that? Hmm, grey shades of rolling fog at first light came to mind. For some reason I am minded of latter stages of butterfly chrysalis which are more beige than gray, but it stuck. Ah! chrysalis = hidey hole, butterfly – monarch. A visual of a monarch butterfly flittering among purple heather appears and three lines quickly emerge:

Among the violet hued heather
As she emerge from her hidey-hole
In ochre gown mirrored in trim of coal

Excellent, two items from the list are scratched off and I have part of the required rhyme for the endling line. Oh, apparently this butterfly is a female – okay.

Next thing to tackle: Goblin. How do I work that bad boy in? Ah, bad boy! Goblin’s has scared the butterfly, threatened her if she comes out. That helminth! Hmm, worm… And my opening lines appear:

Swaddled in the rolling fog
his ragged chemise color of bog
The goblin worm had filled her with fright
Dare she show upon first light

Scratch four more from the list! I go back and forth like this, until I I’m satisfied. I have met the requirements for a glosa and worked in nine of the ten phrases. What’s the hold out? Tea with Florence. Now ‘tea in Florence’ would have inspired an Italian slant, but it’s with Florence, something different. While I had thought of a couple of lines rhyming Florence, it would break the glosa form and I did not want to do that. I go back and read the requirements for the challenge and am reminded that the choices given can also be used for the title. And problem solved, the monarch has a name, and the poem has a title! Let’s meet:

Tea with Florence the Monarch

It’s not highbrow, not winning any awards. I’m just having fun telling a story in verse. It’s not bad for an hour and change worth of work.

Day 22 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Good As Hell

While a passport is for ten years, Global Entry is five years. My Global Entry expired a year or so before Covid hit the world. At some point before that, under the rule of Trump, New York State got into a beef with the president over verbiage of a new rule that the state dared to disagree with. Long story-short, the entire state was put on punishment. I could not renew my Global Entry. I wanted to cry the first time I had to stand in the long lines of custom again, so I sighed and (im)patiently waited for the governmental pissing contest to end.

A few months ago, now under a new president and new governor – on a whim, I decided to try to reapply again. The good news: Success! New York State has been let out of the time out corner and my application to renew was accepted. The bad news: it was a five month wait between the day I submitted my renewal and my in person interview was scheduled. So last night, I looked at my list and checked it thrice. I wanted nothing on my end to be a factor of it not being renewed.

The location I chose for the renewal is very secure. I knew this. Getting into the building was a process, getting to floor was another process, getting into the office was yet another. It’s designed to intimidate and does a damn good job of it if you don’t already work in a government office. I do. Some people do not comprehend the meaning of remove all metal items from your pockets, some choose not to. I already knew I was going to be dealing with the latter as stood in queue to enter.

Similar to when I go to the airport, other than my rings and my phone, all my metal accoutrements stay in my purse long enough for me to get through the check point. I put them on once I am past the metal detectors. At least we did not have to take off our shoes here. The woman in front of me was different. She had on metal. Statement necklace and rings. Chain hanging from her jeans. Piercings. Even her sneakers were studded. I inwardly sigh.

She steps up to the metal detector and naturally sets it off. Security makes her back up and start removing gear. But it was the non metal thing she wore that caught my eye.

“Excuse me?” I attempt to garner her attention without touching her. “Miss?”

If there is one thing I know about my voice, it is that it carries. I make an effort to moderate its natural tendency to whisper like a foghorn. So I know I am heard. She’s either ignoring me or, as her second attempt also sets the sensors off, she’s annoyed. I try again, I’m blatantly ignored with a huff and eyeroll. Fine. As she removes more metal, security sees me waiting and signals for me to come around.

Miss Metal steps to block my path. “Where you going Lizzo wanna-be? Don’t skip!”

Excuse me?

For those who may not know, Lizzo is as an African-American singer, rapper, songwriter and flutist. Lizzo also happens to be plus-sized. I wish I had half of the performer’s talent, but I know that is not how her name is being used in this context with me a plus-sized African-American woman who has literally said exactly five words to her total. Hardly enough for her to gauge any singing talent I may have (for the record I don’t have any singing talent – but not the point here).

I’m not offended by the comparison. I am offended by the comparison as means of insult from a possibly recalcitrant, definitely ignorant, woman half my size and severely melanin challenged. That’s me being polite for stupid skinny pasty white chick with an attitude. It’s early Monday morning, people, I haven’t had coffee yet – don’t mess with me.

Before I can say anything, the security guard who signaled me does.

“If that Lizzo comment was supposed to be an insult you’re wrong. She’s not jumping the line, I called her – you’re wrong. And now that you’ve turned around I do think she was about to tell you about the roller you still have in your hair. She’s trying to do you a favor and you attempted to insult her for nothing – you’re three ways wrong.” he looks past her to me, motioning with his hand, “Harry, grab her bins, willya? You can come this way miss.”

Her face goes red in a way that is part chagrin and part embarrassment as I point out my waiting bins to Harry. Either way it’s lovely to me to watch as she feels around in her hair, finds and removes the roller that she has been running around with this morning. I toss my hair back, look at, blow on, then buff my nails on my blouse as I pass her and then go through the metal detector without a hitch. As I reach my Knight in Shining Polyester -aka, the guard who signaled me- he does a bad job of suppressing his grin as he stage whispers, “I gotta admit, I was hoping you’d do just that.”

“I gotta admit – it felt good as hell to do, thank you!” I reply collecting my belongings and wait to be escorted upstairs for my interview.

Twenty minutes later, the woman -sans nearly all the metal I first saw her in- is just arriving upstairs. Interview over I am leaving the office – in all the jewelry I wasn’t wearing earlier because I knew better, a renewed Global Entry traveler once again.

I could not resist it, “Yes, I am 100% that bitch.”

I knew by her face she got the message and I just grinned.

For those unfamiliar with Lizzo’s music:

  • my comment as I headed out was from Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”.
    I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch
  • my actions as I passed Miss Metal the first time were the opening lines to Lizzo’s song “Good As Hell”. The security guard, clearly familiar with the music, recognized my subtler interpretation

I do my hair toss
Check my nails

Baby how you feelin’?
Feeling good as hell

Day 21 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Sounds Springing in the City

I am sitting at a table near an open window at a tapas place. I’m waiting for my dinner companion to return from the bathroom that I know is in the room, in the back, at the bottom of the stairs, in the bowels of the café. It’s a spring day that actually feels like a real spring NYC day. Not that hint of March lion where, just watch, tomorrow will be 20 degrees again just ’cause. No, it’s that warmish spring air that tells you it’s going to stick around.

I hear a cacophony of sounds on the sidewalk and street in front of me. It’s the usual discordant din that is not quite the white noise of living in a big city.

Sirens from ambulances and police cars speeding by assault my serenity as I nurse my large cup of black coffee. Buses and trolleys rumble by. Motorcycles and motor scooters, too.

There’s a group of teenage boys loudly playing rap music and performing what I assume to be some sort of rhythmical dance moves as a small crowd of onlookers gathers around them. Across the street a woman walking down the street spews random profanity at passers-by of her spot in the middle of the sidewalk.

I look up between the tall buildings to the sound of a passenger jet overhead, only to be distracted by the voice of the homeless man asking those who sat at the outdoor tables for any spare change. Some give, some don’t.

Down the block in the other directions the sounds of a musician playing acoustic guitar, accompanied by someone drumming on a large plastic pail turned upside down, wafts toward me. It’s not unpleasant.

Around me I hear the many conversations of the other diners that blur into its own white noise as well the ambient music playing in the restaurant itself.

I find myself smiling at everything and nothing.

My dinner companion returns and a velvet baritone breaks through my pensive listening. “You all right, Rai?”

And on this first day of spring in New York City, listening to the sounds around me, for the first time in a long time I realize something…

“Yes, I am.”

Day 20 of 31 –

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

This Day Needs An Enema

I knew when I saw the caller ID this morning it was going to be a crapshow, but I answered it anyway. Usually I can maintain a balance, but not today. Today I chose violence as the kids say an neutrality and diplomacy were shot to smithereens. And things only escalated from there. I have spent a much too long portion of this day in a mood that can only be summed up by the questions I have asked today. All of which were some various form of:

  • You F-ing KIdding Me Right Now?!
  • How F-ing Stupid Are You?!
  • Don’t Your Knuckles Hurt From All That F-ing Dragging?
  • And You F-ing Thought THAT Was The Best Option?

Today has been a personal and social quagmire. Come tomorrow I suspect there will either be several apologies or a few grudges that are going to be held for a long time to come.

Today might not have been a complete loss, but it certainly was not a win.

Day 19 of 31 –

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

The Oopsies Have It!

I sometimes use my phone to compose posts on WordPress. It’s convenient when I’m not in front om my computer to write my posts. For example, when I’m on the subway and an idea comes to me for a poem. As it’s one Ill have to link to via this blog it made perfect sense to start it here. One less step to do. Yeah, not quite.

Convenient as it is, it comes with with a few problems. I am not the world’s best speller to begin with, I’m prone to grammar typos and don’t forget my adoration of dangling participles. Most of which I don’t catch until after my post has been published. And oh, let’s not talk about the autocuumber – I mean autocorrect. That charming little helper that constantly insists I have no ducks left to give, yet will occasionally decide in a food post that I had fuck a l’orange for dinner. Oopsie!

Add in that my fifteen words per minute typing cannot possibly keep up with my fifteen hundred thoughts per minute mind. I drop words mid sentence. I know I thought them, but the fingers do not reach my keyboard in time before other thoughts and words crowd them out. And le pièce de résistance: big fingers – little keyboard. I’m constantly hitting the c, v, b, n, or m key when all I want is amspace. (<– like what just happened there – oopsie!). Using my phone for drafts is convenient, but a recipe for disaster.

Especially the times when I was not done composing posts, and did not want to lose the work done thus far. At some point I accidentally managed to hit “Publish” because that button is too dang close to the dropdown menu where “save as draft” is hidden. I know the app designers emphasize posting, but it’s bedeviling as all get out when drafting. Because naturally, once I have realized that it’s live, I don’t want to trash it, so now I am scrambling to edit my accidentally published post, only to have hit “update” instead of “save as draft” in the process – yet another oopsie(!). This especially galls me for I constantly tell my students, “If it’s a mess in draft, it will be a mess live. Submitting it will not magically fix anything FUBAR.” Goodness knows this mess of a blog is proof of that. It’s bad enough when working from my PC. It’s especially true for me when composing on a mobile device.

All that to say, so, if you happened to see my first, second, twenty-second, failed attempts of what probably looked like an incomplete or an incomprehensible posts for the few moments it was up before I could fix it, I apologize.

Day 18 of 31 – Come see how the rest of us are slicing it up this Friday!

Slice of Life 15th Annual Story Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Venus Envy

As a city gal in the northern hemisphere, for me the spring forward of Daylight Savings Time has one and only ONE advantage. I get to enjoy the sight of the planet Venus rising in the morning for a couple more weeks.

I have no idea when I started noticing the ol’ gal in my morning commutes, but once I had I search for her presence each morning with a clear sky. Over time I realized I start to notice her ascent over the rooftop of the elevated subway platform sometime after Martin Luther King Jr.’s here in the States, generally in mid-to late-January. I’ll just look up one clear morning and realize she’s there.

Even though it near the middle of winter she is my very first harbinger of the still a little too distant coming of spring. I notice Venus and within a week or two I will notice the first hints that the days are getting longer. I will catch the final glimpses of sunlight when my trains rises from being subterranean to elevated in the evenings even if only for fifteen minutes before Nyx lays her claim to the skies.

She starts barely noticeable to my left, slowly rising higher and shifting to the right. Come Valentine’s day I usually can spot her ascent from the jagged rooftops the comprise the skyline of my neighborhood as I walk down the hill to the train station. By early March morning skies are lightening and her glowing beauty begins to pale in El Sol’s exuberance. It is such a gradual takeover that I honestly do not notice that I am losing sight of her. To everything turn, turn, turn – after all..

Then Daylight Savings Time happens.

It’s an oddity that springing forward in time on Sunday plunges us backwards into night skies again for a brief time come Monday morning. But that oddity, plus clear skies, gave me this singular beauty floating in what’s left of the night.

elevated subway at dawn's twilight showing Venus rising.
See that dot in the sky above the train? That’s Venus.

I know I’ll only have a couple more weeks of her charm at most before Demeter reminds El Sol that Persephone’s is bound for home soon and he needs to help her warm things up for her arrival. That’s okay, even if I can’t easily spot you, I know you’re still there – shine on silver girl.

Day 15 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing it out today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

1000 Pennies for My Thoughts

So before posting yesterday’s slice I noticed something:

999 published posts

WHOA! I never really paid attention to my post count. The nineteen items that perpetually reside in my Draft folder, seemingly for all eternity, is one thing. Being aware of how many birds left the nest – I had no idea. I was completely taken aback to realize I’ve done this.

Twelve years ago, just last month(!), I decided to start sharing my one pence with the world and hoped no one wanted back change. It was a little bit daunting to contemplate that I was one click away a from such a milestone. One click away from sharing the one thousandth of my thoughts, poems and general wiseassery on WordPress. And while the mile marker slice I posted yesterday was not anything profound, it was very representative of me.

Can’t really ask for much more than that from a personal blog post.

So I clicked “Publish

🍾🥂 Twelve years and one thousand posts down and I still feel like I’m only just getting started….

Day 14 of 31 – Let’s see how others are slicing out achievements today…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

To Geek or Not To Geek Nerd is the Question

And today I let my nerdy geek fly when I pointed out to a fellow Game of Thrones fan that technically speaking Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons is actually the Mother of Wyverns.

Geeky? I actually said Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. (For the more technical, aka Game of Thrones nerdy among you , yes, I know her title is missing at least three more parts, but I ran out of breath typing it, whatevs – go stand in the corner and and call out dracarys!, see how much I’m worried about getting flamed over it.)

Nerdy? I then corrected my own self with is actually the Mother of Wyverns.

What about Vern you say? Glad you asked! (I know you didn’t.)

The George R. R. Martin novels are brilliant. However, whomever designed Daenerys’ ‘children’ for the show a little less so. Was there not one geek/nerd in the art department to fact check, or had someone like me to explain the error of their ways? Or were they outvoted on the technicality because to quote TikTok “Who’s gonna know?/They’re gonna know./Who’s gonna know?” * insert any raising hand gif you want here *. And before any go there, asking but isn’t a wyvern a type of dragon?, is akin to asking isn’t a crocodile a type of alligator? or aren’t salamanders and newts the same thing? Close, but no cigar, Virginia. In TLDR terms, while both are fire breathing creatures, wyvern have two legs, dragons have four. There are other differences, but I shan’t completely nerd out here in such detail you care to know. (I know you don’t.)

But I get why people just call them all dragons, I do. After all, Martin naming his novel A Waltz with Wyvern just wouldn’t have quite the same cachet, would it?

And here’s the crazy thing: I didn’t know I knew what a wyvern was until I said it. I have no idea when I learned it, or even in what context. Hey, I learned some flight terminology from a comic book, you can gain knowledge from the most unexpected places. Still, I guarantee were this Jeopardy! I would have drawn a blank in that needed moment, because that’s also how my brain doesn’t work sometimes. I have so many things on the tip of my tongue at any given moment it’s a wonder I can close my mouth. But I knew I was right about them. It amuses me how these odd pieces of nerf-formation stored in my cranium will crop up in conversations like a whack-a-mole rodent. (I know some want to whack me.)

And usually just unexpected – like yesterday’s post revealing the tidbit on Larry Bird. Or my penceant to randomly name-drop mythological deities with pop-culture references as though Bast, Dr. Strange, Beyoncé, Shiva, Worf, Freya, Childish Gambino and I are close personal peeps with whom I break out the mead, Kanar and ambrosia on any given night for a kiki in Kamar Taj. Hunty!

When these moments happen, I am inevitably asked a variation of how do you know these things? Which my brain generally interprets as why do you know these things? The answer remains the same: I drink and I I know random things – but hell if I know how I know them. (You certainly don’t want to know.)

Day 13 of 31 – Let’s see if others know how they are are slicing it out this Sunday…

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

It’s 23:33 and All’s Sorta – I don’t Know

Today was a day. Maybe it wasn’t swell, but at least it wasn’t hell.

That’s the tweet as they say in Twitterverse.

Did you know the Twitter bird mascot is named Larry T. Bird? Yes, after the famous basketball player, Larry Bird.

Yeah, seriously, t-t-t-that’s all I got folks.

The brain is still fried. Let’s try this again tomorrow.

Day 12 of 31

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers