Some days, I like my work, by which I mean, my wage-earning, get dressed in a suit, meet with customers employment. I get to travel on occasion and most people I encounter are funny, kind, hard-working–in general, nice people who I don’t mind spending a few minutes, or in some cases, whole days with.
Other days, and other people in certain circumstances, I do not. I do not like them (the people or the days) with a vehement, name-calling, furniture-kicking spite. They sap my joie de vivre, they foster my anti-social tendencies, and worst of all, they rob me of time, with my husband, with my friends, with my real work–this writing thing that I do and love and wish I got to do more often.
On a recent The Writer’s Almanac (with silver-soft Garrison Keillor), Keillor talked about the poet Ted Kooser, who woke at 4:30 every morning to write for a couple of hours before work. Kooser wanted to write poems for the everyman, poems that talked about everyday life and experience. Which got me thinking about the thing that I complain about most these days: my job.
This is nothing new. People have been frustrated by their jobs for eons. And there are days that don’t make me sick with rage and pent-up frustration. Days that my coworkers are a joy and testament to the power of friendship and camaraderie to get you through the mundane and not so pleasant aspects of grown-up life. Other days, not so much.
We’re at the halfway mark for NaPoWriMo, and my writing desk is a mass of stacked papers, books, doodads and paperclips right now. I always like to keep a poetry book or two nearby, so I can flip through their pages and find inspiration when I’m flagging and staring too long at a blank screen.
On top of the stack this week is Sean Nevin‘s Oblivio Gate. This is an amazing book, about family, loss, redemption and especially Alzheimer’s. The cover says it all.
The loss of one’s memory, one’s mind, I would argue, one’s self is a terrifying thing to think about, and it’s something we think about in my family because my grandfather suffered through it. Continue reading
If you haven’t heard of it before, NaPoWriMo is short for “National Poetry Writing Month,” which celebrates April, National Poetry Month, with a flurry of new poems by a committed band of global poets who have pledged to write a new poem every day in April. I tried it in 2010, during what I now call “my New York years,” when I was unemployed and driftless in a new city, anchored only by my love of literature (and CityBoy who isn’t small potatoes but less relevant to my drifting as he was then working 40-50 hours a week and not home a lot). It was hard, the 2010 NaPoWriMo, but it was a great experience and taught me a lot about sucking it up and getting down to the business of writing.
As we edged closer into spring this year, I decided to give it another whirl, to see if a) I could still write that prolifically while b) gainfully (and sometimes wearyingly) employed. So, I give you NaPoWriMo 2013!
30 poems in 30 days . . . gulp!
Only 9 days into the project, and I can tell you – man, this shit is hard! The temptation to flake, to agree to that post-work Happy Hour or sink down into the bliss of the TV-viewing couch, is great. And mighty. And a daily battle. But then, isn’t life and by extension, writing?
I’m sure there will be a lot of drivel this month getting pushed out by my touch-typing fingers, but maybe, just maybe there will be good work.
Here’s my poem for 04.09.13: Continue reading
I have a quick endorsement for this Monday, January 28th: the super adorable series of kids’ books by Cozy Classics.
I first discovered them in the pages of Poets & Writers Magazine, another thing I wholeheartedly endorse, though my success ratio of read to unread magazines is quite low (I can never keep up! I suspect you suffer from the same problem – so many good, interesting things to read and not enough time (and too much television getting in the way) to read them).
But back to the Cozys:
wooly miss elizabeth bennett
Is this or is this not the coolest thing you’ve seen today? (No fair answering if you are A) not a book fan or B) not a Jane Austen fan. This post is not for you. Go look at some food porn.)
It’s hard to describe, but basically these two brothers (the Brothers Wang – Jack and Holman…they’re Chinese Canadian) decided to reinterpret the classics like Pride & Prejudice and Moby Dick, but this time for babies and toddlers. They hand make needle felted representations of the main characters and photograph them on tiny sets/scenes that they also create. These sets/scenes tell the story of the whole book in about 12 words.
seriously, how can you resist this whale?
I know, I suck at explaining, but trust me, this is the coolest thing for babies of geek friends since iPhones were created. I’m stocking up for all the baby showers I’ll ever be invited to. I might cuddle up with a Cozy or two myself.
One of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time is take a cooking class. I’ve talked about it, I’ve researched the classes, I even put it on my 101 Things list. And now I can say that I’m a proud cooking class graduate!
CityBoy was roped into this fantasy, being that I found an awesome French-themed class just in time for someone’s birthday (yes, I gave my husband a birthday gift that I would have wanted – don’t judge me).
PREP Cooking Essentials is a clean, modern kitchen store in Seal Beach with a great cooking program. They’re even have “Learn to Cook” and professional chef’s classes!
I signed us up for “December in Paris,” which harkened us back to our recent anniversary trip to Paris. Chef Elizabeth Whitt is a Le Cordon Bleu graduate who is down-to-earth, very knowledgeable and passionate about food and teaching.
we’re all ears, Chef!
One of the great joys of my life now that I’m back in Long Beach is my real-life contact with my writer friends. These are my true peeps – they have sweated and suffered through bad poems with me, we’ve congratulated each other and hidden secret envy over good poems, but we’ve managed to stick together for eleven years now. (I had to do some mental recalculating. Eleven years?!? Really? How did this happen?)
My core ladies, the spitfire Ms. J and mother-lion Ms. K, and our various friends who have joined our workshops when they could, have sustained me as a writer whenever I have questioned why I bother or why any of us bothers. I’m just so proud and thankful to have them in my life, as fellow writers and sister-friends.
Which is why I’m so happy (or at least CityBoy will tell you, so happy for me, by my standards of constant pessimism and that-shit’s-fucked-up-ism) that we’re workshopping on a real, regular basis.
workshop notes, baby!
Maybe we’re not always all bringing our A game. Sometimes crap is what we’re bringing, real C-level crap, but we’re writing and thinking about writing and talking about writing. By which I mean, we’re telling stories and helping each other find ways to tell them better. Continue reading
CityBoy and I were recently up in the San Francisco Bay area for Thanksgiving, spending time with his side of the family. We had a lovely three days with brothers, aunties, nieces and in-laws, some of which was spent at the Aquarium of the Bay (http://www.aquariumofthebay.com) in downtown San Francisco.
I’ve poo-poo’d aquarium visiting in the past to CityBoy. They seem clammy and creepily nocturnal at best, crowded with screaming sticky children at worst. But this time, I was enchanted, by the exhibits (including a multi-room water tunnel thing, through which you walk and the animals soar (ehem, swim) overhead), the staff (kudos to the very pleasant women working the photo booth and elevators, and the delight of the children, as they gallop from exhibit to exhibit, shouting, “Look!” “Wow!” “Come on!”
We were a family of 10, with a four and two year old, and we had a gay old time. The Aquarium of the Bay is fairly small (and maybe a bit overpriced – I don’t know, our hosts paid for our tickets), but its size works in its favor, I think. Just enough to see and touch and experience without getting overwhelmed and cranky (or at least for me – luckily there was a Bloody Mary in my future).
So as you’re considering gift options this Holiday Season, why not consider your local aquarium? Or pop in yourself for an amazing hour or two. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.