Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lyric Christmas

After a tough year, and especially after the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I wanted to write some lyrics for an eventual Christmas song. I have always wanted to write a song, and I love Christmas music. The odd combination of all the negatives recently somehow allowed me to get into the right frame of mind to write what I had in mind. As I was preparing to write, I realized that I don't recall ever hearing a Christmas song that was a lullaby sung by Mary to her newborn. There are songs Mary sings (Breath of Heaven) and there are lullabies (the rocking carol), but I don't know of someone combining these ideas. So I wrote this.

Mary's Lullaby

Heart of my heart
Love of my life
Sleep with the peace
Of heaven tonight.

Sent as a miracle
Of God's selfless love,
You give us a glimpse
Of life up above.

I don't understand
Why I am the one
Who was entrusted
With God's only son,

But I'll give my heart
And soul to the cause
To nurture this spirit
Despite all my flaws.

Remember, my baby,
Though long be the night,
Though cold may be gripping,
God always shines light.

Monday, December 10, 2012

When it snows, it pours...

Yes, I know that's not really the old adage. But it is accurate for my day. Today is one of those days that, looking back, I realize it would have been better to spend it in bed. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to list all the things that went wrong.

1. It snowed quite a bit where I live over the last few days, and then turned bitterly cold and blizzardlike, preventing me from returning to my house from my in-laws' like I usually would on a Sunday night.
2. While most of the schools surrounding the one I work in called for a 2 hour late start sometime last night, mine didn't until 7:30 this morning (or at least, that's when they notified the teachers), making me stress out about not making it in for the beginning of school.
3. It took me 3 hours to make the usually-2 hour drive from my in-laws' house to my school this morning. This was probably equally due to the icy road conditions and people who were at times driving too slowly.
4. Nearly all the way to school, after I realized I would still be significantly late, I accidentally slid into the person in front of me at a red light. Luckily, she got out and inspected her car and couldn't find anything on it, so she told me to go on.
5. When I got into the child care center to drop off the boys, I heard the bell ring for the first of the classes I hadn't sent lesson plans in for, so I had to run with no supplies on hand to get to the classroom for that class. Needless to say not much got done that period.
6. My 6th hour freshmen were in rare form today, loud and complaining about everything, even after I told them I was having a crappy day and it'd be nice if I didn't have to yell at them, too. Sigh.
7. Just after school got out, I checked a message on my phone saying that my older son had woken up from his nap at preschool with really goopy eyes and they hurt and itched. Great.
8. I called to get him a doctor's appointment, but all the appointments were gone; I'd have to go to the walk-in clinic.
9. I drove nearly the whole way home before I realized I forgot my purse at school and had to go all the way back to get it.
10. By the time I got back from that, I had to go straight to the doctor's office to go to the walk-in clinic.
11. The doctor confirmed that my son had pinkeye and he couldn't go to preschool tomorrow.
12. At the pharmacy, they tell me that the kids' insurance wasn't working and that they were out of the eyedrops.
13. At pharmacy #2, the kids are running everywhere (literally!) while I'm trying to find cotton balls to wash the gunk out of my kid's eyes.

Needless to say, I am DONE with this day. Hence, we stopped one more time after all of that running, to get McDonald's for dinner. Once I hit "publish" on this bad boy, I'm going to have a beer and watch silly TV shows and then go to bed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Limbo.

Hello out there,

I am OK. Just trying to get my bearings now that life is on plan H right now (if Plan A was how life was pre-May of this year).

Quick summary: After my husband was let go by his company, we both scrambled to find a job. I am a teacher by profession, but had not planned to go back until all of our children were in school, and I was hoping to have another in the near future. So now, child #3 is on hold and I have to put the kids in daycare so I can teach. I only managed to find a part time job, which is maddening because a part-time teacher puts in nearly the same hours as a full time teacher, but is paid less. I teach four different classes, two of which are not English, so I am trying not to show my students that I am not an expert in those fields.

Then, my husband got a new job, which is fabulous, only it's 2 hours away from our home. So now he is staying at his parents' house for most of the work week to commute to work and coming home on the weekends and Wednesday nights. My job is about 20 minutes from our home, so at least the kids and I can stay here and have some semblance of normalcy, minus having Daddy home all the time. We all miss him tons and he misses us too, but what can we do? My school will finish in May and then we will look at renting something much closer to the big city he works in, and I will look for a job more in that vicinity if we decide I still need to work.

While I hate having to leave the boys for the majority of their waking hours, my older boy loves going to "school" for nearly the whole day (they do incorporate a preschool curriculum in the morning at least), and his brother, while usually a bit sad when I have to leave, is always happy and running up with a hug when I come back to pick him up in the afternoon. He talks so well all of the staff there can't stop raving about it every time I talk to them. Yeah, he is pretty brilliant, if you ask his heavily biased mother. :)

So now I'm trying to reconfigure my schedule to allow adequate time for cleaning the house and exercising, and I haven't really figured out time for writing my blog either. Hopefully I'll be back to regular posting in the next few months, but that remains to be seen. Know that I would love to be writing poetry here every day, I just have a ton of things to figure out how to juggle right now...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Adding a little color.



I am determined to keep some semblance of normalcy in my life at this stage of great uncertainty, so I signed up for The Color Run Twin Cities when I saw a friend had run the one in Seattle and it looked incredibly fun. I can say it's probably the second-most fun of any race I've run. First place has to go to the Disneyland Half Marathon, which I've done twice.

Yesterday was very hot (a high of about 92) and we started near 10AM, but as this "race" isn't even officially timed, it wasn't a big deal. Yes, people take their time, and I heard a few people talking about turning around and doing a few parts again...I'm talking about the "color zones," where volunteers with squirt bottles (or sometimes their bare hands) color runners up with dyed cornstarch. Each zone is a different color, so we ran through orange, then yellow, then pink, then blue. At the end of the run, you assemble in front of a stage where they pump dance music, and every 15 minutes, they count down to a "mass color throw," where each runner opens an individual packet of an assorted color and throws it into the air simultaneously. I've never seen or experienced anything like it. It's an art project on a massive (19,000 runner) scale, and everyone had a great time. I highly recommend it to anyone, even if you've never done a 5K before...many people walked at least half the distance, and no one cares who comes in first or last. It's all about the color.

Color Runner

Approaching the zone,
looking like a Technicolor sandstorm,
the crowd cheers as they are doused
with gritty beauty.

Fragmented rainbows fly
across the skyline,
adding smiles to sweaty faces,
the cherry to top a perfect morning.

The color may wash, blow, or fade away,
but the joyful memory endures forever.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Well.

Profuse apologies for my prolonged absence. Hopefully this post will help to explain my silence.

I have a lot to be grateful for. I have a wonderful husband who treats me like a princess, and two beautiful, healthy little boys who are just the sweetest and funniest little people I have ever had the pleasure to know.

Our family got punched in the gut about six weeks ago. We had just finalized the short sale of our house in the big city and were looking forward to just enjoying our small town life with only one mortgage to pay. I vividly remember telling my husband how happy I was just a few days before it happened.

That Friday in the middle of May, our world started to collapse in a bit. I came home from the library at lunchtime to find my husband in the kitchen. He'd been laid off with no warning. We haven't even been in our little town for a year, and suddenly my husband is scrambling (again!) to find a job. We don't have as much safety net anymore, so I am looking for teaching jobs even though I was hoping to wait until our kids were all in school before going back to work. We will likely have to move because our little town is too far from the nearest major city to commute and job prospects are pretty slim out here.

We cried for a few days. I mourned that we won't be able to have another baby anytime soon, when I was originally hoping for next spring. We are still angry. But we're trying our best to move on.

So now you see why I've been absent...I have been pouring all of my energy into job searching. I have had several interviews but no offers yet. I may not even have to work if my husband gets a job that pays enough, but I guess we'll see. Good thoughts and/or prayers are gladly accepted at this time.

One true blessing of all this crap is that I can show my husband that he's more than just a breadwinner to me. I have been trying my best to be supportive of him and remind him that it wasn't his fault, and that what he is supposed to do will come about in the right time. But it is hard to be patient. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

National Poetry Month #7.

I'm clearly behind now. I have my work cut out for me today!

13. Run around your house and grab 5 items that all begin with the same letter. Write a poem as an ode to one of these items or that includes these items.


Items: Beer, basket, backpack, book, bobblehead

Baskets spilling over with abundance of toys,
books scattered pell mell over the floor,
backpack bursting with unread materials,
bobbleheads gathering dust,
all need to wait
for me to finish my beer.

14. Think of the nicest thing someone ever said to you. Write a poem about a rainy day and something flooding. End the poem with the good thing someone said.


The steady pattering and buffeting wind
hasn't let up all day.
Obliged to stay indoors, little boys
press their faces against the window,
watching the slow streams
run out of the drainpipes onto the lawn.
Slowly at first, but inexorably,
a forgotten bucket fills with water.
After a dramatic, though unseen
moment of surface tension,
it runs over the edge to christen the azaleas.
This sudden flood
echoes the feeling I had upon reading
a letter from my sister some years ago.
While our love was clear,
we don't speak much of our feelings.
This made her admission to me
all the more poignant:
"I hold you up as an example for my children."

15. Write a poem that describes the wallpaper on your computer or the image on the last postcard you received.




Countless stars, pinpoints of light
representing unseen worlds
enveloped in the black, airless void
encompassing space.
A cold, inhospitable environment
made warmer by a sudden burst
of pink, white and pale blue.
Is it the birth of a new star?
The explosion of a star at the end of its life?
Or simply another mystery of the cosmos?

16. Make a list of ten images of things you have seen in the last 24 hours. Use all of them in a poem.

The first, intrepid housefly
perches on the sheet music, studying
the markings.

Dark blue yarn wraps around silvery needles
as sinuously as dancers performing
an Argentine tango.
a dark-eyed boy shrieks with delight,
revealing his face suddenly to his brother,
coming starkly into view, as in
a freshly-wiped mirror,
or as objects below a forked tongue of lightning.

Blue-eyed boy so deep in concentration
he doesn't see me coming.
He's busy digging a hole he can go in.
His brother backs in for
a patented toddler hug:
leaning forward, sitting on my lap
with my arm around him.

17. Write a poem that includes these words: bamboozled, bloodlust, bibliography. Have the title include one of these words: contradiction, constellation, cranberry.


Mr. Contradiction
He could be in the bibliography
of a book on bloodlust.
His victims bamboozled
by his gentle fa├žade,
they willingly follow him
into a velvet-lined trap.
By the time they realize
something is amiss,
it is far too late.
Their fate is sealed,
they're marked for doom
as he smiles and seals their fate.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Poetry Month, section 6.

11. Write a poem that begins with the last thing you can remember someone saying to you today or yesterday. See if you can use that line two or three times.


Retail Therapy
"Sure, because we NEED something."
Not so much a need as a want.
Not so much a want as a moment
to indulge oneself in a pleasure
that is solely selfish, a break
in days upon days of selfless tasks:
running after tiny, stumbling feet,
wiping constantly runny noses,
kissing boo-boos and wiping messy bottoms.
"Sure, because we NEED something."
That one moment of selfishness
refuels us for countless more
of the selfless.

12. Turn on the radio to any channel. Write a poem inspired by the first thing you hear (lyrics to a song, a commercial, etc.)

Traffic reports.
Kind of irrelevant these days,
a newer resident of Smalltown USA.
Sure, they're still useful
when going to visit the in-laws,
but in general, a welcomely
discarded habit.
Generally nothing but open road,
deer and other wildlife
much more common
than taillights.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Poetry Month, 5th installment.

In case you haven't been following my posts this month, I'm working on NaPoWriMo, sort of like NaNoWriMo for National Poetry Month: writing a poem for each day of the month of April. I've been doing them in chunks, however. Thanks to Kelli Russell Agodon for the prompts.

9. Write a poem to your favorite letter of the alphabet.





I don't particularly have a favorite letter, but I'll pick K because I have lots of special people in my life whose names involve that letter.



A kicky letter that kills boredom,
kissing the kaleidoscope
of karma, a kangaroo
keeps time with the koala,
kvetching about the kites
flying about the kitchen.
Mercifully, this k cavalcade
has kinked up and expired.

10. Write a poem about the one or all of the 7 sins that only contains seven word lines.

Seven: Deadly
You cross me, I'll never forgive you.
"You can never be too rich?" True.
Everyone should be waiting on me now.
I'm smarter and prettier than them anyway.
I want to make love to everybody.
What do they have that I don't?
Too many yummy things are never enough.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

National Poetry Month, issue 4.

7. Find a favorite recipe. Now write a poem inspired or in the style of that recipe about a family secret, yours or someone else’s.
Inspiration: Toll House Cookie recipe

Recipe for a Setback
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine hopes and dreams in a small bowl.
Mix a sense of security, excitement, love, and peace in a large mixer bowl until well combined.
Add doubts, one at a time, stirring until fully incorporated.
Gradually beat in fear, then add despair.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto realistic cookie sheet.
After crying and/or soul searching for 9-11 minutes, scrape up what you can salvage and start again.

8. Turn your paper so that it’s in the landscape position. Write a poem about God or the universe or the horizon of the ocean with longer lines and see what happens.


No Greater Love
The longer I live, the truer I know it to be: humans are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I have been privileged to know seeming angels on this earth, as well as those who constantly challenge and hamper my progress.
I have seen those whose hearts are large enough to take in all, and those whose hearts can only contain themselves.
Lord, I know You have seen both extremes as well, and felt both utter love and bitter hatred directed at You as You walked as one of us.
To this day, You likely hear as many words of devotion as You do of derision.
I can only pray that those of us doing the praising and adoration can drown out those on the other side.
On this, the day You conquered death to bring all who know You to new life, let me reiterate how much You are loved.
This world did not deserve such a perfect sacrifice, but You showed the way for us to heal the world from the mess we've made of it.
No greater love can someone have than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You did not merely say this, but acted it out for our benefit.
Your selfless act has saved us all; all we have to do is accept Your love and try to love each other in return.

Friday, April 6, 2012

National Poetry Month, part the third.

6. Write a poem in two sections about two completely different things. Have the title link both items today in a surprising way.

Familiar
I.
His blue eyes widen,
teeth flash in a grin as
an infectious giggle bubbles up.
This bundle of gangly arms and legs
curled onto my lap is precious cargo,
if not the most temporarily comfortable.

These little souls entwine with my own,
grabbing hold in a way that can never be
undone without destroying myself in the process.
The adage is true, I would lay down my life
if I had to choose between them and myself.
Nothing is better than being a family.

II.
I've been here before.
I have no real memory of it,
but I'm certain I've seen this view,
browsed this shop,
traveled this road some other time.

Perhaps some unknown ancestor
was born, lived, and died here,
and now that person's story
has been lost to memory.

Maybe someday, browsing my family tree,
I will come upon that missing link
that explains my strange sense of home
being in a foreign place.

National Poetry Month, volume 2.

 Yeah yeah, I'm a few days behind, so what? :)

2. Write about a poem about a superhero coming to your house and confronting you about something. Somewhere in the poem, you have to state what your superpower is.


Doorbell rings, then predawn knocking.
This had better be real good.
A yawn, and now my eyes are popping;
Batman standing on my porch.

Brucie, why the cloak and dagger?
I'm sure I gave you my cell.
Sure, my rhymes give me some swagger,
but come on now, what the hell?

Okay, Loverboy is trying
to write something for his girl.
Pressure felt, his brain is frying
as the page remains untouched.

Bruce, I love you like a brother,
so I'll give it to you straight:
girls appreciate a lover
who can write with open heart.

Lay your soul bare, heed no caution,
big risk equals big rewards.
Let her see your true devotion,
and you'll claim her heart for keeps.

Furthermore, embrace the slant rhyme,
no use agonizing there.
Most care more about the meaning
than perfection. Now, goodnight.


3. Write a poem that is really a love letter to an old flame. To make sure it’s doesn’t slip into sappy make sure one or more of these words is in the poem: dung beetle, politician, nuclear, exoskeleton, oceanography, pompadour, toilet.

Dearest Pookie,
How I miss our time together long ago.
To me, our love remains pristine,
preserved in the ether that first choked it to death.
You rolled me across the savanna like a dung beetle
carrying its prize, its exoskeleton
gleaming in the midday sun.
You knew me like a politician
knows oceanography.
Your pompadour reminded me of a nuclear
holocaust.
Any feelings I still have for you can be exhausted
in a trip to the toilet.
Love, Me.


4. Make a list of seven words that have the same vowel sounds (like bee, treat, pepperoni, eagle) and use them in a repetitive way throughout a poem.
My words:  sigh, butterfly, multiply, cry, alive, bide, ice

I.
A sigh, like a butterfly
floating, alive, my soul's cry;
I bide while it multiplies,
scattering on the ice.

II.
Does a butterfly cry
when it finds itself alive,
after having to bide its time
in a state of ice, sighing through
multiplying cells in metamorphosis?

III.
Multiply a sigh,
then bide while it turns to ice,
alive butterfly no more,
just a cry.

IV.
A cry multiplies,
ice shatters before the biding butterfly;
The sound alive, ending with a sigh.

5. Write a poem about a weird fact or facts that you know.

Did you know?

Horses can't burp.
Chameleons don't turn plaid.
If you could care less, you actually imply that you care a little.

Audrey Hepburn smuggled resistance messages in her ballet shoes.
Hermit crabs can draw blood if provoked.
Birds are living relatives of dinosaurs.

That part of "Love Shack" is "Tin roof, rusted!"
William Faulkner was a literary genius.
It's possible to whistle backwards.

Living in the past only squanders the future.
Children are endless sources of joy.
Mahna Mahna (doot doo doo doo doo).

The last line of the last poem needs fixing. Or not. Let me know. :)
I'd love to read any responses you feel inspired to write!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

National Poetry Month.

In case y'all didn't know, April is National Poetry Month. Because of this, poets inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, in November) have been committing to write a poem a day for the month of April (fondly monikered NaPoWriMo). Thusly, I ran over to the ol' Google to figure out if anyone had cooked up daily prompts for that purpose.

Eureka! Sure enough, a lovely writer named Kelli Russell Agodon has generously provided daily poetry prompts for the whole of NaPoWriMo. So my mission (I have chosen to accept it) is to attempt each and every one of these. I would love if you, my dear sweet readers (if you are still hanging around!) would share in this challenge with me and share your work in the comments.

So, here goes somethin'.


1. Grab the closest book. Go to page 29. Write down 10 words that catch your eye. Use 7 of words in a poem. For extra credit, have 4 of them appear at the end of a line.

My book: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (trying to catch up before HBO spoils the plot for me!)
Words: moonstone, lackwit, desperate, dashing, triumph, fabled, splendor, pavilion, gilded, memory

Sansa
Desperate for respect, if not affection,
She festoons herself with silk and moonstone.
Despite the prevailing opinion of the court,
she is no lackwit.
Once she dreamed of a dashing
hero, crowned in splendor,
sitting at her side under the pavilion.
Now she finds herself with only
a gilded memory;
the gold scraped off at the edge
to reveal the poisonous iron beneath.
In the fabled lion's mouth she rests, uneasy,
while her brain wracks itself for a way to triumph.


Now it's your turn. What have you got?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The unexplainable.

If I've been quiet for awhile, there are probably two causes for it.

One, I ambitiously applied for a real critique group to try and whip my novel manuscript in to some semblance of shape. I was kindly rejected. Of course, I retreated into inaction to lick my wounds rather than pushing forward with my long-neglected manuscript. Sigh.

Two, a few weeks ago I discovered that a good friend of mine, my senior-year college roommate, is losing her years-long battle with cancer and is now in hospice care. I got a further update this morning that she hardly has the strength to fully open her eyes or speak.

This once-vibrant young woman, now on death's door, is my age. Actually, younger.

What excuse do I have for frittering away my time instead of writing?

What reason could possibly be good enough to condone allowing myself to be distracted by silly stuff while my children grow up before my eyes?

If my life ended tomorrow, would I have a legacy to leave behind?

If any good can come from such a heartbreaking end, it has to be the people she loved living their lives more intentionally. I have already been trying to do this by being more present with my boys. I'd like to build on that by really focusing on working on my writing. So many writers lived only brief lives, yet they still have more to say to future generations through their works. I hope, even in a small way, to enrich others' lives through my own work. 

With any luck, the world won't have heard the last of me when I breathe my last. My work will speak for me.

What do you hope to leave as your legacy?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Beauty of My Mother.

The following post is a part of my dear friend, August McLaughlin's "Beauty of a Woman BlogFest." Click the link on or after February 10 to read many inspiring posts on the topic, as well as for a chance to win a bevy of lovely prizes including a Kindle Touch! Thanks to August for presenting an opportunity to tell my mom (again) how I feel about her.




I’ve always looked up to my mother.

Sure, when I was little, I *had* to look up to her, since she was physically so much taller. These days, our height difference is only a matter of a few inches, but I still hold her in high esteem.

Here’s why.

When I was a little girl, I was fortunate enough to have my mom with me nearly all the time. She was able to stay home with me, playing games, singing songs, and all manner of other childhood pursuits. She was at every school play, never missed a band or orchestra concert, and drove me to all of my horse shows without a single complaint. In fact, we often had as much fun getting to a destination as we did when we arrived. I’d read aloud to her, or we’d sing along with our cassette tape of the complete Broadway cast recording of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

As I grew older, I made the conscious decision not to be a “difficult teenager.” I resolved to try my best to get along with my parents through high school. I had a tough academic schedule and lots of after school activities; in my mind, there was no room left for family drama. I realize now how wise my decision was.

When I was sixteen years old, my father died suddenly of a particularly aggressive form of leukemia. My sister and brother were long grown and out of the house, so that left my mom and I rattling around our four bedroom house on our own. We cried, clung to each other, and went to therapy together for months. While I can’t remember a lot of joy in that time, I am definitely glad that neither of us had to go through it alone. We had each other, no matter how much life otherwise sucked on that particular day. Living through that long, deep valley grew each of us as individuals, but also our relationship as mother and daughter. This was the turning point for us to start becoming friends.

A strange side effect of my father’s sudden passing was my ability to see my mother grow as a person through that time and beyond. While she was always an exemplary mother, watching her find her way on her own gave me a whole new respect for her. She learned more of who she was, what she wanted in her life, and what she wanted to become. She got a job, and then, upon reflection, decided they were not treating her how she should be treated, so she went and found a better job where they respected her as an equal of their other employees. Through her journey, I saw my mother insist upon what she deserved from others, no longer content to fly below the radar and not make waves. She didn’t need to be the constant peacemaker and people-pleaser anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom is an excellent hostess, and everyone I’ve ever brought home immediately felt welcomed. Most of my good friends in high school thought of her as their second mother. But now she had a little more backbone to go with the beautifully compassionate heart she’d always had, but that some people had seen as a way to take advantage of her generosity. In short, my mother had learned the value of saying “no.”

It was tough going away to college. I picked a school that was about 1,000 miles away from home, not because of its sheer distance from my hometown, but because when I visited campus, my heart immediately told me I’d found where I wanted to be. The biggest drawback was that I would be so far from home. I didn’t realize how much that would make me sad until the day my mom dropped me off. I was okay until I had to go to my first class. I had said my goodbyes and was walking away, and I could tell my mom was crying. Of course, that set me off, too. Thank goodness for e-mail.

I admire my mom’s sense of restraint when I was facing the sharp learning curve of being on my own. While I wasn’t the type to go to fraternity parties, well, ever, I did fall in with a lousy boyfriend for a few months my freshman year. While she surely saw what a jerk he was, she didn’t say a word about it, but let me come to my own decision. Putting myself in her shoes at the time, I don’t know if I would have had that much strength to keep my mouth shut. But, I realize that I might not have taken that too well at the time. While I regret the relationship, I did learn a lot from the experience, and in part, I have my mom to thank for that--she allowed me to make and learn from my own mistake.

Right about the time that I met my next boyfriend, who I would marry a month after we graduated college, my mom met a man at her church who captured her attention. He was smart, thoughtful and charming, and he swept her off her feet. In fact, she married him one month after my wedding. While it took me a while to adjust to the idea of having a stepfather, I was pleased for my mom that she found a man who would treat her with such love and respect.

Life has a funny way of going left just when you think everything is going right. After several years of wedded bliss, my stepfather fell into a depression. Since then, he will sometimes be the man my mother fell in love with, and other times will be a shell of that man, hardly wanting to do anything at all. My mom has accepted this challenge with grace and aplomb. I can usually sense on the phone when things are hard, but she has rarely lost her usual smile and is his constant champion when he needs her most.

Now, a few days into my fourth year of motherhood, I can’t help but be grateful for such a shining example to which I aspire. My mom is my cheerleader, my sounding board, and my best friend. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She is without a doubt the most beautiful woman I know, and my boys and I are lucky to have her. I just hope I am fortunate enough to have some of her mothering skills rub off on me.

So, Mom, now you know. You’ve done an amazing job so far, and I hope to enjoy many more memories with you in the future. Thank you for making my life beautiful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fiction prompts, part 3.

Hi all,
In a novel move, I actually wrote a piece on today's Figment Fiction prompt...today. I know, crazy. But here it is, since my mom can't read it all on their site. :)

The prompt encouraged writers to write about a character living through an embarrassing situation. I took this and ran with it. The first part is fiction, the second part is 100% true. Enjoy.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot
I love babies.

Therefore, I also love pregnant women. I seem to gravitate toward them, hoping to start up a conversation, eager to share advice or compare notes, as the situation would allow.

That's why, when I saw a pretty young woman across the produce aisle, a t-shirt stretched over her rounded midsection, I made a beeline for her to introduce myself.

"Hello, I'm Carol. I haven't seen you here before, are you new in town?"

"Hi, I'm Amber. Yes, we just moved here a few weeks ago." Amber deposited a bunch of bananas into her cart.

"That's wonderful, welcome to the neighborhood! Are you liking it so far?"

"Yes, everyone is so friendly here, I'm very happy." Amber smiled shyly.

"So, when are you due?"

Amber's smile faded as the color drained from her face. "I'm not...I'm not pregnant," she said.

"Oh..." I wanted to sink into the floor and disappear. "I'm so sorry..." I allowed her to make a graceful exit while I pretended to inspect some peaches, blinking back tears of anger at myself for making such a boneheaded mistake.

What made this whole situation worse was that I have had the same thing happen to me, in reverse. The first time, I was in college, browsing jewelry at the mall, minding my own business. The sales girl came up and blurted, "Are you pregnant?" Um, lady, I'm 20 years old and not sporting a wedding ring...even if I was pregnant, I may not want to discuss it with strangers. And since when has it not been common knowledge NOT to assume that of women? Now I just felt fat, when earlier that day I had felt like I was looking pretty good. Thanks a lot.

Even after having my two kids, I have literally run my butt off, racing in several half, then a full marathon, getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight. However, I can't seem to get rid of a slight roundness to my midsection, an unfortunate casualty of having two large boys reside in my short torso for nine months apiece. It is really a slap in the face to have a woman come up and tell me that my baby will be a runner since I'm taking him/her along with me for my marathon. I'M NOT PREGNANT!!!

So, what have I learned from this? Assume nothing. We all know what happens when we assume. The only time it's acceptable to make such an assumption is if the woman is a patient in Labor and Delivery at the hospital, in the obstetrician's office looking at her sonogram pictures, or the guest of honor at a baby shower. Otherwise, keep my mouth shut!

How about you, dear readers? Have you been on either side of one of these awkward exchanges? What did you do/ what did you WANT to do? Spill it. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fiction prompts, part 2.

Hello again. Time has gotten away from me once again, but here is another group of writing prompts that spoke to me, courtesy of Figment Fiction.

Focus on an important life milestone (a birth, a wedding, a funeral). Slow time down to a crawl and zero in on the most important moment in that event. Describe in wrenchingly specific detail what goes on in those minutes. You can focus on many characters or stick to the perspective of just one.

My head is spinning as I carefully take the tiny bundle from the nurse’s arms. Tiny squeaks are emitting from the occupant of the blanket-cocoon as I try to act like I’ve ever held something so tiny before in my life. My hand trembles as I brush the blanket back from her face. Still red from her long struggle for independence, she settles quickly into my chest. No one else could be in the room, as far as I’m concerned; I only have eyes for her. Her eyes are fluttering as she blinks in the bright light of the hospital room. I try to make out their color, but as yet they are quite dark, almost black, with lashes that would make models jealous. Fuzzy dark hair covers her head, sticking out at every possible angle. I bend down to touch my cheek to her head. Velvet feels like sandpaper compared to that baby hair. She smells amazing--an unearthly sweet smell I have never before experienced. I realize that I’ve just spent what seems like an eternity just staring at my baby, but I should talk to her, let her hear the voice she’s spent so many months hearing from the inside. Putting my lips to her tiny, shell-like ear, I whisper with a lump forming in my throat, “Welcome to the world, baby girl. Mama and Daddy love you more than anything, and we’ll love you no matter what.”
 
 Go back to the important life milestone you focused on yesterday (a birth , a wedding, a funeral). Now speed the event up. It’s going so rapidly that you’re only able to capture snippets of action and dialogue. What are the moments that stand out? What makes it into your retelling of this event?

“It’s a girl!”
The parents’ eyes well up with tears.
“She’s perfect!” exclaims Grandma.
“What’s her name?” asks Dr. Green.
“S-Sybil,” Dad manages to answer.
“We’ll just clean her up and give her right back to you,” the nurse explains.
“Oh!” Grandma croons, snapping a few pictures.
The nurse hands the baby back to her mother, who can’t take her eyes off the new person she created.

“Welcome to the world, baby girl. Mama and Daddy love you more than anything, and we’ll love you no matter what.” Mom can only tear her eyes away from the baby long enough to give her husband his first kiss as a full-fledged father.

Write an active scene entirely in dialogue. No quotation marks; no he said-she said; no description of action—just the words the characters say. Don't explicitly tell us what the activity is, but through your characters' dialogue, make it clear what they're doing.

--How much longer?
--Just relax and try to keep up.
--Man, anyone who says this is easy is kidding themselves.
--Ha ha!
--Can’t we just slow down for a minute?
--Nope. You asked me to help, so I’m helping.
--I’m beginning to regret that.
--Really? c’mon, you can’t be serious.
--I guess not...but you’re making this really hard.
--That’s what she said!
--Har har har.
--Okay, I’ll slow down for a second. But then we’ll do a sprint at the end.
--Ugh...deal.
--Promise?
--Yeah.
***
--Race you to the top of the hill!
--NOOOOOO!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fiction prompts, part 1.

Last week I signed up for Figment Fiction's daily fiction prompts, with the grand hope of writing something for each day's prompt and posting it here. Well, in classic fashion, I didn't get around to it all week, but I was determined to post at least a little bit today from last week's prompts. So, here we go.

Jan. 9 Using third person, write about a moment when a character who usually feels (and perhaps is) painfully awkward temporarily feels singularly beautiful, handsome, sexy, and at ease.

As she stepped out of the car and her paddock boots touched the dusty terrain, Jessie felt like she could breathe again. Forgotten were the disdainful looks she got from the upperclassmen as she tripped over her own feet at lunch. The echoes of the laughter as she stammered in Spanish class died away. Now there were only the soothing hoofbeats of Sasha, her favorite mare. Jessie now focused only on moving as one with the lithe animal, allowing the equine’s power to flow through her and reveling in the confidence that this, she could do well. The school-day mask fell away and at last, she allowed herself to smile. 


Jan. 10 Make a list of 20 angry words—they can be words related to anger or words that just sound mad. Now write about something you love/cherish/revere using as many of these words as you can
furious
livid
hot
rage
boiling
feverish
seething
scream
shout
erupt
vendetta
revenge
grudge
humiliate
withering
disdain
explode
growl
hiss
sneer

I set my mind to work, furiously tapping out the thoughts boiling through my brain. Feverish to contain the ideas seething below the surface, I fear the livid rage hiding just beneath them that is reserved for when they escape me. Sometimes writing can be a struggle not to scream aloud, repressing those urges to the level of a growl or a hiss at the internal editor shouting disdainfully at my poor structure, diction, or whatever it feels like picking on that day. I mentally sneer, vowing revenge of even more words tomorrow should it get the best of me today. The vendetta continues each time I put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper; my own mind seems to hold a grudge against me for pushing it to create new worlds, things that have never been, out of thin air. Yet, when I procrastinate too long, pent-up ideas nearly explode out of me, a somewhat humiliating experience when I allow myself to believe I have nothing to write. For now, however, I shoot the naysaying part of my brain a withering look, allowing the hot magma of new words a controlled eruption onto the blank pages.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wow, thanks!

 I had my dear friend, August, give me this shiny little badge for my humble little blog. Not being familiar with blog-type awards, I had to look it up. Turns out this is an award designed to recognize blogs with less than 200 followers. Part of this honor asks me to name five other blogs deserving of this award, and to share seven random things about myself. So, without further ado:

Liebster Blog awards!
1. Paige at Sojourner. She has a remarkable knack for phrasing her thoughts and feelings in a poetic way. Her blog is a glimpse into the life of a homeschooling mama with seven beautiful little ones.
2. Tristy at the Kolden Blog. She is mama to four beautiful boys and is expecting another miracle.
3. Muser at Poet's Musings. He is a beloved poetry professor at my alma mater. He often posts some of his original work at this blog, in addition to readings of famous poems he uploads to YouTube.
4. Kristin at Dialecstatic. Her blog is equal parts alluring, hilarious, and inspiring. She is another talented poet.
5. Katy at August Earth. Above and beyond being a lovely person, Katy is converting a traditional farm to a small CSA, and I hope to glean some information about how to start a kitchen garden from her!

7 Random Facts about me:
1. I never learned to ride a bike. This was one of the unfortunate side effects of being so much younger than my siblings. I was a cautious child and no one was determined to teach me, so it just didn't happen. I'll learn before the boys get big enough to want to bike all over the place.
2. I can write backwards and upside down. I can also read backwards and/or upside down pretty well without a mirror.
3. I'd love to learn to speak Welsh. I'm part Welsh but no living family members know it, and I love the language.
4. I showed in English hunter/jumper horse shows for seven years. I miss it and wish I could ride again, but it takes time and money, neither of which I have a lot to spare these days.
5. I have sung and acted onstage. I really love musicals and have been fortunate enough to participate in several before we had children. Hopefully someday I can do some more.
6. I played the clarinet through high school. Yup, band/orchestra geek right here. I really like classical and jazz music.
7. I once owned a chameleon. His name was Henry and he was glorious. Unfortunately he got sick and we couldn't find a vet or anyone who could help him, so he passed away. If my sons want to get one some day I will make sure that we know someone who can treat it if it should get sick.

Award winners: your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to name five other blogs you think are deserving of the Liebster Blog Award, and share 7 random facts about yourself. Let your honorees know about their award by posting on their blogs. Have fun!

There you have it. Now it's much too late so I am going to bed. Goodnight.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A few days late, but oh well.

A few days ago was an anniversary I don't like to remember but will never forget. My father passed away 17 years ago on December 28. I have now lived one year longer without him than with him.

My heart is silent,
for it knows
what happened on this day.

A missing piece
was taken out
when Daddy passed away.

It matters not
how long the years,
the pain won't disappear;

Although it isn't
daily now,
grief still visits here.

My heart may now be silent,
but someday it will sing,
the day when my race finishes
and God ends all suffering.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolutions, redux.

I subscribe to a service that emails me significant Facebook posts from a year ago. Yesterday, it sent me the post in which I made my New Year's resolutions for 2011. Of the three, I'd say I accomplished one: running the Chicago Marathon. While I'm proud of that one, I realize that I didn't work as hard as I could have on the other two. That said, I'm eager to kick my own butt to accomplish them this year. So here are my revised and amended resolutions for 2012.

1. Read and write more.
I waste entirely too much time messing around online, at least some of which could be devoted to reading writing books, reading fun books, updating my blog, writing poetry, or writing/revising my manuscript.

2. Finish writing/revising/editing my NaNo '09 manuscript and begin querying agents.
I meant to do this one last year, but with all my procrastinating I didn't manage to get there. This year is the year. Dangit.

3. Begin writing a manuscript for my new idea, possibly for NaNo '12.
I have what I hope is a good idea for a middle-grade fiction series, and I am eager to explore it, but I don't want to get too involved in it before I am done with my other manuscript. Once I begin querying agents, I'll keep myself busy for the wait by starting on my new idea.

Hopefully, if I can manage at least 2 out of the 3, I'll be querying by this time next year, and best case scenario, I'll have two finished manuscripts...let's see how much I can keep my nose to the grindstone.