Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2oo9!



I'm getting ready to wake the family... yes, I'm the only one who could stay up to midnight without napping to it.

Even my golden retriever is out under my desk (scared from the fireworks), Eliot cat-1 asleep on the sofa, and cat-2 Ace, asleep in the dog's crate. I think the hedgehog is up running in its wheel- i love you nocturnal hedgehog.

But before I run up to wake them, here are my resolutions as they come out tonight--

be more patient

continue writing, but work more on essays as well as poems

enjoy more things and experiences

be more patient (did I mention this?)

healthy living, but with sweets daily

be thankful

get more sleep


To all of you who have read this blog another year, a toast to you for putting up with me and may 2009 hold everything you ever needed or wanted, and may you always have laughter, friendship, and the time to write and rest.

To a new year and a new and awesome president!

signing off until 2009...

Hello Violin...

Here's some photos of my new (old) violin. From what I know about it, it's from Germany made by a violin maker named Carl Friedrich Pfretzschner (born in 1743, died in 1798). What I love about it is the sound (it's a very forgiving violin and if it were a wine, it would be full-bodied wine), the color (it has a lighter wood color than most violins), and the inlay mother-of-pearl detail of the flower on the tail piece.

I took these this morning--




Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Confession Tuesday - Late Night Edition

It's been an interesting end of the year, the snow has melted (mostly), the rain has returned, and I'm thinking about the new year.


To the confessional--


1) I learned today that I didn't win the book prize I was a finalist for. It was for Univ of Wisc. & I learned Robert Pinsky was the judge. He chose 2 other poets (one male, one female)to be winners. I was a bit bummed, but life goes on.

I'm thinking if I learn if I'm a finalist again, I might take the opposite approach, which is not to tell anyone. If you know me, this goes against every cell in my body because I believe in the power of good (and plentiful) energy. Can you see a little superstitious Capricorn typing this post...ya, maybe.


2) I couldn't stay bummed too long after receiving the rejection letter from Wisconsin because I was off to choose my new (old) violin. I played the violin for over 5 years and somehow always managed to remain below-average. I'm now finally ready to leave 4th chair, second violin for good.

My lessons begin on January 8th, the day before my 40th birthday. My violin has been chosen and is home with me. I hope to post some photos of it soon, maybe next week when my bow is ready.


3) We didn't go see Benjamin Button tonight because I saw it was a 3 hour movie and honestly, long movies always feel like too big of a commitment for me. Instead we stayed home and rented Iron Man (loved it).


4) I make resolutions each year. I'm working on being more patient (in all -most- aspects of my life). And continuing to be imperfect (and this one I'll achieve with flying colors).


5) I'm glad that even when the world sends rejections, they don't take away my chocolate supply.


6) I'm going to go talk to my violin about this poetry stuff.

Do you make resolutions?

January (aka PoetMom) makes a poet action plan and has some great ideas if you're wanting to make some changes in your life or writing life.

Read her post here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thoughts on Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Books

Here's an interesting article from The New York Times about how the internet and people reselling their books online is hurting publishers and the book industry.

Article by DAVID STREITFELD
"Book publishers and booksellers are faltering. But don't blame the recession - it's all the fault of the Internet used books market. "

Be warned though, the article kind of peters out at the end of page two. I really thought it should have gone on one or two more pages, but I'm wondering if the newspaper only gave the author so much space. Anyway, just realize that before you read--there will be no resolutions, ideas, or thoughtful considerations to this article--it ends, but kind of quickly and with me wanting to find page 3 (there is no page 3).



But that said, it's a good article for you to read if you're a writer and it brought up some thoughts in my mind, I thought I'd share. And be warned, like the article, my thoughts don't come to any sort of conclusion and rereading them they are a little random, what can I say, it's morning and I'm still on my first cup of coffee.

But anyway, some thoughts after reading the article--


1) If you are in the book industry or an author, you need to have an online presence that allows people to find the info they want about you and your books. I cannot tell you how many times I have been disappointed because I have googled a poet only to find a few random poems online and maybe a blip about their book on the publisher's page.


2) The publishing companies need to think out of the box. Remember "Video Killed the Radio Star?" We now have "Internet Killed the Newspaper Stand." So with people turning to the internet to get their information or find their books, what can a publisher to do to be competitive?

--POD (Print on Demand) - I think this is may be where publishers need to move to and it's even better for the environment. Books printed when they are purchased.

Of course, not all books could be purchased that way, but instead the huge inventory printed then not selling, print a good amount and allow readers to have books purchased directly from the publisher and mailed right to our front door. Many of us do this through Amazon already, but if the publishers offered the option of ordering directly from them for a lower price, I'd be right there. Especially if they had say gift subscriptions I could order for gifts for people, something like $30 a year = X numbers of books mailed directly to your home. I love that idea.

I do try to buy my poetry books directly from presses like Tupelo Press (one of my favs) because I know they earn more money that way. But I'll be honest here, when it comes to the big publishers, I watch out for my own pocketbook, not theirs. I'm always very considerate with the small press, but I am definitely less likely to order secondhand books or use the library when it comes to major presses.

BTW, I think poetry presses can get away with having an inventory because they usually only print 500-1000 poetry books on the first printing. (Amazing, it's it?)


3) I do think we'll see more writers self-publishing too (especially if publishers are accepting less manuscripts). And I think that can be a good thing. Since with poetry, 3000 books published is concerned excellent, with the technology available, we could easily publish our own books and get them out via the internet and consignment at various independent bookstores (another reason to support your indies!) You would really only need 500 to start out with a poetry book and it's a great thing to sell at your readings. But there are always a few concerns with self-published books.

One reason I have concerns with self-published books is that there isn't that filter of another's eyes or opinions. For example, if you have a new poetry book published at Pitt Press, I know that your book has gone through the editorial process, errors and grammatical mistakes have been removed; I know that Ed Ochester has said "I like this!" If you were to publish that same book on your own, I wouldn't have that extra recommendation and know that the same process was in play--your books are edited well and only what needs to be in there is in there.

Though I think some of this is getting to know the author or poet (and again, I'd be much more open to buying a self-published poetry book than a self-published novel, which seems open to have many more mistakes). If I bought a self-published book from PoetX and I liked it, then I'd be there for book 2 with no concerns about where it was published.

And I have many self-published or self-made poetry books I've purchased and some of them are even better quality than published books (some are hand-stitched or have individual details that publishers can't do). Also, these tend to be purchased at a reading, so if I like the poems I heard and want to return to them, I buy the book. Honestly, when it comes to poets, I really don't care who publishes their book as if I like a poet's work, then like her work.


As you can see, I've moved from helping the press to helping the poet. So be it.

But maybe the presses just need to figure out new ways to do business, production, maybe different advertising. I can count on two hands how many times I've seen a commercial for a book, I guess they assume that people who watch TV don't read. But what about internet ads, I mean, when you're on the internet, all you're doing is reading.

I don't have the answers, but these are some thoughts that the article raised in me.

Do I think books will be come obsolete? No. I cannot curl up with my laptop on the couch. I could see something like Kindle (Amazon's reader) being used by many readers (though I think they will need to lower their price a bit and sell it with a library books already downloaded for the reader, but that's another post...) But I still think there will be people like me who love the feel, smell, sight of a good book. I know I love my slender poetry books I have around me, even when they are overflowing off the shelves. I do see them as little works of art.

And I love browsing the library. During the snow days, it was the only place I risked the snowy roads to visit. It was open 1-4 on the Monday before Christmas and there I went in our dirty Beetle because I was having library withdrawal and had read all my books from the previous checkout. The librarian said a lot of people were feeling that same need to get to the library. Just as there are people who will line up to see a monster truck show, there are people who will line up at a bookstore or library. And I'm comforted by that.

But I do think the publishers have a challenge right now, as do most all companies trying to stay competitive in a tight economy. So we'll see what happens and maybe smaller presses will emerge, maybe not. Maybe new ways to get books to readers will be available, maybe not. But I know there will always be readers who wants books. And I know, I'm always searching for that next great poetry book.

Hopefully, we can all help keep each other afloat for another year...




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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Present...



It's still snowing here in the NW, which for us is extreme weather. I heard myself saying to someone today, "Oh, we only got 10" of snow." *Only* 10 inches of snow in the Northwest? I also shows how perspectives can change.

We may have a different Christmas this year. My mum is currently snowed in about 30 minutes from here and the rest of my family, on a steep hill in Seattle. Our Christmas day celebration may be postponed for us, but we are all safe and warm, and sometimes plans change and well, we'll have a week of Christmas, and that's okay too.

We have enough food and are warm, with electricity and Christmas carols, a pan of cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast, cookies for Santa, carrots for the reindeer and full of hope in safe travels for all you travel this evening wherever you may travel to.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this blog and my random thoughts on writing, life, and lately, weather. I always appreciate your comments and emails. Thank you.

Wishing you the best Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Festivus (for the rest of us!) And my this upcoming new year bring you all good things.

Peace & Poetry,
Kelli

Christmas Past...

Merry Christmas, I wrapped it up and sent it...


That's a line from George Michael's "Last Christmas," which is playing in the background as I type this. (Christmas eve confession: this song made me cry at 16 on Christmas eve). I was such a boycrazygirl. As I watch my daughter grow, I never worry too much of her habits or whether she will become something because if you look at who I was as a teenager, I had impressive goals of "move to California," "become a professional surfer or waterskiier," and to make money, "own a pet store." Let's just say people change.

Was I writing then? Yes, but I didn't understand that people made lives as writers. My father aimed me towards college (maybe hoping a little I'd get a business degree--I am stronger at math than English--but honest when he said, "Kelli, it doesn't matter what 4 year degree you get, employers just want you to have one to show you can finish something."

Writing was considered more of a hobby, but I could major in English (with a writing emphasis) if I wanted to and I did. How I got from there to here is a long story of choices and a voice inside me that kept telling me I was on the wrong path (but what other path could there be? I wondered.) To others my choices looked spontaneous (oh be warned, the Capricorn gal is rarely truly spontaneous, all things have been thought out and considered, just maybe not spoken) and maybe a little reckless. But the thing was, all the choices I had made with my head were wrong. But every choice I made with my gut or heart, turned out better than expected.

As a Capricorn, a realist, the daughter of a business man, this made little sense to me. All my life I thought I was to make the best decisions and invest wisely, which to me equaled "the most secure" decisions. It wasn't until I let go of this idea that there was anything secure in life that I could really live. Still, sometimes I still deal with it, that my life doesn't look like the lives on TV or other people or families, but now I find contentment in that. Of course, my life doesn't look like anyone's life, it's my life. But what a long journey to figure that out...

So for Christmas Past, I am glad I no longer am the young woman in nylons and darling Benetton power suit, or the girl crying in her Mustang, or the person who thought writing was only a hobby. Sometimes it's the smallest voices inside of us we need to listen to, especially if they are the ones that keep whispering and never go away.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Old Man Winter or another miracle?


Check out this icicle found hanging from the gutters of a home in Lake Stevens. I think it's fantastic. And no, they say it wasn't carved.

Here's the link on KOMO news, which has the story and a close-up of the icicle.

Confession Tuesday



Prayer Flags on the Cherry Tree in our Yard


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Confession Tuesday


I have spent the last week at home, snowbound. I am not someone who minds not getting out, in fact, I have the tendency to be hermit. I like being home especially when there is enough food and I am warm. Despite one short power outage, I've had both.

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I do believe in angels and miracles as well. I believe in worlds we don't see existing along side of us and in energies we have no idea about. I have wondered if because my family is Catholic (the religion of magical thinking), it is taught early on that there are other things at work greater than us. Maybe this is most religions.

I have felt I was much more spiritual than religious. I like churches, but I don't go to church because I think man can be a poor interpreter for God and I have always felt I have my own direct line.


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I finished doing the Artist Way this week, a 12 week process. I didn't report on it as much as I thought I would. I think because so much of it is inner-reflection and putting it on a blog seems so big and so open.

But I'll cut and paste some thoughts from my last check in--

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the last chapter "Recovering a Sense of Faith" --

"Creativity requires faith." "Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is." "I trust my own inner guide." "We are not accustomed to thinking that God's will for us and our own inner dreams can coincide." "Our truest dream for ourselves is always God's will for us." "By trusting, we learn to trust."


...it will be rituals, or prayers of belief that will continue--whether its making a yearly poster, a vision board, or lighting a candle, I will take a moment to acknowledge there is magic, spirit, energy, a higher power, in the world and in myself. And I think this is what will continue to help me develop my sense of faith.

How does this relate to my writing and creative life? As artists, just by jumping into the world of creating we are saying "yes, we believe." We are small gods creating our own universe. We are saying, "I know the odds, the know the fears, what might not happen, and yet, I still write, create, paint." I still take part in this world that many have chosen not to or overlook. So this is where I'll end, in the realization that despite all my fears, I say yes to the creative life again. And would again and again. I trust that this is what I'm supposed to be doing and while I don't know the roadmap I follow, I believe it will all work out and I'm headed in the right direction...we all are.



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Hope you all have a magical creative joyful holiday season no matter what holiday you celebrate or don't, may your 2009 bring you all good things.

Do you believe in Angels?

By Mike Celizic
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 1 hour, 51 minutes ago

A 14-year-old girl with a history of serious health issues lay dying of pneumonia in a hospital room. But as her mother waited for the girl to take her last breath, an image of bright light appeared on a security monitor. Within an hour, the dying girl began a recovery that doctors are at a loss to explain.


Read the rest of the story here..

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gratitude Journal


Photo: This is the trail by my house I like to walk through.


Gratitude Journal



1) Electricity

2) Safe travels

3) Heat

4) The Propane Man

5) The beauty and peacefulness of snow

6) A late night walk after a snowstorm

7) My golden retriever

8) Snowball fights & sledding

9) Comfort food-- roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, cheese pizza, paninis, tortilla soup, chocolatel chip cookies, brownies, chocolate.

10) Surprise packages arriving

Snow Photos - 2008



The Little Engine that Could - This is the lane in front of my house where our Beetle lives.




Poetry Barn, on hiatus for Winter Break or until the snow melts



The farm down the street from my house

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rain Taxi Literary Auction!

Rain Taxi is having a literary auction online at ebay here.

Now as an editor of a literary journal, I know the importance of fundraisers and how so many of our literary journals skate from issue to issue on limited funds.

What I love about this fundraiser, is that not only do you give to a literary journal, but you can get some cool things in returned--a signed book, broadside or something else.

Anyway, browse and see what they have up for auction, maybe you can get yourself an early Christmas gift.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow!

Many thanks to poet and blogger Maya for teaching me how to make it snow on my blog.


You can add it to your blog by going here...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Resurrect an Old Blog

Someone asked me how I resurrected my old blog, so I thought I'd share that with you in case any of you need to go back in time and get info that has been lost (due to a website or blog being deleted or shutting down).


Here's what I wrote on how I resurrected my old blog--

Someone sent me a link to this website called the Wayback Machine:

http://www.archive.org/index.php

they had seen it on someone else's site and thought it would help me.

It did. I'm not sure I got all my posts, but there were quite a few there. I don't know if it got the individually deleted posts or if all were there, but there were definitely more than I had.

But what was weird when I went there, was that it showed my old blog but all the posts were blank--however, when I highlighted on that area, I could see the words, which I then cut and pasted into a regular document.

As I said, I'm not sure I got *everything* (as I do think some of it might have been lost) but I got a lot. More than I had. And I'm very thankful for that.

If you know the date of the blog post you deleted, that might help because you actually type in the blog or website address that you are trying to find info for.

Hope that helps!

****So while my old blog isn't back online or connected to this blog, I do have many of the posts now saved in a Word file for myself.

Holiday Fire Prevention....

I'm not sure if you know, but I'm married to a firefighter. Yes, I chose someone who could carry me out of a burning building. I sometimes wonder if this choice goes back to childhood because when I was very young, the house across the street burned down on Christmas day because their Christmas tree caught fire. For much of my life as a child, we had a fake (and fire-safe) tree because of this, which is probably the reason I insist on a real tree as a adult. But I've seen those videos of how fast a tree can go up in flames, and honestly, they freak me out a bit.

Anyway, I recently learned about this website Liberty Mutual BeFire Smart and I wanted to share it with you. It has video by celebrities (so if you're a fan of Marcia Gay Harden you're set!), but it also has-- if you put your cursor under the "Parents" and "Children" - a lot of good information to make sure your home is safer as well as an escape route map plan for your family.

At my daughter's school, we're required to do these yearly (we have an awesome fire department here), in fact, all the 3rd graders just got ice cream yesterday for turning them in and another visit from a firefighter. But I've learned that not everyone does these and if you have kids, it's essential you have a meeting place outside the home so you know everyone is safe and accounted for if there's a fire. This is so important for you as well as for the firefighters as they aren't running back into the house to find someone who is already out.

Anyway, with power outages, pretty holiday candles, and drying trees, this has been on my mind lately. I cannot tell you how many calls my husband has gone to because during a power outage, someone has lit up their hibachi inside (not a good idea). He's also had quite a few calls recently about forgotten candles too and space heaters too.

So, just want to give you an fyi on the fire safety and if you have kids, really make sure they know what to do in a fire and that if ever they are in a fire and they see someone dressed in a mask, they are there to help there. (I mention this because this is another technique our fire dept uses --to dress up in full gear so the kids learn not to be afraid of them. Sadly, kids have hidden during a fire because the person coming to save them looks so scary.)

Anyway, I don't want to worry you too much, but this something close to my heart and I think about it a lot more this time of year because of all the extra hazards (yes, you call them decorations and natural swags, I call them hazards-- I know, this is what 15 years of marriage to a firefighter does to someone.) ;-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Flashback!

This is to the kind person who showed me how to resurrect my old blog (the one I regretted deleting). You have done your good deed for Christmas, Thank you!



Here's a post I wrote Wednesday, December 28, 2005. Three years later, I still have the same beliefs on success.

Here you go--

I've got the brains, you've got the looks, let's make lots of money...
Success--


So, there's been some blogging about success lately, what makes a successful poet. Some say that we need a book, others suggest it's the awards (NEA, Guggenheim, Pushcart). Others believe a certain list of journals we've been published in. And even if we have all these wonderful things, is that success? Most people find my blog by searching for the recipe to make a pomegranate martini. More people search for drinks and find me than in searches for poetry (and I *think* I talk about poetry more). Poets know other poets. Regular folks know Maya Angelou, sometimes Billy Collins, and sometimes Mary Oliver.

Poets are not known by most of the world. I thought about this when I felt too nervous to ask Bob Hicok to sign my book. I thought, 99.8% of the US population would *not* feel intimidated by him, yet because I write poetry, he has moved up my "important people list" and therefore making a fool of myself in front of BH as opposed to the random people I meet daily would be more painful. (I did ask him to sign my book and of course, came off socially inept as I tend to do around people I like...It's a gift.)

Anyhoo, perhaps I'm in a different camp with this success stuff because I don't think poetry can make anyone "successful." It's really hard for me to judge a person by their resume. Just as I wouldn't call a CEO successful, just because s/he is a CEO. I don't think credits, publications, and awards make a successful poet. I do think they're incredibly fun to achieve and feel rewarding, but I wouldn't base my life's success on what I achieve in poetry. (This doesn't mean stop I think we should stop submitting or trying to achieve certain goals as a poet, I think that keeps things interesting, I'm just saying at the end of the day, I don't think we'll look back on our lives and think, "I'm so glad I was published in ________." Okay, I *may* say that about the New Yorker, but that's because I can be shallow.)

Realize, this is coming from someone who has no problem beating little kids in Candyland...I like to win. But, I realize "success" can't be achieved through poetry because first, it's so subjective. I'm sure I've had poems accepted because someone was having a good day and I'm sure others were rejected because the someone had just received a traffic ticket. And we can't base it on awards, I mean, poor Emily D., where was her first book award, her Guggenheim?

And isn't it funny how poetry is a sort of erudite crack? I mean, you start out and you write a poem, and it feels satisfying. So you write another and you like that feeling, but it starts to be a bit dull, so you wander into a new neighborhood and try to publish them. You take another hit and then wham! you publish your first poem--and it feels good, really good. So you submit again, another poem in another journal and the high keeps coming back. You need more time to write more poems. You’re up late at night writing and submitting. And with each acceptance, you get your high back, but it’s not as good as the first time.

The feeling begins to wear off a little or maybe things are starting to feel "too easy," so you move from Spindrift to The Bellingham Review. You have to keep raising the bar, keep moving up the ladder to get that next great high. You submit to Prairie Schooner. You submit to the New Yorker. You submit to Poetry. You look back at the accomplishments that first made you happy, first made you feel successful and they seem small.

You publish a book and realize that even with a book, you're still yourself and you keep trying for that next high... You wake up at your desk and find yourself strung out on herbal tea covered in your own SASEs-- and there’s a bill from the post office you can’t explain. You become that disco song, "More, More, More. How you do like it? How do you like it?...." Yes, you’re addicted.

I know how happy I feel with my little poetry accomplishments, with any sort of validation that comes my way. And I do think that our publications and accomplishments as poets should be celebrated. I mean, anytime I can find a reason to have a party for myself, I do. But I do try to remind myself that my success as a poet cannot be written down on a resume, it's something greater than that.

As a poet, I guess if I had to determine how success can be measured, it would be in how much we return to others. This can be through our poems or in person, over email, with a blog, on the phone, through a class/lecture, in a letter, in our books, as an editor, as for me, a poet's success is based on his or her actions as a poet. And even if one is getting paid for any of the above, it still counts. But I guess that's how I measure the success of any person (poet or not), not by what was achieved, but what they returned, not by what they have, but what they gave.

Maybe I'm thinking too much about this, but I know the things that I base my self-worth on or my “success” are by the number of people who see me as a friend and if I'm kinder more of the time than hurtful. Mostly though, I guess I base success on how the people closest to me see me. If in the end, my family can say that I did a pretty good job in their eyes, then I made it. The rest of it is bells and whistles, the rest of it is fringe on my already stylish suede skirt.

Of course, if the New Yorker calls. . .


****And I still kick butt at Candyland!

Poetry Stuff

Rejections-- Kenyon Review, Rattle, Smartish Pace
Acceptances - The Smoking Poet (see post below)

Readings: Northwind Gallery anthology reading (photos from the reading here) My hair looks poufy.

Other news - I just learned my second mss is a finalist for a book contest and is in the hands of an outside unnamed judge. I don't know how many mss were named finalists, 5, 10, 20, 50? I'm not sure. But it makes me hopeful. Make a Christmas wish for me...I'd love to be chosen.

Poetry Barn - I'm using 2 space heaters to warm up the poetry barn, it's 25 degrees outside and the poetry barn is a tad drafty. I lost 3 weeks of use of my writing shed because the keyboard to my laptop broke...well, more honestly, I broke it trying to clean beneath the keys. Don't flip off keys to clean beneath them, sometimes they don't go back on and superglue makes things worse. I've had to use an external keyboard up until last week and it didn't fit on my wee desk. I'm going to make the trek out to the barn after lunch.

Other Poetry things--Just bought the poetry book All-American Poem by Matthew Dickman (APR Poetry Prize). Big book, I mean, physically wide. Good poems.

He and his brother are currently the one-two punch of poetry these days. They were both profiled in the September/October 2008 of Poets and Writers (I think that's the one with Billy Collins on the cover.) and they both received acceptances for their poetry collections in 2008. I haven't read his brother's Michael's collection (which I think comes out through Copper Canyon Press), but I like Matthew's work a lot. I haven't been really excited about a poet for a while, so this is a good feeling.

Though I can only recommend the first half of the book as I haven't read the rest. I'm enjoying this collection slowly.


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The Smoking Poet

I have a poem up at The Smoking Poet. It was a poetry contest judged by Dorianne Laux that I entered about 5 minutes before the midnight deadline.

My poem is called "Selected Love Letters I’m Still Trying to Write." It's a newer-ish poem probably written in the last few months. This was only the 2nd place I had sent it. Which is always hilarious as I have poems that were written years ago, that have still never found a home. Oh, poor homeless poems and their stories...

Anyway, if you're interested, you can read my poem here (honorable mention) and the three winning poems as well.


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Confession Tuesday



I took this photo in the Fremont district of Seattle. Fremont is known by the locals as "the center of the universe," so in case there was ever any question, PEACE is at the center of the universe. Just thought you should know that.


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To the confessions--


I sometimes wonder what my maturity age is when it comes to snow. Let's just say that my sled team came a little too close to the parked car and once ended up under a bush. And let the record show, that I was the one who came up with the brainiac idea of standing on the plastic orange toboggan and trying to use it as a snowboard...no parents, it wasn't the kids who came up with that one. Though I had farther to fall, and I did, and my shoulder still aches from my lack of balance and poor judgment. The kids? They did well. A few spills but no ills.

Also, earlier in the day I actually lost the children. How do you lose children when they have tracks to follow in the snow? But I did. Let's just say there is no mother of the year award for me during the snow day.

And my dog? He was also running wild throughout the neighborhood. Yes, I was *that* neighbor, the crazy one who is screaming for her dog and trying to find what hill all the kids went to. Oh, what a magical Christmas moment. My husband said, "You had them for 5 minutes, how did you lose them?" and "You are chaos in fleece."

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If you were to visit my house right now, you'd think it had been ransacked. Like that scene in that Bette Midler movie when they go to her house and Shelly Long says, "Oh my God, you've been robbed too!" and Bette says, "No, my house always looks like this." (Outrageous Fortune, that's it.)


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As the year ends, I've been thinking about blogging, what's good, what's not. Mostly my own, what can I do better, etc. etc. I started blogging because it was a good way for me to understand my own thoughts. By making it public, I had to think more clearly and be a little more articulate than I am in my own private journals, which is mostly just has wah-wah-wah entries or random info or facts that makes very little sense to me when I reread it. Also, I can't read my own handwriting and I prefer typing over pen to paper. It's quicker and less painful.

I was surprised the first time someone commented on my blog...what? Someone is actually reading this? It freaked me out that I stopped blogging for a bit, like the turtle realizing she wasn't alone, I pulled my head back in my shell and pretended the world that existed was only inside with me. When I got braver, I came out again. I deleted one blog I had kept for 2 years because as Jeannine puts it, I'm "shy online." I regret that. Don't delete your blog and if you do, keep a hard copy. You might not get that I can be "online shy" given all that write here, but the internet can freak me out a bit. Too big. And I don't always like it when the spotlight gets aimed in my direction. Too bright. Too self-conscious.

But I've stayed. Why? Because again, it comes down to waking up and organizing my thoughts, a sort of controlled morning pages. But why share them? Because I think it's important for other creative people to know that we all go through periods of self-doubt or darkness, that you can go months and months without a rejection or a good word about your writing. That we suffer from a lot of the same things-- fear, anxiety, worry, ego, pride, vanity, shame, concern, etc. etc. Name your poison-- you're not alone.

I remember when I first read Kim Addonizio's blog and she was bummed about a rejection. I remember thinking, "Her too?" She's so good, why can an editor get her down?

Because I could look into her life, I felt a little more normal myself. I think that's why I continue to have a blog and post the things I do. Sometimes I get off topic, sometimes I ramble about jars of pickles or things you could probably give a flying-duck about. But every once in a while, I hope my words somehow help, comfort, or even inspire you.

So know, I'm trying my best though I do have blogger fears such as being afraid of becoming a preachy blogger...or a judgmental blogger. If you ever see this in me, please drop me an email. I don't mind the occasional rant and if I see something I'm passionate about (Kiva.org, animal organizations, etc.) I will want to share this with you, but I don't want you to read this blog and feel bad about yourself in any way. If I start doing this, let me know. I want to inform, inspire, and entertain on this blog. Share a story or two. Document what's happening in my life. But I don't ever want you to think there is only one way of doing something or living a life or being a writer or poet, there's not, there are millions and billions of unique ways to live, to love, and (stealing from Rumi) kiss the ground and pray.

*


I like the imperfect people best.





Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sherman Alexie on The Colbert Report




***I was just talking to Jeannine about this and thought I'd share it with you. If you haven't seen this, Sherman & Stephen C are hilarious.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today's Nature


Baby bald eagle

Buddy Holly in today's snow


Buddy resting

Vital Stats Follow-up ;-)

Nancy posted these questions in the comments, here's my follow up--

When did you write your first poem?
***Second grade, I think. A lot happened in 2nd grade for me with writing because we had a teacher who would have creative writing sessions for all the 2nd graders (Mrs. Cameron). She always encouraged me and I don't think she ever realized how much impact she had on my life.

Who was your audience for your earliest poems?
****My mom.

Who was your audience for your earliest poems?
***In college, me or my prof. I never thought about audience or publishing. For me, I enjoyed poetry and was thrilled with the idea of writing. I didn't start submitting regularly until I was at least 30. I wrote for 10+ years and had only submitted say 5 poems to local college journals. It just wasn't anything that was important to me.


Did your first poems rhyme, or were they formal/free verse?
***They all rhymed, though I did use some slant rhyme in this ditty entitled "Love is..."

Love is my mom, love is my dad,
love is the family that I have.

(thankfully, I did not feel the need to use rhyme there or my ending would be the ominous "love is the family that I had." What parent would like to get that creepy close.

I grew up on formal verse and nursery rhymes. I had no idea poems didn't rhyme (with the exception of a few forms like haiku, acrostics, etc.) until I was a teenager.

In college, none of my poems rhymed. I was very anti-rhyme and much more into telling a story through my poems. I did not have the terms to call it "narrative" yet. At the time, I wanted every poem to be like a specific photograph, with a place, a story, and a character or two.


Who first encouraged your writing?
***My mom and most of my early grade school teachers. In college, Linda Bierds was a major reason I ever submitted or became a poet. I started out in college as a fiction writer. I had taken one poetry class and thought it was fun, but loved fiction more. Linda B. was an incredible teacher and took poetry to a completely different level and place for me.



Who did you show your first poem(s) to?
***My parents & teachers as a child.

The other students in my poetry class at the UW. I still do not show my work to my husband until it is finished (or published). Nowadays, I only to my closest poetry friends.

Do you remember your reaction to your first time being paid for writing?
***Kind of.

Did you spend that money--and on what?
***When Rattapallax paid me, I bought vintage Czech glass Mardi Gras beads and I still wear this necklace. I've also bought a vintage green ceramic vase when I won a grant or received some money (it is the closest thing to a trophy I have).

When I won the Atlantic Monthly prize, I bought a statue of Kwan Yin for my garden. Mostly, I squirrel the money away in a writing acct for myself so I have money when cool opportunities come up--like a retreat, or the Carolyn Forche class I signed up for this spring.


When is the first time you called yourself "a poet"?
****I'm still not too comfortable with this term. I'd rather say writer. I think sometimes when people hear "poet" they imagine me with a beret and bongo drums in a black turtleneck. I think other people called me a poet before I called myself a poet.

I do remember writing "writer" on my form when entering London in 1996. That was a big step for me, esp. because at the time I was working a corporate job and very unhappy with where my life was going. It was when I made a conscious decision to change directions. Within a year, I had quit my job and moved to this small town I'm in today. One of the best things I've ever done.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Your Good Deed

This was posted on the WOMPO listserv and I wanted to bring your attention to it as I think it's a very important cause, especially this year with a bad economy, I don't want our furry friends to be forgotten in all this.

Anyway, how you can help--

Go to this website:

And for the shelter name, write in: Natchitoches Humane Animal Shelter
City: Natchitoches State: LA

The Wompo member who posted this adopted a dog from this shelter and said the facility is in desperate need of a facelift.

She wrote:
The physical facility is appalling--cages open to the summer heat and winter cold--room for only 30-some animals, though about 2500 dogs and cats a year are dumped off there. The shelter personnel and the local Humane Society, of which I am a member, work like crazy sponsoring adoption days, foster programs, rescue missions sending dogs to Canada (where there is a shortage of adoptable pets), and low-cost spay and neuter programs


Anyway, please vote to help that community out. And while you're there, you can click on this daily--

The Animal Rescue Site

And just by clicking, donations will be made to animal rescue programs (and there are no awful photos of sick or hurt animals for the squeamish-- I know when I hear "In the Arms of the Angels" on that commercial by Sarah McLachlan for animal abuse, I go running for the remote).

For awhile the Animal Rescue site was having problems getting clicks (you can scroll down to see how many clicks they received over the past week), so if you remember maybe have them be the start of day or pass the info on to someone else so they continue to get clicks.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vital Stats of a Poet

Deborah Ager from 32 Poems invited me to do this--


Age when I decided I wanted to be a writer: 7 (2nd grade)

Age when I wrote my first short story: 6-7 (2nd grade) it was about a giraffe

Age when I first got my hands on a good word processor: Good? 21 at the UW, 25 or 26, my first computer

Age when I first submitted a short story to a magazine: 39 (I just did this a couple months ago)

Rejections prior to first short story sale: 1 (first s/s submitted and rejected.)

Age when I sold my first short story: let's say 40, thinking positively

Approximate number of short stories sold: Approximately zero.

Age when I first sold a poem: Sold? I probably wasn't paid for a poem until my early 30's, but I had my first poem accepted by Bricolage, the University of Washington's literary journal when I was 21.

Poems sold: (aka "accepted & published") Approx. 127 (not including poems that have been reprinted

Year I first published a book: 2003 (a chapbook, my full collection was 2004)

Books published or delivered and in the pipeline: 2 published book (Geography & Small Knots), 1 mss currently being submitted, 1 mss in process and partial complete, 1 children's story I need to submit

Number of titles in print: 2

Age now: 39

Not in the Christmas Spirit

This article on WikiHow made me laugh today- Passive Aggressive Gift Ideas for Annoying People

The wooden spoon was pretty funny given that there are a few firefighters I know who have the nickname "Spoon" because "they like to stir things up..."

There may possibly be a poem in the last part about the negative meaning of flowers (remember yellow roses for friendship?), this list has some other interpretations--

Hydrangea - heartlessness, frigidity, vanity
Narcissus - egotism
Pennyroyal - escape
Winter cherry - deception
Carnation - disdain and rejection

Hopefully you'll just wrap a little tolerance and forgiveness for the annoying people in your life, but if want a little something else, perhaps a bouquet of nothing special or a box of see you next year.


*

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reading Tonight! Port Townsend, WA

I forgot to mention, if you're around Port Townsend tonight at 7, stop by the Northwind Gallery as I'm doing a reading there with some other great writers and poets like Jennifer Culkin, Holly Hughes, Judith Kitchen and Stan Rubin.

It's a free event and there will be snacks!

Holly-Daze

So how's your holiday season?

Mine has been a little busier than usual, which I both like and don't like. I've enjoyed the festive activities I've been doing, but I don't like that feeling of too busy.

My goal in life is to never be that person who is overly busy. The crazy woman at the market who when you ask how she's doing lists off 50 things on her list. I want to be the woman who when you ask how I am will say, "Fine" or "Perfect" then ask how you are doing. I want to be able to have a 20 minute conversation with you near the satsuma oranges because I don't need to rush off and be somewhere else.

I have never confused being busy with being important. I dislike busy. While I love to have projects I'm working on (particularly writing projects), I dislike that feeling of overwhelmed or too many projects or the "I'm just taking things on to make life pass or because If I slow down I'll have to deal with the real issues in my life." I don't want to be busy for the sake of being busy.

So I struggle with that this time of year and usually, busy is just a week or two at the beginning of December, when everyone hosts their cookies exchanges, holiday get-together or ornament parties. Then next week, the calendar goes not necessarily blank, but there are days and days of nothing. A friend will ride the ferry to visit me and we will write in my Poetry Barn that has been waiting for me to find it again. I will volunteer at the school and take a yoga class. And things will return to a way of life I am happier with, the reason I left my corporate job 11 years ago to live here with less money, more time. I will return to my life where I can be active but not over-active, whelmed but not overwhelmed, engaged but not over-engaged.

These days with so many things trying to get our attention, it can be hard just to sit still. One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to get a good book, some cocoa, cinnamon toast, and a soft blanket and curl up in front of the fire and Christmas tree and just read. When my family follows and I look to see them around me with their books, this is my definition of a rich life.

Or just doing nothing with people I love tops my to-do list. Pulling out the Christmas videos-- Elf, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, and just spending the evening hanging out with popcorn, Junior Mints, and Christmas cookies. I have a list of Christmas movies I like to watch this time of year-- A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. All of them except, Frosty the Snowman, as the talking snowman has always freaked me out.

These are my favorite things this time of year. It can be hard to find while being tangled up in lights or lost in a crowd of shoppers. Even when our Christmas tree looks as if its been decorated by monkeys (our cat fell into it and my daughter has been using it to hide toys in), the craziness of the outside world, almost makes the inside world of my house that much more relaxing and while my Christmas decorations make my home have its own personal chaos and create a series of questions I'm unable to answer (why is Santa in the manger? Who lined up all the Nutcrackers in the hallway? Why does the dog have a snowman tied to his collar?) it also reinforces to me that what I really need doesn't come wrapped in box.


*

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Confession Tuesday

It's been another week and confessions are popping up on blogs to remind you that it's Tuesday. This is the morning edition to midday edition to late night of confession Tuesday. I sometimes think my morning and late night editions offer a little more than the confessions typed at lunchtime. I think we're more likely to share our secrets as the sun is breaking or turning in for the night. I've never been good at keeping secrets until I got older. I sometimes wonder if this is just a matter of forgetfulness and not maturity. My confessions for the week--

Strangers have been doing random acts of kindness to me this week-- a free bag of gingerbread cookies at the bakery (I tried to pay for them and she said no), the waitress at a Greek restaurant brought my husband and I out free dessert, and a stranger poured me hot apple cider when she learned I was cold. All these acts have warmed me. Of course, I'm supposed to be doing my 3 good deeds, so they've also reminded me I need to get on the ball.

There will always be women who still act as if they are in high school. Remember, it's not you, it's them.

I think the best Christmas present I can give others is to try to be more patient.

My best Christmas present I could be given would be if an editor emailed me to take my second mss.

I have been so busy lately that today I felt as if I was actually spinning in circles in my house. As someone who prides herself on *not* being overly busy, I've just had to deal with this and realize it is temporary and that next week I will not be so overloaded.

But, the things that I've been doing have been pretty fun.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Congrats to the NEA Winners!

Here's the full list

How very cool! Some of my favorite people received NEA grants-- Aimee Nezhukumatathil, C. Dale Young, and Sam Green (our first state Poet Laureate!)

Also, Bob Hicok received one (though I don't know him but love his work).

Congrats to all winners!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

I have much to confess around the sin of gluttony, Thanksgiving, reader. I ate more pie than anyone else. I confess. I confess to throwing a small tantrum when I couldn't find the leftover stuffing, what was I do to without the stuffing? Reader, sometimes I am ruled by my stomach.

So let's begin...

Off with the Hippo's Head (again) --

I wrote a long ranty post about the prices of kid's toys and how corporate America tries to make you feel as if you're missing something by not owing their product, or make your kids feel as if they are missing out. It was long and cranky. It talked about simple living. Opting out of the lifestyle that suggests you must upgrade often. It talked about how poorly made things were (there were some harsh words against today's Hungry Hungry Hippos game vs. the one from the 70's that actually worked without falling apart.)

But I deleted this post because I realize it was really my morning pages from Artist Way and not really a post. It was a rant. And I wanted to spare you my speech from my soapbox.

I think you already know that kid's toys are WAY TOO PRICEY and commercials just want you to feel bad about yourself so you buy something...that will probably break, or be lost, or not work, or work well enough. And you can see how this confession is moving toward rant, so I will stop and say that when the commercialism of the season gets you down and your kids (if you have kids) ask for some overpriced toy you can't afford, smile knowing you only have 23 days of this and then it's gone.

*

Okay, that said, the rest of Christmas I love. I have my tree up. I'm eating chocolate out of Advent calendar. I'm singing Christmas carols in the house, in the car. I love Christmas movies especially Elf, A Christmas Story, and Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. And this may surprise you, but I also like presents. Thoughtful presents though, not expensive presents. My best presents would be a new wonderful pillow (my dream present) one that doesn't get flat and hurt my neck. Or new PJs or yoga pants. Or a book. Or a drawing someone took the time to make for me or a note.

I just don't like it when companies tell me my life is not as good as it should be because I'm wearing the wrong pants or my cellphone doesn't organize satellites by country.

Don't believe commercials. Or ads. Or magazines. Or reality shows. Believe the sunrise and the first bite of your breakfast. Believe the "I love you's" that are said spontaneously. Believe that first blast of cold air (or warm air if you're Jeannine in Southern Cal) and how the clouds look (or don't look) and let whatever birds are in your neighborhood tell you that life is just fine. Just fine with your old computer and your blackberryless phone. Believe that the best things in life aren't things.

See I so want to rant. I'm holding back.

*

More confessions--

I ate more than my fair share of pumpkin pie this weekend. And whipped cream. I didn't mention the whipped cream.

We ended up with two turkeys for Thanksgiving. One we cooked ourselves, and one smoked turkey purchased impulsively by my mum who never believes we will have enough to eat.

Every year we put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. And usually sometime in December there is an accident and the tree falls over (our family tradition). I was talking to Jeannine last year on my phone when fell over that time.

I still have to come up with my 3 good deeds for my family's Christmas gift to each other. On Thanksgiving, new rules were being created like "the person you're doing the good deed for can't know that it's you." I said this with cause us all to have to dress up in a disguise or costume if we were going to do any volunteer work or give any donations. The goal is not to frighten the people we're helping. So we're remaining open on this one, but if we can remain anonymous, then we'll try to.

I don't want to overthink my deeds and most likely, will just do them when they come up, but I do want them to be thoughtful. I really don't want to be the one at the dinner table on Christmas day saying that my good deed was that I let someone merge in front of me on the freeway with honking obnoxiously at them or that I made sure I put the little red flag up for the mail lady. This is my fear--that I won't come up with something *good,* so I won't do anything.

Sometimes this is how life works. We're so afraid of screwing up that we just sit there and do nothing. Sometimes it's just better to try and see what happens. I will. Try that is.

And I promise my good deed will not be deleting my commercialism rant so you didn't have to read it. Because as I look back, I got a lot of down here. I confess, I may have snuck in a mild rant disguised as a confession. Forgive me. I thought you might agree.

And here's a challenge-- do 3 good deeds this month. Or at least one. To anyone. At anytime. And it doesn't matter if they can see you or know you. Help someone with their groceries. Buy and extra bag of pasta and drop it in the Food Bank bin at the front of the store. Smile at someone you would never smile at or who looks like they need a smile. Write a letter to a friend you haven't seen in while. Leave an old book at a bus stop with a note that says "Enjoy."

And drop me a note (kelli (at) agodon. com) about what happens. Or leave a note in the comment section about what you did . I'm curious about how it all works out.



*

Monday, December 01, 2008

In the News Today...

News Flash: We're Officially in a Recession--

Um, duh. Thanks CNN, but the rest of us without the cash flow...we've heard.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Weekend Informal Haiku

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes
missing from the fridge.
I have eaten too much.


*

Times Online Poetry Contest! Vote!

My friend Susan Rich has a poem in an online Poetry Competition on the TIMES ONLINE. It's a wonderful poem called "Different Places to Pray" and I think it's the best of all the poems showcased there.

Here's the first line to peak your interest:
Everywhere, everywhere she wrote; something is falling –

Anyway, it's sort of the American Idol version for poets meaning, we do the voting. And if she wins, it's $2000 Euros! A pretty nice deal.

Susan's poem was selected from about 3000 poems.

So, if you'd like to read her poem in full and help out a fellow poetry friend, go to The TIMES ONLINE to vote. You have to register, but it only takes a few minutes and once you register just go back to the webpage and you can vote for "Different Places to Pray" (you don't have to wait for them to send you a notificiation, which is what I tried to do.)

I had not heard about this contest, but wow, those Euro countries can be very good to their poets! What a nice prize!

Oh and PS you have to vote before the 5th of December.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Winners!!

Okay, I put all your names on slips of white recycled paper and had my daughter draw 3 names for the NORTON PC TUNE-UP SERVICE.

Here's the names she drew--

Elisa G.
Eric S.
Sara T.

CONGRATS! Email me with your mailing address at kelli (at) agodon.com

and I'll mail out your gifts to you (+ a free broadside too!)

Thanks for playing!

Do you Google?

Well, if you do, you may want to consider using this as your search engine: Good Search

I just learned about this yesterday and I think it's a pretty cool idea.

You choose your charity and each time you search for something they donate to your cause.

You can also use Good Shop when you buy your Christmas Gifts this year and each of the companies you shop through (they have companies like Amazon, Apple, BestBuy, the Gap, iTunes, Target, ToysRUs, etc.) will donate a certain percent of their profit to whatever organization you choose from their list of approved organizations and there are THOUSANDS of good organizations listed from the Human Society to Habitat for Humanity, and you can search by state or name of the charity.

If we're going to spend the money anyway when we shop, we might as well make sure someone else will get something good from it and it all adds up, every little bit helps.

And I like the idea of these large corporations giving back to the community. I think it's an important thing to let corporations know with our wallets, we like the ones who share their earnings best.

*

Submitting & Search Words

Submissions & Rejections--

Just received two rejections, one from the Kenyon Review & one from Smartish Pace. No other poetry news whatsoever.

Of course, I have been very bad about submitting my work this year. And I'll give you a hint about getting acceptance-- you tend to get more acceptances when you submit to more places. Imagine! This seems to be a lesson I do not learn to well because I love to write and dread submitting. Not the rejections, I don't mind those, just the act of putting poems together or printing them out and sending them away.

Just writing that makes me sound like a wimp. Really, it's not as hard as I make it seem. It's not really. Put poems in envelope, add stamp.

But for some reason when I start to submit my mind says, "Well, where are you going to submit to?"
And I think, "I'm not sure."

The my mind says, "Well, what will you submit?"
And I think, "I'm not sure."

And my mind continues and says, "You don't sound like you know what you're doing, maybe you should sit down and write a poem, that would feel better."
And I think, "Yes, perfect! That's what I'll do." And another day passes.

But submitting is part of the job. Maybe in January we could start a submitting club by email and for 2 months, we'll each submit a packet a week (or whatever our goal is) and we have to be accountable to each other weekly. I have a group I check in with but our dates can about 3 months in between and sometimes to make my goals I will submit 5 packets of poems the morning of our meeting. And while that is good, I'd rather try to be a little more consistent. Anyway, this is just me thinking out loud, maybe others would be interested in this.

* * *

Search words--


I'm always interested in the terms people have used to find my blog. There are always a good number of searches for Apple Brown Betty and all the poor people looking for the real Book of Kells who end up here. This blog has also been found by More Pancakes Chilly (a reference to one of my favorite cartoon scenes with Chilly Willy--more pancakes, more butter...)

I'm still trying to figure out when I typed in "aquafina water harold" which I have no idea what it relates to. But I was also found with Seattle Poetry Club and the odd but intriguing phrase "I hope you too."

My favorite keyword search was when someone found my blog by googling "Oprah puppet." No one has googled that for a while, but maybe now, since it's Christmas time, we'll get some hits on that. I'll let you know.

Until then, I hope you too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gratitude Journal

In a week of Thanksgiving, here are a few things I am thankful for in my life and in the world--


1) Cell phones-- I have complained about them, been annoyed with drivers on them, revolted against them, rolled my eyes at loud talkers on them, but in an emergency, I praise them and the inventors of them.

2) Space Heaters

3) Brie

4) People who are trying their best

5) compassion

6) My family (though they may not be pleased that came 3 spaces after "brie"-- sorry, I'm a little hungry tonight, nothing personal).

7) Lower gas prices

8) Finding new ways to celebrate Christmas

9) electric blankets

10) my pets

11) books

12) This American Life

13) Christmas music ! (Though the fam has boycotted listening to it until after Thanksgiving).

14) The movie Elf & A Christmas Story

15) Honest and open people


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So You Like Christmas Gifts, but Your Family Has Decided to Give 3 Acts of Kindness for Christmas....

Well sign up for a literary SECRET SANTA!!

HTML GIANT has announced their

First Annual Secret Santa Gift Exchange to support independent literature.


Visit the website and send them your name & mailing address. They will set you up with another to exchange literary gifts with-- a book, a subscription to a journal, you decide... How Secret English Major Santa is that?

Again, here's the link.

I signed up, I'd like to open at least one present to open this year. ;-)

Signed,
occasional member of the Material Girl Club
who also likes to do random acts of kindness

Late Night Confession Tuesday

Dear Readers,

It's been a week since my last confession, a week and a crazy weekend I am thankful turned out the way it did. Almost Thanksgiving. Almost. There will be some gratitude journals here this week, I promise. And the drawing for that Norton PC Tuneup Service as well. I'll even throw in a broadside from the Making of Peace series I edited.

But back to confessing...let me begin.

Thank you all who dropped me notes about my the mall shooting and my daughter being at a birthday party there when it happened. I appreciated each of them very much. I confess my little blog post was a little reserved, a little reflective, but honestly, I was scared in ways I have never been scared before, as a parent, I had never seen danger close to my daughter. Never seen danger in the same room and not have been there.

Know when it was happening, I could have very easy fallen apart. But I didn't. Fall. Apart. And for me, someone who keeps anxiety near her nightstand, that was a big. I don't want you to believe I have it all together. I don't. I'm not even close to having it all together, but for that moment when I needed to, I did. I had it together enough.

I am someone who can create docu-dramas in my mind of things that never happen, things that would be horrific if they happened, that part of me that wakes me up when I'm sleeping, asks, "What have you forgotten?" But I guess, this real moment where I had to wait, where something terrible could have happened, has slapped my free-floating anxiety around. In fact, I've watched a lot of normal anxiety evaporate, all those imagined seas I swam have dried up a little, and I don't know how long this will last, if it will last, but is a reminder to me that we are all stronger than we think we are.

I'm beginning to believe the demons we can create in our minds are a thousand times scarier than real life, even in the worst of times, I think creative imaginations can be harmful when they make us live in worlds that don't exist, and we live like they exist.

So thank you for your notes. For asking, "Where you terrified?" Yes. For saying how worried you would be. For knowing how worried I was.

*
Here Let Me Show You My Hand Before I Give You My Heart--

Jeannine looked at my second manuscript and said I had ordered the poems in a sort of self-protection fashion, I thought that was probably the most insightful thing anyone has ever said about my manuscript.

And I'm going to try to reorder them and not protect myself as much.

*

Alternative to the Material Girls Club--

We're not buying Christmas gifts this year for the adults in our family, only the kids. Our gift to each other is to do 3 acts of kindness from now until Dec. 25, each act to be determined by each of us alone.

On Christmas day we will share the 3 things we did. I'm going to try to do something for a stranger, something for someone I know, and something for a group. We'll see how it all works out. We're discussing the details of this "exchange" on Thanksgiving.

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What's my blog personality? Oprah's Favorite Things Meets June Cleaver

I got this blog personality type via PoetMom via Avoiding the Muse: C. Dale Young.


Here's the personality they give my blog:


The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

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My blog is never planning ahead. I knew that's my Capricorn self gets annoyed with it.

If you want to see what your blog is saying about you go here: http://www.typealyzer.com/

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Faith

Yesterday there was a shooting at Southcenter Mall in Washington. This isn't anything new. There has been shootings at this mall before. It's nowhere near where I live, but we will sometimes drive the hour and half + to get there for birthdays because there's a Rainforest Cafe there. Anything that happens at this mall rarely has an immediate effect on my life and I can count the number of times we go there on one hand. The difference was that yesterday, my daughter was at a birthday party at this mall.


Being a parent brings out the realization that we can't be with your kids 24/7 and if we were, I'm not sure how healthy that would be for anyone. There are times when they are off without you and you have keep in faith in your pocket that they will return safely and that nothing will happen.


Yesterday watching the "breaking news" story unfold about the mall shooting and knowing my daughter was at the mall was a surreal nightmare on a day of Apple Cup football and cinnamon rolls. Not being able to get a hold of the cellphone of the mom who was with her was a snapshot of how I imagine purgatory. Strange things on the news would give me faith that everything was all right. "A teenage boy was shot in a scuffle," rearranged itself into the message, "It wasn't your daughter." "It might be gang-related" became "This was not a mass killing with a gunman randomly shooting."


When I finally got a hold of the mom, she was in the theatre's bathroom in the mall. They were safe and under lockdown at the movie. In fact, they were watching the end of the movie Bolt then would wait for police to escort them out. The girls were all fine and actually, only one girl was a little nervous about what was happening. I learned later that my daughter was just thrilled she got a buy a giant pretzel at the concession stand while they waited.


I was thankful to hear they were all okay, even more thankful to talk to my daughter via cellphone on her drive back (btw, on the phone she mentioned nothing about the shooting or being locked in the theatre and in fact went on about Pokemon figures her friend had received for her birthday and a puppy they had seen). I was truly thankful to finally pick her up at the friend's 5 hours later from when I first heard the "Breaking News" story, when I first thought, My God, please let her be safe.

As a writer, I find I can create in my mind a bazillion terrible tragedies if I let myself. While I am pretty optimistic in nature, there is another part of me that can see danger looming around any corner. As parents now, we are constantly being made aware of every danger, every scary thing that could happen to our children. We "child-proof" our homes. We cover the corners on our coffee table with soft sticky foam so they don't bump their head if the fall. But we can't keep our kids locked up from a world that scares us (as much as we may want to keep them in a plastic bubble). I have lived long enough to know there are corners throughout this world, corners we will never be able to cover so we just have to say our prayers and set them out into the world and hope they do not bump into them.


So, I know what I will be giving thanks for this Thanksgiving week, that all of our loved ones arrive safely and that while this world has its treacherous moments, when we look out windows I hope we don't see a world where tragedy happens, but a world where we can be sometimes be near danger and still be okay.


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Giveaway - Free Norton PC Tune-up Service for your computer


So here's what happened.

I bought my laptop about 2 years ago, but I'd noticed lately it was running slow and not very well. Youtube videos would occasional stall. The internet had become a slow walk down a long trail. We had been thinking about buying a new computer, but I just bought this 2 years ago and the idea of having to replace it so soon was well, upsetting and even worse, expensive.

My husband started looking into computer places where I could bring my computer in for a clean up, the problem with this was 1) it was pricey 2) I'd lose use of my computer for a week. In some cases they would actually send it out, which doesn't work for me as writer who needs her computer.

A couple weeks ago I received an email from MomCentral looking for people to review a new product called Norton PC Tune-up Service. I sounded exactly what my laptop needed so I contacted them to let them know my laptop had issues, big issues, and I'd be more than happy to try this out. Honestly, I really didn't know what to expect, but I have a Norton Antivirus so I trusted the company and figured I had nothing to lose.

They sent me a card with a 1-800 number on to call and someone with a zillion times more computer-smarts than me answered the phone. Basically, this gentleman accessed my computer via the internet and began to clean things up. I kid you not. It was pretty cool to watch him move from place to place on my computer fixing things to make my computer run faster. Seriously, it was as if he was inside my computer and moving around, I was the interested observer and didn't have to follow instructions except an occasional "press the continue button" when my Norton Antivirus swung into gear.
While thankfully I didn't need it, he also checked to make sure I didn't have any spyware or viruses and also told me what I could do forward to keep my computer at top speed. Also as a bonus, he allowed me to ask any questions without making me, the less tech-savvy gal, feel dumb.

The whole process was quick and painless. It took less than 30 minutes and I was left with a computer that hasn't run this well since I bought it.

Anyway, here's where you come in.

The fine people at Norton gave me THREE of these Norton PC Tune-up Services to giveaway to you to try. The service normally costs $69.95, but I will send you one of these gift cards you'll be able to clean up your computer from your home for free! All you need is a phone and internet service and they can help you out.

If you want to look at the service in detail, you can go here.

I think this is the greatest thing for writers as we can't risk sending our computers and I know many of us have slow laptops that need a fix.

So, if you're interested in trying a Free Norton PC Tune-Up Service yourself, leave your name in the Post Comments section of this post and I'll collect them for the next several days and I'll do a drawing for three of you on Wednesday the 26th after 5 p.m. PST.

You do not have to have a blog account either to be in the drawing. Just leave me your name and last name or last initial in your post (I have it set so it takes anonymous posts) and you're in the drawing. If you win, you can contact me with you mailing info afterwards and I'll send one out to you.


So, how's that for sharing a good thing. I'm thankful to Norton for allowing me to share this with you. So if you're interested, drop me a note in the comments section and cross your fingers that you win!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coming soon...

If you're checking back for the giveaway, I'll be posting about that this weekend. Promise.

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If you haven't heard, Mark Doty won the National Book Award. I was kind of hoping for Patricia Smith to win (author of Blood Dazzler), but Mark was a very close second. So my congratulations to them both. And to all the nominations. I love to see poets recognized for their good work.

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I just received my copy of Sojourn and I have a poem in it called "Sleeping with the Magician." Though I haven't well, slept with a magician. But a girl can dream and I guess a few of us do because Nin Andrews has a fantastic book called Sleeping with Houdini and I've read a few other female poets (Marjorie Manwaring for one) who have magician poems.

(Writing exercise: If you haven't written a poem about a magician, do so now. And extra points--if you're a man, write about a female magician and you are the male magician's assistant.)

Anyway, Sojourn is accepting poems until Dec 31 and I recommend them. It's a great looking journal (with full color art images inside) as well as fine work from other poets and writers. So give it a shot.

I'm off to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Late Night Confession Tuesday...

Sorry to have been away, I can't really tell you what happened to the week, but it went missing and even today passed quickly. But I am here, Dear Reader, and it's been 14 days since my last confession (I opted out last week for Veteran's Day), so let's begin before Tuesday is officially tomorrow...


Confessional doors opening...


I just finished mailing out the Pushcart Prize letters to six of the contributors of Crab Creek Review. It's my favorite part of being an editor, being able to say, "Not only did we love your poem enough to publish it, but we want to give it a tiara to wear." I won't say who these poets/writers are yet, but when they wake up, they'll know.

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My emotions have been off this week, so there are two realities--my reality and the actual reality which is much better than what I'm seeing through my anxiety-filled lenses. I don't know if your emotions can color your life, but mine can take a rose-tinted day and turn it blue. Sometimes I wonder if this is just a girl-thang.

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I have something to give away in the next few days. Really, I'm not kidding. An actual item that could help you or your laptop (that's your only clue). I have three of these items. I rarely have neat things to give away on Book of Kells, so I'm going to keep the surprise going for a bit. Just check back daily because as I said, I'll be giving these away in the next few days. Maybe I'll give one more clue-- if you have a computer that is running slow, you'll want to pay extra attention.

Now to decide how to give them away!

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I like having surprises.

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I find the late night version of confession Tuesday makes me sleepy. Maybe there is where I'll say my Amen.


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Revising...

I've been revising lately, poems, fundraising letters, my life.

I've revised my caffeine intake, but refuse to reduce my chocolate consumption. I think life needs to be enjoyable, I cannot live on sugar-free pies or organic cauliflower. I am not one who feels proud for sacrificing dessert or passing on something I want for fear my cupcake hips will be a little tight in my blue jeans tomorrow.

As for poems, I've returned way back into the files to pull out poems I started a year ago, or longer. When these poems arrive on my screen, it can be like looking at a photo of myself. Maybe I don't remember where I was when it was taken. Maybe I can't quite determine what I was trying to do. This distance helps me determine if this is a poem with possibility. Of course, all poems have possibility, but some more so than others. Some are ready to perform, while others reach for the remote and fall tiredly onto the couch.

I was surprised and not surprised to see I've been writing the same poem for much of the last two years. I am my own Li-Young Lee, writing poem over and over. In my case, while death and loss will sometimes place a part in it, there is also this underlying idea of trying to find balance, trying to find calmness in a chaotic world.

My second manuscript focuses on this idea a lot. How can we stay calm when the world is falling apart? I don't think I have the answer and perhaps, this is why I keep returning to this idea. Through my words and poems, I am searching for it.

I'm always interested in what writers are obsessed about. And many times I think people with obsessive personalities make the best writers and poets because they dig deep into ideas, subjects, stories that others just gloss over.

When I see a child who is obsessed with one toy or one subject such as dinosaurs or butterflies, I wonder if they will grow up to be an artist. Or maybe they are the next scientist in our world. I do believe scientists are poets in their own way, focusing in on the details of one thing.

I have more revising to do, in both my life and in my poems. I don't think I'll ever be done with either one and that is both haunting and comforting to me. But it's good to look at your life and determine what is working. Just as it is to dig back into old poems to see if there's something that surprises you, the "I wrote that?" moment. Sometimes the best future poems come from the poems we have forgotten, the things we let pass.


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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Confession Tuesday - Veteran's Day



I'm going to skip Confession Tuesday today in honor of Veteran's day.

My thanks to the men and women who serve this country in the military and my prayers that they can have a safe return.

Also, in memory of two veterans I loved--

Gale A. Russell, WWII Navy
and Bert Baker, POW WWII



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Monday, November 10, 2008

Crab Creek Review Reading in Seattle

We had a great reading in Seattle on October 22 for Crab Creek Review. You can view the photos from the event here.

It was an incredible night! I want to personally thank Nin Andrews, Barbara Crooker, Tom C. Hunley & Steel Toe Books (Jeannine Hall Gailey & Mary Biddinger's press!), Jenifer Lawrence, Holly Hughes, and novelist Jennie Shortridge, along with all the editors (Annette Spaulding-Convy, Lana Ayers, Jeannine Gailey,& Ronda Broatch) all who donated books to help with our raffle. People were thrilled to get their books and we enjoyed being able to showcase such incredible writers.

Just so you know, if you write fiction, we have a fiction contest open right now that doesn't hasn't received a lot of submissions. If you're interested, you can check out the guidelines here. The deadline is Nov 30, 2008.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Seattle's Poetry Scene Will Get a Bit More Bare...

If you remember, my last interesting poetry event in Seattle was the poets who yelled, "I love you" while people ran around Greenlake. Now, we need to get our best bods on for some white bikinis...in December.

If you're Seattle on the 13th...I'd love to watch this from the cheap seats--

POETRY POLAR BEAR CLUB
Noon, Saturday 13 December, Green Lake Bath House

A group of brave souls in WHITE POETRY BIKINIS will take the plunge
for poetry this December! BrrrRR, oh yes, that includes me. I'm
looking for 25 hardy individuals to join me. I'll also need a host of
happy, warm, noN-bikini VOLUNTEERS to bear witness, hand out towels
and take pictures. Are you willing to wear a white poetry bikini? I'll
also need some Polar Bear POETRY written just for the occasion-- got
something suitable? Bring your daring derriere down to the lake on 13
December. Wow, get a loaD of those PoeMs, heh!

This will be a frequent-shopper, heart-stopper, one-of-a-kind event--
right here in sunny Seattle. If you have a derriere, poem or thermos
of cocoa to contribute, contact me at: mimiallin (a) gmail.com

With love from the desk of guerilla poet & public instigator,
A. K. "Mimi" Allin

"Putting the O back in pOetry"

Putting Away the Signs

I was looking at my blog, so full of the election and now it's over. Everyone is moving on (while I'm still pinching myself to make sure it wasn't a dream). I realized I have voted in 6 presidential elections, always for a democrat, so this is only the 3rd time ever my guy has won. No to Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry. I've only won 2x with Clinton & now Obama. I feel like the girl who wants to keep reliving the final touchdown, wants to keep watching the game and reliving the victory. But I won't. I'll return to my poetry, my life without CNN or MSNBC (though I will definitely not leave Rachel Maddow, my new favorite everything).

I see the streamers coming down and the confetti being swept away. There's a lot of work to be done. There's a lot of people out there that need help and the economy is a big bowl of mess. I trust though we will all get through the hard times and I have more trust that it will eventually work itself out now that we have this new administration coming in. I also think that it comes down to little things we each can do for each other. Pay attention to the people around you, see how they are doing.

Since the holiday season is coming here are two of favorite organizations I recommend to give gifts from--

www.kiva.org
(KIVA)
***One of my absolute favorite organizations. I will again be giving gift certificates from here to family and friends. You loan people around the world money for their business (which can range from cattle to clothing sales in Mexico).

WWF (no not World Wrestling Federation) but World Wildlife Federation. This is always fun for kids too because you can "adopt" pretty much any kind of animal in the world from frogs to polar bears.

And of course, don't forget your local food banks and local organizations.

I'll now return to my poetry blogging with the occasional political announcement as opposed to politics with a little poetry. I've been sleeping well these last two nights, now it's time to warm up the Poetry Barn again and see if there is anything to say.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New Day

This song by Curtis Mayfield has been running through my head for the last two days so I went onto YouTube to hear it and found this.




The Superman image made me smile.

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It's been an emotional twenty-four hours for me. I had not realized how much this would affect me. Yes, I knew I'd be ridiculously happy if Obama won, but I don't think I realized until it happened how much the historical element of it would move me. Seeing Jesse Jackson crying in the crowd brought tears to my own eyes and hearing Barack Obama announced as our 44th president of the United States is something I'll never forget. And just like my father did during the first moon walk, I photographed the television (while my family laughed and cheered, I photographed the images that were coming over the screen) almost as if I needed proof, I needed to remember I saw history happen.

And this morning when I woke up and checked to the news to make sure Obama was still president and this wasn't a dream or a miscount (something my husband teased me about this all day), I completely broke down in both joy and relief and being proud that the majority of voters in this country saw what I saw in this fine candidate and moved towards it.

My husband tried to explain the significance to our daughter when she saw a woman on the television on the ground crying after Obama was announced president. I loved that my daughter didn't understand what the big deal was. I loved that she sees us, a white mother and a Filipino father and thinks this is the norm. I love that in her eyes, she has no idea that there is anything unusual about a black man being elected president, that her crazy mom and dad are making a big deal out of nothing--of course he was elected, he has the better ideas.

And I love that right now, babies are being born and in their world, this is the norm, this is a given. I hadn't really thought about it until Obama was elected. I didn't vote for Obama because of his race, I voted for him because of who he is and what he believes in. I voted for him because I wanted to live in a country where he was the leader, a smart, insightful person with a greater vision for all of us.

Whoopi Goldberg said that today was the first day she felt she could put her suitcase down and I don't think I've heard anyone say it better, she felt for the first time it was her America. And it is. It is her America, and it my daughter's America, and it an America for all of us, and I am so thankful to be able to say I was here to see it and be part of it. I didn't do much, I took the time to draw a line on my ballot and send it in, one person, one vote. But together, all of us flipping a switch or drawing a line, all of us, sixty two million small simple nods to a better world we made a difference.

I still think there is more we need to do, more people we need to accept for who they are, for all of us to be treated equally, no matter what we look like, where we live, or who we love. But this was a step forward. A big step and also a reminder that the smallest of acts can create the largest changes. Yes we can. Yes we will. Yes we did.
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