Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Here's a photo of the Lake Quinault Boathouse (pet-friendly/poet-friendly) where we stayed this week for our yearly trip. It's rumored to be haunted by a ghost named Beverly, as is the dining room.
I didn't have any ghost experiences, but did manage to freak out an eight and nine year old with my antics...
* * *
Kay Ryan in Newsweek (a pretty good article about our poet laureate)
* * *
I have been writing as much as I usually do.
A few reasons--
I've been reading a lot.
We're working on the next issue of Crab Creek Review.
I've been doing social things with friends.
I've been away.
I know that I will write and I have one poet friend who I email a lot and I do respond to his emails with poems in return. Sometimes those become keepers, many times they do not.
* * *
Joannie had a new way to track submissions and I'm off to watch that video.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I have never been to believe someone is better or more important just because they are known or famous, but it would ignorant of me not to see their effect on our culture and pop-culture. I know they each made an impression in my life (I was a teenager during the Thriller years and grew up in the 70's watching Charlie's Angels, buying Angel trading card packs at the store, and playing Charlie's Angels with my friends-- though I of course, always played Kelly, my friend Lisa (the lightest blonde) played Jill and no one ever wanted to be Sabrina... but Jenny had her hairstyle, so it defaulted to her.)
But back to the recent news...
I found this poem I wrote many years ago, I can't remember if it was published anywhere (if so, I'll find that out and list the journal), but I don't think it was.
So here it is for a couple days before it vanishes. This was my suburban neighborhood and my memories of growing up...
Growing up, every garage had her,
except ours. My father was older,
did not put up posters.
But the others, they kept her pinned
to their back wall, smiling.
She looked cold in her swimsuit
and I wondered how everyone’s dad
knew to choose the same poster,
that same look, that same bouncy hair
my girlfriends and I tried to recreate in the bathroom,
curling iron hot, burning our necks,
our fingers, our small ten-year-old hands
trying to hold the attention of boys.
- Kelli Russell Agodon
* * *
What I've read:
Bad Mother (recommend) Every chapter great except the penultimate chapter which is slightly preachy (?) or maybe just a big ol' happy kiss to Berkeley and the world-- it reminded me of how I might write bunch of "my husband is driving me crazy" poems and then stick in a "I love my husband poem" so no one thinks we're breaking up. This chapter does a similar thing, but in a "mom/woman in the community" way.
Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson (Recommended, but only get this if you like books where nothing happens- see Under the Tuscan Sun)
Jennifer Culkin's new memoir/essays: A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care (highly recommend, she's a friend of mind and is a fantastic writer!)
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (Just finished! Recommend - the only part I didn't enjoy was the details on if there was cheating in sumo wrestling, but I understood its relevence to the rest of the book)
Outliers, The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: (kind of recommend, but would recommend BLINK above this)
***Here's the deal with this book, I will summarize and save you the time from hearing story after story that prove the same thing. The reason people are successful has to do with their hard work (or time they've devoted to a particular thing-- 10,000 hours seems to be his magic number) and circumstances of their life (i.e. Bill Gates was the perfect age when the computer revolution began and he had his 10,000 from his work at his HS private school (Lakeside) computer and from his time using the UW computers). Really, that is the same point he hammers home with each story.
Don't get me wrong, it's an interesting read and I learned something, but about midway through the book, I stopped learning and instead became just the listener saying, "I get it. I get it."
What I'm Currently Reading
Engulf Your Family in Flames: David Sedaris (so far interesting, but not crazyfunny like his other books and I keep forgetting to go back to it.)
Madness: A Bi-Polar Life by Marya Hornbacher - I zipped through pages 1-100, but 100-165 were rather tedious with the same "I'm drinking all the time, taking/or not taking meds, and manic." One problem, to which the author admits, is that she doesn't remember much during these manic times, so as a reader, it felt as if I was hearing the same vague story again and again like in Outliers, I wasn't learning anything new.
Her writing is strong and her life is interesting, but the middle does not equal what the first 100 pages gave me. I'm in the last section and hoping it reads more like the beginning. I will let you know. As I said, I could not put this book down when I first began it.
Stranger Than Fiction True Stories by Chuck Palahniuk: So far, I love it. But I'm a Chuck fan. We'll see if he's able to pull me through to the end. As you see, I've had a few issues with many of these books in the middle. Oh, how to sustain your work, it's something we all work on.
What's on my list to read:
Womanomics (recommended by January)
Ka-Ching by Denise Duhamel The Seeker's Guide (I think it's called that)
Grayson: Just got it from the library ( in LARGE PRINT so it seems) and I forget who wrote it. Looks like an easy read, hope to have this finished by the end of the weekend.
I'm back from Lake Quinault Lodge, our yearly family trip. It was wonderful and poured one day (well, we were in the rainforest). It seemed we missed a windstorm and power outage at home. We came home to find our patio table umbrella on its side and our huge gas grill knocked over on our deck.
I'll post a couple photos from the trip. When I booked it, I asked for a "pet-friendly" room and the woman wrote in "poet-friendly," which was hilariously perfect. The whole lodge is poet friendly though. I sat on the big leather couch in the lodge by the fire and read Madness, while it poured outside. It reminded me how much I love fall (shhhh, don't tell anyone I said that, as summer just began...)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Author wins $138,000 ($100 Euros) from winning the International Impac Dublin Literary Award - Who knew there was such an award?
From the article...
"Even before the unexpected announcement came this month, Michael Thomas had enjoyed a run of good luck with “Man Gone Down,” his first novel...
“It lowers the stress of chasing money around and provides some time,” he said. “I can pay off whatever credit card debt I have and get off this high wire for a couple of years, and then start over again. As a friend told me, there is no down side to this: ‘You can’t find one, even you.’ ”
“Every opportunity I’ve had, I’ve either spurned or shunned or squandered through whatever kind of chip I’ve had, or rage or suspicion,” he added. “Whatever I feel, this is a new opportunity to be a part of things, and my way of being a part of things is writing. That’s my covenant.”
I confess I've been quite the procrastinator since summer began. Some of it's from a busy schedule, some of it's just laziness.
I confess I tuned into Jon & Kate plus 8 last night to see if they were getting a divorce. (They are, if it matters.)
I heard the author of the book Bad Mother (Ayelet Waldman) speak about how our culture is always looking for the next bad mother to point out to the masses. This time it's Kate from the J&K+8 show.
What's interesting is that if you're following the drama that has unfolded, it's been the husband, Jon, whose been caught with photos of being out with a 23 year old at 2 am leaving a bar, plus photos with other women, but Kate is getting blasted for worrying "too much about her career and not enough about the kids." Um, looking at those kids have last night, they seem kind of the opposite of neglected.
So, I'm not a fan of Kate or having 8 kids, but why does our culture always have to focus on "the bad mother?" According to Waldman, it's because we're all so insecure ourselves it's nice to have someone in the public eye to point out as the villian, that way if there's always someone worse than us, our jobs as parents can't be *that bad.*
Anyway, I confess I watched, but I confess I won't be watching again.
I confess I'm still in search of a new poet to love. Some of the recommendations I've received have come close, but I'm still waiting for cupid to pierce my heart.
I confess writing poetry (and submitting) is much harder in the summer.
I confess I'm working on a series of essays, or dare I say it "memoir" though I prefer "creative non-fiction" - on this year of relearning how to play the violin at age 40. I am telling you this so I will be accountable for it. Don't let me off the hook.
I confess I started the book Madness and can't put it down.
I confess it's hard for me to get close to people who are uncomfortable with their imperfections, who are afraid to be less than perfect, because my favorite people aren't afraid to share what's wrong in their life. I like it when people can be honest about the good and the bad and not worry about appearances.
I confess while I loved the first part of the book Outliers, the second part about the airplane crashes and why they happened has been a little tedious. Also, the author is kicking the dead horse on the "part of success is being born at the right time in the right place" theory. Yes, I get that, now tell me something I don't know.
It drives me crazy when I see pets left in cars on warm/hot days. Seriously, the owners haven't heard of the dangers about that? Sheesh.
Forgive me for glaring at the cashier who is a little too friendly to other women's husbands.
Forgive me for wasting the roasted chicken.
Forgive me for putting cinnamon rolls on my priority list and exercise on my TBA list.
Forgive me for thinking that flip-flops are appropriate for all dress occasions.
Forgive me eating all the Raisinettes at the movies. They were so good, so sweet, so mine.
I confess I'm all confessed out.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
My dad & me, circa 1974ish
My father later died in 1992, 3 months after I graduated college, six weeks after I returned from Europe and became engaged & one week after my future husband and I bought a house & set a wedding date. I swear, my dad waited until everything was set in my life before leaving (he had been ill for 4 years). Thanks, Dad. I still miss you. xoxo
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Bad Mother (recommend)
Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson (Recommended, but only get this if you like books where nothing happens- see Under the Tuscan Sun)
Jennifer Culkin's new memoir/essays: A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care (highly recommend, she's a friend of mind and is a fantastic writer!)
What I'm reading:
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt (75% completed , so far, recommend - the only part I didn't enjoy was the details on if there was cheating in sumo wrestling, but I understand its relevence to the rest of the book)
Engulf Your Family in Flames: David Sedaris (so far interesting, but not crazyfunny like his other books)
Outliers, The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: (just began, so far am enjoying)
What's on my list to read:
Womanomics (recommended by January)
Ka-Ching by Denise Duhamel
The Seeker's Guide (I think it's called that)
Madness: A Bi-Polar Life by Marya Hornbacher - I just checked this out from the library.
Money is always an interesting subject for me as so many people hate to talk about it or their own circumstances around it. So much of how we feel about money comes from our upbringing, but then we grow up and get our own thoughts about it.
I used to be much more cheap than I am, hoarding my money and was much less likely to share it or to buy something nice for myself. In my mind, it was my security blanket and helped me deal with my anxiety--if something bad happened, I'd be okay because I'd have money to pull from. The problem with this mindset is I lived my life expecting the worst (something I've done since I was a child & something I've been spending my adult life trying to get over), always waiting for the next tragedy. It is very hard to enjoy the moment or live for today believing pain and sadness is lurking behind the next corner.
So I've tried to come to a middle ground. To be good to myself in small ways-- buy the chocolate I love for an extra $1.50 than settle for the bag of M&Ms. Always have fresh fruit in the house. Always have enough money for a spontaneous dinner out or a nice bottle of wine and takeout. (I'm realizing as I type this, all my luxuries focus on food...) And maybe that's because when I was the poorest I ever was, in college, I couldn't afford food (and was too proud to tell my parents).
This was before grocery stores took VISA, so I used to go to Bartell Drugs and stock up on Top Ramen and whatever dry food I could find in their aisles. I would use my gas card (a bill my father was paying) too. I remember asking the gas attendant to disguise my blueberry muffin as gas (he did).
Now as a parent, I realize my parents would have probably wanted to know how broke I was and that I wasn't eating well, but back then, I just wanted to prove to the world I could make it on my own. And I did.
So yesterday I did something I haven't done before. At the grocery store, if you bought $25 worth of certain products, you received a $10 gift card for your next grocery purchase. Since I was already at $20 with these items (and they were all on sale for great prices), I decided to buy $5 more of other items to get my $10 gift card.
But what happened was, I didn't realize you couldn't just buy ANY product by that brand, but I needed to buy the specific product (for example, my 4 cups of Activa yogurt didn't count, but the big tub of Activa did...) When I got to the cashier to happily receive my $10 gift card, it didn't print out. She explained why and said, "You can return the items you bought and repurchase the correct ones." I had my daughter with me and had just spent a good hour in the store, did I really want to go to all that trouble for $10? And then it occurred to me. Yes, I did.
I must say, the cashier who returned my food then helped me repurchase it was completely understanding. She said, "Times are tough, we do what we can and each little bit helps." She's right. Small savings add up. Like cancelling our Netflix acct ($19 x 12 months = $228 - seriously, right now, I'm just paying to hold onto Little Miss Sunshine, we haven't watched a DVD in months and if we do, we tend to get the 99 cent new movies from RedBox).
So I guess I'm thinking smaller these days. How to save $ here and there. And it's helping.
* * *
When I was in 2nd grade, the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote down three things. A poet. Rich. A dental hygienist. (note: I never wanted to be a dental hygienist, I just used to say that because adults always seemed so impressed with my answer.) So that leaves me with "a poet" and "rich"
What I realize now as an adult that I never saw as a child, that "rich" has many different definitions. Even without a lot of disposable income, you can still be rich. And do we really want to "dispose" of our income? I feel rich in time, friendships, satisfaction, words, and connection.
But Tatyana asked this week on her blog:
When I say I want financial freedom, what exactly does Financial Freedom mean? Better yet, what does it look like?
It's a different question than asking "how are you rich?" It's dealing directly with the money thang.
She wrote a great list and I decided to write mine--
1) To never worry how much money we're spending on ferry tickets
2) To not feel guilty when I spend money on something that's not a "need"
3) To have enough to make a difference in others' lives
In certain ways, with the exception of #2, I feel pretty close to these. 1) The ferry tickets (it's now $14 to take the ferry to Seattle one way, so $24 round trip)--this one just happens, if we need or want to visit friends on the other side of the water, it just happens without the worry of cost and 3) is Kiva.org the organization that helps me make a difference in someone's life, one person at a time. So even without a lot of extra money to give, I can feel as if I'm making a difference in someone's life.
I wonder if I'll ever come to feel #2. There are some things I purchase and never look back on, but other times I feel as if that money could have gone to something more important... But I guess that's a judgment and could depend on how one is feeling at the time.
I think I could really have fun brainstorming on this list, like adding "being able to purchase art I can't afford right now" or "a house on the water," but what I realize is I guess that's not actually financial freedom for me, but just extras in life, which are great, but I'm realizing more and more that I need less and less.
It's that favorite quote-- The best things in life aren't things.
Yet, isn't this what our culture tries to make us believe?
For me feeling rich and financial freedom is #1,2,& 3 on the list, plus being able to choose if I want to pay people to do the things I don't want to do (i.e. pull out the blackberry vines, wash my highest windows, fold my laundry - okay, I really doubt I am ever going to get anyone to fold my laundry, but I realize it's my least favorite chore). But even just writing that makes me feel a little guilty.
I don't know, maybe I'll just always have the Forrest Gump feeling about money--there's only so much we need and the rest is just for showing off.
But I've been thinking more about it lately and I'm interested in how everyone is doing and what changes you've made (if any) to get by. (I wrote "to get buy" - and maybe that's true too.)
Anyway, just some $$ thoughts for the day, though honestly, as I write about this, I realize me and $$ have a funny, fuzzy relationship. Money is like cousin I love to have over and yet, he always worries me-- will he stay or go? And sometimes, he forgets to show up. And sometimes he arrives with a giant fruit basket. And sometimes we are writing letters to each other and enjoying each other's company never really thinking about each other, but just existing together. And sometimes he's standing on a cliff and I'm trying to reach for him. Sometimes he turns around and smiles at me and I am comforted, other times he jumps.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I am highly allergic to grass. Yep, regular grass--rye, wheat--you name it. All types of grass. My allergies last from late April until mid July. They peak around the July 4th. I'm thinking because we've had all these sunny days and 23 days of no rain, they are worse. My eyes are a mess and itch like crazy... even though I'm taking my prescription.
I get so annoyed when I start to read a book and there's a prologue. Just start already, don't go into background or try to get me set up. I have just started skipping them. If you can't write your prologue info somewhere in your book, don't include it. It's like going to a play and having the playwright come up and give you some information you might need to enjoy the play...no, just start the story, we'll catch up!
I think I'm crankier because my eyes itch.
I am wearing my new reading glasses as I type this.
I am also allergic to cockroaches.
I finished Bad Mother and recommend it except for chapter 17 which was a bit preachy or self-involved, but I guess that's what a memoir is, self-involved.
The only other thing that became annoying in the book was her constant referral to where she lives, "We're in Berkeley. We're in Berkeley." We get it, everyone is open-minded, non-racist, liberal, well-educated, diverse, gay-friendly, comfortable, happy, democrat, etc. etc. That was the only thing that was getting old. She seemed so honest about everything else, but set Berkeley up as this Utopian society where everyone gets along and while I'm sure there are many open-minded, wonderful people there, I always get a little worried one someone shares only the good stuff and not the bad.
I went mountain biking yesterday and crashed when a friend sort-of dared me to jump a log. I tend to believe my athletic abilities are just a little better than they actually are.
I think my allergies are so bad because of all my riding through the dust yesterday and going through trails of scotchbroom, though that is one thing I'm not allergic too--thankfully, because it's everywhere here!
I had my first ever violin recital on Saturday. I was one of 2 adults and we sort of looked like the musical version of "Elf" around the young kids. I played violin in grade school and high school, but was never any good (read: public school orchestra). I still don't know how I will ever master vibrato, but I will keep trying. After the recital they gave out awards (which I didn't realize they were doing) and I received a Level 2 tassel and I can't tell you how happy that made me.
I wish I had the extra money to buy a piano.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
We at RSR are proud to annouce that our first issue of the RSR online journal is available now at our new website, www.riverandsoundreview.org, featuring the best in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, humor, and more.
Our first issue includes work contributed by Peggy Shumaker, David Huddle, Anne-Marie Oomen, and Brian Doyle.
Stay tuned for more details, as we are soon to open the reading period for our 2009 Poetry Contest, including a $500 first place prize. More info can be found on our website.
Let us know what you think, and help us pass the word of our new journal.
Friday, June 12, 2009
while I wanted just "kelli" my fingers were not fast enough, my nickname "kells" was gone too, so I went with next best - kellia - which is both my first name plus my last initial as well we a nickname (Kellian is also a nickname, but I didn't want to use that as it looks like kelli-ian).
I almost used "sestina" and I considered "poetry" - I was going to use my full name but gawd, do I have a long name and I thought, if the goal of this new feature is to make it easy to give your nickname away, so kellia. And honestly, I have a pretty distinctive name, so I'm not too hard to find.
By the way, we were watching Ghostbusters at the time, and my husband and I came really close to getting "gatekeeper" and "keymaster." Though we would have had to coordinate that really well because I would have been annoyed if I got "keymaster" and he got "agodon."
Oh and there's a part of me that thinks eventually Facebook will allow people to change these names they chose.
Anyway, I know none of this really important in the big world picture, but it was kind of fun being in the first group of losers, I mean, Facebookers to get a name. ;-)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Facebook has unveiled it's new vanity ID plate package, that anyone with a Facebook page can be a name and instead of a number from now on.
Once you get a name, they are not transferable. You will be that name forever.
As someone without a tattoo for the exact same reason as I worry about my Facebook name, is --I change my mind-- a lot.
Right now, if I would have be been brave enough to get the tattoo I wanted in high school, I would have a pink flamingo standing next a giant surf board up my ankles.
Think Johnny Depp's "Winona Forever."
Women who have taken their husband's name (and I fall into this category) have it harder. We cannot see what the future holds. I know many people who thought they'd be married forever or they thought their husband would never die and then they find themselves at a different point in their life remarrying and having a new name, or going back to their maiden name. Do you want to see your ex or dead husband's last name every time you sign or link your Facebook page. You'd have to say, "You can find me under Carol Dierfildorf even though I'm now Carol LeBlanc because that was my first husband..."
If you have a common name, good luck. I hope you get something reasonable close to your name without having to add a bunch of numbers after it: www.facebook/johnsmith148093 If you have to do something like that, you might as well come up with something creative like:
My husband and I have talked about getting wedding band tattoos because wearing a wedding ring at his firefighting job is dangerous and well, honestly, I don't like to wear jewelry and mostly my wedding band is in a drawer. He has twice had his finger swell around it, dented it, and once got it caught in the hose. I do not want my husband's proof that 16 years ago he wore a tux (& me, a brocade dress that made me look as if I was a extra for Gone With the Wind) to hurt him, so we've thought about it.
I said, "Well, I could get "Rose" (his nickname) and then if we ever get divorced, I could get a "P" tattooed before it, so I'd be married to 'Prose.'" Problem solved. Sort of like how Pamela Anderson turned her "Tommy" tattoo into "Mommy."
Or is the problem solved? Am I too much of an unromantic and pessimistic to be thinking, "how naive am I to think I could have the same last name in 20 years..." Or am I being a realist by giving advice to married women with their husband's last name to be thinking-- maybe just use your first and middle name.
And while I don't plan on having my marriage breaking up (does anyone plan on their marriage breaking up), I am no psychic and who knows if in twenty years I'll be cursing my choices as a 40 year old.
Mostly, I already feel sorry for the younger generation who will choose names like "JonasBrothersForever" and "ZacEfronIsHot"
Or the ones whose first and last names don't look so great together-- Like poor Jonas Hitting (www.facebook.com/jonashitting) or Milo Serville (www.facebook.com/miloserville) I mean, who wants "loserville" in their name.
So maybe, make a list of your top 10 names or nicknames.
Here are some fallback names in case yours is taken (feel free to use at your leisure):
I definitely do not want to be 60 and cursing the fact that I chose:
www.facebook.com/kellilovespinkflamingosandsurfboards or www.facebook.com/sulkygirl (reference to an Elvis Costello song for anyone who missed it...)
But I also don't want to believe that who I am now will be so different.
We'll see what we each get.
And I'm open for any of your ideas. Are you going to use your real name, first/middle name, or a nickname? And again, I'd love to hear any good ideas...
And I hope I will be like the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and be able to say when I visit your Facebook page, "You have chosen wisely."
And I hope you'll be able to say the same when you visit mine.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
I was amused to learn that my friends see me as a Type A, extrovert person because if you asked me, I'd say I was a Type B, introvert. I see myself as someone who draws energy from being alone and not from large groups of people. But I definitely see what they see too and probably have a little (or a lot) of both.
If I was a type from the book on the Queen Bee book of teenage girls, I would be considered a "floater," even today because I am comfortable with many different groups of people and situations (meaning, I'm just as comfortable at her solstice party wearing hemp & Birkenstocks as I am at his country club in loafers.)
My personality is messy and I'm okay with that.
Yesterday on a walk a bee hit me in the forehead and flew off. I also had a bee land in my bike helmet, it was okay. I worry a lot about bees being safe.
There are other more emotionally balanced people, I am not one of them.
Even though I have not said a lot, this confession is taking longer than most.
One thing I dislike about the internet is that people will say things anonymously that they would never say to someone's face.
One thing I like about the internet is being able to connect with poets and writers in different places, people I would not have known without it.
The birds and baby birds start singing at 4 a.m. and even though they wake me, I love them.
We are less anonymous than we think.
I got a speeding ticket for going 52 in a 35 mph zone. When the cop asked me if I knew how fast I was going, I said, "Fast." He lowered the ticket for me, but I still got a ticket (to be honest, I deserved it, I was speeding and I think it was a good reminder for me to slow down and stop rushing).
This is the 2nd time I've received a ticket going to visit Jeannine. The last one was $250. This one was $154. Thank goodness our friendship is worth more than $404 or I'd be bummed. It may seem as if I get a lot of tickets, but I've only rec'd 2 since living here...and both have been on my lunch dates with Jeannine. Next lunch date, I'll have someone else drive.
I ate too much homemade whipped cream yesterday and skipped yoga this morning. I'm not the poster girl for good health these days, but I'm happy.
A poet is coming over by ferry and bike to visit me. I'm off to buy us something for lunch. See you...
It may feel you are eavesdropping on a private conversation, but you are not and I welcome your comments about how you deal with rejection and how you get through the tough times as a writer and/or poet.
I should be getting my rejection for the Morton prize today if you rec'd yours yesterday. They leave readers comments--I'm not sure how I feel about this. I can see the benefit, at least they can spell out what wasn't working or what was, at least for their own mind, but then there's the poet who may or may not agree with that.
Roethke always told his students not to criticize a unique voice or technique of a poet because that could be his/her emerging style. I think honestly, we need to look at reader comments as "I did not connect to your work at this time in my life." It's not that a certain type of writing is bad or wrong, but as flawed humans sometimes we even don't connect with the best work. And as perfect humans, sometimes we don't connect with the best work. And sometimes we just don't connect.
In response to a reader's comment:
two styles most prevalent…a tired, almost stubborn adherence to narrative, and an airy, ironic detachment, with a fleeting interest in any particular subject matter."
The "airy" and "fleeting" sound like a pseudo-intellectual grad student trying to sound important.
Yesterday, I received a rejection from Cleveland and I was not a finalist. How did I go from being chosen from a group of 1300 as a finalist to not even being noticed in a group of 700? Same manuscript, different outcome. Art is subjective. Always remember that and you do not have to change who you are to please others, you just need to find the people who connect to your work. I'm one of them. There are others.
Some days I'm good with rejection, some days not. Some days I'm not even good with being a finalist (oh the insecurities that brings out in me.) Back and forth, emotional tsunami, for me, I say "oh well" and keep moving forward. I will not allow others to stop me. I need to be my own best friend in such cases as there are enough people to put us down, we need to be the ones who won't let us stop trying.
* * *
So there we are. My pep-talk on rejection.
Note: Only once have I heard my daughter talk negative about herself, she said something like, "I'm terrible at this, I'll never get it..." and I told her, "Never talk bad about yourself because there are enough people in the world who will do it for you." Poets and writers need to remember the same thing. We may have self-doubts (and sometimes I can be crowned the queen of self-doubt), but as long as we don't allow that self-doubt (or others) to shut us down, we win. We only lose when we stop trying.
So good luck to all you poets and writers out there. Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you queens of New England.
Monday, June 08, 2009
One of those books is a new book and while I only read one poem, I can already recommend it. It's Sherman Alexie's new book, FACE published by Hanging Loose Press. I just read the first 3 page poem and it's incredible. I can only imagine what the rest of the collection holds.
Honestly, I wanted to read more, but didn't. Again, I'm funny about good books ending too soon. Which is why I haven't finished THE BAD MOTHER, though I plan to today. I had a few opportunities to finish it yesterday, but only read two chapters. I think now that I know I'm going to read Freakonomics next (btw, if you decide to get this, make sure to get the Revised & Expanded edition, which corrects a few mistakes in the first book) and it was given a good report by Nin Andrews, I think I'll be able to finish The BAD MOTHER today. And also, because I have Sherman's new book to indulge in.
* * *
Are their certain websites you visit every day? I have 4. Poetry Daily (though I still think their news section is heavy with male poets and that women poets are neglected). MSN, CNN & KomoTV (our local news).
I have realized a few things lately that are going to make me change this habit.
1) The news on CNN hardly changes. What was news yesterday, is news today and there is rarely anything interesting. Today's most interesting story to me was that Stephen Colbert got a military cut in Iraq.
2) KomoTV is mostly bad, bloody news and they love a good kid tragedy. Their news tends to be what was the worst thing that happened to a kid yesterday, and that's story. I'm always surprised when I click on it and it's not local and it's a child in Tennessee. Not that it's not important, but I would tend to think that if you wanted to find a bad story about a child each day you could (and they do).
But if you read that last paragraph carefully, you will see why they do it-- "I always click on it." As a mother, I am curious what next hazard I need to look out for, what I can do to prevent another tragedy...and they know that and take advantage of it in parents.
So, Komo (for sure) and CNN will be off my list. MSN is pretty varied, so I can drop by there for news. Of course, they are notorious for having in their top headlines things you really didn't need to know like "Llama Wears Wig for Charity..." But I can live with that. As a writer, they get my imagination going.
To replace Komo & CNN, I'm going to Happy News.
Some good news I never say on *any* news station that happened in the last week is this:
Animal Society and Del Monte Foods Help Atlanta Food Banks Feed Pets
"Best Friends Animal Society distributed 1,215 bags of dog food and snacks to two Atlanta-area food banks. The generous donation was provided by Del Monte Foods Company's Kibble n' Bits®. "
****To me, this is big news I should know about because I want to support companies that are helping the communities and I have a soft spot for any company that helps animals. (YEAH DEL MONTE!) Especially now, the Humane Society is hurting for cash and food because so many people are dropping off their animals because they can't take care of them.
People can find a way to survive whether it spending less or stealing; humans (with the exception of the very old and the very young) can take care of themselves. Dogs, not so much. Even cats have it better with their hunting instincts, but dogs need humans to keep them alive, safe and healthy.
I guess that is why my favorite charities tend to help animals, old people, young people, or people in other countries who do not have as much as we do here.
I constantly have to remind myself that NEWS is a business and not a thoughtful consideration of the world's events. It's not there to help me be a better person and know what I should know, it's there to sell me fear, sell me on their information to I watch their station and tune in for more.
I listen to enough NPR that honestly, I hear what I need to hear and even their news to slit your wrists to, on the hour, every hour, which I should know about. They are still one of the few places that reports on the war as if it's still going on (and it is, but with swine flu, unique stories about missing children, Jon & Kate + 8 intrigue, and MTV's latest stunts, people may not know this).
So here we are this Monday morning. This is kind of an early confession, I have told you on the big world web, I only go to 4 websites (+ Facebook & my favorite poet blogs) unless I'm googling something. I told you I like to be an ostrich to the freaky bad news and that my cat is overweight. I told you what I'm reading, what I will be reading and how I hate for good books to end. And I've complained about something I've already complained about.
Yep, I think that covers it. Thanks for listening, as always.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Another great book to recommend for your summer reading--though I think moms with kids would appreciate it the most, as well as fathers would enjoy (and learn from)--Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace
I read half the book yesterday and what I love most is her understanding that in America we are always looking for the next bad mom (currently, it's Kate, from Jon & Kate plus 8 - which is ironic because Jon is the one who has been photographed at 2 in the morning with many different women.) But because the job of motherhood has been raised to such an unreachable standard, if we can name the "bad mothers" then we can say to ourselves "Well, I'm not as bad as her..."
Ayelet Waldman admits to being a "bad mom" and/or worrying about it. Of course, throughout the memoir, you learn she's not a bad mom, but is not standard June Cleaver, which I appreciate because I am nobody's June Cleaver since I never learned to cook-- turns out, she didn't as well.
But it's been a great read so far because she has taken me into her world and showed me her flaws--how she judged other mothers herself, how she didn't noticed her 4th child was dehydrated & not getting milk as a newborn, how being a stay-at-home mom almost made her lose her mind, and so on...
As I said, I've read half of it in a day and plan to finish the rest of it tonight. And it's one of those books that I don't want to end. I can see I only have 1/2 the book left and I'm disappointed to see that.
* * *
I finished my artist statement and am now at the rereading point. Hopefully on this lovely cloudy Sunday, I will submit the whole fellowship tonight. It's a big award. $7500. That would make a huge difference in our lives right now.
* * *
What I am Afraid of:
My violin recital is next Saturday and I am SO nervous. I'm playing 2 songs, a duet with my daughter ("Star Song"- think Twinkle Twinkle). And Bach's Marche. What I need to remember is the recital is not about me, but the music. It's about Bach. Yes. It's about Bach.
What I have been dreaming about:
Most of my dreams have to do with travel, moving or buying a new a house, or realizing it's Halloween. The Halloween dream can be a good one where I go out trick-or-treating with my daughter, or the anxiety dream where I realize it's Halloween about 5 minutes before sundown and haven't decorated or have costumes.
This last week, I've had dreams that I'm in a group of people being held by terrorists. Though if you hear "terrorist" and think of someone from the Middle East, you'd be wrong because my group of terrorists are made up white women with weapons. Last night, I was the only one who tried to escape and was grabbed in the hallway by someone with a can of Hershey's syrup. I'm not even going to try to figure that out.
What Annoys Me:
This morning, our coffeepot was making a moaning sound while it was brewing. It was the most ridiculous sound and who wants to drink the coffee from a pot that sounds as if it's in ecstasy. It was a little weird.
What I'm Looking Forward to:
Summer and no school schedule! Summer and beach time. Summer and our family vacations. Summer and sand throughout the house. Summer and sleeping in. Summer and dinners outside on our deck. Just all of it. And then I'll be aching for fall.
How I am Feeling:
See photo above. I'm still the ugly doll, but I'm being held up and I'm happy.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
As you can tell by my expression, I'm feeling better about things.
I spent yesterday with a good poetry friend and we talked about poetry, walked the beach, ate Thai food outside across from the water, and wrote poetry in her writing studio.
I have new new poems I'm excited to work on from our experience. And it's just always good to talk with a friend who supports you. I have to say, I have quite a few incredible friends who came through for me this week when I was freaking out.
Thank you S, A, R, J, and M.
So, I'm feeling better about things. I realize my book is up in a pink bubble somewhere floating around the universe and I'm okay with that. It's out of my hands and really, that's where I want it.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I learned on my husband's birthday (June 2) I was a finalist in a poetry book contest and I needed to send in my manuscript to the judge. And here's the thing, they said I could send in a revised manuscript, but to remember my manuscript (which was one of only 3% chosen) was chosen how it was (read: without revisions).
So this left me in a dilemma as my manuscript has changed--though not a lot--a bit. I changed the order here and there. I changed a title or two. I took out and added poems. Mostly though, the manuscript was the same poems, just a few tweaks here and there.
But this looking back at how my manuscript was and how it is now left me completely anxious about which order and which titles to use. Wait, let me revise that. The first day I felt REALLY good about things, everything was falling into place, but on the day I mailed my manuscript, I'm afraid I over-thought things. I printed off my old manuscript and began comparing it page by page to my new revised mss.
Again, much of it was the same, but when it came to making decisions, for example I had the 2nd & 3rd poems flip-flopped in the first issue, I felt as if I was playing that game on the Price is Right where the contestant puts the numbers for the car's price in a certain order then pulls the big handle and it lights up *2!* correct and then she runs back and moves the numbers around again and pulls the handle and this time it says *0!* correct. And now she's in a panic, which 2 numbers were right and which two were wrong?
This is how I felt getting my manuscript ready to send in-- which poems did they like? which did they not? what should I add? What should I not?
While on Day 1, I had this underlying confidence (I was chosen!), Day 2 gave me a huge insecurity (I was chosen?)
Ultimately, I made the best decisions at the time though there were a couple places I didn't follow my gut and I am KICKING myself. Of course, I try to remind myself that only I know these places and what the judges don't see or know, won't hurt them (or me).
Anyway, the process ended up being my own odd version of Mastermind where I so badly wanted to have correct poems lined up in the correct order. Though there's a part of me that knows unlike Mastermind, poetry can have more options. My poems are not blue, red, black and yellow. They are gray, gray, white, and gray. I have a better chance of getting the order right that way...this is what I tell myself. When I'm awake at 2 in the morning thinking, "Ah! I should have done this." (My mum always says though "Don't should yourself.")
Still, sometimes I just want to get it right. And I know that "right" is subjective. And when I did the odds, I have a 1-9 chance of being chosen. Which makes me laugh because if a doctor told me I had a 1 in 9 chance of getting cancer, I'd be thinking, "No way will it be me, that's only a 11% chance!" But as a poet I'm thinking, "A 1-9 chance is pretty good! It could be me!"
But it's done, over. My manuscript is in some post office right now and my words and poems will be in a stranger's hands, and I can only believe that what I wrote will connect with him or her, that it will be the right words in the right order, and they will be able to see the larger picture of what I was doing and believe that it should have a home on the bookshelves of the world.
So if you want to send some good energy out into the universe for me that the manuscript I sent, is the one they want, I'd appreciate it. I've already put a note in my GodBox, basically understanding that at this point, it's all out of my hands...
Thanks for listening.
* * *
I'm enjoying Carolyn Forche's book Blue Hour again. She is to have a new memoir out in the next year or two, which I can't wait to read.
For my summer reads, I'm enjoying Joan Anderson's A Year By the Sea (yes, it was 85 degrees here yesterday- in Seattle! so we consider that summer...) The book is a memoir about how she left her husband and family for a year to live by the sea (no worries, her kids were grown).
What's interesting about this is she is an older woman, raised her kids in the 60's and 70's, so moving to the sea and taking time away from her husband and not being the "good girl" or the "good wife" brings up all sorts of feelings of guilt and selfishness in her. I think today's woman still feels these pressures, but we are more aware of nurturing and taking care of ourselves along with the family. But I think this memoir interests people because Joan is doing what many people want to do sometimes, run away...
Also, I said "people" instead of women because we all know that Springsteen song "Got a wife in kids in Baltimore, Jack. I went out for a ride and I never went back..."
Anyway, it's good, light summer reading, perfect for the beach.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
I'm outside in my shed, btw, doing im-poor-tant werk...
It’s that time again, how quickly Tuesdays come, especially as the weather (70-85 degrees!) happens in the Northwest.
To the confessional—
I confess I get cranky when I don’t have enough alone time.
Especially in the morning, I like to be by myself for a bit, check my emails, drink my coffee. My family wanders in and out of my room interrupting me, telling me odd facts or sharing important-to-them info. I remind myself how lonely I’d be without them, how much I love them and am thankful for them. I try to smile interruption after interruption. It’s hard though because morning is not my sharing/connecting with the family time, I’m set for late-afternoon, evening, night on that.
But they are both morning people and gab away, want to know if I have “Movie Maker” on my computer, want to tell me I should be certain types of shoes, or that Burger King is giving away Pokemon cards with their Happy Meals, or there’s this guy’s son who is taking special golfing lessons. I remind myself how grateful I am to have people who want to share their lives with me.
Still, sometimes I don’t act as interested/kind as I should.
I always forget how much I love my bike until I ride my bike for the first time since fall.
I have a bad habit of nicknaming our neighbors (well, actually not just our neighbors). We have The TreeHaters, Rami-the-Punk, The Smoker, NakedChuck, Smokey’s Dad, CrazyRamona, LoudJudy, The RiffRaff, HappyMan, and PizzaLady. I think I may have confessed about this before though. I like them all except Rami the Punk (who recently insulted my dog and drives to fast) and The TreeHaters. I would not have tears if I saw a For Sale sign pop up in front of their homes.
I can finally share my good news… I recently received an Artist Trust GAP grant for my second manuscript of peoms… of course, that mss hasn’t found a publisher yet, but I’m looking much more seriously this year and it was a wonderful feeling to have the Artist Trust people support it by giving me a grant to complete it and submit it. It keeps me going.
And Oliver de la Paz was another GAP grant recipient too!
I have been sick all week and it’s very weird to be sick in sunny weather.
Monday, June 01, 2009
I found a blog though today that helped me change my opinion of the artist statement. She wrote:
Another secret is that the artist statement is not just for art patrons and gallery owners. It is also for the artist. Writing an artist statement gives you another way to reflect on your work. When you dare to climb this small, professional Mr. Everest, a surprising view of your own work waits for you at the top.
I've linked it because this has been one of the more useful blog posts on artist statements I've read with the basic understanding that--
...an artist statement is what, how, and why you do what you do, from your perspective.
So I keep working on it. My personal deadline is several days earlier than the real deadline. I'll get this done, slowly, but it will be finished soon.
Martha Beck from O Magazine has a great article about it here.
And as writers, knowing which type of person you are can help you meet your deadlines and achieve your goals better.
Here's the big breakdown between Monochrone & Polychrone personalities...
Do one thing at a time.
View time commitments as critical.
Are committed to jobs (projects and tasks).
Adhere religiously to plans.
Emphasize promptness, always.
Are accustomed to short-term relationships.
Do many things at once and are highly distractible.
View time commitments as objectives.
Are committed to people and relationships.
Change plans often.
Base promptness on the significance of the relationship.
Have a strong tendency to build lifelong relationships.
****While you may have some characteristics from the other group (for example, I like to be on time especially if I have a plans with someone but I do follow this guideline "Base promptness on the significance of the relationship" - certain relationships or plans get more importance-- good friends and things that relate to my daughter's education get higher priority when it comes to being on time.) But knowing myself as well as I do, I find I have to plan to be to somewhere extra early just so I know I will be there on time (to the outside observer, I look to be prompt, but it's just special planning when it comes to things important to me...)
America is a Monochrome society. So the Beck wonders how us polychrome-tendency people get by--
The solution to this problem isn't to do away with polychronic tendencies altogether. That would leave the world a poor place indeed—we'd have to eliminate all 2-year-olds, not to mention poets and snowboarders. I personally think our whole society could use a more laid-back approach, but a massive cultural shift doesn't appear to be imminent, so we polychrones have to find some way to be ourselves without losing our jobs, offending our associates and yammering a constant stream of half-baked apologies...
The poet/snowboarder comment amused me very much-- and maybe the majority of artists are polychrome people. I know at night I have a hard time winding down especially if I'm writing because I don't want to leave that situation (or it's hard for me to leave) that situation and move into the next situation which is sleep.
A few years ago my husband said the most eye-opening phrase to me and I remind myself about it daily-- "Everything takes longer than I think..." If I think I'm going to take a 30 minute walk, give myself 45 in case I run into a friend or decide to hike past the "No Trespassing" sign to explore the forest path. If I want to leave at 2:45, I plan to leave at 2:30 because I will spend 15 minutes making sure all the animals have food and water, checking to make sure my space heater is off and that the lights are off, and that I have my sunglasses and my book.
There are a lot of benefits though with being a polychrome... I will hang out with you all night if you want me to. I have no problem spending hours anywhere and then if someone wants to go get milkshakes, I'm right there. If left to focus on my writing, I can do it for hours and hours and hours without feeling as if I need to switch to another task. I have many interests. And am loyal.
My biggest thing to work on is changing from one thing another. While I'm organized, I have to remind myself that I cannot use a snooze alarm as I will just always press it. Once I'm doing the thing I'm supposed to be doing, I stay on task pretty much (well, unless I get distracted...Squirrel!) But it is that moment of transition, of disengaging from an activity. I was always the little girl that didn't want to leave a friend's house or want a friend to go home. I never wanted the end to a book or a movie. I would play outside until 10 because I didn't want the moment or cul-de-sac kickball game to end. And still now, so many years later, it's hard for me to disengage as yes, I tend to linger...
just trying to decide
if I'm done...