Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Late to the Fashion Show

Over the weekend I went shopping with Lovely Beautiful Daughter. I really hadn't intended to buy anything, but since we ended up at one of my favorite stores, I thought why not look for a dress? I made the decision to change up my wardrobe quite a bit: in with dresses and out with jeans (though I must confess I did just buy a very comfortable, just-want-to-wear-all-the-time pair of overalls). So I checked the dress rack and found four to try on (which is also a new thing for me per orders of Lovely Beautiful Daughter; no more buying an article of clothing and taking it home without trying it on). When LBD saw I had four dresses she was quite impressed though she did laugh at the range in sizes: one small, two medium, and one large. She's the one who also told me to stop selecting a piece based only on size, so I took her advice.

When I walked out of the dressing room, I found Lovely Beautiful Daughter waiting to get in line to pay for her purchases, so I joined her.

"What?!? Three dresses?" She raised her eyebrows in surprise.

"Yeah. Big step, isn't it?"

"I'm so glad you went with the burgundy one. That's a great color."

I even surprised myself with buying the burgundy dress. It's the most form-fitting (at least what I consider form-fitting) of the three dresses since it is the size S, but I'm working to get over the rather poor sense of self-image I've been told I have, so I decided this dress was going to help me do that. I put it on yesterday with some brown leggings and my brown cowboy boots, then added a colorful scarf. When Funny Delightful Son returned home from his finals, he looked at me and asked, "Where'd you go this morning?" I told him just around the block when Ado and I went for our walk, and he laughed, telling me I was pretty dressed up for a walk with the dog.

"I'm trying to decide if I like this dress enough to keep it," I said.

FDS looked at me and smiled. "Ahh, is that right?"

When Lovely Beautiful Daughter arrived home from work, she looked me up and down. "Well look at you in your fancy boots."

I was sitting in my chair at my desk.

"You really look all professor-like in that outfit," LBD said. "Should take a picture of you sitting there in front of your computer."

At this point, the dress is a keeper. It is really comfortable, and I know I'll be able to dress it up or down with just a switch of the shoes. Who knew at almost 54 years of age I'd finally develop some fashion sense?

The burgundy dress that's helping me break away from jeans and t-shirts


Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Lost-Found Ring

So, funny story.

Last Christmas my husband gave me a wedding band, one that matched his, even though from day one of our marriage I said ix-nay on the wedding band. Trying to be a good sport because it was Christmas after all, I slipped the band on my index finger as that was the only finger it would somewhat stay on.

Three days after Christmas, after Lovely Beautiful Daughter and I had gone to the mall where I'd tried on clothes and walked around several stores, after I had removed all the greenery from the window boxes and tossed it to the curb for trash pickup, and after taking down and boxing up all the decorations in the house, I looked down to see the ring was gone. It could have slipped off my finger during any of these activities.

Not wanting to say anything to my husband, I went about my day. I called the mall stores to ask if a ring had been found in the changing rooms. I retraced all my steps around the yard to see if I might find the ring glittering in the sun. Because the Christmas decorations had already been stashed in the attic of the garage, I wasn't going to pull down the ladder and stay hunched over in the crawlspace to search through the boxes. I figured the ring was simply gone for good.

When my husband came to me the next day and asked for the ring so he could take it to be sized, I fessed up about losing it. Needless to say, he was very unhappy with me.

Today, as I lifted out two tissue-wrapped glass Christmas ornaments from one of the boxes of Christmas decorations, there lay the ring. For almost a year, it was in a little box inside a bigger box inside the garage attic.

The day I lost the ring I thought it an omen. I'd never wanted a wedding band. I specifically asked not to be given one. Yet my husband did exactly as I asked him not to. Much like the diamond necklace he gave me one year after I had said never buy me a diamond. And much like the bouquet of flowers he got me for Valentine's day after I had said please don't buy me cut flowers. While these are small things, they are just a drop in the bucket of what I asked my husband not to do that he disregarded. Is it any wonder we now live in separate houses?

This afternoon, I placed the lost-found wedding band in my jewelry box. I haven't told my husband I found it, and I don't quite know what to do with it. Maybe one day it'll find a hand that truly wants it to adorn a ring finger.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Things That Trigger the Poet in Me

I've been working on a poem the last four days, and while I'm making progress, that progress has been excruciatingly slow. I decided to take on this particular subject in response to a poem I read on the site I submit my work for critique. Yeah, probably not the best reason to write a poem, but seriously, that poem made me want to stab my eyes out with one of the many black ink pens I have scattered across my desk. Sometimes I just don't understand what motivates people to write what they do. I take that back. I do know what motivates them: love or sex or both at the same time. It's like there aren't any other subjects worth writing about.

So this poem I'm working on, in addition to it being brought about in response to the poem that made me want to stab my eyes out, is also for a contest sponsored by the site where my work is posted for feedback. The general idea is to "graphically feature the preparation and/or eating of delicious food," specifically "winter holiday foods." I really don't care if I don't win, place, or even show for this contest. I just want to see if I can create a piece that captures the wonderful aromas and beautiful dishes that can be prepared during the holidays. I also hope to evoke a nostalgia through the imagery, at least for those whose families had the more traditional turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes followed by pie kind of meals. I know not everyone has experienced this kind of holiday meal, but it's the only kind of holiday meal I can draw from.

I am having a lot of fun thinking this poem through, working with near rhyme while creating the scene. And the title came to me pretty early on in the process, so though the writing has been kind of slow it's also been a good mental exercise. I've learned the scientific process of what happens to a turkey when it's in the oven, which is quite fascinating, and I've learned what goes into making a mincemeat pie from scratch. I just might have to try making this pie this year as it does sound delicious now that I'm an adult, way beyond the child who thought just the name of the pie sounded so gross she wouldn't even try a bite. I think all the learning that happens when I'm writing a poem is one of the best things about writing poetry.

I still have quite a bit of time to finish the poem. The due date isn't for another three weeks, so hopefully between now and then, the poem will pull together into something I can be very happy with.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Finding My Way into Good Music

I am so in love with Michael Kiwanuka. His music, for whatever reason, strikes a chord in me. I can listen to his songs over and over and over. Not many singer/songwriters do this to me.

My love affair with Kiwanuka's music started a couple of weeks ago when I had a mix streaming on YouTube. His song "Cold Little Heart" came on while I was in the kitchen doing dishes. When his voice started, I had to stop and go watch the video and listen to the song. I must have been in a fragile place that day -- the tears started slipping down my cheeks as I listened. Maybe it was the lyrics. Maybe the style took me back to my childhood. Maybe the young man dancing in the video made me feel the despair that comes from trying but not making headway. Could have been all of this that struck me that day. Ever since, I've been listening to Kiwanuka and really enjoying his work.

I didn't realize at the time that this song is from Big Little Lies, which I watched earlier this year. I thought the song sounded familiar but couldn't place it. Then I read some of the comments below the video and saw others saying it was because of that show they found Kiwanuka's music.

I just finished watching the first season of Dark on Netflix and am now caught up in the soundtrack from it. The show is fantastic, one that I couldn't tear myself away from. I watched it with the German language and subtitles, so I really had to pay attention, but it was totally worth it. Just a wonderful show. The music, too, caught my attention, so now I'm listening to the soundtrack quite a bit.

I'm really examining music more closely these days, I think because of the poetry I'm writing. I can see where poetry and music overlap, so I'm paying more attention to lyrics, rhythm, cadence, etc. Even Funny Delightful Son noticed the near rhymes I'm using in one of my poems and remarked about it being similar to what rap artists do with their songs. I love being able to have conversations about using language with my kids. That's what I consider fun times.

If you haven't watched Dark, here's one of the songs to give you an idea of what the music is like. Really, really good stuff.

Enter One by Sol Seppy

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Bird in the Hand

An interesting aspect of living in this house with its one wall of large windows is the number of birds that fly into the glass. About a week or so ago, I was here at my computer and Angel Baby was sitting on the couch looking through some videos before heading off to class. I heard a very loud thunk and thought maybe he had dropped his phone. After a few seconds, Angel Baby called out, "Ummm, Mom, a bird just smacked against the window and there's a huge hawk sitting on top of the bird feeder." I dashed to the living room, wanting to see the hawk, but it was gone by the time I got there. The little bird, though, was crumpled on the deck.

I went out to check on the bird. It was still breathing, very quickly, and its beaked opened then closed as if it was gasping for breath. I cradled it in my hands for some time then took it over to the edge of the yard and set it down in a bed of fallen leaves. For the next 45 minutes, I checked on it to be sure it was hanging in there. The last time I went to see how it was doing, it flew away when I neared. I was so happy to see it go on its way.

This morning, I heard another thunk as I was sitting here working on some writing. I went to the windows and peered out. Another little bird sat stunned on the deck. I went out and scooped it up, just watching it for a few minutes. This one didn't seem as rattled as the previous, so I took it over to the edge of the yard and nestled it into some leaves. In just a matter of ten minutes or so, the little one was able to go on its way.

Funny Delightful Son came in as I was finishing this up and says, "That's worth two in the bush."

Monday, December 4, 2017

Still Working on Simplifying

After long thought (seriously long, like more than a year long), I finally decided to step away from Facebook. I almost did so in June, but Funny Delightful Son suggested I stay on for a bit longer. I did, but I keep coming back to wanting to simplify my life even further, with social media being the area I want to work on most. I had closed my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts earlier this year, so the last big step is Facebook. After talking briefly with a friend yesterday about him deactivating his FB account and being all the happier because of it, I was inspired to take the leap and deactivate mine. I posted a note letting friends and family know of my intentions, and in a day or so I'll go in to hit the Deactivate button to complete the process.

For many years I've wanted to simplify my life. I thought, though, this meant finding that dream farm and having the milking cow, chickens, and a large garden. Then, my husband and I separated. I moved into a rental with no garden to tend, and all of the lawn upkeep is taken care of by the landlord. I have learned over the past few months that simplifying is about moving away from things rather than bringing more things into my life that involve doing. The garden, while very relaxing and wonderful to watch grow, involved a lot of work. Many things I used to do that I no longer do required a lot of time and effort. Now that those things have been removed from my life, I've found I have time. Time to write. Time to read. Time to watch the birds at the feeders. Time to just sit and watch life. 

Even my desire to become a yoga teacher involved time, travel, and money. And I realized I was bringing something else into my life when I kept saying I want to simplify. While I loved the classes and I've learned a ton over the last year, I realized how much time and effort I was putting into doing it. I could feel myself spreading thin again, just doing too much when my real desire is to do less. After careful thought and talking with Lovely Beautiful Daughter about putting the yoga teacher training on the shelf for a while, I made the decision to take a hiatus until further notice. The moment I made that decision I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders.

One other area of simplifying my life involves my car. I am playing with the idea of going car-free during the spring semester to see how I manage. I live close enough to the grocery store that I can ride my bike for whatever I might need. Public transit stops right up the street and will take me to Uptown Station where I can catch the bus that will take me to work. I walk a lot since the places I frequent are maybe a mile or less away. If I do need a vehicle for going a longer distance every now and then, I have access to Lovely Beautiful Daughter's car. I love the idea of not having a car payment, not paying for gas, not having to deal with oil changes and other car maintenance issues, but while all of this sounds great, I know I need to ease into being car-free, test the waters during the spring semester to see if it's really something I can make a part of my life.

While I won't be on FB, Twitter, or other social media, I will be here. This is the place I've been the longest. This is a space that holds the good, the bad, and the not so pretty. This is where I am most me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Happy Late-November Day

Today is a happy day for me. My first ever published poem is out there. Honestly, I don't care if I don't get anything else done today. I just want to keep opening the website where my poem has been offered alongside many other wonderful poems for all to read. I feel very honored to have been granted this opportunity. If you'd like to read "Shivering in the Passenger Seat," click here. You'll be taken to the latest issue of Tipton Poetry Journal. Read all of the poems. I know you'll find one, maybe two, perhaps even ten that will move you.

With just a little over a month left of my sabbatical, I'm feeling a bit sad. The time off from prepping for five classes, from grading 100+ essays several times a semester, from committee work, etc. has been just wonderful. I finally got a sense for what it's like to be a full-time writer. I've always wondered what this kind of life would be like, and now I know a little bit better. I wish I could live this life all the time.

But I still have a month, and my intention is to continue creating new pieces. These last few days I've spent my time revising what I have, and what I have at this point is enough for a chapbook, which means I can start seeking out potential publication opportunities. I think I'm getting better at seeing what the weaknesses are in each piece, as well as getting better at revising to strengthen each piece. I think. I'll find out once I start submitting the chapbook to publishers. My hope is that even if a publisher doesn't accept the chapbook for publication, perhaps said publisher will give me some actual feedback to help me revise and strengthen my work further.