Monday, December 31, 2007

Fast away the old year passes...

Outside it's cold and very blustery with the promise of snow by morning. I'm having a quiet, peaceful New Year's Eve, inside and cozy with chocolate, hot ginger peach tea, a stack of books, a couple of sacked-out fuzzybutt cats, and flannel sheets which will soon be fresh and warm from the dryer.

May your evening be as lovely.

May the new year bring you fabulous music, more good poems than you can shake a stick at (although why you'd shake a stick at poems, I don't know -- must be one of those newfangled metaphor thingies), something new learned every day, and love & solitude in precisely the right proportions.

Farewell, 2007 -- don't let the door hit you in the ass. Hello, 2008! A very happy new year to one & all.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The thin end of the year

If you celebrate these winter holidays, I hope you've had a good one. My departure was delayed by a day due to a flare-up of Bear's chronic megacolon, which necessitated an overnight stay at the vet, and by my own nasty little cold. But once I was well enough to drive and Bear was home and comfortable, I was able to spend several nice, laid-back days at my mom's. Ran into some serious pea-soup fog on the drive home last night -- about an hour and a half of driving in what was probably less than 1/8 mile visibility, ugh -- but other than that my travels were uneventful. Still have the cold. I think it likes me.

Couple of rejection notes in the past week or so; I guess some editors were indeed cleaning off their desks for the holidays. Good! I can get the poems shipped off somewhere else. I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but I do want to be more diligent about sending poems out next year.

Starting to think about summer plans. I got my early-registration info from the Fine Arts Work Center today. Since my car and my roof are both on their last legs, I may have to refrain from splurging on a workshop this year -- though I would love to take Marie Howe's. If you are looking for a summer workshop, and if you can afford the cost, this is really a terrific program (I know I've said that here before, but it bears repeating). I've taken three workshops there, which have ranged from life-changing to very very good. I'm definitely a better poet because of what I've learned out there, and Provincetown is a most excellent place for a vacation, to boot.

I may think about doing the Indiana U. Writers' Conference this summer instead, since I wouldn't have to spring for transportation or housing. Anyone know anything about how Jean Valentine is as a teacher? Or Reginald Shepherd? If so, comment here, or backchannel me if you prefer not to comment publicly....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The traditional Christmas Bear


Those of you who've been around since at least last year have seen this picture before. No, it's not Photoshopped; my Honey Bear is just mellow enough to do a Santa-hat photo shoot. :) (One of these days I need to take an equivalent picture of Lotus. I think he'd be adorable in a little elf suit. Yes, I am That Kind of Kittymom.)

A blessed Solstice, merry Christmas, and very happy New Year to each and every one of you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Looking forward

Managed to come down with a bit of a cold, so for the past couple days I haven't done anything much more intellectually taxing than play Windows solitaire, watch sitcom reruns featuring impossibly thin women with perfect hair trying to be funny without messing up their makeup, and nap. The napping was the best part.

It's getting to be that time of year -- the 100-best-this-or-that lists, the top news stories of 2007 (as if nothing else is going to happen in the next twelve days), the New Year's resolutions. The heck with all that. I'd rather look forward to the (mostly) good things that are bound to happen in 2008. Here's what I am looking forward to:
  • Finishing my book-length manuscript and starting to send it around (this won't be my first book-length ms. to get sent out, believe it or not; I had another one about 15 years ago, but it stunk, so thank goodness nobody wanted it).
  • Publication of my chapbook in August.
  • Probably buying a car (I'm driving a 1991 Corolla with 90K miles on it; it's a great little car and has yet to let me down, but I'm starting to think enough may be enough)
  • In light of the above, very possibly not having funds to travel for a summer workshop (sigh) -- in which case I may do the Indiana U. Writers' Conference again
  • Maybe, finally, getting applications sent out to low-residency MFA programs (sshhhh! don't tell! you'll jinx it!)
  • The following concerts, most of which I've already got tickets for:
    • Three Girls and Their Buddy (Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Buddy Miller -- wow, what a lineup, huh?)
    • Carrie Newcomer's CD release concert for The Geography of Light (Carrie lives near here, so I get to see her perform at least a couple times a year. Lucky me!)
    • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band! (Bruuuuuuce!)
    • Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, and Jack DeJohnette (I may have an extra ticket for this one, in Row A ... anyone who'll be in or near Indianapolis in April and might be interested, drop me a note)

That is not even counting all the terrific books I'm going to buy and read next year ... much to look forward to there as well.

What about you? What are you looking forward to in 2008?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Only one more shopping day until tomorrow

The White Stuff:

The weather forecast here is taking on a doomsday tone, with phrases like "major winter storm," "half inch of ice," and "six inches of snow" (hush, ye northerners; around here we think six inches is a LOT). I had a long list of errands to do this weekend, but almost all of them can wait until next week if necessary, so that I can just hunker down in my house with books and movies and cats -- a blizzard is a great excuse to just sit around reading all day, right? Except for the one errand that really can't wait, which is: go buy snow shovel. Yes, I will probably be That Person tomorrow morning, standing in line at the hardware store with a snow shovel in one hand and a bag of ice-melter in the other, twitching nervously as the storm begins.

We're actually expected to get a little bit of snow, then several hours of sleet and freezing rain, then a bunch more snow. The layered look. I don't particularly approve.

Night of the Living Toddler:

I have friends who have 3-year-old twin girls and a 2-year-old boy. Last night I actually babysat for several hours. I'm not what you would call a natural with kids, and their mom would probably have been happier if the kids had actually gotten to sleep before she got home, but by the time I left everyone was still alive, everyone was still speaking to everyone else, the house was still standing, and no emergency rescue vehicles of any variety had been summoned. I call that a raging success.

Question:

Do you suppose editors are starting to clear their desks in a big "clear the desk before the holidays" push? I have a fair amount of stuff that's been out long enough that it might have been read by now, not long enough to get too antsy about it yet ... kind of wondering whether to expect a handful of responses in the next week and a half. Hmmm. I want to get at least a couple more batches out over the weekend. 2007 has been the Year Of Slacking when it comes to me sending stuff out to journals; I want 2008 to start on a busier note.

Of course, actually writing stuff is more important, and I want next year to be busy in that department as well. Lately I've been writing some stuff that feels a bit different for me, and I like that. I have several newish poems I'm eager to fiddle with. That's such a good feeling. I like the feeling of looking at a poem and deciding that it's finished, but I like it even more when it's not quite there yet, but I'm interested enough in it to keep on poking at it. How does that work? You make a thing, then you poke at it to find out what makes it tick -- even though you wrote it so you ought to know what makes it tick. That's the best: when I've written something that is still a bit of a mystery to me. When I find myself curious about my own poem, about what it's trying to do in its little world. That is just the best.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Yeah...


Ahhhhhhhhhhh
Originally uploaded by land mammal
Bear has a hard life. Poor thing. *grin*

Guess who...


Sacked out
Originally uploaded by land mammal
...got a heated kitty bed for his sixth birthday yesterday?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bruuuuuce, and poem of the week

Rain and more rain, and cold. At least it isn't ice.

Yesterday I bought tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in Indianapolis in March. Only for Bruce would I spend an entire day's salary on one concert. I nabbed tickets the minute they went on sale; when I checked back later, everything except the high up balcony seats and the behind the stage seats were sold out. I'm going with a poet friend who loves him but has never seen him live. Boy, is she in for a treat! :)

* * * * *

Being


A letter is holy. A story
is holy hands reaching out into the world.
Birds come home
across distance I can't conceive

and live in their bodies.
Ash in the air. Every place I've been
is on fire with words.

One day
I throw away all my love letters
without noticing. Mountains

in the heart.
What belongs
to me? I leave the world
all the time. These arms, these

fingers, this tongue, these feet,
and their bent wings. I know
it will be dirt, the prayers

now in marrow will retake
earth. I will live inside whatever flies.
Burning, the brink of all things.


--√Čireann Lorsung
from Music for Landing Planes By
(Milkweed Editions, 2007)


Thursday, December 06, 2007

The sky is falling...

Okay, it isn't the sky that's falling, but something is. It's too loud to be rain, and it's too cold to be snow. Something tells me I'm going to be chipping my car out of an ice block in the morning before I can go to work. Anyone wanna buy one winter, slightly used? I'll sell it to you cheap.

It seems I never do much writing in December. Work and life are always busy as heck. My blogging seems to have taken a bit of a dive as well. Not much to say.

One thing I like about blogging, in general, is that on this blog I present myself primarily as a writer -- no, that's not the only thing in my life, by a long shot, but it's a part of my life that's particularly important to me -- and sometimes, when I haven't been writing or when I haven't been sending stuff out, I think about this blog and I think "put up or shut up" and I make myself get to work. If I'm going to talk like a writer in public, I darn well better, you know, write. Every now and then, this blog is my own personal kick in the pants.

I didn't send anything out for several months this year. Not a thing. I've finally gotten back in that particular saddle, though, and have things out to a few places, and hope to get a couple more out over the weekend. It feels good to end the year with a bit of momentum. I'll be off work the entire week between Christmas and New Year's, and I have no plans for the last several days of it, so with any luck at all I will be able to get a little writing done then. I love those last few days of the year -- no plans, nothing to gear up for, and this crazy idea that something brand-new is just around the corner.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday, With Snippets

An ambulance just went past, lights and siren, glittering in the rain like teeth.

No snow here. It's 57 degrees. Did I mention the rain?

* * * * *

This weekend: Davis Cup tennis on my tv, a big Target expedition which resulted in the purchase of several particularly soft and fleecy things, some reading, couple new poemdrafts. Dark early.

* * * * *

. . . Tonight,
driving south towards home, I counted six struck deer
in two hundred miles: legs askew,
the terrible white of their throats, twisted round
to gaze up into that starry mess. Into whatever
they understand of maps, of heaven.

* * * * *

The rain this afternoon
wants in, wants in so bad . . .

* * * * *

December. How did that happen? I wasn't finished with July yet!

At the same time, I am starting to plot about something that I can't even start for another year.

* * * * *

We act as if the wind
is personal. . . .
. . . As if
the hell it wants to blow us to
is real . . .

* * * * *

If my poems were a TV series, weather would be the guest star who shows up all the time but you can never remember his name so you say "Hey! It's That Guy again!"

* * * * *

I used to like blue and purple best. Lately, it's been teal.

* * * * *

That thing is still in my attic. Better do something about that.

Better do something about anything, about a lot of things. Yes?

Yes.