Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I am over on Vision and Verb today, spouting my warped version of poetry. And as an added bonus here, I thought I'd share the music video I ran across at Terri Windling's blog the Drawing Board. Very cool artistic work on the video...
Monday, February 27, 2012
Saturday night I flew swiftly from a deep sleep into a wide-eyed sitting position. A gasp of air, a desperate swallow to make sure I still could.
I’d been dreaming. And in the dream something had frightened me, and with a sharp intake of air, I swallowed something large and oval. A rock? I don’t remember what it was, only that it went abruptly down my throat and lodged solidly in a spot just above my collar bone, near the base of my neck.
There was immediate panic as I realized I couldn’t talk or breathe. I couldn’t cough it back out. The more I struggled, the tighter and larger the object seemed to get. It was this feeling of doom that forced me abruptly awake.
As is usually the case with awakening suddenly from a frightening dream, I still felt the constriction and pain in my throat and the panic over no one being there to help me.
As is my usual style, I wondered what this all meant. Am I swallowing back my feelings or words or both? What is being cut off? Constricted? Held back?
Was there significance in the dream that there was no one available to do the Heimlich maneuver or stab a ballpoint pen cartridge through my neck for an emergency tracheotomy?
Could it have something to do with not writing enough? I have felt angry with myself for not producing more, of not sticking to my intentions and letting other things push me off course.
So many words and ideas go through my head. Too many, too fast, notes jotted in all sorts of places – on my phone’s notepad application, my USB drive, some are on my computer in Word, some are quickly jotted in Notepad. Some I email to myself. They hide in layers of folders. I keep wondering what my filing logic was on any given day. Some bits and pieces of story are even flying somewhere in a cloud!
When I want these seeds of masterpieces, when I’m ready to pull them together and fill in the gaps, these brilliant pieces of prose are nowhere to be found!
But what does that have to do with a choking, can’t breathe, and there is no one there to rescue me kind of dream?
I don’t know and the questions don’t matter so much as finding a blasted answer!
I tried to catch ducks in flight this weekend. The ducks were flying but I was not so clearly catching.
It was a good metaphor for the thoughts in my mind – birds whizzing by, me bringing up my camera and not seeing them, moving my lens all over trying to hone in, only to find they’d already splashed down.
Too late, too late, too late.
It also made me wish for a stronger telephoto lens, a closer look, more detail, and to have had my tripod with me to steady myself -- another metaphor for my feeling of a weak and unsteady vision. Perhaps I'm too hard on myself, and I am the one doing the choking. Another possibility...
Still, I make what I can out of blurs and dark shadows.
I find the comedy (and the grace) in a duckly arabesque.
I find the feeling of flight.
And I’ll eventually find my way, one step at a time...
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Confusion and chaos are signs of the old structures of life breaking down so that something new can emerge. There is nothing inherently unspiritual in feeling confused. In fact, growth may not be possible without periods of chaos. ~ Mark Thurston
Yesterday, Tuesday, was a heck of a day. But never mind. Deep breath and move on. Wait a minute. Another deep breath. Okay. I'm good.
I had an awesome Monday. I went with a friend to a meeting with the lead people of a neighborhood magazine and interested contributors. Granted, it wasn't my neighborhood, but I still have some ideas that they might be interested in and I got a little practice with networking and handing out my card.
And I got to visit a couple cool restaurants -- the Kitty Cat Klub and the Loring Pasta Bar --that I'd never been to before but "I will return!"
But this is Brew Babe blog day! I caught the pups in a bit of a stick and bone romp mood. Not much to say. Just enjoy...
Step away from the bone... I need to get this look down to use at work...
Monday, February 20, 2012
I've been a bit off lately, a bit out of breath. And I keep thinking I'll feel better when:
- I finish a couple query letters and get a magazine to accept one of my ideas.
- I have another story polished and a literary magazine publishes it.
- I have a completed first draft of my book and am ready to start editing it.
- I lose ten pounds (even five would help the "feel better" cause).
- This sad excuse for a winter is over and hopefully, the dry spell ends with the winter.
- My horse, Luke, is back to his old self, at least I hope that happens.
I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. And yes, I do realize the destructive futility of thinking this way. And yet...
I was walking the Brew Babes Friday evening and thinking, I'd feel better if my owls would come back. They made me feel so much better about moving to my new house. Almost every night they were outside my bedroom window, calling back and forth. I felt safe and welcomed. I felt reassured that things would be okay.
But my neighbor cut down several of his trees and put up a monster shed and I haven't seen or heard the owls since.
And as I was thinking about them, and the dogs and I returned home and walked up my driveway, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something drop out of the dark and soundlessly lower itself into my neighbor's tree.
I looked hard, squeezing my eyes until I could determine that yes, indeed, it was one of the owls.
He or she didn't stay long -- just looked over at me and then took off again, into the neighboring cemetery.
This encounter was not as satisfying as having the owls hang out by my window, but it felt like a comforting visit to let me know that they're still around. And because I see signs in moments like these, I thought perhaps the owl was meant to remind me that even if I don't see or hear something, it doesn't mean that whatever it is I'm looking for isn't there or perhaps there is something even better if I release my expectations...
This winter has been harder for me than last winter. Without the beauty of snow, the magnificence of owls or the physical challenge of skiing, the winter has felt stark and barren.
And yet, this winter ----- there have been swans.
Swans, with their elegant necks, and wings that spread out and remind me of paintings of angels. Instead of snow, I am entranced with white feathers, contrasted with dark beaks and legs. I think of the story of the ugly duckling, who discovered he was a glorious swan.
So perhaps I think of this as the winter of swans. Of course, I will ponder what that means.
It will be something on the order of taking flight, reaching wide, and making a lot of noise.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I was bored with the same old "here's Luke" photo. So I tried to go for a different angle. Luke couldn't figure out what the heck I was doing and tried to get a better look. "Darn bars," he said.
I increased Luke's aerobic load during my ride on Sunday and he seemed to be fine. I'm still nervous though. I'd like to find some things we can do that build muscle without having to run so much.
There must be some kind of Pilates for horses. Right? Perhaps lateral work and backing up would do the trick but he's pretty confused about some of the moves I've been trying to teach him.
I'm still kind of emotional about Luke's diagnosis. I think about lungs and breathing a lot now.
In my yoga classes, we always start out focusing on our breath. I try to picture the breaths in and out traveling around in a continuous smooth circle, with no pauses in the cycle.
I watch Luke's sides, measuring the air going in and out, holding my hand in front of his nose to feel the warm puffs, then putting my nose by his to breathe in the air he breathes out. Weird, I know, but like the yoga exercises, it settles me.
Luke stands patiently through all the hugging and burying my face against his neck. He stands completely still while I take my moments to feel the warmth he radiates and while my eyes search his, trying to judge his thoughts and send my "You are important to me" thoughts through telepathic air waves.
I've never had a horse like Luke, that would be so still and not swing his head into my nose or face, causing mind-blowing pain. It's not that Luke doesn't spook at times or get pushy but he seems to know when to be still.
The funny thing is, the first several years I had him, he was nothing like that. He was standoffish and downright cranky. And if Luke became frightened while I was riding him, he would rear and spin, which was a bit frightening for me.
(Luke as a three-year-old)
But Luke changed and so did I. We got to know each other and gained confidence together.
Luke's been my teacher for quite awhile, and I wonder what the next lesson will be.
Monday, February 13, 2012
(Blogger's note: I'm planning to write about writing or creative pursuits on Mondays. If that bores the bejeebers out of you, I'd suggest you skip that day and come back on Wednesday, when I plan on writing about horse and dog stuff. Of course, I can be rather erratic and unpredictable but that's what keeps things interesting. Oh, and the moon photos, well, I had to throw in something visual...)
I got my first rejection letter for 2012! Why the excitement? Well, rejection means that I at least got off my butt and submitted a story.
The amusing part was that a friend and I had both submitted to the same publication, and we both got rejected. Okay, not so amusing in itself, but we forwarded our rejections letters to each other, and my friend's response to the letter I received was, "You should take heart. Your rejection was much better than mine."
That made me laugh. Who knew there were degrees of rejection? I wonder if people ever send thank you notes for a rejection? I'm not being sarcastic here. The editor was very nice and did leave me hopeful that I am not too far off the mark of being published.
Anyway, onto my next attempt at fame and... Wait, there's no such thing as fortune for writers, is there? Unless you can get a movie deal or pump out books and sell gazillions of them like Stephen King. I don't think I fit into either category.
Even finding another place to submit has been rough. There are at least six hundred literary magazines out there! How do you choose which one is right for your type of writing?
The sheer number of literary magazines would make you think that it's easy to get published somewhere. Unfortunately, most writer's think that, so the LMs get an over abundance of submissions, and depending on what they are looking for (many want edgy and unique... how about erratic and 'interesting'?...), it's tough to get selected. Not to mention, that many of them only publish one or two times a year and can take a year to get back to you.
What that all means is that I need to do multiple submissions and just keep pumping stuff out there. The hunt for the best places to submit my stories and essays has been going on for about a week, and what I've discovered is that there are websites out there designed to help a writer weed through all the possible places they can submit. They even have tools that do things like allow you to save searches, keep a list of the places you'd like to submit, and track deadlines and submissions you've already sent out.
That all sounds great, right? But what I also found is that there isn't one site that does everything I want it to do.
Duotrope is my favorite of the writer search sites I've found, as far as looking up literary magazines. It does not include information about other types of magazines, such as consumer and trade. It includes most of the literary magazines that I've searched for and is the most up-to-date. I can save the magazines I'm interested in submitting to in my "Favorites" list. I can also track my submissions and set deadlines.
Poets & Writers Magazine is another site that only lists literary magazines. It allows you to set up "My PW" to "Bookmark" magazines you are interested in submitting to. I ended up bookmarking a few that Duotrope did not have in their database. P & W also has tools to set deadline reminders but I don't see any tools beyond that.
Writers Market charges a minimal fee to use their search and submission tracking tools, and I was hoping to do without them. But they include much more in their database than Duotrope and Poets & Writers, including consumer magazines I'd like to query. There is also information on book publishers, conferences, trade magazines, contests, and everything you would find in the printed Writers Market book. It would be nice if I could just use this site, but their information seems to be updated much less often than the other two sites and there were a number of literary magazines that they don't list. I also couldn't find my favorite dog magazine, "Bark". What's up with that?!
So I'm a bit bent out of shape that I can't just use one tool to find and track the places I'd like to query and submit to, but it appears (until I can figure something else out), that I will mainly use Duotrope for literary magazines and Writers Market for everything else.
During my quest, I also found a very helpful site called Review Review. It lists literary magazines and has some filtering capability to search, but none of the tools to save information. But what it does have is reviews of the literary magazine and its contents, which provides a deeper look into what the editors want. It also has some great tips about submitting, and a classifieds section and there is a newsletter you can subscribe to. If nothing else, go to Review Review and read the "About" page where the founding editor Becky Tuch states, "As a fiction writer, trying to get my work published felt as futile and inconsequential as trying to write my name on a snowflake."
I myself find that I'm comparing the experience to my youthful days spent fishing. I'd go out on the lake, trying to decide whether to try worms, bacon, grubs, or leeches and whether I should fish in the bay on the north side or the weedy shallows on the east side.
A few little nibbles is all it takes to keep a person going back for another try.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
"Evolution is a funny thing, developing defense mechanisms that work solely on the element of surprise. Case study: when I was 7, Scott Haley and I caught a lizard in his backyard. The lizard was so shocked it shed its tail in Scott’s hand at which point Scott started bawling. His dad said the tail would grow back, but before we could witness the reptilian resurrection, his parents split up and his mom moved him to Sarasota. Point is: to survive is to let go. Of old habits, new friends, and to shed your tail every now and again. It leaves scars and it isn’t pretty but if you look close enough, what is?" -- Mary Shannon, "In Plain Sight"
I like Mary. On the show "Plain Sight", she's a Federal Marshal with the witness protection program. Mary is both tough and funny. She's also known as a royal pain in the butt. Hmmm...
But what I really wanted to say was how much I like the above quote from a recent program. I like the idea of shedding your tail every now and again, and the acknowledgement that the process isn't pretty.
If you're wondering what the photo has to do with any of this... nothing. I've been playing around with adding texture layers to photos and it's one of my experiments. I don't have many textures yet to play with and the one I used isn't the best for this photo but the point was to play with something a little different, a little artsy, and to have some fun doing so.
Bye, bye tail!
p.s. For those people curious about all the egg shells in the photo in my last post, I think that's at least two weeks worth of eggs. They're a cheap staple of my diet. I rinse and collect the shells until I have enough to then bake the remaining lining out of the inside and crush the shells up until they are like a powder that can go into the worm bin or be used for a calcium supplement for the dogs and cat. Aren't you sorry you asked?
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I'm appearing on Vision and Verb today so please stop on by.
p.s. I spoke with the Luke's vet yesterday and described how Luke was doing. I was a bit concerned that his breathing might not have been normal at the end of our ride on Sunday, but I wasn't sure because I didn't pay attention at the beginning of the ride and am not sure what normal looks like. I think I'm becoming a bit paranoid. Luke wasn't blowing but was just breathing slow with a pause between in and out. The vet thought everything sounded good and that Luke's energy was probably down more from the medication he's taking temporarily than from anything else. So it sounds good. Now if I can just start breathing normally again...
Monday, February 6, 2012
We were promised a sunny weekend. They lied.
But we did have a frosty fairy tale morning on Saturday.
I only caught the tail end of the crystal coating
As I was in bread and cookie production mode in the early hours. Comfort food...
I have ridden Luke twice in the past week. The vet said to do with Luke whatever I used to do with him. I haven't gone that far yet. I can feel he's still not 100% and he tires quickly.
He doesn't cough now, just snorts and blows for a bit. We have trotted and cantered, with frequent walk breaks. Maybe I'm being too careful, but I'm going by how he feels to me and taking things slow.
Despite what I'm reading about how heaves is controllable, I don't feel like I have anything controlled -- not with Luke and certainly not with the rest of my life.
I walked with the Brew Babes today for a long time, trying to free something trapped inside my chest and wrapping around my stomach.
Surrounded by mud, ice, and shades of brown, there was nothing worth taking my camera out of its bag to photograph, except for the Brew Babes themselves in a shady spot with a bit of snow white.
I concentrated hard to keep my feet moving, without slipping or tripping, and let the tears fall that I'd been holding back for days. I felt a bit of the tightness loosening.
And when I looked up, I found something worth shooting in the sky.
There's always something if you look patiently with your heart.
p.s. Thank you for all your kind wishes for Luke. It's meant a lot to me.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Well, let's get the bad stuff out of the way.
I spoke to the vet on Tuesday and Luke does have Recurrent Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, better known to horse owners as "Heaves".
It was one of those conversations where I lost it after the ROPD news and when the vet said something about some level that is normally at 13% but in Luke, it's at 42% and that's significant, his words started to sound like blips and bleeps.
There was nothing in the test results indicating allergies or an infection.
I'm a little off balance. A little knocked off my feet.
I remember how Luke looked when I got him, rain rot and all.
Someone at work told me that maybe it was time to sell Luke to cut back expenses. For one thing, you can't sell, or I can't sell, a horse because he's sick or because the board and vet bills mean I have to give up other things.
Luke got me through a very tough time. I won't abandon him. I know how bad that feels. We're going to trail ride this year. He can depend on it.
The plan is that I pick up two medications from the vet tomorrow -- Desamethasone (a once a day injection to be given for at least 20 days) and Ventipulmin (a syrup given twice daily for 7 days). Cheryle will give the morning medication (the injection and syrup), I'll do the evening (the syrup). Thank God for good friends who are always there to support me.
Luke has not coughed since the test was run a week ago, and I jogged with him on Saturday with no resulting cough, so perhaps the good news is that we've caught this early, can control it, and Luke and I will still have our adventures.
My son called me Tuesday night. He's in heavy need to find another place to live in New York. I'm pulling for a good place for him and hope you will too. He's got a place if everything goes through. Good thoughts, good thoughts, good thoughts...
Talking to my son helped. The anchor of a bit of family. I miss him so much. I have decided that no matter what, I'm going to see my kid this year.
For better news, kind of, I submitted a story to an anthology for Polish writers. Okay, so I'm not Polish technically but my adoptive mother was Polish, and I was told I was Polish when I was informed that I was adopted so technically...
Anyway, the submission to the anthology was due January 31st and as is my usual style, I ran it right up to the wire. I learned why I have such a hard time submitting anything. Okay, so I procrastinate, but I also have a hard time with story endings and I edit the hell out of my writing and it's still not good enough to me.
But the total "woo hoo!" is that I submitted. Fingers crossed.
And I'm going for a repeat performance in February as soon as I figure out where to submit and thus, what to write.
Let's lighten up...
Last Saturday, I went to yoga in the morning, then rigged up a leash configuration to walk the dogs hands free so it was easier to take photos and save my shoulders.
We took a different trail than usual and had fun checking out the pond that Luke and I have explored during the summer.
Then Cheryle and I went cross country skiing in the snow dust. Desperate snow times require desperate ski measures of glide, glide, glide, SCRITCH on grass, glide, glide glide, SCRITCH! Whatever... It was so awesome to get out on my skis!
To all of you who are struggling with problems, my heart aches for you and I think of you often. I hope you know whatever happens you will handle it. You have so many people who will be there for you. Count on it.