Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2008

I take a risk when I write, period. Risk that I might say something I can never take back. Risk I might say something that someone will recognize, like the time I wrote about going to the Taj Mahal with R. How we met in the lobby of our hotel before sunrise, and how I was embarrassed to be seen with him in his pleated gray slacks, thin leather belt, and striped Polo shirt. How I thought he looked like he was dressed for a morning of golf at the country club, not for a rickshaw ride at dawn.

I take a risk when I write about sex, when I talk about money or politics. Those are the big ones, questions of how much I make, what I’m worth, the way we calculate all that in dollars.

I take a risk when I say I never wanted to be poor. My parents were poor. Poor never leaves your bones. It resides in your DNA, stays with you the same way brown eyes and olive skin stay with you. Nothing you can help, checking the price of the bathroom rug, buying things only on sale and only at least 50% off.

I take a risk when I write about my body, the fact that yesterday I shaved my legs for the first time in months. I clogged the razor and exposed the bumps on my skin where I’d scratched until the pores rose like freckles on a strawberry.

I take a risk when I write about my skin, the living organism that covers more area than any other part of my body, write about its color (a sort of cappuccino), about its consistency (smooth, soft), its elasticity (firm but losing firmness, especially sagging breasts and sagging skin under my arms).

I take a risk when I say I’m growing old, I’m the age where I first had memories of Mom, strong memories, lucid and vivid, of her knees and calves, which are mine now.

Writing is a confession, a small booth that smells of musty wood and Old Spice. Father Cassidy, who smells of bourbon and ashes, who has sweet breath and sour, a big belly and gentleness.

I take a risk when I wonder aloud, did he ever molest anyone? I can’t help but ask myself that question every time I think of old priests from my youth. He used to pinch my cheeks, but I remember nothing more unsavory than his boozey breath.

I take a risk when I admit I never brought charges against the man who did molest me, even though I knew he probably dated women with young girls long after he divorced my sister. I should have protected them, should have taken more of a stand, although, yeah, I was protecting me.

Sometimes, and here’s the real risk, I think we all get what we get. The cards are dealt for a reason. I could have gotten an ace or a pair of queens, but instead I got a joker, a deuce, and that became who I became.

I’m not saying I deserved it, no more than any one deserves violence or abuse or cancer. But sometimes there’s nothing any one of us can do to change the course of life.



-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – TAKE A RISK

Read Full Post »

The Sky, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Stars, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






Possibilities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Mother Goddess, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






The World, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The World II, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





These are our February mandalas for The Great Round: Stage Two – Bliss. Again, we used Crayola markers and colored pencils. The feel of coloring the Stage 2 mandalas was very different than The Void mandalas of January. I pay attention to the colors I am drawn to when I sit down with the circles. My body responds to color.

According to the book Coloring Mandalas by Susanne F. Fincher:

Color is produced by waves of electromagnetic energy perceived by cells in your eyes, your skin, and your bones. Reds have the longest wavelengths and transmit the least energy. Violets have the shortest wavelengths and the most energy. Red is stimulating, blue causes relaxation. Color is simple, direct, and measurable in the natural world.

Color is a way in to your personal life story. Wearing colors we associate with a specific memory, or another time in our lives, layers our experience. Color is universally physiological, personal, and cultural. If I start to make a list of the colors I have used in the last few months, patterns start to emerge.

I wanted to get these up before February ends. Of course, it’s a Leap year, so there’s one more day of February in 2008! Stay tuned for Stage 3 of The Great Round in March.


FIRST PAIR:  The first two are the same template, Sky & Stars. One is completed, one in progress. We are shaped by our choices. The challenge of Stage 2 is to focus on only one choice, and take it as far as you can.

SECOND PAIR:  The first template of the 2nd pair is about living a life pregnant with possibilities. The second is based on an illustration by archaeologist and archaeomythologist, Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess. It is about the mystery of memories of birth (and before). The regenerative powers of the Great Mother were worshipped by many of the Ancients.

THIRD PAIR:  The two mandalas in the 3rd pair are the same template, Earth, the universal womb. The first is Liz’s in colored pencil; the second I did in marker. I enjoy seeing the same templates, side by side – same lines, different colors.


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, February 28th, 2008

-related to posts, Coloring Mandalas, The Void – January Mandalas, and WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

Read Full Post »





I get up at 4:10 am, the latest possible time I can rise and get dressed, make a cup of coffee, brush my teeth, warm the frost off the car, and still make it to the airport 45 minutes before my 6 o’clock flight.

The plane is almost empty. I sit alone on row 12, over the wing. Something about soaring west, away from the sunrise yet still into the light, away from freezing cold into a temperate environ — makes getting up that early all worthwhile.

We reach cruising altitude. On the tray table in front of me are:

  • pens and doodling journal
  • writing notebook
  • cell phone on airplane mode
  • coffee and cream in a styrofoam cup
  • plastic glass with tomato juice and ice

Plane acoustics are like large restaurant acoustics. A din — combination of the pressurized cabin air, the murmur of men talking a few rows back, the jets. It is perfect white noise.

I dread trips that contain any of the following: multiple stops, change of planes, crowded coach seats, more than two hours. But a hop in a near-empty plane from Albuquerque to Phoenix is perfect.

Even the stale plane smell is absent. Even the bumps are forgiven. Airline attendants are just the right amount of attentive when the passenger load is light. Everyone leaves everyone else alone.

The moon is still out as we bank over the sprawling city. I see it hanging just above the tip of the wing.

I am self-sufficient. I have everything I need in my leather case and rollaway bag. The plane empties quickly. Walking through the airport, I am still protected in my bubble. Strangers traveling don’t make eye contact.

In the three hours since leaving my home and driving my rental car to the exit booth, I have said only five words:

  • “Coffee, four creams”
  • “Thanks”
  • “Ba-bye”


Certain plane rides are so ordinary, they are special.


Read Full Post »

  
Mano Poderosa (Omnipotent Hand), gouache painting and etching
on wood, retablo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





heart to head to hand:
what am i willing to bleed?
the risk of writing






-related to post, haiku (one-a-day)

-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – TAKE A RISK

Read Full Post »

The Full Snow Moon was bright, then blood red, the last Total Lunar Eclipse until 2012. There are many names for February’s Moon: Sleet Moon, Goose Moon, Coyote Moon. I even found a reference from the Sioux, Raccoon Moon. I thought of our resident raccoon. I bundled wool over exposed skin, stood outside in no wind, -6 degrees of chilled air, watched the shadow of Earth fall between us and the Moon.

We could only stand to be outside for 5 or 10 minutes. Then we would quickly roll inside, warm up frost-fried fingers, fumble with camera buttons to see if we got a good shot. Blurred, no tripod. Back outside again. Even near a large city, it was silent, clear, you could see a spattering of stars through crimped branches of oak and elm.

The Eastern Cherokee call February the Bone Moon. Food grows thin, sometimes runs out. The Ancients gnawed on bones, made soup in steaming black pots over wooden tripods on fire. The white Bone moon disappeared, slowly eaten by Earth’s shadowy darkness. And in its place, indirect sunlight that still managed to bounce off the moon, turned into red, blues filtered, sucked out by the Earth’s atmosphere. The red moon is warm. We stood staring, not wanting to talk.

February is a lean month. I am restless, can’t stand to be in the house. I have moved to a coffee shop close by. I’m staring out at what is left of Winter’s dress – dirty brown snow. Cars fly past on their way to Rainbow Foods. There are only three of us left inside. I slow-drink a latte (skim), set Natalie’s book out on the table next to my headphones, cell phone, a black caribou jumping through a turquoise hoop. Is it a Snow Moon caribou? Or have we crossed a line into March.

I fattened up over Winter. I can feel a lumbering, I like the word lumbering, in my Soul. And my body aches to run, screaming through the wilderness. I guess that’s what I loved about freezing my butt off, staring up at the Snow Moon. The wildness of it all. I heard the dogs bark down the street. I wanted to scream. I don’t think I said anything to Liz, but they were barking through the whole 3 hours of the eclipse.

I wonder what the Ancients thought, standing around, coyotes circling, staring at the moon disappear behind invisible shadows. How did they make sense of it? A god, a goddess, another force to be reckoned with.

I have not seen the raccoon paws again. But water was dripping off the shingles when I left the house. Puddles splash across the sidewalk, rubber treads throw themselves into muddy thaw. I passed a stone office building located in the middle of a bog. There it is, all alone, in the middle of a swamp. It was empty for a long time, finally bought by a company with a wave logo and hydraulics in the name.

I told Liz I wish that was my studio, a building floating in the middle of a cattail bog, floating on a swamp. But why do people build in Nature’s drainage system, the places she uses to purify her water? I swear, if there were not zoning laws, state and national parks, every single square inch of space would be covered in concrete, tar, brick and mortar. There would be no Snow Moon to stare up at on a February winter night. Yeah, we tried to take over the Moon, too. But there was no air, no water, no food.

Man, so limited in his ability to adapt to physical hardship, fights the elements, refuses to honor the past. I’ve gone off on a tangent now. I guess there is something to be said for a good rant once in a while. I could tell by my writing practice this morning that I was edgy and unforgiving. Mostly of myself. I come here to stare out the window, guilt-free, to work on my projects without flinching or running over to add water to the cat dish.

I remember Natalie saying, “You’ve got to get out of the house. It’s too distracting.” I guess if a home was big enough, you could create enough space, your own wing, off from the rest of the family. But I am so used to sharing space that isn’t really there. It appears and reappears, Poof!, out of thin air.

Like the eclipsed, disappearing Moon. Only to surface hours later, no worse for wear, revealing a few more of her secrets, in coded shades of red. Nature’s secrets, they keep the dark mysteries alive. And in the morning, more Sun.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, February 25th, 2008

-related to posts, winter haiku trilogy and PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min

Read Full Post »

Snow Flying On Ice, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Snow Flying On Ice, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






thick lumbering lake
bristles at the crackling sound
snow flying on ice






Lake Ice Booming – 1min
Recorded by Audio Producer/Editor/Mixer, Curt Olson at Track Seventeen

More sounds of Winter at: The Sound of Snow and Ice – Various Artists at Gruenrekorder

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, February 24th, 2008

-related to post, haiku (one-a-day)

Read Full Post »

Do You Let Yourself Read?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Do You Let Yourself Read?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I had a voicemail from one of my writing friends yesterday. She said she was frustrated because she wasn’t giving herself time to read. Last year, she had structured it in:  made a reading list, read the Classics over Summer, devoured books to feed the hunger — to be close to other writers.

This year, it was hard to give herself space.

I was relieved to get her call. I had the same thought process rushing through my head. I set aside one day a week (read — 5 hours) to work on my creative writing projects:  to map out chapters, daydream, doodle, jot down ideas; to transcribe recordings from last June for my memoir; to scribble thoughts, future writing topics — to stare out the window and daydream.

I’m listening to Anne Lamott’s Word By Word in the car, to and from work (books on tape (CD) are the greatest!). She says every writer, every creative person, needs time to just sit and stare out the window.

You have to slow down and create space in your life for ideas to surface. Staring out the window can be productive for a writer.

Last year I was religious about giving myself time. I had the structure of a year long Writing Intensive with Natalie Goldberg to guide me. She assigned books to us, great literature to read. I read so many good books over the last two years.

What’s going on now?



   Do You Let Yourself Read?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Do You Let Yourself Read?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Do You Let Yourself Read?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Do You Let Yourself Read?, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Yesterday, during the 5 hours set aside for writing, I wouldn’t give myself the time. I tried staring out the window through the ash and oaks, listening to crows and the pretty pretty, pretty of cardinals, daydreaming about my projects. I felt guilty.

I thought of everything I had do around the house:  give Kiev fresh water in her dish, make the unraveled bed, go through upcoming bills, slip in a load of laundry. I played tennis with Mr. StripeyPants on the bed. I fiddled with my hair. I took a long, hot shower. Still — no reading, no writing.

(Monkey Mind anyone?)

It took me a while to figure it out. What I really wanted to be doing was reading. Writers need to read other writers. People who have gone through the distracted pain, unspent joy, and daily soul-searching required to write a book.

I’ve started reading three books over the last month. I’m in the middle of Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend From Far Away, Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street, and a book of Best American Essays – 1999. Not one of them have I finished.

Finally, late in the afternoon, I said, “Forget this!” (the language was not as kind), and settled in on the couch with Sinclair Lewis and Main Street. It felt so good to let myself read. I wandered the muddy streets of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, met Dr. Will Kennicott, and got lost in Carol Milford’s head.



Do you let yourself read?


  • WHAT:  What are you reading? And I’m not just talking about magazines, the New York Times, or MSN online. I’m talking books. Tell me what books you’re reading.
  • WHERE:  Where do you read? Propped up in bed, stretched out on the couch, in the tub, out on the porch swing?
  • WHEN:  When do you read — late at night, early in the morning?
  • HOW:  How do you read? Do you slow down and savor every word?
  • WHY:  Why do you like reading. What inspires you to pick up a book?


Reading is good for the Spirit. I come from a family of readers. My mother read a lot when we were growing up. When we didn’t know the answer to something, she encouraged us to head down the hallway and grab one of the black Collier’s encyclopedias from the corner bookcase.

Did your parents read to you when you were a child? Who taught you how to form words? It is not only writers who should read — everyone should pick up a good book.

If you’re reading, let’s talk books. Tell me the what, why, when, where, and how. If you’re not reading, tell me why. Why is it the last thing on your list?



    Writers' Hands VIII, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Writers' Hands VIII, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Writers' Hands VIII, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,592 other followers