Vital Statistics

When asked to create a section of an HTML page about myself that listed some information about myself, these are the interesting things that I listed:

  • My husband Corey is a tugboat captain
  • I have three children: Alexis, Eamonn, and Brett (I did not elaborate on my two younger children much because they have a right to privacy that I don’t give to my husband  and daughter because they don’t complain so much since they read my blogs; however, since Eamonn and Brett do not read my blogs yet, I try to leave them out. I figure it’s only fair . . . for now)
  • I have three dogs: Shakes, Alfie, and Tillie
  • Shakes, a Jack Russell Terrier, is named for William Shakespeare
  • Alfie, also a Jack Russell, is named for Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • Tillie is a Black Labrador puppy, and she is named for Tillie Olsen (my boys want to know why our pets all have to have weird names, like writers’ names and such (the Beta is named Mulder). My reply is that there are no other names.)
  • I read mysteries voraciously, and I try to write poetry.

Now, I only listed those few things for several reasons:

  1. I don’t really enjoy this code business.
  2. I don’t really want to engage in that much discourse with my professors, nor do I believe that they will truly appreciate my wit.
  3. I’m so far behind in this class that anything that I finish for any assignment that I turn in I consider a major achievement (I NEVER thought that I would be saying that about any course that I was taking).
  4. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Now, after all of my opining on writing and finding things to say, isn’t that just a damned shame? Or am I just completely boring? Either way, it’s just absolutely and completely pathetic.

I mean, for god’s sake, I could have written about the time that I jumped naked off a boulder into a pool of crystal clear water just for the hell of it. Or I could have written about the time I danced on a runway in a go go bar for a story on the nightlife in Norfolk. Or I could have written about the time that I met the Queen Mother in England. I kid you not. But no, I listed just the facts, ma’am.

The people who knew me when I was interesting would be so proud.

Coming Home Again to Poets & Writers

I just finished writing a paper on Poets & Writers for my journals class, and it’s hard to believe that the magazine has been around for over 20 years now. If you have never picked up this magazine or visited the website (www.pw.org), then please don’t wait too long to do so. Poets & Writers is a nonprofit organization that was started in 1970 as a resource for writers, and it has never swayed from its original mission. Throughout the years P&W has given thousands of dollars to writers to conduct workshops or hold readings through their Readings/Workshops program. They also sponsor the Jackson Poetry Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. Whether you are just starting out or you have published several books, you can appreciate what this organization and its publication has to offer.

I was introduced to the magazine when it was still in its infancy by none other than my best friend Mari. The format hasn’t changed all that much. It still features a profile on a literary figures as its lead story, and then other stories related to the craft of writing, whether they be interviews, how-tos, or a feature on trends in the industry. You’ll always find lots and lots of information on grants, writing retreats and colonies, MFA programs, calls for papers, manuscripts, submissions, etc., and the classified section is a veritable treasure-trove of information. Published bi-monthly, the subscription is very affordable, even for those on a limited budget, and if you cannot afford to subscribe, you can read the online version, which has its own content.

If it sounds as if I am a big fan, I am. I used to go through with my pink highlighter and carefully circle all of the retreats that I wanted to go to, and all of the deadlines that I wanted to try to get submissions into, and then I would just as carelessly procrastinate until all of the dates passed me by. It was a game that I played with myself, and I played it very well. Some of you may already be familiar with this game. I believe that it even has some sort of name, something like “fear of success/fear of failure.” Anyway, this went on for a number of years, for as long as I taught at ODU, and then when I stopped teaching, I stopped reading Poets & Writers Magazine. I mean, what was the point? I was never going to be published anyway.

Then the really ironic thing was that I began to write in earnest for the museum and to have my articles published in their journal, but it wasn’t my poetry. Life’s funny that way; isn’t it?

A few years ago, I started to read Poets & Writers Magazine again, and it was as if I had become reacquainted with an old friend, only this one had aged very well. Stylistically, the old black and white  newsletter format on white paper had progressed to a nice coated stock, perfect bound. But the content was still there. The prizes were still there, and a few new ones too. It’s nice that you can come home again to some things.

Anyway, as I said, if you’ve never sat down with a copy, go to Barnes & Noble, and buy one this weekend. Make yourself a nice cuppa tea, and peruse the pages. Don’t forget to have a highlighter nearby, just in case. You never know what you might find between the pages . . .

More on Reformation Soap Operas

So season two of The Tudors has picked up right where season one ended, and things in Harry’s court are just as full of lust and intrigue as before, if not moreso. I must admit to being addicted to the series even more now than in season one and for purely shallow reasons. For example, in an interview with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, the actor admitted that one of the perks of playing King Henry was wearing underwear with small crosses sewn all over it, which he planned to take with him once the series was over. The production has even thought about the kng’s underwear–I love that kind of detail! No, kidding, only kidding.

There is a scene in which Sir Thomas More resigns as Henry’s Chancellor. More promises not to speak of his opinion regarding the king’s relationships with Queen Katherine and Anne Boleyn once he leaves court. What is so engaging about the scene is that the viewer does not realize how tense the scene between the two former friends actually is until the king visibly releases his breath and slumps in the throne once More leaves the room. The tension is palpable, and the viewer is caught up without even realizing it. I did not realize that I was holding my breath until Rhys Meyers exhaled. Now that’s acting.

After watching only two episodes, I must admit that I miss Wolsely, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m such a fan of Sam Neill or the machinations of Wolsley. Not to worry, though, this season promises lots of plotting and scheming withouth Wolsley. King Henry is decidedly darker. Brandon, when not trying to play assassin, admits that he has “grown up,” and it seems that everyone else is moving about this chess board, vying for position before more heads roll.

Peter O’Toole is deliciously malicious as Henry’s Catholic foil, Pope Paul III, but that’t not to say that we aren’t seeing a more serious side of Henry. The Reformation is rolling in. Cromwell is secretly rubbing his hands with glee. The clerics are rolling over. (But I had to pause and laugh when Henry held Parliament wearing that feathered hat that sits atop the head of every painted depiction of Henry VIII.)

The dialogue is still rich and engaging, such as when More talks to his daughter about a martyr’s death, but I must confess that the 21st woman in me wanted to throttle Anne for apologizing for giving birth to a female child. Of course, how was she to know that it wasn’t actually her fault? She should have listened to the King of France when he warned her that trying to live a life aspired to was not the same as living a life born to. And even though we know that baby will be one of the greatest monarchs the world ever saw, we still are reminded that Henry is a lout who deserts his post-partum wife the first chance he gets.

And by the way, does anyone else really hate Anne’s father as pimp?

 

Mr. Postman

I never thought that I would miss my computer so much, which leads me to the subject of this blog: my dependence on computers for writing and how little I actually put pen to paper any more. In the past two weeks, I have had my annual bout of bronchitis, which, if any of you are sufferers know, makes typing quite hard as coughing fits plague you every two minutes or so. I’m down to the occasional annoying lingering cough, and I opened my laptop only three days ago two catch up on e-mail and Blackboard for school since I was facing a midterm in my much-maligned E-publishing Infrastructure course. Having survived last night’s midterm, of which we shall not speak, I can now get back to the business of blogging.

So these are my thoughts: Writing, I mean actual writing, as in putting pen to paper, is a dying art form. I love to look at old letters and see the beautiful script of our predecessors, how it artfully loops and slants across the page. You will find no hearts or smiley faces above the lower case i’s. Each letter is carefully crafted and adjoined to the next, a marriage of letters and words, the page itself a thing of such beauty that at first glance it is wondrous to behold, even without the reading. But then with the reading: people of letters hundreds of years ago wrote of even the simplest things with such meaning. I remember reading excerpts from Samuel Pepys diary, which told so much about life in 17th century London, but his writing was full of character, even when writing about the mundane. People don’t write with character any more. I don’t believe that they know how. I think that it’s because we are such an abbreviated society: email, text messaging. Who actually writes in complete sentences? I hate statements such as r u 4 rel? It makes me shudder. I know. The English instructor in me is showing. but is that all?

Am I alone in bemoaning the lack of words in our communication? Am I the only one who misses receiving printed mail in my mailbox? I remembr receiving my first real letter. It was from a friend of mine who had moved away in the 8th grade. Her name was Jan Farber, and she wrote to me once her family was settled into their new home. I have no idea what the letter said, but I remember receiving the letter with my name on it, in an envelope with a stamp. It was a momentous occasion. Correspondence via U.S. mail with handwritten addresses, pre-typed labels was lovely. Stationary that you bought in boxes and didn’t run through printers was lovely. I remember one particular present that I received from friends that I loved, and they knew that I would love: a Cross pen set and a box of heavyweight cream stationary with a hunter green border. Maybe some of you might find that to be a truly lame present, but those of you who know my ongoing love affair with paper realize just how much that present meant to me.

Why don’t we write to one another any more? Why do we settle for email? I know that I am one of the worst offenders of my own accusation. J’accuse! My reasoning is purely for physical reasons, and I should try harder: it taxes my wrist to write with a pen; I could rest my wrist, though, couldn’t I? My handwriting is slovenly, and I am embarrassed by it, though. When I look at those old letters, even when I look at my father’s handwriting, I am embarrassed by my generation’s penmanship. The free-spirited 70’s produced a generation of counter culture people who wanted to do everything differently from their parents, right down to the way they wrote, so we all tried to write uniquely. In my parent’s generation, their is a similarity in the penmanship. Even my mother and father wrote similarly, even though my father spoke English as a second language. That generation was schooled in penmanship. Not us. For us it was a free-for-all, and my left-handed penmanship reflects that, so typing was my salvation. Hence, my awe of old penmanship.

I owe a very dear friend of mine a long overdue, long letter. He wrote to me and shared something last fall, and has been very disappointed that I did not respond. That I did not respond had nothing to do with his confidence but with the timing of it. I have been keeping him in the back of my mind for months now, promising myself that I would write when things in my personal life settled down. Obviously, that is never going to happen. So now I will promise myself to find a quiet moment this weekend, and to sit down with my new pens and some of my lovely writing paper and to write him a long, reflective letter so that he will know just how much he means to me and how he has never been out of my mind. 

Disapparations

Sorry I’ve been missing in action for about a week or so. I caught my spring cold, which turned into nastiness in my chest, so I’ve not been up to par for a while. I hope to be back on the keyboard soon. I just wanted to check in so that you didn’t think that I had gone defunct. We even have a new line to the poem which I haven’t had a chance t0 acknowledge yet.  Keep those words coming scribes. We may finish a poem yet!

Talk to you soon………