The Eggs Are Starting To Mumble

I may not have done a lot of writing for this week, but my enjoyment of this poem just keeps going up. I figured that by this time I’d be wanting to move on to my own words, but instead I decided I want to memorize it, write it down, make it pretty, and carry it with me everywhere.

IMG_2196

I know the colors are a little saturated for a lord from the Night’s Plutonian shore, but I’m wanting to do a wax resist. It’s been so long since I’ve tried that, I might as well say I’ve never done it before because I don’t remember a lick about it. If I ruin my raven in the process, I’m gonna cry.

IMG_2188

And then do another one because I might ultimately be wasting my time, but let’s face it, I’m a housewife with a very active baby girl who seems every bit as adventurous as her momma. I just want need something to do that keeps me sane in the middle of chaos, even if it’s not churning out a lot of writing at this point.

I will though, I have shadows of meaning lurking in the corners of my imagination, tantalizing me, whispering my name from the branches of barren, twisted trees shrieking in the wind.

A few brief pieces have fallen from my head this week. I was browsing around and ran across a prompt for a beautiful sentence, and right then and there I surprised myself with this:

In silence, I caress the silk, months of my strained eyes and pricked fingers as I stitched the delicate symbols, stained with the blood of my labor, and now my fresh tears as I know that as I finished the shroud I must finish his life as well.

So my ability to come up with flash seems to be improving. That’s nice. Not sure if it was because of this project or the skill books I’ve been reading lately. I’ll be writing up a page on those soon, a recommended reading type page.

P.S. – I have decided that rather than posting with a loose deadline of “sometime on Thursday”, I’m going to make it a scheduled posting at noon on Friday and see if that doesn’t help me reach more people.

Raven’s Eggs

Restless in the new place, anxious to start writing again, but we haven’t fully settled in to new routines yet. I’ve lost my protected writing time now my helper’s school is back in session, and I feel kind of lost in every space I try to claim as my writing spot.

I’ve had an idea for a while though, and a few things I’m focusing on came together in a way that makes it the perfect project for now. It won’t get me churning out material right away, but will allow me to slowly savor the process for a change, a chance to see what happens when I slow down and rely more on the art side of my creative journaling.

I would like to see what happens if I illustrate a story creation process, using art alongside words to help me maintain focus while I mull over concepts.

I think of it as illumination, a modern form of the scribe’s artwork back when the bible was the only printed story in town. I feel that creative journaling is more about capturing your own essence and experience, but this is journaling the birth of a story. Sometimes very productive, sometimes just a lot of fun.

Only this time what I want to illuminate is the process of illumination, images that express one method of developing a story this way,  images that can serve as references so I can tape a pretty list of my favorite writing exercises to the wall. I will put more effort than usual into them, slowing myself down to a crawl.

Lately, my inner muse has been stuttering. If I slow down and focus on the minute details of the process, will the next few stories come out with more confidence even in a distracting environment, the way slow deliberate movements in Tai-Chi are supposed to help you move instinctively?

Will I get more ideas? Better ideas? Or will it be a waste of time, an excuse to focus on something that ultimately will distract me, an artful form of procrastination similar to seeking out your protagonist’s favorite color or high school mascot?

Then an image came to me that promises it definitely won’t be a waste of time, because what I see will completely capture my current mood and excitement, making the project a nice reminder of this point in my life.

Since I’m not actually a tourist, I haven’t gotten to start my spooky tourism yet, but I’m psyching myself up by browsing the complete works of Poe. One of those things happened where one thought hit the other, and now there is this:

IMG_2109

The first step is to find the words. Guess where the words are from, go on, guess.

IMG_2103

I plucked an assortment of pretty words, loosely sorted them into three groups of seeming emotion or meaning, and my favorite word from each group will be the driving concept. Each egg will hatch a story inspired mostly by exploring that word, but how the word develops will be shaped by the archetype of the Raven, especially aspects of him that Poe seemed to admire when studying his forgotten lore.

Bring on October. I’m coming for you, Poe’s banister. And I bring tribute.

Updates:

Not an earth-shattering project, but one with updates nonetheless. It is turning out to be helpful while I adapt to a new environment and routine, and it is helping prevent a total stall to my creativity.

9.28.18 – Small Raven feathered plot bunnies are stirring within at their eggs. This poem is with me everywhere, in everything I do.

10.12.18 – I feel a little silly when one solution for writing time finally occurs to me.

10.19.18 – Still struggling with my new environment, but I will persist and make a way to make this work. A story for one word is finally developing nicely, I know exactly what I want to do, I just need to find the time to write it.

10.26.18 – Couldn’t resist sharing some world building in story form. I know what I want to express about all the stories, this week will be about getting rough drafts finished for all of them. They will be developed at the same time, so shared when revision is complete.

 

 

Gettin’ my cultural groove on.

I adore the new home. A wall of solid mirror makes the living room feel huge, and there are floral stained-glass accents throughout. It’s all polished hardwood and gleaming.

IMG_1950

We have the ground floor, there are apartments in the basement, and on the second story. We’re on a quiet street full of homes with their own hints of stained glass and modest architectural flourishes, with small well-groomed yards that often display skill with attractive edible landscaping. There are plenty of shade trees, and the birds don’t seem to be intimidated by foot traffic.

IMG_1941

In short, Joe did a good job finding a nice place to raise a family. Most blocks end in a small selection of shops. Each one looks like a convenience store, but inside is full of treasures.

Prickly pear, papaya, fresh fish, and a selection of staples that give a taste of cultures the locals once called home. Mom and Pop corner stores at home never offer fresh produce, real shopping within a pleasant walk is a relief.

IMG_1944

I haven’t placed the accent of my favorite store owner (the one right on the corner in the pic), but he typifies the atmosphere of so many of these shops. Warm, friendly, accommodating, and somewhat bursting with pride. He’s teaching my daughter to anticipate a free lollipop every time we leave.

I mentioned to him that I’m more comfortable in the country, and he said that to him, this is the country. Calling anywhere in NYC “country” seems laughable, but he kind of has a point, a little. Life is close enough together that it’s stacked up on top of itself here, but we do have areas overgrown with vines, areas with fireflies, even deer a few blocks away.

IMG_1921

You don’t tend to find murals in the country though. And when I say we live in a quiet neighborhood, I mean you only see one or two people walking down each block, and though cars are parked everywhere, there’s also a few moving around at any given time.

IMG_1929

Here the homes sometimes house several generations, the oldest grandparents barely understanding English. The accent thins down to imperceptible in the smallest, most wide eyed and beautiful youth. Here live the people who came to America hoping for a better life, and they did so.

Here, in this city, lives the American Dream. I mean, of course it’s everywhere in America, but here it doesn’t seem as jaded.

Let me give you some specifics. The other day, it was too late for most food options. Our trusty GPS led us to a parking lot surrounded by a decorative iron gate and lush, carefully pruned hedges. Christmas lights in the form of angels lit up the trees.

Three shops stood next to each other, and it wasn’t until we left that we realized they could be owned by the same man. A martial arts studio lay next to an IHOP, then on the other side lay a sushi place. I have got to go there sometime when the sushi-hating Joe isn’t dining with me and my son.

We walked inside IHOP and right away I could tell something was off, but I couldn’t immediately place it. I saw pictures on the walls of a martial arts grand-master, so I figured the students from next door ate here after practice. Then I looked around and saw the subtle “off-ness” was due to a slight Asian flare to the architecture, making it a little different than most IHOPs.

Then the coolest thing happened. An older version of the martial arts grand master stood next to his poster and welcomed us to his restaurant. He wore shorts and knee length socks in a style that reminded me of a tourist in the islands, and suddenly the whole place felt like a tropical island, especially with the faint ocean feel to the air. I regretted not taking my camera.

He was charming, and radiated pride and love for his establishment. His presence and the atmosphere of the place made it an IHOP I will never forget. He helped me realize what it was I was seeing in the community around me, immigrants with true pride in what they’ve accomplished.

Yes, it’s everywhere across the nation, but here it radiates in a way more intense than I’ve ever run across. It’s an excitement that’s a little contagious, and an unexpected treat in this whole big city experience thing.

Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Last week I survived trial by fire to emerge triumphant, though embarrassingly dirty, in our quest to leap out of poverty and into the comforts of the middle class. Also, I learned that people are totally polite in New York City, or at least in the surrounding suburbs.

I have a promise of a visit into Manhattan this weekend, hopefully. I better see rudeness, I was totally promised snide behavior and am a little disappointed.

I’ve officially had 3 people say, “Oh, wow, she must be such a sweet baby to be so good on the trip,” at which point she beams with delight for she thinks she’s a pretty-princess-angel-baby, but I have to fight laughter because I know she’s a pretty-warrior-princess-monster-dinosaur-wrestle-maniac, and who on earth said she wasn’t screaming half the time?

At one point we were so relieved to see a rest area where she could run wild for a bit that the son and I took a photo to commemorate the occasion.

Joe got to ride with the bird and the dogs, he was still exhausted from driving down here followed immediately by lots of heavy lifting and way too many errands. It seemed more kind to keep the baby with me.

We left about 10pm on Sunday and arrived about 10pm on Tuesday, though we did have a 12-hour break in a town called White Castle, in I forget which state because hell I was so tired when we started the trip that I forgot my shoes in Tulsa.

I didn’t have a clue where we were pretty much 90% of the time, and I stared at the back of Joe’s car co much that I wouldn’t be surprised if it started showing up in dreams. Probably very surreal dreams where I’m drifting or lost.

When you’re exhausted and need to stay alert, I recommend stand-up comedy over music, most podcasts, and audio books. The variety in sound and speech patterns kept it from getting too repetitive and soothing, the laughter kept my adrenaline going and the mood up. Even the baby seemed to be enjoying our laughter, occasionally.

When the baby was at her worst, I switched to noise-canceling headphones and soothing nature sounds of birds singing in the daytime. My son was a tremendous help, working hard to soothe her while I focused on driving. I owe him, big time. We had the back seat packed tight, next trip I’ll make sure to seat him next to her and pack the front seat instead.

If it was a family trip with enough time to relax, it would have been way better. If we had twice the time and not as much stuff in our way, we would have been able to stop at tourist attractions, stretch our legs and chill. Alas, our schedule wouldn’t allow it, but at least it’s over.

I also kept getting disappointed that I didn’t have time to play in the weeds. Unfamiliar plants that I had a strong suspicion on what they might be kept tempting me along the road side. I would have loved to snap a few pics and grab a few seeds around the rest stops while the toddler ran her little monster butt into the ground.

All discomfort and frustrated travel wishes aside, it was so fulfilling to watch the trees and hills zoom by, running through places with familiar names and enticing mysteries. I totally wanted to plunge the secrets that Hershey, Pennsylvania held. Watching glimpses of towns zooming by is a daydreamer’s best friend.

So, the trip was too short and too long. When I woke up Wednesday morning to a knock on the door, I answered it feeling oddly hungover and filthy. My butt-length hair was a wild unfettered wreck, I was covered in sweat because the new place has window unit air conditioners and the one that cools most of the house is broken, and (best of all), because I am last on the needs list like a proper mother, I still hadn’t had my turn in the shower yet. In fact, I wasn’t even sure where a clean change of clothes might be.

It turned out to be my awesome upstairs neighbor who is an artist, a scholar, and a gentleman. He graduated from culinary school, and is putting the finishing touches on a book of poetry. He was polite enough to not be noticeably shaken by my fat ass running around without a bra on in filthy Hello Kitty pajamas. He gave me a picture frame as a housewarming gift, and offered to cook us dinner sometime.

I might be forced into displaying manners. I better study. I should re-read I Like You, by Amy Sedaris.

P.S. – I now belong to that exclusive group of people who have been told multiple times that their accent is charming, but we ourselves know we actually sound like hicks back in our home town.

P.P.S. – I’ve lost count of how many times Joe has told me how much weight I have lost. Even better is the fact that if I hadn’t been working so hard, moving and a long road trip like that would have had me convalescing on a heating pad for a few days, instead of contemplating picking up some beer to take the edge off the pain while I continue unpacking. Hiking, you will be mine.