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Sunday, September 23, 2012

February Midnight

Sometimes it’s nice to just let go your life
And let someone else’s words take over.
I think now I see how nice it could be
To be drunk or drugged rather than sober.
When there’s no escape from emotional rape
And the weight of the world has you kneeling,
Why pretend that your mind doesn’t bend
And your senses and soul aren’t all reeling?
Deep in the night let logic take flight,
Let your subconscious loose from his cage.
Slip out of the noose and turn it all loose –
You’ve got nothing to lose but your rage.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writing poetry

            Posting that old poem, it occurred to me that I haven’t any new ones. I started writing poetry in high school, as most teens with a literary bent and a lot of excess angst do. I wrote them through college and into my early thirties. The 1980s, when I couldn’t seem to get a novel going, spawned a lot of poetry – some of it meant to be song lyrics. Then, somewhere in the late 1980s, the poetry urge completely dried up. I have no idea why.
            Of the several notebooks filled with poems, I have forty-six I’m not ashamed of. I think I’ll post them one by one on this blog, as poetry doesn’t sell. Only one has ever been published, in an anthology called Light Year back in the 1980s, and I didn’t get paid for it. Had to buy the book. Oh, well, at the time it was worth it to me.
            So what makes a person a poet, as opposed to a prose writer? A lot of people are both, but I’ve always been rather single-minded as far as the creative impulse. I’ve noticed that when I’m writing a lot, I stop knitting, and when I’m knitting a lot, I seem to nearly stop writing. I have never figured out what it was about that particular decade that inspired the type of writing I did then. It was a hard decade. I was working at a well-paying job that I absolutely hated. My father died in 1983, which plunged my dysthymic self deep into the dark flood. In 1984 I got laid off from that job (thank God), and never have earned that much money again, though the stress wasn’t worth it. When you burst into tears every time the alarm goes off and it takes you five minutes to unclench your jaws in the morning, you need a different job, no matter how good the money is. To illustrate the sort of people I worked with, here’s the primo example. My father wasted away from cancer in the first half of 1983, dying the Thursday after Father’s Day. I had been telling people at work who asked how he was that he wasn’t going to recover. When he died I called in to tell them I wouldn’t be in for a week. The person who answered the phone, who I had considered a friend, said, “Oh, he really died? We thought you were just saying that.” 

            I wrote the poem February Midnight at a midnight in February, into a small tape recorder I kept by the bed then. In the morning when I transcribed it, I didn’t change a single word. I still think it’s my best poem. The little tape recorder helped with a lot of inspiration, because by the time I found the light, a pencil, and my glasses, I lost the thought, even when all that was on the nightstand. Just picking up the recorder in the dark and hitting the On button was a lot faster. I’ll post that poem tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Greed, the sin from which come all others.

            The seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the greed that is the dark side of capitalism, and that’s rampant in America today. There’s even a TV show, American Greed. If you look logically at the seven sins, all of them but wrath are aspects of greed.
            Lust is simply greed for more sex. Originally lust simply meant desire, the wanting of things you don’t have, but in modern times it has a specific meaning. So many people these days confuse lust and love. More hop into bed with anyone handy, causing untold heartache, disease, and unwanted children. The last is especially ridiculous because birth control has never been easier.
            Gluttony is greed for food. We Americans aren’t as bad as the old Romans, who had regurgatoriums where they ate until full and threw it up to keep eating, but sometimes I think we’re awfully darn close. Portion sizes have increased exponentially to the point where I’m amazed anyone can finish a meal, but people do. I fill up fast. When I’m in a restaurant, I don’t get an appetizer or a dessert, and the entree makes me two meals. I have seen people polish off appetizer, the whole entree, and dessert. Not all of them are fat, either. I’ve seen people eat until their stomachs hurt. I suspect if it were fashionable to barf and keep eating, many of them would. (Bulimia, or binge and purge, is a mental illness and not actual gluttony.)
            Sloth, also called laziness, is simply greed for more rest. Rest is a good thing, like having enough to eat, but when you get more than you need, then it turns into greed. I am guilty of this one a lot. There’s nothing I like better than a good lie-in, half dozing but mostly awake. Preferably in a nice soft bed with lots of fluffy pillows and a cool breeze coming in the window. Heaven itself.
            Envy is greed for what someone else has. This one’s even in the Ten Commandments as Thou Shalt Not Covet... anything that is thy neighbor’s. This leads to everything from theft to plastic surgery.
            Pride is the greed to be Best, First, Most Important. It is the greed for power. It’s the desire to always be right, to win every argument, and frequently results in putting down anyone you can class as the Other, the Not Like Us. As with the others except for greed and envy, a little is a good thing but too much crosses a line leading to feeling entitled to having more, more, more.
            And that’s the essence of Greed: never being satisfied, always wanting more, no matter how much you already have. No matter if more is good for you. No matter who you have to hurt to get it. No matter the consequences, either for yourself or others. Greed leads to perfect selfishness: I’ll get mine and the hell with the rest of the world. This is the deadliest sin.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sex and love

            My favorite children’s book series is the Betsy-Tacy-Tib series by Maud Hart Lovelace. When I was a little girl, I thought there were five books, taking the three best friends up to the age of 12. As an adult, I discovered that there were six more books and two spin-offs, taking the trio through high school, which they graduated in 1910, and into marriage, ending at the dawn of The Great War, which we know of as World War I. In the 8 later books, we get a great look at dating and boy-girl mores of the turn of the last century. The contrast between then and now is pretty extreme.
            Girls who held hands were called “spoony” and looked down on with scorn by girls who didn’t. You didn’t kiss a boy. You only let one kiss you if you were serious about him, preferably engaged, or it was on the cheek under mistletoe at Christmas. The only boy-girl touching was during dances, which then consisted of ballroom dances like the waltz, the hesitation, the fox-trot, the schottische. You got to know someone and fell in love with them without the distraction of sex. Thoughtful girls would ponder things like congeniality, whether she was right for him, whether he was right for her, whether they shared values, ideals, interests.
            These days that probably seems hopelessly inhibited. But think about that for a moment. How many times has good sex convinced you that you were in love, when you weren’t? And when the other person was only in it for the sex? How many times have you broken your heart over someone who frankly wasn’t worth the trouble, just because the sex was good? People marry on a whim so many times, over chemistry, and find out after they marry that they have absolutely nothing to base a relationship on. I frequently think that if it was harder to get married, there wouldn’t be so many divorces. Of course these days you have people who just live together, with person after person, dumping and getting dumped. Men who don’t even live with a woman but have 5 or 6 children with 5 or 6 different baby mamas, each one of whom was convinced at the time that he was really in love with her (not those skanky bitches). Women who have five or six children by five or six different men. Birth control, ladies? I mean really, it’s very easy to get these days. Having the guy’s baby doesn’t mean you keep him. Wake up.
            I know that back in the 19-teens there were unwed mothers, and people who married and had bad marriages, and men and women who cheated on their spouses. Human nature doesn’t change. The culture then caused more people to think carefully and know someone well before you married them, and to not be casual with your physicality. I can’t help but think that was a better way than today’s culture of sleeping with anyone who’s handy. I’ve probably watched too much Jerry Springer, but over and over I’ve heard someone reply to “Why did you cheat?” with “He/she was there, you weren’t.” Like it means nothing, just scratching an itch. Relationships are tissues, used and thrown away.
            Now I love romance novels, and I honestly think women are smart enough to realize they’re fantasy. They’ve gone from consistently virgin heroines to heroines who’ve had a lover or two, but when they have sex with the hero it’s Like It Never Was Before. This, repeated often enough, could lead to women thinking that great sex equals true love, and it doesn’t. I’ve been around the block a few times, and I will say that sex when you’re in love with the man is light-years beyond even the most skilled one night stand. But that doesn’t mean he loves you back. I was head over heels for this guy, convinced I’d found The One. He used me for two years and threw me back when he found someone better, who he married six months after he met her. I had my heart run through a meat grinder over that one. That’s when I learned “I’ll never get married” means “I’ll never marry you.”
            Some years later I met a man who couldn’t marry me fast enough, someone who loved me before I loved him, someone who did start off as just good sex but turned out to be The One. Is he the best lover I ever had? No, but he’s a close second. Did the earth move the first time he touched my hand? Don’t make me laugh. Reality is never like a romance novel. Sexual mores are never going to go back to the days of corsets and no kissing until you’re engaged. Women today have more choices, and with more choices comes more chances to fool yourself and make big mistakes. I think we could learn a lot from those old books about how to choose a mate based on something other than good sex, something that lasts a lot longer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Here's a poem I wrote a long time ago.


Prairie people have the need
To see as far as you can see.
They grow inside the silence, then
The silence grows inside of them.

Listen to the earth breathe –
You can hear the earth breathe.

Green things grow fast in the sun,
Giving life back when they’re done.
Green’s a fragrance, don’t you know –
Soothes the heart and quiets soul.

Stop and watch the grass grow –
You can see the grass grow.

Prairie people watch the sky,
Love to watch the clouds speed by –
More obsession than pastime,
Watch the weather all the time.

At night a billion stars gleam –
You can see the stars gleam.

Prairie people understand
Infinity’s not grains of sand.
Infinity is endless sky
And changeless seasons cycling by.

Wake one day and you’ll know –
Take some time and you’ll know.

Listen to the earth breathe,
Stop and watch the grass grow.
At night a billion stars gleam –
Wake one day and you’ll know.


Monday, September 10, 2012


            Last Saturday we had a real Fall day here in Albuquerque. The sky was overcast for a welcome change from the relentless sunshine, yet it didn’t seem inclined to rain. The temperature was 65 in the morning, and never got over 75, so it felt pleasantly cool – actual sweater weather, which is rare here until winter. We do get four seasons here but all of them but summer are quite mild. The trees don’t turn in the city until November, but the mountains are golden earlier.
            Spring is supposed to be the season of renewal, but Fall always makes me want to start new things. I want to buy new clothes, fresh notebooks, new pens, and start a new writing project. I’m sure it’s a holdover from 17 years of school. Actually, 18 1/2, with graduate school, although I started that in the summer. It took 5 semesters, so there were two Falls. Kindergarten, grade school, junior high (today they call it middle school) and high school, then four years of college and 5 semesters of grad school. There was a 12 year gap between college and grad school, and it’s been over 20 years since I finished grad school. But every Fall I have the same urge, right after Labor Day, to buy new clothes and fresh writing supplies. Sometimes I even break down and buy crayons, just to smell them.

            The healing process from the cancer is as good as over but for the permanent side effects. I haven’t gained back any of the 40 pounds I lost – 2 months now without gaining anything, which is a record for me. Every time I’ve dieted I started gaining the minute I went off the diet. But, eating isn’t the pleasure it used to be. Without molars and with dry mouth, it’s a chore. Sometimes after a couple bites of something, I don’t want any more, even if I still feel hungry. My sense of taste is back, but my tongue is so sensitive! Strong mints burn. Even the mildest salsa or taco sauce makes me feel like I’ve set my mouth on fire. So my quest for the best tacos in Albuquerque will have to wait until I can build up my tolerance for spices.
            My neck is still stiff from the surgery, but I keep stretching it. I can now say my English Rs, though I can’t trill a Spanish one yet. I still have the lisp but keep working on that. I stretch my tongue and keep trying to pronounce things correctly. I had perfect diction before this, and I want to get as close to it as I can.

            For the first time in my life, I’m working on three novels at once. I have a lot of fragments and first chapters, but these three happened to be at similar levels of development at the same time, and all three are pushing to be written. The oldest is a contemporary romance, which I keep trying to write but don’t seem to be really good at. I seem to need a supernatural plot thread to stay interested. The second one is a Western historical romance. I’d had the basic idea for some time, but suddenly the first draft just poured out of me. I couldn’t stop it. This one will probably be done first. The third is a steampunk novel set in America in the 1880s. I started it for last year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) just when all three blows struck, and only got partway through it. The romance plot has been in my head for ages, and I’m still working the details of the adventure plot.
            No, I’m not going to go into more details or reveal titles. I am a very slow writer, and I don’t want someone taking the basic ideas and writing their own version before I can finish mine, because then it looks like I’m unoriginal.

            I’m still looking for a second part-time job. I really don't want to work full-time anymore, and really hope that my husband will pick up the slack as soon as his health is back. I have plans for when I again have extra money: first pay back Mom, then start saving for a new laptop and a down payment on a manufactured home. I’m too old for a mortgage, but I’d really like to own my own space. Finding somewhere to rent with five cats and without lying about them is really hard. Our current place is just too small, even though our landlord is a super person, and didn’t care about the cats. Half my stuff’s in storage, and we can’t have people over because they just plain won’t fit. No yard to garden or entertain in, either. Then there are a list of books I want. I’ve practically emptied my to-read shelf! Some of those books have been on there for years. Ah, and that new fall wardrobe.... Sigh.