Sued51's Blog












New Moon Storm

It was a dark and wet ride home last night, a new moon Nor’easter,

But I was tired enough to sleep through the night without hearing it.

This morning the cat was hidden somewhere she thinks is safe;

I’d like to hide myself there too, I think.

But this morning my prayer group email is entitled “Clarity,”

and it seems true.

The Universe seems to be aligned,

I think there is also an eclipse.

Fitting that the trees have been cleared of leaves,

Their structure revealed, a kind of clarity,

My life changes revealed, I feel a surge of creativity.

After months of distractions and busy-ness,

I know what I want to say and I want to blab it!

But I have to work.

Ironically these are the days when it is hardest to work –

High energy days when it is almost impossible to stay where I am,

To sit and stay focused.

I’m like a horse pawing the ground,

Resenting the bridle and the rider, work and responsibility,

Let me go, says the voice inside,

Let me go with the wind and the leaves…

 

P.S. This was written totally off the cuff as a stream of consciousness in response to the Daily Post Prompt: Ready, Set, Done, so excuse grammatical and punctation problems…take it for what it is. It is written like a poem because it seemed liked random thoughts to me as a they came…more like a poem than prose. Hope you enjoy it!



{June 11, 2014}   Working through a Migraine

puddle with pollen

Pollen Murking up the Puddles

I had a rough day at work yesterday; the thunderstorms and weather change brought on a migraine at a busy time. My stress at being unable to control what is happening to me exacerbates it, but it is hard to calm myself down. I know no one on the outside knows what is happening inside my head; I fear they think I am stupid when I can’t get things right. Can anyone relate?

This poem is what I got out of a bad day.

Migraine

When it comes, the torture begins:

I am plunged under water and

struggle to do the simplest thing –

Breath, hold on –

as the numbers and words enter

my whooshing ears,

they are dashed around

inside my head,

flipped over against

the rocks of pain over my eyes;

behind them, I mentally write white

upon a black backdrop

so I can see what I hear,

try to send them in a slow-motion rush

through my hands, through my pen,

backwards like a photo negative,

Black on white –

Make sense, I pray,

please

make sense,

hang on

until you are released

and the water recedes.



{May 19, 2014}   Virtual Blog Tour

My current morning pages notebook

My current morning pages notebook

My friend and incredible photographer, Susan Licht, recently invited me to take part in a virtual blog tour. I first “met” Susan by discovering her beautiful blog and then discovered we had a mutual friend on Facebook! (Despite the massive size of the Internet, it’s still a small world!) We have many interests in common including literature, gardening, music, nature and photography. We could have met each other years ago through our mutual friend, and sometimes I wish we had.

So…my thanks to Susan for asking me to be part of this blog tour and involving me in this slightly different way of learning about other bloggers’ creative processes, of finding some new blogs recommended by people I respect, and of being able to introduce some of the bloggers I enjoy and give them a little extra support.

The “work” part of this blog tour involves answering the following questions about your creative process, so here goes:

1) What am I working on?

Too many things! Recently I had been trying to send out some of my poetry to publications. The last time I had poems “officially” published was in the 90s, though I do support a local poets community and go to open mike events. Although I publish some poems on this blog, I “keep” what I consider the best ones, seeking a more prestigious home for them than my blog. 🙂 I will probably end up self-publishing…sending work out seems to be too much like a dating service. I have also joined some photography groups, hoping for an inexpensive way to learn Photoshop. I take pictures almost every day for Last Train to QVille, though I don’t post every day. I tend to walk in the same area so it is a challenge to find new ways of looking at the same scenery.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Anyone who reads positive self-development blogs and books has probably read over and over that we are all unique. I still struggle with the answer to that question. The easy answer is that I was an only girl growing up amongst 6 boys! But beyond that I suppose part of my uniqueness is that I am interested in so many unrelated things…I have held a lot of different jobs in my life: from working at a movie theater (doing everything from selling tickets to popping corn and cleaning the theater) to working in offices. I worked in the garden dept at Home Depot; I’ve been an usher supervisor for concert venues, a legal secretary, an editor, and now I am working in the wine industry and as a part-time hostess at a restaurant…totally unrelated things. This translates into meeting people from all walks of life, which is a great thing for someone who likes to write.

3) Why do I write/create what i do?

Well, bottom line is that I love to create and I live to create. When I’m not creating, I’m miserable. My creativity most often takes the form of  poems because I have been expressing my feelings that way for over 35 years and it is second nature to me. It is an integral part of the way I process my life and connect with others. And I love beauty and nature, so I take pictures to capture and remember moments in time and the beauty I see daily.

4) How does my creative process work?

I have many different notebooks that I jot down ideas in. I journal every day. I read other people’s blogs and see which directions their work sends me. I write about whatever strikes me on any given day.

NOW comes the best part of this post: my recommendations for other blogs to check out. Another reflection of my eclectic job history and interests, the blogs I read regularly are very different, but all great.

Louisa May Alcatt takes her name from the author of Little Women; her “pub” writes interesting posts about women in history at her blog: Suffragette kitty

Peter S, former ad man chronicles his life as a stay-at-home dad through the antics and eyes of his son, Mr. C.

Queenie, as her name might suggest, is from the U.K., a former dance teacher with a bucket list, a camera and a good sense of humor.

Not sure if any of them will be following through on this tour, though. 😦  I know it is a time commitment that we can’t all manage.

Finally, I’m adding this on my own, one of the bloggers I wanted to recommend had participated in a blog tour right before I could ask her! So I’m throwing in a link to her post for good measure. Meet Beeblu!

Happy reading everyone!



{March 24, 2014}   Daily Prompt: Sixteen Tons

Geez…this prompt gave me an earworm I couldn’t get rid of all day: “You load sixteen tons, whadda ya get? Another day older and deeper in debt…”

I once worked with a guy who put notes to himself on his day calendar every few weeks. Just when he might not be thinking about it, he would turn the page, and there it would be: “You are still there?? Are you kidding me?” or “Do you have any soul left or has it been completely sucked out?” He showed me a couple one day. I thought it was pretty funny, in a dark way.

I wrote a pretty dark poem myself many years ago when I didn’t like my job. I thought it fit the prompt, so here it is:

Monday Morning Hike

 When I park my car

the music stops.

I shuffle to the front door

of my brick purgatory

a little late,

head down,

watching my feet

go through the motions.

At the front steps

a pack is

put on my back–

every soldier’s companion;

gravity pulls

my shoulders earthward;

a groan slips out

as I yank open

cumbrous glass doors.

With every step

down the stale hall,

my pack gets heavier.

I imagine the silent

figures I pass

loading me up

behind my back,

as I struggle along,

bound for my trench.

By the time I reach

that terminus

my canteen is empty;

any weekend peace

it held drained away.

Another deadend

week has begun.




The Daily Prompt mentions dishes, but I don’t mind doing dishes or any basic cleaning. Most physical cleaning chores can be performed in an almost meditative way.

Files

My most disliked chore is anything to do with paperwork and any chores involving sorting, filing, and organizing. I find making decisions about what to keep and what to throw out difficult, tiring and tedious. This leads to stacks of paperwork and canvas bags full of papers that have to be periodically sorted. I have the best of intentions, but I just can’t find time for EVERYTHING I am interested in.

As a writer, I keep every draft of a piece of work (still too often a hard copy), because I can have a tendency to over-edit, or rewrite a poem so extensively that it becomes a COMPLETELY different poem. At any given time I can go back to the original draft and send it in a different direction and create a different poem. And I have to admit, I can become fascinated with analyzing the process.

I know, I should be embracing the electronic age. Technology has been around long enough and has progressed far enough that I should be rid of this paper by now, but I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Weaning myself away from paper products, be they books or notebooks, is hard work. And unfortunately, I suffer from the same problems on my computer…too many emails, too many files, too many versions of things…SIGH




Last week definitely felt like an obstacle course for me. I was sick and just couldn’t get over it. Unfortunately I don’t “do rest” very well. Following advice and taking a couple of days off from work did not result in my laying in bed or on the couch with a book or watching TV (unfortunately it did not result in my getting rid of my infernal cough, either). I descaled my coffeemaker. I sorted through some mail. I played with the cats. Not strenuous activities by any means, but I have a hard time letting a day go by without doing anything on my “to do” list.

edited storyThe other (important to me) thing I did was to try to work on a short story I had planned on submitting this month. This is a time-sensitive goal because the publication usually charges a reading fee, but waives that fee in January. The end of the month is fast approaching so I didn’t want to let another day go by. I ended up creating my own obstacle course for achieving my goal.

The first obstacle was created by the fact that the story was written and saved in a many-versions-ago format of WORD (that I didn’t own, but borrowed) I had no “authorization” to open. So I basically retrieved it from the bowels of the computer. I had to open it in a notepad format and clear out the code. There were still sections that seemed misplaced, but it was mostly intact.  I cut and pasted the misplaced text (which appeared to be edited text, so still possibly valuable) and pasted it at the end of the document.

When I first read the story, it flowed with a consistent voice and SEEMED well-written and worth submitting. But then, I read it with my editor hat instead of my reader hat. The original version seemed to flow, but it was too simplistic. The verbs were too ordinary and it was full of those reviled parts-of-speech: adverbs. I had written it over 10 years ago, after all.

I began to edit on paper, getting rid of the adverbs and creating more active verbs. I found some elements of the story that didn’t seem believable, and tried to make some small changes to fix those problems. I soon had a mess on my hands: the voice became uneven and the flow had disappeared. I tried to type the revised version on the computer so I could work on it some more on the screen and had trouble following what I had done. It really became a chore! One that did not get done.

So here I sit typing this blog instead of working on the story. I am tempted to scrap my goal: the equivalent of sitting in the sand beneath the obstacle wall, unable to go any further.

So I sit here with my sandy butt, examining my motives: is this another excuse not to send anything out because of my fear of rejection and failure? I question whether I am better off going back to the original simplistic version and submitting it anyway — at least crossing that hurdle or mental block — or just submit the mess — or get up and walk away and pretend the whole thing never happened? Readers, what would you do?

Damn that wall looks hard to climb…especially when you are coughing your head off…



{November 28, 2013}   Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving napkin

Today is the day we give thanks–

Hug our family

And reunite with old friends.

Not for shopping but for stopping,

Keeping traditions alive,

Slowing down, watching parades and football games;

Gather ’round the table

Instill memories,

Value your life and those you love,

Imagine today is all there is:

Nurture each other, nap and be

Grateful.



{November 25, 2013}   Daily Prompt: Close Call

Get Smart, Don Adams

It was that close…

The Daily Prompt topic for today is Close Call. It is beyond rare for me to post twice in one week, let alone twice in one day, but I couldn’t resist this topic.

Back when I was posting my alphabet of Boston Bands, I mentioned my closest friends at the time, Jane and Eric. Unfortunately for Jane and Eric, they were both present for my close call, which was actually a series of three close calls (you know how things come in “three’s”…these three incidents happened within a two-week span). The first one was the scariest, the last one was the closest.

Eric and I were coming home in the AM hours from a nightclub trip into the city to see a band. I was driving my Datsun and Eric was in the passenger seat. We were riding in the middle lane of the so-called Expressway, when the person in front of me put on his brakes for seemingly no reason. Irritated and tired, and probably in the middle of conversation with Eric, I quickly switched to the left lane to pass the unpredictable vehicle in front of me. But the lane wasn’t empty…I had seconds to realize that there was a car horizontally blocking my lane! Eric saw it at the same time and yelled, “Watch out!”

I could only react (thank goodness my “unpredictable” friend had stopped). Without checking my right mirror, I swerved over to avoid the car…luckily there was no one there. But that wasn’t the end of it…there were cars scattered across the road in front of us like toys in a playroom. I couldn’t stop…there was no time. I turned the wheel, this way, that way, this way, as if it were an obstacle course and suddenly…the road was clear and empty in front of us. I noticed my heart pounding and that I had held my breath. Eric said, “Like…I felt like we were in Starsky and Hutch!” We both exhaled hard…and began to laugh nervously, then harder and louder with relief. In between the laughter Eric said, “I’ll never be afraid to ride with you after that!”

A few days later, I was alone, again driving home late on the Expressway. I could see car lights coming toward me; I was puzzled…they seemed too close to be on the other side of the divided highway. As they came closer I realized they were on my side of the road! I pulled over to the farthest right lane as they zoomed past me, the middle lane between us. Nothing like what Eric and I had recently experienced, but I thought, how weird to encounter crazy driving on the Expressway twice in one week. Little did I know there was one more close call to come, not on the Expressway and not late at night, but very close to home.

This time Jane was in the front passenger seat and Eric was in the back. I’m not sure where we were coming from, but I think it might have been the movies. It was dark, but not late. Jane was turned around in her seat, talking to Eric and laughing (as usual). We were on a main road with a double line: one lane of traffic on each side of the lines going in opposite directions. Headlights were coming toward me…I thought maybe someone was playing chicken with me…I didn’t move right away, thinking they would cut back to their side of the road at any moment. But they were getting close and they weren’t moving; I started to get frightened. Jane turned around just in time to see the headlights directly in front of us and let out a scream worthy of a scary movie. My instincts finally kicked in and without wondering what was on my right, I pulled the car off the road. I was shaking; Jane was repeating, “Oh my God!” Yet…I had heard something.

There was a gas station up ahead so I pulled up the road and got out to look at my car. There was just a hole in the back quarter where my parking light used to be. The other car had skimmed us close enough to rip it right out without a dent or a scratch. You can’t get much closer than that.

This time I was shaking and felt nauseous. Enough was enough! We sat in the parking lot until we all calmed down to go home. This happened long before cell phones so there was no question of calling the police to warn them. I prayed for whoever was down the road and hoped no one was hurt or killed. As this was my third close call in two weeks, I hoped the “spell” was now over and we were safe…and we were.



{November 18, 2013}   Cursive Death

cursive writing

Childhood cursive

To keep cursive writing as part of elementary school’s curriculum or not: this story came on the radio in my car as I was driving the other day. My ears pricked up; I had actually had a draft post on this issue from July of last year that I never completed. I guess it is time.

This is one of the instances when I am proud to be from Massachusetts. Normally a liberal state, but at times…conservative. With the increasing use of computers and hand-held devices, the continued value of teaching cursive script in schools has been questioned in recent years, but the time has now come to make a decision as far as the law is concerned. Massachusetts is one of a few states that will continue to require cursive script to be taught in public school; 45 states are considering not requiring it.

The ramifications for future generations hit me personally, as I sat scribbling in my journal this morning in my own “hybrid” version of handwriting (random printed letters jumbled with cursive). It occurred to me that the generations ahead that I hope might be interested in my written ramblings, may not even be able to read what I have written.

Last year I sat at the desk of a coworker twenty years older than me. I looked at the notes she had written on stickies; some of them were difficult for me to read. Why? Because she wrote in TRUE cursive…I realized it had been so long since I  had seen capital letters written in cursive script that I had to work to process it. (Sometime in high school and college I found it faster when taking notes to use printed capitals and then switch to cursive as I write the words.) I began to experiment in my head, then on paper; I went through the alphabet mentally trying to write each capital letter in script. Guess what? There were a few I wasn’t sure I had totally right, and two I didn’t remember at all (Q and Z)! It horrified me!

I started thinking…Do they still make those preprinted, center-dotted-line pages we used to use in school to practice our cursive? I started thinking I wish I had one of my childhood school papers as a piece of artwork for the wall (I used to have beautiful writing)…I started thinking if future generations don’t learn to write it, they won’t be able to read it and won’t value it. I suppose someone will write a computer program where pages of cursive could be scanned in and translated, but…would anyone bother with the old letters and journals of a dead relative? I like reading my grandmother’s journals, but then I’m from the generation still nostalgic about antiques.

Readers, what do you think? Is learning cursive writing still important?



{September 12, 2013}   Twelve Years (and One Day) Later…

September calendar, Sept 11th

I am a day late with this post, but I think pondering the impacts of 9/11 is not something that stops when you turn the calendar.

At my present job I work with people of different ages. Yesterday there was a discussion at work of “Where were you when…?” One of the women I work with said, “I was in school…in 6th grade.” YIKES!

After this discussion, I decided to pull out an essay I wrote right after it happened. Someone on Craig’s List was looking for essays for a story collection about the event. Mine was not accepted, but now I’m glad I wrote it. Every time I read it, I will truly remember what that felt like for me: the confusion…the sorrow. I thought I’d share it here:

Halfway through 2001, I began to seriously question my career choice and my life’s purpose. In June, a coworker lost his only son, at eighteen years old, to a freak baseball accident. One minute he was proudly watching his son play a favorite sport, and an hour later, after an outfield collision, his son was dead. Though I had never met his son, I sat at my desk and cried for him.

Then in August my grandmother died. For most of my life I had been spared having to deal with death. The frustration and pain of watching my father, an only child, deal with the death of his beloved mother weighed on me. I wanted to spend more time with my family and less time being stressed out at work. I continued to go about my daily routine with growing feelings of discontent and inexplicable anxiety.

September 11th seemed like a normal morning. Per my routine, I got to work at 8:00 am, turned on my computer, and checked my email. Most people in my department got in at 9:00 am, so my first hour every day was casual and quiet. I made a cup of tea and wandered across the hall to visit a coworker who was also an early bird. We chatted about our beloved cats’ antics: light, pass-the-time conversation.

Just before 9:00 am, our proofreader rushed frantically down the hall and into the office. He was normally a quiet man who kept to his cubby, so it was a shock to see him down our end of the hall. We stopped our conversation abruptly when we saw his flushed face. Clearly upset, he told us there were planes circling and bombing the World Trade Center.

We were stunned. What he said was inconceivable. He told us that it was happening just as he was leaving the house. He lived around the corner and walked to work; he must have practically run this morning.

All I could think of was “Find a radio!” I repeated the proofreader’s words to everyone I saw during my radio search, unknowing that I was spreading distorted news, as if we were playing the childhood “telephone” game.

Our boss suddenly appeared, rushing down the hallway. She told us she heard on her car radio that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. As the later arrivals tumbled in, in various emotional states, radios were turned on, and people clustered in offices.  Then, as we listened, they announced that a plane had hit the Pentagon. “We’re under attack!” someone yelled. It might have been me; I know I was thinking it.

I felt numb, petrified. I thought the world was coming to an end. Everything I had felt in the last few months seemed like it was leading up to this moment. Why hadn’t I done something before?

Someone said there was a TV on in the gym and another one set up in the boardroom. No one worried about not getting work done. The country was in crises. I reached the TV in time to watch the second tower crumble to the ground, and as the newscasters talked about another missing plane, I left the room to cry alone. I felt like I couldn’t bear any more.

And I was lucky. No one I knew was on any of the planes, or in the twin towers, or the Pentagon. I didn’t have to run to a telephone and try to call relatives or friends only to hear a busy signal in my ear. I didn’t have to receive any final voice mail message that they loved me. I went back to my office and stared at my computer. What was I doing here? Same as what those poor people were doing…going about my daily life. There should be a sense of comfort, strength, and pride in that. This was life.

Turned out there was someone I had never met, who I had spoken with on the phone at work, who was in one of the buildings and managed to get out and survive. We talked of it VERY briefly a year later. He said he was grateful every day. Not long after our conversation, he was in a car accident with his family. He died, but the rest of his family lived. It absolutely gave me the shivers. Rereading my essay helps me put things in perspective and remember to be grateful, every day.



et cetera
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