capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
First. Cute overload of the day, or week, or month, or until the next time I squeal out loud at an image on my screen: Linked Tails (photo of three harvest mice siblings perched on a branch, holding tails the way humans hold hands)

Second. Re: Feeling ... not so much left out as pushed out of Valentine's Day (it's the only holiday I can think of that puts people in a second class based on relationship status, and for those of us who have been historically and culturally discouraged from thinking about having relationships, well... yeah. And being the sort who doesn't like feeling left out and bitter, I spent yesterday trying to think of a positive alternative way to frame it -- or a new one (my old fall back of it bringing a shot of bright color into the grey depths of winter doesn't work as well in Virginia as it did in New York).

This is what I came up with: For the Romans, it was a fertility fest celebrating the founding of Rome, and the suckling of Romulus and Remus by the she-wolf... According to the Christian story (aiui) Saint Valentine became associated with lovers because at one point, married men were exempt from the army, so the Saint would perform marriages as an act of civil disobedience. So I propose that we singletons of that bent use the day to celebrate conscientious objection and other "loving" acts of social change... (hey, "pinko" is already a color associated with it!)

Third. Working on a YouTube video of my "harvest" poem... which is why I haven't been talking here much (which is why I was researching mice to draw).

Fourth. Still need to schedule an inspection of my central heating/AC

Fifth. Need to schedule repairs to the van (may be the transmission). :-/

Sixth. After 30 or so years, This Old House is finally doing a series on wheelchair-accessible design. My feelings, they are mixed. On the one hand: yay! On the other hand, it's still being framed as "Something we should do for our elderly family members." (And again, disability = elderly, rather than disability = everybody). Also, it's a two-storey house and the downstairs is being converted into a self-contained, one-storey, living space with the upstairs being renovated for future live-in help if needed... And once again, I'm thinking that that would probably have been the better option for me to adapt my New York home instead of moving down here...

Seventh: OMG! Asteroids! Meteorite! Eek!
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Got back on Sunday afternoon. ...Still decompressing, and contemplating what I want to say about it. -- The return trip drive was more adventurous than expected, in the troublesome way... :-/
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This is me, on film, reading a piece I wrote for the Art Garden back in 1990 (The reading is from this last November); YouTube tells me it's been up a month, but I swear, it only showed up on my subscription page tonight.

This was also the piece I was asked to read for the Art Garden's 20th Anniversary, btw. So it's a favorite with some, but it makes me cringe, because I cannot read it aloud without laughing, and every time I laugh, I hear my mother chiding me -- it's rude to laugh at your own jokes (though I think it's fair to say that in this particular case, it's Mother Nature's joke, rather than mine).

Anyway, it's entitled "Why I did not go see Arachnophobia":

Behind a cut, because I don't want to trigger anyone who actually has Arachnophobia.

seriously, if you have a spider phobia, DO NOT CLICK; trigger warning for extensive, detailed discussion of spiders. )

The Words )
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(A fully detailed description can be found by clicking through to the flick'r page)

NaNoWriMo 2011 winner

Total word count: 50,663.

No, technically, it's not actually a novel, strictly speaking, 'cause I never got out of chapter one, plot-wise. But it served its purpose admirably, of giving me an escape and a mental exercise to help me deal with stress. And it allowed me to really think deeply about what I think is actually my default worldview, but I've never actually put it into words before.

And I am still, after all this, still fond of my central characters. Which has never happened before. So that's a win, too.

I know that I also owe my friends an Art Garden report. And, before midnight tonight, I need to post my next Plato's Nightmare entry, so I can keep up my promise of having at least one post a month.

But first: I went shopping today, and I bought myself an extra dark bitter sweet chocolate bar, so I can have something to celebrate my win with.

So I will break off a couple of squares of that, and enjoy them, right now.
capriuni: text icon "Writer's Block" (blocked!)
It's a New Month -- And it's November. And so that perennial question arises.

At first, I thought I'd come to a positive decision Not to partake in NaNoWriMo this year. I've done it six years in a row, now, and while it has, each time, forced me to to create lots of new word-combinations in long, polymer-like strings, it has yet to help me produce any story I want to continue with, past December 1.

Also, now that I've gotten back to recreational writing for its own sake, via my fanfic to original fiction transformation of Eloise (a little bit, though I've let that slide recently), I've discovered that my greatest joy in writing only comes over me when I give myself time to live and daydream inside the worlds I create.


At the end of this month (the last weekend), I will be traveling to New York to take part in the Art Garden, again. And this year, I'll be staying an extra day so that I can be videotaped reading some of my work for the Art Garden website they're putting together (and yes, when it's up and done, I will be posting a link here, so you all can see and hear what I look like -- and I will be advocating for captioning and screen reader accessible text, you betcha!).

As much as I love the Art Garden, ever since Dad got sick and later died, this has meant being stuck in one hotel room (and car) for four straight days, with no physical, personal space for myself, with a woman who has very different needs for things like room temperature and background noise (and also, even with the best of rooms, a bathroom that doesn't fit me).

In the past, I've always used my NaNo novel to create a psychological buffer zone for myself. And now, the prospect of dealing with all that without the project that requires to write past word #35,000 is scaring me at the moment... scaring me quite a lot, actually.

So ... Should I, or shouldn't I?
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[personal profile] spiralsheep posted a link to a science article, today, about wee little spiders who hoist shells into the treetops bushes to live in. And that reminded me of the sheer spider!love I often feel, and also of this essay that I wrote for the Art Garden years ago, for the theme "animals." Based on the cultural reference I stick in the title, I think I must have written this for the Autumn, 1990 gathering (or maybe the summer of '91), recalling an event that happened a few years before.

This was the archival piece that Irene O'Garden picked for me to read for the Art Garden 20th Anniversary, btw. Note that I was reading this aloud, and could trace what I was describing with my fingers as I read.

Warning: Do *not* click if you have arachnophobia, srsly )
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It's a brief history of The Art Garden combined with a brief review of the most recent one. It's a pretty good summation of the whole experience (With some nifty photos of past stage sets-- click on each to embiggen).

And I thought I'd share it with all of you, so you'll know what I get excited and flustered about each year, and why I'm willing to endure highway travels and hotels, just to take part.*

How Does Your Garden Grow? With Art, That's How

*Also, Irene O'Garden throws a party for all the writers at her house, afterward, so we can shmooze, and hug, and gnosh on yummies...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Yule Father)
  1. Yesterday, was the UN International Day of Disabled Persons. I did not have spirit to post anything on it, but today, I came across this great essay in the LJ Comm "No_Pity" by [ profile] dwgism (reproduced below the cut, because some people on my access list have computers that can't handle LJ's inflicted advertising):

    Vulnerable? )

  2. I just realized, last night, that only one of my neighbors in my cul-de-sac has any Christmas lights up -- one bright green bunch of lights in one upstairs window. I honestly can't remember what last year's displays were like, but two years ago, every window and bush, it seemed was outlined and sparkly before the leftover Thanksgiving turkey was in the fridge.

    When I made the realization, I got a little down.

    • Of course, I haven't put up any lights since Christmas, '05; I was keeping them up until my dad came down for my birthday visit, so I could share them with him, and he could help take them down. Of course, he never came down for that visit again, because just before he was planning to, he fell, broke his leg, and discovered he had lung cancer.

      It's not that I miss the decorations. I miss having someone else to share them with. Putting them up for just me seems a bit pointless.

  3. At the Art Garden after-gathering, Irene O'Garden asked me if I was still active in the neo-Pagan community, and that's when I tried to explain how I shifted from polythesism to agnosticism bordering on atheism. And she urged me to write it down-- really! I've written about various aspects of that process a few times, here in my journal. But I might try polishing up a single coherent version, here, over the winter.

  4. A discussion of "How to approach Santa" in a friend's journal, yesterday, reminded me of a pet peeve my mother had about the Santa Culture: The "Be good, or Santa won't bring you anything!" threat.

    I remember we were in a hospital waiting room (it was actually just a couple of benches in a wide, brick-walled hospital hallway-- kinda dark), and there was a mother and a kid of about seven across from us (I think I was about ten, iirc). And the kid was whining and crying and on the verge of a temper tantrum, and the mother said: "If you're not good, Santa won't bring you anything!"

    And Mother said, aside to me: "Santa is the spirit of love, and generosity! Love doesn't stop just because you misbehave!"

    My mom was the coolest.

    (Plus, there's the implication that poor children are bad, or [as explicitely stated in the film version of The Polar Express] suffering from insufficient "Belief"). :::Shudder:::

    I want to bring back the late 18th- early 19th Century tradition of bands of wild "Santas" harrassing the wealthy until they give money, toys, and treats to be handed out to the poorest kids in town: Comfort the Afflicted, and Afflict the Comfortable!

  5. I've started over on my monster story. I drew a watercolor pencil portrait of my main character, and today, I'll do hand-written/drawn wordwebs for my characters. Doing Internet research, yesterday, I discovered, that nearly every part of the process, there are still individual people putting their hands and eyes on the plush toys. So now I'm wondering if I should alter my origin story which relied on computerized machines malfuntioning...
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The deadline to submit something is Friday. This Friday. Forty hours from now.

The Theme is "Gold."

I want to write something based on the Irish Proverb: "A word is more enduring then Worldly Wealth," which fits the audience and venue (as we are all wielders of words, there, and this is the 50th Art Garden event).

But that doesn't actually mention gold, or the imagery of gold, per se. And we don't use gold as wealth in everyday life, anymore, and, and, and... It's taking me a longer, windier road than I want to get from the theme I was given and the idea I want to talk about.

And, and, and.

And I have a migraine. And won't tell me specifically what rooms I might book have which barrier-free access features available, and they demand payment up front with no hope for a refund, and the price as just about doubled since the last time I did this (I think because people are scared of bedbugs in Manhattan proper), and *flail*

And I don't even think gold is all that pretty (I've always prefered silver).


Sep. 20th, 2010 02:12 am
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Thanks to a reminder from [personal profile] thblackflame, I just (re)-signed up for NaNoWriMo... The year that the Art Garden is on again.


Well, since I've been doing daily stints in writing off the cuff in short bursts every day for five months, now. At least I'm in better writing shape than I was back when November was, more or less, the only time I'd write fiction...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
  1. Tuesday, we had at thunderstorm that tripped the shortout button on the outlet my Internet's plugged into. But -- here's the yayful thing: When Audrey went out to the garage to push the reset button, (I can't get to it), she found my mother's old sewing notions box. \o/

    I was sure I had brought it down when I moved, but I couldn't find it for months, and I'd been doubting my memory, and I was worried that I'd left it up there, and it had gotten thrown out or sold off when the house was cleared out and sold after Dad's death.

    The top was cracked, and it looks like Dad had taped it back up with glass fiber tape (it looks like his work). He probably did the work out there, and left it out there, thinking that he could always bring it back inside the next time he came to visit. Only -- they found that cancer, and he never came back to visit.

    So it appears that The Universe now approves of my notion to make my own version of a teddy bear.

  2. And then -- after I got my Internet back, I checked my email: There was a note from Irene O'Garden: The Art Garden is back on!!


    The Saturday after Thanksgiving -- the theme is "Gold"... oh, yay! oh, yay! you don't know how depressed I've been without the Art Garden, and its people. ...Mostly, its people.

    It will be the 50th gathering of the Art Garden -- yay. I pretty sure that means there'll be a party... even if it's just that the regular writers who've been doing it since the beginning (or nearly so) will be in a party frame of mind. Which is all you need, really I'm in the "nearly so" camp. I've been doing it since Art Garden #12 -- I think I only missed about 3 or 4 from then, till now.

  3. This afternoon marked the 31st consecutive day of my Mid-Year Resolution (To sit down with a timer and write something entirely new until the timer stops). I've only missed one day. I haven't missed a single day since I've made it the rule that the timer and the word processor are the first programs I open, before logging onto the Internets, or playing games. Twice now (when I've turned off the computer on leaving the house, and turned it back on when I got home) I've had more than one writing session a day.

    When I get to the 45th day, or so, I might start extending the time on the clock (right now, it's set at ten minutes). Then, I'll have a decision to make:
    • Do I keep doing the ten-minute writing sessions, daily, and add a second (or third) writing session of a longer duration, or
    • Do I substitute sessions of progressively longer times?

    Ten minutes is just enough time to introduce the feeling of a setting, the personality of the protagonist, and just the slightest hint of what the conflict might be. It's kind of nice to have a collection of these nibbles -- these deliberately unfinished scraps to which I have no obligation: they're a reminder of how flexible my imagination can be. Someday, I might want to go back and write more about them, but I might not.

    I'm getting an inkling that when I get to an hour or ninety minutes, I may actually be able to reach the point of conflict resolution -- if not a complete story, at least, a complete narrative scene.

  4. Art Garden! Teddy Bear! Art Garden! Teddy Bear! Squeeee!!

  5. It's probably just that the announcement of one followed so closely on the discovery of the other, but I want to make my teddy, write hir into my Art Garden piece, and bring said teddy onto the stage as a prop...

capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)

OpenOffice's word-counter says I have 50,129 words. NaNoWriMo's word-counter says I have 50,025 words. I actually have four more pages (give or take) of handwritten story in a spiral, college-ruled notebook that (more or less) takes the story to the sort of end. Probably another 450 words, there, I guess, maybe more.

But I'm tired from traveling (yes, even though you're not doing anything but sitting passively in a moving car for 10 hours, it's tiring), and I'm bored with trying to decipher and transcribe my messy handwriting. And 50,025 is good enough. So I'm just going to stop where I am, and not look back.

I did my bit to earn an extra dollar for NaNoWriMo's Young Writers' Program.

I'm going to eat some chocolate chips, and make myself some cocoa with real sugar, and maybe veg in front of the tv for a while.

(I'll tell you about the Art Garden, tomorrow. Public, non-f'locked version for now: It was dandy. I cracked up reading my own piece; mother would have been mortified, but members of the audience told me they love it when I do that. I guess I'm the AG's version of Harvey Korman...)
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I'll post a f'locked entry, about all the emotional baggage that goes with going-home-without-really-going-home, later. This is just the review of the Art Garden evening itself -- Now, with added commercial plugging of another long-time Art Gardener (three of the twelve songs on her new CD were originally written for the Art Garden)!

Umbrella Review: This was the lowest turnout of any Art Garden, in its 20+ year history, because the theater was booked for the weekend when we usually have it (last weekend in April). And the Editor/MC was forced to have it on a day that conflicted with all the highshcool graduation ceremonies in the area (and there was also a free poetry reading in town [Art Garden tickets are $10], at almost the exact same time). So, for the first time, Irene owed the theater money, instead of the other way around. Still, she insisted that the writers keep their pay, because she lives by the principle that if you value something, you pay for it -- especially the Arts.

OTOH, many of the people there said this was the most powerful Art Garden ever, in part because of its intimacy. Still, we decided that next spring, we should do a topic that would really draw an audience: Naked!

More Detailed Review: )

There! Most of these people are "the regulars." So now that I've written this up, I won't keep drawing a blank on their names, the next time I see them...

Oh, and along with being a caberet singer, Cat Guthrie is also a sometime actress in indie horror films (playing the blonde screamer, I think). At the after party, she said she's now working on two films, both filmed around Cold Spring (where I used to live) -- one going direct to DVD and one to open in theaters. I forget which one this is, but one of them is titled (as of this moment) "Zombie Kung-Fu." I thought that might appeal to at least some on my friends list... ;-)
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I'm back from the Art Garden. Just got in a little more than half an hour to forty-five minutes ago. I'm still decompressing and sorting my thoughts, so I'm not ready to post a review of the weekend, yet.

But I'm back.
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But I emailed it just now. My "Art Garden" Piece (Theme: Wilderness)

As I told the editor, I'm not sure about the title.


We strive to be 'The City on the Hill,'
(An emerald city, paved with golden brick),*
Where any man can master his own fate,
And keep away the nightmares of his past.
And so we build our geometric dreams;
Our mirrored towers rise above the grid.
We disinfect, deodorize, and shine,
And then, we watch our nature on T.V.
Outside, beneath the street lamp's flick'ring glow,
The asphalt shell, now softened by the rain,
Begins to crack --
The life within the seed cannot be stopped
Relentless, outward, upward, it must grow.
The wilderness is everywhere -- it's here.

It was much easier once I decided to go for blank verse, instead of rhyme.

Feedback? I wish I had a living ear to recite this out loud to...

*[edited: Fixed the meter. The line originally read: "An emerald city, with streets all paved in gold,"]
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I would imagine, in my early days,
Whom I would be, when fully an adult.
That phantom Self looks back with phantom gaze
Poised, now, to render verdict on my guilt.
My list of crimes is long, I am afraid:
Each dream neglected, that I left to rust,
Each promise that I neither kept nor made,
Each chance I never took, forever lost.
But what surprise! I am the elder me;
The girl that I once was is phantom, now.
And in some quantum state, both I and We,
Must face the future from this point, somehow.
    There lies, within my palm, a jailor's key
    To turn within the lock, to set Me free.
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I love writing Shakespearean sonnets.

The iambic pentameter (de-Dum, de-Dum, de-Dum, de-Dum, de-Dum) and the rhyme scheme (ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG) are like the edge pieces and colored middle pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, respectively. It's easy for the ear to catch that rhythm, and pick the right words out of the thousands in our everyday English vocabulary. The rhyme scheme is like the colors on the pieces, so I can sort out the sky from the grass, from the red brick farmhouse in the background.

This lets my brain compose the poem while I'm tootling around doing laundry, or sorting bills. And then, an hour or so later, thanks to the fact that I can count the by the fingers on one hand, I can recall the exact words I'd chosen, using only the basic gist of each quatrain as a mnemonic; this also makes it easier to memorise, when it comes time to recite it on stage.

It's also nice that the dictionary definition of guilt:

To be responsible for an offense

Is a perfect line of iambic pentameter.

Now, I just have to find the right word (with the right accents) to rhyme with offense ("innocence" is close, but it's a dactyl, not an iamb).

If I could end a line on "clench," that might be a close enough near-rhyme...


In the meantime, here is one of my favorite Shakespearean sonnets by Shakespeare, for your amusement:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

(Will was in love with a woman of color (back in the time when olive skin was considered "color")! And she was a "big-boned gal"! In short, Gwyneth Paltrow woefully miscast! Woefully, I say!)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I haven't slept well, the last few nights, so I'm too fuzzy-headed to actually try composing anything, so I'm just going to rattle on here, in this post, just to get my thoughts out in some sort of concrete form. This is also Exact-a-ly the thing I would call my Dad to talk about, and he'd give feedback that would help break through the writer's block (So maybe that's why I've been thinking about him, a lot, lately)...

Anyway: the ramble commences here:

Anyway, on Tuesday, I was listening to the OnPoint Radio Show, and since April is (In America) National Poetry Month, they were doing an hour dedicated to 500 years of the sonnet. A sonnet was described as a fourteen-line poem, with a "turn" in it, and that it was originally based on rhetorical writings of the Italian Renaisance court, where the eight lines lay out one situation or scene, and the last six reply, or turns and looks at the scene from a different angle.

And they were going on about how the sonnet is a near perfect form of poetry, and almost infinitely flexible, that I got the inspiration to write a sonnet for this Art Garden. It would let me lay out my ideas about the whole concept of guilt, with metaphor and all, without having to come up with a scenerio for a story.

Anyway, here are the thoughts that I want to put into the sonnet -- rhymes and iambic meter must wait until I've had some sleep. But I want to get these vague ideas into words, so I can come back and reread them (and so, also, maybe, you can read them, and take one end of one of these threads, and help me untangle them, a bit):

  1. Definition of 'Guilt': Being responsible for an offense

  2. The guilt we (I?) feel for not living up to the life we (I?) imagined

  3. Who is that an offense against? My potential future Self, that was always ahead of me, when I was younger.

  4. The Turn: My present self forgiving my remembered past Self for her failings.

  5. Turning the key to let myself out of the prison of my mind.

Okay. That's enough thimking for now. Time to wind down toward bed...


Tangential ramble, or maybe parallel ramble, on The Art Garden* )

*A "Literary Magazine" that I've been a part of for eighteen years, where instead of writers getting their work collected and printed in a publication and mailed to anonymous readers, the writers collect at a theater, and read their works aloud before a living audience.

**The winter/Holiday theme will be "Kindness."
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
(The Art Garden is set up like a literary magazine, with the editor notifying the authors of the theme. Then each writer creates something with that theme, and sends it back to the editor, who then arranges the order of each piece so that the theme is developed coherently. There's one big difference, though: instead of having everything printed in a booklet and mailed out, the writers meet at a small theater and read their works aloud before a live, paying audience.)

The next Art Garden is Saturday, November 27, and the Theme is "Flight." And here is my piece:

Father Christmas, Father Wind )

[edit] Just got an idea for a flash mob event -- whatcha say we all go down to the mall dressed as environmental civil disobeyers with "Free Claus" signs? >;-)


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