Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Destination

The short answer to this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is that my family and I are spending New Year's Eve with in-laws. Our destination is an hour away at a family party, which started as a way of having something to do while collectively watching so many little ones. Now, our kids are the youngest members of the brood.

(As an aside, one of the kids named the New Year's party The Uncle Party because ... well ... there are so many uncles around! Maybe we should create an Aunt Party, too.)

The long answer is that we want to connect with the people who mean the most to us at the start of something and the end of something. I mean, most of us are lucky to be surrounded by friends and family when we enter and exit this world. I think New Year's celebrations (and birthdays) reminds us all of this in some way. And with a New Year comes hope that our journeys will be happy ones.

So no matter where you are destined to be when the clock strikes midnight, I wish you happiness and good health in 2007. And thanks to all those who participate in Sunday Scribblings every week. You remind me that I never have to go it alone.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Special Christmas Box *Uncensored Ve

This video is not for the easily offended.


A few weeks ago, Justin Timberlake hosted Saturday Night Live and performed this skit with lots of bleeps, so SNL decided to release it on YouTube. Currently, it is the #13 most-watched video in YouTube's history according to MediaBistro.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year's Poem

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

“Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Happy last Poetry Thursday for 2006! Since it is the end of the year, I've been too busy to write something new. So it came down to a choice between a poem about maternity leave or a writing exercise about lobsters.

I don't know exactly where this quirky poem came from, but it's told from the point of view of a lobster. And I'm quite sure that this one will never see the light of day again.

Enjoy the lobsters!



Lobster Love


Even a blind lobster finds a mollusk or two, you say,
bold as an August tide along the Maine coast.
You sit beside me and watch boats circle overhead,
dead fish and bottom-dwelling invertebrates,
our friends, swirl into a mini-vortex while lowly laborers
drop their traps in the waters above.

I have never loved another the way that I love you:
hopelessly, complicatedly, crazed.
We’ve tunneled together through the fronds of seaweed
and walked along the bottom feeding
as if we were the only two crustaceans in the Atlantic Ocean.
Someday we’ll settle among the cobble
but for now we’ll keep plodding.

All night a slow-moving rain raises the tide.
Deep between the mud and rocks
we shed our fragile shells and listen
to waters parting in our shallow inlet,
knowing our soft shells crack and our claws snap off
if handled without care, without love.

The Day After the Day After Christmas


A few random thoughts a few days after Christmas.


1. Look at me being silly with my new camera, courtesy of my handsome hubby. I'll upload a few more picks this week.

2. Thanks for the kind words. I hope you had a great holiday and I look forward to visiting blogs in the next few days.

3. On Christmas morning, we could have saved ourselves a lot of hassle by taking the toys out of the original packaging for the kids. The adults spent half the morning untying twist ties and cutting through plastic.

4. My parents are leaving for Virginia in a few hours and I can tell that my son is already sad about it. Wish we could visit more often but I'm happy we had the time together that we did.

4. I've got to start saving in January for next December.

5. This Christmas really felt like a holiday for the kids. At some point, the baton was passed to the younger generation, and I found myself deliriously happy in their joy. And I have the pictures to prove it.

6. What am I going to post for Poetry Thursday?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!



The gifts have been wrapped. The stockings hung with care. And visions of Christmas cookies are dancing in my children's heads. (If my kids are envisioning these cookies then maybe they're having nightmares.)

After a marathon last-minute shopping extravaganza, it looks like the O'Neil family is ready to celebrate the holiday in high style. And I have to admit, I'm really excited to see the kids' reactions tomorrow morning.

Merry Christmas everyone! Wishing you love, love, and more love this holiday season.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Change

I love the change that comes with a new year. All of my annual failures are wiped clean in January (so appropriate, don't you think?). So December then becomes a month of reflection and evaluation. How far have I gotten on last year's goals? What's going to be different in my approach?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, blogging has changed my life. Had it not been for this blog, which really was a happy accident, I would be trying to nail down the same lame writing and fitness goals. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Why has this year been the best year ever? Besides the fact that my family is healthy and happy, I've had a huge change in my outlook about how to make life changes. Change, real change, comes from within. But I'm not suggesting I had an Oprah-like "Aha" moment. It was a Seinfeld moment.

Remember the Seinfeld episode called "The Opposite"? From TV.com:

George comes to the realization that he should try to do the opposite of everything. As he does, his luck changes and everything begins to go his way including getting a girlfriend, a job with the Yankees and moving out of his parents' house.

Not that I equate my life to George's, but I did what he did--I rejected my natural tendencies and did the opposite. I wrote when I was tired. Mailed poems to publishers despite my fear of failure (or is it my fear of success). Started working out at 5 a.m., five days a week. There's something to be said for turning off that 8-track player constantly playing "no" and "I can't" in my head.

So this year, I feel like I won Willy Wonka's golden ticket (I'm referring to the original movie and not the Johnny Depp remake). What could I possibly do that could top 2006? I don't know yet but I can't wait to find out and share it with you.

For more on change, visit Sunday Scribblings.


Toxic

I was actually going to use this for my Sunday Scribblings post on change. Britney Spears just makes me sad. I feel sorry for her yet, I feel guilty that I spend even one iota caring about her life and the lives celebrities who use poor judgement. Shame on them and shame on me.

Anyway, from CelebrityWonder.com (the last sentence is my favorite part):

Britney Spears has a new tattoo.

The singer got a small black star inked on her right hand, and was joined by younger sister Jamie Lynn, 15, at Los Angeles' Devil Doll Tattoo Parlor at around 10pm on Tuesday night (12.19.06).

Britney looked nervous as she saw the tattoo artist preparing the needle, but she left the parlor smiling and laughing.

She already has a collection of tattoos, which allegedly include a sexy fairy on her lower back, a Hebrew etching on her neck, a butterfly and a vine on her right foot and a Japanese symbol on her bikini line.

The 25-year-old also has a pair of pink dice on her left wrist to match the blue dice her estranged husband Kevin Federline has on his right forearm.

Britney's wild behavior since her split from Kevin has concerned record bosses.

Last week, she was advised to end her friendship with Paris Hilton if she wanted to save her music career.

The "Toxic" singer has enjoyed a series of late nights with Paris since filing for divorce.

She has also been photographed on four occasions without underwear and last Tuesday (12.12.06) Britney flashed her nipples in a see-through white lace top and no bra as she stumbled out of Los Angeles nightclub Element.

Britney apologized to her fans for her recent behavior on her official website, but warned: "I look forward to a new year, new music and a new me. I'm just getting started!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Poem for Poetry Thursday

(I'm reposting this poem from earlier in the week because not too may people saw it, and my parents are in town so I just don't have time to write. Hope to get to as many blogs as I can for Poetry Thursday later tonight. Happy Holidays everyone!)



The Editor Speaks

There is flow among the elements
on a page. Word buttressing word,
lines asleep on a featherbed of 80-pound stock.
After all, the newsletter you’re reading
is an ecosystem for language,
and there you are preening and sorting
someone else’s natural selection. Your hands part
the cool water of the page’s surface,
splashing letters in your face—
every voluptuous character, every minuscule glyph
rolling down your cheek as beautiful as tears.
Yet all that negative space bends to
the wind’s slightest rustle,
keeping the kerning in sync with the leading,
the tracking aligned with meaning.
Everything gives off a vibration—
just listen to the callout box and what it calls:
Helvetica opens its beak to Galliard,
while the serifs bloom their impossible hues.
They fling themselves against the synapses of the brain,
until something frilled and pithy is born,
something elemental but not original.
The trick is not to care about any of that.
You hold your red pen like a torch
as you run through a forest of thickly settled text
only looking back to see what branches
you have burned.


I love the feeling of completion.

This is the poem I wanted to submit for Poetry Thursday. In fact, I got up two mornings in a row to finish it and I'm only finishing it now. So this baby is new. Feedback appreciated.

I am obsessed with poems about work; I hope to write more of them. I mean, we spend so much time at our jobs that I relish the challenge of making office life poetic. As you can guess, many of the terms in the poem relate to editing and publishing: 80-pound stock, character, glyph, negative space, kerning, leading, tracking, callout box, Helvetica, Galliard, and serifs. Tried to work in the word, "pica" but couldn't find a spot for it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Where I Work





This last photo is the late-afternoon view from my office.
See you next year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poet Mom's Annual Report

Year's end always makes me sappy and sentimental. But I really must take a moment and thank everyone who reads my blog. If no one read it, I'd still blog. But getting such positive feedback from this community of readers and writers makes it so worthwhile.

Creatively and spiritually, y'all have made this the best year of my life. I can say that because my family and friends are happy and healthy, which has allowed me to focus on me for a few minutes every day. Now, I see my life more clearly; I am so in tune with the words and images that surround me. Even the small, mundane things have meaning in my life. And the poetry. Let's not forget the poetry. Check out these stats.

*Number of blog posts as of December 20, including this one: 258.

*Number of profile views since July 2005: 1419. I had two blog posts in 2005, but really didn't start blogging until April 2006 (National Poetry Month).

*Number of poems written since April 2006: 42.

*Favorite poem written for blog: Sex and Pizza

*Least favorite poem written for blog: Five Bucks

*Favorite blog post: Tell Me Your Secret

*Least favorite post: Last week I attempted to try the Secrets post again. But I was reminded that I have a site meter so I could find out who posted what, despite my anonymous request. That was kind of a bummer so I took down the post altogether. That's the first and only time I've ever taken down a post. (To the person who made the comment: no big deal, and thanks for the heads up.)


The big number is the 42 poems written this year. Not all of which I have liked, but I try to post a few not-so-good ones with the half-decent attempts. Most of those made it into my revised manuscript. All in all, 2006 has been my most prolific year ever. Hard to believe with two kids under 4 running around.

A special thank you goes out to the lovely ladies at Poetry Thursday and Sunday Scribblings for giving me a place to put my creative energies.

I started blogging to kick-start my poetry, but the benefits have outweighed my initial reason for entering the blogosphere. Again, I send out my deep gratitude and thanks. Now, bring on 2007!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Best of Festivus--Seinfeld

Happy Festivus everyone!

What I Learned from a Man

I told Writer Bug I was going to steal this meme. And I have. So there!


How to debate (my dad)
How to fight back if I'm ever attacked (my dad)
How to show compassion (my dad)
How to drive (my dad)
How to fish (my dad)
How to ride a bike (my dad ... wait, that was my mom)
How to play tennis (Alex)
How to write a poem (Galway Kinnell, Phil Levine. They were my professors at NYU.)
How to give constructive feedback (Galway Kinnell)
How to get and stay out of debt (my husband)
How to kayak (my husband)
How to trust (my husband)
How to have patience (my son)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Anticipation




(Who says I'm not crafty! Hee! Hee! Hee!)







It's hard not to get anxious this time of year. I'm a big kid at heart, so this time of year brings out all of the family traditions for the Christmas season.

After Tuesday, I'm on vacation until 2007 (boy, I like how that sounds). Then my parents arrive from Virginia to spend the week with us. I'm fortunate that they are retired and are able to travel. We see them a few times a year, but wish it could be more. I'll spend the week finishing up the Christmas shopping, deciding what to make for Christmas night dinner (I think I'm deep-frying a turkey), and seeing Tim's family over during the course of the week.

What I most anticipate is watching Alex and Ella open their presents on Christmas day. My parents have shipped seven boxes to my house so they can avoid packing gifts. Seven boxes?!? Believe it or not, we're trying to keep a lid on the amount of presents we exchange. Since my parents only get to see the kids a few times a year, I don't mind their generosity at all.

Also, I'm looking to spending quality time with my husband, good food, good friends, and documenting it all with pictures and words on the blog.

Ho! Ho! Ho! And happy Sunday Scribblings.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Poem for Poetry Thursday

I was hoping to write something new, but what I'm working on is not ready. So here's an old poem that was published at a once-cool Web zine called Can We Have Our Ball Back. Now, I think they're defunct--every time I go to their site I get porn links and pop-ups.

Happy Poetry Thursday!


Afro Puffs


In kindergarten, I was the only one with afro puffs.
The only other person at school with a hairstyle even resembling a fro
was my dad when he picked me up at the end of the day.
They were stellar long before I knew who Angela Davis was.
My hair was parted down the center into two clusters,
one on each side. Mom used hair grease to oil my scalp
and comb out the naps, with barrettes holding them in place.
Afterwards, she used the afro pick: a short straight metal comb
with that muscular black plastic hand in salute. To me
it was cold steel that looked like prison bars,
but there was always that fist high above the bars grasping.
We watched Sanford and Son and Good Times
while fixing my hair, and I knew Wilona kept hers
in her purse. I’d see them sticking out of the back pockets of blue jeans
belonging to the neighborhood kings and queens.
It would be much later before I attached faces to those fists.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Woo Hoo!

One of my poems was accepted for publication in Literary Mama!!! It should be published in the January issue (how appropriate!). This is my first publication in a few years, so with any luck it will be the first of many.

I know journals and magazines are weeding through their slush piles now, but it almost seems coincidental that I received a rejection on the same day from another journal. But I don't care, because I'm on top of the world! Besides the publication, there's just a lot of good stuff going on-- I feel as if I'm accomplishing almost everything I set out to do in 2006. Hope to blog about it over the next few days.

Can you believe there are only 20 days left in the year?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Punishment and Reward


This is Ella, my beautiful, funny 16-month old daughter. Most of the time she is a source of pure joy with her laughter and curiosity. But her sense of wonderment can get the best of her, and me. For instance, she loves to put things in her mouth. You name it--week-old crackers, crayons (LOVES crayons), paper--if it's under something or hidden in a thick layer of dust, she'll find it.


So yesterday we decorated our Christmas tree, putting the fragile ornaments on the top, and a few plastic ones around the bottom (my son helped with the low-hanging ones). And while Ella was great at handing me things to put on the tree, she was even better at removing them as soon as I looked away, over and over again, all afternoon.


Now I know Ella doesn't get what a Christmas tree is, and that next year she won't take things off of the tree so freely. But I'm not sure how to discipline her--or at least get her to stop what she's doing. I think taking the ornaments, putting them in her mouth, and rolling them down the holiday brings her a little closer to understanding the holidays in some way. Of course, when Christmas comes, she's going to really enjoy the tree, the food, and opening presents with her brother and relatives.


So I throw this questions out to the Sunday Scribblings audience: What should I do here? Should I remove the low ornaments and be done with it, or is there some way I can teach Ella to look but not touch. And maybe this is part of a larger question: What do you do with a child when "no" doesn't work?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thanking My First Blogger Commenter

I've seen this done on other blogs recently, and while I can be a little slow on the uptake, I thought it was time to give credit where credit is way overdue.

In July 2005, I wrote my first blog post--pretty unremarkable by most standards. Three weeks later Ella was born and I had forgotten about the blog. In truth, I told some poet friends that I started a blog, which they thought was unremarkable. So I didn't come back until this past April, also know as National Poetry Month in the U.S.

It wasn't until the third post of April (or fourth post ever) that someone responded. And that someone was ... Alex, my best friend. Check out Alex's Blog; tap into some of his past posts. He works for a news organization and has some detailed insights on world events.

The entry was about posting at work, and the lack of balance in my life. His keen response to my griping was, "You know what they say, you do something 21 days in a row & it becomes a habit. So keep it up." And he was right.

So this is dedicated to the one I love--big Al! My son's namesake. You can't spell whimsical without "al"! My oldest friend (read: the one who has all the dirt on me). And that's the cool thing about friends: we choose them. But maybe it's more accurate to say that we chose each other.

One Big Ball


Why does everything get bigger around the holidays?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Poetry Thursday Meme

I love memes, and ones that relate to poetry and writing are the best!

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was …
Allen's Ginesberg's Howl resonated for me in college. It was the first poem I thought, "My god, you can say that in a poem?!" Prior to that, Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay--I remember because it was featured in the movie The Outsiders. In fact, it is the only poem I can recite by heart to this day.

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and …
This is a soliloquy rather than a poem, from MacBeth (forgive the punctuation):

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."
3. I read/don’t read poetry because …
Next to being a mom, it is my vocation. My life's work. I know this as sure as I am breathing.

4. A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is …
Sharon Olds' The Takers; Phil Levine's The Simple Truth; Elizabeth Bishop's The Moose.

5. I write/don’t write poetry, but …
I don't write enough poetry consistently. But Poetry Thursday has helped with that considerably. For 2007, I want to write a poem a week, and a poem a day for National Poetry Month (April in the U.S.).

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature …
There is no difference. I love it all and learn so much from other genres. But, as William Carlos Williams once said:

"It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there."



7. I find poetry …
as necessary as plasma.

8. The last time I heard poetry …
Was this morning on my iPod. There are plenty of downloads available from the Academy of American Poets' Poetcast to poetryfoundation.org's podcast.

9. I think poetry is like …
The best drug ever! Writing a good poem can be better than sex. Sometimes.


For more sound and fury, visit Poetry Thursday.

Poem for Poetry Thursday

The Kiss

It’s as though sheer will provides
the feeling of action: broad shoulders
balanced on a narrow frame
the V-shaped digress of his back facing you.
How many times have you spoken to
the man at the computer?
How many times have you imagined
that back against a wall, hand clutching hip,
hand cradling head, lip touching lip
touching lip touching lip.
He’s the wrong man, you’re the wrong woman
yet you feel as if you could sink or swim. Live or die.
The frothing of spirits thick with passion,
and all those pheromones processing … processing
because language can be difficult
because whatever it is between you
can’t be sated. Gaze by gaze,
you enter this place beyond other places,
beyond the body itself, where the midnight tides ebb,
and a great wave swells and drifts away
carrying you over the lip of the world.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Celebrity Poets

After watching this video on Jim Brock's blog of actress Sally Kirkland reading her poetry (check out the outfit), it reminded me of other celebrities who feel the need to publish their poetry.

If you know of celebs who write and/or publish poetry, add to the list. All of these links are to Amazon.com in case you would like to see the book covers ... or purchase copies -- whatever floats your boat.

A Night Without Armour, Jewel (singer)

The Lords and the New Creatures, Jim Morrison (singer, deceased)

The Forest of Love: A Love Story in Blank Verse, Jack Palance (actor, deceased). I have an autographed copy of this book--got it as a gag gift.

Touch Me, Suzanne Sommers (acrtress)

Yesterday I Saw the Sun: Poems, Ally Sheedy (actress)

Always a Reckoning and Other Poems, President Jimmy Carter. Actually, Carter's poetry is pretty good so I really don't consider him in the same category as the others.

Blinking with Fists: Poems, Billy Corgan (singer)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Do You Read?

"There are really only two kinds of readers-aloud of poetry — the first prompts a collective slumping and hanging of the head in the lap, which sometimes indicates thoughtfulness and which sometimes indicates sleep; the second refuses to lose the eye contact with the audience."

~from "Poets Read Compellingly, Even At Lenght," The Oberlin Review

I was reading this article from The Oberlin Review, which prompted me to think about all of the poetry and literature readings I've attended. The good ones and the bad ones. These days they seem less like community gatherings and more like Barnes & Noble book-selling events. Not to mention spoken word events, which can be really fun or all performance and no substance.

Also, I have been thinking about my performance as a poetry reader. Personally, I'm rusty; I haven't read in public in more than three years. But public speaking scares the bejesus out of me, so I tend not to be conversational with the audience. I look down at the podium, looking up toward the end, while trying to focus on the crowd and not on any one person--exactly the opposite of what a reader is supposed to do.

Now that I think about it, I probably give off that "I'm only doing this because I have to" vibe. Again, this is why I don't read in public.

So I ask you as a lover of literature, tell me about some of your experiences going to a reading or giving a reading. You don't have to name names (unless you want to!). What makes a reading memorable for you? Do you like Q&A sessions? Do you like a mix of old and new works? What do dislike about the readings?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: If These Walls Could Talk ...

If these walls could talk, they’d tell you:

  • I’m sitting at my office desk in my pajamas waiting for my kids to get up. Haven’t had my first glass of water or morning tea yet.


  • I’m having poetry withdrawal from not writing a poem in the last 72 hours. I’d like to write more but I think I’ll be writing less in December because of the holidays. I'm a little sad about that.


  • I’ve been going to the gym like clockwork, five days a week for the past three weeks. My abs are killing me; when I cough, they ache.


  • I’m surrounded by boxes of gifts from online retailers that need to be wrapped.


  • We just installed a new bathtub and surround for our main bathroom, just one of the many household things we’ll do before the end of the year.


  • Boston may get snow tonight. I’m a big kid at heart, so I’m hopping for a *MASSIVE* snowstorm so everyone gets a snow day, and the snow removal crews can make some extra cash.


  • Last night we took the kids out for pizza after Christmas shopping and they loved it! Fortunately, they were well behaved and loved people-watching in the busy restaurant.


  • My 16-month old daughter eats crayons like they’re going out of style. She gets mad when I take them away from her. If she finds a stray one, it’s like she’s found a piece of Godiva chocolate. Can’t wait to introduce her to Godiva chocolate--now, that’s something special.


  • My three-year-old son likes to sit in our cars and pretend he’s driving. So last week we left him alone in his dad's car while we worked in the yard, and he put all of the change in the change compartment into the CD player slot. Now the radio doesn’t work. *sigh*


  • My husband has a part-time gig working at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots football team. I hear him shuffling about the house getting ready. The coffee maker clicks and gurgles. The shower hisses on. And one of the kids whimpers. Maybe he or she will go back to sleep a few minutes longer so I can have my morning tea.

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