Intro to Poetry, Day 1/10: Water

Note:  Back in October of 2015, I participated in Writing 101: Intro to Poetry (on wht would become, but was not yet, this blog).  The way the class/challenge is run has changed, but I decided to sign up again (and will probably do so again in the new year) for inspiration and motivation to write.

Prompt:  Water
Form challenge: haiku

Like sweet ambrosia
Carelessly spilled by the gods
Fall the Spring’s first rains

I stand, mouth agape
Poised to catch on my parched tongue
Those first precious drops

That honeyed nectar
Drips so slowly on my tongue
Quenching endless thirst


Z is for Zenith: #AtoZChallenge

ze·nith ˈ(zēnəTH/) noun
  1. the time at which something is most powerful or successful.

And that’s it.  We’re done.

I’ve got mixed feelings about how this has gone for me (more on that later). but my overwhelming feeling is triumph.  I did it.  I stuck it out.  Even when I fell behind, I stuck it out.  I made time to write (almost) everyday.  I can find it if I look hard enough.  I can do it if I make it a priority.

In twelve years of attempting NaNoWriMo, in sixteen years of personal blogging and participating in challenges, his is the first time I’ve tuck with a challenge from start to finish.  It feels good to know that I have that ability.

On the flip side, while I’ve done great on the writing side, I’ve done a shitty job as part of the community.  I haven’t reached out.  I’ve been hit or miss in responding to comments, and I’ve been completely MIA in commenting myself.  These are things I’ve apologized for already, so I won’t bore you with it again.  I just want to acknowledge it.  I’m only capable of working on one thing at a time, at the moment.  I’m hoping in the future, I’ll evolve to a point where that is no longer true, and I can take on more at any given time.  But I’m not there yet.

Going forward, I doubt that I’ll be blogging as prolifically from here on out, though the likelihood of my posts being slightly more frequent than they were pre-A-to-Z Challenge is fairly good,and they will most likely be of a slightly higher quality (and without the “hey, gotta write and jet!” deluge of typos.  At some point I’m going to go back and retroactively edit all the challenge posts, eurgh).

This has been fun.  In the next few days, I’m expecting to do more reading than writing (on WordPress and off, actually).  I’m looking forward to catching up on what I missed, and maybe even doing a little additional exploring out in the blogosphere.  I’m taking baby steps, but I’m moving.  Maybe I’ll catch you along the way.

X is for Xanadu: #AtoZChallenge (one day late)

Xanadu:  (noun)  1. a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.

I didn’t grow up in a household with a lot of money – nor, honestly, are we rolling in money now, but that’s another blog post – and spent my youth almost entirely home-bound.  I grow up and still live in Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border, and for years and years the most travelling I ever did was crossing the border to take advantage of tax free shopping.

I didn’t venture further out until college, when I went to a wedding in Rhode Island, and then again in college, when I traveled with a friend back to her home in upstate New York.  To this day,  I only have a few states under my belt (NH, ME, CT, VT, NY, NJ, PA, FL), most of them accessible by car, and no real international travel – Montreal, which was beautiful, but barely counts.  Back when I went, you still didn’t even need a passport.  We traveled in on a bus out of Boston’s South Station.

Of my limited travels, Montreal was by and far my favorite place to go.  I traveled with a friend of mine, the week before I turned 25 – we stayed in a co-ed hostel on the waterfront, in a place called Le Sous Bois, a place that no longer exists.  There was an enclosed cobblestone courtyard with a half-dozen gypsy caravans that were rented out as sleeping space scattered around.  At the center was a firepit, surrounded by lounge chairs, and a massive wooden gate set in the stone wall that opened directly into a street where, if you turned left, you were greeted by Vieux Montreal – the sunset over the water, usually, as we headed out to go drinking.

We stayed for six nights, spending the days at the beach, the museums, the botanical gardens, and nights at outdoor cafes and performance spaces, bars and lounges.  We drank beer and honey wine and ate poutine and took blurry photos of the lights on the water from the balconies of cafes and bistros.  I went to sleep surrounded by the sound of people speaking in a dozen different language, woke to twenty-something men speaking French and playing the bongos in the breakfast nook where we ate dense bagels with hazelnut spread.

It was a beautiful week.  As with all things, a big part of it was context.  I was nearly twenty-five, and traveling for the first time, staying somewhere full of strangers who spoke languages I didn’t speak, coming from places I had never been.  My friend and I were both either newly in a relationship (her) or just started to looking at relationships and experiences I’d like to have, and in both our cases, these situations were new and exciting and terrifying.  Life, in so many ways, was for us, at the time, new and exciting and terrifying.  We talked about love and sex and art and plans and ambitions, and we drank and we ate, and we took shitty photos in darkened bars.

I’ve never had the opportunity to go back.  Real life hit; I became more serious about my job, I moved out and rent had to be paid, and then I had grad school, and then my boyfriend lost his job, and then we got married, and then got a more pricey home, and then the baby… and by that point, I’d need a passport (which I didn’t have), and who has the time, really?

I still hope to go back, someday, though I know it won’t be the same – some of that magic of freedom and possibility won’t exist anymore.  But maybe there’ll be a different kind of magic, this time.

W is for Welcome to Night Vale: #AtoZChallenge (two days late)

For people who’ve only popped in to visit, it probably seems strange, but to me, Night Vale is home.

In my little insular fandom bubble, it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that there are stillpeople who don’t know what Night Vale is, but of course, Real Life Me understands that, so – Welcome to Night Vale is a twice monthly podcast, now in its fifth year that has been described as “Lake Wobegon as seen through the eyes of Stephen King or David Lynch”, or “NPR meets the Mothman Prophecies.”  It’s Pythonesque, it’s Lovecraftian, and it’s a beautiful mix of meaningful and nonsensical, creepy and comical.

And it feels like home.

I got into Night Vale around the same time everyone else did – I don’t know why, but in mid-to-late 2013, the show (which had been running for 35+ episodes already) suddenly exploded on Tumblr, and the cryptic posts made everyone need to find out what Night Vale was.

At this point, you sort of have to take the plunge and just listen to the damn thing.

I held out until December of that year, and got hit massively by the flu just after Christmas.  It was on one of those sleepless and feverish nights that I decided to listen.  The experience was interesting: I was drawn in by the writing, by the strange mythology of the town, and intrigued by where it was going – but I was also soothed by the narration.  I fell asleep listening to it every night of my illness.

The night I listened to the eighth episode, I surfaced just slightly from my feverish sleep for the first few chords of the Weather, which for that episode was Danny Schmidt’s “This Too Shall Pass.”  There was something about the melancholy of that song, paired with the weirdness of the show, the calmness of Cecil’s voice, the developing evidence that this show was going to have a canonical queer couple as its central figures (and it does), and the groggy fever dream state I was in – everything felt a little surreal and a  little  beautiful.  After that night, Night Vale became a minor obsession for which I ran a blog, drew fan art, and, and in February of 2014, began attending live shows.

I was at Arisia in January of 204 – at a Night Vale panel, in fact (which was literally standing room only) when I heard the Boston tickets for the live show the following month had sold out.  Devastated – and knowing I had to go – I told my husband, who got us tickets for the show in Northampton.  It was General Admissions seating, so we got there early and had a two hour line party with a bunch of other fans, and when the doors opened, we practically sprinted in to get front row seats.

The live show had an entirely different energy, one that I have always loved in live theatre, and when the show ended and we filed outside, someone told us it might be a good idea to stick around.  Sure enough, about twenty-five minutes later, someone came out yelling that they cast were in the lobby.  My husband and I got everyone’s autographs, and I got a great photo with Cecil (like, really great.  Cecil is looking dapper AF and my hair and makeup are were on point).  We’ve made it a point to go back every year, now; we saw our fourth Night Vale tour earlier this month, and should they grace us with another show next year, we will see our fifth.

A month after that first live show, I found out I was pregnant.  Night Vale got me through the pregnancy insomnia (blessedly the only real “symptom” I had), and when I left my obgyn’s office the day she told me my son was finally able to hear thing outside the womb, I started playing Night Vale at an even higher volume, with the Kindle nestled against my belly.  When I wrote Cecil my a fan letter last year, I told him something that I honestly hold true – there is every possibility that, aside from my own and my husband’s, his voice is probably the first voice my son recognized.  I look forward to when Night Vale is a pleasant place for my son to visit as well, instead of just a soothing memory of a voice from Before.

Is there a book, movie, show, whatever, that feels comfortable and homey to you?

V is for Vices: #AtoZChallenge

As is evidenced by my aforementioned shitty blogging habits (and my endless, unrelenting whining on how I never managed to get stuff done), it will likely come as no surprise that I am not exactly a paragon of positive routines and healthy habits.  I’m not all bad, obviously, since I manage to maintain a marriage and household, raise a healthy (and happy) child, and hold down a job, but I wouldn’t posit myself as a role model. Not with habits like these:

  1.  Smoking. Okay, so I don’t do it anymore, but God, I still miss it, sometimes. I know it’s better that I don’t, but I’m not going to lie about it.  It was a good stress relief, and I miss having a cigarette or two when I’m out drinking.
  2. Peeling off my nail polish.  I know it’s not good for my nails, and I already have super weak, brittle-ass nails, butI can’t help it.  When I’m distracted I just star picking.  When you can peel the whole nail off at once? Ooh, that’s satisfying.
  3. Zit popping.  Ugh, gross.  But you know what?  The internet has made “Zit popping videos” this, like, whole big thing on YouTube, so y’all can’t judge me too hard, Internet (PS: I’ve never watched those video.  Doing it to myself is one thing, but watching someone else doing it is just, eughhh).  Yeah yeah, don’t pick, it’ll scar, yada yada.  Look, I’ve been doing it for twenty-three years, I got this. Ok?  I got a handle on this.
  4. Borderline abuse of the “open bar” system.  Not really abuse, but I mean… I get way, way too excited when anyone utters the words “open bar,” partly because a.) with some alcohol in me, I feel substantially less social anxiety, and b.) I like trying new drinks, and open bar is the only time I can risk trying one and not liking it without being out $10.  Let me put it this way: there has been more than one occasion where the fact that there was an open bar was the deciding factor in my attendance.
  5. Smut.  Smut smut smutty smut.  Reading it, watching it… Enough said, I think.
  6. Playing with my nails… after I cut them off.  What can I say, I’m fascinated with the things that come off of my body.  When I trim my nails, I spend several distracted seconds bending and flicking my nail clippings before I throw them out.

Mmm, well, that was delicious.  What are some of your vices or bad habits?

U is for Unexpected: #AtoZChallenge (one day late)


I’m home on a sick day today, which, as I’ve discussed before, is kind of an emotionally tumultuous thing for me.  But I woke up this morning, turned over, and promptly thought I was going to throw up.  I literally stumbled out of bed and had to brace myself against the wall, I was so dizzy and nauseous.  I still got dressed and made it out to my mom’s house to drop my son off, but when I sat down to attempt a cup of coffee, my stomach roiled in such a way that I said, fuck it, I am not going to make it through work today.  So I’m at my mom’s house (I couldn’t face another car ride), and after some water, some food, and some coffee, I am still dizzy as shit (and running kind of hot and cold) but I can move around without feeling like spewing.  So, hey – yay for progress.

I figured I’d try to be productive, given that I now have seven-and-a-half hours free that I normally wouldn’t, so of course, I logged online (hey, I’m not at home, so it’s not like I can do my chores or anything).  When I logged on to WordPress today, I was greeted with a pleasant surprise – my blog had hit 100 followers.

That was… unexpected, to say the least.  I garnered a few followers during the NaNo Blog Hop back in November, but I think that capped out at 30 or so.  At some point in the intervening six months, another 70 people found me and decided I was worth keeping tabs on.

I’m not being falsely modest by saying I’m kind of shocked.  I’m not the greatest blogger – I don’t think I’m a bad writer, but I’m keeping this as a personal/creative journal, and everything I write is pretty self-indulgent.  Plus, I’m a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad commenter.   I’m bad at Approving comments, I’m bad at replying to them, and I’m awful at keeping up with and commenting on my blog roll, especially in the last few weeks when all my WordPress energy has been focused on proving to myself that I could actually complete this challenge.  I’m hoping I’ll be better when I’m no longer under the (admittedly self-imposed) pressure of daily blogging.  I’m just not cut out for it, honestly, but I want to see this challenge through to the end.

So, thank you to those of you who have seen me fit to Follow, who are actually interested in my not-so-interesting thoughts on rather mundane matters and my endless prattlings about the nonsense in my brain.  I promise that I am working on becoming a better and more engaged blogger, and I’m glad you’ve elected to stick around to hopefully see that change evolve.

I’m going to go lay back down and try not to feel like a garbage fire when I wake back up.  Cheers.

S is for Stress: #AtoZChallenge (one day late)

Shit That I am Trying to Juggle (and Mostly Failing At, Miserably):

  1. Keeping up with basic housekeeping (slightly bettwe this week, but I also wasn’t working, so…)
  2. Keeping up with home repairs and touch-ups (downstairs toilet hasn’t worked right for, um, weeks/paint desperately needs touch-ups/it’s probably bad that our tree has grown through our telephone wires, right?)
  3. Writing anything other than blog entries – and let’s be honest here, not even that, really
  4. Learning French on Duolingo
  5. Working on sketches for the new jewelry I want to make
  6. Working on sketches for new art
  7. Compiling my old poetry onto Wattpad
  8. Paying my loans (finally did that tonight, two weeks late)
  9. Folding laundry (three weeks and counting!)
  10. Re-up my Fiverr and list my gigs again

I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I know that’s a cliche, but yesterday, driving home from the thrift store (fill a bag with clothes for $10, sweet!), my husband and I looked at the clock and had a moment of panic.  We legitimately had to check the car clock against both of our phones, because how could it seriously be 2 pm already, we just got up, and we got up at 8 am, what the hell.

I know it’s something wrong with me, don’t get me wrong; I don’t have so much going on in my life that it should be a burden, but I just cannot seem to get my head around it all and get it done.

Tomorrow is my first day back to work after ten days off.  It was a welcome ten days, and I did get to spend a lot of time with family (including my niece and nephew and my in-laws), lean the house, read a book, try out a few really good new restaurants, and take my son to the museum (he loved it, and now he’s obsessed with masks), but I’m also incredibly bummed that, while I had a few shining moments of productivity, I didn’t manage to strike a balance – I didn’t find that sweet spot where I was doing a little of something everyday.  I always feel like I’m either falling behind on something (which is stressful) or having a super productive day where I do a heap of catching up all at once and feel momentary relief before exhaustion hits… and then the refractory period keeps me from keeping up with the project, and the whole damn cycle resets.

I mean, it’s not all bad.  The house is in a manageable state for me to do a quick once over after work, my breakfast and lunch are packed, and my outfits are laid out for the week.  I have managed to figure out a few strategies to alleviate stress and time management in some areas, but damn it, I’m still working on a whole lot of others.

How do you – especially the non-neurotypical “you’s” out there – manage time and stress?