The Problem with Sonnets

A writer/poet – I appreciate
All form, but also dearly love free reign.
Still, yesterday I planned to write by rule,
And post a sonnet here for you to read.
“Iambic” and the word “Pentameter,”
Won’t fit inside a verse that has that count.
For starters, therein lies the rub I fought,
It’s difficult to capture depth and flow,
When forced to beat the drum on every verse.
The point and art get tangled for the worse.

What’s more, I am not one that talks so much
To say what fewer words could well convey.
But Sonnet creeps and crawls and reaches out
To poke and tickle thought and pondering
Before arriving at a central theme
And twisting a duplicitous array,
Or giving fuel to irony at last.
And somehow all this ends a melded blend.
Unlike the daily spew, the Sonnet points
To focus perfect words at ending joints.

256px-ShakespeareAnd then there are the rhyming schemes to shape,
(Which, as you see, I’ve floated in this post,
Except to rhyme the couplets, Shakespeare style).
“A-B-A-B,” then “C-D-C-D,” goes
The Shakespeare variation at each start.
Then “E-F-E-F,” next is followed by
The final “G-G” couplet at the end.
See – Will abandoned old Petrarchan rule.
“A-B-B-A,” done twice, and then to field –
“C-D-E-C-D-E” was hard to wield.

Don’t get me started on the Dante twists
Where “A” through “C” are all that one can rhyme
The worst Sicilian puzzle to my mind
And long before a Puzo story that.
So I attempted, but alas – in vain,
To focus all my talent to the task.
Eight lines was all I managed yesterday,
And really, only seven counted good.
My point is:  all the thing was meant to say
Was, “Time slips fast, especially in a day.”

Here lies yesterday’s unfinished sonnet:

“The brown of noon has come and murdered birth
With up so floating nothing inked but rhyme.
A spacious nothing lurks and fondles worth
What little is, and tiny left of time.
A gasp, and I inhale the dust of sleep,
My eyelids snap and muscles flinch to wake,
The bleach white curtain lets the sunbeam seep
Its “lost-time” acid all my urgent take” . . .

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Choosing Sides

Unless you order the “Gut Buster Special” which comes with a premeditated calorie delivery system, there are usually choices for additional sides in any dining out experience. In most cases, even the “Gut Buster” has allowable customization: “Would you like tots or fries with that?” What I’d like to explore briefly is how the server promotes these sides when taking your order.

NCI_Visuals_Food_HamburgerDoes your server explain the ideology behind each choice, flinging punditry and and leaning more in favor of baked tots over fries? Perhaps your wait staff is passionate about the health benefits of the baked tots over the more artery clogging fries. Liberty fries, of course … but still. Do you study the menu before the notepad carrying fount of opinion arrives to query you, pondering the nutrient content and trans fat risks? That way you are an educated side picker. Of course, it’s always important to educate yourself before you vote. But wait – how much should you trust that menu?

No worries. Your apron clad expert will arrive any minute to bring you up to speed on his or her version of the truth. Just keep in mind, your server may have lost a loved one to a heart attack, or diabetes. El Garçon may have a hidden agenda for coercing you to leave those fries alone. Don’t be mad. He’s just trying to spare you from an early death or unfavorable afterlife. Heaven forbid he owns baked tot futures.

You could research this choice a little, don’t you think? Give your conscience a little more certainty to rest its weary head upon. Careful – the restaurant next door is pushing the fries … after all, tots are “so five years ago.” Then there’s that nice looking dog walker you stop on the sidewalk (in your effort to get a random, unbiased opinion) who looks at you like you’ve just invaded the planet. “Are you nuts? Think about sticking to salad, Pudgeball.” How rude?!

Let’s speak to the manager/owner, shall we? Eh hem. “Excuse me Ma’am, but I’d like more information about the pros and cons of each of these sides so I can make an informed decision. Can you help?”

This woman is of average height and build, looks healthy enough and, we’re thinking, must be of decent intelligence. She owns and runs her own restaurant for crying out loud. Let’s check out her response.

“If it weren’t for the government telling me how to run my establishment, I wouldn’t even serve fries. You don’t have to ask for me to tell you that eating fries is a sin and those that do are going to burn forever. Especially those that dip their fries in the ketchup. There’s only one right choice here and if you don’t see it my way, I’m going to have to ask you to take your “Gut Buster” and leave.”

Game over. If you still wish to play the “Choose Sides” game, please deposit another pocket of quarters into the slot labelled, “I am a person.” Otherwise, please place your nickel in the slot marked “Corporate Individual.”

Promises to Not Keep

I don’t like using the word “never.”  Still, I think it’s called for today.

Never say you’ll do something “when hell freezes over.”  In the world we live in today that isn’t such a far-fetched scenario.  In fact, I said I felt like going to work maybe when the bowels of Hades burped dry ice (how many ways can you say “hell freezes over?”), and it began raining down a storm of hail stones about five minutes ago.  Frozen little pebbles flailed against my tin roof rent house and buffeted my little Toyota Yaris parked in the drive.  I ask you – is it not nearly April?

Earthquakes and Tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes, mudslides and flash floods, blizzards … this is our little rock in space now.   There’s really nowhere you can live these days where a natural disaster of some kind isn’t possible.  My point?  Don’t base your safety on geography, and don’t set conditions for your compliance or behavior contingent on a raging, hormonal lady nature that you have absolutely no control over.

More on the Being Touched Thing

What do you call a statement that is all at once true and not true?  For example, “I don’t like to be touched.”  This is not true when I’m at home, with my sweetheart, and in my comfort zone.  This is true when I’m anywhere else.  But there are moments when I’m tired, or stressed, or in some kind of alternate dimension caused by these or other things … when I don’t mind so much.

Here’s a question some might keep in their noggins when I explain this, but they never come right out and ask, “Were you abused when you were younger?”  I see them thinking it.  Or maybe I’m just projecting since I wonder, myself, why I am like this.  But I’m so terribly glad they don’t ever ask.  I mean, what does a socially inept creature like myself do in a situation like that?  “I … um … uh … well I don’t really know why I don’t like to be touched.”  That’s about the time I’d get a hot flash and they would think I’m blushing.  Damn stupid hormones, I tell ya’.

So since I’m writing, and writing is therapeutic, I’ll reason this out a bit.  I really think it’s a boundary thing.  Haven’t you ever had someone hug you that you weren’t too happy about learning their intricate nooks and crannies that really shouldn’t be pressed up on you like that?  Or how about the smells?  I concede that most people I encounter on a daily basis, lets say 99 percent of them, are perfectly appropriate for the nasal experience of closeness.  But that bad apple really stinks when you get right down to it.

The “human connection” resonates with me in all this, if you must know.  If I’m appalled at another person’s smell or “feel,” it’s usually because I fear those things in myself.  I may be the only person who does a smell check before heading out in the morning, even after a shower with multiple flavors of shower gel.  At this very moment I’m literally angry that my winter coat smells like a restaurant I visited over a week ago and I can’t get the smell out.  I don’t happen to keep a selection of winter coats in my closet.  So the bottom line is I smell when I wear that thing.  Maybe others don’t notice.  But I do and it’s enough to drive me batty.

Back to the touching thing.  What if the person is a very trim and fit individual?  Visually I can tell, they aren’t going to press anything against me I don’t want to feel if they zero in for a hug.  What if the tailored look of their clothes and the hair product they seem to be sporting indicates they are most likely of a delightful olfactory encounter?  What keeps me from the hug?  Well, don’t you see?  It’s not so much them I worry about.  Granted, I don’t worry about the misplaced boob, or the wrong angle and awkward placement of the arm.  See Hugging Coach for an explanation on this particular point.  But YES, dear reader, the “Ah ha” moment has occurred in this bit of writing.  On the off chance that it’s mid-day and I’ve done some sweating, or perhaps that food I ate ten minutes ago still lingers on my breath and I don’t hold it, or, oh dear heavens, what if …

It’s about me.  I don’t want to be offended by offending.  So please, if I’m witty and seem fully awake … just don’t touch.

 

Alter-me

Open bags of chocolate mock my gurgling stomach.  The heater, a cheap little job that the landlord anchored right next to an uninsulated glass patio door, does its best to keep it’s little corner warm while the warped plastic blinds usher the cold toward its thermostat.  Another cheap addition to this little rent house, the blinds provide privacy for approximately one square foot  in this room.  Otherwise, they sprinkle the cold tile floor with light during the day, and reveal murky shadows and distant headlights at night.

I turn off the Margaret Atwood collection I’m listening to as I surf the net.  I think I have an idea of her style now, but still not sure I like it.  The one about the duchess poem is interesting but somehow, unfulfilling.  What a letdown this day has been.  In an hour I’ll need to start packing, but of course, I won’t.  Instead, I’ll be up most the night doing laundry I should have done earlier, reading things I can’t put down, and drumming up story ideas in my mind that I’ll fail to write, and eventually forget.  I suppose a story idea is like a fish of keeping-size to a writer, and should never be let off the hook.  I’m not sure if I’m lazy or just resigned to the futility I feel about it all.

I’m not completely fatalistic.  I have been taking steps, you know.  I’m reading “in bulk” now.  Restricted myself to only two nights a week with my old pal, Netflix.  Took an online course on “Advanced Fiction Writing,” and actually learned a few things.  Learned a few tricks, more like.  And I have experienced the satisfaction of another “final exam” victory.  Didn’t think I’d have that fun ever again.  Today I actually signed up for another class – “The Craft of Magazine Writing.”  It hasn’t even started and I learned that I can write an article  about something without being an expert on it.  Funny how I knew that already from reading articles, but didn’t spell it out in my head until I read it in the course introduction.

So what’s the big damn deal?  It’s this nagging alter-ego – “alter-me” I call it, that keeps whimpering around my shoulders that I’m already getting old.  “Note the frequent heartburn and faster pacing to the bathroom.” it taunts, “You can’t even remember ‘its’ versus ‘it’s’ without checking every other week.”  I wish this menace were corporeal so I could just reach around and strangle it.  But alas, it’s a fragment of me.  Only not me.  I’m going to make this writing lifestyle work.  I have skills; I’m brilliant; and I have a partner who reminds me of this (in different words) all the time.  I’m at a time and place, in my life and geographically, that appears to be primed to make this happen.

So why am I letting this bitch – “self-doubt” get to me?  It’s just a matter of time.  And it suddenly becomes clear.  There’s the rub.  It IS just a matter of time.  I’ve never been good with time.  Waiting for it frustrates me and missing it depresses me.  “The moment” is not my forte.  I write best in present tense, but I sure don’t live it well.  My transformation from a workaholic in the youth work world to a freelance writer with a novel in my back pocket isn’t scheduled to happen until January 2015 at the earliest … March 2015 at the latest.  All efforts to make progress toward being published, even just “token” published, are slow-going.  I don’t like slow.  Visions of cancer, or heart issues, or some other crazy thing popping up and preventing this dream, niggle at my subconscious.  In turn, my alter-me is generated and promotes the negativity campaign on a regular basis.

I feed it chocolate and keep writing.

Awkward

1973 Chevy Nova SS

One morning this week I left my house in a rush.  I tossed some bags in my car from the passenger side and as I was walking to the driver’s side, I spotted a person walking down my street.  Since I haven’t been around often to be neighborly (I only moved in this cute little rental about a month ago) … and since I haven’t received any baked goods or invites to friendly poker games (I’m crushed) … I decided I better wave and smile.

{Pause here because I feel I need to address that thought some of you had.}  Yeah.  That’s right.  I didn’t wave and smile out of sheer human kindness or interest in another human being.  Unlike some folks who are socially wired and anxious to be around other people often – I am wired different.  I need solitude and time to think.  I need space and books to devour.  I enjoy a few close and trusted friends, but am not the typical “Blue” who is the complete opposite of my “Green” and benefits from a multitude of friendships of various depths and would love to pull up a chair right now and sit next to you – smiling.  In this particular case, I made a calculated effort to be “friendly” after determining from my head, not my heart, that it was the right thing to do.

{And continuing…}  So I waved.  I smiled.  He/she {that’s right, I didn’t look long enough to find out and I certainly wasn’t going out of my way to make eye contact} waved and did a little nod but no smile was recorded in the millisecond I assessed the response.

I jumped in my car and cranked the engine.  Now here I must pause again and paint a bit more of this picture for you.  When I write “cranked my engine,” I need you to visualize.  This was not the engine of a 1972 Chevy Nova 350hp SS.  I drive a 2005 Toyota Yaris Hatchback.  So when I write that I quickly plugged in my iPod and hit play on my current audiobook, shifted the manual stick into reverse and clicked my seatbelt, well … you get it.

As I mentioned, I was in a hurry.  When I cranked the wheel to back out of my driveway (did I mention that my driveway is big enough for four Yaris vehicles?) … I was still processing the wave/smile exchange and wondering if I should have devoted a little more time or maybe put a voice to it like – “Morning!”  Do I really need to explain that people like me have to think about things like that?

Toyota Yaris II

Point is – I backed up in the shape of a little “C” all within the confines of my driveway.  That means I messed up my depth perception and cranked too much.  This resulted in a maneuver that made me look like one of those remote controlled cars kids get for Christmas that bump into something and reverse in a tight circle and go again until they’re out of a tight spot.  But WAIT!  As if that wasn’t silly enough, get this –

In an effort to extricate myself from this awkward situation quickly (I’m thinking, “Who cares about the smile/wave fiasco now; I just need to save some face.”) I stepped a little too hard on the gas pedal and my back wheels (remember – YARIS HATCHBACK) spun the gravel from my driveway flying.

I just cringed.  I laughed a little too.  Well, I did.  But I’ll tell you what I didn’t do as I eased off the gas pedal and drove my silly behind to work.  I sure as heck didn’t make eye contact.

Cards

Loneliness Combat Tactics #1

Backstory – I moved to Idaho for a new job after we (my partner M and I) just purchased our new home in Washington state.  Destiny is a bitch sometimes.  M has a couple jobs and since we can’t sell the house for at least a year she is staying, and I’m here in potato and gun country (not to be mistaken for potato-gun country which I believe refers to Florida where my totally handsome but not so bright cousin lives).  I miss M and although I made the terrible error of agreeing to share a rent with a co-worker (I really dislike room mates) I still find ways to be lonely.  So I decided to insert some humor into this predicament and develop some creative ways to battle loneliness. Hence my new series explodes upon the scene!   This weekend my roomy is out of town taking care of some of her leftover out-of-state business.  So I have the place to myself.  SWEET SILENCE.  Love it!  I’m looking around for the not-so-obvious creative things to do in my solitude – here’s one. Continue reading