Monday, January 31, 2011

May You Now Rest Peacefully

A little over a week ago, I wrote a poem entitled "Stage 4" and dedicated it to my best friend's grandmother who had just been diagnosed with Stage Four cancer in her throat, lungs, and stomach. I've known Gram since I was 11 years old and she has been like a grandmother to me. Today, Barbara Wasiewski's soul has moved into Heaven, and she can now rest without pain, without sadness, and in the peace she deserves. I have been blessed to have known such a beautiful soul in my life. She will live on in our hearts. I can see her sweet smile now.

Because poetry always helps me get through trying times, I began browsing The Poetry Foundation's website and found a beautiful poem by Bryan D. Dietrich I thought I would share: "I Imagine My Father's Death." The last three lines of this touching poem:

He looks around marveling at this thing
his death has made, then sets out to find
someone, anyone with whom to share it."

I love you, Gram. I'm playing "Barbara Ann" by The Beach Boys and toasting to you with a glass of red wine tonight.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Haiku Inspired by Lunch

Beautiful bird I saw in San Francisco, March 2010

I did more reading than observing today, but this little scene stood out and inspired a poem:

Feathered Food Fight

Five birds fight for one
potato chip; four scatter.
Fat one wins again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ruin in the Franklins

My poem for One-Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry :

Ruin in the Franklins

**I am submitting this piece.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lunch observations: Books in Public, Job Interviews, and Love

Enjoyed a nice lunch with myself today; twittered a little, mused a lot, and caught up on some reading. A few observations from my chicken-tortilla-soup-and-tuna-sandwich hour:

1. If you are reading a book in a public restaurant, expect to be stared and smiled at. People may even worry about you. These "observers" make me worry. There is nothing wrong with eating lunch by yourself, and it is even better when a book is your companion. Who cares what anyone else thinks. Read away. And don't look lonely or embarrassed. Be proud of the time you are taking for yourself. You are a student of life.

2. I don't know why people hold a job interview over lunch. How awkward! It is hard enough to eat on a first date, much less a first interview, without obsessing over what you should eat, whether you have food in your teeth, how you managed to spill that raspberry tea on your shirt, etc. How can an interview be successful when you are musing over a lunch menu, drinking tea, and eating a whole plate of food? You lose a lot of important time and conversation - at least that is my opinion.

3. Love is all around if you look at listen for it. In a time when we are inundated with
negative news delivered to our PDA's by the second, love is hiding out in the booth behind you, giggling and smiling. You may not know what the cute couple behind you might be laughing about, but you know that blended sound of two people's laughter makes you want to giggle along with them without any reason whatsoever. Just because. Then they round the corner and you notice this little old man is helping this little adorable woman put on her coat. He is having difficulty with his task because she is at least a head taller than he is and he can barely lift his arms from his sides. Yet, he persists. They giggle some more. He finally conquers the coat, grabs her hand, and they walk out smiling as if on their first date. This couple will never know the smile they brought to a stranger's face today.

Wishing you a happy day with lots of love and giggling in between!

Smile, Andrea

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Execrate Cancer

Don't really want to go into the details of today, just had to write it out.

I have removed my poem "Stage 4" because I have submitted it to a literary journal.  Crossing my fingers and toes.

At the end of a bad day, it was nice to see this walking in my front door:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Villanelle for Today...

I am now following @onestoppoetry on Twitter and they help poets to learn about and explore different poetic forms each week.  Today's form of choice is the villanelle, that pesky little form that likes to turn me in knots.

I had a few lines in my head that of course came to me while I was in the shower.  Then, I came upon their exercise for today and thought I might try to put it into villanelle form. (And I don't hope I don't seem didactic.  It was just me thinking outloud about everything happening in the world.) Here's my attempt:

Feeding Time

We pray to Him only when in need;
We don't talk to Him anymore.
We open mouths and wait to feed.

We call it faith but live in greed;
We don't know what we're praying for.
We pray to Him only when in need.

We forget just how to believe;
Wealth is now the favored Savior.
We open mouths and wait to feed.

Seeing life, we forget the seed;
We must turn the knob at His door.
We pray to Him only when in need.

Don't leave the talk for when you grieve,
Talk to Him like you did before.
We pray to Him only when in need.
We open mouths and wait to feed.

(Now the revision on this should be fun!) ;)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Things I Learned About Writing from Watching Football

I love football.  I have a favorite team.  I have favorite players who do not necessarily play for my favorite team.  On Sunday, you can find me curled up on the couch enjoying a game or two.  I even watch ESPN SportsCenter.  While my husband doesn't complain, a good handful of my friends and family often do and like to ask what I find so fascinating about football.  Beside the fact that it is a good ol' American pastime, football reinforces a few things to me that are not only great messages in general, but important to me when  thinking about the pursuit of my dream to write:

1.  There is power in the battle.  Use it as motivation.  There is always another force you are going to have to compete with while pursuing your dream(s) whether it be naysayers, a passion for procrastination, not having enough time, etc.  The list can go on and on.  The important thing to remember is you need to be prepared to fight the battle.

2.  Some days you're ahead, and some days you're behind.  Not everything is going to go your way every time.  The best you can do is be present:  show up, be prepared, and give it your all.  Loss isn't permanent.  Neither is pain.  It's just a part of the battle.

3.  Practice, practice, practice.  Constantly work to improve yourself.  There are no excuses for missing practice.  Aim to be better every day.  A good friend of mine always reminds me: "Persistence beats resistance."

4.  Study your sport.  Know the other players.  Watch what they do, what they say, how and why they implement their strategies.  Find positive examples and follow them.  Educate yourself to motivate yourself.

5.  Critics are one thing.  Haters are another.  Learn to discern the difference between the two.  You want fans who will be there no matter the weather, who will offer up support and advice because they care about you.  All haters want to do is bring you down, and you never want to make it down to that level.  In the face of haters, hold your head high, and be the bigger person.  A fine example of this in the football world is Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady's response to the Jets' Cornerback Antonio Cromartie harsh name-calling, "I've been called worse...but he's a good player."  You can't let the haters allow you to take your eyes off of the game.

I'm sure I could expand on this list for at least another few pages, but you get where I'm going with this. (And please feel free to share similar lessons learned.)  At least I hope you do.  Now, get to watching some football.  That's where I'm headed. (And later this evening, I'm going to practice on some revisions!)  Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grandma on Men, Balls, Birds, and Hypocrites

My brother, My Grandma, Me, My Grandpa in Summer 2010
My Grandma is 85 years old.  As she gets older, she gets feistier and more opinionated, and more vocal about her opinions.  I love talking to her any chance I get.  She may give me the same story or advice from time to time because her memory is not as sharp as it used to be, but even when she repeats herself, it seems to me someone must have believed I needed to hear that lesson that day.

I enjoyed leftovers of red enchiladas and her incomparable refried beans for lunch with her today.  Once we served ourselves our "teeny" dessert of biscotchos and Sleepytime tea (she is not supposed to have any sweets), she told me she had lots of advice she wanted to share with me today.  I've recorded the advice in her words, minus the long explanations/stories behind the wisdom, because such wisdom I feel many can relate to and quite possibly get a good chuckle and a smile from today:
  • "Don't give men too much freedom.  Give men enough cotton-pickin' freedom and they'll mess anything up.  When a man gets done with something, it is never the same."
  • "Women have more balls than men."  (According to her, she has more balls than any man she's ever known, and if you don't believe her, you can ask my Grandpa.  He will set you straight.)
  • "Birds are smarter than humans.  I put whole pecans for them in a pot every week and they come to find them.  They can eat a whole pecan by just poking one teeny little hole in them.  I'd like to see a human do that."
  • "If someone tells you they don't like you, they are a better person than anyone who pretends to like you but you know very well doesn't.  We have too many "hypocritas" (with an emphasis on the o), that is Spanish for hypocrite, and anyone who doesn't like you, well, they can have a mass for you when you die."
Wishing you a cheerful Friday, Andrea

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Poodles, Sandwich Complaints, and Cold Drinks

I occasionally take to my Twitter to report my lunchtime observations, but lately such observations are worthy of more than quickly getting crammed into a 140-character count. Going forward, I've decided to include them on my blog and encourage others to share their observations.

Lunch is a time of reflection, a moment that allows you to break up the monotony of the work day, an opportunity to take in the little things we so often rush by without notice. Sometimes, these lunch breaks help bring a little sunshine to my day and remind me that everyone is unique, the world has so much to offer if we look for it, and that just when you might think you are weird or crazy, someone else is out there to prove you wrong.

My lunch observations for today:

Poodles on a cardigan can be cute. Who knew? Just keep the poodle-print small.

Don't order a chicken sandwich and then yell at the poor girl delivering your food in front of the whole restaurant saying you specifically requested "no chicken" when the name of the sandwich has chicken in it. There is no job for a Chief Complaint Officer that I've heard of, and if there was one, I'm sure it would offer zero pay and matching benefits.

And if you've been cold all day complaining about how your feet felt like ice blocks and your fingers like little icicles, just stand around a soda fountain with a large group of people competing for drink refills, ice, lids and straws, and you'll realize life isn't as miserable as you deemed it all morning once someone drops their cold soda on you.

An aside:

A little girl with a Yorkie on her red sweater just came up to me and said, "I like your computer. It matches my sweater. Red is my magic color. Is it yours too?" Her mom must be the one wearing the poodle-print cardigan, and today, her little girl has brought the biggest smile to me even though I am sitting here shivering and writing while the soda on my clothes dry.

All in all, life is good today, and I promise I'm not being sarcastic. I hope yours is as well. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, New Hmmm...

Hello Blog and Blog followers,

I am at a crossroads.  And there are way too many directions, suggestions, dirt roads versus paved roads - well, you get my point.  I hope.

This year, my motto is "Running down a dream..."  Yes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are serenading me in the background.  But, my feet are moving, and they are moving fast.  

I love to write.  I love to read.  I love writers/poets/creative souls in general.  I want to be a creative soul again.  So for 2011, I made a resolution:  Write more.  Read More.  Repeat the process.  Season to your liking.  So far, so good, with one minor exception:  my blog.  

And while I have only 3 subscribers currently, a number many would balk at, I like to look at the value of these 3 subscribers.  They believe in me; they believe in me enough to follow my blog.  Either that, or they think I am crazy, and well, sometimes I am, so I will take that too.  All in all, they still like me and/or my writing enough to click "subscribe."  And yes, I know you should write for yourself and not for the reader, but sometimes I have mixed emotions on that front.  These emotions are fickle.  Very fickle.  

So, I ask you, my 3 dedicated, amazing readers who I cannot thank enough (along with you occasional visitors I am also very thankful for):  What would you like to see on my blog?  

I have some ideas as to what I would like to write, too many ideas in fact, but I want some sense of general direction.  I can't have 331 different blogs.  I may have that many personalities, but I've got to consolidate and find some common ground.  

Thanks in advance for your feedback, and may your 2011 be full of hope, unpredictable laughter, and sparkling wine and biscotti, Andrea