Friday, February 25, 2011

Messy tables, Babies, Cupcakes, and Handwritten Poems

Happy Friday, everyone!

Lunch observations for today:

1. The way you leave a table says a lot of things about you, at least to me. And probably the person who buses your table once you leave the restaurant. Even if you know a place will bus your table, why leave it the biggest mess possible? How much of a mess can you really make when eating? And now on to positive things...

2. I wonder what babies are thinking while they are staring at you, hardly blinking, and managing a grin mixed with a look of bewilderment. I wish I could see what is going on in their mind. I hope they think I look happy.

3. I wish I would've taken a picture of it before I inhaled it: this miniature French toast and bacon cupcake topped with buttercream frosting and green sprinkles. Yes, I said French toast and bacon. It goes at the top of my list of flavors today. Sorry, red velvet. Move over, orange dreamsicle. I wish I would have bought a dozen of them!

4. I still love writing poems by hand. I can't do it via a computer. I don't know why. I think a handwritten poem on a page is a beautiful sight. How do you write yours?

Wishing everyone a day topped with buttercream frosting and sprinkles in your favorite color, Andrea

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Have a 6th Sense About Pregnant Women!

I know this has nothing to do with poetry or MFAs or even my lunch observations, but this is so amazing, I just have to share!

A great friend of mine in middle school who I have not seen in at least ten years has been on my mind a lot more than normal lately.  I've been thinking about her and telling myself I need to get in touch with her and send her a message.  Today, when I checked my Facebook, I noticed she had posted a comment, and she is not the comment-every-day-or-every-minute type.  It just struck me:  she was pregnant.  I knew it.  It was too weird.

I sent her an email with, "Are you preggos?" in the subject line and that was it.  She responded full of disbelief and excitement, asking who had given me the news and confirming she is 11 weeks pregnant.  I told her no one, but I had just been having this weird suspicion.  We are both just bewildered and amused!  We really don't know what to say or think!  Now she wants to know if I think it will be a boy or a girl. :)

Life continues to amaze every day!  Praying for a healthy little one for her and her husband.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lunch Conversations,Evolving Paparazzo Culture, and Hacky Sacks

Lunch observations for today:

  • I am often taken aback by the outrageous amount of gossip that goes on among women who are lunching together.  I get it:  women talk about women when they get together.  I am guilty of this too sometimes.  But today, I discovered another phenomenon:  Men do it too.  No, they don't get together and gossip about other men, they gossip about women!  What she was wearing at work this morning, who so-and-so was caught talking to walking out of the office last night, etc.  Now, that is some competition!  I now have other tables of interest to draw my attention to at future lunch sessions. 
  • I am now convinced all these advancements in technology, namely cell phones with camera capabilities, are allowing for the evolution of paparazzo culture.  The new celebrity:  you, the incessant picture-taker.  No, not YOU.  But, you know who I am talking about.  You see these people all of the time, especially on Facebook.  I mean, how many profile pictures can one really snap of themselves in a week?  Wow.  And today, I saw something I've never seen before and hope to never see again:  a woman standing in the middle of Corner Bakery holding her cell phone as far away from herself as possible and smiling brightly to take her own picture.  No, no one else was in the picture with her, and there was no notable landmark anywhere around her.  Oh no.  What is going on in this world? 
  • Thankfully, a happy moment occurred right after this astounding one.  Outside, I noticed four little boys standing in a circle playing Hacky Sack.  It made my day to see that kids still find fun in such games (games that I enjoyed as a child) especially in this digital age.  Even cuter about this scene was that all four boys were playing with flip-flops on.
Wishing you a hacky-sacked-fun-in-the-sun kind of day!  Smile, Andrea

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

View from Her Deathbed

My poem for One Stop Poetry's One-Shot-Wednesday:

View from Her Deathbed

She didn't want to see
the buildings in the skyline.  She wanted
the trees, their sap misting upon her
face, her hands.  Not the view
from the rooftop patio outside
the penthouse, the one
from the porch where the ferns nest
and the fat cat naps.

She said buildings were machines
built to support illusions of progress where prayer
was banned.  Windows so high
people looked like frantic ants below
marching along to market, to cell phone
stores, to car dealerships, without paying
attention to the trees. Their branches growing
upward, reaching toward an unpromised
haven, hope directing
each trusting branch's extension.

She wanted to feel their breeze.

Feedback and suggestions always welcome.  Thanks for stopping by.

Smile, Andrea

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poetry for Melancholy Days

I was feeing a little melancholy this morning.  I don't really know why.  Maybe because I missed my early morning workout and my body was mad at me.  Maybe because I have spent too much time pondering my life and future decisions.  I don't know, but I just felt downright in the dumps. 

I vented a little bit on Twitter, and then I sent out a call for poetry to help put a smile on my face.  One of my new, sweet Twitter tweeps @jessicavarin came to the rescue and sent me a link with the following tweet:  Try Gregory Orr. More hope than cheer.  And then I found this poem ("To be alive" by Gregory Orr) to turn my frown upside down:

Thank you so much, Jessica, for helping bring a smile and touch of hope to my day. 

Do you have any go-to poems for when you are having a bad day?  I'd love to get a collection going.

Smile, Andee

Friday, February 11, 2011

Haiku from a Tiny Tea Cup

I shared lunch with my Grandma again this afternoon and we talked over a bowl of her hearty caldo de res and finished it off with some flan.  While the food is always wonderful, the time with her is most filling. :)

Today, she was talking about her trip to Japan and the beautiful tea sets she saw. (She has quite the affinity for tea sets.)  Because she has so many as it is, she didn't want to buy another set and risk it being damaged on the trip back home, so she asked the lady if she could buy just one cup.  The lady went to the back and returned apologetically saying she could not sell her just one cup.  As my grandparents were walking out the door, the lady handed them a bag and smiled.  Once outside, my Grandma unwrapped it and found the cup and saucer she was eyeing.  What a sweet gift: one perfect little cup and saucer.  Although the picture makes it look rather big, it is tiny, adorable.  A cutie doesn't even fit in it!  She gave it to me today and said, "Now you have a piece of Japan in your home, mija." 

A haiku inspired from our lunch today:


I can't see the green
of your leaves, but I taste tea
from your tiny cup.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Recipe for the Perfect Poem

The Recipe for the Perfect Poem

rests on the bookshelf in the blue room
decorated with birds and brooches waiting
to be admired, waiting to find
warm fingers and a grin, waiting to see
the old why-haven't-I-noticed-this-before look,
the I-feel-like-I'm-musing-through-a-museum
eyes glassing over, before it snickers
at you.  You can't remove items
from the museum.  You can
simply warm the bench.

This is the firt draft, revised a couple of times in my mind. ;)  Feedback/suggestions always welcome.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Poetry, Dreams, and Unresolved Conflict: Beginning my Unofficial MFA

Chapter 1 is "Fiction" by Tim Tomlinson.  I love reading fiction although I've never been a fan of writing it.  And I can't say I've really ever tried too hard at writing it because poetry has always been the genre to woo me.  I think fiction is going to be the hardest part.  But, here goes nothing...

Getting started is usually the easy part for me in poetry.  Usually.  This chapter encourages one to write from one's life.  I am asked to think about defining moments in my life, occurrences that sparked transitions and the like.  Oh.  No.  I am getting stressed just thinking about logging these events down.  Not that I've had a crazy, dramatic life either.  OK, moving on.  I'll do that after this section.

I know nothing about the rules of writing fiction, but I feel better now that I've read "You can't make discoveries about character types, humor, personal themes, the nature of your imagination, and a whole lot of things critical to the development of a writer if you don't get the material on the page.  And you can't get the material on the page if you're hung up about rules" (15).  I'm glad we got that out of the way.  I can writer personal, I can write based on another's story, I can write about my parents.  Well, maybe I won't write about my parents.  What are the rules anyway?

Apparently, a good rule is being OK with not knowing where you are going.  I am certainly OK with that.  A lot of the time I don't know where I am going, I just know I am moving forward.  At least I hope I am moving forward.  That being said, onto the exercise:

"Select a line from a poem that resonates with you.  You can substitute a line from anything... Next, consider a recent (perhaps troubling) dream.  Then, recall a problem you're having with another person" (17).

Now that I have all of these collected in my mind, I am to begin a "fictional account" that will tie these three separate elements together:

1.  Poem: "There's been a lot of fighting/in this little boat/though I've been as alone/as before I was born." - from "Life Boat" by Jack Myers.

2.  Dream:  A man I've never met was chasing me around my mother's house until I was finally able to shut myself into the laundry room.  He punched a hole in the door and I could see him pointing a gun at me.  I closed my eyes, waiting for him to shoot.  I could hear the bullets, but nothing was hitting me.  I could see the bullet holes in the door, all within centimeters of my fingers, my legs, etc.  Then I woke up.

3.  Conflict:  A family member in my life who is very closed-off and selfish.  It's cyclical.  I don't understand it and am frustrated to no end.  But, I still try.  Why?

***Side note:  On the dream portion, I found myself wanting to write a poem!  I was even trying to craft my line-endings!  I may have to go back and turn this into a poem...

OK:  Weaving it altogether, this is what I've got:

He couldn't focus on anything other that the poem on the screen at the memorial.  He avoided looking around at others for fear someone would catch his gaze and see how deeply his pain ran.  In his mind came a barrage of bullets, memories; he could see them coming at him, shut his eyes, prayed.

He never did ask her if she received the birthday gift he'd sent her, the one he wrapped in her favorite color, although he knew she had.  All he had to do was ask, but he didn't want her obligatory gratitude.


Smile, Andrea

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm Unofficially Working on my MFA in Creative Writing

About a week ago, my good Twitter friend Jessie Carty posted a link to her post "Taking Your MFA Questions" on her blog.  She generously shares her experience and insight on MFA programs along with a link to the article "Six More Myths about the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts" and other useful links.  I discussed with her my desire to work on my MFA and my disappointment in finding out that I missed the deadline for applying for the program offered at the local university.  I will have to wait another year.  BUT I should have taken this endeavor more seriously.  Even if I thought I had a month to prepare the application, I should have given this application a lot more weight.  Lesson learned.  I'm going to start working on it NOW.  A favorite quote of mine is "A year from now you will wish you had started today," by Karen Lamb.  This is going to be my motto for 2011.  No more procrastinating.  I'm running down this dream.

This all leads me to this:  In this discussion on Jessie's blog, one of her blog follower's commented on a book she had that acted as a portable MFA of sorts.  I have this very book!  It has been sitting in my pile of books to read.  Just sitting.  No more.  So today, I opened up The Portable MFA in Creative Writing by The New York Writers Workshop and read the eye-opening and motivating introduction by Tim Tomlinson.  An except I would like to share:

"The book proceeds from the premise that there is a craft in writing and that, like the craft in any art, can be taught.  As is also the case in any art, after the craft is taught the artist is on his or her own.  Talent, determination, endurance, and luck are outside the purview of this book, although many of the exercises are designed to cultivate talent, encourage determination, and train for endurance.  As for luck, we offer the insight of golf champion Arnold Palmer, who said:  "The more I practice, the luckier I get.""

My Grandpa's favorite saying is very similar to the one above:  "The harder you work, the luckier you get."  I've never written any fiction (nothing at least worth remembering) or a memoir, or a play, but the way I see it, I have a lot more to gain than I have to lose.  And for those of you who know my passion for poetry, you also know I am going to have the most difficult time not turning to the section on poetry and just starting there, but I am going to make myself proud and be steadfast in my new endeavor.  At the end of this journey, I will have my unofficial MFA in Creative Writing and will be better prepared for beginning my official one. :)   I will detail my progress here on my blog along with the occasional frustrations and pep-talks and hope you will follow along.

Smile, Andrea

P.S.  There is also a Kindle version of this book available at ;)  Give it to yourself or gift it to a friend.