Earth-shattering discovery about pooooh-etry

I’ve just became aware of some information about haiku that’s irrevocably altered my entire poetic universe: apparently, the 5-7-5 syllable format I learned years and years ago is not the standard. No, according to, haiku in the English language is anywhere from 10-14 syllables!

I’m simply flabbergasted. Here I thought I knew everything about haiku and I come to find out that I know as much about haiku poetry as I know about every other form of poetry, which is, absolutely nothing. I just don’t know what to do with myself now. This totally eradicates my crippled attempts at BSG poetry and puts it back a few steps. Here I was struggling to throw hefty plot summarizing concepts into a 5-7-5 format only to learn that such was not necessary at all.

Of course, the article goes on to explain just what rules do constitute “proper” haiku in English:

1. Three lines
2. Up to 17 syllables total
3. Use of a “season” word
4. Use of a “cut” (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to compare two images

Thus this example by Michael Dylan Welch (HSA Newsletter XV:4, Autumn 2000), ripped without permission from the aforementioned article.

meteor shower…
a gentle wave
wets our sandals

This does unshackle me to use the free form sort of poetry to which I’m most accustomed (most of my poetry is free form, I’ve never used “iambic pentameter” a day in my life). I’m good with metaphors, usually. So this should expand my horizons more than limit them, no?

I should point out that “brevity” is not a word in my vocabulary. As you can tell from my blog entries, shorter length writings have never been my forte. One of the hardest things I ever had to write was a short story for a fiction class in college in which I was limited to one page. Can you imagine the frustration I had in that? I’m just not good at the whole “quick, brilliant idea” sort of writing. To be good in short form, you have to state a magnificent idea in as concise words as possible with the poetic genius of a writer. It’s very, very hard. I’m much better at slowly guiding a reader through a plot by dropping little bits at a time.

I’ve always thought this was a weakness of my writing. It’s so painful for me to be short and sweet and to the point that I truly must not be very good at my art. Even writing short stories–where you could have 10-15 pages–is difficult for me because my ideas are always huge and hard to confine. I used to write big 150-200 page novellas in high school. I loved doing that because I could get my idea out by a slow adventure of taking a character through a series of events.

I think writing shorter pieces is something I need to work on. I should make myself do some writing exercises where I force myself to write a one-page story or topic. You’d think my technical writing would have forced me to “shave the meat” off my writing, but it really doesn’t. You use two different parts of your brain to write creatively and technically and, hence, the two ways of working never cross. Or maybe I’m an extremely verbose technical writer.

I guess I’ll have to try this whole new haiku form out. My new BSG haiku will definitely be less restricted. We’ll see how it goes Monday. If I get a chance to watch BSG when I get back from skiing. (Yes, another long weekend at Holiday Valley. Bring on the snow!)

BSG Haiku, Season 4 Episode 16

The lesson here, folks, is that boring, long meetings without access to my computer yields BSG haiku doodled on notepads while the developers argue over code….

Gaius plays Jesus
But culls his harem with guns
To thwart Aries’ Sons.

The Final Five fight
About frakking the humans
Even Chief agrees.

Liam’s death–pointless
Like Padme’s end in Star Wars
Love’s lack kills? Cheesy!

Conspiracy theories

A rocket to study global warming goes down after launch… hmmm… suspicious? I think not! Were I a conspiracy theorist, which I am not, I might say that this is a “Right-Wing Conspiracy.” I’m sure my husband and I would have had a secret chuckle about this recent installment of the Right-Wing Conspiracy. It was our favorite answer to anything that apparently thwarted a liberal cause.

We had a joke about this concerning birth control. He used to say that the Right Wing–in the form of my OBGYN–was lying to me about the effectiveness of my birth control in order to trap me into pregnancy so that I would meet their supposed agenda of reducing all feminists to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Because, you see, the Right Wing is obviously anti-feminist and all family-oriented.

Of course, he was joking. And I’m only being tongue-in-cheek about the rocket. But, still, I did watch The X-Files all throughout college, leaving me with a naturally suspicious mind. So I’m always looking for those Right Wing Conspiracies even if I don’t really believe in the conspiracies I, or anyone else, invent. But you never know. The truth is out there.

Rediscovering my own music collection

I ripped my entire CD collection to electronic media. Including disks I hadn’t touched in literally years. So as I’m playing on iPod in shuffle mode, I hear a song that sounds ever so lovely to my untrained ears, and I find myself asking, “What the hell is this?!”

I am surprised to find that I actually own this song, despite the fact that I can’t recall what album it came from or even what singer it is. Sometimes the memory of the song comes back and I’m excited–I haven’t heard this one in years! Why did I stop listening to this CD?! Maybe I over-listened to it at one point? But that doesn’t explain why I can’t remember the song at all. Even weirder is when I play something from a CD I do remember, but I don’t remember the songs sounding the way they do now. It’s very weird. Am I just getting old? Or has other information/music taken the slot in my brain that formerly held storage space for that song?

I’m getting warm fuzzies all over listening to music I’ve had for years as if it was the first time. It’s all very bizzare. Just today, I rediscovered the following songs:

  • “What Would Happen” by Meredith Brooks (remember this two-hit wonder who made the scene with her first song, “Bitch”?)
  • “Someone Else Not Me” by Duran Duran, and, well, pretty much the entire Pop Trash CD which for some reason I’ve not played while I have gotten thoroughly sick of their Medazzaland CD.
  • “Oranoco Flow” by Enya
  • “Hands Are Tied” by the Gin Blossoms
  • “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad the Wet Sprocket
  • My entire Peter Tork collection of folk music, even the stuff he did with James Lee Stanley

Of course, with all this rediscovered music floods memories about periods of my life that I’ve also seem to have forgotten–things I musta been doing when a particular song I don’t remember was played.

Is it possible I have had some tragic event in my life that occurred–besides my husband dying–that caused me to wipe out entire periods of my life? Ironically, though, I bought that Meredith Brooks CD while I was married so maybe that deletion is explainable. Seems to me I loved singing “Bitch” around my husband.

I’m a bitch, I’m a lover
I’m a child, I’m a mother
I’m a sinner, I’m a saint,
I do not feel ashamed
I’m your health, I’m your dream
I’m something in between
You know you couldn’t have it any other way

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s silly, but there’s something empowering to me in those lyrics. Meredith Brooks is just a punk-assed bi-atch singer. I love this Blurring the Edges CD, it’s so raw and angry, just the way I love my female vocalists. (Yes, I’m also a fan of Tori Amos.)

Now I’m remembering CDs that I thought I owned. I tore my office apart last night trying to find Duran Duran’s Liberty CD. I know I had it at one time. As well as Seven and the Caged Tiger also by Duran Duran. And Tori Amos’ Boys for Pele. Where did these CDs go? I suspect they might have been victims of the Great Car Theft of 2003. I can’t remember what all I lost in that epic event, but they must have been among the Missing. Along with my Siouxie and the Banshees CD and U2’s Unforgettable Fire, both of which I know for sure were in that CD case that got stolen along with everything else inside and including my car.

I could have had so much more music at the palm of my hands. Oh, how I mourn for the lost music, the lost memories!

Maybe every once in awhile, I should pretend to lose a CD so that I don’t listen to it for, say, 8 or 9 years, so that I can love it all over again…

One more Battlestar Haiku

Inspired while listening to the Galactica Forum–a great podcast I found that discusses the episodes of Battlestar Galactica each week–I came up with yet another haiku.

What will Ellen do?
When she learns Six is with child,
Cat fight! Meow! Hiss!

Poor Saul and the dangerous women with whom he “comingles.”

By the way, an interesting tidbit I just read online is that Saul was named for Paul of Tarsas (Biblical reference, yes) because like he used to persecute the Cylons until he found he was one, much like Paul’s former persecution of Christians until he converted. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you insightful people out there that Paul of Tarsus was named Saul until he converted to Christianity.

Woo-hoo. I feel so smart now. My meager Christian knowledge sailed me through that comparison. But don’t ask me to explain anymore than that, for my claims to seeing the similarities between Saul Tigh and Paul of Tarsas end there. You more-read and devout Christians, if BSG fans, can fill in the rest of the details.

Anyway, I’m guessing this is the character Ron Moore claims he had always planned to be one of the Final Five Cylons.

Even more Battlestar Galactica Haiku

Especially for Joanna, new BSG haiku reflecting last week’s episode:

Cavill and Daniel
Cain and Abel enacted;
Glaring metaphor.

Woe is Kara Thrace!
Doesn’t know who she is, and
Anders can’t tell her.

Who mourns for Cavill?
Mad, jealous son of a bitch–
I mean, Ellen Tigh.

Apollo, VP
Roslin is ready to croak.
Let the people vote!

Writer’s Conference Registration

Okay, I did it, I registered for the writer’s conference I spoke about in the last post. But please don’t hold it against me if I then do not end up doing anything with this knowledge. I don’t want anyone here to think I’m headed on the course to write my memoir on widowhood (instead of following the other loose-end of becoming a grief counselor)… I will try (“Do or do not; there is no try,” Master Yoda says) to focus my energies upon writing. I have to stop avoiding it. At least I’ve decided to check things out… again (this, of course, isn’t the first time).

Incidentally, if you’ve known me for more than two years, you’ll come to realize, I aggressively chase one career lead or another for several months, and then I drop back away in fear. It’s a never-ending cycle of trying to find myself, thinking I have, then backing away in fear of failure. I just need to sit down and write, as suggested by some of my commenters, and not worry about the outcome. If anything, my friends will all read what I’ve written. Maybe someone will publish it after I die. I always picture that happening–people cleaning up my house after I die and reading all my journals, then, deciding my writing is brilliant, they publish it. Ha. But I don’t really think I’m brilliant, I’m obviously just dreaming here. (So don’t think me conceited.)

I think I was inspired by Joanna’s immersion in the creative world when I visited her in Columbus. I don’t write poetry very often (I don’t think I’m very good) but poetry slams rock! And the poetry community is way cool, reminding me of my days as a liberal arts academic at Hiram. In those days, we were full of ideas, visions of our future, and grandiose thoughts about making the world a better place. I need to immerse myself in creativity for a little bit more balance between my physical obsessions (cycling, skiing) and my mental requirements (writing, spirituality).

Anyway, here’s a copy of my registration to prove it:

Registration was successful for the following class: 09SPER901.01
Writers Conference and Workshop, Spring 2009 Starts: 03/28/2009 Meets: Saturday:
8:30 AM-1:30 PM, 1 Session
Fee Summary: Registration
Fee $59.00 Total Amount: 59.00

Meet my new snowshoes

Atlas Elektra 1027s (120 lbs to 200 lbs). They are pretty… and even kind of girlie in the color unflatteringly labeled as “lichen.” Unfortunately, they–nor any snowshoes I saw–did not come in purple. Being good for up to 200 lbs means I have some wiggle room for not only weight gain, but for use with a day pack or, even, a backpack. When you hike around in places like Colorado, you tend to carry day packs; not so sure I’m that keen on the idea of winter camping unless it involves hiking out to a remote cabin somewhere. Winter camping was the one class I had no desire to take with the Colorado Mountain Club when I lived out there. While I enjoy playing outside in the winter, I prefer to not have to work to keep warm in the evenings. Feel free to revoke my “bad-ass” outdoorsmenship card. I’ve got senses. I hate being cold.

Random Monday Thoughts

This Morning

I just got back from my primary care doctor for an annual check up, which was really just me making an appearance so that she would give me new scripts for my asthma meds. I didn’t ask for a physical because I don’t want one since they usually include a blood test and I really hate taking those. Being that my blood pressure was classified as “very good” and I generally feel okay–besides the headache I’ve had all weekend–I figure I don’t need anything checked. I’ll come back when I’m actually ill or feeling something abnormal. I know, I’m bad; I just didn’t want to make a fuss. I was, however, very depressed to step on the scale and see that I weigh 154 lbs. Bleh.

I used to weigh 130 lbs in Colorado. But I also used to starve myself more (I used to just eat a granola bar for breakfast). But ugh. I’m only 5’5″, I know I should weigh less, and I half-expected the doctor to suggest that I should lose some weight. She didn’t. I purposely wore a baggy sweater as opposed to the tighter turtleneck I originally put on this morning. I didn’t want to draw her attention to my fat roll where she might suggest that I lose weight.

I tried to comfort myself that I am a lot more muscular than I was in Colorado. Perhaps the extra 24 lbs is muscle? Ha. I doubt it.

Well, at least my headache is starting to go away. Coffee was apparently the charm. Uh-oh, does this mean I’m addicted to caffeine? I didn’t drink any coffee all weekend, with an exception of a few drops on Sunday morning.

This Weekend

I spent a lot of money this weekend. Gulp. I didn’t mean to, but Appalachian Outfitters was having a huge blow out sale and the snow shoes I so badly wanted were 35% off so I got them for $62 less than their normal cost, and I bought a bag–also on sale–to carry them for just $10 to boot! So it sure as hell better snow hard again so that I can take them over to Pine Lane–my favorite trailhead in the Cuyahoga Valley NP–and play.

I also bought a special gift for my friend Gwenn’s little baby, Margie. I’ll be missing her birthday party for skiing in a few weekends, but I promised Gwenn that I’d make a special trip and we’d all go hiking in Rocky River together. Gwenn and I are bound and determined to turn Margie into our hiking buddy. So I bought Margie a little apropos gift to this end. I’m deeply excited to finally have a friend with a girl baby in my life. Most of my friends have boys. This is so exciting. Not that I don’t like boys–I just understand girls better, being one. I probably would want a daughter if I had kids. I can’t help it.

Anyway, after adding an extra toy to my growing spending spree for this month, Michael and I went out to Emerine Estates Winery again. We love that place. They had a chocolate fountain running for Valentine’s Day which went REALLY well with their Seduction wine–a red wine mixed with a coffee flavor. Seduction and chocolate paired so well that I was inspired to bring a bottle with a chocolate bar to my next movie night with L. Yay!!

Even though I told myself that I wouldn’t buy any wine at Emerine–and deplored Michael to stop me–I still ended up leaving with three bottles–two of Seduction and one of Deja Vu, the other red I love. Well, my wine rack was getting low. Michael wasn’t much help in stopping me. Boo.

I did manage to acquire a volunteer position from the Emerine venture. I asked them if they needed volunteers to work their booth at Vintage Ohio and Jason, the owner, said that I was already on the list due to having made such a request/offer earlier in the year with his business partner. The benefit of working at Vintage Ohio, apparently, is that after your shift you get to enjoy free wine somehow. I guess there’s some serious partying going on. I’ll let you know… I may be forgoing Roscoe Ramble another year (same weekend as Vintage Ohio) to have a go at the whole “behind the scenes at Vintage Ohio” experience.

But I’m serious now. NO MORE SPENDING. I promise. I’ve got my toys for now. I’m trying to forget that I need new cycling shoes…

Other Miscellaneous Happenings in Bullet Point

  • No more spending does not include the two CDs I preordered on–U2’s No Line on the Horizon and Steve Kilbey’s PainKiller. A girl needs her music.
  • The picture of me skiing at Breckenridge, which I have put on my desktop at work, is making me regret my decision to not go to Colorado this year to ski (see, I do make financial sacrifices!).
  • I am officially tired of using my trainer, but I will continue to do so for 30-40 minutes every morning to ensure I do not gain any more weight. Also, I’ve discovered that just that tiny amount of exercise a day makes me feel better through these blue months..
  • On Valentine’s Day, my mom–via my dad–left me a champagne flute full of these tart heart candies that I love. Thanks, Mom!! It reminds me of how she used to get us gifts on Valentine’s Day, having us hunt for them by following a trail of those message heart candies all around the house.
  • It snowed again. I’m thinking of using the last of my Boston Mills gift card this week.
  • I’m thinking about signing up for the writer’s conference being put on at Lakeland Community College on March 28th. One of the seminar offerings is about writing memoirs, another about creatively writing non-fiction, and a third one I want to do for fun is about building a science fiction universe. It’s only $59 and I’m really interested. I’m just having some doubts due to lack of self-confidence again, fears that it will be all over my head or that I’m being really stupid to even think about mingling in the Cleveland writing community. I’m not worthy.

    I keep thinking that it’d be a waste of money because the dream I’m trying to chase is not possible. Still, I think the seminars would help me get over some of the bumps I’m having with trying to get my story out, even if just for myself. I am carefully avoiding the topics such as “Do I Need an Agent?” for now. I know I know how to write, but still, I think these seminars would give me good tips for what makes a story interesting. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m interesting or not. (I must be somewhat interesting if people are reading this blog.)

I think that’s about all that’s going on right now. Sorry that I haven’t written a nice cohesive essay-like blog entry lately. I’ve not felt too philosophical.

Happy Friday the 13th Before Valentines Day

I’m not superstitious. And, anyway, the good karma of Saturday the 14th being Valentine’s Day invalidates any bad luck Friday the 13th might provide. For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction, right? That’s how it works in the Book of Mars Girl. If you’re a postal worker or someone with a government job, this may be a long weekend for you as it is also President’s Day on Monday. I, unfortunately, do not have one of these jobs. We get a very spare few holidays–Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The rest is ours to claim as we please.

I’m making a long weekend out of the 27th by taking Friday off and escaping to Holiday Valley for the weekend with a few friends from my professional organization–two couples about my age who appear to be DINKs (Double Income No Kids). We’re renting a condo right by the slopes and we got a great lift ticket deal for doing so: $99 for a ticket valid from 3pm Friday until 4:30pm Sunday. Can’t beat that! I am half tempted to go up Thursday night, stay in Jamestown, and then sneak over to Holimont for the day. I don’t know if I am going to do that, though, because I might be too tired to then ski Friday night at Holiday Valley and make use of my ticket. I’m very excited! Michael might even come up to ski Saturday.

My day was tainted this morning when the first story I saw on my Road Runner home page was a fiery plane crashed into a house–the news of a Continental commuter flight going down in the suburbs Buffalo. One of the passengers on the plane was a 9-11 widow, which kind of raised the hairs on my arms. I have never been mistaken that because you lived through one tragedy you are impervious to all others. In panicky moments where I worry that I might have cancer or MS or heart problems I don’t know about (like my husband) or some other disease, I am often oddly calmed by thinking how wildly fitting it would be if I also died young. Morbid, I know, but I just think that if a doctor told me I was dying, that I only had a few months left to live or that I’d come down with some illness, I’d take the news unblinkingly nonplussed. It feels like these things just can’t surprise me anymore. Something in my head snapped several years back; it’s like I expect to die more than I expect to live.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t want to die. On the contrary, I am filled with a furious passion to live every moment of my life to the fullest, even those dull moments pounding away at a job for which I feel little passion. I’m certainly not wishing death on myself and I never would. My husband’s death made me hang onto life more vigorously as I realized how fleeting it was. I’m just saying that I think I would feel a total lack of surprise when faced with dire news on my health. In a car crash or some other fatal accident, I think my last thought would be, “Well, that figures.”

Sometimes disease and death seems so close at hand that I feel as though I’m lucky to have avoided such for myself. Like life is a mine field and I’m ambling aimlessly across it. It seems harder to me to stay alive than it does to end up dead. I still wake up in the morning sometimes with a sense of relief that I made it through the last 24 hours. I try not to think like this, though. It’s pretty depressing and it’s better to focus on the positive. I’m not dying right now, so I should plan accordingly. I can’t see where the next land mine is, so I just have to hope I’m navigating myself to safe ground.

Maybe I’ve become a little obsessed with death. Gack. Save me now, Dr. Joy Browne. This new found empathy for victims of tragic circumstance weighs heavy on my soul.

Anyway, I will keep close in my thoughts the families of the people who lost someone on that flight as well as the one person who died in the hit house (which I suspect is the father and husband to the surviving mother and child). If I make it to church this week, maybe I will say something in our prayer segment; if not, I’ll be thinking it. Not that I think it does much good. But maybe the positive energy spent while thinking kind thoughts gets reused elsewhere in a position that allows something to occur to comfort those in grief (all energy in the universe is reused, after all). Sometimes it’s just nice to know that other people understand your pain across the distance, though they don’t know you, and they are sad for you too.

Funny how things go in cycles. One plane is saved from disaster by a water landing in the Hudson, another goes down in flames and plows a house in a Buffalo suburb. The reports say there was an element of luck in this incident, even though it sure doesn’t seem that way: the plane only hit one house when it could have devastated an entire neighborhood. This is the surrealistic stuff of a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

Other than that depressing stuff, I’ve been distracted lately by my new iPod. I got the car attachment thingy yesterday and I was delighted to listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac on the way to work this morning as well as some tunes. The only thing that’s a little weird is trying to find a good station to broadcast the iPod off of. The equipment piece scans for the best three stations and you have to pick one and see if it works okay for you. Which is problematic when the car’s actually moving because channels can fade, which leaves a static noise in the background of your music, so then you have to switch channels again. It’s also a little hard to do all this while you’re driving. However, since my car radio doesn’t have an axillary port, this is the best setup I get. And, hey, it’s better than nothing. If you find the right station, you get pretty clear sound.

Now if I can go into a media blackout, I can live always in a world of poetry, good music, Garrison Keillor, and good natured stories about Lake Wobegon without getting bored while traveling. Is there a web page I can default my email to where only happy news fills the screen? At this time of the year, I just can’t handle the blues.