And then there was one…

Last night I returned home from a day trip skiing at Seven Springs to find my cat, Cleo, dead. She was curled up in one of the cat beds in my bedroom, as though she were just sleeping. I knew something was wrong when I walked into my bedroom, calling her name, and she did not respond with her customary “Ew” nor did I hear the purring that always began the moment anyone said her name.

I guess I’d been prepared for this for the last year, since she was first diagnosed with diabetes (last March?).  At first, I didn’t think much about how it would decrease her life span, only that it caused a major inconvenience in my life to have to give her twice daily shots, and find someone to do it whenever I went out-of-town. I thought I would have trouble learning to give her shots, but it turned out to be quite easy.  I was annoyed at how much the diabetic food cost. Still, I was up for the challenge of taking care of her. For the most part.

The medicine never really seemed to work. She still was urinating a lot more than normal (always in the litter box, good kitty!).  Whenever I did manage to give her a glucose reading, it was usually too low.  I took her to the vet once and we adjusted her medication down from 3 units to 2. But she still didn’t seem to improve much. Taking her to the vet was a hassle, and I probably should have kept trying, but I didn’t. I didn’t take readings from her either because I couldn’t consistently get a good reading. The only place you have to prick a cat to get a blood sample is the ear and it’s EXTREMELY HARD to get enough blood to get a reading.

So my laziness, in the end, probably killed her. I feel horrible. Like a negligent parent. Someone more responsible might have made her live longer. Someone less selfish with less of a social life.

Cleo’s health had been deteriorating for the last month or so. She stopped grooming herself and I couldn’t brush out all the snarls in her hair. I had to move the litter box upstairs into my office because she twice pooped on the floor of the office while I was in there. I hate having to bring litter boxes into human living space in fear of being that crazy cat lady with a smelly house. So that annoyed me too.

Over the last several days, she seemed even worse than normal. She was even more listless and she seemed like she had a cold. I heard lots of sneezing and her eyes were a little runny. She didn’t seem well. I think I felt it coming to some degree.

It wasn’t very surprising that she didn’t greet me when I came into the house. She didn’t always do that any more. But she usually ambled over to the kitchen by the time I’d taken off my coat. When she hadn’t done that, I immediately started looking around for her. This wasn’t the first time I’d done this in panic. Usually, though, it turned out she just hadn’t felt like walking out to greet me. The bedroom was the first place I always looked. At first, I thought she was just cuddled there as usual. But then, I knew, when she didn’t look up when I turned on the light.

I touched her, she was still a little warm. But her eyes were half-open and, admittedly, there was some oozing of some kind around them. I touched her back several times to feel for the rise and fall of breathing just to be sure she wasn’t just sick. But I knew.

Still, there is a disbelief when a person encounters something dead. You have to be sure. You have to keep checking, just to make sure you didn’t make the wrong determination. So I went back about three or four times to touch her body, half afraid of “death coodies”–things I didn’t want to see about a body that might be beginning to decompose.

After 15 minutes of trying to figure out if I should call an emergency vet to take her in right away for cremation–because the thought of having a dead body around my house creeped me out even more–I got an empty cardboard box from my closet. I lifted her out of her cat bed. Her body was stiff and stuck into the O-shape of a curled cat. Of course she was dead.  She hated being picked up and if she were alive, she’d surely have struggled. I set her into the box, assuring myself that because she didn’t move to get out of the box, she really, really was dead. I then left her in the box for 20 minutes more, just to be sure, as I furiously corresponded with my friend Mindy on Facebook to figure out what I was supposed to do now. Thankfully, Mindy talked me out of going immediately to the emergency vet and convinced me to wrap Cleo in two garbage bags and put her somewhere safe outside. I set Cleo on the work bench in the garage, worrying that it wasn’t cold enough in the garage to prevent her from decomposing… and smelling up the place… (God, why am I so selfish about everything?)

Once I did all that, I teared up a bit. I didn’t full-on cry. I don’t know yet if I’m going to do that.I felt bad because when Tanya died in 2006, I bawled my eyes out in a private examination room in the vet’s office where they left me alone with her recently dead body (she stopped breathing after having some sort of breathing problem that caused me to rush her to an emergency vet at midnight). Tanya was not even an affectionate cat. Cleo and Nicki had always been my favorites because they were affectionate and liked to be around people. Tanya was like a stereotypical cat–aloof and temperamental. Yet I cried buckets of tears for her.

Maybe it was because Tanya was Mike’s cat. They’d always had a special relationship with each other. Mike was the only one Tanya would let approach her on his terms. Mike loved her fierce independence and stand-offishness… Maybe those were  just a quality he enjoyed in the female gender (for he picked me as a mate).

I guess when Tanya died, I felt like yet another piece of Mike was gone from me. I loved that cat more for what she represented to me than what she was. I was taking care of something of Mike’s that he loved. It made me feel closer to Mike. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I called my mom at 2am to tell her that Tanya had died, my mom pointed out that it was Mike’s birthday that day. Tanya died on Mike’s birthday. Serendipity, I suppose.

All of the cats were our children, though. Nicki and Tanya came with Mike–they were a set before I even knew Mike. Cleo, however, was our adopted cat–the one we got together shortly after we were married–after days and days of searching through kennels and shelters for “the perfect kitty.”  We always referred to our cats the way one would their children. We even gave them their own mailboxes on our voice mail. So the loss of each and every cat should punch me the same way.

We found Cleo at the Humane Society of Greater Akron. We loved her because she had spunk. They had kept her in the room with cats who can socialize with other cats but she was in a cage by herself that had a hammock. She was always a butterball. She sat on that hammock with a look of nonchalance on her face. She seemed calm and wise. I pet her for a little bit, then moved on to look at other cages, but she let out a quick meow that sounded to me very spiteful, like “Fine! Go over there! I don’t care.”

I turned back to see her sitting in the hammock, the same look of nonchalance. I fell in love with her at that moment.

Mike told me I could name her (since he had named his own cats already) and then he urged me, with a wicked grin, the name her Aurora because he hated that name and didn’t want me to use it for a future daughter. I refused to fall into that trap and called her Cleo because the little white spot on her black chin reminded me of an Egyptian empress like I saw in pictures of tombs. Okay, that was a little stereotypical, but it’s true. We ended up nicknaming her “Boogie” because we thought she had a “Boog face” which was something of an inside reference from my family… (My dad used to call a face I made the “boog” face.)

My dad called Cleo Jabba (after Jabba the Hutt). My friend Gwenn called her Pillow Kitty. My cousin Angy’s husband called her Roley-Poley Kitty. She reminded me of Miss Cleo from those late-night astrology commercials and I used to say that if Cleo was human, she’d look exactly like Miss Cleo. She was the favorite of at least two of my ex-boyfriends and possibly a third. Everyone loved her spunk. When I tried to tease my cats with a mini remote control car that my ex-boyfriend T gave me for Christmas, Tanya and Nicki ran away. But Cleo, she walked right up to it and knocked it over with a paw. She wasn’t going to take no crap from a little remote control car!

I did love her. I’m sorry that she possible died from low blood sugar or something awful. Preventable with a more diligent parent? Probably. I should have done a better job of taking care of her. I should have struggled to help her lose weight way back when she started to get fatter. I should have leash trained her and made her walk around. It would certainly have helped get her used to the outside world so that I could take her to the vet without her crapping in the carrier every time.

I got the impression, though, that Cleo was a little agoraphobic. She never tried to leave the house and when I did set her outside every once in a while, she would moan like an overwhelmed person until I put her back in the house. She hated every move I made–both across country and across towns. She was probably happy when I finally settled down in one place in Ohio in 2005.

I don’t know if I will cry. I will say that the house seemed kind of different this morning. Like some part of it was missing. I hugged Nicki fiercely to me last night in bed, even though she inevitably drove me nuts in the morning as she always has. Nicki wouldn’t stop pestering me this morning as I got ready for work. So I stopped and hugged her a few more times before I left. It’s just me and her now. I’ve come a long way from a small condo that once contained a husband and wife and their three cats to a new house where only a sometimes lonely widow and a single, waving cat remain. Nothing ever stays the same, does it?

I admit that the night was a little rough. I kept thinking about the box in the garage. What if I’d made a mistake? That always comes to haunt you when you face to death, the acceptance of the reality of it. I imagined that I was wrong, that she was merely in a deep sleep, and that I’d come to the garage in the morning to find claw marks from where she’d tried to get out but couldn’t and suffocated in the plastic of the bags. There was such a spell of relief that washed over me when I walked out into the garage this morning to find bagged box exactly as I’d left it.

I put the package containing Cleo in my car. In the trunk. Because, again, I was worried about smell, but it was an open hatch back so it’s not like we were separated. I drove to the vet before work. I paid to have her cremated and the ashes returned to me. I’m going to put some of them in my current backyard and then save the remaining for a future trip up Mt. Elbert. She was still Mike’s cat, after all, and he’d like to have what remains of her physical form with what remained of his. I put all of Tanya’s ashes there in 2008. Call me sentimental. Even an agnostic feels the need to complete an unfinished circle.

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Love ‘Ku

I like to call these my love ‘ku. Because I stand on the side of love. I wish I would have been able to use one of these at NuKu.

Love’s a Right (11/07/2010)
Love’s a human right.
The right to walk down the street,
Holding hands, kissing.

Boundless Love (11/07/2010)
Woman-man; man-man;
Woman-woman; love’s sacred
In its many forms.

Haiku Death Match (NuKu) Retrospective

Well, I didn’t even advance past my bracket (best of five poems), but I did manage to hang in there by besting my very skilled competitor twice. But in the end, she beat me soundly. I knew it was going to be a rough road because the poet in question is very good and experienced. To say I wasn’t intimidated would be a lie. I’d seen her work the previous two years and I knew I was in for a tough challenge. But, I admit, it was easier going head-to-head with her than the two kids–yes, literally, kids–who were also in the competition (which made me rethink my sexy poems; however, I slowly realized that children of poets are exposed to far more indecent language and corrupted thoughts than I could expose them to that night).

The kids were “stand-ins” for two poets who didn’t show up. The little girl was so damned cute, like a young Drew Berrymore with her blonde, curly hair, pinched cheeks, and small, giggly voice. When she laid down a ‘ku that was a sales pitch for buying girl scout cookies, I was especially glad she was not my opponent. What judge in their right mind is going to take down a little girl scout? I knew that I would suffer shame and embarrassment if I had to tell people that some little seven or eight year old girl beat me in a poetry contest. Yes, it was much better to have lost against a fully adult poet with mad skill. Ultimately, much less humiliating.

I’m glad I stood up and competed, even though I didn’t get very far. Yeah, it was admittedly disappointing. I had to talk myself through feelings of failure, remind myself that this was not final judgment on my skills as a writer. Poetry is subjective and it really depends on delivery and the mood of the judges. There’s a lot of pressure in the moment to find the right poem to present and I’m sure I had some failing in my strategy on some level. But that really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that I did get up and do it. And, also, the fact that I would definitely do it again. So the experience did not drive me away from public performance or presenting my poetry (or writing). In fact, it invigorated me. It challenged me. It gave me something to strive for next year. Maybe, just maybe, I can get to the second round. If not next year, maybe the year after that? I have some things to think about.

After losing so quickly, and having over 30 poems, I decided to sign up for open mike so that I could present some of the poems that didn’t get heard. I decided to present the five poems I call Requiem Haiku for 9 Years which I wrote in memory of Mike last year on the “anniversary” of his death. That seemed to have been received nicely. My only wish that I had been a little smoother in my delivery; for some odd reason, I got more nervous during the open mike than I felt during the competition itself. I don’t know what happened there. Perhaps I was a little thrown off my game (verklempt?) by Joanna’s highly complimentary introduction to me before I got up. (Not that I didn’t need that pumping up, Joanna; thanks so much for the kind words.)

I ended my open mike set with my favorite poem of the year–the much lighter “Cycling Freak.” That one seemed to go over well, too, and I think I recovered myself enough to at least deliver it with some passion. Every once in awhile, I’m truly inspired without pressure to write a really great poem and I think that is one of them. Which is interesting because I also really like “Leaves” which I performed at open mike last year along with “Black Beauty” (mentioned in the previous blog entry)–both of which were inspired by cycling. I truly do find cycling meditative; quite often my best writing is composed while riding. (Remembering it to write it down is often the hard part.)

So once again begins a year of writing haiku. I don’t just do it to have something at NuKu… I honestly enjoy writing haiku. I think it’s fantastic to have had so many to choose from should I have had the chance to use them in subsequent rounds. I think I could grow to enjoy performing them. It’s just another way to put my writing out there. Despite not getting beyond my bracket, I actually do feel more empowered about my writing. I could see reactions, I got feedback; it was really, really fun. Somehow getting beaten was still enough of an ego boost that I feel inspired to keep trying.

This year, as I listened to the other people perform in their brackets, I actually thought about how people used the 5-7-5 syllable limitation and I started to think of some knew approaches to the way I come up with mine. I can already see how being around other writers can help change aspects of your own writing. Which is why I’m starting to think about joining a writing group or something. I think it would be great to have a goal to work with people and to get feedback on my stuff while giving others feedback on their writing. I remember that my favorite thing about writing when I was a teenager was that I had a good friend, Jennifer, who also wrote. We used to call each other on the phone and read to each other what we’d written that day. It was really fun and exciting because I would want to share what I’d done with the story and hear her reaction right away; likewise, I would listen raptly to her story because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. We would leave each other with cliff-hangers because neither of us had yet written the whole story. We even critiqued each other’s work. It was validation to both of us that we were on the right track with our stories, that they were interesting. It also kept us in the routine of writing because we would remind each other–like work-out buddies–to work on our stories. In fact, we used to write during study hall and classes we found boring, and then pass each other our next sections in the hall between classes. (I once got a section from my “novel” taken away during German class because my teacher thought I was writing notes to friends. Ha! If only I were just a regular teenager like that.)

So I either need to find a friend like that again, or I need to find a group of writers with whom I can share a two-way writing relationship such as this. I am realizing I need little goals to force me to get moving. I think once I get into a routine, this will not be a problem. I also love writing when I get my mind involved in it. Every writer will tell you that it’s still a chore to start and a chore to keep going, even when you love it. But accomplishing writing is about making it routine, doing it even when you don’t want to do it. (This, by the way, was the original mission of my blog, but I’ve fallen short of it recently.)

Anyway, overall, it was really a great time at NuKu. I must mention, also, that Joanna is really a natural MC. She has this amazing ability to entertain and charm (yes, charm) the audience with her sense of humor and her easy laughter. She thinks incredibly fast on her feet and is able to recover quickly from any surprise that occurs without hesitation. I know that public speaking is not a natural talent–that everyone’s scared and nervous at some point–but the real trick is making it look like it’s easy and Joanna definitely does that. I’m impressed and, quite frankly, envious of her skills as a public speaker. I  hope one day I can look as at ease as she does in front of a microphone.

I was also impressed by Diane’s (another college friend) performance during open mike. She presented one haiku and a really great (“regular”) poem about how she and her husband met each other. Even though I had the advantage of knowing the back story of their meeting, the poem really held its own to an audience of strangers and it seemed to be really well received. Part of the reason, I think, is that Diane is also one of those people who can speak in front of an audience with an air of confidence, even though I know that she really is as nervous as I am. But that doesn’t matter–delivery is all that matters. She did an awesome job and it impressed the heck out of me. I wasn’t surprised, granted; I’ve seen her perform her own work before. Still, I find myself re-impressed every time I see her boldly shine in front an audience.

I’ll end this entry with the poems I used during my one and only round during the Haiku Death Match, minus the last one since it was the most derogatory and may offend a few readers of my blog. I really can’t seem to remember which poems won the round, though. My mind went kind of blank as I was focused on the task of deciding which poems to use. I think I’ll have to go to the tape (they video recorded us) to figure out which two won.

Fear (02/18/2010)
My words reek of fear
I struggle to give them birth
Stillborn on my lips.

I think “Fear” did not win, though I was encouraged when I heard several mumbles of “true-ku!” from the audience.

Tenacity (01/19/2011)

I am grit and steel,
Barred teeth, dried tears, smiling pain;
Storm’s fury in drought.

I know “Tenacity” did not win. I think it was a bad choice to throw this one down because I was never completely happy with it and I struggled for three days with the last line. It was everything from the simple “You cannot break me” and “Angry resilience” to the need for a metaphor that was poorly executed: “Thunder crack with snow,” “Thunder in the winter,” “A mad gale in drought,” and “Brute force in fury.” I’m pretty sure it’s an example of over-thinking an idea. I’m still not happy with it.

Former Alaskan Governor (03/02/2010)
I sincerely wish
Sarah Palin would vanish
Poof! Gone forever…

Did “Former Alaskan Governor” win?? I remember the audience groaning or something, which I took as negative feedback and then was afraid to use my “Tea Party” one that I had on the back-burner.

Satisfaction (01/08/2011)
Sometimes all you need
Two fingers, fantasies, and
Two minutes alone.

“Satisfaction” is the only one I remember as having won. Am I right? Okay, not even sure about this one…

The final one was cruder than “Satisfaction.” It didn’t win anyway and it was probably a bad choice because my opponent threw down a really crude one that was similar and she did a better job. I should have went with one of my pretty ones, like “Winter,” (see previous blog entry) or another political one to stand out from hers. (And also used one I would feel comfortable showing online.) Oh well. Such is life.

Haiku Overload

I’m preparing myself to compete in my first ever poetry slam on Friday, the Haiku Death Match, so I’ll be traveling down to Columbus tomorrow. And I get to visit my friend Joanna. Who’s the MC of said Haiku Death Match. I’m very excited and very nervous. I’ve watched this event for the last two years; it’s completely the reason I became obsessed with writing haiku. For a person who’s overly wordy and has trouble avoiding lavish description in her writing, haiku is very confining. But that’s the real challenge of it–finding the words to say something succinctly, yet poetically. I can’t say I always succeed; but in the cases where I have, I think I’ve done so quite beautifully.

Before Joanna asked me if I was serious about competing this year, I had about 25-30 haiku poems that I’d written this year and never performed anywhere. Some of them, though, were really timely and could not be used, such as a slew of St. Patrick’s Day poems from last year and some odes to U2. So once I committed to taking part in the event, I pushed myself to write some more. I needed to have maybe a few funny ones, some political ones, and–I supposed–some sexy ones. Yeah, sex sells after all, right? This crowd, being a bunch of artists like myself, seem to really like political (liberal leaning), funny, or sexy. Most of my poems tend to more on the serious side than funny. It’s hard for me to think of political commentary in poetry, but I did manage to write a few of which I’m proud–two that attack Sarah Palin, one that reflects my sadness over Ted Strickland’s loss of the governor seat in Ohio, and several that support LGBT rights. I’m hoping these go over well.

As for sexy? Well… Let’s just say none of these will be posted to my blog, so if you want to hear them/see them, you’ll just have to attend the slam. They aren’t so much sexy as self-deprecating about my sex life. I think these poems will go over well too because artists love a good pervy joke. And self-deprecation. The poem that went over really well at open mike last year was my innuendo-filled ode to my bike. So I hope I’m on target with the audience’s mindset.

I think I now have more than enough poems, but I’m still worried. If have to go second in a round, I have to have a wide range of poems to select from to try to match the type of poem the first person lays down. Tonight I think I need to pick out the ones that I could lead with if I get to go first. My strength is the serious poems and I want to try to lay those down whenever I can. There’s a certain strategy involved. Or I’m over-thinking it. I just hope I’m not so nervous that I can’t think straight enough to locate the appropriate poem to lay down during the round. I’m not good at thinking on my feet. Another reason I need to be taking part in this event.

I’m not expecting to win. I’m just trying to stand up and deal with an audience while performing my poetry. You know me and standing in front of an audience–it’s definitely a huge step outside of my comfort zone. It’s also going to be interesting to hear/see reactions to my poems. I’m sure some that I think are brilliant will get a lukewarm reception and vise-versa. It will be a very eye-opening experience. But necessary, really, for my own artistic growth, right?

Anyway, I thought I’d give you a little sneak preview… This is one of my favorite poems that I wrote a few weeks ago. It’s colored by my seasonal affective disorder, that’s for sure. Moody. I like moody, though.

Winter: cold as steel
My mind drifts to dark places
Waiting for the sun.

Dating Eligibility Flowchart

I crafted the flowchart below recently in considering my dating deal breakers. It’s funny because in the geeky inner workings of my brain, I actually thought out the hierarchy just like a flow chart with the more significant questions on the top to weed out immediately what characteristics I know won’t work with me. I distributed it jokingly among my friends just to test the waters and some of the more experienced among them found it quite a wise and practical thing for me to do. The way I look at it is, you should have a clear idea what you’re looking for before you head out into the wilderness of the dating world. This way you can avoid making costly mistakes (like I may have done in the past). A little re-evaluation time is good.

Potential Dating Flowchart for the 30+ Year Old

Now… If only I can figure out a way to distribute to this to all the eligible bachelors between the ages of 35-45 in the Northeast Ohio area….

True, there’s always room for spontaneity. But I think asking these questions upfront saves a lot of time.

TOSRV 2011 – 50th Anniversary

I just registered for TOSRV. My BIB number is 129. Being that the registration just went up within the last hour, and 28 people obviously got in ahead of me, I’m guessing this is going to be a popular year for the ride being that it’s the 50th anniversary. Do you think it’s at all possible that the Weather Gods aka Mother Nature might bestow upon us uncharacteristically warm weather in joyous celebration of this occasion?

Yeah, I know. Not bloody likely. More likely is the worst weather ever in its 50 year history. It’s gonna snow. Yep.

I hope not. I can suffer through a lot of cruddy weather, but I draw the line at snow.

I told myself I only had to do this ride up to its 50th year anniversary and then I’d take some time off. How much you wanna bet that next year at this time I’ll be registering again? (Excuse: Well, I have to do an even 5 years…)

It’s nice to know that I don’t have to do the ride. Because, well, I have to do it this year of all years. I need to be there for the monumental moment and all, right? There’s going to be an even bigger, better party at the finish line. Mars Girl never misses a good party!

The things we do to ourselves… In the middle of January, riding my bike in May sounds wonderful. I haven’t been on my bike for two months. But, ironically, just this morning I was reflecting on the joys of riding my bike to work, looking forward to April when that will be possible again.

Yep. I’m addicted. I guess it’s better than drugs. It takes over my life, leaving little room for other social activities, but it keeps me fit, makes my heart strong, teaches me endurance and the value of pushing hard to achieve a goal. It’s all good for me.

Besides, my legs are so buff. On the off-chance that I do get to do anything else this summer, I will look great in all my outfits… Especially a certain mini jean skirt I bought just the other day… It’s good to be almost 36 and have the ability to sport clothes that show off my legs.

(Hey, I cut myself and my looks down so much, it’s good for me to say something positive about myself every once in a while. Don’t you all get grumpy with me!)

So. Here we go again, dear TOSRV…. so good to see you, my love.

So it’s 2011

Like Christmas, New Year’s was kind of low key this year. I went to Holiday Valley; however, the conditions weren’t as great as they’d been the last two years (ending with rain) and I was mostly alone as all my friends who were set to go bailed. Which is okay because I’m finding lately that I’m enjoying spending a lot of time on my own. (If only I had learned that in Colorado!) My friend Janet joined me in the evening of Dec. 31st after I spent about four hours skiing solo and we skied the last two hours of the night out together. For the first time in a long time, I both skied out my entire ticket and skied the last run at the resort’s closing time. We hung out the last hour and a half to midnight at the Lodge, watched the parade of torches descend down Cindy’s Run and the fireworks. 2010 came in like headwind and out like a slow gentle breeze. I don’t know what that says about the coming year. But I’ve decided I’m making no promises about anything seeing as I’m not all that good on keeping to any that I make. Let’s just say I’m not off to a good start on any of the promises I’ve already silently made.

I originally planned to stay in New York through Monday, but I ended up coming back on Sunday after skiing Saturday evening. The temperatures were dropping, which made the slopes ice up after the earlier thaw. The best of the skiing really happened Friday with springlike conditions. I had to be more careful and therefore attacked less of the black diamond runs because of the hard-pack to ice conditions on Saturday. It was supposed to snow again later Sunday but I was afraid it wasn’t going to be enough to bring back paradise by Monday. So I resolved to go home and, since I had Monday off from work anyway, just ski at Boston Mills on Monday. Which I did. It was a good decision; Boston Mills’ conditions were absolutely stellar on Monday and I skied there for four hours (very usual amount of time to spend at such a tiny place). For such a pathetically small plot of land, Boston Mills certainly does have an A+ grounds crew. Just give them a night of snow-making and they can turn that tiny place into paradise when one has no better place to ski.

I’m thinking next year, I might switch it up and go to Seven Springs for New Year’s. A smaller resort, but the area hotels are generally cheaper (by about $40!) and I’ve never been to the nearby Hidden Valley. It might be worth checking out. And, anyway, I don’t want to become too predictable, now do I?

Speaking of my unpredictability, I’ve decided to compete this year at the Haiku Death Match that Joanna MCs in Columbus. Can you hear me gulping big time? Fortunately, I’ve written about 20 or so haiku poems over the last year so I think I’m prepared. Though a lot of my poems tend to be actually poetic and serious, I do have a few political zingers and two funny “na-na-NA-na-na” type ones. I’m trying to write a few more to add. From my observation of this event in the last two years, I’ve noted that three topics work really well: politics (with liberal overtones), sexual innuendo, and silly. I’m not too good at silly, but I think I can make up for what I lack there in sexy innuendo and political. We’ll see. To me, the point of participating this year is getting up and performing my own work live. I don’t care if I win or lose; I’m just there to throw myself out of my comfort zone. So if I do have any goals I plan to stick to this year it’s definitely to keep terrifying the piss out of myself. Eventually I will get comfortable with public speaking. I might even get good at it. Who knows? Stranger things have happened!

I also want to be able to handle presenting my own work before an audience. It’s my own fear of criticism and rejection that prevents me from trying to publish or do anything with my writing. I need to stop bemoaning the fact that no one publisher has just happened to stumble upon my awesomeness; I need to take an active role in showing the world that my writing is awesome. (Do you realize that just saying “my writing is awesome” is a bold act for me? I always downplay myself and my writing to be modest and… I really do think my writing just is not good enough… even when I actually think I did write something wonderful. It’s time to start saying positive things… If I believe my writing is great, others will believe it’s great too… or at least they will give it a chance. No more negative thoughts or words. It’s time for a mood shift here. BIG TIME.) I need to build up a hardened exterior to take criticism and also accept new ideas when people offer them to me as ways to improve, to not hear them as proof to my own failings. I guess this is as good a resolution for 2011 as any.

So yesterday I finally bought the ticket for that third U2 show in Philadelphia that I mentioned in a previous post. I’m going with a few friends I met through a U2 fan forum, one of which graciously offered to let me stay the night before and after at her house. I guess a lot of people from the forum are also going to be at that show, so that’s going to be nifty. My goal in joining was to be able to connect with and meet other super-fans like myself for just this sort of reason–going to shows and U2-related events together. So mission totally accomplished. And, again, it’s all part of the, ehm, research for my book. And if you follow me on Twitter this summer (marsgirl75), you can get a minute-by-minute account of my adventures in the general admission line for the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh shows. Aren’t you excited? C’mon, you know you want to live vicariously through me as I experience this new way of attending a concert of this size! Sorry, but I won’t be tweeting during the concert… I’ll be too busy shaking my booty and slobbering over Bono. And praying that I get dragged on stage. Not bloody likely, but a girl can dream, right? And I’ve got dreams enough for everyone….

The rest of my summer plans (i.e., my trip to California) have changed. As I mentioned in the last post, my best friend is getting married. Naturally, she wants me to attend. She lives in Florida and I’ll need to use more vacation time. I’m happy that she’s finally met a great guy and all. He’s a nice guy; I approve of him. Yada, yada, yada. Not that anyone needs my approval to get married… But I’ll be there to witness said event.

That’s about all, really, that’s been going on in my life. Not too exciting, but I thought I should check in anyway. I’m still here. Still kicking at the darkness, bleeding out sparks of light, as they (U2), say. (Forgive me, my brain activity has been invaded by an over-abundance of bootlegs to which I’ve suddenly gotten access.) Oh, 2011, you’re going to be an interesting year… (I hope.)