Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Under the Night Moon

She peers out the window into the
night, under the rays of the moon.
From somewhere the words appear: bamboo moon.

She climbs through the large
opening of a bamboo shoot,
crawls up and up,

by the moon;
light filters in.
Dark womb,
she feels a swaying
motion through her limbs,
a lake in sight, midnight blue
stretched across years. When
she reaches the end of the bamboo
she pauses at the

sitting on her knees, gazing
up at her reflection in the lake—
bamboo moon.

MasterChef ~ Christine Ha: Cooking, not by Sight, but from Memory and a Strong Palette

Two cooking shows that I’m watching this season are Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef. Soon each show will be crowing the winners.

This is the first season for MasterChef to have a legally blind contestant, home chef, Christine Ha. It has been a treat to watch her cook. She has a guide to help her around the kitchen and pantry and she may occasionally ask the guide if her plate looks all right. That’s where it stops. She does all the preparation and cooking; her sense of memory, smell, and taste are her most important allies throughout this competition.

During one team challenge, an outside barbeque, Christine was put in charge of grilling corn. The corn skins caught fire and she wasn’t aware until someone shouted, “Fire!” A team member came to the rescue and all was under control after that. Even with that mishap, she bounced back and the team managed to produce a winning meal that was victorious over the other team.

An episode where she won the individual challenge to replicate a dish that chef Graham Elliot had prepared was one of my favorites. It was a sashimi dish that was beautiful in presentation. She nailed it. She outdid her competitors in knife skills, presentation, and taste. Simply impressive.

On last night’s episode, what stood out to me was when chef Ramsey asked the guest judges if they were surprised to see that Christine was blind. One of the chefs replied that in the kitchen he tells his chefs to, “practice in the kitchen until you can do it with your eyes closed.”

This is a small clip from a past episode showing an emotional Christine as she receives feedback and encouragement from chef Ramsay.

Christine’s Apple Pie on MasterChef

Christine is truly an inspiration. In a TVGuide interview I learned that she studied to be a fiction writer. Perhaps she will work on a book one day and publish it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Entrepreneurial Spirit and Feeling a Sense of Contentment

I’ve always admired people that have what I do not. In this case, total self-confidence. I do have self-confidence in certain situations, but it is not a constant flow. I know that sometimes people may portray this air about them, yet they are not as confident as they seem.

What comes to mind is a boss from long ago. She was originally from Sri Lanka and I will always remember and admire her self-confidence and entrepreneurial spirit. She pushed forward even if there was doubt. If she didn’t know something, she would tell a client, “sure, we can do that,” even if she wasn’t absolutely sure what the program was, and she would quickly either find a way to do it herself or because of the business she ran—computer training for corporations—she would find a person who knew how. She had enough confidence in her abilities to know that if she didn’t have a solution right then, she would surely figure it out in time.

There are so many people that have emigrated here to the United States, who followed the spirit of this land and it amazes me how they did it. They leave their countries, come here with practically nothing but a vision and desire and make it happen. And then there are some people that have been living in this land of opportunity that have become used to the gifts of the land or who have no reason to break new ground and quite possibly forget how lucky they are to live in such a free country. Of course, there are also those of this country who have that same entrepreneurial sprit. We have seen many come and go.

I admire this spirit and cheer for those who are successful.

My co-worker just asked me yesterday if I had heard back from the folks—entrepreneurs—that I interviewed for. I said that I had not and that the interview went well and I followed up with a thank you email and that they would be in touch one way or the other. I said that it could be a while. They had several applicants for the open positions and they would not have a need for a couple of months. They were being proactive for upcoming business. I also admire proactive people. I am one myself.

Later that evening, coincidentally, I received a call and it was one of the owners of the company calling back to say they had narrowed the interviewed applicants down to a few and that I was in that pool. The next step would be reference and background checks and then they would make their final decision. I admit, that yet again, I have had a few of those heart to heart conversations with God. I wasn’t asking for the job, only asking that he continue to guide me in the proper direction, that, yes, I would like to have this job. It would be an opportunity to learn, branch out while keeping my other part-time position. More than anything, the learning opportunity and being more productive is most attractive to me right now.

I’ve thought upon the changes by deciding to work full-time again by having two part-time positions. I have searched throughout the years, but I didn’t want to be hasty. I didn’t want a regular full-time position with one company, and I wanted to be sure I found a company that I felt good working for. This feels like the one. I will be ever so happy if I am offered the position and if not, I will be glad to have gone through the process, since it had been long since I had.

The biggest change if I get offered the position is I will have less time for reading and writing. In a way, though, I have done a lot of both over these years. I’ve had the time by choice and I feel satisfied and happy about that. I am ready. Ready to move on to a new chapter. Reading and writing will always be there. They always have been.

The entrepreneurial spirit seems an essential ingredient in writing for publication. Eventually the published writer, depending on their situation, will be in a position where they have to sell themselves. That’s the part I don’t care much for. One of the things I’m beginning to feel from participating in the writer’s group is a real excitement for witnessing one of the first of the group to see one of their larger works to publication. A few are working on novellas and a few of us are working on smaller pieces. I’m enjoying the process more than anything. Of course it would be nice to see one little essay or one short story of my own published, but that goal has been overtaken with the joy of the process itself and of seeing others succeed. In a way, I already feel published—if that makes any sense. As I said, I feel a sense of satisfaction and closure, and knowing that I may have less time to spend writing, may actually catapult me and focus me forward. It may even give a kick to my creativity.

I feel that I’ve been writing since I was born and of course that’s not possible. But, being so introspective, being a quiet child who lived an interior life—in that sense it feels that I wrote as a ghost writing in the sky. And I was also written onto by my surroundings. I struggled in school, especially writing between junior high through my first year of community college. I really couldn’t write proper sentences and had trouble getting my thoughts out. I always want to remember this because it is such a gift to myself that I didn’t give up and that I still write and express myself in ways I would never have imagined. That means everything to me. That can never be taken from me.

I do not have a true entrepreneurial spirit, but I admire it in others. I applaud and cheer for those of you out there!

With each small risk or new adventure, no matter the size, I do gain self-confidence. But I do not forget where I’ve come from, and that allows me to maintain some sense of balance and compassion toward my fellow human beings and myself.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Little Morsels

Fried chicken
mashed potatoes
brown gravy
collard greens.
Best fried chicken;
not the best collard greens.
Holy shit burger.
Cozy celebration.

Dried chilies and
into a delicious
salsa for adding
to everything.
learned tips and
proper technique.

Latin Culture festival;
bodies moved to the
groove. A lot of heat
On those streets!


Winky. Sounds like Slinky. The name Winky appeared to me. It could be after reading a flash fiction story by Lydia Davis called “The Mice.” I can’t get the name out of my head: Winky, Winky, Winky!

Had a productive writer’s group meeting this past weekend. Received helpful feedback to take back to the simmering pot. I will let that story rest a while and try to work on a new piece for next time.

Class is going fine. Small steps. Need to keep the reading rhythm going for the short stories in the huge anthology. I keep reading the other book, The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield, not only with an eye for my work, but for the writing I comment on in the group. So far the book reminds me of the elements that we started to learn in the scriptwriting course, the focus being on the scene and beats of action.

Downloaded an audio book on writing—an older book. So far, I’m enjoying it a lot. I have a feeling after I listen to the audio, I will be buying a paper copy of the book. The library didn’t have a copy. The audio book is Stein on Writing: A Master Editor Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies by Sol Stein.


I wanted to show up on the page this morning, knowing that I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked. I can’t stand fingernails. Mine are starting to become noticeable. I always cut them right down to the skin. I’m noticing that they are getting in my way on the keyboard. Small things like that get in the way.

I’ve had some very odd sensual and strange dreams the other night. I jotted down a few in my notebook for another day. I need to remember more of my dreams. I still have a few powerful dreams from a long time ago that still come up, one in particular that I’d like to turn into a story if it chooses to allow me to do so.


a sack of bricks
on this

Ah, Monday’s not so

Here we go.


Friday, August 24, 2012

“Make Good Art” – Discovering Neil Gaiman

A few months back, I found myself browsing through the shelves of science fiction/fantasy at Barnes & Noble. I was in search of a compilation of stories. I wasn’t finding anything and then a clean white spine stood out to me: Stories: All-New Tales Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. I didn’t recognize either name, but I was sold by the small description on the back cover. I don’t usually spend time in this section of the bookshelves and that’s exactly why I was here. I began reading the book at my leisure and I’ve kept this book up on the bedroom windowsill with a few stacks of other books that I sift through on a regular basis. Some receive more attention than others. I had set this book aside for some time, but it was still in sight.

While reading through introductions of other classmates at the online course website, I saw Neil Gaiman’s name listed as a favorite of another student; it may have come up a few times. It didn’t register 100 percent, not until I was gazing at the spines of my books on the windowsill the other morning. That’s when I honed in on the name Gaiman and it's then that I remembered. I took the book from the shelf and sifted to the stories in the book. Ah, his story was one that I had found magical.

Yesterday I went on Google to learn more about Neil Gaiman and his editing partner, Al Sarrantonio. I then recognized that I had actually downloaded a few Kindle books by Al Sarrantonio month’s ago. I hadn’t realized that Neil Gaiman wrote the young adult book, Coraline, which was made into a movie that I haven’t yet seen that I’m now eager to read and watch. I am also interested in reading more of Gaiman’s short stories and am happy to see that the library has a few collections, as well as his other full-length fiction.

While searching around, that is when I came across this video where Gaiman addresses future artists. It’s inspiring, and I find Neil Gaiman to be quite charming.

I love moments of discovery like this, when something wonderful is right under your nose, when you knew you were being pulled, but you didn’t realize it at the time and didn’t know it would only get better.


Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 201


When I was trying to find images that August made me think of, the first that popped into my head: August is a beach bum, hanging onto lazy summer days. And then I thought…if I had a son, I think I’d like to name him August or maybe he can become a character in one of my stories, only he wouldn’t be a beach bum at all. He would be a boy—a man who loved life, he would be active and have dreams and he would follow them and he would embrace all the seasons.

August would be the center that holds all the seasonal spokes together. That will be August’s place for me, for all the other months have a place, they bring the seasons into sharp focus, but this August, he is illusive. He is a trickster—and just as summer lingers a little while longer, with the blink of an eye, August has turned to September—the end of August harks the beginning of inward change, a slowing down, and the beginning of deep contemplation—a stir down to the depths where light becomes muted and layers of a faint glow flicker.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Lesson Remembered from an Office Shredder

Sometimes I react to situations without first taking a step back.

At work I am occasionally frustrated by my computer’s inability to work as fast as I’d like it to. A combination of factors usually contributes to this. It could be that too many people are accessing the network at the same time; or it could simply be that the computer needs to be replaced. Most of the time, it’s the case that the temporary files need to be dumped. I will then run a free program, that a co-worker told us about, called CCleaner when I notice the sluggishness in certain programs, and once I run it, and reboot the computer, my computer problems are gone, until the next computer dump. 

We purchased a new shredder for the boss about eight months ago. It’s the type of shredder where you can put roughly 100 sheets of paper in the tray, close the lid, and the shredder will begin shredding without the need to feed it sheets of paper. This is convenient and efficient. The other day the boss called out to me from his office and asked if we were still under warranty on the shredder. He thought it was broken. “It’s not shredding anymore,” he said. “I’ve tried everything. Can you please call and find out how we ship it back and get a new one.”

“Can I have a look first,” I asked.

“Sure, go ahead.” I walked over and stood looking down at the shredder in his office. He was still hovering over it.

“Could you please move, so that I can have a closer look?”

He backs away from the machine. I lift the cover, place the pages down, and shut the cover. It begins shredding and then stops. Hmm. I hear the boss say something. He’s convinced the shredder needs to be replaced.

I get down on my hands and knees, open the door to the shredder, and pull out some loose shreds that have fallen to the far back. I then crane my head and look up into the mouth of the shredder where the teeth are. I see a few pieces caught between the teeth. I pull them out, close the door and the lid. The machine begins shredding and it continues shredding until its job is done.

“It seems to be working now,” I say.

“Thanks,” he says followed by some compliment. He is not very free with compliments, mind you. But he makes up for it in other ways.

This small episode reminded me of how easy it is to jump to conclusions, whether it’s as inconsequential as dealing with a piece of machinery or as significant as dealing with another human being. It’s important that we step back, give the situation space, assess the facts, allowing ourselves to be objective—and above all—think through all possibilities, as humanly as we can, before we decide.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In the Clouds

This morning as I savor the comforts of home, looking through the window, the clouds remind me of an M. C. Escher, but then they begin to take on their own shapes....a gargoyle with wings, a horse galloping, and then a crow flies by, his black wings against white wispy creatures and I think of the shapes in my life as I continue fitting them together. The clouds have shifted. Fluted flowers and wings; the breeze pushes through the open window motioning for me to take the hand of the winged Gargoyle, to ride out into the open space, to have no fear, to let go...pine and other trees in sight, they ground me and then the roar of a plane as it flies by in the distance and then the cars...I am at peace in the cloud castle.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flowing with the Current

I often wonder if I will ever write myself out; will I reach a point where I have nothing more to express? I realize that there will always be something, but when I recognize that I circle back to recurring themes, recurring memories, recurring, recurring—that’s when I feel this way, that I will reach a point when there is no more.

On the whole, I know there will always be more, and I tell myself that it's alright if I must keep visiting and revisiting recurring memories because each time I cross that path, there is something new that I discover about myself and my history. I still hold back. This I sense.

I also realize time changes. As simple as this is to know and understand, as it goes along and sneaks up, that’s when it’s most noticeable. I have always tried to live knowing and accepting that change is a part of life, that change is every moment, that nothing ever stays the same for even one breath…I take my oars; I keep rowing with the current—or at least trying to—rowing along, watching the water glimmer under the sun and knowing that I must continue moving along with the clouds following where the flow goes.

The online short story writing class has begun and as usual a slight anxiety and self-doubt has begun to settle in. It will subside. We have begun introductions at the online course site: Why are we here in this class, what do we like to read, and what do we like to write? It seems that most of the students are younger, maybe in their twenties. They are filled with excitement and are eager to write. I feel inexperienced. I feel doubtful. This is today. Perhaps tomorrow and the next day I will feel different.

Still with my downward feelings, I am excited about the class. I must process my feelings. It’s a way to free myself from the moment.

I will take each day one moment at a time and flow with the change—the ever flowing changes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Puppy

Friday afternoon I took a walk during my work break. On my way back to the office, I waited for the signal to turn to green and when it did, I first looked to my left to the car that was eager to turn right into the crosswalk, even though I had the right away. I caught his eye and began to walk. As he passed, his foot was clearly pressed hard to the accelerator—body language—from his irritation and his impatience directed toward and out of his car.

I was annoyed. It seems that I also have a tendency to take humans communicating through their cars personally. I made it to the other side of the crosswalk, onto the sidewalk, when I saw a man and his dog. The dog was a grown puppy. He reminded me of my childhood dog whom I loved dearly. He was my pal. This puppy was a lighter golden color. When I set my eyes on the puppy, all traces of my annoyance faded away. Forgotten. A large smile covered my face as I continued to watch the puppy walk with his floppy legs and happy gait. He was a couple of paces behind his owner. Walking and walking, happy and adorably clumsy, then the puppy lifted a leg and peed right there—in the middle of the sidewalk. I was about seven feet behind. I didn’t laugh, but I continued smiling. The man saw me. He tried to pull gently on the puppy’s leash. It was no use. He then said to the puppy, “really? Here. Really?”

“Is he a retriever?” I asked, slowing down, as I was about to pass. He answered that yes he was. “He is absolutely adorable,” I said.

“Thank you. I really appreciate that,” he said, holding the leash as the puppy finished his business. As I walked by, the puppy gave me a quick hello with his snout. I walked ahead appreciative to see such a happy puppy with not a care in the world. I walked back to work with a lighter step.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


a pie sliced
into many
sections and moods.

I become
warmed up,

the morning
races by,

I settle into a flow

and just then—
there is no more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Voice

Who am I today? I am not the image that states back; I am not even my own voice.

I am a culmination of experience and interactions; I am constantly evolving.

Today, I am in fourth grade—Mrs. Reed’s class. I have dodged the oral book report for as long as I can. Mother reads the note, irritated with me—or was she understanding? Memory is cloudy, gray, with streaks of purple. She chooses a book, reads it, primes me. I do not remember reading it myself: Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. Yes, the story is familiar.

My name is called. Terror leeches on to me. I walk up to the front of the class, clutching my book tightly. I look out at a blur of faces, my legs begin to lock; they are tight. I am a wooden doll. I hear murmur coming from my mouth, a small din of bees in my head. I am in the dark. I have gone deep inside and cannot see, hear, speak. I cannot even see myself; my awareness has slipped away, slipped off to somewhere far away. I begin to feel my legs again and I see the faces in focus now—staring back.

I must be finished. I walk away with great difficulty because—who knows how long I stood up there in the land of nowhere. I went to my seat and hoped to never face a moment like that again. The dark veil…thick laced black curtain would stay. It would take a lifetime to find the light again.

But here I am, legs free, voice free—my words, my voice—with the mark of time and all who have crossed my path—the voice of one; the voice of many.


Originally jotted down in my notebook June 6, 2009


I didn’t change anything about this piece from when I originally wrote it, except a few minor technical edits. I feel that there are still changes I can make, details I can add, yet I want to keep it this way because it’s how it flowed out of me then and marks a very specific time in my life when this childhood memory resurfaced and came out in this particular way.

Rebb reading The Voice:

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Sound of the Voice

When I was a little girl I was drawn to the sound of the British English voice. My earliest memory of this occurrence is listening and reading along to the story of Hansel and Gretel on my red Raggedy Ann record player. I would listen to the story again and again as the soothing voice washed over me.

My mother used to take me to restaurants often after her doctor’s appointment or an early morning ice skating lesson. I would order a cup of tea and a Danish or other similar pastry heated with a pat of butter. As I look back on this ritual, I do not recall how this young seven or eight year old—I can’t recall the exact age—came to order this instead of milk or oatmeal or pancakes. It was the same each time. I would whisper to my mother what I wanted and she would place my order. This time together with my mother was one of the few peaceful memories that I can recall having with her, where she had no worries, where life was grand, just her and her girl.

I had several ice skating instructors and would practice and take lessons at different ice rinks. The name of the instructor that has always stayed in my thoughts was Grace. She wasn’t British, but I recall her voice and how kind she was to me. It’s possible that she was Canadian. She spoke regular American English, though the way she sounded was like a beautiful white swan; she was the embodiment of her name.

As I continue looking back on memory, I can see myself—a little girl looking in the mirror and talking to herself in a British English accent. This little girl would then giggle, run over to the side table and take a sip of her tea in the most proper way. She would only do this when no one was looking. The giggling part probably wasn’t so proper.

I’ve come to realize or maybe—not realize—rather, I’ve wondered did I like my voice better when it was this way…when I was pretending? And is this possibly one of the reasons that I don’t like hearing my voice when I speak unless it’s raspy from a cold or in small bits of Spanish?

This has led me back to a piece that I wrote a few years back simply called, “The Voice.” I wrote it out in my notebook and I’ve wanted to type it up for all these years and to read it aloud and post the audio along with my blog. From the moment I wrote the piece, it felt as if it were meant to be read aloud by the speaker of the piece; I am the speaker of course, then again, perhaps I am not. In any case, I feel that I must detach from it. I fear that if too much more time passes, I either will not ever post it or “The Voice” will become irrelevant to me.

I recognize and enjoy my voice on the printed page when my self esteem is above the red line. Now I must learn to appreciate the verbal sound of my voice, the sound bytes that do not feel as though they convey the depths of my being.

I will post it eventually. It’s inevitable. This is my prelude—my commitment to myself.

I cannot be afraid of the spoken sound of my voice any longer—or of sharing that voice.

I woke up wanting to hike the mountain

I woke up wanting to hike the mountain, the open space where the cows graze, where I can see out past the city and into the hills. M. doesn't care for hiking the way I do. He was still sleeping, but had stirred since he heard me moving around. I touched his arm lightly and whispered that I was going for a hike. He nodded. I told him that when I got back, if he wanted, we could go do something. Then I asked if he wanted to come hiking with me? He said no. I knew he wouldn't want to. Thought I'd ask anyway. 

I grabbed my camera, water, and backpack. Off I went. 

When I started up the hill, I saw a lone black dog with one ear folded down. He seemed skittish and surprised to see me. He retreated and walked back up to where his companion must have been. I wound up the opposite hill. 

As I ascended, I reached a point where I could see the other mountain perfectly; I snapped a photo with my phone camera and sent it to M. with a short endearment.

He replied back a few moments later that it was nice.

The hills were dry. It was early in the morning, so the heat hadn't settled in yet. I walked for some time without seeing any other hikers. When I rounded another long stretch, I saw a gentleman. I smiled and he said good morning. After that encounter, I would have the trail all to myself until I reached my destination. Even though my breathing became slightly labored with the many steep hills, these steep stretches are one of my favorite parts of the trail. I feel my body at a slant and there is something about walking up a steep slope that I crave without being able to explain exactly why.

I didn't see any cows. They must have been in another part of the hills. I saw dragon flies, lizards, a cricket, and a white butterfly.

Walking by myself was a wonderful feeling. I stopped to take photos, at my own pace, and stopped to write a few bits here and there. I realized that while it's nice to have a human companion to hike with, I preferred hiking alone today. I was able to be in the quiet. At one point, my lips were stuck in a smile because I was happy being alone with the mountain and dragonflies buzzing by.  Every part of my being was feeling this joy.

When I decided to head back down, my phone buzzed with a text. It was M. He sent me a funny photo that I had taken of him from a hike we did together. His message said, "where are you? I'm at the top of the hill waiting for you." 

I replied, "really funny. I'm on my way down."

I laughed all the way down the mountain. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

SEND to READER for Kindle & Other Tidbits

“…I want to say that any system that helps you understand the world around you is valuable to you as a writer: natural history, biology, ethnology, physics, geology…You must have knowledge to make the nets in which other knowledge is caught” (Pg. 17).

—Damon Knight
From Creating Short Fiction

I believe I’ve shared the SEND to READER website before and it may be old news to many and there are other options, but I wanted to share it again because for anyone in the U.S. (not sure if it’s available for Kindle U.K. readers) who would like to send information from the web to your Kindle with the push of a button, for free, it’s quite useful. When I’ve had any questions, Sergey, was prompt and helpful.

Every now and again, there may be a page that does not work, but for the most part I’ve had success with it. One recent example is I wanted to read Eugene O’Neill’s play, Beyond the Horizon. When I checked the library it was available as part of a collection of his work, but I did not see the play by itself. Not wanting to hold up a heavy book for a short play, and not wanting to purchase it, I looked online again. I saw that had the full version. I clicked on scene I of Act I, clicked my SEND to READER button, turned on my Kindle, and there it was. Since I had plays on my mind, I also checked out A Street Car Named Desire from the library. I have always remembered an old friend’s aunt saying how it was her favorite play. I may have seen the movie version with Marlon Brando a long time ago. It’s a fuzzy memory. After I finish reading the play, I want to watch the movie again.

Short story writing class begins soon and I am very excited. I have read through the syllabus after fumbling through getting setup and logged into the online course site. I’m glad I did this a week in advance because I was having problems, but the problems were my own— user error. I’ve used CourseCompass which is now MyLab before and luckily I didn’t have to purchase another access code because it seems that I’m still in the system from a previous course.

I bought another writing book on Amazon: Creating Short Fiction: The Classic Guide to Writing Short Fiction by Damon Knight. It’s an older book originally written in 1983; the third edition was written in 1997. I like writing books because I feel that I’m having a conversation with the author and when a writing book makes me laugh as this one has several times, it makes the conversation that much better. I appreciate the author’s ideas and the examples he shares from his life as a writer. I came across a sentence he wrote, which brought me back to what Ayn Rand was saying in her lectures on writing about collecting and holding a wide range of information in our subconscious and how when we need that information, as writers, it surfaces. I’m not as strong a synthesizer as I’d like to be, but I’m aware of patterns and I love ideas and information. I’ve always been curious—sometimes too curious. Knight’s statement—the image he created—added a layer and meaning to what Rand said in her way. His quote has become the epigraph of this blog.

Yesterday I worked on my writing submission for the writer’s group. I took my netbook and myself to the coffee shop to work on the piece that I had made some scribbled comments on. It was great working in the coffee shop. I left home a little earlier than usual to write and then off to work. I felt energized. I still have editing and refining to do and I’m almost out of time.

One issue that has come up in the writer’s group on my past submissions is that I have to keep an eye on my point of view (POV). It’s so easy to slip in and out. I also have to watch my tenses. Sometimes I’ll switch between past and present. When I’m reading other people’s work, the more complicated tenses sometimes throw me. I ask myself if they need to have so many instances of past perfect, etc. There is a time when it’s necessary, but then if there are too many successive cases, it bogs the writing down. In one of my pieces, it was suggested to watch my sentence variety and repetition of words or sentences. I have noticed that I do have a tendency to repeat. Sometimes it’s intentional; other times, I don’t catch it until I read my work aloud. And there are so many other little things that I notice and causes me to keep going back and back.

I will polish my current submission as best I can before I send it to the group. I’d like to catch the technical errors so that the group can read through without those distractions. I’m almost there! We have all gotten in the habit of stating what our piece is: Part of a novel, a short story, non-fiction, etc. I will classify the piece I’m working on as a creative non-fiction travel piece.

It was that time of year for another dental cleaning. I love going to my dentist’s office. Dr. D. has a strong sense of beauty and balance evident in the artwork throughout her office. In the waiting room, I had to sit in a different chair this time because the others were taken. I pulled out my iPod Touch to catch thoughts that were whirring around in my head. I needed to tap them out. I wrote and wrote with my fingers tapping those letters out. The receptionist apologized for the delay. I told her no problem. What I should have said was, thank you for the time and space to get my thoughts out. I was done after five to ten minutes and turned my attention to the reading material on the table near my chair. I hadn’t noticed this book before. Dentistry: An Illustrated History by Malvin E. Ring. I picked up the heavy book and turned the pages. The pictures were fantastic. I hadn’t gotten past the first few images and it was my turn for a cleaning. Rats! I needed more time. A picture that caught my imagination was the two teeth pictured here—tooth worms, I think. I’ll have to read about it. The library didn’t have this particular book, but I did find another title: Tooth Worms & Spider Juice: An Illustrated History of Dentistry by Loretta Frances Ichord. It’s meant for young readers. I’m going to check it out.

Tooth image accessed from here.

Being pulled in many directions, just like those Dandelions that Ray Bradbury has written about…I see myself as a dandelion—floating about on the wings of the breeze under warm rays of light.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In Need of a Tune In

Riding on BART is relaxing. It used to be part of my daily routine. I miss it. Now I only ride BART about a dozen times out of the year.

I miss riding my bike too. I have lots of excuses, and I haven’t been motivated. One excuse is that my bike has a flat tire. I’m afraid to pump it up for fear that someone may steal it. It’s an old bike, so I don’t know why anyone would want to take it. Where we live, there is only one spot to lock our bikes up and it’s out in the open facing the street. It’s a makeshift area not meant to lock bikes up.

The reason I’m worried is that when I had been given a bike, similar to my own, that was going into the trash heap for no other reason than the owner had acquired a new one, I took it to the bike shop for a tune up. It was a shiny red bike. I was looking forward to bike rides together and it was only a matter of a week and the red shiny bike was stolen.

This was at least six months ago or longer. It took me a moment to notice, as I would glance over at the bikes whenever I would walk by. I was disappointed. A tune up and a new heavy duty lock all for nothing. I didn’t want to make a fuss by calling the police and filing a police report. Instead, I thought to myself, someone must have needed the bike more than I did. I also did not want to exert loads of energy into what seemed a minor inconvenience in the scheme of things.

My other excuse is that I don’t live as close to the trail as I used to and the road that leads to the trail doesn’t have a path for bikes or walkers and is narrow. I don’t trust car drivers and I’ve seen too many reports of bike accidents. I can be a bit of a worry worm from time to time. I think that I should go ahead and pump air into the tire and quit quibbling about the bike. I know my body is craving for exercise. I have been doing a lot of sitting between reading, writing, and my job—too much sitting, really. I’m noticing the effects.

My own bike is black with purple lettering on it. It’s a mountain bike, even though I don’t go in the hills with it any longer and in my younger years did only a handful of times. Riding fast down bumpy roads was exhilarating. I prefer the ruggedness of a mountain bike. Mine is scuffed up and has some rust. The other bike was in much better shape physically than my own. I can see why, whoever it was, decided to take the other bike for his or her own.

The reason I got distracted with bike riding is that besides BART, riding my bike is the next best activity to enter a deep state of flow, of not thinking, of just being. I usually pull my notebook out in both cases. Bike riding lulls me away and clears my head. It’s calming, my muscles are put to good use, and thoughts fly in and out of my consciousness.

I need a change. Perhaps I’ll get that tire fixed. I don’t know if it has a flat or just needs air. I need to hop on and feel the wind blow across my face. I need to feel my body working and in tune with itself—in tune with all of me.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Cat's tongue
Taste buds
Frowned upon
If it weren't considered rude, I'd lick my plate of a lick worthy meal every time.
Peanut butter
Corn bread batter
Cookie dough
Pork chops

Bits from Saturday: Hike and Art & Soul Festival

Saturday was a full day of fun. It began with a cool cloud cover, hiding the sun until early afternoon: perfect weather for a hike.

Hiking in the hills, I was a border collie, like my old border collie friend—may she rest in peace—my nose was on high alert, nostrils inhaling the way she would, nostrils like a tongue tasting all that I could with rapid inhalations: warm scents of cinnamon, high notes of eucalyptus, dry earth, there must have been other scents mixed in with the fresh air; the lake speckled with boats here and there, a lovely yellow bird, two black herons, California coots that appeared much larger than usual.

The latter part of the day whisked us to the Art & Soul Festival, blocks closed off, lined with food venders of all sorts: BBQ, Chinese, Mexican, Cajun, and more. Art venders, music stages, lots of people walking and eating, smiling and greeting, activities for children. Beer, wine, soda-pop. I chose a serving of fried zucchini with ranch dressing, enjoyed a beer, and then later when I was hungry again, I bought a great big smoked turkey leg and I devoured it like I was a cave woman, no shame in how I dug my teeth into it while I walked, turkey leg in one hand, beer in the other, bottled water tucked under my arm.

As you can see from the photo I took and posted here, everyone was interested in snapping photos of these fire blowing flower sculptures. I’ve never seen public art that also has a fire component. They blow fire about every five to six seconds and when I hear the muffled rwaaaahhh, like a quiet roar, it reminds me of a dragon.

One art vender in particular caught our fancy with his Dia de los muertos pieces, Day of the dead pieces. I especially loved his play on Where the Wild Things Are, which became Where the Dead Things Are. I heard the artist speaking to another person, talking about how he had just finished a mural that he did in conjunction with some young art students. He was very personable and easy to talk to. He and his wife had created several indigenous pieces together and they have an upcoming exhibit at The Smithsonian. I was also intrigued by the Asian Muertos pieces, an interesting blend of Mexican muertos and Japanese art.

Forrealism Home Page


The night ended with listening to various musical performers: Soul, heavy metal, hip hop, and others. It was a satisfying day. By the time we got home, I was ready to hit the bed and enter dreamland.

On Sunday, I woke up early, read for five minutes and went back to sleep. Even when I’m having fun and being out and about, I often need a day to recuperate from all the excitement and energy.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Last Wish

It’s been almost two years since I’ve visited with my brother, G., in person, email being our primary mode of sporadic communication. We both have our lives, and there was a period that I needed time away from his gregarious personality that was, at times, overwhelming for me. It had been a couple of months since we last communicated, until recently when we exchanged a few emails prompted by birthday wishes.

I visit my uncle at least once or twice a week. We all live within driving distance of each other. We have another brother, J. Both brothers are twenty years older than I am. The other brother and my brother were close and then life happened and they separated, and with their separation, my separation from the other brother. It’s the way it was. No hard feelings, just that one was the link to the other. The last time we were all in the same place together was at my abuelita’s (grandmother’s) funeral.

The last few times I’ve visited my uncle, who is in his eighties, he expressed a strong desire to get us all together. We talked it out and we didn’t think it would be possible. So much time had passed—at least two decades. There was still a wide gap between the brothers—difficult matters from the past. I always found it peculiar that each of us would speak to my uncle individually; my communications would extend to G., but not to J. We would all ask my uncle how the other was doing and that was the extent of our combined relations, our uncle as the remote hub.

I’m not religious, but I speak to God; sometimes I ask him for his guidance. God, to me, transcends any religion and I know that he listens and he understands me. I knew in my heart that if my uncle wanted to try to get us all together, I would have to help him. Even though time separates my brother G. and I, we have always been close and pick up right where we left off when we visit with each other. As long as he hasn’t had too many beers, were fine. If he’s drunk, I don’t want anything to do with him. He seems to have gotten that under control.

Since I hadn’t seen G. and I knew he hadn’t been visiting our uncle, I asked God for guidance—guidance on whether I should reach out, should I try to help my uncle, especially since he framed his wish as an event he wanted to see happen before he died. I felt a burden because I like my simple life, at a distance from my family. Selfish? Yes. I’ve had too much control exerted upon me from my childhood, both from mother, and from G. when he had to deal with my adolescent years. I realized that I was still under the childhood spell of all the feelings that I needed to get out from under.

I’ve wavered throughout the years, my mind being my worst enemy—wavered at having an overprotective brother, at times still feeling that overbearing tendency he demonstrated in spurts in my adulthood, because he would always view me as his little kid sister. When I gained my freedom, I realized that I had to be strong within myself, maintain my independence. I would not be controlled any longer the way my mother controlled me and I would not be an enabler.

This is probably where my rebellious nature came from: Death, freedom, and literally finding my voice. It started in junior high school sometime after my mother’s death. I was quiet and shy, but I had moments of something else, something I can’t put my finger on exactly: A firecracker. I mellowed with time, bad decisions, and lots of introspection. For a quiet observer, introspection came naturally and has not left my side. The only time my rebel is roused these days is when I feel those shackles of control being flung upon me. It can be work, my significant other, anyone. I’m aware of it, and at times I retreat, but it’s there. I don’t like being bullied and I speak up when the need arises. I am proud of myself because I’m still me, I don’t forget who I am, where I come from, and I speak up when necessary.

On my recent email exchange with G., he said he’d like to see me and I replied that yes, why don’t we meet at uncle M’s. I hadn’t told my uncle. I thought we would surprise him and just show up. I still continued to ask God for guidance before these emails, guidance on if I should make some effort. Last time I visited my uncle, I said to him, should I email G. and see if he wants to visit? He said, no, let him do it on his own.

I think that a part of my uncle meant those words, but my uncle is stubborn like the rest of us. He’s stubborn, has the rebel in him, and also has a big heart. He doesn’t show his feelings much, but when he talked about the four of us getting together, he got choked up, his eyes misted over. I listened to his actions and stored it away.

It was nice to visit with my brother G., and uncle together, and it was a refreshing surprise to hear my brother say that he enjoyed spending more quiet time at home, rather than going out and being in the middle of all the noise. It sounded as though he had grown up. How odd for a younger sister to say that, but it’s true. In listening to him talk, he seemed calmer, more open, more balanced. I told him that he was becoming more of an introvert in his older age. He agreed. 

I feel that in the recent string of emails with my brother, God, was guiding me. After we were done visiting, my brother got up to go and he said we should do this more often. I told him that actually uncle M. expressed that he would like for us to get together with J., all of us together. I said it’s Uncle’s wish before he dies. He turned his neck around as if he were rolling his eyes, but then said, yeah, sure, let’s do it. My uncle seemed pleased and had a big smile on his face.

My uncle is not on his deathbed. He has a lot of spunk in him yet. Even though my uncle’s the oldest, any of us could exit before the other.

I had known that my uncle expressed his desire to my other brother, J., a month ago. When he said to my uncle that he thought he could stand our brother for a few hours, I knew there was hope. There were many deaths in our family where there was not peace among family members before their departure. I know my abuelita (grandmother) would have liked to have seen the brothers reconcile before her death.

I could have easily just walked away from this, and I was ready to, but I spoke to God for days, during different times, telling him how I felt and asking for a sign. If not for the small nudges from up above, from a power higher than myself, I may not have done anything. This is the last of us. I don’t expect anything to come of it afterward, only a small slice of peace for my uncle in the present, so that he can have his one last wish—before its too late.

Now I must see it through.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Small Bits from Yesterday

The heat pressed down on me yesterday. A headache was coming on. After I called it a day at work, I had a choice to either head straight home to a hot apartment or take my $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble in air conditioned bliss, after which I would pick up a healthy dinner to bring home, rather than add to the stifling heat by cooking a meal.

At Barnes and Noble, I browsed through the shelves, mainly staying in the fiction section. I was going to go to the writing section, but then I thought better of it, and continued to sift through the fiction. I saw many possibilities. An anthology caught my attention. I took a photo of the book’s cover so that I could remember it for later: Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East edited by Reza Aslan. As I made my way through the shelves, I came upon a small literary studies section. I pulled a few books and flipped through. It was just about time for me to go fetch dinner. I would have to face the heat outside. I rubbed my head a few times, not wanting to take my pills just yet. I would see if the headache would remain at its low note and would fall back into itself. I found my book here in this section. I’ve always enjoyed reading Harold Bloom’s literary commentary. When I read his words, I feel as though I am sitting in on a very interesting and intelligent lecture or conversation that I can keep coming back to—I am a fly on the wall absorbing his knowledge about literature, which he is clearly passionate about. His book that I chose is The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life. I’m looking forward to diving deeper into his book. It will be a nice slow read taken in little sips.

Exiting through the front doors of the bookstore, I am wrapped in stuffy heat. One more stop and then home bound. After I picked up our dinner, I was walking to the car and heard my cell phone ring. I thought it would be my significant other, but it turned out to be a call back from a job I had applied to a week back. When I sent my resume, I honestly did not think I would hear from them, so I was taken aback by the call. I stopped walking and found a quiet corner on the street so that I could learn more about the position. I was glad to have been called back and quite thankful. We reached the end of our conversation and agreed to a meeting. The owner appreciated my honesty. If all works out, this will be a second part-time position; I will remain at my current part-time position. I gave my current boss a head’s up some time ago that I would be looking for a part-time position, but that it would have to be just what I was looking for, which isn’t always easy to come by—hours, location, job specifics, etc. I will let the boss know today that I have made progress in my search and see how that goes.

Nothing is certain at this point. All I know is that it feels in alignment with my intentions. The only other intention that I have been thinking about is of preparing one of my writings for submission. It will take some time. It will be a personal sharing with fiction elements: Creative nonfiction. I will be happy when I send it away because that will be more than enough. The action—the doing becoming reality—not just thinking about it, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not as concerned with acceptance. Because of how my road has been, just sending my writing out is a HUGE step. That in and of itself is satisfying. The time will come.

Blogging Hats

My two true writing rooms are Red Room and Blogger. I have recently learned about Open Salon and have crossposted two blogs there, here—where am I?! It’s interesting when I begin writing. Often, it’s just the page, and me. But there are times when I have my Red Room hat on by way of the blog prompts or some other inspiration. Other times I have my Blogger hat on because it might be where I begin the writing day. I like it best when I don’t have any hat on and I just write, but right now, I have three hats on. I feel timid about joining Open Salon. I’m a stranger in this no man’s land of writers. I posted a short bio and a photo—not of me personally—but of a sculpture within a water fountain from a park in New Orleans. She’s my mask, my muse—she’s beautiful and a part of nature, a reflection of an aspect of myself—the beauty—that I am still learning to embrace.

Thinking Out Loud ~ Reading Your Writing Aloud When You’re Not Published

I have mixed feelings about a reading event in the near future. It is something the writer’s group I belong to has coordinated and at first I thought, sure why not. Then as one week went by, then two weeks, I thought more about it. We have one writer in the group who is working on publishing a book of poetry that should be ready by then and she has other books published. She will be the featured author of the event; the rest of us will follow on her coattails and have the opportunity to read a small sampling from each of our work.

I think it’s wonderful for the others, but as I think about my own participation, it feels too much like putting the horse before the cart—I can’t remember the proper saying, but you know what I mean. I am part of the writer’s group to get feedback on my writing and to give feedback, to develop as a writer, not to share my unpublished work in person with others, who may not even be interested. Sharing our readings with an audience is an idea that came up shortly after I joined the group. I’m thinking out loud here, so I can get a sense of where I am and how I feel. I think I’m leaning toward not participating. I can see why the group wants to do this, yet I am having trouble seeing how useful it is to present ourselves as a writer’s group and here is what we write. I write for myself and for the interested reader—interested being the key word.

I suppose it just feels premature and perhaps it also has to do with being clumped into the group. Contrary to being in a writer’s group, I’ve never been much for groups. It’s only recently that I realize one or two groups couldn’t hurt—the other being a book club, which I haven’t attended yet. I want my writing to stand independently, not as part of the group. That is not to sound as horrible as it may, but hopefully the meaning is understood. I put myself out there by blogging, and I am so very thankful for my readers and anyone who comments. One day if I do publish a book, then I will be happy to do a reading, but until then, it just doesn’t feel right in my bones. Perhaps I’m looking at this too narrowly

My sense is the group wants to be heard by a wider audience than just the current group members, but they seem to want to do it in an in person forum. I think I’m going to sit this one out.