I am pleased to announce the release of Open Skies Quarterly Volume Five: Anniversary Edition. My poems I’m NoGreen Thumb, An Anarchist’s Tombstone, Jal Tarang, Elm St. Park-Independence Day, and Quiet Violence are included. A big thank you to Keith Sparks for including me in this print edition.
This 410 page book is available through Amazon for $15.
Open Skies Quarterly Volume Five is also available as a free PDF Download here.
Hello, lovely readers. I have a lot of work being published in the next six months and I want to do a quick shout out to promote these presses while I wait for my work to appear. Please stop by their magazine and read the great poems they publish there and support other small press writers by buying books and sharing work you like.
It is my distinct honor to have a poem included in the June 2021 issue of Anti-Heroin Chic. There are some amazing poets in this issue that really blew my mind with their raw truth and story telling skills. There is powerful work in this issue. You can read my poem “A Poem for the Lost Poems” here. But definitely check out Victoria Ruiz, Krys Walls, and Carrie Elizabeth Penrod.
It has been a long time since I posted and though I often vow to keep up with this website, it does run away from me. Life has been happening. Lots of life. I had been in a long distance relationship for a year and I have been in this situation before on many occasions, but this one was different. The love was there for sure, but the reality of it ever being the sort of traditional relationship society covets was way off the mark. There were too many factors working against us.
I have always been the type to want to be friends when a relationship has ended, because for me to fall in love, there had to be a friendship first. I believe sometimes people can mistake that feeling of deep friendship for relationship/romantic love. A deep connection with another person can give you the feels. After an anniversary trip to Virginia which was fifty-fifty on its good and bad parts, I ended the romantic relationship. It was a hard decision, but we were both miserable in the place the relationship had gone, and I knew he would never cut the rope.
This ending proved to give us a new beginning. We still love each other and the desire to go out into the world and adventure never left us. Traditional relationships are not for everyone and the push to have something like that is hard to ignore especially if you are surrounded by people who buy into those ideas. There is nothing wrong with finding the person you love, getting married, and living out your lives together. It is a beautiful and wonderful thing. For me, the closed ended commitment feels like a millstone, a suffocation, a resentment. Who wants that?
My life has been full of traumas both big and small. It makes me hard to live with and a bit feral when pushed in the corner to conform. I’m not radical person, but I like the freedom to move about in my own world without the permission of someone else, or having to expressly curtail what my heart desires. I did that for my whole life. This last leg of my years I want to enjoy the journey.
He and I have planned adventures for the rest of the year in places neither of us have ever been. There will be hiking and disc golf, exploring towns and events, and acting like carefree children. Neither of us had a childhood that anyone wants to hear about and this is a chance for us to regain that time and enjoy what nature has to offer.
On a writing front, I have not been submitting much poetry but I have been writing it. I have been reading books, editing my novel, loving my cats, spending time with my kid, playing disc golf, and working at the hospital. In July, I am going on a 20 mile, 2 night hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. It is something I’ve never done before but have always wanted to do. This will be a challenge of letting things go and accepting what my body can or cannot do. I am here to dive into the present moment. I am here to live with a sense of freedom and wonder. In these times where Covid has taken so much from us, I am taking something back.
I hope to submit more work so I can tell you about it if it gets published. Thanks for sticking with me even through the quiet times. Be kind to each other. Stay safe. Write often.
It is hard to know where to begin. The year started out with a trip to Arizona just as the pandemic was starting to be more than a whisper in China and Europe. I saw my brother for the first time in twenty years. I spent time with family and time in contemplation.
I changed jobs just as the pandemic started to hit locally going from being an ER nurse for nearly 14 years to going back to the medical floor. It felt like both an insane and a sane thing to do. Switching gears from critical care back to non-critical care felt like going backward, but what I have learned is that my critical knowledge can save people in that space too. Everyone has the potential to take a turn for the worse. The work has been just as hard or harder. The deaths of patients hit much deeper when you have spent weeks caring for them rather than minutes. Not that each death I have ever witnessed hasn’t take a piece of my soul. I’m learning that I like to take care of old folks more than young folks. They are appreciative and have good stories. They make me laugh and cry.
Being an introvert (possibly a ambivert), I thought I would have it made in the shade when they closed down practically everything in my town in New York, but I was wrong. I realized just how many places I went in a day, how much public I soaked up by just being in close proximity. Forced isolation has a much different feeling than when it is freely chosen. I did what I always do and that is find a way around it. Much of the year was spent playing disc golf and walking… so much walking. I found new places to explore in my town and found peace in nature like I had not before. I played my first tournaments in disc golf and got an official PDGA number. I even placed 3rd in one event.
In April, after spending a month writing poems from tandem prompts, I fell in love. I had really settled on being alone for the rest of my life. A string of bad relationships makes you feel like it is hard to trust and I had trust issues in the background already. The pandemic had me looking for friendship and I found that along with love. Sometimes I don’t feel like I deserve all the kindness this man wants to shower me with. I feel broken and selfish and a bit closed off when I shouldn’t. But he is always there waiting to offer solution and patience. From a distance (we live 8 hours apart), we have built a beautiful friendship and have worked diligently around every corner to be present in our own individual traumas while being there for each other. Our holiday plans were foiled by Covid, but not for much longer.
This year I finished writing the first draft of my first novel. My writer’s group at the library was a great influence in getting me back into finishing this book and my dear friends Mattea and Jerry pushed me across the finish line. It was no where near what I wanted it to be and it is currently on its third draft. In the spring, I set the first novel down to start an idea for the second one. Seven chapters into that one and I went back to the first. The foundation is laid. Yesterday, the book cover for the second book came to me while in deep rest during acupuncture. It is going to be an exciting new year.
This fall I was diagnosed with Melanoma and had a huge chunk excised off the side of my face which I promptly named Edgar Allen Mole. It started as a way to cope with this disfigurement and the fear of dying. The skin is the body’s largest organ and the most exposed. The potential for more cancer is always in the back of your mind. I was never a big sunbather, but I do enjoy the outdoors and disc golf and hiking. I only wore sunscreen if I were going to a beach with “wide open sun.” Life is different now. Hats all the time. Sunscreen all the time. No activity (if I can help it) with a UV index over 4. The hardest part was watching my kid silently unravel with the thought of losing me. That made me determined to kick some ass. Since the first excision, I have had four more biopsies with negative results. My eyes are free of melanoma as well. This year may find me having another ten biopsies, but I will cross that bridge when I get there.
An opportunity opened itself in December for me to sell all the things I make. I’m a crafter and artist. It is my meditation. It is what I do instead of take anxiety medication. I had always wanted to know if the things I made were of interest to anyone else. I took the plunge when a local store opened up that sells only handmade items from locals. Happily, I have sold enough this month to cover the rent of my spot for two more months plus some cash in my pocket. It was a goal I had for myself and I was happy to have achieved it in a pandemic situation.
Now for the fun stuff! Here is a list of books that I was able to read or listen to this year:
Poetry: Like a Begger by Ellen Bass Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatahil Under the Influence of Nothingness by Dan Provost Human Hours by Catherine Barnett Heroin Love Songs X Blisters on My Soul by Jack Henry
Non-Fiction: Guest Book by Leanne Shapton The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell The Five by Hallie Rubenhold Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson Atomic Habits by James Clear Songbook by Nick Hornby Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Fiction: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery Moonglow by Michael Chabon Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury Salt Dancers by Ursula Hegi Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng Oryx and Crake by Margarat Atwood Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs Lanny by Max Porter The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Weather by Jenny Offill The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Graphic Novels: Redlands Black Magik Regression
Buddhist Text: Journey Without Goal by Chogyam Trungpa
I’ve been gone a month. A lot can happen with one doctor’s visit. It changes the landscape of an entire life. The end of August I got a new doctor, one that was local and in walking distance. During a basic exam she noted the large number of moles on my back and briefly scanned them, then asked if I had any more.
On the right side of my face between my ear and eye there has been a mole that I thought may have changed size. She immediately sat down and made me an appointment to see plastic surgery about this mole. I went and had a punch biopsy which returned positive for melanoma in situ. If you have to have cancer, this is the best one to have.
Yesterday, I had a wide excision of this mole that left a quarter size crater in the side of my face that they did not want to fully close in case they needed to remove more. Then we talked about skin grafting. Then I sat in my car alone and cried. The hope is the cancer is removed from that spot, but then there are the hundred other moles on my back that now need scrutiny.
I am not a sun worshiper. I do love the outdoors and have for many years sported a “farmer’s tan” from playing disc golf, hiking, walking and mowing the lawn. I never stay out in the sun for more than a few hours and wasn’t a big fan of hats or sunscreen. I wasn’t opposed to them, but I never thought they were necessary. Where I live, most of the population lacks sufficient vitamin D levels and I used the summer sun as a bolster to that. I never considered that I would get melanoma.
The last month has been full of not knowing. Questioning whether it was cancer or just a wayward mole. There was a lot of hoping for the best, but deep inside I knew what the answer would be. I’m a realist at heart. I know too much not to be. What I have learned is how surrounded by loving people I am. My friends have been uplifting even when I didn’t seem receptive to this. Knowing they are out there wishing the best has been helpful.
I’ve had to do a lot of pausing due to biopsy and surgery and in this I found the proper beginning to the novel I had finished in March. There has been a revitalization to my writing and maybe this comes with the fear that life is fleeting. Don’t waste time on thinking you’ll get to things later. Get to them now. Live robustly…but with sunscreen. #SPF100 for life
A month ago I took a step back from producing fresh work on my novels. It has been a hard block of weeks and I wish I could say that my coffers were brimming with words, but they aren’t.
This week my two best writing friends had some exciting news. One agent took her whole book, the other had a few chapters requested. This is big news. This is years of hard work on both of their parts. This is motivation.
They have both been writing fiction much longer than I have, but it doesn’t take away that sense of feeling like I’m tagging along behind older siblings (though one of them is younger than I am). If I’m honest I have been sitting around feeling sorry for myself the last month which isn’t something I’m prone to doing. It needs to stop. Today.
I went back to the gym today and I know this bite of information seems incongruent to writing, but it isn’t. When I feel strong in my body, I feel more clarity in my mind. Though I have been active with disc golf, it hasn’t been enough to really given me the same feeling as lifting weights. A persistent foot injury because of increased outdoor activity has also made it harder to get out and play as much as I want.
Today at the gym, I got that old feeling back–the one that helps me push limits and reach for more. I started editing The Secrets of Womanhood again this morning, amid the kitten circus, but with headphones on. Sometimes I need to get out of my own way. I’m hoping to have the complete manuscript edited by November so I can have it ready for my next outside beta reader. This is my goal. Bigger muscles and bigger dreams.
This is my note wall which houses editing ideas for my first novel, The Secrets of Womanhood. It also has filled in with ideas for my second novel, The Hunted & The Hidden. What you can’t see to the right is another wall full of sticky notes for all the other projects I currently have my fingers in.
Let’s just say it is all a bit overwhelming.
I finished the first draft of my novel The Secrets of Womanhood on March 31, 2020. This novel was over ten years in the making. It was something I pulled out every year, added a few lines, felt discouraged and put away. Last year when I started going to a writer’s group, I began working on it in earnest. The problem with this novel was that in its first draft is more fictionalized autobiography than fiction. The story arc isn’t where it should be. The characters under developed because of one personal issue or another.
By the time I started the second draft, I was no more sure of what I needed to do to make it better. The pandemic was in full swing and I used this time to write a collection of poetry with a friend, I took poetry workshops online, and I proposed a fresh novel idea to my small writing group. The proposal went well, and it fell into a brainstorming session that set me on fire.
For seven weeks, I wrote a chapter a week. Sometimes a chapter in two days if that was all the time I had with a busy summer schedule of work, new kittens, and disc golf. This week I hit a plateau in my desire to produce anything. I think my over productive tendencies have finally caught up with me in the worst way. I spread myself too thin, and now I lack the momentum to get going again.
Much of the problem comes from not wanting to be a disappointment. I love my small writing group because they elevate my writing and they are two tough cookies with editing. They don’t let me get away with anything. We are brutal with each other and then also caring and tender.
(Shhhhh, don’t tell Jerry I said that. He hates feelings.)
Another part is I think the pandemic is finally taking its toll on me. I can do more social things, but not the social things I want to do. It has taken me a long time to curate friendships and I miss the human connection and the freedom to connect that we had before all of this started. We are all staying safe, but it makes me feel lonely sometimes. I find it very difficult to produce enjoyable work when this happens.
Today, I passed out on the couch for an afternoon nap. I rarely allow myself to “waste” free time, but the air was cool in front of the fan and I had a kitten curled up behind my knees. The sky was brilliant blue with cotton candy clouds. The recipe was right for recharging. It is hard to recognize in this age of instant gratification, perfection, over-production that we all need to slow down and take a break. Re-cooperation is what drives meaningful work. Go ahead, give yourself a free pass. You deserve it.