Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Paltry Contribution to National Poetry Month

I’ve been sick, the family has been sick, plus a million other things have been going on. So, what’s a writer to do? Write a poem! Okay, I really just dredged up a poem I wrote a long time ago and edited it. It’s perfectly dreary, fitting my current mood (well, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but let’s just go with it).

So, without further ado, here’s my paltry contribution to National Poetry Month (which is always in April, BTW)…

Still I Cry

It’s raining now…
The drops are falling
hard and fast.
I slip out into the storm
to escape.

I feel its coolness
on my burning skin
and embrace it
with everything I have.

Better out here
than in there
with the others.

Still it rains…
and still I cry.

The sky’s cold tears
mix with my hot ones
and I am defeated.

I turn and walk away
through the clouds
into a world
where I can watch
-just out of reach-
the graceful silhouettes,
and nothing more.

Life seems but a hazy shadow.
Someday I’ll be blown away
like leaves in the wind
on a cold, hollow day.

Still it rains…
and still I cry.

Dreams dance in my mind
like the elusive fey
And I wonder
how to catch them,
become a part of them.

Like an aged woman
I soon realize
the images are slippery
like good memories.
They are not for me.

It does not matter
to them
what I feel
So I wonder,
do I matter?

Still it rains…
and still I cry.

I wish someone
would take my hand
and comfort me
as I stand in the pouring rain
looking in.

I am so weak.
I mourn my life
even as I live it.

I just want to fit in.
But I can’t quite
find the key.

I turn to go,
giving up.
Why try?
Nothing ever changes.

Still it rains…
and still I cry.


That is the original ending. Here’s what I add today, after a little living has infused me with a little wisdom…

Years of solitude
have taught me
something I wish
I’d known back then…

It was I
who created the rain…
It was I
who chose to cry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prince Caspian Is Coming!

So who’s getting excited about the next Chronicles of Narnia movie coming out? Me! And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be excited, too. Spring has sprung in New England and everything is looking fresh and wonderful. I am full of hope and ready for all the great things coming my way. What better way to greet spring than with an epic adventure that was filmed in Ireland, one of my favorite ‘I can’t wait to visit’ countries, among other exotic locations?

Ah, yes… Prince Caspian is coming!

On May 16th, 2008, the movie opens. I’m pretty sure I won’t be seeing it that very day, though. I am going to delay gratification and wait for a day when the family and I don’t have to fight off other people with only our hands and a banana just to get a ticket, though the kids would probably be up for it. This movie is supposed to be more adventurous than the first and made on a grander scale.

Once I see it, I shall write a thoughtful, riveting review. I like giving my opinion and I’m sure you’ll be waiting breathlessly to hear it. And since it’s been many, many moons since I read the book, I shouldn’t have the problem of comparing the movie to the book like I did with the Spiderwick Chronicles.

So it’s all good.

At any rate, I hope the movie is great so that my childhood memories of Narnia remain untainted. Luckily I’m good at blocking things out, so if it isn’t, I shall pretend it never happened.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Feel Like Royalty

On Tuesday, I got my first royalty check! I couldn't believe it. Here was real money I had earned from something I'd created with my own little hands and half-functioning brain. I felt great, I felt like dancing, I felt like royalty. I'm considering having a parade. I sold many more books than I was expecting - so thank you, people out there who bought my book. The money wasn't great - I earned like a $1.64 off each book. But everyone always says don't expect to get rich being an author (unless you're a bestseller). And since I never expected big money, I was quite pleased with what I had made.

Still I had to tell my husband who was already running for the phone, "Don't quit your job just yet!"

Anyway, having an inquiring mind (and work to put off) I started thinking about why they call the checks an author receives royalty checks. I'm not royalty (though many times I pretend to be), so that can't be the reason. It's not like being an author is all that special (although others may beg to differ). So why the royal treatment?

Thoroughly stumped, I ended up looking it up in the dictionary, which also serves as my second home. This is what I found out: A royalty is the money you pay to the author for each book that is sold (which we already know). It came from the idea of a "royal right" or payment, which was given by a sovereign to the person who owned the land where minerals were being mined. It eventually evolved into including published materials and patents. The origin of the word is late Middle English, from the Old French version, roial.

Fascinating, huh? Bet you didn't think you'd learn something as amazing as that today.

Well, I'm off to enjoy the beautiful spring day. This winter has been a royal pain in the...behind.

Thank you for your kingly and queenly support.

Regally yours,

Queen Kristina (there really is one, you know - she lived in Sweden from 1626-1689, but I'm not her and I'm not Swedish. I am, however, Norwegian, which I think is close enough).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just A Bit Of Chatter

It’s the middle of April and we are 4 inches shy of the record for most snowfall in a season in NH since data collection began (can that sentence get any longer?). So this weekend I did the only thing that I could think of…I put the sno-blower away. Since snow in April is not unheard of, I believe that this move would be called ‘taunting’ Mother Nature. My fellow New Hampshirites might want to kill me - or at the very least, maim me - for tempting fate, but I am beyond caring.

I want that record.

In reality, I don’t really think it’s going to happen. In fact, a big part of me doesn’t want it to. Actually, I’m very confused about the whole thing. It’s been a long week where things keep going wrong or coming up or bad news hits. Maybe I just want one thing to go right. Even if it does come in the form of a freak snowstorm.

On a happier note, our tractor, Bobo, which has been hibernating all winter, actually started. Not that it does us any good - we have yet to find our farm to use it on (we probably own the most expensive and large lawn ornament out there). It’s been a long search to find our dream house. In our desperation, we even looked at a house where a murder took place not all that long ago. Fortunately, I didn’t feel good about the house. Even if I had liked it, there is no way I could have lived there. If the murder had happened a 100 years ago - maybe. But not 3 years ago. That’s just icky, spooky and very disturbing. I didn’t even live there and I had bad feelings about the place for weeks afterward.

The funny thing is that I don’t mind the idea of ghosts or spirits, or whatever it is you want to call them. I even have my own story about possible contact with the other side. Several years ago, my husband and I were living in an apartment that was part of an old house. The best part, in my opinion, was the attic, which was the size of a barn loft. To get to it you had to climb up a dark flight of stairs, hidden behind a door in the kitchen. When my older sister came to visit from out of state, I gave her the grand tour, which included the attic, of course. While up there, I kept experiencing what felt like a drop of cold water hitting my elbow. At the time, I was busy chatting so I merely swiped at my elbow, without thinking much of it. Only afterward did I stop to wonder what could be causing that cold, wet sensation. It’s dry as a bone up there and I was wearing long sleeves. Had I just had an encounter? Maybe. My husband avoided the attic like the plague and liked to keep all the lights on in the apartment. He said he never felt right living there. He is particularly sensitive to the possibilities of other-worldly creatures. Maybe I am, too…

We are now starting to think we have a haunted piano. It’s a baby grand, circa the 1940s, and rescued from a house fire. When my husband is working downstairs, he keeps hearing strange noises coming from its direction. He has heard what sounded to him like a shoe dropping onto the floor, but finds nothing there. There have been other strange noises, as well, and growing more and more common. While working at the computer - with his back to the piano - he also gets this sensation that someone is watching him. Hmmm… We were hoping to fix it up and use it once we move, but maybe we shouldn’t wait. Maybe it’s getting restless.

Whatever it is.

On that note, I shall say good day, leaving you with just a bit of chatter to fill the empty void…

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Secret Life of Kristina Schram

I just ordered The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber, one of my favorite short stories. I’ve always wanted to have my own copy. After rereading it - I read it many moons ago for a high school English class - I found I wasn’t as swept away as I remembered being at sixteen (I find that happens a lot when rereading stories I loved as a kid/teenager). But that’s okay. I still like the story. It’s about a man, Walter Mitty, who is married to a domineering woman. To escape from her constant mothering (and that’s putting it politely), he resorts to living in a fantasy world where he is in charge, admired, and looked up to. At age sixteen, I could really relate to the whole idea of a fantasy world.

Like Mr. Mitty, it was the one place where I had any power.

When I was a teenager, I would fantasize about anything and everything. My daily life was either humdrum or full of anxiety so I came up with a way to escape - by entering another world of my own making. I invented mysterious men who would save me from my dull, hideous life by taking me to their castle and treating me as their queen. I dreamed about saving other people’s lives then slipping away, quietly and without reward, until later when someone would track me down and say, "There she is! That’s the girl that saved me!" I spent many hours imagining how I would have handled a situation better, or what I’d do next time to really tell someone off. I fabricated getting justice for all the wrongs done to me. I was the master of my universe. Modest and humble, but always powerful, witty and in charge.

At least in my mind.

I never actually said a lot of what I wanted to say to people who’d ‘done me wrong.’ I never had the self-esteem to stand up for myself. Or if I tried, everything that always sounded so good in my head either came out sounding melodramatic or didn’t come out at all, except in this jumbly mess of nonsensical grunts and screeches. In my younger days, I was very much like Walter Mitty, quiet and insecure. But I was special in my own mind, if not in anyone else’s, and that got me through a lot.

But I didn’t stop with fantasizing alone, and that’s where Walter Mitty and I differ. I actually believed my dreams could come true (well, maybe not the saving others from a burning building part or winning the lottery and giving my money to needy people scenario - after I bought my castle, of course). I worked to make them come true. What good is a dream if you don’t try to follow it? Yes, reality is messy and can really put a damper on what you want to do, but living in your mind all the time eventually grows old. I always believed that there had to be more, and there always was. It may not always have been what I wanted, but it was something more than shadows in my pocket.

I think there’s a Walter Mitty in many of us - that dreamer of big dreams. The trick is take some of that secret life and make it real. Even if it’s only one tiny thing.

Well, I’m off to save a life, give away scads of money, and start work on my castle. And if I see Walter Mitty, I’ll be sure to invite him along…if he’s not too busy in surgery or off fighting wars.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Free Day!

My electricity went out this morning. At the time, I had yet to shower or brush my teeth (and I had raisin bran for breakfast, dangit - that taste does not go away on its own, let me tell you). All the clocks in the house were blinking at me, so I had no idea what time it was and the boys had to catch the bus soon. I had grocery shopping to do later that morning, plus I was combatting a nasty stomach virus.

This was going to be a grand day.

And then I started to think a little more about my situation. It dawned on me that this was like a Free Day! Back in my elementary school days, we used to have Free Day Fridays for gym. Every Friday, you got to pick whatever it was that you wanted to do. If I wanted to zip around on my four-wheeled scooter and run over my own fingers, I could. If I felt the urge to climb the rope, getting rope burns in the process, there was no one stopping me. Life was grand. Nothing was expected of me except to do whatever I wanted, bar walking out the front doors and heading for home. Those days were glorious. And now, here I was, faced with a potential Free Day Friday (except that this was a Wednesday)…

What was I going to do with myself?

When your electricity goes out, you can’t help but acknowledge how dependent you are on it. It’s a scary feeling. Electricity provides our heat, water, light, and so much more. Like most people in our modern world, it allows me to do my job. As a writer, I spend a lot of time on the computer. I blog, I write, I edit, I research. At first, the idea of being cut off from my work was a bit anxiety-provoking. What was I going to do, since cleaning was definitely out of the question. No water, remember? Heh, heh.

Well, I thought to myself, I guess I’ll just have to take the day off. As soon as this thought occurred to me, I started to get excited. A day off! I could actually do something leisurely, something non-work related. I could pick whatever I wanted to do. What a crazy concept!

And so, after pushing the older two out the door, probably quite a bit earlier than was necessary, I sat down and opened up a book. I started reading. It was lovely. Granted, I had my three-year-old sitting next to me the whole time, chatting about cereal and whatever else crossed his little mind. But still, it was 8:30 in the morning and I was sitting down reading. I was partaking in a genuine miracle!

After about ten glorious minutes of freedom, the electricity kicked back on. Putting down my book, I sighed and cursed the electric company’s swift response. Feeling quite morose, I went around and re-set all the clocks, started the dishwasher back up, then went upstairs to take my shower. As I quickly rinsed out the shampoo in my hair (you never know if/when the electricity is going to go back out again), I thought to myself, someday I’ll have my day off. Someday I’ll get a break from the hectic and constant rush of my everyday life. Someday…

Truth be told, we all need a Free Day Friday once in a while, even if it’s only an hour or two. Next time, though, I’m not waiting until the electricity goes out. I’m taking my vacation right…bzzztttt!