Travel Patina

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Opened senses and a shaken balance.

Strange toilets and a tested palate.

A touched soul and a blistered toe.

All whims allowed and a nap condoned.

Lust for the new and the comfort of old.

Twist your tongue and engage your brain.

Let it seep into your pores and in to your DNA.

Get a travelers life and add a little patina.

 

Changes

The changes to places, I don’t really mind.

But the changes to faces, oh I really do mind.

Lost are the theater, the restaurant and the park,

but not those who’ve touched my heart.

 

Faces change with lines and crinkles,

everyone faces the inevitable wrinkle.

But the soul of youth remains,

no matter how many things change.

 

Our bodies pop, creak and slow down,

some mornings are sore to the bone.

My mind says young, but my back says old,

never more than when I’m on my own.

 

The playgrounds of youth are a subdivision,

the grade school unrecognizable with my vision.

But the friends who’ve known me at my worst,

are still the friends who love me without derision.

 

Yes, the changes to places are fine,

but the changes to faces are so unkind.

To those I’ve lost or who’ve left me behind,

you’ll always live on in love in my mind.

 

 

A Nagging Omission

IMG_0163  I have something nagging at me right now.

My husband doesn’t know that I am writing. I haven’t shared any stories with him or even hinted that I’m writing. I write while he is working on his car or, like now, while he is taking his morning shower and shave or when I am on the road for work. Sometimes I will start working on a piece when he has headed upstairs to get ready for bed. When I come up an hour later he asks what I’ve been doing. I say I have been looking at Facebook or on Twitter or something. I think he thinks I really have an internet lover.

I don’t know why I haven’t shared this with him; because I have shared almost everything else with him over the past 30 years. But maybe that is why; it’s just something for me right now. Well me and anyone else I am lucky enough to get to stop by and read a story or two.

I will have to share it with him eventually, I’m not sure why I am waiting.

Still I wait.

Is there anything you don’t share with your spouse or significant other?

Character Development

   Developing my own character as a writer.

I have been trying to write regularly about any and everything to get in the habit of daily writing. Some of it is for this blog, some for me and some for that novel I always had running in my head. To keep me on track I have been checking out different writing and author sites and this one caught my attention, The Write Practice. They have a writers prompt that you get when you subscribe to their blog and they had an interesting article about using of the Proust Questionnaire to help you develop more deeply the characters in your story to help you get to know them better.

Some of you may know this questionnaire from the back page of Vanity Fair magazine or a version of it from Inside the Actors Studio where host James Lipton asks a version of the questionnaire that was used by a French show host named Bernard Pivot.

So I thought I would complete the questionnaire as the writer I want to be so that you can get to know me a little better. And if you are game; I would love for you to complete it too so that I can get to know you better.

What is your greatest fear?  Losing my mind
What is your current state of mind?  Stressed out
What is your favorite occupation?  Writer
What historical figure do you most identify with?  Katherine Hepburn, I am a bit of a ball buster too.
Which living person do you most admire?  Anyone you sacrifices to help others in need.
Who is your favorite fictional hero? Wonder Woman
Who are you real-life heroes? The police who sacrifice and take crap everyday
What is your most treasured possession? My family
When and where were you happiest?  Alone writing with a nice cup of coffee
What is your most obvious characteristic? Tall and talk a lot
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Smartass
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty to humans or animals
What is your greatest extravagance? None – I am a state employee that wants to write – I can’t afford extravagance.
What is your favorite journey? Any road trip
What do you most dislike about your appearance? Big nose and 20 extra pounds
What do you consider the most over-rated virtue? Hard worker
On what occasion do you lie? When it will hurt another’s feelings
Which words or phrases do you most over-use? “Living the Dream” and “SSDD”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I could sing!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being married to the same man for 24 years when everyone said it would never last.
Where would you like to live? Near the water
What is the quality you most admire in a man?  Humor and intelligence
What is the quality you most admire in a woman? Honesty and humor
What is it you most dislike?  Mans inhumanity to man.
What do you value most in you friends? That they continue to put up with me
How would you like to die?  quickly
If you were to die and come back as a person or an animal, what do you think it would be?  Rock star would be the wish, but likely a man with a bad attitude.
If you could choose an object to come back as, what would you choose? Big piece of busy machinery.
What is your motto, the words you live by or that mean a lot to you?  I try to remember to “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things!
Who has been the greatest influence on you? My family

What do you think, will you take the questionnaire?

Top Ten

IMG_0161   Nothing inflames the passions like a top ten list!

I heard an interesting NPR piece on All Things Considered about the American Scholars; 10 Best Sentences. They admit that the choices are subjective, but they usually have come from a “hey listen to this” conversation. I picked three of my favorites out of the ten below.

In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor.”  Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”  Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the market was steady and the G.N.P. high and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not.” Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

However, what I enjoyed the most about both the NPR story and the ten best are the comments by readers on each story. People are picky, passionate, mean, loving, encouraging, snarky, funny and above all enthusiastic about their picks and their comments on the choices of others. Check them out, if you don’t enjoy them almost as much as the story I don’t want to know you.

Some of my favorite sentences in no particular order and without strict limit to one sentence only;

She had walked close to him today, his am had brushed against hers and his roughness had caressed her softness. There had been a sensation akin to death and birth.”   Amulya Malladi, Song of the Cuckoo Bird

And a passage I loved from one of my favorite books.

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.

I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.”   Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Someone posted this quote in the comments section on NPR, I have never read Joseph Conrad, but this made me want to seek him out.

Droll thing life is — that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself — that comes too late — a crop of unextinguishable regrets.”  Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”

Words, sentences, quotes and songs all sound different to me depending of the variables of my life: my mood, the openness of my heart, the delivery, whether I’m  hungry or full, whether I’m there in the moment or wasting this moment thinking of one off in the future.  They all impact me in different ways too; soothing me when I’m angry or upset, welling the tears when I am sad, filling me with love and warmth when I am open and willing to be vulnerable or fueling my anger, building a hate and slamming a door when I am closed and not truly listening.

I want to listen, be open and live in the moment. No more wasted energy, life or love.

Do you have a favorite sentence, story, poem or song? Does it or do they make you feel something?

 

Hope

A new writers hope.

I subscribe to the Daily Good and today’s or maybe it was yesterday’s inbox delivery included a link to the Amtrak promotion for 24 writers in residence. You have to apply, tell them why you want a chance to be a writer in residence, submit a sample of your work and hope that a panel picks you. If you are chosen you get a 2 – 5 day trip on one of their trains so that you can write. Sounds like bliss.

I took my first train trip when I was about 5 years old and have loved trains ever since. I enjoy the relaxed pace of train travel even though many of them travel very fast. It always feel like a lazy, vacation trip whenever I ride one even when I am not on vacation. This would be such a cool experience, so cool, I may have to pay to do it even if I don’t get chosen.

If you want to learn more about writing on trains and how Amtrak’s promotion  was started, here is a link to Jessica Gross’s story “Writing the Lake Shore Limited” in the Paris Review where she writes about the experience that Amtrak gave her and how she was inspired to ask on Twitter.

If you are a writer and want to apply or if you want to read more about Amtrak check out their blog post on the residency program.