Monday, June 10, 2013

Keeping Fingers and Toes Crossed

Flash Mob Contest

It's been a while since I posted. A long while. I have so many excuses I could toss out, but will choose this one:  just completed my second class working with poet extraordinaire, Barbara Henning. I've been busy creating dozens of tiny fictions and prose poems.
One of my classmates in the flash class offered up a challenge to enter Flash Mob's contest which will celebrate Flash Fiction Day on June 22, 2013.
What is flash fiction, you ask? Tiny stories (with a beginning, middle and end) that strive to be brief. As I tend to write pieces between 400 and 600 words, it's a favorite of mine. This contest is for stories under 300 words and must be posted to your blog. My piece comes in at 286 words. Wish me luck!

Peace to all.

Here it is:

Jack Sits and Smokes
286 words

Jack Kerouac is smoking on the back porch, staring at a broken cement table and three benches in the yard. Well, he’s not really Kerouac, but a look-alike with tousled hair and scruffy shadow on his face. Aviator sunglasses grace his nose even though the sun hasn’t quite risen and he’s leaning against a rotted wooden rail with his khaki pant legs crossed.

The screen door slams shut and a plump young woman pops out of the drab grey house. Her jeans are so tight that a roll of alabaster escapes at her waist. Her lips are painted hussy red and her thick inky hair is a nest of mess.

‘Whatcha gonna do about it? Huh, Jack?’ the plump woman asks, pointing at the pile of rounded rubble in the leaf-covered yard.

‘Sort of reminds me of a miniature stone henge,’ he says, taking another puff. ‘Maybe if we leave it there long enough the pagans will start having rituals here.’

‘Don’t even TRY to be funny,’ she hisses. An orange tabby cries and then leaps from bushy ferns that border the house onto a window air conditioning unit. The rusted unit rattles and sputters, dripping water on the woman’s bare feet.

‘And that’s another thing,’ she says, ‘when are we getting central air and heat? You promised more than all this shit. Huh, Jack?’

When he doesn’t respond, she stomps back inside her drab grey house.  Jack pulls out a pack of cigarettes from the front pocket of his rumpled plaid shirt, lights up another stick and walks over to the pile of cement. He motions to the cat.  ‘Here, kitty, kitty.’

 It’s Sunday morning and fake Jack Kerouac sits on his ass and smokes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do I smell a challenge?

I'm always up for a challenge. Frankly, I tend to jump right in if I am dared to do so. Maybe it's the thrill of the unknown. Or, the idea that I don't have time to think about the consequences of the action I am about to undertake. It takes me back to my college days when I constantly jumped from literal and metaphorical cliffs not realizing what lived and breathed beneath the murky waters.

Such is the situation I now find myself in. No, I'm not jumping off any cliffs, but I feel like it. Today begins the month long 2012 Eat Local Challenge. Everyone in North Central Florida is challenged to eat local, seasonal foods every day for the month of May. I've committed myself and my family to this challenge. On the surface, it sounds pretty simple., a website that promotes eating local, fresh food, has been challenging folks in our area for several years. The reasoning is simple: Not only is local food tasty, the money spent locally helps our local economy and local food travels fewer miles to the plate reducing our carbon footprint.

One of the reasons my husband and I decided to move downtown a month ago from our suburban digs was just that - reducing our carbon footprint and taking a more active part in our community at large. Both alum of UF, we love Gainesville. It's where we met and fell in love. It's where we chose to move back to with our son. We wanted to live more simply. We wanted to walk to work, or ride the bus. We wanted to ride our bikes to market. It's a slow process, but we're doing it one step at a time. I think eating locally this month (at least one item every meal) is a perfect way to punctuate our move to simplicity.

So far today, I've eaten orange blossom honey from Land of Flowers in Alachua at breakfast, organic almonds and dried cherries as a noon day snack from Citizens Co-Op and for dinner, I have brown rice from the Co-Op, along with fresh peppers, carrots and other veggies I bought at the Farmer's Market for a stir fry.

I can't guarantee every meal will be all Gainesville all the time, but my family's going to be more cognizant of where our food is from. Now, it's time to hold my breath and jump into the abyss.


Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year of Speaking my Truth

Every year I make this huge list of things I would like to do and accomplish. It’s daunting, to say the least and by the end of the first week of the year I am exhausted and overwhelmed by the difficult tasks I have ahead of me. Suddenly all I see are obstacles, rather than possibilities. One year I even ditched the entire concept of resolutions, realizing that I couldn’t even come close to keeping any of them.

This year I want it to be different. I spent yesterday evening making a list of what I want for 2012 and shared it with my son and husband. I realized nearly everything I wrote could be categorized under one of three things: my writing, my yoga and my family. I started with 26 goals, if you can believe it. My son turned pale and squirmed as he listened to me ramble on. Then he sheepishly commented he could only come up with two resolutions for the new year. He had a much better grasp of what a new year resolution is, a goal he’d like to attain. Something big, yet achievable if steps are set up. Break it down into bite sized pieces, as someone once told me.
In looking at my list I realized I truly only have three goals for the year and the biggest is living my truth with my yoga, with my writing and with my family. Talking the talk and walking the walk. Being positive when I may not quite feel that way. Waking up every morning as if it was on purpose. Realizing I have a purpose. I am the perfect me if I live my truth each and every day. Of course, under this umbrella of truth I have a few specifics:
1)Truly understanding what being an Indie writer is and taking the steps toward becoming one with my own business plan.
2)Expanding my knowledge of yoga and sharing it through teaching and writing, rather than shyly keeping it hidden for “someday."
3)Not living in the past with relationships which have changed, but embracing each and every person I encounter as if they were already a close, personal friend. It sounds corny, but I’d like to spread kindness one person at a time.

Oh, and there’s one more silly goal I have - learn to sew with a sewing machine. As a young woman I thought only old fashioned southern ladies did such work and I had no patience for the art. But I have found it’s something I now want to explore and pursue as I’d like to create something besides words. (OK, so the list is longer than three, sue me!)
Happy 2012. May all your dreams become your reality.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My beloved and I are birds of a feather

I've been called a lot of things in my life, but a bird isn't one of them. That's a lie. I have indeed been called flighty, but that's a different story for a different time.

Today I am speaking of a young master's degree student from Korea. I met her briefly at a university event in which my beloved and I attended. This student and I only spoke for a few minutes, but her observations astounded me.

"You and he are just the same," she said to me in a voice just above a whisper. I laughed and agreed that my beloved and I both wear glasses these days and after almost 20 years of marriage I could see why she'd think we were beginning to look alike, too.

"No, no, no, " she insisted and pointed to the pair of us. "You are like the birds in my country. They fly together always and are one. Like you."

My eyes filled with tears and I wasn't quite sure how to respond. Her simple observation reached deep into my soul and reminded me how blessed I am to have found such a man to call my beloved.

I have spent the last couple of days wondering what sort of bird she might have been thinking of. I have an affinity toward pictures of peacocks and cranes and I love to watch the bright red cardinals dance around my bird feeder. I obsessively count the flocks of pelicans at the beach, making sure there is an even number since all those birds mate for life. Yes, I can be a silly goose.

And guess what? After some initial research I think the young student was actually talking about wild geese. The wild goose is highly thought of in Korea and is always part of the traditional wedding ceremonies. Apparently a wild goose is given as a gift, even though the bird may only have been hired for the nuptials.

Legend has it that long ago the Korean people noticed that a goose - whose mate was killed - returned to the same spot year after year to mourn her loss. The Wild Goose symbolizes that undying love. During the traditional Korean marriage ceremony there's also a pledge that is given. It says: "Black is the hair that now crowns our heads, yet when it has become as white as the fibres of the onion root, we shall still be found faithful to each other."

That's pretty deep stuff, but I figure it's something I needed to be reminded of the other day. My beloved and I have flown together as a couple for more than two decades and there have been times the journey has made our wings tired. We never give up on each other and I think the reasoning is simple:

There's no other bird I'd rather fly with. Frankly, I think we're both silly geese.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Number One Uncle Teaches Lessons on Love

I have an uncle I deemed as my favorite during childhood. He is the husband of my mother's only sister and he is and always has been the one to go to for fun (or, as he, the Cajun boy would say, 'to pass a good time').

He's the one who taught me to play poker at the ripe old age of 10. He's the one who let my sister, cousin and me ride in the flat bed of his pick up when our mothers said 'NO WAY.' And he's the one who gave us a humongous jar of loose change he'd collected over the years and said we could keep it all if we rolled it.(We spent hours doing just that and ended up with enough cash to buy three tickets to a theme park). He's also the upstanding uncle who stood in line for several gruelling hours along with my sister, cousin and myself as we anxiously awaited the arrival of The Empire Strikes Back at our local movie theatre.

I spent much of my childhood discussing the finer aspects of the Muppet Show with this dear uncle and what new jokes he'd learned. He's also the uncle who introduced my own child to the likes of Sponge Bob Square Pants and the importance of rooting on his favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints. He is, in a word, irreplaceable.

All of these memories have flooded my heart over the last week as I stood at my favorite uncle's hospital bedside and watched helplessly as his life force seemed to slowly slip away from his body. Blood clots had invaded his system and his breath was jagged. He coughed when he laughed and his infectious smile had dimmed. He is the only father I have left and I am not ready nor willing to let him go.

Doctors said they couldn't believe he was still alive. They don't know my uncle. He's the one who survived tours of duty in Vietnam, slayed personal demons as well as the fantastical ones that my sister, cousin and I created.

He is an amazing soul and it's not time for him to go. He has more Sponge Bob to share and more Saints games to cheer on. I will never be able to repay him for the memories he's given me, nor the love. All I can say is I adore this precious man and I promise to remind him for the rest of his days he is an incredibly special Who Dat!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New Light is Burning Bright

I've been waiting for Divine intervention. That's not my usual M.O. Most of the time I wait for nothing. I leap head first into the abyss and then when I realize that it's a scary and dark place, I freak out and much of the time swim away screaming, wondering why I would ever jump without thinking.

Such has been the case along my perilous path of teaching Yoga. I participated in a beginning teacher training program nearly five years ago. At the time I was determined I would change the world of stressed out people one Yoga class at a time. What I didn't realize is that standing in front of a class of eager students scared the hell out of me. So much so that I would become physically ill before each and every class I taught. Needless to say, my world changing days petered out quickly. I figured I didn't have what it took in yogic knowledge or demeanor to share and/or make a difference.

It was a kind and generous teacher who reminded me time and time again that I did have something to give. He said we all can have a positive effect on life. It is about living the teachings of Yoga. It's about finding the light that is flowing within me and passing it along, paying forward if you will.

Two weeks ago today I graduated from a 200-hour yoga Chakra teacher training with Ayurveda Health Retreat's Inspiration Yoga Institute. Lead by the Masla family, it was one of the hardest, yet most incredibly rewarding experiences of my yogic life. I made connections which will last lifetimes (see above picture of my beautiful yogi brothers and sisters) and a realization that I AM a teacher - even if it scares me every single day.

The light inside of me is burning like a warm campfire flame and I can't wait to share that warmth with others.

Maybe I'm not really waiting for Divine intervention after all. It's been within all the time, I just had to recognize it.
Om Shanti.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Embracing technology tough for this dinosaur

I have an aversion to technology. Not the thought of technology, the actual implementation there of. Even the thought of the constant upgrading now required to live a normal and somewhat satisfying life is enough to give me hives.

Gone are the days of handwritten notes (one of my faves), pocket calendars you actually WRITE in and phones that ring with a ding-aling, rather than a pop song. Now I am sounding ancient. I guess it all boils down to the old adage 'We fear what we do not understand.' And there are many times I truly don't get it.

For example, when the iPhone came out, my engineer/techie minded spouse was one of the first in line to be part of the 'now.' Now he has all these 'Aps' that save him time and money and it's so very hip and cool. He hands it to me in the car so I can be a part of this wonderful future and locate a restaurant on mapquest and I can't even scroll down the darned thing without getting mad and tossing it back in his face.

Then there's Facebook. Yeah, I get it. Got it, actually. I enjoyed finding and re-connecting with old friends and sharing pictures of my last meal. Then a virus found my page and spread sickness to all my cyber friends. Embarrassed and red faced I made a quick exit and retreated to my life as a techno-dinosaur where I now reside in self exile.

As a writer I am told this self exile is somewhat suicidal. How can anyone find me if I am nowhere to be found (except punching away on my laptop's keyboard on this blog or published on an online magazine)? I agree. It's just so hard.

Last night I decided, this is it. The best way to conquer fear is to embrace it all. I am setting up a Web page, a twitter account and getting back on the Facebook horse. I figure with all this technology, something's gotta stick, right?

Did I tell you I just finished reading my first book on my Nook? Only took me two months to figure out. (My sister is so proud and my husband's rolling his eyes).