Sunday, September 18, 2011

Teaching Us NOT to Explore

Teaching is one of those things that we do naturally. I think that in our interactions with other people we're constantly teaching them something and, even better, we're all learning. The one thing that's driving me up a wall right now is that i have a professor that I'm not sure is really teaching me a whole lot. I mean, he's trying to teach me to be a teacher, but the way that the course is going, I'm not pushed to explore that learning process. He most definitely wants to teach me, but only a strict set of guidelines and rules. There is no real push to be creative or even to discuss. Most of my discussion questions and responses have been responded to in such a way that I don't feel motivated to put the time and effort in. The problem is that it's in my nature to put the time and effort in to things like this that I am SOOO very interested in learning about. I want to be prepared the best that I can to teach. I want to be a good teacher who is aware of what the state wants and also aware of what my ideals are - what up and coming research there might be, how we can tie it in with other fields, how we can bring lots of fields of study together to create interesting and informed ways of doing and looking at things. I want to have my anthropological and philosophical lenses on when I read this stuff. And when I don't, I'm miserable. The problem is, with this class and administration, when I DO, I'm miserable.

Time: 5 minutes
Initial thought: teaching

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Still designing

So here we go again. I find it funny that when I come here for my next free write, I end up writing about the same thing. I am playing around with designs right now and am swiftly increasing my bag of tricks to pull out of the paint/design programs I have. I've just started working with some textures and more layering and shadowing in a program that's not originally designed to have them at all. It's kinda nice, but at the same time a little limiting. I'm finding once again that I have designs I have and want to use, but no space for them and I'm trying to find the right background for my blog but am not really finding the thing that I want for it. I've just found a really great texture website. I'll post the link somewhere in the gadget boxes. They're pretty fantastic. I'm really hoping to get to utilize some of this stuff someday. I may never really need these skills, but I like them and I'd like to do something with them. It's kinda like my writing. I want to be able to do something with my writing, but I am aware that there is a huge difference between talent and genius. I'm not even really sure I have the talent right now, but talent can be developed and grown. I'm pretty settled with the fact that I don't have the genius part. I know several people that do. It's strange watching them do the things that one can only really think of doing without the genius that they possess. The worst part is that they often do not know they have it. Some of them do. They're the ones that make me feel the best about it. It's good to see it not being squandered. Time's up.

Initial thought: more designs
Time: 5 minutes

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where the ends aren't capped

I've been designing a new header and possibly a new background for the other website and I like what I already have, but I'm feeling a bit limited by it all. I want to have three backgrounds. I want to have options and space to use them. Right now all I have is a really awesome background that I have designed (which will probably just end up being a desktop background for my computer at some point) and the picture I took (completely awesome and encapsulating the feeling that I wanted for this blog in one go). In fact that shouldn't be in parenthesis. The fact is that I wanted to make it understood that this is about humanity - and how we live and what we do, but it's also about nature (hence the earthy salty goodness). That's me, I'm kinda earthy and salty. The picture is of Hadrian's wall. I took it while at Haltwhistle a few years ago. It's where the human meets nature and nature has taken a little bit of reclamation back. It's somewhere in between - which is kinda what humans are right? We walk this balance between the gods and the earth. We perceive that we have a space to ourselves, but we're really just all of it melded into one. I can't tear myself away from that picture enough to make a new background, so I made a header banner out of the idea instead. I think it went pretty well, but we'll see how anyone likes it (if anyone bothers to read my blog and/or comment on its design at all). I heave a sigh at the end of the night, but this is how it goes.

Initial thought: Design
Time: 5 minutes

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This thing in my head

So I've got this thing stuck in my head... it's all Castor and Pollux and it pretty much has everything to do with the story I've been trying to write for the past year and a half. I'm not really sure where I'm going with it, but I've got the want to get it out - so I'm trying to go all poetry with it, but it's not really working out for me today. I wanted to post today, but I just couldn't get anything complete to come out. I started a short story memoir thing, but that didn't really get completed - the thought it needs to drive it on just isn't there yet. I also started searching for my twins connection, which actually stemmed from a search for another ekphrasis topic. I think I have one picked out - I really like it. I'm really digging the direction that I'm going with all of this. Of course it means that I'm doing that thing that authors do - retelling someone else story with different names etc, but isn't that what Greek mythology is for? I don't know. I guess I just realized that a lot of what I had down seemed to follow along the lines of a myth I didn't even know, but it could take me some interesting places if I try it out. The larger setting isn't the same at all, but I can see some interesting parallels continuing to form. At any rate, I don't have much time left and I've managed to say nothing about anything, but I'm sure I'll link back to this if I ever get my Leda poem out. We'll see how that goes. Arg! It's so frustrating when it's all up there in your head and you can't explain it to anyone else until it comes out of its own accord. Sometimes writing as a process is just maddening.

Initial thought: things stuck in my head
Time: 5 minutes

Monday, May 2, 2011

Need a place to be a free write? Guest write on Sans Serif!

We all have times when we need to get something out of our heads or off of our chests. Sometimes our personal blog isn't the place to do it. 

Free writing is about getting that stream of consciousness down - not editing and spell check and worrying how our regular readers are going to take such an unrefined post. It can be a pre-write to get the ideas going or just to help get past the writer's block. Whatever the purpose, it's cathartic and moving. 

Sans Serif is about having a place to do all of these things. It's where there's no end to cap those thoughts  - just let them run free. It's a place I go to get thoughts out or even get thoughts started. It can be that place for you too.

The best part about a free-write is it only takes 5 or 10 minutes. It doesn't cut into the time your write on your blog or do you work. Instead of surfing the internet for an hour before coming up with the inspiration to post or staring at the blank composition box, do a free write. 

But these thoughts don't need to be hidden or re-worked. Contact me on the Guest page of Sans Serif by leaving me a comment about your topic or interest.

On poetry

So yeah, poetry. I write a lot of it. I used to write a lot of it and then there was this black hole in the middle of no writing at all, and now I'm back to poetry. My first poetry was that silly junk you write in middle and high school - pretty much all about boys and praying to God that you might actually get one. Then it changed. In my junior year I started branching out into what I still think are some deeper thoughts. It was no longer about the pubescent feelings that were rocking through me that I couldn't control. I expanded my brain and my writing skills a little bit - only to stop. I stopped. I didn't really write for most of my time in college. Once in a while, I'd start doing one of those multi-person RPG sorta things in email, but writing essentially stopped. Part of it was the depression and part of it was my completely insanely genius writer roommate who should have been published at age 20, but was too afraid to show her work to anyone, so never was. Yeah. But poetry has come back into my life. I have a friend who writes professionally and also blogs. I caught onto her blog one day and thought "Huh, I could give that a go." And here I am, writing poetry all the damn time. I have other things I want to write - a novel idea that I've been kicking around for more than a year and I'd love to learn the art of the short-story, but I'm not really hitting it home with any of those. There's something about poetry - there's a completion of thought without going too far. I truly believe that it's the short nature of poetry that allows me to actually finish it, but I've not finished the other projects, so there's no telling what it is. I guess with poetry I just complete my thought. I have it down. I'm not trying to say much more than one or two things (usually just one) and so I get to complete that thought without building an entire world about it first. Which is something else I've been doing - building a world. I'm on day 6 of the NaNoWriMo prompted "30 Days of World Building". It's going along nicely. I have a lot of it already partially figured out, so this is really just expanding my mind. Part of me wants to focus on a few particular points of that world and write an entire series of poetry on it. I could do it region by region, person by person, lesson by lesson - I've got all these ideas in my head and they're all related, but I can't get them down on paper in a way that effectively relates the massive web of culture in my head unless I write history-like essays. Which I've also done and been told that I need plot - well DUH, they're historical essays about a fictional world that I've created. They're not supposed to have a whole lot of plot of than a sequence of historical events. But that's not what happens - I have all these character developments and few plot points to hinge them on. The world building is helping me to broaden how I think about plot points, so hopefully that will help. Perhaps I should just write the poetry series. Perhaps that should just be the research. Who knows. Maybe one day I'll finish something longer than a poem.

Initial thought: Poetry
Time: 10 minutes

Thursday, April 28, 2011


It is so damn frustrating sometimes. I just don't even know where to begin. The exhaustion I'm feeling, the constant ache in my ears that hasn't ceased in two months, the feeling like it's never going to end, and even if it does, then one more struggle is on the list to combat. And on top of that there is the blogging. I have been enjoying blogging very much. It's been awesome. It's been something that helps me keep my sanity, but what the hell is the point of blogging to yourself. It's nice to get a little traffic, you know? And I've gotten a little. Very little. But the point is that every few posts I get some lovely comments from lovely readers and it all helps. Part of blogging and getting response is GIVING response. I get that. I understand. I even want to go out and give others some feed back. But this can be one of the most frustrating processes in existence and it's mostly to do with Mommy Bloggers. I like Mommy Bloggers. Really - don't get the wrong idea here, but just because someone doesn't have a baby doesn't make them less of a blogger. I feel like I go out to these website and have tried to start participating in writing memes and trying to get a few regular blogs that I write and comment on, because I enjoy them. But I have to say there is only one Mommy Blogger that I know that manages to write without making the reader feel like they have to be a Mommy Blogger to get it! Seriously - one. It's not that I don't understand. If you're a Mommy Blogger, who loves to read and write (as they all inevitably seem to) and writes some freelance for some other online or bigger blog community (as half of them inevitably seem to) etc, you've got a wealth of things to write blogs about. What your child's doing now, complaints and glorious mommy moments, the father/husband who has tender/comical/understanding moments. The list goes on and on. It's nice. But the Mommy Bloggers have banned together - they've united across the internet to form cliquish groups that some mommy bloggers wish they were a part of and would love to be entered into the circle, for even a week. And in their comments are THOUSANDS of comments from other mommy bloggers about how they understand perfectly. Here's where the really frustrating part is. After reading a handful of the dozens of responses on their blogs about how they too have gone through infertility issues, that their baby also does that strange thing with their face, that the anxieties of being a mommy are universal in mommyhood... it feels pretty lame to post something that sounds like "I've got no experience or credentials as a mommy (since I'm not one) but I feel what you're saying here..." yeah. lame. super duper lame. It's a bit disheartening. I tend to love it best when these ladies write a fiction or a memory from their pre-baby days, or when they have things to write about that don't pertain to their mommy-ness. Some of them manage to do it and it's so nice to be like "I'm a HUMAN too! We have something in common - let's share." Don't get me wrong, I do get some very lovely comments from these ladies on a rare occasion and I'm not trying to hate here. I don't hate - I don't even dislike. But it can be frustrating to be a newly wed who's not planning on having babies for another few years in the sea of Mommy Bloggers.

PS - Please don't hate on me if you're a mommy blogger. It's not personal. It's just part of a larger web of stresses that I've been dealing with. Blogging is one of my outlets, but it's starting to feel like this outlet is shorted. I'm trying to let go...

Initial thought: "Being mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" aka frustration
Time: 15 minutes

Monday, April 25, 2011

Writer's Itch

I'm getting that itch again. No! Not that one - that's disgusting. No - I'm getting the itch to start novel writing/world building again. My fingers have been itchily typing words like "how to build a world" and "map making schemes" into the google browser again. This is getting pretty bad. Luckily I have something that I've been working on for a while to go back to - now that I've had several months of hiatus from it. I'm starting to really get the want to create again. I never completely finished the world (not that you can ever completely finish a world) and my mind is really rearing to start filling in some of those gaping holes that I left the last time around. I think it all started with me trying to get my husband to take a break from thesis writing and to go back to story writing. That was a failure as a line of argument, but it got me thinking too. I also recently responded to a Red Dress Club prompt with a letter from one of my long term characters and I really liked the new take on this character. I found that I have lots of interactions, but only one of my other characters has written any significant amount of letters to what I call "off screen" characters - I'm such a movie influenced girl - who never appear in the book (or at least I'm not planning for them to do so). I'd really like to start back up - I've got to change my character's name though, which will either A) completely ruin said character for me or B) give me the new perspective on her that I need in order to focus on her movement as a character. I'm really hoping for the latter. I found her name was already used in a YA fantasy series, so I can't really go that direction, now can I? I mean, I innocently found that name at, which is where I go to find almost all of my names. And I found it several years ago when I started writing something completely unrelated to where I took the character. Either way, it must change. Interestingly enough, this character kinda already had two names and so I guess I could just focus a bit more of the second one. The thing is, if I start writing this world again, where am I going to post it? It's not the kind of thing that I'm sure I want to post in either of my blogs for anyone to go reading yet. It's just development projects at the moment. On the other hand, I don't want to restrict my writing to just my little books - I mean they're good, but the thing about writing in books is that it's not easy to move material around as necessary in order to organize my thoughts. Not that there's really any easy way of doing that. It's just frustrating as a thought. I've thought of story boarding. I think taking some things visual might really help me and get my creative juices flowing.

Time: 10 minutes

Choice of Words

Why do people choose the words that they do? Is it all just a part of where and how we're raised? Or do we develop distinct ways of deciding which words we use? I'm not really sure. I was talking about a friend responding to a question today and I replied in the words (and a terrible accent) of the response I thought he would use. My husband told me that my impression of him is getting better - meaning that while my accent was not on, my choice of words was exactly this person. Apparently, I'm either good at picking up on that or "I've just got enough British friends" to have some knowledge of these things. It got me to thinking about the words we use and while there are some distinctly British words, is there a particularly British way of choosing what words you use? My comment was that our friend would say "whichever you would like to do" - I happened to also get his inflection down quite nicely if I do say so myself. But is that how I would respond to "Which place would you like to go eat?" My indecisive choice of words would probably be something along the lines of either "I'm not going to be the decisive one again" which would shortly give way to me making a decision with my husband's health nut attitude in mind, or "I don't care, which would you like to eat at?" My husband (between the two places we usually would go) would quickly reply "Well, why don't we go get a Freshness Burger." Freshness Burger is the name of the place, but he also calls each burger that. I tend to not call them that - just plain "burger" works for me. But all this is in light of an editing job that I'm doing for my sister. She's written a paper and I have found myself wondering how she comes to choose the words that she does? I would write her paper (same topic) very differently than she would. And when she talks, she shows great grasp of ideas, but still chooses words to describe her ideas that I would not. I am biased toward the "academic/scholarly" tribe of writers (as I have been in college more recently and am encouched in the world that is my husband's philosophy department). She is much more practical with words, but is also nervous about sounding "more educated" in her paper (not that she isn't educated- she's got a Master's degree). It's just interesting the way that we use words and choose to use words when talking and describing thing. 

Initial thought: Word choice
Time: 10 minutes

Wow. That time went a lot faster than I thought it would.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Down time

Down time is something that we don't want when, say, our email gets hacked and our blogs go down, but shouldn't we all want a little downtime? A little time to disconnect and get away for a while? I was preaching this last night as I walked from the place I had the beer to the place I had the margarita - not having a phone is wonderful and I feel great not having one here. I mean, at home it would be a major inconvenience, because there are a lot more people to talk to and things to plan over a shorter period of time. But right now I only live with my husband and all of our social outings usually get planned a day or two in advance, so there's no waiting on tenderhooks for an email to come in... Still - it was pretty stressful to find that google had closed down my email AND all of the blogs associated with it. Pain in the ass. I had a friend asking if I'd shut them down, I had my husband (who co-authors one) asking if my promoting our blogs on facebook was me spamming too much and a violation of TOS and I'm just worried about someone hacking my email (which does seem to be what happened - sorry for anyone who got any weird emails). Arg! But with all of this stress and the stress of daily life, I wonder if I don't need some down time from some of the things. I know that I have the need to push forward and get things done, be productive, but the question I'm asking myself is "Am I doing my best here?" What is it that I can cut out to make life a little less full of the stuff I don't need and a little more full of the stuff I'd like to do but doesn't seem vital? I think that enrichment is important and I want to be able to do these things - that's why I really started blogging in the first place. To write, to track my reading, to get some feedback (hopefully) on some of that writing. Trying to improve some of the things that I'll never make money at but that also make life a little better. I've been surrounding myself with "fall things" - things that put me into my mindset at my favorite time of year - in hopes that it will help stave off the spring blues that I always seem to get. This is always the worst time of year for me and I would love for that to change, but I'm really just an autumn girl. Maybe it's the weather and how the world is around me that makes this time of year so miserable for me, but it's followed me half way across the world, so my immediate environment just doesn't seem to be the only factor. It's been a little different this year, but not getting less with the blues. For all that though, I'm fairly happy, which is a nice change.

Intial thought: Down time
Time: 9 minutes

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Compassion - I recently read an old friend commenting on not only having compassion for others, but having compassion for yourself. "Be gentle with yourself" she said. I feel like I've been trying to take that advice with myself on certain topics. I have been going through an odd time with someone I know and I've been trying to remind myself gently of all of the things that I've dealt with in the past and how they relate to what I'm dealing with now and that sometimes things just need to be over. I feel that so many people just don't let things go quietly into that good night - they feel the need to make them worse and worse. Or rather they have the opposite problem - they let them go so quietly into that good night that no one else realizes it, sometimes including the person that they're letting go. It makes absolutely no sense. I have no problem saying "this isn't working out, and I'm going to go walk this way. If we ever meet again, then maybe we'll catch up for old time's sake." But for now none of the amiable "this is an okay thing" stuff is going to happen. I get it - there's no way that this plan of action would work in this specific situation, but I kinda hoped after college that my friends and acquaintances would be adults. For the most part they are, and that is really really nice. It is so nice to be able to have a frank conversation with someone about a problem and then after resolving it (yay for resolution!) just loving them still - it didn't change anything, you're still the same people as before the conflict happened. If only it could all work like that...

Initial thought: Compassion
Time: 5 minutes

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Poem Free Write - Footprint

Where do you leave your foot print? Where do you walk and where have you been? Does your footprint lead backwards along a trail that can be followed or do you hide your footprints? Paranoid about being followed or traced. Five toes, a ball and a heel. One little footprint can make all the difference. People these days talk about your environmental footprint, your carbon footprint, but the world has been around for a long time. Socrates had a carbon footprint. The little woman that made sure that Caesar ate his veggies had a carbon footprint. We all exist on this planet. We all are here and we're leaving something behind, good or bad. The fact is that it's more that just the environmental impact we have on this planet that we leave behind. Even those with no "legacy" leave something behind, be it their preserved body in the ground or the effect they had on their mailman when the mail started piling up after they passed. We all leave something behind. The Dao - our way, our path - whichever path we choose to take in life. We leave our footprints, showing paths before and we'll leave footprints on the paths to come. We make decisions and we leave a mark - if no where else, we leave a mark within ourselves that illustrate the paths we take. A child within his mother still has a footprint, still exists. For all the world we think children are the potential - but they are more than the time they have yet to live - they are LIVING, they are experiencing, they are doing it now. And we should do it now, because we are no more the path that we have left behind than children are the path they have ahead of them. 

Initial thought:

Time: 8 minutes

(Photo from "Getting Pregnant Over 40 - Is it possible?"  Copyright © 2011, Squidoo, LLC and respective copyright owners)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Free Write #1

How do you do something when there aren't any rules? How do you write when there aren't any rules? You make rules. Or you take the rules that you're used to working with and write in them. I mean, if ee cummings hadn't just dropped the punctuation, then a whole new view of poetry would never have been born, yet here I am free writing of all things and I know that I'm applying rules to myself. Why can't I break the rules? Why can't I let the rules go? I think this is the same thing that happens to me when I start thinking about "the way I am". I already have an opinion of "the way I am" in my head and every time I start thinking about who I am and what I'm doing with my life I start in on how I am and how I ought to change, and it seems to me that I hold myself to to these rules, these ridiculous standards that I could never possibly live up to or even if I could I would be ridiculously unhappy. Anyway, back to the writing bit, I don't know why I have this image in my head that writing is supposed to be a certain way. Don't the greats, the masters of language know the rules so well that they break them all? I think that we (more lowly writing folk) tend to try to replicate that style - whichever style appeals to us most - that break some rule or a set of rules that we so frequently feel we are under. But I'd also like to posit that we probably pick the styles that break rules we don't labor under constantly. That would be interesting - if we could all just reflect and become aware of the rules that we impose on ourselves - the ones that we never think about imposing on ourselves - and then choose to break those rules. That would create some amazing new writers out there. There are already some great writers out there. They blog everyday. They're not writing best sellers or anything, but they do have relatable experiences and feelings and trials. The thing about it all is, that this snarky, bitchy thing that people frame their lives in - it's so tired already. I know that everyone wants to be that woman from Sex in the City, or just some strange version of that in their suburban household, but it's just getting a little boring. If I lived my life in that snarky attitude all the time, I think I'd be really unhappy and probably wouldn't have the greatest set of friends in the world. I'm not trying to judge here, some of that stuff can be really funny, but let's take life with a grain of salt, kids - we can't all be pessimists or "realists" if that's what you want to call it, because otherwise nothing would ever get done, no one would rely upon one another and our entire community would just start breaking apart.

Time: 8 minutes
Initial thought: Rules