Thursday, March 31, 2011

Here's the Latest

I bought a camera!  A real camera!  A Nikon D3000!
It's actually the camera that I used at camp last year.
(In case you're not aware, I was a media intern at Camp Tejas for the last two summers, which is a fancy way of saying I took as many pictures of kids and campy things as I could every day.)
Anyway, this camera was brand new last summer and I was really the only one who used it, so the guy that I talked to about it was like "Well, it's really like it's your camera already."  So true!
And now I sort of regret not cleaning it better at the end of every day . . .
But when you're standing in the mud taking pictures like this

all the time, it's hard to stay motivated to keep your camera clean.
But it's really in very good condition and I'm super excited about it!
And just because I like pictures (and am a little vain about some of mine) and can't think of anything else to say, here's a sample of what might be showing up on my blog more often when I actually get this camera in my hands:

The only sad thing is that I won't have it in time for our trip to the Farmer's Market on Saturday, another thing I'm super excited about.  Oh well, you can't have everything.

I feel like I'm getting pretty close right now, though.

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Event

On Friday I gave a public reading!  Okay, okay, so it was me and 18 other people, but still.

There's an event at my school every year called Pen and Pigment which is a collaboration between the Creative Writing and Art departments.  Basically, we poets write a poem and the artists create a work of art and then we trade our pieces and write another piece based on the other's work.

This year, the art was typography, so all of the pieces had letters or numbers incorporated in them.  When I received my piece to write on, I couldn't believe my luck.  You see, ever since I wrote that poem about Grandma and Grandpa in my National Red and Pink Day post, I've wanted to write about Pop, my grandpa on Mom's side who died when I was thirteen, but I have such limited memories of him.  The piece of typography that I had been given was a number 4 turned into a sailboat and my Pop had a sailboat named Escape IV (after the first three Escapes of course).  I was thrilled.  And, since I wanted my poem to have lots of details about the same thing, I decided to use the Sestina form.  many poets consider the sestina a very frustrating form, but I love it.  To me, writing a sestina feels like solving a puzzle.  A sestina is a seven stanza poem in which you use the same end-words in every stanza, but in a different order.  The last stanza is called the envoy and traditionally houses the "turn" of the poem.  Sestinas were originally in iambic pentameter (ten syllables per line with an unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed rhythm).  However, over the years, they evolved and now they are permitted to have more or less syllables per line.  I love writing them with traditional rhythm (more puzzle fun), but had too much to say this time to restrict myself to that.  So, since you missed my fabulous reading at which I was literally shaking and sounded slightly like I was about to cry the entire time, here is (one of) my (favorite) poem(s that I've written so far):


I’m never sure how much I actually remember
and how much I’ve learned from the pictures we
pull out now, almost every time we get together.
I know I remember the smell of cigarette smoke
and the feel of the stubble on his chin when he hugged me.
And I remember standing on the prickly grass, anxious to get on his sailboat.

I only remember going out on his boat
a few times.  I don’t really remember
the feel of the tiller, but I know he let me
steer it from his lap on those days when we
sailed it far from the flames and smoke
of the refineries.  I remember when we were all together,

even though I know we weren’t always together.
There were times when he went out on his boat,
or went to the Yale Street Pharmacy to smoke
and have coffee with his friends, but I only remember
the long lazy days at the house when we
gathered around to eat seafood.  He instilled in me

a taste for good food which makes me
wish I knew how to throw ingredients together
and make something delicious like he did every time we
visited.  He was always in the kitchen or on the boat.
As hard as I try, I can never remember
him being anywhere else—except on the patio where he smoked

his Camels.  I still recognize that smoke,
the Camel kind.  The scent of it takes me
back to when I was seven.  When I smell it, I remember
the times when we were all together
though now I know his mind was probably on his boat.
while his feet were on the table. We knew we had his love, but we

also knew he loved the bay and Escape IV more than we
ever could imagine.  I think if the house had gone up in smoke,
he would have been thrilled to live on his boat,
a lifestyle that wouldn’t have fit me
then.  Now I wish we’d gone out on his boat together
more often.  The last time I remember

being on the bay was in a different boat.  I watched the shore until we
left it behind.  I remember wishing I could ask why he ever decided to smoke
as the wind blew his ashes back around me.  We were on the bay, but not together. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hmmmm. Suspicious. And Other Random Events.

So, someone just called me.
My phone rang and told me "No Name" was calling.  But it was my area code, and I make it a policy to always answer unknown callers with my area code just in case it's something important.  So, after I answered, the male voice on the other end said "Hey Ebony."
(Now, in case you're unaware, Ebony is not my name.)
Immediately after that, I heard a female voice talking in the background, who I'm almost sure was saying my name, and I thought, oh, that must be Ebony.  So I said "Hello" again in order to get the conversation off on the right foot.  The male voice on the other end immediately said "Oh, hi Leslie."
(Now, in case you're not aware, Leslie is not my name either.)
Hmmmm.  Suspicious.
"I'm afraid you must have the wrong number."
"Oh, but this is (here he quoted my phone number, the same number I've had for five years), right?"
I told him yes and he said he guessed it had changed.
I must admit that, under normal circumstances, I would have probed a bit and tried to find out who this person was just in case it was something important.  (It's still bothering me a little.)
But today of all days, I decided to come and sit in the "quiet zone" of the library where phone conversations are in very ill-favor.  As in, it's absolutely silent up here and the whole time I was half-whispering to this srtrange person on the "other end of the line" I felt every pair of eyes on the floor boaring into my back.
So I hung up.

Now, at this point, I feel like about half of the posts I've ever made on this blog are about weird phone conversations.  But this kind of stuff just happens to me all the time.  I have no idea why.

Okay, on to other things of note:
I almost ran over my own dog the other day.  That was not fun.  In her six years of life, I have never been successful in teaching her not to chase cars.  And mine is the worst.  I guess it represents the park and other cool places to her.  So yesterday when I was coming home, she practically dove under the rear tires.
Talk about a near heart attack.  I was already braking super fast,though, so she was fine and just ran across to the passenger side.
Now, as part of my trying to teach her not to chase cars, I've never let her get in the car unless it is off.  But yesterday was the exception to the rule.  I let her hop in and she was soooo calm the rest of the way to the house.  Okay, she still climbed all over the back seat before she finally settled on stretching between it and the console, so she was her own version of calm which might not seem calm to anyone else, but was, in fact, amazing.
So now I have dirty pawprints all over my backseat, but a live dog in my backyard.
I feel like it's a fairly good compromise.

I recently read Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, a collection of short stories all about Bengali people who lived in America or Europe.  Nearly every story in it talked about drinking Darjeeling tea, so, the other day when I was at the store and saw Darjeeling tea, I picked it up, to see if it was really that great.  It was.  I'm considering replacing coffee with it for a while.  Coming from me, that says a whole lot.
Also, there was a character in that book who signed any missive he ever wrote with "Be Happy".
I think that is so wonderful.

So, without further ado, I'm headed straight into the open arms of the weekend (with a little bit of work and a meeting beforehand, but still).  I hope you're doing the same.
Be happy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sometimes Medicine is a Good Thing

Let me start this off by just saying that I hardly ever take medicine.  I just don't relish the idea of putting something foreign like that into my body.  I don't even generally like foods that aren't in their "whole" form.  (That doesn't mean I don't eat "unwholesome" foods by any means.)
But medicine is where I really draw the line.  If the name has to be simplified so that I can pronounce it and it's a snowy white pill with blue writing on it or (heaven forbid) a pink or orange liquid, you can pretty much forget me ingesting it.
However, there are times when you just need medicine.  Yesterday was one of those times.  I forgot my glasses and had to spend two hours at work without them until someone could bring them from home.  I have astigmatism and I work in front of a computer all day.  If I don't have my glasses, I am miserable.  I could perform all my tasks, I just had to strain and squint my eyes the whole time.  By the time 5:00 rolled around, even though I'd spent the last several hours with my glasses on my face where they belonged, I had the biggest eye-strain headache ever.
So, at dinner, I finally broke down and took two pain killers at once.  The entire dosage.  Something I never do.  I knew I had a presentation today that I was not at all prepared for, so there was not going to be a good chance to sleep off the pain.
And, you know what?  They worked.
That medicine worked and I prepared the presentation and got through it!  And now today is almost over and it's downhill to the weekend from here.  Now, I know I can't lay all those good things at the feet of the pain medicine, but I know for a fact that the presentation wouldn't have gone as well as it did if I'd had a headache while preparing for it.
So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something unusual for me and look how it turned out.
I should do this more often.
Ahem, not take pain medicine more often.  I'm still not at all convinced it's good for me.
But it doesn't hurt to do something out of the ordinary every once in a while I guess.