12 May 2022

I promise I'm still in the poetry game!

It's been a crazy few months, but I don't have anything in particular to attribute that to--spring term is just always a bit hectic, and I always feel a bit behind in my work. 

I have been writing, though, and I'm working on preparing for my next sabbatical, which has been approved for next spring! 

I plan to head back to Philadelphia's Mutter Museum to take notes--I have one long poem drafted about the saponified woman they have on display, but my larger idea is to write a series of poems on the real people behind medical specimens exhibited there. 

I am hopeful that I'll be able to make a trip to Amsterdam next spring or summer to visit Museum Vrolik, and perhaps also to meet/talk with Henk Schiffmacher, whose collection of vintage tattoo photographs and flash might help me to work on my tattoo book project, too. 

Anyway. I have poems out on the desk of publishers, as always, and I just received an acceptance from Coffin Bell, an online journal that publishes dark literature. They're going to publish my poem "A Strange Horse" in July, and I'm pretty excited about that. "A Strange Horse" is a weird little poem, but I kinda love it. 

Coffin Bell

25 February 2022

Continuing to catch up on submissions.

Work has been terrible this week--some student-related concerns I won't go into here, but it's taking a lot of brain space, and concentrating on anything else has been hard. I did have an appointment with my therapist yesterday, which helped. 

I did hear from one first book contest--The Jake Adam York Prize--and while I wasn't a finalist, they received almost 1000 entries this year, so it was a longer shot than I expected. I thought I'd recognize a name or two in the finalists, but I did not. 

This week, I had a FaceBook memory from three years ago that states I need to do better, spending more time on submissions and writing. It was encouraging to read that and know that I took action from that point on. I've been much more consistently dedicated to my writing over the last 2+ years. 

I sent out a few more submissions this morning, and now I'm back in that holding pattern of waiting for rejections and acceptance letters. This should give more more room to write over the next few weeks. Right now, though, I am very behind on grading, and I need to get that caught up over the weekend.

My birthday is Sunday, but I'm not sure that I'm doing anything. I've been thinking about going to Eugene to play pinball on Sunday, but I really wanted to do that today. Anyhow.

20 February 2022

New Submissions, and Some Fresh Starts.

This month is flying by . . . I have received a few rejection letters, and I've also realized that when the rejection letters come in one at a time, I don't realize how many I've let pile up. 

I try to keep my submittable submissions to at least 48 submissions, but I had less than 35 in there today. I spend most of my day today pulling together submission packets and sending my work back out. I think I put 13-15 packets out into the world today, so that's quite an accomplishment! 

I finished up two altered books from 2021--one that's of a typical size with 20+ spreads in it, and a smaller, gift book. Those smaller ones have become my favorite books to work in, to be honest.

I have the collage work done in my first book of 2022, as well. It's a bigger dimension--probably 8" by 10", but there are only 10-12 spreads in the book. This being a holiday weekend, I plan to spend some time on found poetry in the new book, but probably not until tomorrow. 

It's President's Day weekend, and I finished last week's grading and meetings by 2:00 pm on Friday, AND I told students that I wouldn't be online tomorrow on the actual bank holiday, so it's been a nice break--a break I don't always get between Weeks 7 and 8 in the school term. 

So, I'm glad to have my submissions caught up, and I've done a little housework and laundry is caught up, so a little loafing on the sofa tonight might happen. My knee is still doing well, but it gets grouchy and sore if I sleep on it wrong or leave it in the same position for too long. 

My goals for March are already being put in place . . . I received some bloodwork that shows my cholesterol is out of control, and I am sure that I've just replaced booze with refined sugar in my diet over the last 18 months. I'm going to work really hard on getting more activity into my life and on cutting sugar and cholesterol. I joined Noom a few days ago, and I'm hoping it will also help me to get my health prioritized. Their app says that I could easily get to 175 lbs by October, so I'm really hoping I can put the effort into it this spring and summer. It's so beautiful here in the warmer months, and I need to get myself motivated to take advantage of that. I figure if I see March 1 as my start date, I can work to have better grocery choices and a new pair of hiking shoes in place by then . . . I'd like to also start walking the neighborhood a few days a week, or the campus. Giving myself until after my birthday on the 27th, and the anniversary of Turtles's death on the 26th, seems more like kindness than procrastination to me. 

I've also made a big step by cutting smoking concentrate and flower out of my life. So, I haven't smoked anything but a vape pen since mid-December. I still use it daily, but I think it's less frequently, and I'm certain it's healthier than a pipe. I feel that I've lost some brain fog--and really, it feels to me that it was a similar brain fog to what I experienced while drinking. I'm hopeful that those steps will help me foundationally as I start to tackle my diet.

What I need to also start doing is drafting more new poems, but man. That's eluding me lately. My attention span is not letting me get much done. I know it's still a pandemic, but I've got to find a way to force an hour a day, maybe? I need rules--like, for example, working on submissions doesn't count. 

I'm hoping I'll already have a good start on better eating habits by the time I leave for Philly in late March. I would love to be able to stay in a hotel without a suitcase full of junk food to pass the time. I think I made a good call by picking an old-school hotel, because there are no fridges in the rooms.

Anyhow. As usual, this entry is all over the place. : ) But--two blog posts in February! After taking a few months off, that's an improvement.

04 February 2022

Holidays, Knee Surgery, Writing.

It's already early February, and submissions are slow AF. I have 41 submission sets out in the world, including six copies of my full-length manuscript. Everything is a waiting game. I'm going to try to send a few more things out this weekend; I try to keep my submissions around 48 or 50.

A few pieces have been picked up by smaller publications . . . but I'm going to try to start being a bit choosier about presses in 2022.

I had an arthroscopy on my left knee three weeks ago, and it's healing nicely. I feel like I am finally able to start worrying about my knee, after almost a year since I hurt it. I did have a torn meniscus, and some scar tissue from the injury, and the scar tissue was sanded out, and the tear was fixed. Within a few days of the surgery, I could already tell my knee was better. It still gives me some discomfort when I'm trying to get comfortable to sleep, but that's lessening almost daily. 

I spent two weeks over Christmas with my family in Weirton . . . it was such a pleasant visit. I spent a lot of time just hanging out with my parents, watching TV and talking. I didn't spend much time in my room, which is usually a big part of my visits, though I did get a good number of submissions sent out. No arguments, which was great, and I made minimal excursions into public, due to covid. I did get to the Warhol museum and to the Carnegie Museum of Art, but both were quick trips with no side stops. It had been nine years since I was in Weirton for Christmas, and four years since I've been to Weirton. My trip was extended by two days due to snow in Oregon, but I fortunately was able to be at my parents' house instead of stuck in a Chicago hotel, halfway home.

I haven't been doing much of anything creative. Still. I feel like except for the poems I wrote last June in workshop, I haven't really done anything spectacular in 2021. In 2020, I filled four altered books, and wrote a ton of new poems. 2021 was a lot harder. I am sure being at home is finally starting to wear on me; I was in a funk most of the year, and I watched a lot of television. I am trying now to be more conscious of getting things done, making sure each day has something that offers me a sense of accomplishment. I am putting final touches on last year's altered books--only two, and one of them is a small, thin book. Both have new found poetry in them, and I'm hoping that if I give it a few weeks, they might be springboards into new work. I am eager to begin this year's first altered book, and to spend more time writing. 

Classes for me are still all online, because of the knee surgery, and it's my three-course term, so my load is light . . . in spring term, I'll be back on campus for one class that meets four times a week while the other three will still be online. I think it will be really good . . . last term I struggled with those on-campus days, but I have grown to enjoy them. I've been going to campus on Thursdays for four or five hours, and I'm finding that I really miss being there, in my office, interacting with colleagues. 


25 November 2021

Thanksgiving, and taking a minute to catch up on everything.

It's been almost two months since I've written a blog post . . . the school term has been a busy one, but when I look at what I'm handling, it's not really all that much. I have four classes, but my writing classes have dropped in enrollment, and my literature class is small. I've been keeping up with the grading, for the most part--and I'm looking forward to having the next few days off, with only a couple dozen annotated biblographies to score. 

I think the biggest difference is going onto campus two mornings a week. When I'm there, I don't get quite as much done, plus the drive (about 15-20 minutes each way) and getting ready in the morning both take a small bite of the day, too. I really think it's the added task of having to be "on" for two days a week--interacting with colleagues, being out in public. Part of what was so great about working from home was that some of the distractions were removed. I wasn't worried about putting on a little makeup, or ironing my clothes. I wasn't concerned about what I was going to eat and what I needed to take to the office each day. Add to that the general anxiety I have about Covid and how some people aren't masking any more, and it's a lot. When I pile it all on top of grading and instructional design, it's a lot. On my days off, I'm simply exhausted. I don't have much energy for the yard, which continues to go wild in some corners and spiral out of control. I am trying to make more of an effort to clean different corners of the house on a rotating basis.

I haven't been writing. I need to carve out the time to do so . . . no new drafts, and no work on this summer's poems. I still have my work sitting on the desks of a few dozen editors, but I've not been sending anything new out--not since September. Lots of rejections have poured in, and just a handful of acceptance letters. I pushed to send my manuscript to 4-5 fall book contests, but I'm not sure that my work is ready. I haven't even made the honorable mentions for any of the 2020 book contests I entered. I am still waiting to hear about the Agnes Lynch Starrett prize, but I don't have my hopes up. I think I might need to table my work to get a book published, and use 2022 to write a sheaf of new work. I learned a lot this summer during the Community of Writers workshop, but I'm just not buckling down and putting it to good use yet. 

My attention span is shit anymore. I don't think anyone's going to be interested in diagnosing me with ADHD as a 50-year old, but I feel like I struggle with it more and more.

Today is Thanksgiving, and I'm not celebrating it in any special way; I'm staying home, and I'm planning on making a pasta dish for dinner. I've knocked a few small tasks off my to do list already today, and I'm hoping to spend at least part of the day curled up with a short stack of The New Yorker. 

I'm hoping to pull out my art journal and start working on some found poetry . . . since it's been a while, I'm hoping inspiration will strike if I just give it a chance. 

I'll be spending ten days in Weirton, WV with my parents in December. I haven't been to Weirton in 3-4 years, and I haven't been there on Christmas Day in at least 7 or 8 years. I am looking forward to visiting Pittsburgh a few times--I really want to get in to see the Warhol, and maybe Phipps Conservatory. The National Aviary is not far from the Warhol and Mattress Factory, either . . . so I need to find out from my parents if they've committed me to any events pre-Christmas. If not, I might just head up and spend the night in Pittsburgh one night--museums on both the day before and after. We'll see. I wouldn't mind playing some pinball, either--and Pittsburgh has several good pinball spots now. 

I have the cat sitter in place, and I'm trying not to worry about leaving the cats for so long. With travel figured in, I'll be gone more like 12 days. I haven't been away from them for that long ever. Several of them will be fine, but Maudie has some separation anxiety issues, and both Polly and Winnie like to pick on Maudie, too. I'm hoping with the house to themselves, they'll be fine. I have to be able to travel--I have missed it so much during the pandemic. I have a few smaller trips in the works for 2022, but I would also like to start doing some small, inexpensive road trips. There's so much out West that I've not seen--and there's no reason why I shouldn't just go.

What I'm hoping is that I'll be able to use the time at my parents to write some new work. I plan to pack strategically, so that I don't bring a lot of hobbies or reading along with me.

That was a big digression! My submission records are caught up, and I'm going to send a few groups of poems out today, just to keep those muscles exercised. Happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. : )


04 October 2021

Week One of Fall Term is in the bag!

Last week was the first week of our fall term here at UCC . . . it's always a bit hectic by design, but I am also trying to balance memories from 10/1 along with the crush of new students and the unpredictable glitches they face as they start the term. I was grateful to have a fairly easy year for PTSD-related issues. I'm usually nauseated for at least a few weeks prior to the anniversary. This year, I've had a few migraines, but they've been easy to control with just Excedrin. My anxiety and depression haven't seen an uptick, so I'm grateful for that, too. 

I struggle to stay motivated, but my knee has a lot to do with that right now. I work to remind myself that it's just my depression when I start feeling frustrated. 

I have been enjoying my new role as a laundry volunteer at Saving Grace, the county animal shelter. I am able to contribute a little, and it gets me out of the house for a few hours on the weekend. So far, I'm enjoying it. 

I continued to send more of my work out last week, to the point where I don't really have much to send. I did receive a rejection from North American Review last week, so I will probably send that handful of poems back out to another press later today or tomorrow. 

I just finished reading Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia this morning. It was a recommended in both an article in The New Yorker and in an NPR feature, so I expected it to be a sure bet. Reviews mentioned Jane Eyre, which sold me on the book. I think it was somewhat entertaining, but the writing at times was quite elementary, and the character development was not as complex as I'd have expected. I think there was a great deal of potential in the storyline, but several times, I found myself thinking about how much better the novel could have been. It was an original and compelling story, but elements of it were underdeveloped. I don't know if I would read another book by the author; at the very least, I won't be reading another right now. 

I'm currently getting ready to start Untwine by Edwidge Danticat--it's been on my Kindle for a while, and I read about a third of it. I'm not sure why I stopped, but I'm starting at the beginning again. I am trying to work my way through the short stack of books on the Kindle that I've not finished. 

So, I am going to go curl up to read, or I might take a nap. I keep wondering why I'm so tired, but I forgot that I had to buy a new cell phone yesterday. Those kinds of purchases sap the life out of me.