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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Restoration: Week 28.

I've been missing Kay, so I've started reading the books of hers that I've not yet read--about half of them. She's there in her words. I'm not very good at grieving, but this seems healthy, restorative.

Poetry baths continue to restore me. I've tried all the bath products I got for my birthday.

My mom came to visit! She made delicious vegetables and teriyaki chicken (and "chicken crumbles" for Josh) in jasmine rice. She and I stayed up and watched Passengers, one of my favorite movies. And she liked it! I love going watching movies and going to see movies with her.

I cleaned the guest bedroom! My mom's visit gave me the motivation to clean and improve that room for four hours. I still have plenty to do, but I think it looks great. I'm going to spend more time there. My chaise is clear, and Josh moved in my white secretary desk. I sat at it in my cream and green desk chair and wrote a note to my brother. A restorative moment!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Bold Reader: Week 28.

I'm still struggling with my reading. but I did keep up with poetry. I finsihed The Candle I Hold up to See You by Cathy Smith Bowers, former poet laureate of NC and one of my professors from grad school. I should have read it long ago! I replaced it with Wildwood Flower, one of Kay's books. We now own all of Kay's books, and I want Josh and I read them all. We've only read half.

Bruce and I are still working on The Unreal and the Real. The last couple of longer stories have been absorbing. But I move slowly. We have copies of our next book, which I'll reveal when we're ready to begin.

I've been reading The Best Small Fictions 2017 on my phone, and I'm on track with my goal to read one short story each day of the summer. That's a bold goal! Of course, the flash fiction helps!

I'm excited about what I'll read this week.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Remembering Kay.

In our second to last (dare I say penultimate?) semester at Appalachian, Josh and I got into a seminar class with Kathryn Stripling Byer, a visiting poet and the then-poet laureate of North Carolina.

Kay was instantly, obviously wonderful. Her clothes flowed, and her smile was warm. About ten of us wrote for her.

She invited us one evening a week to the octagonal cottage where she was staying. She tied a scarf around the mailbox, so we'd know we'd come to the right place. We talked about poetry and books and writing in general. Josh and I drank cheap raspberry soda in plastic wine glasses. Most of the time, it was just us, sometimes with another professor. We liked having Kay to ourselves. She obviously had great faith in us, as poets and as people. She also seemed delighted with us as a couple.

When Josh and I got married, Kay sent us a green-beaded, hanging candle holder that looked like a little chandelier. When Oliver was born, she sent us a blue glass bear ornament, which is hanging from a lamp on my desk.

Now, I'm reading the three books of hers that I haven't read yet. I don't know if it will make me feel closer to her or just make me miss her more.

Every time I remember that she's gone, my chest hurts.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

On Glitter, Shimmer, and Sparkle.

I should be coated in glitter all the time. It's a kind of armor. It protects my sense of self. I'm trying to remember how I went wild for glitter.

When I was little, I liked and requested "glue and glitter."

When I was a preteen, my close friend Leah brought treasure to church: various bottles of glitter that her mom had bought at a fabric store. My close friends and I painted our nails with clear polish and poured on the glitter. I was delighted. We divided up the glitter. We all liked the white. I ended up with baby blue, baby pink, and fuchsia. I may still have them in my craft trunk.

I discovered Gelly Roll Stardust glitter pens as a teeanger. On my birthday, I'd go to a fancy craft shop and buy the pens by the fistful. I was journaling madly with them.

When I turned 16, I discovered so much sparkling makeup. I was thrilled, not having known such wonders existed. Eyeshadow, eyeliner, lip gloss, body powder. I went wild for sparkle.

At jobs, I would tone it down until Christmas time, when sparkle wasn't strange. Everyone got used to my sparkling. I just kept wearing it after Christmas.

I still wear glitter--my favorite makeup, clothes, and shoes are shimmery. I always want to wear some kind of glitter.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Books That Have Changed My Heart and Mind.

  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. My dad gave me this book, and it was one of the first times I encountered a book about writing. I loved Lamott's sass and honesty. I became aware of multiple approaches to writing. I began to feel I could really be a writer, in whatever form that took for me.
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. This is in my top five books. I don't know how I found it--I think I was just browsing the reference section I'd just found at Barnes and Noble. The idea of writing practice, writing as a practice, truly changed my life. I became a scribbler.
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I read this at 16 as part of a writing contest. I didn't actually write the essay, but the book changed me. I had low self-esteem at best and self-hate at worst. The book didn't propel me into Rand's ideals, but it brought me to a better relationship with myself.
  • Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard. My mom had the book, and I read it. I was a young teenager or even younger. Wow. The book taught me about beauty, about details, and about self-care. The words were like medicine and made my senses awaken.
  • The Creative Companion by SARK. This was the first and certainly not the last SARK book I've read. I don't know how I found it, but the bright colors may have caught my attention. I felt a new spark in my scribbles and in the way I treated myself.
  • Influence, Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini. This is the best textbook I read as an undergrad. It made me think critically about persuasion and manipulation, recognizing this in myself and others. 
  • Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block. I discovered this in the YA section at Barnes. It blew my mind. The fairy tale retellings were dark and dazzling. I had to open my mind. The writing was richer, made of ice and velvet, than any I had read. She became my favorite writer.
What books changed you?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Restoration: Week 27.

Reading almost always restores me. I've been reading about bipolar disorder in an MD's memoir (Mark Vonnegut). This restores me by reminding me that my illness is real and that I'm not alone. Acknowledging my illness restores me because I remember that life isn't supposed to be this hard every day and that I'm doing pretty well under the circumstances.

It's silly how much a funny video can improve my mind. I want to laugh as much as possible.

I'm working toward reading a short story each day for the summer. Stories can be intriguing and restorative--little treasures filling a collection, a treasure chest.

Josh's parents came to visit, and Oliver was so excited. Seeing him happy and affectionate heals my heart. If nothing else, we've helped him become a loving little guy.

I went swimming with the boys! Oliver is a wild swimmer and loves to jump in the pool. Swimming was not as easy as it used to be, but I enjoyed it. I want to do a lot of swimming this summer. The water seems to restore my body and mood.

A Bold Reader: Week 27.

My reading was a little better this past week. I read Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle, which was short, but I'm counting it! Some of the illustrations were gorgeous. Reading a fairy tale retelling felt good, nourishing, even with the shadows.

I've been enjoying Just Like Someone without Mental Illness Only More So by Mark Vonnegut (yes, his son); I'm a little more than halfway through it on my phone. It's engaging: living with bipolar disorder from a psychiatrist's point of view.

I'm behind on stories. My informal goal was to read a short story for each day of the summer. But I just got a book of flash fiction on my phone: Small Fictions 2017. I began Kelly Link's Stranger Things Happen, but I'm not plugged in yet. I'll get there.

My phone is full of $2 E-books. Goodreads tells me when something from my to-read shelf is on sale. That's an awesome feature.

Bruce got back from a trip New York City, so we'll resume reading The Unreal and the Real--more stories.

I'm still trying to build up my reading confidence and stamina. I can do it.