Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October with Rena

Happy Halloween tomorrow!

October's been a fun month.
Layne turned 9! I have a 9yo! WTW?! I feel so old.

My first born
She wanted a yellow Angry Birds cake. I tried. I failed. Plus it looks like he's smoking a candle. Whoops. 
I ran a Halloween 5K.
"I'm gonna win!" "No, I'm gonna win!"

And I've been rock-climbing.


Monday, October 28, 2013

My nerd wall.

Here's what I made over fall break. Yes, that is Wolverine, Calvin and Hobbes, Superman, Morpheus, Batman, and Buffy. This is in my living room, btw. High five, nerds. High. Five.
My fave is the one of Spike on the motorcycle. 
Gav's fave pick is the Wolverine one in the middle. 

The blue is darker than it looks in the photo. 

One of my students brought this mask from her Anime Con, and I had to get a pic. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

There's something about a guitar.

Results of the biannual CUWP reunion walk-and-write (where we do just that, walk around downtown Provo--or wherever--wait for inspiration, and write. Then we all go out to eat and talk for hours.):

There's something feminine
About a guitar--
The curves of her hips,
A ladder of copper vertebrae
Up her regal spine.

There's something lonely
About a guitar--
The hollow heart
One electric, bronze tear.

There's something nostalgic
About a guitar--
The smell of sawdust
Beneath her chest.
The ropey strings
Stretched like clotheslines
On a Nevada horizon.

There's something epic
About a guitar--
How the strums
Breathe a story's beginning,
Gallop a climax,
And sigh an end.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Vietnamese (or something) Barbie Doll

Results of the biannual CUWP reunion walk-and-write (where we do just that, walk around downtown Provo--or wherever--wait for inspiration, and write. Then we all go out to eat and talk for hours.): 

Gramma Roundy had a managerie filled with little trinkets; a crystal heart-shaped container, a porcelin dog with a worn-down nose, mismatched China, and a two-foot tall doll with black hair pulled into a bun and a silk green kimono.

I used to think grandpa gave it to her after the war--because it looked Vietnamese--but as I got older, I realized that he served in WWII, so probably not.

I admired that doll, opening the glass doors, stroking her hair, careful not to knock her off the stand. I watched my own reflection in the mirror at the back of the case and caught a glimpse Gramma Roundy smiling from her recliner behind me.

I didn't ask for it. I had honed that skill, that ability to get what I wanted by dropping what I thought were subtle hints. "What a beautiful doll!" "I love her red red lips." "What's her name?" Until Gramma said, "You can have her if you want."

She probably assumed I'd treasure her forever, but not so. I played with her for a few months. I ripped the band from her hair and it became matted and tangled in a manner a few weeks. Ultimately, I got bored of her immobility. There were no buttons, no eyes that drooped closed when I tilted her back in my arms. The stand didn't even come off.

The doll was just so stationary. I got bored with the doll, whose name I gave her, I can't remember. Probably something unnatural to her character and more of a reflection of mine. A name like Lisa or Melissa.

Gramma died a couple years later. I wish I could remember more about her. I remember watching Nickelodeon on the floor with my sister in front of a huge television in Gramma Roundy's living room and my dad always calling her "an amazing cook" but I can't pinpoint one meal that stands out. I do remember that doll. And how her hugs were big and warm. I bet my dad remembers her hugs too.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gratifying? Really?

A few days ago, I found out that an article I wrote for DH had been cited as a source in an FSU grad student's dissertation. I laughed as I told one of my friends about it, and he responded, "It must be gratifying to be included in someone's dissertation." I thought about that for a while, percolated on it for a couple of days, and came to the conclusion that, yes, I guess it was, in a way, gratifying. I probably wouldn't have told him about it if I wasn't somewhat thrilled--if not equally bewildered--by the notion. But in the grand scheme of things... is "gratified" really the right term to describe how I felt?

It's not like I'd set out to be cited. It's not like I gained any sort of fulfillment from it. I wasn't able to cross it off a bucket list, because it's not something I'd have thought to write down.

That got me thinking about real gratifying moments in my life, achievements realized through hard work, dedication, and tenacity. Then I thought about moments that were totally unplanned, but still "gratifying".

1. My weight loss. I lost 70 lbs after discovering that I had insulin resistance. This was no easy feat, and ultimately came down to diet and exercise. Also, I did it slowly so as to keep the weight off.

2. My kids. They aren't "completed projects", so to speak, but they are amazing and teach me a lot *cough* about patience and unconditional love. *cough* Just kidding...sort of. Gavin teaches me that hugs are infinitely more effective than words. Elayna teaches me to be sensitive to the feelings of all God's creatures. (Stuffed animals included. But spiders excluded.)

3. There are articles I've written that have inadvertently helped families adopt children or raise money for mental health care. Some pieces support causes from civil literacy to sports teams for children with disabilities. My articles have accidentally lead to funding a set of Shakespeare resource books for a junior high teacher or a couple of laptops for a debate team. While I never expected to be able to affect someone's life--as I'm only a faceless byline with a crappy laptop and a wide-eyed sense of curiosity--I would count these moments as gratifying, because somehow collecting data and information, conducting interviews, and typing it all up helps people. 

4. Students and parents taking the time to say thank you. Being a teacher is unbelievably draining and without moments of gratitude, most of us wouldn't last. We wear compliments like badges on our hearts. Also, a student who applies what she learned in class is more valuable to a teacher than a crystal apple for recognition.

5. "Gratified" doesn't begin to describe how elated I get when people praise my creative writing. That is when I really wanna high five myself and say, "See, you can do this."

6. Running my first 5K, and the dozen or so since then. Running 13 races this year just because I want to.

I could go on and on--editing UEJ, publishing One-Armed Freak, learning how to snowboard, holding on to my relationship with God despite the overwhelming tempests over the decade, getting into grad school, overcoming sexual abuse--but the trend I see in these gratifying moments relates to improving the mind, health, and soul of myself or others. It has less to do with academic praise or golden statues and more to do with service. I thank God for all of these opportunities and for my life.

What are some of your most gratifying moments?

Friday, October 18, 2013


(Written in the perspective of the main character of the novel I'm writing for grad school, TEMPESTS.)

I saw the clip.
You slipped
And said my name
When it counted.
My heart did swan dives
In acid.
My lips lightly
The apothecary’s fire.

Your father sprayed
Diet Coke over his shoulder. 
Off screen, 
Someone made a Friends reference.
Your best man roared a laugh,
Called Freud a puckish sonuvabitch.
You shook your head.

I paused on your expression.
Zoomed in on your eyes;
Blurred plums,
Searching the scars and knots
Lacquered on the surface
Of the table.
I thought,
You won’t find me.

I saw it
And cannot unsee.
My name in your mouth
Is a lance
Hurled across time,
Ripping a grave in my chest.
My name on your lips
Pours full,
An empty chalice.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


An owl, stiff
On a white branch.
We took her to the apartment.
She turned from the Cheerios
On the floor
And the sticky sofa.
At the distant gun shot,
She raised feathers
Like a coat with a fur collar.
She did not look
At the little girl in braids
And a heavy diaper.
Instead she blinked slowly,
Facing the cracks in the walls.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I’m in San Luis Potosi.
It’s hot: mercury pools in the sand.
First day of summer
Feels like August here.
The air tastes
Like chiles and cebollas.
At night, I dance
On vermilion clay.
White eyelet skirts
Spin around me.
A man strums
el guitarra de azul.
My skin shines
Like manjar.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Write a poem in 10 minutes or less. Ready? Go!

She's an
Open girl with
Her mother's militant,
Controlling nature.

She has a predisposition
For nail-biting,
And her father's Muppet nose.

She's a romantic
When she has the time, 
A dreamer
Without an off-switch.

If she gets coal
In her stocking,
She embraces it,
Presses it precious
Into a gem. 


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