That’s what friends are for…

On Tuesday’s post there was a haiku that wasn’t strictly a haiku and the only one who noticed was a friend on FB – I have since corrected it – for some reason I read quietly as quiet+ly; two syllables. Nope – qui-et-ly. 

If you saw yesterday’s post then you might think that writing short lines is something I do and you would be right. While my posts might not convince you,  I am a concise writer – of poems, business correspondence and term papers. 

In a college lit course we were assigned papers of a particular length and I struggled mightily to reach the quota. When the professor handed back the papers he commented that he had actually counted the words and I had hit it precisely including the bibliography. My response was along the lines of “Do you want 2000 words of drivel or 1000 words that are to the point?”  He laughed, he liked me. I got an A.

I once set myself the task of writing one poem each day – good, bad or indifferent – just for the discipline of it. None went further than four lines. I can knock off 4 lines of decent poetry in the blink of an eye – I think in quatrains. But there they sat – 4 lines, unfinished. Often my entire thought was contained in those 4 lines, no need to go further. 

I wrote another haiku yesterday and I think that will be the last. In the several creative writing classes I’ve taken I always hated having to write in an assigned format – I didn’t mind an assigned topic but an assigned format – that irked me. I know the reasoning behind it and the discipline of it but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. For the assigned format of a Shakespearean sonnet, I wrote an anti-sonnet, whining about how I didn’t like writing to form. The concluding couplet was “I am a writer not a hack, So you may have your sonnet back”  I got an A+ on it. The professor liked me. 

Thinking I might do a haiku-a-day I had an idea but cramming it into 5-7-5 did not please me. Here it is:

Not the aches and pains
But lack of future vision
Says that I am old.

Meh. I have another version that I like better but it was 5-7-6. I think I might go back and just make a regular ole poem on the theme. Or not. 

Not quite the same thing exactly

Gastrointestinal problems are not funny. Especially when they are truly life-altering and even dangerous to life. Dear blogging friend Rory has been dealing with major problems in this area and when I read his post I felt bad for him – can’t even get a proper diagnosis and treatment, he has had to be his own doctor.

But then I thought of a poem I had written some time ago dealing with something similar but not the same (the least of it being Rory is not old!) – so perhaps he will see this and it will give him just a little bit of a giggle?

Getting old is not for sissies,
So they say, 
and they,
are right.

Unlike J. Alfred, peaches
are not a problem
yet, 
but peppers

Green and hot,
onions raw,
salami, cheese,
all of these

Bring me to my
knees, and more,
find my husband 

At the store.
Pepto, Maalox,
liquid chalk - 

All are bought,
and chewed and drunk.
Gagging, gasping
oh the pain!

As I moan,
Never again.

Amazing how a good
nights sleep
has me now on
steady feet.

What’s for lunch?

© Grace St. Clair
(March 2010)

If you’re really good at something and you know it,

pat yourself on the back. But not so often that your arms become unnaturally long. And not in response to someone commenting on their own similar ability. I hate that. And if I am guilty of that with this post then you have my permission, indeed are encouraged, to smack me down.

I am really good at research. Always have been. Going back, back, back into the dark ages of the world of brick and mortar libraries only. Oh yes, we had encyclopedias and dictionaries at home but libraries had more plus, microfiche. 

Whatever I don’t know interests me. My shrink said I was the most curious person he had ever met and by curious he didn’t mean odd, tho I am that too. He suggested I become a private detective or a journalist. I’m not sure how those two equate, I don’t think the term ‘investigative journalist’ existed back then. 

I would, and did, spend hours in the library racing down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. Just as I now spend hours at my computer, not just chasing answers but getting sidetracked and bushwhacked by new information that leads me out of one rabbit hole into another.   I didn’t really understand that people didn’t know that libraries had the answers to all their questions. 

Por ejemplo – 

Guy I was living with was a history buff. He knew enough about the library to obtain books on the subject, primarily modern history, 20th century, WWII – along those lines. He became interested in Thomas Brackett Reed, an American politician. He remarked that Reed’s most important speeches had only been printed in the Congressional Record and he really wanted to read them. I said “So, go to the library and read them” His response was along the lines that he wasn’t prepared to go to Washington, DC. I responded in, I suppose,  an exasperated tone of voice – “The library down the block has every issue of the Congressional Record on file, either on microfiche or bound.” The man was shocked and surprised while I couldn’t believe than an intelligent, well read, middle-aged man didn’t know how to use a library.  Further adventures ensued from his discovery. 

As much as I love a library, Google has been a dear good friend. 

I have so many bits and pieces of poetry in my head that I can’t always connect a remembered line with the entire poem. I spent years (YEARS) trying to track down a poem based on one line, a mis-remembered line as it turns out. I scoured every library source, I had the idea that it was from one of the war poets.  Turns out I was wrong about that too. The Wonderful, All-Knowing Google finally put me out of my misery – the poem was by William Blake. He was never on my radar as the poet – never. 

Recently the same problem presented itself. It wasn’t even a line that I remembered, just the sense of the poem and good old Google came through and saved me years of frustration – I searched ‘poem+throw’ and Bingo! there was the poem. To save my sanity, I copied the poem and have it saved in my documents. 

Should anyone be interested, the William Blake poem is “London” and the other, more easily recovered poem, is by Gregory Corso, “The Whole Mess”, and it’s a corker. 

So, here I am patting myself on the back because I am a whiz-bang researcher. I have patience for nothing, except, research. Curiouser and curiouser, I am. And I will stop at nothing to satisfy that curiosity.

And now for something completely different – today’s haiku

Wind gently whooshes
Softly through open windows.
Ah, nature's sweet breath. 

5-7-5

Mucking about here
Counting down my syllables
Experiment over. 

See that there? That is a haiku. Or a variation thereof. I’ve always known a haiku is 3 lines, with 5-7-5 syllable count. Classic Chinese haiku is a bit more strict than just syllables, and modern haiku is a bit more loosey-goosey but – ” a haiku still focuses on one brief moment in time, employs provocative, colorful imagery, and provides a sudden moment of illumination.” (Source)

I think my haiku focuses on one brief moment in time. Now that phrase sent me vaguely remembering a song, but the song that came up was One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston, a terrific song no doubt but not the song I was thinking of. 

I sorta remembered the singer’s name was Natalie something, and her last name began with a B and was something like Bedlington. And she was from Canada. Ok, that’s a lot of search parameters. 

Canada+ Natalie+singer brought up a huge number of hits, none of them my singer. Of course Bedlington gave me lots of dog sites, and one or two place sites but still, not what I was looking for. 

The I remembered there was something about a book in the lyrics – that search didn’t deliver anything usable. 

Another trip to Youtube and searching for Natalie and a bulb lit up – Natasha! Her first name is Natasha! I searched for Natasha B and bingo – there’s my girl, there’s my song. Yes! 

I have recently said that I don’t do inspirational, I also don’t do sentimental or sappy EXCEPT – when I do…And when I do go all sentimental, inspiration and sappy I go all in baby. 

This song is not only great to dance to (oh hell I can dance to just about anything but still, good to dance to) but I love every word, I love every concept, if I were 60 years younger this would be my anthem, my watchword – For your listening pleasure, may I introduce you to – Natasha Bedingfield singing “Unwritten”

tl;dr

Yes everyone has opinions but just because you think it that doesn’t mean you have to say it.

If someone asks my opinion about something I’m going to be very judicious in my reply. For example. I personally dislike white shaker style kitchen cabinets, really dislike them. If someone just had their kitchen done up with white shaker style kitchen cabinets, and they are just pleased as punch, and ask my opinion, should I give it? No, I shouldn’t. What would that accomplish? Make them feel bad? Or tick them off and make them defensive? All that over kitchen cabinets? No. As I said, I will not rain on someone’s parade. If they ask me about said kitchen cabinets before they make their final decision, I might offer up that they can be difficult to clean, or simply say they’re not my taste, hoping that’s the end of the conversation.

If the subject is of great importance and you and I are of the same opinion then it’s a short conversation. If our opinions are diametrically opposed and I know there is no room for civil discourse, why would I even bother getting into it? Knowing it will only devolve into argument and confrontation, not reasoned debate – I’m keeping my opinions to myself.

That all sounds as if there can be no exchange of opinions ever. Of course there can be, just know who you’re talking with. And be mindful of the other person’s feelings.

Which brings me to offending people. In a forum such as this, the conversation is one-sided. I’m doing all the talking, a reader can only react. Yes, it is a personal blog and no one is forced to read it but if by chance someone stops in, is offended by my strong beliefs/opinions on a subject and feels angry or hurt or insulted or any other negative reaction then I would feel bad.

Even if I never knew someone was offended, that someone might be makes me pause. Perhaps not so much if it is about something innocuous, like kitchen cabinets, but suppose it was something deeply personal, like religious beliefs. I have very strong opinions about religion and I know that is a subject that is divisive. I keep coming back to – what will I accomplish. Do I really need to say it.

I’ve just realized what I’m talking about here is the purpose of my blog. I read blogs that cover important, intelligent matters. And here I am talking about myself and curtains. Not very interesting to anyone but me. And yet…the blogs I enjoy most are the personal ones. People just nattering on about their ordinary lives. I like that.

There is a a gentleman who writes about living on a narrowboat, I don’t understand 95% of what he is talking about but I just enjoy the heck out of his blog. Plus he takes the most fabulous photos. Then there is Ashley, who writes serious, informative posts about mental health. Yes, she also does personal fluffy posts, but fun or serious her personality shines through and I read every post even when I don’t really care about the subject matter of the day. She can be so funny while being serious and again, I enjoy the heck out of her blog.

So my last post was me feeling down on myself, for not writing on matters of great social or intellectual import. Eh. I started doing this whole blogging thing back in 2003 (give or take) because it was all new and shiny, a new internet toy to play with. I’ve never had a theme or a purpose. I suppose it became a diary I felt comfortable sharing. Or I just got tired of talking to myself and thought with a blog you can pretend you are talking with other people.

Whatever my reasons were, here I am still. Babbling on about the inconsequential. Who knows, maybe I will once again, as I have done in the past, talk about weighty matters. It seems age has mellowed me to such an extent I barely recognize myself. But I’m not totally unhappy with the person I see on the page. I’m thinking mellow is a good look.