I Am Almost Back!

I have missed blogging so much! I’ve had some scheduled posts go up, but I haven’t been doing fresh posts for a few weeks. Part of it is certainly that I’ve been crazy busy. We took a wonderful four day trip to see my Uncle Jerry in New Mexico. I did not feel well, but really enjoyed seeing him. I have missed him since he came to Colorado Springs to visit us last May. My uncle has a lot of beautiful land in the heart of an Indian reservation, and he has built his house himself one step at a time. It is an amazing place. He has benches throughout the property and beautiful rocks to climb. The sunset views are remarkable.

I have also had doctor appointments. I’m back to seeing a podiatrist, and I also got an MRI done last week. Friday I go in to see the results. I see an orthopedic surgeon in the next week or so. I’ve also had several psych appointments over the past few weeks. Bipolar issues have been bad. We have had lots of other family activities, and a lot of days where I haven’t moved much. I did manage to take Angelica to church by myself on Sunday. Craig wasn’t able to go because he was sleeping in after a mid shift. Gratitude is the only way to describe what I felt. I sometimes struggle to get through a service when I’m not alone. Doing it alone – and bringing my little person with me, was daunting. I also got the UMW newsletter created and ran and folded the copies at church. Craig helped with making the copies. I’ve done it myself once before, and it is my job. But my anxiety was high and my mood was low, so I was grateful for the company.

The past few weeks I’ve gotten a bunch of photographs, which I only just loaded onto my computer and then on to my phone the other night for editing.

For the past few days I’ve had a lovely experience. Something bit my ring finger. It swelled so bad on one side immediately that I didn’t have the option to get my rings off in a hurry. Then the swelling spread to the other side of the lower section of my finger, then even to the underside. The swelling then advanced over my knuckle, and into the next part of my finger to the fingertip.  I used benedryl cream and the pills for two days and it got worse instead of better. I tried hot and cold water. Craig tried the string method to get the rings off and I ended up down on my knees screaming. I finally went to urgent care and they said they needed to cut my rings off. I love my wrings. They are the most sentimental things I own. And they are expensive to boot. So I gave a firm no. They agreed to try me on a high dose of steroids instead. So far so good! I finally got my rings off this afternoon. The finger is still swollen, but the rings aren’t there to cut into me anymore, and I can move my finger freely too.

Amazing Family Vacation

We just got home the night before last from an amazing family vacation. I have always wanted to see the Northwest, and my husband made my dreams come true. We went to South Dakota to see Mt Rushmore, and then a historic cemetery. We explored Wyoming and Montana. We saw Devil’s Tower.

After that we headed to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I wanted to see Idaho, but I had no idea I would adore it so much! Coeur d’Alene was a picturesque town by a lake nestled in the mountains. Over the course of our vacation I saw southern and northern Idaho, and northern Idaho is my favorite. Those mountains! That lake!

Then we headed to the coast of Washington. We spent a night on Whidbey Island. I love Whidbey Island. Everything about it has a serene loveliness and an introspective air. We spent the following day on the Olympic Peninsula. Craig drove us up to the very Northwest tip of the continental United States. It was a difficult hike to get to the overlook where I could see the water, but it was so worth doing. I managed to get back to the car tired, but not in too much pain.

The sight was gorgeous. The land ended in a sheer cliff drop into the ocean, with blue blue water rising and falling against the rocks, struggling against them.

We headed back across Washington and through part of Oregon to get to Utah and Salt Lake City. While we were on Antelope Island in the lake, we saw wild bison. The shoreline and salt flats were lovely in an almost scifi kind of way. While we were in Salt Lake City, we visited the Mormon Tabernacle. 

After that we headed home through western Colorado, which I had never seen before. the mountains were so inspiring, with their stripes of autumn yellow in between rows of evergreens.

All in all it was a fantastic trip. I am very tired now, but I am so glad we got to do this. Craig really did it for me. These were places I wanted to go. He had seen some of them, and wasn’t interested in others. He knew I wanted to go though, and he planned this trip for me. I love my husband.

Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota

Our road trip through the Northwest began on Thursday! We are doing Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Utah. We would like to do Nevada and California,  but we don’t think we will have time. We went to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman this morning. Great dinosaur museum with a planetarium, though we didn’t get to see the show. Pictures of the museum in another post.

Montana is stunning. Wyoming is marvelous. Cheyenne is a cute town with amenities, but from the highway you could easily drive right past it – which is what we did. We had to turn around.

We started off in Wyoming and then went into South Dakota to see Mt Rushmore. ! It is an amazing work of art. On the way back to Wyoming we went to Devil’s Tower. It looks like stump of a giant, alien tree.

We also stopped in Deadwood, South Dakota and went to the cemetary where Wild Bill Hickok was burried.

 

That’s not his grave, but another really pretty grave in the graveyard.

Housewifing

This morning we ran over to Home Depot. Craig was helping me choose wood for my newest creative adventure – watercolor on wood. When we got home I did a test run. The way the colors spread through the grain is lovely, and the colors stay so vibrant.

After we ate lunch, it was time for school. We did a lesson in reading. It was her first lesson in reading for the curriculum, so there were no actual words in her little reader for the day. It was just sort of an introduction to books, although coming from this house she doesn’t really need that! We fell on a review day for math today, so we will be doing some review, but went on ahead and did the next lesson.

Craig has been working all afternoon and he won’t be home until bedtime. So I am flying solo for the pm hours. And I’ve been trying hard to get things done! After Angelica’s school day was over, I started cleaning the house. I reorganized the homeschool supplies, cleared off the dining room table (which had become a storage space for school supplies and little toys that had been brought downstairs by little hands), reorganized the kitchen to the best of my ability (and I did a lot of organizing…took about two hours), did dishes, took out trash, took out recycling, cleaned out the refrigerator, and began organizing Angelica’s clothes for the trip. In between, I painted with Angelica, took her to the park for over an hour, helped her mail something to her grandparents, made her dinner, and after all that was through I took a hot shower. Now I have some laundry to do, some sweeping, and some mopping. I’d also like to put away my second, though small, round of clean dishes. I am really going to push myself.

Exhaustion is setting in though. I hate this overused analogy, but I only get so many spoons per day. I normally breakup my housework and activity into smaller, shorter chunks. I am just now sitting down after my shower. It is almost seven and I’ve been going at it since before noon. I guess that isn’t a lot, but it feels like it. The shower felt good, but even that took a spoon.

Truly, I love my job. I love being a housewife, and I love being a mom. And I get tremendous satisfaction from a good day of work.  I just run out of energy and stability….quickly a lot of the time. But I’m so glad I’ve done what I’ve done. The kitchen took the longest time. It was in need of a massive organize. We just have a lot of stuff. And I have more to do that I am really going to try to get done before bed.

Tomorrow is my sixth wedding anniversary. We celebrated last week by going to a little french restaurant, and hanging out just the two of us. Tomorrow I’ll be with Craig for our anniversary (and the holiday) in the morning, but he will be working all afternoon and evening. It will be just me and Angelica. I’m not sure what we are going to do – probably have a quiet day.

Okay, well that was my day so far. Now it is time to review Angelica’s speech therapy lesson with her, sweep up, mop, run laundry, and put away dishes!

Reading Peter Rabbit to Angelica

In our family, we love bunnies. We have a 1 year old black bunny named Parsnip. I have loved bunnies my whole life, and I have passed that down to my daughter. One of our mutual favorite stories is the classic Peter Rabbit. These were taken as we were getting ready to read together yesterday.

 

 

New Domain, Life

I finally took the plunge and bought a domain name today. I had a horrible time picking between so many options, but I decided to use one that describes who I am on a daily basis. It gives me subject matter versatility (a housewife can be a writer, a reader, an artist, anything), and I love headcovering with my veils. Headcovering is an important part of my walk with God, inspired in me by the Holy Spirit.

I have been running low on memory, so I knew I needed to buy a hosting plan and that plan came with a domain anyways.  I got so sick of those awful, tacky ads that my free hosting was putting on my little blog, so that was another good reason to get a domain name and hosting. I have been mulling over the choice of a domain name for weeks and have been paralyzed by indecision. I think though that this was the right choice. I hope so anyway.

Life has been busy lately. I’ve been doing a ton of digital creating. I have also started learning new things, reading new things, and studying a new devotional. Last weekend I got to see one of my best friends. She lives down the street from my old house we just sold in North Carolina. She came out to Colorado on a family trip, and we got to meet up for dinner and ice cream in Denver. It was so good to see her! I missed her as soon as we drove away. I can’t wait til we meet up again.

Today we went to church. I had some anxiety during all the singing, but overall it was a good service. The sermon was about Communion, and the difference between the Catholic view (transubstantiation) and the Protestant view. Personally, although I am not Catholic, I believe in transubstantiation. It was really interesting though.

Submission Process

I have been moaning about the submission process in poetry for a while now in little bits and pieces. I’ve been doing some reading up on it and really searching my heart, and now I want to elucidate some of my thoughts.

My heart is simply not in submitting anymore, at least not to individual magazines. I found one magazine, through Facebook, that excited me in recent months and I submitted to them and got accepted. But beyond that I have not seen a magazine that excites me in ages, other than what I already read. There are many magazines which I can recognize as good, but most of them are not particularly interesting to me. Technically proficient, but not exciting or inspiring. And it’s hard to go through all the work that is involved with submissions – from selecting the poems to send, to writing a cover letter and a short bio, to searching through hundreds of magazines to find where those poems go, to tracking everything in a spreadsheet – to have a 2% chance of getting into a magazine that doesn’t even remotely excite me. I’m not completely jaded. There are a few Publications that I enjoy reading, whether my work would even be accepted there or would even fit in there or not. I enjoyed reading them for the pleasure of reading them. Lit mags are important and some of them are extremely well done. I certainly don’t hate literary magazines. In fact I successfully ran one and I’m on Hiatus from running another one. I believe in them. But most magazines leave me cold, and there are so many thousands of magazines listed that it stresses me out try to even wade through the pile.

I know if I was smart I would do these things just for the publication credits. But I’m just not somebody who does things to have bragging rights. And since I didn’t end up going into Academia like I had always thought I would, I’m not in some sort of publish or perish environment that some of those people are in. For me publishing my writing is a choice. I can publish or not publish. Self-publish or go through traditional publishers. I can submit to magazines or I can keep my writing to myself or on this blog. I have total freedom, which I like and I wouldn’t trade for anything.

It seems like anymore the only way to get a book of poetry published is to go through book contests, the cost of which really adds up and the reality of these is that the judge will often pick somebody they know or somebody whose writing they recognize from an MFA program that they attended or taught at. I am not in that inner circle. And it seems like more and more you have to be to get anywhere. I’m sure this is not completely true. There are and have always been poets that exist outside of academia. But the odds are not good. Overall a lot of it comes down to who you know and where you go, and I know nobody and I stay at home. And I don’t want to drop 25 and $30 at a time to submit to something I have almost no chance of winning. Pretty much I’ll just be funding whoever wins and getting nothing for it. Most of these contests don’t even give you a copy of a book. I submitted to one along while back and they did give you a copy of a previously published book, and that was nice and I felt like I got something good for my money. But most of the time you pay your fee and you get absolutely nothing in return. And I don’t call having some first-year MFA students who are no better than me scrape through my manuscript as quickly as possible, and without giving even the minimal feedback that they would be capable of providing, as getting something in return. Essentially, for the vast majority of these contests I feel like I would be wasting my money.

I guess I could self-publish, but I’m not really sure how I feel about that. If I did I would want to shell out the money to hire someone to look over my manuscript. I don’t mean to look at the nuts and bolts like typos, although as you can probably tell from this blog I do a lot of my writing with voice text on my phone, and it does make mistakes and miss things too. But I would hire someone to really look through and give me an honest assessment of what poems were working and what poems were not, and for the poems that were not working what could help them to work better. I want to improve my writing and although I think the key is learning to sharpen your writing yourself, periodically having feedback would be wonderful. Just someone to keep me sharp and critical. And if I was going to put a book out in the public sphere with my name on it I would want the book to be completely ready. It may not have fancy cover design or anything else elaborate and artful, but I would want to make absolutely certain that the poems inside were worthy to be printed. Another poet work with me before to go through some poetry for a manuscript and his feedback was invaluable.

At the end of the day though, without all those fancy graphic design skills and without a lot of heavy promotion, a self-published poetry book is just not going to sell. It’s hard enough to sell poetry books that come through traditional publishers. Something self-published, let alone something that is self-published and looks like it’s self-published on the cover, is not going to sell. And there’s so much work involved in promoting writing. I don’t mind blogging, obviously. However, I used to have a Facebook page where I would post little fragments of poems, but I didn’t like doing that and felt like it was a waste of time and way too self-promotional for my personality. I was told time and time again that I should do things like that -create a Facebook page, start a Twitter- but it just wasn’t me at all. I guess you could chalk some of that up to laziness, being unwilling to do whatever it takes to succeed. But me having a Facebook page to promote my poetry was about as futile and inauthentic as it sounds.

The truth is I hate to promote myself, which might be one of the reasons I hate writing those stupid bios in magazine submissions. A few magazines have enough personality, including some of the ones I’ve been featured in before, that you can write a fairly casual and quirky bio. And if you like a ride or it could be interesting to see a bio and get to know them a little bit. But most of them want something very starched and stuffy and filled with publication credits that are listed more to make you sound good than they are to serve any practical purpose. It’s all about name recognition and posturing. I have been published in several magazines, magazines I found years ago when I was still finding publications that I liked. And I am proud to be in each and every single one of them. But I also don’t like attaching a byline to every single thing I write that essentially screams look at me look at me look at me! If the poem I have written is good and deserves to be in a magazine, it should be there whether I’ve been previously published or not. I shouldn’t need to attach resumes to my poems to get into a magazine. Look at my poem for its own merits. Maybe it doesn’t have any merit. But if it does I shouldn’t need to drag up a list of every place I have been published to either convince you to accept it, or to convince the reader to give my poem a try.

I ran a magazine, a good one, in conjunction with a really talented web designer for a few years, until he had to quit and I could not find anyone else to update the site as a labor of love. I was always more than happy to include whatever bio the person had written, including their publication credits if that was something they wanted to put in there. But I never requested or required it, and truthfully I didn’t really care. If I thought it was good I printed it. If I didn’t then I didn’t print it. No pretentious list of publication credits ever convinced me to like something I didn’t like, and a lack of publication credits never turned me against something that I did like. And in my humble opinion that’s the way it should be.

Maybe if I come back to looking at duotrope and give it another chance I will find something I really love where my work would fit. Or at the very least if I don’t find any place that seems like a good fit for my writing I might find something that I enjoy reading. Literary magazines are very important. But right now I’m too stressed out by the very thought of going through those thousands of magazines to find the right ones that I am just avoiding it altogether. I tried logging into duotrope just the other day and truthfully I got anxiety. I just felt overwhelmed. If I can’t deal with sorting through these magazines without stress then I may never submit to a magazine again. I am totally going to keep reading things from my favorite chapbook publishers, and from the few magazines I already know of that I really like. I will always be a devoted reader. I just may not submit to magazines anymore and maybe that’s okay. I can always try submitting more chapbooks, since I like chapbooks better than full-length books. I would be excited to get my second chapbook published. And maybe the excitement of that will keep me going, something that I really care about. I’m just not ready to handle a lot of stress, and I don’t want to submit to a magazine again until I find more of them that I am really excited about and when I can handle the process. And I know that the good ones are out there. Not necessarily the famous ones or the ones that have been around forever or the super popular ones. I mean the magazines that are publishing really interesting stuff that you don’t see anywhere else. Or the ones that just have a voice that I really really enjoy listening to. It’s not that I’ve come to hate literary magazines. Quite the contrary. I have been known to swoon over literary magazines. And I have run one successful magazine myself and have another one in the wings that is on Hiatus right now. I believe in lit mags. I’m just getting overwhelmed at all there is and having a hard time finding my niche. And I just don’t want to submit to any place that doesn’t excite me ever again. I have freedom, and I want to exercise that freedom by focusing my time on things  that I really connect with. I don’t want to feel stressed out at the process of going through magazines. My anxiety issues get so bad. The next time I approach duotrope I am only going to spend about 20 minutes on there, and I’m going to only look for something good to read. I will not look for a place that seems to match the aesthetic of my writing at all. I’m going to look for good magazines to read and if one of them happens to seem like my writing would be a good fit for them then maybe I’ll send it. But I am over the submission process. Never again will I wade through hundreds of magazines trying to find a good place to submit a poem. I admire people who have the heart to do that, but that just isn’t me. I’m going to go at it from the perspective of a reader and if once in awhile I make a serendipitous find of a perfect place to send my writing then wonderful. If not, at least I will have read some good poetry. The stress and anxiety I feel trying to cope with the submission process has caused me to miss out on reading things that I love, and time spent engaging in the mass submission culture is time I could better spend writing.

As I gather up and revise more more of what I have written and put together some more cohesive collections of what I have written, I may put together more books and try to find a publisher that doesn’t do contests and has an open submission period. I don’t think there are many of those but when the time comes I’m going to look. I do not think I will ever do another book competition.

I am also going to consider publishing a digital copy of one of my books for free. At the end of the day I am lucky that I am not trying to make money in any way out of poetry. So I have the freedom to put something up for free just like I do on here. And my ultimate goal is to connect to readers, even if it is only one or two. I’m not convinced that I will ever go the self-publishing route, but I will at least consider it. If even one or two people download my book and like it I will be happy. But who knows. I may never take that leap. If I do I will just keep it quiet and let whoever wants to download it download it and if no one does, oh well. I’m not doing that crazy social media promotion. That’s just not me, and that’s not how I want to spend my time.

I know I have been ranting and sorting out my thoughts for quite a while in this post. I’ve been trying to work out my opinions and feelings. And in summary, it comes down to a few things. Literary magazines are important and some of them are really good, not all but some, but trying to submit to all these places is so stressful that I walked away from it a couple of years ago for good reason. It gave me nothing but anxiety. Furthermore, I don’t want to submit places that don’t interest me, and some of them just don’t interest me. And I want to get back to reading magazines as much or more than I ever submitted to them. I am against book contests and will not waste my money on one ever again. Luckily, unlike some people who are equally as jaded, I have not wasted that much money on them at this point. There are some people that spend $2,000 before they’ve arrived at the conclusion that I have. I will focus on blogging and chapbooks, the reading and writing of them.

Royal Gorge

On Thursday, Craig surprised us with a trip to Royal Gorge Park. The gorge was gorgeous! At the bottom you could see the ribbon of the river running through it. Angelica got to play on the playground and ride the carousel. Craig rose across the gorge in the sky gondola. And I went ziplining across!

Gorgeous Antique Mall

Craig took me to a gigantic antique mall to browse for some beautiful odds and ends. I took some photos while I was there. I got some lovely little things and I even got a fan and a beautiful gold glittering iridescent dish. I also got some magazines to use for Erasure poetry. I don’t have pictures of what I bought but I have some gorgeous pictures of other things.

I Need a Kindred Soul

I need a friend. I have friends, a few at least. And I love them. But what I wish I had was one more friend, a friend who likes phone photography or writing poetry or taking still lifes or journaling or painting or collage. A friend I can do creative challenges with, or even start a separate blog with to post collaborative work or stuff that follows the same sort of theme or concept.

I think that working with someone and bouncing ideas off each other would make my creativity stronger. I would certainly love the companionship and having someone to talk to about creativity, either written or visual. It would be fun if we were doing the same thing, but it would be equally great if we were doing two different creative things and just talking about them with each other, and giving each other suggestions and keeping each other posted with our progress.

I feel like I run on and on about poetry and other artsy things to friends that aren’t interested in them. And no one wants to be the person in the room who talks for an hour about something no one else in the room is interested in! But it’s hard when almost no one is interested in something that you really love.

So many creatives throughout history have been shaped by other creatives that they were friends with. I would love to have someone like that in my life and I would love to be that someone for another person.

I am not an amazing artist or photographer, but I really like designing images. I wish there was someone I could talk about it with. Maybe we could inspire and challenge each other. Perhaps we could give each other ideas outside of one another’s usual subject matter or mode of creating in order to sharpen one another’s senses. Why not try mixed media? Or instant film and toy cameras? Or ekphrastic poetry based on one another’s photographs? Book binding? Incorporating ephemera into our art?

Blogging helps me work some of my Creative Energy out. Blogging is extremely important to me. But maybe through my blog I will make a serendipitous discovery of a kindred soul who might want to be an angel in my life and let me be an angel in theirs.

This is probably a long shot, but maybe someday somebody will find this post and a beautiful friendship will spark. I know it’s unlikely, but it’s always worth a try. If nothing comes of it, my life will continue in much the same way and I will not have lost anything. And I have a good life. But if I do find that kindred soul, how happy I will be! If I don’t open my doors no one will know that they are welcomed into my life.

Iron sharpens iron, and friends are priceless. Is anyone out there? Hello….Hello……