moleskine your life

Like almost everyone who fancies his/herself just a little bit creative, I’m in love with Moleskines. I was poking around their website the other day, and I discovered they offer a variety of templates to make the whole Moleskine experience more complete. One of the templates they offer is for your blog. Basically, you can put a tagline at the end of each post encouraging others to print out your blogpost and stick it in their Moleskine (no matter which size or type they have).

(not the template. Just fun.) from the Moleskine website

I don’t think I have the kind of blog that people print out blogposts from*. And that’s okay. I might have one day, or I might not. It doesn’t really matter. But I read a lot of blogs, and a lot of pretty memorable ones, and I would love to be able to neatly print  out the best entries. It sometimes kills me that my on- and offline life are so separated – I collect souvenirs from Real Life** and paste them in a big book, yet don’t do anything except perhaps electronically bookmark the blog posts that mean so much to me and that certainly influence how I think. and even who I am And sure, I could just print them out already, but I dislike the messiness of blogposts converted to Word. (Another example of the same quirk: I paste in newspaper clippings, but never news stories I read online. It just messes up my scrapbook and thus messes up my life.)

I might be the only neurotic, Moleskine-lover, life-chronicler out there. But on the off-chance I’m not, I thought I’d share.

*Yes, I am ending a sentence with a preposition. I know, the horror. Grammar Girl says it’s okay, though, so I’m in the clear.
** I hate it when people differentiate between Real Life and Online Life. My online life is important to me and very much integrated in my “real life”. I hate it even more when people do it with a sense of superiority, as if online communities aren’t communities and can’t offer you anything else than square eyes and/or carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, my boyfriend and I bonded over blogs. He read the same blogs I do and I remember being so excited that someone besides me not only knew them, but cared. That conversation was the first time I seriously began to think of him as potential boyfriend material (even if it did take close to six months or so for it to happen). So never underestimate the power of the internet, people! (Thanks for listening. I’ll shut up now.)

working words

I’ve always been very jealous of poets. I mean, I can write. I can string words together and make a story, hopefully well enough to create a world you can get lost in, even if it’s just for a second. But I love words. I think it’s fascinating how they sound when spoken and look on a page when typed (or, even better, handwritten on beautiful lined paper). And poetry is much more conductive to that kind of scrutiny than most prose is.

But unfortunately I can’t write poetry to save my life. My efforts end up sounding trite and angstridden, much more like a teenager’s scribbling than the deep thoughts and beautiful words I was aiming for. Every once in a while I’ll come up with a good line or two, and try to build a poem around it. Inevitably, I fail. But I hug those lines to me and whisper them to myself in secret, because in some way, they represent me and I love them for that. Poetry is deeply personal and therefore very close to my soul.

All this serves as an introduction to the following anthology, edited by M.L. Liebler, that I really want to buy, put on my shelves, and flip through every so often. (I never read poetry collections straight through. The words tend to lose their power whenever I try, so I limit myself to a couple of poems I can linger over.) The anthology contains poetry and short fiction and memoirs and nonfiction – a good mix.

Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams

Apparently, one of his aims was to make poetry accessible to everyone. To that end, Walt Whitman is in there. But so are Eminem and Bob Dylan. I love that. Because poetry really isn’t as highbrow as some people seem to think. I get that Shakespeare isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If I’m honest, he’s often not my favorite. But there’s poetry out there for everyone – whether your soul is moved by powerful imagery, by rhyme, or by rock lyrics you can sing along with at the top of your lungs.

If and when I get my hands on this book, I’ll let you know what gems I find inside. Who knows, it might inspire me to pore over a few lines of my own. Those are just for me, though. I take it you don’t mind.

 

 

a little over 22 words

Over the past few weeks I have concluded that having a regular job is the sure way to kill a blog. This is my fourth week of my summer job and while I like the money I’ve been making, I hate that my time is theirs from 8 to 5. Which results in a lot less blogging, since I only have a couple of hours after work to do everything I want to do…and blogging often gets left out. But I’ll see if I can remedy that.

One of the blogs I read is 22 Words, by Abraham Piper. Interesting questions and concepts are presented in under 22 words, which makes for easy reading yet makes me think about the entry all day. Also, it’s a good lesson in concise writing, which is important to any author. This entry is about using "how are you" as a greeting. Check it out, the comments as well (some people write whole novels there).

I went to see David Sedaris read from his work (David Sedaris is an awesome humor writer, for those that don’t know) in San Francisco Monday night. What made the night so amazing, next to the very very funny things he said, was the fact that once he put away his notes and started answering questions, he kind of jammed up. He started saying “um” and couldn’t directly find the right words to express himself. Now, even I am not cynical enough to enjoy someone else stumbling through speech. What made it memorable for me was the fact that it gave me hope that you don’t have to be a great speaker to do book tours. I left the Opera House with my sides hurting from laughing, but also the notion, “If he can do that, I can do that”. Now all I have to do is find a publisher so I can earn my living through book tours. And, oh yeah, write that book first. Minor detail.

I also liked the way he talked about being a writer. He felt that just like the word “artist”, “writer” is something other people have to call you first. I understand what he’s talking about. I mean, I write. I write a lot, and I view the world through that particular lens. And sometimes I even allow myself to think I have talent and might make it some day. So writing is more than a hobby, it’s what makes me me, in part. But I have a hard time calling myself a “writer”, because it seems pretentious or something. That’s why I tend to stick with the safer phrase “I write”.

From a Distance

I posted a new story-type thing on my Fictionpress today; it’s the result of a writing exercise from the wonderful writing book Room to Write by Bonni Goldberg, in which we were to write about sex appeal from a distance. I put it under a cut for easy access. 

 

She’s sitting on a bench, reading. Engrossed in her book, she doesn’t see him standing there. He pauses, letting the image of her sink in. She crosses her legs, shifts in her seat. Her hair falls over her shoulder and she brushes it away. One hand absentmindedly reaches into the bag of cherries next to her. She politely spits the pits into her hand and drops them into the bag, fingers already reaching for another.

He could stand there for hours, just gazing at her in all her innocence. But he doesn’t, his lunch break is almost over and he still has five blocks to walk back to his office. Besides, he knows she’ll be waiting for him when he gets off work tonight.

She’s in his thoughts all afternoon. He gets of work early, and finds her in the kitchen cutting up mushrooms for the pasta. She’s humming along with the radio, and he catches the door before it slams so not to startle her. He savors the moment; his wife never looks as good to him as when she’s unaware of his presence and lost in her own world. It’s then he really loves her and knows he could never leave her. He drinks in her image, feasting on the curves of her hips and back, even enjoying the swell of her breasts that he can’t see. He’s memorized every inch of her body over the years. His wife still looks as pretty as she did ten years ago – an opinion his wife can’t completely bring herself to believe.

When he comes forward to kiss her, he doesn’t tell her he saw her in the park that afternoon. He keeps it to himself all evening, and when they get ready for bed he knows why. When he closes the door of the bathroom behinds him, she’s lying in bed waiting for him, in lingerie he hasn’t seen before. She’s so beautiful and sexy he pauses for a moment, before slipping into bed himself and reaching for her. Yet he knows he’ll close his eyes in a minute, letting the image of this afternoon do its work. To him, innocence beats a provocative look hands down.

At least, the first time around.

reading: Fluistergebeden

I wrote this next piece for a writing challenge (issued by Livejournal’s The Dead Muse). They supplied a prompt (two teenagers are rowing across a lake when they discover an artificial leg and a clown suit floating in the water) , and I was to do the rest. This is what happened.

 The sun had just come up when Scott and Riley started rowing. It was the last day of their camping trip, and they wanted to go out one more time before their parents picked them up at one o’clock.

Scott was the first to break the silence. “Look at the lake, it’s gorgeous.”

And it was. The sun shone on the water, the sky was a pretty shade of orange, and it was absolutely quiet. Or, at least, there was no man-made noise, which, to a couple of city kids, was almost the same thing.

They rowed for a while in companiable silence. They had been friends since the fourth grade. This time next year, they would be at different colleges, with different lives. Scott hoped they would stay in touch, and often said so. Riley, the more gruff one, had the same thought even though he wouldn’t admit it.

Both their parents sometimes wondered why the boys were such good friends. Scott was shyish and fond of solitary things like taking hikes and reading. He did have friends, but not like Riley, who was outgoing, played football and had a different date every Saturday night. Despite their differences, the friendship thrived. They saw each other outside of school as well as on the weekends, and often went camping together. That proved to be the perfect activity to combine Scott’s love of nature and Riley’s outdoorsman spirit. They would roast ‘smores and talk until early morning. Then, even Riley opened up, and told Scott about his hopes and dreams for the future, about the girls he had been dating, all the things he couldn’t really share with his other friends. Scott was the first to hear about it when Riley lost his virginity, even before his football pals. Riley hadn’t been boastful then; it hadn’t been locker room talk, but honest words spoken to a good friend. But even though they talked about almost anything on those nights, there was always one thing Scott wanted to say, but never could bring himself to actually do.

They had stopped rowing by this time, and were just letting themselves drift. Riley had his eyes closed, and was enjoying the early sun. Scott studied him, and wondered again why they had remained friends. But he was glad they had, and only hoped he could find such a friend again when he went off to college. He was going out-of-state, while Riley remained in Washington. But whatever happened, Scott was sure they’d always at least send Christmas cards.

Just then the boat bumped against something. Riley opened his eyes, but as there was nothing to be seen, he closed them again. Scott looked at him again, and felt his stomach turn. He had to say something today. He had to say it now.

How does one say such a thing? It was something he had agonized over for the past months. Was it best to just state it, or to drop hints? He had tried the latter, but Riley hadn’t picked up on them. Scott desperately wanted Riley to know, but he didn’t want to scare him off. He knew it had happened before. He had talked to some guys online who had had that happen to them. But they survived, and he was sure he would, if worst came to pass.

Well, he thought, here goes nothing, to use a cliche. He swallowed and opened his mouth at the same time as Riley sat upright and started to talk.

We should start rowing again. I mean, we have to break up camp and stuff before your folks come. Plus, we have that last lunch to look forward to, and -”

Riley,” Scott said. “Riley, I’m gay.”

Riley looked at him with horror. “What the fuck,” he yelled, and scrambled backwards in the boat. Scott’s heart sunk. He had never felt so humiliated in his life. He wanted to be anywhere but here in the boat with the boy he thought was his best friend. In an impulse, and one he would regret later, he dove overboard. And landed on an empty clownsuit that was floating next to an artificial leg.

Riley looked at him like he was crazy. “Dumbass, get back in the boat. I was talking about the leg. I thought it was a dead body.”

Oh,” Scott said, feeling extremely foolish. “It’s fake.” He took Riley’s hand and managed to get back in the boat. He sat there for a moment, shivering, and watched Riley haul the suit and leg on board as well.

What happened?” Riley asked.

With what?”

The clown, of course. Why is there both a suit and a leg in the water, and nothing else?”

Scott relaxed and let his imagination work. He came up with several explanations, each one sillier than the last, until both boys were laughing hard enough to scare all the birds away. The final explanation was the most ludicrious, as final explanations tend to be. “The clown decided to go for a swim and was attacked by a shark or a man-eating piranha, or maybe just a goldfish. He threw his fake leg as far as he could to distract it, and swam asore. The suit dragged him down, so he took that off as well. That’s how the police found him; naked, cold, and with one leg. He was hopping down the highway,” Scott said with a straight face, or, at least, as straight a face as he could manage under the circumstances. Still laughing, the boys rowed ashore, and left the suit and leg in the boat as they cleared their camp. At last, they sat down to their last lunch at the campsite. After they had both burned the roof of their mouths on the undercooked yet somewhat charred hotdogs, Scott got up enough nerve to ask if Riley had heard him earlier. Riley didn’t answer, though, because at just that moment Scott’s parents drove into the clearing. The question was lost in the bustle of greeting Mr and Mrs Eglander, loading their bags into the car and explaining the debris in the boat. Scott’s parents shook their heads, but loaded the attributes in their car along with the tent and duffelbags. They’d figure out what to do with them at home.

It was quiet in the car. Scott and Riley were both tired out, and the adults didn’t talk because they didn’t want to disturbe them. Scott wasn’t sleeping though. He was hyperaware of Riley next to him, and wondered what Riley was thinking. At that moment, Scott’s dad turned around and asked if they were up for ice cream. Like any teenage boy, Riley loved junkfood, and opened his eyes quickly to reply in the affirmative. As they climbed out of the minivan, Riley touched Scott on the arm and said, “We’re cool man,” with a smile so geninune Scott knew he hadn’t ruined their friendship. The smile on his own face had nothing to do with the prospect of ice cream, even though he’d have his parents – and the rest of the world – think so.

I don’t think it’s any weirder than anything I normally would have written, even without the prompt. It was only a matter of time until a clown suit and an articifical leg found their way into my head…