Friday, October 18, 2013

Bucket list distraction

Do you have a bucket list?

While trying to create my bucket list, I got distracted, got distracted again, and got distracted once more. Finally, I sat and made myself write, but I ended up with a short essay on death and a realization instead. My mind was getting stuck on the motivation behind the list. Appreciate the life I have, right? Appreciate it by living life to the fullest because I will, absolutely, undeniably, die. This thought is sticky, hard to get past.

When I read my essay, I was happy because I'm writing creative nonfiction again, and I haven't touched the genre for a long time, but I wasn't going to leave it at that. I had to try again. I researched online bucket lists, found an anti-bucket list even, and I realized I didn't have to put so much pressure on myself to get the right things on there. This list is not a sentence. I decided to just find some cool things I wouldn't mind doing and list those. Here's what I came up with:

Learn and memorize a dozen really funny jokes
Visit the Tunnels of Light in Japan
Go on a writing retreat outside of the US
Write a book that calls attention to Toledo, Ohio
Learn enough Spanish to hold a conversation; same for French
Read a book in Spanish (any suggestions?)
Read a book in French (any suggestions?)
Zipline over the San Diego Zoo Animal Park
Read the 150 or so books I have on my to-read list, beginning with the classics because I haven't read enough of those
Run a 10K as an adult
Continue to teach, in some capacity, forever
Help, in some real way, a young woman who went through similar obstacles as I did
Live outside of the US for at least six months
Write a book that will change its reader
Dress up as Tina Turner and sing "Simply the Best" (I'm doing this tomorrow, so I thought I'd cheat and put it on the list so I have something to cross out tomorrow.)
Stop being hard on myself, but not completely
Find people who will play chess with me
Read more poetry
Learn to implement all the neat relaxation techniques I know
Be more supportive of friends
Laugh more--laugh at myself more
Work on my dog training skills

This list is nowhere near complete, but it's a start. If you do have a list of your own, por favor comparta.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Uno Kudo 3 is Out

 I am thrilled to have a brand new piece of fiction, Animal Control, in Uno Kudo Volume 3. It was just released. The story is funny and a little crazy and, of course, set in Ohio. UK3 is a compilation of literary and visual art. Proceeds go to  PEN International, to support artists worldwide.

This stunning book is available in PDF and in a hard copy. The work in here is really outstanding, thanks to a lot of amazing art and the tireless reading and editing by Bud Smith, Aaron Dietz, and Erin McParland. I'm proud to be a part. The paintings shown here, which accompany Animal Control, are by Deedee Cheriel.

So support the arts by reading and looking at art. Experience the art. Check out Uno Kudo 3*!

*There is adult content in the cover of this book, so please don't follow the links if you have gymnophobia or are offended by nudity in art.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bucket lists and ruined carpet and other stuff

The puppy is peeing on the carpet. I take her on so many walks every day, I always think there's no way she'll have any pee left, but I turn my back for a second and she squats. "But you just went?!" It's crazy-making. I know she's just a baby and her muscles are still developing and she lacks, well, restraint, but I also don't want my house smelling like a urinal. I Google-d different training methods, read what Cesar Millan had to say, read what his critics had to say, but the most promising suggestion (I think) came from a friend. I bought a bell from a craft store, threaded it to make a sort of necklace, and hung it on the door. Whenever I see the puppy squat or see a fresh wet spot, I immediately take her to the bell and move her paw to ring it before taking her out. I hope this works. When my buddy died, I said I'd never get another dog. A month later... here I am. But bad pee habits or no, I'm glad I didn't stick to my words. This girl is bringing me so much joy, she's high-energy and that energy is addictive, and I'm so happy to have her a part of our home.

Since my husband is in Europe for work for a few weeks, I figured this would be a good time to write. I will be working on the Rattle novel primarily, which is taking a different feel than I originally intended, but I've been wanting to write another essay lately--I wrote one after my last dog passed away, and it reawakened my love of the form.

I was talking to a (different) friend--we were basically daydreaming out loud after a long day--and she said, partially joking, that she wanted to move to ABQ and start a hot air balloon business. She told me about the Balloon Fiesta that is going on there now. I need to add that to my bucket list, I said, and when I said it I realized that I didn't have one. My friend is a writer as well, and this short conversation prompted us to come up with a creative nonfiction prompt we both committed to complete:

The piece revolves around bucket lists, so it begins with making one. The piece will be lyrical, sectional: a short piece of writing for each list entry. The challenge is twofold: to come up with the list and to connect it in a unique way.

I bring this prompt up because so far this is the hardest writing assignment challenge I have ever had. I have bucket list block. The balloon fiesta looks pretty badass, so that's one. The rest of the list is empty. If I can manage to complete it, I'll post next week.

In writing news, I wrote a very, very short on the theme Rescued piece for Flash Frontier (there are a lot of wonderful, short pieces here). I'm pretty happy with it. Also, my husband's art is featured at the top of the site.

I also had a short piece accepted to Litro Online about my buddy. This is the first nonfiction piece in a long time, so I'm thrilled to share it. One of the most personal pieces I've ever written. It should be out in November.

Have a beautiful week, folks.

***12/22 Update: The bell worked like a charm. Took about two weeks of consistent reminders, and we have new problems now, but we haven't had an accident in a long time.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

On puppies

Ahti, 4 months
Last weekend my husband and I went to the Humane Society for the second time to look at a Black Mouth Cur mix named Jo.

In a matter of hours, we'd renamed her Ahti due to her love of water and signed paperwork declaring ourselves her people.

I'm learning a lot as a puppy mom. For instance, puppies are nothing like adult dogs (my buddy was 3 when we adopted him). Puppies adopt good habits and bad habits equally fast. Puppies can learn to shake and sit for treats in less than two days (is there a doggie Mensa?). Meanwhile, when an owner is not looking, puppies eat walls and shoes and destroy carpets. Training treats are the best things in the world. Puppies need to be led on walks or they will walk in circles. Puppies roll around in grass to acquire an older dog's scent, which means puppies roll around in areas where they smell older dogs, which means puppies roll around in older dog urine. It was cute till I found out why. Finally, air conditioning units can be like giant monsters to a puppy, so instead of thinking she's clumsy, look around at what could possibly be scaring her.

So far, so good. I rather love her.

One bit of news in writing to share: The amazing people at The Burrow Press Review nominated "The Suit" for Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net Anthology. We'll see what happens, but I'm super honored just to be nominated for inclusion. I love that story, so I'm glad it's getting the chance. Read it again or for the first time here.

Observations: Dublin Vacation

Dublin seemed the obvious destination. We would be close to various restaurants and tourist attractions. It would be easy to call a cab or...