Friday, December 30, 2016

Observations: January, 2017

With the new year comes possibility. Sure, many of us are afraid for the health of America's states. We worry about the integrity of our new administration, we worry about basic human rights, we worry that families won't be able to afford basic healthcare and that our educational systems are broken beyond repair, but 2017 could surprise us. Our mistakes and complacency and greed are being amplified, and this can teach us a lot.

We got here together, to a time of disbelief and propaganda-fueled beliefs. We need to listen to each other more than ever before, and we need to talk to each other more than ever before. Things may seem dark, but I believe real change will come from it. In the words of the late Leonard Cohen: "There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in."

In 2016, I learned:
  • Family is everything.
  • Fear can either be turned into energy or it can sap energy.
  • The weak and uninformed follow anyone who gives them a common enemy and an excuse, but there is no enemy greater than hate and division. #resist #listen
  • If there was an award for person who places as a finalist in the most contests, I'd win in 2016. (Or be a finalist.)
  • I wrote that last bullet point before I got the good news below.
  • The word elitist seems to fit as many republicans as it does democrats. 
  • When you help someone to achieve their dreams, yours are more likely to come true.
  • It's OK to say NO.
  • It's not OK to avoid answering questions you don't want to answer.
  • I'm getting old. ("I don't understand why these young people don't look people in the eye...")
  • Transparency is fine, so long as you're a willing participant.
  • With all the loss of talented artists this year, we have a lot of powerhouse angels.
  • Art is more important than ever.
In 2017, I will:
  • Write unapologetically and as often as I can.
  • Stand up for what I believe and listen to those I do not agree with.
  • Buy my first home.
  • Eat well.
  • Exercise well.
  • Try new things.
  • Call those I love, even when things are going well or I have nothing big to announce.
  • Support my writing friends.
  • Learn from my students.
  • Support my family.
  • Tackle big problems one angle at a time.
  • Run on my own terms.
  • Find the perfect computer bag.
  • Age gracefully.
  • Drink more water.
  • Travel every chance I get.
  • Say NO to what is too much without guilt.
  • Say YES to what I want but scares me.
  • Post to this blog monthly.
  • Listen to everything and make the best decisions I can.
I'm excited to announce that my unpublished short fiction collection, The Glass City, won the 2016 Americana Prize for Prose. I'm hoping the book will find its way to print soon. I also received word that my short story "Running Toward the Sun" got finalist status in the Aestas Short Story Competition 2016 and will be published in Fabula Press's Aestas Anthology soon.

Prompt: Write a short story or poem that begins with the line "The curtain parts, and..."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Observations, December: Part 15

The best way to reach out is to look within. Sounds good anyway, right? It definitely seems the basis for meditation and the theme of Westworld, so how can it not be true?

I've been taking a break from social media, specifically Facebook, to focus on a few writing projects. In a way, looking within through art. Or maybe I'm just strategizing about how to live in a less-than-ideal reality.

Whatever the answers... here are my observations from the last month:
  • Don't take HVAC systems for granted.
  • Internet advertisers: Send me a coupon, get a click. Send me twelve coupons, I'll block you.
  • Most of us are dehydrated (drink some water).
  • Cold weather = increased coffee consumption.
  • Basic civics, logic, and humanities curriculums need more attention in America. Too many people are under-informed and easily manipulated. 
  • Art saves. Action saves. Bitching is just bitching.
  • There are way too many dystopic films for my comfort. (*cough* education)
  • One can resist respectfully. Love regardless. Love relentlessly.
  • House hunting is equal parts fun and a PITA.
Prompt: Your character is living The American Dream. What's his or her day like?

I published a few interviews at Black Fox Literary Magazine and Superstition Review, both on writing/the writing life. Check 'em out!!

Love, Jen

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...