A fishy Easter #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Wasn’t that coffee tasting fun?

I know, you may not be such a Starbucks supporter, but these monthly events are now something my husband and I look forward to. So far, I’ve learned that I do not like Latin American coffees, and African ones are hit-or-miss. You heard me ask Barista Dean about the types of coffees I like, and it’s the Asia-Pacific ones that seem to offer the mouth feel that I like. The roundness, was that what he called it? You’d think me a coffee drinker fresh out of the womb, but it was an acquired taste, born from the sleepiness of 5:00am film crew calls. That’s a story for another time. I want to tell you about last night.

My husband and I went to a Lenten fish fry.

This was my first fish fry since my Pittsburgh childhood. Oh, memories.

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Our current Peeps haul is larger than this…

Tomorrow is Easter. We’re already overflowing with Marshmallow Peeps, a childhood tradition and a joke between me and my husband from my 2009 article about the History of Marshmallow Peeps. I’m saving my one Cadbury Creme Egg for tomorrow, another family tradition.

And maybe I’m being extra-reflective because of the blogs I’ve been reading lately. Yes, I actually made time this week to read blogs, a lot of goal-setting between the ROW80 Round 1 wrap ups and A to Z Challenge Theme Reveals (you can currently find me at #493).  It’s the Throwback Thursday historic posts that have focused on family and memories in addition to goals. I’ve commented on these with my own family memories, which brings me back to fish frys.

Catholics typically don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, the weeks that lead up to Easter. Regardless of my parents’ health, what state I lived in or current religious activity, my family always observed meatless Fridays during Lent. It’s ingrained in me, so when I found this fish fry back in February, I so wanted to go.

There are so many pleasant memories about that. Riding the PAT bus through the neighborhood to St. Benedict’s, a school and a monastery. As we walked up the hill, what felt like a mountain, I always wondered what made a nun want to be a nun. Neither Mom nor Dad could tell me, but Dad would regale stories of his schooldays that every year involved nuns and wooden rulers on finger knuckles. The brick building with the ramp I had to go up instead of the steps. The stark hall, dull with tan walls yet screamingly bright from industrial overhead lights. The hum of chatter, voices laughing, saying hellos. The fast-food smell of cooking oil. A buffet line, find your seats first. White cardboard plates heavy and soggy from the river of coleslaw juice running under fish pieces. Sitting with Mom, Dad and my aunt. It was a party, and since we didn’t eat dinner out often, this was an event.

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Military rather than religious, it could almost be Pittsburgh

It took us until Good Friday to finally make it. We drove past a fish fry on the way to this fish fry. Who knew? At the VFW in Plymouth, we had the choice to sit in the Hall, which could’ve been my Pittsburgh memory plopped down in Michigan, or in the VFW Bar. 

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Baked and fried fish options at the modern-day fish fry

My husband chose the Bar. For the ambiance, he said.

We sat at a table across the room from the pool tables, next to the jukebox. It was the 4th Friday so live music started at 7pm and the pitchers of beer came out.

This was not my childhood fish fry.  It was still a good one.

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February 29 : Leap day means another day to procrastinate

Procrastin-a-a-ation’s making me late.

That sentence works best if you sing along with Carly Simon.

Today is Leap day, and I have an extra day to enter the Rochester Writers 2016 Winter Contest. I’m still working on my pieces.

There are four categories: flash fiction; poetry; holiday memoir; and opening of a novel. I plan to enter three of them. Flash fiction scares me.

I didn’t pay super-duper attention to the word count requirements. No, I just thought that 400 words was longer than it is. It really is not as many words as you think. The ending comes way too quick. Tight writing and editing is what I need to focus on because all of my entries are significantly over word count. Stay tuned.

This #WeekendCoffeeShare is worth writing about

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~Maya Angelou, American poet

If we were having coffee, I’d share a bunch of my writing news today.

I gave my first radio interview Wednesday. The Michigan Literary Network approached me to discuss my writing career on the air. Even with a brief review of potential questions…well, I described my initial thoughts a few days ago in this post. Listen to my interview here and tell me how it is; I’ve been too self-conscious to listen to it yet.

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July 2015: parties, awards, writing…and–of course–coffee

My DadMemoir is going slower than I hoped. However, I’ve scheduled actual writing time on my calendar to help me focus on that. My calendar now shows designated writing time, for whatever I choose at that moment. The memoir is still a struggle. Are you struggling with your work/draft-in-progress? Just when I think the memoir is in fine shape, I stumble on a chapter that needs rearranging much less revising.

I’m working to place a sample of my writing on my site. People say that’s a good idea, and I agree. That, however, takes some time to set up, possibly resigning my tabs and/or content first, so that’s something floating in the background as I focus on other writing projects.

Don’t ask me about my #ROW80 goals. Completing those is a pathetic mess, so let’s move on to something more positive.

I officially registered for NFPW Conference. You recall that I was blasted excited to receive a first-timer grant to pay for the conference fee. I’m going to Alaska! Still, additional expenses–airfare and hotel, for example–are daunting, which is why I started a crowdfunding campaign. Shameless self-promotion: please visit my GoFundMe site and help me defer costs as I go there to accept my two National awards.

You’ll see several photos on my daily calendar of my husband and his laptop. That’s time spent writing together, which is a relatively new super-cool development.

Looking at the summary from my Photo 365 app, you’ll see there’s Scrapbooking time with my Michigan Scrapbooked Magazine editor. Look at my Deadwood Writers’ Group, a fabulous critique group meeting every first and third Wednesdays. Our next meeting is this week, and I may submit a piece, but the queue is getting full. Flashback to The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers event, supporting a fellow writer and amazed by the overall experience. Think a combination mixing spoken word with a public reading. Leaves you breathless. Thanks to my Timehop app, there’s a sad Foursquare checkin: the defunct bookstore chain, Borders.

And selfies. So many selfies. What can I say? I’m just too darn stinking’ cute.

So tell me, what’s been going on in your life this week?

Telling stories in a Twisted way

“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”~Demosthenes, Greek statesman

Tonight, I attended my first Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers event. The name alone sounds intriguing enough to explore.

What is it? It’s people telling stories.

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Welcome, and be social with the Twisted Storytellers

Inside Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the founder and host of Twisted Storytellers, Satori Shakoor, told us we would laugh, maybe cry, but whatever our reactions, we’d take something away from this event. I took something away from that 2-hour event:

Intense.

Pause for a moment. Let that sink in.

Intense.

I’ve attended spoken word events, but those are poetic performances. The artists are the center of attention. These readings often feel fake, in a William Shatner-esque overdrama way.  Twisted Storytellers was the complete opposite of that: the stories are the focus. And they are real.

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I needed this stiff drink after the first 3 power-full performances

This was honest. No playacting here. Each storyteller stands on a small circular stage under a single, bright spotlight, filmed for the Twisted YouTube channel. Tonight’s theme was Family Clan, so the storytellers talked about their personal family history. A blind woman talked of her childhood sexual abuse and the probability that any child she had would be born blind. A man described in serious humor his Korean War experience and the military’s attention to detail regarding venereal disease. A Mexican tap dance troupe telling a story of love through music. A man shared his experience growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness.

You would think that all stories need to be deep and dramatic, but I expect that some nights are lighter than others. For sure, the man describing the VD preventative measures was a rousing comedian in his own right.

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I was this close: the view from front row

The final storyteller was Mary Eatmon, author of 9 Houses, the woman I came to support.  Her story described rape, child-rearing and how that affected choices she made as an adult. I imagine she was nervous. I know I would be; the setting is intimidating as much as it is intimate. Sharing your story is brave. It’s one thing to tell your friends around while sitting on your living room couch; it’s a different level talking to strangers. Solitary as she was on stage, would she fully appreciate the audience’s reactions?

I heard the inward gasps of sympathy as she described her husband. The soft moans as she described her children’s upbringing. The sighs of pity and the laughter at her changing attitude as an adult. I told her all these reactions afterwards. I was right: she had not heard all the audience’s reactions and wondered if she was entertaining enough. She was that, and more.

She was intense. The whole night was.

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Relax for fan photos: me & Mary

I will be back.

Maybe someday I’ll tell my story on that stage.

I’m (kinda) ignoring you this #WeekendCoffeeShare

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more, be more, then you are a leader.”~John Quincy Adams, American president

If we were having coffee today, I’d be mostly ignoring you. Don’t take that wrong way. I’m relaxing at the dining room table casually reading blog posts. My husband is on the couch, and he’s playing his newest jazz CD. He and I randomly throw a sentence at each other–“I’m going to have a salad for lunch,” he says–and then we get back to ignoring ourselves. We’re probably doing the same, sharing something we’re enjoying. I like to think that you are enjoying yourself with a book or tablet of your own. I’m sure you’ve had a busy week, so share in the quiet company of having someone nearby without the stress of having to entertain each other to feel close.

While he was gone, I spontaneously saw fireworks in a park about a 15 minute drive away. I registered for my NFPW Alaskan tours, and I’m re-editing–again–the wording for my upcoming GoFundMe campaign to get me there and accept my writing awards. My Deadwood Writers Group congratulated me. The group had a rousing critique session and saw some new members in the crowd.

My husband returned from his overseas business trip Thursday, and it’s been a gentle weekend.  He brought German chocolate home again, and it’s yummy.  Care for a piece?  See, there’s plenty here. 

Friday, we saw local fireworks, good, but not as creative as the ones I saw Monday. Saturday, we went into Northville to share a new old coffeehouse I rediscovered last week. I sat down and WROTE. Yes, we sat across from each other, savoring the fresh-baked peanut butter cookie, and I wrote and edited my memoir. Oh my gosh, that felt so good! I’ve ignored it for far too long, using everything else as an excuse to get that done so I had time to focus on that book.

Yesterday, I made the time.

He didn’t feel like driving 20 minutes to see fireworks again, so we ordered pizza and watched Live Free or Die Hard, taking a break from the yearly Independence Day marathon. At 9pm, the neighborhood exploded! I almost forgot how good the unprofessional fireworks displays were around here. Michigan has relaxed regulations, and the fireworks I saw from my backyard and at the corner down the street could not be outdone by professional displays. My head couldn’t swing around fast enough to catch ever blast occurring simultaneously to my left, down the road, across the street and behind the across-the-street fireworks. Please, stop I thought, something you should never hear from fireworks-loving me. That plea meant that the explosions are too awesome for me to keep up with.

Here’s a smidge of what I saw last night. Disclaimer: These are not professionals, but do not try this at home:

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That’s why we’re chillin’ here. I began reading a book that is disappointing. It’s not grabbing my interest, but I feel an obligation to read since I blogged about it on my Writer’s Group website. I’ll give it maybe 20-30 more minutes of my time because it’s making me cranky. Ever have a book like that? Making time to read has been such a struggle these days that I refuse to waste it on a non-interesting book. That’s why I’m enjoying this blog time: un-stressful reading that’s fun and interesting. I may have even visited your blog today during this Coffee Share weekend. I’ll leave a comment if I do, and I hope you’ll do the same.

Have a second cup and relax. It’s good to just sit sometimes and be selfishly subdued.

Hands on writing and Zentangle

“My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive, and do so with some passion, compassion, humor and style.”~Maya Angelou, American poet

I got into an interesting discussion with someone on Instagram. We got talking about writing styles. She does all her drafts and revisions on the computer. When I write, my first draft is always done by hand. I print out a typed copy and then edit that by hand. I do this until my final-final edits.

She asked me how I could do that, because her hand hurts when she does that. Me, I need the control to brainstorm and cross out and move sections with my pen. She can’t do that, but is intrigued by other people’s ways of writing. It continues to be an interesting discussion between us, and it made me think about my writing process. Seeing the writing world through someone else’s pen/computer coulod be a learning experience for all of us. I will be doing a blog post series on that in the future. Right now, I’m chronicling my current work on a magazine article, and I’ll focus on my full-length memoir after that.

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Diana’s Diva #221: Beads of Courage

I’ve always been a pen-to-paper kinda gal. I guess that’s why Zentangle appeals to me and comes so naturally. Zentangle is done by hand, pen contacting paper, a physical act. There’s a human flow to that, an authenticity. An accountability. That’s part of the Zentangle charm… and challenge.

This week’s Diva Challenge was to complete a tile inspired by Beads of Courage. Once again, I found a half-started tile, this one part of a Zentangle mosaic set. The tangle there happened to mingle perfectly with this challenge, so I went with the flow. All the tangles reflect beads in some fashion, either by direct look or by the circular inference.

Can you tell where the original was and the new stuff was added on? That’s the beauty and style of handiwork.

My coolest posts, voted by you!

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