Tag Archives: AWP

Writing and Art; Cranes; 70.3; Eating Vegetables

I spent this past weekend with my friend Sarah A. Chavez while she was up here in the Cities for AWP 2015, and I sort of hung around the conference wishing I’d have spent the money for admission to it. I was thankful I was able to attend so many offsite events, since the readings are really the best part anyway. Sarah and I met and had breakfast with our friend Ahyicodae (Ico), who lives up here, and with whom I get the pleasure to have writing and workshop days now that we’ve made that connection. For me, these connections are the writing equivalent of my artistic connections with Lyn and Tish.

I get all fired up and excited about writing and art when I am around other people who are passionate about being creative, so once again the creative fire is lit under my smoldering and lackadaisical behind. I’m not making excuses, but it’s easy for me to become complacent about art and writing (they are a lot of work!) when I am not making art, not talking about art, and not feeling inspired. I am blessed to have many, many creative friends, both writers and artists. I am blessed to continually meet folks (like Nell, who was one of the first non-work people I met up here) who make the world more beautiful through their creativity.

I know I am flash-in-the-pan and have almost zero stick-to-it-ive-ness (what a word!), but I wrote a rough draft of a poem today and I started a short creative nonfiction piece this morning as well. I have the ideas for some artwork, and I know I just need to do it. The theme I am currently stuck on, and I blame the liturgical calendar and where I am in my life, is resurrection, rebirth, and reconciliation. I feel like I’ve died and come back to life, like a cliche little phoenix.

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Here’s part of the CNF piece I started this morning: “Whenever I wash the dishes, I always look out the window toward the Mississippi River, which is about two blocks west of our house. Sometimes if I strain, I can hear the barges pushing their freight, and sometimes if I pay close attention, I can see interesting water fowl low in flight as they land or take off from the water, even though I can’t really see the river. Today I was standing by the back window in front of the sink washing the dishes from last night’s culinary success while thinking about everything I wanted to accomplish today. I noticed a hawk and a couple of other birds flying in an odd pattern over the neighbor’s house. I wondered why the birds were behaving so sporadically and scoured the ground for the neighbor’s dog, which sometimes runs along the street in front of their house. No dog. I traced the flight pattern up into the sky and was humbled by what was making the local birds behave so strangely. The sky was marked with the unmistakable giant white bodies and long, black-tipped wings of the whooping crane, a cast of about 50 of them in fact. My day became glorious in that minute of awe, and I continue to thank God that I am still here and that I am so blessed.

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The thing I am struggling with the most in my life right now is the desire and energy to train for this half-marathon in June and the 70.3 in July. Neither race is going to be pretty. In fact, I think they are going to be very, very ugly. More factually, I think I’ll be lucky to finish them both. I am having a difficult time with running. I have the desire. I can remember what it felt like to be able to run 9 miles at a stretch with virtually no difficulty and no soreness the next day. I can remember what it was like to run 15 miles on a Saturday, being sore the next day, but not dying from it. My body wants to be there again, but with everything is so psychological. My mind says, “Remember how bad your legs and feet hurt after work and standing for 8 hours at a time. You can’t run after that. You need to go home and put your feet up and watch 97 hours of Murder, She Wrote. You don’t need to write or do art or run or swim or do anything but be a slug. You’ve earned it by working so hard.” I’m trying to focus my meditation and prayer, now that Lent is over, on positive self-talk in regards to triathlon-related and creativity-related pursuits. Today, I am going for a three-mile walk. Tomorrow, I am going for a swim and run. My goal is to never turn on the TV or open a book until I’ve accomplished my goals for the day. That sort of relaxing is my reward. I don’t read for a living anymore.

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I’ve been vegetarian again for two weeks now. Psychologically, I feel 100% better. I always forget how clear my mind becomes when my life isn’t held in a balance based on killing creatures for sustenance. Physically, I feel about the same. My body is still store from work, and I still think I need to just lay about (see above). I think it’s worth being a kind-hearted eater to not have dreams about dying animals, and I think it’s worth it to be adventurous in the kitchen again. We’d gotten in the rut of eating the same five or six meals over and over again, but we’re shaking it up a bit these past few days. Yesterday, I made my first batch of saag paneer, and it was delightful and filling. And, I am mostly past a point in my life where I am willing to do pretty much anything to lose weight. I’m not. I’m more interested in living a consistent ethic of life, and a life lived well and not on the backs of innocents.

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Now I am off to buy a cheap table to use for my printmaking lair upstairs in the attic.

Lent Day 10: More AWP

I am still at AWP: writing is exactly spirituality. We are born to create, to go forth and multiply, and by taking a little liberty with what that command might mean, I find that writing or making art is doing just that. Through creation of text or visual media, we multiply all that is good and right and beautiful in the world. We cause people to think through the less appealing parts of the world in order to see the more appealing ones. We can take the worst situations, the most horrible events, and create through them healing, help, peace, and grace with our words and images.

Part of today’s daily prayer from Common Prayer reads: “Sometimes we don’t realize the intensity of the things for which we pray, Lord. Keep us courageously mindful that your way is laden with tears on the way to resurrection. Amen.” Keep us courageously mindful that the way to creativity is laden with tears on the way to resurrection. Keep us courageously mindful that your way is laden with tears on the way to creativity and rebirth. Keep us mindful.

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I went for a run this morning after sleeping for five whole hours last night.

The Reason I Slept So Well

Wacker and Wabash in Chicago

Chicago River "Private" Walkway

I'm Lovin' the Ferris Wheel

One Lighthouse

Super Yellow Beanie and Cityscape

Another Lighthouse

Lake Michigan

Ferris Wheel in B & W

Marilyn Monroe on Michigan Avenue: Fidelity

The Giant Bean and Some Tourists

Don't Let the Pigeon . . .

Peace.

Lent Day 9: Insomnia and Catharsis

I haven’t had insomnia this badly since I was in college. For this week, I am averaging about three good hours of sleep. At least, unlike college, I am not so jittery I can’t stay horizontal, so I am rested, but not well-rested.Our hotel situation worked out strangely, in that many of the AWP Conference goers received king-size beds instead of two double beds for groups of three adult-size people. I refuse to sleep in a king-size bed with two friends, no matter how close they are, so I volunteered to sleep on the floor. I don’t mind sleeping on the floor, but it isn’t as conducive to good sleep as I would like.

Tonight’s keynote address is with Margaret Atwood, the author of one of my favorite books, Oryx and Crake, and another book I have found becoming frighteningly realistic, The Handmaid’s Tale. After her address, several of us are going to go out for a bit. My plan is to exhaust myself and have a couple of nice hard ciders, so that I will be sure to get some sleep tonight. I also plan to run in the morning. I haven’t been exercising much the past couple of weeks, and I think the extra energy I’m not spending may be contributing to my insomnia. We’ll see.

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Chicago is a spiritual meditation. Chicago is cathartic.

Stop Here to Get Chocolate-Covered Gummi Bears

Don't Forget to Exit I-90 Before This Toll Booth

Expect a Beautiful View of the Lake

Bring Plenty of Supplies

Eat at Lou Malnati's on State Street

Eat at Trendy Cafes

Consume the All American Breakfast of Sausage, Eggs, and Hash Browns

Wash It Down With My First Greek Coffee

Don't Swirl Well Enough

Watch A Worker-Artist Clean A Goddess

Watch Him Work Some More

Make Black & White Photos During a Session in a Ballroom

Revel in Beauty Whenever & Wherever She Shows Her Face

Hope and pray and wish and dream that I can sleep tonight.