3pm

After writing a haiku yesterday about the first long “summer” weekend of the year, I felt that I had to write another one today about the true meaning of Memorial Day. The photo was taken from the Arlington Cemetery website:

Memorial Day

Moment of silence honors

Those who fell before

 

IMG_2700

Guilty pleasures

via Daily Prompt: Notorious

When I was a teenage girl, I was a Durrannee. My bedroom walls were lined with pictures of Duran Duran, in particular the lead singer, Simon LeBon, who wrote poetry like me. My mother used to say she could never sleep in my room with all of those men looking down at her.  I was 11-years-old in 1981 when MTV was launched and was a full-fledged fan of both Duran Duran and MTV by 1983 when I was 13 and the videos for Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio were being played hourly. I did not have MTV at my house but my friend, Mary, did. I stayed many weekends at her house where we spent hours watching videos by Duran Duran, Spandeau Ballet, The Police, the Eurythmics and more.

 

The 80’s were a unique time. It was a “Romantic” era for pop music when male singers wore pretty clothes and makeup. It was a dream for Mary and I. We could indulge in typical teenage crushes but also admire the makeup and outfits of the artists we were crushing on. When British New Wave hit America, I remembered thinking THIS is the music I’ve been waiting for all my life (you know, all 13 years of it). It was my music.

 

dd81

 

In April this past year Duran Duran played, for the first time, in my hometown. Mary sent me the link with the announcement and a comment stating, This is thirty years too late for me. I decided it wasn’t too late for me. I thought about what my teenage self would think if she knew I had had the opportunity to see Duran Duran play, and I came to the conclusion that she would never forgive me if I didn’t go.

I easily found another friend, Sandy, to go to the concert with me. We purchased our tickets and I promptly ordered a tee-shirt that said “Hungry like the Wolf” on the front. The day of the show I donned my t-shirt and we arrived shortly after the gates opened to secure a spot front and center. When it was all said and done we would stand in that spot for about five hours. Over one hour waiting for the opening act, another hour waiting for Duran Duran then the actual show.  We made friends with a couple of ladies standing behind us. One of them commented that I must be a true fan because of my shirt.

“I used to be,” I said, “but this is the first time I’ve ever seen them in concert”.

“Oh, I’ve seen them in concert 13 times,” she responded.

She proceeded to tell us about her adventures following Duran Duran, including the time she was traveling with her husband and saw Simon LeBon standing by a car parked in front of her hotel.

“Take my picture,” she had said to her husband, who was playing games on his phone.

Then she flew down three flights of stairs to introduce herself to Simon LeBon. Her husband, apparently, failed to take her picture because he never looked up from his game.

The other woman, a cute, dark-headed lady wearing a t-shirt with the picture of the British flag on the front, told us of how she had tried to get her daughter and husband to come to the show with her, but they had refused.

“My daughter looked at me and said ‘Who is Duran Duran?’ ”, she commented, “But I have to say it’s kind of nice to go to a show where everyone is the same age as you”.

We looked around. The audience was filled with women in their 40’s and 50’s. There was also a decent showing of middle-aged men which surprised me a little (but many of them may have been spouses) and there were some younger people sprinkled in here and there.

“Okay,” I said, looking playfully at Sandy and the ladies behind me, “We have to make a pact. When Duran Duran starts to play, people from the back are going to probably start rushing forward to get close. Can we all agree to create a little barrier in our spot so that we can keep our places? I’ve been standing here for hours and I don’t intend to lose my place.” Everyone agreed.

After the opening act, there was a delay before Duran Duran hit the stage. On several occasions, the audience mistook the testing of the lights for the arrival of the band and erupted into cheers. One time, I saw a bleached blonde person standing to the back left of the stage. I grabbed Sandy’s arm.

“It’s a Duran!” The squeal ruptured from my mouth involuntarily. Then I looked a little closer. “No,” I said, “Scratch that. I think it’s just a woman with the same haircut as Nick,” (Rhodes, the keyboard player). After a few more disappointments, I declared, “That’s it. I’m not squealing again until I definitively see a metrosexual standing on that stage!”

Shortly thereafter, just as I had predicted, a pretty, brash young woman pushed her way through the crowd to the front. She made it through because she caught everyone off guard, but a lady behind her did not. As the second woman tried to edge her way through the crowd, a blonde lady who looked like a soccer mom blocked her way.

“No,” soccer mom said in a firm mom voice, “ I can’t let you do that. These people have been standing here for hours. It’s not fair and you’ll have to find another way”.

“But…”

“I’m sorry but you will have to find another way.”

The woman trying to cut through slipped down the row and attempted to slide past a man who had seen the exchange. He, too, blocked her way. Eventually, she gave up and stayed where she was.

Sandy cut her eyes at me and smiled. “You don’t mess with middle-aged women,” she said, “most of these women are moms”.

I nodded in agreement. “Yep, and mom’s know how to say no”.

Finally, the band started to play. Simon LeBon stepped on stage wearing a pair of white pants, bright green sneakers, a t-shirt and a blue-green jacket. He was cocky but fun. He strutted and they played all the greats, including “Planet Earth” and “Notorious”, as well as some new songs. I’m not going to lie, I thought it was a good show. After the initial squeal, I didn’t really feel any of the pangs of my old crushes. Thank goodness, ha ha!  I guess that one squeal had just been pent up for so many years that it had to come out. But I found that I do still like the music. I like the new stuff. I’m not as enamored with their love of supermodels, it seems a bit shallow, but the music is fun and I like dancing to it. I guess in some ways, I’m still a Durannee. I wonder if I will go to see them again…when I am in my 50’s and they are in their 60’s or I’m in 60’s and they are in their 70’s. Maybe. I guess we’ll see.

FullSizeRender (8)

We did our jobs as fans and screamed, danced and sang our way through the show. It closed with “Rio”. Gratuitous beach balls were cast into the audience and we popped them around instinctively. When it was over, Sandy and I said goodbye to our new friends and walked to our cars, hoarse but gushing about how it was a great show and so worth the time and money.

 

FullSizeRender (17)FullSizeRender (18)

“I think my feet are a still a little asleep, though” Sandy said. “We stood a LONG time.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “My dogs are barking, too…but I would do it all over again”.

Good times. 

 

 

Better

This week for the first time, I met my new children’s lit critique group. I submitted two pieces for review: a nursery rhyme about a little girl trying to find a matching pair of shoes and a short story about two cats learning to live with one another. My group loved the nursery rhyme but schooled me on stress syllables. They ripped apart the story of the cats but they liked the theme of the story. I came away with hyperlinks to stress syllables, two book suggestions and a reminder of how far I have to go before I craft my stories into the best stories that they can be. My response? I’ve purchased one of the books on Amazon, I’m reading up on the subjects of stress and meter and I’m planning revisions to my stories. In the end, both the stories and I will be better for it.  

So much of our lives, in every area, are spent growing whether we want to grow or not. At work, computer systems are constantly being upgraded and new people always need to be mentored. Once you reach a level where you can mentor someone else, watch out, because that means you qualify for more responsibility. With additional responsibility comes additional correction which is stressful (not to use that word again), but without the correction we cannot get better. I’m learning to think of getting better as growth instead of a sign that I’m not good enough, and I’m learning that no matter how much I grow, there will always be hard work to do.

This morning, I was lazily sitting on the couch drinking my coffee when I heard a vehicle pull into my drive. I looked out the window and it was my father. I wasn’t surprised. On springtime mornings, he frequently arrives unannounced with his pickup truck, trimmers and weedeater in the back, to offer assistance in my yard. I pulled on a robe and walked outside, cup in hand, and smiled.

“I guess this means I have to get dressed,” I said.

We spent a couple of hours working in the yard. I rode my  lawn mower, and he did the weeding and trimming. At lunch, I got us a chicken salad from Zaxby’s, and we sat on the back porch and ate together. The time he spends working in my yard is for both our benefits. I need the help in the yard and he knows it, but it’s also something that we do together. And there is reward in the end. The yard cleans up nice and visually rewards us for our efforts. As for us, well, we are better for it, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Wanderlust

I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.
-David Attenborough

IMG_2554

When I was a kid, there were two ways that I could explore: in my head or by going outside. A little patch of land like this one, nestled between homes in a busy housing development, could have represented a number of things to me. It could have been a forest in medieval Europe or a haunted patch of land in my hometown. It could have been the home of faeries, ghosts or a haven for talking animals whose voices came alive at night after humans went to sleep. In my mind, I could have used this spot to travel anywhere. I just needed it to set the atmosphere.

In reality, this patch of land is located in a lovely middle-class neighborhood, not a new cookie-cutter community, but one of the older ones where people have bigger yards, the trees are established, and each home is unique. This neighborhood is in a prime location that is currently under heavy development. In a way that is understandable, but it is also rather sad. I worry for the character of the neighborhood. I worry about the animals that live in these little patches of land. And I worry about our collective imaginations as we lose so much green space.

I came across this spot this afternoon when I was walking with a friend and her dog. When I saw it, my imagination was immediately piqued. I knew that I had to take a picture and I felt the same twinge of excitement that I did when I encountered such scenes as a kid. That heartens me. It shows me that I haven’t completely lost the curiosity and sense of adventure that I had as a kid, even if it has been tamed by the demands of “adulting”. I hope I never do.

This world is but a canvas for our imagination.

-Henry David Thoreau

Greensboro Writer’s Conference

This weekend, I did something very writery and attended the NC Writer’s Spring Conference. Located at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the conference offered exhibits and book sales, a choice of one morning and one afternoon workshop, faculty readings, open Mike readings and more.

FullSizeRender (9)

It was actually a busy weekend in Greensboro as an annual Furniture Market was also taking place. After driving over three hours to Greensboro on Friday afternoon, I was glad to have secured a room early at the local Hyatt as rooms were scarce and overpriced in response to the crowds.  While I sat at the hotel bar sipping a rum and coke and dining on chili and spinach salad, I overheard a few people at the front desk trying to get a room, only to be told that there were no rooms available. I felt very fortunate for mine.

FullSizeRender (10)

I slept well on Friday and arrived at the conference on Saturday morning early enough to peruse the exhibit tables. Small publishers and independent bookstores filled their tables with books from NC authors that they had published or were affiliated. A few of them offered information on writing contests. I met a woman who offered to put my name on an email list for an online critique group for people who write children’s books.

 

Next, I attended my first workshop at the conference. The topic was building poems that editors will publish. In the workshop, we discussed lyricism in poetry and finding one’s unique voice as a poet. The author and editor leading the workshop gave us some insight on what she looks for when she screens poems for her press.

 

Afterwards, we broke for lunch. I had never been to the UNCG campus so I googled restaurants close by. There were two within walking distance. As I stood inside the Old Town Draught House, a fellow workshopper from Charlotte, Reita, offered me a look at her menu. A gentleman behind us told us that in order to be served we simply needed to sit down at the bar. We decided to sit together and order. I dined on the Turkey melt with veggies and sweet tea and conversed with Reita over lunch. By the time we finished eating, we had exchanged contact information. We walked back to the workshop and parted ways. I went on to listen to a few faculty readings.

IMG_2537

My afternoon workshop, geared towards children’s authors, was titled “Exercising the Imagination”.  We discussed ways to tap into our personal passions and take our stories in new directions. The author leading the workshop gave us some ideas for exercises that we could use to access our imaginations. He was also a good source of information regarding future conferences.

 

Before I left for the day, I decided to pick up a book from both of my workshop presenters. They were on sale at the exhibit tables and were reasonably priced. Running Music  by Crystal Simone Smith is a book of poems and The Nine Pound Hammer  by John Claude Bemis is a YA fantasy book that explores American mythology. I look forward to reading them both.

 

Before I hit the road, I googled the closest Starbuck’s and picked up a Starbuck’s Mocha and a cookie. Probably not so wise as I’m trying to lose a little weight, but I’ll start over tomorrow. I had a long ride ahead of me and kind of wanted something special to take the edge off the commute.

I’m really glad I went to the conference this weekend. It was a great source of instruction and information, and I met a lot of pleasant people. Plus it was empowering. I don’t often travel alone overnight and it was kind of nice to go on my own. It was also nice to take another step towards fulfilling my desire to be a writer.   

IMG_2545

Opaque

When I first started thinking about the word “opaque”, snakes kept popping into my head. I guess I was thinking about their eyes. You probably know that snakes shed their skin in one big piece. This process is called ecdysis. Did you know that as a snake gets close to ecdysis, its skin becomes dull and its spectacle, which is a clear scale that covers its eyes, becomes milky? For that reason, when a snake is about to go into ecdysis, it is said to be opaque or pre-ecdysis.  You can learn this by googling the words “snake opaque”. You can also learn that Amazon has snake print footless tights for sale for $11.99. I’m not a big fan of snakes, but I just happen to have a few pictures from a previous visit to the Cape Fear Serpentarium. I’ve already used them to gross out my friends on Facebook so why not share the love and delight you with them, as well? 🙂

Below is a picture of a snake skin I found one day when I was out walking. I would have been running if he were still in it.

IMG_2534

And here are the tights in case you are interested. Very nice.

FullSizeRender (8)

Also, as an added bonus, I wrote a six-word story to describe this post:

It’s not tights. It’s a snake! 

 

Brunswick Nature Park

IMG_2463

I encountered Brunswick Nature Park a while back when I passed it leaving Brunswick Town. I had heard about the park in the past, but I had never explored it. As I hadn’t intended upon exploring it when I did, I wasn’t wearing the best walking shoes; but they were good enough for a quick look around so I decided to check it out.

IMG_2464

Brunswick Nature Park is located in Winnabow NC, along Town Creek, on 911 acres of land. It includes three hiking trails (my biggest interest): The Long Leaf Trail (beginner level), the Live Oak Trail (beginner) and the Dogwood Trail (intermediate) and four bike trails, including an advanced obstacle course. Hikers are allowed on the bike trails, but I am sure you would want to be mindful of bikers and exercise both caution and courtesy when walking on those trails. In addition, the park offers picnic shelters, kayak launches and scenic overlooks.

IMG_2471

I parked my car near one of the overlooks and decided to venture just a little ways onto the Live Oak hiking trail which is 1.44 miles long. The scenic dirt trail, marked by red dots on the trees, is not too difficult but you do want to watch your step. The terrain is a little more hilly than we locals generally encounter in our flat beach communities-which I love- and is strewn with branches, roots and all kinds of vegetation. I’m sure there are plenty of critters out there, as well. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw a gator sign on the way into the park (although he probably hangs out near the creek) and if I was a snake I would certainly choose to live there. Despite that, as I walked along the trail I found myself wanting to go deeper and deeper into the woods, there was so much to see and explore. Had I been wearing the proper shoes, and maybe had a buddy with me, I could have turned it into a very good hike. I’m certain that it is also a great place to watch for birds and other animals. I was fortunate enough to have my camera with me so I took advantage of that and snapped some pictures. At some point, because of my shoes, I cut the hike short and turned around. I walked back to the overlook, where a family sat by the water, and looked at the creek for a while.

IMG_2472

My trip to the park was brief, but it was long enough for me to soak up some of the magic of the outdoors. I left feeling more relaxed than when I came and with a greater sense of well-being (that tends to happen to me outside) and it was also long enough for me to establish that I will go back to visit again when I’m better prepared, perhaps take a pair of binoculars and a picnic lunch. You might want to check it out, too, if you are in the area!

IMG_2467IMG_2470