It’s hard to summarize the experience of a full day of competition (I spent thirty minutes trying to explain it to two team mates the other day starting with the moment you wake before dawn and with numb fingers put on your suit to the moment the trial begins) but in past I have tried to pin it down with poetical prose. The closest I ever got was this piece, where I played with a sonnet-like-sense of meter and tried to sprinkle some truth (like the part about hardly being able to reach the floor even with high heels ha) along with metaphors, similes, and slightly exaggerated images, that some how are (hopefully) a good picture of what it can be like. It’s not encompassing, but it gives a small sliver of a photo of those five seconds right before the round is called to order.
I share it honor of tomorrow (and as comic relief for all those tingling nerves. 😉 )
Soli Deo Gloria, my friends!
We are sitting in a cold wooden coffin; A stiff suffocating box of dark foreboding panels on which the paintings of old men stare calmly down, pale faces, thinned hair, a flag or state seal behind them. I wonder if they ever used this chair. It’s too bulky, too squeaky, and too tall for me. I can barely reach the worn carpet floor, even wearing high heels. The bailiff calls and the judge strides through his personal door. “All rise, all rise.” We all leap to our feet, and my chair goes flying into my witness’s knees While the opposing team rise from their seats, I can only hope they’re more frightened than me.
The judge is watching us like a hawk Down his endless beak, eyeing his prey from his cushioned perch. There’s no noise – no talk – no breath – and in the silence, I could swear I heard him lick his lips and sniff. We are even lined up at attention for his convenience – all frozen stiff and Ready for plucking if that be his inclination.
He scribbles some notes and raises his brow They pump above his gleaming eyes, as if breathing into a pair of forges now Heating up to melt the next project that comes by.
He strokes his slick and shiny black feather coat that glimmers even in the dusky yellow glare Of the lights buzzing and pulsing overhead, Like the fear that burns and bubbles in our throat. Then the moment has passed… how shall he tred?
Our hunter stalks to his chair, takes up his gavel – the appointed bait – Clears his throat and calls the first one to the dinner plate.
Hither from a magical land of falafels, wedding cake, and cousins.
I was told I should write a story about falafels gone wrong, but unfortunately, I was absent from the kitchen when the woeful event occurred and only heard tale of it later when I was asked to step out of the way as the huge can of burning oil was run out of the house to be disposed of.
When the Falafel Flopped does sound like a best seller though, doesn’t it?
And everyone wants to read a story where Whole Foods is the hero, right?
Well, amidst the busy kitchen bustle, the fountains of flowers, the family get-togthers, the glorious flood of frisbee games (in the middle of thunderstorms no less…), gyros and falafels, and the mysterious mosquito bites that appeared the day after the wedding, I have made a new best friend.
Reader, meet Kermit, Kermit meet reader.
Kermit is my new role model. And he really is a frog-of-all-trades.
I have found his wisdom in moments to be absolutely priceless and breathtakingly insightful.
Kermit… Kermit is one of those crazy-talented friends that just gets you. One of those people you respect.
When your first sibling gets engaged.
And then gets married a few months later.
And then when you realize school is just a few days away.
And then you realize you still haven’t finished your book’s first draft like you were hoping…
And then you spontaneously decide to make a goal of writing 10k this month.
But then achieve half of that goal in two days.
And then someone asks the name of your brother’s “wife.”
And then you discover that your little brother is officially taller than you even when you wear your high heels.
And then you realize you’re the oldest non-legal adult out of the siblings…. your turn is next.
And then you get stuck on the subject school again and realize you’re only a few years away from graduating high school….
And then realize that the next academic Mock Trial season is coming and you can’t wait and so you begin flailing your arms and screaming.
But, of course, first grab a legal pad and your favorite black pen and throw on a suit.
Then cue the flailing.
And you end up screaming the Rules of Evidence and Hearsay Objections, instead of random gibberish.
(For those who don’t know Mock Trial is simply the best sport ever and the only sport you play in high heels and suits and the only sport you get to scribble notes on legal pads and pretend you know everything or pretend to cry or pretend you’re British and the only sport you get to interrogate people during and the reason I have a strange sense of being home when at a courthouse. See why I’m flailing??)
Well sitting here eating a fresh slice of homemade zucchini bread and sipping some Irish tea and trying to sit still (because my mind is still stuck on Mock Trial…), I’m realizing that I’m not sure where to take this post.
My (not-so-little) little brother said that he has never seen a random post from me.
He says I should just randomly end the post with a random “bye” and shrug off any sense of satisfaction and unconcluded flailing, and no lesson learned.
Confirmed fact: My little brother is Fozzie Bear. 😉
Not that I don’t like silliness, jokes, or such wonderful-ness, it just feels so inadequate to leave you hanging. Especially after flailing in your face and internal screaming in excitement and shock.
I remember one time chatting with some friends and one offered a template: Thanks to the family who birthed me, raised me, and taught me to _____.
I filled that blank in with “laughter.”
My family has a talent of being able to step back and laugh when everything goes wrong. Not in a mean or flippant way, but just in a fun, spunky, relieving-sort-of-way.
Like when the fire alarm goes off at a hotel in the middle of the night after a day running around at a rollercoaster park, even though it turned out there was no fire, and we end up standing in the middle of a parking lot for three hours, with no shoes and in our pajamas seven firetrucks blinking and flashing until our heads hurt.
Dad says: “Hey let’s see if someone will take a family picture of us in front of one!”
Or during a road trip when we are just chilling on top of a mountain in New Mexico and a huge thunderstorm suddenly covers the sky and pelts us in huge pieces of ice and freezing rain that drenches us to the bones until we can’t feel our limbs are sloshing down as fast as we can, crying so hard we’re laughing, and laughing so hard until we’re crying.
Dad says: “Hey this is a great time to take a video to send to our friends back home!”
Or the week of a huge move, when a hurricane decides to have in on the fun. Our power goes out for days straight (and we were on a well so that means no water. Period.) while we were hosting my brother and his co-worker for furniture market. (no showers…) and then a friend comes over to help us take apart furniture only to get stranded when our favorite tree (and one of our thickest, largest trees) throws a fit about our abandoning him and tries to smash the first moving trailer that shows up, but barely misses and barricades our driveway instead. And trying to pack everything into the moving trucks (which get stuck in the mud in our yard and are there for many hours) until we are loading in the pitch dark with fifty people in our house (remember no water. Which means no toilet flushing) tripping over each other with boxes of books and bed railing and big fat heavy dressers.
Bright side? I will never forget my last week in my childhood house. It seemed so fitting too and I wouldn’t want it to have ended any other way.
Of course I struggle.
Being stuck in a house with a handful of other people for a week with literally nothing to do or even to sit on but the hard cold floor, can get tense and chaotic. Dramatic. Crazy. Without books (except your Latin textbooks) and no furniture (but sleeping bags) suddenly everyone’s personal bubbles are a bit easier to rub against.
Between the glares, strange new character voices bubble to the surface and are added to our repertoire. The strangest pieces of art work splatter out of our brains and the weirdest inside jokes or newest sarcastic comebacks.
I still find myself worrying over things going-wrong too, which is probably why movies like Father of the Bride and Meet the Parents are just plain… painful.
Views which just make my family laugh harder, as I cringe and groan and consider hiding under a blanket and covering my eyes and ears.
I guess when I sit down for entertainment I’m not looking to cringe and laugh and wince at how everything goes wrong in everyone else’s lives.
Too close to home maybe.
Or maybe its the fact that the characters never seem to get it. Instead of making a fool out of yourself and trying to make it look like you’re brilliant and nothing goes wrong under your watch, why not laugh it off and just clean the spilled (chocolate) milk up with a cheap roll of paper towels from Dollar Tree?
After spending a whole week surrounded on all side with siblings, working all together, our super-duper superpower has come out even more. Even when the falafel-mission failed and all we had left were some strange form of hushpuppies and a can of burning oil, everything was fine because my siblings focused on what mattered.
The food didn’t need to be perfect. The décor didn’t need to be exact. We definitely worked hard to make it beautiful and special, but if something small popped or cracked, we went with Plan B. Pulled out the super glue and paint supplies. Trimmed the bushes with leaves brown and dying from the power wash.
Because it was all about family and love and laughter and fellowship, not about being perfect.
Some things just aren’t worth getting upset over. Fretting about. In the end it’s the people and what you make out of what you have. And come on… it is kinda funny that the couple decided to have Greek food for their wedding and cook it all themselves the afternoon before even though they have never tried it before. Even sounds a little cliched ha.
Well, a thing about life: When it gets crazy, it only means you can make it crazy fun.
I even think part of my training in becoming a poet has greatly stemmed from the laughter my family has taught me.
(I know you were wondering if I would make it through a post without a single mention of poetry… 😉 )
Being a poet is being someone who sees through surface things. As written in the song that Andrew Peterson sings, To All the Poets, they see “beauty in the common place, saw incarnation in a Baby’s face, and in a drop of rain the stars.”
My family has taught me how to see things. How to see the funny side to being stuck camping in a teepee with a gaping hole designed in the roof for a couple days of thunderstorms.
How to see the fun side of a literal 22 hour road trip (yes… we drove 22 hours straight. Yes, 22 hours in the car driving) or being able to have a conversation about how the kudzu in the dark makes it look like there’s a giant elephant sitting in our backyard. Either that or an old man wearing a hat.
Much of my playful limerick-type of playful poetry comes from true stories. But in a way don’t all fictional stories stem from a true story?
You just have to decide what type of genre you are living in. 😉
So, in closing, remember:
When your falafels flop, Whole Foods is always there.
Love you fam.<3
**all gifs hunted and trapped by my personal internet minion squad via giphy**
As I work through The Roar on the Other Side this year (amazing book on poetry, 10/10 recommend) I’ve been learning all types of poetry schemes, methods, and tropes.
Some of them are fairly simple while others seem nearly impossible.
Such as writing a poem with twenty six words, each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet, descending in order from A to Z.
I have yet to try that one, but one such daunting kind was palindrome poetry, which turned out very interesting and fun to write!
While the crafting is not so simple, the idea is: Palindrome poetry is composed so that read backwards it is the same, word for word, as it is read forwards.
I quickly discovered I couldn’t start the poem with a “the” or an “a,” or really use them at all.
Here was my first poem:
Darkness caught stars
or maybe nets with stars
I really enjoyed making it, so I tried another! (The night I wrote all these, I was amidst wading through Beowulf for school…)
Hopes and memory of courage built Beowulf so
Beowulf built courage of memory and hopes.
That one was… okay, but didn’t turn out the way I had wanted it to, so I wrote a third one, which by far is my favorite.
Years waste bodies.
Our lives are frail and short.
Away slinks time.
We may understand that
Eyes and sight change.
Oh yes, we stumble.
We are wispy and hollow wind –
Hollow and wispy are we.
Stumble we, yes.
Oh change sight and eyes that
Understand may we
Time slinks away.
Short and frail are lives.
Our bodies waste years.
And so ended my little palindrome poetry session. (:
Sometimes inspiration rises from the everyday happenings that feel so forlorn and bland.
Everyone has a unique experience and while they might overlook common formalities: another dinner, another drive, another drag of school. They can all be captured.
The art of the poet is to see the beauty in the commonplace; to encompass and package a little breath of truth to bring a little light, a little hope, a little sense of understanding to another human being.
Well, lately I’ve been focusing on metaphors and similes, and imagination in general within my poetry, as well as using familiar and everyday objects/activities as my subjects. Through these experiments, I’ve fallen in love with a more subtle rhyming method, where the rhymes do not fall at the end of every sentence and sentences carry over lines. Apparently the term for that is enjambment or run-over lines as opposed to end-stopped.
Here is a poem I wrote this week about my family’s minivan, which, unfortunately, appears to be living out its final days.
I hope you enjoy! (:
Ode To The Family’s 2003 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan
Friday is here and I am later than normal with a post, but no matter. I have been gone most of the day, volunteering at a camp in a class of seven and eight-year-olds. Hence, I am a bit tired, but here to share some blackout poetry.
I made these yesterday evening. The first one didn’t take very long, but the second one I had trouble deciding on the wording. It must have changed fifteen times, but out of the two, it is my favorite.
For those unfamiliar with it, blackout poetry is when one takes a sheet of paper from a book or newspaper and creates a freestyle poem by blacking out (or sometimes doodling over) words.
I have actually bought a 50 cent copy of Jane Austen’s Emma for the purpose of blackout poetry and decoupage crafts. In this case, however, I printed out some pages from the handy-dandy internet, because the print in Emma is extremely small.
My blackout poetry never seems to turn out just right, though, so I find myself typing up the poem to play around with it until it sounds better. I guess I still have not learned quite how to pick the right combination of words. I’m still learning the ropes here and trying out different things. These two are my fourth and fifth blackout poems to have ever… written? blacked out? Whatever the verb is there. (:
Well, enough talk in introduction! I hope the poems inspire you to try your own hand at blackout poetry.
I have tried to write a sonnet many times, but this is the first time I have actually completed one.
For those curious, a sonnet is a fourteen line poem, typically (for English) with ten syllables per line and an iambic pentameter (meter consisting of a pattern of unstress, stress, unstress, stress, etc.)
However, there are different types of sonnets that entail different rules for rhyming schemes.
One is the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet which divides its fourteen lines into two sections: one of eight and one of six. The first section must have a ABBAABBA rhyming scheme, but the second section can have any variation of 2-3 rhymes that the poet picks.
The English/Shakespearean sonnet is split into three sections of four lines and then a concluding couplet. This format has a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.
The later is the type I have been trying to handle. I have so many slips of paper, lined up with the pattern printed on the side and scribblings and scratchings filling the first two lines. My words spill into the margins as I cross out phrases again and again in the search for the perfect combination.
Simply, it’s a puzzle. And I have finally pieced one together.
It was certainly hard, but lots of fun, and hopefully, more will follow.
So, without further ado! Easter Morning.
Last Friday it poured and rained. The world was
A mess of mud and muck. We walked right through
The parking lot, trying hard not to pause
In puddles, deep and dark; They swallow shoes.
But was there ever sunshine bright like this?
When birds sing so freely now as they hop
On the brilliant green lawn? The entrance
Of the church is circled, tulips a top.
Inside, the building swells with songs of praise,
The people gathered, singing, swaying, to their songs,