Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Old Enough to be Out-of-Date

Notes:  I ended up with another bad infection last week and didn't get my scans done. I went to the hospital via ambulance, but I wasn't septic so didn't have to be admitted.

Also, my poem "Compartmentalization" appeared in the new issue of confetti.
I curate The Handy, Uncapped Pen. Each year, I work with a variety of disabled and neurodivergent creatives to prepare their work for the blog... most of them writers. I enjoy finding a piece that makes me wish I would've created it. 

As I edit and format my way through the two open submission periods, I often find myself questioning everything I know about grammar. My mind was in a stutter years ago when I realized you only need one space after a sentence (though people read faster with an extra space). I'm pretty stuck in my ways.

Earlier this spring, I edited a knockout essay. It had semicolons to separate items in a list, something I'd never seen done before; I researched it and vowed to keep that little trick in mind. Then, there was the fact that the writer wouldn't put a comma after a conjunction if it started a sentence—something I always did! And it was correct; I've been doing it incorrectly for years. 

The writer had to point me to a grammar rule she used when it comes to putting quote marks outside a period if the quote starts halfway through a sentence. Even though I saw it, my mind still disagrees with the rule. To me, the period rests outside the quotes. I let her use whatever rule she wanted.

I've never thought about taking a grammar refresher course, but these past few months make me wonder. Have you ever found out something you believed about writing was untrue? 

Monday, April 25, 2022


I receive another CT scan next week. Two days after, I'll travel for over three hours round-trip just for half an hour with my oncologist to hear the results. I'm always scared. Since being diagnosed with cancer the first time in 2017, I periodically wake up in the dead of night with my heart pounding and my brain screaming that I'm going to die. We're all going to die, but I can't shake the feeling that it's a close day for me.

So many stories about cancer survival center on the enjoyment people can wring out of even the most mundane moments. They don't tell tales of folks like me who work harder than demons just to square everything away "in case". I'm three years (next month) into my remission. This next scan (provided it's clear) might mean my scans can finally be annual instead of every six months. But I still worry. 

I want to live life before I die. I work so hard to accomplish the little I do. I want to see my books published. I want to watch my husband's hair go gray. I want to help others. I want to leave this world having made my mark on it and experiencing as much of it as I can. I feel like I currently only get life in tiny pieces because of chronic pain and other factors. 

Sometimes, I think I should try to convince myself I'm going to live until I'm obscenely old. But it's not a thought that comes easily. After my mom died at age 64, my oldest brother said, "well, I guess we only have a bit more than 20 years left"; he doesn't have any of the health concerns I do, and yet he thinks that way. 

I hate how much anxiety and depression attempt to steal the gratefulness that should come with each new day. I hate feeling like I don't have time, but I push myself relentlessly... regardless.


A mentor for The Handy, Uncapped Pen's program died in November of metastatic cancer. She was a talented poet and always eager to help out. She was a boon to more mentees than I knew about because of the various programs she'd reach out to. Even on her way to hospice, she was regretful that she could no longer volunteer. Thank you for everything, Carey Link.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Spring Artwork

Spring has finally come to Wisconsin (probably only on vacation for now). Easter, for those who celebrate it, is on Sunday. I've had thoughts of "all things spring" in my head the past couple months because it means I can go out in my wheelchair on the sidewalks.

My town has a policy where property owners have to clear snow off their own sidewalks. Since we have a lot of elderly people (or folks who don't care), a lot of snow stays on the walkways for the entire season. Curb cuts are even worse. I get stuck just going a few blocks to the library.

So, in honor of a tiny bit more freedom, I'm sharing a couple images!

This is a duckling on a background of grass. I tried to make the baby fuzzy, but I think they're actually gross/slick fresh from the egg. The original version also had the egg with a white shell (like some chicken eggs). Never thought I'd be researching shells at 1:00 in the morning!

I legitimately love this piece. I started with a purple palette for the grass (mimicking the picture above) and decided to be reductionist. The rabbit is a result of erasing the grass around it for the shape and shading it. The face is slightly turned away, so it has no discernible features.

I hope this season is treating everyone well!

Monday, March 28, 2022

7,000 Strong (Poem)

Storied bones beneath UMMC* 
await remembrance/exhumation. 
Shoved into a life sentence, they spent 
decades languishing in an asylum—
last stop prior to unmarked, pine boxes 
for those lost/purposely not found. 
Discarded children, spouses, and neighbors 
writhed in electroshock ice baths—
lobotomies on the itinerary. Few loved ones 
mourned once they laid their human 
burdens down—only other crips to cry 
across time and our elders’ hidden histories.

*Heavily reported on in 2017, the University of Mississippi Medical Center has thousands of bodies beneath it from the days it was part of an asylum. Funding for exhumation and a memorial was secured in 2021. Anyone who had depression, cerebral palsy, autism, or any other disability or neurodivergence could have been institutionalized.

This poem never quite worked, but I still feel it tackles something important.
Just adding the link to my poems in Rabid Oak for those who haven't read them.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Is an Album Poetry?

Last month, I came across a professor on Twitter asking if one of their grad students should be allowed to write a paper on an album instead of a book of poetry. The resulting replies are mostly affirmative; quite a few responders use Kendrick Lamar's Pulitzer as reasoning. I don't agree with citing the Pulitzer, but I agree with allowing the substitution.

Music is poetry. It uses rhyme, repetition, and many of the other mechanics deployed in verse. Bob Dylan won The Nobel Prize for poetry as a musician (my thoughts here). An album is just another form of poetry collection. 

A few people pointed out the professor stated it had to be a book, but what constitutes a book? An ebook isn't on paper. An audiobook can be on CD, cassette, or streaming service. As technology changes, our exact definition for "book" becomes a bit more nebulous. Just because the delivery system isn't on dead trees doesn't disqualify a music album from the running. 

One thing the professor could do is take the student aside and ask them to defend their choice or set slightly different parameters for the assignment. If the student can articulate why the album is a good substitution or point out poetic devices in certain tracks, it would allow the professor to gauge the student's knowledge of poetics. Plus, it might help said student maintain interest in a long project. We often remember things we learn when the format is more enjoyable; more joy in this world is rarely a bad idea.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Reading Two Poems (Audio)

New audio where I read two poems. They are both previously published but not available online. I used my new microphone, so the quality should be better than before. 

Soon, I hope to be comfortable enough to do an actual vlog. My camera hasn't seen much use yet. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Birthdays: Love or Hate?

Thirty-seven. I turn thirty-seven on Friday. People say anyone over the age of twenty-one shouldn't pay attention to their birthdays. But, many of us do.

I used to hate my birthday as an adult. It was a reminder of my hourglass forever trickling sand to the bottom. Another year without a lot to show whirled by so quickly, I felt its breeze on my cheek as I blew out the candles. I wanted (and still yearn) to actually do things. I never will get 99.3% of what I desire. It bothers me often.

But, my husband was born on my birthday a thousand miles away and a bit over eight hours after me. We moved in together on our 21st birthday. He is the best present I ever received. How can I hate a day we share?

I was diagnosed with cancer at 32 and again at 33. I'm lucky in a way many aren't... I survived. I will take every candle and wrinkle the years grant me and smile.

Hope is a difficult thing for me to hold onto, but I celebrate my birthday because each new day is still a chance for something better... however slim. Worrying about the future can wait until February 19th.


Note: A friend suggested I not write about NFTs because their supporters can be volatile. So, while I have the references, the post is scrapped.