Tag Archives: writing

What’s gnu? And how I am learning to write in 200 words or less.

A gnu is a wildebeest or Connochaetes and they are ungulates of the African continent. I saw a wild one once, in Kenya, an experience I will never forget and long to repeat. Not actually repeat or recreate, I am not the same person I was then,nor is Kenya. I am not pining for the past, nor am I lost dreaming of a future where I am able to adventure in exotic locales while making a positive difference in other people’s lives.  But I do want to again be chased by Zebra’s and see what’s gnu. I am a modern woman, I want “new.”

Wanting something, in this case to see Africa again, and also to see Australia, New Zealand, India, and Antartica for the first time, to accumulate experience, is a form of craving therefore could be the cause of suffering according to the teachings of Buddha.(Christianity has a commandment about coveting what is not one’s own as do most other dharmas and dogmas, I’m just currently enthralled by Buddhism) Also according to Buddha, pain and suffering are an integral part of being alive. I get that, wanting what I do not have can be the source of discomfort. Discomfort is, well, uncomfortable.

Discomfort causes movement. Today in my morning meditation, that movement came at about 7 minutes. I  took a bit of meditation practice detour and can really tell, in October I could make it to 20 minutes before succumbing to repositioning, some who have trained can make the unimaginable hour(s) of stillness.

Movement of itself is not a bad thing, it just isn’t meditation. In fact moving is a wonderful thing. When I spend a designated portion of my day moving my legs to run or bike or swim my mood improves, I have less general pain, sleep better, concentrate better and generally like life more.  Mental movement is necessary for learning, eye movement for reading and my fingers are moving right now to write this blog.  Movement to avoid pain is a life saving reflex. Movement is the language of the body, and like words is glorious expression. ” But it comes to a little more, there where it is we do not need the movement, or the words,” to paraphrase Frost.

The New Year is the mischief in me and my challenge to myself and to anyone else listening to find there where it is we need the stillness and the silence.  Our culture is enamored with sound and movement and new and more are the drugs we use to avoid the emptiness of our inner worlds. But I can tell you, having been there myself, that the quiet empty of the inner landscape is just as vast and inspiring as the veldt and the gnu. Stillness is the necessary antithesis to movement, and silence can say volumes.

The universe has recently added a unique professional lesson in the value of brevity.  Today I had to write and article about an upcoming show at The Phoenix Art Museum about one of the most amazing Green artists currently blending eco dialogue with museum quality exhibitions, one Matthew Moore (www.urbanplough.com), in 200 words or less. This 200 words or less requirement is the same for any non-local art event regardless of its worth and I have been hard pressed to accommodate the minimalist word count, but I just did it, and well I believe. Which doesn’t actually mean it will get printed or published, because newspaper space, like human life, is limited.

And like a human life, the words written in a newspaper only make sense because of the spaces between the marks we know as letters and words.

So today I will move and speak and write, but I will also leave space and silence.

And that is what is gnu with me today.



Magical contagion and viral hope versus realistic anhedonia….

About a week ago, I saw John Lennon’s piano in the wood so to speak; the one he composed "Imagine" on, the one that toured in the name of peace. It has come to its final home in the Scottsdale, AZ, MIM.

Physically, it is a unprepossessing and somewhat battered Steinway, but metaphorically it is the womb of legend. In the pristine and silent museum I approached this shrine. Just outside my rational vision vibrated a messy kaleidescope of noise and color. With more than ears I heard the larval notes being played, a few bars at a time, as the tune inspired by Yoko’s poem  crawled from the ivory into Lennon’s hand. I was infected and affected and my eyes got a little wet; deep breath to ground me.

It is not hard for me to Imagine. I do believe in magic and the contagion of invisible things, like hope and germs, love and hate, peace or despair. There is a science to it all, and I think it is not coincidence that a belief in magic (albeit some name it faith) has increased in the last few decades as our control of the "meat" world has slipped beyond our usual means. Hope is what we have to sustain us even as social paradigms, religious paragons and political ideals fail to keep our bodies safe or our bellies full. Spreading  viral hope is why I still write, even though the days of making my living with words is behind me. Like many modern writers my work has a bit of fantasy in it. 

Fantasy literature as a genre is at an all time high, especially among the young readers. The Horatio Alger stories of my childhood and the detectives who only needed to wear the right pumps and follow the clues don’t work as well in a world where the rich and powerful grow ever more rich and powerful as the working middle class become the working poor. Self made men are not believable heroes in a time when success is more often who you know than what you do. To believe in a fairy Godmother gives us Cinderella’s singing voice, so that we can sing into wells and out windows while the corporate step sisters grind our families beneath their bejeweled heels. I too have wished uopn a star and so I understand the increased cultural popularity of fantasy writers; but what of the equally burgeoning paparazzi parade and cult of celebrity. If we seek to escape the wicked tyrants, what explains our then obsessive collecting of every small sequin that falls off these same grinding shoes?

It is the self-same magical thinking that makes us play Elven Avatars, knock wood, and buy lottery tickets that fuels the modern cult of fandom.  By being near to, or touching, or even just reading about those who have what we desire we hope to become a little more like them.  I understand this magical contagion; just as I was transported by the energy of Lennon’s piano, I attend author signings, have paid for backstage passes to meet the original RENT cast and distributed flyers in sweltering heat to shake hands in awe with the members of Queensryche. I did this to get a little magic fairy dust sprinkled on me.  Most recently, I sat at the feet, so to speak of a much admired game designer for an evening sharing my Porter and inhaling his genius like a drug. 

I guess it is the choice of pop-culture’s Tinkerbells that puzzles me. The quality of the dust is unrelated to the level of a persons celebrity for me, it is correlated instead to my ability to be transported by the body of their work and where there "magic" takes me. Hence my dismay this morning as i shopped the current crop offerring in the digital cult of celebrity..

It started with me  putzing around this morning telling myself I was trying to figure out what to write, (when in fact I was avoiding writing.) I was surprised, may I say flabbergasted at the top ten stories I surfed to with Twitter, LJ and Yahoo. I was even more horrified as these are not what the media is force feeding anyone, it is what the public enmasse are choosing to click on themselves.

Three of the stories were horrific versions of human cruelty that propagated a belief in realistic anahedonia and the rest were scandal mongering. The upside of all this was I was cured of surfing in about 45 minutes which is a very short time for me to be cyber distracted and I was totally re-inspired to Nanowrimo.

Words are my weapon. Naming is powerful. My stories of hope and compassion vibrate when I speak them, even if you don’t hear them. Every  Naming matters.Psychology Today ran an article a few years ago about an experiment where people watched the sugar being added to the water and the labels being placed and yet they had a hard time drinking the bottle labeled "poison", the participants also hesitated at the bottle labeled "not poison" since our minds have a hard time registering negatives in the portion where connections are made,  although none hesitated to drink and enjoy the bottle labeled "sucrose".

I  don’t remember all the details, but the same article went on to tell about it taking twice as many positive connections to overrule negative connections. Maybe I will look up the article when I am done nano’ing. In December I can Google the Psychology Today website, I know it was 2007 or 2008 because of where I read the article. It would be nice to read it again, but for now I will just keep on prepping for Nanowrimo and encouraging and commenting to my nanobuddies, because its gonna take a lot of  creative, positive, and hopeful hedonism to get this world back on track. I shift the signed copies of  "Medicine Road" and "Here There Be Dragons", knock on the wooden table that displays them, pop in another CD and  rock  out my gratitude to the divine I am not in this alone.  I may never be Tinkerbell or even a Lost Boy, but this november with 50,000 words, I will fly.

A musing morning meanderings without a point but itself

 ‎"..a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage." 1984 by George Orwell

Getting ready for Nanowrimo by writing daily again.  Seems everywhere I turn these days there are reminders of that past life, where I wrote and sold and performed for my bread and butter instead of my current occupation as nurse. Requests to read what I wrote keep confronting me and my desire to still maintain that wall of protection between what was and what is remains still too strong to accommodate. Luckily most of my published work was the throw away kind and published before computer technology made everything written or spoken immutable in form and at the whim of any editing punk for function. Yet it is ironically comforting that I do still exist as a writer on the internet. 

I entered the "New Era" writing contest while living with my foster parents the Urbanawiz’s (people who will ever be my example of what is good about Mormons) and my winning gave them the rights forever to my poems. They re-appeared again a decade later and hence their being readable on the internet. Two of my book reviews reveal more of my prosaic style under JM DeBiasi in archived Alibi issues. It used to be that this far right spiritual publication and this intellectual voice were properly triangulated by a third archived Gay travel article written in my perky, Girrl on the Go voice, but it has fallen off the cyber map now due to increasing age.

A poem written two years ago about a time when I was much clearer about my truth. And now Hilary Hahn, "my timer" is done so I will make breakfast and leave you with this tribute to one of many times I learned the size of the ocean of human misery.

Passive Resistance

We strummed acoustic guitars and sang in groups
Of missing flowers, blowing winds
As they approached with billy clubs and shields
Hurling insults and orders.
We met each others eyes and held ourselves in check with our chain of stares

The biting smoke they unleashed made even my airy soprano
a bit more Janis Joplin.
Our eyes streamed tears and nose dangled mucous tributes to
American justice
And voices quavery with chemical fear
Rose again in growing tides and waves
Unison, "Give Peace a Chance."

Until the boys in blue
roused the angry soldier in one of us
and he became at last what he had yet refused to be
And he rose up into contact with the billy club and shouted something back
that’s when the screaming started
and the bruises and the blood and the blame poured out
in American portions, service for one
but plenty for all to share.

I sat unmoving still keeping our three sets of eyes locked
Quietly caging our animal need to run, respond, fight back.
I had three stitches in my chin and two butterflies and my first bald patch on my head
You an armcast, and she with nothing broken
was witch green with healing bruises and a Jimmy Durante nose.
We were the lucky ones
Who knew peace could hurt so much.

Five days later we buried the one who fought, the one who fled
Ourselves quite alive, only our belief in justice was dead.

Read more: http://www.myspace.com/cassandracrow/blog#ixzz12XiORFhT