Showing posts from 2011

Exes and Oh's

The other day I met a guy. “I’m a widower and a single father,” he announced. “This is usually the part where women run. Let’s see if you do the same,” he challenged.

I would bet that most women don’t run because he is a widower or a single father, but because his attitude inspires flight.
Issuing a challenge is really not the best way to inspire me to break the pattern. I’m not that competitive.
While I knew we weren’t going much farther than the ‘getting to know you’ stage, I kept the conversation going as long as I could.
“So, how did your last relationship end?” I asked.
Now, I don’t read people’s looks at all well—truth be told I don’t really try. I’m enamored with words: I don’t study expressions unless they are expressed through them.
But I could read his look.
“She died.”
I think it was the tone that annoyed me most.Not the ‘I already told you that’ but the malice with which he uttered the words.As if he was challenging me to again do what few had done before me: date him.
I’m a div…

Learning to Speak Me: Part II

seduce me
do not squander silences
create of words a cassock
sway me gently
do not write poetry.
do not speak poetically.
do not ponder in meter or philosophize in line.
do not brood in rhythm or contemplate in rhyme—often.
don’t speak
tell me what my words say to you
know this
if my tone offends you, you aren’t listening

There Are Words: 1971

They say there is a word for everything. By they
I mean me.
There are some who still believe it.
By some
I mean those who still endeavor to transcribe teardrops
Those not yet fluent in goodbye.
There are words.
One thousand intricate ways to say goodbye.
There are some who live
in laughter
in music
in art
in moments
dying too soon,
too young,
By some
I mean you

Goodbye, etc...

If you are reading this message in response to a text, IM, email, voicemail, telephone or face to face (highly unlikely) exchange for which you need clarification, these are the things I probably should have said. 1. I am intentionally vague.
2. Despite what you may have been led to believe: very seldom does something slip that I didn’t want you to know.
3. I am commitment challenged: in a relationship (at least right now) the only thing I’m really committed to is changing my mind.
4. While whatever you did is annoying, irritating, frustrating, inappropriate and/or asinine: if it was not this, I would have left you for something else.
5. Despite the implication, I really don’t want to be friends. Maybe is so big and so broad and so wide a word that while I may have said, “Maybe we can be friends;” what I meant was we are not friends.

Learning to Speak Me: Part I

Words seduce me
I do not waste them
I do however squander silences
Despite my passion for creating of words a cassock to sway me gently at night, I do not write poetry.
That is to say, I do not speak poetically.
I do not ponder in meter or philosophize in line.
I do not brood in rhythm or contemplate in rhyme—often.
When I think: you hurt me. I say, you hurt me. I mean, you hurt me.
I try to say what I mean in a way that I find pleasing—I realize you don’t always speak me.
I speak me—fluently
It is not necessary to tell me what my words say to you
I know this.
As surely as I know, if my tone is what offends you, you aren’t listening to the words

Advice from an Infrequent Reader

This Friday, the Writer’s Center in Bethesda hosted an Open Mic Night for members and nonmembers. The reading drew a crowd of about twenty five people, most of them readers, a few were supporters: all were supportive, well almost.
Many of the readers were members, some were avid readers, some had not read in years and for some, tonight was their first reading. There was a pleasant sense of camaraderie and a surprising hint of animosity.
First, the camaraderie: All readings have etiquette.
1. Food and drinks were to be secured before the reading, during breaks, but not during changes in readers.
2. Cell phones were to be turned off.
3. People who did not adhere to item number 2 were to be immediately shamed by the turning of heads of all who had conformed and the silence of the reader. The ending of the shaming coincides with the reader’s continuation of the reading and the silencing of the phone.
4. No laughing during anyone’s reading, unless the writer waits awkwardly for said laughter…

Random Acts of Random (fiction)

It is not the sort of place one typically finds me. But, it is where the people go. I had decided to wander amongst them. I had been told by the wife of the man who tends our gardens that of the markets of Florence, Piazza S. Lorenzo boasts the most delicate swatches of intricately hand-woven cloth of all Italia. For his birthday, Roberto’s mother had sewn, day and night, a table cloth of many colors and fabrics. Mama G—saw poorly during the day and even worse during the night. Two nights after her death, I gave the table cloth to her maid for her years of service and sent her on her way to make her fortune elsewhere. Finally, after two years of marriage, I am the woman of the house.
So, I needed a new table cloth for the main dining room and knew of no better place to find one suited to the task. When I arrived, it was barely dawn, yet every beggar, hag and orphan had a bauble to trade or a story to tell. Upon every rickety table, within each dank crevice, and across each wobbly thres…

Sent: Sun 1/12/08 9:10 PM
RE: Tonight
There’s been a change of plans. My beloved wife is so tender and fragile these days, and though I do not deserve it, she has forgiven me, at last. Just last week she could barely look at me. Her speech brittle, words chosen painfully, as if we were in-laws, she talked around the weather, the day, but rarely directly to me. Weeks into therapy, Charlotte had not forgiven me our affair.
I emailed you last week because I wanted you. Living here then was like living here before—you. She was characteristically cold, distant. I was reminded often of you. Not of as you are, but of as you are not. The depths she went to avoid me attending all-day conferences and workshops–why a writer needs conferences, IDK–would have been funny, if it were not happening to me, to us.
But, tonight she smolders. Her short brown hair whipped around her face as she turned it this way and that. Her long, sensuous lashes could …

The Unfollowing (Repost)

In about five minutes I will have un-followed my first “friend.”

Why does it bother me?

In truth, it’s not the unfollowing that bothers me. I only knew him as well as I could know anyone with whom I exchanged workshop critiques over a 3-week summer writer’s workshop. Which is to say I knew him by words and by sight—which does not, as some might believe, mean I knew his insights, or lack thereof.

I did not know his politics.  I did not know his racial barometer, his insecurities.  Perhaps I don’t actually endeavor to know anyone that well. In the past, I had at best glanced at his updates. But now that either I have more time or he does, his updates appear to have become more frantic and more frequent. I find myself shocked by their chantish quality, their lack of depth, their lack of respect of my time.

In all honesty, what I remember best about him that summer is his overly long workshop piece laden with slightly-offensive assumptions of camaraderie and the presumption that I had th…

Beehive Baltimore (Repost)

According to their website, blog and Tweets, the Beehive Baltimore is an active community of writers sharing space to increase productivity and decrease cost. It’s a classic formula, a proven formula and financially, it makes sense.
It makes sense socially too.
The Hive is located in a cluster of offices, within a trendy, multi-purpose warehouse-esque modern building.
I picture writers, painters, sculptors, and dancers engaging in discussion, debate, and coffee laced with crème and conversation.
I don’t picture writers writing, painters painting, sculptors sculpting or dancers actually dancing.
And, I’d like to.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been planning a visit to the Hive to see just what co-working is all about. They are virtually locatable. I found their website; read their blog, and followed their tweets. I can find the Hive on a map, online, on Google Earth. I can @Beehive them, email them, or comment to a blog.

What I can’t do is call them.
Social networking, word of mouth, and an o…

The Me in Community (Repost)

Recently, I got a letter that my son’s school failed the state test. Not a state test, the state test: the Maryland State Assessment Test or MSA. The test that decides funding, staffing, academic performance: the test. It’s a report card, a ‘how does the school compare to other schools in the state’ and equally as importantly, a ‘how does your child compare to other students in the state’ marker.
Each year, my children perform well, very well to be precise. Some years their schools do not.
This year, my daughter’s school passed the statewide test, my son’s did not. The letter from his school is nicely worded. It says something about under performing and reevaluating. It’s very positive, but the bottom line is that something is missing between teaching and learning: something just doesn’t work.
Four years ago, I got the same letter before my daughter was supposed to go to the same school. That year, I opted out and was able to transfer her into a performing school.
Today, the program that…

On Why I Don't Comment on Comments

In most of the writers’ groups I belong to, there is at least one conversation devoted to the topic of comments and why we don’t comment on other writers’ blogs.
Each time I read one, I vow to read a blog or two and post a comment in return: to leave my virtual calling card.
I sift through several blogs before choosing the one to respond to.
Reading a blog is sort of like reading the editorials. Reading comments is like asking people what they think about the editorials.
I don’t do that.
So while I peruse, sift and skim blog posts, I rarely glimpse or acknowledge the comments of others.
Comments are like undergarments. I assume people have them, but I’m not all that interested in seeing the general populations’.

Yvonne Battle-Felton; Crafter of Sexy CV's

“Great information, can I reference this for my site and link back to you?”
Compliments are probably one of the fastest ways to get your comment approved on my blog. So, likely my ego will be my cyber downfall.
When I began looking for a full-time English faculty position, it seemed logical to post my resume and CV on my blog.
It still does.
Visions of people linking my CV to the hands of my future employer would have danced vividly in my head—had I thought of it that way. When commenters began asking to link, repost or refer the content from my blogs to theirs, I was giddy—until…
Though I still have the what’s the worst that could happen mentality when it comes to accepting comments, I still read each comment, email address, website, link, IP address—just in case.
The most recent request to link to my CV made me smile, in a what the heck? sort of way. The request looked sincere enough—though in retrospect most of the requests so far have been from spammers—the site potentially linking to …


“What kind of films do you make?” Porn, I think.
“Just films about different things.”
I nod.
I mistake his evasiveness and momentarily forget my own.
As a writer, I seldom talk about a piece until it is finished—sometime after its final revision, submission, rejection and/or publication. Dissecting language, character, voice, and plot are far more intricate and intimate conversations than those I would have with people who would ask, “What are you working on?”
People who would not ask are writers.
People who don’t know me must think I write porn.
“What do you want to do after graduation?” A friend asks.
“I just want to write,” I say and mean—but not really.

I do not want to write manuals, business letters, or the story of someone else’s life.
I want to write short stories with characters who reflect people and the choices we make and the consequences we live with. I want to write creative nonfiction pieces about injustices, opportunities, life. I want to make people think, act, cry, care. Pow…

Consider the Source: FTC Updates Timely Advice (Repost)

I have always been leery of reviews.
Books, movies, companies, merchandise, what ever the product or service, I seldom trust testimonials, endorsements, or personal statements unless I respect the source.
A quick search of most products or services will pull up the product, its competition, client testimonials and customer reviews.
It should be universally understood that information provided by the manufacturer and/or provider and its competition is biased.
Word-of-mouth is just as powerful today as it was yesterday.
Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and the thousands of services in between, rely on the premise of networks and the sharing of information. The power of telling a friend, who tells a friend, who tells another friend, has gone exponential.
With all of this information exchanging, sharing, updating, blogging and twittering about, the FTC reminds us that nothing has really changed. When making decisions based on someone’s experience, recommendation, or testimonial, you have to…

Conversations I would Rather Not Have

There are some conversations that get easier to have the more often you have them—death isn’t one of them.
This weekend I woke up to quiet.
Unexpected, somewhat jolting, my three children, dog, cat, presumably the leopard gecko were sleeping and so was—it would seem for a few more minutes—Lita Gibby.
Lita Gibby does not sleep. Or if she does, she is a light sleeper. Since she’s lived with us, she has become in tuned with movement, shifts in lighting, every whispered sound.
She detects everything.
She sings—or sang—to music, to silence, to footsteps.
Lita Gibby was Noah’s birthday present.
I should have learned you can’t give life.
The plump white and brown guinea pig, deceptively quiet in the pet store, uncharacteristically quiet today, is dead.
Because Noah was three when we got her, I spent more time than I thought I would talking to, petting, cleaning up after, feeding, and though I didn’t expect to, loving Lita Gibby.
There are just a few moments between now—when he thinks Lita Gibby is …

Trying to Spend Money at Wal-Mart? Good luck

I love a good sale; there’s nothing like saving money—especially when you don’t have to spend money to do it.
Still, lately I have been having a hard time actually spending money. No, not because I’m adhering to a budget; not because I’m debating a large purchase or even haggling over prices: The store just won’t seem to take my money.It’s an odd problem to have. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t complain, but these circumstances aren’t quite normal.
Last week I visited Wal-Mart to purchase new tires. On one hand I had reservations about purchasing tires from the same place I can purchase sweatpants and toothpaste; but, there’s a certain nostalgic quality reminiscent of Sunday shopping with my grandmother decades ago that eases the uncertainties. Back then, she shopped at Two Guys, a long gone “everything” store similar to Wal-Mart and perhaps more adept—though their bankruptcy would say otherwise—at taking money. So I was able to rationalize shopping for tires where I shop for life…

When Apples Go Bad-Part 1

One current and three potential Apple customers enter the Apple store in Towson, MD. The "genius" at the "Genius Bar" misidentifies my daughter's Ipod as an Iphone. Genuis recommends I pay $119 to have the 3-month old Ipod replaced. We discuss the probability of that happening. Genius explains the situation to the manager in the back room...laughter permeates the store. Scott (the presumed laugher in point 5) explains his logic behind suggesting I pay $119 to have the Ipod replaced: he believes my daughter is a budding technologist who somehow destroyed the inner workings of her Ipod. We agree to disagree.

When Apples Go Bad: Part-2

Explained situation to first Apple Customer Service Rep. Informative, polite exchange leading to transfer to a rep. who could look into the specifics. Transferred to Dave. Explained more in-depth, took picture of IPod, emailed Dave. Dave explained policy, issued a special code and explained the exception. Dave took notes of the exchange and determines the store needs to be held accountable for their behavior. I am impressed. Happily awaiting package to return and exchange my daughter's broken IPod.

Baltimore Book Festival (Repost)

If you've been within a mile of Mount Vernon Place this week; if you've visited the library, a book store, a friend with a book; or if you’ve perused the Sun, the City Paper or b, chances are you already know The Baltimore Book Festival is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’m honored to be reading with Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson, writer, editor, Hopkins professor and advisor. We’ll be at the CityLit Tent from 1:45 to 2:15 as part of their School of Lit . School of Lit features faculty and students from some of the area’s finest writing programs. Joanne and I will be reading nonfiction essays, short stories and talking about Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs MA in Writing. I hope to see you there.

Things I Want My Children to Know

1. I love them more than I can say. 2. I am so proud of them.
3. It’s a pleasure watching them grow as individuals–even though it means I will no longer be the center of their lives (and, yes, I am oblivious enough to believe I am now the center of their lives).
4. I enjoy engaging in conversations with them (which is not the same as arguing with them, see things I learned from George Bush).
5. They are talented, beautiful, wonderful children who will grow in to talented, beautiful, wonderful adults who will never try to force me in to a nursing home (unless it’s a really nice one where I can write for hours on end while watching the ocean from my ocean-view apartment).
6. They are destined for success.
7. They can tell me anything.
8. I will always love them.
9. I will not always be right, but that won’t always stop me from offering my opinion.
10. Never stop learning.
11. Make new mistakes, there’s no sense remaking the ones I have already made (and, made quite well thank you).
12. …

Things I Don't Want My Children to Know

1. Each night I check to make sure they are breathing. 2. I am capable of doing unspeakable things to people who hurt my children.
3. I am not as nice as they think I am.
4. Dating wise, I’m far more shallow than they give me credit for. So, while my daughter worries that I don’t take an interest in the men we encounter at the market, the mall, the local McDonald’s—I have seen them (often before she has) and dismissed them.
5. The rest of the things that I don’t want them to learn by reading this, smiles.