Searching for Rosie

I haven’t even finished my current project, and yet, here I go starting something else, SearchingForRosie.wordpress.com.

You see, I have a Google Alert set for “Rosie the Riveter” and so I keep getting links in my InBox to cool articles, and now I have a place to share them.  And start laying the groundwork for my next project…  the one I get to do when I finish my current project, “Reconstructing My Mother.”

What I SHOULD be doing

I should be working on my dissertation, also known as my memoir.  I’ve made some progress over the past week:

I printed out all 200 pages. This was the easy part. (except for the part where the Lobo Lab on campus was closed, so I had to go to the Library, and use the slowest printer ever, and it only printed on one side! arrgh.)

I read through all 200 pages. THIS was the hard part (except for the part where I was doing said reading in the lovely Willard Reading Room in the library.)  Some of the text I wrote back in 2005, and as I look at it now I see how much is missing:  setting and reflection, for example. Oh and context.  The good news is that I’ve learned a lot in this MFA program.

I marked places in the text where more amplification is needed, and created a To Do list, that is at once comforting and overwhelming.  Some entries on my list are simple like, “Edit, edit, edit!” something I can do with one hand tied behind my back. Other notes are “Add more reflection,” which means I must do just that–  reflect.  And then of course, write about it.

It is in the reflection I get lost, I wander off.  For example, in one section I want to write about military culture, about what it means to me to have grown up as a military brat, so off I go in search of the book that Uncle Bill gave me many years ago.  I can’ t seem to find it, so I wander over to Google and search “military brats,” and end up on Wikipedia…  and then my mind wanders, this time I think about the workshop I took on Sunday with the talented writer/teacher Michelle Otero and Lisa Gill of the Local Poets Guild, “Writing to Heal.”

In the first exercise Michelle had us visualize our life as a river.  She quoted Toni Morrison:

“The act of imagination is bound up with memory. You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. “Floods” is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is an emotional memory—what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our ‘flooding.'”

You can never go wrong when you quote Toni Morrison.

I imagined my life like a river back east, lush with trees and green practically dripping from the banks into the water, and curving so that you could not see what was ahead. It’s strange that this is the kind of river I imagine when I’ve spent more of my life near the Colorado River or the Rio Grande River, or any other river in the southwest that is not shrouded in green shrubbery.

Then Michelle asked us to DRAW this river.  I know some folks were resistant, but I find it very helpful to try to express myself in a medium other than writing–  what Sharon Warner calls “getting it off the page” so I was excited. There is something liberating in drawing, where I don’t have any pre-conceived notions that I am going to do a good job.

As I imagined this river, and thought about my mother’s death, I draw that time in my life as a curve in the river shrouded in foliage so dark I could not see around the bend…  On the side before the river’s bend I drew a lighter brighter area, with the trees well-defined to represent that life was good, it was sweet–  but the subtext would be, is anything ever this perfect? pretty pink and purple and yellow flowers, the sun always shining?

When I stepped back and looked at this river drawing I realized how easily I had slipped back into an old pattern of looking at everything as a problem.  And let me tell you I went to town drawing that bend in the river, scrawling the darkest greens and blacks and blues.  It was a dark time, but as I looked at my drawing,  it dawned on me that I don’t think of everything as dark, or dreary (at least not ALL the time).  Fortunately (or subconsciously?) I had left empty a small area in the upper right corner of the paper (you can’t see it very well in the above photo), so I drew in some perfect flowers, and a nice tree, and even a little sunshine.  My way of saying, Hey. I don’t know what’s around that bend, but I know it will be okay. I will be okay.  And if history is any indication, I know that is true.  I may not know where I will land, but I do know I will land on my feet.

A Good News Bad News Kinda Day

All week I’ve been sluggish and weepy.  You see, today, April 15th, is the fifth anniversary of my father’s death.  It’s especially ironic that he died on April 15ht because he left us ten years of unpaid taxes–unpaid and unfiled, and unopened notices from the IRS… That’s my Dad on the right, me in the center rockin’ those 80s glasses, my sister on the left, behind us the waters of Lake Michigan.

I didn’t have a great relationship with my Dad, but it wasn’t bad either.  He was a good man that had a lot of problems, some of which I’m sure would not have been so damaging had my mother not died.  But that may be a fantasy, I don’t know.  What I do know is that he was smart and had a sharp wit (he could be a pretty funny guy).

What I do know is that he loved me, and I understood him– and still fear becoming like him…  As I look around my house now I see piles of I-don’t -know-what on my dining room table, papers strewn across my office floor and clean clothes stacked on the floor in my bedroom.  I wonder if this is how it began with my Dad.

A few significant differences I cling to:

1. I filed my taxes yesterday.  Here’s where the good news comes in– I’m getting a refund, whew.

2. My family room has places where friends can sit, and it is not so messy that I would be mortified if someone dropped by. I would even let someone in the door (and the line of bags of recycling that was in the entryway last week is now gone–  recycled!).

3. My mail– even junk mail– is opened and dealt with within a week of receiving it (usually on Saturdays).

4. I vacuum and dust. Not as regularly as I would like, but it does happen.

5. I know when all the food in my freezer went in.

6. If need be, I could get my place clean in about two hours. (I may not be able to find everything afterwards, but it would look pretty).

7. I feel like there should be a seventh thing, but I can’t think of one now.

 

Random Thoughts from a Reality TV Show Junkie

Ok, I’m not really a reality t.v. show junkie–  but there are a few that fascinate me,  and here’s why, in no particular order:

1. Project Runway.  I love seeing how people make stuff.  I like to see how different artists / designers approach each challenge. I like to watch the designers sewing stuff–  so far beyond my junior high school home ec class sewing achievements!  and for the record I still think that Mondo was robbed!!!!

2. America’s Next Top Model.  Crazy, I know.  I’m not a model, will never be a model, didn’t take modeling in junior high school…  so why the fascination?  Mostly it’s the creative aspect of the photo shoots, how make up and lighting and body movement makes a piece of art, a photo, and realizing it’s not always the prettiest girls who take the best pictures.

3. Made. I don’t watch this one often, but when I do I really enjoy it.  I wish they had a program like this for adults– I’d sign up.  The premise is simple; the show’s (contestant? player? star?) has a dream, but lacks the self confidence and skills to make it happen…  the tuba player wants to be a football player, the overweight couch potato wants to be prom queen; you get the idea.  They are assigned a coach, and the training begins.

4. Undercover Boss. Actually I have mixed feelings about this one (and my next one).   Some CEO boss from A Big Corporation (Waste Management, 7-11, etc) goes undercover as an employee.  Then they meet some employee who works for the company for shit wages while supporting a special needs kid, a spouse with cancer and a parent in a nursing home. And the CEO is like, wow, I’m so blessed.  I can’t believe I have such awesome employees who work so hard for shit wages!  And then at the end they pass out Scholarships, Raises, Invitations to Management as if they were party favors.  At first I was like, oh, it’s so nice to see these hard working, deserving folks get a little extra, a hand up, some understanding, a bit of appreciation….  but later, I think about it and wonder.  Did these bosses really not know that there are hundreds of thousands of barely-making-it, hard-working people out there?  It takes them going undercover to realize it? Is there really so little empathy in the world?

5. Secret Millionaire.  Much like the above, only this show puts millionaires into contact with poor people.  While they are meeting these people they have to live like they poor do– in sub par apartments in marginal neighborhoods.  NO gated communities for these millionaires!  Again, it’s as if these folks are so insulated and so out of tune with, you know, fellow humans, that it takes this kind of experience to make them aware, and then pass out checks to those they feel really deserve their money.  I mean it’s great that these awesome people get money to do their charity work (the one episode I saw awarded a soup kitchen run by these awesome elderly ladies, a family run organization that re-decorates bedrooms for kids with cancer, and a music school).  But, are we really so disconnected from each other that we have to sign up to be on  “reality” t.v. show to connect with people that don’t live the exact same lifestyle as we do or have as much money as we do?  It’s weird.

Anyway, I’ll leave my fascination with The Bachelor/ Bachelorette for another day…  and get back to my writing!!

 

Writer’s March Day 4

The Meadow by James Galvin

I don’t know for sure if I got my five hours in today or not.  I kind of lost track of time. I worked some this morning, from about 9 to 12 but the progress felt slow and painful and I was eager for any excuse to check my email or Facebook.  I think by 10:30 I’d written six actual words.  Or at least it was a net gain of six words, I may have written more and deleted some…  So I took a break to go read some of The Meadow by James Galvin.

If you have not read this book, and you’re a fan of beautiful prose, coupled with good story, then go get this book.  For me it is a nice break, and I’m hoping to emulate some of Galvin’s poetic style.

One of the things I admire in this book is how it treats place, not so much as a character in the story, though there are some elements of that, but rather as the threads that hold the stories together.  The book is about the people that have lived and worked on this meadow for a hundred years.  Each “chapter” is a short vignette about the lives of the few people who have lived on this land.  Galvin weaves between past and present, and clearly holds a love of the land, and the people who have lived there.

This makes me think about my relationship to place.  In last month’s post about home I mentioned that having grown up in a military family we moved a bit. Actually we moved a lot less than other people (my uncle, for example went to 27 schools!).  The culture was instilled in the family, however because my mother was the daughter of a Navy Commodore, the granddaughter of a Navy Lieutenant and my father was the son of a Navy Admiral.  Not only were we nomadic, we were not even “land” people. We were sea people.  Kind of.  My Navy Commodore grandfather was actually a pilot–  even more distant from the land!

I struggle with ways to incorporate Place into my writing and I’m starting to wonder if my upbringing,the military culture, doesn’t encourage a deliberate unattaching from the land.  I know that sounds strange, but I don’t know how else to describe it.  Where ever you are, there’s your home.

I’d like to learn to notice things about Place more. I have an instinctual understanding that environment affects attitude, but I’ve always thought of that more in terms of actual home environment.  A clean house versus a messy house, nicely decorated (even if on the cheap) versus plain and spartan…   but that world out beyond the walls of my house?  Not sure how to interpret it and its affects on me.

I’m going to ponder this some more….   and tell you I just got another 45 minutes in of writing!  March On!

Lest you think I only wrote that little bit, those six words in the morning, today, after lunch with a friend, I managed to get another 1000 words in.

PS:  I’ll be guest blogging over at the Writer’s March site on Thursdays. Check me out!

Intervals: a poem

One leg stands on
solid ground, the other tapping,
searching for the next foothold,
feeling naught but air.

In between now
and tomorrow
I am unsettled, my
breath shallow.

Yes, it was
a deliberate choice to insert that            space there
for it is in the space

between breaths           that change occurs.

And as I inhale           and exhale

I wonder why my heart beat is so cliché.

The thing I haven’t told you

In case you are wondering why / how I can commit to writing 5 hours each day, on February 2 my boss told me that he wanted all his “key people” in the office and working full time–that my last day would be February 18.

I guess I should feel honored that he considered me “key” but still, it was a shock. I had a bit of a freak out.  Instead of working on my dissertation, I spent the next couple of weeks finishing up work stuff (I wanted to make sure I exited with grace, dignity and professionalism), and scrambling to figure out what’s next.

I applied for a job at the LGBTQ Resource Center on campus.  Which of course entailed updating my resume, and putting out an emergency call to a few people to write me letters of recommendation (and Julie, Ralph, and Greg all came through with flying colors! thank you!!).

Then I noticed an opportunity for a scholarship through the UNM Alumni Association–  for women, for “non traditional” (that’s code for older) students, and those changing careers.  (I figured  my age, and gender, and recent job loss qualified me quite nicely).  Another quick turnaround on the application and this time Jade from the Childrens Grief Center, Greg again (my dissertation chair) and professor/ friend Sharon Warner also came through last minute with letters of recommendation. Thanks again!

So, it’s been a tough month.  Change.  It is unsettling.  And I’m trying really hard to see it as a gift– a gift of TIME.

The job at the LGBTQ Resource Center did not pan out.

But the good news is that several local friends– and friends of friends– have offered other opportunities. And while none has seemed to be a good fit, I am thankful for the friends and the community I have created here in Albuquerque.  Last month, if you’d asked  me how I like living in Albuquerque and I’d have been likely to say, “It’s O.K.”  I’d have said that I don’t love it, I don’t hate it; my heart is not here.  So now, while maybe I don’t love it, it’s more than O.K.  But I don’t know a word for that. “Like” seems so banal.

I may continue to look for job opportunities, or freelance writing gigs, my focus right now is going to be on finishing my dissertation. I’m going to focus on the writing.  And it’s scary.

Now I have to be the thing I said I was, a writer.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to go “home” since so many of my graduate school friends do just that.  When they ask if I’m going “home” for the holidays I don’t quite know how to answer them.  Albuquerque IS home. At least for now.

Friends walk into my home and say it’s comfortable, it feels like a home: my furniture matches, I have framed pictures on the wall, it’s cozy, I have a fireplace…..  in other words, not your typical grad school digs filled with shabby chic craigslist finds, hand-me-downs and books (though I do have a ton of books scattered throughout my house).

Maybe part of creating your own home is growing up.   I’m older than most of my fellow students, though I’m not the oldest! (thanks Lucy! thanks Linda! thanks Rick!).  My parents and both sets of grandparents are gone, so that leaves wherever I am as “home.”

jenns-heartThey say home is where the heart is…  I can’t say that my heart is here in New Mexico, but my body is, and having grown up in a military family, moving every couple of years, you learn to make home where your body is though you may have left your heart somewhere else.  Sometimes it takes a while for your mind to catch up.  And sometimes, though you may leave parts of your heart in many places, you also bring those  places with you, into your heart. In a sense those places become a part of your heart.

Left Ventrical: San DiegoSanDiegoBeachBaby copy
While there are many things I don’t like about California, like the high cost of living and still unatainable housing market, not to mention the pretentiousness and the plethora of plastic surgeons and “medical” spas, and the sometimes feeling that I’m not __________ enough; the good outweighs the bad.Part of me grew up there.  I have friends there, including a fantastic community of writers.  My job is there as well.  I miss going IN to the office. I miss shooting the breeze with my boss, and joshing with my coworkers and talking to customers on the phone.  And I miss the ocean.  I miss the salty air filling my lungs; I miss riding my boogie board, or body surfing. I miss walking on the shore at sunset.  I even miss walking up that hill at Torrey Pines State Beach.

I’d say I miss my sister, but she recently moved to Chicago.

Right Ventrical: Chicago


debb-w-santa

Last time my sister moved to Chicago, I followed her ten years later. This time I am hoping that before the next ten years is up, she’ll have moved back to San Diego.Don’t get me wrong, I love Chicago.  It’s a fantastic city.  Theater! Art! Public sculpture! Public transportation! The lake!  But the lake is not the ocean, no matter how big it is.

It’s an exciting and vibrant city. They even have weather…   maybe too much weather.

Superior Vena Cava: Hawaii7-5-2010_029
Part of me grew up in Hawaii on the main island, Oahu.  It was only four years when I was in elementary school.  I learned to recite the state motto:  Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono, The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness. I could repeat it by rote, like the Hawaiian alphabet, but it is only now that understand it.   The life of the land, the spirit of the land, the connection to the land is indefinite, lasting, perpetual, and justifiable.

Whenever I return there is a sense of being home. I feel it in my skin; the air is moist and the breezes are cool. Sunsets envelop the sea air. This is where my best family memories were made:  picnics at the beach, family dinners; hula dancing, ukulele lessons; my mom did not have cancer.

Inferior Vena Cava: Virginia

skylinedrive

My grandma grew up in a southern Virginia in a small town called Sedley.  It is the home of Hubs Peanuts, and to many cousins, to second and third cousins twice removed and so on;  I don’t know most of them.  The town boasts a mill pond, a peanut factory, a small store or two, a few churches and a fire station.  It’s mostly a farming town.

I spent part of my youth in a northern Virginia town near Washington DC called Vienna.  My mother died there.  I graduated high school there, spending most weekends cruising with my friend Pam back and forth between the McDonalds on one end of town and 7-11 on the other smoking cigarettes and drinking rum and cokes.   And chasing boys.

My parents and one set of grandparents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  Other relatives are buried in the Sedley cemetery.

Left Atrium: Aptos, CAmaryk-bill
My Aunt Mary K and my Uncle Bill live in this seaside town just south of Santa Cruz.  Our family has spent many holidays in their warm little house set at the edge of second growth redwood forest.

Bill is my father’s brother, he and Mary K– for as long as I can remember– have lived in Northern California, but my earliest memory is when they came to San Diego to visit.  I’m pretty sure there was a trip to Sea World involved, and I know my aunt Mary K had made me a stuffed animal frog. I was five or six. I can still picture that frog in my mind’s eye, soft and floppy, made of dark green felt with lime green spots and big eyes.The last time I saw them was for my sister’s 50th birthday party in Chicago this summer past.

Right Atrium: Portland, ORkatie-casey
My cousin Katie and her husband Casey live in Portland. I’ve not spent a lot of time in the city with them, but spent many family holidays together.One time, before they were married, I drove to Portland from San Diego. Katie had bought my sister’s jeep and I was delivering it. I spent a few nights in Katie’s place where her roommate grew marijuana in the basement; I think the fumes made me high…

Pulmonary artery: Albuquerque, NM

roadrunner198

When friends ask how I like Albuquerque I usually answer that it’s okay.  I don’t mean that in a bad way.  I don’t love it and I don’t hate it.   I’m sure that a part of my heart is already here. I purchased my first house here, and published my first short story here.  I’ve seen sandhill cranes, prairie dogs, wild mountain lilies, and the most vibrant sunset of my life.

By the time I leave a little part of ‘Burque will have worked its way into my heart.  I’ll have made lasting friendships, earned an MFA degree, and completed the first draft of my book.

And I’ve seen roadrunners in my own front yard.


This Is Your Brain; This Is Your Brain Online

I’m a different person online. I’m more social. I’m funnier. Or so I like to tell myself. In face to face encounters I feel awkward and slow. According to my online bio , I am “Jennifer, aka Jenn, aka JeSais….a creative writing student ….currently living in New Mexico.” I paint words on paper sculpting my life into stories. I am messy. I love the feeling of cool sand between my toes and the salty tang of ocean on my lips. Also:

I speak Spanish
and a little Portuguese
some French
and even a few words of German:
koenntest du mir bitte die butter reichen. please pass the butter.
(don’t laugh, it came in handy when my roommate’s parents came to visit.)
My favorite tea is Blood Orange Rooibus Herbal Tea from the New Mexico Tea Company.
I’m in grad school to get an MFA in Creative Writing.
I read.
I like brussel sprouts.
I make awesome pozole.
I love to write with a purple Sharpie(r) Ultra Fine Point Permanent Marker.
I think David Byrne is a musical genius.

In the comments section, my friend Karin added, “And you make the best salads ever!”

Contrary to recent studies I feel smarter online. I have at my fingertips (which can type 85 words a minute) a search engine that can answer almost any question, and an RSS reader loaded up with feeds so I can quickly scan for new information from around the internets: NPR, Salon.com , to “Brevity’s Creative Nonfiction Blog” and “Dating in the Odyssey Years” (a friend’s blogs), and more.

GOOGLE READER August 30, 2010 (a sampling):
SALON: Howard Kurtz and WashPost’s contempt for its readers
TWC: Eight Things Mrs. G is Loath to Admit
NEW PAGES: Writer Beware Reveals Media Error
NPR: University Attendance Scanners Make Some Uneasy
NPR: Our Storied Lives: The Quest for ‘Something More’
NPR: Freddie Mercury: Rock ‘N’ Roll’s Humble Showman

And so, within about seven minutes:

  • I had learned the Mrs. G (a blogger) doesn’t trust Bill Maher, did not like Avatar, did like All About Steve, once called a suicide hotline and was disconnected and now associates Slurpees with perseverance (you have to read the post for yourself).
  • I also learned that a six year old really didn’t land a million dollar book deal, and something about using scanners to track college student attendance (I didn’t actually READ the articles).
  • I did scan the article on NPR about “our storied lives” about how we constantly re-arrange the narrative of our lives—and how that sense of “story” of our own lives influences how we experience our lives, which sounded a lot like some points Judith Herman made in her book Trauma and Recovery which I had read in a graduate level creative writing seminar I had taken last year, so I shared the link on Facebook with the note “Attn folks from Daniel Mueller’s Trauma Drama seminar… any of this sound familiar?”
  • I also clicked on the Freddie Mercury story, then went on a little journey through my memory, first searching Wikipedia for “Freddie Mercury”. I had forgotten Freddie Mercury died from AIDS. I had forgotten he was so young. Only 45. People live with AIDS so much longer these days. He would have been 64. Then I remembered gym class, circa 1978. GIRLS gym class. Wearing polyester one-piece zip-up-the-front blue rompers, we played field hockey. My team won. We sang, at the top of our lungs “We are the champions… no time for losers, CAUSE WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS… of the world.”

* * *

A NOTE ABOUT FORM:
In the print version of this essay hyperlinks will be footnoted. In the online version, they will be hyperlinked with anchor text, as indicated by a different color font and will be underlined. On some websites once a link has been clicked, the color of the font will change. Currently, my website is set for the font to appear green and underlined, and stays that way even when clicked. Rather than a stylistic choice, it is evidence of my lack of CSS skills.

* * *

So does this seven minute romp through my online life prove that I am smart? Nicholas Carr would not think so. In 2008 he wrote an article for The Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” in which he posits (and backs up by some pretty impressive research) that the use of the internet is actually re-wiring our brains; it is changing the way we think, and is ruining our ability to think deeply, to read and absorb long articles of complicated text. In June 2010 when Carr published a book expanding on the topic, The Shallows, a New York Times review dismissed many of Carr’s conclusions, including his contention that the “incessant noise of the internet….has turned the difficult text into an obsolete relic.” Times critic Jonah Lehrer instead noted that while it is true that the internet is changing our brains, “everything changes our brain.” Lehrer cited a study by neuroscientists from the University of California, Los Angeles:

leftquote

rightquote….performing Google searches led to increased activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, at least when compared with reading a “book-like text.” Interestingly, this brain area underlies the precise talents, like selective attention and deliberate analysis, that Carr says have vanished in the age of the Internet. Google, in other words, isn’t making us stupid —it’s exercising the very mental muscles that make us smarter.

Technology writer and New Media expert Clay Shirky also disagreed with Carr. In an article he wrote for the The Wall Street Journal, “Does the Internet Make Your Smarter?” Shirky argued that the internet is in fact where we are sowing the seeds of a new culture of reading and writing:

leftquote

rightquoteThe case for digitally-driven stupidity assumes we’ll fail to integrate digital freedoms into society as well as we integrated literacy. This assumption in turn rests on three beliefs: that the recent past was a glorious and irreplaceable high-water mark of intellectual attainment; that the present is only characterized by the silly stuff and not by the noble experiments; and that this generation of young people will fail to invent cultural norms that do for the Internet’s abundance what the intellectuals of the 17th century did for print culture.

My roommate Matt knocks on my door and asks, “Have you been to El Morro National Park?” Matt is a fourth year medical student doing a month-long rotation here at the University of New Mexico hospital. He arrived a few days before his start date with his boyfriend, Oz, who will return to Tel Aviv in a couple of days. They are trying to see as much of New Mexico as they can.

“No. Where is it?” I ask, as I pull up Google Maps, and start to type EL MORRO… “Do you mean ‘El Morro National Monument’?”

“Yeah, that’s it. Have you been there?”

“No, I’ve never even heard of it,” I say. “And their website sucks,” I mutter to myself as I click broken link (Trails…) , after broken link (Ranger Programs…)

Continue reading “This Is Your Brain; This Is Your Brain Online”

I must go down to the sea

When I was in 6th grade, we had to memorize poetry.  The only two poems I recall are The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (of which I can still recite all twelve lines of the first two stanzas) and Sea Fever by John Masefield (of which I can only recite the title and first line).  I admit I “memorized”  Sea Fever in the 10 minutes before I was slated to go in front of the class and recite.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

These photos are from my recent DIY writing retreat with a couple of friends (one of whom is lucky enough to have parents who have a beautiful house in Sea Ranch on the coast of California in Sonoma County not too far from the Mendocino County line). NOTE:  I did not take a photo of the actual house, but when you see the picture of the deer, that was taken from the dining room of said house.

Those of you who did not grow up near the ocean may not understand, but for me, returning to the sea every now and again, is rejuvenating.  Not just for my skin (that is getting dried out in the desert air) but for my soul…  there’s something about the salt smell, the sound, and feeling of the ocean, the waves crashing on shore like the heart beat of the earth.  So yeah. I must go down to the sea…   often.