Poetry corner

Related to some thoughts I’ve been having – both recently and as part of a longer exploration for a book I’m half heartedly and haphazardly writing – a poem fragment sprang into my brain yesterday.

Here’s what it became after some refinement last night:

Cicadas

Late Summer Sunday stroll amidst cicada song
I’m struck
Maybe these are sirens
That I’ve misheard as wilderness wallpaper
And I wonder
How many other opportunities to be open
To listen
To hear
That what I always thought harmony and melody
Might represent solemnity, sorrow, or strife
And now as I round the corner home
I consider
It may not be just the cicadas I’ve misunderstood
But also my friends, neighbors, and lover too
So I stand in the shimmering street
Sinking into that silent thought
And the daylight drones on

Shoutout to Jason Dominy whose poetry posting on Facebook & Instagram made me consider taking a little wisp of inspiration and running with it.

Thanks, man. I’m hoping this small effort will let me re-focus on a larger work that’s been dormant for a bit longer than I’d like.

Stay well, everybody, and keep looking for the meaning amidst all the meandering.

Pinning my hopes

I’m sitting on the rooftop (or thereabouts) terrace of a building on campus typing this post on an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard attached.

The words are flowing from my fingertips into an app, iA Writer, that magically sends those words to the cloud (of my choosing: iCloud or DropBox).

There are bits of typing I don’t even have to do anymore since another app, TextExpander Touch, automates simple strings of text – tl;dr for instance – and reproduces a longer format version:

“Thanks for emailing me. I’ll take a look and send you edits later. -Seth”

The app also connects to DropBox so the “shortcuts” I create on one device (iPad) are available to use on another (iPhone) without any additional work on my part.

It’s just another example of software getting out of the way of people (Me) so I can JUST. WRITE.

The end result of this writing is a file that I’ll pull into another app – WordPress for iOS – to beef it up with some links & images, such as this Instagram photo of my current view.

My impetus for writing was Jeff Hilimire’s post about his own use cases for an iPad w/keyboard setup and how it allows him to work.

Now my usage today is a bit more recreational than that, but then again I haven’t had much cause (few January meetings) to use it at work. I can definitely see myself using Evernote to get things done in the future.

As it is, I’m perusing Pinterest for some inspiration (especially the Board of Man) and wishing *they* had an iPad app.

More than anything, I just wanted to share my joy that the hardware & software are such a great experience for me that doing some writing/blogging is so seamless for me now. I hope that promise is kept – and keeps getting better – in the years to come.

Because this is what people want: the true mobility to take their thoughts and devices anywhere and have all the tools they need to do what they want to do.

Cheers!

And since this is a Muppet-named blog, please to enjoy these Kermit/Lady Gaga images that I’ll likely pin later.

Running Motivation

Three things that set up today’s post:

  1. I’ve been running a ton recently and talking about it, tweeting about it and discussing it on dailymile
  2. My cousin, Nate, is a triathlete in Taiwan and his run-blogging is a HUGE motivating factor for me. He ran a 9k in under 41 minutes this past weekend!
  3. I used my 750words.com writing from last week as the raw material for this post
  4. I’m getting new minimalist running shoes

Given all of the above reasons, specifically #2 and, more specifically Nate’s Running and Revival post, here is a snapshot of the memories and emotions that my current running has awakened in my heart and head:

I didn’t realize it until I was much older but the Nikes my dad ran in were called waffle trainers. I remember that particular patter quite well: raised squares with central nipples of rubber amidst troughs at right angles. In my child’s mind I could imagine X-wing fighters swooping low to avoid the tower turrets and tie fighters as they made their trench run against the Death Star. At that age everything was about Star Wars for me, even a pair of my dad’s running shoes.

As I recall they weren’t flashy or multicolored like today’s shoes. I think they were plain jane two tone grey on grey. The now familiar swoosh was a bit darker, but they were basically white tennis shoes (that’s what we called any and all athletic shoes in the 80’s or at least our household) that looked dingy from rain and mud running.

My dad used to run early in the morning and I can remember waking up early (for me) at 6:30 AM to the sound of him, winded and catching his breath, as he opened and closed the front door. Sometimes he was a little too loud for that hour since he had headphones in his ears and an AM/FM radio clipped to his shiny shorts. I don’t think it even had a cassette deck as part of it, dad didn’t own any tapes, just vinyl and it would have been difficult to run with a turntable.

He’d grab some orange juice from the fridge and drink it straight from the carton or jug. I inherited this unfortunate aversion to good manners and food hygiene, though I avoid drinking directly from the fridge immediately after I finish my run: I don’t want to sweat all over the kitchen hardwoods.

Dad was skinny then, and tall. In my memory he seemed like the tallest person in my world and the outfit – waffle trainers, shiny shorts, headband and wristbands (striped, of course) and that little radio – made him the picture of the nineteen eighties. Modern, married, active and getting it all done before he’d had his coffee or gone to work.

I don’t think I ever hugged him then so as to avoid getting myself all gross (more likely “grodie”) but he did give me a kiss on the head or a pat on the back. I wanted to go with him, but I was never up early enough and I was pretty sure I couldn’t run as fast as he could, no matter what I said on the playground or in the driveway.

The socks he wore were striped too and they went almost all the way up to his knees. We had the same socks, my dad and me, and it felt very special to coordinate like that. My own son loves dressing like dad or pointing out our physical similarities both genetic and wardrobe related. I had the same sense about my dad and I really miss those socks to this day. They just don’t work in 2011.

My dad would go directly in the shower and he’d usually sing or whistle through his teeth. My dad was always making some kind of music but I wondered what he listened to during his runs. On the one occasion I tried on the sweaty, foamy headphones of his I was treated to Steely Dan or Fleetwood Mac – something with a descriptor and a man’s nickname – and I hated it. To be fair that probably had more to do with the delivery method than the music itself, but I still don’t like Fleetwood Mac that much (though I can appreciate their aesthetic).

Those shoes of his lasted more than a couple of seasons. He wasn’t the most dedicated runner and he only wore them to actually run. Not like the way I wear my shoes now – to work, to the grocery store, to actually run – I’m in them all day, every day.

No, Dad made those trainers last (why don’t we use that term more often, like the Brits do? We just adopted ‘cross trainers’ in the nineties, but it’s gone no). He used some gross goo which was appropriately and accurately called Shoe Goo. It came in a metallic tube no bigger than a stick of chewing gum and it smelled like every disgusting petroleum product I’d ever smelled. It was black and viscous and disgusting and it fascinated me.

When the waffle trainers wore they didn’t really dull down or blunt, they cracked along predetermined fault lines, those troughs I mentioned earlier. Dad’s nearly snapped in two at the juncture of his arches between his heel and his toes. The Shoe Goo was applied liberally into these fissures and then the shoes were left upside down to dry or cure or something. I must have been seven or eight and it seemed like a lot of work for a pair of shoes. I wondered why he wouldn’t just buy a new pair.

Now I know: you fall in love with your old sneakers and you can never really bury them until they’re all the way dead. I’ve got plenty of pairs of zombie trainers and undead tennies littering my closet and garage. They go from the road to the back of the closet to lawn mowing duty and, one day, the garbage can.

Part of me wished I had some Shoe Goo, though. It seems greener in some odd sense, to want to literally cobble together your shoes and make them last just a little bit longer. Plus, I now know about minimal and barefoot running styles (focusing more on a forefoot or toe strike style) and running in older shoes can be a much better experience than running in new, heavy padded running shoes.

There’s something to be said for that old friend of a shoe that fits like a glove (if that makes sense) and just feels comfy and right. My memories are like that: comforting and comfortable, a little bit worn (but not worn out) and happy.

Nate talking about his dad, my uncle, running 3 miles every night reminded me of a time when my dad was running all the time. Interestingly enough my dad stopped running because of a bad basketball injury and I started running because of a basketball injury.

Hope you enjoyed the story.

Happy Tuesday!

Beginning, Middle, End

How do you write an entire story in only three sentences? If you think that’s a tall order (or maybe even an impossible question to answer) you should re-calibrate your expectations and try writing a story in only six words. Both can be done but it takes a little planning, effort and creativity.

I’m game enough now that I’ve got a 25 day streak going on my daily writing that this week’s challenge from Chuck Wendig seemed like a great test of my skills both in writing and in editing.

Last time out I had to cull down almost 800 words to meet the 500 word requirement. This time I’m only writing down what is necessary. I’m going to try and say my peace (and write my piece) without any wasted words or extra punctuation.

Here goes:

There was a look across the room that sparked the romance, though neither of us could ever seem to recall exactly who had looked first and who had returned the gaze, but it was more or less mutual from the word go.

The first winter was cold and yet we both managed to stay warm enough, basking in the glow of each others’ mutual admiration and near-constant physical attention.

By the next summer you’d have thought it was winter by how chilly we treated each other, we were barren and frozen out of even the barest conversation.

Maybe not literature but it’s writing.

Once more:

“I love you,” she said before we’d even gone out three times and it scared me to hear it but I kept on seeing her despite my fears.

“I love you,” I said as we welcomed our first child, a daughter, into our family, into the world.

“I love you,” she said at my bedside that morning and I’m glad it’s the last thing I heard her say.

Better, perhaps, but pretty sappy.

Last try:

The command codes were given; passive voice hides process, avoids prosecution and persecution or so I was told.

The verdict was rendered; swift and decisive justice, even if I never faced my accuser or got to call witnesses in my own defense.

The blade was dropped; the death blow delivered and yet, somehow, no one was ever to blame.

My own little allegory/lament on the use of passive voice. I had an English teacher in the 11th grade who HATED it, but it does have its uses.

Anyhow, Happy Friday! Hope you enjoyed what I wrote.

Telling Stories

In which I show you some videos

As someone with the twin loves of This American Life and trying to become a better writer, I love the fact that I just rediscovered Ira Glass’ Storytelling video(s) today.

Here there are if you haven’t seen them before:

Part 1: On the basics …

Part 2: On finding great stories …

Part 3: On good taste …

Part 4: On two common pitfalls …

In which I link to some things that make writing easier

If you’re reading this blog for more than the first time or if you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m trying to become a writer. Or become a better writer. Depends upon the day.

First, if you’re an aspiring writer and you haven’t already tried it, join 750words.com right now and start writing.

Every day.
750 words.
Do it.
Now.

Second, if you’re more the type who wants to curate stories – to tell stories using perspectives/voices that aren’t your own (and you like journalism) – you should give Storify a try. It was down earlier, but hopefully it’s all better now.

In which I tell you all about Chuck Wendig’s blog (and link there 3 times)

I’ve also been doing a bunch of writing driven mostly by a blog written by Chuck Wendig. Hopefully you’ve seen some of my flash fiction challenge entries, but Chuck’s blog is where those all started.

Here come the three things:

So I don’t know if I’ve done a particularly good job of telling a story through my YouTube embeds and list of links. Talking about process is usually a great way to kill your momentum and make you rethink all the fixes to your problems. You know, that thing you called process?

Anyhow, here’s hoping we all become better writers in the process of writing.

Happy Tuesday!