Friday, February 15, 2019

Collaboration #2, a collaborative flash series with Colleen Davick

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You wonder: Why am I awake at this hour?

At this cold, subzero dawn.
Slowly the distant stars fade, and a pale casting of light
Rises between the buildings. A low hum from
Lake Shore Drive plays behind hesitant birdsong.
Even the sparrows are subdued, fighting against headwinds,
Head colds, hungover from their desperate struggle to survive.
We all have our balancing act, teetering on the brink
Of a new morning.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Collaboration #1, a collaborative flash series with Colleen Davick

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Landscape No. 3, Cash Entry Mines, New Mexico

After spending 18 months in New Mexico, Marsden Hartley returned to New York in 1919, but he continued to paint the Southwest from memory. My friend Colleen is flying today from New Mexico back to Chicago. She is an artist of the cellphone camera. In 2011 I spent a week in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico at Starry Night Artist Retreat. I returned home to continue to create from memory. Leaving one place for another doesn’t erase our longing, our desire to connect to a landscape, the people we love and miss. True art speaks to our emotions, to the sublime within us.

Today it is 1 below with windchill—I reach back in my memories to the night I rode my bike down dark T or C streets to a hot spa. I eased my tired body into the natural pool and soaked in the minerals letting go of stress and self-doubt. For a little while.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Notes on a Flash Series

the action of working with someone to produce or create something.
"he wrote on art and architecture in collaboration with John Betjeman"

I’ve always dreamed of working in collaboration with another artist. Writing is such a solitary discipline. But what would collaboration look like?

My friend and fellow bootcamper Colleen Davick is a Renaissance woman in that she has her hand in many pots. An avid Gaelic speaker, a spooky flutist, green room hostess, booker of concerts, likes to hang out, always ready for a road trip, and takes awesome pictures with her camera.

What if we did a thing together?

So here we are in the second month of 2019 and I feel it’s time: We collaborate.

Starting next week for one week she will post a pic on Facebook (or a few) and I will respond by writing a flash essay inspired by the picture.

That’s the rules. There will be no boundaries on what she takes and we will not “arrange” or coordinate a theme. Her picture/my words/one week.

Ready, set, go.

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Friday, February 8, 2019

40 Years Ago

Khomeini waves to followers as he appears on the balcony of his headquarters in Tehran on February 2, 1979.
February 1, 2019 marks the 40th year of Ayatollah Khomeini’s return to Iran from exile. What does this mean to the rest of the world?
Many leaders in the Middle East placated the West by calling for democracy and modernization—while at the same time maintaining a regime of suppression and human right abuse. Today we can point to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, colloquially known as MbS. In the 1970s America supported Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. In 1979 the Shah abdicated his throne and Ayatollah Khomeini helped establish the Islamic Republic.

So what does this have to do with Appalachia, with Cloud of Witnesses? Though Cloud of Witnesses feels contemporary, it is a historical novel set 1979/1980. A sub-story in the novel has to do with a young foreign student, Hassan, from Tehran in Iran. His father came to Athens to work on the faculty of Ohio University. While in Athens the Iran Hostage Takeover (November 1979) occurs, and the resulting Crisis consumes the American media and presidential race. The day Ronald Reagan is sworn in the 52 hostages are released. As alien as his story seems from Roland’s, they are actually more alike than different. Both feel like strangers to their surroundings, each feels a bit like they are in exile from their true home, where they are supposed to be. For Hassan that would be Tehran, where the family can no longer return, and for Roland—he feels as if his destiny is to one day leave the foothills.

For many of us, we feel the same. Not always are we at “home.” Some of us yearn for something out of reach—out “there.”

At this point, after 40 years, America and Iran are still at a diplomatic impasse.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What it’s like to be 50 below

What it’s like to be 50 below

Out of control
Like mankind is sunk
No bailing out of this one
Like Jack London’s story “To Build a Fire”
We’re doomed
Everything and everyone
Where each breath is fire and ice
And all the stores are closed
And all the fun stuff is cancelled
Where you feel as if an avalanche has swallowed you whole
All the ordinary Earth rules are void
Up is down and the sky is falling
Life is like artic fog
Steaming off the lake
An illusion
We dream about the day
We will be 50 above

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Image result for chicago negative 50 degrees

Image result for funny memes chicago negative 50 degrees

Monday, February 4, 2019

Book News=Cloud of Witnesses

Join me and SCBWI member Marlene Brill at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square Wednesday February 20 7 – 9 pm for LOCAL AUTHOR NIGHT where we will be reading from our new releases!


The Book Cellar
4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 293-2665

Friday, February 1, 2019

Mad About You

This is how you know you’re getting old: you Google=that song where the singer does that thing.

If I even had a clue I’d be able to narrow the search. It’s like having your navigation turned on but forget where you’re going. Thankfully someday we’ll all be using Google just to complete sentences.

So I think (but can’t remember) that’s how I stumbled upon the 80s song Mad About You by Belinda Carlisle. And then, I remembered. That hair, those earrings, the shoulder pads. Floral dresses and . . . the jean jacket.

In the early 80s I had hair that length, that color of blonde, hoop earrings—but not the jacket. I really really really wanted the jean jacket. We were particularly poor in the 80s and the few times I went shopping at the Brickyard Mall (since demolished). I priced the jean jackets but they were too much. There was a sort of jean jacket, the kind that wishes it were a real jean jacket, but not as hip or cool. I tried it on and rolled up the cuffs, and there was this weird lining. I bought it anyway.

Mad About You released in 1986, I remember it as if it were yesterday. A certain playfulness, carefree, staying up all night talking, watching the sun come up. Something we had then that we don’t have anymore.

Like the jean jacket, long given away.