Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Thirty

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo 2010.  It's been a blast!  I won again this year, which makes two years in a row.

I didn't write at all yesterday.  I was just riding on a natural high after validating my word count and being over 50K.  But today, I did write.  I'm so close to the end of my novel, I didn't want to lose all my momentum.

I didn't write this morning, just after work.  I wrote 1,968 words today.  I validated my word count again at the NaNoWriMo website, and I'm ending this year officially at 53,117 words.

Now I just have to finish my novel.  After that, I'll take a couple of days off just to read, then I'll start some basic proofreading to get it in shape to send off for my free proof copy from CreateSpace.  I'm very excited about that.  There's nothing like getting your novel in book form like that, except maybe actually finishing 50,000 words in 30 days.  I'm very happy now, but I was downright giddy last summer when my proof copy of my first novel arrived in the mail.  I'm ready for that feeling again, but right now, I'm just so happy to have won again.

Tomorrow, I'll probably be depressed that it's over for another year.

Word Count Widget:

My Month:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty-Eight

I won!  I crossed 50K today.  I even validated my novel at the NaNoWriMo website and got an official word count of 51,149.  And I'm not done.  I'm definitely in the last chapter.  I'm almost done.  One crucial scene to write and then some epilogue-type stuff and then I'm done with this first draft.

I wrote more today than I've ever written in one day.  I wrote 4,240 words today.

And I cut out some 600 words I wrote the other day that I had added to my word count.  I was in such a foul mood last Tuesday that I couldn't write after work.  I started writing about what a bad mood I was in and why.  I kept that as part of my novel and my word count, even though I had no intention of keeping it in the novel.  I cut those words out today, and I feel much better.

I hope to finish tomorrow, and then I'll take a break for a few days.  Then, I'll start doing some clean-up, just fixing typos and obvious spelling and grammar errors.  I might do some sorting into chapters and the like, maybe moving some scenes around.  Then I want to send my novel off to CreateSpace for my free proof copy.  I procrastinated last year and didn't make the deadline for my free proof copy, but I'm going to get one this year.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

Day Twenty-Five

That would have been Thanksgiving.  I only wrote 512 words on Thursday.

We finished packing up food for Thanksgiving and clothes for our stay in Santa Rosa in the morning, then drove to Santa Rosa.  It was a pleasant drive.  It was a beautiful, clear day, hardly a cloud in the sky.  And no fog anywhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.  Traffic was also light, being a holiday and all, so the drive was more pleasant than normal.  Getting through San Francisco and past Petaluma can be tiring.

Anyway, had a lovely Thanksgiving meal.  And then I retired to my grandmother's bedroom to write.  I only managed the aforementioned 512 words.  Then I took a short nap.  We ended up watching the Galapagos documentary that my uncle brought over.  The visuals in that are spectacular.  I fell asleep during the third episode.

Day Twenty-Six

Black Friday.  For some reason, we decided we would actually venture out on the most dangerous shopping day of the year.  We went to REI, because my wife wants a new jacket for Christmas.  And, of course, we went to Toys R Us, which is right next door.  We didn't have much luck.  REI didn't have my wife's sizes in the two jackets she was interested in, and we didn't find any good deals at Toys R Us for the toys our boys want for Christmas.

We also drove over to Home Depot, trying to find 99 cent poinsettias.  They were sold out by the time we got there.

But I did write.  I wrote in the morning, which I've done most days this month quite successfully.  Then another session in the afternoon, and a final one in the evening.  I wrote a total of 1,861 words, for a total of 44,831.

Day Twenty-Seven

Our last day in Santa Rosa.  We decided we'd drive home today after having lunch.  One, we just didn't want to stay all day.  Two, I don't like driving home when it gets dark, and double so when it's raining or has been raining.

Lucky for us, the rain let up as the morning got closer to noon.  Traffic wasn't bad, either.  It was good to get home.  It's always good to get away to Santa Rosa to visit with my grandmother, but it's always good to get back home again.

I wrote in three sessions again today, one early in the morning right after breakfast, one a little later in the morning, and then one this afternoon after we got home.  I wrote 2,075 words today, for a total of 46,906.

I just have 3,094 words to go.  I might finish tomorrow.  If not, I'll finish on Monday for sure.  Tuesday's writing, then, will just be icing on the cake.

If you look at my calendar wordcount widget, it looks like I didn't write at all on Thursday and Friday.  I did write both days, though I certainly didn't make the 1,667 word count goal for Thursday.  They show up as red because I did not log on to the NaNoWriMo website to update my word count.  My grandmother does not have internet access, and I was not going to go out somewhere with WiFi to update my word count with my laptop.  How do I know how many words I wrote?  I used a different file on my Neo for each day, so I could track each day's word count, and then my total in Word once I transferred my writing over to my laptop from my Neo.  Wait!  There's a word for that.  Yes, I'm a little anal-retentive.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty-Four

Today was not such a good day, either.

We took our car in to the shop last Saturday.  Two hours later, they told us there was nothing wrong with it.  The lights coming on in our instrument panel were caused by a short in a sensor.  They would order the sensor for us in a couple of days.  Sure enough, they called on Tuesday, and I called back and made an appointment for this morning to get it taken care of.

I thought it would be quick, so my eldest son and I just waited in their waiting room.  An hour and a half later, the service rep tells us the car is ready.  Then he seemed to have some difficulty finding it.  Then I see him track down a mechanic, and they've got the hood open.  I suspected then that things were not going to go well.

Sure enough, the new sensor worked fine, but sent back the same error message.  The short was occurring somewhere else, in some mesh of wires that they want to replace.  That, too, has to be ordered.  Which means I have to come back again.  And this time, they need the car for six hours.

Right now, I hate Honda.  I hate our CR-V.  I hate the dealership that sold us the car.  And I hate everyone in their service department.  What I have been given lately, is not service.  Or, to be more precise, it has been service, but it's been lousy service.

Apparently, my time is not valuable.  It took them two hours to tell me it was a short in a sensor.  Nothing mechanical, nothing complicated.  A simple short in a circuit somewhere.  Then, it took them an hour and a half, while my son was not waiting so patiently, to install that sensor only to tell me that it was not the sensor, but something else entirely.  And you get to come back here again and essentially give us your car for a whole day.

I did write today.  I wrote 1,971 words. I'm much happier with what I wrote today, in contrast to yesterday. My total word count now is 42,458.  I only have to write 7,542 more words to reach 50K.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I'm driving up to Santa Rosa tomorrow to my grandmother's.  Then I'm cooking. I probably won't write tomorrow, but I'll try to sneak in about 500 words or so if I can manage it.

I will also be away from the internet, so no updates of my word count to the NaNoWriMo website and no posts here for a couple of days.

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty-Three

Apparently, I wrote yesterday.  It was a bad day.

I think I wrote in the morning, but I can't remember right now, nor do I want to put the effort into trying to remember.  I must have.  I usually do.

I had a bad day at work.  I was able to put off what was bothering me for quite a while, but it snuck up on me when I was ready to write and I was just not in the mood.  I'm sure everything I wrote yesterday after work is crap.  If it is, which it almost certainly must be, it would be appropriate for the crappy mood I was in.

People can be so mean.

Anyway, I did manage to keep track of how many words I wrote.  I cranked out 1,711 words yesterday, putting me at 40,487 words.

I treated myself to the movies last night.  After my wife got home, I went to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.  I was in such a foul mood, that I thought I might not enjoy the movie, but I was wrong.  I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I certainly deserved a break.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty-Two

I didn't write this morning.  I had to get some work done, checking in some papers, so I could get them back to students today and review them with my class.  I put off doing any work all weekend, so I had to get it done this morning.

I planned on leaving work as soon as I could, so I could get home and write.  My back was killing me.  My wife thinks it's from all the writing.  A couple of ibuprofen and something to eat - I skipped lunch - and I felt much better.

I got my writing playlist going on iTunes on my laptop, and grabbed my Neo and started writing.  I wrote like a madman.  I consistently find that I write more when I use my Neo.  I think it's the small display.  I'm not distracted by text that I've already written.  I don't keep going back and looking at what I've written.  Nor am I distracted by the red and green lines of the spell- and grammar-check.  I've made lots more typos this year than I did last year, but who cares?  That's what December is for.

Anyway, I wrote exactly 1,234 words in about 45 minutes.  I picked up my younger son and then my wife.  We had dinner, and then I wrote some more, for a total of 1,901 words for today.  I'm now at 38,776.  I checked the Excel spreadsheet that I'm using to track my word count and saw that I've passed the 75% mark.

I feel like I'm on schedule.  My novel has gone in directions I didn't initially plan, but I'm entering the territory of act three, so I'm getting near the end.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty-One

A much more relaxing day today.  I wrote some this morning after breakfast.  Then I took a shower later in the morning, and wrote some more then.  So far today, I've written 1,337 words.  Only 330 to go!

Now, it's time to take a break and have some lunch.  I'm hoping to write more this afternoon and evening.  I want to get further ahead on my word count with Thanksgiving coming up.

My wife had to go in to work today.  She had to go to CostCo with her boss and buy stuff for their upcoming Thanksgiving shindig.  When she got home, our youngest hounded us until we agreed to take him to the park so he could ride his bicycle.  There was a lull in the rain showers, so we agreed.

I took my Neo with me and wrote a little bit.  I didn't quite finish my 330 words, but I was close.  I did write some more after dinner, with a total of 1,835 words for the day, putting me at 36,875.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Twenty

Had to take the car to the shop in this morning.  I've had warning lights coming on in my instrument panel.  After two hours, we found out it was just a short in the sensor.  There's nothing physically wrong with the car, but they don't have the sensor in stock.  They have to order it and I have to bring the car back in to have it replaced.  With any luck, it will go very quickly.

Stopped on the way home, and got lots of shopping for Thanksgiving done.  When we got home, it was nearing 11 a.m.  I really wanted to go to my local write-in, but I was just so tired.  I was really overstimulated after the shopping.  And the restaurant where we had breakfast, while the car was being looked at, was too loud for me.  So, I took a nap.

After my nap, I wrote for about an hour or so before we had to take the boys to their swim class.  Then we went out to dinner as we usually do.  When we got home, I watched a little SpongeBob with the boys, and then we sent them to bed.  My better half and I watched a couple episodes of Dexter.  We recently started watching the first season on NetFlix.  As I'm heavily into writer mode now, I find I think about things differently.  One, I've noticed how well-written Dexter is, and two, I just find myself thinking about things from a writer's perspective, noticing the various sub-plots, character interactions, the use of irony, etc.

Then I retired to the sunroom for my second writing session of the day.  I wrote 2,028 words today, for a total of 35,040, which puts me at 70% of 50K.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Nineteen

I wrote again this morning.  I feel better already, getting back on track with a regular morning writing session.  My morale about my writing hasn't been the best the last couple of days, but I feel much better this morning.  I wrote 621 words on my Neo.  Again, I'm finding that I write more and more quickly when I write on my Neo as opposed to my laptop.

Have to leave work early today for a parent-teacher conference with my youngest son's teacher today.  Then, I plan on getting some more writing done, about another thousand words to meet today's wordcount goal.  I'd like to have some time this evening to watch a movie and relax.  I think I need to reward myself a little bit for the good job I've done so far this month, and for reaching that three-fifths benchmark.  I wouldn't say the end's in sight, but I feel like I'm on a downward slope now.

I ended up writing 1,715 words today, putting me at a total of 33,012.  It felt good to be back on track again.  I stumbled there for a day or two, but now I'm back in my groove again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Eighteen

I did write some more this morning, and then again this evening.  Today was one of my later writing sessions.  I took my sons to Family Math Night at my school.  An exhausting, but fun event where I get to wear two hats: teacher and father.  Not so easily done, but I pulled it off tonight.

Arrived back home around 8:40 p.m., got the boys into bed, and myself writing.  I ended up writing a total of 1,115 words today.  I crossed the 31K mark today, and despite yesterday's and today's poor writing performance, I'm still nearly a whole day ahead of schedule.  I ended the day at 31,297 words.

NaNoWriMo Day Seventeen

Not my best day.  Actually my worst so far this month.

One, if you look over at my monthly widget, it looks like I didn't write anything.  That red square is taunting me.  That's just because I didn't post any wordcount updates on the NaNoWriMo website.  Silly of me, really.

Two, I did write yesterday, but it was a measly 586 words.  I only wrote in the morning.  I was so tired last night that I didn't have my usual post-work, evening writing session.  I thought that I might just rest my eyes, because I was so tired, and then write.  Well, resting my eyes turned into going to sleep for the night.

Official word count so far: 30,182.  I should be happy crossing that 30K mark, but I'm not.  It's soiled by my total lack of writing yesterday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Sixteen

Woke up early again this morning.  I did write for about half an hour this morning before I took my shower.  I didn't note how many words I wrote, but it was around 600, I think.

Was really tired tonight.  I feel asleep on the couch sometime around 8 p.m watching Comedy Central.  Woke up and dragged myself out to the sunroom.  I had to meet today's word count goal.

It was rough going.  I decided to keep writing on my Neo, because I've found that I type faster on it than I do on my laptop.  I tend to keep glancing back and what I've just written on my laptop, but you can't really do that on the Neo because it only displays four lines of text.  To go back, you have to scroll up, which I can stop myself from doing easily enough.

But I was just so tired.  And then I got to the end of a scene.  Took a little break, and then started another scene.  That scene proved to be troublesome because I got to a point where I didn't know what to write next.

Actually, I do know what I need to write next but I'm not looking forward to it.  My villains have to do something nasty to someone innocent, and I'm just not excited about the direction they're taking, but I see no way around it.  Maybe I can tackle that one tomorrow.

In the meantime, I had written nearly enough words to meet today's 1,667 word count goal.  I plugged my Neo into my laptop and transferred over what I had written.  As the words filled up the pages, I noted a couple of spots where I could go back and add a little bit more.  After doing that, I found I was at 1,762 words for today.  I'm now at 29,596 words, which puts me just shy of 60%.  I'm almost three-fifths of the way there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Fifteen

Tired.  Really tired.

Son number one woke me up at midnight because his legs hurt.

Son number two woke me up at 4:30 a.m. because his stomach hurt.

Why did I have children?

Oh, that's right.  This is about NaNoWriMo.  Luckily, I wrote lots yesterday, some of which I rolled over into today's word count.  I had to get ahead on my words, because I had plenty of papers to grade and get entered into the gradebook.  I spent some time yesterday evening and this morning doing just that.  Didn't write at all this morning, but did write a little bit more this afternoon after work.  I logged another 1,800 words today for a total of 27,834.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Fourteen

You just never know how your day is going to go.

I woke up early, around 5 a.m. today, which is when I normally get up during the week.  It's Sunday, and I wanted to sleep in.  But, then again, I didn't stay up late last night.  I was tired again.

So, since I was up, I wrote.  In fact, I wrote 571 words in about forty-five minutes.  I stopped to go watch CBS Sunday Morning, one of the few shows I regularly make an effort to watch.

Then I came back and wrote some more, another 811 words in about an hour or so, perhaps less.  The words are coming quickly today because I'm writing a more action-oriented, suspenseful chapter than I've previously been working on this month.

I stopped somewhere between 8 and 8:30 to get some breakfast for the boys.  I decided it was about time I ate something myself.  So, I made a pumpkin bagel with Tofutti cream cheese, and refilled my coffee cup.

It's pretty early in the morning, and I've already written 1,382 words.  I've also crossed the 25K mark, so I'm halfway to the NaNoWriMo goal of a novel of 50,000 words.

Took my Neo with me and wrote while my boys played at the park.  Also wrote while they were getting their haircuts today.  I love my Neo.  I really missed going to write-ins this past week, because my wife is out of town, but I've been writing out and about with my Neo.  I'm surprised that I can write like that, but it's totally working for me.

Wrote exactly 1,700 words today, putting me at a grand total of 26,034.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Thirteen

It was a good thing I got a little ahead on my word count over the last couple of days, because last night I was so tired.  I don't think I would have made my wound count if I hadn't gotten so many words written earlier in the day.

Let me just go on record and complain about the time change.  One, I think the whole time change thing is silly.  I'm not sure it's necessary anymore.  And frankly, the disruption of sleep patterns is annoying, if not downright harmful. Lots of people talk about gaining an hour of sleep when we "fall back" as we recently did.  But no one ever mentions losing an hour in the evening.  It's all so short-sighted, this artificial adjusting of the clocks as if we could control time.

So, I guess it finally caught up with me, because I was just so tired last night, I could barely stay awake.  And this was somewhere around 8:30.  Normally, I'm up until 10 every night, if not later.

I did sleep in today.  And I didn't get started writing until about 11 a.m.  This is the same time as the write-in I attended last weekend, which I can't make it to today.  So far, I've written 1,039 words, so I'm well on my way towards today's word count goal.  I've now crossed the 23K mark, and on my way to reaching 24K today.

I'm off now to have a little lunch, and then back to writing.  I hope to have a total of three writing sessions today. I've finished my morning one, then one this afternoon, and the last in the early evening.

It's now about 3 p.m. and I have made my word count goal for the day.  I've written 1,733 words for a total of 24,334.  I'm 48.7% done.  If I do write some more today, I'll likely cross the 25K mark and be halfway there.

We'll see how I feel after taking the boys to swim class and then out to dinner.

After dinner, we came home and watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  I was tired again after that, starting to nod off on the couch.  After I put the boys to bed I watched a little of the Monty Python documentary I've been streaming from NetFlix, and then went to sleep.  I didn't write anything in the evening as I'd thought of earlier in the day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Twelve

After I updated yesterday's word count on the website, I kept writing.  I wrote another 488 words last night before I called it quits for the day.  I didn't go back to the website to update my wordcount again, so I'm just adding those words to today's word count.

I did write this morning again.  I woke up early, about forty-five minutes before my alarm was set to go off, so I decided to just go ahead and write before getting up and showering.  I wrote another 424 words. I already have over 900 words to add to today's word count.

I brought my Neo with me to work today, not because I was planning on writing at work, but because I knew I was going to go out to dinner with my son.  I figured he'd play on his Nintendo DS and I'd write while we were waiting for our food order.

I started a new chapter, because I had been writing on my laptop this morning, and I didn't have it synced with my Neo, so I wasn't sure where I left off.  I figured I would go back to that chapter on my laptop anyway if it needed some more work.

By the time I got home, I still hadn't reached my word count goal for the day, so I booted up my laptop, started my writing playlist on iTunes, and kept writing on my Neo.  Soon enough, I had enough words for today, writing another 814.

I wrote a total of 1,727 words for today.  I'm now at a grand total of 22,601, having crossed both 21 and 22K today.  It's the twelfth day and I'm 45% of the way there!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Eleven

Today being Veteran's Day and a day off work, I thought I would get a lot of writing done.  Yeah, well... it was a day off.

I did write this morning, getting another six hundred or so words done, putting my total up to 19,841.  I got to sleep in a little bit, make a full pot of coffee, and write.  The boys entertained themselves watching one of their Nick shows on streaming NetFlix.  Danny Phantom, season three, if you must know.

My older son was feeling better today - no more fever.  And since it was such a warm, sunny, beautiful day, we headed out to my younger son's elementary school, where they boys had fun on the play structures there.

I brought my Neo and wrote while they played.  We were debating on the walk back home where we'd have lunch.  We ended up walking down the street to a neighborhood pizzeria and had lunch there.  While we were waiting for our pizzas, I wrote some more.

When we got home, the three of us watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Then I decided to see where my word count for the day was.  Lo and behold, I had easily met it, so I called it a day.  I finished the day at 20,874 words, with a total of 1,671 for today.  I'm two-fifths of the way there!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Ten

I wrote a lot this morning, for me: 774 words.  That's almost half my daily word count goal.  I usually only manage somewhere in the 400 to 500 range, which is somewhere in the one-fourth to one-third range.

It probably helped that the boys slept in more today than they usually do.  It was quiet, which is good for my writing.  That, and I had a scene in mind that I was looking forward to writing.  It's never as good on the page as it is in my head, but it was good to get this one down.  The action of my novel is now starting to take off.

On Sunday, one of the interns at the Office of Letters and Light, those wonderful people who put on NaNoWriMo every year, posted a blog entry about the Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition.  I was intrigued by this when I saw it.  One, I'm writing a young adult novel this year, and, two, the picture they used was the cover of a book I just read, Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina L. Brooks.  I decided to enter the contest, so last night I sent them my title, Asylum, the first 250 words of my novel, and my $15 entry fee.  I'm not expecting much, but if I'm ever going to get a novel published, I have to send my writing out to the publishing industry.  This seemed like a good way to start.

Wrote some more tonight, reaching 19,203!  At day ten, the word goal is 16,667 words, so I'm ahead of schedule, thanks to that lead I got the first day.  In terms of percentage, I should be at 33%, but I'm at 38%.  It's a nice feeling, being a little bit ahead of schedule.

This is how I won last year, writing every day, writing those 1,667 words, at least, just about every day.  I think I had two days last year when I only wrote about 900 to 1,000 words.  This year I'm averaging over 1,900 words a day.

I've got plenty yet to write.  No worries on the plot front.  I'm not going to jinx myself by saying "smooth sailing" or anything like that, but I am on track for winning again this year.  And I think I have a good chance of actually finishing my novel the first time through.  I have a much better sense of what I'm writing this year.  I know, roughly, how it's going to end, and I think that's making all the difference.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Nine

I made sure to write this morning.  I had such a hard time reaching my word count last night, that I didn't want to repeat that.  I wrote 274 words this morning before work.  I would have written more, but I had laundry to fold, and a bag lunch to make for my son's field trip.

A bag lunch he left in the car, by the way.  Luckily, I had also made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for myself, which I gave to him.  Someone in his class gave him an apple, and he got a box of cereal from the cafeteria.  (I ate his pb&j as a snack when we got home.)

He also got sick on the field trip.  Apparently, he wasn't feeling well this morning, but hid this from me because he wanted to go on the field trip.  He threw up after the bus ride, so wouldn't have been able to eat the lunch I had made for him anyway.

He was a real trooper, though.  He stuck it out with me during kickball tryouts for an hour after school.  Then we came home.

I wrote another 293 words before we went to pick up my younger son at his after-school program.

After dinner, I wrote some more, finishing a total of 1,680 words today, for a grand total of 17,528.  I am now 35% done, over a third of the way there.

If I keep going at this rate, I'll finish 50K, the goal of NaNoWriMo, somewhere around the 27th.

Monday, November 08, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Eight

Didn't write this morning again.  Bad habit that I have to break.  Getting done some 400 to 500 words in the morning really helps.  Then another writing session to reach my word count for the day doesn't seem so bad.  But trying to do it all after a day of work, that's hard.

I wrote 1,686 words today, but they weren't easy words.

It's just after 10 p.m. and I'm stopping for the day.  I'm up to 15,848.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Seven

Another good day.  I am averaging over 2,000 words a day.  I didn't think I'd cross the 14K mark today, but I did, ending the day at 14,162 total words.

Also saw my wife off at the airport for her trip to France, and then took my boys to see Megamind.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Six

Went to my second write-in of this year.  Had a very nice time writing at Carrot's Coffee and Tea in San Bruno, my hometown.  Wrote some 1400 words there in about an hour and a half.

There were just four of us there, nice and quiet.  We talked a bit at the end.  That's what I like about write-ins.  We sit, drink our beverage of choice, whether coffee, tea, or a smoothie.  Then we talk for a bit about writing as we unwind and say our goodbyes.

The owner is very nice and makes a delightful soy latte.  Strong coffee, soy milk that is not too sweet, and she didn't overdo it on the hazelnut syrup either.  One of the best lattes I've had in a long time; and she doesn't charge extra for soy milk.

Came home and started working on my November playlist.  I make a new playlist for my iPod every month, mostly for driving to and from work.  I'm a few days behind schedule.  Pulled out some more new wave music compilations form the 80s, some R.E.M., who I haven't listened to in a while, and (don't say anything) some Christmas music.

Took the boys to swim class, had dinner at Red Robin, watched Toy Story 3, and put boys to bed.  Watched another episode of Dexter with my better half, then put her to bed.  Wrote another
five hundred words or so, and then called it a night.

Updated my word count at NaNoWriMo, then came here to blog about the day.  Wrote 1,942 words today.  My grand total so far is exactly 12,250.  All in all, a good day all the way around.

Friday, November 05, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Five

I didn't write this morning before I went to work.  Just wasn't feeling it this morning.  My allergies have been bad again the last couple of days.  I think I have another mild sinus infection.  And I just didn't have any energy for writing this morning.

But I made myself crank out the words today.  I only got out 1,676, just barely going over the 1,667 minimum.  And the words didn't come easily today.  I was tired after work and my brain was just not cooperating, but I stuck it out and wrote what I think is going to be the better part of a chapter.

It was worth it, though, because for five days in a row I've written at least the minimum.  And today I crossed the 10K mark - 10,311 to be exact.  That felt really good.  It looked great on the website, seeing those five digits.  I'm 20% of the way there, on target for finishing on or around the 25th.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Four

I only wrote 393 words this morning.  I overslept.

Normally, I use an alarm on my cell phone to wake me up in the mornings.  I usually hit the snooze button the three times I have it set for.  But yesterday, I hit the Stop button instead after the first time the alarm went off, forgetting that it turns the alarm off completely.

So, this morning I overslept.  I rushed though my shower, had a cup of instant coffee, and went to the sunroom to write.  I didn't have much time this morning, so the not-so-great wordcount.

However, I did go to my first write-in this evening.  Our region has a regular Thursday night write-in at the Peet's Coffee in San Mateo.  I never tried write-ins last year, nor did I go to any of the meet-and-greets.  But this year, not only did I go to the first meet-and-greet last Thursday, I decided I would also try some write-ins.

So I loaded some information on my Neo from my laptop, some plot points and character information I thought I might need.  I charged up my iPod and made sure I had added my writing playlist; I had.  I even packed a notebook in case I decided to write longhand.

I bought a pumpkin spice latte with soy milk and a ginger spice vegan cookie.  I was so glad to see that they had at least one kind of vegan cookie.  Then I joined my fellow wrimos and wrote.

It turns out I did pretty well on my first write-in.  I wrote 1,603 words at Peet's.  They were playing some nice classical music, so I never got out my iPod.  The coffee tasted good on my sore throat; stupid allergies.  After I had gotten quite a few words done, I rewarded myself with most of my cookie, followed by sips of my latte.  After another long spell of writing, I finished off my cookie, then kept writing, coming to a good stopping place for the evening.

I'm looking forward to next Thursday's write-in.  It was fun writing together in a group like that.

I ended the day with 1,998 words written, putting me at a total of 8,635.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Three

Wrote 569 words this morning.  So far, the way I wrote last year is working for me again this year.  The last two mornings, I've written about 500 words in about 30 minutes, which is about all the time I have in the morning before I have to start getting ready for work.  Then, I just have to manage about another thousand words or so later in the day to meet my daily word goal.

It's nice having that big head start I got on the first, but I want to maintain about 1700 words a day so that I stay on schedule.  I remember last year, having a couple of 900 or 1000 word days, but I'm going to try to avoid that this year, if at all possible.

Wrote some more this afternoon on my Neo while waiting at the dentist's office with my two boys, and then came home and finished with a total of 1,670 words for the day, putting me up to a total of 6,637.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day Two

Wrote 451 words this morning before going in to work, which puts my total word count at 3,687.

It's now 8:30 p.m. and I have met my word count for today: 1,734 words, for a grand total of 4,967.  I'm just shy of 10% done.  I suppose I should just hammer out another 33 words for an even 5K, but I'm at a good stopping place.  I just finished a scene, and I know exactly what I'm going to write next.

Monday, November 01, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day One

It's November first - the official start of NaNoWriMo.  I was going to try to stay up late last night and start writing early this morning, but I didn't make it.  I'm just too old to be staying up past midnight.

I did sleep in a little this morning, but got started writing before walking my younger son to school this morning.  By 9:30 a.m., I had written 1,302 words.  It shouldn't take me too much longer, about fifteen minutes or so, to reach today's goal.  But, I plan on getting in at least two day's worth of words today, since I have the whole day off.

It's a furlough day in my district today, the first of this school year.  It's not a paid day off, either.  It's furlough, as in: Unpaid time off given to government employees for the purpose of reducing the budget. I'm not sure "given" is the right verb to use there.

By 12:30 p.m., I was up to 2,012 words.

We seem to have crashed the NaNoWriMo website.  I've been unable to get on since my last update here at 12:30; it's now 3:00.  I wanted to update my word count, but I don't know if that's going to happen or not.  I checked their Twitter feed; they're trying to get it back up and running, but it appears, yet again, that a record number of people have joined in to write 50,000 words this month.  Nothing succeeds like excess - or something like that.

So, I had to go look it up.  It's from an Oscar Wilde quote, which is appropriate for NaNoWriMo in general, and today in particular.

"Moderation is a fatal thing.  Nothing succeeds like excess." - Oscar Wilde

Dan got the website up and running again, so I updated my word count.  At 4:30 p.m., I was up to 2,810 words.

Around 9:30 p.m., I called it a day at 3,233 words.  The website is still sluggish, so all I'm doing is updating my word count.  I wanted to log some shoutouts on the forums, but I can't sit around waiting for pages to load.

A good first day of NaNoWriMo.  Congratulations to the NaNo team, especially Dan, and wishes of luck to the thousands of wrimos out there.

I've completed my first two chapters, and have a chunk of chapter three written.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my main character, which made the first chapter really easy to write.  But chapters two and three were a little harder; I'm definitely winging it there, but having fun!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Morning

You would think that I'd sleep in, but no, I was up at 5:30 this morning.  So, as per usual, grabbed the laptop, moved to the sunroom, which is still not filled with sun, because it's only around 6:30.  And it's cold, but I've got my blanket.  And now I have my wordcount widgets for NaNoWriMo to keep me warm.

I've got two more days for some prewriting plotting and planning.  I've got a couple more plot points in my head that I want to jot down.  I downloaded a Windows beta of Scrivener the other day.  I'm going to play with it some more over the next two days to decide whether I want to use it this November or not.  I already like the notecards and corkboard feature.  It's helped me with my planning so far.  I'm going to load the tutorial and see what else I can learn about it, what other features it has that might help me write.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo has yet to begin

There is something bittersweet in that little phrase.  That's what it says on the NaNoWriMo website right underneath my username.

It's bitter in the sense that it's not November yet and I can't start writing my novel yet. Ah, yet, how you taunt me.

It's sweet in the sense that you can only see that phrase once you've joined the writing insanity that is NaNoWriMo and are logged in to the website.  It says: You are one of us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo Advertisement


NaNoWriMo is indicated for the treatment of overactive imagination. The efficacy of NaNoWriMo has been established since 1999 in numerous trials in the United States and abroad. More than 30,000 were successfully treated with NaNoWriMo last year.

Important Safety Information About NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo can increase the presence of plot bunnies seen by children, teens, and adults. Rampant overactive imagination is a known risk of writer's syndrome and some other disorders. Treatment in the first week is often positive, but be especially observant in the second week of treatment for worsening symptoms. Unusual changes in behavior are common with NaNoWriMo, and are often reported by families and friends. NaNoWriMo is approved for persons 13 and over; younger persons should be treated with Young Writers Program.

What should I talk about with my healthcare provider?

Patients on NaNoWriMo and their families or caregivers should watch for new or worsening writing symptoms, unusual changes in behavior, flights of fancy, anxiety over writer's block, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, irritability, restlessness, or extreme hyperactivity. Be especially observant within the first month of treatment as this change in dosage frequently worsens symptoms.

Who should NOT take NaNoWriMo?

Everyone should take NaNoWriMo. There are acknowledged side effects from taking NaNoWriMo, but they are generally well tolerated by individuals of every age and gender.

What other important information should I discuss with my healthcare provider?

Before starting NaNoWriMo:
* Decide if you are a planner or a pantser.
* Stock up on writing supplies: pens, paper, laptop, etc.
* Find a suitable location or locations for administering NaNoWriMo. Some patients prefer privacy, while others thrive in public.
* Stock up on suitable amounts of water. The administration of caffeine in conjunction with NaNoWriMo is open to debate. Many former patients swear by it, while others admit it contributes to insomnia, panic attacks, and irritability.
* Warn family and friends of the time that taking NaNoWriMo will require.

While taking NaNoWriMo:
* Take a minimum dosage of 1,667 words per day. More is advisable. Find the dosage that works best for you.
* Be aware of stiff muscles and carpal tunnel syndrome. Maintain your normal diet and exercise routine.
* Plan for discontinuing NaNoWriMo after one month. Many patients suffer other symptoms as they discontinue NaNoWriMo. Some wean themselves off as November comes to an end, while others quit cold turkey.
* Expect variations in moodiness not common throughout the rest of the year. Many patients experience extreme highs and extreme lows on a daily basis. Giddiness and depression are common side effects.
* Daily habits may be discontinued safely. Do not feel compelled to wash dishes, do laundry, scrub the bathtub, or other mundane tasks while taking NaNoWriMo.
* Consult the forums on a regular basis after your daily dosage has been met.
* Daydreaming will increase during NaNoWriMo. This is a good thing.
If you have any questions, consult with the many helpful people on the NaNoWriMo forums. Many have successfully taken NaNoWriMo in the past, and have helpful advice for new patients.

What are the most common side effects of NaNoWriMo?

The most common side effect of NaNoWriMo was a completed draft of a novel. Other common side effects included insomnia, dry mouth, constipation (otherwise known as writer's block), increased sweating, decreased appetite, increased appetite, hallucinations, and generalized anxiety disorder. This is not a complete list of side effects.

Other safety information about NaNoWriMo:

NaNoWriMo may cause insomnia and heart palpitations. Until you know how NaNoWriMo affects you, you should not drive a car or operate hazardous machinery. The operation of keyboards generally increases in speed and efficacy during NaNoWriMo.

Terms and Conditions
* Reimbursement is not offered for up to 30 days of NaNoWriMo therapy. Prescriptions for 1,667 words daily or more are not eligible for reimbursement. Your time is your own; use it wisely.
* Offer void nowhere. Valid for all Earth residents.
* Offer valid to individuals and institutions. See Young Writers Program for institutional terms and conditions.
* By accepting this offer, you agree to work daily to produce 50,000 words during November. Do not apply for an extension of time; none will be forthcoming.
* Additional exclusions will not apply and this offer will not be terminated, rescinded, revoked or amended by The Office of Letters and Light unless you violate the user agreement, which you won't do because you're better than that.
* NaNoWriMo and the NaNoWriMo logo are trademarks of The Office of Letters and Light, a nonprofit organization.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

San Francisco Veg Fest 2010

We just got home from our visit to this year's Veg Festival in Golden Gate Park.  I have to rave about the taquitos we got from Flacos.  And the baked goods we got from Sugar Beat Sweets were so delicious.  They had a pumpkin streusel coffee cake and a strawberry cheesecake square that were outstandingly scrumptious; my wife and I split those two.  I didn't try the brownie my older son got, but he heartily approved.  I'm the only one who's vegan in my household, but everyone found something tasty to eat.

We also sampled WayFare We Can't Say It's Cheese Spreads.  I tried their Hickory-Smoked Cheddar-Style Spread and their Mexi Cheddar-Style Dip.  They were both delicious.  We would have bought some immediately, but he wasn't there to sell, just to give out free taste samples.  We are definitely going to look for these non-dairy "cheese" products in our local market.

I also bought two more cookbooks from the people at Book Publishing Company.  I purchased Buddha's Table: Thai Feasing Vegetarian Style and Cookin' Southern, Vegetarian Style.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Elementary School Poetry 180 - Week Three

11 - Dream Variations - Langston Hughes
12 - The Bat - Theodore Roethke
13 - Did I Miss Anything? - Tom Wayman
14 - Blackberry Eating - Galway Kinnell
15 - Casey at the Bat - Ernest Thayer
  • I found "Dream Variations" in Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes edited by David Roessel & Arnold Rampersad.
  • The Bat and Did I Miss Anything? both come from Poetry 180.
  • Another resource that I have been using is A Poem for Every Day! by Susan Moger. In her book I found "Blackberry Eating" by Galway Kinnell.
  • Casey at the Bat is from Middle School Poetry 180 and it is also in A Poem for Every Day!.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Elementary School Poetry 180 - Week Two

6 - The Arrow and the Song - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
7 - "Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?" - Ron Koertge
8 - Numbers - Mary Cornish
9 - Ozymandias - Percy Bysshe Shelley
10 - At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border - William Stafford

Monday, September 27, 2010

Elementary School Poetry 180 - Week One

1 - Introduction to Poetry - Billy Collins
2 - When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer - Walt Whitman
3 - Jabberwocky - Lewis Carroll
4 - "A narrow Fellow in the Grass" - Emily Dickinson
5 - Lines - Martha Collins

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Elementary School Poetry 180

This year I decided to take on a poetry project with my students.  I was inspired by Poetry 180, a program established by Billy Collins while he was the Poet Laureate of the United States.  He deliberately chose poems with high school students in mind.  I have kept some of those poems to read to my elementary school students.  I  have not considered any poems that seemed inappropriate to be read to a ten-year-old.  Thus, many of the poems that deal with romantic relationships, which are apropos for high school students, just wouldn't interest fifth graders, or would embarrass them.  But, generally, I've been much influenced by the choices that Billy Collins made.  I've steered away from poems that seem too old-fashioned, definitely dipping often from the modern era.  And I've chosen mostly free verse.  I want to broaden what students think of poetry, and steer them away from some of the sing-songy rhymed poems that are frequently aimed at them.

I also discovered another teacher had a similar idea for middle school students.  Tom Darling has a poetry blog called Middle School Poetry 180.  I have borrowed liberally from the poems he has posted on his blog.

I have a number of poetry books as well, and I have been finding delightful poems there as well to share with my students.

I was hesitant to blog about this at first, but I decided I just need to take that leap and share what I've been doing.  So far, it has been a successful experiment.  It only takes a minute or two out of each school day, but many of the poems I've chosen have connected with some student in my class.

I would welcome suggestions from anyone who is interested in poetry.  Feel free to leave comments on my posts about poems you think every fifth grade student should know before they go off to middle school.  And if you're a teacher, I'd be interested in any stories you'd like to share about your experiences sharing poems with students.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I had gone away to write, a solo writer's retreat.  I stayed in a beautiful lodge and I wrote.  But I was restless, so I walked into the neighboring woods, and in a grove where the light was warm and golden, reflecting the autumn leaves, I saw a dryad scamper back to her oak and disappear into it.  I stood until I noticed the light beginning to fade, and the colors of the grove dimmed.  I walked up to the oak, touched its bark, said, "Thank you," and "Goodbye."  Then I walked back to the lodge, more silently than I had come.

in this august place
the trees spoke to me - and I
found ears to listen

* * *

This haibun was written in response to a prompt at Big Tent Poetry.

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Open Letter on Bad Parenting

First of all, don't show up to Back-to-School Night.  Don't show your child that his or her learning is important.  Don't provide any support to your child's teacher by reinforcing the message that education is important and that you are going to work as a partner with your child's teacher in making sure your child has a quality educational experience.  When asked about why you didn't attend Back-to-School Night, make excuses that are about you and how busy you are; this gives permission to teachers to make the same excuses to you about how busy they are and why they're not providing your child with a quality education.  Or, make the excuse that you didn't attend Back-to-School Night because you already know everything because the same teacher taught your child's older sibling.  Teachers like this excuse too because then they can give it as a rationale for why they haven't changed anything at all in their teaching; they can use the same old books, techniques, lessons, etc. that they used for your older child.  Teachers don't want to innovate or improve their learning; they much prefer being lazy and just going through the same tired motions year after year.

Second, don't respond to notes that the teacher writes home to you about how your child is doing in school.  All teachers operate under the lawyerly "silence equals assent" assumption.  This just makes it easier for us to send notes home, knowing that you agree wholeheartedly with what we have written.  It isn't necessary to respond and let us know that you too are concerned, or that you've spoken with your child about the problem and you've given them some help and advice on how to correct it.  Also, it's even more helpful to send the note back offering excuses about why your child isn't doing well.  Some blanket statement about how responsible they are even though the note was about how they're not handling their responsibilities as a student is most helpful to the teacher.  Obviously, we were just mistaken and didn't have that crucial knowledge. What we were seeing firsthand in the classroom is superseded by your statement about how responsible they are.  We are sorry for bothering you to get this important information and we can now rest assured that the problem will correct itself.

Third, go directly to the principal with your concerns about your child's teacher.  We teachers don't want to be bothered by pesky parents and their petty concerns.  Show your child that it's best to go over someone's head to get what you want.  Dealing fairly and respectfully with the person that you have an issue with is a waste of time, especially if it's a teacher, because they are notorious for not listening to you, being unfair, and generally being difficult and confrontational.  We understand that you are just saving us all a great deal of precious time by not speaking with us first.  We actually enjoy getting called into the principal's office to deal with parent concerns.  We are especially delighted when this occurs with parents who didn't show up to Back-to-School Night, who have not contacted the teacher at all in any positive way so far this year, including not returning the note sent home the second week of school asking your preferences for teacher-parent communication, who have not responded to notes sent home, and who have responded to other notes with rationalizations and excuses about their child's problems.

[I'll just apologize now for the sarcasm, before anyone writes me any comments.  Please understand that all this comes from a place of hurt, which has turned to anger, thus the sarcasm.  I'm not proud of it, but I had to get this off my chest.]

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'm having difficulty with the word breakthrough
it's as if I'm having an argument with it
and, to be honest, it's not a fair, rational argument
because breakthrough just rubs me the wrong way
like someone you just don't like
because everything about them just turns you off

granted, I did concede there is wisdom in through
you have to work through your problems
it usually fails if you avoid them or try to go around
looking for some shortcut, an easier path
but everything else about breakthrough rankles me

military breakthroughs are violent, penetrative acts
and, frankly, so are medical breakthroughs
we like to think of doctors as healers
following the oath of first doing no harm
but that's just a pretty myth to believe in

surgeons can do amazing things, I know that now
but to an eight-year-old, they're just butchers
slicing you open, breaking you to fix you
and I have the scars to prove it, so don't argue
don't give me some line like surgeons save lives

a surgeon didn't save my father's life
that bit of useless butchery just drained him more
and the cancer took him that much faster
so I don't want to hear your thoughtless philosophy
because if you do, I'll show you my scars
and I'll bare my heart to you and show you
the hole there left by my father's passing

a surgeon didn't save my life when I was eight
but left me forever changed, limping along
broken inside, and knowing I had to be broken
so that I could be fixed, like some faulty machine
and all these years, the mending has been slow
accomplished without the help of any surgeon
the daily tenderness supplied by nurses and my parents

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the breakthrough prompt at Writer's Island.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Need to Know

Lucy, there is nothing you need
to know about me. Keep dreaming
your British Empire dreams.
Keep believing you are safe,
even as I stand here, watching
you sleep.
                Your dreams will soon turn
to nightmares, if I stay too long
before our caress. It will not hurt.
If only you knew how delicious
you are, the iron bite of your blood
softened by the sweetness
of your soul.
                   There is one thing
you will know. You are mine forever.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the "Need to Know" prompt at We Write Poems.

I have been completely unsuccessful at posting a link to my poem over at We Write Poems.  It's always worked before.  I must be doing something wrong, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what it is.  My browser did crash while I was on the site, and my laptop shut down and restarted, so I figured that fixed the problem.  Maybe it didn't.  I hope people will find my poem.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

If only

If only understanding
wasn't a gerund
mixed race child
of noun and verb
a chimera
a misfit
an outsider
looking in at us
with wisdom
in her eyes
and sadness
because we can't see
what she sees

if only learning
was as easy as
not a thought at all
just a fundamental fact

if only loving
was as simple as
picking up a stone
and holding it
in your hand
and holding it in your hand
was the same as
holding it in your heart
and being held
by the stone too

if only I could be content
with just being
if I could get over
connecting doing
with happiness
writing a poem
and being satisfied
with the

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the "If only" prompt at Writer's Island and the "finding words from our everyday lives" prompt at Big Tent Poetry.

The "if only" phrase kept bouncing around in my head, but I didn't know what to do with it. Then I remembered a note I had jotted down in my lesson plan book in response to a question one of my students asked about the word "understanding". He had identified it as a noun on a homework assignment and was wondering why it wasn't correct. I explained it was a gerund, and told my class that I'd research it further and that I'd teach a lesson on gerunds, which is why I had written it down. And those two words, understanding and gerund, from my everyday life were the inspiration to go somewhere with "if only".

Sunday, August 15, 2010

End of Summer Update

Tomorrow I go back to my day job, teaching.  The last couple of weeks I have been alternately working really hard to get ready for my new group of students on one hand and not thinking about teaching at all and trying to enjoy the last of my time off on the other.

I have also been thinking about what a good time I had writing poems earlier this summer, and realizing how much I missed it, so I'm going to try to come back to this blog and honor it, the work/play I was doing, and all the wonderful people who came here to read my poems.

I did write other things this summer.  My mother watched my two boys for a couple of days and I stayed in a nearby hotel and wrote.  I worked on my memoirs/autobiography.  My father wrote to my brother and I before he passed and I value (that's just not a strong enough word) what he shared with me about his childhood and growing up years.  I plan on being around for a long, long time, but I am writing for my sons, as my father did for my brother and me.

I also got back on track with my novel that I started last November as part of NaNoWriMo 2009.  I read a really good book on writing: Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and got to work on revising my novel.  I'm happy to say that I did finish what I was calling version 1.5 of my novel and did send it off to CreateSpace for my free proof copy.  I didn't make the end of June deadline for my free proof copy, but it was worth every penny to get that copy and see my novel as a real book.  My wife is reading it now.

I have since gone back and rethought my first attempt at writing a novel for NaNoWriMo 2008.  I started that novel over again, which is why I haven't been sharing any poems here.  I just haven't been writing any lately, but I'm ready to come back now.

And somewhere in there, I got an email from the people over at Poets for Living Waters.  They accepted my poem "Immature" and put in on their Open Mic page.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Poems for We Write Poems

Mad About Science

the foundation of life
its unique ability
to bond

two molecules of hydrogen
and one of oxygen
the essential solvent

just add nitrogen
and you have the four
basic building blocks
of life

trace amounts of many other elements
but there it is
the solution
that life created
the chemical soup
of which we're all made
formed in some primordial sea
long, long ago

as with any recipe
balance of ingredients
is necessary for success

too much water
we drown
too little water
and drought

we measure
we think
by-products of our
nervous system
our backbone
of thought and feeling
we know
happiness and sorrow

and then
thinking about water again
vapor   liquid   ice
for good or bad
how it is that
wisdom is glacial

* * * * *


completing another
circle around the sun
my birthday again
and, I, as per usual
obsess about my waistline

* * * * *

I wrote "Mad About Science" in response to the Wordle prompt at We Write Poems.  Then I realized I had used all the words, except three: obsess, birthday, and circle.  So, I used those three words for "Tanka".

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


he asked me if I felt trapped
did I make the right choices in life
would I go back and make changes

he wasn't lonely - maybe just a little sad
about who he is - something he can't change
so he asked me if I felt trapped

but I don't think he was asking about me
I was just a cipher - a way to ask himself
did I make the right choices in life

it got me thinking nonetheless - he did ask
but no I don't feel trapped in parenthood
I would not go back and make changes

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the change prompt at Writer's Island.  I also attempted to use the cascade form which I read about on Poetic Asides.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I'm always looking back,
hanging around as I do.
That's what I'm here for.

I see you as no one else does.
I look you straight in the eye.
I'm always looking back

at you when you're looking at me.
I'm a good listener too.
I listen to you sing in the shower

and I pay special attention
when you practice asking your boss
for that raise we both know you deserve.

I wait for you to come home.
I'm always here for you,
morning or night. Just turn on the light

so I can see you better.
You're looking tired now. Time
to brush your teeth and go to sleep.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to a prompt to write a "looking back" poem at Poetic Asides back in April.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Today's my birthday.  I'm off to a friend's wedding, and then some time with my family in Santa Rosa.  I'll be offline for the weekend, but then I'll get caught up on Monday.  I want to send a big "Thank you" to everyone who's been reading my poems here and leaving comments.  It's been delightful - and I am much grateful.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Poems for Big Tent Poetry

for the dreamers

a message resent
this time full
of praise

for the minds
that can see through
the cloud-dark sky
to the stars beyond

who walk gently
on the Earth
but part the herds

making them tremble
those greedy and hungry
those ignorant and dull

those dark comforts
we know are dangerous
in their ease

gravity holds us all down
but starlight makes us shine
if reflected in our eyes

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to a Wordle prompt at Big Tent Poetry.

* * * * *

An Angry Pantoum

Anger, oh my foe, my friend,
how is it you so move me?
It is not a dance I enjoy.
Why are you with me still?

How is it you so move me
to actions of shame and courage?
Why are you with me still
though I have worked to be rid of you?

To actions of shame and courage,
two-faced, you have spurred me on.
Though I have worked to be rid of you,
yet you cling to my fragile heart.

Two-faced, you have spurred me on,
when you should have - and not.
Yet you cling to my fragile heart,
Anger, oh my foe, my friend.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the Angry Pantoum prompt at Big Tent Poetry.

Two Poems for Writer's Island

The Gift

birds have flight
fish breathe underwater
plants make their own food

nature has bestowed
the gift on all
but in each
it takes a different form

we have our minds
and everything that stems
from that gift

but now I have
to wonder if
we've used ours well

we've invented devices
so that we can fly
and breathe underwater

we've even gone farther
than all other living things
into orbit and beyond

but what of compassion?
we have not done things
with, but for

we copied the birds
we imitated the fish
and the plants?

we need them
but we don't want
to be like them

we bent them
to our will
to serve our needs

lower than pets
stuck in pots
arrayed in fields

concentration camps
that don't need fences
to keep the prisoners

cultivation now to me
seems like subjugation
domination not dominion

you might say
plants don't feel
we're not doing them harm

you might be right
maybe the plants
are happy to serve us

you might be wrong
maybe the plants scream
at us but we cannot hear

there are waves
we cannot see or hear
out gift doesn't extend that far

maybe it's foolish
to think that plants can feel --

see, even I do it
thinking I can impose
my perspective on others

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to The Gift prompt at Writer's Island.

* * * * *

The Key

my house key looks a lot
like my classroom key
I get them mixed up
all the time

what does that say
about me
and my priorities?

their shape is similar
but they are noticeably
different in size
so why don't I notice?

when the key doesn't fit
I know it's the wrong one
it's tactile, not visual

(I can't even talk
about my car key
that symbol of shame
and complicity

because the closest
gas station to my house
is Arco, a BP brand)

what hangs me up though
is that definite article
I want to know
what the key to life is

is it love? is that
the key? or is it
fidelity to that love?

or is it just silly
of me to play
grammar games with the phrase?
as if that were cleverness

I've already talked
of different keys, so one
is obviously not the answer

my work, my home,
my car which transports me
between the two, and my wife
who holds the key to my heart

the physical keys
and the metaphorical
are all splayed about me

so how do I choose?
or are all my choice?
and thus all are
ways to unlock me

now I understand, I think,
that the key is not
the answer, but the question

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to The Key prompt at Writer's Island.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


To walk in other's shoes,
it is to stories and poems
that I turn.

I enjoy giving
myself up, living through
their lies, loves, and laughter.

Strangers in history,
like surrogate ancestors,
are my touchstones.

Sometimes, so scared,
I edge down passages
in my imagination.

While my true ancestors,
Scottish fullers all, walked
on wool for their trade.

Would we have sat, sharing
stories, soothing our feet
around a fire pit?

My mind rebels
at a world of one people, one faith,
but it was so.

And then I return
to my life, full of sunlight
and deeper shadows.

I adopt a persona,
and write a story
not mine, and yet true.

Who shall I be today,
and what paths, false and true,
shall I tread with you?

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the Walk a Mile prompt at We Write Poems.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Deadlines

Mother Nature has no deadlines.
Her methods are ancient,
older than calendars.
She has no need of them,
and has managed beautifully
without them for eons.

The water falls from the sky,
life-bringing precipitate,
And it flows to the sea.
It doesn't care when it gets there.
There is no rush for that tributary
to join another, to enter the bay.

The Earth will spin and orbit,
and the Moon about her.
They take their time with their dance.
They move to rhythms we cannot hear,
or perhaps we've shunned them for our own,
or papered them over with lines of death.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the day fifteen prompt at Poetic Asides to write a deadline poem.

Sunday, June 13, 2010



the door is
a barrier
that must be

I swear
this is what
my son
must be thinking

every time
I close
the bathroom door
in our house


why do we
erect barriers
except for privacy
and shame

we close doors
pull down shades
and build fences
around our homes

all this makes
sense to me
the difference between
adult and child


barriers provide protection
so we are building
a fence along our
border with Mexico

and Arizona passed a law
a barrier made of words
to punish those
who crossed that line

three days after
we began spilling oil
without barriers
into a gulf not ours

* * * * *

This poem is a response to the doors prompt at We Write Poems.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Writer's Meme

1. What's the last thing you wrote?
I finished a poem yesterday which I'm going to post tomorrow.  It's called "Immature".

2. Is it any good?
I don't know.  I'm not a very good judge of my own poetry.  Or rather I'm a very good judge of what's a good poem, but I'm willing to put things out there that are just okay in my book.  I think it's a good poem.  It started as a response to the door prompt at We Write Poems and I struggled with it.  It went somewhere in the first draft that just didn't work out.  Then I cut out the last section.  But I still couldn't finish it; I could have left it as it was, but it still seemed fragmentary to me.  Then I cut out the second section, which left it a complete poem, but not a very serious one, and it wanted to be more serious.

3. What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
I don't have any of the poems I wrote in high school, but I do have some that I wrote in a poetry writing class I took with George Barlow at De Anza College back in the mid-eighties.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Currently, poetry.  But I enjoyed writing a novel back in November for NaNoWriMo, and I'm sure I'll do so again.  I'm also working on my memoirs for my boys.

5. How often do you get writer's block?
I don’t get writer's block.  I sometimes get stuck trying to get a poem where I want it to go, but I'm not "blocked" in that sense.

6. How do you fix it?
I'll write total garbage, just to get something down on paper.  Or I'll set it aside and work on something else.  If I'm stuck on one thing, I've got all kinds of ideas for other poems or writing projects that I could work on.

7. Do you save everything you write?
Yes.  I'm a hoarder.  (My poor wife).

8. How do you feel about revision?
Revision is absolutely necessary.  Some poems do come out pretty well in a first draft, but I don't think I've left anything untouched - at least, not recently.  I may have when I was younger and didn't understand how important revision can be.  Other poems just aren't worth revision; they just don't work - and can't be made to work.

9. What's your favorite thing that you've written?
I couldn't choose.  (It seems self-indulgent to me).  Or rather - the last thing I wrote is my favorite, so my favorite keeps changing.

My favorite blog post was about NaNoWriMo, which got excerpted by Renaissance Learning in their Extraordinary Educators newsletter.

10. What's everyone else's favorite thing that you've written?
I wrote a poem a day in April as part of the Poem a Day Challenge at Poetic Asides.  I asked a colleague of mine, also a writer, and my wife to choose their favorites.  Of the fifteen or so poems I gave them to read, they each chose seven that they liked.  They agreed on four of them: "Pacific Grove", "I love my country", "Reflecting", and "According to the waves".

11. What writing projects are you working on right now?
I’m writing poems in response to various websites who are posting prompts, and posting them here.  I'm also trying to work my way through the prompts posted in April at Read Write Poem, which I didn't discover until the last week of the month.

And this summer, now that I'm not working, I want to write more of my memoirs, a writing project for my two sons.

12. What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?

13. Do you write for a living?
No.  I'm a teacher, which does include a fair amount of writing, but that's not what they pay me for.

14. Quote something you've written, the first thing to pop into your mind.
We forgot
we had freedom of conscience
before we had
freedom of religion.

* * * * *

I got this from Writer's Meme, a blog post by Poet Mom.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vocation Island

We've put treasure on islands,
and prisons, dark houses
swept by lighthouses.

We've put fantasy on islands,
and reality shows that prove
every one is a part
of the main, that when
you dive down, you find
the island is just a piece
of the continent.

We like the metaphor
of separation,
the vacation island,
the going away
that makes us
long for home,
then the bittersweet
return to vocation island.

These islands,
these bits of sand
and rock we cling to,
surrounded by waters
too vast to fathom,
we like them.

We like our islands,
and we cling to them still,
for peace, quiet, chaos, noise,
rising and falling,
yin and yang,
anima and animus.

But they aren't separate:
the water and the land.
They are one.

We walk along this shoreline,
this meeting of land, water, and sky,
bathed by sunlight, and watch
the tides drawn by the reflected light
of our little brother island
across the Armstrong strait.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the day fourteen prompt at Poetic Asides to write a poem titled "(blank) island" for the Poem a Day Challenge back in April.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Alchemist's Daughter

I wish you would not fondle
the bottles of tincture,
daughter, and disturb the pattern
of my work. It seems futile
for me to ask you not to purse
your lips at every offered proof.

Oh, father, what tender proof
could I offer to you how fond
I am of thinking and pursing
my lips as I do. Your tincture
bottles are just my hand's futile
attempts of finding a pattern.

Do not speak to me of patterns
of thought as I seek a proof
of what is probably an alchemical futility.
Have no doubt that I touch and fondle
the cool glass, too, of my tinctures,
but I do not slip them into my purse.

Ashamed I am that in my purse
of such beautiful handwoven pattern
I have secreted a necessary tincture
and here in my hand is the proof
of it. See how I fondle
your work which I know is not futile.

Oh, daughter, I find it is futile
for me to be angry of your purse
and what it hides. You fondle
my heart; that is our pattern.
Of your love and your shame, no proof
I need from you, only my tincture.

Father, it is a beautiful tincture.
It was foolish and futile
of me to take it. Here is the proof
in my hand, taken from my purse.
Your thought, your work, is your pattern.
It is that, and not me, you fondle.

My work's proof is in this tincture,
which you have fondled, yet it was futile
to hide it in your purse, my love, my living pattern.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the May 17 Wordle prompt at Big Tent Poetry.

I wrote the first four stanzas and then got interrupted. It took me a while to get back to it and finish it.