4

Sarah Poetry

Sarah Poetry | LenaStark.com

Last month my friend Sarah passed away after a two-year journey through the wasteland of breast cancer. She was 32. We became close after she got sick. Life, you big trickster!

Most of what I’ve been able to write since she died has been poetry that I haven’t really known what to do with other than message it to a couple of close personal friends and post it to the highly impersonal universe of Twitter. I want to say what’s on my heart but only to people who I know for sure will be gentle or to people who are removed enough that they can’t hurt me. It’s getting better. Last week I felt normal-er for about three days; but I still ping-pong between that and feeling very fragile, which is beginning to frustrate me.

In any case, I’ve decided to post the poetry so far here, which feels like a big step. Further forthcoming poetry will go in separate posts (I’m sure there will be more).

 

3/30/15 ~ The Midnight Door ~

Death sneaks in the midnight door
Silent it creeps along the floor
Its lengthening shadow snatching more

Wrapped in sheets, her breath unsound
Winding love, her soul surrounds
She calls no more, for she is found

“Rejoice!” Resurrection cries
Dying done, pain breaks its ties
Loved she lived, and loved she flies

 

4/8/15

Wednesday
The empty space
The afternoon I used to visit you
But now you’re gone
And all that’s left
Is fuzz on
Wednesday

 

4/8/15

Wednesday
The cursed day
The day you died
The day I loved to spend with you
Wednesday
The day you’re gone the most

 

4/20/15

Sunday
Less tears today
I sang my songs in peace
And only wept in prayer.
You marked my hands, my feet, my heart;
I sow my grief in silence.

 

That’s it for me today.

~ Lena

4

Micropoetry: Espresso

LenaStark.com | Espresso

Coffee was acceptable in only three forms – white peppermint mocha, peppermint java chip frappuccino, and cold-brew coffee – and espresso was vile, black sludge that belonged nowhere near my tongue.  Then France ruined me. Now I drink espresso every morning and write its praises in micropoetry.  [tweetthis]Espresso: I used to loathe it. Now I drink it every morning and praise it in micropoetry.[/tweetthis]

 

0

Walt Disney on Curiosity

Walt Disney on Curiosity | LenaStark.com

Why boredom confuses me.

I blame Dad. He’s a physicist (among many other things), and he is never, ever bored. He always finds the puzzle, always searches for the solution to it, always asks “why.” I seem to have acquired this trait as well. While for him it produced a scientist, for me it produced a writer (among many other things). People usually think science and arts as coming from two completely different places, two thoroughly disparate types of people. I don’t think so.

[pullquote hidden=”true”]Wonder is the mother of curiosity; curiosity is the murderess of boredom.[/pullquote]

They both begin with exactly the same questions: “why?” “what if?” Then both imagine the possible answers, observe what they see very closely, and write up what they find. The scientist focuses more on the measurable data, but the writer applies the same idea to what she observes in human behavior: “is what I write true to what I see?”

I think old Walt here has it right. The world is a fascinating place full of intriguing people, glorious journeys, and compelling questions. Wonder is the mother of curiosity; curiosity is the murderess of boredom.

[tweetthis]How are scientists and writers the same?[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]Wonder is the mother of curiosity; curiosity is the murderess of boredom. [/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do ~Walt Disney[/tweetthis]

0

Book Review: The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Gorgeous cover art is a plus too!

The Complete Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Picking up some fairy tales, huh?” said my friend Eli, the proprietor of my favorite bookstore, as I sidled up to the cash register.

“Yeah, I’m taking the kids camping, and they aren’t quite old enough to read Poe to at the campfire. Proper fairy tales seem about right though, but I’m looking for the real ones — translations, you know. None of that sanitized Disney stuff. You think either of these books will work?” At that point my six kids were ages twelve and under.

Eli grinned at me and checked the two books in my hands. “You don’t want those. Come here; I’ll show you the book you want.”

That was how I came to own this version of the Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Eli was right; it is the version I wanted. These tales are so much more entertaining and rich than the happily ever after renditions that seem ubiquitous in children’s picture books and popular films. The first night camping I read several to the kids and to my in-laws who had come with us. The kids, Uncles, aunties – all loved it (not so sure Grandma appreciated it), and now the kids insist that I drag it out again every time we camp and even the adults ask me if I’m bringing it along.

[pullquote]NEVER DO THAT because I’ll cry forever[/pullquote]

The kids’ favorites are A Tale About the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was, Rumpelstiltskin, and How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. That last one slightly horrifies me, actually, but the kids think it’s hilarious. I append my own dictum, “NEVER DO THAT because I’ll cry forever,” to the end, which seems to amuse them even more as they roll their eyes and immediately request another story.

[pullquote]Fairy tales inhale the wild, weird beauty of this world and exhale wonder.[/pullquote]

These stories will not appeal to everyone. If you worry a lot about kidnappers, trampolines with no nets on them, people who ask too many questions, or your children getting the idea that cutting off their toes to fit into a fancy shoe to impress a prince is a great plan, you will probably hate these. Why do I like them? They are seedlings of imagination that plant in your brain and grow into all sorts of wonderful, bizarre things. They inhale the wild, weird beauty of this world and exhale wonder. They tell of a world that never was yet feels just as familiar as our own.

View all my reviews

Check out Eli’s bookstore at Exodus Books.

[tweetthis]Fairy tales inhale the wild, weird beauty of this world and exhale wonder[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]Fairy tales tell of a world that never was yet feels just as familiar as our own.[/tweetthis]

 

1

France in Five Days

Lena Stark | Writer - 4:30am "I'm flying to France" face

From my extensive study, I was the only person in the entire airport who looked this happy at 4:30am.

Prepare yourself for long-winded, dramatic backstory

I am not supposed to be here this morning sitting on a plane to France. I’m supposed to be at home snoozing quietly in my bed. This isn’t my trip. I have not planned and hoped and saved for the last year to fly overseas today, yet here I am. My dad is the one who is supposed to be here. I am taking his place.

T-6 Days (or last Thursday to you lay people):

Last week (Sun-Sat) was our church’s Family Camp at the beach, which we and my parents and my husband’s parents all attended. Two weeks prior to camp, my dad had minor surgery, which he began having complications with last week. Thursday morning I awoke to discover that Dad was in the hospital. Mom came back from the hospital two hours later to pack up their things and let us know they were going back home.

“Is your passport current?” Those were Mom’s first words to me when I finally found her. Dad was transported to the hospital by their house, and they went home.

T-5 (that was last Friday. See how I’m looking out for you?)

“We refunded your dad’s ticket and yours are booked.” – Mom

Thank you, terrorists, for prompting airline regulations when you hijacked aircraft on 9/11 that prohibit transferring Dad’s ticket directly to me. This means I am not on the same outbound flights as the others, which was undoubtedly part of you nefarious scheme.

[pullquote]“We refunded your dad’s ticket and yours are booked.”[/pullquote]Oh yes, right. “Others” is plural. Did I not mention that my parents were not flying alone? The point of the trip was actually to take three college-aged art girls to tour Paris and Provence since my mom speaks French and has taken a couple of other sets of girls there before.

Anyway, by Friday afternoon I was definitely going. Alas, I was still at the beach for one more day, and we were hosting about fifty people from camp that night. Not much preparing was going to get done that day.

T-4 (I know you can do this; I have faith in you. Okay, it was Saturday. I was sure you had that.)

“I might not be going either, so you might be taking the girls by yourself.” – Mom

Dad still wasn’t out of the hospital. Did I mention that I don’t speak French (Mom does)? Or that I’ve never been to France (Mom has)? Or that my driver’s license was due to expire during the first week of the trip (problematic with the second week plans to rent a car and drive around Provence)? Or that I still wasn’t even home from camp yet? It was about that time that I began to properly panic.

[pullquote]“I might not be going either, so you might be taking the girls by yourself.”[/pullquote]We drove home, unpacked the car, and went out and purchased walking shoes.

T-3 (a.k.a. “The Day of Doom”)

“Kyra and Henry both threw up last night.” – Husband

By noon another one of the kids was down, and by the afternoon my husband and I were both sick too. This was not helpful. I needed to be at the airport on Wednesday by 3:30 or 4am. Everything needed to be ready by Tuesday evening.

[pullquote]“Kyra and Henry both threw up last night.”[/pullquote]With the amount of available preparation time rapidly waning, I spent the time in between barfing episodes messaging everyone I knew asking them if they would be able to take a couple kids for a few days while Hub-ness worked during the week. In retrospect, that was probably the most convenient day to get sick before flying out.

T-2 (Monday, which should be permanently prohibited by law)

[pullquote]“HEY, YOUR DAD’S OUT OF THE HOSPITAL. FACEBOOK SAYS SO!”[/pullquote]Spent the morning finishing organizing the kids (thank you, everyone!) and making a spectacular (or possibly ridiculous) list of things to ask Mom about the trip, since it was looking like I was no going to be in charge in France and I had very little of the necessary information to manage everything. Where are we staying? Do we take a taxi there from the airport? Can I have the tickets for the train to Nimes? On what day do I have to have everyone to Nice? Do you tip in France? You know, small things.

Monday afternoon I kidnapped my friend Angie, who was already mad that I had ditched her for the beach for a week, and she spent six hours chatting and running all over town with me and my older son. Angie’s fun to take to the DMV.

“HEY, YOUR DAD’S OUT OF THE HOSPITAL. FACEBOOK SAYS SO!” she yells extremely loudly to me as I’m talking to the lady at counter. She’s taking the fact that I’m leaving for two more weeks really well, I thought to myself.

We made it to my parents’ house, said “hi” to Dad, bombarded Mom with questions, and borrowed a TSA lock. Dad was fried that Mom might miss the trip on his account; Mom didn’t want to leave Dad since he had just gotten out of the hospital. After getting all my questions answered, I started feeling like this might be doable.

T-1 (That means it’s the day before the take-off, in case you really have watched nothing involving NASA or space)

“Your Dad is covered; I’m coming.” – Mom

Knowing the trip situation, some friends had volunteered to stay with Dad while Mom is gone and another friend had organized for people to bring him meals.

I spent the day organizing up an itinerary for the trip so I knew what was going on, [pullquote]“Your Dad is covered; I’m coming.”[/pullquote] typing up kids’ itineraries for my husband including two birthday parties and eight places the kids are staying, printing out copies of our bills and my passwords and my itinerary for my husband in case I die, locating our life insurance information, packing, getting a hair cut, and making a million phone calls. I started working at 7am and finished at 10:40pm. Phew! All done. Angie messaged me five minutes later: “I am already angry with France. Have a safe flight. Don’t get Taken. I would hate to fly there to rescue you.” And there it is. “I would totally be all Liam.”

Blast Off! (after 3:39 minutes of sleep)

“Are your power cords in your carry-on? Don’t wear those flip-flops on the flight. What if you get stuck outside the airport and it’s cold? What if you have to sprint to catch a plane?” – Husband

[pullquote]”What if you get stuck outside the airport and it’s cold?”[/pullquote]He’s usually a very calm man, but the trick to telling when he’s worried is to watch for the irrational statements. It’s rare. I always feel very loved when it happens. I smiled and changed my shoes despite the facts that a) I could think of no plausible explanation for why I would be trapped outside an airport, b) the fact that I was wearing flip-flops with my khakis and sweater was not likely to produce hypothermia even if I did since it is June and I’m not going anywhere cold, c) the shoes he wanted me to change into were also sandals, just ones that had a back, and d) since I was planning to spend my seven hour layover in Newark writing and reading Isaac Asimov, I expected to have plenty of time to make it to my flight without sprinting. It’s all for you, dear. All for you. Except going on the trip. That’s for me.

0

Dinner Gone Awry

Jerk CC license Jerk
B.e.a.s.t. 3 (2013)

I didn’t see his approach; my friend did. My friend, an established writer, and I had gone to a local restaurant to talk shop and put the happy hour menu to good use (the pomegranate margarita was quite marvelous). I am pre-published and had lured her into answering a bucket full of technical questions with the promise of food and a children-free discussion. The restaurant was quiet with a relaxed atmosphere, good food, and a small bar in the corner; and we had been chatting and laughing away for nearly two hours, talking shop and oblivious to everyone around us. Well, I was oblivious. My friend was facing the bar.

“How would you two lovely ladies like some free drinks?” he said with no introduction whatsoever. The table my friend and I were sitting at was tiny, one of the two-seaters that look like the restaurant manager had sawed a kids’ table in half and shoved it against the wall to save space. This guy from the bar was now standing as close as possible, maybe six inches away from me, and I hadn’t even seen him arrive. “You two are both really cute. See my buddies over there at the bar?” he pointed over my shoulder. “We’ll buy you drinks if you go be cute over there and flirt with us.”

My friend and I stared at him and then at each other. I’m married; she’s married. Being cute in an effort to schmooze free drinks out of the schmucks at the bar was not one of the evening’s goals.

“Thank you, but no,” I said.

“Nothing has to happen; we could just have some fun,” he continued.

“Yeah, sorry. I don’t think so,” said my friend.

“Alright, that’s okay. I’m not going to get mad or anything. I’m used to rejection.” He seemed to think we should now feel very grateful that he wasn’t going to freak out while also simultaneously feeling sympathetic towards him for his lack of skill in the picking-up-random-women department.

“Good. You handled rejection well,” I said to him as he walked away.

“I’ve been married twenty years,” he replied over his shoulder while pointing to his wedding ring, “I get rejected all the time.”

My friend and I rolled our eyes and returned to our conversation. His attempt had been brief, fairly low pressure, and he had left graciously. If he had had one tiny smidgen of sense, he would have stopped there. Ten minutes later he was back.

Guy: “Are you sure you don’t want to come have a couple drinks with us? You’re both really cute. You don’t have to be here alone.”

Me (a little more abrupt than last time): “We’re fine. Thanks.”

Guy: “You know, you guys should be really flattered that I’m over here. I’m pretty cute. Don’t you think I’m cute?” He tilted his head to the left and the right and up and down so we could see all of his delightful features. “Come on, just tell me I’m cute.”

Me: “Fine, you’re cute. Now beat it!”

My friend was amused. The guy was not. Instead of leaving, he squatted down by the end of the table. Did I mention that my friend and I and the table were all very small? The guy towered over us.

Guy (pointing to my finger): “I see you have a ring on. Does your husband know what you’re doing?”

What I’m doing? Discussing work with a female friend in a public restaurant? This question was so absurd that I don’t think I even answered it, which naturally he took as an invitation to continue.

Guy: “Is he at home waiting for you?”

Me (turning to my friend): “Do you think I should tell him what else is waiting for me at home?”

Friend: “Yes, I think so.”

Me (to Guy): “I have six kids at home.”

The guy stared at me for a minute, which is the usual reaction I receive upon disclosing this information.

Guy: “No you don’t.”

Me: “Yeah, I do.”

Friend: “Yes, she does.”

Guy: “How old are you?”

Note to men: this is a dumb question to ask, particularly to a woman you haven’t actually met yet are still trying to hit on. I had assumed that all humans possessing the XY combination of chromosomes had received this message ages ago, but at least one XY human seems to have misplaced his memo, so I am just repeating this as a public service announcement.

Me: “Thirty-eight.”

Guy: “Wow! You’re just popping kids out like cordwood!”

Me (turning to my friend): “Well, that’s just what every woman wants to hear.”

Another note to men: if your friend leaves you at the bar to go hit on girls that have already told him once to buzz off, you might want to check on him once in awhile. He may be busy making himself look so bad that the only way to keep yourself from looking like a jerk too is for you to retrieve him and make him step away from the women. I’d hate for you to be mistaken for a jerk due to your friend’s bad behavior.

Guy (to my friend): “How about you? She has to go home to her husband, but you’re not wearing a ring.”

Friend: “I don’t have mine on.”

Guy: “Well, do you want come over to the bar?”

Friend: “No. I’m married and have kids at home too. I have a ring; I just don’t have my ring on tonight.”

Then he tries to tell us that we really needed to go over to the bar with him so he would look good in front of his friends (since this clearly should be our main concern at this point).

Me: “NO! I have six kids. I have no problem saying ‘no.’”

Guy: “With six kids, apparently you do.”

Me (getting pretty fried now): “I only say ‘yes’ to things I REALLY like.”

Guy (dejected): “I’ve been married twenty years. I get rejected all the time.”

Me: “Well, you’re losing points every time you open your mouth.”

Guy: “I’m not very good at this.”

Me: “Pointing out your ring and talking about how you’ve been married for twenty years doesn’t help.”

Guy: “Should I take the ring off?”

SHOULD I TAKE THE RING OFF????

Me: “No! You’re MARRIED. You shouldn’t be over here trying to hit on other women!”

Finally, the waitress returned with our check. She then told him that his was waiting for him at the bar and he needed to go take care of it now. After swearing at both me and the waitress, he returned to the bar, and my friend and I left. Happily, he didn’t try to follow us, so I didn’t have to stab him with the keys I was gripping in my right hand as a makeshift weapon.