Juked: “First Life” (Multiple Choice)

Drinker says, Negative outcomes. (How did Big ever make it to Academy? Slow as slow)

Sunlight and glass, prisms and mirrors. My mind is floating out there, beyond the windows. Out there, where swish swish swish goes something, maybe the wind.

Drinker says, That’s the problem, right there. Hello? Dragon? Hey, Dragon?

Am so happy to have “First Life” in Juked this month (also self’s birthday month, Woot Hoot!).

Went live while self was in Ireland, hey good one.

Also love the tag: “multiple choice.”

It’s very amusing to go through all the pieces on the Juked website and try to figure out why they’re tagged the way they are. There’s a slyness involved in tagging. The best ones are brilliant.

Self got her novel-in-progress to a good 140 pages. She cut about 20 pages in the last week, so what’s left is pretty solid.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”

Fragonard's

Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + Waccamaw + 1-800-U-R-Saved =

from “Bridging”, in Waccamaw No. 12:

Introduction: A Filipino widow decides to combat loneliness by volunteering on a Mental Health Hotline called 1-800-U-R-Saved.

“I’ve bought myself a plane ticket,” the man said.

“Where are you going?” Leticia asked.

“San Francisco,” the man said. “To throw myself off the Golden Gate Bridge.”

“Don’t do that,” Leticia said, then stopped. San Francisco! Leticia had never been to San Francisco, though she longed to.

She then broke Rule # 3:  She gave the caller her real name.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Emigrant Woman’s Tale, Performed at the Fiddlers Green Festival, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Self met poet Csilla Toldy at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, last year.

Csilla has a fascinating backstory: born and raised in Hungary, she managed to make it through the Iron Curtain when she was just 18 years old.

Sunday, July 19, self got the opportunity to hear Csilla and singer/songwriter Fil Campell interweave their stories of crossing borders (Fil was born and raised in County Donegal) in the Fiddlers Green Festival in Rostrevor, and it was a very moving experience.

The performance grew out of a book, The Emigrant Woman’s Tale, which was published this year by Lapwing Publications in Belfast.

The book is fascinating, but if you have the chance to catch the performances live, self would urge you to do it. Csilla and Fil are performing in Newcastle in Northern Ireland on Aug. 14, 7:30 p.m., at Annesley Hall. And on Oct. 22 they are performing at 6 p.m. in Linenhall Library in Belfast.

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, July 2015

An Excerpt from Csilla Toldy’s piece “Growing Up Under the Red Star”:

At age three I graduated into the kindergarten in Gorky Avenue. It was a cold place with high ceilings that got lost in grey mist, teeming with hostile children and hostile wardens. I was wild, and often violent with the children, and resentful towards the adults. I used to bite children, and quite understandably, they did not like me. Nowadays, any child behaving like this could be labelled with some fancy syndrome, but in the Hungary of the 1960s, they had a different practice. Children had to be installed into society, no matter what. It was only a question of time and patience.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + THE WRITING DISORDER + Dust =

To think, self didn’t even try sending out this story, not for years. Until she began trying to put together a new collection. And even then, she only added this one at the last minute, as an afterthought.

It’s about a death.

It was sunny, a glorious day. April was sometimes cold, but Jocelyn thought she could sense summer coming, just around the corner.

The girl who clipped them, that afternoon in April, was just 18. Driving her red Ford Mustang at a speed that was just short of criminal, she’d gotten her driver’s license only that month.

The Ford Explorer rolled over and over and over — for almost two years she saw the image flash into her mind, often just before she lay her head down to sleep. Then she had to get up and pace the bedroom, or take two Ambien if there was something important she needed to do the next day.

She finally sent it to The Writing Disorder. You can read the story here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + LOCAL NOMAD + Flash =

The theme of Local Nomad’s Spring 2015 issue is KILLING GROUND.

As the editor puts it:

  • KILLING GROUND — a place to be within, where we go to be other, to be against. Fraught moments, places of fear and striking out: territories, borders, streets, bodies. The barbed line we cross to do harm (or to seek compassion). What we call war, protection, or defense, what we call hatred or expediency.

Here are the stories included in the issue:

  • David G. Tilley’s “Jisei” (“Driving eastward on the way home from the dermatologist, I hear myself singing carcinoma to the tune of My Sharona.”)
  • Self’s revisionist Biblical story “The Ark” (“There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time.”)
  • M. Leland Oroquieta’s “Postcard for Hong Kong” (“The fake blonde who doesn’t love me is in my Jag again, searching for peace and composure in the Prada bag I had bought her recently.”)
  • Leny Mendoza Strobel’s one-paragraph story “Erosion” (“The erosion of desire flows toward the ocean of Nothing.”)

Yeah, quite an array of styles there. One thing the pieces have in common is: they are all dark.

Here’s an excerpt from William Doreski’s poem “The Big Departure”:

The local hospital has collapsed
in a heap of yellow brick, crushing
the nurses with long painted nails

and the doctors who bought Porsches
to overcome midlife crises.
So I’ve come to the city where screams

linger in the jagged night air

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Half and Half 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, HALF AND HALF, is about “splitting” your canvas “into two.”

The prompt is about composition. Oh how self loves those kinds of prompts.

From The Daily Post:

This week, share an image that has two clear halves, literally or figuratively.

So, here’s what self came up with today:

2nd Floor, The Plough, off Great Russell Street, London

2nd Floor, The Plough, off Great Russell Street, London

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

So, this last picture, self wasn’t sure what she was trying to do here, but she definitely sees two sight lines, two visual planes: foreground and trees. She’ll just go ahead and post it:

Near the Start of The Narnia Trail in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland (C. S. Lewis loved Rostrevor!)

Near the Start of The Narnia Trail in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland (C. S. Lewis loved Rostrevor!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Live on Juked.com: Self’s “First Life”

The classroom of the future, according to self:

The first corollary: what is average is perfect.

Today I’m thick or something because thoughts are dark as dark.

I can hear Big arguing. He sits on Her’s other side. He’s telling Drinker, the formlessness. That’s what I mean.

Story’s live now on Juked.com.

Self does love these formless, voice-driven, futuristic imaginings that come more and more often since Ireland.

Maybe not such a surprise, for someone who adores Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.

Stay tuned.

Symbol 2: Irish Green

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is SYMBOL.

Today, self is taking a page from Susan Rushton, whose post shows a sweet little garden surrounded by a white picket fence in Colonial Williamsburg.

Gardens are little oases of serenity. A garden represents peace, calm, sanctuary. Here’s one:

This garden overlooks a canal: Dublin, July 2015

This garden overlooks a canal: Dublin, July 2015

And here’s another symbol: the green green green of an Irish summer in Annaghmakerrig:

The Lake at Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

The Lake at Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

And because self is so in love with the green here, here’s a shot of the woods in Annaghmakerrig:

Woods, Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

Woods, Annaghmakerrig, July 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” Issue: Sometimes a Great Notion

It’s Saturday evening in Ireland and somewhere in Dublin a priest who’s known self since she was a little girl is dying.

The priest’s house is big and cold and the church right beside is empty.

But this story isn’t over yet. It’s still waiting for an ending. Strange to think it was only a few short weeks ago when she and the priest were drinking beer over Chinese food because he was so happy to see self; he told her last year he’d be dead before she got back to Ireland. Well, she proved him wrong.

One day, she’ll have to write a story about the time he and a fellow priest drove her all the way to Annaghmakerrig and how she learned what the Gaelic words lir and kill and dun mean. The priests spent the drive teasing her about possibly running into a banshee, the crying ghost woman.

Here’s one story that is finished and that self doesn’t mind sharing with you: Mirri Glasson-Darling’s “True North,” which is one of the nine stories in Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” issue. The story is about the cold and about polar ice caps. Self doesn’t know why she, child of the tropics, born and raised in the Philippines, is so fascinated with cold climes. Sometimes she thinks the real reason she applied to Banff Writing Studio was that she began writing, last year, a story about polar bears.

In April, she went to Minneapolis for the AWP. At the Book Fair, she met Crab Orchard Review editor Allison Joseph. Here she is, Fierce and Fabulous:

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review (which included self's story in the West Coast & Beyond Issue), Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis.

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review, Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis

And here’s an excerpt from Mirri Glasson-Darling’s story, “True North”:

I am a twenty-seven-year-old Midwestern, Caucasian male, floating on an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

It must be understood that this is not just a suicide.

The eventual results will be the same, but I find my death more of an unfortunate side-effect; you don’t come to the end of the world in order to better understand yourself — you come to step off the edge. All across history you have explorers heading out blindly in one direction or another, driven by riches, isolation, or general madness. A search for direction and something which cannot be satisfied, even if you circled the world twice over.

Throwing in a picture of Lake Louise in snowy Alberta:

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Glasson-Darling’s story is as fierce and unflinching as the landscape. Self has no words.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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