Posted in Writing

Why I Ran Away From Home

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I love my home. I love my husband. I love my life. But two days ago, I took my dog and left it all behind.

Let me explain.

Teaching takes a lot out of you. Not only is it a lot of work, but it’s a lot of extroversion. You have to be ON all day, summoning patience and smiles and enthusiasm even when they don’t come naturally. On a good day, you get a conference period or two, during which you can bask in forty-six minutes of alone time (mostly spent checking emails or grading papers). But sometimes (like the past two weeks, for instance) practically every second of your conference time is taken up with meetings, which means you have to keep that patient, enthusiastic smile plastered on your face all day.

I love my job, but there are many days where I go home after work and just sit in a quiet room, alone, for half an hour. And often fall asleep. So, when spring break arrives, I’m not screaming, “LET’S PARTY!” and calling all the friends I haven’t seen in ages. Instead, I’m craving comfy clothes, quiet spaces, books, blankets, and tea.

All of which I have at home, which begs the question: Why did I run away?

Let me explain some more.

Writing puts a lot into you. Not only is it mental and emotional work, but it also opens the floodgates of creativity. I’m not good at compartmentalizing my writing. I’m not one of those writers who writes a chapter on her lunch break or gets to the doctor’s office a few minutes early and whips up a couple hundred words of a short story. I wish I could work that way, but I can’t. For me, it’s all or nothing. When I’m writing, I’m not doing anything else, and when I truly open my mind to the creative process, the ideas and inspirations start flowing in. While writing a chapter of my novel, I might also jot down notes for a story, or quickly pen a poem, or doodle a cartoon for my next blog post. My brain is everywhere all at once, and it can be very rewarding to get in to that zone, but there’s no room for laundry or alarm clocks or needy pets or schedules. I need time and lots of it, with no responsibilities except to the process. So, when holidays arrive, I often tell myself I’m going to finish those writing projects, but secretly I know that unread emails and unpaid bills and well-meaning friends and family will likely keep me from truly taking the dive.

And that’s why I ran away from home for spring break. To write and relax and be among people I don’t have to smile at or talk to. It’s temporary, but much needed.

Originally, I was going to take a solo journey, but then I remembered what happened at the Books With Bite Workshop. There, I was in a cabin by myself, but friendly faces were just a few yards away, and I knew the following morning we’d all have breakfast together, my absence noted if some dark thing dragged me away in the night. Since I generally prefer for dark things not to drag me away in the night, I decided to bring one responsibility with me—my faithful guard dog.

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He’s more fierce than he appears.

So here we are, at a cabin in an undisclosed location in the Hill Country. I’m reading and writing and walking and napping and basking in the sounds of nature (and the sounds of teenagers whose behavior I do not have to monitor). So far, I’ve finished two books, drafted one and a half blog posts, written two poems, added 1,000 words to a promising short story, and snuck up on my novel-in-progress to spy on it. (I’m planning my attack.) Uno’s stats are not quite as inspiring, although he has peed on an impressive number of trees and chewed on some fairly large sticks.

I think my favorite moment so far was the first evening of my stay, when Uno had finally stopped growling at every tiny noise, and I sat down to do a Tarot reading (as you do on the first night of an adventure). I was itching to get to writing, so I decided to do a simple three-card spread about my retreat, symbolizing what led me here, what will happen here, and how it will affect me. My Halloween cards never let me down, and they came through once again. The first card couldn’t have been more perfect.

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According to The Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee, the Two of Pumpkins (Two of Pentacles in the traditional deck) “signifies duality, or a struggle for balance. The masked jester balances on her tip-toes, weighing two jack-o-lanterns (lit and happy on one side, dark and sinister on the other) in her hands.” Yep. A balancing act, indeed. These three days away are all about me holding on to just one pumpkin for a change.

The rest of the reading was spot-on too, but I’m going to keep that bit of magic to myself.

Tomorrow Uno and I will go back home. A few days from now, I’ll go back to work for the last long stretch before the end of the school year. I’ll pack my patience and enthusiasm and extrovert self to take with me. And my smile? Well… I never truly put that away. 🙂

 

Posted in Writing

Hindsight

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I’m always excited when one of my weird little stories finds a home somewhere, so I was thrilled this Valentine’s Day, when my flash fiction piece “Hindsight” won 2nd Honorable Mention in The Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition and was published at The Ghost Story website.

If you’d like to read my traumatic little tale, click here. Then visit the contest home page to read the other two winning stories. I found “The Coal Mape” by Kurt Newton to be especially chilling.

Happy February, y’all!

Posted in Poetry, Writing

Morose Penguin Review, Issue One (and Done)

A Note From the Editor:

In the world of literary journals, it’s unheard of for every single submission to be worthy of publication, but that’s exactly what happened with Issue One (and Done) of the Morose Penguin Review. The pieces arrived for my perusal, and not once was I disappointed. (Unless I was supposed to be, in which case, I was, greatly.) The seven poems featured below were written with such dedication, such creativity, such utter moroseness, that I had no choice but to publish them all. I want to thank the poets for their contributions, the penguins for being such inspiring muses, and winter itself, for being so utterly morose.* May you find a little levity, a little light, and a little laughter from the following poems. And may the moroseness of February pass quickly.

Happy Reading,
Carie

* Please pay no attention to the fact that it is currently 65º in Austin, Texas. Trust me, the cedar allergies still make things seem quite morose.

Version 2
Bringing you gloomy poetry since 2018 (and never again, I promise)

Morose Penguin Review, Issue One (and Done)

Morose Penguins
by Emily Stubbe

Poor little penguins,
At the bottom of the Earth.
When you go south,
You also go north.

Bio: Emily is an avid reader of failed-polar-exploration non-fiction and does not discriminate based on the pole. She did not like the movie Happy Feet, but in general, has nothing against penguins.

sullen ill-tempered flightless seabird
by Brian Mahoney

white white endless snow
barren wasteland of nothing
worst part, I hate fish

Bio: Brian Mahoney lives in Texas against his will, held hostage by three Texas women. When he’s not writing poetry, which is literally 99% of the time, he enjoys talking to people, inventing perceived slights against his character, and wandering around the comic book shop.

Waiting
by Ashley B. Davis

An emperor on
a lonely throne, sharply dressed,
waiting for the one

Bio: Ashley B. Davis writes haikus about morose penguins at will. She also drinks coffee, reads, mothers twins, and blogs at www.ashleybdavis.com.

Aphorisms
by Diana Conces

it is always darkest just before dawn,
they say, but in winter it’s dark after dawn,
and not that bright at noon either.

birds of a feather flock together,
they say, but body heat brings body smells,
and none of us has bathed since summer.

grin and bear it,
they say. I may have to bear it,
but I refuse to grin about it.

it’s an ill wind that blows no good,
they say, and I agree–it’s a pretty ill wind.
I’m still waiting on the good.

no penguin is an island,
they say. I wish. I wish I was an island,
a tropical one, with plenty of fish.

this too shall pass,
they say. It had better pass soon,
or I may stab them with an icicle.

Bio: Diana L. Conces is a native Texan whose poetry has appeared in numerous print and online publications, a newspaper, and a city bus. She has a blog (https://dianalconces.blogspot.com/) and enjoys jewelry making, knitting, embroidering poetry onto fabric, and various crafty things she has been lured into by Pinterest.

Morose Penguin
by Pat Kinder

Morose Penguin, huh?
Antarctican egg cradling
Probably caused it…

Bio: Pat Kinder is a long-time consumer of chips and salsa who resides in Flower Mound, Texas, with his wife and son and daughter. He enjoys baseball, camping, and reading his sister’s blog in his spare time.

Haiku
by Claire Vogel Camargo

aimless penguin
his courtship calls unanswered
no egg to care for

Bio: Claire Vogel Camargo, author of IRIS OPENING, an ekphrastic collection, has poems in a number of journals and anthologies, a few award-winning. She lives with her husband and Great Dane.

All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go
by Carie Juettner

Dressing is depressing
when all you have is evening wear,
especially on a continent where
icebergs are plenty
and formal parties few,
and you’re more likely to encounter
a killer whale
than a candlelit dinner for two.
I try not to get my feathers ruffled
over my limited choice of attire,
but it’s hard not to feel bleak
when icicles hang from your beak,
and there’s no Oscars invite in the mail,
and you’re dressed up in black tie and tails.

Bio: Carie Juettner is a teacher, poet, blogger, and the editor of the Morose Penguin Review. She owns no evening wear, but she does have a necklace with a penguin on it.

***

Thank you for reading the Morose Penguin Review.
Have a lovely day.