A dose of delicious poetry for your day: Bukowski

Next month is National Poetry Month, and I had the chance to talk with one of our English profs yesterday about poetry. (Working in marketing for a community college, one of my duties is to contribute to our quarterly College magazine. I love it.)

It was a short interview, and when I left, she said one of the best things a journalist can hear: “Well, that was fun!” We talked about poetry–specifically, what are some tips to make poetry interesting for those who don’t read it?

One suggestion: Start with contemporary poets and then work into the oldies. She name-dropped Charles Bukowski, one of my favorites, which made me go off in search of some good Bukowski to perhaps sample in the story.

If you’ve ever read Bukowski, you know he is probably not the most … we’ll say “appropriate” material for a College magazine. (Part of why I love him.) But in my Bukowski reading, I stumbled across a poem that made me tear up with happy. And luckily, I don’t have to worry about offending anyone here, in my space. (One of the best reasons to keep a personal blog.)

(The bolding is my own, just to share my favorite portions.)

cows in Art Class

good weather
is like
good women–
it doesn’t always happen
and when it does
it doesn’t
always last.
man is
more stable:
if he’s bad
there’s more chance
he’ll stay that way,
or if he’s good
he might hang
on,
but a woman
is changed
by
children
age
diet
conversation
sex
the moon
the absence or
presence of sun
or good times.
a woman must be nursed
into subsistence
by love
here a man can become
stronger
by being hated.

I am drinking tonight in Spangler’s Bar
and I remember the cows
I once painted in Art class
and they looked good
they looked better than anything
in here. I am drinking in Spangler’s Bar
wondering which to love and which
to hate, but the rules are gone:
I love and hate only
myself–
they stand outside me
like an orange dropped from the table
and rolling away; it’s what I’ve got to
decide:
kill myself or
love myself?
which is the treason?
where’s the information
coming from?

books . . . like broken glass:
I w’dn’t wipe my ass with ’em
yet, it’s getting
darker, see?

(we drink here and speak to
each other and
seem knowing.)

buy the cow with the biggest
tits
buy the cow with the biggest
rump.

present arms.

the bartender slides me a beer
it runs down the bar
like an Olympic sprinter
and the pair of pliers that is my hand
stops it, lifts it,
golden piss of dull temptation,
I drink and
stand there
the weather bad for cows
but my brush is ready
to stroke up
the green grass straw eye
sadness takes me all over
and I drink the beer straight down
order a shot
fast
to give me the guts and the love to
go
on.

The joy of saying ‘no’

Last week, the fabulous Liz Gilbert posted a little something about saying “no” on her Facebook page. She wrote about how difficult it was to say “no” to people, that she feared her group of friends would grow smaller as people became upset “because they were angry and hurt that they were no longer getting everything they wanted from (her).”

Turns out, her circle did grow smaller, but those who stayed became her most trusted, dearest friends.

I shared the post because it spoke to me, as so much of what she writes does. Because while I may get a little nag in my guts when I tell someone “no,” I will do it anyway if that’s what I want. I am a happier person when I am doing the tasks that I want to do. And when I am over-worked and -stressed with too much on my plate? I am a less happy person–and I do a crappier job on my commitments.

Seems like a no-brainer to keep my to-do list full of items I actually want to do.

This, apparently, is not a common belief.

Many of the comments on the post I shared were about how women–never men, in this instance–all but had to train themselves to say “no”:

  • It didn’t come naturally to a cousin, but she worked at it.
  • An acquaintance received coaching about how to make ridiculous requests to hear people say “no”–and, surprisingly, 80 percent of her “unreasonable” requests were granted anyway.
  • A friend shared that as she entered her 40s, it became easier. With age, wisdom, I suppose.
  • A college friend went a little further, explaining that it’s more than saying “no,” but getting used to not explaining one’s answer. “Every time I feel guilty about saying no,” she wrote, “I remind myself of this literary lesson: ‘The giving tree died – and you are not a tree. Trees are forever rooted in one place … and you have places to go.'” Brilliant.

For me, developing the will–ability? desire? cajones?–to say “no” came out of my high school and early college years. I was always and forever the “nice” friend. I was a fantastic listener who would do anything for anyone, a trait that often results in getting walked on. I’d go along with the crowd, happily doing whatever everyone else wanted to do.

Things changed the second semester of my senior year of college. I had very few credits to take, as I’d packed my early years with gobs of classes. I found myself ready to graduate and leave this faux adulthood that life thrusts upon those 18-year-olds who opt for a four-year, on-campus university experience, and I realized: I wanted to do everything exactly as I wanted to do it for those final months.

So I went out, virtually every night. Not to get shit-faced or stay out until 4 a.m.–I was never much of a partier–but to spend time with these friends I knew I’d never see again. I went out because I knew what my dorm looked like all too well (yes, dorm–I lived on campus all four years of college). I went out because I was recently out of a relationship so serious that, had I hung on a little longer, he would have given me the ring he’d bought (ACK). I went out because I had some college’ing to catch up on.

During that time, I lost one of my closest friends because I was being “selfish,” “naive,” and “full of myself,” opting to enjoy my final months in the city I would soon leave forever instead of staying in every night. I wasn’t sorry then, and I’m even less sorry now.

Over the decade or so since, no one would ever make the mistake of calling me “too nice.” I’m much too blunt for that. I can sugar coat like a champ, but I operate under a simple assumption: We are all adults, and I owe you nothing. Unless “you” are my husband, my parents or brother, or on the short list of my bffs.

Life is entirely too short to fill my days with things I don’t want to do, and I am much more fulfilled when my life is peppered with things that bring me joy: people I love, writing projects, jewelry, The Walking Dead, and more, and more, and more. With this worldview comes a beautiful confidence; I saw a HONY comment yesterday that put it perfectly: “I used to walk into a room and wonder, ‘Will they like me?’ Now I walk in and wonder, ‘Will I like them?'”

Today, saying “no” looks very different than it did in my college years. It’s less “I’m not going to stay home because I want to go out and DO ALL THE THINGS” and more “Go ahead without me. I’ll stay home in my pj’s with ‘A Storm of Swords’ and two fingers of whiskey.” It’s less friends calling me names behind my back because I go out too much and more understanding who are the ones who actually seem to want to spend time with me. It’s looking at the people who have brought me grief in my life and feeling at peace with letting them go, and it’s looking at those who are toxic in their guts and refusing to debase myself similarly.

To paraphrase Ms. Gilbert, go ahead and practice using the word “no.” Understand how to say it, and don’t give a shit. Know what’s up. Be powerful, and be free.

Myrtle, who knows what’s up. (Click on pic to visit Gilbert’s post.)

All about aquamarines, March’s birthstone

March’s birthstone has a soft, sweet hue: aquamarine. Most aquamarine stones are a very light blue, though they can range to a deeper tone.

Mythology

Aquamarine’s mythology relates primarily to romantic love and sea safety.

According to ancient Roman mythology, aquamarines absorb the atmosphere of young love. They were once considered the best gift from a groom to his bride after the marriage was consummated. In Medieval times, the stone was said to reawaken the love of married couples.

Greek and Romans called the stone the sailor’s gem, as it was said to bring safe and prosperous passage across rough waters. It was also said to make soldiers invincible.

Source: Jewels for Me

How to wear it

Due to its light color, aquamarine is a perfect addition to for spring fashions. I find it most beautiful in silver or white gold settings. Pair the stone with denim or a sun dress for a subtle bit of sparkle and color.

collage1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Happy birthday, March babies! If you want to find yourself a sweet birthday treat or have a March-born bestie, check out Jac & Elsie’s customizable options, where you can easily add an aquamarine-colored birthstone to most charm necklaces. I recommend the Full of Awesome set and the zodiac charm necklace.

 

 

30 things to do before my next birthday. Which is in two months.

I’m taking another prompt from Journaling Sage over on Instagram:

List 30 things you want to do before your next birthday.

My next birthday is less than two months away. It definitely puts some parameters on my list of 30 things to do, making them perhaps a little more fun, a little less serious, than they might be if I had a year to cover everything.

Without further ado:

    1. Finish the book I’m reading. I started “A Storm of Swords” Saturday, and it’s 1,177 pages.
    2. Get another 10,000 words finished in my manuscript.
    3. Go to yoga at least three times a week, each week.
    4. My awesome friends like to send me photos of Donald when they see him (thanks, Christy!) Look at him, arms wide open, calling to me!

      My awesome friends like to send me photos of Donald when they see him (thanks, Christy!) Look at him, arms wide open, calling to me!

    5. GO TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER. (I’ll be in Orlando for my bday. All together now: AHHH!)
    6. Meet Donald Duck.
    7. Pick a weekend day and spend 24 hours in my pajamas.
    8. Watch both Kill Bill movies, back to back.
    9. Make something for dinner that I’ve never made before.
    10. Make something ELSE for dinner that I’ve never made before. (That’s two new dinners.)
    11. Dye my hair black.
    12. Take my laptop to Florida and spend a day writing on the balcony of our hotel. (OK, this might happen a few days after my birthday, but whatever–close enough.)
    13. Jump in the Atlantic. (See parenthetical above.)
    14. Subscribe to “The New Yorker.”
    15. Mail the few Christmas gifts I still haven’t yet sent to my friends. (Whoops.)
    16. Purchase nothing for myself online. Nothing. (Unless they’re tickets to things in Orlando.)
    17. Post at least six new listings in Jac & Elsie.
    18. Rearrange my living room to fit the new TV.
    19. Print out eight favorite photos for wall collage behind the new TV.
    20. Throw out half of my makeup. Offer the makeup I no longer want to friends, and then throw out the rest. (I have A LOT of crap I never use.)
    21. Clean up the spare room so it’s a spare room again and not my giant closet.
    22. Spend a week without my phone. (This may be tough, but I really want to leave my phone at home when I go to Orlando.)
    23. Find a new favorite blog or two to add to my roster. (Taking suggestions! I like slice-of-life blogs best.)
    24. Get my tax stuff together. (This isn’t so much a “want” to do as a “must” do.)
    25. Go to a solo matinee.
    26. See some form of live entertainment.
    27. Send a donation to Easter Seals Arc. (You should, too.)
    28. Have a writers’ retreat.
    29. Finish two personal essays currently in the first draft stage.
    30. Properly sift through Netflix, which we just started subscribing to.
    31. Start a travel journal. (I really like Journaling Sage’s idea of using it more of a spot for ticket collection, though I would like to go backward and at least list the dates and locations of previous travels.)

The best-dressed from the 2015 Academy Awards

The best part of any awards show: The morning-after photos. Vulture has one of the most in-depth slide shows (thanks, Vulture!). Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Except Emma Stone. Who is the best, at everything, always. You don’t see a lot of chartreuse in life, but this color is stunning on her. Gorgeous texture and fit, almost demure. She’s Hollywood perfection. (Click on the pics for more.) 

Eddie Redmayne: I love a beautiful colored tux, and those black silk lapels are gorgeous.

Steve Carell: The facial hair and glasses and traditional tux: So handsome

Keira Knightly: How romantic! I suspect this is one of the night’s polarizing looks, but I love the handwriting and floral design. The soft waves in her hair complete an ethereal look.

Nicole Kidman: Kind of funky for an event as glamorous as the Oscars, but she completely rocks it. Chartreuse again? Is this a thing?

Laura Dern: Ohhhhh, that metallic texture and color is amazing. Very punk rock princess. The necklace might be a bit overkill, but I appreciate the risk.

Georgina Chapman: Gaudy and over-the-top–but so, so beautiful and daring. I love everything about this, down to the slicked back and simple ‘do to offset the busy dress.

If Keira is my favorite, Katie Cassidy takes my silver metal. This fine lace looks tattooed on her skin, in the best way possible. The lace is gorgeous, a mixture of old tyme and modern. It’s different enough in tone from her skin that she doesn’t look naked, but it’s close enough for a lovely monotone kind of look.

 

Honorable mentions:

(Clockwise from top left) Lupita Nyong’o can do no wrong when it comes to awards show fashions. She always looks so effortless and comfortable and glamorous * The beautiful bold jewel-tone of this dress makes Scarlett Johansson stand out. I don’t adore the fit around her chest, but I do adore the gown’s necklace. It’s ballsy to match jewelry so closely to a dress, but the fact that it puzzles with her neckline makes it appear to be part of the dress * Zoe Saldana is va-va voom and beautiful. I love the simple adornments and soft hair. Lovely and sexy. * So pretty. Gwyneth Paltrow‘s gown is proof that fit is more important than anything. It’s a glove on her body, and it even makes the weird single sleeve and floppity shoulder flower sweet and interesting. The earrings kill it a bit for me, though. I don’t mind the red and pink mix, but her dress is so simple and modern, and the earrings are gaudy and costumey by comparison. * Rosamund Pike: That color! That slit! That texture!J.K. Simmons looks positively dapper, and did you note his pocket square matching Michelle Schumacher‘s gown? The pattern on her dress is so interesting, the color is gorgeous, and the fit is fantastic.

I’m not one for worst-dressed lists because they’re mean. But … just this once … Lorelei Linklater. The pattern screams “homecoming dance,” but the slit to her chachi screams “pole dance.” Maybe if it fit better, it’d be less yuck? The dress is pulling around her midsection, so it is simultaneously too tight around her hips and too loose in her belly.

And through it all, I’m still waiting for a dress to come close to my favorite awards show fashion of all time: Lucy Liu at the 2013 Golden Globes.

Who wore your favorite gowns and tuxes?

Why whiskey is better

At some point as a girl, I started to develop my idea of what being a woman meant. If I were to make an idea board of all the ideals I associated with femininity, front and center would be a photo of my cousin Tressa and her mom, my aunt Annie.

In the photo, taken at (I think?) a cousin’s wedding I was unable to attend, Tressa is front and center with a big stogie in her mouth. Her head is cocked to the side, and her mom has the kind of expression on her face that scolds, “Tressa!!” My aunt is caught mid-laugh, making the joy on the two women’s faces completely unposed and perfect.

Without my realizing it then, that photo planted a tiny mustard seed in my brain, assuring I would work to become the kind of woman who enjoyed cigars and all their accouterments–buttery soft brown leather chairs in old libraries, cozy Granddad sweaters, whiskey.

On a recent Friday night, my husband visited his fam and I opted for a quiet evening in. At one point in the night, I texted him a peak into my evening: fashion mag, the beautiful "The Last American Man" by Liz Gilbert, and Laphroaig.

On a recent Friday, my husband visited his fam and I opted to stay home. At one point, I texted him a peak into my evening: fashion mag, the beautiful “The Last American Man” by Liz Gilbert, and Laphroaig. Just looking at this pic makes me cozy.

Fast forward about a decade. I am at a whiskey tasting at a local liquor store with my not-yet-husband, double dating with his oldest friends. At the time, I found whiskey strong and disgusting, a taste to cover with the sweetness of Coca-Cola. I am happy to be in attendance because, I’m curious: Does “the good stuff” (read: the bottles that cost more than $20 a pop) really taste better? Does whiskey that has been barrel-aged for 12 years taste that much different from the crappy Jack I’m familiar with?

The short answer: Holy mother of God, they’re not even the same drinks.

During the tasting, I learned the difference between whiskey, scotch, and bourbon (there are more distinctions*, but the basic one is geography: Scotch is from Scotland, and bourbon is from Kentucky). I also learned that I am by and large a scotch fan. I learned that what makes scotch taste so much better than the other two liquors in its family is the fact that Scotland is an island, and the barrels that are aged in the country are whipped by the surrounding geographical elements.

Take Laphroaig, my scotch of choice (which I discovered at the aforementioned tasting). The distinctive taste in Laphroaig (say luh-FROYG) is that of peat. In laymen terms, it tastes like a bonfire smells: smokey and woodsy, as a result of the peat moss on Islay, the Scottish island where Laphroaig is made. Everything from the wind to the salt water in the air affects the taste.

This week, I’ve puffed my chest out a little more for being a whiskey-drinking woman, thanks to some stories floating around the web: Elite Daily’s 10 Reasons Why You Should Always Go For The Girl Who Drinks Whiskey and HuffPo’s (albeit, completely corny) For The Girls Who Drink Whiskey.

I’m not sure how much my choice of alcohol makes me a woman who

“(K)nows that none of us fit in these neat little boxes. She’d never pigeonhole other women–or men, for that matter. She knows that each of us are infinitely full of gorgeous nooks and crannies waiting to be explored, and that the people who are willing to brave our fire in order to enjoy our warmth are the ones worth keeping in our lives(,)”

(Seriously, that HuffPo piece is covered in cheese) … But my preference does say certain things about me, some of which are pointed to in the above articles:

  • You don’t discover a drink like Laphroaig–or a good enough liquor that would make you bitchslap anyone who tried to taint it with soda–without being excited to new things.
  • You dig being the “the only chick” in certain situations. For whatever reason, whiskey is undeniably a masculine drink. That makes me feel especially badass to be sipping two fingers of it from my cut crystal lowball glass.
  • I prefer a lowkey Friday night to one filled with people. Good whiskey is meant to be sipped in front of a fire with a book or a boy, not chugged with your college buddies.

Not to get too J.K. Rowling on you, but I fully believe we can form ourselves into the person we want to be. Certain traits are inherent and unavoidable (do what you will with me, but I will always want to give $50 to any homeless person I see, even though my brain will try to logic me out of it). But it’s our choices that ultimately make us us.

And I want to be the kind of gal who appreciates a good cigar and and a better whiskey.

* Want a little more in-depth info about the difference among scotch, whiskey, and bourbon? Mental Floss has a great overview.

Three ways to nourish my soul tonight

Last night, I slept for crap. I watched #SNL40 until 11:30 p.m. (Fallon and Sanz, love) and went to bed. Around 12:45 a.m., I migrated to the couch because, sometimes, a change of scenery helps me sleep.

But not last night.

At 1:30 a.m., I went back to bed and fell asleep around 2 or so. I woke up two or three times throughout the night.

I have no idea why I wasn’t tired. My eyes didn’t burn, my body didn’t sing that blessed song of slumber it usually does when I wiggle between the sheets. Sleep was instead a blasted toddler running away from me in a department store and hiding in the middle of a circular rack of clothing. (Or was that just toddler Jac?)

As a result of my shitty night’s sleep, a prompt from Journaling Sage on Instagram especially spoke to my gritty eyeballs this morning:

List 3 things you can do this evening to nourish your soul.

I’ve been thinking of those three things in the back of my mind all day. I can:

  1. Go to yoga after work. I tried it out about a month ago and seem to still be going. I look forward to it, which is unusual for me and physical activity. I like that my brain can shut off, and I like the peace I feel. The only concern on my mind becomes, “Don’t fall down … Don’t force this stretch and throw out your back … Am I doing this right?”
  2. Go to bed early. Let’s be real: I’m going to watch Better Call Saul at 10 p.m., so it can’t be that early. But maybe I can unwind a bit beforehand with …
  3. … a book. If I can be all showered and washed up by 9, I can spend an hour with “Life After God” and my Snuggie before Saul.

What three soul nourishing things can you do tonight? Based on the responses to the Instagram post, I see lots of reading, some writing, some meditation about the good things of the day–and at least one cup of tea.