Category Archives: Writing Blog

Toasty Bit #5

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This Toasty Bit comes from a blossoming writer named Laura Cataldi. She recently graduated from college with honors and is pursuing her master’s degree in the fall. Laura has faced more mountains in her young life than many of us combined. Kudos to you, Laura and thank you for your toasty bit of writing! -JK

One of my favorite quotes that floats around the internet goes something like this:

“Tell someone you love them today, because life is short, but SHOUT it at them in German, because life is also terrifying and confusing.”

While good for a laugh, I’ve come to realize that this quote also accurately sums up my experiences as a twenty-something. Perhaps one of the most frustrating and confusing things about being in my twenties has been the constant pressure to have my life figured out. Like everyone else, I was supposed to graduate high school knowing, without a doubt, what I wanted to do with my life. Advice from adults, however, was maddeningly contradictory. “Follow your dreams!” they said. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!” Then the realists stepped in. “Gotta pay your bills. Flipping burgers will help you do that. A Liberal Arts degree probably won’t.” (Whoops.)

So, in the spirit of takin’ care of business, I started working at grocery stores or in other retail settings, just to make ends meet while I clawed my way to a degree that I wasn’t even certain I wanted, all the while being bombarded with more expectations. I was supposed to be building my credit. I was supposed to budget my minimum wage paychecks into paying rent, utilities, and food and have enough left over to save up for a downpayment on my first house. Perhaps it was just the bludgeon that is my personal anxieties, but I felt like the more people around me succeeded, the less I was doing to successfully adult. Because that’s what it’s all about: adulting. You’ve seen the memes. “Cried but did the thing anyway.” “When I was sixteen, I wanted my freedom. Now I’m twenty-six, and I want my mom to make my doctor’s appointments and buy me groceries for my birthday.” Being a young adult today is both terrifying and confusing. I’m hoping that hitting the big 3-0 will bring about the miraculous truths of life, because so far they’ve eluded me, and unlike everything else, I can’t purchase a clue from Amazon.

“Youth is wasted on the young,” they say. I’m inclined to agree, but that’s only because nobody ever told me how to make the most of this time. Some of my peers have it figured out, but as for me, I’m still trying to figure out a healthy balance. Should I pick up extra shifts, or binge-watch more Netflix? A successful adult would pick Option A. I, however, am only three seasons into Grey’s Anatomy, so….

Laura Cataldi

Toasty Bits #4

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My thoughts, in these times of great international turmoil, center upon the almost half-birthday of Mark Twain. Why, you ask, would an almost-half birthday warrant deep thought, unless it involved celebratory dining? Because this was a man of great I don’t caredness. He did what he wanted without regard for how he was viewed by others, a lesson that would best be learned early in life. Unfortunately, most of us have to wait until the middle ages before we follow his lead and we waste much of our time in this odd state of limbo, not living in an authentic manner but doing our best to live to please others.

Some examples from Mr. Twain: 1. Before the age of thirteen, he nearly drowned 9 times. Some may call that stupidity, I say, he had a great aptitude for I don’t caredness before it became fashionable to fall from the sky, swipe right in a Starbucks, or eat things raw. 2. He wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, considered bawdy and inappropriate for the time. Whether or not it was a statement about racism, he clearly exhibited a whole lot of I don’t caredness in publishing this literary masterpiece. 3. He was almost as well-known for his cranky old man persona as he was for his many contributions to the literary world. No need to be redundant there.

So, in honor of a well-known, cranky, early leader in the I don’t caredness movement who probably would care less that his almost-half-birthday is being honored, here are a few of his very relative quotes:

 

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.” — Mark Twain in Eruption

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.” — Mark Twain in Eruption

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

“Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

“A lie can travel half- way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

Toasty Bits #3

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Today’s wonderful crunch comes from esteemed poet, Mary Strong Jackson. Mary’s unique perspective on the world gives her poetry a distinctive flair.  I’m very pleased to be able to share some of her work. Take it away, Mary:

 

Grandma Didn’t Die In the Corvair

 

grandmother

wrecked her Corvair

my mother sat on the edge

of a bed and cried

 

grandma didn’t die

she waited till her

black Irish brows grayed

after she’d wandered town

looking for tiny girls

she thought were lost

stopping at the man who sold cars

to inquire about the girls

 

he had no arms

but a finger grew from the place his arms

should be

a thalidomide baby    my grandmother said

and I imagined  thalidomide man

holding girls so tiny he curled one finger

around their waists and when he turned

his head he was eye to eye with them

and when he looked forward

they stared at the moles on his neck

and hoped he wouldn’t drop them

 

now Grandma seems like a dream

offering me gingersnaps

and workbooks to do while

my tonsils shrink

 

wait long enough and dead people

are dreams you can’t quite grasp

and only remember

when something in the day reminds

like someone says icebox instead of frig

 

and then your mother is old and dies

and you remember two women

getting old and then they die

though they once

ate brownies and tied their shoes

in the wind

 

Mary Strong Jackson’s work has appeared in journals and anthologies in the Unites states and England. Mary’s chapter books include, “ “The Never-Ending Poem by the Poets of Everything,” “Witnesses,” “No Buried Dogs,” “Between Door and Frame,” and “Clippings.”  More of her poetry and prose can be found at strongjacksonpoet.wordpress.com. Mary recently moved from the high desert of Santa Fe, NM to the vast green expanses of watery WisconsinMore of her poetry and prose can be found at strongjacksonpoet.wordpress.com.

Another Toasty Bit

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Time for another crunchy bit of writing goodness.

This week, we  host our first guest writer. Please give a warm round of space bar taps to…Michelle Rau. (Tap, tap tap.) Michelle is a fellow Pacific Northwest writer who can be followed on twitter: @mirautweets

Please enjoy Michelle’s croutons of written word…

The other day, I realized I’d “fallen off the wagon” as far as my diet and exercise efforts go. I wondered: If I were “on the wagon,” what would the name of my recovery program be? What would I be recovering from? I decided that “laziness” was a good enough (bad enough?) vice for purposes of idle speculation.

I decided that the 12 steps of my very small (as in 1 person) local chapter of “Sloths Anonymous” might look something like this.

  1. Admitted we were powerless over slothfulness — that our lives had become lazy. It was just so…easy.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves (a cattle prod, perhaps?) could restore us to normal activity levels.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the innate tendency for human beings to fidget, thereby participating in a minimum of physical activity.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our pantries and refrigerators.
  5. Admitted to ourselves, and to our Twitter followers, the exact nature of our overindulgences.
  6. Were entirely ready to have loved ones remove all potato chips from the snack drawer.
  7. Humbly asked for the strength to remove our shortcomings, and to donate the clothes that no longer fit even though we really like them. Especially the purple and black tights.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had deprived of the last chocolate chip cookie, and became willing to make pies for them all.
  9. Made pies for such people wherever possible, except when to do so would cause them to be slothful too.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were lazy, promptly admitted it and put the remote on the coffee table instead of leaving it in our laps so we have to stretch to change the program.
  11. Sought through reflection, journaling, and posting gym selfies on social media to improve our conscious contact with the above mentioned Innate Tendency, praying only for knowledge of the sports that will keep us most engaged and the power to choose comfortable sport socks without painful toe seams.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we share this message with Facebook friends and followers, and to practice these principles so we can eventually hit the ball before it bounces twice.

Toasty Bits

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Toasty Bits

Once a month, this blog will include a toasty little bit of writing. Like toasty bits of…well…toast, these will be short little croutons of writing to add crunch to your day.  This may include guest writers from all genres, information for writers, excerpts from my upcoming novels and maybe just something writing-adjacent. It is my passion and I want to share it with others. If you want to pick up a copy of my novella, The Something That Happened in Pepperville, please click here

This week, Toasty Bits begins with…

The masterful voice of Maya Angelou. While not all writing posts will focus on aging, her poetry sums it up the best:

On Aging – Poem by Maya Angelou

When you see me sitting quietly,
Like a sack left on the shelf,
Don’t think I need your chattering.
I’m listening to myself.
Hold! Stop! Don’t pity me!
Hold! Stop your sympathy!
Understanding if you got it,
Otherwise, I’ll do without it!
When my bones are stiff and aching,
And my feet won’t climb the stair,
I will only ask one favor:
Don’t bring me no rocking chair.
When you see me walking, stumbling,
Don’t study and get it wrong.
‘Cause tired don’t mean lazy
And every goodbye ain’t gone.
I’m the same person I was back then,
A little less hair, a little less chin,
A lot fewer lungs and much less wind.
But ain’t I lucky I can still breathe in.

Maya Angelou