Z is for Ba-ZINGA! Thank goodness for Sheldon who popularized this expression. It is the perfect statement of personal triumph. I finished the A to Z Blogging Challenge and overcame a writer’s block! Ba-ZINGA that, you Inner Critic!
In January, I was in the middle of a writer’s block so I started working through a creativity recovery program. I did not finish the program because I realized a few things about myself as a writer:
First, I am not a novelist. I am a blogger who likes to write short essays and fiction. Second, I need an audience, and plugging along by myself on some novel that probably will never be published is a stupid waste of time. Third, I will not make a living as a writer, so I cannot give up the day job.
These considerations I embraced and now I feel free to write to my heart’s content and spread it out in the blogosphere.
Thank you for joining me on this semi-autobiographical Wandering Journey through so many unrelated topics. Someone commented that striving to be a polymath is an ambitious goal. It was never about that. It was about the journey. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
One more thing before I close this project: Z is also for “zzzzzzzz.” That is the sound I am now going to take for the next month or so as I take a little break.
“Yawp” is one of those old words that does not come up in everyday conversation. It means “to cry out” in a loud voice, and is akin to the more modern word “yelp.” Walt Whitman used the word in his poem Song of Myself:
“I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable; I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” (Verse 52)
Sometimes we all need to act a little untamed so that our true selves can burst forth with a mighty “yawp!” When we break through creativity happens.
This “crying out” is illustrated in my favorite scene in one of my favorite movies
Xochitl is a girl’s name and means “flower” in the Nahuatl language. Nahuatl is one of the indigenous languages of central Mexico and is spoken today by about 1.5 million people.
The name Xochitl is a bit uncommon, but there are plenty of other words in Nahuatl that we frequently use: chili, chipotle, avocado, Aztec, tomato, jicama, chocolate, guacamole, coyote, mescal, and tequila.
I know I’m weird, but I enjoy studying the etymology of strange words that make their way into English. Actually, what is English really but a conglomeration of words from other languages? The breakdown of English is: 29% French, 28% Latin, 24% Anglo-Saxon/Germanic/Old Norse, and the rest from other languages around Europe. Less than 1% come from outside of Europe right now.
As we become a more global society, it is fascinating to watch words from non-European cultures entering the language.
I have an interest in the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692 because I had direct ancestors who live in that town at that time.* As a result, I have done a lot of reading on the topic.
Aside from the genealogical connection, another reason I am intrigued with this historical event, and similar ones throughout the middle ages, is the question of why a certain segment of a population was so stigmatized that it resulted in executions or imprisonment. From what I have read on the subject there are many things that those accused had in common: most were single middle-aged women, were low on the social ladder, and had sharp wits and even sharper tongues. And it did not matter if they might have been upright in their behavior and even helpful to their communities (quite a few were healers and herbalists). There was something about such women that so disturbed the dominant strata of a community that they had to be removed.
Of course we know that the age of persecuting women who behave outside the box is not over, and that such persecution is no longer aimed at marginalized women. Today powerful, mainstream women in the public eye are vilified when the speak out. So powerful are their words that some have become rallying cries. For example: “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
And not just older women are being persecuted. Young girls are shot and left to die or are kidnapped and sold into bondage simply because they want an education for themselves and other girls.
Women are sexually assaulted every day all over the world. Powerful men, even some who have finagled supreme positions of leadership, have boasted of their part in such assaults.
No, the age of persecution is not over. Will it ever be?
*I am pleased to say that in an act of defiance against the prevailing powers-that-were one of my ancestors stood up in defense of the Salem accused.
I came across a definition for the word “vintage” that appeals to me. It went something like this: vintage is anything that is too old to be modern and to new to be antique.
That’s how I feel sometimes. I don’t think I am old yet, but I am sure as heck not young. At one point a few years ago, I was a little ambivalent on the whole aging thing. So on a significant birthday, I signed up for belly dance courses just to feel young again. No, it didn’t really work. Then, ten years later on another milestone birthday I decided to embrace my inner crone and let my dyed hair grow out silver. I got a lot of grief for that, especially from a lot of other women with dyed hair.
But “vintage”…. that’s the ticket: classy, useful, elegant, good lines and form (well, maybe for cars– but still..)
Yes, I will call myself “vintage” because I am still young enough to experience life but old enough to know how to handle it.
I am unequivocably an “earth woman”. I like my feet planted flat on the ground and I don’t get too upset when it quakes and trembles under me.
However, I do have an intense fascination with the sea. I have never lived far from it and I wonder if I would be happy if I ever had to move away. And as much as I have an interest in the heavens and the exploration of outer space; I think there is much to be said about the exploration of “under space”, the vast void beneath the surface of the sea. We may speculate about life on other worlds, but if there is any new life to be found on this planet, it will be under the sea.
What follows is a series of photographs that I have taken over the years of “under space”. No, I am not a diver. These were taken at an aquarium. Like I said, I am just an “earth woman” — with a deep appreciation of the sea.
Tea was meant to be slowly sipped and savored, unlike coffee which is usually grabbed on the run and chug-a-lugged in a hurry so that its rocket fuel qualities can ignite your day.
Tea is a gentle, quiet beverage. Maybe that’s why Teas are at the end of the day, so that the drinker can relax and unwind. The way tea is made is a slow affair. Done correctly, you need to bring the water to a boil, pour it over the loose leaves, and let the leaves steep for several minutes. You cannot help but chill out while you wait.
Since you are required to slow down to make a cuppa, you might as well make an art form out of it. Oh, wait, that’s already been done:
There is only a small handful of books that I would call my absolute favorites, books that I have read several times because I enjoyed them so much. One of those books in that group is The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.
It is not a complicated story. A motherless fourteen year old white girl named Lily runs away from her abusive father and takes refuge in the home of three African-American sisters. The oldest sister, August, keeps bees and sells their honey under the label of The Black Madonna. Lily learns the art of bee-keeping while healing from her deep psychic wounds.
One critical reviewer at Goodreads wrote that the novel is riddled with cliches. Maybe. But what keeps drawing me back to the story, the reason why I have worn out my hard copy and now have it on my e-reader, is that it glows with vibrant themes such as empowerment, personal strength, healing, the divine feminine, and most especially the survival of love in a hate-filled world.
My favorite line is when August says to Lily, “Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved.”
Many years ago when I was studying art in school, a teacher at the time walked by my easel as I was working and said something to the effect, “You have such a painterly style.” I thought she just meant that I was applying paint like I was slopping it on a bedroom wall..
Renoir’s “Dance at Bougival”
Yes, that’s pretty much my style.
Not surprisingly I have spent quite a bit of time studying the paintings of the Impressionists who were masters at the “painterly” style. The classical way of learning the fine arts was by copying the work of the old masters. When it comes to landscapes, I imitate Claude Monet; but when it comes to figures, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is my man.
Renoir was a master at using light, color, form, and just a touch of line to capture figures in a moment of time doing ordinary activities.
I just love his work. I hope my work does him justice.
I have a lot for which to be thankful to Edgar Allan Poe and my fifth grade teacher, Miss Mariness.
First, Miss M. taught us how to scan and analyze poems, and she used Poe’s The Raven the accomplish this. Besides learning how to scan a poem for meter, we learned some very cool words: quaff and nepenthe, Plutonian, pallid, Pallas and many more. Second, after studying this poem, we were required by Miss M to memorize parts of it. I was able at one time to recite long passages of this poem– today I can manage the first two verses from memory. That’s big considering that my memory is not what it used to be. 🙂
However, Poe’s literary legacy is more than just giving school-aged kids some weird vocabulary words to toss around the playground. Poe has been regarded as the creator of the modern short story. He is also the architect of the genres of horror, science fiction, and detective fiction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle directly credits Edgar Allan Poe with his creation of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Would there be a Stephen King and a Ray Bradbury if it were not for Poe? Most likely not. Since the short stories I have written typically fall into one of these genres, I have much for which to thank Poe.