Caffeine is Caffeine is Caffeine: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 11

Small sprouts have a lot
to teach stiffened trees about
bending in the rain
and loving the way
water collects on new leaves
to refract the sunlight after a storm.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toad's Tuesday Platform and Poets United 445.

The Liner Notes for this Groove:

It all started with a burst of caffeine. I know I asked my mother-law-for decaf. She swears she got me decaf. But about 16 years ago I knew a few things after I finished that coffee. A.) That was probably not decaf and B.) the expected jitters from said cup of coffee felt a lot more intense around my abdominal region, so even though it was a couple of weeks early I was fairly sure labor had started.

By dawn the next morning I was looking at my new-born kiddo, Rose. I suppose given her entrance into this world it shouldn’t surprise me that she’s become something of a caffeine enthusiast. So is she a coffee drinker like her dad or a tea drinker like her mom? I think Rose would most likely relate to the quote by Abraham Lincoln, “If this is coffee, please bring me tea; but if this is tea please bring me some coffee.” She cheerfully partakes of either as the whim takes her (she had one of each on the last day of being fifteen) because she sees no reason to place limits on enjoying things that make her happy.

As she’s making the transition from kid to very interesting young lady, she is vocal about expressing who she is, from her vivid and unabashedly geek chic clothes to her retro taste in music (on vinyl, if you please). And her joy is infectious. I wish I had felt confident enough to release my inner geek to run free in a frenzy of pixie-stix fueled glory. But seeing her happily embracing her quirkiness is the next best thing. Being her mom has taught me a lot about the magic that can happen when you are fully and authentically yourself, both as a writer and as a person.

I got a small print of this painting, AmanitaTea
when I ordered a larger one from Art by Lady Viktoria, 
and something about it just struck me as so Rose-like, I had to use it here.

So dear Groovers, what’s your preferred method of caffeine delivery? Or do you want to talk about a time when being authentically yourself made things interesting? Make your thoughts known about these questions or just catch me up on your week in the comments section. As always, you can drop a link to your cyber home if you want to elaborate on any comments you’ve left here.

Song Choice: The theme song from one of our favorite shows to watch together, One Day at a Time

From the Other Side of Armageddon: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 10

I’m so accustomed
to keeping my sword sheathed,
that its sharpness unsettles
even me.

This poem is linked to the Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform and Poets United Poetry Pantry 444.

Liner Notes for this Groove:

It’s been a rough week, Groovers. To be perfectly honest, I’m still reeling a bit from fallout after a heated political conversation with someone who (not to put too fine a point on it) frankly should have known better.

I’m aware that a lot of my surface persona (both on-line and in the physical world) is bubbly, sometimes thoughtful, but not obsessed with appearing too serious. One of my college nicknames was “Lil’ Bouncy One”. But people who have known me for a long time are fairly aware I have a bit of a stereotypical temper. I’m not nice when finally angered. If you’re lucky, I’ll just wash my hands of you and never let the thought of your existence bother my calm again. If not, I’ll scorch and salt the earth behind me while toasting marshmallows over the wreckage.

This last time though, has me thinking of the TV trope Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. It’s not that I didn’t mean what I said; I meant every word. And the anger I’ve had over the topic of the discussion has been building for a while. It’s that in the past I prided myself on keeping cool at times like that. I wanted to be someone who builds bridges, not burns them. But (like most people in the US) I’m more than a little tired and angry that I have to keep explaining that people outside your group (however you define it) are still human too.

As I unpack the feelings from the fallout, I’m finding that it’s providing fertile ground for a bunch of poems for my upcoming poetry collection, as well as for my prose writing. I suppose that doesn’t make me much different from other poets or authors. A lot of us work out some of those complicated feelings through our words, right? But I’m not sure I’d do things, well as intensely, if I had to do it again. I may not have started it, but I escalated a verbal Armageddon when I could have chosen differently. Neil Gaiman once famously wrote, “Honestly, if you're given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don't say 'what kind of tea?” It might have been better for both sides to have had the cuppa of their choice and thoughtfully engage afterwards.

So let’s talk Groovers. Have you ever had an instance when the words that came out of your mouth might've done hurtful things you didn't intend? Tell me about it in the comments or just talk to me about what’s new in your world. My cyber home is open for conversation. As always, if you’d like to continue the conversation in your own cyber home, bring that up in your comments and hit me with a link.

Pride, Procrastination, and Zombies: Blogging Around with Rommy Week 9

My fingers slow down
offering an alibi
to a fear-numbed mind,
until I feel the stories
between breaths freeing my hands.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform and Poets United's Poetry Pantry 443.

Liner Notes for This Groove: I’ve learned to expect its arrival. Sooner or later, no matter what project I might be working on, I get invaded by the Attack of the Creeping Doubts. No matter how often I think I bury them, they crawl out of their shallow graves and come in search of my brain. Not so much to eat it, but to nest in it, carve out a nice little space to live their putrid non-lives in.

I think I’ve made a tenuous peace with the fact they aren’t going lay permanently dormant. After 40 (closer to 50) years of this I know there’s a pattern to this that I can’t by-pass. All I can do is recognize the feelings when they come, stop denying they happen, then progress with whatever it is I’m working on.

When Sen Rikyu, the founder of the major tea schools of Japan was asked about the secret to making tea, this was his famous reply:

“Tea is not but this.
First you make the water boil,
Then infuse the tea.
Then you drink it properly.
That is all you need to know.”

The Zombies of Creeping Doubt are going to troop in and out of my life no matter what I do. But no matter where they are at the moment, I know what it means to be a writer. Pick up your implement of choice and start writing. That’s all there is to it.

by Magic Love Crow
Find more of her art on her blog and Etsy shop.

So dear Groovers, have you ever pushed forward with something when you were a little frightened? Tell me about it in the comments or just talk to me about what’s new in your world. My cyber home is open for conversation. As always, if you’d like to continue the conversation in your own cyber home, bring that up in your comments and hit me with a link.

The Quest for Gronk: Blogging Around with Rommy, week 8

Love’s work
sometimes requires adventures
you’d never dare take on your own.

This poem is linked to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads' Tuesday Platform and Poets United's Poetry Pantry 442.

Liner Notes for this Groove:

For anyone new to this blog, I ought to point out that there is high geekery ahead. You have been warned.

My husband and I cemented our college relationship with activities like dressing up in medieval garb and playing Dungeons and Dragons together. He was among the first DMs I had (that’s Dungeon Master to you non-geeks. Also that title has nothing to do with any sort of shades of gray, so get your mind out of the gutters🤣). A DM’s job is to create an overarching story/plot that acts as a framework for players to interact with. Being a DM not only requires a lot of creativity (to set up the details of the adventures – what places might they visit, what is the main situation the players have to deal with, who will they interact with in that situation and what are their motivations, etc.) but it also requires patience. Because as meticulously as they might set up their world, there’s always one giant variable – the players.

So on one of our recent morning walks my husband told me about his latest gaming craziness. It seems one of the player characters made some exceptionally terrible decisions and ended up in a hell dimension. My husband expected the rest of his party (the other people playing that particular game) to heroically sally forth and rescue their poor friend. The party took a vote and decided on, “Nah, we have better things to do.”

As you might imagine, the player trapped in the hell dimension was miffed at the lack of concern. He went onto a gaming website, describing his plight and got several people saying the plot sounded interesting enough that they’d be willing to save him if they were playing the game. My husband, who really did feel bad for the player as it was one of his oldest friends, also commented and said he’d be willing to run a side adventure if people we serious about saving the guy.

He got 40 responses (DM’s usually run 3-5 people per game. 10 is a lot). The end up is my social media hating husband now is in a Facebook group trying to herd 40 people he’s never met before through a system that is random enough when only a tenth of that amount plays. Well, 40 plus his one goofball friend who should have not messed with mystical items that are known for randomly dealing out catastrophic problems.

What keeps me from laughing too hard at my poor beloved’s plight is that I’ve often bit off more than I can chew with some of my interests. For instance, when my writing partner and I were poking sharp sticks at my latest writing idea, she pointed out that I will need to do no small amount of research to get things right. “Not a problem,” I told her. I love reading up on new topics. Well, my “To Read for Research” list is beginning to resemble starter hoard for a young dragon.

I foresee several afternoons with my husband and I sitting side by side with our laptops, healthy snacks placed between us (we’re old, we can’t pound back chips and soda like college kids anymore), sharing some of the highlights of what we’re currently working on and griping about these damn characters who have minds of their own. Fortunately for both us, we are both fond enough of our interests that we can handle it when they take us on odd tangents. James Boswell once wrote, “I am so fond of tea that I could write a whole dissertation on its virtues.” If he can manage a dissertation, I can do some reading on high renaissance weaponry and do a deep dive into steampunk. We’ll see how the husband manages a 40 person rescue crew. 

So dear Groovers, has what seemed like a simple decision ever led you to bite off more than you could (or should) chew? Or are any of you table top gamers out there? Tell me about a time the game went in a completely crazy direction. Or just talk to me about what’s new in your world. The comments section is open for conversation. As always, if you have a cyber home you want to continue the conversation in, talk to me about it in the comments and hit me with a link.

Diva's Second Act

It took three days for Ai to realize she was a prisoner not a guest. She spent the first day on the shelf trying to shake off the despondency of leaving her friends behind in the attic. What she wouldn’t give to hear Yoshi-kun describe how he lit up a spring festival again. Even Matsu-san’s stuffy war stories would have been welcome, though they always happened during a storm. But what else could one expect from a general’s umbrella?

The second was spent trying to hear any traces of grace in the insensate notes played by children on other instruments. Even the accomplished geisha Hatsuko was a novice once, Ai told herself as she observed them from behind her glass case.

A month later, she could bear it no longer. No one noticed her. No one would ever play her again. Ai swooned. Her neck clicked against her cell.

“What’s this?” Mrs. Tanaka said turning towards the back wall of the music studio.

“Would you believe it?” Trina said. She motioned towards the old shamisen. “I found it with other junk in a client’s attic. They said I could keep it. I thought it looked pretty good there.”

“Hmm,” Mrs. Tanaka said, touching the case. “No bachi. Still lovely though. May I take her out?”

“Sure,” Trina replied. “Even if you break it, it didn’t cost me a dime.”

Mrs. Tanaka reached in. She heard the soft sigh with the first pluck of the string. “How much do you want for her?”

Trina regretted saying she got it for free. She probably could have asked for more. Still, it was money she didn’t have before. She laughed as they shook hands. “You know, sometimes I think this thing is a bit of a diva. It’s always falling over.”

 You don’t know the half of it, Mrs. Tanaka thought, cradling the shami-shōrō.

Ai smiled.

Shamichouro-Kotofurunushi-Biwabokuboku illustration by Matt Meyer
curator of one of the most informative and beautiful sites devoted to yokai lore, 
as well as author of two amazing books, The Night Parade of  One Hundred Demons: a field guide to Japanese Yokai
and  The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits: an Encyclopedia of Mononoke and Magic.

Liner Notes for this Groove:

A shamisen is a traditional Japanese stringed instrument. A bachi is a flat, ice scraper shaped object used to play a shamisen. It's a little like a guitar pick in function. A shami-shōrō is a shamisen once owned by a virtuoso player that has attained sentience.

This short fiction was composed as a response for Magaly Guerrero’s prompt Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero:A Pantry of Prose over at Poets United. The poem it was based on was Lament of a Shami-Shoro.