smash book page, including poem.if i were a princess
high above the sea,
would you be my knight
and rescue me?

if i were a mermaid
in the ocean blue,
would you stand on shore
and sing me to you?

if i were a bird
in the sky so true,
would you use a wish
and grow wings, too?

if i were a dragon
thirsting for blood,
would you stay your sword
and teach me to love?

if i were these things,
would it still be true
that you love me
and i love you?


The Bibliophile

I’m a gal who loves her books. So much so that I can’t seem to get enough of them. My fondest wish has always been to have my own, private library. A room lined with shelves and stacked floor-to-ceiling with books. Books upon books upon books. I picture them in my mind’s eye: stacked neatly upon the shelves, arranged according to their sizes … or, maybe, according to the author’s last name. Perhaps there would be so many that they would tumble down off the shelves to sit upon the floor in madcap piles. There would be special hanging files for holding my anime cels, of course, so that they would be close at hand and, yet, still protected from light and temperature fluctuations. And I would find myself in my own version of bibliophile heaven, surrounded by my favorite things. In my imagination, it’s such a wonderfully magnificent room that I feel I might never have to leave it.

In some ways, I suppose I’ve achieved my dream already — at least in a small sort of way. Our home office has, over the years, become more and more my sole domain. My favorite types of art hang on the walls, which are painted my favorite shade of blue. My computers are here. And, yes, my books, too — every wall lined with shelves that stretch from floor to ceiling. There are even extra shelves behind the door!

Whereas the library of my dreams is expansive and massive, my current arrangement is better described as “cosy”. Like all the rooms in our townhouse, it’s small. And it is crammed to the rafters with stuff. There is never enough shelf space to go around, and it seems my book collection continues to grow, almost like it has a life of its own. My shelves are not arranged neatly by size or author or any other method known to man. I like to think of it as more of an organic situation. What this really means is that I’ve crammed and stacked and shoved books into every available nook and cranny of shelf space. My shelves are wide, so books are stacked two and, sometimes, three deep in places. Whenever I want a specific item, I have to dig around for it. Just about the only things I have managed to recreate from my dreamscape library are the stacks of books piled on the floor.

Book Shelves SketchIt’s a ramshackle, cluttered, somewhat ridiculous arrangement. In short, it’s a Hot Mess — like so many other things in my life. Sometimes, I think this office room becomes more and more a reflection of my own jumbled mind and desires. Is this a good thing or a bad one? I’m not at all sure.

I used to love watching design shows on TV. They’re great fun, and often a source of wonderful ideas for projects. But the one thing I could never agree with was how the designers always said one should either remove book dust jackets or cover them all with the same color of paper. And, of course, a person should never, ever display paperback novels. Apparently, the colors are too garish, the designs are too busy, and they clash too much. I can understand this. It makes sense. Book jackets are garish and overly colorful, and they don’t really go with anything. It’s impossible to create a uniform, calm appearance in a room’s decor with these little beauties popping up all over the place.

But, for me, this could never be an option. I love my books in all their garish gorgeousness. I love the bumble and clash of the cover designs and colors. Seeing them all together on the shelves — hardback and paperback — gives me a little thrill of joy. Books I have yet to read entice me with the promise of unknown adventures and worlds. They whisper to me of people I have yet to meet, but who can, possibly, become some of my favorite friends. And old favorites, stacked side-by-side, call to me, offering reminders of beloved times and places — journeys I have taken and treasured, times when I have managed to escape the mundanity of my daily life, and characters who, I know, will welcome me along for the ride.

Cover this up? Never!

And so, my little home office might be cluttered. It might be ramshackle. It might be dusty and jumbled, with too many colors and designs all in one little space. But, for all of that, it’s something else, too: a little slice of my own, personal paradise, right here and right now.


Fly Away

words with wings: a journal sketchI wish my words had wings.
Delicate and lovely,
I would watch them fly
To tell of love and hope and other things.
Part of me, yet free to roam …
Ready to come at a moment’s need.
And — oh! How beautifully they would sing,
Leap and jump right off the page
To spin my tales with golden thread
And make hearts soar and spirits ring.
But here I am … earthbound and small …
Look to the sky, count my dreams:
I wish my words had wings.


Tea and Awkward Silence

I don’t think I’m a particularly friendly person. It’s not that I’m actively unfriendly. It’s more that I’m unsure of myself. I am shy and a bit afraid of strangers, and I tend to guard my opinions and emotions. I’ve never been a person who has a ton of friends. I have a few, who are very dear to me, and I’ve always counted myself lucky in that. I would much rather have a few really great friends than thousands of “sort of” ones. I wasn’t unpopular in school. In fact, it was rare that anyone had a mean thing to say about me. It was rare that anyone had anything to say about me, because I was one of those kids that no one notices — until they want something, like the answers to a test or help with homework or to borrow notes.

I’m terrible at parties and social gatherings. You know how, when you go to a party and things seem to be humming along fairly well, but, then, there’s this sudden pause in the conversation? It’s an awkward silence — the kind of thing that happens when two people, previously engaged in a very meaningful and in-depth conversation, suddenly look at each other, realize they have nothing in common and, even worse, that they don’t know each other all that well. And so, they fall silent. Perhaps one of them clears his throat and the other looks down at her shoes. Both of them wonder why one of them just told a perfect stranger about Great Aunt Hattie’s enormous goiter, which looks like two hamsters chasing each other around the poor woman’s neck. And then, if all goes well, “the party drift” happens. Each person pretends to see someone else they know or to hear something incredibly captivating — on the other side of the room, of course — so that they, regrettably, have to drift away from each other for the remainder of the evening. If things don’t go well, the awkward silence grows, moving outward from its point of origin until it engulfs the entire party. Then, people have no choice but to drift out the doors, leaving the hapless host or hostess with mounds of uneaten shrimp cocktail and pyramids of unopened bottles of booze. Typically, I am the person standing at the epicenter of the awkward silence. Ground Zero of party doom, if you will.

And here’s why:

Because, although I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly friendly, and I’ve never had much luck in getting people to listen to — or even show interest in — anything I have to say, it appears there’s something about me that certain people find comforting. I am forever finding myself in the position of having perfect strangers come up to me and tell me … stuff. Stuff that I don’t need to know. And don’t particularly want to know. Stuff that, once I do know it, it’s impossible to “un-know”. And, being the socially awkward person that I am, I’ve never managed to master either the fine art of small talk or the graceful execution of “the party drift”.

Art Journal: Tea Makes Me Happy. Mixed Media

Like the time when I was waiting to have the oil changed in my car, and this man sat down next to me. I was busy reading a book and working very hard at pretending I was the only person in the room –which is how a shy person survives having to be out and about in public — but, even so, he decided to talk to me.

He told me all about how he had moved into the area from another state a few months previously. How he and his wife had been living apart for a few years, and how he really wanted the marriage to work. And so, he had quit his job to move here so they could be together. He was happy and excited about this new change, but it surprised him that his wife didn’t seem to feel the same way. He still didn’t have a job, although he was hopeful he would find something soon, because his credit cards were nearly all maxed out already. And now, he suspected his wife was having an affair because he could smell smoke on her clothing when she came home, but neither of them was a smoker.

It was a heartbreaking story. One I still carry with me to this day, a couple of years after the fact. I don’t know that man’s name. Or where he lived. Or what his favorite color was. And yet, I know some of the most intimate details of his life. I wish I could un-know them. Because it makes me sad. And, sometimes, I wonder if things worked out for him and for his wife, either together or separately.

I think he felt better, just for having told his story to someone else. It didn’t seem that he needed me to say anything. Which is good. If he had expected something — advice or a reply of some kind — I am certain I would have bungled it horribly. In my discomfort, I would have said something ridiculous and lame like: “Tea is nice. I love a cup of nice, hot tea on a dreary day. What do you think?”

Which, of course, wouldn’t have had anything to do with … well, anything. And would have caused the awkward silence to fall between us. And, because, instead of being at a lively party, we were stuck in a small, drab waiting room, there would have been no choice but to drift away — out of the doors and forever out of each other’s lives.


Dudley Do-no-Wrong, Find Your Joy

My hubby and daughter are fond of calling Shiner, my Springer Spaniel, “Dudley Do-no-Wrong”. They say it’s because he’s the apple of my eye and, literally, can do no wrong. Ever. Not even if he tries, and, believe me, he tries and tries and tries!

This isn’t strictly true, of course. In true Springer fashion, Shiner is stubborn and curious and a little bit vain. He lets his nose and whatever fancy strikes his attention at any given moment lead him into situations that, typically, would be better left alone. So, it’s not that he can do no wrong. It’s more that I have a habit of, after a bit of scolding, laughing off most of what he does. He is fluffy and bumbly and a bit of a doofus. And, he is also quite handsome and cuddly and affectionate. He makes my life a richer, funnier, happier place. He brings me joy and fills up a spot inside me that had remained hollow and empty after the passing of my previous Springer. When something brings you that kind of joy, it’s pretty hard to stay mad at it for any length of time.

Tonight, though, Shiner put those bonds of love to the test. I changed out the cat box, leaving the bag of icky, used-up litter next to the stairs on the second floor of my house. I had a few chores to do upstairs, so I thought I would take everything down a bit later to put it out on the curb for trash day tomorrow. Shiner was supposed to be locked up on the stairs, unable to access the tasty temptation that is used kitty stuff. Unbeknownst to me, he managed to slip out; I guess the siren song of the cat box is just too strong. It can’t be denied. And he spent about thirty minutes or so amusing himself on the second floor with one very full bag of dirty, used, icky cat litter.

You know how, sometimes, you go to the beach wearing a suit that, perhaps, is a bit too small for you? And you come home to find sand in places you’d rather not mention — or think about too closely? Yeah. It was like my house had attended a nudist convention on a cat litter beach. It was EVERYWHERE. I spent an hour and a half cleaning it up, but, even so, I’m sure I’ll continue to find it all over the place for weeks to come.

Art Journal: But here’s the thing that’s so great about Shiner — that’s so great about all dogs, really: they find their joy in every little moment and in every little opportunity possible. Here I was, standing at the foot of the stairs, faced with about ten pounds of yucky cat litter scattered all over the room, and I couldn’t help but notice the obvious signs that Shiner had had a very, very good time. There were piles of litter in spots and other places where it had been scattered about, as if he had jumped right into the midst of it all with gleeful abandon. There were drag marks and paw prints and little “swooshes” that told me he had run and jumped and chased his tail and played for all he was worth. To me, it was just a bag of used cat litter. But, to Shiner, it was joy. Stinky, smelly, absolutely unexpected joy — and he didn’t pass up the chance to jump in there and give it a go.

I think I could learn a lot from my dog. I find I often get bogged down in all that’s expected of me. There’s a never-ending list of things that I am “supposed” to accomplish each and every day. Such a long list that I tend to start out each day already feeling overwhelmed, weighed down by the knowledge that it’ll never be possible for me to do everything. I don’t stop to notice the beauty around me. I don’t pause for a simple pleasure or a small bit of joy during the day — watching an episode of a funny show, perhaps … or a cup of tea and a favorite book … or just sitting quietly to watch the sunset.

But you know what? I should. I should stop for a while. Not a forever kind of stop, but just a little pause here and there in the midst of my busy day. Because life is short, and I’ve got to  jump at every chance to find my joy. I’ve got to run after it with gleeful abandon and seize hold of it with both hands. I’ve got to laugh and love and just LIVE.

Dudley Do-no-Wrong taught me that. With a bag of cat litter.


Snow Day

Today is a “waiting day”. It’s gray and overcast, with the clouds hanging low in the sky — fluffy but also solid. They seem to wrap around the world, a cosmic afghan inviting the earth to snuggle in for a bit. All day, it has felt as if all eyes and thoughts turn upward, searching the sky as we all wait for what might be our region’s first “real” snowfall of the season.

I’ve found that opinions vary on the whole snowfall thing. Some folks hate it with a passion. They hunch their shoulders against it and hurry along their way, retreating into overcoats and fuzzy hoods like grumpy turtles. Others love it. They revel in the daintily lazy way each flake floats down to earth, and can’t wait to be out there in the midst of it all, embracing and enjoying each and every frigid moment.

With rare exception, I find myself firmly encamped in the second group. I am one of those overly enthusiastic, ecstatic folks who celebrate every second of a snowy day. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a place where our seasons tended to be a few weeks of “HOT”, followed by months of “REALLY, REALLY HOT”, but, whatever the reason, I look forward to snowy days all year long. And I feel somewhat cheated when those frosty beauties get lost on their way to my house.

Art Journal: Snow / Mixed MediaSomething about sitting next to the window in my cozy house, watching those white flakes dance down from above, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And being out in it is just as heavenly. I turn my face to the sky, hold out my arms, and spin and spin and spin until I am out of breath, giddy, dizzy, and laughing. I feel just like one of those snow flakes that fall onto my face, melting into a chilly wetness that must be what magic feels like. I love the laughter that breaks the frigid air as I chase my daughter through the swirling white, flinging snow at each other with every step.

But I think my very favorite part is what comes before all the fun and hijinx — and that’s the waiting. Feeling the air turning colder and colder, until my breath turns to fog with each exhalation. There is a peace and a calm about it, and I find myself holding my breath along with the world around me. We pause together for a few precious moments, poised at the edge of something dazzlingly magical. And, together, we savor the hush.