How to be happy… suggestions?

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It’s been three weeks since we dropped my older son off at college. He’s doing okay. Texting is the world’s greatest invention. EVER.

I, on the other hand, have found this entire year very stressful (even before he left). When I get stressed out, I tend to lose my appetite. A long time ago, I found that a great way to handle stress is to do more physical things. Lately I’ve been hiking a lot and eating less.

I’ve lost ten pounds since my son went off to college.

I can’t honestly say I’m unhappy, because the moments of sheer joy when I reach the top of a mountain (hiking, not rock climbing, I assure you) are sublime. The rattlesnake we saw yesterday on the way back down Mt. Tammany was NOT sublime. It was cool. Interesting. A little freaky, but not sublime.

Finding out that my son’s roommate bought a jar of peanut butter and cracked it open in their room to eat it, was also NOT FUN. I have a feeling I’ll be going hiking again in a day or so.

The moment I managed to climb up the Skyline Trail onto the North Lookout at Hawk Mountain was surprising (because, yeah, that actually was rock climbing). I didn’t know I could do that. I doubt I’ll do it again.

We go to visit my son in a week for the day. I’m looking forward to it.

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Home is Worth Working For

Many years ago, my husband was laid off from his job (we lived in NJ). After months of searching, he found a new job in Pennsylvania, and had to get an apartment so he could work while I stayed in NJ with the kids. We had to sell the house, find a new one, pack, etc. I remember it as being one of the more difficult times in my life. Ultimately, everything worked out. This post reminded me of that time and what it felt like to finally move back home.

I’m doing a reading later this month in Philadelphia thanks to Fox Chase Review!

Fox Chase Review

The Fox Chase Reading Series is pleased to present our Featured Poets/Writers Reading on April 28th with Poets Christine Klocek-Lim and Le Hinton at Ryerss Museum and Library, 7370 Central Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19111. The reading will begin @ 2pm in the second floor gallery of the museum. The featured poets will be followed by an open reading.

Christine Klocek-Lim received the 2009 Ellen La Forge Memorial Prize in poetry. She has four chapbooks: Ballroom – a love story (Flutter Press), Cloud Studies (Whale Sound Audio Chapbooks), How to photograph the heart (The Lives You Touch Publications), and The book of small treasures (Seven Kitchens Press). Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, OCHO, Diode, Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthologies and was a finalist for 3 Quarks Daily’s Prize…

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Paranoia: my bff

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Every week, on average, one of the writers on my various social networking feeds howls in horror. Why? Because they’ve lost all their work. Their hard drive failed because:

  1. computers suck like that
  2. they spilled coffee on their laptop
  3. the cat peed on their computer
  4. their toddler dumped their netbook into the toilet/tub/kitchen sink
  5. their laptop was stolen
  6. they dropped their device and it shattered

I’m totally serious.

What lesson can we learn from this? Yes. You guessed it: paranoia is your friend (in simpler terms: back your shit up).

A long time ago I used to worry about my house catching fire (long before the era of smart phones and freaking cloud computing). Everything I wrote was on scraps of paper and inside notebooks. Most of it was/is drivel and not worth saving (give me a break, I was ten years old), but I still worried about what I would do if everything spontaneously erupted in a ginormous fireball of horribleness and smoke.

What do you get when you add a childhood fear of fire to my weekly feed of lost-my-writing laments?

A writer who backs up all of her stuff obsessively.

I have five different backups.

Six.

Okay, okay, maybe seven.

I backup to an extra hard drive connected to my computer. I back up weekly to a separate extra hard drive. I back up daily to an internet back up service. I copy stuff to a flash drive when the mood strikes (which is about every two days). I backup my laptop work to my desktop and vice versa. I use a cloud service to sync my work from my laptop to my desktop to my phone and there’s a backup built into that. Last, I have a tendency to email myself stuff.

I have never lost my work.

I know I’m just asking for it, putting that out there in plain text, but it’s true. My hard drive failed a little while ago. I knew it was failing, so before I took it in to get it replaced, I made yet ANOTHER back up of my entire hard disk to an extra drive we had lying around (my husband is a geek, so yeah, we have random computer equipment all over the place).

All I can say is THANK THE UNIVERSE I did that. Because the new hard disk did NOT work properly without a lot of flinging of obscenities into the air and wiping of the drive and other crap I still don’t understand.

Dear everyone I know: back your stuff up. I always feel so bad for you when I read your cries on the internet. It makes me cry, too.

Two poets have gone

I had the wonderful fortune to publish two brilliant poets in Autumn Sky Poetry, both of whom passed away last week. I didn’t know either man personally, but their words and verse will resonate with me for a long time. RIP Paul Stevens and Elisha Porat.

Paul Stevens — The Allotropes

First love is justly praised;
Last love has beauties too,
Here at the end of days:
Antique me, new-minted you,

Our times untuned, our fates
Quite unaligned – yet we,
Disjunct, together make
A disparate unity

Of opposites, where time
And space are playthings of
Your musing eyes, which dream
Us: allotropes of love.

Published in Autumn Sky Poetry #12

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Elisha Porat — There Are Those Who

There are those who count on their fingers
as if they were counting their dead,
and there are those whose friends constantly explode
with the whistle of the wind in their ears.
As if they kept coming and coming
from those fields, from the black
basalt stones.
And there are those who look up
now, to the cleansing sky,
and see thousands of mourners
whose tortured hearts
are also their own.
And there are those who sit
quietly on the drive,
touch their grimy necks
and are silent.

Translated from the Hebrew by Cindy Eisner.

Published in Autumn Sky Poetry #1

My five favorite young adult novels

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1. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley — I’m starting with what I consider to be the very first young adult novel I read. This novel came out in 1982, long before there was a category called “young adult,” but it has all the hallmarks of a fabulous teenage girl’s most delicious fantasy: strong heroine, strange land, a magic sword, and at the very end, true love.

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2. Pawn of Prophecy by David & Leigh Eddings — Yes, this is still old school, but it is the book that got me hooked on fantasy. I began reading this series (The Belgariad) when there were only two books out: this one and the second, Queen of Sorcery. This was before we found out that Mr. Eddings wrote these books with his wife, and long before his death. It has a boy, a mysterious aunt, and an incredible depth of suspense I can’t adequately describe except to say that it lasts for the entire series.

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3. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer — This is, quite simply, one of the most creative, disturbing, fantastic books I have ever read. I bought the digital version, then promptly bought the hardcover. What would you do if a meteor hit the moon and broke it? The girl we follow in this book is heroic, selfish, selfless, funny, sad, and a myriad of other things that it’s best to discover by reading this book right away.

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4. Matched by Ally Condie — I first read this book as an ARC I picked up from Book Expo America in Manhattan a few years ago. I loved the cover. Then I read the book and was completely flabbergasted. The social commentary and moral issues are brilliantly interwoven within the character development and plot of this novel. It’s awesome.

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5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins — If you haven’t read this yet, um, where have you been? I assure you, it’s actually a wonderful read. I love the main character and the part where she totally kicks butt? Awesome.

How to interact with people who have food allergies-5 rules

Death looked over my shoulder but I stuck him with an EpiPen

 

1. Your right to eat a cupcake does not trump someone else’s right to NOT DIE. Think about this before you complain.

This goes for your kids, too. Do not bitch to your friends about how school is no longer fun for your child because all some parents care about is suing, and now they can’t have birthday parties in the classroom. Because suing a school is the first thing on a parent’s mind when they have a kid with an allergy. Of course it is. Not the image of their kid on the floor turning blue and dying because someone ate a peanut butter sandwich at the same table and cross-contaminated the surface.

PS: I thought school was where you went to learn stuff like science and math and how to not be stupid, but apparently it’s the place where you go to have fun. My bad.

2. No, you can’t tell if there’s some trace allergen in that food just by taste. Do not assume it’s safe for your buddy.

Seriously. My nephew is allergic to casein (milk protein). It’s in things you would never expect. Like hot dogs. Do NOT make fun of or take lightly those people who tell you that they or their child is allergic to something. I don’t care how idiotic and not fun you think it is. Trips to the emergency room with possible death at the end aren’t fun either. Sometimes you can’t even trust the labels on food products. When in doubt, people with allergies just don’t eat. We tend to pack our own backup food. So don’t take a bite of that cookie your bff baked and be all like “I can’t taste any almonds in this, I’m sure it’s safe.” and then press it upon the person you supposedly care about.

Also, please realize that some people react to a food allergen by inhaling it. Don’t wave your sandwich of death under your friend’s nose.

3. Do not assume that vacuuming a chair will de-allergen it.

It doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t. Cat dander, peanut dust, and other allergens look at your vacuum cleaner and LAUGH. Hives and swelling and a mad search for one’s emergency meds have taught me this.

4. Do not offer food to anyone without first checking for food allergies/sensitivities/medical issues.

I have food allergies. My mom has food allergies. I have two kids and a nephew with food allergies. I have a friend who is a vegetarian. The neighbor’s grandkid has diabetes. It’s only polite to offer food, sure, but not until you have asked about any issues someone might have. You can’t just give a kid with diabetes a cupcake whenever the mood strikes. Likewise, you can’t just assume that your famous chicken casserole will be a smash hit. Some people really don’t eat meat. Some people DIE when they eat a peanut. So please, just ask first.

5. Banning common allergens from public spaces is not stupid and please don’t insist that it is.

You know how you thought it was dumb when they made us all start wearing seat belts? And when they started putting air bags in cars? That is, until your Aunt Berry-Boo or whoever lived through that terrible accident because she was wearing her seat belt? Yeah, exactly. What about banning smoking in public places? Because second-hand smoke health issues are a myth, right? Yeah, no. Banning peanuts and other common allergens from school or airplanes or wherever is not the end of the world. You can still eat that peanut (smoke that cig) at home. Kids are not at school all the time and you probably don’t live on a plane, so please stop ranting about how your right to stuff your face (or your lungs) is being taken from you. Feel free to go home and eat until your stomach explodes.

PS-Yes, I know that number 5 is kind of a continuation of number 1, but the rude behavior regarding allergies is so pervasive I thought it bore mentioning twice.

First Crocus — March 14, 2013

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Today is the day! The first crocus in my garden bloomed. Of course I must post my 2006 poem in honor of the occasion:

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First Crocus

This morning, flowers cracked open
the earth’s brown shell. Spring
leaves spilled everywhere
though winter’s stern hand
could come down again at any moment
to break the delicate yolk
of a new bloom.

The crocus don’t see this as they chatter
beneath a cheerful petal of spring sky.
They ignore the air’s brisk arm
as they peer at their fresh stems, step
on the leftover fragments
of old leaves.

When the night wind twists them to pieces,
they will die like this: laughing,
tossing their brilliant heads
in the bitter air.

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© Christine Klocek-Lim

first appeared: About.com: Poetry, Spring Poems Anthology, March 22, 2007.

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