C's bookshelf: read

The Peculiar
Maggot Moon
The City and the City
The Road
A Certain Slant of Light
The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Brown Girl in the Ring
Well Wished
The Innkeeper's Song
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
American Indian Myths and Legends
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers

C S Peterson's favorite books »

Monday, October 17, 2011

Digital Utopia

In the beginning was word.  In Ascii’s fancy code for on and off.  And then the word became image and there was youtube.  And there was nothing that was made with out word and the word became digitized and dwelt among us almost instantaneously everywhere at once and all (well, almost all) people beheld it.  And took it and created themselves in the image of media on facebook. And twitter. And doing stopped except for the sake of image. And image shaped doing and image grew into a world of Kodachrome perfection shaping perception and giving us a measure to value our souls by the look of our digital lives.

Recently I found myself enthusiastically telling a friend of mine about blogging.  At the risk of coming off as just another narcissist, I expounded on the benefits of blogging for a hesitant writer. She had been telling me she wanted to write more and I was encouraging her to give blogging a try.  A few weeks later I spoke with my friend again.  She had read my blog and had some fun exploring a few others as well.
            “But,” she continued, “After a while I started to feel badly because everyone’s life seems so much more exciting and together than mine is right now.”
            This from a woman who has traveled the world as a street performer and who tackles every challenge life presents her with go-getter confidence.  One who has ridden through life storms, holding on to flotsam by the skin of her teeth and lived to tell the tale!

Utopias always fall apart, abandoning truth for an image of perfection.  Truth is hard and risky to write.  Whenever I edit, I create something not quite real, often a bit more like the world I wish there was.  I’m only human. 

I hope my friend does eventually write something she’ll let me read.  It can’t help but be a gripping tale!

Friday, October 7, 2011

An October Sestina: Garden

A sestina I wrote when our youngest was five months old...


An October blue-sky golden walk in my garden
Bare feet, cooling ground, warm sun on my skin,
Snapping basil stems, overflowing armloads crush up into my face.
The scent overwhelms.  Perfect tomatoes fill my hands
With sun soaked heat.  I rub off the crust
Of honest dirt and carry all inside dreaming of olive oil

The jar is empty.  I pad down cool stairs for more oil.
The kitchen table overflows with garden
Treasure.  Visions dance – something with a golden crust
Of cheese.  On the counter dough rises in a mound smooth as baby skin.
Curving it out of the bowl, I pull and stretch.  Husband puts his hands
On my shoulders.  I brush my eye and trace my face

With flour.  I wipe my hands and turn to face
Him with a kiss.  “If you want to help sit and oil
The pans.”  So he sits and works.  I shape and stretch.  He hands
Me oiled pans.  I slip in the loaves and go back out to the garden
for the eggplant I just saw from the window, purple skin
Gleaming.  Grilled, I think, with a little parmesan, to give it a nice crust.

The kids made sugared grapes – luscious rounds coated with a crust
Of sparkling hoarfrost.  I slice warm bread, drizzle garlic butter on the face
Of each piece and set it on the table.  Husband peels the wax skin
Off the cheese. I scrub the cast iron skillet then wipe it with oil
Till it gleams.  Husband opens the door to call the kids in from the garden.
They spill in with the slanting sun.  I tell them to wash their hands.

At my chair the sleeping cradled baby’s hands
Curl open like petals.  The sunlight halos his head and a crust
Of milk has dried on his cheek.  We look ‘round the table at our garden,
Full of impatient life, the evening sun glowing on each face.
Suddenly I see I live with heedless saints who, all unknowing, pour the oil
Of their spirits over my rough heart and salve my chaffed skin.

I take out the garbage and freezing rain pierces my shocked skin.
Husband clears the dishes while upstairs I fill my hands
With washrag and soapy child.  Husband creeps up and daubs my neck with bath oil.
Inside we thickly mulch each child with blankets, outside ice forms a crust
On muddy puddles.  In the warm bed Husband’s beard tickles my face.
Ice rain scatters and pebbles against the window.  I dream of the garden.

In my dream a new garden breaks through the crust
Of a bare earth.  Fresh oil like sunlight drenches my skin
And I lay the curves of my face in warm and tender hands

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rated AAA Risk Free

It is Wednesday and I am going to write for 15 minutes. . . I had thoughts in the car, listening on the radio. Yes, today I am going to do it.  Sit down and write. I am.

My dear husband has Wednesday afternoons handled.  He picks up all four of our offspring from their respective institutions of learning and trundles them all off to circus arts classes at the Boulder Circus Center. Then he feeds them junky American fast food on the way home (if I were a good mother I would pack them a nutritious dinner the night before and leave it in the fridge…but…sigh).  I guess the exercise offsets the fried chicken sandwiches.

So back to my point, Wednesdays I can write.  I will come home, sit down and write.  I had thoughts -  in the car - listening to the radio.  Two bright young women were talking about the European Debit Crisis and I was feeling October 2008 déjà vu all over again.  So I will write. 

I walk in the door and I see that my blessed husband has cleaned the kitchen and folded last night’s laundry.  Still, my house starts screaming at me: another load of laundry! Sort through that box of stuff! Bake a few of those little somethings so you won’t be tempted to buy them at the coffee shop tomorrow! You’ve not watered those plants in a while! The bathrooms could use some attention! For the love of God woman – CLEAN SOMETHING!

But TODAY I WILL WRITE!  I had thoughts of my own, about risk, in the car.  The two women were talking about how ratings of AAA were taken to be essentially without risk and that this is the second time this has happened recently.  The mortgage backed securities were rated AAA, so were treasuries issued by Italy and Greece – AAA – risk free.  Yet…

I put a load in the washer, mix up a yeast dough and let it stand in the warm oven and run upstairs to write while the washer runs the first cycle and the bread rises.  My husband and the children will be home soon.  Nothing is without risk.  They could get hit in the head with juggling clubs, fall off their unicycles or eat tainted chicken and cantaloupe.  The washer could leak, the bread could fail to rise, a meteor could crash into the planet and send us all reeling into a dystopic nightmare.  As I kneed the bread I spin out possible futures: Greece and Germany dance in a mirror, reversing roles in 1919 demands for reparations from the Great War.  Europe deftly shoots itself in the foot, again.

The garage door opens and my family is home:

“Mom! Mom! I was juggling on a unicycle and I was swinging the poi but the they collided and then I dropped them and I fell off but I’m all right then I went on the bola-bola and tried the diablo but the string was too short so I could just toss it but I didn’t quite catch it.  I did do a pinwheel though! Two of us on unicycles held hands and went around in a circle and Quarto (the youngest, who is eight) was riding on the teacher’s shoulders!”

Nothing is risk free.

Just ask Dr. Who