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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beginning To Put Together As Far As The Eyes Can See / New Caterpillar

Hi everyone,

I still have a lot of writing for As Far As The Eyes Can See, but yesterday I figured I should start typing the handwritten poems. I tend to like to do a lot of work - I like to hand write a poem first, proofread it, type it while proofreading it again, send the typed copy to trusted people to proof, get their feedback, make changes if needed, then it's done. I had only a few poems typed and I thought of doing it closer to the self-imposed deadline, but rethought that idea. I feel stressed by all this writing I still have to do, I don't want to feel even more stressed typing everything up!

So, I started yesterday and between living life (i.e. doing other things that needed to be done), I didn't work on any new poems. I'm rectifying that today once I e-mail this former lawyer some questions I have. I'm nervous about it because he's a board member of the Senior Center and since I'm not there anymore...

...but, back in May when I was planning to publish As Far As The Eyes Can See, I was thinking of having it as a two part book: poems from NaPoWriMo, then poetry, prose, and essays from Soundtrackers. With Soundtrackers, it was a contest that let everyone use their favorite songs for the whole month and you wrote pieces based on the song title. The board member said song titles can be iffy, but he'd be happy to look over the manuscript. Then I changed my mind and figured I would make As Far As the Eyes Can See travel poetry. I have some from NaPoWriMo, from Soundtrackers, some I've done in the past, and creating new pieces. Although I'm not using Soundtrackers, I did e-mail Acrassicauda back in May to see if I could use their song titles for some poems. Marwan (band's drummer) sent an e-mail and agreed. This was the e-mail:

I still want to e-mail the lawyer (of if any of my dear blog readers know this answer, please comment!) about the validity of this e-mail - I think the e-mail should be valid - but how I would cite this in my book. I have about five different poems with song titles. I might write one more... but their song titles aren't extensive in my book.

I've been looking through poetry that I want to use to start off the book. I wrote this poem last November and although it didn't win a contest within The Narrative, I still really like this poem a lot because it shows vulnerability and nervousness to make a good impression on someone you like, but it doesn't work out for whatever reason. For me, the disjointedness shows the nervousness:

City Skyline
Jessica Marie 

The city skyline,
            gray in the distance;
the city skyline
            twirls in the Schuylkill,
rippled by fury then calmness then fury in the rain.
The city skyline
            is so much different today
than when I met you a few months ago before a show—
the city skyline,
            warm, bright, welcoming; we were both excited,
the city skyline,
            turning cold later, but there was still vibrant energy.
I follow your lead, my black boots jumping
over black puddles, deep I think, along Thirtieth Street.
It’s cold, damp, and rainy;
I follow your voice, like the city skyline,
            trailing off with tall buildings and city traffic,
trying to keep up, my silent agreements swallowed in horns,
skid marks and never ending construction.
The city skyline hides my anxiety,
            I wish I could reach out to you,
I wish I could tell you about other city skylines:
            Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta—
I wish I could tell you about the beauty of rivers and streams:
            Lake Michigan, the Chesapeake, the Rhine;
they don’t seem as gray as this skyline
or as black and possibly icy as the Schuylkill.
Yet most of all, I wish I could reach out
            and hold your hand, then a big hug
            and tell you how I feel;
how you make the days less rainy and cold—
instead I look at the formidable buildings and listen to you:
            but out of the corner of my eye, I saw the gold hands
            point to a little after two o’clock—it’s time to go—
the confusion of rain and the labyrinth of city landscapes,
we almost miss my bus home, you’re patient though
            in the rush and confusion, I make it, but with no goodbye.
The city skyline leaves my sight,
            gray disappearing along with a black river;
as the city skyline shrinks,
            unlike a month ago with pride in meeting my heroes
            and the feeling that it made up for the missed opportunities of 2014;
as the city skyline continues to shrink into the suburbs,

            missed opportunities grow bigger in the shadow.

Do you think that'd be a good poem to start off the book? Then write about all my other travels, then end it with places I'd like to go? I'm thinking that should be logical and it could be fun - showing where I've been, what I'm doing now, then where I'd like to go. I think I'm going to go with that.


On a different subject, we've brought in the last caterpillar. Something killed the 2nd caterpillar and ants began to eat it. Mom cut down the milkweed stalks and brought in our last caterpillar of the season. It turned into a "J" this morning and we suspect soon it'll be a chrysalis. Can't wait to watch that!

Still working on the monarch to Mexico/South America poem, but I'm thinking of starting a poem like:

"Gotta go, gotta go, gotta really go, go
gotta go to Mexico!"

There is a children's book about the monarch caterpillar process called Gotta Go and I think that alliteration could make an interesting poem. I'm going to give it a shot and see how it turns out.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Welcome to September's Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers for the discussion of works they have enjoyed over the previous month. If you wish, check out The Armchair Squid's Coffeehouse and add yourself to the discussion list.

When I used to work for the senior center, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes was the book discussion book for the month of July. Since I also worked (still do work) at the library, all the seniors were returning this book. The book didn't pop a hold and I was allowed to check it out.

Ah, man, the seniors weren't kidding when they said some parts of the book induce tears. Not light tears, but the heavy sobs. There were parts of the book that also made me laugh; Moyes did a good job balancing out the sad and happy.

The story tells of Will, a paraplegic from a car accident in 2007, who seeks physician assisted suicide. The book takes place in England and medical assisted suicide is considered unethical - if someone seeks that, they must go to Switzerland. We also meet Lou, short for Louisa, who was just laid off from her job at a bakery. She's eccentric and can't find work until the employment agency sets her up with Will and his family.

It was rocky at first and a slow start. Lou finds out that she was hired on the six month contract so she could persuade Will to change his mind about ending his life. Before Lou started, Will attempted suicide and his parents caught him in time (his parents are against it). Will said, "I'm not happy. I will give you six more months of my life." His parents hoped Lou would change Will's mind.

We also learn that Lou was raped seven years prior. Her life basically ends at that point and she's in an unhappy relationship with Patrick. Patrick is an a-hole, to put it nicely. Lou does make Will come out of his shell, but in turn, Will helps Lou come out of her shell. Patrick breaks up with Lou since he's jealous of Lou planning trips and fun evens with Will. Lou comes alive and it's through Will's want of suicide because he can't live the life he had before he became a paraplegic. Will shows Lou how to live by getting tattoos, embracing who you are, and travel. Lou falls in love with Will.

I won't give the ending because I think everyone should check out this book. It's a great book, Moyes is an astounding writer in Me Before You, but it really does make one think about life and living in the moment before it's too late.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thankful Thursday 9/24/2015

Yesterday was the first day of autumn, Yom Kippur, and Eid Al-Adha. May the blessings of the season and holidays bring great cheer for the rest of the season and into winter. I am quite thankful autumn is here; I look forward to shorter days, cooler weather, and the changing leaves. Lately it's been in the high 70's, low 80's during the day, and high 40's, low 50's at night. I love that type of weather! Though, I look forward to high 60's/low 70's. With autumn comes Halloween and I'll be decorating soon!

Mimi loves this weather as well... and the sounds of outside.

Last Friday, mom released the two monarchs. We should be receiving a postcard from Mexico soon, or at least I hope those beauties will send us one. :D I see monarchs fluttering between milkweeds now, probably fueling for their journeys. We raised 18 caterpillars; 12 turned to butterflies. We still have some caterpillars out front, but they might not survive the cold nights. I'm thankful for the opportunity we had in August and September with raising them. The pictures I sent to the children's librarian has been great learning tools for children and mom sent them to a few people who have young children and they have been great learning tools for them as well. Isn't nature remarkable?! Everyone seems to love it and nature is just a great teacher for people of all ages.

I wrote one poem about the monarchs for As Far As The Eyes Can See. I'm going to write a few more. What do you think?

Quietly fashion yourself into a question mark,
from larvae to old age at the end of the day;
struggle, rage in the green silk until dark.

Though adults know when to flutter through the park,
their wings float free on flowers they prey--
quietly fashion yourself into a question mark.

Lively angels bless those that watch and bark,
their delicate bodies dance in the green bay
struggle, rage in the green silk until dark,

Rush, rush to Mexico's forests you embark,
and learn of their endangered status on the way,
quietly fashion yourself into a question mark.

And you, dearest beauties, I watch like a shark
as your chrysalises blacken, with happiness I pray.
Quietly break yourself out of your question mark,
struggle, rage in the green silk until dark.

I'm also looking for a title...

I'm also thankful for Janie's, Marsha's, Claire's, and Andrew's proofreading, suggestions, and general help regarding poems for my book. Your generosity is appreciated. You will all be getting a spot on the "Thanks A Million" page of my book. All of you and Acrassicauda for letting me use some of their song titles as inspirations for poems. Totally thankful for all of you and for all of your support. I am also thankful for my readers that leave comments as well.

What are you thankful for today on this first Thursday of autumn (or spring if you're in the southern hemisphere)?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Academy of Natural Sciences's Members' Night 2015

As most of my dear readers are aware, I'm a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. After going faithfully for a few years, I decided in January 2015 that it would be beneficial to become a member for both me and the museum. On Friday (September 18, 2015), the Academy of Natural Sciences held their annual Members' Night.

For Members' Night, members get an evening (5 PM - 9 PM) to see the behind the scenes of the museum. The Academy opens up their departments and members can see how collections are made, the research involved, how insects are pinned, the library equipment up close and personal, and a bunch of other things! I wanted to go because I wanted to see behind the scenes.

After work, I went into the city. I had lunch at this halal food cart. If you remember from three weeks ago, it's the cart where the guy gave me free food. I loved the food and decided to go back. I had a chicken and rice salad; couldn't beat it for $5. I actually like the street carts. The guy was happy I came back and we talked for a bit.

I then went shopping. I bought a makeup kit from Ulta after trying on a brow box, mascara, foundation, and eye shadow. I bought the kit with the brow box and foundation, they gave me mascara free. I love walking in the city and walked around Center City. On my way to the Academy of Natural Sciences, I noticed that Love Park dyed their fountain green for some reason. I only had 10 minutes to spare before 5 PM, so I whipped out my phone instead of my DSLR camera and snapped a picture of the greenness. I also wanted a selfie - you can sort of see the makeup.

When I arrived, there was a man standing outside of the Academy with a boat and a collection of sea life from a nearby waterways. The man introduced himself as the Academy's Scientist and his name is Paul Overbeck. That was really cool to see. When I stepped inside. the Museum Director and CEO greeted everyone individually and personally.

I went downstairs first to order a ticket for the buffet. After that, I decided I would work backwards and go to the second floor to see the owls and the library. I went to the library first, where two typewriters sat on a table. I went over to the manual typewriter first. I have used the electric ones before, especially since I work in a library.  The manual typewriter was awesome, although I had to pound very hard to get the characters to show up. If I typed too fast, like I was typing on a computer keyboard, the keys would jam. I had to hunt and peck. However, it was so much fun. It reminded me of Summer 2006. Aunt Kelly had dementia and would be living in a care facility. One of her daughters, my cousin, gave me her old Corona manual typewriter. That typewriter was kept in Nan's basement and I would use that typewriter religiously at Nan's, until the ribbon ran out of ink. I cried when that happened. Yes, I love typewriters.

While I was walking around the library, I was chatting with a few of the Academy's librarians. I explained that I am a page for Upper Merion Township Library and would love to work full time in a library. One of the young volunteers said, "Yeah, it's very hard. I have the degree and it's still hard with the degree. A lot of positions are volunteer." We chatted a bit about other things, but it was so nice to talk to other librarians. I loved seeing the library collections - which this month is all clergy scientists because of the Papal visit. I love looking at Audubon's works and the big book of his drawings were out, from the page turning earlier.

After that, I went to the owl pellet dissection. That was really cool. I put on my goggles and dissected the poop. They gave me a chart of all the bones I'd find and I was amazed at all the bones I found. I could name them all. After I tore apart the pellet, I put the bones into a plastic bag and headed over to the microscope. A volunteer put the fragments, one at a time, under the microscope and explained what I was seeing. It was surreal.

I loved seeing the barn owl as well. His name was Jagar and he was handsome. I stood there mesmerized for a good 20 minutes, just taking pictures. Owls are some of my favorite animals. I then went to dinner. I had baked ziti, Caesar salad, and a brownie.

After dinner, I went to different departments. Ichthyology, or the study of sea creatures, where I saw trout being dissected. When I went into the lab, I saw a bigger trout. The scientist was showing me the insides. I explained to him, "I would love doing this. I loved doing this in Middle School. In fact, my seventh grade biology had a running joke - he would call me Dr. Jessica [last name redacted... so I use my first name instead] because I was the only one in the class that wasn't squeamish." He laughed. Biology has always fascinated me, especially botany.

I went to the botany section next. Forensic botany. I learned about the Autumn Clemetis, which looks like honey suckle, but is toxic. It killed a 25 year old man two years ago in Philadelphia and the Academy was called to test different plants he was eating in Fairmount Park. Turned out the Autumn Clemetis killed him, probably because he thought it was honey suckle.

Between the twists and turns and stairs in the Academy, I was exhausted by the time I left. Before I headed out, I had to see the butterflies. They had preserved monarchs on display. I was telling the one staff member that we spent the latter part of the summer raising monarchs, which mom released the last two monarchs on Friday, and it was a very awesome experience. It was just so beautiful and the life cycle is a miracle. We talked about butterflies and milkweed for a bit. I then went into the butterflies and hung out for a bit.

You can tell it was night - here is the Luna Moth. Gorgeous, but I still don't like moths!

Yet, I love butterflies... I guess they're less scary looking.

On my way home, I saw the LOVE Park fountain was still dyed green. I took some pictures with my DSLR and had someone take pictures of me in front of it. I thought that was so cool.

I really had a great time and learned so many things. I really liked seeing behind the scenes and I never realized how big that museum is. Here are some other pictures.

I can't wait for next year's! I love being a member of Academy of Natural Sciences - I love their displays, I love their staff and volunteers because they're so knowledgeable, I love that I can always learn, and I love their programming - especially Mega Bad Movie Night and Bug Fest! The museum is really great.