Archive for the writing practice Category

My grandparents

Posted in family, history, life, life-n-death, marriage, true story, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2009 by bosquechica

My grandfather had a thin mustache, my grandmother good legs. My grandparents spoke Spanish and English and a little Italian but the Italian was not sincere. My grandparents smoked and went to theatre and galleries and lived in Texas and Mexico and Colorado and New Mexico and Canada and California and then back to New Mexico where they lived for most of their elderly years. My grandparents were runaways and liars, and cheated on each other for as long as they were young and could get away with it. My grandparents were married for 70 years, but divorced for 10 of those. My grandparents had smooth beautiful voices and liked books, and vino tinto, and chile, and they used olive oil to keep their feet smooth and soft, and they drove very big cars and voted Republican in the 80s but were socialist in the 30s, and they planted corn in their backyard with the great grand children, and they walked in the Organ Mountains looking for a place to scatter their ashes, and that’s where they are now, in an arroyo in southern New Mexico, on their way down to the gulf of Mexico by way of flash floods and monsoons, however long that might take.

This was a 5-minute writing practice in group this Monday. Got some great photos, but not the ooomph to scan them right this second. I’ll add in a separate post.

Whisky sachet

Posted in family, personal history, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by bosquechica

I’m going to take you out behind the woodpile and whup your sorry ass.

 

That’s a likely quote from an old grand-dad. Or maybe it was from an episode of Hee-Haw or The Beverly Hillbillies.

My grand-dad on my mother’s side died before I ever remembered him. Other than his soft belly and his light white summer shirt. I can see his cotton undershirt underneath. Wife beater, that’s what those are called. I don’t know any other name for them. My mother calls him “my daddy,” even now, when she is almost 80. She had the perfect childhood, she says. Her mama and daddy divorced when she was in high school. That was in Fort Worth, Texas. She filed for divorce based on repeated infidelity.

My grandmother’s second husband, Howard, was a broad-faced Cherokee railroad man who looked like a bulldog. He drank whisky, smoked cigars, and carried a wad of money in a silver money belt. He hid whisky bottles everywhere he went. He took us out and spent crazy wild money on all of us. He drove us down long Texas highways going on big adventures, weaving all over hell and gone. He bought us roast beef sandwiches that we were too queasy to eat. He scared the bejesus out of us. He told dirty stories to us. He showed us his WWII playing cards with the pictures of naked ladies on them. He sang songs and smiled all across his face, from ear to ear. He scrambled eggs with chorizo for us, whenever he was able to get out of bed in the morning. Truthfully, I never could see my grandmom with Howard there entertaining us, weaving and falling around like a drunk in a Disney ride.

I’m eleven and Howard and Mary are visiting. They are sleeping in my room. Where am I sleeping? I don’t know, I don’t remember. I just remember road trips and whisky bottles, and whisky bottles under my bed and in my closet after they left, and whisky bottles and weaving on the Pacific Coast Highway, and spare ribs and macaroni, and whisky bottles under the front seat, and snoring. Big, loud snoring, and my room with its dusty rose Victorian wallpaper and old oak bedroom set, and the smell of whisky lingering for weeks afterward. A drunken sachet.

Apes and aphids

Posted in poetry, random, this-n-that, writing, writing practice with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2008 by bosquechica

aphidA few thoughts about writing:

I’ve started writing fiction and poetry in small groups again after a long break. In these I work freewrite style, loose and open associations with timed writings — see Red Ravine for more on that, they are the awesome goddesses of writing practice. I love fiction and poetry, and often have no idea what I’m writing about until I’ve read it aloud.

My latest piece of timed writing, The physics lesson of Australopithecus, (written Monday in 30 minutes) is sitting percolating over at Cuentos, my fiction and poetry blog. It is a circular prose poem about time and evolution (I think). The phrase “apes and aphids” is tucked into the piece somewhere and it caught my eye.

Now, in writing practice it’s not unusual to write things like “apes and aphids” without thinking about it, and then wonder where the phrase came from. Typically, I can’t resist the urge to google and today found that “apes to aphids” referenced both other poets and the biological sciences. Nice. I am a poet with a background in the sciences; it all makes sense.

Then I keep looking: From the Universidad Completense Madrid, I find lists of published works on the biological sciences, housed in the Royal Society of London.

These include:

Self-sacrificing gall repair by aphid nymphs;
Humans deceived by predatory stealth strategy camouflaging motion;
and
A naked ape would have fewer parasites

I love all of these titles.

 Then, as I’m fiddling around linking at will, I discover that wow, Red Ravine is writing about bugs today too! Coincidence? But then again, I just stepped on a bug in my hallway in the middle of the night and had to scrub my foot in the sink (ugh), so I guess it’s just spring.

In summary, isn’t writing amazing?

Bigotrometer

Posted in community, gay, politics, Uncategorized, writing practice with tags , , , , , , on February 2, 2008 by bosquechica

Prejudiced? Bigoted? Intolerant? Carrying around benign but silly biases?

Take this simple test to find out: 

Fill in the blanks: 

1. I don’t mind ___________________, I just wouldn’t want one marrying my (brother/sister/child/etc). 

2. Some of my best friends are ______________________. Estimate how many and write the total here = _____. 

3. Everyone knows that ______________________ are _____________________. 

4. _____________________ can’t be trusted. 

5. _____________________ are lazy. 

6. _____________________ are always late. 

7. I frequently say something like “Well, what do you expect – all _____________ are liars?” 

8. I will not go to this activity or place if I expect _______________________ to be there. 

9. The world would be a safer place if ________________ would leave/disappear/convert/etc. 

Matching:

Recombine the words in the left two columns with the words in the two right columns that you associate with these groups. Mix and match as you like (Your person with mustache could be a tense power-hungry female – for example.)

White
Black
Hispanic
Asian
Republican
Democrat
Liberal
Conservative
Jewish
French
Gay
Lesbian Christian
Muslim
Libertarian
Teenager
Atheist
Immigrant
Female
Male
Elderly
Politician
Pop Star
Talk Show Host
Priest
Minister
Dentist
Lawyer
Southern
Canadian
Person w/mustache
Athlete
Person w/disability
Nascar fan
Cheap
Stupid
Mean
Violent
Dangerous
Educated
Irrational
Pretty
Strong
Dirty
Rude
Greedy
Intelligent
Selfish
Wise
Practical
Pushy
Weak
Generous
Creative
Smart
Dishonest
Polite
Evil
Power-hungry
Tense
Elite
Stylish
Arrogant
Simplistic
Drug-addled
Insincere
Promiscuous
Foolish
Damned 

 Multiple choice: 

Most likely to start a war:

  1. Americans
  2. Arabs
  3. Homosexuals
  4. Homemakers

 Most likely to vote:

  1. Women
  2. Men
  3. Rock stars
  4. Convicted felons

 Most likely to help out in a natural disaster

  1. Republicans
  2. Democrats
  3. Libertarians
  4. Random strangers

 Most likely to share what they’ve got

  1. French
  2. Atheists
  3. Artists
  4. Programmers

 Most likely to pay taxes

  1. Christians
  2. Rich people
  3. Poor people
  4. Musicians

Please feel free to add an “other” line to any of the above multiple choice questions. 

How’d you do?

This is a score-it-yourself test. Remember those? On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being not at all and 5 being maximally bigoted: 

1. Full of love for all humankind – medicated and ready for world peace.
2. Some minor biases, but I try to see things with an open mind.
3. A little bigoted – I hadn’t really thought about it before.
4. Somewhat bigoted – that’s just how things are.
5. Absolutely bigoted, and proud of it.

Five Years Ago, I . . .

Posted in personal history, travel, writing, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2008 by bosquechica

(To keep things moving, I’m tossing this out there without the pictures from Africa and without the links that my good intentions wanted me to provide.) 

 

Lost my grand-dad. Bye old guy! Picture (c) visitusa.com

Scattered his ashes in the mountains outside of Las Cruces.

Finalized buying the old adobe house from my wife’s parents.

Worked mostly in Spanish that year.

Had tea in bed every morning, with the globe and an africaatlas propped up between us, learning the names of all the African nations and their capitals.

Grew tomatoes, grapes, pears, plums, onions, garlic, basil and apples. Daffodils, tulips, irises.

Wrote one piece of short fiction almost every week.

Went to Uganda for the international dance festival at the Ndere Centre in Entebbe, where I discovered exactly how white I am. I was one of six light-skinned people in a festival attended by over 6,000 Africans from various nations (three of them were Austrian). The festival took place about six weeks before we started bombing Iraq; I was angry, outraged, and pretty-well petrified to be travelling at that particular moment, with our government hijacked by criminals and my fellow-citizens apparently having lost their collective minds.

On the opening day, I sat roughly 10 feet away from Ugandan President Musevene while he made a very angry speech about the interference of American and European white people in African business, cultural and political affairs. My two friends and I had been seated more-or-less next to him, but were separated by a ring of armed guards. The festival was incredible, high stomping, enormous drums, colorful, with movement that blended some of the conventions of missionary teaching with older dance traditions that expressed sexuality, war, hunting, with the relatively recent influences of modern dance, mixed media performance and pop culture trends from African, European and American sources. For the traditional African dancers, it was the first time most of them had performed together on a single stage.

Attended the going away party of a retiring Anglican priest who was moving to Scotland after 45 years of teaching dance and self-sufficiency to young women in Kampala. Kampala is a hot crowded city, smoke rising in trash can fires all over the city, maribou storks hovering like crows in the mango trees. My friends were tense and angry and closeted and sarcastic. I smoked American cigarettes on the balcony and choked on the urban air. The storks were enormous, prehistoric, almost hip height to me.

After the festival, I flew alone (at last!) from Uganda to Naorobi to Amsterdam. I wandered the streets of Amsterdam late at night until I came to the Café Kale, where I ordered beer, soup and kale pesto with crusty bread.

Back at home, we were maced at a peace rally by mounted Albuquerque police. Hid in a sandwich shop with two dudes who kept saying “Whoa man, we should really shut down.”

Acquired two new cats, the blue-eyed husky and a pair of lovebirds.

Took sides when my friends in Uganda split up. I’m a big fool sometimes.

Saw the little nieces and nephews frequently. Their favorite games at the time were role playing, yoga, fencing and playing dragon in the yard, storytelling and making scrambled eggs.

Had a major flood (in an act of rural vandalism) that almost collapsed the house (it is made of mud). Moved from room to room for almost three months as we rebuilt, keeping the fridge in the front yard the entire time. Good look, that.

Learned to make pie crust.  

Next: Five years from now, I . . .

Gah I can’t think

Posted in family, life, life-n-death, marriage, personal history, rant, writing practice with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2008 by bosquechica

Well I have been slam-banging along for the past couple of weeks, running into walls, wrestling (I have an urge to say “rasslin'” here, like I’m doing things with alligators) with nursing homes and assisted living facilities and anxiety-ridden relatives and ridiculous therapy contracts and elder lawyers and may I just say that even without being there in the same city or state as my old mama (who is getting really cranky about being in a nursing home, even if it is temporary, and the jury is still out on that) it’s really time consuming to the point of disrupting the time-space continuum (whatever I mean by that) and gah I can’t think. My life is interrupting my blogging and it really chaps my hide.

And this week I’ve got company Wednesday through Saturday, a bunch of yodeling folk singers descending on Casa de Bosquechica on Friday, a trip to Santa Fe on Sunday for a hideaway-retreat with the missus and a visit to the state legislature on Monday to advocate for our right to have the partner benefits that other married people can just take for granted, thank you very much. And I can’t find my damn photo album from Africa, which I’ve been trying to find to post in this piece I was working on last week, because ever since the mom-stroke thing, it’s been hard to focus forward; my brain keeps doing “my life in review”, which is just a wretchedly self-absorbed response to her pending mortality (pending?).

The persistence of the “life in review” thinking made me decide to do a two-piece writing practice: “5 years ago, I . . . . ” followed by “In 5 years, I . . . ” to help me shift back into where I’m going instead of where I’ve been. What will I be doing in 5 years? Well, if this past couple of weeks is any indication, I’ll still be working on this freakin’ “freewrite” about what I did five years ago…….and geez, that’s just wrong.

Yard sale rhapsody

Posted in community, life, nice things, random, this-n-that, Uncategorized, writing practice with tags , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2008 by bosquechica

I love yard sales. I love the beginning of yard sale season. Like yachting, all the cheerful colored signs bobbing along on the horizon. Other people’s stuff.

I love yard sales the way I love eavesdropping, a guilty pleasure a search for rare treasure, a treat a retreat a brief moment away from my own life and into yours.

I love yard sales, the free box, the sticky lemonade and the 11-year-olds who wistfully offer me some for a quarter. I love the bad portraits of your mother’s cousin Jean, the macrame holders still tightly wrapped around 2 liter coke bottles, with leggy spider plants hoarily clinging to that crafty harvest gold past.

I love yard sales and talking to strangers, agreeing on the dangers of overpricing, underpricing, bad weather and early morning poachers. I love finding out that my girlfriend dated your son back in high school, I feel so local, and that he’s married now with two kids but having problems and then changing the subject.

I love yard sales and looking at other people’s decorative choices. The red walls with blue accents, the rock garden, the swoopy window treatments, kitchen appliance excesses, the incredibly organized and labeled garages of you not me. The beaten and smirched record of your children’s discarded toys, your baby’s first velvet dress with the little matching mittens.

I love yard sales and the over and under valueing we all do of our stuff and our stories, the unexpectedly good artwork inexplicably stuck in the workshop behind the arc welder and the broken rakes. I love the costume jewelry, the plastics and resins, the hand-blown glass beads and the tarnished milagros. I love rummaging for change, the good faith willingness to hold your perfect estante rústico until this afternoon when I can come back in the red truck with some muscle and moving straps.

I love yard sales, the lumpy old dogs, the ladies in sequined sweatshirts, the avon bottles shaped like ships and trains, the huddled men comparing tools and two-stroke engines. I love getting home with yard sale amnesia. Unwrapping the little packages in anticipation, I become my own secret Santa, pleased and surprised at the silliness in which your past becomes my present, rubbed clean and new and ready for whatever comes next.