Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Ireland

Spain was lovely, but I of course took a few days to go over to the mistress land, my Ireland. I don't think I could ever be in Europe without going to Ireland for at least a couple of days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Missing Spain

What I cherish so much about Europe is the way in which people approach each day. Sure, work must get done and it does, but what really seems to count is what Omar Khayyam referred to as "The leaves of life falling one by one." The countries I have visited all seem full of people sucking the marrow out of each day.
This summer in Spain I saw so many lovers holding each other on benches or spread out upon a blanket in a park. Like Khayyam's famous Rubaiyat, what seemed to matter most was the company of your love, a loaf of bread, a book of verse, and some wine.
I feel so far from Spain. I search for it each day and I wonder if I've lost it. Should I just give in and rush to Subway to get a 5$ sub? I don't think so. I have so much more living to do and I can see no more fulfilling way to do it than what I have observed, what I have immersed myself in during the last 8 years of my life spending summers in Europe.
Spain, I'll keep searching for ways to live like the way you taught me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What makes up your Paella?

Look at this gorgeous plate of paella. There is a bizarre, at least to these Ohioan taste buds, mixture of foods ranging from a plethora of seafood to a plethora of vegetables. And yet, each bite tasted different from the previous one. Tastes tramped around my mouth and every new taste seemed to complement the previous.

I returned from Spain a few weeks ago and I am trying to figure out how I can unleash my taste buds here in Ohio. Literally, I can't. No food here can compare to what I have eaten in Spain. But how can I equate the plate of paella to my life?

Again, it comes back to balance. Look at the balance of food on the plate. What tiny pieces make up my paella. Writing has to be the clams. I have to dig to find writer Jen, but she's really important to the whole mix. Other parts of my life that need reflection in order to find out where they fit on my paella plate are: runner Jen or my commitment to exercise, family, preparation for the future, culture and travel, love for Telemachus & Edith, being a teacher as well as being a continuous learner, prayer, time with my Pete, and time for me. I may have skipped some things.

I was glad to come home to my loved ones, but honestly, Spain is a magical place and like a few other countries I have visited, the Spanish seem to know not only how to balance life, but to enjoy it. I need to work on that. I need to learn how to be in the moment instead of in my head concocting ideas.

I look forward to blogging more. It may be about writing or it may be about my recent travels, or perhaps it will be about my beautiful Telemachus & Edith. Whatever I blog about, it will go back to that plate of paella. Blogging will help me explore what is on my plate that shouldn't be and what needs to be on my plate that isn't.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Though I am only averaging one poem a month as well as some nonfiction mutterings, I am still putting that MFA to good use. For the past few years I have been thinking about creating a writing outreach program and finally, I did it. Of course, it took a great group of 11th graders to attempt such a thing.

AWOL, Aspiring Writers Outreach Locally, launched last week. My 4th period class is completing Honors English 11 coursework at home and in class on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I teach them how to teach writing. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, they (in pairs) go to an elementary class to run little writing workshops.

So far so good.

I am busy busy busy: teach, administrate, write (or think about writing), and run.

Still, I have time to read so if you have any ideas on making an outreach program a success or even just a lesson idea, please comment.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sea-grass & bottle, Ireland, County Mayo

Does Jennifer enjoy life?

This question was posted on my Facebook page by my mother. I just taught her how to use Facebook last weekend and now she is out of control. She also posted at least 8 other questions. The questions were things like, "Would you date Jennifer?" or "Do you think Jennifer likes dogs?" I had to laugh. I mean, my Facebook is mostly used for professional purposes. I am friends with a plethora of people from writers to students to parents of students to friends to teachers to old high school friends.

I'm not sure "Would you date Jennifer?" is an appropriate question.

Anyway, I deleted all of the questions except "DOES JENNIFER ENJOY LIFE?" I thought that was a strange question. It turns out that my response ended up being more of a list of times and people that make my little heart swell with thankfulness. So I thought I would share the list with the world.

Does Jennifer enjoy life?

Let's see...once she fell in love with van Gogh's letters and then she retraced his life in France from death to St. Remy to Arles to Paris.

She fell in love with Ireland and decided to wed herself to the Cliffs of Moher. She's returned every other summer (once even three times in a year) to see those cliffs.

No matter how much it humiliates her boyfriend, Jennifer dresses up the loves of her life, Telemachus & Edith, in ridiculously adorable clothes that say things like "Pugs not Drugs" or "Pug Life."

The Jeep Wrangler days. Top rolled down. The peace birthed by a little Eazy-E or Chet Baker. No obstacle the Jeep couldn't overcome.

And the snowboarding days that hopefully aren't over. Vermont. Countless trips to Colorado, Whistler in Vancouver...and the most thrilling, (though she did get lost for three hours) the Austrian Alps.

There is a girl named Kelly who Jennifer has spent many many days with enjoying life. There have been makeshift fire batons, evenings at Border's, trips to Detroit to be with other Red Wings freaks, and evenings spent on the patio doing nothing at all, except looking at baby ducks.

And there are three women, one now passed on, who love Jennifer more than she could ever ask or sometimes even want to be loved: Mom, Aunt Linda, and Bubba.

Now Jennifer is driven to defy her body and become a runner. A half-marathon in May awaits.

So does Barcelona in June, with a little side trip to the mistress land of Ireland. Jennifer and her friend will backpack Spain like they are 22, not 32. They will jump ship to Africa for a few days and see what that has to offer.

Does Jennifer enjoy life? Not always. But she is present in life. Mostly, she feels alive. And though she is not happy every moment of the day, she is usually thankful.

Oh...and because of all of the traveling, she is also always broke.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One more backpacking summer

I have managed to do it again.

A plane ticket to Europe. June. Barcelona.

When I return a new stage begins.

I feel the nakedness of my finger. I feel the warmth that awaits. Princess-cut, perhaps.

I never thought I'd say this. Never. I want marriage. I want children.

I feel lucky just thinking about it. I feel loved.

And going to Spain will be pretty cool as well.