Welcome! I have started this online journal in the hopes of satisfying 2 goals; One, an outlet for creative expression, whatever may come of it. And two, an online freelance writing portfolio. I have promised myself to put down as much as I can - and here it will be.

I might have a poem or story to share, I might need to vent away on a particular subject or I may have just discovered the meaning of life. Who knows? Some will be serious, some light, some pointless and silly. Some will be writing just to write. But, hopefully each day I can be inspired by something going on. Most entries will be a little of this, a little of that. And most likely, they will not be continuous from day to day, unless I am working on a longer story that I want to break up into daily snibbles.

Like I said, anything and everything in this mind of mine, for good or for bad. It will all end up on here sooner or later!

I would honor your opinions of my endeavor and the pieces that arrive here. Feedback is crucial to my success! If you have any constructive criticism, just want to say you like/don't like, or that it affected you in some way...that would be fine. Quite nice, in fact.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Well-Known Lovers, The Conclusion

Pulling back from her embrace, he says gently, “Lest we both succumb to frigid fate from chill of winter, hostile to every fragment of my being, I fear we should part.”

“Anon, winter’s chill draws near. Yet, it is only upon arrival home it will befall; separate wintry chambers await us, destined to imprison.” With mocking tongue, she bitterly pronounces home as a wretched irony.

With quiet resign, Romeo gently touches her face. “Home lies within us, doth remember.”

She nods tearfully, holding back a flood of emotion that rises to drown her. They embrace one last time and then start the journey back through the snow together, holding hands for a brief time before they must part. Drenched and sodden, they reach the jaws of the city at the end of the secluded forest. They pause to let their lips impart a final goodbye; a sweet innocent pleasure tainted by the bitter finality of the moment. With one last longing glance, turning away from one another, their fingertips and then their gaze the last to break, each turns to head down the separate path they need to walk alone. The impenetrable snowfall serves as a screen, precluding the temptation for a look back. Though they have been in the forest for hours, at that moment, they both begin to sense the everlasting cold that has been stealing over them.

What they do not know is that their journey together has not yet ended. The violent declaration would eventually prove to be a weaker deterrent in their love for one another than the author might have hoped. Though they have chosen to end their illicit romance here on this day to appease the violence brewing between their own relatives, their love a casualty in the protection of those very same people, it will not last long. The magnetism of their connection is far too strong. This “end” has become only an interlude in the tragic production of sorrow and sacrifice they will lead on the road to eventual forgiveness, laced with deep regret, between two tormented families.

Encrusted in ice, a pale pink bloom succumbs to its new found weight and falls to the ground.

Photobucket

Deeply in love, these children of Montagues and Capulets, resembling an early spring, succumb to a new, but forbidden union. This romance is new and virtuous, a promissory note of future absolution for all who are graced by it. Bright and bold, they herald a new age, engendering a feasible treaty between embattled families. But, as is the custom of Mother Nature, this blush of spring will be extinguished by a late winter’s wrath. It is too trusting; too vulnerable and delicate to survive through the impossible frigidity of this last winter storm. Their parents, who hold an icy grudge against the opposing family, will never allow this "spring" to come. The seasons clash, but the rime of cold prejudice and arctic judgment strike swiftly, crushing the new blossoms.

They believe they are assassinating an idea, never to be reborn, but their children themselves will suffer the effect of their fateful chill, they will be the blossoms to fall. Winter’s last arrogant and crushing act will be to destroy these hopeful, yet defenseless blooms; their own family, and in the process, unknowingly obliterate their own future.

Tragically beautiful in every sense, this delicate pink bloom in ice, the metaphor parallels a misguided parent protecting a child. While masked as its guardian, the pristine ice engulfs the opening flower bud, freezing it in time, never to grow old and wilt. Though the weight causes it to fall from the life sustaining tree, the ice functions as armor, protecting it from the fall and then envelops it; an insulator from the cold. The bloom is petrified, suspended in beauty and time in its glass cage. The tragedy befalls as the ice starts to melt. The flower has fallen away from its life-giver, its caretaker, and is exposed to the elements. It will quickly wilt and die; fatally wounded by the shock of the cold, taken a great deal before its time.

Oh, but what a beautiful sight to behold.


What was my task?
Describe Romeo and Juliet breaking up in a snowstorm…

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Well-Known Lovers, Part II

Photobucket No sound but the muffled sobs of each half of the broken heart that is Romeo and Juliet.

Craving an alternative conclusion to their storybook romance, yet knowing no such happy ending, they stare into each other’s eyes, seeking a resolution. The regrettable possibility of causing a war between families had not muted their passion or resolve; defiance coursed through them as their very blood. This is simply the way it was going to be, no matter the cost! They would elope, run away if necessary; nothing was going to vanquish their dream of togetherness.

That is, until the letter came.

Delivered through the good friar they held tight in hopeful secrecy; the promise of bloodshed penned ever so politely. They, themselves were not afraid to die. Addressed to them, the murderous vow would be laughed off as a comic tale written to those pages, at the very least ignored. If death was to offer the lone path to a blissful union, they would walk that road together with unwavering devotion. But the pledge was not for them. They were being blackmailed, and the claims were hard to ignore.

Anger welling, her whimpers quickly morph into howls. She weeps her frustration and sorrow, as if in some way she could purge these feelings through her tears, and in doing so, clarify their shared suffering. He hugs her fiercely and yearns to assume her pain. So much emotion on display in this detached landscape, a backdrop lacking emotion or pity, snow falling incessantly devoid of compassion.

White flakes have settled in a thick layer on Juliet’s hair, making her appear ever more stunning; as a winter angel, innocent and pure; brilliant white, the halo around her, so bright and promising. She was so beautiful and alive in this sedated, cold forest; so warm and yielding, so sorrowful and intense, so angry and passionate; yet implausibly defeated and alone. Their resign sealed by an impending avalanche impossible to discount. She has quieted, resigned for the moment. The silence ensues, profound and grave, itself a significant presence. The surrounding gloom and subdued hush permeates them to their cores.

A brusque wind gathers its strength, throwing daggers of ice at the pair; an acrimonious reminder of the time. Snow pelting her sorrowful face, he tries to protect her cheeks from the storm.

Throwing her head back boldly into the barrage, she passionately proclaimed, “I would but be assailed by stone and rations to remain in you, my love. Your sweet, robust potion courses through my veins, engendering valor at every occasion. Neither fervent weather nor relations could ever be victorious in dampening love’s smoldering embrace, the effects of your devotion; I wear as though a shield.”

As the gust weakened, he countered, “Though rosy lips and cheeks betray otherwise, it is vital to be in accord with your mate.” He smiled warmly as he stroked her wet countenance. “Let me not, then, protect my lover from wrath of winter, only admire and caress love’s true reflection.” He enclosed her tender face in helpless hands and kissed her. The storm had now taken full effect, both in the forest and in Juliet’s heart. She grasps at Romeo, struggling to imprint his essence forever.

They have spent too much of their precious time pretending not to be in love. Though the sentient presence of their feeling for each other has been there, hidden under layers of social and familial pressure, they have squandered their bliss; lovers forever conscious of each other’s presence, devotion and affection, yet frozen in fear, unable to act. It was as if the very cosmos aligned against them, conspiring forces that would keep them apart. At least here, they were safe and free; the forest an envelope guarding its precious contents from the threatening universe.

Large snowflakes were now steadily falling. Becoming aware of the magnitude of the storm, Romeo realizes they have been here for quite some time. Looking up at the pregnant sky, head tilted back, staring at its lazily falling children, he blinks back flakes and tears. Turning down, he surveys the forest; the blizzard has delivered a thick and heavy slush, weighing the old growth forest down all around them. The delicate snaps and pops of limbs straining to hold the weight of the frozen water were barely audible, yet a defeated bough could abruptly crack and splinter. He did not want the mesmeric quality of this moment to end; he was drunk with love and sorrow. But, worry for his Juliet mounted, he was loathe to have her suffer ill effects from the cold or the increasingly treacherous forest.


The conclusion to come...


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Well-Known Lovers, Part I

frozen rose

Encrusted in ice, a pale pink bloom succumbs to its new found weight and falls to the ground.

Heavy with the weight of so much sorrow, they kneel together in the deepening snow, saying nothing. Brows touching, facing their foe, their enemy and their beloved - holding hands to ward off a chill that has little to do with the weather. Deep in the forest, where secrets lay hidden, protected by frost and frond, two tragically beautiful figures subsist; aware only of each other’s breathing and of their shared pitiful longing.

The snow falls thicker and faster than before; the first arrangement in Winter’s Last Opus. Pluming clouds of breath’s last kiss may well betray their arrangement, but here in the shelter of the empathetic trees, the snowstorm blankets them in thick, heavy flakes; a protective coverlet shielding them from inevitable wickedness and foul intention.

It has the effect of deadening the sounds of their soft I love yous, their sweet, soft kisses on wet cheeks, impossibly warm and cold at once. Snowflakes falling on their cheeks, their lashes and hair; the muffling fall concealing their passionate tearful goodbyes. More importantly, subduing the consciousness of the force that would endeavor to keep them apart, if only for the moment. These are the last sweet moments they will ever be together.

They are now painfully aware that it is, in fact, still winter. An early spring has been deceived by a late winter storm not ready to release its icy grip on the forest. A blossoming spring will never come for them now, as they had hoped, and they must part for the greater good of their families.

In the midst of a heavy snowfall, appropriate and mocking, they find themselves unable to leave the side of their lover. Ironically beautiful, the storm holds them here, suspended in time. For what they are fighting now is time. Time is the enemy that would see them part, that would leave them each alone, forever longing. They have but a few moments together...and that will be all.

Poignant and momentous, they will never forget this last taste they enjoy together. All bitterness and rage deferred as they steep in the forbidden tea they have prepared for themselves; drinking it all in, savoring every last swallow.

Holding hands, steadily squeezing, gently pumping palms as if to keep alive the dying heart of their forbidden romance. A love to be executed at light’s first dawn by the very people who gave them life; no likely pardon offered of their frigid kin.

The blanketing snow does nothing but imbue seclusion. All was quiet in the frozen forest, aside from the padding layer encircling the lovers; these corpulent flakes that profoundly insulated them from cold and bitter consciousness.


Sound familiar? More to come...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Eulogy of Granny

I wrote this a few years ago, after the passing of my beloved Granny. I dug it out of the archives to share with you here. If you didn't know her, she was something to behold! I only hoped to capture the essence of her strong spirit. Here it is; a little long, but all for her.

PhotobucketWe’re here to remember the woman who was Patricia Zakowski… Pat Zak to some, Granny to others, G.G. to a few... and as I look around, I see so many sad faces. This is a sad occasion, losing someone you love – but we shouldn’t think of it that way – we shouldn’t be sad, we should be celebrating. Celebrating a life! To remember how she lived and what she was like, honoring that which was good in her. Because although the woman may be gone from us, her memory and charm stay with us always.

It’s hard for me to capture all of what she meant to everyone in this church. All I can offer is my perspective as a granddaughter. So, here’s my attempt to capture 70 years of a life in a mere 5 minutes – only 30 of which I ever knew. I’m sure if we all took a moment to think about Granny right now, we could conjure at least one funny story to tell… she knew how to make you laugh!

She held a child-like wonder about life that was contagious and inspiring. She was vivacious, alive. She had to be the center of attention, wherever she went – I’m sure she must have been the class clown in her school years. She had a mischievous sense of humor (even slightly wicked at times!), always pulling little pranks and silly performances out in public for us. She was most definitely what you’d call an extrovert! She got so much enjoyment out of life – she was vibrant, talkative …making easy friends wherever she would go.

She loved so many things; grandpa has even said…“everything was her favorite!” She loved animals, the beach, the water, seashells and the sun! Clothes and shoes (Imelda Marcos didn’t even hold a candle to Granny), the stars, the moon – anything unique – just like her. Teddy bears, wizards, butterflies and macaroons, jewelry, decorations, the mystical and the magical - she loved so many things… if you weren’t careful, you’d lose your favorite sweater or a pair of shoes when you went to visit if she liked them! She had a way of sweet-talking it from you, incredibly sometimes even making it seem like your own idea! She certainly had a way with words; she was a fantastic negotiator – she would have been a great saleswoman, or con artist, that’s for sure! The queen of getting free stuff – even if it was a little shady at times! I remember hearing of the time when I was only 2 years old, she got us all into Disney World with an expired hand stamp, pinching my bottom so I’d cry…to cause just enough commotion to let us in to shut me up – she knew they would! God only knows how she pulled some of the stunts she did, but she was good at it! She was relentless about prices – she never worried about what people thought of her when she was “making a deal”. But as much as she won from you, she was just as generous… anything you wanted – it was yours. She was very sentimental and thoughtful – always sending you things that reminded her of you or something she thought you would like, enjoy or get something out of.

She appreciated beautiful things… not only material things, but experiences too… like sunsets and the warm wind, the sun on your face. She appreciated art and poetry, literature – Hemingway was one of her favorite authors. And people, too. No matter what your faults were… if drugs or alcohol or past experiences had broken your spirit, she always recognized the good in you, the beautiful part of you…. And she made sure that you knew about it too. It sure seemed as if she was drawn to people who fit this description, perhaps feeling she was meant to help them in some way. She always said what she was thinking…good or bad; she never let the opportunity go by. She told it how it is – always…even if you didn’t want to hear it but, more than likely, you found yourself a better person for it.

She was a tough cookie – I don’t even know of all the things that happened to her during her life here on Earth, but I know enough to know that many times were rough. But she responded to all that life dealt to her with class. And with an attitude that she would not back down, would not go quietly. She was fiercely protective of her family. She was a fighter – she could have been an army drill sergeant, but was cuddly as a teddy bear. She held an intense love for her family and friends. She lived her life how she wanted to born out of many hardships and sacrifices. Even if people didn’t agree with many of the things she chose to do. She lived her life with pride and dignity, no matter what was happening. Some would even recall how stubborn she was… good or bad, that was one of my favorite qualities about her. She would get this little “pucker” on her face when she would dig her heels in, the signal for when you knew it was no use fighting her anymore! She was never afraid to stand up for anything – she had an affecting courage about her and many beliefs and values she stuck firmly to, especially in the face of adversity.

I mentioned that she loved butterflies, and appropriately, I think – because she kind of reminded me of a beautiful one, the way she had so many friends everywhere you went – a social butterfly, daintily flitting from person to person. She kept all of her friends close to her heart; once she let them into her life, she always let them know how much she cherished their friendship.

Everyone knows she was a sun goddess! Frequently brown and bronzed and slick with tanning oil – to this day I can’t smell that coconut-scented oil without thinking of her. The beach was one of her favorite places to be – she and Grandpa went frequently – I’m sure she enjoyed the people watching too. She could spend a whole day doing just that, contentedly.

She taught you how to have fun just by living her life – carpe diem is the anthem by which she lived – seize the day, live for the moment. It’s what she would always say to me – she was so full of life and an energy I will always remember and of course, emulate. She loved life for the adventure, and loved the adventure for the ride. She loved mystery and drama…she was the original drama queen! She could be immature in the most sophisticated of places – just for the fun of it – she got a kick out of the reactions she captured from people. She had a crazy, creative vivid imagination – she loved to tell tall tales and stories – she could have easily written children’s books. They may have been a little twisted but definitely engaging!

Granny was a big kid! Someone who showed you that it was ok to have dessert before dinner if you wanted… that life didn’t have to be boring! You could bend or even break the rules sometimes. I know that this latest observation comes from a spoiled first grandchild, loving her childhood memories of her grandmother – but I know the message was received by others just the same, if only in a different vehicle. I know that I was lucky. I guess I was spoiled, though I didn’t think of it that way at the time – I just felt incredibly loved and happy. I had a granny who was the center of my world – she meant everything to me. I frequently wrote her letters after she moved to Florida informing her that I was going to run away just to come down and see her. I hated being without her.

She always made you feel special - for example, birthdays… it was her “rule” that it was your day to be a princess (or prince!) – to be extra spoiled… She loved to be spoiled, but she knew how to spoil you too – and she did it regularly. And speaking of princesses… she’d always pout if she didn’t get her way – everyone knows the face she used to make! I should say until she got her way, because she always did. You couldn’t say no to her – especially with that look!

Kleptomaniac is a term that would describe her to a tee. I don’t know how many restaurants lost their salt and pepper shakers, steak knives and cloth napkins…even complete strangers weren’t safe from her charms… I once watched a total stranger give Granny his sunglasses – somehow she had coerced him into giving them up happily. And the infamous Donny Osmond story… he finally gave her the picture she wanted and an autograph on the condition that she left him alone to enjoy the Orlando Science Center in peace with his family… she had perfected badgering into an art!!

She was never afraid to look foolish to have a good time or to put a smile on your face. It’s like she knew she was meant to be put on this earth just to make you smile. But this was just my perception - I only knew her as a grandmother; my granny. My recollection of the way she lived. But she had many different roles – a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter. A friend. So many people would have countless stories about her life from their perspective – we’d be here for days with all of the no doubt hilarious stories told! So, I can only give my point of view – peppered with my own feelings of her life as I knew it…one tiny piece of a life that encompassed so much passion, adventure, appreciation and love. She had so much of an impact on all of our lives and behavior that will be remembered and passed on to our children…we will have that forever.

She loved so many things… but most of all her friends and her family. I imagine she might have thought we all defined her somehow, but I believe it was just the other way around… it think it was her life that shapes us for the better, even now; always looking for something more, never settling for less – carpe diem. It’s good to see so many people here – in her own, familiar, twisted way, Granny would have liked to see this… Thank you all for coming.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Writer's Day in the Country

So, this writer's workshop I write about here (aptly named The Writer's Day in the Country, because that's where we were - the middle of absolute blissful nowhere...) was a most humbling experience. Surrounded by veteran writers...and amazing beginners (just my luck!). I felt very small and sophomoric, too embarrassed to even read my own writing...feeling a little like I still slept on the floor with classmates on those tiny, tattered rugs and gobbled cookies and juice boxes at snack time. But, it gave me perspective from which to start from. I realize I need to step up my game, write every day to gain experience and allow the words to flow from me rather than pre-edit what would want to come out. It made me come to grips with the reality that I have a lot of work to do if I ever expect to write an entertaining, engaging book about the triplets. But I also became conscious of the basic element that I truly love to write. If I didn't, I would have thrown in the towel that very day.

It was a horrid and glorious day, pouring and thundering outside while we all lounged in a beautiful and cavernous (yet somehow cozy) log cabin in East Otto; a gorgeous panorama of the Southern Tier at our windowsill. A huge, stone fireplace roaring and crackling, the perfect setting to write; each snuggled in an overstuffed leather armchair, poised to become the next Eudora Welty...or Stephen King, whatever your genre! Large, deeply resonating wind chimes were a constant companion that day since the rain and wind were too. So deep, they reminded me of a large cathedral organ, with a constant, but slow overlapping "bong....bong"; it was deeply relaxing.

Lacking a story to finish and feeling quite like an outsider, I preferred to work on something completely beyond my realm...poetry. That way, if it sounded silly, I could always claim "newbie" status, never having really tried my hand before. I always prefer to be the underdog!

So, here it is, my first shot at bona-fide grown-up poetry. It may still belong in that kindergarten class art box, but at least now I am aware of that fact. ;) Tell me what you think!

Sometimes sideways,
the rain sheets and pelts
Bathing the borrowed house in a

cacophony of tinkles
Cozy in the cabin, drinking our tea
A soundtrack of thunder and deep chimes
Dry and Wry inside, yet
I feel wet,
If only behind the ears
To be in the presence of the big pond fish.

Self doubt and a need to escape
force me to slink
further down in my Luxurious chair.

Will I ever get there? Asks the little minnow…
While the King Crab advises,
Practice, practice, practice!
it is what makes us
Ready for the Sea.