Fourth blogoversary!

WordPress has helpfully informed me that today is my fourth blogoversary.

Sorry that I won’t be hosting a big blog party, but my in-person commitments are too heavy right now for the organizing and tending involved in a digital event.

I am not entirely sure what I expected four years ago when I started Top of JC’s Mind at the encouragement of some friends, but 918 posts later, I’m glad that I stuck with it, however haphazardly.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my 909 followers and over 10,000 other visitors over these four years. I so appreciate your support and encouragement as life has taken so many twists and turns that I had not anticipated.

…which reminds me that I really need to update my About page one of these days…

I especially appreciate my stalwart regular readers who have continued to visit despite my now months-long lack of reciprocation in blog visits and comments.

Baby ABC is waking from a nap and I am on Nana duty, so I’ll end here.

Thank you all so much and stay tuned!

Joanne

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MASS MoCA, North Adams, and me

As we prepare for the second reunion of the Boiler House Poets later this month, our poet-organizer Kay sent this video from the PBS NewsHour about MASS MoCA and city of North Adams:  

Well, she sent it over a month ago, but I am just getting to it and this post…

Much of the piece concentrates on the intersection of MASS MoCA and North Adams history. The interview with Mr. Sprague especially struck me, as he wove together his family/business history with the larger story of the area.

When the Boiler House Poets re-convene, I am planning to spend at least some share of my studio time trying to assemble my first manuscript, a collection of poems tentatively entitled Monroe MoCA.  It weaves together my family history in North Adams and the surrounding small towns with the changes that have taken place over the decades and ends with a group of ekphrastic poems about pieces of MASS MoCA art.

For the first time, this year the Boiler House Poets will be giving a public reading, Wednesday, October 4, at 7 PM at the Makers’ Mill on Main Street. I will use my time to read a few poems from the collection.

I have been dreaming about this collection for almost two years and am excited/anxious/daunted by the prospect of actually piecing it together.

Wish me luck…

One-Liner Wednesday: Maya Angelou on humanity

“We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in
each other and recognize that human beings
are more alike than we are unalike.”
— Maya Angelou

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/30/one-liner-wednesday-its-surreal/

One-Liner Wednesday: justice

“Perfection shouldn’t be a condition for justice.”
~~~Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
*****
Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/16/one-liner-wednesday-wordless/

 

 

SoCS: anybody’s guess

I’ve heard that there are people who have detailed calendars, with squares filled out for each hour detailing activities that actually happen.

My own days are more along the lines of “anybody’s guess.”

To be fair there have been times in my life when things unfolded in a predictable way, but most of those times were when I was younger and on a school schedule. In adulthood, things have been much more fluid.

At the moment, with a two-month-old granddaughter in residence and my parents in need of extra help, it isn’t any wonder that days seldom unfold in an orderly fashion. But, if I am being truthful, most of my adult life has not been highly structured. I haven’t had a regular work schedule because most of what I do is family-care oriented, volunteer, or creative work.

I have often thought about trying to establish a more set routine, often revolving around after X happens, things will settle down and there will be a routine, but usually Y, Z, AA, Q, and something else intervenes, and I am back in the realm of “anybody’s guess.”

Maybe, someday, I will join the ranks of the routinized.

Until then, I will just keep guessing – and keep flexible.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “guess.” Join us! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/11/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-aug-1217/ 

 

finding hope in impossible times

I had hoped that my next post would be about ABC’s baptism and the family visits around that, but I haven’t been able to get organized to write it.

There has been a lot going on and a lot swirling in my head, so maybe this post will help…

My parents raised me to always do my best. I was fortunate that my best generally also stood me in good stead in school and in life experiences, as I juggled my various roles and tried to do good in the world.

When my children were young, there was a book about being a “good enough” parent. I remember bristling at the concept, because I was geared to be a “best I could be” parent – and daughter, spouse, sister, friend, citizen, Catholic, volunteer, committee member, musician, person.

The current roster of roles now includes grandparent, blogger, and poet.

And it doesn’t feel as though my best, even when I am able to muster it, is good enough.

Not even close.

With my mom in hospice care and granddaughter ABC in residence, there has been massive re-prioritizing, which is necessary and good and understandable. Some things in which I was accustomed to being very active, such as public policy and social justice advocacy, have been sharply curtailed, unfortunately at a time when my country is coming apart at the seams. I am keeping some of my poetry and blogging activities going, but in a scattershot way as I have time/brainpower available.

(It is not especially helpful to have Facebook reminding me how many days it has been since I posted to the Top of JC’s Mind Facebook page.)

I think, though, that the root of the problem is that nothing I do, whether it is my best or not, can change the fact of the mounting losses. Illness and decline and death and people moving away and rejection and running out of time and all manner of losses, anticipated or unforeseen, will keep happening, no matter what I or any of us do, think, or philosophize over.

And, yes, I know circle of life and faith and recommendations to take care of myself notwithstanding, some days are just difficult to get through without tears.

Sometimes, those days with tears string together.

I am blessed, though, with people who bring me as much support and comfort as they can when I am struggling. B to talk with and give me hugs. The warmth of ABC snuggling in my arms. E and L to step in and make dinner when I can’t wrap my head around the concept of eating, much less shopping and cooking. My sisters with calls, notes, and visits. Friends who are sending thoughts and prayers and who understand my sporadic contact.

Earlier this week, I was looking for a bell for Nana to use to call her nighttime aide. Unsure where to look, I went to a dollar store near the pharmacy where I was picking up one of Nana’s prescriptions. I don’t often go to dollar stores, so it was a bit difficult to figure out where to look. I had started to check out some possible aisles when I heard the unmistakable sound of a bell. I followed it to find a girl carrying a little bell toward the checkout where her grandmother was waiting for her.  I waited until they had finished their transactions and asked where they had found it. (The grandmother told me that the bell said “Ring for Beer” on it and that they were getting it for a beer-loving dad.) The girl cheerfully led me through the store to the shelf in the gifts aisle that held the bells. I thanked her. I chose a bell that said “Ring for Service” on it, paid $1.08, and brought it up to my mom’s, who was surprised that I had been able to find a bell so quickly.

(Feel free to insert your favorite It’s a Wonderful Life, serendipity, answer to prayer, etc. thoughts here.)

For me in that moment, it was a reminder that hope and help can appear unexpectedly in the midst of sadness and confusion and uncertainty.

I just have to listen and allow myself to be led.

 

 

The Magician’s Curse – Now Available for Pre-Order!

Linda G. Hill, of the Life in Progress blog, through which she leads One-Liner Wednesdays, Stream of Consciousness Saturdays, Just Jot It January, and other general awesomeness, has a novel that is about to be published. The Magician’s Curse is now available for pre-order. Check it out!

Linda G. Hill

When Herman Anderson leaves home to make a better life for herself, she doesn’t expect to meet a tall, dark stranger with whom she’ll fall hopelessly in love.

Charming and mysterious, Stephen Dagmar is a stage magician seeking an assistant. The moment he sets eyes on Herman, he knows she’s the one. He brings her home to his Victorian mansion where they embark upon an extravagant romance. Yet a shadow hangs over their love. Will the curse on his family end Stephen and Herman’s happily ever after, before it really begins?

Amidst lace and leather, innocence and debauchery, The Magician’s Curse begins the Gothic tale of The Great Dagmaru. Magic and romance await.

Official release date: June 27, 2017! Pre-order your Kindle copy today here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0721ZH2KN
Available soon on Kobo, and on June 27th in paperback on Amazon.

An excerpt from Chapter 2:
The moment Stephen stepped out the door…

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