BARDO NEWS: What Leibniz Never Learned; Paula’s “three minutes” of fame; Niamh’s new FB page; an opportunity for women poets … and more

sllwomanreverseVia contributing poet and good friend to Bardo, Myra Schneider for Second Light Network of Women Poets: AN INVITATION TO WOMEN POETS TO SUBMIT TO A MAJOR NEW ANTHOLOGY FUNDED BY THE ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND and open to contributions from any women anywhere in the world …

The Second Light Network of Women Poets have recently received Arts Council funding to bring out an anthology of poetry by women poets. It will be called Wings of Glass. The book will focus on ambitious writing and be published next autumn 2014 and launched at the Second Light Festival in central London in late November. The editors are Penelope ShuttleMyra Schneider and Dilys Wood. Submissions will be accepted between 15th November and 15th January. Please see full details for submitting : www.secondlightlive.co.uk

51rk8frRwfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Her Wings of Glass (the title a quotation from Sylvia Plath) is to be a 200 page anthology that will complement but not repeat Second Light’s previous anthology (with Arrowhead Books), Images of Women. The focus of this anthology is ‘big issues’, for example the future of the planet, good and evil aspects of our relationship with the natural world and with each other, different aspects of our imaginative understanding of ‘who we are’.

The invitation is for up to six poems per submission, not more than 200 lines in total, with three copies of each poem to Dilys Wood at 3, Springfield Close, East Preston, West Sussex, BN16 2SZ, by January 15th 2014 together with the administrative fee of £5 (Second Light members) or £8 (non-members). Cheques payable to ‘Second Light’ or pay online at the poetry p f (online shop (filter to ‘Wings’). Non-UK submissions may be sent by e-mail as .doc or .pdf attachments, only to Second Light Administrator (poet Anne Stewart. ) Anne Stewart is a fabulous help with your technical questions. [Check out Anne’s poems HERE.]

The adjudicators will advise those selected by 30th June 2014 and those poets whose work is selected will receive a copy of the anthology when published. Submitted poems may be published (details on poem please) or unpublished or otherwise out in submission. Second Light may also publish a short spin-off anthology if funds allow.

FULL SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES HERE

artemisEditor’s note: Poets of the distaff side, don’t forget Second Light Network of Women Poets as a primary professional association with an excellent bi-annual journal ARTEMISpoetry, which is published in November and in May. Membership in Second Light network is not restricted to residents of England.

terriREV. TERRI STEWART (Cloaked Monk) is the founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition in Seattle, Washington. Don’t miss tomorrow’s post for details. You will find Terri’s philosophy of Extreme Accompaniment of interest and applicable to the many situations we encounter and have the impulse to heal.

PAULA KUITENBROUWER (Mindful Drawing) was honored by Boeddhistisch Dagblad, the premier Buddhist magazine of the Netherlands, with an interview and photographs … in Paula’s words her “three minutes of fame.” The feature is HERE in Dutch.

bd

1012862_450201838416190_1876830770_nNIAMH CLUNE (On the Plum Tree)  has set-off a virtual explosion of activity and inspiration on her Plum Tree Books Facebook Page.  She is hosting posts by a bevy artists and writers including Shawn MacKenzie (Dragonsnest) with Editor’s Corner and Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day , the journey in poem).  Jamie’s Corner, Soul Speak with Jamie Dedes, is about matters concerned with the inner life.

Niamh’s Plum Tree Books (PTB) is a small book publishing company and will publish material on FB based on the creative collaborations of team members. PTB encourages participation and comment on many subjects from technical advice on how to make a recording, to poetry, social comment, inspirational quotes to inspire your poetry, and how to illustrate children’s books. PTB is always looking for new talent to showcase.

twavatarKAREN FAYETH‘s (Oh Fair New Mexico) latest short story What Leibniz Never Learned was published by The Storyteller, a literary magazine of the print variety. Here’s a snippet with a link to the complete story:

“Anton dropped his head into his hands and, with a deep sigh, allowed frustration to wash over him. He had so many things to say, deep, powerful, urgent emotions, and all he could squeeze out on the pages of his quadrille lined laboratory notebook were gibberish lines and jumbled words.

If only expressing words of love was as simple as the calculus that flowed so easily for him. Figuring derivatives of complex equations happened with ease and grace. Math made sense. Feelings did not.

He turned to a clean page and wrote down a problem. He crafted the most difficult math he could think of and then solved the equation without breaking a mental sweat. Math – in particular, calculus – made him feel better.

That’s because: Math = Easy2 + Clean + Pure

Words sucked. They could be misinterpreted and get all jumbled up and used against a guy. Especially with girls.” MORE.

REENA PRASAD (Butterflies of Time, a convas of poety) ~ is an Indian poet, blogger, and blogging-community friend based in Sharjah. She works tirelessly on her poetry and on getting her work published. Congratulations to her on her most recent success, the publication of Seasons on Thanal Online.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: We are delighted to be introducing some new talent into the mix over the next few weeks and we continue to work on the submissions received from the Call for Submissions, which is now closed. If you have not heard from us yet, do not despair. The project is simply taking more time than anticipated.

POETS AGAINST WAR was certainly a successful effort and we continue to receive submissions, which will be posted and then also added to the collection Poets Against War, 2013 collection.

POETS AGAINST WAR, the book: Several among the Core Team members, contributors, readers and friends have indicated an interest in publishing the poems in anthology with the proceeds from sales going to an international charity to be named. We are researching the details on this and will share information and plans as they become clarified. The short-term plan is to host another peace event in September 2014 to include artists, photographers, story-tellers and essayists. It will be implemented in concert with the 2014 global 100,000 Poets for Change. If all works out, we’ll electronically publish the combined collection (2013, 2014) during the first quarter of 2015. If you have suggestions or technical skills to share, please let us know and they will be factored into our considerations and/or into the planning process. Just leave a note in the comments. Thank you!

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE: This is a heads-up on an event in the planning for Valentine’s Day 2014. Details to be determined and announced. Look for more news about this collaborative effort addressing climate and environmental concerns and the meaning of nature in our lives.

NEWS TO SHARE?:  Please feel free to do so in the comment section.

– The Bardo Group

Inspiration Takes Flight

Editorial note and reminder: In two weeks, Wednesday, October 23, at 7 p.m. we will host a second writing challenge (Writer’s Fourth Wednesday) featuring Victoria C. Slotto, novelist and poet. The subject of this next challenge-yourself exercise is stream-of-consciousness. So writers read on, enjoy, write and mark your calendars for next week’s event. Mr Linky, which enables you to share your work with everyone, will remain open for seventy-two hours. Victoria and Jamie will visit all participants to read and comment.

Here an accomplished story-teller, Karen Fayeth (pronounced “faith” by the way), shares her experience of inspiration, story, and the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition.  

Each year I enjoy participating in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest. The challenge is to write a 1,000 word story over the course of one weekend.

But there’s more! The approximately 700 participants are divided up into groups and each group is given a genre, location and an object. All three must be incorporated in the resulting story. The tale must truly be in the genre, the majority of the story must take place in the location and the object must show up at some point.

It’s always amazing to see the wide array of stories that come from the same genesis. This assignment of genre, location and object can either be entirely freeing, allowing the writer a head start to leap from, or it can be incredibly constraining. It all depends on what genre, location and object gets assigned.

For the first round of the 2013 contest, I was assigned the romance genre. Bleah. Not my favorite but not awful. The location was a haunted house. Hmm. Possibilities abound, but not really for a romance? Hmm. Ok. And my object was marshmallows.

That was my place to start. Over the course of many of these contests I find the judges tend to like if you use the location and object in unique ways, so I always try to think of a twist or a different facet to use in my story.

I was quite busy over this first weekend of competition, doing some work for my employer and taking care of personal business, so there I found myself Sunday morning with nary a word written and a deadline of 9pm that night.

I opened the windows to my studio and let the light pour in. I felt the breeze through the screens and sat down at my computer to make magic.

Magic. Ha! There I sat looking at the curser on my computer screen, willing the magic to begin. It blinked. I blinked.

No magic was happening.

So I subscribed to the “just write something” theory and got started. I began typing words and thoughts and a character sketch. It was going. The magic was not quite lifting off, but it was certainly gaining speed.

That is when something caught my eye outside of the window. A little splash of orange on that first day of Autumn.

I was surprised to see a Monarch butterfly resting on the bush just to the side of the building where I live.

I rushed to get my camera, attached the longest lens I have, popped the screen out of my window, and began taking photographs.

I’m sure glad I did.

Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth

This gorgeous lone Monarch Butterfly was hanging out in the warm sun, using the ol’ proboscis to drink some nectar and gathering pollen on spindly legs. You know, general butterfly business.

As I watched, a couple of bees were highly displeased at the presence of the butterfly and kept strafing him (I say him but I looked up Monarch butterflies online and I think this might actually be a female, but I’m not sure).

These bees were executing deep aggressive fly-bys that only caused the butterfly to flap his wings a bit but stay put. The bees were quite persistent. They dive-bombed and I kept snapping away. I have some crazy action shots that I’m still editing.

After a while, the butterfly flew off and I downloaded and looked through my photos, very pleased with the results.

Then I sat back in my chair and smiled. After the visit from Mr. (Ms?) Butterfly, I felt totally motivated and completely creative. I turned back to my story and banged out about 1,300 words in one sitting.

Then I set the story aside and let it percolate while my husband and I went to explore a local street fair.

When we came back I had fresh eyes and gave the story a hard edit. I managed to pare it down to 999 words and submitted it about 45 minutes before the deadline.

Man-oh-man, hitting send on that story sure felt good.

I owe an awesome creative surge to a visit from a pretty orange butterfly on the first day of Autumn.

© 2013, essay and photo, Karen Fayeth, All rights reserved

webheadshotKaren Fayeth ~ is one of our regular writers. She is our tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for a science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine, an essay in the online magazine Wild Violet, and a short story in Foliate Oak. Her story “What Leibniz Never Learned” will appear in the Fall edition of The Storyteller.

The Turtle and The Hare

As a little bit of back story, in the course of my life, I spent quite a few years in the company of a blues musician. By spending a little time with him, I also spent time around a lot of different blues musicians.

Men and women with a deep vein of soul and history and rhythm.

When you are around blues people, you hear a lot of stories. Telling stories is pretty much the foundation of being able to play the blues. As a storyteller in my own right, I used to soak in these stories, letting them enter my pores and fill my soul and tap my DNA on the shoulder and ask it to dance.

The stories are in me. Not all of them are true. Few of them are pretty.

All of this is a long winded lead up to a particular story I have in mind.

It goes something like this:

Back in the 1950’s in a small suburb of Dallas, Texas, two talented brothers grew up together.

Both had music in their bones and talent for playing the guitar. The world knows a little bit more about Stevie Ray Vaughan because of his breathtaking musical style and early death, but Jimmie Vaughan has also seen a fair bit of success with his music.

If you listen to each of their music, you can hear their very different styles. Stevie’s music was intense, complicated and at times frenetic. Jimmie likes to play a bit slower and wider and easier.

Legend has it that back in the day in Oak Cliff, Texas both boys not only liked guitars but they liked cars.

Stevie, unsurprisingly, liked real fast hot rod cars that he could jump in and race around town. Stevie used to vex the local police who couldn’t slow him down.

Jimmie on the other hand liked to cruise. He liked big, heavily finned, tuck and roll upholstered, Buick with a “smile” kind of cars. He’d put his girlfriend beside him on the bench seat and slowly roll through town, vexing the local police who wanted him to speed up.

I think of this story pretty frequently in relation to my own roll through life. My approach is more Jimmie than Stevie, though I admire Stevie very much.

Perhaps this owes to the slow “land of mañana” pace of where I grew up. We don’t move with alacrity in New Mexico and tend to be suspicious of those who do. When I still lived in the state and traveled to San Francisco or Boston for work, I was always comforted to come home, get off the plane, and visually see how slow people moved. Then I would match my pace to theirs and know I was home.

There is a great comfort in moving at a calm pace.

I find, however, that is not how the world thinks one should move.

Let’s take for example, New York City. In New York, you are supposed to walk fast. Very fast. Head straight, eyes forward, and walk.

Despite how much I love Manhattan, I have quite a hard time keeping up. The Good Man (my husband) was born in Brooklyn so moving at that pace comes natural. It does not come natural for me. I prefer to toddle along closer to the buildings and let the people pass me by on the outside of the sidewalk.

I am the person that New Yorkers yell at for walking too slow.

This all came back to mind this past week. It is New York Fashion week and I follow Nina Garcia, Marie Claire magazine’s Creative Director, on various social networking sites.

She has been posting photos from all of the various designer shows and I have been lapping them up like at kitten at a bowl of milk.

I may not have a figure for fashion, but I love it. I love seeing how textiles and stitches and notions come together to create something fantastic or ugly or offbeat.

So a couple of days ago, Ms. Garcia posted a photo of a sign she saw backstage at the Michael Kors Spring show. Oh my, I am a huge fan of Mr. Kors.

Here is the photo:

I read the words and my heart sank a little. I am happily romantic, strong and my own version of gorgeous.

But I don’t walk fast and with energy.

I would love to kill them with chic, but instead I must maintain my killer sense of humor.

For some reason, this really got under my skin and whispered to those demons in my head who heckled me and said that if I can’t walk fast and with energy, I am a nobody. They said I don’t measure up, don’t belong, don’t matter because I can’t keep up.

And that’s when I remembered the story about the Vaughan brothers.

I don’t need to race up and down the streets of New York. There are plenty of people who have that covered. I want to cruise the Manhattan blocks and tip my head upward to wonder at the buildings and smile and give my lungs room to breathe.

Slow though I walk, I always get where I’m going. Pink cheeked, a little sweaty and smiling.

Perhaps I am taking this hand written sign a little too close to heart. I’m sure this was simply a note of encouragement for the models walking the runway, reminding them to keep it peppy and light.

Perhaps it just hit me on a bad day when the demons were a little closer to the open door than I would like. I let them out to play awhile, really let them run, then I whistled and corralled them back into the pen.

And I remembered that a strong, courageous New Mexican doesn’t have to walk fast unless she wants to. That is true both when walking the Bosque or NYC’s Broadway.

A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.

–Coco Chanel

Thankfully, I am both.

–Karen Fayeth

© 2013, essay, Karen Fayeth, All rights reserved

Photo from the Instagram feed of Nina Garcia. All rights belong to her.

webheadshotKaren Fayeth ~ is one of our regular writers. She is our tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine, an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet, and a short story in Foliate Oak. Her story “What Leibniz Never Learned” will appear in the Fall edition of The Storyteller.

For the Love of a Good Cuppa

A couple years ago, my husband and I had the chance to celebrate the Fourth of July with some good friends. There were six of us total (three couples), and we met at our friend’s house for a special treat.

One of our crew had just recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia. She and her husband are in process of adopting an adorable baby boy and she had to make a visit to work through the paperwork with the local courts.

While in country visiting her baby son and patiently working though the long process, she was treated on several occasions to the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

On our Fourth of July holiday, she wanted to share this ceremony with us, her friends.

About the coffee ceremony, here’s a quote from Ethiopian ambassador Haile-Giros Gessesse:

“Coffee has social value in our society. It is deep rooted in our culture. The coffee ceremony in local areas is used mainly for social gatherings. In the mornings and evenings parents, especially mothers gather together for a coffee ceremony and also use it as a platform for exchanging information in their surroundings. It is a means of communication. When people sit down they usually spend three hours finalizing the ceremony, starting with the preparation, and then roasting to brewing it.”

Our friend had hauled home a big bag of green coffee beans, water hulled (the good stuff) not fire hulled, and we sat outside in the beautiful sun while she told us about the ceremony.

First, she roasted the beans on the grill. We watched as she shook and swirled the pan, much like a slow Jiffy pop motion.

When we all agreed that it looked like the beans were at a good medium roast each of us took in a whiff of the fantastic aroma from the pan.

Then we took turns using a mortar and pestle to smash the beans down to a nice grind. Every person took their turn and everyone contributed.

It was satisfying work to smash, smash, smash those crispy beans and release the beautiful scent and oils.

Once ready, the grinds were placed into a French press and once brewed, a round of coffee was poured into six cups.

This fresh roasted coffee was delicious! It had a floral aroma and tasted so light and mild. This coffee was perfect with just a touch of sugar and nothing else.

In keeping with tradition, we had three rounds of coffee while we discussed our lives, the news of the day, baseball, and got caught up with each other. This is an essential part of the ceremony, sharing community, support, and friendship.

Now, I love a great cup of coffee, but I rarely drink caffeinated coffee. After three cups I was ready to clean my house top to bottom, jog a thousand miles, and throw a 98mph fastball.

But it was a happy caffeinated high shared with dear friends.

I was honored to be a part of the ceremony and I can hardly wait until our friends bring home their baby boy. I hope to we can continue to give him a sense of community and family, maybe even over a cuppa or two…or three.

– Karen Fayeth

© 2013, essay, Karen Fayeth, All rights reserved
Photo and quote from a CRIEnglish.com article by Wei Tong.

webheadshotKAREN FAYETH ~ is one of our regular writers. She is our tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine and an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet. Her latest short story “Quick, Quick Slow” was published in the May edition of Foliate Oak. Karen’s photography is garnering considerable attention, her photo titled “Bromance” (featuring Aubry Huff and Pat Burrell) was featured on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar.

From Father to Son to Daughter

After my dad passed away several years ago, my mom gave me possession of the family collection of photo albums and scrap books, and I made the solemn promise I’d keep them safe.

It was an easy promise because I adore all the family artifacts. As a kid, I used to dive into the scrapbook pages and smile at photos of my hot young mom (she was stunning!) and my smart young dad (he was geeky!).

My mom was a great scrapbooker and I have mountains of artifacts to explore including photos, family letters and souvenirs.

The hand written letters are what I cherish the most. Reading words inked out in the strong hand of my great grandfather on his official stationary gives me a sense of connection to a man I never knew, yet his very DNA is alive within me. I can learn who he was by the choice of language and the surety of his pen stroke.

My grandfather on my father’s side was also a good letter writer. He had a keen sense for telling the mundane facts while inserting a good dose of wry humor. He was close to all eight of his children and since my father had moved a good distance from home, the two stayed close by writing letters.

Among the piles of correspondence I found a gem in an envelope from my grandfather to my father. It was typewritten using carbon paper, so perhaps my grandfather was making copies for all of his kids.

Because the photo (below) of an old letter may be difficult to read, here is what it says:

12 Things To Remember

* *

1. The value of time

2. The success of perseverance.

3. The pleasure of working.

4. The dignity of simplicity.

5. The worth of character.

6. The power of kindness.

7. The influence of example.

8. The obligation of duty.

9. The wisdom of economy.

10. The virtue of patience.

11. The improvement of talent.

12. The joy of originating.

The handwritten bit up in the corner says, “Read weekly, a good guide – Dad”

Such simple words that encapsulate such very strong values. This is endearing fatherly advice to a son and it is timeless. This was written in 1949, but is just as applicable 64 years later.

This advice was passed from father to son, and holding it in my hands it passes again, now from from father to daughter.

This guide has meaning to me and gives me much to ponder as I wade through another busy work week and think about who I am and who I came from.

And who I want to be.

To all fathers and grandfathers, I wish you a very joyful Father’s Day. May your own good words find their way through the generations.

***

© Karen Fayeth, copyright 2013, all rights reserved. The family photo of the author and her father and the image of the letter are covered under copyright. Please be respectful.

webheadshotKAREN FAYETH ~ is one of our regular contributing writers. She is our new tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine and an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet. Her latest short story will be published in the May edition of Foliate Oak. Karen’s photography is garnering considerable attention, her photo titled “Bromance” (featuring Aubry Huff and Pat Burrell) was featured on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar.

Introducing …

It is my pleasure to provide a formal introduction to two of the newer members of Bardo’s core creative team:

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, a psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. Michael tells us that in childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing. He shares his personal, professional, and shamanic experiences and insights at Dreaming the World, as well as here at Into the Bardo.

Michael lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, which is nestled snugly between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. (He says that most days he can see the Adirondack Mountains across the lake.) He teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College, where he was once Dean of Students. Recently he returned home from teaching in India and Hong Kong.

Michael is mixed blood*, which makes his genealogy “confounding at best.” His father’s father was Native American from the Black Hills (most probably Lakota). His mother was Native American from Indiana, possibly Shawnee. Periodically someone on the distaff side of the family “discovers” their grandmother’s actual tribal affiliation, but “those discoveries tend to morph.”

In attempting to discover family roots, Michael says there are many genealogical stone walls, as befits a family in hiding. His mother’s family identified as hailing from the British Isles, although there were rumors of more recent Cherokee ancestry. “My father said our family is Native on both sides. Mom was from Texas, and both families very aware of the racism Natives face in their respective states. Anyway, my family did not speak much about being Indian and we don’t have tribal affiliation. Identity politics are strong in the United States and being mixed blood teaches one much about living in between easily defined categories.”

9709-008In 2002, Michael’s teachers told him he must become more visible and teach. That was not a simple directive to fulfill. He had always been taught that one never calls oneself a shaman or medicine person: only the elders and teachers, and the people one aids, can speak to who is, or is not, a shaman. Traditionally, when asked about being a shaman the appropriate response is, ” My teachers, and my teachers’ teachers, were shamans”. In many native communities, persons who claim to be shamans are highly suspect. “I was taught to always run the other direction when confronted with someone claiming to be a shaman. Yet, the world has changed and I do not live in traditional culture. The time is near when the ancient teachings and healing practices of First Nations people will find their rightful place in the world. My teachers believe it is now important for visionary healers to stand true and straight, to acknowledge our training, and to share the teachings and practices we know.”

in the United States “mixed blood” usually indicates a mix of European and Native American, not Hispanic or Black.

webheadshotKAREN FAYETH (Oh Fair New Mexico)~ Writer, blogger, photographer, visual artist: these are all words that can be used to describe Karen Fayeth and her work. A native of New Mexico, Karen moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997 and was immediately inspired and engaged by the vibrant arts community, which is so woven into the local way of life. Karen blends the influences of the cultures where she grew up, including Hispanic, Native American, and the deep rural soul of the American West along with a newer city-sense acquired in places like San Francisco, Brooklyn, Boston, London, Singapore, and San Jose, Costa Rica.

A storyteller at heart, Karen’s main medium is words and writing, but she recognizes that words don’t always tell the tale. Karen expanded her studies to the visual arts including paint, clay, papier-mache and photography. She’s learned to craft stories using a combination of both words and images.

Karen’s been blogging at Oh Fair New Mexico since March of 2007. Her writing is featured in publications including New Mexico Magazine, Wild Violet Literary Magazine, and Foliate Oak. Her photography is regularly displayed as a part of an annual Localvision photography show and she’s received special note for her photographs of well-known baseball players. (She’s an avid baseball fan.) Karen’s won awards for her writing, photography, and crafts. When she is not spinning a tale or clicking her Canon, she works as a senior level executive for a science and research organization. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and her cat, and she can sometimes be found entertaining friends, family, and colleagues with her endearing sense of humor and her San Mateo County Fair blue-ribbon green chile chicken enchiladas. Yes! She even won an award for her cooking.

– Jamie Dedes

© 2013, photographs, Michael Watson and Karen Fayeth respectively, All rights reserved

My Moment Of Zen

respiteIn a full to overflowing bathtub, I relax, soaking the ache out of legs and content to be surrounded by water. It’s not long before I slide down, legs crawling up the wall under the shower, head dipping below the surface. My right hand plugs my nose and my left hand covers my eyes like a sleep mask and water fills my ears.

I savor these few moments I have to just float in nothing.

The water amplifies noise but bends the sound waves into something more beautiful. Even the passing fire truck with its shrill siren and blaring horns sounds almost musical when passed through my warm, clear water. The rhythmic hum of the clothes dryer puts me in a trance and I enjoy this until my lungs ask politely and then not so politely if we can surface and take in some new, unused air.

I reluctantly rise up and gasp in a big breath and go under again. It’s just too delicious and quite addictive. This time I think about buying a snorkel so I can stay under the water and still breathe. I’ve considered buying a snorkel so I can stay under my bath water ever since I was a kid.

Even as a child I was drawn to the solace and quiet of being under water. One early evening as I was taking a bath and creating my own sensory isolation chamber, my mother walked in to check on me. As any protective mother of three children would do when presented with the sight of her youngest lying apparently lifeless in a bathtub full of water, she freaked out.

My mother yanked me from the water and shook me hard, shouting my name. I unplugged my nose and uncovered my eyes and said, “What?”

I got a well-deserved and thorough chewing out and was told in no uncertain terms that I was never to simply slide under the water and remain motionless. Ever.

When I later emerged from my bath and got dressed and ran a comb through my unruly long hair, I was confronted by my father who ripped into me for scaring my mother.

I always thought that was quite unfair. I didn’t set out to intentionally scare my mother. I simply wanted a moment, if even half a minute, where I didn’t exist in the world. Where everything was blocked out and time slowed down and sounds bent in pleasing ways.

My solution thereafter was to continue to dunk my head well below water and plug my nose with my right hand. With my left hand, I would raise it above the surface and wave it like the Queen on parade so that any passerby would know I was still conscious, just submerged.

This seemed a suitable solution for all. A nice compromise.

I’ve always wanted to visit one of those sensory isolation tanks. It sounds like a little slice of heaven to me. Floating in a tank with no light and hardly any sound and just the quiet to embrace me. Yes, I think I would love this very much.

The Good Man thinks I’m half a bubble off level to consider this. “I always figure while you are locked in there, the people outside will steal your stuff or do something weird,” he says.

This is how his mind works. This is not how my mind works.

A few years ago we visited a spa in Calistoga, California. The spas in Calistoga are known for their mud baths. You give them money and they allow you to slide your nekkid body into a warm tub of slightly sulphurous goo. The weight of the mud resists your body, you actually have to dig in there. Once settled, you are surrounded and suspended and oh my goodness I could have stayed in there for weeks.

The Good Man did not feel as kindly toward the mud. He said he was antsy the whole time he was in there and ready to vault from the tub. He couldn’t wait for it to be over. I never wanted it to stop.

Perhaps it’s something Freudian that I like to slip into warm suspended places and forget about things for a while. I choose to think it rather normal to want to seek out genuine moments of respite where the world and all its crazy spinning and shouting and clanking and cruelty goes away, for just a moment. For as long as it takes me to hold my breath.

Until I buy a snorkel.

– Karen Fayeth

© Karen Fayeth, copyright 2013, all rights reserved. Bathtub image found on Rodale.com and all rights remain with the website and photographer. Bio photograph by Claudia Akers.

webheadshotKAREN FAYETH ~ is one of our regular contributing writers. She is our new tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine and an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet. Her latest short story will be published in the May edition of Foliate Oak. Karen’s photography is garnering considerable attention, her photo titled “Bromance” (featuring Aubry Huff and Pat Burrell) was featured on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar.

The Divining Trunk

The battered metal steamer trunk in my living room, a family heirloom, is crammed full of memories. Sturdy sides hold every photo album and scrapbook that was bestowed upon me in the weeks following my father’s death*.

This pile of memories is like a divination tool. I open the lid and dig in then something useful bubbles to the surface. Something I’ve never seen before or something familiar, but always just the thing I need to see.

One stapled stack of papers catches my eye today. It contains a perfect wood pulp circle of life: my paternal grandparent’s birth certificates, their marriage license, and both death certificates.

Their entire lives are covered off in five pages.

On my grandmother’s death certificate, it lists, “oat cell cancer to left lung” under the cause of death.

Oat cell. Doesn’t that sound very grandma-ish? Like warm oatmeal and a hug, however, a short Google search advises that oat cell is among the most aggressive forms of lung cancer.

Besides, my grandmother wasn’t very oatmeal and hugs anyway. She was something much more urbane.

Which makes her bigger than life in my memory.

When I was about seven, my paternal grandparents made a visit to New Mexico to attend my first communion. My dad grew up in South Bend, Indiana, which to this desert kid may as well have been on the other side of the universe.

In the mid-seventies, Albuquerque wasn’t a very evolved place. Our airport was a small building the color of dry grass next to a hot concrete tarmac shared with the air force base.

The waiting area had memorable soft leather chairs on sturdy wood frames. I’d sink into the smell of leather and through large picture windows watch the planes fly in over the Sandia Mountains.

Passengers would disembark down sturdy metal stairs, eyes blinking in the bright desert sun.

That day I stood there, clutching at my mom, both scared and excited to meet my dad’s parents.

“There they are,” my mom said.

“Where?” I asked, perking up.

“Look, the woman in the coat.”

I looked. Making her elegant way off the plane was my white-haired grandmother. She wore a dress, pearls, stockings and heels. On top of it all she wore a fur-lined overcoat.

No one wore fur, much less an overcoat, in New Mexico.

She carried herself like a movie star, the regal matriarch of my father’s family. Her lipstick was flawless, her porcelain skin showing nary a wrinkle.

Behind her tottered my grandfather, a tall man with a lined face wearing a good suit and a hat. Always a hat.

These people were like something out of a novel. They were big city. Granted, South Bend is no great shakes, but they flew in from Chicago and looked it.

To me they seemed worldly, intelligent, and jaunty in that “Great Gatsby” kind of way.

My Grandmother smelled of perfume and powder and my Grandfather of cigarettes and hair oil. I was in awe. My mother was visibly intimidated by them both so I followed suit.

My 1970’s fashionable bell-bottom jeans and ratty t-shirt now felt tacky and under-dressed, as elegance had just hit our dry, desert wilderness.

Over the course of the visit, I tried desperately to reconcile myself to these people; my family. I clung to my mother, a shy doe-eyed girl from Oregon who in later years would confide to me just how much her in-laws scared the bejeezus out of her. I understood why.

At breakfast one morning, Grandmother sat chain-smoking, leaving perfect lipstick rings on the filter while Grandfather sat quietly, acquiescing to her, always. Something my dad had said made Grandmother mad, and she spoke harshly, her Irish temper flaring.

She shouted down my father, something no one I knew had ever done. I fled from the room, scared out of my gourd.

No one talked back to my father and got away with it. I think that terrified me more than the shouting.

I’d managed to bond with my gentle, comedic Grandfather and did my best to studiously behave in front of my Grandmother, lest she turn her overpowering temper on me.

Several days into the visit, while having an early evening happy hour, my mom cracked open a can of smoked oysters and Grandmother clapped her hands with glee, as this was a favorite treat. She prodded me to try one. It looked like a globby, gray pencil eraser doing an oily shimmy on a cracker.

Wanting desperately to somehow connect with this elegant woman, I took the offering like receiving communion, and chewed. It was tasty and I smiled. Grandmother was pleased, and handed me another, which I quickly ate. She wrapped an arm around me and pulled me close to her warm, fleshy side.

I’d done good.

We were worlds apart, and yet, our mutual love of good food held the power to close the gap.

In the years that followed, I wouldn’t be able to explore any more potential common ground. South Bend and Albuquerque were just too far apart, and it was five years later that my grandmother died. It was the only time I ever saw my father cry, and at age twelve, my first experience with cancer.

I wish I’d known my grandmother more. I wish I could find more ways to say, “oh, I’m just like her” but I can’t.

She was like a shooting star, in my mind a brief bit of glorious celebrity, stolen away far too quickly by the oat cells.

*My father succumbed to complications from pulmonary fibrosis

© Karen Fayeth, copyright 2011, all rights reserved. The family photos of the author and her grandmother are covered under copyright. Please be respectful.

webheadshotKAREN FAYETH ~ is one of our regular contributing writers. She is our new tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine and an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet.  Her latest short story will be published in the May edition of Foliate Oak. Karen’s photography is garnering considerable attention, her photo titled “Bromance” (featuring Aubry Huff and Pat Burrell) was featured on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar.

 

On Tenacity

mymettles

ON TENACITY

by

Karen Fayeth (Oh Fair New Mexico)

Earlier this week I received the results of a competition I had entered, and for which I held out great hope. It was related to my writing and even an honorable mention would have been a huge step forward for me.

While entering I knew it was a long shot, but I really believed I had a chance.

Predictably, when the results were announced I was nowhere in the list, and yes, this got me a little down.

That’s the trouble, sometimes, with having hope. A burgeoning flower bud of belief can so easily get ravaged by insatiable locusts (over dramatic metaphor alert!!!).

When one is a rather sensitive artist type, it’s hard not to feel steamrolled at such times. Then again, what separates the doers from the dilettantes is tenacity.

So after feeling mopey for several days I am starting to rally. In defeat my resolve becomes just that much stronger.
For almost two years I have been using a really wonderful service that forces me to submit writing to literary journals every quarter. They are strict taskmasters and they keep me focused.

Once every three months I send out about thirty submissions, of which most of them are rejected. This means piles and piles of both email and snail mail arrive at my door just to say “you are not a good fit.”

Amazing how something like two hundred rejections can really make a girl immune to the woes. It’s like a pair of ill-fitting shoes. At first it hurts, then it makes a really painful blister, then finally a callus forms. The thin skin has toughened to endure the scraping.

Like that.

This morning I was thinking back to about seven years ago, back before The Good Man and I had married, and he was living in San Francisco’s North Beach. A really cool new art store had opened on Columbus Ave. near his place and I was just beginning my foray into the visual arts. Visual arts were a big departure from writing, which had dominated my creative juices for so long.
I loved everything about the art store and bought quite a few supplies there. One day they had posters up announcing an auction. Customers were invited to submit art works and the store would display them and then at the end of the month, the store auctioned them off for charity.

Great! I was on board. I created an item to give to the auction and when The Good Man turned in my piece for me, he was asked to put a starting bid. Because he loves me and encourages my work, he put the amount of $50 as a starting price instead of starting at zero as most other artists were doing.

Later, when we walked into the store to see my stuff on display, my piece was at the very, very back of the store among the tools and shelves where they stretch canvas. My work was clearly more amateur than the rest of the offerings and it stood out as the only one using the photographic medium, but ok. It was on display which was a huge rush.

When the auction was finished, they called to ask me to come pick up my work. The rather arrogant and sniffly clerk informed me bluntly that my piece was the ONLY one that hadn’t sold (meanwhile, he gave us a flyer so we could attend his exhibit of butt ugly paintings at a local small gallery).

I was, of course, embarrassed beyond belief, humiliated and totally crushed. Being judged by a more experienced (and in my mind, more talented) artist just about did me in.

Just thinking about it still gives me shudders of embarrassment. This morning in the wake of my recent defeat I thought again about this experience. I recalled today that among all the donated pieces, my work was the only one that listed a starting bid.

All others put in a starting bid of $0, and they all sold. Snotty clerk said they didn’t have a lot of bids and bidders. All of this means that at the end of the auction, someone could have thrown $5 at a piece of artwork and would have won.

Today I understand that instead of being sheepish about that whole thing, I should be proud. I may not have sold my work but I valued my art enough to put a price on it.

Which is stronger? Valuing my own work and not selling it at that auction, or giving it away for free, thus saying the value of my work is nothing?

I know which one I choose. Today I have straightened my spine and I feel a little better.

In defeat, my mettle is being tempered, and that only makes me stronger.

© 2013, essay, Karen Fayeth, All rights reserved. Photo by Claudia Akers.
Photo credit ~ Forge, ScienceGuide

webheadshotKAREN FAYETH ~ is one of our regular contributing writers. She is our new tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine and an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet.  Her latest short story will be published in the May edition of Foliate Oak. Karen’s photography is garnering considerable attention, but her proudest moment was having her “Bromance” (Aubry Huff and Pat Burrell) photo featured on Intentional Talk hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar on MLB TV. She’s a Giant’s fan.

PERSPECTIVES ON CANCER #12: The Divining Trunk

Karen Fayeth’s Grandmother

Author Karen Fayeth and her Grandmother

·

THE DIVINING TRUNK

by

Karen Fayeth

The battered metal steamer trunk in my living room, a family heirloom, is crammed full of memories. Sturdy sides hold every photo album and scrapbook that was bestowed upon me in the weeks following my father’s death*.

This pile of memories is like a divination tool. I open the lid and dig in then something useful bubbles to the surface. Something I’ve never seen before or something familiar, but always just the thing I need to see.

One stapled stack of papers catches my eye today. It contains a perfect wood pulp circle of life: my paternal grandparent’s birth certificates, their marriage license, and both death certificates.

Their entire lives are covered off in five pages.

On my grandmother’s death certificate, it lists, “oat cell cancer to left lung” under the cause of death.

Oat cell. Doesn’t that sound very grandma-ish? Like warm oatmeal and a hug, however, a short Google search advises that oat cell is among the most aggressive forms of lung cancer.

Besides, my grandmother wasn’t very oatmeal and hugs anyway. She was something much more urbane.

Which makes her bigger than life in my memory.

When I was about seven, my paternal grandparents made a visit to New Mexico to attend my first communion. My dad grew up in South Bend, Indiana, which to this desert kid may as well have been on the other side of the universe.

In the mid-seventies, Albuquerque wasn’t a very evolved place. Our airport was a small building the color of dry grass next to a hot concrete tarmac shared with the air force base.

The waiting area had memorable soft leather chairs on sturdy wood frames. I’d sink into the smell of leather and through large picture windows watch the planes fly in over the Sandia Mountains.

Passengers would disembark down sturdy metal stairs, eyes blinking in the bright desert sun.

That day I stood there, clutching at my mom, both scared and excited to meet my dad’s parents.

“There they are,” my mom said.

“Where?” I asked, perking up.

“Look, the woman in the coat.”

I looked. Making her elegant way off the plane was my white-haired grandmother. She wore a dress, pearls, stockings and heels. On top of it all she wore a fur-lined overcoat.

No one wore fur, much less an overcoat, in New Mexico.

She carried herself like a movie star, the regal matriarch of my father’s family. Her lipstick was flawless, her porcelain skin showing nary a wrinkle.

Behind her tottered my grandfather, a tall man with a lined face wearing a good suit and a hat. Always a hat.

These people were like something out of a novel. They were big city. Granted, South Bend is no great shakes, but they flew in from Chicago and looked it.

To me they seemed worldly, intelligent, and jaunty in that “Great Gatsby” kind of way.

My Grandmother smelled of perfume and powder and my Grandfather of cigarettes and hair oil. I was in awe. My mother was visibly intimidated by them both so I followed suit.

My 1970’s fashionable bell-bottom jeans and ratty t-shirt now felt tacky and under-dressed, as elegance had just hit our dry, desert wilderness.

Over the course of the visit, I tried desperately to reconcile myself to these people; my family. I clung to my mother, a shy doe-eyed girl from Oregon who in later years would confide to me just how much her in-laws scared the bejeezus out of her. I understood why.

At breakfast one morning, Grandmother sat chain-smoking, leaving perfect lipstick rings on the filter while Grandfather sat quietly, acquiescing to her, always. Something my dad had said made Grandmother mad, and she spoke harshly, her Irish temper flaring.

She shouted down my father, something no one I knew had ever done. I fled from the room, scared out of my gourd.

No one talked back to my father and got away with it. I think that terrified me more than the shouting.

I’d managed to bond with my gentle, comedic Grandfather and did my best to studiously behave in front of my Grandmother, lest she turn her overpowering temper on me.

Several days into the visit, while having an early evening happy hour, my mom cracked open a can of smoked oysters and Grandmother clapped her hands with glee, as this was a favorite treat. She prodded me to try one. It looked like a globby, gray pencil eraser doing an oily shimmy on a cracker.

Wanting desperately to somehow connect with this elegant woman, I took the offering like receiving communion, and chewed. It was tasty and I smiled. Grandmother was pleased, and handed me another, which I quickly ate. She wrapped an arm around me and pulled me close to her warm, fleshy side.

I’d done good.

We were worlds apart, and yet, our mutual love of good food held the power to close the gap.

In the years that followed, I wouldn’t be able to explore any more potential common ground. South Bend and Albuquerque were just too far apart, and it was five years later that my grandmother died. It was the only time I ever saw my father cry, and at age twelve, my first experience with cancer.

I wish I’d known my grandmother more. I wish I could find more ways to say, “oh, I’m just like her” but I can’t.

She was like a shooting star, in my mind a brief bit of glorious celebrity, stolen away far too quickly by the oat cells.

*My father succumbed to complications from pulmonary fibrosis

© Karen Fayeth, copyright 2011, all rights reserved. The family photos are covered under copyright. Please be respectful.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Karen Fayeth ~ A corporate executive, writer, blogger, photographer, and visual artist, Karen was born and raised in New Mexico and moved to the San Francisco Bay area in 1997. Her work blends the influences of Hispanic, Native American, and the deep rural soul of the American West along with her newer city-sense learned in places like San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Boston. She is an award-winning short-story writer, and her baseball photo Bromance was featured on Intential Talk, hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar. New Mexico magazine recently published three features by Karen. She has one published novel and lives with her husband, a cat (Gypsy), and two Siamese fighting fish, Benito and Margaret. Karen’s grandmother died of lung cancer. Karen blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico.