Writer’s Digest November Poem-a-Day 2017 Challenge #20. Theme: What I Learned

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What I’ve Learned (so far)

What I learned from Creative Writing is that you don’t take it with the notion of learning how to get published–you take it to learn how to become a better writer so that you will have a better chance of getting published.

What I learned from Computer Concepts… Well, that would be nothing. Nothing at all.

What I learned from Ethics was “The Silver Rule” (or what I call the passive rule, as it concerns not doing something), and that I can Kant.  (I also learned that I love philosophy.)

What I learned from Poetry was that rhyme is limiting (take that, Robert Frost–I play dangerously without a net!), and that a person who wears a “Make America Great Again” hat wants to discuss more than mere poetry. I also learned that with workshopping, it’s wise to abide by the admonition of Cinderella, which is “to have courage and be kind.”

What I learned from English Composition II was how to write a research paper on a subject I knew nothing about (i.e. horses) and that Shakespeare is more fun to discuss than read. (I also learned that ratemyprofessors.com is pretty accurate.)

What I learned from Intermediate College Algebra was that I was not necessarily brilliant, but persistent enough to not allow the fear of algebra keep me from finishing college a second time.

What I learned from Security Awareness (besides finding a cure for insomnia) was that I could go viral (if not bacterial) on YouTube and make lots of money producing cat videos.

What I learned from Contemporary Literature is that a playful syllabus is indicative of a chill professor. (And a chill professor won’t take it personally if you kill him off in one of your stories. He just might laugh!)

What I learned from College Publications, Reporting, and working on the student newspaper is that I can make 24-hour deadlines. I learned that being a humor columnist would be my dream job (as I will never have a passion for reporting “ticker-tape news,” but for what comes after).

What I learned from medical coding classes what that I hate medical coding, but in learning that, I also learned that no education is ever wasted, for it took a wrong turn to get to the right one.

And what’s more, I learned that with a career and a family, it will take me longer to finish my education, but that’s okay, for as my college newspaper adviser says, “No one has ever asked me how long it took to get my Ph.D.”

There is time.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2017-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-20

 

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #324, Theme: Spectacular

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This Spectacular Age

We are the Age of the New Millennium—
the New Age of Identity,
where you can be anything you want to be,
even if you aren’t and can never be.
We are the Age of Information Technology
that flows at the speed of sound,
depending upon the connection.
We are at the Spectacular Age,
for never before has mankind
seen such leaps and bounds.

The spectacular camera
captures images
that would have been lost in the haze of memory.

The spectacular camcorder
captures a shot of a birthday,
a child’s particular laugh,
a political gaffe.
The camera holder is the apostle
who records the story from his or her perspective.

All is recorded for posterity,
for herstory,
for history.

The electric light drowns out the darkness,
keeping us awake,
aware,
so that we can have pizza
in a brightly lit parlor at four a.m.
Candles are now a novelty—
like a flame of the past.

Books can be downloaded,
uploaded,
and never go out of print—
the words of the authors living long
after they have gone.

I can Skype someone across the globe,
and I don’t even have to wait for a plane,
for I’m already there—
the sights and sounds come through loud and clear.

The feel of newsprint between my fingers
has become a fleeting memory.

Like a Luddite, I go to the bookstore
to open a book the old-fashioned way.
I savor the feel of the slick, embossed cover,
admire the gilt-edged pages,
and delight in the crisp black-and-white.

The clatter of flatware at the dinner table
is drowned out by the clicking of buttons—
the furious sounds of texting.
Conversation is a casualty.

The information superhighway is becoming faster,
like a New York minute—
with so many stops along the way.

I log onto Facebook,
where I go to hang out with friends,
where only those I want can become part of my world.

Then I log on to Twitter—
sending and receiving open telegrams
in 140 characters or less.
I am blitzed by information
that would have taken hours to look up before.

LinkedIn is where my qualifications outshine my shyness.

YouTube is where I watch and listen—
where I can learn everything
and nothing at the same time.

But WordPress—
that is where I tell the world my story,
so that to my descendants,
I will not be a mystery.

I look up from my phone
to find you standing right in front of me,
only to see you looking down at yours.
You do not even know I am there.

 

Great Sources for Children’s Songs

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Singing has always been one of my favorite things to do in the car (when I’m not listening to talk radio) and in church; so naturally, when I had a child, I wanted to sing to her, but not always old country tunes or church hymns (though we do the latter on Sunday night after I read to her from the children’s Bible).  I loved “Wee Sing” as a kid, because kids sang the songs, and the lyrics and melodies were easy to remember.  Whenever my family watched the Olympics, I loved listening to the different anthems, and chorus was one of my favorite classes in high school (even though the teacher asked me to please lip sync during performances).  When I was a little girl, “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” were two of my favorite movies, and part of that was because of the music.  Some movies like “Pocahontas” and “Rent” were only good for their singles.  Music in movies is like poetry in motion (pardon the cliché), and I’ve found many greats in the motion pictures.  How different would “The Graduate” have been without that awesome soundtrack?

There is just something about music that stirs the soul, and though I am hardly musically inclined (a sheet of music is like an unreadable map to me), I love it, and I wanted to instill in my daughter a love for it, too (it might even help her in math later, so I’ve heard).

  1. “The Wee Cooper of Fife” (the song the children in the schoolhouse are singing in “The Birds”).
  2. “Tammy” (from “Tammy and the Bachelor”, with Debbie Reynolds; though I would say this song is more appropriate for a little girl).
  3. “Early One Morning” (the first couple of lines of this song were sung by Pollyanna and Nancy when they were delivering calves foot jelly to the poor, but those two lines stuck with me and I googled the song), finding this wonderful link so I could hear the entire melody (I had to go to a separate site to find the lyrics):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OAyS8OK9J4
  4. “Que Sera Sera” (the classic Doris Day song, from “The Man Who Knew Too Much”).  This is a very sweet song.  The refrain of “Skedaddle Skidoo” (also sung by Doris Day in “The Tunnel of Love”) is cute, too.
  5. “Popcorn Popping” was a song I learned when I served a calling in the nursery when I was LDS.  It’s great because it has fingerplays to accompany the words.
  6. In the 1944 WWII film, “Since You Went Away”, two young lovebirds are walking through a farm, singing, “Oh, my darling Clementine”.  When I looked up the actual “campfire” song, I was surprised at some of the lyrics, but from Mother Goose (like the “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” who whipped her children, which is considered child abuse today) to Stephen Foster (whose songs are just all in fun and were written in a very different time), you’re going to run into some objectionable words and phrases.
  7. HooplaKidz on YouTube is great (and free).
  8. The soundtrack from “The Sound of Music”.  My parents bought my daughter a xylophone, and it’s great for demonstrating “Do Re Mi”.  I often love to incorporate many of Hannah’s “favorite things” (Oprah and Maria von Trapp aren’t the only ones!) into the song.
  9. Christmas songs!  “Away in a Manger” is like a lullaby.  I like both the secular and the religious, though I only sing the secular at Christmastime.  (Christmas is in December; Jesus is for all seasons.)
  10. http://www.theteachersguide.com/ChildrensSongs.htm.  Great site for lyrics, but I have to go to YouTube to get the melody.  Who ever knew there were so many verses to “London Bridge”?  I made up sign language for every verse, which has been terribly fun.  My daughter bounces and claps whenever I start a song with a dance of the arms and hands.

The Madcap Ginger

Lucinda Bahl catered and pandered to the one-percenters,

which was quite laughable,

as she thought they were greedy bastards

behind their majestic swagger.

~

She always greeted them quite obsequiously in disguise,

barefaced and blushing,

in a maid’s uniform concealing her tramp stamp—

a hint at her lower class from Flushing.

By dawn, she cleaned their houses;

by dusk, she cleaned their clocks.

~

In manic states of unrest and undress,

she was quite fashionable with body paint caked on as camouflage,

as she skulked through her employers’ McMansions,

replacing their Jackson Pollocks

with copies that mimicked the worthless works.

~

She was a zany, green-eyed bandit,

dauntless, equivocal and cold-blooded

a klepto with dual personalities,

who often hobnobbed with her alter ego.

~

She drugged (or roofied) her masters,

rolling the women for their jewels,

then noiselessly, in bare feet,

tipsy-toed to the other side of the bed

and reached under the bedroom blanket for the family jewels.

~

Dressed as Greg Brady,

her eyes would turn dark with excitement as she hurried,

finishing with a gust of breath.

Her right hand knew not what her left one did,

and her arms were like those of Olympians.

~

Every year, she would have a baby bump,

which always aroused a kerfuffle.

DNA was a woman’s best friend,

and a compromise would be reached without a scuffle.

~

Mr. and Mrs. would negotiate for the baby,

in exchange for the boodle,

and none was the wiser,

for they didn’t use their noodle.

It was a safe bet for Lucinda Bahl–

this belle of the balls.

~

Being a millionaire heiress herself,

her father being the inventor of the Spice Racketeer,

and collapsible luggage,

she was still lonely.

Prone she was to metamorphize into a generous, frugal soul,

donating plasma for free juice and cookies,

which became a strange attention addiction.

~

Nevertheless, she was remorseless

when she was in her right mind (or left brain),

for she blamed the haves for the have nots,

that littered her lawn like gnomes with their deafening cries,

making her gloomy and disheartened.

~

Then it became apparent there was an outbreak

of some disease which caused lots of bloodstained puking,

gnarled knees,

an epileptic elbow,

and an eyeball so lazy it wouldn’t bother to open.

The only cure was a glass of skim milk,

which would ease the discontent.

It was quite the source of gossip.

~

The men (all friends) began to realize they’d been had,

and when Lucinda came to work wearing an eyepatch,

they decided to fix her unwelcome wagon once and for all.

They had suffered character assassination from the media,

the academe,

and from countless anonymous online critics;

they had suffered savagery from their children,

torture from their wives,

who took delight in besmirching them to their mothers,

taking them to court and ruining their lives.

~

They wanted to charge Lucinda with unlawful seduction,

though they realized it was all circumstantial evidence,

for Yonkers was going bonkers with it.

~

Lucinda’s hair was no longer lustrous like sunshine,

her face radiant like moonbeams,

but lackluster and flawed.

She looked like the low-rent kind of broad

who lived rent-free in her head.

~

Lucinda the Accused,

became Lucinda the new star of TLC,

with lots of advertising from social media,

and with the backing of varied sponsors such as

Eastborough Baptist Church of the Quiverfulls.

~

“The Real Housemaid of NYC”, her label,

was obscene, but marketable,

and the gnomes had their hero.

Many assumed it had been a premeditated publicity stunt.

It was unreal, monumental,

this champion of the “working class”,

who was just a rehash of white trash.

~

She became a fixture on the cover of Starr–

a courtship that would last for 15 minutes.

 

However, it was never enough exposure,

and she got a show on MSNBC.

Hardly impartial,

but an open platform to rant about the dangers of breathing

and anything Bush,

pandering to their audience of 1000,

impeding her stardom.

She missed the ratings,

and so she filmed herself submerging in a bathtub of iced tea,

complete with a Dalmatian,

uploading it to YouTube,

becoming a cult sensation.

~

However, her girls, once fans, had become jaded,

even though she got an interview with the President,

who was quite a pedant,

much to Fox News’ amazement.

~

Her daughters remained with their sperm donors,

in their birthplaces in the five boroughs of New York,

becoming Olympians in pole-vaulting.

~

Lucinda’s ill-gotten gains dwindled,

and she retired from her life of psychosis and crime,

feeling more secure in a place she belonged–

the last star of “Stars Behind Bars”.

~

She’d reached her summit,

like a great mountaineer,

but at the end,

had groveled for a sex change while on the mend.

~

The buzzer went off,

and Lucinda, now beached

and pumped full of meds,

awoke from her little trip back in time,

feeling tranquil without a dime.

~

Tis the end of my ode to those who dream of a life of reality stardom,

and to those who watch it.

For today’s prompt, take a word or two (I took it a step farther and used ALL of these:  http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/wordsinvented.htmlinvented by William Shakespeare, make it the title of your poem, and write your poem. 

What you are about to read is truly absurd (which is one of my favorite words, as it can be used to describe many things).  It’s sort of a riches-to-rags story involving a dizzy redhead and is a satire/spoof of reality TV.

How the Colon Came to Be a Period

Colon Howell lived in the land of Alfabet City,
where all the punctuation was quite witty,
though he was tired of floating over vowels
because of the nosebleeds that made him dizzy.

A fast-paced city it was,
all the marks running on and on,
never stopping—
so exhausting.

While strolling through the park one day,
in the merry month of June,
he was taken by surprise,
by a bunch of loons—
We’s who’d read Ayn Rand and
wanted to become I’s;
they took his blue eye,
but he got away before
they were able to get his brown,
and he was bounced out of town.

When he returned undercover,
dressed as a semicolon,
he leaked his story on YouTube and HuffPost,
with an eyepatch over the part that was swollen,
full of ripostes.
Through his ordeal,
he found a new purpose,
for run-on sentences stopped,
and he was hailed a hero.

Ten Study Habits for College Students

  1. Search for ways to make the studying fun (i.e. by turning it into a game.  Teach yourself the Montessori way).  I love crosswords.  Unlike word searches, you actually “learn by doing”.  This is great for building vocabulary (most subjects have a lingo of their own, be it computers, engineering, medicine, etc.), because you learn as you create the puzzle, and then learn a second time as you complete it.  It also helps to use the word in a sentence.
  2. Come up with catchy ways to remember things.  I like rhymes and acronyms.  They may seem silly, but no one else will have to know how you remember but you.  It does help to have a creative mind when it comes to studying, as you are essentially becoming your own teacher.  Learning P.E.M.D.A.S. (“Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”) was extremely helpful to me with solving mathematical equations in high school.
  3. Repetition, repetition, repetition.  It takes me about five times of waiting on a customer before I can remember the name that goes with the face.  It also helps to write something down in a notebook, rather than just typing it into a computer.  Illustrative objects, like charts and graphs, are also helpful.
  4. Write!  Learn how to write creative nonfiction, and write on the subject you’re studying, even if you don’t plan on submitting it anywhere.  You will be able to think critically about the subject, rather than just memorize, which will (ironically) help you remember better.  Apply what you know, and study what you don’t.  I learned more (and retained more of what I learned) about Ayn Rand when writing a paper on her, rather than just reading a bio.
  5. Read!  Not just your textbook, but the “For Dummies” books are helping me pass my Computer Concepts class.  Sometimes just reading about the same subject (with the information presented in a different way) will help that light bulb go off.  We all process things differently.  That’s why good teachers are so important.  I took the same subject in high school with two different teachers, which yielded vastly different results.
  6. Be organized.  Keep notes of what exactly you’re having trouble with.  Do what you can, and what you can’t, make a date with your professor to help you.  The more organized you are, the more time they’ll be able to spend helping you, rather than going through things you already know.  Sometimes, all it takes is the answer to one question, as you can’t build a house without first building the foundation.  Also, seek to connect with some of your classmates.  I found a very cheap tutor through e-mailing my entire class.
  7. YouTube.  It’s a great resource for learning just about anything.  Best of all, it’s free.
  8. Ask questions.  Use social media.  I learned how to “age-grade” my work on a Microsoft Word program through a Facebook friend.  This friend, who teaches how to blog on WordPress, taught me how to calculate what age group I was writing for.
  9. Caffeine.  Sometimes, it just helps you focus more.  I was able to knock out several computer projects in one night with the help of one Starbucks espresso.
  10. When the weather is nice, take advantage of it.  We need nutrition (which means lots of water), sunshine, fresh air, adequate and good quality sleep, etc.  Exercise is a bonus.  There is nothing like the natural high after exercise that makes you feel like you can conquer the world.