Category Archives: writing

my thai lullaby

I was trying to write a blog post tonight — I have so many on my mind — but, to be honest, it’s been a long day. I write best in the morning. I should know better.

And so I decided I would log out of “Shift,” check facebook, log out of that, and head to bed . . . And then on facebook I saw this. And I just had to share.

This, my friends, is what life is — or at least should be — all about.

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The news clips call this a tear jerker. Why? Why is that? Should it be? Should tears form when, universally, we recognize what we all should have been doing in the first place? Interesting how emotions know no cultural lines.
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the book inside my story

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T-Wall — near where I fell

Most people I tell my rock-climbing story are more impressed by my story than I am. Sure, I’ve got scars. There’s a white mark just above my lip that annoys me every day. And?

That’s why it always surprises me, though, when readers suggest I turn my story into a book. After re-reading my story this past January, my friend Vance sent me a message: “So, I just finished rereading your ‘How Not to Die‘ story, and I’m asking myself: How is this not a book? Or, at least, the beginnings of one? It is truly an amazing story, however you take it . . .”

In the past, I’ve always brushed such suggestions off. That’s what I did to Vance. “To be honest, I’ve already written nearly as much as I know to say about my rock-climbing accident. I have no idea how I’d turn it into a book . . .” is what I told him. And that was the truth. In “How to Not Die,” I’ve given the reader everything I can — from my perspective. Continue reading

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poetry

canoe2

Poetry’s in the journey . . .

Poetry I cannot force,
it comes and then it goes.
Like a river at its source,
it ebbs and then it flows.

Words, you see, are only that,
and rhyme and rhythm, too.
Poetry’s not pit-a-pat,
but here in me and you.

–in the sun and in the rain,
the things that quiet tears;
in the love and in the pain–
experience of years.

Then the poet, what is she?
She’s nothing like a muse.
Rather, she’s a puppet, see,
and words her only use.

So poetry, my fickle friend,
I wonder what’s in store?
Will you stay until the end,
or show me to the door?
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For an audio recording of this poem, click here:


“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”
Charles Bukowski

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Note: The first stanza of this poem came to me in a moment of frustration when I was trying very, very hard to write another poem on a very different subject–and getting nowhere. Since that time, it has taken me FOREVER to finish this. Fickle is right!

Image: Pinterest

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walls are for head-banging

elephant

Some days I feel like this — especially when I’m writing poetry!

When I created my blog, it was to share ideas. To share ideas and experiences, and to engage with others — yes, that includes you. I detested blog posts that were simply daily journals or gripes or complaints or even inspirational photos or quotes. To me, those things seemed empty: Unless I know you personally or have established a relationship with you, I don’t want a recap of your day, I want a point. I want something that makes me think, or smile, or that catches my attention in a meaningful way.

The trouble with that line of thinking, though, is that it’s the same kind of thinking that makes me cry when I hear songs like “Message In a Bottle,” which I talked about here. It’s me being “Little Miss Intense,” the one who can’t stand “fluff” and could turn even the silliest situation into an internal philosophical debate. “To bake the cookies, or not to bake the cookies — that is the question.”

. . . Kidding! Continue reading

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the importance of “this”

IMG_0112edOne hour and eleven minutes. That’s how much time I have to get this post written before midnight. That’s how much time separates me from posting once every three days and once every four.

What’s the big deal? some people might say. Blogging just seems like a lot of work.

Well, yes . . . Yes, it is . . . and yet it’s not. It is because there’s pressure to post regularly and to write well. As a writer, I hope to continue building my blog and that, someday, writing Shift will lead me to bigger and better things . . . It’s not, on the other hand, because writing is what I LOVE and interacting with readers makes all the effort I put into my blog worthwhile. (You, dear readers, mean everything to me.) Continue reading

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the bad blogger

fl

One of my first views in Florida, not far from the Tampa Airport.

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It’s been funny, these past few weeks, not writing regularly on my blog. I feel like such a bad blogger. A good blogger — one seriously committed to her readers and to growing her blog — would have written posts ahead of time and scheduled them to appear at regular intervals during her absence. But not me. Those of you who know me well know that that’s not how I operate. I’m spur of the moment, genuine as can be, or not at all.

And so here we are: Two posts in . . . how many days?

I’ve missed my blog — and you. Writing is such a huge part of my life. And yet . . .

read

What kind of blogger reads while waiting for her ride at the airport instead of blogging on her iPhone? A bad one!

It’s been good to live away from my blog for a few days, too. Good to think without writing, to ponder without sharing. Not that I’ve been thinking deeply or found many profound things to say. This trip has been crazy — visiting New Orleans, participating in my good friend’s wedding, taking long walks on the beach (beneath the stars, of course), catching up with old friends . . . I’ve even extended my trip to this next Sunday so that I can visit Chattanooga. I can’t wait to revisit my old stomping grounds . . .

But with so much activity, there hasn’t been time for deep thoughts and great writing. It’s been good, and yet . . .

I can’t wait to get home so I can catch up with all of you! :)

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Image: Mine. All rights reserved.

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see you . . . soon!

Dear All,

I miss you. What? How is that possible? I don’t know, but it’s true.

Funny that my little blog has become something of my home. I share my thoughts here, and you respond. You tell me that I’m not crazy. For that, I owe you everything.

A few weeks ago I proposed a regular Friday section focusing on travel. I should have known better. I can’t even get myself to bed on time let alone post a weekly section on time. I’m sorry. I do plan to write at least once a week about travel, though. I just can’t swear that it will pop up in your “Reader” section at a specific time.

This Friday (yesterday) I took a day trip to San Francisco. The weather was perfect, and I got to drive over the new Bay Bridge, a white, sleek monument to modernity that stands in stark contrast to the dark metal contraption — the old bridge — beside it. I broke the law and took a few pics for your benefit while driving. ;)

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The new bridge to the left and the old on the right.

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the visitor, revisited

full moonTruth is, I’m struggling.

I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.

Stop!

Another day.

from my poem “Writer’s Block

My mind has been going a million miles an hour in a hundred different directions lately, and it’s making writing difficult. I’ve been working on a new poem (which I love) for the past several days, but I’m having a hard time finishing it. What am I trying to say? It’s a question I haven’t been able to answer . . . Continue reading

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message in a bottle

bottle2So I’m chatting with a blogger friend today, and we’re talking — what else? — blogs. And I say, “I feel bad — I haven’t been keeping up with anyone’s blogs lately. Even just responding to comments on my own silly site takes a lot of time . . . I really enjoy your stuff, though! You’re a good writer.”

And he says, “Thank you. You’re an excellent writer, too. And your blog isn’t silly. It’s intense.”

Suddenly, I can’t breathe. I freeze in my tracks.

There it is — that word. INTENSE.

[Banging my head against the wall] “Lol. Intense. Yeah, that’s me . . . Too much so. It’s my greatest strength and biggest flaw.”

And he says, “I only see it as a strength, but . . .” Continue reading

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the thing about poetry

imagesEvery time I write a poem, it starts with the first two lines. Maybe I’m experiencing an emotion and the words come tumbling out.

The tears do tumble down my face,
the one who doesn’t cry.

Or perhaps I’m riding my bike on a cool summer evening, or walking beneath the stars.

Empty streets, and she awake,
the one who walks alone.

Maybe I’m in the supermarket, or listening to birds outside.

Little birdie out my window,
chirping, calling, “Come and play!”

Whatever it is, those first two lines are the key to the rest of the poem. They will either make or break it… Continue reading

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this is me

stand aloneed. . . and this is real.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that makes writing powerful. What is it about a blog that would bring you back and leave you wanting more?

One of my favorite bloggers is one of most irreverent, vulgar, say-it-like-it-is bloggers on the Internet. His writing is awesome, but what makes him powerful is that he is REAL. He doesn’t hide behind a curtain of pretense. Oh, no — he owns his shit. (Pardon my french for those of you who aren’t used to cursing on my site.) He talks about everything from alcoholism to fighting for custody of his child to his religion (or lack thereof) to parenting to . . . And, what’s more, he doesn’t give a damn what others think. He would never apologize for cussing like I just did. Continue reading

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the butterfly

jar_butterflyThe tears do tumble down my face,
the one who doesn’t cry.
You wonder why I’ve lost my grace
who watch the poet die.

There is a place ‘yond time and space,
it’s here alone I fly.
And yet it’s here you’d me encase,
my wings apart you’d pry.

And so it is when you embrace
this poet from the sky,
be not surprised, in keeping pace,
if all I do is sigh. Continue reading

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thank you . . . and you and you and you and . . .

Microsoft Word - matt.docx

Sketch by Matthew Curry

Something I didn’t expect when I started blogging was a) that anyone would actually read what I wrote, and b) that I would make true friends through my blog. Some of you have been following me for a while now, and I too have been following you. I value all of you sooooo much, and for those of you that are new, I’m sorry if I haven’t had time to stop by your blogs yet! When I first started blogging (this blog really took off last October, though technically I started it much earlier), I tried to stop by every person’s site who either “liked” or left a comment on one of my posts. These days, as my readership is growing, it is getting more and more difficult to do so. There is only so much time in a day!

Recently, a friend and fellow blogger was a dear and sketched a picture based on one of the images in “i love . . . me?” Matt is a very talented writer and artist, so I thought I’d try to bring his work to your attention today. (Thanks, Matt!) Please check out more of his work at The Chia Pet Circus. Continue reading

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for all that you are

My beautiful picture

My mom with Derek . . . and fire!

For all that you are,
and ever will be,
I’ll love you forever,
Happy Birthday, Mommy.

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finding freedom

birdsAnd another thing . . . Why would anyone want to go into a field where half of the people you work with are jerks?

As many of you know, I am currently freelancing for a couple of papers in my area. It started out with an article last November. I’d recently moved home from Hong Kong and was trying to break into writing in print. I contacted the editor of my local paper and asked him if he’d be interested in a feature on a WWII/Korean war vet of my acquaintance for Veteran’s Day. Much to my delight, he said yes. Continue reading

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why “shift”?

4shiftToday is a bit rushed. I have several posts in draft, but recently have been working on updating Shift. In particular, I’ve made quite a few changes to my menu. If interested, check out my “about” section where there are now three sub-items, including one that explains in greater detail why I chose the name Shift. I’ve also dedicated a page to my rock climbing story beneath “top posts,” and well . . . Just check it all out. I promise you won’t be disappointed. (Well . . . Maybe I shouldn’t make such boasts. But I can at least say I’m happy with the way my blog is slowly coming together!)

Much love to you all,

Jessica

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a poet who didn’t know it

I used to think I couldn’t write poetry. To me, poetry has always meant rhythm and rhyme (versus free verse), and I didn’t think I had it in me. As I have continued to write more and more, however, I have found that, maybe, I was wrong.

Overall, Shift is not a blog about poetry. It’s a blog about travel and ideas and perspective. I still have much to share, and I am loving the conversations arising out of posts such as “Success, or Something Like It” and “Let There Be Light.” But, as my tagline aptly states, the only thing constant is change, and that’s true for writers, too. We all go through phases, and I hope readers don’t mind that I am now also sharing some of my poetry.

Recently, I created a “Poetry” section for my menu to make locating my poetry a bit easier. In doing so, I remembered one of my favorite quotes from one of my literature classes in college. This led me to looking up more quotes on poetry, and, voilà, this post appeared. Continue reading

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the elation of validation

beach girl3I recently sent an email to my local newspaper editor. In it, I apologized for a few small errors that I’d made in some articles I’d written for him. The articles were about local businesses that will be showcased at a local Home and Garden Show this weekend. They went to print this past Monday, and a few of the business owners were not happy with what I had written.

As I mentioned in a previous post, although I knew I’d done a good job (the editor published my articles almost exactly as I had written them), I was devastated by the negative feedback. I knew I needed to develop thicker skin, but my mistakes, especially the preventable ones, really bothered me.

Tonight, the editor wrote back. This is what he said: Continue reading

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on and on you go (take two)

Please don’t hate me! I was not content with my first version of this poem. Something about the third stanza (and a few other things) just didn’t fit. So I revised it, and here it is. Most of you know by now: This poem is dedicated to “wind.”

dress3From here to there and everywhere,
on and on you go.
I hear you there, or is it there?
Your face, you’ll never show.

O’er sea and over mountain,
continent and plain,
from Asia to the Balkan:
the world is your domain.

At times I’ve seen you angry,
you howl and wreak havoc.
It’s then I shiver meekly,
and stand in awe, dumbstruck.

But when you’re sweet, you’re lovely;
you caress my soul.
Your whispers soft and balmy,
you can take me whole.

And though I cannot touch you,
on wings you fly me high,
to places where I knew you,
under another sky.

Which version do you prefer?

Image: Pinterest

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school of hard knocks

KBS-school-of-hard-knocks_pasteup-1024x768I cried yesterday. I never cry.

Because of the weird way in which my local paper works (it’s a tiny paper), content I write often appears online before it appears in the printed edition. This can be both good and bad. It is good when I am eager to see what the editor has done with my work—usually he changes very little, of which I am proud. It is bad, however, when I have made a mistake and someone catches it, but, alas, it is too late to make changes before the article goes to print.

That is what happened this weekend. Continue reading

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good writing takes time

Old book, quill and bottle of black ink on old wooden chairThis is why I will never participate in NaNoWriMo.

Ever.

A few months back I got an email from a lady who was in charge of the advertising for a local home and garden show. She’d gotten my name from the editor of my local paper, who I’ve written for before. She needed a writer for some twelve to fifteen articles for a special tab on the show’s vendors that would appear in the paper just prior to the event.

Of course I said yes.

In the following weeks she gave me four names. I began making phone calls, trying to set up interviews and schedule photo shoots. I accomplished these and still hadn’t heard from her about the rest of the vendors. I assumed I would have plenty of time.

I was wrong. Continue reading

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little birdie

54_SPARROWS ON WINDOWLittle birdie out my window,
Chirping, calling, “Come and play!”
Can’t you see I want to join you—
Work, I must, this day away!

But when I’m through, I promise you:
Nothing here could make me stay.
I will find you through and through,
We will play the day away!

Image: Pinterest

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hurried

17834267-busy-city-street-people-on-zebra-crossing

Forgive me, my friends,
for my absence.
The week charges on,
and I’m worried!
I’ve freelance to do,
and there’s work to be done,
so though my heart’s here
I am hurried!

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thank you

beachSomething I didn’t expect when I started this blog was . . . Well, two things actually.

One, that anyone (besides my dad—thanks, Dad!) would ever actually read what I wrote, and . . .

Two, that I would begin to feel a sense of community with the people I never expected would read my blog who actually did.

Creating this blog has allowed me to express my thoughts—thoughts which previously bounced endlessly around in the recesses of my mind—with an unknown world. In return, the unknown world has, for once, been kind: You have made me feel less alone. Continue reading

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holes

bucket1

“There’s a hole in my last post.”

“My darling, a few!”

“I’ll fix them, my darling.”

“You’d better. Adieu!”

….

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image: sodahead.com

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