More Procrastination Poetry: A Few Forgotten Haiku from July

Yesterday procrastination worked very well for me. After fiddle farting around on my blog, I got down to business and cranked out some good pages for my paper that is due tomorrow. I am hoping the same magic will happen today. I still need to put a few finishing touches on said paper, add some APA citations, and give it a good thorough edit. Perhaps I will post it when I’ve finished. It’s about how my gender identity has developed over the course of my lifetime. Pretty interesting, this unpacking of gender.

I’d rather be writing poetry, but these four forgotten haiku will have to do for now. Enjoy 🙂

What happens if I
Catch the muse, pin her down, make
Her my specimen?

She deposited beach
Words like coins, some IOUs
A cold heart’s ransom

Muse comes, muse goes, but
I own her wand, her wings. I
Am muse. She is me.

I am my only
Competition. The race is
Simple. Head v. heart

Procrastination Poetry: July Haiku Wrap-Up

I should be writing a paper for my Gender Development class—six to eight pages “telling your story of how your gender identity has developed across your lifespan thus far.” Alas, I’m procrastinating. Funny, how the assignments I think will be easy turn out to be the most difficult. Instead of writing about my non-gender conforming ways, I thought I would share some of my July haikus instead.

I’ve not been terribly prolific—not quite back up to one a day, but I have managed to cobble together a handful of decent poems this month. A few have to do with running—since I ran my first half-marathon a week and a half ago; some to do with writing, and most to do with life in general.

Enjoy!

How hard must I wish,
To conjure your words from air?
Eyes shut. Hands open.

(I know, I already put this one in a blog, but I really like it, so it bears repeating)

We dwell here between
Words, beyond voice, in this our
Violent silence

Early morning run–
Lightning fast feet, pounding heart.
What’s ahead? Behind?

Catch and release these
Vivid fantasies. Unhook,
Swim fast, silver flash.

On the precipice
Staring into the void–what
Happens if I leap?

Some Sundays digging
In the dirt is more sacred
Than going to church

How many poems
Must I write to get to your
Chewy soft center?

These words, my breadcrumbs,
A crafty trail I’ve contrived
For you to follow

An itch I can’t scratch
That’s what you are, embedded
Deep. Unreachable.

Nights like this your words
Arrived on moonbeams, dancing–
Spinning into memoonbeam_1

Super moon rises–
Feel gravity’s pull and the
Tsunami’s release

Super moon rises
Between Mt Baker and the
Endless sky. Listen.

Seven hundred miles
Logged since January–I’m
Running for my life!

Distill it down to
Seventeen syllables: Life
And Love. Poetry.

Thirteen point one miles
First ever half marathon
One step at a time!

Facebook lives or Face
Book lies? What deeper truths lurk
Beneath these facades?

Do you ever walk
Alone or lonely, keeping
Pace with your own heart?

Post-Race Update

I finished my first ever half marathon on Saturday at approximately 10:40 a.m., in about two hours and ten minutes (give or take a couple of minutes—my Nike app and the race clock had a minor disagreement). I ran well—much better than I anticipated—and was astonished by my times. I exceeded my expectations by at least a minute a mile and so finished the race at least 13 minutes faster than I expected to. And I ran happy! There are pictures to prove it, thanks to The Little Woman and my pal April who were strategically placed along the course (i.e. volunteering) and could take my picture as I passed their stations.

Mile 2.5

Mile 2.5–looking happy!

But what has amazed me even more than my time and finishing the race is the sheer outpouring of support from my family and friends, both in real life and on Facebook. I realize that I’ve been engaging in some serious shameless self-promotion and have felt slightly bad about it. I go back and forth in my thinking about why I feel bad—I think part of it is how I was raised (sorry mom and dad—you’re always on the hook):  to not be prideful, to not draw attention to ourselves, to not brag. And then there’s the me of now, the me that has learned to ask for support, to reach out and make connections with community.

Four years ago I couldn’t have imagined ever, ever, ever running. I mean, I ran when I was in high school and into my early twenties, but once I had kids and then a job, exercise took a back seat to just getting by. The Little Woman and I used to laugh at the runners we saw on the side of the road as we sped by in our car on our way to Saturday morning breakfast. Then middle age set in, and we realized something had to shift if we were going to move into old age with any sort of grace (and longevity).

Mile 6.5. Still happy!

Mile 6.5. Still happy!

Long story short, here we are, entering footraces on our weekends, becoming those runners at whom we used to laugh. But even at that, running a 5K seemed doable while running 13.1 miles, well that just seemed crazy. Who would want to run 13.1 miles for fun? And then I had this amazing six months in which I was able to focus on going to school and running. Throw in a little anxiety and I found myself in the perfect position to perfect my running. Without really even trying, I ran 90 miles in January, then 80 in February, and once I realized what I was capable of, my competitive juices started flowing and the race (so to speak) was on. Each month I ran more miles. I became hooked on my stats—miles run, times, splits, averages. I’ve racked up close to 800 miles so far this year.

I started losing weight and getting faster. I made friends with other runners. We started running together on the weekends and then on weekday mornings. When I didn’t feel like crawling out of bed, I knew I had someone waiting for me. This support thing really works. The turning point for me came in April, at the run to raise money for the victims of the Oso mudslide. I went out with the goal of running those six miles in an hour. I finished with a personal record of 56 minutes and came in third in my age group. Things got completely out of hand from there.

Last month when I registered for the Chuckanut Footrace and the Windhorse Half Marathon on back-to-back weekends, I wondered if I’d lost my mind, but I just kept going out each morning and putting in the miles. I listened (sort of) to my friends about what I should do the week before the half, and I did my best to taper. I struggled to back off the week before the race, because as I’ve written previously, running makes me happy. It’s how I deal with my anxiety (returning to school at 51, not working, changing careers, being an erstwhile writer/poet). I live for mile three when the endorphins kick in. I am endorphin dependent, I’ll admit it.

Almost finished--happy, but determined.

Almost finished–happy, but determined.

I needn’t have worried. I had great support, great training, great advice beforehand. The Little Woman was at the halfway point handing out water and cheering me on. And she was at the finish line to hang the medal around my neck. My buddy April was at mile 2.5 and 10.5 (on the way back) pointing me in the right direction. My friend Cami was at the start and finish line organizing the race and providing inspiration. And all of you, Dear Readers, were out here in cyberspace rooting for me as well. Thank you all. It takes a village.

I’m ready for the next challenge. Bring it on and run happy!

All done. Really, seriously happy.

All done. Really, seriously happy (and sweatier than I have ever been in my life).

Running Happy

Happy Before Pic

Happy Before Pic

Tomorrow morning at 8:30, I am running my first ever half marathon (my friend Cami puts on The Windhorse Half Marathon each year–read about it here). I’ve never run more than 11 miles, so this is a new adventure, one that I’ve been working up to for the past few months (though not really on purpose). Since January, I’ve logged nearly 700 running miles, and last Saturday I completed the Chuckanut Foot Race which is a little more than half of the run I’ll be doing tomorrow—the same basic route, only tomorrow I’ll have to run back.

chuckanutfootrace pic face

Really, I’m happy!

My running buddy and friend April has a sticker on the back of her car that says Run Happy. I love this sticker because running makes me happy. Not that anyone who sees my Chuckanut Footrace race photo would know this fact. In fact, if I do a quick review of recent race photos, I don’t look happy at all. Not while I’m running. I look happy before and after, but the pictures of me actually running definitely paint a more dire picture. I look like I’m expecting the world to end. No one would have any idea that my mind has been occupying a very happy place as the miles unfurl beneath my winged feet.

A few months ago, an acquaintance saw me running at my usual morning running spot. I grunted in her general direction as I ran past, maybe managed to give her a little wave, and continued on my way, focused on the task at hand, i.e. running. When I saw her later in the week, she asked me if I’d been running under a little black cloud that morning because I seemed “dark” when she saw me. I thought about that comment for a moment. “Yeah, I guess,” I said, “some days I feel like the windshield, some days like the bug. Today, I was the bug.” I shrugged and forgot about our conversation. Until I saw her on the trail again a couple of weeks later—then I made a concerted effort to smile. I didn’t want her to think I ran under a dark cloud. I love running—it makes me happy even though it sometimes hurts.

Happy?

Happy?

One of the things I love about my favorite running trail is that for the most part, the regulars are a friendly bunch. Most of the folks I see regularly smile and wave. Some say good morning. I smile and wave back. I try to remember to smile and make eye contact when someone comes my way. One of the reasons I run the trail clockwise is because most people run counter clockwise—I can see more people this way, and fewer people run past me. I startle easily when other, faster, runners pass me from behind. I’ve run other trails, but have yet to encounter such a consistently cheerful bunch of morning exercisers.

Just this morning as I was walking around the lake (I couldn’t stay away—my morning routine has become, well, my morning routine. I didn’t run though—being in taper mode—I just walked one time around), one of the regulars stopped me to tell me how she had noticed how much weight I’d lost in the past few months. Wow. I was touched, amazed actually, that she would reach out like that, but that’s what running has become for me—connection: with strangers, with friendly faces, with a community.

Running makes me happy—happy enough that I’m going to lace up my shoes and run 13.1 miles tomorrow.

Happy!

Happy!

 

 

 

 

Hardcover Haiku

I started to post this Sunday night, but whenever I added an image to my blog, WordPress seemed to just drop it willy-nilly where ever, and my blog post looked so disorganized and slovenly, I couldn’t in good conscience go live with it. My intention was to post a step-by-step look at how I made my hardcover Haiku Love book, but I also wanted you to be able to follow along, Dear Reader. I had to conduct a few hours of research in order to bring you this blog. Hopefully, my newfound skill with HTML tables will be sufficient to show you how I made my book.

book_nans_hands final cover done
TLW reading Haiku Love The finished front cover

The first step in the process is printing out the poems. Sometimes, when I have plenty of time and lots of patience, I hand stamp the poems. But today I had neither time nor patience, and I wanted the book to look a bit more polished, so I decided to print it out on some Arches watercolor paper. I had already done the layout in Word last weekend before I uploaded it to KDP, so I just needed to cut out the paper to 4×6 inches and load up the printer tray.

After printing out page 1 and 2 back to back, I realized I was going to need to adjust the margins so that the odd numbered pages had a one inch margin on the left and the even pages had a one inch margin on the right, if I wanted to print on both sides.

intropage pages1

I printed all of the odd pages first, with a wide left margin, then flipped the paper over in the printer, adjusted the margins for a wide right margin, and printed all of the even pages. Amazingly, it worked! All of the pages came out in the right order and right side up. I was ready to start working on the cover.

bookboard1 paintbookboard
I cut out the book board I paint the book board

While the paint dried, I got out my carved blocks and ink so I could make some more prints of the Cheiko Rei symbol to glue to the book cover so it more closely resembled the cover on the ebook version. I really only needed one print, but it’s not easy to ink up the brayer for just one print, so I made a few.

ink2 stampandink
prestamp many stamps

While the paint and ink dried for the cover, I turned my attention back to the pages and the binding. Bindings are always tricky–I prefer to make books with actual covers that open and attach to the pages, but this is not easy with handmade books. I decided to do a combination: a Japanese stab binding to keep the pages together initially, that I would then combine with a screwed down cover. In order for the cover to open, I needed to use book paper to attach the parts of the cover. But first, I had to make the holes in the pages for the stab binding.

awl holes
I use an awl and a rubber mallet Clamps keep the pages in place
stitched2 stiched
I use the book press to hold the pages I tie off the binding with a square knot 

Now it is time to assemble all of the pieces. I use rubber stamps and archival dye ink to stamp the title and my name onto the cover, and I use rubber cement to attach the book paper to the cover. My friend Susie the art teacher taught me how to properly apply rubber cement–maybe everyone knows this, but I didn’t. First I coat both surfaces with the glue, let it dry and THEN press the pieces together for a tight adhesion. I have to be very careful to make sure everything is aligned before pressing it all down, though.

early cover cover with binding
I end up having to paint over my name
as I’ve not left enough room on the left
for the book paper.
Below, end paper makes it look more finished
I add a touch of red paint to break up
the unrelenting black
inside cover

I wish I had more pictures of my process. I get so wrapped up in the process, in the creative problem-solving as I go along, that I forget to stop and document what I’m doing. The final step is a bit unorthodox, but effective for my needs. I align the previously bound pages between the covers, clamp it down (using scrap book board to protect the cover from the clamps and to make for clean holes), and drill two holes for the screws I will use to finish the binding process. I love the way the screws look on the binding.

final cover done back of book
The front cover The back cover–sadly I inadvertently
flipped the cover before I drilled and
ended up with the inside being out and
with the much nicer outside being in.
Always check your work!

I was pretty happy with the way this turned out–but, always the perfectionist, I printed out two more sets of pages yesterday and built another cover. It turned out okay, but still is a long way from the finished product I have in my imagination. The paper I used in this version is really too stiff for the binding I started out trying to use, so I had to improvise. I ended up drilling holes that I then couldn’t use and had to cut off. I had to abandon my original cover idea and ended up with this three-ring improvisation. It’s not great, but for the stiff paper, it works. Stay tuned for further versions (and more documentation).

two haiku books second haiku book 1
second haiku book 2 second haiku book 3