Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Big Hairy Deal

I’ve never been pregnant, but I’ve always had long hair. As an observer of one and a participant of the other, I can tell you that both conditions make people touchy-feely. When my mother was pregnant with my younger brother, folks discovered their inner Buddhist and had to rub her belly. Me, they pet like a Shetland pony. Yes, even now, when I’m no longer young and cute, total strangers come up to me, comment on my hair, then stroke it like I’m the main attraction in a petting zoo. Sometimes they ask, most times they don’t; I half-expect to be offered a cracker afterwards. I’ve grown used to the attention, but if anyone is with me when this happens, their jaws drop.

My hair is beyond waist-long, but doesn’t reach my knees yet; it’s very thick, yet somewhat fine, and I keep it braided most of the time, which fascinates people. Even braided, it nearly reaches my waist. Combs? Ha! I’ve broken brushes in it, and lost a curling iron in its depths some years ago. Since I often wear a bandanna over the braids, people have asked if it was a wig. (Uh, no.) Some petters have pleaded with me to never cut it, even though they themselves have short hair, which makes me feel a bit like a spotted owl: you don’t want one in your own house, but you feel good just knowing it exists somewhere.

“It’s so pretty and long, why don’t you wear it down?” some people ask. Because with one stiff breeze, I have more knots than a Boy Scout camping trip. Plus, I’m always sitting on it accidentally, shutting it in doors, and experiencing other humorous but painful mishaps. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my long hair. It does that wonderful mermaid shimmy when I swim, and I could whip someone with the braids if I really wanted. I wouldn’t keep it around if I didn’t enjoy it.

But now it will be someone else’s to enjoy.

Yes, I cut it yesterday, with the help of my scissor-wielding husband. The ponytail is 26 inches long, not counting the little bit above the rubber band. I haven’t decided which charity to send it to, Locks of Love or Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I have a couple of days to decide, because the silly thing isn’t dry yet; another fact of long hair. If I get enough feedback in one direction or another, that's where the big hairy deal will go, so let me know what you think!

Until then, I'm going outside. The sun is shining, there's a nice, strong breeze, and I have some Mary Tyler Moore-style hair flipping to do.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Teeming Tags: TMI Day!

Jen at Creatif tagged me with a meme several days ago, and Amy at Mind Over Mullis got me the other day, so I'm teeming with tags, and tag-teaming to move along the memes! It's TMI Day here at plaidearthworm, but I hope at least I'm weird enough to be entertaining.

Seven random or interesting facts:

I’m a state-certified hospitality instructor. In fact, I took the extra course and can teach other people how to be hospitality instructors. If you had a tourism business and rude and/or clueless employees, I’m the one you called after five customers stormed out because the desk clerk couldn’t interrupt her hourly phone conversation with her boyfriend long enough to check people into their rooms. Yeah, I have a lot of material saved up for the novel.

I am a Southern girl. Do not stand between me and strawberry shortcake, homemade biscuits and gravy, or fried bologna sandwiches with flat cheese. You have been warned.

Qapla! I’m a Klingon.
I used to dress in full leather regalia, bumpyhead and all, then go to conventions or march in parades. (In the pic, I'm on the left of our club's Klingon Bug of Prey.) Our group even adopted a section of highway for a couple of years. There’s no greater freedom for a shy person than to stride into a Burger King in full makeup and costume, then order a Whopper with a side of gagh.

As the wife of a magician
, I know how most of your favorite illusions are done. And I’m not telling. Neener, neener.

AmyDoodle confessed that her secret crush was Captain Jack Sparrow. Mine is Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood. Ah, John Barrowman in all his hunky, alien-busting glory, sporting a trenchcoat, a swagger, and a piercing gaze that makes you forget your own name; that’s why I wear a name tag at home on Saturday nights, about 8 p.m.

I’ve never been on a vacation
. The closest I’ve been is in high school, when I went on a school trip to New Orleans, and once my hubby and I spent about a day and a half in St. Louis. I grew up very, very poor, and understood that family vacations were for rich people, not folks like us. Now, it’s a combination of no spare funds, having too many animals to take care of, and not being able to get away from work. Rather funny when I realize that most of my writing income comes from business travel articles.

When it comes to video games
, I’m happy in the last couple of decades. Don’t give me Guitar Hero or Gears of War; but if you have a copy of Leather Goddesses of Phobos or Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, let me know. Text-based adventures like those, or sly games like Al Lowe’s Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail are my choice every time.

And as a TMI bonus:

1) If you could live for a month in one world or time period from a novel you’ve read, which would you choose?

Discworld. No doubt about it.

2) If you could be one character from a comic book or fiction series, who would it be?

Hmmm, tough choice, because I’d love to spend a month as Nanny Ogg, but in a comic book world, I could have gravity-defying ta-tas like Witchblade. Ooh, better, a member of FemForce. They had all the moves, without the heavy lifting of defeating criminals constantly.

3) Where (in the real world) is your dream vacation spot?

Cleveland. Yes, I said it. Never been there, but I’ve researched it so much for articles this year, I think I’ve fallen for Ohio. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, tons of cool museums, great food, Corner Alley. Add a side trip to Toledo so I can see a Mud Hen game, and I’m a happy girl.

4) Name a celebrity or TV personality whom you would like to have lunch with.

Ew, really? Most of them are so full of themselves, and I don’t suffer ego cases well; I once sprained my forehead from excessive eye-rolling. But it could be interesting to have lunch with Craig Ferguson; he’s funny, smart, and I have a few questions about his writing style.

If you're still reading after all that, congrats. You get a coveted TMI Meme Survivor Award. And now, I'd like to tag Rebecca at Writer's Roundabout, Rick at Rickwrite, Dawn at Anything That Pays, and Karen at Write Now. If you've been tagged, feel free to pick either meme you wish. Taggee's choice!

Bwah-hah-hahahahaha! I'm free of the memes!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Poetry for Fun and Profit

Hey kids! Would you like to earn dozens, even hundreds, of dollars per year? How about achieving fame and prestige with your 8th grade English teacher? It can all be yours with the amazing universe of poetry.

While poetry won’t score you the Golden ATM Code of your dreams, it can provide a nice little side income, especially during those inevitable times in a writer’s life when both the cupboard and the wallet are empty. Personally, writing poetry for profit kept me in touch with the Muse until I could quit the day job and jump into freelance writing full time. Below are a few of the ‘markets’ that I relied on during my professional poet phase.

Family events. I once worked with a lady who gave each of her sons’ brides a beautiful keepsake doll as a wedding present, and wanted a unique poem for each occasion. She would tell me essentially what she wanted to say to her new daughters-in-law, and I wrote a poem to go with each doll. She was a great customer, and I occasionally had lunch money until she married off all her boys. While weddings were a great gig, you can also do this for baby showers, graduations, anniversaries and other noteworthy moments in family life. Sometimes you’re a ghostwriter, or, more correctly, ghostpoet, but other times you can sign your name and become part of a treasured family heirloom.

Holidays. Ever been broke and wrote poems for your family members as Christmas or birthday gifts? Yeah, me too. (If you said no, don’t worry. With rising gas prices and the economy, poetry may be your go-to strategy this December.) While you may not charge immediate family for custom poems, you can charge other people’s families without guilt. While word-of-mouth is often your best advertising, try a small ad in the local newspaper for various holiday seasons, like Christmas or Valentine’s Day. If you’re a quick poet, advertise just a week beforehand, so desperate shoppers (guys who forgot) will jump on the chance to have a personalized poem in time for the big day.

Festivals and public events. I first read about this idea in Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, but it’s something I’ve never actually tried, because I’m not good with crowds, performance art, or thinking on my feet. But if you feel ready for the challenge, get yourself a booth at the next fair or festival, and offer on-the-spot poems. It’s a novelty, just like taking home a caricature, except with more feeling, unless, of course, you’re writing a poem about the person fishing, driving a sports car, or playing soccer. At one time, I had planned to try this, and figured that you could use ‘templates,’ or basic poems you had written previously, and fill in the essential info in the moment. If anyone is brave enough to go for it, let me know how it works out.

Granted, writing poetry to order isn't for everyone; your customers usually like their poems to rhyme, and follow a basic 'roses are red' form. If your artistic notions cringe at the thought of such pedestrian material, then this really isn't for you. Plus, there is a business aspect to think about, from setting rates to poem length and presentation. I never made more than the IRS-allowed hobby amount, but I had great fun, and met some interesting people. Poetry for profit won't get you published in magazines, but it is excellent practice, and you get a chance to make folks happy, one line at a time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Poet? Know it! Rhyme? Every time.

Poetry: It gave you rhyming power to tease each other on the playground, helped you express all that teenage angst, and, if you were a guy without a guitar, probably got you laid in college. Now it’s time to give something back, to rehearse, feed the culture with sonnet and verse. Why? Because April is National Poetry Month, a great reason to celebrate the shiny pebbles and itchy grit we rip from our souls and lay out on paper.

Even if you’re not a writer, you probably know a few poems, perhaps some Frost or Kilmer caught in the cobwebs of your brain during your school years, or a rather catchy, well-worn limerick involving a young lady and the destination of Nantucket. But the poetic world is so much larger, and April is a perfect time to explore. The official website at is chock-full of great ideas, or you can go off on your own to discover the quiet, meaningful words of Basho, the visceral punch of Amiri Baraka, or the quirky wit of T.S. Eliot.

If you do feel inspired, take on the daily poetry challenge at Writer Digest’s Poetic Asides blog, or join NaPoWriMo on the forums. And check back here frequently, because I've succumbed to a spell of overgeekiness, and have several posts lined up on how to incorporate poetry into your freelance world, for both fun and profit.