Midwest Memories

We passed the two week mark in Kansas City and it’s starting to feel like home. To be honest, it’s starting to feel like more than home.

I grew up in the Midwest, so the constant wind feels like childhood. The air is dry and the scents carry farther. They aren’t weighed down by the damp. As fall approaches, the weather is cooling. The leaves are starting to blush away their summer green.

The people also feel familiar. Midwesterners are friendly, but independent. They don’t care what you are up to as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. There is a lack of judgement here, and the few words I pronounce “wrong” in the South (namely roof and genuine) are pronounced “correctly” here—as in, how I pronounce them.

I’m also liking my job, surprisingly. I thought of it as a “just for now” type of thing, a job to fill in the gaps until I found something serious. But after 39 hours in four days, I’m seriously liking it. It’s challenging and high paced with loads of benefits and opportunity to advance. My co-workers are tough and rowdy.

It’s a good mix of work and sight seeing. Kansas City is starting to feel like home.

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Available Now! Spiders Are Everywhere

Spiders Are Everywhere is finally all done and live on Amazon. This is probably the most beautiful book I’ve ever put together with all the color and the full bleed illustrations by Amber Beach.

My name is on this one as a co-author, but this one was primarily written by my husband, R. A. Smith. He originally wrote it as a prompt to get me to do a follow up to Monsters Are Everywhere, but he did such a good job we just tweaked what he wrote.

Available on Amazon now, it’s the second book in the Everly Everywhere series.

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Celebrating a Birthday!

Taking a break tonight to celebrate my second daughter’s birthday. I’m so happy I get to be up here in Kansas City to celebrate with her.

She is one of my best friends. She has illustrated for me, built webpages, taught me social media, made my Facebook profile (despite my protests) and always been there, front and center, on my team. I hope I am the same kind of friend for her.

Living with her wiener dogs, however, is another story. This photo sums it up perfectly.

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Suddenly Working, & Loving It

Suddenly, I’m working. I was hired Monday, I in-processed Tuesday and was working within an hour. I worked nine hours my first day, ending at 11 p.m. I worked 12 hours today, starting at 7 a.m. Of the four hours I had for sleep, I tossed and turned for two, I think.

That’s working 16 out of the last 24 hours. I’d say that’s a record for me, but I once worked 72 of 72 hours. It was a special opportunity I was offered to clean a grocery store at night for cash. Unfortunately, I had a full time day job in a factory putting together medical tubes, which meant I should use the night for sleep.

Greedily, I went for the extra money and managed to stay up and work both jobs… but I won’t say flawlessly. I fell asleep quite a few times at the factory that last day.

I like working, and I like challenges. If I work just my scheduled hours for the rest of this week, I will end the week with 50.5 hours. I think that will definitely be a record breaking week of hours for me.

This is why I came to Kansas City, to work and make money. Looks like I found my opportunity.

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No Words…

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Spiders & Pixabay Top #100

I’ve been busy working today on the latest Everywhere books. The final images for Spiders,co-written by R.A. Smith and  illustrated by Amber Beach, are finished and gorgeous!

Look for that to be available in the next few days. There’s also a new domain for the Everywhere collaborations—WordSmith.club.

On a final note, before I head to bed for, (hopefully) more than three hours, I noticed today I was one of Pixabay’s top 100 image creators.

Who knew that the stress-relieving-Avis-ship-being-destroyed-by-fire-and-monster-exercise would launch a creative hobby. One thing that works for me, I can create visually even with no sleep. Writing is another matter.

You can see all my latest collages here.

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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Now that I had some sleep (and sanity returned!) it was time to see some more of Kansas City. Today we went to the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

I can’t believe this place is free—it’s worth a $50 admission. It was obvious it was my first time at the museum as soon as we stepped inside.

“Is that a Rodin?” I hissed. I grabbed my daughter’s arm and pulled her close. “A real Rodin? I’ve only seen one in my life!” The museum curator indulged me with a smile and spared me by NOT pointing out that yes, it was a sculpture by Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor, and that they had a whole collection of them.

The museum has such variety it blew my mind. From paintings to giant Buddhas, ancient carvings of Christ and an actual mummy, we could have spent a week in there and still have barely absorbed this place. Because it’s free, it’s a no-brainer that we will be repeat visitors.

One of my favorite highlights was getting to view Monet’s Water Lilies up close and for real. Because of my middle name—Yuriko means water lily—I have been sent cpies of this painting all my life. Calendars, mugs, cards… but to see it in reality, giant and sharing my air space, was incredible. I’ve never thought of myself as an aficionado of art. This place could change that.

After four hours we had barely even begun to explore this brilliant treasure. I look forward to coming back soon. With such creative energy at the heart of Kansas City, it’s no wonder this city is so great.

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The Need for Sleep is Real

This is what tired looks like.

You may have noticed some darker poetry coming out of me lately. I attribute it to lack of sleep. I have a hard time sleeping at the best of times. Trying to flip my schedule upside down in a busy apartment complex has proved to be a challenge. I’ve been averaging 3 hours a day since I’ve been here.

On top of that, there has been an issue with the job we came up here for. We are hired, but there has been a delay with our start time. We just found out why. The hurricanes destroyed the factories in Puerto Rico and Texas that were supposed to be sending goods for us to pack. So…. while technically we are still hired on at this amazing factory job, I don’t see us starting anytime soon.

New plan: Get some sleep. It’s not a myth. A friend of mine (Bless you, Candice!) suggested I use ear plugs to help drown out the noises. Taking no chances, I also got a sound machine and some 5 mg melatonin tablets. With no third shift factory job, I can start moving back to a normal sleep schedule.

I’ve also been looking for jobs today. I got hired at Macy’s department store, but I’m still looking to see what else I can find. Disappointed I won’t get to see what it’s like to work at a factory, but I have gotten to see how psychotic I get after a week of no sleep. So that’s interesting.


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I Smile Brightly

All I seem to do these long nights is write poetry and make digital collage. There is a lot of active waiting in my life at the moment. There is a lot of balancing on the edge.

Ever have that feeling when you are seething with energy inside but the rest of the world is standing so still that you want to just spontaneously combust into a ball of molten rage and ash?

Me too.

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Yes, Mourning is Dark. It’s Real.

It was mentioned to me by a few people that my poem yesterday, Final Mourning, was darker than expected. I laughed, actually out loud, at that. It’s no darker than much of my other work. I think the disturbing element being sensed is that it’s real and not about me.

It is about an experience I had years ago when I lived in Montreal. Always curious to meet new people, I used to hang out with a few prostitutes near a bus stop. I’d ask them questions, trying to get insight into who they were. Even then, I was people collecting.

One five minute conversation sticks out in my mind. It was an older girl, and she had a swollen mouth and eye. Her lip was split. I asked her if she had been in a fight. She shrugged, looked away and said her man had gotten mad. No big deal, she said.

“I hope he looks worse than you do,” I said. She looked back at me, in the eyes, and smiled painfully. Her cheek spasomed as her cracked lip tried to stretch.

“He cut his knuckles real good on my face.” She nodded with satisfaction, and then the smile was gone. It fled like she should have. I never saw her again.

I knew what it was like to be hit in the face like that, but I’d gotten free of it. Young and resilient, I shook it off and moved on. She was trapped. She was probably 30, old to me at the time, but her whole life felt over. Final Mourning is my way of remembering her.

I’ve been censoring my words, keeping them reined in for the sake of polite conversation, but the new environment is opening me up more. I don’t feel like I have to pretend here. The weird thing is, I didn’t realize I felt censored until I left. So, probably expect some different work coming out of me. The world really isn’t polite.

In Favor of Pain was me dipping my toes, tentatively, back into poetry. It was my literary coming out of the closet. Escape Claws was me dealing with my past. The new collection I’m working on, for release in 2018, is Altars and Oubliettes. It is about what I’ve seen, like the nameless woman in Final Mourning.

I’m bored with searching my own soul. We all have monsters hiding inside of us. That’s old news. I want to explore new horizons.  Altars and Oubliettes is my memorial to the people I’ve met and couldn’t help. It’s for the words I didn’t have at the time as I just watched disaster spin out in other lives. I didn’t know what to do. Now, this is all I can do.

But, so as not to seem all gloomy and dour as I turn into a nocturnal hermit in the Midwest, here is something more palatable. Another pantuom, another digital collage, this seems to be a potent combination for me at the moment. Called Nothing Less, and in a way it’s what I wish I had said to the woman in Final Mourning, and so many others.

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