Three Good Things – First Ten Days

I am always skeptical of these memes. But I liked it was only for 5 days and just 3 things a day.

I am now in day 10. And really enjoying it.

It’s nice to think of positive things in the morning and the good things going on your life. Definitely encourage y’all to try it.

Day 1 I can’t seem to find so let me do some new ones.

1. Thinking of positive things in life.

2. Moving and the chances to pare down.

3. New beginnings.

Day 2 of three positive things

1. Being able to explore beautiful Portland, Maine

2. Having lunch with a friend.

3. Slow progress on packing.

Day 3 of 3 positive things.

1. I have a job.

2. I can move my job to Connecticut.

3. Maine is so green.

Day 4 of three positive things

1. The quiet of the pre dawn witching hours

2. A comfy, comfy bed

3. Friends to help you through this weird world.

Day Five of three things that make me happy.

1. Lenny barely fitting himself in the bathroom sink.

2. Things coming out great in the crockpot.

3. Hanging out with cool and crazy friends.

Day 6 of three things that make me happy. Meme is for 5 days but keeping it going.

1. Generous friends who put on a wonderful party on a glorious night. Great people with great spirits is awesome.

2. The beautiful summer days and nights of Maine.

3. New beginnings. Lanna Lee starts a new job tomorrow in Connecticut and around one month to move. Huge change and a chance for new relationships while keeping the old ones. It’s something I want to make an effort on.

Day 7 of three good things

1. Have 3 days off a week with my job. Let’s me sleep in on Tuesday and Wednesday.

2. My job offers a lot of PTO and flexibility to switch shifts.

3. I help people get medical care and peace of mind with my job.

I like helping people. We live in broken times. Let’s heal.

Three good things: Day 8

1. Making a lot of progress of the move.

2. Having all of this stuff to give away. I hope it finds a good home.

3. A cool day to pack in.

Yep all about moving right now.

Three good things day nine.

1. Hearing wonderful poetry from Slam Free or Die as the feature before The National Poetry Slam next week in Oakland. Especially from Sam Rush and Christopher Clauss.

2. New readers of poetry going on the stage for the first time and showing their truth.

3. Amazing lunches with friends. I want to get together with people before I move to Connecticut in a month.

4. (Bonus) Local craftsmen and artists making amazing things.

Blessed be. Try this. I was skeptical and have really enjoyed it.

3 good things day 10:

1. That I got to spend 9 1/2 years (since January 2005) living in the Portland, Maine area. Portland is a very special small city.

2. Having dinner at Schulte & Herr last night. Potato Pancakes with apple sauce and the rye dipping stuff with sour cream, cream cheese and spices is delicious, as is that stuff on rye bread. And some nice rich split pea and ham soup. It don’t get no betta. If you haven’t been yet it’s on Cumberland near Preble and actually quieter in the summer.

3. Getting some good sleep finally last night.

4. Going to Urban Farm Fermentory for some of the best kombucha ever. I love that they let the 1.5% alcohol come out. Many places denature their kombucha when hurts flavor. Wonderful tasting room on Anderson St. too.

5. Having some delicious beer at Rising Tide. Lovely tasting room.

6. Getting some of the amazing and delicious herbal Little Lads popcorn for Lanna before we leave town. Seriously yummy.

That’s definitely not 3 things, but I guess I am an overachiever.

Things, People and Places I Will Miss in Westbrook and Gorham, Maine

Alex Steed — rare to find an activist who is in such great humor about the world and sarcastic — rare to find someone who can still dance like the silly idiot in Junior High School (which was me) as an adult
Allie Munier — Very cool, and one of the best blogs in Maine with Broke 207.
Keith Luke — Character, planner, fan of curling
Greg Daly — One of those wonderful distinctive artists characters you keep hearing about
Rick Hersom — A fellow man of skepticism and beer
Tod Gary — Good friend, better golfer than me (which doesn’t take much).
Dottie Maheux — It was great having my mother in law crosstown in so many ways.
and so many others.

Places:
Westbrook, Maine
The Dancing Elephant — Legit Indian food around the corner
The Frog and Turtle — Awesome brunch, poutine and atmosphere. Although sometimes they have bands that are too loud.
Catbird Creamery — Andrew Bird is a genius. Some of the best ice cream you will find anywhere. If you haven’t been here yet (across from Bank of America on Main Street) go. Your taste buds will sing. It’s 100% on Urbanspoon for a reason. And five stars on Yelp, get there this week in the afternoon if you can. I think this might be dinner tonight. Just reading the reviews is giving me a craving.
Baker’s Bench — Legit baked goods. Their prairie bread with lots of seeds is awesome with peanut butter.
The Saccarappa Falls — I can see them from my window during the winter. Not so much with the thick green trees of July. Awesome to hear on the quiet morning or at night too. Unfortunately the drone of Main Street and the William Clarke Extension drowns them out.
The Presumpscot River Trail — Right by the house and a lovely walk.
Riverside Park — Enjoy seeing the ducks.
Sunset Ridge Golf Club — Underused, a lot of fun, great challenges, good prices. Cumberland Avenue near Windham border.
Digby’s Variety — I didn’t go here enough. They make a wicked good hot dog and cheeseburger sub. Drove by it way too many times before stopping. On New Gorham Road about 3 blocks or so from 25.
Walker Memorial Library — No idea how I almost didn’t think of this. Probably my favorite place in Westbrook, so many great books through the library and the Maine Minerva service that allows books from many of the best libraries in Maine. I really hope there is something similar to Minerva in Connecticut.

Gorham, ME
Gorham House of Pizza — Wicked delicous, simple Maine food. Odd that one of the biggest pizza “chains” in Maine is independently owned by Greeks all over the state. Wish they had more Greek food but a great place for Maine staples like pizza and sandwiches.
Gorham Country Club — Accessible, moderate price, good challenge, pretty open for a terrible player like me. Beautiful.
Bennett Farm — Great place to play Disc Golf. Very long and there is a lot of long grass between the holes. The best disc golf place I have found in the area (only other ones I have played here are Pleasant Hill in Scarborough and the one in Saco.) About 4 miles from USM on 114 towards Sebago Lake on the left. $5 cash with drop off box so bring exact change.
The University of Southern Maine — So many mixed feelings about USM since it is so poorly run. But great job for my wife at the School of Education and Human Development. And three of my favorite Maine sports memories. Watching Bowdoin vs. USM in a match up of two top 10 Division III Women’s Basketball teams put on a coaching clinic of great defense. Gary Fifield is a better coach (for USM) than most Division I programs have. And watching St. Joseph’s vs. USM baseball for a few innings on a beautiful day and having a hot dog, easily the best baseball experience I had in Maine.

Portland, ME: One of the best small cities in America
Port Veritas: Been with them a few years, even moved my schedule around to be out earlier on Tuesdays. Saw them a couple times at Acoustic Coffee, the last few months of the North Star Cafe (still missed), Blue, Local Sprouts and now Bull Feeney’s upstairs. Slam poetry has been probably my favorite reason to go out the last few hours. Planning to spend time at Poetry Slap in Bridgeport, CT when I move. If you are interested go to the website and sign up for the e-mails. Have seen so, so many great poets through PV. Lauren Zuniga, Theresa Davis, Billy Tuggle, Ryk McIntyre, Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie, Heidi Therrien, Ellyn Touchette, Wil Gibson, Ryan McLellan, Brendan Constantine …

Rhythmic Cypher — The second poetry slam in Portland (amazing we have two of the 72 teams that competed in Boston/Cambridge for the 2013 National Poetry slam last year) designed for the outsiders. I have seen some amazing poetry here from queer, trans, the mentally ill, and just outsiders. Also great to have poetry with music behind you.

Miyake — Seriously amazing sushi. Expensive so don’t order everything. Hamiyake is one of the many delicious things here. I also discovered monkfish liver, which is so rich and full of umami, almost tastes like pork. Here is the Yelp on it.

Stop Making Scents

We live in a world with so many artificial things.

Reality TV that is as far from reality as it is possible to get.

An American dream that is more marketing than reality.

A cloak of “security” that allows for a police state.

A health care system that doesn’t promote good health.

Artificial flavors, corn syrup, chemicals, scents, “clean.”

I am scent sensitive. Perfumes, colognes, cleaning products, fresh scents… All of these can give me a headache and make me feel loopy.

Yesterday at work, someone mopped, fyi I work in a basement and it really got to me. Huge amount of scent that went up the stairs. And irriation to my mouth, nose, and generally not feeling right.

Makes me wonder about all the crazy chemicals in our society. A better living through chemistry. The Orwellian Pure Food and Drug Act that allows for substitutes for food. Used to be that mayonnaise was simply eggs and oil, that’s not the ingredients in Hellman’s anymore.

We need to change things. Monoculture agriculture that has a ton of chemical inputs. Roundup ready corn, an industrial product that is not good to eat and allows spraying of a useful chemical which generally kills any plant.

Massive farm subsidies that make it possible. Some of the best land in the world eroding away in huge square miles of corn that is used for animal feed, corn syrup, ethanol and industrial use.

Farming should be pretty simple. Good land, good products, being watchful. Mixed produce that allows different uses for the land. Letting some of the land be fallow and regenerate with the weeds of the area.

Joel Salutin, one of Michael Pollan’s heroes said he’s a grass farmer. The cows trim the grass, poop, and move on to the next area. The poop makes the grasses grow taller and rejuvenate the land. The circle of poop.

We need to respect dirt and the land more, and chemicals less. We live with massive amounts of antibiotics in our food so we can have massive feed lots using all of that subsidized industrial corn.

The purpose of government is not to give corporations tons of money. It’s not a massive drug war that throws millions of people in prison for a consensual “crime” where they hurt no one but themselves. A war of terror that creates a security stste. A war on poverty and welfare reforms that looks so hard for fraud it makes it worse for people in need.

I just want to see the world get saner and simpler again. I hope the that’s not too much to ask.

edmund

Death Card

A few weeks ago before Lanna got her new job on our tenth anniversary on July 3rd, I went to Pinecone + Chickadee in downtown Portland and got some random Portland Pins from the gumball like machine. One was death with a nautical image.

I asked Lanna what it meant and she said in tarot it’s a symbol of new beginnings. From this Tarot site it states:

Death is symbolic of the ending of a major phase or aspect of your life that may bring about the beginning of something far more valuable and important.

My first thought was to be frightened but I didn’t know it was the symbol of good change. It’s been a difficult few years. I lost my dad on April 1st, 2013 and had a major mental health crisis and breakdown a couple weeks later where I ended up at Spring Harbor. Manic depression is indeed a frustrating mess. Dad’s was a long departure which I talked about extensively on the blog. I am still recovering 15 months later.

Lanna’s died just a little over a year before in March, 2012. His departure was fast. From seeming pretty healthy and in good spirits to gone not long after.

I feel like I have grown as a person. Learning to mediate, accept my many weirdnesses, learning patience, writing, interacting with words. Maine has been good to me. Maine has been very good to me.

Especially with the patience and perspective of just getting by with life. And that there is nobility to just living. You have a house, you have family, you have food, you are doing alright. Ayuh.

Moving to the Shelton, CT area for Lanna’s new job, she leaves today to start her new job tomorrow, feels like coming home in a way. I grew up in Central NJ in Montgomery Township, just a town north from Princeton up 206. Shelton, CT reminds me a lot of Bridgewater, NJ. Green, bucolic, with huge office parks and lots of money. And I am guessing a lot of the same attitude of not being satisfied and always wanting to have more in life. There is something beautiful in having enough.

I also feel this desire to work in counseling, mental health, anti-drug war and anti-prison efforts. I had a conversation just last night about trying to get people with mental health away from prison. Considering going into mental health work, maybe as a counselor maybe even as an NP. Although I still don’t like blood. I feel like I need to help people directly. As someone with creativity, mania and mental health issues, my current job in a medical call center has helped me gain patience. Listening is a powerful skill. Simply letting people get out what burdens them, helping them get to a nurse or doctor for advice.

Feeling grateful that my job can go with me and I can go remote. It’s one big less stress for this long move.

Feeling happy to unburden myself, I keep way too much crap. Let it go. Let it go.

Happy to have the kitties for support.

I’m going to miss my wife this week and a half. She is going to start in CT for a fortnight on the new job, and I am going out next Tuesday. It’s going to be strange, we are such strong partners with the 11 1/2 years we have been together (met in mid-January, 2003).

I am excited, and daunted by my next step in life.

Also looking forward to a cleaner house and having a place for people to stay. Our moms, our friends, etc. Good friends in good spirits is all it really takes to be happy. I was reminded of that last night at a wonderful party.

To new beginnings. As scary and daunting as they can be.

How We Do by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is easily my favorite writer and poetry discovery of 2014. I started with her last book “The Year of No Mistakes” which includes this poem “How We Do”. I have also read her first three books My Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut and Working Class Represent. I will admit to having difficulty spelling her name, but she is fantastic and funny. “Hot Teen Slut” ***** is easily my favorite book so far this year. Bawdy, hilarious, raunchy about a recent college graduate and virgin who works as an editor at the porn industry. It’s fantastic and captures a lot of the awkwardness of porn, being a college graduate and the bizarre and short lived culture of the 1990s internet boom. It is easily the funniest book of poetry I have ever read. “Dear Future Boyfriend” *** is about being young and awkward. It’s amazing that Ms. Aptowicz even started the Urbana Poetry Slam in New York City at age 19, that one the 2000 and 2002 National Poetry Slam with Taylor Mali among others.

“Working Class Represent” ***1/2 is about being a young poet with a day job. And includes the poem “Ode to People Who Rejected My Work” which any writer and poet would recognize. And “Ode to My Morning Cup of Coffee” which is perfect for someone waking up at 4am for work (an hour earlier than I planned) and enjoying local Silvery Moon Creamery yogurt (Westbrook, ME) with coffee.

“The Year of No Mistakes” is about breaking up with a long term partner and finding next steps in your life. It shows her growing as a writer and is wonderful. ***1/2

How We Do by Kristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (With Permission from the Author)

I tell my best friend, See?
This is proof of how close
friends we are,

that I am telling you
all this stuff in such
graphic detail!

And she said,
And my proof is
that I’m still listening!

—————

I think we have all experienced this.

You can buy Ms. Aptowicz’s work at:

Her publisher Write Bloody Press:

And I get my copies through Bull Moose a local record store chain (NH and Maine) that started Record Store Day and offers 35% off new books. Hooray for independent bookstores and record stores. Now more than ever. They actually have “Hot Teen Slut” and “Working Class Represent” in stock now. I guess it’s good to buy books through your local shop.

You can also read some of her best poems published by the Legendary. A total of 10 poems.

The first group is from “The Year of No Mistakes”, the second from “Hot Teen Slut” (warning NSFW) my favorite is the “Sass Manifesto”, and the third from I am not sure but I love “Crack Squirrels”.

Her website is: www.aptowicz.com.
Twitter is @coaptowicz
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Aptowicz

This is 40

Terrible movie, waste of talent **.

I turned 40 on June 23rd. Already looking like a very different year. Lanna just got a new job in Shelton, Connecticut, big raise, big opportunity. She is starting there at the end of the month. And we are looking to move completely by September 1st.

Big move for me. Will be nice to have New York City an easy drive or better train ride away. Will be nice to be closer to my mom, Allentown, PA will be 2 hours away. Will be unfortunate to be farther from my mother in law, from across town to 4 hours away.

Maine has been really good for us. Met a bunch of awesome people through work, Twitter, Facebook, poetry, tweetups, church, community.

Portland is a fantastic city. Amazing food. Excellent art scenes. Even two poetry slam teams which is just astounding. Tons of theater companies, a great regional art museum, lots of galleries and artists. And it actually is a city in the peninsula. Walkable, interesting, lots of character. Resurgem.

Westbrook I think is still finding itself. A mill town, where the mill doesn’t run the town anymore. It has the advantage of being next to Portland so it has become more a commuter city, but still with a lot of people in section 8 who never recovered from the mill being gone. Happy James Tramontagne is in the city with the Frog and Turtle, I love the Dancing Elephant and I love my local library. I also liked being able to walk in town, but I do wish it had better links to Portland Trails and the wonderful city of Portland. To me it’s still Westbrook it’s there. I expressed my love for the town with my poem “The Smells of Westbrook.”

The Shelton, Connecticut area will be a new adventure for me. Driving around during Lanna’s interview on Tuesday it reminded me a lot of the area I grew up in Somerset County, NJ. Reminded me a lot of Bridgewater. Lots of businesses in huge parks in an area with a lot of trees. A lot of affluence, just very similar.

I look forward to the new adventure and discovering new places. Right now it all feels overwhelming.

40 has come. I think I will really like my fifth decade. I do want to get in touch with as many people as possible in the next few weeks and get a beer, coffee or lunch.

The move feels so fast but it’s a great opportunity and I look forward to it.

Blessed be.

edmund

Zen and the Art of Pinball

I’m walking on this beautiful morning.
Up late after a night of pinball.
Given advice.
Thinking.

Not letting the ball flow.
Not letting it go.
Trusting the flippers,
Just having fun.

It’s a game of flow
Silverball through bumpers, drop targets, ramps.

Multiballs fast madness.
Control
When needed
Flow
When everything works.

Enjoying the sounds
The mechanics
Underside filled with wire and switches.

Sounds
Lights
But attention
Joy
Sometimes bliss.

Quarters draining
The afternoon passing
As you watch the silverball
Fly around the table.

Metal paying
For shiny metal
As the boy in me returns
And I just play.

Gorgeous morning

Lovely morning in Deering Oaks
New flowers of Spring
Green ones have arrived
Greens, honey, eggs.

Watching kids smiles
Talented balloon twister
I know so well.

Blue skies
Green trees
Finally warm
as I sit in the shade.

Poems for May

Did some poetry yesterday:

Here are some tweetpoems (not necessarily haiku but 140 characters or less).

The city sleeps
falls quiet
birds sing their glorious song
Spring arrives in Maine.

Symphony of spring
birdsong
before the world awakens.

Bad Houses **

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan (story) and Carla Speed McNeil (illustration).

Story just didn’t grab me.

I think there definitely could have been more there.

I think graphic novels are most interesting when they either embrace the spare in a beautiful work like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County. Or if they provide a snapshot of an unknown world in Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang or Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”.J

There is also the power of work like Palestine by Joe Sacco. But for relatively standard storytelling the effect can actually be pretty thin.

I feel like this could have been more interesting in more traditional narrative, like the characters live richer lives that what is shown in the book. The central couple’s story is just beginning in the book, and I think can get richer.

Ok at best. Definitely disappointing.