1. Sunday Blahs. Every Sunday night, about 7 p.m. it starts. The Sunday Blahs. I don’t think I’m the only one who starts dreading the looming work week. (And lately, my weekends have been filled with chores, so it doesn’t even feel like I’ve had the necessary R&R.) I’ve been reading up on some suggestions to beat the doldrums. Here is the helpful tips portion of this blog (you’re welcome):
- Plan something fun in the coming week. Whether it’s lunch with a friend or a movie you’ve been dying to see, you’ll have something to look forward to when Sunday rolls around.
- Turn off your devices. We all know this one. Checking your emails and voice mail starts to get you into work mode too soon.
- Write a journal entry. Take some time to reflect on the past week and jot down a few special moments. It could be something small like a bird splashing around in a puddle or seeing the first daffodil bud of spring. (Both happened to me this week!) If writing them down harshes your buzz, try using a voice recorder.
- Take a mini-vacation. If your weekends are filled with kids and carpools, doing something by yourself can have amazing restorative powers. Catching a movie, taking an undisturbed bubble bath or even going grocery shopping by yourself can make you feel more relaxed.
- Get some sleep. I recently read in the New York Times that 41 million Americans (that’s a third of working adults) get less than 6 hours of sleep a night. Plan to get to bed early may make Monday a whole lot better. Maybe.
Do you have any Sunday night rituals?
2. The Care and Feeding of Kitties. My neighbor took a vacation to Mexico (jealousy!) and asked me to watch her two cats. While I’ve taken care of many cats at the animal shelter where I volunteer, I’ve never had the opportunity to cat-sit before. I learned a few things:
1. Cats are not dogs. I bet you’re surprised to hear this. I was, too. These lovely kitties met me at the door every day. They meow-ed and pranced around, twitching their tails. They rubbed their little faces against my legs and sometimes even pawed at me. Fairly dog-like, right? Not so fast. The moment they finished eating, they threw a look over their shoulders and slinked off into the bedroom. I think they saw me as their waitress. But they’re terrible tippers.
2. Cats are zen creatures. These two kitties seemed to spend a lot of time sitting next to each other and staring out the window in a contemplative sort of way, just blissing out in a sun spot. Eckhart Tolle wrote, “I have lived with many zen masters, all of them cats.” Now I realize the truth of that statement.
3. Cats are stealthy. Sometimes, I would feel like I was being watched. I’d look over my shoulder and no one was there. I’d get that funny feeling again, turn around and find myself nose-to-nose like this:
3. April is…spring.
April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
4. April is…Poetry Month. For years I had a love/hate relationship with poetry. I wanted to enjoy it, but the poems I read were so dense, so unreachable my eyes would glaze over immediately. I’d close the book and shake my head in frustration. Then, while browsing in a bookstore for a novel not long ago, I realized that there were some fiction writers and subjects that I connected with and some that I didn’t. Maybe the same was true of poetry. Maybe I’d been reading the wrong poems. (I know, amazing revelation, right?!) Now, I wouldn’t say I am a connoisseur but I have a new appreciation for it. I have a sense of what I like and why.
The first thing to understand about poetry is that it comes to you from outside you, in books or in words, but that for it to live, something from within you must come to it and meet it and complete it. Your response with your own mind and body and memory and emotions gives a poem its ability to work its magic; if you give to it, it will give to you, and give plenty.
~James Dickey, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry
Do you like poetry? Who are your favorite poets or poems?
5. Two poems. Last April, I ran a few posts featuring some of my favorite poets: Mary Oliver, Seamus Heaney, Deborah Garrison, W.S. Merwin. This year, I thought I do something a bit different. I’d love to introduce you to some poets you probably don’t know — yet. Over the next few weeks, they’re going to take over this space on the Friday Five to share one poem they’ve written and one poem they admire.
Guest Poet: Jason Primm
Jackie said to me, “I’m doing a thing on my blog where I post poets that aren’t well known. Right now when I share a poem it is someone like Mary Oliver or a poet laureate, you know, really famous successful people.” I was tempted to direct her to my own blog at that point, but instead, I admitted that she had come to the right place. Boy and how!
This poem grew out of a habit, a terrible habit, as bad as smoking, of using Greek myths as a kind of cloak to both hide and express my feelings, the real grade A inner turmoil. It is about the arguments with ourselves that never end and how good it would feel to just give in. Or maybe not. Maybe it is about something else. The more astute of you will have noted that my name is Jason which is why this mythic tale has always held a certain amount of interest. The speaker isn’t necessarily Jason. I always imagined him as one of the nameless sailors on the boat. This poem first appeared in the 2012 editon of the journal, Paper Nautilus. I sent my work to them because I thought it was one of the best names that I have ever seen for a journal.
The Argo, by Lorenzo Costa via Wikipedia
Like breathing, I stopped thinking
I was rowing. We were a ship
and the ship was a man beating
the choppy sea to a smooth glass road.
Had it been just me, I would have stopped
when my shoulders hurt and the last light of home
dropped like a coin into the dark sack of night.
But we were the Argonauts. Wind burnt and sun
drugged, I thought home waited – the bubbling
pot of meat by my snoring father,
the hands of my mother cool on my face
and those first girls willing to teach me love
on the worn paths above the bay's calm.
The places we went weren't gentle, but I knew
what to do in battle. I worked to stay alive.
Without it, I was lost and time spread
like a red tide under us or sat on the deck,
a tangled rope. After all the miles and men
we made die, it wasn't the sword
but the endless back and forth that kept me alive.
There was a sea monster that swam lazy,
lying in the cool shadow of our ship
like a woman on her back, inviting a lover,
bending her knees, planting her heels in the salty
glitter of the moving sea. To the rhythm of the rowing,
she called our names, told us the water was warmer
than a woman's lap. I licked the salt off my lips
and believed it was true. Even after we found
the deeper water, I heard her voice
setting the pace. How I longed for her hands on the small
of my back, the lace of rising bubbles,
the still ocean floor and the end of all rowing.
Jason’s poem suggestion:
Sometimes people ask me to make suggestions of poems for special occasions. Especially weddings. I used to say no problem and I would go home and page through my books and come up with nothing that could possibly ever be used. Now I know enough to know that any poem that I like about one of those special occasions is too complicated to be used in a moment of simple and benignly dishonest well wishing. Here is a poem that Phillip Larkin wrote on the birth of friend Kingsley Amis’s daughter. He wished her happiness. Of course, being a great and terrible poet, he talks honestly about the nature of happiness and how it is achieved. This is not a card that Hallmark is coming out with anytime soon.
For Sally Amis
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love -
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you’re a lucky girl.
But if it shouldn’t, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull -
If that is what a skilled,
Catching of happiness is called.
Jason Primm lives in the empire of Brooklyn and works on the casino cruise ship of Manhattan. He does most of his writing on the F-train. His work has most recently appeared in Paper Nautilus, burntdistrict, Grasslimb, and The James Dickey Review. You can find his most recent musings at his almost new blog.
Is that a poem you’d give to a friend on the birth of her daughter?
Next Thursday starts the “Where in the world am I” contest. Each day for five days, I’ll be posting a clue about my secret location. The first person to guess correctly gets a donation to a favorite charity. I’m so excited about it. Stay tuned!
Have a great weekend, everyone!