Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How it All Starts.

This evening, I ventured to the utterly rainy Isle of Palms with my trusty photographer, ready to scout out a spot for our upcoming cover shoot next week. It was a soggy occasion, but we managed to snap a few ideas with the iphone.

And, right before that, I worked on my "About the Cover" page whilst having happy hour at Basil. (They have pretty good happy hour, by the way.)

It's funny to think about how the cover of the magazine gets started - with two women walking in the rain and snapping phone pictures - and how  content evolves from a notebook page scrawled in ink.

It all reminds me of something my favorite poetry professor, Dr. Paul Rice, used to write about. He had this collection of poems I loved that focused about how we can't always trace things back to their beginnings. And, how when we do manage to trace them, the beginnings aren't always recognizable.

Today was rough. I was tired and grouchy for a good portion of it, and I had a lot to do, not all of it fun. But when I take the time to really think about the origins of the magazine I work for (and of all magazines, books and artwork) I feel much more grateful for the process.

A little sunshine would have been nice, though.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Life is But a Dream.

Today, I went canoeing with two of my best gal pals, Mandie and Alice, plus Cameron, Mandie's six-year-old son.

It was completely awesome. I've only been in a canoe maybe a couple of times in my life - I'm typically not much for boating - so I'm glad I ditched my musings about going to the library this afternoon and instead, joined them in the James Island County Park for a leisurely paddle. It was a great arm workout and Cameron said that I "did great."

The most interesting part of our journey was when we saw a young alligator, resting near one of the banks. He or she didn't turn around when we floated by, but it was still a bit unnerving. Especially when the fish around us started jumping. We elected to get the heck out of the area. Funny enough, Cameron was the calmest of all. He says he's seen another, bigger alligator in that park during his summer day camp hours, which the counselors have dubbed Ally the Alligator.

"But that wasn't Ally," he concluded. "Ally is bigger."

"OK, then, let's name this one something else," I said. "How about...Alice?"

"No," he replied. "There is already an Alice in this world."

He's a smart kid.

I wore a yellow life vest. Chic, no? 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On Sharing Verse.

Jack Johnson, a musician that my friends and I listened to incessantly in college, once sang that it's "always more fun to share with everyone."

Yet, I've been wondering lately how much or how little to share regarding my own poetry. As a poet, I get excited when the "inspirational" portion of writing a poem is complete. And, I have a habit of almost immediately sending that poem out to a few of my friends who like poetry. The problem is, I realize later that I need to make changes to the poem. Once the inspirational "high" wears off, I'm a bit disappointed that I've shared the poem in such early stages. It doesn't stop me from doing it again, though.

I have quite a few friends who are professional poets. They're always proclaiming that you should not share poems that aren't already published - thus, the only poems you'll find on my blog are the links to poems that some other venue has deemed worthy of public consumption. But, secretly, I'm dying to post a poem, or at least a few lines, for y'all to read here.

And today I posted a poem in public, as ill-advised as it might be. Remember how I told y'all that my favorite coffee shop, Troubadours in Mount Pleasant, closed down last week? Well, I wrote a poem about it.

Sure enough, I sent it to a few friends in its early stages. But it went through the process. I workshopped it with my poetry-feature-buddy, Alexandra, and she helped me make some edits.

Next thing I knew, Brian and I got coffee this morning at a place we aren't quite on board with - but at least they had Scotch tape - and decided to cruise by our old haunt and plaster the poem to the front door.

Hours later, when my editorial assistant and I were busy distributing magazines and rode back by the building, I saw that my poem was gone.  (Good thing I snapped a photo, right?)

"Where is my poem?" I whined to Taylor.

"It was taken home by an adoring fan," she replied.

But I wasn't ready to buy that.

What if the owner of the entire building snatched it off the door? I asked myself.
What if someone plum didn't like it? 

But, the truth is, no one knows what happened. Heck, like Brian said, it could have just been the faults of the wind and the less-than-stellar tape. I think what mostly bothers me is that the one time I gave my poem to the world without knowing how it would be received, it simply disappeared.

Still, I can't let a little thing like a vanishing poem stop me from heeding my desire to share when necessary. Though I don't post poems on social media, I'm certain that another occasion will move me to this point.

And maybe somewhere tonight, someone is reading my lines, over and over. Maybe they loved that spot just as much as I did.

Maybe they just love poetry.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Heart, Broken Like a Coffee Mug.

I had an unfortunate experience this week when I attempted to visit my favorite coffee shop in Mount Pleasant - nay, in the Lowcountry.

It was closed.

As in, closed down.

Troubadours Coffee, one of my personal favorite spots to take a breather from my crazy boss, do some writing, sip my favorite iced coffee with frozen coffee ice cubes and hang with Brian when I could lure him away from his office, has simply vanished. They left behind no sign proclaiming what happened - not even a Facebook page message or a goodbye on their website.

It's particularly sad for me and the rest of Mount Pleasant Magazine, because we shot our January/February cover inside that cozy coffee shop. Troubs (as Brian and I called it) became an important part of our lives.

That's always the way it is when a favorite coffee shop shutters its doors. You don't think about the coffee you'll miss, but the atmosphere, the friendly staff and the work you accomplished while sitting comfortably in the chairs. I worked on numerous projects, including the cover shoot, at Troubs, and I always felt welcomed inside the doors and by the baristas who knew exactly how I took my coffee.

No doubt, another coffee shop will open up shortly. That area of Mount Pleasant, like the rest of it, is growing quickly enough that some entrepreneur will revisit the idea. But it won't be Troubs, and it won't fulfill my cup exactly the same way.

Rest in Peace, Troubadours. You will be missed.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When the Wild Goose You're Chasing is a Book.

As a life-long lover of books, I can say with certainty that in the past few days, I've worked harder than I've ever had to for a single book.

It all started when I read an article on Brain Pickings about anxiety and creativity. The article mentioned a book called The Meaning of Anxiety, by Rollo May. It sounded damn interesting - not the usual text bookish or self help workbook about anxiety, but something philosophical instead.

I love philosophy, so I clicked on the "search the world's libraries" link they provide on the site and discovered a copy of the book at the Citadel.

Easy enough, I thought. I'm an alumna there - they should let me check it out.

It was not that easy.

After a few phone calls to the Citadel library and their graduate office, I was told that my Master's degree didn't count in their system, and that the College of Charleston is my "parent" institution, (though I took numerous classes at the Citadel!) so I didn't have alumni privileges. Therefore, I could not check out the book.

I was not a happy camper.

"Why don't you try the Pascal Exchange?" asked the helpful graduate office employee. "We can have it sent to CofC for you to pick up."

Well, while she was coaching me through that website, we discovered that CofC had its own copy of the book. Apparently, it just hadn't been listed on that national search I performed the day before. (Yes, this was taking more than a day.)

But the nasal-voiced College of Charleston library employee told me that their alumni don't get to check out books, period. Unless you pay a fee to become a Friend of the Library, that is.

I had gone from angry to downright sad. Why must it be so difficult to obtain a book? I wasn't ready to give up yet. I called the Citadel back. My friend at the graduate office was surprised when I told her what had happened with my "parent" institution.

"Let me see what I can do," she said. "I want to help you."

She called me back later that day and said that the book was waiting for me at the library! I was thrilled.

But...when I got to the library, I had to convince the people working there that I was telling a true story, since they weren't the ones who'd been notified. Luckily, one woman who knew of my ardent book chase emerged from a back room and declared that I was, indeed, legit. She got down to business creating a Citadel library card for me, which I stuffed into my floral wallet as gleefully as any hard-earned prize.

"I'm sorry this has been such a hassle for you," grumbled the older gentlemen who had doubted my credibility.

"No problem," I said, stroking the dusty spine of the book, which I'd plucked off a shelf of other infrequently-read tomes.

"I'm a lover of books, and this proves to me is that books are still highly valuable, no matter what the cultural nay-sayers want to think," I went on, much to their amusement.  "Who'd have thought that this old book could cause this much dedication?"

They heartily agreed with me. I tucked the book under my shirt since it was raining outside and went to meet Alice for a beer, giddy with triumph.

It's not every day that you win the battles you pick.