Wednesday, December 31, 2008

closing remarks

I spent the last ten days on Long Island with limited to no internet access, no cable, and no car. You'd think it was the ideal time to catch up on my reading and writing, yes?


I did very little writing and even less reading. Come to think of it, I don't really know how I spent the last ten days. I know there was a lot of sleeping and eating, but after that, my mind's ablank. I suppose I should scold myself for squandering away a perfect opportunity. I didn't even take an audiobook w/ me for the ten-hour train ride to and from (I can't read in a moving vehicle w/out getting motion-sick). Yes, I should be ashamed of myself.

But I'm not. I didn't do much of anything, physcially, but I have a feeling the squirrels in my brain were gathering nuts and anything else I needed to store for the coming months. As I looked out the window at the snow falling, or walked through town decked out in thermals and faux fur hat and gloves, etc., or gazed at the Christmas tree lit up in the dark room night after night before bed; as I stared out the window from the Amtrak as neighborhood after neighborhood whizzed by, I thought. I composed. I created. I made plans. I daydreamed and fantasized and imagined. I dialogued.

My mother told me that she often names her year. I hate to ride on the coattails of the presidential campaigns, but I suspect Change might be a good name for my '09. That, and The Farewell to My Thirties Tour. I am foreseeing change in how I see myself and live as a writer; change in writing as a business (*my* business, that is), changes in location, relationships, etc. Home is emerging as a theme yet again, and it may finally be time to take guitar lessons. Even Kairos Calling might be facing change -- certainly it has evolved in its short lifetime.

Allow me to offer some of my writing highlights of 2008 (not necessarily in any particular order, although the first one is definitely the biggie):
  • Well, the release of Faking It, of course...
  • meeting Andre Dubus III in June
  • all the great work on WILS w/ my writing partner and that collaborative experience
  • de-mystifying the agent querying process. I haven't had the opportunity to put the knowledge into practice yet, but I know I can and will when the time comes
  • the open mic night at QRB when I came in second place -- the feedback and number of hits on the youtube video were quite validating.
  • too many QRB events and authors to mention by name, but each one has helped me to be a better writer
  • the Kairos Calling blog. it's been an experience in and of itself
  • the upcoming nonfiction book -- for all its pregnancy pains, I think it's going to be a very healthy baby
  • "my" teen writers, also from QRB, also teaching more than I could ever teach them
  • my writers' group, and the women's writing group who so hospitably welcomed me in even for one night
I'm not ready to share my writing resolutions with you just yet -- hell, I'm not sure I've even fleshed them all out, yet. But I'd like to hear from you. Have you made writing resolutions? Will you? What would you like to see or do differently in 2009? Who would you like to be? What would you like to manifest? Please share.

Have a safe, warm, blessed New Year filled with peace, prosperity, and good health.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

my christmas card to you

Before you read my post below, please click here for an important message from Roy Blount, Jr.

I'm spending the day on the train tomorrow headed to Penn Station, and final destination, Long Island, NY. I'll be there for the remainder of the year, feasting on real bagels and pizza and Chinese food and looking for celebrities along Main Street in Sag Harbor and hopefully getting to see my beloved ocean. From what mom tells me, her internet access isn't so great, so I'm anticipating that this may be my final message of the year. Just in case, I just want to thank my readers for your interest, your insight, your comments that I always enjoy reading, and most of all, your continued support.

This blog has morphed quite a bit since its inception earlier this year. And I think it's going to see even more change next year. But it's been a neat little outlet for me to get all those things I've been wanting to say out of my system, and it's been a learning process as well. Sometimes I didn't write as much as I wanted. Sometimes I didn't write very well. And sometimes I wrote things I wish I didn't. Nevertheless, by the act of writing, I continuously affirm that I am a writer. And if writing is always in response to something else, then I am continuously affirming that I am also a witness. Those two things will remain intact despite whatever changes may come to Kairos Calling, if any.

If I don't get a chance to say later, I'd like to wish you, one and all, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, blessed Kwanza, and a New Year that is full of peace, prosperity, good health, and lots and lots of books.

the Purple Panda, better known as Elisa :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

more recommended reading

If any of my readers are single and looking for a new relationship, or are in an unsatisfying one and want to change or improve it, you must read this book!

Nanette Geiger doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walk. Geiger shares her success as well as her human vulnerability with her readers, assuring us that we all struggle at times. I take comfort in knowing that she’s been in my shoes, and that she’s rooting for me.

For those who are unfamiliar with Abraham-Hicks and/or the Law of Attraction (LOA), Geiger provides a simple overview (as well as a comprehensive reference list at the end of the book) as well as real life examples of LOA in action in her own life and others’. For those who already know and practice LOA, Geiger’s definitions and highlights serve as helpful reminders, and provide readers specifically seeking a love relationship with a clear blueprint. Furthermore, Geiger’s “How to” isn’t so much a step-by-step process as much as it is a journey full of twists and turns and ups and downs—in other words, wonderfully human and spiritual. The quest for a relationship no longer feels like social pressure or empty hunger, but instead becomes a peaceful, loving, and even fun allowance for our intended love partners to show up on time. Geiger assures us that our soul-mates are already here and don’t need to be “conjured up” but instead drawn to us by aligning our thoughts to support our intentions.

Take the next step: buy Nanette Geiger's book! If you are open and receptive, you too will feel the instant shift. And before you know it, you’ll be exchanging wedding vows.

what's in a name

I am seriously thinking of dropping the pseudonym The Purple Panda and fully coming out of the closet, or out of the costume, so to speak. It's not that my full name isn't blazing across the screen right at the top of my page (hello? elisa lorello's storefront???)

Quite frankly, I think my only hesitation is that the photo of Purple Panda is so gosh-darned cute (is it me, or did Sarah Palin ruin folksy talk for everyone?), and I plain like the name. I don't use it anywhere else except on this blog. The number of nicknames I go by otherwise ranges from Leese (my sibs started calling me that way before Bart Simpson coined it for his sis) to Bubs (short for "Professor Bubbles," and no, it's not a bad stripper name).

Besides, lately I've been thinking a lot about Mister Rogers Neighborhood and lamenting that this next generation doesn't have its own Mister Rogers or Neighborhood of Make Believe. To this day, when I am fortunate enough to catch a clip of him saying, "You make each day a special day by just your being you," I tear up -- the LOVE that that man possessed! How blessed we all were to know our "television friend." I think I keep The Purple Panda name as an homage to him, a way to stay in touch w/ my inner child, the one who makes every day a special day by just my being me.

Thank god for You Tube, of course. I get to see these wonderful gems of Fred Rogers in interviews and snippets of shows and Johnny Costa's fabulous piano accompaniment. And talk about names -- is there a more famous "Mister"? Is there one more loved, more cherished, one who has done more for three generations for children, and keeps on doing so thanks to reruns and You Tube? (Not only that, but I've also found some vintage Sesame Street and Electric Company skits that I haven't seen in 35 years -- it's more than nostalgia; it's homecoming.)

So, I don't know. All I can say for now is that the President-Elect isn't the only one running on a platform of change (although technically he's not "running" anymore). I am sensing that 2009 is going to be a year of change for me, and not in bad ways. Among other things, 2009 kicks off my Farewell Tour to my thirties. It's a good time to reflect on and visualize what I want the next decade to look and feel like. I'm already putting those intentions into the universe. Many of them center on my career as a writer. I had written months ago about author Nancy Peacock's advice and inscription to me to "get aggressive" with said career. I think for me, that is coming to mean "make a plan." I had also written much more recently about my theory that the problem is not that we a lacking balance of our writing careers w/ the rest of our lives, but that we are lacking a plan and a decision about just how and where our writing careers fit into our lives, and what kind of honest value we place on it. Thinking out loud and on stream of consciousness here, if I am hiding behind (or in) The Purple Panda, am I devaluing Elisa Lorello, fiction writer, by not shouting out to the masses, "This is who I am!"? Am I hiding?

Or am I just simply afraid of stalkers?

I wonder...

Anyhoo, I am really looking forward to the 10+ hour train ride back to Long Island to spend Christmas w/ my family. It will give me lots of time to stare out the window and think about what's comin' down the pike (or the LIE, since I'll be home until the end of this year...). Heck, maybe I'll ask Mister Rogers what he thinks.

In the meantime, put this on your Christmas/Hanukkah lists, or fill someone's stocking with The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging. I know I want one!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

recommended reading

The other day I listened to Emma Walton Hamilton on NPR talk about her latest book: Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment. Ms. Hamilton is an "author, editor, educator and theater professional, she has co-authored 16 books for children of all ages with her mother, Julie Andrews, and serves as Editorial Director for the Julie Andrews Collection publishing program" (NPR website).

The other night, Hamilton was in Hampton Books in Sag Harbor promoting her book while my mom was down the street at Canio's bookstore giving a talk on Thomas Merton (incidentally, today is the 40th anniversary of Merton's death), so she couldn't attend. (No big deal. Hamilton lives in Sag Harbor, as does Andrews on a part-time basis. I know; I saw her walking along Main Street last Christmas. But, I digress.) Then again, my mom's kids are grown. And at least half of them are readers.

I recommend you listen to the podcast of the program if you can. I'm putting this book on my Christmas list. I think it's a book not only for parents, but teachers as well. And really, anyone who has a love for reading and wants to pass on that love.

My first writing assignment is a literacy narrative. Students reflect on books that had some kind of impact on their life and read other literacy narratives ranging from a history of reading and writing to learning how to read to a love affair w/ reading Dr. Suess books. Too many student narratives focus on the hatred rather than the love of reading. They talk about their experiences and use violent metaphors of being forced, having books shoved down their throats, and so on. What I find is that some students wish the circumstances had been different.

There's got to be a better way. I think this book can offer some good ideas. I'm sure my blog readers would love to see a reveral of the trend of reading as a chore as opposed to a delicious pleasure. I know I would.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

all you need is...

I don't have time or energy to post anything original, but this is worthy of a little reflection, and it's a nifty little piece of writing. It's the opening segment to the film Love Actually.

Enjoy, folks:

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspision love actually is all around."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

when my job is more than a job

When the progress a student has made throughout the semester is so obvious I can't help but be happy for him/her.

When my I put my UMass Dartmouth bachelor's degree to work, and I'm paying forward those bits of wisdom given to me by my professors.

When I run into a former student and she tells me that she was talking to another one of my former students, and the latter tells the former that I was her favorite teacher.

When find out that my former Upward Bound student from eight years ago is now in graduate school for International Relations, and I wish I could hug her.

When my students tell me that my passion has rubbed off on them.

When I can take a few moments to roam the halls with my colleagues, and enjoy their company.

When I can go home at 3:00 because I don't feel well, and be in pajamas by 4:00.

When I get to talk about writing on a daily basis.

When they get it. Always when they get it.