Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back from Residency #3 - A Week of Creative Writing and Fun

My third residency for my MA in Creative Writing at Wilkes University is over. ; (

As I pulled away from my parking space at the University Towers apartment, the lump formed in my throat. As I turned left onto Northhampton Street, I could feel the tears welling up. As I turned left at the McDonald's onto Wilkes-Barre Boulevard toward the highway to my house, it came out. I bawled. I made it home okay, but it was through a stream of tears.

That always happens when I leave the creative writing residency. It's a completely emotional experience. Only this being the third of four residencies, the bonds with my classmates and faculty are tighter, the work is better and we're all getting closer to being done.

Why did I cry? First of all- the people. I've written about this before on this blog, after the first and second residencies- When you are a writer, it's very hard to find people that understand you. So, the common thread we all share brings us tighter together, even though we see each other less than those in our daily lives. Some of my classmates had some breakthroughs in their own work this week and that made me so happy-- I am so proud of everybody. And it's not just the work we do- but the residency is filled with late night fun... there was not one night-- okay, morning-- that I did not go to sleep after having a great time with my classmates- whether it was at a bar, having an impromtu concert in a dorm room, playing board games or just shooting the shit while eating junk food. I think I saw the sunrise five times.

I also was brought to tears because I have more direction in my own memoir. I was struggling this past project semester (this is where we work from home between on-campus residencies) not only with the work, but not having the support I needed at home. Leaving the residency with a better direction, suce great inspiration from my mentor and classmates, having had an emotional breakthrough about what I want to include in my book and learning that I did make the right choice to move on my own recently really brought me to those "happy tears."


The creative writing program at Wilkes University is a force to be reckoned with. This week, we learned that several of our classmates ahead of us now are being represented by agents, are having screenplays optioned, are being published-- it's not just the writing, it's the networking and the community that takes place on campus. That combination can really set a writer up for success. There are other creative writing programs out there- not saying any names- that kind of mold a student to be the writer that school wants- maybe not allow a certain genre or something. At Wilkes, everyone has his or her own distinct voice and that's what makes this program different. That's the Wilkes difference. Other programs, a graduating class produces 30 of the same book... here, it's a grab bag!

If you are into poetry, non-fiction, fiction, screenwriting or playwrighting- you've got to consider the Wilkes University MA in Creative Writing.

I am considering the MFA- Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Wilkes. Not so much for the advanced degree, but I think just to have one extra year there!

Okay-- sorry if this blog was way too sentinmental... Oh yeah- and to check out videos of our impromptu concert- check out my friend Jon's blog:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Geocities Page: An 'Ancient' Internet Artifact that I Dug Up on Google Today

It's kind of funny that I ended up, "working for the Internet" as I said, buzzed during a Sunday happy hour last week. So, I don't work for for THE Internet, yet an Internet company, an ecommerce company to be exact. (But it was funnier the way I said it when I was tipsy....)

In 1995, my friend Jenn G. and I started a column, which I came up with the name for, in our high school newspaper: Nothing But Net. We both fell in love with this novel idea of interconnected computers and reviewed websites each week. I am in the process of moving so I do not have those papers with me-- but I should see if any of those sites are still around!
The Internet was still pretty new to the common household user, but Jenn and I were hip and with it. So hip and with it that we made the front page of the Sunday Pocono Record story about young people and the Internet. They interviewed us about the 'net, computers, and whatnot. We were famous for a Sunday and everyone at school was talking to us and everyone at school wanted us to help show them how to use it and how to create email addresses. Jenn was amazed at Yahoo and the directory they were building. I can't take credit- she built a Geocities site before me- but once I got off to Wilkes, I started my own site.
Anyway, back to high school. Jenn even knew was SPAM was back then and was quoted in the Pocono Record talking about it, which is hysterical-- she put her email address on something and got "spammed." She ventured into computer science and while we fell out of touch, I know she worked for some big time companies in the Internet industry and am sure she still does. She got more into the technical stuff that I am not smart enough for. I've dabbled it in as a hobby. She is a whiz.

Now that I work "for the Internet," I am up with the latest trends, at least within ecommerce and also all the Web 2.0 stuff- or at least I try to be. So, when I see someone who has a really old school site, I chuckle and think of my first website- a Yahoo Geocities website. No business's site should look like that! Haha. I am not a programmer now either- I work in sales- but it's cool to think back then how I learned HTML myself and how to create tables and make links and create email links, etc. I should be quite proud of myself that I learned all that back then before there were all these online resources od Dummy/Idiot books published and out there.... But of course by today's standards- my Geocities site blows-- you can still do Geocities, but they have SiteBuilder and all these other WYSIWIG editors to build a personal site. But it's still a very fun trip down memory lane to see this site- and it's funny that mostly everything still works on it, althought the mail address is long gone- and I cannot log into geocities to change anything- but I don't think I want to. This is an ancient artifact that should be preserved.

So, for shits and giggles, check this out. Check out the backgrounds, the animated gifs and all the old school personal website stuff.

Looking back at my content, it's actually funny because I still drink at the bar I did back then. I started the site in 1997 and I guess the last time I updated it was after I turned 21. Now, I'm about 30.

The "guest book" which is pretty much an obsolete thing nowadays, is pretty funny too-- it brings back a lot of memories-- it's before SEO was really big and there is this one guy who searched for "donna radio" because he was from some foreing country and that was a station there, and I came up. So, I had searchable keywords back then! hehe

Cheers to Yahoo Geocites!! Haha. Anyway- just wanted to share it. Laugh with me, because it is funny.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Day of Errands

Since my dryer's heating element burnt and my new dryer won't be here until Tuesday, I did something I haven't done in a while. I went to the laundromat. It has hot. But, it did the job. I didn't have to wash AND dry, so that made it less painful. When I lived in Tulsa, they had this cool laundromat called Duds 'n Suds which had a snack bar, TV lounge, pool table, video games and even served beer. I wish there was a place like that around here. Not that I want to always have to go to the laundromat, but if and when I do need to, it'd be cool to have a hip place to go. There was a nice older man there that I struck a conversation with. He was pissed that people leave the clothes in the dryer and then don't come back.

After the laundromat, I went to Kmart to get an iron and an ironing board. Since I've been a few days without a dryer, I realized that I didn't have an alternative method to the "Donna Ironing Method" which is spray down the wrinkled shirt with a water bottle and then put in the dryer for 15 minutes. So, I thought I should invest in an ironing board and iron. Makes me feel domestic though and I don't like it one bit.

I decided to hit up Deb and that wasn't a good idea for two reasons. 1) The clothes there are in junior sizes or plus sizes. Nothing fit me. And I know. I tried a lot on. 2) There was a crazy lady who entertained me while I was trying on the too small tank tops.

This woman was in the dressing room.... a girl and her mom approached the dressing room. I could here them say, "Are you almost done? You just wanted to stop in quick and now my frozen foods are melted. Hurry up." (They must have been next door at Price Chopper first.)

"Yay! The food's getting cold, " screamed the girl. (It really wasn't getting cold- that's just what the little girl said.)

"Okay, I'll hurry," said the crazy lady. I wished I had a tape recorder. This woman was going off-- her friends had left and said they'd be in the car.

"Oh, I'm so messy! Oh, I need to tip this lady. This poor lady. I'm so messy."

I was holding in the laughter as I took off one top and put on another.

"Where's my money? Did I lose my money? Oh fuck, why am I so messy? I need my own car, I need my own car, I need my own car so people don't have to wait for me. Oh God, Oh God."

This is when I wished I had a camera.

"What time do you close Deb lady?" she hollered. A woman yelled 6. "What time is now?" The lady yelled, "4!"

"Oh goodness I have time to clean up. Why am I so messy?? I want to buy this but I don't have time. Nothing fits me. Nothing. I need my own car."

I wanted to flippin' pop my head underneath the dressing room to see what was going on. I was limited to bringing in three articles at a time, so I had no clue what kind of mess this lady made. When the lady finally left, I didn't have a shirt on but I opened the door anyway and held a t-shirt to hide myself- I had to see what she looked like. She was storming out..... I could only see the back of her.... from the back, she seemed somewhat normal. A little overweight but I wish I could see her face and teeth. I think she was fucked up on some serious drugs.

When I exited, I told the "Deb lady" that the woman was nuts. She said that the crazy lady threw all the clothes on the rack by the front door on her way out.

So, that was entertaining. I actually found two shirts that fit. The next stop was Price Chopper. I wanted to get a hanging plant, but everything looked wilted, so I went back to my truck. I didn't realize this before, but right by my door were three smashed cars of whipped cream. All I could think of was how Price Chopper is open 24.7 and that some teenagers either bought or stole these cans and did whippets in the parking lot. They're fun, sure. But the high lasts a minute. Then you get a headache. Then you can't use the whipped cream.

Then, I went tanning. They make you show your eyewear. They are eyewear Nazi's. And it's cool because I wear the eyewear to protect myself and always do. It's just funny to have a really tan teenage girl as, "Can I see your eyewear?" They won't let you in without it.

Then I went to Walgreen's by my house to by cat litter because I forgot at Kmart and Price Chopper. I ended up spending $70 when all I needed was cat litter. Don't you hate that?

So, now I think I need a beer and I will do just that. Happy Hour Sunday. Whew. What a day.

My Friend Just Published....

Hi all. I posted this on my other writing blog, but this one gets more traffic.
My friend and classmate, Andrew P.H. Clyde just released his first book, LithiumBuzz. Here is the book jacket flap:

Picture this: A love story that isn't a love story at all, but is the memory of the story of a love story.

Confused yet?

Lithiumbuzz is that story.

Marcus Dolby is not well. He's 30. He's got serious mental health issues. He's losing his mind. His fiance just died. And to cap off the high times, he just got out of a mental hospital after an accident involving a kitchen knife and his neck.

But there's something he has to do. His fiance died while carrying his child, and her parents don't even know they were seeing each other. To make this right, Dolby decides to drive across the country to tell her parents about the child, and reveal his relationship with their daughter to them.

There is a catch, however. Upon leaving Hartford on his way to New Mexico to break the news, he loses his medication. So where does that leave us?

Picture this: A love story that isn't really a love story, but is rather the memory of a love story as told by a total psychotic...

Lithiumbuzz is that story.

Faith Hill Remembers, Me. Sort of.

There's nothing like running into an old radio friend. Long story short, I was at Happy Hour last week and ran into an old coworker of mine, M.L. He had an extra ticket to Dave Matthews Band, so I agreed to go. First of all, the concert rocked. Admittedly, I am not the biggest DMB fan because I always felt it was too mellow for me. But, live, there is a lot more energy. I also really dug his fiddle player.

But second- the best part about this night was the reminiscing. I can't believe its been nearly ten years since some of the memories we conjured up. But since I am working on a memoir for the creative writing program, looking back and reflecting with people from my past has been a priority. So, there were nearly a dozen hysterical stories that me and my friend recalled while DMB played in the back ground. We were in a private party tent with three areas and a bar, so there was room to talk unlike if we had regular seats so that was cool.

By far the best story that made my night was when he told me that there was this new artist that stopped by his radio station a few weeks ago- and that she used to be a back-up singer for Toby Keith, but before that, for Faith Hill and now she has her own deal and a new single out. Before he said her name, I guessed. "Is her name Mica?" That was a different name and I somehow knew who it was because I met her once and her name stood out because it was different. "Mica Roberts," said M.L.

So, M.L. brought up the 1998 Faith Hill show at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. It was just before Faith hit it really big and she was still playing in small theaters. A really cool band The Warren Brothers opened the show. This was the last date on this tour, so it was a big party afterwards at the Ramada Hotel's bar, Keenan's Irish Pub. There was lots of beer and booze flowing and it was mainly the bands and the record people- Faith didn't come down. But then she made an appearance and everyone cheered and we all did a toast to her.

Then, because I am silly, I asked the DJ if he'd play a silly song- The Hokey Pokey. I went back to the group and told them what I requested and a lot of the band did not even know that song. So, I urged everyone to come up and do it when it came on. So, there I was, doing the Hokey Pokey with Faith Hill and have pictures of it too. (I will repost when I scan them-- I still have all my pictures at Dave's house). It was a riot.

So, Mica told M.L. that she remembers that night and in fact was talking to Faith about it not that long ago. M.L. scanned in his copies of the pictures and emailed them to her-- she loved them. What a night! When I worked in radio, I got to do some pretty cool things. But I always wondered if the artists remembered this stuff, too since after all, they do it after every show in every town. But apparently my crew made an impression and my silly drunk antics are now a memory of one of country music's leading ladies, Faith Hill as well as an up and comer, Mica Roberts. So, she may not remember me personally, but Faith remembers something I spearheaded!! (And let's not forget the contest I came up with for our listeners prior to that- The Faith Hill This Kiss Kiss-Off which earned me and the station a Country Radio Broadcasters Promotion Award- 2nd Place, Medium Market!!)

That wasn't even the end of what happened that night, but hmmm... I'll save what happened later for the memoir!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Being so good you get noticed-- and being a teenager agin

I was tanning today. Fake tanning in the fake sun. I was the only poor soul who opted to lay between two plastic pockets of ultraviolet lights to get even hotter than the scorching heat outside-- I mean it-- the tanning salon was a ghost town.

But, as I was laying there, sweating but turning more golden, I was listening to Charlie Daniels, The Devil Went Down to Georgia. I don't know if my tapping my hands and feet will affect the amount of fake sun my pale skin absorbed, but I was playing along. I got to thinking how I saw The Charlie Daniels Band live at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre several years ago. It was one of the best shows I've been to- this guy can fucking play. He had a fiddle tech who brought out a new bow after nearly every song- he tore the thing to shreds he played with such heart and emotion. So as I lay there naked (but I accidentally left my socks on) listening to Charlie Daniels, I thought he must be the best fiddle player ever. And then I thought about how Charlie Daniels was getting old and that made me sad to know that in a few years, he may not be here. But then I got happy again because he did something THAT well, that everyone knew him for it.

I got to thinking how great it must feel to be THAT good at something that EVERYONE knows who you are. I meet a lot of people who are good at what they do-- but that's just it. Me and a few others know what they excel it. A local karaoke bar may know how good a person can sing. A local restaurant may be known for a chef who makes the best desserts. A local high school team may have a great track star--- but why does talent always have to be confined? I know that not everyone will be famous or make it big or move on from their hometowns-- but it is cool to know that if you want it, you can make it happen. Imagine everyone- aside from your mom and dad- knowing what you were made to do? Imagine being THAT good at something that everyone knows you for it. Like Charlie Daniels and his fiddle.

I had the greatest weekend. Seriously. Invigorating is the best word to describe it. I won't get into details here on a public blog. But, I felt like a rebellious teenager again. I am nearing 30. In a month and six days I'll be 11 years older than the teenager I once was. But this weekend, with a gang of friends I was more youthful than I have been in a long time. It felt nice this weekend to be brave, uninhibited and free.... ah....

I did journal about it... so perhaps it will be in Memoir #2 since the first one is about childhood.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Back From a Blogging Hiatus

I'm back to posting. I cannot believe how long it has been since I wrote a post to the blog, but as you can see from the previous post, I just moved. That, and work has been busy. I've finally kicked my school work in high gear and I've also become addicted to this word game on Facebook that has sucked up an enormous amount of my time. So everything but that latter is a valid reason for not blogging.

The past few weeks, I've had random things happen and then I meant to blog about them, but didn't and now I kinda forget what they were. So, let me just rehash the past month.

My friend Andee said it best, "Ghetto can be very inspiring." The paneling on the walls here is odd and the bathroom has some strange pegboard wall. So to say the interior is interesting would be correct. But, it has character and is different and I think that suits me well.

The handyman still did not fix the outlet at the kitchen counter, so I make coffee from the TV stand in the living room. I don't have a TV- I left that for Dave because he deserves it. I figure I will get a TV, but I am not going to until after June 28th. I want to finish my memoir draft before I get sucked back into 6-hour CSI marathons on Spike TV every Sunday. My dryer broke two days ago, so I need to get that looked at too, or I may have to venture to the, GASP, laundromat. Ugh. Although it is a scorcher and could probably air dry my clothes- but then again, I don't have much in the way of a drying rack. I have a couch and a bed and a coffee table and two end tables. I need so much still. I need a desk, I need a dresser and a need a storage cabinent thingy. So, I am settled, but yet, not settled. But I can sleep, cook, shower and write. That's all I really need.

I think two people have called me on my new home number since I have been here. The first time, it was a weekend morning and it was Dave. I kept hitting the alarm clock. Both the phone and the alarm clock are new and I hadn't heard the phone ring yet, so I didn't know what it was. So, that was comical.

I realized that I waste a lot of food. I already had to chuck two loaves of bread. Since I live alone and really don't eat now since I have no one to cook for and am too lazy to just cook for myself-- so I buy groceries, but then they all go bad and I throw them away. I finally learned this week that instead of buying a whole gallon of milk, I can buy a half at a time. Instead of buying the bigg ass half and half, I can get a pint. Of course, that lasts a while anyway. I threw away these great onion pouch bread pocket things-- there were eight in the bakery bag... and I couldn't have the same thing eight days in a row, so they went bad. I bought a loaf of wheat bread-- I had three sandwiches, but then the bread went bad. Mold. Ick. The only thing that seems to keep is Diet Pepsi, Miller Light and iced tea. I fare okay in the bevergae arena, but I can't keep food to save my life.

It's weird being nearly 30 (one more month to go!) and somewhat starting over again. I work with some of the coolest people in the world and I have so much fun hanging out. Right now, I am having my second cup of tea with honey because I have no voice. I had that much fun last night. Not that Dave or I ever had to ask each other permission to do things, but it is just cool to be on your own and just pick up and do something. I like that. Being in a relationship is nice too, but I forgot what living on my own meant. I've also reconnected with a few older friends I haven't seen in a while that maybe I didn't hang out with because it was just too hard to get together, so it's nice to just be able to do what I want without having to leave someone out. I have so many people I need to go see- I want to see Laura in DC-- she's lived there for years and I just never took the time to drive down. I want to go to Tulsa to see my family and old friends -- and also to do research for the book.

The important thing for me now is to just take time for myself- I am in the process of writing that memoir, and am really in a discovery phase-- it's strange to be this old and then are still learning about yourself- but I guess we all do, every day. Having my own space right now is the wisest choice I made. I can focus. Who knows where I will end up-- maybe being on my own was something temporary and things will go back to the way they were just two months ago. Or, maybe I will end up being a cat lady. Or, maybe I will meet someone. But I am not looking. The bottom line is that- I am just taking each day as it comes.

My third creative writing residency is coming up in two weeks- June 20. I cannot wait. I absolutely can't. For anyone who just has that dream of writing a book- look into the MA in Creative Writing program at Wilkes. Even if you don't want to be published- just for personal enrichment- do it. This program is amazing. It's low residency which means that you start with an 8-day residency, then have a "project semester" where you learn two genres. Then, you come back for the second residency, choose a genre to specialize in and come with your story pitch-- you spend the week, in addition to classes, pitching your idea- you leave that Saturday assigned to a faculty mentor-- all whom have been published and we have some crazy, talented and successful authors on the faculty-- then you spend the next "project semester" drafting. So, that's where I am at. These next 8-days are less structured- we do readings, meet with our mentors and gain direction for the final "project semester".... between June and January- we revise. I go back in Jan. 2009 to graduate, read and also get to meet with agents, etc. So, that's the program in a nutshell- more like the mechanics of it because i didn't even get into what happens outside of class- the hilarity that ensues when you put a few dozen creative people together in a dorm or a hotel-- with or without alcohol. The friendships that are formed are amazing, the mentor-student relationships that are formed are too.

So, that has been my life recently. All good positive stuff. Are things hard being on my own? Sure. Can I manage? Yes.