Archive for November, 2013

The daily prompt is: Simply Irresistible.  What dish can you  never turn down? 

My temptation dish is Lumpia. 


I don’t know how much of this is because of the emotional associations I have with the dish, and how much of it is just because it is the most amazing food in the universe.  Entirely unhealthy, entirely delicious – I can never turn lumpia down.

The first time I had lumpia, it was at my friend Lina’s house.  Lina, who I’d met through my friend Rosemarie, is a beautiful Filipina woman who can cook the heck out of lumpia.  I remember there was a group of us gathered at Lina’s house, some holiday or other was fast approaching, and we were there to cook lumpia so that it could be frozen and given as gifts to whomever wanted some.  We all sat around the table.  Rosemarie and Lina showed me how to roll the lumpia, how much of the filling to place in the wrapper, how the thinner rolls tasted different than the thick ones, what the optimal level of filling versus wrapper was.  Lina had prepared the filling in advance, and she stood at the stove frying the rolls we wrapped as quickly as we were done wrapping them.  The apartment was filled with amazing scents, the laughter of all of us as we worked, the amount of lumpia we ate versus what we ended up rolling – I have few memories more dear to me than this one.  And I was hooked on lumpia from that day forward.

There was a funny, short lady who ran a food truck that would come to my work every day at EMWD.  She would sell three rolls of lumpia for one dollar.  I went every day on my break to get some of her fabulous lumpia. Then I started to get really heavy, so I stopped. 😀

When I moved away from California, and split up with my ex, my roomate Mary was Filipina as well.  She didn’t make her own lumpia, but whenever she would go to Florida to visit her family, she would bring back a batch of frozen lumpia just for me.  And then when I met my husband and we moved to Ohio, the fabulous Jungle Jims International Market sold frozen lumpia.  I would make it a treat to buy a package – only for a holiday, or my birthday.  But it was still my favorite dish. And one of my favorite memories.

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For today’s Haiku challenge on the Daily Post:




Wind blowing past graves
Stones leaning in twilight depths

One day for Goodbye

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The poem, as published on The Open Mouse, along with one other poem.

Victoria Kelsey: Two poems.

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Sometimes, you get some pretty harsh lessons.  Let me share one with you, in case you are like myself, and need someone else’s examples of seemingly simple mistakes coming back to haunt them.

I have always been very critical of my own work. I have lived a long life, and have been writing in some form since I was 12 years old.  In all that time, I’ve never had the courage to submit anything for publication.  Oh, I entered my high school and college writing competitions, and back when poetry.com was a brand spanking new thing, I submitted to them before I knew what they were.  But seriously submitting? No, I never had the courage to do it.

Well, I wrote this one piece.  And I really loved it.  And then I edited it for about two years, with feedback from my core group of editors who have worked with me since the days of rec.arts.poems (Oh, how I miss you, Usenet, and your glory days).  One day, in a fit of “If I don’t do it  now, I will never do it”, I decided to submit it.

So I checked out a few sites that friends of mine had been published on.  I swear I read the submission guidelines, but I read about 6 different website versions of guidelines and must have mixed them up.  I thought I only submitted the piece to places that accepted simulataneous submissions.  Except, I didn’t.

I was over the moon when I got an acceptance from Every Day Poets, and also from The Open Mouse.  I can’t actually remember which accepted first, but they were really close to each other.  Their publishing timelines are vastly different, so I was waiting months between the acceptance and the publication.  The result was that the piece was published on the fabulous site, The Open Mouse, first.  Then approximately 6 weeks later, on Every Day Poets.

Within  three days of the publication on Every Day Poets’ website, I was informed that my reading of the submission guidelines was in error, that I was in breach of the contract that I’d signed with Every Day Poets, and given this statement by Kathleen Cassen Mikkelson and the other editors at Every Day Poets:

“As this stands, you are in breach of contract. We have taken your poem down from our site. Additionally, you are no longer eligible to submit to Every Day Poets. We have banned you from the submission system. This was a unanimous decision by our editorial board. We take our contracts seriously and expect our authors to do the same.”

My advice for newly submitting authors and poets:

Do not make a rookie mistake.  Read the submission guidelines.  Read them again.  When you get that acceptance, don’t be so excited by it that you forget to READ THEM AGAIN.  As you can see, there is no room for ignorance. The response is harsh.  Your mistakes cannot be ameliorated by your inexperience, so be careful.

For me, I think I’ll take a break from submitting for a while.  I have plenty of work to keep me busy in other areas of the publishing world. I have always had the most respect for authors who put themselves out there, who take a piece of themselves, create it into something other than themselves, and put it out there for others to examine and critique.

Edit to add: Those who wish to read the poem in question can access it via The Open Mouse, September 2013 archive.

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It’s my day on Every Day Poets.  This is the last of the simultaneous submissions on this piece, all of which were, very surprisingly, accepted.

When Conceit Dies, By Victoria Kelsey

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I’ve recently been thinking of what Beauty means; real beauty. Not the kind we’re told to accept as absolute, or the kind we spend millions of dollars or pounds or rubles to try to achieve every year.  I have no great revelations on what beauty is, and I have no great catchphrases fit for market to the blogosphere.  What I have to say about beauty has been said a million times, by better wordsmiths than me.  

Beauty, for me, is truth.  It is health, and strength.  It is courage.  It is the ability to emote completely, selflessly.  Beauty as a state of being, beauty appears in children who are too young or protected to become self-conscious and hide that light behind fear. Why is it that a child in the midst of laughter is the most beautiful sight in the world? Because that child is demonstrating absolute, unequivocal joy. I also find a person in the depths of despair to be beautiful, because that demonstration of emotion is pure as well.  When I think of the people and the things that are beautiful to me, it is those things that draw out a deep, empathetic and emotive response.  Marina and Ulay.  My child with autism and his completely open-hearted laughter.  My father’s tears at my mother’s funeral.  Myself, in the mirror, acknowledging all of my flaws. That’s beauty, because it is real.

None of these are the codified definitions of our modern society.  Language defines what beauty means to us, culturally, and the message is not controlled by the individual any longer.  I’ve found it is easier to look at beauty when I look away from what is advertised as beauty.  I look away from the ads and I see beauty everywhere. 

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I love glass. I love glass art. I am a fan of Chihuly, especially his desert/cactus pieces. I’m now a fan of Carlson, as well.

Cameron Karsten's Imaginarium

BobCarlson-15Robert Carlson is an internationally-renowned glass artist and a master not in disguise.  Bob lives his life as an artist, from his work to his art collections and the uniqueness of his home, to the way he parties and likes his martinis.  I had the opportunity to photograph Bob while he was an artist-in-residence at the Museum of Glass Hot Shop in Tacoma, Washington, where he came up with and devised his newest creations from an imagination wild. Bob is pictured up, sketching his latest invention, pulling from depths of his mind something real.




BobCarlson-448On-hand apprentices assisted Bob throughout the week-long residency. Typically, after the glass is blown and cooled, he’ll spends months with the pieces, studying their forms and subtle messages found within shapes and processes.  Next he employs a reverse-painting technique using mirrors to create the imagery. These will appear on the back side of the glass structures…

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I thought it would be dirty.

Blame it on my youth.  Blame it on my naivete, or on the fact that Russia was a gigantic, scary propagandized place for a blonde, blue-eyed California teenager.  I was only 16.  I was sheltered in the way that only a young person from a warm, affluent, paradisical land can be; Wasn’t every place like California? Didn’t everyone have sunshine and air conditioning and the ocean only minutes away? Even if not affluent, we always had plenty.

And then I was travelling, my first big trip away from California.  And it was a big trip; half a world away, to Moscow, for a foreign exchange program.  It was 1988.  The wall was still up.  Soviet Russia still held its thrall on the US, as a mysterious communist nation (which I didn’t even UNDERSTAND back then, it was just a strange, scary thing that was NOTWHATWEWERE). Russia was the boogeyman built on propaganda.

I’d been raised on Cold Wars, on Gorbachev and Reagan and the rhetoric of world leaders who used each other as the threat to subdue their own populations.  I expected poverty.  I expected grime and dirt, and people lined up in the streets for a loaf of bread.  I expected chain gangs of people, working hard labor for their meager salaries. This is what I’d been programmed to expect.

What I found was the same thing I’ve found in every city I’ve visited since.  I found people, and beauty, and laughter.  I found artwork, and science, and literature, and history. I found national pride, and curiosity.

Today, a friend of mine posted a brief video about the method the Olympic committee in Moscow is using to get people excited for the upcoming games.  For one brief moment in that video, I saw some of the stunning interior shots of the Moscow Metro system – and was instantly transported back in time to July 1988, when I stepped into those underground tunnels for the first time and felt…awe.  I was not in a subway, a metropolitan train line, like we have in New York or Chicago or Boston.  I was in an art gallery, a museum, a gorgeous Baroque era mansion – this was not the dirty I was expecting. This piece of mundane, everyday city life in Moscow was BEAUTIFUL. It showed pride and exceptionalism and a population that cared about their city, their country, and themselves.  I found this throughout the city – in its parks, in its shopping areas, in its streets and in its gutters.  Clean, maintained – even in the poorer parts of the city.  These were not the boogeymen I’d been taught to fear.  They were a population of people, with different values than the ones I’d been taught, yes – but mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and daughters and sons.  Happy.  Smiling.  Hard working.  As afraid of us as we were of them.

I haven’t been back to Moscow since – I’d like to see how the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Capitalism has changed things – but I do now know that I’ll see that same magnificent Metro when I do make it back there.  My travels since have taught me that I will see the same people – the people I’ve met the world over in my travels.  The people just like me.

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Finding the right words for your child with autism is difficult. My child is amazing, fantastic and has deficits in learning and social development. His deficits do not define him, but often, we are asked to define what autism makes of us in 2 word sound bytes.

a diary of a mom


My girl cracking herself up with scripts last night

I was once asked, “If you have so much trouble with the fact that Autism Speaks uses the words “disease” and “cure” in its marketing materials, what would you have them say instead?”

I thought about it for a moment, and said, “Well, I suppose I’d like them to implore the public to help us find ways to mitigate the disabling aspects of autism while recognizing and celebrating its more positive attributes.”

My questioner cocked his head. “Okay, so how does that read on a sign?”

I’ve never felt more awkward (this is a lie, but go with it) than when I answered, “Celebrate diversity! Mitigate Disability!”

I recognized the folly of my attempt at copy writing long before he said, “Wow, you suck at this.”

He was right. I do.

Because for me, trying to reduce autism awareness / education / advocacy…

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Love this essay.

Neiha Lasharie

Khatt-e_NastaliqI have 40 pages of dense reading to do for my classes tomorrow, so in the spirit of procrastination, I’m going to put this essay up. My major is a BA, so it demands proficiency in a second language; as such, I was required to write an essay detailing my proficiency in and relationship with Urdu to waive the language requirement. I’m still taking French, but I figure if somewhere down the line I have to take extra electives, I want to be able to drop French.

Fun fact: my essay was accepted and my language requirement is waived.

I debated, initially, changing this essay’s title to “Tongue-tied Mother tongue” but I felt like that would be betraying my recently established confidence in the language I was raised with. Instead, I decided to lay my interesting history with my beautiful native language plain in this essay:

I was born and…

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