Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Magnficent Obsession - by Patty Mooney

When I was 15, I started writing poetry because I was the new kid in the neighborhood and nobody liked me. Well, how could they? They didn't even know I existed. Since I didn't have very many friends, I retreated into the written word where I could spill out the contents of my soul. And I seemed to have a knack for it, because my teachers encouraged me to keep writing.

LesCorsetsLeFuretParis18cutBImage via Wikipedia
Then I went to college at Michigan State University. I had the good fortune to take a Poetry class with Carolyn Forche who mentored me and even helped me submit my work to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vermont, for a summer "waitership" there. What a great day it was when I received notice in the mail that I had been selected to spend a week at Bread Loaf serving coffee to, and "rubbing elbows" with some of the greatest living poets of our time: Robert Pack, Marvin Bell, Rosellen Brown, John Gardner, William Gass, Anthony Hecht, Mark Strand and Mona Van Duyn.

Fast forwarding to the 21st Century, I still love to write poetry although am under no illusions that I will ever make a career of it. Instead, I began to focus on poetry as entertainment. A way to make people laugh. These are not poetry's usual environs. Many poets are inspired to write when they are feeling down, depressed, angry, and as if there is no place to go but up.

Still, I have loved the work of impish writers like e.e. cummings, Billy Collins and Lewis Carroll. So I knew that there could be a way of imparting poetry to the everyday person who may or may not include the reading or writing poetry in their list of avocations.

And then I stumbled onto my "latest invention," which I call Air Poetry. After my brother died last December, I sought solace in my poetry-writing, which I had allowed to languish over the prior decade. I dabbled with Haiku and began sharing them with my friends. I started to carry a small notebook with me everywhere in order to jot down random poetic thoughts. And then... I started recording bits and pieces of overheard conversation that struck me as funny, thoughtful, startling, insane... I noticed that many of these seemed to hold their own as poems. When I read them aloud to people involved in the conversations, they were highly entertained. When I read them aloud to people who had not been involved in the conversations, they, too, were highly entertained.Art by Os GemeosImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr

I realized something special was emerging here, and I bought the Air Poetry url. When I shared the idea of Air Poetry with friends and encouraged them to write some, the results were positive. I will be posting the work of an eight-year-old boy and an 18-year-old young man in the next couple of weeks, proving that the exercise is a good one for kids.

Other friends and new acquaintances have begun to post their work. And I love it.

I have thought of this as the "mainstreamization of poetry," which may irk some of the traditionalists, but maybe Shakespeare irked a few people with his sonnets. The thing I really like about it which is different than most poetry is that it takes you out of your own mind and into the stream-of-conversation that is available to anyone, anytime you put yourself into a social situation. I have garnered some great Air Poetry from parties, shopping malls, restaurants, at the side of a stream, on top of a mountain, and on video shoots.

If like me, you enjoy experimenting with the written word, the company of other people, and entertaining others, maybe you should give Air Poetry a try. Submit your work to the Facebook Air Poetry page.

The sky's the limit.

And now for a few examples:

To think
or not to think.
I am a fly.
- Sandra Shapiro

Shopping at Target
There's honey.
Raspberry seeds
stick in my teeth.
You're the one
with the sensitive ass.
Nobody around here
has a sweet tooth.
Thank you.
Have a good evening.
- Patty Mooney

It's America 2011
We have no expectations.
The bar is so low
that it's rolling down the street.
It's an authenticism.
As long as I'm on bass guitar
that's all I care.
- Patty Mooney

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why I am Not Surprised the Tigers are in the Playoffs - by Patty Mooney

Back in June, while my husband and I were visiting family in Detroit, my brother, Tom, treated us to a game of baseball at Comerica Stadium featuring the Detroit Tigers versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a searing Sunday, one of the hottest days I had ever experienced in Detroit, made all the more obvious as we were sitting in the standing-room only section without shade in the sold-out venue. I even stole away to the women's room a couple of times to soak my shirt in the sink for some cooling relief.

The Tigers that day were celebrating the life and times of beloved manager, Sparky Anderson. Right from the start the day was looking to be quite special.

The Tigers pulled ahead right away in the first inning with a home run. But in the second inning, the Diamondbacks were ahead by 2 - 1. For the next several innings the score remained the same. Then in the 8th inning something happened that I have never seen before. The Tigers scored 7 runs without any home runs, all in the same inning. The crowd went wild.

Meanwhile, I had brought a small plastic egg filled with my brother, Joe's, ashes because it was my intention to spread those ashes onto the ball field. "Say what?" you might be asking. It's like this... Joe died last December. While he and I had "emigrated" to California back in the late '70's, we both spent our formative years growing up in a Detroit suburb. Motown was where Joe became a man. The ground that Comerica Park stands on is where Joe spent his wild teen years.

Anyway, as the game drew to an end, and I was contemplating how to sprinkle Joe's ashes onto the field, I noticed a pronouncement on the marquee: It was "Kids Day" which meant that after the game, kids could run around the bases. I then enlisted the aid of my newphews Charlie and Peyton, who both were too weirded out by the idea, so I decided to do it myself.

As Mark distracted the usher who was directing kid traffic onto the field, I slipped behind him onto the field, clutching my ash-filled plastic egg. I remember thinking how quick the transit was from home plate to first, and before I knew it I was advancing upon second base where the Tigers' esteemed, and very tall, mascot, "Paws," stood, cavorting with the kids. As I approached him, with my left hand rising in a high-five, I surrepticiously opened the egg and unleashed the coarse bits that had once been my brother, there in the center of the field.

The rest of my orbit around the bases and into home was a blur and I may have even forgotten to tag third base. When I arrived at home base, Mark, Tom and the boys were there to high-five me.

Mission accomplished.

And when I recently learned that the Tigers had entered the Playoffs, I was, curiously, not surprised.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cowles Mountain, Rescue Central - by Patty Mooney

Beautiful Young Woman Runner on Cowles Mountai...Image by cleopatra69 via Flickr

August 05, 2009 - A 55-year-old man died this afternoon while hiking on Cowles Mountain. The man was found passed out on the trail, and had been lying for an unknown amount of time in a hard-to-reach area of the mountain.

February 13, 2010 - An injured male hiker, with four other people, was about half a mile up the trail from 7000 Golfcrest Drive near Navajo Road when he became injured. The hiker was hoisted off Cowles Mountain by a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department helicopter Saturday and taken to a hospital with minor to moderate injuries, officials said.

March 28, 2010 - A 13-year-old boy who fell and broke his arm near the top of Cowles Mountain Sunday was plucked off the hill by a rescue helicopter and flown to a ground ambulance waiting at Mast Boulevard and state Route 52.

April 25, 2010 - A 50-year-old woman was rescued from a Cowles Mountain hiking trail after suffering an ankle injury Sunday, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

January 15, 2011 - A 60-year-old woman in distress was hoisted on a helicopter and rescued from Cowles Mountain on Saturday.

January 18, 2011 - Firefighters used a helicopter twice Monday to rescue hikers who were injured on Cowles Mountain. A 41-year-old woman had either fallen or collapsed while hiking up, and another woman who suffered a minor injury.

March 6, 2011 - A 24-year-old woman who injured her leg Sunday while hiking up a trail on Cowles Mountain was airlifted to safety.

April 1, 2011 - An injured hiker was rescued from Mission Trails Regional Park Friday evening


Because we live on a hill that overlooks Cowles Mountain, we have been observing the accelerated frequency with which rescue helicopters hover, dip, and collect unfortunate hikers. Last month we were awakened from a deep slumber at 3 in the morning to the sounds of a helicopter picking up someone who chose to hike in the middle of the night. The list above is not at all comprehensive, but gives you an idea of who gets into trouble on the most-climbed mountain in the City of San Diego.

Some advice to the would-be hiker who wants to tackle a rather steep, technical and often hot trail: Work up to it. Hike along the lower-lying trails, and preferably ones that feature streams or rivers so you can cool off if you start to overheat. Build up some endurance before trying to zip up a trail that may be over your capability. Make sure you don't have some kind of condition that will be exacerbated by a technical hike. Wear the right shoes, and make sure they are broken in. Take plenty of water. If you are accompanied by your dog, bring plenty of water for both of you. Remember that however far you hike up, you will need to hike that same distance back down. So if you are starting to get weary sooner than you'd like, stop and rest. If you still feel tired, then turn around and hike back down. This is not an Ironman marathon. Listen to your body and enjoy your time outdoors, whether you're briskly hiking or sitting on a rock, contemplating Nature.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Used to be Addicted to Falling in Love - by Patty Mooney

Loving CoupleImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr As Jerry Seinfeld once said so aptly to the Hertz agent, "You know how to TAKE the reservation but you don't know how to HOLD the reservation." The same is true with love. Maybe you know how to FALL in love, but you don't know how to STAY in love. Well, my friends, roll up your sleeves, because there is work to be done in order to keep love alive.

Maybe you are a junkie for falling in love, as I once used to be. I just came across a journal I had typed on an electric typewriter from 1979 through 1981, just before I met Mark. It was like finding the diary of a completely other person. I have no memory of many of the people and situations I wrote about. It's like coming across a sexy blog in pre-computer times. I was 24 in '79; just picture a "recovering Catholic girl" who realizes that she is free to do anything and everything she feels like doing.

If I didn't appreciate the way one boyfriend treated me, then I could simply walk away and find a new one. So that's what I did. By the time I met Mark I was seeing four guys at the same time. I got to be pretty good at juggling them, but I was also keeping each of them at arm's length. Each of them knew and loved a different facet of me. No one man knew ALL my facets; this was my way of protecting myself.

And then along came Mark. The universe cleared my calendar on Valentine's Day of 1982 so that the only thing I planned to do was sing in a play called "Pandora's Box." And thus Mark and I met while standing on the balcony of the theater before the play was to begin. He was a videographer who had been hired to shoot the play.

Next Valentine's Day will mark 30 years together. Even though we have stumbled across bumps in our path, most of our time together has been stellar. Any relationship worth having is going to go through an annealing process - like the scene in any Merlin movie where the sword goes through a fire and is stronger for it.

We have now reached the point where we barely even have to talk to each other because our telepathy is so strong. We have multitudes of shared memories that we can share via a simple wink. In our 30 years together, I can say that it's only gotten better.

Are you addicted to falling in love? Wishing you the joys of true love.

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