Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sunny days help overcome the prognosis of winter and bleaker politics

I love the sun, just sitting outside with the little roof of so the sun far down on the midday horizon can still shine on my scalp. I felt all the Vitamin D being absorbed and all the melancholic spider webs from my brain as me and my bud reached a higher level before Cici's Pizza buffet. They make a delicious pizza just for you if you desire. So I visit the place a couple times a week and ask for ham,onions,sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapples, green peppers, and a third of it have anchovies (for our much need Omega 3 fatty acids) and splurge with a coke (I know, Muff, all the sugar and chemicals). I do have sinful things but then I want to have a lot of good foods too such as filling up first with salad, and baby carrots. My blood sugar is stabilized for the next few hours and I'm not prone to the hypoglycemic low that is unfortunately sometimes accentuated with cannabis on an empty stomach.

Now these days sometimes flow right together and the depression is sometimes brought on by the inactivity and fear of growing old without accomplishing what I might have really wanted to do and possibly have the talent for. I know that I am good with kids up to middle school but somehow have been stuck with the hardest age in middle school. I occasionally worry about what some folks will say even though I have some very good references from other schools that I have taught. The principal in KC was an insecure power hungry administrator that would have any chance to undermine your authority if she knew that were not going to kiss her gluteus maximus as many insecure bullying leaders like to do. They want to piss in each corner of the territory and will go to what ever means to accomplish their evil desires.

WOW. Sometimes, I get off on a tangent but if we understand humanoid behavior for what it is, we will learn how to survive better as a human race or we will just destroy ourselves. The humanoids that prefer to hide their souls behind the their tinted windows of their huge bubbamobiles or ranch houses, become very nervous when the someone can look in on their sanctimonious lives to see their whiskey and cocaine (George W's) hidden in their proverbial
closets. They want the world to see someone else's skeletons but intimidate the press or anyone that questions or looks into their own minds and lives.

That's my sermon for today. May the universal energy bless you all and may the force be with you, Luke!

Medical Marijuana

I actually think that it has helped me as far as my immunity. I have had far less colds and often feel more strength and confidence since I have taken the prescription religiously most evenings the last few years.
My writing and creativity have increased 10 fold. It also adds some sensous spice to the lovemaking!

It will be wonderful when they cannot stop us from
really legalizing so we can grow it and then put in our cereal for brekkie before the morning swim the gorgeous surf! mmmmm! Then there will be less harm to the lungs or just put in a vaporizer while sitting in in the hot tub after a cold swim in the deep blue Pacific Ocean in the the "Land of Oz".

I'm sure it's not gonna happen anytime real soon unless we impeach Bush (bloody hypocrite was smokin it and passin it to his parents at the ranch in 89. Watch SNL.)....But who knows??
They can't claim it as interstate commerce when it's home grown!

You know that the silver lining to all these clouded neoconservatives temporarily taking over the red states and trying to force their own type of morality down the rest of our throats is the fact that they are doomed to fail. What goes up, must come down and the fact that he's fooled half of this country with his new born again Bubbamentalism, the country will eventually become wise to his shenanigans about starting a war for no valid reason and this McCarthy type of scaring that he and Karl have gotten away with for so long. I wonder what the real reason the national scare chairman, Tom Ridge(?), decided to resign or was it forced on him when he and others of the subministration were tired of all the grey hairs from all the lies that they were forced to spew out and scare us?

The other silver lining is that I will have lots to bitch about until Conneticut boy gets impeached.
Top Stories - Reuters

Supreme Court Considers Medical Marijuana Case

Mon Nov 29, 2:37 PM ET Top Stories - Reuters

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) justices expressed reservations Monday about allowing medical marijuana for sick patients whose doctors have recommended they smoke it for pain.

Reuters Photo

AP Photo
Slideshow: Medical Marijuana Issues

Justices Hesitant to Endorse Medical Marijuana
(AP Video)

The justices appeared sympathetic to the federal government's argument that it has the power to prosecute or take other action against patients who use home-grown marijuana in states with laws allowing medical use.

The justices are deciding whether a federal law outlawing marijuana applies to two seriously ill California women whose doctors recommended cannabis for their pain. California is one of 10 states allowing medical use of marijuana, experts said.

At issue is whether the federal law, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, amounts to an unconstitutional use of the U.S. Congress' power to regulate commerce among the states and does not apply to medical marijuana.

The case is seen as critical to the medical marijuana movement. The Supreme Court last ruled on the issue in 2001 when it said California cannabis clubs may not distribute marijuana as a "medical necessity" for seriously ill patients.

The Bush administration appealed to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court in California ruled that marijuana used for medical purposes was different from drug trafficking.

The appeals court said states could adopt medical marijuana laws as long as the marijuana was not sold, transported across state lines or used for nonmedicinal purposes.

The lawsuit was brought in 2002 by Angel Raich, who has an inoperable brain tumor and other medical problems, and Diane Monson, who suffers from severe back pain. Their doctors recommended marijuana for their pain.

Monson cultivates her own marijuana while two of Raich's caregivers grow the marijuana and provide it to her free of charge. In 2002, Drug Enforcement Administration agents destroyed six cannabis plants seized from Monson's home.

Randy Barnett, a law professor at Boston University who argued on behalf of the two women, said medical use of marijuana was a noneconomic activity that falls outside the power of Congress to regulate trade among the states.


Justice Antonin Scalia (news - web sites) said Congress also has adopted endangered species laws making it unlawful to possess items such as eagle feathers or ivory. "Are those laws likewise unconstitutional?" he asked.

Justice David Souter (news - web sites) asked Barnett about the government's estimate that as many as 100,000 people could use marijuana for medical purposes if the court rules for the two women. Barnett disputed the 100,000 number.

But Souter said there could easily be 100,000 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy in California. He said that would undercut Barnett's argument that the amount of marijuana used for medical purposes would have a "trivial impact" on the market nationwide and on prices.

Justice Stephen Breyer (news - web sites) said the two women could have gone to U.S. regulators and asked them to allow the use of medical marijuana. If denied, they then could have sued.

"That seems to me the obvious way to get what they want," Breyer said. "Medicine by regulation is better than medicine by referendum." The California law was adopted in a voter referendum in 1996.

Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement, arguing for the government, cited the health dangers from smoking marijuana. "Smoking is harmful," he said. "It's true of tobacco, but it's also true of marijuana."

He said it would be "very hard" for the government to enforce the nation's drug laws if an exception was made for medical marijuana.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (news - web sites), however, told Clement that two recent Supreme Court's rulings limiting the reach of Congress's power to regulate commerce among the states "dictate some concern."

Plus, the California law involving home-grown marijuana concerned an "area traditionally regulated by the states," she said.

A ruling in the case is due by the end of June.

Monday, November 29, 2004

George W. probably inhaled!

Supreme Court clears way for medical marijuana
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for state laws allowing ill patients to smoke marijuana if a doctor recommends it.
Justices turned down the Bush administration's request to consider whether the federal government can punish doctors for recommending or perhaps just talking about the benefits of the drug to sick patients. An appeals court said the government cannot.

Nine states have laws legalizing marijuana for people with physician recommendations or prescriptions: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. And 35 states have passed legislation recognizing marijuana's medicinal value.

But federal law bans the use of pot under any circumstances.

The case gave the court an opportunity to review its second medical marijuana case in two years. The last one involved cannabis clubs.

This one presented a more difficult issue, pitting free-speech rights of doctors against government power to keep physicians from encouraging illegal drug use. A ruling for the Bush administration would have made the state medical marijuana laws unusable.

Some California doctors and patients, in filings at the Supreme Court, compared doctor information on pot to physicians' advice on "red wine to reduce the risk of heart disease, Vitamin C, acupuncture, or chicken soup."

The administration argued that public heath — not the First Amendment free-speech rights of doctors or patients — was at stake.

"The provision of medical advice — whether it be that the patient take aspirin or Vitamin C, lose or gain weight, exercise or rest, smoke or refrain from smoking marijuana — is not pure speech. It is the conduct of the practice of medicine. As such, it is subject to reasonable regulation," Solicitor General Theodore Olson said in court papers.

In states with medical marijuana laws, doctors can give written or oral recommendations on marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV and other serious illnesses.

Even some supporters of the laws had expected the Supreme Court to step into the case. They said the court's refusal to intervene, although it does not address the merits of the case, could encourage other states to consider passing medical marijuana laws.

"It finally definitively puts to rest these federal threats against doctors and patients," said Graham Boyd, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing patients, doctors, and other groups in the case.

Robert Kampia, head of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, said the court "has eliminated any doubt that states have the right to protect medical marijuana patients under state law, and that physicians have the right to give patients honest advice and recommendations, whether the federal government approves or not."

Keith Vines, a prosecutor in San Francisco who used marijuana to combat HIV-related illnesses, was among those who challenged a federal policy put in place during the Clinton administration. That policy required the revocation of federal prescription licenses of doctors who recommend marijuana.

"If the government is zipping them up, and we're not being told about options, that's negligence," Vines said.

Policy supporters contend that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration must be allowed to protect the public.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that physicians should be able to speak candidly with patients without fear of government sanctions, but they can be punished if they actually help patients obtain the drug.

The case is Walters vs. Conant, 03-40.

"Everybody will say mine is medical," Justice Stephen Breyer (news - web sites) said.

Supreme Court - AP

Court Questions Possible Abuse of Pot Laws

1 hour, 2 minutes ago

By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court questioned whether state medical marijuana laws might be abused by people who aren't really sick as it debated on Monday whether the federal government can prosecute patients who smoke pot on doctors' orders.

AP Photo

AP Photo
Slideshow: Medical Marijuana Issues

Justices Hesitant to Endorse Medical Marijuana
(AP Video)

Watching the argument was Angel Raich, an Oakland, Calif., mother of two who said she tried dozens of prescription medicines to ease the pain of a brain tumor and other illnesses before she turned to marijuana. She and another ill woman, Diane Monson, filed a lawsuit to protect their access to the drug after federal agents confiscated marijuana plants from Monson's yard.

Their attorney, Randy Barnett of Boston, told the justices that his clients are law-abiding citizens who need marijuana to survive. Marijuana may have some negative side effects, he said, but seriously sick people are willing to take the chance because the drug helps them more than traditional medicines.

The justices refused three years ago to protect distributors of medical marijuana from federal charges. They are confronting a more personal issue this time — the power of federal agents to go after sick people who use homegrown cannabis with their doctors' permission and their states' approval.

The stakes are high because 11 states have passed medical marijuana laws since 1996. A defeat for the two California women might undermine those laws and discourage other states from approving their own.

A loss for the government, on the other hand, could jeopardize federal oversight of illegal drugs and raise questions in other areas such as product safety and environmental activities. A Bush administration lawyer told the justices they would be encouraging people to use potentially harmful marijuana if they were to side with the women.

"Smoked marijuana really doesn't have any future in medicine," said Paul Clement, acting solicitor general.

Justice David H. Souter said about 10 percent of people in America use illegal drugs, and states with medical marijuana laws might not be able to stop recreational users from taking advantage.

"Everybody will say mine is medical," Justice Stephen Breyer (news - web sites) said.

And Justice Antonin Scalia (news - web sites) said there are many people with "alleged medical needs."

Despite the tenor of the debate, the case is hard to predict. The justices will rule before next summer.

The marijuana users won in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (news - web sites), which ruled that federal prosecution of medical marijuana users is unconstitutional if the pot is not sold, transported across state lines or used for nonmedicinal purposes.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (news - web sites) said the federal government has a stake in interstate commerce, but with the California medical marijuana patients: "Nobody's buying anything. Nobody's selling anything."

Her colleague, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (news - web sites), observed that homegrown medical marijuana never makes it to the interstate market.

Conservatives like Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Justice Clarence Thomas (news - web sites) and Scalia generally have supported states' rights to set their own policies.

Rehnquist, who is undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer, missed Monday's argument and is not expected to return to the court until January, at the earliest.

Raich said she hopes the 80-year-old chief justice's chemotherapy treatments "would soften his heart about the issue."

"I think he would find that cannabis would help him a lot," said Raich, who uses marijuana every few hours for scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and other illnesses.

California's law allows people to grow, smoke or obtain marijuana for medical needs with a doctor's recommendation. Besides California, other states with such laws are: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Medical marijuana was an issue in the November elections. Montana voters easily approved a law that shields patients, their doctors and caregivers from arrest and prosecution for medical marijuana. Oregon rejected a measure that would have expanded its medical marijuana program dramatically.

The case is Ashcroft v. Raich, 03-1454.


On the Net:

Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov

"Cloudy weather, Machiavellian Melancholera and worse for the next few months or years?"

Predicts or prognosticates Garvald, November 29th, 2004.

I wish that my own computer was working or a laptop so that I would have access to the internets while on vacation in Joplin, Misery. It was nice to splurge with a little rest and relaxation in the Comfort Inn with Muffy and to get away from it all. The restful motel had a hot tub, miniature lap pool (Maybe in the teens for footage so I swam less than a stroke and I have to do a flip turn) and a workout room with bike, stair stepper and treadmill. We enjoyed these comforts while laughing at Hannity interviewing Donahue or an African American minister on Fox Snooze (I mean news). He was always wanting to interupt as loud mouth Repuke DJs of right wing propaganda love to do.

It is amazing how so many right wingers and especially religious fanatics love to spread their mandate because they think George the Crusader is on their side. I wished they saw the video of the Bush family partying it up with George Jr. in his cowboy hat passing the joint to his parents upset at first at all the lines of cocaine being done. It was hilarious. But imagine if it was true. It was obvious about George Jr. the cool frat leader heading a party sharing lines with other government good ole boys and gals.

No seriously, folks, it is getting scary with all these crusades the "inquisitors" are pushing down our narrowing throats. Pharmaceutical owners are not selling birth control because of their Bubbamentalist religion. Supporters of "intelligent design" are forcing schools to include creationism in the textbooks. God forbid, that our ancestors were little monkey like hominids let alone one celled amoebas deciding to mate when we all might have looked the same in this primordial soup. God, I would love for you to let me just have a visual trip back in time or better yet communicate with my cro-magnon ancestors when they decided to leave the beaches of Africa for Spain after the ice age receded! I would love to have chatted with the ape-persons about their beliefs in the Sun and the Moon before we became pagans and worshipped Heracles, Son of Zeus and a mortal woman, the way Christians worshipped Jesus couple of thousand years later. I would love to see the true evolution of religion and the various splits that caused more bloodshed or rationale for killing than any war. If we would realize that religion (some even think of Democracy as the Christian form of government) causes more warfare than anything else. Someone believes that God is on his or her side and they can rationalize genocide!

It was very interesting watching "Alexander" according to Oliver Stone and his desire to take over the world really believing that he was the son of God as his beautiful mother,Angelian Jolie, kept telling him. I saw it the other night with a good platonic friend and her out of the closet son.
Stone gave all the Macedonians an Irish accent and boldy exhibited the accepted homosexuality among the Greeks. The whole movie appeared to very historically and geographicaly accurate but dwelling into the Alexander's deep insecurities with wild abandon as he goes very deeply into a man's inner torments as he did in "The Doors". Right wingers hate Oliver Stone as much as Michael Moore especially when he delves into conspiracy theories! Wait till his movie comes out on Bush and Rove. He can go far deeper than he did on his movie about Nixon. Anthony Hopkins was great showing many of Nixon's deep psychological issues that we would be afraid to show with the McCarthy type of intimidation of the left wing press or Dan Rather being pushed into resigning when he was just wanting to answer the questions of what Bush actually did while avoiding Vietnam and just having a good time while others risked their necks or died there.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Since Alexander the Great - Afghanistan's Central Role in World History
Franz Schurmann,
Pacific News Service, Sep 27, 2001

Since the time of Alexander the Great, Afghanistan has been the incubator of global visions. Throughout history, swarms of armed nomads have migrated south and west, mostly to move their herds, but sometimes for conquest as well.

SAN FRANCISCO--Suddenly, America is facing a war with Afghanistan -- a country we associate with amputated hands and terrified women. In fact, ever since Alexander the Great staged his conquest of fabled India from the Kabul Valley, Afghanistan has been the incubator of visions that swept the world. The ancient city of Balkh, in northern Afghanistan, is still called Um al-Bilaad -- the Mother of (all) Cities.

In the mid-1950s, I spent a year-and-a-half roaming around Afghanistan with Japanese anthropologist Iwamura Shinobu in search of Afghanistan's "lost" Mongol tribe, descendants of Genghis Khan's armies. We not only found the tribe; we discovered that the force defining and energizing this remote and impoverished region was the long-distance migrating nomads.

All the experts had told us to look in northern or central Afghanistan; instead, we found the Mongols in the southwest. The first Mongol we saw had blond hair and blue eyes. Others bore African features. While they spoke a Mongolian dialect laced with Arabic and Persian words, they also opted to speak Pashtun, the dominant language for a thousand years of the Pashtun people living in southern Afghanistan. And now Pashtun is the preferred language of the Taliban.

Like the Mongol minority, many, if not most, rural Pashtuns are long distance migrants. They are called Koochis -- a Turkish word meaning people who migrate long distances back and forth.

For over 5,000 years, long distance migrants from Central Asia moved westward and southward, giving most Europeans, Iranians and Indians their contemporary languages. Then came the Ural-Altaic long-distance migrants from the northwestern borderlands of China, who gave rise to Hungary and its non-Indo-European language. A thousand years ago, the Turks, who went south intermarried with the local population to form the Pashtun people there.

The Pashtuns account for over half of Afghanistan's population -- some 16 million people when I was there and probably not much more today, given the enormous human casualties inflicted by two decades of war. And Pashtuns also make up the great majority of Afghan refugees in Pakistan -- at least three million in Karachi, the former capital, and a million more elsewhere. When Russians started dropping anti-personnel bombs all over rural Afghanistan and then civil war raged, many Pashtuns took their herds and moved hundreds of miles into Pakistan, as far as Karachi on the Arabian Sea.

More than 10 percent of Pakistan's 146 million people are Pathan, a people whose language and culture are virtually identical to that of the Afghan Pashtuns. Clustered along the Afghan border, the Pathans are considered Pakistan's warrior people and play a major role in its armed forces. The Pashtun refugees have increased the Pathan share of the total Pakistan population to possibly 20 percent.

The Pashtuns trace the rise of their culture to a Muslim Turkic ruler named Mahmood, who founded a brilliant dynasty in the Pashtun city of Ghazni, half way between Kabul and Qandahar. The Turks also brought a vision that transformed the Pashtun mountain people from short distance sheep herders into Koochi migrants.

The vision took the name Beni Isra'il, "Children of Israel." The Beni Isra'il figure prominently in the Muslim Qur'an, which describes the Children of Israel as being preferred by God to all others because they received his message. Many Pashtuns believe they are one of the lost ten tribes of Israel. Even the Afghan Mongols, once they embraced Islam, came to see themselves also as a part of the Children of Israel.

In the mid-1700s, a Pashtun clan, the Durrani's, became the rulers of Afghanistan. They held power until 1974. In the early 1980s, the Communist Pashtuns ruled. Later the largely Pashtun Taliban overthrew them in 1996. This time the Taliban ruled from the Pashtun stronghold of Qandahar, rather than the more Westernized and Persianized Kabul. Ever since the Taliban took power, they have refrained from engaging in the anti-Israeli denunciations that resonate throughout the Muslim world -- a testament to the strength of their identification with their Beni Isra'il origins.

Unlike Osama bin Laden, who envisions a seamless Muslim world, Mullah Omar, the reclusive spiritual leader of the Taliban, wants to build his realm only in Afghanistan. Yet he is called Ameer ul-Muslimeen, Commander of the Faithful, a title assumed by the early Caliphs, who a millenium and a half ago, launched their holy wars. Within a few decades, Muslim power ranged from the China borderlands to the Atlantic.

If America starts a massive attack on Afghanistan to punish and overthrow the Taliban, chances are that armed Koochis will start a massive, long-distance migration south into Pakistan. This alone could easily destabilize the entire subcontinent much as what the great conqueror Babur and his armies did when they moved south from Afghanistan to found the great Mogul Dynasty in India in the 1500s.

Babur is buried in Kabul, and I went several times to his grave. He could have been buried elsewhere in his vast domains, but he chose Afghanistan. Maybe that is because so many Afghans still talk about "Iskender," an Arabic variant of Alexander. It was Alexander the Great who first made Afghanistan into a launching pad for global visions.

PNS Associate Editor Franz Schurmann is emeritus professor at U.C. Berkeley and author of "The Mongols of Afghanistan" (Mouton, 1962). Schurmann can be reached at fschurmann@pacificnews.org

Ninety minutes!

All these thoughts running across my brain since I waited before taking care of the tasks at hand. These last few days have been relatively succesful(?) or just much more productive along with the helpful motivation of a human made pharmaceutical. It's funny that the creators of "Desperate House Wives" must have seen my blog or just know the effects of an amphetamine (She rolls her eyes and walks off in total disgust with his delusions and has to have a cigarette!) Just rationing out those little pills with the magical beads of motivation. The mind just clicks on and doesn't seem overcluttered with all the shit that you need to get done. All obstacles are organized by the mind into manageable boxes or packages for this brief journey through life.

After waking up actually before noon today and about to go back to sleep when I looked at the grandmother clock (Alene bought it and I finally got batteries. The other one is not working so I left it on 4:20.). I decided that I needed to talk to the lawyer about this case, but wasn't sure if he might be the best defendant or the one with much more experience in Columbia. I finally get the motivation to call the one that is closer and who sent me the bill that I missplaced or worry that a burglar took it. Who knows? I've lost the number for the bloke in Columbia so I finally just call the secretary of the local lawyer that knows the prosecutor. The secretary calls back that nothing has been filed even though the arbitrary court date is for the seventh.
"It takes them a long time to process things, even tickets"

Well, I am so relieved that everything is taken care for now and the court date will be postponed for hopefully a couple of months so I can take the trip to Australia. Maybe we can all laugh at these ADD "Hunter S. Thompson" "addventures". (She rolls her eyes and says,
"You are no Hunter Thompson.")

I have a great chat with my neighbor, Charles about so many people doing their most creative works when they reached mid-life. Charles loves to do photographs and I can see how his eyes brighten up when he is into talking about pictures.
"You are never really good at something, unless you love it!"

Both of us are in similar situations. He's retired from Tinker in his early fifties, and now with more time than he knows what do with while his wife still works. We are looking for creative outlets for doing what we really love to do. Both of us end up sometimes watching the boob tube when we just wanna veg. ( Women don't seem to understand man's desire to go to his cave and veg or hibernate sometimes.) We are realizing that there are so many things to do in the world before we end the journey. I sometimes have visions of really being happy when this writing or whatever comes of my career will be really fulfilling. I feel that life is so short and I need to be cramming as much into it as I can! We had some afternoon tea together at about 4:20 and NO, we did not do that!
I made the elixir of ginger root juice, hot green tea with a little Kava Kava and a little of the most local honey that I could find at "Buy for Less". We also munched on dried cranberries,dried banana chips and walnuts. I like to explain to my female best friend (I think) that I love to eat well but I also do indulge in the ocassional binge on ice cream or onion vinegar potato chips. She gets upset when I try to lecture her on what is good for you in your diet, but I was eating chips the way she does I would have an 8 month paunch!

So I'm onto the public library after my fix of the national news while listening to NPR have about the movie "Alexander" and the reality of his life. It made me think about the destiny of a man like him where he does have a vision of really changing the world. The man was despised in Greece but was great in the rest of his brief empire. He had a vision as many that conquered.
I'm having delusions sometime of these words being found somewhere and making an impact with these thoughts and ideas that will help evolve the human race to a higher level. (Uh oh, she's really rolling her eyes into the back of her head!)

I'm not saying that we should conquer the world with force but with reaching a level of understanding of our differences. When we learn to accept folks that believe and have different lifestyles that do not harm your own, we will be in a much safer and loving world instead of being human lemming racing towards our cliffs of extinction.

So I'm walking into the Warr Acres Library and see the oriental lady on one of the puters and I do a 360. Is that a bad sign when I'm wanting my luck to change?

I drive on through the rain and the redneck drivers on their giant bubbamobiles to get to the Belle Isle Library and write for 90 minutes! Sometimes I miss being on this computer like a love that I can't stay away from.. Is that why some people have affairs so that they will find someone that listens? I worry sometimes that the only folks that want to leave comments never emotionally got out of 8th grade.
I would love to hear from folks that have a college degree, enjoy reading good books, realize that there is a life outside of football, and just enjoy deep conversation over the peace pipe or not. Just a friendly cuppa?

Maybe I'll just check into the Jesus House for Thanksgiving and hang out here in the land of disenchantment.
Or maybe I should research pagan thanksgivings?


So he visits her house and knocks on the door not sure of who will answer it. He prayed to God that he would actually meet her. He sees her but she doesnt aknowledge, telling him while breast feeding her new infant as coldly as she can,
"Oh its you! Go away!"
giving him even less conversation when he wanted to talk to her while she was bartendressing one customer a few years ago. For some reason he felt better at least seeing her briefly jealous of the new father of her 4th child?? What kind of life does she lead now living on a very busy street in a tiny house? Her talents are now wasted except for being a mother and maybe doing some artwork. He wished that she had his child and could have been with her when she breast fed their kids!

He wonders too now about God answering so many of his prayers and finally at least being able to see her. He had written out notes to God asking that they be back together. The spell hasn't been totally lifted but he has knowledge of what she looks like now and she's still beautiful but very bitter . There is a note on the door to tell everyone to go away almost like a curse.

He wonders about sending her at least a christmas card from his land far away?? That will probably only make things worse, but he always does thing out of hopeless romanticism before common sense!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Politics is not allowed in pubs, just redneck bullies.

The Politics Of Bullying
Paul Rogat Loeb
August 20, 2004

Examples abound of how bullying politics have shaped our country in the past four years. From the mob in Miami-Dade county to the jammed phone lines of a Democratic voting call center, manipulative tactics have become astoundingly commonplace. The challenge now, says Paul Rogat Loeb, is to make the issue of bullying the central theme of the election. Demanding that our leaders play fair isn't old-fashioned—it's democracy.

Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear (Basic Books, August 2004 www.theimpossible.org), and of Soul of a Citizen.

The best thing John Kerry did at the Democratic convention was to challenge the bullying. He talked of the flag belonging to all of us, and how “standing up to speak our minds is not a challenge to patriotism [but] the heart and soul of patriotism.” By doing this, he drew the line against the pattern of intimidation that the Bush administration has used to wage war on democracy itself.

A former Air Force colonel I know described the administration’s attitude toward dissent as “shut up and color,” as if we were unruly eight-year-olds. Whatever we may think of Bush’s particular policies, the most dangerous thing he’s done is to promote a culture that equates questioning with treason. This threatens the very dialogue that’s at the core of our republic.

Think of the eve of the Iraq war, and the contempt heaped on those generals who dared to suggest that the war might take far more troops and money than the administration was suggesting. Think of the attacks on the reputations and motives of longtime Republicans who’ve recently dared to question, like national security advisor Richard Clarke, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, weapons inspector Scott Ritter, and Bush’s own former Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill. Think of the Republican TV ads, the 2000 Georgia Senate race—which paired Democratic Sen. Max Cleland with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein—asserting that because Cleland opposed President Bush’s Homeland Security bill, he lacked “the courage to lead.”

In this last case, it didn’t matter that Cleland had lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam, while the Republican who eventually defeated him had never worn a uniform. Nor that Republican strategists nearly defeated South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson in the same election, with similar ads, although Johnson was the only person in Congress whose child was actually serving with the U.S. military—and would see active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It’s hard to talk about such intimidation without sounding partisan or shrill, but we need to make it a central issue, because if it succeeds, it becomes impossible to discuss any other issues. Remember after the 9/11 attacks, when Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly declared that anyone who disagreed with administration policy was an ally of terrorism. We were still stunned and reeling at that point. Yet Democrats and honorable Republicans should have had the courage to say that this definition was unacceptable. Instead they capitulated to the tactics of Republican strategists like Grover Norquist, who proudly quotes Lenin’s motto, “Probe with bayonets, looking for weakness.” And a message of intimidation has dominated since, amplified through the endless echo chamber of O’Reilly, Rush, Hannity and Drudge.

Some who’ve embraced this approach believe they’re on a divinely sanctioned crusade. Others simply love the game—like Karl Rove, who got his start by destroying the reputation of a fellow contender to head the national Young Republicans, and helped Bush first take office by spreading rumors that then-Texas governor Ann Richards was a lesbian. My friend Egil Krogh—who worked in the Nixon administration, hired G. Gordon Liddy, and went to prison for Watergate—did things he knew were morally wrong, wanting to be loyal. He watched Nixon’s administration frame everything in terms of national security, then identify that security as whatever consolidated their power, while branding those who challenged them as traitors. Bush’s administration, to Krogh, seems even more ruthless.

The resulting rule of intimidation and manipulation grinds into the dust traditional conservative ethics of honesty and fair play. In the 2000 election, while the Florida ballots were still being counted, a mob of a couple hundred people, pounding on doors and windows, succeeded in permanently stopping a count of 10,000 Miami-Dade County ballots that were expected to favor Al Gore. As The Wall Street Journal reported, this mob was made up largely of Republican Congressional aides, organized by future House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and flown in by the Bush campaign. In a tight 2002 race for the New Hampshire Senate seat that Republican John Sununu eventually won, a Virginia-based campaign consultant group, GOP Marketplace, hired an Idaho telemarketing firm to jam the phone lines of Democratic "get-out-the-vote" call centers. More recently, Michigan and Oregon Republicans have gone all out to get Ralph Nader on the ballot, to siphon off votes from John Kerry.

The United States is an experiment, one whose outcome can be in doubt on any given day. But when our leaders embrace the ethics of Don Corleone, they undermine the very terms of our democracy. Go back to Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy,” where he deliberately used racially polarizing language and images to lure white southerners into the Republican Party. Or the Willie Horton ads overseen by Karl Rove’s mentor, Lee Atwater. Or the Iran-Contra scandal, when the first President Bush and key members of the current president’s administration, then working for Reagan, crafted and enacted secret foreign policies that defied the will of Congress—while collaborating with dictators and terrorists. Or the illegitimate purging, in the 2000 election, of 94,000 largely poor and minority voters from the Florida rolls. Recently, the same five Supreme Court justices who installed Bush prevailed by a single vote in upholding Tom DeLay’s midnight redistricting in Texas and Pennsylvania—where Republicans broke all conventional rules about redistricting only after a census, and instead gerrymandered as many Congressional seats as they could, just because they held the reins of power.

Whatever our party identifications or stands on particular issues—which, of course, will vary—we should be profoundly troubled by these developments. Since the United States was founded, neither major political party has exercised a monopoly on deceit, venality or political abuse. Dead people voted in Chicago. Lyndon Johnson closed an air base in a Congressional district that dared to vote against him. No administration since the World War I Palmer Raids, however, has so systematically attempted to silence its critics.

But just as a culture of silence is contagious, so is one of courage. And citizens are beginning to stand up and question—from Republican conservationists questioning Bush’s environmental policies, to career foreign service officers decrying the rift our unilateral actions are creating between us and the world, to cities across America challenging the USA PATRIOT Act.

The challenge now is to make the issue of bullying the central theme of the election, linking the intimidation of all questioners with the blind insularity that leads to debacles like Iraq. If we can do this, Bush will lose. As old-fashioned as it may sound, the demand that our political leaders play fair still resonates. And in a democracy, we should expect nothing less.

Fox news should read this and give article to OReilly and most redneck bullies!

Stick up for yourself
by Debbi Marco

Do you wake up in the morning feeling sick because you have to go to school? Is school a nightmare because people in your class are horrible to you? If you're being bullied and you don't know what to do, read on.

Types of bullying
Bullying isn't always as straightforward as someone taking your lunch money or pushing you about in the playground - bullies can be very sneaky. Sometimes they make everyone turn against you and won't let you play with them, or they spread lies about you.

Even if bullies may not physically hurt you, it doesn't mean they're not bullying you. If they're making you feel sad and upset, you need to make them stopNow that a lot of people have mobile phones, they can even bully you by text message. Sending horrible messages this way is illegal. If it happens to you, keep a diary of when the messages are sent or calls are made, and then tell somebody, like an adult you can trust.

Tell somebody

Being bullied can make you feel depressed but it's important that you do something to try and stop the problem as soon as possible.

Even though it may not seem like it at times, there are lots of people you can go to for help. An obvious choice is your class teacher. He or she should listen to you and then be able to deal with the bullies. Your school may have an anti-bullying policy, which means that the head teacher will know exactly what to do when bullying is reported.

If you can't talk to your teacher, tell your parents or your grandparents, or an older brother or sister. Try talking to the school nurse, lollipop lady or dinner lady. Telling somebody can help you feel better, and then you can begin to make the bullying stop.

Jan Lea only found out her 9-year-old daughter Caroline was being bullied when she saw little marks all over her arm. At first, Caroline didn't want to talk about it - perhaps because she was worried that telling an adult would make the bullying worse. But in the end she told her mum that a girl in her class was sticking pencils into her, and it had been happening for almost a month.

'I went and spoke to the class teacher who hadn't got a clue what was going on,' says Jan. 'The teacher spoke to the bully and it all stopped.'

You're not alone
Oli Watts was bullied when he was 14 years old. He says: 'I don't know what triggered it - it just happened. One day everything was fine and the next day it was awful. It was a group of boys and girls and other people just joined in. Basically it wasn't cool to be my friend.'

After six months Oli decided to move schools. 'It was a complete change,' he says. 'I had a whole group of new friends. When I told them what had happened in my last school, they were horrified.'

Oli decided to set up his own website, which deals with issues faced by teenagers. His advice for anyone who's being bullied is to tell someone you trust. 'It's important to get it out in the open,' he says, 'and make sure your school knows what's happening.'

Where to go for help
18 out of every hundred calls that ChildLine receive are to do with bullying, but they'll listen to any problem you haveIf you feel you really can't tell anyone you know, you can call ChildLine on 0800 1111. ChildLine is an advice line that has people on hand who will listen to you and can give you advice if you want it.

The Bullying Online website is brilliant for loads of facts about bullying and also gives advice to your parents too. They have information about bullying by mobile phone, what to do if you are being bullied and even give legal advice. They get almost 3,000
e-mails a year, so they're experienced at dealing with every sort of bullying problem.

Standing up to a bully
If you knew someone who was bullying other people in your class or school, what would you do about it? Bethany Jacobs, 10, isn't big for her age and doesn't have a black belt in karate, but when she saw her friends picking on another girl she decided she had to do something about it.

'My friend said to this girl that she wasn't allowed to play with us, and told all my friends the same thing - that we weren't allowed to play with her,' says Bethany. 'I think she was worried that the new girl would split up our friendship group. I told my friend that if she didn't let this girl play with us, then I wasn't going to play either.'

It worked: even though the bully and the new girl may not be great friends now, they manage to get on because Bethany made it clear that she would not put up with bullying within her group of friends.

Don't be a bully, not even to your children...4
I believe that adults are the biggest
bullies and that children learn their bullying
techniques from adults. Some adults
bully all the time, some husbands bully
their wives and some employers bully
their employees. It's a vicious cycle, perpetrated
by insecure people who lack self-esteem
but want to feel a sense of power.
They believe that by belittling others they
empower themselves. Bullying is a way to
disguise one's cowardness. A bully is a
person that lives in constant fear. A bully
is a tortured person who demonstrates
gestures of hate. Bullies hide behind this
facade in the hope that they will not be
recognized as the whimpering cowards
that they are.
In martial arts you are taught about the
power of the art form, and the importance
of self discipline. A true student of martial
arts recognizes that even though life
may present combative challenges, he must
demonstrate self discipline,...

Blog diary on another melancholic Monday

I still have so many things to do before Thanksgiving. I'm reluctant to call Dad, especially with the predicament coming up on Dec. 7th. I need to call the lawyers and the ACLU again about the ridiculous charges. We need to totally change the stigma of weed especially when it does less harm than alcohol and especially cigarettes (when you can afford to put it in your oatmeal in the morning instead of the harm that smoke causes to your lungs). I might go off of it for a few weeks and go to Australia to see Dad. I keep procrastinating about everything (that is one of the most prevalent symptoms of adult ADD), but I finally had the courage(?) or just not be intimidated by the IRS and walked and filed taxes for 2002, this afternoon, I will finish 2003! I went in Friday at 4pm after having a small taste of the very expensive adderall at noon. (It is over $100 for a bottle of 30 without major medical coverage.) It only took half an hour to fill it out and get help with any arithmetic mistakes or putting the numbers in the wrong lines. I was so happy to finally do it and know that I can do the rest. I think that we are paralyzed into not even starting a project such as a long college essay until it is the last minute.
There were many essays written overnight staying up until it was finished.

Sometimes, I think that it is a mistake to open up myself on this blog journal knowing that some judgemental folks that are immature love to spout out their psycho babble and have the audacity to call me mentally ill when most of you "friendly readers" can obviously see who has the issues by the sick comments that they leave.
I am not ill as "Monica" said but I am crazy in the sense that I do thing differently and in a very different way. Muffy, when she is speaking to me, can attest to that! My wierdness and eccentricities often gives me the label of the "wierd". Wierd in America is eating oatmeal with flax seed, cranberries, bananas and other flavors. Wierd is riding your bike in a blizzard instead of driving. Wierd is writing poetry in a redneck sports bar. Wierd is asking to watch the News or "Tour de France" instead of violent basketball or hockey.

When the human race is racing toward the cliffs of extinction like lemmings where they will have no choice but the deep chasms of debt, "nucular" holocaust, environmental destruction and death, I think that Maybe I and some others will go the other way so the rest of the race can fight it out.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Monica, check out Al and try Kava Kava (it will help your angry persona)

In the grand satirical tradition of Swift, Rabelais, and Twain comes Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot And Other Observations, a scathing—but uncompromisingly fair—look at America's largest talk show host and the rest of the Republican right. Penned by the Emmy award-winning Saturday Night Live writer whom John Podhoretz of the New York Post has called "the man responsible for some of the most brilliant political satire of our time," Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations tackles the issues and the politicians in ways few have dared. On the subject of Rush Limbaugh, Franken lets the facts speak for themselves. Listen to Rush, the "rugged individualist" and enemy of government handouts, explain how his second wife made him stop sitting around the house eating junk food and go file for unemployment insurance. And learn all of Rush's several explanations for how he avoided the draft. Of course, when it comes to draft-dodging Republicans, Rush isn't alone. Reading Al's Vietnam short story, "Operation Chickenhawk," you'll savor the exploits of Privates Limbaugh, Gramm, Quayle, Buchanan, Gingrich, and George Will as Lieutenant Oliver North leads them kicking and screaming into combat. And don't miss Al's informative discussions with the man who has "the easiest job in America": Rush Limbaugh's fact-checker. And much, much more.

see the acclaim
buy this book
read an excerpt


"This book establishes Al Franken as a master of political humor...
a delight to read and certain to appeal to readers of any
political persuasion whose spirit hasn't been completely
broken by the state of current U.S. politics."
--The Washington Times

"Wickedly funny."

"Funny, angry and intelligent."
--The New York Times Book Review

"A very funny book... [Franken] picks the scabs off every logical
inconsistency, factual error or act of malice he can find in contemporary conservatism...
this book destroys [Limbaugh]."
--USA Today

"A laugh-out-loud funny book...
[Franken's] points are swiftly and deftly made, and his sense of
humor about the current carnival of political grotesques is badly needed."
--Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

"He's back, and his wit is sharper than ever."
--The Boston Phoenix

Dear Monica or Martin Bubbaneck

Some folks have no life and so they like to bother folks and do it in the chicken poop way of bothering others. Some like to stake out a corner of the pub spew verbal obscenties while filling their lungs with several pack of cigarettes after going to their dull mundane job kissing up to some corporation or a cushy gov. bureaucracy job where they get free car to use for their commute.

They keep making payments to the "general store" always in debt and have nothing better to do than enlarge their livers, bark out order to insecure bartenders, and interrupt conversations so they can have attention. When they go home to their 'puters, they love to fulfill their secret desires of being the bully in the school yard with their insecure need to put themselves higher on their own need for a pecking order and say to themselves, "I rule" as if God decided they were destined to be the alpha male/female. They loved to sit at the head table in the school cafeteria and make fun of the nerds, or the kids that did not fit into their rich upbringing having the benefit of good clothes, food, etc. They then have to sit at the head table at their neighborhood bar like a dog pisses in every corner to mark it's territory.

It is so interesting how some folks who want to be anonymous blowhards , resort to making acts of sex or defecating as part of their scatalogical vocabulary. They cannot think of anything but redundant profane remarks that only impress themselves. They have no lives and secretly envy the president getting a decent fellatio from a young intern. These repukes like Ken Starr, or Karl Rove never had that life or even any sex life so they wanted to punish the sinners since they couldn't get any.

No women will tolerate having a relationship with a closet 'pter nerd that likes to go back to his days of being a bully in the middle school cafeteria making fun of others that are not like themselves. They made fun of the children that did not have decent food, health care, or even a home to sleep. These bullies love to make fun of the kids with old clothes that would not fit properly. A rich spoiled Republican brat's feeling of superiority was enhanced by enjoying the misery of others (Supply side trickle down noveau riche repukes. Stepford Repukes have not much of a life and are brainwashed by Fox and Rush and take this simplified 6th grade one liners as gospel.)

They like to be internet bullies looking for sites to pick on others from the safety of their computers, just like the goats hiding on the roof taunting the wolf. They feel safe in the anonymity of the net.
Some like to act like a testosterone toughy pushing back fingers of their neighbors instead of having a civilized intelligent conversation. Their conversation is filled with the one liners of their mentors, ugly O'Reilly O'Hannity ranting and raving to show that they are the meanest ugliest mouths in show business. They think that if they are loud in the bar they acutally compete with the noise pollution of the loud mouths on Fox. They are proud of their neanderthal violence just right below their guise of civilization. They love to bark physical threats and then get sued for harassment by their female associates.

Insane rants from Mr. Blow me or whatever pseudonym he/she chooses to have only only helped this site getting about a hundred hits a day. Others with more civilized behavior see your sophomoric comment and see how ignorant many in this nation are. Are half of this country just proud to be stupid and just let these right wing ignoramusses dominate the air waves and government? Maybe in the next 4 years we will have a backlash against this testosterone fraternity pigheadedness! We will be motivated to do something about the government that sleep with this nation's corporate bullies, pharmacy companies and carpet baggers. What was the reason for Southern Democrats? I thought to stop these northern Republican carpet baggers from stealing from the poor and dwindling middle class. That is your assignment if you choose to continue to participate in my site instead of spewing redundant garbarge with your childish comment that remind me of a former aquaintance in administration.

You are the vocal majority on this site. You are so filled with hate that you want to bother others and intrude on other people's lives as your overbearing voice might be in a pub.

This type of bullying behavior is often the reason that the president, and Americans (they pretend that they are Canadian so they won't die) are not welcome in many places of the world . Many do not like bullies whether they are in or out of the closet. Monica, or whatever fecal matter, I am sorry that you are too ugly to have a gf and most of the time have to resort to having sex with yourself since you have scared away any relationship by beating your spouse or gfs. Yes I do enjoy abreviating words but then you resort to low iq remarks. Get a life man, woman or it, whatever you are!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Karl Rove does not want me to publish this and anyone disagreeing with his view of the world being only black and white!

I know you might think I'm nuts if you don't already, but you never know??

Here is a website that I found by pushing another blog on my site. It is what I'd like to do more with mine:

When I learn to blog better, I might be able to create sights with all the photographs included except for me.( right now for anonymous purposes and all the enemies of intellectual thought and discussion in public drinking facilities).
There is so much life to live, so many places to see, so many wonderful connections that have similar feelings about learning how to enjoy life.

Garvald wakes up at noon to his daily ritual of hot chocolate and cains instant coffee. It tastes so much better when he breaks down and buys some distilled water to make these elixirs and treats so much better. He has wierd kinds of youth elixirs added to his daily menu such as green tea, kava Kava and ground up ginger root juice. The Kava Kava helps alleviate some of the depression and keeps him mellow. (He tries to make it daily, but his ADD prevents it from being an organized ritual before escaping the confines of his 1660 sq foot hovel of hibernation.)
This alleviates some of the paralyzing worry or anxiety that often paralyzes him into inactivity. He has a little bit of stuff left to give him a little buzz before he ventures out for a Saturday drive wishing that the sun would peak through all these melancholic clouds that have settled in for a long period of stifling depressing blah since November 2nd.

So now for the past couple of weeks, the library has been his creative outlet for the world of cyberspace. How many souls will enter Garvald's daily world?? The tag board shows 6,028 all from word of mouth and maybe the ocassional ADD blogger looking for someone that might process in a similar way to him. He has a 90 minute time limit at the library for access to this world that he shares with friends and haters.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Slam poetry cut and paste from Alaska

Fresh faces slam it out in poetry competition
TAKE A SEAT: Performers have three minutes to stay in the game.

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: November 19, 2004)

Emil Churchin performs as political comedian Bill Hicks in the "dead poet" division of the Classic Slam at the Fly by Night Club. The event was presented by the Alaska Poetry League. "A lot of slam poetry is stand-up comedy," Churchin said. (Photo by Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)


Kim Barrett scores a performer in the dead poet division of the Classic Slam at the Fly by Night Club. (Photo by Marc Lester / Anchorage Dailly News)


Click on photo to enlarge
Tuesday night's Classic Slam at the Fly by Night Club saw poetry diva Corinna Delgado shot down after reading a poem she finished at her table, while Angela Ramirez won the "live poet" division with the material that earned her second place a year ago.

Fresh faces from a slam class at the University of Alaska Anchorage competed in their first real slam, ousting previous winners.

Jazzed from adrenaline, poets presented their own work in the "live poet" category or the work of others, for the most part, in the dead poet category. Performers had three minutes to woo the crowd and judges and avoid elimination.

Throughout the night, the "celebrity" judges -- including a store owner, a handyman extraordinaire, a reporter, an actor and a biologist -- held up scores ranging from 6 to 9 using criteria known only to them.

The dead and not-so-dead poets started the evening, with Emil Churchin performing as political comedian Bill Hicks.

"A lot of slam poetry is stand-up comedy," said Churchin, winner of last fall's Classic Slam. "That's my justification. Plus (Hicks) has a lot of timely things to say." A member of the slam team that Alaska sent to nationals, Churchin said he prefers channeling the deceased.

"I always have more fun being a dead poet than doing my own material," Churchin said. He once performed soliloquies from Hamlet, losing in the final round to a woman named Pillow who recited in Klingon.

"Slams are great," said Wendy Withrow, who has performed at Classic Slams as Mister Rogers, Bob Marley and Marge Piercy. "All kinds of people turn out to listen to poetry and greatly enjoy the experience. It's so different from a poetry reading, which is quiet and formal and draws only a certain small, elite audience."

Withrow's favorite dead poet moment from Classic Slams past was Anne Reddig's portrayal of Sylvia Plath. In her performance, Reddig popped pills, drank, put a cardboard "oven" over her head and collapsed onstage.

On Tuesday, Withrow donned a trash bag, a cardboard keyboard and a monitor box as a hat to represent Spamma Wamma, reciting a "conglomeration of subject lines gleaned from the glut of e-mail spam."

Audience members chuckled at something they would quickly have deleted if they had been staring into their computer screens at home. Withrow's found poems went from ridiculous to poignant, from "shoe diaper imbalance" to "summer romance on a shoestring."

B. Hutton, who has performed at Classic Slams as Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Waits, played himself Tuesday. Commenting on the years when the Alaska Poetry League focused on sending a team to national competitions, he said: "The energy generated locally was phenomenal, spawning so many new spoken-word talents and new venues I couldn't keep up with them all. ... On the other hand, there was some sacrifice of local flavor and flexibility to meet what were seen as the competitive demands. ...

"We got extremely point-conscious in performance, and the hand-wringing in the parking lot at Whitekeys' (after someone received a poor score) often seemed a little bizarre (given that) the writer had put out one of the best pieces of work they had ever performed."

Hutton read his own poem in the dead poet category as a way of tweaking the genre, he said. He wanted to use props and play, but the point system kept him from amusing the audience in the second round.

"I hate the competition aspect of it," said S. Preston Chase, who, as Henry Miller, described the good, the bad and the ugly sides of sex and civilization. The audience didn't know whether to laugh or gasp as he thrust, literally and figuratively, through his selection from Miller's crude, screeching, bloody, fornicating oeuvre.

"I hate slams. I hate the three-minute limit. Other than that it's OK. ... It's terribly exciting to get up there. Just is. And of course, I dread it." He placed third.

As Allen Ginsberg, Mike Christenson won second place in the dead poet category by speaking to America about its machinery and gluttony.

As slam legend Taylor Mali, Mitch Laird -- appearing in his first slam -- parlayed his portrayal of the slam champion into a win. Laird, one of the few performing without notes, lost his place in the first poem, but the pause fit: The piece was about how the collective "we" don't have convictions. Strong delivery and quality in the final poems garnered enough points to keep Laird in the lead in a close race.

In the live poet category, newbies with weak deliveries got second chances, while heavy favorite Delgado, who placed seventh in the National Competition, missed advancement by a fraction, joining fellow slam veteran Kima Hamilton on the sidelines for round two.

Hamilton, who performs his own work because he appreciates "being the person bringing it from paper to stage," understands the need for competitive slams. He has a poem about his grandmother that just can't be scored, but "without this venue audiences wouldn't hear it."

Before Tuesday's slam, Hamilton worried that his poems about a divorce and his soon-to-be ex-wife would offend and make enemies.

"As an artist, I have to document. I have to be honest. Every time I pick up a pen, it's about that situation. ... I could write something else, but it'd be a lollipop poem. With these, I could start crying."

Taking third place in the live poet category, Jason Marvel looked like he stepped out of an Old Navy ad yet began with a line about a "howling naked street." His style conformed to the tradition of the slam rant, complete with comments on equality, teaching and fathers.

Michael Shaeffer won second place. He tickled audiences with his renditions of Jack and the Beanstalk, "Oklahoma!" and "The Simpsons."

"I'll make a fool of myself in the interests of competition," he said.

Ramirez, who won the live poet division, and Jackie Carr started the night with a combo piece about former roommates, complete with sound effects. Ramirez also told tales of racism, horses and a shrine to a one-night stand.

Hawkins Wright, underage and able to attend only because his parents were present, struggled to deliver his work. But getting it out, he pleased audience members so much they gave him the People's Choice Award. He also enraptured the judges enough with his piece on why few men are nurses that he qualified for the second round.

"Not every man can watch someone cry" or hold a woman's hand as she wants to die, he told the crowd.

In an interview before the event, Linda Billington, a past winner of the dead poet category who was unable to compete Tuesday, summed up the appeal of the Classic Slam: "People reveal (the) truth of humanity, then others reveal truths of the human heart, (all) filtered through someone else. With a costume."

Who will be a muse d ?

Week 3: Setting Yourself Up to Succeed

Or, Why the Commercials Are Wrong

In the last two weeks we have discussed some good ways of getting started -- or keeping going -- in our writing. We have talked about shitty first drafts and crapulence: about being open and fearless in our writing. We have also addressed how to ground ourselves when we write by using what is under our (literal or metaphorical) noses. All of this is important in forging a deeper connection to our writing.

This week I would like us to take a step back and examine the framework within which we write. Because in order to engage the subconscious in our writing, it helps to have a trust in ourselves and our commitment to writing. It helps to have some guideposts that signify that we will come back to our writing on a periodic basis, and that we will do so with a sense of love and gentleness toward ourselves. In other words, if we want to build a relationship with the Muse, we have to let her know that we are responsible partners -- that we won't flake out and never return and also that offer reassurance that our partnership will be respectful of the gifts we each have.

In other words, as important as what to write is how we are writers. This week we ask the question: what are the guiding principles of how we fit writing into our lives?

Established, published writers grapple with these "writing lifestyle" issues as much as (or maybe more than) new writers. Seeing writing as part of a structure, a larger process of learning and living, helps us to write with greater freedom and connection. This might at first seem like a contradiction: I give you a bunch of rules and this will help you be wilder and more open in your work? It's a paradox, yet it works. I have used it to improve my own writing and have taught it to writer friends when they've gotten stuck. I have learned it to train my dogs, and I also apply it to my meditation practice.

Let's examine the way most of us try to squeeze writing into our lives. First of all, nobody has enough free time. We are working full-time jobs or going to school or taking care of family and friends or dealing with a chronic illness or some combination of all of the above. So, when we sit down to write, we might only have fifteen minutes or an hour or two that day or that week. If we feel that to get anything accomplished we must start with a blank page and end with a completed manuscript, we will do everything in our power to avoid sitting down to write in the first place. Because we will know in our hearts that there is no way we will be able to succeed. After all, how much motivation can you muster to force yourself to do something you absolutely know will end in failure?

Or if we are very motivated, we might sit down, make a terrific start at something -- a bit of fiction or poetry or memoir -- and then when we have to stop (because the dog needs to be walked or the kids have to be picked up or we're too ill to continue), we will feel like a failure because our project is not "done." And this will make us reluctant to continue working on the piece because we know that we will probably not finish it the next time either, and who wants to keep setting oneself up to fail?

That is what we are doing when we set unrealistic goals for ourselves in writing (or in anything else): we are setting ourselves up to fail. Take a look at two scenarios.

1) You say to yourself, "This evening after I put the kids to bed, I am going to write that short story I've been thinking about all year." You sit down and start writing and in an hour and a half you've written the first four pages of your short story. Then you have to stop and go to bed because you need to get up early the next morning. You feel bad about yourself: you didn't meet your goal of writing the entire short story. Maybe you decide if you can't write it after all this time, you should just give up.

2) You say to yourself, "This evening after I put the kids to bed, I am going to write for an hour." You sit down and start writing, and before you know it, an hour and a half has gone by and you've jammed out the first four pages of your short story. You have to stop and go to bed, but you feel great! You just wrote straight through for an hour and a half and finally got a start on a story you've been wanting to work on for a long time. You are already scheming how you can make time tomorrow to steal another hour to write.

What is the difference between these two scenarios? In both cases you have written four pages of a new short story. That should be cause for celebration. But in the first scenario, because you set an unrealistic goal (finishing the whole story) what should have felt like a triumph was registered as a failure. This is neither a kind nor a useful way to approach writing. It is a way of making failure a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is a terrible thing to do to ourselves (or our dogs, our children, our parents, etc.).

In the second scenario, you set a goal you could meet (writing for an hour), met it, and thus felt excited and proud: ready to do more. That is part of setting ourselves up to succeed. This is how many excellent teachers, coaches, animal trainers -- and some greater writers -- get their finest results.*

(*By the way, if you want to learn more about this philosophy, please read Don't Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor. It's not about writing or dogs. It's about applying behavioral psychology principles to real-life situations. In other words, it's about how to modify behavior and learn or teach skills. I read it to make me a better dog trainer, but I think it has also made me a better writer and teacher. It's a valuable, fascinating book and a great read, to boot.)

Setting yourself up to succeed is
1) starting with goals that are easily attainable;
2) raising the level/criteria in small increments;
3) changing only one criterion or new expectation at a time;
4) surrounding yourself with support;
5) when the going gets tough, returning to "go."

Now I will explain each step.

1) Starting with goals that are easily attainable is just what it sounds like. If you've never written a poem, don't start with the goal of writing a book of poetry. Don't even start with the goal of writing one poem. Start with a goal you know you can succeed at, such as taking a poetry workshop. Or reading a book of poetry. Or writing for ten minutes and then pulling out all the lines you think might be poetic. You don't want anything in the beginning that can keep you from starting and that can give you an excuse not to continue.

However, if you are an accomplished poet and you already spend plenty of time every day writing new work, you do not need to set yourself that goal. Perhaps you are stuck getting your poems polished. In that case, you might focus on doing revisions. Your attainable goal might be that you will pick one poem from your stack of unfinished poems every night and work on revising it for an hour. You don't have to finish any of the poems, you just have to spend at least one hour every night doing revisions.

If you are new to writing practice then you don't want to even think "poem." You just want to start by doing five-minute timed writing practices. Say to yourself, "I am going to write for five minutes." You can write anything you want, about anything you want, however you want, just as long as the pen (or cursor) is moving, for five minutes.

I know that what I am suggesting here seems unAmerican. I know it goes against our way of thinking that we must always Push Past Our Limits and Go for the Gold and eXtreme Everything to the MaX. Almost every commercial on TV is about rejecting limits and boundaries. However, behavioral psychologists back up my method with solid science.

For one thing, these scientists tell us, a lot of learning happens between lessons. That is when you integrate information, when you stew in the juices of your creative thoughts. Have you noticed how inspiration often strikes a day or two after you have worked on a piece of writing? That is because part of your mind is still doing the writing. That is the learning that is taking place while your subconscious is still grappling with the problem.

What this means is that the information you tend to learn the best -- the stuff that sticks with you the most -- is what happens at the end of a writing lesson (or any learning experience). If we translate this to our writing practice, it means that it is very useful to end your writing sessions on a high note -- to stop when you are still producing strong, connected, juicy writing: when the happy chemicals in your brain are still whizzing around whooping, "Writing! Wheeeee! This is good junk, man!" That's why timed writings are useful. You set your timer, you write for the allotted time, and at the end, when you are still cranking, you stop and tell yourself "good job!" and go do something else.

If you push and push and push and you stop writing when you are tired and worn out and discouraged and you have no words left in your head, that will be a big part of what you will carry around with you until the next time you write. It will be sitting on your head like an anvil when you next pick up your pen. That is why short, timed writing sessions are so powerful: not only do they give you permission to write whatever you want and to not have to spend your whole day at the desk, they allow you to walk away when you are still doing positive learning.

In fact, I often do my best writing when I have the lowest expectations. One of my most successful short stories is something I wrote at four in the morning. I was awake with my chronic illness. I got an idea for a story and the opening two sentences. I thought, "I'll just jot down these two lines and then try to go to sleep." But the words kept coming so I kept putting them on paper. I knew I could put the pad down and go to sleep whenever I wanted. It was a very short story -- less than three pages -- and when it was done I fell asleep. I think if I had thought, "I have to get this whole story down! I must write it before I lose it all!" I would have locked up and it wouldn't have flown out as naturally as it did. By giving myself permission to end at any moment -- by having the sensation that I could quit at any second -- I was able to relax, let go, and write until I was done.

2) Raising the level/criteria in small increments means that you are very gentle with your expectations of yourself. You don't push yourself too fast or too hard. Remember: you are setting yourself up to succeed. Often, if we are doing well writing one five-minute session every week we think the next step is to move to one twenty-minute writing session every day. Wrong! That is an increase in length and frequency of writing sessions! Too much opportunity to fail.

Instead, if you know you can write for five minutes once a week, then go up to ten minutes once a week. Or five minutes twice a week. Don't try to go from five minutes to half an hour. Be gentle on yourself. That's the beauty of this method: as soon as you feel that you have mastered one level, you can always raise it another level -- as long as you do it one step at a time.

If you're not sure when or how much to raise your criteria, here's a guideline for you to follow. Think about
your schedule,
your motivation,
your past patterns,
and the demands on your time.
Taking into account all these factors, figure out how much time you can reasonably expect yourself to spend on writing in a week. OK, got a number? Now, cut it in half. Seriously. That's where to take your next step.

Are you worried that this is too slow? Well, don't be. It's actually a very fast and efficient way to learn and train yourself. What is inefficient is constantly failing, self-flagellating, and getting nothing done as a consequence.

This system has built into it your ability to control your next move! If you do one writing session a week with regularity and ease, try two. If you write for twenty minutes and are chomping at the bit for more, next time write for thirty. If you write from nine in the morning to noon every day and you'd like to fit in more, try adding an evening slot after dinner from six to seven. If you are cruising at twice a week, go to three times. If that feels easy as pie, then go to four, then five. Just take it one step at a time. Don't go from twice to five in one breath, that's all.

As a person with physical and mental limitations due to chronic illness, I have relied on this type of self-regulation for writing. If I try to push past my limits I pay in very real and painful ways. It has been important for me to give myself permission to write for brief periods of time, to skip writing on days when I am too sick, and to not raise my expectations too quickly for what I expect myself to produce. On days when I am very sick, it is good to be able to say to myself, "I am going to write for five minutes today" and feel satisfied for having done that. Or to know that my goal for the entire week is to revise one essay and that I don't have to do anything else. It allows me to focus, and paradoxically, I am more productive than I would be if I was working longer. In such instances I am usually just spinning my wheels, trying to work past the point of fatigue and productivity on too many projects.

3) Changing only one criterion or new expectation at a time means that you only fiddle with one "variable" at a time. For instance, if you want to try writing for longer periods of time, don't also try to write more often. Just practice writing longer first. And vice-versa.

Or, if you want to experiment with sentence structure -- going for really long, bizarre sentences with experimental grammar -- just do that. Don't also try to switch from your habitual third-person point of view to a first-person narrative.

The same is true for trying new types or genres of writing. I wrote nonfiction all through school and at work. Then I took some poetry classes. For years I was comfortable with poetry and nonfiction, but I had never tried to write a short story. Then I slammed out one short story. Next thing I launched myself into a novel. Of course that novel never found its feet. I wrote about forty pages and then gave up because I didn't know where to take it. Now I see what the problem was -- I didn't yet know fiction writing. A novel was too big a project. It was too much of a leap from poet to novelist, without any steps in between. Now I have been writing fiction for a few years. When I step out onto the pages of a piece of fiction I feel the earth is solid beneath me. The next time I jump into a novel I will have a better idea of where I am landing.

And even within a genre, you have to take one step at a time; you have to practice one bit at a time. It is like when you are a swimmer and you just focus on your kick one day. Another day you focus on keeping your fingers close together. Another day you focus on the angle of your arm as it enters the water. Then, when you are in a race, you have learned all those elements separately and it's easier to put them together. If you are always trying to focus on your kick and your hands and your arms all at the same time, you will be overwhelmed and your swimming technique will suffer. The same is true for writing.

I have done this many times in my writing career -- separating out one area to focus on. For instance, at one point I decided I didn't understand plot and I wanted to work on plot. Rather than trying to write whole, complete, beautiful short stories that had vivid, lovable characters and stunning dialogue and also had outstanding plots, I decided just to write plots. I would sit down and tell myself, "write five plots." (Notice I did not tell myself to write good plots. The only requirement was that they be plots.) And then I would. I didn't write stories, mind you, just plots: six or seven sentences about what could happen in a story that would take the character(s) through some form of tension, conflict, and resolution.

Here are examples of two plots that I wrote one day, in 1997:

A rabbit learns to climb trees and ends up trying to sing like a bird. She masters eating seeds and bird chatter, but tries flying and plunges to earth. On the way down she realizes she never knew how to climb trees.

An elderly blind woman has to move into a nursing home because she can no longer take care of herself. She can't bring a lot of her things with her so she hires a young woman to sort through her books, papers, and belongings and help her decide what to bring with her. The young woman is newly single, having moved to a new city, alone and at loose ends. As the young woman learns all about the older woman -- reading aloud the intimate details in the papers the older woman can no longer see -- they become close and the two women decide to live together.

It was an exercise, practice in digesting how plot tasted and felt and smelled. After I'd done that several times over a period of months I decided to write a short story where the only purpose of the story was to write something with a plot. I wasn't worrying about the dialogue or the characters or anything else. I just wanted it to have a recognizable, real-life plot. I used the second plot, above, as the basis for my story. After I had some practice writing stories with plots, my stories just started having plots all on their own because some part of my brain had stored away "plot" through practice. If I wanted to, I could go back and rework some of those earlier stories that were just meant to be plot exercises, to try to make them into finished works. But so far I've just let them be what they were, which was learning tools.

4) Surround yourself with support . Writing is a lonely business. It is ironic because I think most of us who write feel strongly that we want to connect with someone: the reader. This might be a specific reader (our teacher, our mother, our lover, ourselves at a later date) or a particular audience (parents, peace activists, Muslims, business executives) or the whole world. We write to tell our story, to share the truth as we know it, to reveal ourselves. Yet we write by ourselves, at our desks or computers or kitchen tables. Even if we are sitting in a cafe, writing across the table from a writing friend, the activity is happening independently, contained in our own brains. That is why I think it is so important to get support for your writing -- so you do not lose touch with the communal aspect of what you are trying to do.

The best thing is to have writing buddies. These are people to whom you can read what you've written (and, ideally, who will read you what they have written, too). It is great if these are people who also love writing, who will talk about writing and the writer's life with you, and who will share your joys and sorrows about writing. I have found writing buddies through writing classes, writing groups I have started in my home, and friendships -- online and in person. Going to writing-related events, such as readings or lectures at libraries or bookstores, is also a good way to meet kindred spirits.

It is also useful to foster relationships with people in your life -- your friends and family -- who are supportive of your writing. Even if they don't know much about writing and can't offer you tips on plot or meter, they should still be able to say "way to go, honey!" when you have pounded out a piece of work. And they should commiserate and offer you chocolate when you get a rejection slip from a magazine and tell you, "you'll get them next time!" They should certainly not make nasty, belittling comments about your writing or give you a hard time about taking writing classes. If they do, let them know that this makes you feel lousy. If they still do it, maybe you don't want to share this part of your life and yourself with them. If you are the person in your life making nasty, belittling comments about your writing, then I hope taking this class will help you begin to be a better friend to yourself.

5) When the going gets tough, returning to "go." Another term for this is "going back to kindergarten." What it means is that if you get stuck somewhere and find yourself floundering, back up a step or two or three. Set-backs are a natural part of the learning process. Planning for them -- knowing that there is a way to deal with them when they arise -- is crucial.

Again, I know this goes against everything we've been taught. We've been taught Onward and Upward! We've been told The Sky's the Limit! We've been inculcated into thinking that any step back means we are pathetic losers. But that's a lot of hogwash. Set-backs and learning plateaus are inevitable. In fact, what we perceive as set-backs are often crucial opportunities for the learner to integrate the information and commit it to long-term memory. That is because, when we are learning, we are storing the information in short-term memory, where we can access it quickly, but it's not necessarily going to stick with us or become part of our mental map. To integrate information deeply takes more time, and usually, to do that, we have to take a break from new learning in the same field. That is when "relearning" the information briefly -- doing a review -- can help us to store it more fully in long-term memory.

Thus, there will come a time when you are cruising along, working on a poem or a story or a set of essays, and you will hit a bump and suddenly you will feel like you have forgotten how to write. Maybe you've been writing for two hours every day and then there is a family crisis and you go three weeks without writing a word and when you come back you feel overwhelmed and your head is empty of words. Or maybe you are revising a draft of your story and no matter what you do the characters have just lost all zest for life. Or maybe you had been slowly lengthening your writing practice sessions by five-minute increments every day, having transitioned swimmingly from five minutes a day to two hours a day over a period of weeks, and suddenly you can't write for more than one hour, period.

This is when you go back to "go." Whatever step you're at, return to the beginning. This doesn't mean you have to go through the entire process again for the same length of time. It just gives you a bit of time to reset your internal clock. For whatever reason, you need a mental tune-up.

Since this is about setting yourself up to succeed, you need to return to an earlier stage where you know you will succeed. Give yourself a chance to succeed at an easier level. Just for now. Then you can work back through the levels, really fast, to where you were when the set-back happened. You'll probably find that you're raring to go by the time you return. In fact, behavioral psychologists find that learning usually accelerates after doing such a tune-up.

How does one go back to kindergarten? In the example of the person who stopped writing completely, she would return to doing one five-minute writing one day. If that went well, the next day she'd do a fifteen-minute writing. Then thirty, an hour, an hour and a half until she is back to two hours a day; it will probably take her a week or so. She can go back through the levels faster than when she first started because this is basically just review. You don't want to go from five minutes to two hours in one leap, but you do want return to five minutes to give your brain a chance to remember how to write.

Sometimes I use this technique with a story or poem that I have been reworking, when I have finally reached the point where I can't tell anymore if I'm making it better or worse. I feel like I'm just moving the commas around. I set it aside and let it sit, sometimes for a year or more. While that's happening, I work on other projects. When I return to the piece that has been laying fallow, I am starting at the beginning. I print out a fresh copy and read it, as if for the first time. I try to see it with new eyes. By that time I have forgotten a lot of what I was obsessing about before. Then I can start again from "go" on the piece.

Giving yourself more breathing room and structure in which to write is bound to increase your creativity and connectedness to your work. If you get in the habit of trying to push beyond your capabilities, writing becomes a chore. When sitting down to write, you will not have as much energy to devote to creativity because part of your brain will still be busy telling you what a loser you are and how you better crank out something good this week since you failed last week.

On the other hand, feeling good about yourself and your writing -- having a supportive structure in your writing life -- gives you room to breathe. Inspiration means "breathing in." Being able to relax and breathe will lead to a looser flow in your work -- greater crapulence -- and greater chances of drawing in inspiration.


Please type or hand-write the five steps outlined above. Make sure that you put at the top, "I am setting myself up to succeed!" Put them in the "I" voice:

1) I will start with goals that are easily attainable.
2) I will raise the level/criteria in small increments.
3) I will change only one criterion or new expectation at a time.
4) I will surround myself with support.
5) When the going gets too tough, I will return to "go."

Please put this in your notebook or next to your computer -- wherever you will be doing most of your writing.

Now make two lists. On one list, put all the writing goals you absolutely know you can accomplish. Label it "I CAN." On a second list, put the goals you have tried, but failed to accomplish. Label it "I WANT TO."

Make sure the "I CAN" list reflects reality and not wishful thinking. If you have been able to do one ten-minute writing a week, put that on the list of "I CAN." If you feel that you should be able to write ten minutes every other day and you just haven't gotten around to it, put that on the list of "I WANT TO." The only things that should go on the list of "I CAN" are those things you have already done successfully, preferably more than once.

Below is a sample of two lists for a fictional person named Lori. Lori works full-time and has a teenage son and daughter. Her friend Cheryl is also a writer. Twice a week, when their kids have basketball practice, Lori and Cheryl get together to chat and do writing practice.

Lori's lists:

do a practice-writing session for twenty minutes every Monday and Thursday with Cheryl,
journal for 5 minutes every night before I go to bed
rarely write a rough draft of a short story
sometimes write a haiku
write a letter to my aunt once a month
occasionally write polished, completed essays

write for at least 2 hours every day
revise (finish) one of my short stories
write a collection of haikus
get my essays published
cull writing from my journals to use for a memoir

Now, pick one thing from your "I CAN" list to start with that you can see leading eventually to something on your "I WANT TO" list. The second part of the assignment is to move, little by little, from one item on your "I CAN" list to one item on your "I WANT TO" list. The instructions for how to do this are below.

Right now, sit down and make a plan of little baby steps that you can take, starting with one current success and moving toward a goal. Please note: Do not pick more than one item on each list! Only one. Also, notice that I did not say that you will accomplish your final goal (what is on the "I WANT TO" list) by the end of this week! What you are trying to do here is set up a workable process that will eventually lead to that goal. Again, don't worry about this being too slow. After all, which is faster, getting to your goal after several weeks or setting yourself up to fail and never reaching it?

Let's return to our example. Lori has been writing for several years, but she wants to get more serious about writing. She feels that she isn't dedicating herself to writing as much as she'd like on a daily basis. Now that her kids are older and don't need her as much, she is looking toward a time when she can devote herself more to being a writer. She has chosen "I CAN do a practice-writing session for twenty minutes every Monday and Thursday with my friend Cheryl," and "I WANT TO write for at least two hours every day."

Here are two different ways Lori could approach the assignment:

Lori's Assignment "A" -- increasing length of writing practices

Monday: do writing practice with Cheryl for 30 minutes
Thursday: do writing practice with Cheryl for 40 minutes and skip the chatting.
Saturday: lock myself in bathroom to take bath so nobody can disturb me and plan next week's writing schedule.

Lori's Assignment "B" -- increasing frequency of writing practices

Monday: usual writing practice for 20 minutes with Cheryl
Tuesday: do writing practice for 20 minutes during lunch hour at work
Wednesday: not realistic to try to write this Wednesday -- too hectic
Thursday: usual writing practice for 20 minutes with Cheryl
Friday: too much going on on Friday, better not to plan to write that day, yet
Saturday: lock myself in bathroom to take bath so nobody can disturb me and write for 20 minutes in the tub
Sunday: Plan next week's writing schedule

You'll notice that in both cases Lori has set up very tangible goals and is realistic about what she can expect of herself. Since she has been doing twenty-minute writings for a long time, she is comfortable with them, so it makes sense that that's where she'd start her new writing practices from. She's not starting the week -- Monday -- with a big, new challenge. She's starting with something she knows she can do. She's giving herself time to build on her successes as the week goes on. Notice that Lori added either frequency or length, but not both in the same week.

Let's look at the different paths Lori might take. In version A, Lori chose to Monday and Thursday to add time to her writing practices. There are two good reasons for choosing these days to try for longer. First, those are the days she habitually writes with Cheryl. So she has her friend's support -- they can egg each other on. Second, Lori has her familiarity with that routine of Monday/Thursday writing nights. Finally, Lori will have already gotten in one smaller increase on Monday before trying an even longer one on Thursday.

In Version B, Lori has assigned herself the task of writing four times this week. She is keeping to the twenty-minute session because that's something she knows she can do. However, Lori also knows that right now she cannot write on Wednesday or Friday. She did not want to plan in a failure by deciding to try to write on days when she knows writing will be too hard.

Lastly, see that in both versions one day is set aside to draw up a plan for the following week. (In version A it is Saturday; in version B it is Sunday.) Lori is not overburdening herself and setting herself up to fail by trying to set up a schedule and do writing practice on the same day. Setting up a writing schedule is part of writing. That time and energy needs to be factored in, too.

You may think that Lori's plan is not impressive -- she's not writing every day and she's nowhere near her two-hours-a-day goal. But consider that if Lori succeeds with this plan, she will have greatly increased the amount of writing she usually does. In just one week, Lori will have gone from writing forty minutes per week to writing either 70 or 80 minutes! That's double her previous amount! If Lori continues with lengthening her writing sessions, she may soon be writing for an hour every Thursday and Monday! It won't be long until that's two hours.

And let's analyze plan B. Lori has gone from writing twice a week to four times a week -- again, that is double what she was doing before. If she continues with increasing the number of times per week that she writes she may well be writing six or seven times per week. That's triple the amount she started with!

Either way that she chooses to go, she wants to take small steps, setting attainable goals. And she can decide what variable she is changing from week to week. She might start with version A -- making her writing sessions longer -- and then, the following week, add a twenty-minute Tuesday night session, too.

Regardless, if Lori is successful in meeting her assignment this week, she will have a great sense of accomplishment. She will be building on a foundation of success and feel confident in continuing to slowly, realistically work toward her goals.

A couple final notes:

Lori's schedule is appropriate for someone who has been writing for a few years and has an established writing routine. It is actually quite ambitious and would be unrealistic for a new writer or someone who is new to regular writing practice. I would recommend beginning with a less ambitious schedule. In the case of version A this would mean making Monday's writing twenty-five minutes and Thursday's thirty. In the case of version B it would mean adding only one extra day of writing (such as Tuesday or Saturday) in addition to her established Monday and Thursday sessions.

Also, do not think that your assignment has to look anything like Lori's! You might not have time to write at all during the week, but you have done long writing sessions successfully in the past. So you may want to make Saturday "writing marathon day," where you unplug the phone and write for six hours straight. Or you might have the goal of getting published more. If this is the case, then your steps to that goal might be buying Writer's Market and reading it for ten minutes every night before you go to sleep. If your goal is to finish your short story, then your assignment might take the form of spending half an hour every other day working on revisions. If you are very new to writing practice, your goal might be to write once for ten minutes, without feeling bad about yourself afterwards. That's a good goal!

Here are some writing topics if you need stuff to draw from while you write this week:
-A bird
-I never told anyone before
-My favorite meal
-If I could fly

How Did It Go?
At the end of the week, check off which days you completed your assignment. Give yourself a pat on the back (or a cookie or a hug from your sweetie) for each one you completed.

If you completed the entire assignment, hurrah for you! You rock! Keep going. Give yourself a big reward. (This can even be telling yourself what a groovy, attractive, intelligent individual you are.) You might want to make a similar schedule for next week.

If you discover that you did not complete your assignment, that's OK. Don't berate yourself. Instead, congratulate yourself on the part(s) that you were able to do. Then make a schedule for next time minus the parts of the assignment that were too ambitious. (You are going back to "go.")


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