3½ hours …

That’s how long until I’ll be hitting the street — off to midtown Manhattan to meet my friend and compatriot crazy person, Raivenne, and get started on the 2018 edition of the 24 Hour Project! I’ve got a cold and should be staying home, but I am incapable of resisting this challenge. I put myself to bed at 1:30 this afternoon so I could sleep a nice eight hours and be bright eyed and bushy-tailed for the midnight-to-six run. As if.

What I discovered is that sleeping the afternoon away in this apartment is a challenge of another kind. Just the way the moon woke me up with it’s bright-bright-brightness through my bedroom window the first night I slept in this place, the 4:30 sun was having none of my sleep-the-day-away foolishness. It made me laugh, but it also means I’m going into this night with only 3 hours of sleep. Not ideal.

But … going in I am. Me and a legion of other folks. There are nearly 4,000 people across  more than 1,200 cities and almost 160 countries signed up to participate this year! I’ll be doing my usual thing of writing tiny stories to go with each of my photos. You can follow my progress from midnight to midnight by checking me out on instagram (or in the sidebar of this page), or on FB if we’re friends there.

I’m off!

Counting down to April 7th!

Give me a man who is handsome and strong,
Someone who’s stalwart and steady.
Give me a night that’s romantic and long —
Then give a month to get ready.

That was too long to use as a title, clearly, but it’s the first thing that came into my head when I realized that in a month it’ll be the 2018 edition of the 24 Hour Project! Last year, there were almost 4,000 participants, repping 112 countries!

I’ve been part of this project about two and a half times, and it’s been good each time. I wonder if my shoulder and arm will be up to it this year. I hope so, but healing is more important that wacky creative challenges, so I’ll have to make a decision in a few weeks about what as I can and can’t do.

My plan, as it’s been each year I’ve done this, is to write a tiny story for each photo. That was much harder to do last year than it was the two previous years. I don’t know why, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the difficulty was a one-time thing and I’ll go back to having the stories just materialize with almost no work from me.

Here — complete with typos (it was late! I was tired!) — are some of my faves from last year’s run:

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Things I hope for this go-round:

  • May the weather be warmer!!
  • May I get enough sleep the day before so the midnight to 6am shift doesn’t halfway end me.
  • May I have excellent companionship through the wee hours and for the close-out just as I did last year. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Ms. Raivenne!)
  • May I remember to take more breaks so that I’m able to walk and talk on Sunday.
  • May I get some excellent pictures and have a great time!

(It’s not too late to sign up!)


It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! With hundreds of folks participating, there’s more than a little something for everyone … and plenty of room for you to join in!

Peace and power

Last week I printed out a photo of Detroit’s Joe Louis Memorial, the gloriously enormous sculpture of Louis’ mighty fist. I saw it in an article someone forwarded me and immediately knew I needed it posted on the half-wall of my cubicle. Needed it.

This sculpture is one of my favorite things in the world. The first time I saw it, driving from the airport to a conference at the Renaissance Center, I was so wowed I couldn’t breathe or speak for a minute. It is a thing of absolute, graceful power and beauty. It is magnificent.

Here’s one of the pics I took of it in 2012:

I printed the photo from the article (a slightly more close-up, angled, under-the-fist view) and tacked it to my cubicle wall.

I feel it there, casting it’s dark, black spell, enveloping me in its strength and conviction.

So many times during the days since putting it on my wall, I have hung up the phone after an annoying call or looked up after reading an email that has made me sigh and shake my head, and my eyes go right to that picture, go right to that beautiful bright light.

And I feel myself become calm.

The first time I saw it, I was with the woman who was my boss. She was appalled, thought it was “so violent.” I wondered if we were looking at the same piece of art. Violent? Where? How? Could she really not see the sleek, delicious glory of it, its heavy, soul-filling affirmation?

No, she thought it was angry. Angry.

Maybe it is angry. Maybe that’s why I love it, maybe seeing it then — two years before the finally-and-for-good emergence of Angry Stacie — was the initial push, the moment when my heart felt the vibrating resonance of recognition, felt how completely I would come to embrace my rage.

I don’t think so, though. Yes, to the vibrating resonance, but not in recognition of anger, or not anger as such. Recognition of the fullness, the beauty of being exactly who I was — as big, as loud, as angry, as strong, as emotional, as articulate, as fed-the-fuck-up, as loving, as hungry as I actually was.

Which is what it’s giving me now, too. I have to swallow myself at work sometimes, hold back my honesty, pretend to a version of myself that can be made to fit the space I’m given. Like not lashing out when a superior refers to  formerly-incarcerated youth as “little criminals” and can’t seem to understand the value proposition of creating education and job training programs for them. Like not slapping the hand of the coworker who reaches out to touch my hair.

That fist is a signpost, a reminder that I’m still here. A reminder that, even when I have to walk softly, I can still fight, can still push back. That my voice can still shout, even in the dark, especially in the dark. That fist is my mantra, my affirmation, my vision board all rolled into one.

I need the picture poster-size and on my wall at home. That fist. To wake up to it, to fall asleep under its watch. Imagine.


In 2017, I’m on my #GriotGrind, committed to writing an essay a week … I’ve fallen behind, but I’m still committed to writing 52 essays by year’s end.
I’m following the lead of Vanessa Mártir, who launched #52essays2017 after she wrote an essay a week for 2016 … and then invited other writers along for the ride.

I is for: Insta-stories

April 1st was the 24 Hour Project. I had the pleasure of participating with my IRL and blog friend, Raivenne. We met up in a cold, rainy, windy Times Square and set off. Our first stop was to buy a hat for ridiculous me who’d left hers home and forgotten to zip the hood onto her coat. Can you say “foolish”? Once I was properly hatted, we were ready.

My Saturday had other plans crammed into it: a Girls Write Now genre workshop with my mentee, a friend date for lunch with some VONA loves I hadn’t seen in forever, and a coworker’s improv show. All of it found its way into the Project, my picture of my city for one day in this year.

As I did both of the last years, I wrote mini stories for nearly every photo I posted. It’s what did when I first started on Instagram, use my photos like Duane Michals, like prompts, illustrations. I’ve gotten a little rusty, though. I had a hard time calling stories out of the ether this time. I’ll need to stay in practice so next year’s Project is easier.

Yes, I’m already thinking about next year. I hope Raivenne’s ready!

And now, without further ado, here are the pictures and stories.

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Spinning Yarns

I tell stories, lies,
made up worlds, dramas, joys.
Characters light up,
dance their tales across the page,
show me where to turn,
how to tell, what’s next to show.
Living in moments,
flashes of bright narrative
gleaming, line by line …
on to the next and again.
A new story. Keep spinning.

_____

A chōka is a Japanese form poem with a specific syllable count per line. The shortest form of chōka  is: 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 7. The 5- and 7-syllable lines can repeat as many times as needed. The poem’s end is signaled by the extra 7-syllable line. The final five lines can be used to summarize the body of the poem.

(Also, Raivenne wrote an arun! It’s not her first one, but I’m always surprised to happen upon one, out there in the wild, off the tip of someone else’s pen. I made a form!)



24 Hours of Love and Madness

Today I realized that one week from now is the 24 Hour Project. By the time this time rolls around on April 1st, I will be one or two photos from the end of my day-long extravaganza. I’ve only managed to do this successfully once, back in 2015. Last year, I had a training all day Saturday and knees that were on the path toward surgery, so walking the city for 24 hours just wasn’t in the cards. This year is different.

Yes, I am still recovering from my last knee surgery, but I think I’ll be able to make this work. I know ways and places that I can rest my leg during the day, and I think I’ll try to walk less and position myself strategically instead, find places where there will be enough random characters for me to photograph.

As is my wont, I will post my photos with super-short stories. If you’re curious, you can drop by on Instagram throughout the day to see the fruits of my labors. And at some point during the day, I’ll mosey over here and post my first poem for NaPoWriMo–because there never seems to be a possibility that I will say “no” to a challenge!

There is the lovely chance that a certain slicer might be joining me for all or part of the day, which will be so much fun. If you’re in New York on the 1st and want to get coffee with a very tired and achy street photographer, left me know!

For now, here are some of my favorites–in time order–from 2015:



It’s the 10th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see all of today’s slices!

Office Roadtrip — SOLSC 25

Finally settling down to write the slice I hinted at ages ago. I’d planned to write on the day it happened, the 18th, but the story was eclipsed by my visit to my orthopedist and the discovery that I need another knee surgery. And then other slices just kept coming up. Well, today I am slice-less, and so …

On the 18th, my job hosted a meeting at the training facility for the Plumbers Union. Obviously not a place I would normally find myself, but I’m so glad I got to be there. The facility tour was fabulous. The classrooms look great — and I was quite happy to see some women in those classes — and I learned a lot of terminology I’d never heard before. My favorite of these new terms was … wait for it … the Torturous Waterway. Seriously. Could you love that more? I couldn’t. So dramatic, so powerful. I imagine raging rapids firing through some narrow, deadly, serpentine sluice.

No.

The Tortuous Waterway?

Torturous Waterway

It’s part of the flushing system in your toilet! You activate that waterway every time you use the bathroom!

I love it, love the fact that it has such a dramatic name.

Now I want to know the names of all inner machine workings. Who knows what other excellent fabulous is hidden in plain sight!

There was another fabulous term I spotted in the main hall at the center. It wasn’t a new term — in the world, or to me. It was a really old one, and I was super happy to see it on prominent display:

20160317_102536

All hail the continued use of Journeyman! This is a word that was coined at a time when language was still magic and often majestic. JOURNEYMAN. Love it.

Another wonderful part of the tour was seeing the displays created by the students. The students are given free rein. They need to show off the skills they’ve learned, but they can do that in whatever way they like. What at great teaching tool!

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Sure, the meeting was great, but this tour? It was everything!


It’s the Slice of Life Story Challenge! Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see what the rest of the slicers are up to … and to post the link to your own slice!

SOL image 2014

Only a Few Hours – SOLSC 19

Today was the first full day of the Undoing Racism workshop … and after the training I had tickets to a concert at Carnegie Hall, so I didn’t get to be out on the street much during the day. I was determined to participate in the 24-Hour Project, at least in a small way, so I took pictures when I could — walking to the subway, during breaks in the training, walking to lunch, walking to the bus after the workshop, etc. I’m too tired to say much more than that, so I’m just going to share the photos and stories:

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It’s the Slice of Life Story Challenge! Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see what the rest of the slicers are up to … and to post the link to your own slice!

SOL image 2014