National Poetry Month in the Year of the Horse

crocus-yam-2014It’s national poetry month again. My website was briefly down because Gmail did such an amazing job of sorting my email for me, I never got the notices reminding me to renew the domain registration for Gardenofwords.com. That was a killer way to start off national poetry month.

I noticed the outage when I was pitching a website redesign to a poet whom I greatly admire. I’m fortunate to be able to pick and choose my clients in a way I wasn’t always able to in the past. As a result, my very short client roster is full of interesting, creative women. This latest client would probably point out that I am an interesting, creative woman myself, to which I respond “pshaw.” It’s nice to have friends who say complimentary things about you. In the Po-Biz, that’s how you get blurbs for the back of your book.

April has been surprisingly un-cruel in the past couple of days, especially given March, February, January, and December, all of whom I want to roll up into a big ball, flatten with a giant rolling pin, dry in the sun, and then fold into lots of sharp corners and stick up the posterior of  this past winter. It’s very easy to forget that things are exponentially better for me today than they were this time last month, and the month before. Just the other morning I forgot about it while packing my lunch. M. and I got into a lively discussion* about his tactical decision to forgo buying lettuce on Monday night rather than buying me non-organic lettuce which I might not eat. It wasn’t about lettuce, of course. It was about my own severe anxiety at having less than $10 in my checking account the day before I got paid. And the very uncomfortable dynamic that develops when two people fall in love and move in together, and then one of them takes a hefty pay cut.

On the plus side, we worked it out, as we always do. I’m continually amazed at M’s ability to handle situations that have baffled me for most of my life. Emotional intelligence comes in all kinds of packages — some of them former infantrymen. Also on the plus side, I’m steadily plugging back up the hill toward a full-time work schedule. Also also on the plus side, I took a walk yesterday afternoon and TOOK OFF MY COAT. And didn’t put it back on once. Which just goes to show you anything is possible.

Spring is late this year, but it’s here. The hills are still grey and brown with bare trees, but the moss has turned bright green and the grass won’t be far behind. Snowdrops have been out for weeks now, lingering in the cool spring air. Crocuses are here, and may even be gone in another week. The daffodils in my back garden have been poking their little green heads up. Ralph chases the squirrels until well past 6:00 pm.

Poetry-wise, I’m doing less and more than I’ve done in years past. Whereas in past years I’ve adhered to a strict regimen of a poem-a-day, I find myself moving more fluidly now. I’m making inroads into new techniques for revision, attempts to cut away the dross and find surprising turns of phrase. A sort of Orb-style remix, but with random poems instead of sound clips.

The bout of illness and the 40th anniversary of my birth made me stop and think about what I’m doing with my life, and if it’s what I want to be doing, and what I can do about all that. When I’m very ill, I will often decide that This One Big Change is what will fix all of my problems. Past experience has taught me that it usually just creates more instability and makes it harder to get back to a baseline. A cursory search of the Intartubes (“year of the horse” plus “horoscope” plus “2014” plus “water ox”) gives me highly scientific** evidence that this is not the year for me to make any sudden changes. In the Year of the Horse, things gallop along. You might find yourself miles from where you started, only to discover you’ve gotten on the wrong horse. For a person born in the year of the water ox (1973), it’s not a good year to be moving and changing. But it is a good year to send out hidden feelers under the earth, gathering information through the mycelium that binds us all together.

The seed inside unfurls with the longer days, reaching toward the light. I watch it, worry, pray it won’t be killed in an early frost. April is cruel in a different way every year. I am curious to know its cruelty this year, in the year of the horse. Maybe there will be a kindness to its cruelty, as I slog and toil and trudge into something warmer, something sunny, something else.

 

*which our neighbor could hear through the walls, no doubt

** and by “scientific,” I mean the opposite, of course

Dear Apple

Dear Apple:

Yes, your products are sexy and nicely designed and I lust after them with all my heart, especially after being inundated with ads in which comely young people dance around and smile and socialize with them. But your UI quotient is not as high as you think it is. After one week with a new iPod touch, I’m remembering the other reason I went over to The Dark Side back in 1998. I’ve been walking around for the past 10 years thinking it was because of your major strategy FAIL in forcing people to shell out huge amounts of cash for your platforms and hardware, only to discover that none of the software they needed would work on them.

The other reason, Apple, that I left you for your eveel cousin PC/Windows back in 1998 can be summed up in one work: CLUNKe.

As in, your shit is CLUNKY, Apple. Now that I’ve had a decade or two to appreciate the joys of tweaking settings and whatnot (“fiddling”, as Army Guy would call it), I can see that your sexy, cleanly designed UI isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s clunky because in order for a design to be spare it can’t have as many dials to twiddle and buttons to click. It’s clunky because, unless someone is paying close attention, she can lose $12 worth of apps while updating the OS of their hardware. It’s clunky because it’s resource-intensive and resistant to intermittent fix-ups. It’s clunky because it’s not customizable. And it’s clunky because it doesn’t play nicely with any kind of hardware but yours.

Not everyone in the world can afford to pay through the nose for upgrades every two to three years, Apple. And not everyone has hours and hours to lose on your support forums, or upgrading their entire operating systems.

Once upon a time I thought I was an Apple person. But since then, I’ve learned I’m not an Apple person, a Microsoft person, or a Linux person. I’m a pragmatist. I want what’s inexpensive and easy to use. I suppose I’ll just have to suffer through the indignities of not being the first girl on the block with the new shiny white toy, and wait for the 3G version of your products. Preferably as a Christmas/birthday present from my favorite Silicon Valley techie.

Sincerely,

Me