Thursday, December 27, 2007

Who Am I Today - Pick a Card, Any Card.

I found a cache of business cards at the bottom of a desk drawer as I dug for a red editing pen. I was amazed at how many there were. After adding my last corporate card from Saks Incorporated and my newest Perle’s Ink card, they totaled ten and these are only the ones I saved. I’ve worked for myself and for others since age 17, but still ten cards in 41 years seems alot.

Whether I moved or was downsized, I’d immediately sign up with various temporary agencies. I usually had an assignment within a day or two at most. My skill set and work ethic always resulted in permanent job offers. I am able to enter any workplace and own the job; I do whatever the job requires, as if I’d been with that company for years. It’s a gift that serves me in any job market.

Having been downsized yet again last May, I have taken some time off to write, paint and reflect. However, as my writing is not yet bringing in as much as I’m spending, I’ve put out the word that I’m available. I have several calls to return the first week in January.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Looking for a Little Action in Birmingham, Alabama

The mad dash is over. Christmas dinner successfully served to rave reviews. Presents opened to oooohs and ahhhhhs, and a few gee thanks (these will be returned).

Being from Atlanta, one guest wonders aloud, “now what – what is there to do in Birmingham?” Bear in mind, when he is in Atlanta, the most he ever does is go out to eat. This I know from his wife, but I take the question at face value and hand him two of our free publications: Black & White and Birmingham Weekly. There are pages of listings for the entertainment at night clubs, restaurants, free wine tastings, art galleries, the Birmingham Museum of Art (the largest museum in the SE), etc. Yes, I tell him our museum is larger than Atlanta’s, and it’s free. There’s a donation box at the door, but it is optional. But there are other museums for Jazz, MotorSports, Flight, Civil Rights and more.

I’m never bored in Birmingham, but then, I consider boredom a choice. In a world so used to constant input, a moment with nothing to fill it but ones own thoughts is pretty daunting for some. I understand that he needs to fill the time, and so I gave him the papers and a red pen to circle things and offered directions to any place he and his wife cared to go.

Personally, I look forward to being home, alone on the porch swing, patting cat, watching the day unfold beneath my window and hearing myself think. Later, I'll put on Nora Jones and curl up on the couch with Hanson's True History of the Spanish Armada courtesy of Birmingham's amazing Public Library system.

Perle Champion, is a writer, artist and photographer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Building Memories

Christmas morning. Mom called and reminded me I promised to come to breakfast. Ed (sister’s husband) is cooking his special egg bake on a bed of spinach a la Ed. ‘Don’t forget the meat thermometer you promised’ are her final words before hanging up. I throw on jeans and a presentable shirt, add water to my bed-head hair, and fortunately I know that Walgreen’s on Green Springs Hwy is open. I cross my fingers and go tearing in there on the way. The manager smiles and walks me to the item and then walks me back to check me out at the camera counter away from the main line up front with 20 people doing the last minute thing. Whew, I’m on my way.

Right now, I'm caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas in a large family, and perhaps I don't appreciate it as much as I should. I know from experience, that someday I will. Later in 2008, I’ll look back as I have in years past, and this time I’m dashing through will glow brightly along with all the years that came before.

Ah, memory! Thy lens is rose and shows us what we might have missed as we hied us from each precious present.

Below pix from last nights Christmas Eve Gathering. My great niece Kiersten underMom's tree.

My Sister Barbara and Husband Ed at Table.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Let's Get Cookin'

My blogging may be on the light side over the next few days. The family has started converging on Mom’s out in Hoover, a berg of Birmingham. Early afternoon, as she and my sister, Barbara, begin food preparation for the evening meal - we seat 12 family and a few strays at 7 each evening the 24th and 25th. After that it’s just 5 or 7 thru the 1st.

Since we don’t eat until late, I don’t need to be there until 2 or 3. My morning begins at 5 for a walk, then shower, then dress for the day. Breakfast is a protein smoothie and coffee with chocolate soysilk accompanies me to my desk. The hours from 7a.m. until 2 p.m. are mine to write. I am trying to finish a series of essays and filler for submission to various magazines starting the first of the year. Armed with my ‘’ subscription, I’ve made lists for queries to major markets for the essays, filler, book reviews, and more. So every morning is nose to grindstone time (Dell Laptop), followed by an afternoon, sharing conversation, a glass of wine and meal preparation with my mom, Barbara, and Billy Joe.

Ed, Tonya, Billy Joe helping themselves at Thanksgiving.

Perle Champion, is a write, artist, and photographer.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Omaha Dateline: 12/05/07 - I want to know what madness is

I want to know what madness is, and where its edges and beginnings are.

What path does a twisted mind travel that can explain taking pride in the slaying of innocents? What slight was so great that it warrants wanton murder and destruction? I cannot, nor can most of us, fathom such a course of action. Yet, I must explore my own reaction to the carnage I witness daily through the intense media coverage.

What do I feel? I feel a mad and all-consuming rage. I cannot talk of the scenes I saw without moist eyes and a thickening throat. “Drawing and quartering is too good for them!” “I hope they don’t make it to the courtroom.” “I hope someone puts them in a hut in the middle of nowhere and blows them up, and they are rendered so much bloody smoke.”

These thoughts - turgid dirty waters - wend their way through my mind, and spew forth as I voice to them to friends and casual acquaintances. They all no concurrence and add a few suggestions of their own. With froth and foam, we fume at those who did this heinous thing. Our thoughts are so unclean, so unkind, and yet how like our kind - humankind.

There dwells in each of us the potential for murder and mayhem - good and evil. We daily foray. We parry and weigh the outcomes. It is a fine line between love and hate; tolerance and rage; life and death; sanity and insanity. Even the cloak of christian charity and forgiveness is thin and tattered comfort against the gale that assails this land of ours. Will we add our venomous breath to that assault? Will we allow our judgement to falter, or can we maintain the grace to meet out justice? Can we take a page from gospel, and forgive them for their crime and ourselves for contemplating in kind?

I have no answer, only questions. I want to know. Where is the edge of madness, that I might skirts it farthest hem, and gods forbid I venture in. If I do, where will it end?

© Perle Champion

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Check's in the Mail

Amid the bills, rejected manuscript and the detritus called junk mail, was the check. I am always slightly amazed that people pay me for doing something I love.

As a writer, there is no better assignment than that of book review. First, I get a book to read and keep; second, I give my written opinion of that book for publication; and third, I get paid.

Usually, I have a list of several books from which to choose including novels, memoirs, histories, or biographies. Once, a desperate editor asked and I said yes to reviewing a small poetry chapbook. Such a small book, barely 27 pages of poems; how hard can that be and the pay was the same as for a full-length novel. I draw the line at reviewing romance; I may redraw that line to include poetry chapbooks. Although few pages in length, it is by far the toughest review I do.

Don’t get me wrong. I write poetry; I love to read some poetry – the operative word here is ‘some’. There’s more to poetry than rhyme and meter and often, quoting the exact lines is the only way to get across the atmosphere of a piece to my reader.

Reviewing a novel is somewhat subjective, but a novel has a plot, protagonist, antagonist and a story that is either entertaining or not. Poetry, on the other hand, is totally subjective. Here we have the interior dialogue of a poet with words distilled to mere essence and imagery. I read and reread and reread, the few pages to steep myself in the poet’s idea of themselves and their world before making the first note. Page length becomes irrelevant.

I earned this check and then some.
© Perle Champion