As much as I blog/write/brag about being a New Englander I find it’s easy to forget that my life’s journey began in Florida, the same base of operations for this week’s featured blogger Sandylikeabeach (great name, right?). But the similarities don’t end with geography. I also suffer from her self-described “Scarlet O Hara syndrome” and could have written the following sentiment myself:
“With this blog, I hope to feed that part of my soul that yearns to create. My blog is not really about anything in particular, just recollections, memories, observations, thoughts and dreams.”
Anyone who’s had the good fortune to visit her blog quickly learns there’s more to this writer/poetess than simple anecdotes or pearls of wisdom. I give you my kindred spirit, Sandylikeabeach.
Before I answer your questions, let me say I’m delighted to be your kindred spirit and honored to be included in your roster of SPaM recipients. Now, on to your questions.
**** 1. What first influenced you to become a writer?
My high school English teacher, Mrs. McKelvy, opened my mind to the possibility of writing. I took her creative writing class and she was very encouraging. I wrote several short stories and poems, and won our school’s creative writing award my senior year. I majored in journalism in college, but never liked the “reporting” side of it. I loved the photography and editing classes.
Of course, I graduated from college during a recession so I never worked in my major field. I was just happy to get any job, much like today’s college graduates. Once I left college, I did very little writing, until I started this blog about six months ago. After decades of not writing, I’m still struggling to find my “voice.” I have been happily surprised by how encouraging and supportive my fellow bloggers have been. It is unlikely that I will ever be a “post a day” blogger, but I am enjoying the journey.
**** 2. Where do you draw your inspiration for your poetry?
My poetry tends to be a bit dark. When I am in an emotionally raw place, the words just seem to flow. Often the writing of the poem is enough to lift me out of that dark place.
The one poem you seemed to like the most was Longing, which ended with the line ‘Someone walked over my grave.’ That line was the starting point for the poem. It was something I remembered from my teenage years. We used that expression when we would get a sudden chill that would give us goosebumps. I knew I wanted to end a poem with that line, so I worked backwards from there.
**** 3. Are you writing anything at the moment?
Just the answers to these questions. I do have an idea for a short story bouncing around in my head, not sure if it will ever make it from my head to the page.
**** 4. In your post ICE CREAM CONES AND RAIN – BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE you discuss a love of reading. What are you reading at the moment, and what book would you recommend reading?
Currently, I’m reading and enjoying W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. There are so many good books, it’s hard to recommend just one. I loved Vonnegut when I was younger, and Douglas Adams. Dune by Frank Herbert was a stand out, as were The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Just in the last few months, I’ve read and would recommend The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner and The Gods of Asphalt by you!
**** 5. I love your post DISSECTING A CRAZY AUNT about living in Florida. What do you find is the best/worst thing about living in Florida?
The best is hard to choose as we have some of the best beaches in the world (I have traveled the world so I know this to be true), the best Cuban food this side of, well, Cuba, and so many crazy, freaky people (the circus really does spend the winter here). I think what I like most about my home state is it defies generic descriptions. The southern part is different from the northern part, the coasts are different from the center of the state. The state is an ethnic melting pot with more tanning salons and theme parks than any one state should have, including water parks which is just nuts for a state that bills itself as the sunshine state and is bordered by water on three sides. We’ve had crazy out of control growth, and yet many pristine wild places remain. Florida is a contradiction, wrapped up in a conundrum, tied with a bit of whimsy, and just when you think you have her figured out, she surprises you.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is going to hate me for saying this, but we have the worst bugs – giant, hideous, could star in a horror movie bugs. There are huge palmetto bugs that look like roaches on steroids. These things can be 4 or 5 inches long, at least, and they fly – straight at you. We have fire ants, scorpions, huge grasshoppers, spiders (which don’t bother me but some of them are as big as my hand), and some bugs that I don’t even know what they are but they look like they’re from another planet. Seriously, the sheer number and variety of bugs are an entomologist’s wet dream.
**** 6. What’s the best thing about spending winter holidays in Florida?
The weather! I didn’t see snow until I was 16 on a visit to Yellowstone in July so I never understood the appeal of a white Christmas. I watch the news and see people all bundled up scraping ice off of their cars and I just cannot imagine having to endure all that cold weather day in and day out for several months. It’s not surprising that so many people move south, though don’t move to Florida because we have these huge hideous bugs.
I don’t dance nearly enough! When I lost my job, I moved back to the little town where I now live. I can’t indulge my love of salsa, cha cha and tango as much as I would like, though I did dance salsa in my living room with the cable repair man a few months ago. I do take a couple of dance classes each week and often just put on some music and dance around my house. Music and dancing lift my spirit like nothing else.
**** 8. Many of your posts including, CLOUDS, ICE, ALASKA and CALIFORNIA DREAMING are about your love of traveling. What was your favorite travel destination, and where would you like to go that you’ve never been?
My favorite trip was a walking photo safari in Kenya about 11 years ago. I had never camped before, at least not in a tent without electricity and running water. I went alone and had a fabulous time. Masai warriors, carrying spears, joined us on our treks through the Loita Hills. I witnessed the wildebeest migration on the Masai Mara, hyena feeding frenzies near the campsite and herds of elephants in East Tsavo. I saw Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean. The most amazing thing was just walking along and being just a few yards from impala, zebra and elephants. I also saw incredible poverty, yet these people who were living in tiny huts with next to nothing were warm, friendly and generous, welcoming us into their village and homes. They also recognized a fellow dancer, as I was chosen to join the Masai women as they danced around their campfire. It was the trip of a lifetime and I would go back to Africa in a heartbeat.
There are only two continents I haven’t set foot upon, but still so much of the world to see. I’ve never been to the Greek Islands, but ever since I watched the movie, Shirley Valentine, a few years ago, I have longed to spend a few weeks on a sailboat gliding through the Aegean Sea and exploring those islands. Maybe someday…….
**** 9. Lastly, your post 25 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME doesn’t begin to sum up your clearly vibrant personality. What is the one thing about you most people would be surprised to learn?
Most people would be surprised to learn that I am surprising. I was surprised to find this out, too. People are always telling me that I am ‘surprisingly strong’ or ‘surprisingly athletic’ or ‘surprisingly deep.’ They are surprised by the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been and the thoughts I express. Not surprisingly, surprising is a wonderful way to be.
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Next week’s SPaM features a three part interview with a special mystery guest. You won’t believe who it is!
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