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This is Dani Smith

 

I am Dani Smith, sometimes known around the web as Eglentyne. I am a writer in Texas. I like my beer and my chocolate bitter and my pens pointy.

This blog is one of my hobbies. I also knit, sew, run, parent, cook, eat, read, and procrastinate. I have too many hobbies and don’t sleep enough. Around here I talk about whatever is on my mind, mostly reading and writing, but if you hang out long enough, some knitting is bound to show up.

Thank you for respecting my intellectual property and for promoting the free-flow of information and ideas. If you’re not respecting intellectual property, then you’re stealing. Don’t be a stealer. Steelers are ok sometimes (not all of them), but don’t be a thief.

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    Entries in Writing (89)

    Thursday
    May022013

    10 Things: Loving, living, and letting go

    By popular demand, I bring you 10 Things inspired by this quote/meme, shared on Facebook this morning:

    “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” —Buddha

    Apologies ahead of time for the rambling philosophization that gushed out. If you want to play along in the comments, skip over my bit and write your own 10 Things first, then come back and read mine. So, the first 10 Things that come to mind after reading that quote…

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    1. I’m slicing up the three pieces of the quote and considering the value of love in all its forms as the foundation for all of our choices and actions. Quantity is implied here, but not the quantity of people or things we love but the amount we love, the amount we give love or put love into the world.

    2. One aphorism leads to another. The more you give, the more you get.

    3. I was thinking of the different ways we can love, and the marbles that started rolling around in my head were the Greek forms. I thought of eros and communitas, but then I couldn’t help myself and looked them up (I like to get things right; I have a hard time letting go of accuracy). Agape, eros, philia, storge. We are capable of loving in many ways. The deep, true love we hold rare and precious; desire and aesthetic and physical love; the love of friends and family and community that requires virtue, equality and familiarity; and, of course, tolerance (also with many forms). 

    4. None of the three statements is explicit about their antitheses. Anger, hate, abhorrence, intolerance, contempt, etc. Is the first phrase — how much you loved — or the judgment implied in the opening, like a bucket that gets filled up by love and emptied by the detrimental emotions? Is it that simple/complex?

    5. Gentle living reminds me of parenting babies and toddlers and preschoolers. Gently when you pet the cat. Gently when you hug your brother. Gently when you touch Gramma’s face so you don’t poke her eyes out. Gently. I don’t say that word out loud to the Sonars very much anymore. They have pretty decent self control, which is what we monitored with the word ‘gentle’ in their wee years. But perhaps I should still use it. Gently with your words to your peers who are entering an age of sharp-tongued anxiety. Gently with your brothers who will likely be your longest friends and fiercest allies, even though they may always know how to push your buttons. Gently on the earth. Don’t waste the water or the paper or the electricity. Gently with your mama who is both proud to watch you grow and gain your independence and fearful of seeing you stumble along the way. 

    6. How gently you live can then be kindness or conservation or through word or action it can mean minimizing the damage that we inevitably do to the people and the world around us. So that if loving much is maximizing what we give, then living gently is minimizing the harm we cause. 

    7. How gracefully we let go of what is not meant for us. In my clumsy understanding of Buddhism, letting go gracefully seems like the ultimate goal. Not allowing material goods to weigh you down. Not allowing negative thoughts or experiences or people to weigh you down. To release the weight of everything. Though in pragmatic terms for the normal human who feels angry and jealous and slighted and loves things and people and feels sentimental and attached, then letting go gracefully is challenging and requires a strong hold on the first two concepts. Maximize what we give, minimize what we take or harm. 

    8. My hand is tired and far more minutes have slipped by than a traditional 10 Things exercise usually occupies. I suppose that is the nature of philosophical contemplation. It takes time and might hurt. 

    9. The sky just turned much more dim and the wind is gusting. An imaginary line on a weather map is manifesting as a line of force in the sky that blusters across the coastal plains like a dust squeegee pulling cold air behind it. 

    10. That dust-squeegee metaphor is both hilarious and terrible. I love it and I give it to you with love, letting go of any embarrassment I feel about it as I release it into a gust of wind and into your eyeballs. Gently, I hope, for the sake of your eyeballs. 

    Friday
    Dec022011

    24 Days of Thanks, 2011-Style

    I bring you Dani’s Second-Annual, November list of Thanks (Better Late Than Never). Chockablock with over-earnestness, a smidge of cheekiness, and an occasional disregard for paradigms (even while enthusiastically participating in larger hegemonic structures).

     Day 1: I am thankful for my muses, all of them and all of you, but most especially for Partner. Somehow when I bounce words and ideas off of him, they come back to me making sense, and sense is good.

    ‎Day 2: I am thankful for the opportunity to watch people learn to read. There is so much magic in watching a person figure out how to untangle the squiggles and have the power to decode the textual communication that surrounds us.

    ‎Day 3: Today I am thankful for cold wind, especially those cold fronts that blow in during the night, giving us a break from the hot hot hot.

    ‎Day 4: Today I am thankful for Body Armor. From the top of the head to the reinforced drawers, may it always protect our soldiers (including my brother) from harm.

    ‎Day 5: I am thankful for cake. And bakers.

    Day 6: Today I am thankful for Legos and for our local library’s Great Lego Build Off. The Sonars have been spent MANY hours this month building amazing things, trying to figure out what their entries will be.

    ‎Day 7: Today I am thankful for proximity—living close enough to walk or ride bikes in most of our day-to-day activities.

    ‎Day 8: I’m thankful for the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Day 9: I am thankful for our health insurance. With allergies, infections, asthma, eyeglasses, teeth, hernias, and regular old bodily maintenance and prevention, I don’t know what we’d do without it. I wish everyone had affordable access to adequate coverage.

    ‎‎Day 10: I am thankful for the agitators, the skeptics, the questioners, and the people who just wouldn’t shut up in the face of something wrong. Change, progress, and improvement only happen when people are willing to stand up and say something.

    Day 11 (Veteran’s Day): I am thankful for those who have chosen to serve our country, who fulfill the promises that our government makes in our name.

    Day 12: I am thankful for packed Saturdays. For the many enrichment opportunities for the kids, and for the teachers, coaches, and volunteers who make these opportunities possible.

    Day 13: I’m thankful for my seventh-grade keyboarding teacher, Mrs. Horcasitas, who taught me to touch type like the wind. Zoom zoom.

    Day 14: I’m thankful for eyeglasses. Four out of five occupants of this house are now eyeglass wearers. Sonar X6 should really watch out.

    Day 15: I am thankful for our fabulous piano teacher. Our days are now filled with bits and pieces of music. Tanya is structured and patient, and has given The Sonars a gift that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

    Day 16: I am thankful for Librarians! They know how to find almost any bit of information you could want. They organize and protect ideas. Fiercely. Some might poetically call them the Guardians of the Flame of Knowledge. That sounds so sexy.  Which is great, because librarians ARE sexy.

    Day 17: I’m so thankful for small kindnesses. For holding open the door for someone, for smiling and exchanging a few words, for compliments that are small coming from the giver, but huge for the receiver, for simple, warm-hearted gestures that cost nothing, but feel priceless.

    Day 18 (I told you I’d catch up): I’m thankful for all of you. Whether it’s something you’ve read, the music you’re listening to, your thoughts, observations, or actions, you challenge me, you break my heart, you make me laugh, you make me dance, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You people Rock My Socks Off!

    Day 19: I am thankful for fruit loops. And friends to share them with.

    Day 20: I am thankful for ICE. From the polar ice caps to the jingle in a drink to an ice pack for an injury (or sore typing wrists), I am so grateful for cold, solid, water.

    Day 21: I’m thankful for internet access. Without it, I could not share this list with all of you quite as efficiently.

    ‎Day 21: I am thankful for antibiotics. We live in a world where they are often taken for granted and misapplied, but they quietly and unglamorously prevent serious illness and save lives every day.

    Day 23: I am thankful for frustration. Weird, right? But when I get frustrated, I know I’ve reached a limit, I know I have a challenge to face, I know that I need to alter my course or bear down and push through to (hopefully) find the satisfaction of accomplishment on the other side.

    Day 24: I’m thankful for holidays and vacations, chances to set aside the routine and be with people we love and do things we wouldn’t normally do, like make pie and marshmallows and roast turkey and stay up too late.

    Day 29 (Bonus): I’m thankful for NaNoWriMo and the inspiration, motivation, and excitement that gets me to write down fresh ideas every fall.

    Day 30 (Excess): I’m thankful for readers. And writers. And idea-sharers. And inspirers. And you. I’m very thankful for all of you.

     

    Wednesday
    Nov302011

    NaNoWriMo 2011: Finish Line

    I’m a winner baby. 

    Back soon. xo

    Monday
    Nov072011

    NaNoWriMo 2011: Bits and Pieces of Inspiration

    I’m more than 10,000 words behind the word count goal for NaNoWriMo right now, so, of course, I’m writing a blog post instead. Steven Johnson says “chance favors the connected mind,” so here are a few of the bits and pieces that have come together serendipitously to bloom into my novel idea this year. 

    Christina Rossetti’s poem, “The Goblin Market”, a sensuous poem about two sisters tempted by the fruits of those dirty goblin men. “Who knows upon what soil they fed / Their hungry thirsty roots?” “‘For there is no friend like a sister / In calm or stormy weather; / To cheer one on the tedious way, / To fetch one if one goes astray, / To lift one if one totters down, / To strengthen whilst one stands.’”

    Carl Zimmer’s Radiolab podcast about science writing, grief, evolution, and horrible diseases in South Sudan. “That is true, and it has been for millions of years.” Listen to this funny and inspiring story to find out what “that” is.  

    A prescription drug shortage, targeted by President Obama recently. What if the drug you needed was out-of-print, hoarded, or artificially inflated in price? 

    Hanuman Welch’s “Adonis and the Bone Marrow” from Story Collider. We will go to amazing (and occasionally funny) lengths to protect the people we love. 

    Fear Factory’s Flickr, which is a brilliant opportunity to catalogue different ways in which people respond to danger.

    What’s in your NaNo recipe this year?  

     

    Friday
    Nov042011

    NaNoWriMo 2011: Day 4

    National Novel Writing Month commenced on November 1st with me conspicuously unprepared and distracted by other things. On Tuesday night, I finally settled on an idea: 

    A soccer mom turns to the black-market drug trade to save her dying sister’s life.

    I’ve snowflaked my way to a ten page outline of fifty-five scenes and almost 4,000 words. I’m behind on word count but way ahead on structure. I actually know how this story is going to end, which is refreshing. But I am stuck for names. My main characters were named through assistance from friends on Facebook.

    The soccer mom is Julia Camille (Don’t-Call-Me-JC) Monroe (nee Parker). Her dying sister is Catherine Jean (Please-call-me-CJ) Parker. CJ’s boyfriend is Justin Gonzales. Here are some characters that still need names:

     

    • Julia’s Husband (first name)
    • Julia’s two kids
    • Julia’s close friend/neighbor
    • CJ’s Boss and at least two co-workers
    • Three doctors
    • At least three Nurses
    • A career vendor at an indoor flea market, hippie-flavored
    • Four professional drug dealers, possibly gang-affiliated
    • An intimidating businessman
    • A college friend of Julia’s who used to work on pharmaceutical sales
    • A hospital billing clerk 

     

    Hit me in the comments if you have any inspiring monikers.