Poems

What ever happened to Emily’s blog?

Posted on May 27, 2016. Filed under: Art, Just fun!, Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd, Poems, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , |

Helloooooo! With Memorial Day on the horizon, I remembered that it’s been exactly one year since I wrote a blog post, so it’s about time for another. Last May 27, I’d just finished a show at Women and Children Bookstore with Andy Karol. Afterwards, Andy and I met at the Carnivale restaurant for lunch and decided working together was too cool to do only once. That meeting led to a proposal inspired by tips from artist, Sergio Gomez and we’ve been on a roll ever since. In fact, I’ve sold more than 200 copies of my book, Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd.

CPL Exhibition 2016_n

In the last few months, we’ve performed at Loyola University and Harold Washington Library as well as independently at Niles North High School. Andy’s earned a place on the team to go to the National Poetry Slam and I’ve had art shows at the library, August House Gallery, and Ed Hinkley Studio, where I continue to be inspired in Ed’s classes. I also took a class in storytelling with Scott Whitehair to exercise my performance skills. At this time, I refuse to explore any additional art forms, so don’t suggest I try to learn the harp.

What’s Next?

Next month, I’ll have art openings at the ZhouB Art Center on 31st Street in Chicago on June 17, and Expressions Graphics in Oak Park at a date to be announced.  I  hope to post regularly from now on, but not annoyingly so. For those who’ve followed me from the early days, at four years out, my numbers are still good, and I’m so not talking about the scale!

Have a great holiday weekend!

 

 

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Grateful & Happy for a Successful Performance

Posted on May 27, 2015. Filed under: Art, Just fun!, Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd, Poems, Poetry |

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Emma, Emily and Andy at Women & Children First

Life gets in the way, which is why this post is almost two weeks overdue… I’ve been meaning to thank all who came out for a wonderful reading at Women & Children First Books on May 14. You are not intimidated by rain!

Thank you to Andy Karol who gave a great performance and brought along Emma Smoler, a violinist who backed her up with incredible tunes. Thank you to Poets & Writers for backing us up with payment for our reading! Thank you, projector, for successfully displaying my art. Thank you Scott for your tech help and taking photos. Thank you to all who walked away with one of our books! Enjoy.

It was an evening that we may package for replay. If you know someone who would like to host a reading, let us know!

Next Up: Signing books at Printer’s Row Lit Fest. Stop by the CWA table and say, “Hi.” Other future events are noted at http://emilycalvo.com/books.

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2nd Act Continues…

Posted on February 9, 2015. Filed under: APL, Cancer, Just fun!, Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd, leukemia, Poems, Poetry, survivorship | Tags: , , , |

group on stage1e

The Cast of 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage

 

Yesterday was wonderful! I took the stage at the Athenaeum Theater with 11 other women who have had their own run-ins with cancer. The cast and I, with host Roz Varon from ABC7 shared our stories of how our lives have been redirected by cancer. Hopefully, we inspired others to ride their own waves of change.

My story is about FINALLY publishing my poems and adding the paintings to the collection that became Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd. I have so much gratitude for all the dear friends and family who attended the show. Special thanks to Judy Pearson and Karen Shayne of Women Survivors Alliance for providing an inspiring platform that demonstrates such positive ways of meeting challenges. Next year, the organization will produce another show in Chicago, and I’m very proud to be chosen for the inaugural 2nd Act.

You Haven’t Heard the Last of Me! 

Today, I’m updating my website, Facebook and social media with upcoming shows because I still have about 100 books to sell. So I am booking readings, driving around with books in my trunk and carrying my “I take credit cards” phone thingy in my purse. If you know of anyone who wants me to read, just reply and we’ll nail a date.

I’ve had some wonderful, and unexpected feedback from my book. The best part comes when people tell me how reading a poem really made them feel better; how a poem made them smile, be surprised or simply a bit of the warm fuzzies. That’s what makes me happy about painting and writing. Adding a little bit of peace and beauty to the world that, too often is anything but peaceful and beautiful. Peace, folks.

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Me=Featured Poet at the Uptown Poetry Slam on Nov 9th

Posted on October 28, 2014. Filed under: Art, Just fun!, Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd, Poems, Poetry |

Green Mill

Nov 9, 7 pm come to 4802 N. Broadway in Chicago

That’s right. Mark your calendar for Sunday, November 9, 7 pm. I will be featuring at the Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, 4802 N. Broadway in Chicago. (The $7 cover is well worth it.)  Come early to get a good seat. My new book, “Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd” will be available in print and hopefully in eBook form. If you’re one of those people who always tells me that they’d like to come sometime, THIS IS THE NIGHT. For real. Come early to get a good seat.

Introducing...Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd

Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd

I’ve already sold 51 copies and the eBook isn’t even out yet. I’m humbled by all the wonderful feedback. It’s so rewarding to hear how people connect with my work. Isn’t that what every artist wants? Publishing the book has been a journey and I’m grateful to Marc Smith and JW Basilo for the opportunity to take the stage as a feature. The Uptown Poetry Slam is the world’s original slam and spawned other slams all over the world.

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Words or Pictures—THAT is the Question

Posted on October 14, 2014. Filed under: Art, Family, Just fun!, Poems, Poetry | Tags: , , , , |

Now that I have a my first collection of poetry coming out, a lot of people have asked how long I’ve been writing. Here’s the scoop about that: My first poem fell out of me in second grade. I knew it was good because Mrs. Kepple pinned it on the bulletin board for a really long time. Even better, it was in the center among the other kids’ poems that made the cut. However, since I hadn’t found it very difficult to write, I didn’t believe it was very good. I mean, it wasn’t like subtracting or anything.

I'm not even holding a pen.

I’m not even holding a pen.

In a fourth grade parent/teacher conference, Mrs. Schweitzer told my mother that I should be a writer. No, she told Mom I WOULD be a writer. That declaration seemed strange since I’d been sitting on my dad’s drawing board since I was in diapers. I was all about following in his artist’s footsteps and I can’t even remember what I wrote for Mrs. Schweitzer that impressed her.

A Poetic Coming to Terms with Limitations

By high school I was writing little stories for the newspaper, which were never published. Maybe it was because I was a freshman and the editorial staffers were older and therefore, superior. Maybe it was because I was a mini-hippie and probably wrote inflammatory pieces about the cafeteria food. But I got straight A’s in art, which wasn’t easy at St. Scholastica. Later, I attended the Young Artists Studio Program at the Art Institute of Chicago, a Saturday morning deal for the twisted kids who needed more school. Suddenly, I wasn’t the best artist in the class. I was surrounded by the best artists in their classes. It was demoralizing, but I still ranked a collage in the semester show.

I didn’t like being mediocre, so I decided to ditch the whole quandary. After high school, I got married and had babies. I knew I’d be good at that! I still wrote poems—about motherhood, politics, bad marriages and dysfunctional families. Notebooks were cheaper than canvases–and the pile grew.  Once in awhile, I even submitted them for publishing.

Meanwhile, my brother went to college at the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. He thought some of my poems were good enough to publish and recognized that subjective viewpoints can make or break artists. Since he was the editor of the school paper, he published me. That was cool.

So much for the early days as a poet and artist. I’ll come back with more later.

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Discovering the Inner Spaz or See the Book this Weekend?

Posted on September 29, 2014. Filed under: Advertising & Marketing, Art, Cancer, Just fun!, Poems |

 

2014 WW Postcard-Front

You are invited to attend the 16th Annual: Waterworks+

An exhibition featuring works in watercolor and mixed media on paper, and this year showing additional works in acrylic and oil.

ED HINKLEY STUDIOS
4052 N WESTERN AVE | CHICAGO, IL 60618

OCTOBER 4 & 5, 2014   |   NOON – 5 PM

FEATURING WORK BY
Joan Berry | Mary Pat Byrne | Emily Thornton Calvo | Jane Christino  Cecelia Comito | Bradd EastonPatrick Flood | Marie-Pier Valay Guillaud  Bridget Quinn Kadolph | Molly Kuhn | Dianne Rossell

For info, contact Ed Hinkley 773-539-6047 or www.edhinkleystudio.com.


The Spaz Part

I recently received my proof copy of Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd, my first collection of poems. Holding it in my hands for the first time was amazing. It’s like a new baby. It’s amazing.

Then I realized that this is my last chance to examine the manuscript for typos and design faux pas. If I was publishing with a hotshot publisher, I would trust them to catch this stuff. But I’m not. In lieu of the process of getting a poetry book published, I’ve decided to go solo and self-publish with BookBaby.com. During this process, I have discovered my inner spaz. That’s right. Cool, laughing Emily can be as neurotic as a bride on Day 1. I came up with that analogy during one of my calls to BookBaby. Their smooth, calm customer service rep was the poster child for attentive and reassuring. That’s when it occurred to me that he would make a great wedding planner.

Anyway, I realized that it was time to get down with my detail-oriented self, which always freaks me out because I can actually feel my brain shift into an uncomfortable yoga position. I whined to my designer/anal retentive daughter (she’s whined enough to me in her life) that I needed her to come over and peruse the book for flaws. She was very accommodating.

Between the two of us, I sent BookBaby final files that I hope are perfect. I DID get that feeling you get when no matter what happens, you know did your best.Then I called BookBaby again to see if I could get a small shipment for a gallery show I will be part of this weekend. They were able to promise 25 copies would arrive on Friday. No window for error. The details are above.  I hope you can take a few minutes to stop in and check it out.


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Making the Grade

Posted on July 21, 2013. Filed under: Art, Cancer, Family, Just fun!, Poems |

Oh, I’ve been busy. Highlights? I went to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to check in on my mother and visit friends in Lansing, Iowa. Scott and I exchanged offices and did a major cleaning. (If you’ve ever been here, you know this is no small task.) I’ve had a burst of activity with painting, writing and two house guests. And, I cleared two more blood tests and two cycles of ATRA.

Driving Miss Emily

My mother, who has dementia, will be 90 in December, but she still remembers me. I sent her a photo of my new hairstyle, but she didn’t remember and wondered who I was. After the first time, she recognized me though. She was her old self and took every opportunity to tell me that I need to lose weight. Urgh. Duh.

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Mom and her visitors

To make this otherwise draining trip more fun, I like to drive up with my daughter and grandkids. This time, my daughter drove in her car. I’m not sure if the last-minute change was because she wanted her amenities—like DVD player, individual climate controls and super-duper space—or she just doesn’t trust my driving anymore??? Anyway, that was fine with me and the deluxe vehicle’s mileage was about the same as mine. We stayed at the Metropolis, which I’ve nicknamed “Vegas for kids” because of the number of activities for munchkins. There’s a water park, bumper cars, video arcade, rock-climbing wall and more. It’s like an escapee from the Dells. The kids love it.

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At The Thornton House with Frank and Steve

I loaded up my mother and brother, who also lives in Eau Claire, and brought them over to our North woods Shangri La after meeting with my mother’s social worker, nurses, etc. I’m her guardian. So when they knew I was coming, they asked me to bring her four skirts and two pairs of pants because she’s gained weight. We won’t go into the irony of that. They suggest hitting the thrift stores, but my usual delivery of supplies includes a mix of new and used. Chicago has some mighty awesome thrift stores.

Then, it’s on to Lansing, where two wonderful guys have preserved my dad’s family home, The Thornton House. The Victorian stands on a hill overlooking a teeny town on the Mississippi. When I visited my grandparents there as a child, it was boring. Now, I enjoy its charm. My grandchildren talked about Frank’s waffles all the way there. One of the town’s main attractions is Horsfall’s Variety Store, a retail odyssey of outstanding crap! Almost anything that’s every found its way to an overstock pile is here, so of course we paid a visit.

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My cave dwellers

On the return trip, we made time for a visit to Cave of the Mounds. I was pretty sure no one in our vehicle besides me had been there or anywhere like it. It’s a great beginner’s cave with enough unique formations to hold a kid’s interest for the hour-long tour. Well worth it. Plus, I always love the atmosphere in caves. The air feels so clean and cool.

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The new space

Trade Ya

Speaking of Horsfall’s walls o’ clutter, Scott made MAJOR progress on organizing and recycling our stuff. He started in the storage room and then asked if we should trade offices considering our impending guest list. I suggested that if we traded, I should combine my studio and regular office because his office is really large. After a lot of sweat and muscle, presto change-o. I LOVE my new space and all the magical storage. Even my old-man desk.

Just as the dust settled, Scott’s friend from South Carolina came to visit with his son for a few days. They were able to camp in separate bedrooms. I was able to paint without worrying if someone wanted to go to bed. It’s been refreshing to have things spruced up. We’re not done yet.

“A+” in Blood Testing; “C” in Most Everything Else
I’m happy to say that my blood tests have been fine and I only have three more months of ATRA cycles! Some side effects have SUBsided. I’m not experiencing any more rashes, however I get a waterfall of sweat down my face with the slightest exertion. I’ve continued our river walks and even went out for a bike ride. I think the fatigue has been more severe…or maybe it’s my summer energy level. I suck at summer.

Today, Scott and I went for a Thai lunch and then to the Ethnic Arts Fest in Evanston. After about an hour, I felt horrible. I felt dizzy and my stomach was a mess. My face was streaming and my hair was drenched with sweat. The women’s rest room had a line trailing out, but I begged a woman to let me get in front of her and she accommodated me. That was enough. Scott and I were both ready to head home and we were both tired. Not sure what that was about. That’s the trouble with cancer: you never know if some weirdo symptom is normal or because of some awful drugs messing with you.

My other frustration is keeping up with friends. I haven’t had a lot of energy and as you can see, my life is currently demanding a lot of me. I’ve forgotten to return a lot of messages and just haven’t had time to talk as much as I’d like. Plus, I’m screwing up appointments and general information that makes me look like an idiot. My daughters’ birthdays are this month and I have yet to make a plan, so you think I’m MIA or just plain rude, you’re not alone. I’m sorry.

The latest poem painting, Why I Love Old Men

“F” in Grant Writing
A few months ago I applied to the city for a grant to cover printing my book of poems. I was rejected. Oh well. Then I showed the book to my friend who said it was good enough for a big publishing house. So I went to the bookstore to see who’s making it onto the shelves. Turns out the 10 names I wrote down were either not currently accepting poetry or their reading period is closed, or they are only publishing big names. Back to plan A, which was publishing the book myself. Move over, Dorothy Parker.

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Giraffes, Flamingoes and Other Friends

Posted on March 17, 2013. Filed under: Art, Cancer, Just fun!, Paranormal, Poems |

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This is the most hair I’ve had since chemo started!

Oh geez…It’s been about a month since I’ve written a post! I’ve thought about it, though. I will blame our vacation. It was LONG overdue and well-deserved, I might add.  Mid-February, Scott and I flew to Florida—Tampa to be specific. Our friends live just south of Tampa and invited us to stay with them. My dad used to say, “Fish and house guests stink in three days,” so I’ve continued to use that as a guideline for visiting others. Since we wanted to get away longer than three days, we also planned a road trip to Jacksonville to rendezvous with my friend there before circling back the other side of the coast and flying home from Tampa 10 days later. The highlights?

Favorite line: “Another boomer down!”  –which Dick informed us is the local response to a siren in a retirement community, which is everywhere in south Florida.20130226_125248

Favorite museum: Salvatore Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. I think I finally “get” his work.

Best Sub-trip: Afternoon with girlfriends in Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, a town of working psychics and healers. One told me I’d gone through a lot of changes and was supposed to be more creative and artistic with my work, but I was trying too hard to make it happen quickly.

Favorite restaurant: Hmmm…tough one. Perhaps our last breakfast with our hosts in the little house-like building with the fireplaces. Or maybe the fun grease pit on the water somewhere on our way back from Jacksonville.20130227_104930

20130225_143313Dumbest Act: Tripping over a cement parking thingy, falling on my face and cracking my phone’s screen. No injuries, though.

Best deal: Hotel in Jacksonville for $59/night. It was no palace, but it had everything we needed and it was clean.

I gave this guy a branch of leaves. What a tongue!

I gave this guy a branch of leaves. What a tongue!

Most novel deed: No, not getting a psychic reading. It was feeding giraffes at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Best souvenirs: cool earrings, fudge from Fudge Bucket in St. Augustine, where the salesperson amused me with her ample enthusiasm, and a T-shirt with a guide to venomous snakes.

Oh yeah, I’m in treatment for leukemia.

To get the most out of this getaway, I had to figure out how I’d have energy to do all the fun stuff. This meant playing with my med schedule so I wouldn’t be so tired. I asked Dr. G for advice and he said I could move the week that I take medication “a week or so.” I stretched that to two weeks…oops. The only problem with that was, to get back on track, I only had two weeks between treatment weeks, so the effects were sure to pile up. They did, but not as badly as I expected. It was worth it.

Not only did I have more energy to see friends and Florida, I experienced a taste of what it will be like when I quit taking the meds in the fall because I had five weeks between meds on the front end. I wasn’t quite my old self, but I came close.

I had such a good trip that I totally forgot about my doc appointment the day after I returned. I eventually noticed it and rescheduled for Wednesday. Oops.

Signs of a Great Getaway

You’re looking forward to sleeping in your own bed.

You forgot you bought a new robe until you go looking for yours on your first day back.

You didn’t rack up debt.

Your immune system withstood airline germs.

Every day offered great memories.

You had time with friends, nature, culture and your spouse and yourself.

Back to Life

I’ve also been painting like crazy. I’m still in the process of building inventory. I also signed up for another art class and have more images in my head to paint. I’ve also entered a few juried shows. I’m moving forward, but not too quickly. I’ve also written a couple of new poems and painted a new poem painting. On the business end, I doodled out a marketing plan for my art. Wish me luck.

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Making and Keeping Connections

Posted on January 28, 2013. Filed under: Art, Cancer, Just fun!, Poems | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Last time I wrote, I was anticipating a dentist visit. I’m happy to report that my dentist rebuilt the broken part of my tooth so no root canal will be necessary. Yay!

The Power of the Blog
A few weeks ago, I received a comment from a young woman who also had been diagnosed with APL. Within hours we exchanged emails, phone numbers and had a great conversation about our shared experiences. She lives in the area and will celebrate her two-year anniversary in a couple months. (Congratulations, Marci.) If you’ve ever suffered from ANYTHING, you know how rewarding it can be to share details with someone else who has gone through the same thing. Thank you, Marci, for sharing.

tret0808

Evil Potion

Tretinoin is Back on the Menu
Three weeks without Tretinoin and my scaly, red skin cleared up. I even had a little more energy. The achiness and fatigue still hung on, but I felt better overall. Amazing. Now, after another week of the evil potion, I am back to lying in bed until 11 a.m. and lathering on oodles of lotion. Urgh.

Since the drug is also used to treat psoriasis (in lesser quantities), I have now have great skin. Not that I have a skin problem, but there’s definitely an improvement. Now if I could just make it less scaly.

On an even brighter note, I went for my second haircut! I’m keeping the short look. It’s really thick, but the salt and pepper is not exactly close to my formerly dark blond hair. I’m wondering if this is the new color or the interim color. We shall have to wait and see.

Other than those symptoms, I’ve only had a few moments of chemo brain…like when I totally zoned and got a call from a friend I’d scheduled a lunch date with. She called me from the designated restaurant at the designated time wondering if she’d mistaken the time or place. She didn’t. I left the house and luckily was there in less than ten minutes. Sorry, Susan.

To Flu Shot or Not
With the doomsday reports about the flu epidemic, I considered getting a flu shot, but decided to pass. After all, my system has been pummeled by drugs over the past year and I think I’m better off risking it. I still feel a little guilty—kind of like I decided to leave the door unlocked. None of my doctors have even suggested it. They have asked if I want one, and when I say, “not really,” they move to the next question without even telling me to wash my hands. It’s like they want to tell me not to get one, but they can’t. So far, so good. I haven’t been sick…knock on wood.
IMG_6815Another Poem in a Painting
I started art classes again and last week, I finished another poem in a painting. This one was a challenge to lay down the poem in the piece, so we made some adjustments. Here’s the text:

Counteract
Who counts
the bodies?

How many missing limbs
equal one?
Which body bags,
lost tags
add to the tally?
Bodies that fall
seconds before the declaration?
or minutes
after the truce?

Who counts the body
of knowledge lost
in clouded memories?
Who counts
the piece in the parent
when the epaulets show
through the peephole?
Or the low voice on the phone
asks for his parents?
Who counts the child’s body
if it’s the enemy’s?

How many are missing in action?
Covered under smoldering ash?

Who counts the spirits
when bodies become armor?
when eyes become empty bowls?
when people become photos?

I now have about 15 paintings with one of my poems in them. I’m excited about getting my book of poetry together and will include them. I’ve got about 80 pages so far. That should be enough. One has to stop somewhere.

20130126_211001_resizedReliving the 80s
Last night Scott and I went to the Old Town School of Music for a student/teacher tribute to Madonna and Prince. It was pretty funny and brought back memories of my kids listening to Madonna songs. I’d read about it on www.gapersblock.com, which often has events that you’re not likely to find in the Tribune’s art section. The show was great fun. There’s so much more soul to a low-budget show than the big-budget program. However, we bowed out a little early. I was yawning and Scott had met his 120-minute limit for sitting still in one place. That’s another good thing about small productions: You don’t feel obligated to stay longer than you want to just because of the price of your ticket.

100_2715Pink Flamingos…Here we come!

Scott and I are SO overdue for a vacation, so we booked flights for a Florida fly/drive trip. Our friends are snowbirds and invited us for a visit. They live south of Tampa from December to March-ish so we are flying in and out of Tampa with a mega road trip through the state. I also have a friend in Jacksonville, so I am looking forward to seeing her and soon basking in some sun.

FlamingBirthdayCake1Birthday #59

This week, I will be 59. Geez. Creepy. Although, I’m truly lucky to have lived to be 59. Part of me wants to have a huge party and another part of me wants to roll into a corner with a candle  and a chocolate cake. I’ve always wanted a “garden” party, but a Chicago January is not the time to host an outdoor party. Then I thought maybe I’d have a 59-1/2 year party. After all, that’s an age when one can start eying those retirement funds, but that would encroach on my daughters’ birthdays, which both land in July. Plus, my oldest will be 40, which actually makes me feel older than being 60!  😛

I think I’ll save the party for the big 6-0 and settle for the chocolate cake.

Considering it took me a few weeks to gather up this much to say, I think my days are winter-slow. Oh sure, I have stuff to do. We finally cleaned up the holiday tree and ornaments, but the frenzy is over and it’s sort of quiet. I have learned to appreciate that.

Stay warm. Have fun. Thanks for reading!

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Inside every raging young person…

Posted on December 18, 2012. Filed under: Art, Poems |

…is a brilliant, injured misfit who is screaming for validation, love, acceptance, attention, etc. Whether the cause is chemical, emotional, parenting, trauma or something else, it is a challenge to determine whose rage will cause them to cross the line with violence or funnel their anger into an acceptable outlet that disperses it.

Many times, such as on Friday, we have seen the results of their pent-up rage. In those times, I wonder if the power of art, any artistic pursuit, might have saved him. Saved all of them. I’ve seen it happen so many times, I know it can. A kid who discovers the power of self-expression, and shares it with a community of others who usually aren’t great at sports, can transcend whatever ugliness brews inside.

I’ve lobbied before for more respect for the power of creativity to transcend. I guess it’s part of my “religion.” And, a friend, Michael Salinger recently wrote, “If I hear one more person say that people shouldn’t be pushing an agenda on the backs of this tragedy I will literally scream. THE AGENDA IS BECAUSE OF THESE TRAGEDIES.” Ditto for me.

So, while the politicians argue over gun control and mental health providers scramble to serve with limited budgets, make sure kids have paper, paints, musical instruments, journals, pens or any other artistic outlet of their choice. Encourage them to express themselves; to put words, images or sounds to the pain inside. Help make it normal to do this; not weird and freakish. Encourage them to imagine the world they want through their art, not a gun barrel.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Posted on October 29, 2012. Filed under: Cancer, Family, Just fun!, Poems |

Yesterday, I redefined “tired” and slept almost all afternoon. Later, we went to a great Halloween party and I still went to sleep when we got home. The party was a hoot with an

I look like I have something growing out of my head.

assortment of creative costumes from Big Boy to the 50 Shades of Jennifer Gray. Fun!  While Scott was “safari guy” last week, this week he was Indiana Jones. Same costume, different name.

Meanwhile, Veronica went to Virginia Beach earlier in the week for her friend’s wedding. Unfortunately, hurricane Sandy crashed the wedding. From Veronica’s intermittent texts, it seems she moved to a large beach house. The police came by and told them they’d let them know if they need to evacuate. Mom that I am, I have been Googling the area for weather updates and local webcams. I’m not counting on her coming home on Tuesday as planned. Halloween just became a little scarier.

Another friend is in Hawaii where they just cancelled a tsunami warning. Tomorrow, they expect 20 foot waves on Lake Michigan. Wild weather everywhere!

This afternoon, I ventured to the Rhino Poetry Forum for a workshop led by an awesome poet, Laura Dixon. There, I gained a new appreciation for the kind of poems that seem to be written in another language, except the words are in English.  I brought a poem of my own for comments and wasn’t disappointed. I’m planning on placing it in a painting and needed some objective thoughts before permanently installing the text. I had planned to come home, do a few chores and hit the Mill, but time got away from me and I ended up crossing a few things off my “to-do” list instead– including this blog update… I hope I don’t have poetry withdrawal later in the week.

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Friday, August 3, 2012 See Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry

Posted on August 8, 2012. Filed under: Art, Cancer, Just fun!, Poems |

It was a busy week. I reached “Hump Day” in my five weeks of treatment. Scott and I needed a date night. I LOVE movies, so I did a little research and we decided to see Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry, a documentary on the Chinese artist/activist, Ai Wei Wei. After the devastating earthquake in western China, the artist was appalled that the government did so little to document the loss, especially of 5000+ children. He went to the area and started collecting children’s names with dozens of other people there helping him. The government wasn’t too happy about that, but since Ai had been a leading consultant in designing the Bird’s Nest building for the Olympics, they clenched their teeth and didn’t hassle him too much. That changed when he became more outspoken.

We went to China in 2009. I loved it in spite of its oppressive government. However, I think the rulers are losing control, especially in the wake of their new-found materialism and social media/international connectedness. They simply can’t control the volume of people and growing voices. It didn’t even seem that the average person took the government very seriously.

The movie showed an installation Ai created for the Tate Museum: 100,000,000 porcelain stones hand painted to be sunflower seeds by Chinese works. The Tate included 80,000,000 in the exhibit and kept the rest to fill in space when visitors take them.

The massive room is nearly wall-to-wall with porcelain sunflower seeds.

The best part is that I really identified with the power and grace Ai puts into his work. Instead of a huge ego, his power comes from a grounded no-nonsense belief in humanity and transparency. How to “up my artistic game,” to make my work more meaningful to me by communicating my own sensibilities without throwing visual tantrums, has been itching in my brain. Best of all, the film inspired two visions of paintings for poems that do exactly that. This is a new twist I am really excited about. Stay tuned.

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Monday, July 30, 2012 Birthday Cake & Arsenic

Posted on July 31, 2012. Filed under: Art, Cancer, Family, Poems | Tags: , , , , , , |

I had a great weekend! First of all, the weather was fabulous. It made it easy to get my errands done. On Sunday, we hosted Christy and Veronica for their July birthdays. We’ve made it an annual event and I was determined to pace myself so I didn’t get too tired.

Saturday morning, Scott and I started by hitting the grocery store for the menu items. We decided to grill chicken. We picked up some salads, cake and other goodies. Since I didn’t have treatment, I was feeling almost normal.

I spent the afternoon wrapping presents and making cards. It was nice to be able to put a little extra effort into it. I also finished the text in my “Letter to Picasso” painting (actual poem is at http://emilycalvo.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Poems-about-Art-_1_.pdf )

Night at the Movies
By Saturday evening, it was time to chill, so we went to On Demand for a movie. I missed the film Being Flynn when it was out and I’ve really wanted to see it. It’s based on a book titled, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. I’ve met the author, Nick Flynn, at several AWP conferences. The last time, he claimed to remember me.

His book is a memoir about his relationship with his father who was an absent father, but showed up for a bed when Nick worked in a homeless shelter. It’s a beautifully written ugly story that portrays the complexities of life with poetic language. It brings up questions everyone faces at one time or another: How much should we give to a family member? How much should we feel responsible for the actions of others. I was curious to see how the story would avoid being majorly depressing once the text was adapted. I have my own “dad book” in the works, so I wanted to see how adaptation was handled. I was pleasantly surprised. The screenplay held the mood of the book and stuck to the story without being morose. Plus, De Niro brilliantly played the father. You should see it!

Birthday PartyParty On
On Sunday, Scott and I got the patio in shape for the party. It wasn’t horribly hot outside, so that was promising. Christy and Tony, the grandkids, Veronica, my daughter’s dad, and Scott’s mother all arrived around three. We BBQ’d chicken and did the usual birthday cake, etc. When Anthony, my 9-year old grandson, saw Scott with his flip video in hand, he insisted on being the announcer. There were to be four parts to the party: Meet and greet; dinner, presents and good-byes. He would introduce each section. Being the announcer comes easily to Anthony. When we were on the patio we discussed his ability to court the camera.

“I just like to think of funny things to say,” he told me. “My teacher says I can make anything funny…and I think she’s right.”

“You’re good at it,” I said. “I can get up in front of people, but I’m not quick on the stage. I need to think of things first and then get in front of people.”

He responds, “Well you go and read poetry and I don’t know how you do that.”

“I can do that because I know what I’m going to say.”

He paused considering the difference. “My mom was reading something about how to be funny. I think that’s silly. You can’t get humor out of a book. It has to come from your heart!” He says this as he places his hand over his chest in earnest.” I laugh.

He is pleased to make me laugh. Show me another 9-year old like this????  Of course, his sister Alyssa also has a great sense of humor. Do they get it from their mom?

Everyone had a great time. No food was injured in the making of this party and I was still standing.

IV Arsenic: Week 3
Two down, three weeks to go. Today, I was back in treatment and our friend Pam B. who offered to come to the hospital with lunch. She arrived with a three-course meal and we enjoyed talking for the duration. When I got home, I slept almost the entire afternoon. I can see that having any energy is getting more difficult. Damn.

Scott had to take his care in for repairs because it made some uncomfortable noises and vibrations. I called a cancer buddy. In the past, I offered to connect with a cancer comrade through an organization that matches patients with others who have undergone similar experiences. Lorraine is a delightful woman in New York State. We spoke for over an hour and realized we have a lot in common. No doubt we will talk again.

By dinner time, I got a second wind and heated up some leftovers from the BBQ. The laundry was also piling up. Scott noticed that we hadn’t leveled the new washer, so we unhooked the tubes, moved it from the wall and tried our best to even up the sides. With that accomplished, we loaded the machine, turned it on and realized we’d forgotten to reconnect the water tubing when water flooded out of the back and flowed across our uneven floor toward the kitchen. Our sweet little machine adjustments turned into an hour of cleanup.

I went for a walk before going to bed. After all, I have a 9 a.m. treatment tomorrow.

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July 20, 2012 A Spoonful of Gratitude Makes the Medicine Go Down

Posted on July 20, 2012. Filed under: Cancer, Family, Poems |

On my desk is a stack of get-well cards that remind me of how many wonderful people I have in my life and all the care and love they have shown me over the past few months. I’ve lost count of the meals, gifts, visits, calls, etc. I haven’t done a great job of keeping up with all my friends, but I know you are patient and understanding. I know it’s especially difficult for my husband and daughters. Scott gets to see all my crumby moments of frustration. My daughters are quick to follow up on any changes and they baby me. I’m now one of those parents whose kids probably debate “what should we do for mom.” Ironically, I’m still one of those kids myself. At least I’m not ready for the home!

I am deferring to gratitude because I just finished week #1 of 5 in my second 5-week round, which has been challenging–and gratitude is a good way to change the attitude.

On a brighter note…I submitted four poems to an anthology of “boomer” writing and it looks like mine will be included. Not sure how many. I’ll let you know when it comes out.

On a curious note…the other day in the merry-go-round room, I noticed that the other three  patients were also Aquarians. I learned this because each patient is INCESSANTLY asked to recite their name and birthday to confirm identity. I know their birthdays fell under the sign of Aquarius because in my younger days, I wrote up charts for people. (Quite accurately, I might add.) There were only eight of us there, so the odds of that happening are way outside the realm of probability. Very weird.

I look forward to some special events this weekend–and NOT being at the hospital. Again, something to be grateful for!

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Saturday, June 10, 2010

Posted on June 10, 2012. Filed under: Cancer, Poems |

Hey, hey…a day without treatments, but I think I may have forgotten how to cook breakfast because this morning my breakfast quesadillas were a mess. Or maybe I don’t really want to cook breakfast. Anyway, they tasted the same, but truly had no eye-appeal—and I’m having an arsenic-free day.

My plans were jostled around though. Veronica called and we decided to meet at the Printer’s Row Book Fair, which is a wonderful celebration of the printed word (http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/books/printersrow/ct-books-schedule-prlf-2012,0,4171548.htmlstory . However, Veron and I noted that these days there should be a Kindle download booth.

I didn’t walk around much. It was really hot and I’m trying to be careful. Instead, I spent a lot of time sitting in the Poetry Tent, which is managed by EM Press people (http://www.em-press.com/publishing/). Cool people. I was pleased to see Connie and Dick, snowbirds who returned from Florida; Robbi Q and several others from Chicago’s poetry scene. The booths were very much the same old, same old, so I didn’t feel like I was missing much by not perusing the whole fest. Before heading home, Veron and I decided to grab an appetizer. Connie shared a story about a friend of her daughter’s who recently died of leukemia. Sad. That’s the second person I’ve heard about who died to leukemia in the past month. Makes me vigilant. Luckily, my numbers are still mostly acceptable.

Since we are nearly out of coffee, which would be disastrous, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home. After all, I’d recouped some energy while sitting in traffic. By the time I was in the checkout lane, I was just putting one foot in front of the other. I was happy to get home.

Later, I took photos of the Shenspace art for Karen to be able to show how the art is cropped once I got the mattes on them. See how much I can accomplish when I’m not spending five hours at the hospital!

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Posted on May 30, 2012. Filed under: Cancer, Poems |

Christy and Tony went all out by hosting another Sunday brunch. We picked up Penny and drove out to Elmhurst in spite of Bike-The-Drive closing Lake Shore Drive. Anthony, at 9, is now as tall as Penny. Veronica had to work, so she couldn’t join us. We had a relaxing time.

When we came back, I went to Target for the first time in six weeks. That’s pretty momentous! I needed some tops with longer sleeves since they’re “reinstalling” the picc line in my arm on Tuesday. I don’t think the world needs to see IV tubes coming out of my arm. I managed to find a couple. I’ve been wearing my sleeveless tops because I probably won’t be wearing them after the picc line. I also discovered one of those backpack-style purses I’ve been looking for. I also saw poet Roger there, but out of context, both of us required a double take. I became fairly tired walking around Target, but I’m determined not to let cancer hold me back.

For the second week in a row, I went to the Poetry Slam. Mary Fons featured and did her TS Elliot piece. Very cool. I love when traditional poetry gets performed. When the audience doesn’t get it, at least they appreciate the performance and they know something important happened. I didn’t read. I’m just not up for it yet.

Meanwhile, I must find out whether alcohol is off the table, so to speak. I love a good Margarita on the patio and a brandy at the mill…not in the same day. Marc and I ended the evening at the Mexican restaurant where I had to explain to Carmen, the server, where I’d been for six weeks. Marc had to explain that he’d been traveling. We had a great tie reconnecting and recounting the missing weeks–my treatment and his trip to France–which is always a great way to end a Sunday.

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    About

    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..

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