Birthdays & Books

I turned 39 last Monday, although the main celebrations occurred the previous day–seven hours reading the new Harry Potter book and a family BBQ featuring our lovely neighbors the Gs, the Fs and the Ps!

Due to some poor (forgive the pun) family planning, my daughter Becky’s birthday arrives a scant five days after mine. So yesterday, for her tenth birthday celebration, I took her and four of her friends (two school, two gymnastics) to Six Flags Great Adventure for a day out. Now I like Amusement Parks, as this entry will attest. Being the responsible adult in charge of five excited ten year olds, however, is quite another matter. We managed okay, but one of the gymnasts hit her head quite badly on Rolling Thunder and we spent a jolly half an hour in First Aid. Although we were released eventually I continued to be concerned she might have sustained a concussion and we ended the day early, with me piggy-backing the exhausted child out of the park.

Needless to say she perked up when we got home and insisted on staying for the sleepover, for which we were joined by two more of Becky’s friends.

Demonstrating my enviable talent for shutting out screaming children I spent the evening reading another excellent book, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, (better known for the book/movie The Remains of the Day,) which Keba had given me for my birthday (along with the Complete Poems of Langston Hughes.)

I think the last time I read a book which moved me in a similar way to this beautifully written, understated yet frightening, barely science fiction novel, I was twelve and the novel was Brave New World. The social issues it brings into focus are highly relevant both from a moral standpoint, and from the perspective of anyone concerned that no group of humans should suffer prejudice because of their origins or circumstances. I recommend it highly.

Now the house is peaceful once more, with Keba and the children at the Simpsons Movie. My fortieth year. Time to think.

I Don’t Usually Do These But…

I’ll make an exception for John, just this once.

The Rules: “Each person posts the rules before their list, then they list 8 things about themselves. At the end of the post, that person tags and links to 8 other people and then visits those peoples’ sites and comments letting them know that they have been tagged, and to come read the post, so they know what they have to do.”

  1. Continuing the tea theme, I have an impeccable relationship with tea. Not only do I drink around 5 cups a day of the stuff, without sugar (never taken it), but also my husband is Vice President Sales & Marketing for Twinings USA. Anyone fancy a cuppa?
  2. I can walk on my knees in the Lotus position. I guess Becky-the-gymnast does owe some of her flexibility to me after all.
  3. Both times I was pregnant my linea nigra eventually got right up to my breastbone. Both babies were girls.
  4. I’ve been fired twice. The first time was from the waitressing job I had at 17, officially for allowing champagne to freeze (but actually because I was having an affair with the Head Chef.) The second time was constructive dismissal and I walked out.
  5. I learned how to sign the deaf and dumb alphabet in Brownie Guides and I’ve never forgotten it. Of course, since the European one is different to the US one it’s not much use to me over here.
  6. I’m currently simultaneously reading Savage Beauty (Nancy Milford’s biography of Edna St Vincent Millay) alongside her Selected Poems (which I had to buy a new copy of recently.) I’m also reading Dante’s Purgatorio (the W.S. Merwin translation.) However, on July 21st I will be dropping everything to read the new Harry Potter.
  7. Despite the fact that I have had three different family names (Gray, Hagen and Evans) my signatures under all three are indistinguishable.
  8. Whenever I worry that I am becoming too Americanized I console myself with the fact that I have not yet attended a Baseball game. Or an American Football game. Or a Basketball game. Or an Ice Hockey game. (And yes, I went to cricket and football matches in the UK, but that was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead.)

OK. Clearly I need to tag Rachel, Don, Kendall, Andrea, Bruce, Jaime (you know why), Fee (checking you’re still out there, young lady) and, hmm, why not, Keba.


I spent forty minutes today boxing with my personal trainer. Now, why, you might ask, would a 38 year old 5 ft 2 woman with a hole in the heart want to box? Some might reply it’s because I’m a scrappy little bitch. Actually, it’s a great workout, combining endurance, cardio, upper and lower body strength. But, furthermore, when you’re mad at the world it’s great to hit something, even if it’s only your personal trainer’s pads.

Then this evening I watched “Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones.” I’m not going to call this a great film, but it certainly is good entertainment. Given that I’m old enough to have seen the original three movies in theater, and was busy raising small children when the new ones started coming out, it’s a treat to discover that universe again (prequentially speaking).

So, you see, I can write a post and not even mention poetry, or my kids. Oops. (And I did write a poem WHILE watching the movie, called “Sonnet on a Line from Star Wars.” Oops again.)

Ah well, anyone got any Sith Lords they need beating up?

Tuesday Goodness

When something isn’t going too well, it’s good to concentrate on a few things that are, especially if you have children. (It’s not good for the little darlings to see Mommy cry, and none of us wants to end up like Sylvia Plath.)

My good friend Rachel over on Journalspace does an entry every Friday called “Friday Goodness,” so here for you today (Upper lip a little wobbly but mostly stiff) is some Tuesday Goodness.

  1. The guys at contacted the QNDs yesterday asking for 100 word articles for their “Culture Shock” feature. Immediately inspired, I whizzed one back on, of all things, drinking hot tea, and I think they’re going to publish it. Or at least, that’s how I interpret the response: “Very, very cool! (Hot!)”
  2. Shattercolors are taking three of my poems for their next issue, including “Return to Narragansett” which won the “Words on the Wall” at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference in 2005.
  3. I have babysitting for Friday, so I can take my husband with me when we go out to celebrate a good friend’s birthday in the alternative lifestyle area of Philadelphia.
  4. Becky has been working very hard on her gymnastics, and may get to compete three of the four events at her first Level 5 Gymnastics meet on Sunday: Bars, Beam and Floor. (She just can’t do the Level 5 Vault yet.)
  5. I’m still psyched about the election. Yay for the Democrats!
  6. I wrote a poem yesterday which is different from anything else I’ve ever written. It’s called “An Imaginary History of my Grandfather.”
  7. I forgot to eat yesterday evening and today I weighed only a little over 130 lb. (Okay, maybe that’s not so good, forgetting to eat, but the girls reading this will get it.)
  8. Today I get to go into my kids’ school for Open Day. Becky’s class is doing a little play, which should be really cute.
  9. Lorna got picked as a child reading well above Grade level for the second grade enrichment program.
  10. Tomorrow I’m going to a poetry reading at Burlington County Library. Bettye Spinner is the featured reader and my good friend Adele is hosting. It should be a good night.

There you go. Maybe life doesn’t suck as much as I thought it did, after all.

It’s As If I Was Never Away…

Actually I didn’t mention I was going away in the first place, did I? Anyway, we just got back from six days in Aruba, which was heaven. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The weather is perfect (85o, mostly sunny, with a permanent refreshing breeze), the food delicious if a little Dutch (freshly caught seafood, pancakes and satay), the people friendly etc. etc. I’m so tan you can’t tell if I put on weight (and I don’t dare hop on the scales to see, either!) The kids had a great time too, and we’ve all agreed to go back again next year.

Still, life goes on even if you’re not looking. And I really wasn’t looking. I only checked my email once (in a bar aptly named Chaos) and surprisingly enough the world did not collapse as a result.

So here is a week’s worth of poetry news, all at once:

  1. A big thank you to the Apple Valley Review for nominating “Color Therapy at the OB-GYN” for a Pushcart Prize. Of course, I’m not naive enough to think it will win, but hey, now I can describe myself as “two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Anna Evans.”
  2. US1 Worksheets have accepted “Marriage at Sunset” for the 2007 Issue. This is potentially (though improbably) tricky as I also entered it in the Margaret Reid Formal Poetry Contest. The results for that were due in August but have now been delayed until September. Still, if it happens to win a cash prize I shall simply write to US1 and withdraw it. They do permit simultaneous submissions so they shouldn’t go on to blackball me. And of course, it probably won’t win anything.
  3. The good people at Inglis House have invited me to be a reader/workshop leader at their 2007 Poetry & Disability Conference, for which they would pay me $300. As an aside, people in the poetry world are always apologizing for the sums they offer before they mention them. Please don’t apologize to me! I totally get it, and given that I don’t actually have a job I’m always thrilled simply to possess a check!
  4. Speaking of checks, I got my honorarium from The Mad Poets’ Society.
  5. One of my heroes, Jared Carter, emailed me simply to say hello!
  6. I received my copy of Rhyme & Reason (which contains three of my poems) and it looks great!
  7. Isn’t that enough news for 6 days?

Rollercoaster as Near Death Experience

I love rollercoasters. If you think you know me that might surprise you; if you actually do, of course it won’t.

Anyway yesterday I took my niece (visiting from England) and eldest daughter to Six Flags Great Adventure. This was a momentous occasion as it was the first time I had gone with a full crowd of fellow coaster lovers. (My younger daughter is a tad risk-averse, and my husband just doesn’t like them.) Of course my eldest is only 50″ as of yet, so she can’t ride the big coasters, but she has a certain sympathy with us for wanting to.

Now, should you go to this theme park, I highly recommend the fast pass system. It cost us $90 to get in (We had a Papa John’s BOGOF) and another $90 for two fast passes–one with just one person on it (the big coaster hopper) and one with all three of us on it (the family ride hopper). That might seem a little extreme, but none of us like waiting in line. This way Becky got to do Skull Mountain and the Log Flume twice, while my niece and I took turns on Batman and Nitro (of which Nitro is the better). But after we’d exhausted the family ride fast pass opportunities, we started using that pass as a coaster hopper too, which is how we ended up with 3 reservations on Kingda Ka.

Once I’d explained to my niece that Kingda Ka was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world she was keen to do it, and of course I wanted to do it. The line was 3 hours at that point, but we knew we’d be able to just walk on with our fast pass when our time came around. So, we had a chat with Becky and set her up with a drink and snack in full view of a snack bar and several park security officers, with instructions to tell anyone official who asked that she was 11, and off we went.

Bloody hell. It was a rush. You race vertically up this one hundred foot plus track, crest the top and accelerate vertically downwards, twisting as you go. My body genuinely thought it was going to die twice. Of course there’s a downside: my cell phone, which we’d kept with us so we could be in touch with Becks on her Firefly, shot out of my pocket somewhere on the way down. Also, I just washed up today and discovered a line of bruises under each upper arm, where the safety harness was pressed into my skin by the G-force.

But I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I’m like that, actually, in case you didn’t know.