Carla Sonheim’s Art Camp

Dog Days of Summer

Yeah I’m toast from overdoing it the past few weeks. But I am so in love with Carla Sonheim’s childlike art techniques that I found myself signed up for all three of her Summer Art Camps: Imaginary Creatures, Faces 101, and Junk Mail Artist’s Book.

This week is Faces 101 (we are supposed to end up with 101 different faces in various media). I’ll include samples as I go.

Spring Haute Dish is Out!

Haute Dish: The Arts and Literature Magazine of Metropolitan State University

Haute Dish: Spring 2011 edition

Haute Dish: Spring 2011 is here! This is old news for those in the know – I’m behind, what with moving and packing and now unpacking. I have four pieces (!) in this issue —  I’m a lucky girl. It’s a gorgeous issue. Enjoy the entire thing online. Lots of good writing and art.

And call those in charge crazy, but I’ve been invited to become Managing Editor of this illustrious publication starting this summer! I am terrifically honored, excited, and happy.  And terrified. I mean, have you SEEN how cool this thing is? I have big shoes to fill. (And nice shoes too… the current Managing Ed. has great tasted in footwear.)

Noah’s Blog

My nephew has started a blog. He works hard to write each paragraph, which has inspired me to think about what I am doing here in my blog. So, like my nephew said in his most recent post, I will try my best to write here more often. Thank you Noah.

Catching up: The last 1.5 years

I haven’t written much in the past year and a half because, well, they sucked. And one can only whine so much before you bore yourself, not to mention others. Downside: I have found that new or potential friends will run screaming if you are truthful about how bad things really are. Upside: I’ll have plenty of material for writing in the future.

For those of you who I’ve recently befriended or refriended, here’s a short, edited, slightly (sometimes extremely) whiny list to catch you up.

Chronic Lyme disease. Which, symptom-wise, is like saying I have ALS, MS, CFS, FMS, and occasionally Tourette’s. Short term memory is far worse than it should be (between 5% and 35% of expected). My body acts like is is near 70. I can be reasonably fine one minute, then unable to move without screaming the next. No warning. I treated the Lyme for several years, and am lots better (don’t need the power wheelchair at the moment, for example). This may be the plateau I must live with. The worst part is that it’s largely invisible. If you look at me, I probably look healthy. Sometimes that’s great. Sometimes it’s awful. I know there are people far worse off than I am. In fact, I use Stephen King’s quote about recovering from nearly being killed by a crazy man in a van: “You try to tell yourself that you’ve been lucky, most incredibly lucky and usually that works because it’s true. Sometimes it doesn’t work, that’s all. Then you cry.”

Divorce last year. It seemed like something that happened to someone else, like a car accident. I didn’t see it coming, which goes to show the depth of denial in which I can live. Yes, even after all those years of therapy. Damn.

Foreclosure. Lost a beautiful home/condo in downtown St. Paul to foreclosure, tied inextricably with item 2 above. For details call or email me. I gave the place to my ex in the divorce. Even so I found myself left me open to a…

Lawsuit from the condo association. My ex paid nothing to live in the condo during the foreclosure (1.5 years), so the association is suing both of us for, I think it’s over $20K now. My ex didn’t get a job as promised. The place was unsellable due to association problems with plumbing. Blah, blah, blah. I stopped living in the condo the moment I couldn’t pay out of my SSDI. None of it matters legally. My ex lives with his parents when the foreclosure ended earlier this month. He will go through bankruptcy. I’m waiting to get served.

My family suffered a year from hell. One sibling survived a nasty bout of cancer, and is still recovering from the treatment. Another sister is suffering from mental illness. She and I share stories of battling the SSDI system, the medical system, etc.  Safe to say that my family has been busy with their own serious problems to be a resource for me (except for Margie in January 2009, who saved my ass by helping me move out of the condo in a hurry… amazing). This has felt surprising and difficult.

Turned 52 last week (July 21 if you missed it). Got a few cards (some $ – thanks Dad!), a lunch with my Dad, sister Margie, and niece Meaghan (thanks again, Dad!). The Facebook birthday greetings were amazingly meaningful – seriously! Kind of like having a party without having to do the work.

Going to school for a BA in Creative Writing at Metro State University. Wanted to start an art-related MDiv, but didn’t qualify for the scholarship without the BA. Just started this past summer term. Every step is a test to see if my bod and mind can hack it. I’m on the edge right now, end of term with two classes. Also, it looks like I might have screwed up the financial aid paperwork for fall. The red tape is worse than the classes. Today the deadlines feel like they might kill me. Talk to me in four weeks when it’s over.

Church. Joined a rather radical Lutheran church at the beginning of the divorce. The illness had left me isolated and friendless. Really. I needed support and found it at Pilgrim Lutheran Church. I’m really a UU Pagan, but I feel at home at Pilgrim — as much as I can in any church.

Friends. Have grown closer with a handful friends, for which I am grateful.

My apartment is close to my church, which means I can usually get to choir practice and services, even if I’m having an awful day. It’s not quite big enough to house me, a writing area and an art area, but I’ve shoehorned it in anyway. Still have unpacked boxes. Hard to get up and down stairs (no elevator, third floor walk-up). So I just live with boxes piled like furniture. It’s small, but easier to clean, right!

Of course there’s more. These are the highlights. I’m sure I’ve missed positive things because it’s hard to see them during a dark time. Like going out with some of my best friends, including Don (who I think recently turned 80), to see Don’s grandkids in a community production of Hello Dolly last summer. Totally fun! Or that I sang for a while with a woman’s choir called Cantara for a while — got to perform once at the Summer Solstice Fire Service at Lake Harriet Spiritual community. Very cool. Or hot, actually!

There’s always more. For that, you’ll have to call or write. I’ll answer or reply if I’m having a good day.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

Perfect Fall Day

Blustery, windy, now rainy. But earlier, it was perfect!

Fall, 2009.

Out my window, fall, 2009.

Friend Speaks My Mind

I may be a Unitarian Universalist Buddhist mystic whose current spiritual home is a Lutheran church, but this Friend definitely speaks my mind. So much fun!

Thank you, Aimée, for sharing this with me.

Mazal Tov!

In all the darkness of our lives, a light: New nephew Michael born to my brother and sister-in-law, much wanted and loved. Welcome, beautiful boy! Photos to come, I’m sure!

I Won!

nano_08_winner_viking_100x100Once again, I have sucessully traversed the often tempestuous waters of November’s National Novel Writing Month. For a change, I wrote fiction (as opposed to memoir). For a change, I did pretty well health-wise until the last week. Then all went to hell in a handbasket, and by the last weekend, with only a few thousand words to go, I was nearly certain I would not make it.

But thanks to the support of an incredibly strong local Nano community and my non-Nanoing friends and family, I pulled out the stops and crossed the finish line early on the very last day.

The plot is coming out slowly, meaning that I’m overwriting every scene. But when I read a few sections to myself (and one out loud at the local Nano Wrap party last Wednesday – eek that was scary!), it didn’t seem so bad! And I’d rather have too much than too little. Much to edit. Much to add.

To read a synopsis and short excerpt, check out my Nanowrimo homepage, then click the Novel Info tab. You can also read or listen to a short Minnesota Public Radio story on Nano 2008 (in which I am quoted and pictured, along with several of my Nano buddies… I’m the one on the right in the “Global Market Writers” photo).

For more information about Nanwrimo, see November is National Novel Writing Month.

Fundraising for Good: Nanowrimo

This fall, I’ve decided to ask you to help raise money for the folks who bring us Nanowrimo: The Office of Letters and Light. A profoundly creative organization whose motto is:

We believe in ambitious acts of the imagination.

Go to my donation site to learn more. And remember, it’s good to be generous, even in small amounts.

http://www.firstgiving.com/serenamiraasta

It’s simple, painless, and adds enormous amounts to your good karma.

Thanks for considering it.

XO – Serena

November is National Novel Writing Month

This will be my fourth year participating in Nanowrimo. That means I will be trying to write a book, 50,000 words worth, during the month of November. It’s not as crazy as it seems. It amounts to just under 1700 words per day, which I can do in less than an hour (because I’m not editing, see, that’s one of the points!).

So, even though my body is a mess and I’m battling with Quicken files, I will do it. And this year I’m even going to try actual fiction (usually I add 50K words to my memoir materials).

It’s a great way to make new friends (there is a wonderful set of message boards), get out (you can attend “write-ins” at local coffee shops all over the world), and get a really rough first draft spit out of your imagination.

Join me if you like – look me up under Serena Mira Asta. It’s a crazy hoot, it’s free (although donations keep the organization doing good deeds like funding libraries in Cambodia, running a Young Writers Program, etc.)

Check it out at nanowrimo.org.

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