Thursday, April 30, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Rocking the Boat

(With Carol in the Monastery Garden)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Back on my feet. I'm caught up with my correspondence and ready to get back into the groove.
CALLIOPE: You mentioned in passing yesterday that you had written some seditious pieces. I don't recall discussing this with you before you. Could you elaborate?
JOE: Toward the end of my monastic days, I started putting my thoughts on paper regarding reservations about the direction my religious order was taking.
CALLIOPE: Was that so bad?
JOE: I suppose not. My indiscretion was in circulating my writing which eventually fell into disapproving hands.
CALLIOPE: I see. And that led to your being kicked out?
JOE: Not directly. I was given a warning and put on probation due to my views.
CALLIOPE: How did you deal with that?
JOE: I wasn't quite ready to leave so I backed off for a while. I did not stop writing but tried to be more careful about who I let see my writing.
CALLIOPE: Whose decision was it for you to leave in the end?
JOE: I made the decision, but under duress and with a feeling of relief on the part of my superiors.
CALLIOPE: Did your recent monastery visit give you any further perspective on your decision to leave?
JOE: I realize I made the right decision. I think I have a better understanding of the various points of view prevalent at the time and that mine was not shared by the powers that be. Talk with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Bully Pulpit

(Monastery Pulpit)

JOE: Good afternoon Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon Joe. I trust you had a nice trip to New York.
JOE: Indeed it did. Memorable in many ways.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about one.
JOE: I visited a monk at Immaculate Conception Monastery in Queens where I once lived. It brought back many memories and helped me settle some things in my mind.
CALLIOPE: Such as?
JOE: Reading and writing for one thing. There were books I was forbidden to read (Kant, Descartes, etc) which I read anyway. I saw the locked room where they were then kept.
CALLIOPE: What memories did that bring back?
JOE: My own somewhat incendiary writings from the time which eventually got me sent out of the monastery. It was the first time my writing made a difference to anyone.
CALLIOPE: Quite a start. How about now?
JOE: I don't write anything quite so inflammatory. Now I just offer my readers a chance to look at their lives in a more subtle way. The brashness of youth!
CALLIOPE: Amazing isn't it. Where did the experience leave you?
JOE: Wondering about what topics I should address these days and in what manner.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like a useful thought.
JOE: We shall see. Talk with you tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Curiouser and Curiouser

(Dunkirk Harbor Jetty)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. What happened with the elite and pica authors?
JOE: Good question. The discussion became hot and heavy for a while.
CALLIOPE: Then what?
JOE: The whole thread disappeared mysteriously without any explanation.
CALLIOPE: Where do you think it went?
JOE: Hard to say. I can only speculate.
CALLIOPE: What's your speculation?
JOE: Someone's feathers were probably ruffled. The site in question might prefer that its members play nice and don't raise any controversial issues or express any emotions.
CALLIOPE: As you say, curious.
JOE: I agree. I was waiting to see whether a rapprochement between traditionally and self published authors might be forthcoming. The conversation was whisked off before the result became evident.
CALLIOPE: So now what?
JOE: Hard to tell. I'm awaiting further developments.
CALLIOPE: Do you have any plans?
JOE: If no satisfactory conclusion arises, I am planning to start a forum for pica authors. I will be away for a few days and will get back to you mid week.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Elite and Pica Writers

(Nineteenth Century Printing Press)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Riled up.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about it.
JOE: Yesterday I read on LinkedIn a post suggesting that self published writers should not be allowed to call themselves authors.
CALLIOPE: In those words?
JOE: The suggestion was made that it "smacks of hubris" for self published authors to consider their writing better than what gets published by the big New York publishing houses.
CALLIOPE: Ah yes, hubris. Finally a Greek word. As it recall it means an exaggerated sense of self importance.
JOE: That's my recollection as well. I don't recall throngs of self published writers trying to outdo those favored by the big boys. I do think they would like some respect and are sometimes relegated to lower status by those who have made it big.
CALLIOPE: What explains this reaction?
JOE: In my opinion, they are the ones with hubris, at least those who lord it over self published writers or possibly their insecurity is showing.
CALLIOPE: Do you know for sure what their motivation is?
JOE: I have learned over the years that motivation is a complex subject and usually has more than one aspect. But you asked for my opinion.
CALLIOPE: Well taken. What's your suggestion?
JOE: Maybe those who publish with the big boys could be called elite authors while those who self publish or who write and don't publish could be known as pica authors. Talk with you tomorrow

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Life's Mysteries

(Pillar Fragment- Santianna, Spain)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: In a reflective mood.
CALLIOPE: About what?
JOE: I was just speculating to myself about what makes the world so interesting and worth writing about.
CALLIOPE: Did you come to any conclusions?
JOE: I'm not sure I can speak for everyone, but the mystery I find in nature and in people fascinates me.
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: I have been working on a piece about what God means to me. After writing about it for a while, I reached the conclusion that I find God in the mysteries which surround me at every turn waiting to fascinate me if I just stop to pay attention to them.
CALLIOPE: Are you able to unravel the mysteries?
JOE: Not usually.
CALLIOPE: Isn't that frustrating?
JOE: Not really. I can sit with a mystery and enjoy its intricacy, realizing I am in the presence of something more profound than I am. It's my way of being close to God.
CALLIOPE: I see. Sounds like a good realization.
JOE: I think so. Talk with you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Roots and Branches

(Tree Branches)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Energized.
JOE: I told you I work up that way yesterday. I struggled all last week to write anything. Yesterday ideas flowed easily from my mind to my fingertips and into cyberspace.
CALLIOPE: Glad all systems are go. What's on your mind this morning?
JOE: One of the insights I had yesterday dates back to incidents which took place forty five years ago. Thoughts about what happened arose from thinking about meeting next week with an old classmate from the seminary I last saw in 1965.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about the insight.
JOE: I had been living in a monastic order and became increasingly more in conflict with the powers that be. I have struggled off and on over the years to understand what happened.
CALLIOPE: And you finally figured it out?
JOE: I think so. At least I have an idea. Those in charge were seeking to rediscover the roots of the order. I was on top of the tree, more interested in branches and new growth. Mutual distrust evolved from not being on the same page.
CALLIOPE: An interesting thought. How can you use it now?
JOE: Obviously it is too late to reconcile anything. But this might be a good theme for a story, or perhaps more than one.
CALLIOPE: Let's watch for one.
JOE: Sounds good for me. Talk with you tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Dark Night and Dawn

(Oak Bluffs Sunrise)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. I missed you on Saturday.
JOE: I didn't feel inspired to write.
CALLIOPE: Don't blame me. I was here waiting for you.
JOE: I know. I don't blame you.
CALLIOPE: What was it then?
JOE: As I told you, I have not felt much like writing all week and found it a struggle to get anything into words.
CALLIOPE: To what do you attribute this lack of inspiration?
JOE: It took me a while to figure it out.
CALLIOPE: Please share what you discovered.
JOE: I have been reading about the dark night of the soul as you know. Last week was not one for me as far as I know. However I have been there in the past and have worked with many people as they struggled to make sense of them.
CALLIOPE: What was the effect of reading about it?
JOE: I have come to understand the dark night as a time of putting ordinary life on hold, stepping back and reevaluating life. Just reading about it put my creative thoughts on hold for a while.
CALLIOPE: How long do you expect this to last?
JOE: I awoke at 4:30 this morning my mind brimming with creative ideas. I guess it's over now. Talk with you tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Gentle on My Mind

(Sunset on the Allegheny River)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Looking forward to the warmth and sunshine promised by today's forecast.
CALLIOPE: Nothing special on your mind today?
JOE: Nope. It's nice to feel at peace with nothing nagging at me.
CALLIOPE: Do you only write when something is bothering you?
JOE: Good question. I hadn't thought of it that way before.
CALLIOPE: Do you have an answer?
JOE: For the most part, I think I only write when I think something needs to be changed. Sometimes I write about things or people I appreciate.
CALLIOPE: Other that the weather, what else do you appreciate about today?
JOE: A sense of prosperity in troubled times, being at peace in my relationship, having the freedom to do whatever I want to today with no expectations placed on me and endless possibilities for how I spend my time.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like you're in a fortunate position.
JOE: I think so. I wish I could find a way to share it with others.
CALLIOPE: I think you just did.
JOE: I guess you're right. Talk with you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Prosperity in Perspective

(Gull at Niagara Falls)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Fine. Our travels the last couple days resulted in Carol finding a new car for a reasonable price.
CALLIOPE: Glad to hear it. What did you learn from the process?
JOE: Good question. I think I learned a few things about prosperity.
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: Several years ago I retired from my psychology practice to focus entirely on my writing.
CALLIOPE: How does prosperity fit in?
JOE: When I retired, I realized I would have much less money to live on. I thought about this as Carol bought a new car. I don't know if I will ever be in a position to do so myself.
CALLIOPE: Does that bother you?
JOE: Sometimes it nags at me. I don't have oceans of money at my disposal and can't always do things I would like to do.
CALLIOPE: Is there another side to it?
JOE: I am freed from pursuing money. I have enough to live on and provide my basics as well as some left over for our travels.
CALLIOPE: Are you okay with that?
JOE: Most of the time. Sometimes I wish I had more money to pursue my interests. I usually come back to realize that oodles of money don't always make people happy. Usually I can accept the life I have chosen. Talk with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Dancing with My Grandmother

(My Grandmother)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: I woke up with a smile on my face.
CALLIOPE: Where did it come from?
JOE: I dreamed about my grandmother last night.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about it.
JOE: She died in 1966 and I was not able to go to her funeral. I lived at her house for the first three years of my life. In my dream, she was at a party in my current life. I danced with her creating joy in both of us.
CALLIOPE: A nice memory.
JOE: Also a fantasy. I don't remember ever dancing with her when she was alive.
CALLIOPE: Fantasies are the foundation of art in my opinion.
JOE: I share that opinion with you. Much of art is based on dark fantasies and memories as a way of resolving leftover conflicts.
CALLIOPE: I can't argue with you there.
JOE: I think pleasant fantasies and memories provide optimism to carry us through difficult times.
CALLIOPE: No argument there either.
JOE: I guess I'll take my fantasies and get on with the day. Talk with you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Reorienting

(Paphiopedalum Orchid)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Working on getting my life back in perspective.
JOE: I was excited about the prospect of starting soon with AmeriCorps and getting involved with people on a volunteer basis.
JOE: I explored the options and have come to the conclusion that the position I most want will not be available until October.
CALLIOPE: Are you disappointed?
JOE: A little. I was hoping to get on with it. But I don't want to jump into something that would be less satisfying just for the sake of doing it.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like you are finally developing some patience.
JOE: It's about time. I am learning that I don't have to make things happen. Life has its own pace and every situation has its opportunities.
CALLIOPE: Which are?
JOE: That's a good question. I am in the middle of several writing projects. Perhaps the message is for me to finish them before starting a new adventure.
CALLIOPE: Perhaps.
JOE: I'll get back to work on them while I'm waiting. Talk with you tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- New Horizons

(Sunset over Provincetown)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. I trust you had a nice Easter.
JOE: I did. Carol and I took a long walk exploring the hidden beauties of Leroy.
CALLIOPE: What else did you do?
JOE: I read some of Thomas Moore's Dark Nights of the Soul.
CALLIOPE: Did this relate to your exploration of AmeriCorps?
JOE: Unexpectedly yes.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about it.
JOE: I have discovered the possibility of a placement at our local arts council but have not had a chance to explore it yet.
CALLIOPE: How did that relate to your reading?
JOE: I found a passage in Moore's book which fit my search nicely. "The most important thing is to become more acquainted with the realm of art, religion and dream, where images are not merely cerebral but are rooted in the human imagination and in deep-seated emotions."
CALLIOPE: Interesting that you should encounter such a quote.
JOE: Serendipitious, I would say. My writing has focused on my own and others' thoughts and not sought so much to include other realms of personal experience. Maybe that's what has been missing in my writing.
CALLIOPE: Could be.
JOE: I will sit with this idea a while and see what happens. Talk with you tomorrow.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Exploring Opportunities

(Antique Cognac Still- Herez, Spain)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Still sorting out yesterday's events.
CALLIOPE: Please explain.
JOE: As you know, I signed up for AmeriCorps yesterday and considered one position.
CALLIOPE: I recall.
JOE: The position I considered appeared to be an all consuming one. I would have to put the rest of my life on hold while I pursued it.
CALLIOPE: Too much for you?
JOE: Exactly. I am looking for more balance in my life, not a total change.
CALLIOPE: So you're not ready to give up your writing efforts?
JOE: Not after all I have invested. But I wouldn't mind contributing to society some of what I have learned.
CALLIOPE: How would you do it?
JOE: My idea was to work with teens on creative writing, but there do not appear to be a project opening with this specific focus, at least around here.
CALLIOPE: So now what?
JOE: I will explore what might be available in the arts and focus on creativity. Talk with you on Monday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Comnmunity Service

(Ganandagan Festival Parade)

JOE: Good afternoon Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon Joe. Where have you been?
JOE: Exploring community service opportunities.
JOE: I told you I was feeling a little confined just staying home writing and applying for AmeriCorps. Today I visited one of their participating sites and formalized my application as well.
CALLIOPE: What did you learn?
JOE: The rules for one thing. I won't bore you with the details. I did explore one project which fits my interests.
CALLIOPE; Tell me about it.
JOE: It is a project which tracks patterns of people involved in the criminal justice system.
CALLIOPE: Is that it?
JOE: No. The other part is to find funding to develop programs to meet the needs of the people identified.
CALLIOPE: Sounds ambitious.
JOE: That's what I thought. It would mean a full time commitment, perhaps a bit more than I am ready for.
CALLIOPE: So now what?
JOE: I will spend some time thinking about it and perhaps exploring some other alternatives. Talk with you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Appearing on the Radio


JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How did the radio show go?
JOE: Quite well I thought.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about it.
JOE: I have appeared on the radio before. Although I was not sure exactly what to expect, I didn't feel nervous.
CALLIOPE: What put you at ease?
JOE: I arrived early and watched the interview before mine. I had also met Wanda Frank, the host of the show and knew her style.
CALLIOPE: What happened on the air?
JOE: She asked me to introduce myself and my book, Navigating Life.
CALLIOPE: Then what?
JOE: I had sent her a brochure before the show and she chose several points I had outlined to explore further.
CALLIOPE: Anything else?
JOE: She wanted to know what were the major influences in what I write now.
CALLIOPE: What did you tell her?
JOE: I had been thinking about this on the way to the show. I told her I had nine years in the seminary and monastery to think about life, especially my own. Then I worked for thirty-five years as a psychologist helping people make sense of their lives. All in all, a good experience. Talk with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Radio Publicity

Whale Mural- Robert Wyland

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. What are you up to today?
JOE: In a couple hours I will be appearing on a local radio talk show in Batavia.
CALLIOPE: Have you ever done that before?
JOE: I have, but not about my writing.
CALLIOPE: What's the focus today?
JOE: I will have a ten minute spot in which my book, Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage will be featured.
CALLIOPE: Not much time. How will you handle it?
JOE: It is in the hands of the interviewer Wanda Frank who has hosted the show for many years. I have met her socially at arts events. She is a respected figure in the local arts community and has directed a number of community theater musicals over the years.
CALLIOPE: What do you expect will happen?
JOE: As she put it, she will pick my brain.
CALLIOPE: And what will she find?
JOE: My reasons for writing.
CALLIOPE: Which are?
JOE: To encourage people to take charge of their lives for the communal good. Talk with you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Americorps

(Spring Blooms)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Invigorated.
CALLIOPE: On what account?
JOE: I have been thinking lately about doing something away from my computer and also about making some direct contribution to society other than writing about it.
CALLIOPE: Did you come to any conclusions?
JOE: I did. I decided to explore Americorps and sent in an application yesterday.
CALLIOPE: That's rather sudden isn't it?
JOE: I don't think so. I have been thinking about something like this and doing some research on it. Saturday I talked with my son in law who is in the program.
CALLIOPE: Does that mean you will be traveling about the country?
JOE: No. There are programs right here in Genesee County.
CALLIOPE: What interests you?
JOE: I have a couple ideas but don't know what projects are open yet. I have been thinking of doing something with teenagers or with ex-offenders.
CALLIOPE: Sounds adventurous.
JOE: I have worked with both before as a psychologist so it wouldn't be anything entirely new. I'll wait to see what they have available. Talk with you tomorrow.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Lies and Creativity

(Fantasy Sculpture Garden- Nantucket)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. I missed you on Saturday.
JOE: Sorry. I got busy early and never got back to the computer.
CALLIOPE: I guess you are entitled to a life.
JOE: I guess so. But ideas churned in my mind yesterday and woke me up very early this morning.
CALLIOPE: What's churning?
JOE: My column for next Saturday among other things.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about it.
JOE: I had a recent experience of being lied to as a way of explaining away an act of poor judgment. It made me think of all the lies I have read about in the news lately to cover tracks and avoid responsibility.
CALLIOPE: But there is another side as well?
JOE: I think so. Fiction is also a way of playing with the facts but doing so in a way to entertain and even teach from writing about what might be rather than what is.
CALLIOPE: An interesting way to put it.
JOE: I think so.
CALLIOPE: So what's the difference?
JOE: Lies are ways of deceiving others and avoiding responsibility while fiction is an imagined reality to which we can relate and use to make sense of the human condition. Talk with you tomorrow.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- A Cup of Insecurity and Humility

(Amish Buggy and Wagon)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you this morning?
JOE: In my cups.
CALLIOPE: Do you mean drunk?
JOE: No. I am continuing with Julia Cameron's Vein of Gold exercises.
CALLIOPE: Oh. And what cup do we have today?
JOE: Insecurity and Humility.
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: I won't bore or depress you with my childhood insecurities.
CALLIOPE: How about the humility part?
JOE: That might be worth exploring. I think my sense of humility developed in response to my childhood insecurities. Now I approach everything in my life including my writing in a humble way.
CALLIOPE: What does humility mean to you?
JOE: I keep myself in perspective and don't become arrogant about my abilities or opinions.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like a good trait for a writer. Do you think it keeps you from taking chances sometimes?
JOE: Perhaps. It's not always easy to keep a balance between risk and humility but I do my best. Talk with you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Renewed Creative Energy

(Oatka Creek)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Energized. But do you have to start your inspiration so early?
CALLIOPE: What do you mean?
JOE: You know exactly what I mean. The ideas you placed in my head at 4:30 this morning. I had to get up and write them down to be sure I wouldn't forget them.
CALLIOPE: I wanted to make sure I didn't forget them either. What ideas did you receive?
JOE: One was the difference between lies and creativity in dealing with literal truth. The other was whether our national bird should be the eagle, turkey or phoenix.
CALLIOPE: That's exactly what I remember. Do you want me to take the chance of forgetting and inspire you later in the day?
JOE: No, I just wondered. I'm ready for inspiration any time. But you sure keep me on my toes.
CALLIOPE: That's the nature of my job and our relationship.
JOE: Well said. I accept the terms. I guess I can always go back to bed later if you wear me out.
CALLIOPE: Glad you understand.
JOE: I think we understand each other. Talk with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Dross to Gold

(Dunkirk Golden Sunset)

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. How are you today?
JOE: Continuing to focus on the positive.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about it.
JOE: Julia Cameron suggested an exercise in which I listed ten criticisms that tended to paralyze me in the past.
CALLIOPE: That doesn't sound too positive.
JOE: I'm not done. Then I considered them for hidden positive elements they might contain.
CALLIOPE: That's more like it. Then what?
JOE: I listed them on a decorated page and will post it above my computer.
CALLIOPE: What were they?
JOE:Radical thinker, unconventional, flexible, nurturing, different from the herd, free from control by money, divergent thinker, carefree, provided for by God and untroubled.
CALLIOPE: How did you get to these?
JOE: It doesn't matter. I have left the criticisms behind and will take these strengths with me.
CALLIOPE: Are they just wishful thinking?
JOE: No. I have seen each one in my life and will take them with me as reminders of how I am at my best. Talk with you tomorrow.