Book Launch Party

Here is the poster for my book launch party.  The poster was designed by my friend Kim Teasdale of The Painted Poppy Studio on Facebook.

Robin Poster Blk

For those of you on Facebook, click here for the Event page.  For those of you on Facebook who are unable to attend the event in Nanaimo, B.C., I am also having a virtual book party.  On launch day October 11, I will be posting links to where you can purchase my book, as well as some poetry sneak peeks.  Please join me for this titillating event!

A book is on its way

It seems I have been quiet on this blog for nearly two months.  That is because I have been prepping my first full-length book of poetry for publication!  The book is titled Sore: fantasies and inhibitions.  It is a collection of poetry about love, relationships, fantasies, sex, and the emotional roller coaster all these things entail.

Now that the bulk of the book work is done, I am concentrating on the marketing.  I am planning a fabulous book launch party for October.  Stay tuned to this blog for more info and for links to where you can purchase my book!

At least you have a job

I wrote this post on April 24, 2013 but did not publish it on my blog until now.  This issue is increasingly on my mind, and I have edited and added to this post to reflect that fact.

At least you have a job.

People throw that phrase around as if it should be enough.  If you are deeply unhappy in your job, or if it leaves you too exhausted for the things (not to mention the people) you love, or if it is meaningless or boring work?  Hey, at least you have a job!  At least you are making money.

And if you have a job or three and still are barely scraping by?  And if you work six days a week only to face bankruptcy?  And if your employer intentionally keeps your hours just shy of full-time so s/he doesn’t have to give you benefits?  Hey, at least you have a job.

This thinking is wrong.

It is not enough just to have a job!  Why should it be enough just to have a job?

I can think of several reasons for this thinking/attitude.  One reason is Welfare.  Welfare looms up like a great face of shame in our culture.  It’s all well and good for people to say welfare is there for those who need it, but even a short glimpse on social media shows a different attitude.  Take for example the meme going around that declares all welfare recipients (or would-be recipients) should have to pass a urine drug test in order to receive welfare.  The rationale for this is given that (some) jobs require urine drug tests.  To me, this meme shows a belief that many welfare recipients are drug addicts.

Besides that single meme, the overall image is of the welfare recipient as lazy, not wanting to work, addicted to one substance or another, and having children s/he can’t afford to keep.  To be on welfare is to be a failure.  To be on welfare, to ask for help, to need support is seen as a sign of weakness, which is deemed a bad thing.

Another reason for this attitude is the American dream.  The American dream is that if anyone works hard enough, s/he can be wealthy/have a home/have kids/have any of the multitude of consumer goods available.  It is a lie.  Even Helen Keller, the woman we Americans learn as children to be this shining example of overcoming adversity, knew this dream to be a lie:  (quoted from the book Midstream:  My Later Life by Helen Keller in the book Lies My Teacher Told Me:  Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen © 1995)

“I had once believed that we were all masters of our fate—that we could mould our lives into any form we pleased….I had overcome deafness and blindness sufficiently to be happy, and I supposed that anyone could come out victorious if he threw himself valiantly into life’s struggle.  But as I went more and more about the country I learned that I had spoken with assurance on a subject I knew little about.  I forgot that I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment…Now, however, I learned that the power rise in the world is not within the reach of everyone.”

For this idea that is the American dream and this fear/shame of welfare and other reasons, we have told ourselves that having a job that kills the light inside us is enough.

Why can’t having a job that pays a living wage and is ethical/meaningful/fun be enough?

At least you have a job you love.  At least you are paid enough for a job you love (or, at least, like).  At least you have a job that fills you with joy.

Why have we deemed happiness to be so unimportant in an area of our lives that takes up so much of our time and energy?

If life is so short, as the clichés spout, why should we spend so much of it so desperately unhappy?

We created these systems of work and jobs and capitalism and consumerism.  It’s time we created something better.

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I lost my first pregnancy.  Several times over the past year, I considered posting about this experience.  In particular, I considered posting about it when my home state of Ohio passed more restrictions on abortion.

Early in the week of June 11, 2004, I discovered I was pregnant while on the Pill.  We were training for a new job on Vancouver Island at the time and had no family physician.  We went to a walk-in clinic, and the pregnancy was confirmed.  My spouse asked me what I wanted to do.  I considered my options only briefly.  I wanted this baby.  I have known for many years that I want to be a mother.  Despite the poor timing, I wanted this baby.

A few days later, I woke up to what felt like the worst gas pain ever, particularly in the left side of my body.  I could not get out of bed to do our training for the day and, of course, it was the day our employer was showing up to introduce himself and to see how our training was going.  After several hours, I managed to pull myself out of the bed, take ibuprofen, get ready, and go meet the boss; I told my spouse that if the pain didn’t go away by the end of the day, we needed to go to the ER.  At the end of the day, to the ER we went.

The ER doctor did an exam and took some blood tests.  However, the lab was really busy that evening, and I was not able to get my test results then.  I was told that sometimes there can be pain in early pregnancy but that I was still pregnant.  An ultrasound was arranged for the Friday; I was offered an ultrasound on Friday or Monday and, as we were moving north island to our job that weekend, I chose Friday.

After the ultrasound that Friday, as we waited for results, the technician told me the radiologist wanted to look at the ultrasound live.  A sinking feeling set in.  My spouse tried to be optimistic, suggesting that perhaps I was having twins.

No such luck.

What I was having was an ectopic pregnancy.  My six-week old embryo had implanted in my left fallopian tube.  An emergency laparoscopy was set up that evening.  Our surgeon was very good, in that he allowed my spouse and I considerable time alone while he prepared for surgery.  I wept.  In the end, I wanted it over with.  I didn’t want to be pregnant if there was no chance for it.

After the surgery, I was put in a surgery overflow room…down the hall from the maternity ward.  I shared the room with three elder women.  The next morning, I heard them talking to the nurses about “all the babies” who had been born the previous night.  I remember one nurse declaring, “It’s Baby Season!”  That hurt so much.  I don’t think they knew.  They didn’t think.  I was grateful for the curtains separating me from the rest of the room, because I wept.

It was decided I could be discharged from the hospital that day or wait until our surgeon was back on the Sunday.  I chose the early discharge.  Before I was discharged the Head Nurse mentioned something about me having my tube removed during the surgery.  Of course, I had known that was a possibility; it was on the surgical waiver I had signed.  However, no one had told me they had had to remove it.  I was shocked.  When the doctor came to discharge me, I heard him talking to the Head Nurse outside the room.  She told him, “She doesn’t know they removed the tube.”

This knowledge added an extra bit of trauma to an already traumatic experience.  My left tube was gone.  It had partially ruptured.  My embryo-baby and one of my tubes were gone.

I left the hospital to a new job (talk about poor timing) and pain from the staples under my stomach.  It turned out that the surgeon had planned on removing the staples on Sunday.  Instead, I ended up having them in for two or three weeks until I found a physician in our new city who removed them.  (I found out about the plan to remove the staples when I phoned the surgeon sometime later to get more information about the whole pregnancy/surgery for my peace of mind.)

In the months of grief that followed, I did a number of creative things to grieve.  One thing I did was name the baby:  Dorian Crescent.  Another thing I did was type up a death announcement, print it out, and send it to family and friends.  I needed others to know, needed to share this moment, needed support (especially as we were in a new city where we knew no one).  I wrote poetry about the loss.  I also looked up images online of embryos at the same stage as my lost embryo and experimented with watercolours.  Here are a couple of the paintings I did:

embryo1

(This first picture was used in the death announcement.)

embryos

(This picture was an experiment in the form of the embryo and the expression of emotions via colour.)

During this time, I did a lot of soul-searching.  I had considered myself pro-choice up until this point.  This loss made me question that position.  I viewed this embryo as my baby from very early on.  With that being the case, could I be okay with abortion?  In the end, I remained pro-choice.  I had many reasons for remaining thus.

I didn’t have much choice in the termination of this pregnancy, though.  End the pregnancy or let the tube fully rupture and let me bleed to death internally?  There is no fairness in that kind of choice.

I still believe women have the right to choose whether to allow a pregnancy to develop, regardless whether they made stupid mistakes in getting pregnant or whether they were raped or whether their birth control failed or whatever reason they have.   Seeing restrictions pass on abortion throughout the States this past year has filled me with dread, especially as the goal for politicians seems to be to abolish abortion in all cases.  This issue is complicated, no doubt about it.  Women can have another living being develop and grow within them.  It is an amazing, terrifying, and powerful thing.  Who gets to choose how it goes?

The thing about choice is that it’s not just one choice.  Some women choose abortion.  Some women choose to go through with the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption.  Some women choose to go through with the pregnancy, give birth, and raise the baby.  Some women choose to live because the baby is not viable and/or is not going to develop and grow.

As painful as it was, as sad as it still makes me feel as I type these words about my lost Dorian, abortion saved my life.

coming to terms with Taiji

A few nights ago, I watched the documentary The Cove.  It was such a horrifying, important film.  I still have not processed all I’ve seen.  This poem I wrote a couple days ago is my first attempt at making sense of such a morally bankrupt, heart-breaking thing we humans are allowing to continue five YEARS after the release of this film.

Eyes Open

I am bleeding Taiji
thousands of screams gone silent
the red sea   the red sea
the last of our humanity,
salt in the wound,
vanishing in the gleam of a dozen spears
the sound of hundreds and thousands
of dollars shuffling
the blackout of media too scared to see
see     sea     see the red sea
the blood sea     the dead
hauled by rope and boat
mystery meat at the market
mercury in the blood      nature’s revenge
our innocents eaten, too
and hidden by signs     by screams
by unmarked police cars tailing
what don’t you want us to see?
see    see    the bleeding in Taiji.

© 2014 by Robin A. Sams

A note on tradition

Just because something is a tradition does not mean that it is right or that it cannot be changed.  If a tradition is morally wrong, it is imperative that we thinking, living beings change it.

NaPoWriMo #30

Happy National Poetry Month as the month and another NaPoWriMo draws to a close.  Here is my final poem for NaPoWriMo 2014:

tick tick ticking
tick tick ticking
a headache on the verge of being
tick tick ticking
tick tick ticking
a crocodile out of the storybook
jaws snapping for human flesh
killing craving
tick tick ticking
tick tick ticking
a lost night’s sleep whisking
away in the wind
tick tick ticking
tick tick ticking
fumbling in the dark
for the lungs and the eye dirt
a clock rolling under the bed.

© 2014 by Robin A. Sams

NaPoWriMo #29

I eat poetry.
I devour words.

I do not
live and breathe it.

Fat with free verse and formals,
iambic pentameter keeping
time in my veins,
my mouth wet with confessionals,
I do not stop   will not stop

the taste of time on my tongue
it could make me immortal       perhaps

another book, another feast
it never sates.

© 2014 by Robin A. Sams

NaPoWriMo #28

Prod

That little voice that says
“you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid
drunk   drunk the Kool-Aid now”
insensitive as it is,
it is the grain of salt that keeps me
from falling into faith
completely
whatever faith it is
it keeps me right on thinking
long after you’ve locked the door.

© 2014 by Robin A. Sams

NaPoWriMo #27

Three days left of NaPoWriMo.  How the month has flown!  Here’s today’s poem:

The dog’s strangled cries pour out
across the parking lot
a lonely, protective sound
a near-howl echoing.
Scan the miles of cars,
machines shining and withering in the clouded light,
parked       sated for a moment.
Come back.    You only need me
only need me       love I have to give.
Come back!  You don’t need
plastic bags.
You cannot find the dog
find the heart
the consumptive cries.

© 2014 by Robin A. Sams

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