Haiku and a bag of Fritos

haiku, fritos, valentines dayLast night, in a fit of oh-no-Valentines-Day-is-coming, I went online to the font of all DIY wisdom, Pinterest, to see if there are any new ideas for Valentines Day floating around the Internet. And you know what? I’ve discovered that the crafts that girls used to make for their boyfriends in high school are alive and well among grown women. I’m talking about personalized scrapbooks, jars of reasons why you love him, handmade photo frames.

Forgive me ladies. I know handmade is better than store-bought, and I know it’s the thought that counts, but I just don’t buy that any man (or any person, really) would want any of those things.

So then I was curious. I went over to Google to see what guys were saying women want for Valentine’s Day. I think the gifts for ladies have been pretty clearly laid out by Hallmark and similar companies, but I was curious to see what the guys said.

On a couple of lists I read? “Amp up your usual hangouts” (this appeared to be code for do nothing differently than you would normally do) and “spend the day in bed.” Fascinating.

I really think the Askmen.com gentlemen and the ladies at Pinterest should be taking each others’ V-day suggestions. There might be fewer lackluster Valentine’s Days in the world.

I gave up and went over to Twitter. Scrolling down my feed, I came across this tweet from musician Amanda Palmer.

Palmer’s tweet gets me right where I live because that sort of unapologetic, idealistic declaration is the sort of thing I feel in my soul. If I were able to reshape the world*, I would leave Valentines Day out, because for me romance doesn’t look like pink and red hearts, because companies are capitalizing on our affections and because there are a lot of people who are already lonely and don’t need Valentine’s Day to make them feel worse.

But here’s the thing – I still celebrate it.

I guess I do it because it’s expected and there is some social pressure, but that’s not the whole reason. On the one hand, I do think it’s an example of capitalism on steroids, as Christmas is. On the other, I think there’s something worthwhile underneath the avalanche of plastic pink hearts and cheap chocolates.

Because I was curious about how other people felt about the holiday, I asked people on my Facebook page how they felt. I got a range of answers – some people love V-day, some people celebrate grudgingly – but mostly I was surprised by how many people’s responses fell into a gray area. Many people celebrate in a small non-commercial way, with a special meal or with parents, children and students. One commenter wrote that’s good to celebrate love with her family. Some people celebrate alone, and cheerfully, with heart-shaped Krispy Kreme donuts. (Jealous!)

A couple of people wrote that celebration is okay, but that cherishing a relationship year-round is more important.
“It’s awfully easy to make the romantic gesture, it’s much harder to maintain a consistent kindness,” commented writer Elizabeth Hilts.

And they are all correct. Maybe that’s why I can’t pull a Palmer and leave the holiday alone for good. Because Valentine’s Day exists, and it’s nice to celebrate love in a small way, even if it’s far more important to celebrate love year-round. I’d love to get some more input on this, if anyone wants to comment below.

Anyhow, unlike Palmer, we are celebrating this year although not in a Pinterest or Askmen.com kind of way. Not that I bought anything with a red or pink heart on it, either. Instead I’m falling back on my tried and true plan for Valentine’s Day, one which has gotten me through many a V-day: a haiku and a bag of Fritos.

It’s much less effort than a scrapbook and he seems to like it. And I’m willing to bet that when I wake up tomorrow, he’ll be there holding out his standard Valentine’s Day offering: breakfast with a side of haiku.

*Actually I think the only people served by this holiday are people who have been dating for less than three months. Because that’s when Valentine’s Day is appropriate, when a person is wracked by endorphins, infatuation and insecurity. If I reshaped the world I would institute mandatory Valentine’s Days for every couple on their three-month anniversary. 

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Scavenger Hunt, Day 7: The List of Craig

It’s day seven of the scavenger hunt and I want you to scour the Internet for today’s mission.

The protagonist in Beware the Hawk is a courier for a secret anti-government group called The Resistance. She found this job by responding to an intriguing ad on Craigslist. So today I’d like you to find an intriguing ad on Craigslist. It doesn’t have to be for a secret agency. It can be anything you find interesting or mysterious or  nefarious or just plain awesome.

Then tweet the link to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.

Speaking of which, let’s look at the results of yesterday’s mission, which was to write a haiku about a bird of prey. I’m excited to report that I had several submissions, and all of them are very different. Here they are, in order of receipt:

Mary-Jo Bates, who offers a different take on what a bird of prey is:

Robin feet in dirt
Worm hold lost
Flesh into flesh.

Esteemed poet Heidi St. Jean, sticking with the “hawk” theme:

Hawk stands tall on pine,
never wavering in wind –
breathes in warm mouse scent.

Alena Dillon, bemoaning the loss of her snack to a Long Island bird of prey:

It stole my pizza
and dropped it in the ocean
I so hate seagulls

Erin Skelly Cameron, with a requiem for a mouse:

Field mouse frolicking,
Beware the hawk swooping down!
Oh, no – no more mouse.

I was sort of sad that no one wrote a haiku about this kind of bird of prey, but that's just me.

Scavenger Hunt, Day Six: The haiku challenge.

Before I share today’s challenge, a bit of news: I heard from my editor yesterday afternoon, and she tells me that I’ll be getting the proof for the physical copy of Beware the Hawk very soon!

I’m curious to see what that will look like, since Beware the Hawk is less than 50 pages long. I’ve been reading several of literature’s greatest short books lately (The House on Mango Street, The Stranger, Heart of Darkness, Turn of the Screw) and all of them are pretty slim volumes, but Beware the Hawk is shorter than all of them. That’s going to be one narrow book spine.

Because of all that shortness, today’s challenge will celebrate brevity with the shortest form of all: the haiku.

Write me a haiku about a bird of prey.

You know what a haiku is, right? Of course you do. Three lines of poetry. Line one has five syllables, line two has seven syllables and line three has five syllables. I realize this isn’t really a hunt. In fact I was planning to have you search for a haiku about a bird of prey, but writing haiku is more fun. (Although if you’d rather search for one, be my guest, just credit the poet when you submit.)

Tweet the poem to me (@ann_oconnell) with the hashtag #bewarethehawk. Or post it to my author page on Facebook.

Speaking of which, I have some neat iPhone apps to share from yesterday’s challenge.

UPDATE: Erin Skelly Cameron submitted Instagram, which is a personal favorite of mine. It’s like Twitter, but with photos. Unfortunately, it’s only available for iPhone users now, and Erin owns a Droid.

Alena Dillon of The Time is Write submitted this neat app, Star Walk. It’s a sort of augmented stargazing app. You point your phone the sky and the constellations appear. You point it at an unidentified object and it tells you what you’re looking at. That’s right – UFOs are a thing of the past. Your iPhone will ID every object in the sky. I think I might want it.

Ally Arendt of WordVagabond submitted a link to an app for writers, FIG. FIG stands for Fiction Idea Generator, and it’s a plot generator that lives in your phone. It suggests plots, genre, period, narrative voice and appears to have several other generators included including an emotion generator. That’s pretty neat, too.

Normally I just sponge off the free iPhone apps and tolerate all the advertising that comes with them, but maybe I should shell out the five bucks for these two apps. Any other suggestions, folks?