Author Archives: kristipetersenschoonover

Farewell, Poe

I am heartbroken to share that my little black cat Poe (8/17/02—07/21/20), just shy of 18, has passed.

Poe was the runt of his litter, and an ex and I rescued him from a filthy house in which he was sleeping in an oven when he was just eight weeks old. We’d already chosen the name Poe, even though the lady called him Sam. We got to the house, and he was nowhere to be found (there were like 100 cats). Tom called “Poe” and he came right to us. For the rest of his life, he always came running when I called his name.

Poe and Turkey

Poe clearly thinks the platter of Thanksgiving turkey is for him. November, 2005.

Poe was extremely intelligent, and a bit of a wisecracker—there were times I could almost see him rolling his eyes at his less-than-bright brother, Mikey. He loved his bacon, and at Thanksgiving, he was constantly sitting in an empty seat and trying to get at the turkey. He also loved cream cheese (I was prepping for a party once, left to use the restroom, came back into the kitchen, and he was rolling around in a giant bowl of it that I’d left on the counter). He also loved vanilla ice cream and frosting.

His favorite toys were a lobster stuffed with catnip, which he completely destroyed in about a week, and a set of three Frankenstein balls, two of which he also completely destroyed (the third we still have). He understood what Christmas was, was always excited for the Christmas tree, and was down there at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, waiting to see what Uncle Nathan (or Santa) had put in his stocking. At every party, he trotted around the guests like a host, and even toward the end, when he got frail, he could still leap up on the counters.

Poe and Lobster

Poe’s favorite present–a lobster stuffed with catnip. On his first birthday, August 17, 2003.

Poe didn’t take shit from any of our other cats that have come and gone over the years—in fact, he liked to mess with them on occasion—but he was fiercely protective of the weaker ones. He was actually not very cuddly at all up until the last year or so of his life—he was kind of aloof, but oddly, he liked being where the action was and loved to pose for photos—he saw me with a camera and he pretty much did whatever I wanted him to. I wish so much that he had cuddled in bed with me, but he just wasn’t that kind of cat. He was, though, a very strong guardian. If I was upset, he would always hang around me, or follow me everywhere. He hated the snow (like his Mommy), and he had been known to sip from my wine when I wasn’t looking (or so he thought) when he was younger. He also, when he was a kitten, got a real kick out of knocking my cigarettes off whatever table they were on, though he never had a problem perching right next to my ashtray.

Poe and Ghosts

With a name like Poe, he was certainly a literary cat. He loved having his photo taken. Here he is posing with one of Mommy’s favorite books, GHOSTS, in 2007.

He is predeceased by his sisters, Taffy, Muffin, and Kali (LeeLee), and a brother, Barrett. He has already informed his surviving brother, Mikey, that Mikey will get ALL THE THINGS now.

Of all the loves in my life that I’ve lost, I’ll miss you, Poe, the most. You may have been the runt of the litter, but you were a very big light in my sometimes very dark life, and you will always be my little bear.

 

HAPPY 4th OF JULY!

From our house to yours, a very happy Fourth! Stay safe and enjoy whatever it is you do with those you love!

Vintage 4th of July jewelry

This vintage jewelry–some of it dating back to the 1960s–belonged to my Italian great aunts, who had jewelry for EVERY. HOLIDAY. And then some!

Happy July–34 ORCHARD is open for submissions!

JPEG OF 34 ORCHARD ISSUE 1 COVER

The cover of the Spring, 2020 issue of 34 ORCHARD. Cover art: “Lost and Found,” by Brandon Kawashima.

34 Orchard is now open for submissions from July 1 — July 31, 2020, for our Fall Issue, to be published November 10, 2020.

Please check out our guidelines here. If you’d like to look at prior issues, our Spring issue is posted here.

We look forward to reading your work!

Like creepypastas? Listen to John Wayne Comunale’s “Trenchman”

Trenchman

Enjoy Creepypasta? Check out this intense reading of “Trenchman,” by John Wayne Comunale, in 34 Orchard‘s Spring 2020 issue! The story is scary on its own, but John’s intensity gives it that extra edge. You can watch it on YouTube here:

https://bit.ly/Trenchman

Like what you’ve heard? Get your free copy here: https://34orchard.com/issues/

In our yard, GLOBAL BIG DAY came early!

This year’s Global Big Day logo. Artwork by Luke Seitz.

Global Big Day–an annual event in which birders all over the country watch and count birds in the name of citizen science–happens at the beginning of the migration season, in early May. This year, it’s next Saturday, May 9!

Although we won’t be doing our usual driving everywhere–to parks and other places–due to the pandemic, we will definitely be participating from our own back porch. You can, too! If you’ve already got some feeders up, you’re all set. Grab your coffee, cocktails and binoculars and get ready! Here’s where to go for more info: https://ebird.org/news/global-big-day-9-may-2020

Northern Cardinals - Courtship Display

In this courtship display, a male northern cardinal feeds a female. Photo by Nathan Schoonover.

On that note, it appears the birds don’t know or care that it’s Global Big Day, because they were all here this weekend. In addition to our regulars (usually between 10 and 15 species), we had several transients, as well as new birds we hope will settle down with us for the summer. Here’s the complete list of all the birds I saw this weekend (Nathan saw a few more than I did; he spent more time outside). New-to-the-yard birds for THIS YEAR (meaning they’ve been here in prior years, but haven’t shown up yet in 2020) and transients (mostly the warblers) are in blue.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

A male rose-breasted grosbeak checks out the feast on our porch railing. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

Rose-breasted Grosbeak – M and F

Tufted Titmouse

Eastern Bluebird – M and F

American Goldfinch

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

This male eastern towhee and his girlfriend started showing up a week or two ago. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

House Sparrow

Mourning Dove

Tufted Titmouse

A tufted titmouse loses his mind over all this free fluff for his nest! Photo by Nathan Schoonover

White-throated Sparrow

Northern Cardinal – M and F; courtship display

Blue Jay

Northern Flicker

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

This pine warbler was in this feeder, like, ALL DAY LONG. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

Black-and-White Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

I was so happy to see this black-and-white warbler! We get at least one or two stopovers from this guy every year. He will usually hang around for a few days. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

Carolina Wren

Black-capped Chickadee

House Finch – M and F; courtship display

Broadwing Hawk

Chipping Sparrow

European Starling

Song Sparrow

Red-tailed Hawk

Purple Finch – M

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Red-shouldered Hawk

Hairy Woodpecker

American Crow

House Sparrow

American Redstart

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Gray Catbird

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Baltimore Oriole – M

American Robin

Eastern Phoebe

 

34 ORCHARD’S debut issue–Spring 2020–now available!

JPEG OF 34 ORCHARD ISSUE 1 COVER

The cover of the Spring, 2020 issue of 34 ORCHARD. Cover art: “Lost and Found,” by Brandon Kawashima.

The debut issue of 34 Orchard–a new dark literary fiction magazine–is now available!

With cover art by Brandon Kawashima, this issue features artists from as far away as Greece, Nigeria and the UK–as well as right here in the US–and delivers visceral work that unpacks the things we don’t want to admit are in our basements.

The downloadable PDF is designed so that it can be printed on double-sided paper for easy reading like a print magazine.

The issue is free, but there is a donation link should you choose to contribute.

Click here to get your copy!

Announcing 34 ORCHARD’s Debut Issue Table of Contents!

JPEG OF 34 ORCHARD ISSUE 1 COVER

The cover of the Spring, 2020 issue of 34 ORCHARD. Cover art: “Lost and Found,” by Brandon Kawashima.

On April 25, artists from all over the globe deliver visceral work that unpacks the things we don’t want to admit are in our basements. Announcing the Table of Contents for 34 Orchard’s Inaugural issue!

Cover Art: Lost and Found, Brandon Kawashima

Trenchman – John Wayne Comunale

Madame Rosio Holds a Séance – J. Federle

A Murder – Die Booth

Tales from a Communion Line – Yash Seyedbagheri

A Hand Against My Window – Deborah L. Davitt

Night Crier – Stephen Mark Rainey

Runner – Chrissie Rohrman

Bad Altitude – Luke Spooner, Carrion House, http://www.carrionhouse.com

Bones – Crystal Sidell

Kintsugi – Page Sullivan

Christmas Chicken – Ernest O. Ògúnyemí

/thestrangethingwebecome – Eric LaRocca

Laying out my dolls – Malcolm Davidson

Lust Becomes Us – Dawson M. Kiser

Like It’s A Mad Thing – Lee Ann Kostempski

the reader – Christopher Woods

The Pink Casket – Atalanti Evripidou

Dinner at the Candlestick Table – Megan Wildhood

Writing in the Time of Weirdness: How to Focus in Chaos

Bad Omen Bird

Creating art—any kind of art—demands two things: time, and focus. Right now, time, for many of us, is no longer a factor. We’re working from home or in half-empty offices where no one is calling, there aren’t any social obligations (except virtually), activities and trips are cancelled, and we’re not spending hours in the car commuting or running errands. If not all the time in the world to write, we at least have more than we did before. But what I’m hearing from many of my writing friends is this: “I’m like that guy in the Twilight Zone episode who finally had all that time to read … and his glasses broke.”

Why?

Because right now, there is no routine, no stability, no telling what the hell is going to happen tomorrow, and no hope of it ending any time soon. Anxiety, even in those who aren’t chronic sufferers, is taking over. For artists of any kind who need to have stability in the rest of their lives to create, it’s debilitating.

But there are some things writers can do to get themselves back on track.

I grew up in a completely destabilized household. Between the ages of 8 and 18, I lived my daily life at the level of anxiety, dread of the scary unknown, intense worry, and constant distraction that most “normal” people are feeling now. While my mother was dying of cancer—and then following her passing—I would come home from school every day, stand at the bottom of the porch steps, and think, What fresh hell is going to be beyond that door today? Death, contagious illness, cancelled activities because of whatever was going on, lack of food, a giant mess the kids made, the news that we had to go to Yale New Haven and sit in waiting rooms for a week, we were leaving our church and going to a different one, your brother burned down the woods again and is in jail—there was no routine. Not ever. That was my daily life. I’d wake up and have absolutely no idea what was going to happen to me or those I loved. Quite frankly, the only thing I could count on was the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

As C-19 began to spin out of control, I was, at first, in the same boat as everyone else—unfocused and crippled by the terrifying uncertainty. Then, one afternoon, I suddenly recognized what I was feeling—and it was familiar. I realized that I was uniquely qualified to keep focused and working when others couldn’t. I said, “Holy s***. I’ve been here before! I got this!” After all, despite all of that, I graduated from high school with fantastic grades, participated successfully in several after-school activities, kept up my personal hygiene and always looked put together, and managed to not only write, but complete many creative projects.

How did I do it?

I learned how to shut everything down.

If you’re a writer, I hope these tips on how to get back to work will help you. We are the chroniclers of these extraordinary happenings, the people who will tell the tales of what this was like to live through it, the people who will tell the first-person stories of the nurses, doctors, truck drivers, and others on the front lines while the rest of us were quarantined, the people who will share the stories of tragic loss and heartbreak. Our fiction, drama, poetry, and creative nonfiction will, one day, provide a snapshot of this historic event on a personal, emotional level. Honestly? Some really f***** good work is going to come out of this, whether it is actually about this situation or not.

TIPS

1 Find, or make—yes, even if your home life is now disrupted by children—the time to go into your writing office each day (if possible) and shut the door. Light a candle, put on your music, whatever it is that you normally do, as though the world isn’t losing its mind. Think of the closed door as that barrier between you and chaos. Whatever is going on beyond it? Not your problem until you emerge. You see, hear, smell, and are distracted by nothing while you are behind your door. If your “office” is in a shared space in your home, then make a temporary place in a closet, laundry room, or wherever. But it should have a door that closes. That part is very important. Also, tell the people in your household you cannot be disturbed for the hour. There is nothing that could happen in an hour—short of burning the house down or someone getting sick or bleeding to death—that they can’t handle. It can wait.

2 Set a designated time to watch the news or get C-19 updates, but don’t be checking all day long. I was writing in the early 1980s, and we didn’t have the Internet, but man, did we have TVs in every room and Atari video game systems, and believe me, it was just as tempting. This is an upsetting thing to watch unfold. Just step away from it—twice a day for ten minutes is enough to get the important things you need to know. It’s not necessary for it to be in your face every waking minute.

3 When you talk with your friends on the phone or through video conferencing, don’t dwell on what’s happening in the world. Talk, instead, about anything but: what you’re writing, what you just bought online, how your family is doing—whatever—just NOT the C-word. It’s important to feel as though life is going to carry on as normal, even if, deep down, you know it won’t. Dwelling on it makes it worse. When my mother was sick and I was living in that hell, only a handful of my closest friends knew what was happening at home, and none of us talked about it. When I was with them, when I was at school, I wanted things to feel normal. It kept me functioning and hoping for a brighter future.

4 Indulge in fantasy—check out when you can. That’s right. Sit around and day dream, think about being someplace else, and if you get the urge, write stories in which you’re the main character doing all of those things you wish you could do or being a different version of yourself. Your imagination is a powerful tool. Use it to go live the life you’ve always wanted (when I was 15 I was spending a lot of time with Indiana Jones).

5 When you’re tortured, get it out on paper. You’d be surprised how awesome spewing a bunch of emotional garbage onto a piece of paper or on a blank document makes you feel, and you might even get a story out of it.

6 Step back and realize that this, hopefully, will never happen again in our lifetimes, and watch the drama unfold as though it were not happening to you. This requires an almost disassociation with that of your physical body, but it can be done.

7 Frame the future and know that you’ll feel good again someday. Look at this time as a gift, and know that everything you do now is going to prepare you for something exciting later. Trust that the work you are doing now is important, and make it as much of a priority as you can, even as the world is heaping new demands on you and saying it isn’t. Never give up on your work or your vision of success, and believe that it will happen. All things come to an end—bad things, too.

Merry Christmas! Here’s some Christmas Tree madness to brighten your day!

My husband Nathan picked me up a couple of pairs of these glasses that turn your tree lights into funky things. Well, I promptly needed to “collect them all”—or most of them, anyway! I’ll be giving these out at my New Year’s Eve party, but I wanted to share how much fun these are with all of you.

Have a blessed Christmas and an amazing 2020!

Love,

Kristi, Nathan, Charles, and Poe and Mikey

Read the rest of this entry

Want more insight on 34 ORCHARD? Read the interview at SIX QUESTIONS FOR…

Six Questions 1

Jim Harrington’s Six Questions For… blog, which focuses on interviews with literary magazine editors, has published an interview with me as editor of 34 Orchard here: https://sixquestionsfor.blogspot.com/2019/12/six-questions-for-34-orchard.html

If you’re a writer, this is a WONDERFUL blog to read—especially if you’re wondering what goes on in editors’ heads before you submit!

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