Pat Crow knows how to bring calm from chaos. And she tells us how!

Pat Crow knows how to bring calm from chaos. Her native spirit name is “You Have Center Tail Feather Sacred Woman”. The interpretation of that is that when a bird in flight wants to stabilize itself, it uses it’s tail feathers as a rudder, so to speak. Her name reflects her ability to “surf” through chaos as if on a bird’s tail feather to being stability and calm to others. How does she do it? I asked her a few questions:

1. Did you learn this or was it natural?
2. What are the necessary steps involved?
3. Any advice for others? Warnings or hints?

Here is her response:
1.  I believe I learned this behavior, and then it became natural.  I have a propensity for seeing the big picture and recognizing what needs to happen to calm a situation or people.  I have a laser focus that understands what needs to happen without getting caught up in the swirl.

2.  First, gather your wits about you.  Chaos doesn’t necessarily perpetuate unless it is fed or left to its own devices.
     Second, break the existing pattern in order to make changes.
     Third, replace the pattern with a sustainable and more stable one.
     Fourth, follow through.
     Fifth, follow up.

3.  Being a change agent has its rewards, and yet folks often resist change.  They like keeping their familiar patterns, they’re more comfortable than new ones.   Don’t expect accolades.  Just do the job and know you did your best. Perhaps later you will see the benefit of your efforts. 

Native New Yorker by Bibi Deitz: Part 3

I walked by my childhood apartment the other day. It’s on the corner of 12th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, above a newly out-of-business home goods store that was called Surprise, Surprise (insert any number of dry-humored jokes about the “surprise, surprise” of another long-standing business going defunct here) and catty-corner from a brand-new gourmet emporium. When I was a kid, the three neighboring corners were parking lots. Then we were woken at first light by jackhammers and the birdlike squawks of machinery in the making of NYU dorms. The campus expanded before our eyes. The corner across the street, where I learned how to ride a bike, became a place where undergrads in woolen hats congregated to smoke Camels in the cold, sheltered somewhat by the dorm’s red-bricked facade.

Gourmet markets are no longer relegated to the snootier neighborhoods, places of pastry reverence and salmon worship, but instead live like denigrated gods among men, often finding unlikely homes in bodegas in Brooklyn of late. When we lived on 12th Street, my mother and I frequently took the fifteen-minute walk to Balducci’s on 9th Street and 6th Avenue to buy De Cecco rotelle and farfalle (wheels and bowties to me), fragrant cheese and delicate cuts of Dover sole. There were often tiny cut samples of raisin cake or crumbles of crunchy chocolate chip cookies at eye-level on tall glass counters, and my mother would sometimes let me have a bitesize snack. 

Back then, our neighborhood was sketchy. There was nothing posh about the punks on St. Mark’s four blocks down or the bums lining the Bowery farther south. Tompkins Square Park was a tent city and Union Square was just a slight notch more refined. We would have been hard-pressed to find a water cracker or petit-four within a ten-block radius. Perhaps I exaggerate a bit—Open Pantry, one of the sole remaining businesses that existed back then, carried soy milk and soft ur-granola bars full of chewy raisins back when “vegan” was still pronounced “vay-gan” and no one had even heard of gluten, much less considered going without it. 

The other lasting mainstay is Angelica’s Kitchen, which is still tucked in the next block over, on 12th just east of 2nd Avenue. Their dragon bowls are still on offer, but their price has quadrupled, from $4-ish to now $16. According to a friend who frequents the place, the menu has recently become even more expensive because of raised rents, and the restaurant’s lease is in jeopardy. 

It’s understandable that prime real estate that used to house parking lots has been guzzled by NYU, and that one no longer needs to trek west (or north) to find lox or quinoa or whatever rarefied food one’s heart desires, but the idea of the disappearance of a perennial commodity like Angelica’s is hard to fathom. I have accepted that the East Village of yore is no longer the neighborhood in which I grew up. I’ve said goodbye to the Carnegie Deli and Ben & Jerry’s, tiny thrift shops full of old silk dresses and a particularly special camera store on 3rd Avenue that used to be our supplier of high-speed film and flash bars, which came in foil packaging and provided ten satisfying pops of light.

I am not sure, however, if I am ready to bid adieu to Angelica’s, or Open Pantry, or the two movie theaters of my childhood that have survived: Village East and Cinema Village, or “Cin Vil,” as my family called it, where I saw countless films both mainstream and independent over the course of my youth. 

As a native city dweller who now lives in Brooklyn, I’ve embraced the culture of what my family once considered an outer borough. The pace of Prospect Heights, my neighborhood, is akin to that of the East Village in the ‘90s. In the summer, I am often lulled to sleep by marimba and the smell of pot fills my block, corner to corner. People are always out on the street, yelling to each other and grilling pork on charcoal grills, their kids playing basketball in the street or racing up and down like tiny sprinters or splashing in the gush of an open hydrant. 

When I was young enough to run shrieking through sprinklers (I was never allowed to roll up my jeans and play in the hydrants, though I would have liked to do so), Prospect Heights was dangerous. I doubt there were many kids running free back then. The one time my mother accidentally took my brother and me to this part of Brooklyn on the subway, after a missed stop, she acted like she’d taken our lives in her hands (and she may well have). So, then, the circle of neighborhood life: The vibe of what was once the artsy and dangerous East Village has now traveled southeast to Brooklyn—first Williamsburg and Bushwick, trickling down to places like Crown Heights, Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy and other parts of my area. In another twenty years, it’s possible that these places will be too fancy. Maybe Queens will be the place then. Maybe father uptown. 

Or maybe—ashes to ashes, dust to dust—the East Village will have another time to shine. I don’t think so, though—there’s a magic hour to neighborhoods in the city, a gloaming in the years before heavy gentrification when artists move in to nest and procreate—as my parents did in the late ‘70s—before developers get on the bandwagon and build towers of glass and steel. 

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3 Questions on Poetry for Meg Eden

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
I think a fluid/natural relationship—I try to not think about it too much. I draw a lot of inspiration from the biblical psalms in this way I think, and the idea of a selah, or pause. When I want to breathe in a poem, where there needs to be some break between ideas or a pause for processing, that’s part of how I know to end a line. So I guess that’s to say that for me, lines are more for practical than aesthetic use. 

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
This is a super interesting idea—and I’ve had to really sit on this question because I’m not actually sure for myself. Yes, there is a relationship between words, writing and the body, but I”m not sure fully how to describe my own connection. I definitely know people where this is more true for them than others—and the human body is an obsession for all of us as poets. I think the closest way I can answer this is that writing has become a bodily function for me—like breathing, peeing, and crying—it’s a natural reaction to circumstances. This was much truer when I was younger. I was very easily overstimulated and wouldn’t understand what was causing it—and especially when I was in a group I would feel an urgent need to get away from everyone, to pull out my notebook and write. It was very therapeutic for processing what I was thinking and feeling. I was delayed with learning to speak—I was about three when I started to speak. For the longest time since then, speech felt like an unnatural form of expression to me. Writing came much more naturally. So writing is certainly a way that I figure out what’s going on in my body, that my body can translate its experiences and try to better understand them. And if I don’t write for a long time, it’s a similar feeling to a leg cramping from sitting to long, it’s something that I feel physically compelled to do. 

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
When I have tables at book fairs, I feel like I have to apologize for being a poet! I think my only dislike about being a poet is that our culture doesn’t read poetry naturally. And on my own, I can’t fully explain that my poetry is narrative, that it really isn’t that scary, that I’m a novelist as well so I understand writing in a way that’s attainable for anyone—and I think that’s what aggravates me so much in being a poet! People judge the work before they even look at it! People will say, “Oh sorry I’m not smart enough for poetry” and bullcrap like that. What does that even mean? Not smart enough for poetry? If anything, I’d think poetry would be more popular in our technology, immediacy time. Poems are short. You can go through a book of poems much faster than novels. Yes, there might be arguably more digesting in poetry, but it’s like anything—you get out of it what you put into it. I’d think there’d be lots of skimmers of poetry like there’s so many skimmers of novels. But we live in weird times. So I think if I could change anything about being a poet, I’d want to change what it means culturally to be a poet—if that counts 🙂

Meg Eden’s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Eleven Eleven, and Rock & Sling. Her work received second place in the 2014 Ian MacMillan Fiction contest. Her collections include  “Your Son” (The Florence Kahn Memorial Award), “Rotary Phones and Facebook” (Dancing Girl Press) and “The Girl Who Came Back” (Red Bird Chapbooks). She teaches at the University of Maryland. Check out her work at: 

How To Give A Hug by Do Mi Stauber

Mmm. Let’s see.

Context: you see someone you care about!
Instructional steps: Hee hee, funny to do this for a hug.
1. Make sure the person wants to have a hug with you. If they come towards you with their arms wide open, you’re good. Otherwise ask: “Do you want a hug?” “Can I hug you?”
2. Open arms wide.
3. One arm over the shoulder, the other arm around the waist.
4. During the hug, be exquisitely sensitive to signals. People like to hug in different ways; follow their lead.
5. If your person is an enthusiastic close hugger, enfold them close, sink into them a little.
6. Take at least one good breath while you’re hugging.
7. Feel how you care for them.
8. Pat them on the back while you’re still hugging.
9. If at any moment they start to release you, let go.
10. Release with a big smile and maybe a cheek kiss if they’re that kind of person.