Throwback Thursday: How to Write Poetry

I’ve been asked for feedback on poetry a few times, a task I found amusing since I’d begged others for the same in the past. Art is very subjective. Art is also only so when the majority of people agree, when it takes skill, and when it’s not someone peeing in jar and taking a picture of it.

On that note, please enjoy my informative blog post on how to write poetry, first published October 1, 2017.

A Muse, The Blues, Some Clues -AKA How to Write Poetry

 

Lo! What light, what cackling sun
Burns your eyes?
It laughs as you run;
Jumping, grasping, to
Catch the poem…

If you thought that was bad, you were right. I literally wrote that without any thought, direction, or meter. I took about fifteen seconds.

Don’t get me wrong -sometimes people like that crap. Sometimes the Crap Off the Cuff really isn’t bad. However, poetry is just like any other crafted item: the more practice you have at your skill, the better anything you make will be.
Translation: those who are experts can write a decent impromptu poem, and the stuff they worked longer on is even better.

So, *ahem.* Let’s stop mucking about and finally jump into A Few Steps for Writing Poetry:

1. Don’t.
Seriously, there are already a lot of good poets out there who have already written your idea in a better way. Thanks to Google, you can probably find it.
There are also a lot of terrible poets who have murdered your idea and now it’s bleeding by the side of the road begging people to stop clicking that they Like it.

2. Still determined? Good! You’ve passed the first test: that of true motivation for verse. I feel that motivation, a muse, hangover, emotional distress, late-night deadlines -whatever your name is for it- are vital to writing a poem.
Even if you don’t have a clear subject or good structure, the sheer determination to express what you feel will squeeze something out.

3. Actual Guidelines
So… there is this type of meter I poked fun at initially. It’s called free verse. Let me tell you, from my extremely limited experience, that freely versing can be a BAD idea. It’s the commando version of creative writing, and needs a brave, strong, experienced writer to handle it.
My recommendation, therefore, is to follow a meter. No, you don’t have to go full-out iambic pentameter. Only do so if you wish to be counting on your fingers and looking up rhymes for “depressed” all evening.
A good start is to come up with a few lines in your mind, then count the syllables (and pattern of stress/non-stress) and roughly follow that for the remaining lines.

4. Stress and Non-stress
Really quickly: this is where we put the emphasis on our words when we speak. I threw it in here because I mentioned it in the previous step, and you might be scratching your head over it.
Sometimes, I write a poem and there is one line that is really bugging me. Usually, it’s because I followed my syllable count, but did not follow normal speech rules of emphasis.
Because of that, the syllable count is actually off. Readers (including you) will do a mental glottal stop to be able to stress the words where we are accustomed to.

5. To Rhyme, or Not Some Thyme?
This one is up to you. I mostly rhyme for mine, every other line.
The length of each line and how often you rhyme (every single ending word, halfway through, every other, or randomly) will determine whether your poem feels like a poem, Dr. Seuss, or a rap song.
Keep in mind that even Seuss mixed things up a bit. One of my favorite stanzas in The Cat in the Hat is:

So, as fast as I could,
I went after my net.
And I said, “With my net
I can get them I bet.
I bet, with my net,
I can get those Things yet!”*

Try it; it’s fun to read through.

6. Word Choice
Let’s say you want to emote about love and loss of said love. You are going to make us all feel something different than affection if you literally use the word “love” more than about three times. Sometimes, my limit is even one.
This is where your friend, Mr. Thesaurus, comes in. I mentioned this in my How to Not Suck at Writing rant as well, because it’s really important.
Let’s say you’re not that into synonyms. Too much woooorrrrkkk.
You will sound way more mysterious and intelligent if you do it. Like, “I loved and lost and lost my love” could become “Adored, then absent; Carelessly cherished.”

7. More Word Choice
Poetry is all about obscurity. Even when it’s a straightforward tale of a path diverging in the forest, everyone still says the poem is about something deeper.
So, use your new thesaural friend to obfuscate your terms, or make the simple description of your plush tiger on the shelf sound like it represents your childhood memories of being abandoned.

8. Practice and Preparedness
This goes for anything, but especially creative writing.
Read other poets, and copy their style. Keep a notebook to jot down random lines that come to you on the train. Try, try, try again. Everything you read and write will give you experience.

Now, go! Make the world a poetic place.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens
*from The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss. All rights and copyrights, etc. apply

Throwback Thursday: Hello, My Name Is

This was my very first post. I agonized over it, edited it, and squinted my eyes as I finally pushed “Publish.” It first arrived on June 25, 2017.

Enjoy.

—–

“Welcome to our little engagement.” A middle-aged woman smiled up at me. She was dressed like a 50’s commercial of a housewife at an evening ball. “Please, find your name tag and join the group.” She gestured to the table in front of her with a well-veined hand ending in Avon-pink fingernails. Her smile was practiced and her actions just slightly exaggerated.

I glanced over my shoulder, expecting to see a camera crew. But, no; there was just a normal wall, various potted artificial trees posted at two unobtrusive doors, and an empty, dark hallway beyond the open doors.

I turned back to the white tablecloth of name tags with their friendly hostess. She smiled graciously again, waiting. Looking down at the options, I was not certain which name was mine. What sort of party am I at? I wondered as I read over them.

“Perhaps,” the woman began, reaching forward and brushing slightly against her rose corsage, “This one, dear.” She picked up a sticker and proffered it to me in the light grip of those nails. I took it, read it, nodded slightly at her expectant look, and adhered it to my chest. She held out her hand for the backing, and smiled up at me as she disposed of it somewhere behind the rectangular table and her folding chair.

“Refreshments will be served in half an hour. Please enjoy yourself before then.” I had been dismissed. She stared at the doors behind me, where I could hear the sounds of more guests approaching. I took one last look at her vintage updo; large, starburst earrings; and rouged cheek. Then, I stepped around the table and into the room beyond.

Intentionally-dim lighting shadowed a small open area with more of those artificial ficus clumped artistically round the walls. A few other women were standing idly: one, drawing a drink near a white tableclothed food area; two chatting with feigned reactions of hilarity at the opposite end of the table; a final woman looking pensive as she meditated on the fine silk leaves of the east wall’s foliage.

I walked slowly toward the drink area as well, though I was not really thirsty. I tried to walk in a way that looked graceful and confident. I knew that I really looked barely-stable and uncertain. As if to make that point, my left toe caught on the floor and I stumbled somewhat. No one seemed to notice and I successfully drew closer.

I stopped and examined the table settings, using that as an excuse to also smooth down the cotton dress I seemed to be wearing. The punch and its drinker were to my left; the chatting women and plant-studier were to my right. A pile of clear plastic plates sat in front of me and various stratifications of empty cake plates, platters, and bowls led eventually to the conversing couple.

“Hi! I’m Confident in Public but Not in Intimate Relationships,” an unexpected voice to my left said. She was a perky and -yes- confident voice. I envied the self-assured tone and slight Southern drawl of her enunciations. Turning to see what face was associated with this introduction; I was greeted by a mid-length, auburn bob curling slightly around a friendly, open face. The hair and face were attached to a slender woman sporting a dress much like my own, in a bold shade of red instead of my pastel blue. The exact words she greeted me with were written boldly on the white square sticker attached above her left breast. She was the punch-drinking woman, and was standing next to me with a hand outstretched expectantly. Her other hand was holding a cup full of red drink.

Not having another obvious option, I took her hand. She applied just the right amount of pressure; a grip that was comfortably, confidently tight but also soft and gentle. “Ah,” she nodded, as I released her tight grip quickly, “I see.” She had read my name tag. I blushed and moved my eyes away from her direct gaze. I pretended interest in the laughing women, who took that exact moment to pause awkwardly in their falsely familiar exchange.

Confident took a sip from her cup, and studied the other women with me. She swallowed and nodded toward them. “That’s More Creative Than Logical and Talks Too Loud. They’re fun. You should go introduce yourself.” She studied my tag again, and generously added, “I’ll go with you.”

She started forward purposefully, and I trailed behind. I tried to imitate her gait without looking like the circus monkey I was certain I resembled.

“Hi, Creative. Hi, Loud,” Confident greeted the women. They smiled and turned to Confident expectantly. “Anything happen while I’ve been gone?” She teased. They laughed; Loud’s a noisy, irritating imitation of sincere gaiety.

“I’d like you to meet my new friend,” Confident gestured to me, standing hesitantly to her right. I saw their smiles fade a few levels as their focus turned on me, then a few more as they made out the words on my sticker.

“Hi,” I said, trying to sound like I hadn’t noticed the dimming effect I’d had. A bit too late, I held out my hand to shake theirs. They reciprocated, in turn. I knew my grip was not as perfect an act as my “friend’s,” but I attempted to imitate the feel of hers as I touched hands with silvery-clad Creative and orange-dressed Loud. Having completed this ritual, we all stood around idly wondering what to do next.

“Well,” Confident supplied finally, “Don’t let me interrupt you two.” She smiled and winked at them. “I know you were having a great chat just now.” The others looked relieved, smiled back at her, and nodded in agreement.

“Oh, yes,” Loud answered emphatically. I saw Creative step back very slightly though she still looked at her companion with pretended pleasure. “Creative here was just telling me about a very funny friend she met back on her first day of college.” She laughed annoyingly again; Creative joined in, more quietly and less annoyingly.

“Sounds great!” Confident responded, adding an assured giggle of her own. I smiled weakly. “We’ll go pop over to see Introvert. Then maybe you can tell us all about it when we come back.” They nodded agreeably (“Sounds good!” Loud exclaimed.) and we continued on to the artificial plant and a quiet brunette still appearing to examine it.

“Hello, again, Innie,” Confident said as we approached the last woman’s area. A petite, long-haired woman of some mid-age turned slowly to blink at us through round eyeglasses. She smiled slightly and intelligently at the space between us.

Confident failed to catch Introvert’s eye. Shrugging, she laid her punch-free hand on my shoulder in a friendly manner. “My friend here just arrived so I brought her over to meet you.”

The small woman turned her body to me, and I was able to read her label: Introverted Intellectual. I smiled. This was always a sort I could speak with, at least somewhat. The conversation depended on whether I had any experience with the topics she had, and how conversant she felt at the time.

As I mused, Introverted frowned and studied my name. I felt a compulsion to turn or hide it, and she was only the fourth person to be introduced to me.

Introverted’s small frame stayed slightly hunched forward, almost seeming to give to the weight of her hanging hairstyle. Her head and glasses pointed upwards to meet my eyes. “I’m pleased to meet you,” she told me softly, sincerely.

“Pleased to meet you,” I replied, pleasantly surprised but also cautious. I knew no one was actually pleased to meet me.

I caught an action from my peripheral vision: Confident taking another casual drink to fill the silence. “Ah,” she began. Introverted and I politely turned her direction. “I see some more ladies have arrived.” Confident nodded toward the door and we looked as well. A party of four or five newcomers was clumped around the hostess’ table, plus two more just through the door. The green, pink, gray, turquoise, brown, white, and yellow movement was a garden of blowing flower tops.

“I’ll just pop over and settle these folks in,” Confident continued. She smiled at me; I timidly returned it. She smiled at Introverted; she was still studying the entranceway. “Don’t worry, dear. I’ll be back again to introduce y’all later.” Confident walked off confidently, ready to bring her necessary order to those tangled weeds.

Introverted and I relaxed in the brief silence and shared solitude. I wondered how many more people I’d have to meet, and who would have to meet me, before the distraction of food.

Livelihood

No passersby knew why he sat, in the sun, staring at nothing. A few threw coins or insults. One threw lunch, which he ate, staring as he chewed.

Night fell to all but the wall before him; the whiteness of antique, virgin brick burned into his mind. He paused to start a silent soundtrack. Nodding along to *bom!-bom!-bom!* he opened equally invisible paints.

Pain sprayed black in a wild arc, then red for beating love, then blue for days without the red; then green, grey, purple, orange –

Till, breathless, he stood staring at his soul upon the wall; satisfied.

For me, with the prompt provided by Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

The Festival of Trees, with Children

I had a brief announcement up yesterday explaining the delay in announcing the poetry contest winner. Despite some residual tiredness and inability to lift heavy objects, I honored our family’s annual tradition of attending the local children’s hospital’s fundraising event, Festival of Trees.

Donor companies, families, or entities decorate a Christmas tree, small Christmas tree, door, gingerbread house, quilt, or other item and completely donate it. Wednesday evening before the event begins, companies and extremely wealthy entities bid for purchase of the items they wish to own and display in their lobbies or front rooms.

Some trees still had their price tags. An elaborate one we saw was labeled as $3,500. All of the money goes to the hospital, to use for patients who cannot pay for hospital services.

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This first tree pictured is one donated by 1-800 Contacts and decorated by them. It was purchased anonymously; always noted as Friends of Festival. The next image is a mantel 1-800 Contacts decorated as part of the display as well.

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Sometimes, tree-creators are creative. One year we saw two made from ascending wood planks. Other designs have included marble works, an upside-down tree, and a few formed from recycled glass bottles.

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I was impressed with the idea of a tree dress, and with the execution of the idea. It made for an elegant result.

On the less-elegant side, many donations are character-themed. I liked the fun, colorful elements of this Muppets arrangement.

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And, I’m always up for literary references. Besides two ‘trees’ of stacked books, we found this Where the Wild Things Are model. It has a furry tail coming down off the side of the tree, plus a tent and sailboat.

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I’m not a personal fan of My Little Pony, but was impressed with how very, very pony this piece of …work was.

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Many, if not most, Christmas trees are donated in memory of someone. Often that someone is a family member who passed away from disease (prematurely) or old age, though some groups donate in the name of one who miraculously healed.

When I was a young Girl Scout, I volunteered for Festival of Trees. I learned that, occasionally, the story of the tree is printed and put on the back of the identifying card nearby. Gabi was a sweet, happy child who never seemed to mind the nurses coming in every day. She always loved horses and we just had to build her a galloping tree... or Dale led a life full of friends, family, and a love of skiing… or Despite a hopeful outlook, Mia lost her battle with leukemia. We will miss our little angel…

I tear up as I walk around with my children, remembering those stories and seeing the pictures and references for this year.

The following pictures are from the gingerbread houses area of the festival. I love the talent, creativity, and feeling of the whole event.

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This amazing ‘gingerbread’ tower is a bit tangled up.

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Last but not least, my children appreciated this decorated door after watching The Muppet Christmas Carol Thursday evening.

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“We’re Marley and Marley!”

I neglected to note that ticket sales also go to the hospital. In addition, there are the following for purchase: a gift shop of homemade items, fudge shoppe, chocolates counter, desserts cottage, a Santa with purchaseable picture ops, children’s area of crafts, concessions, and cinnamon rolls or scones.

 

I also realize this is a rather mind-numbing description of the whole event. Perhaps I’ll have the likes of Geoff narrate the next one.

In Which Ways Do You Art?

At one point as a child, I thought I’d become an artist. These aspirations began at quite a young age, though we’re not counting the impressionist feces wall-art I made before I could form complete sentences. We may, however, begin where my memories do: around age 5.

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I remember finger fists with flying fingers. I remember front and back views of subjects. I remember trying to replicate illustrations I saw in stories.

 

My grandmother was an artist. She illustrated, painted, drew, sculpted. She was my idol, though I was far from her favorite grandchild and I knew that. Still, I wanted to be like her. I hurt that I wasn’t that good, not realizing that her childhood work probably looked like mine.

Now, I dabble. I scribble on children’s lunch napkins, create over-the-top door decorations for teachers, and practice elaborate snowflake patterns. I seem the best at paper cut-outs.

 

And this is art.

 

At another time in my life, I thought I might be musically gifted. I asked to learn piano. I tried trombone. I envied my sister for learning violin. I also sang in a school choir.

My husband is a very good singer. He’s even released some YouTube videos. He’s part of a rather impressive choir at the moment.

Given that people frequently tell me how good he is (but do not say the same to me), I tend to restrict myself to showers and cars.

Still, music moves me. Music is art.

Tell me you aren’t moved by the chorus of that.

 

These days I mostly write. Maybe you’ve noticed.

I thought this writing thing was a more recent expression, but my diggings to find early drawings uncovered …interesting stories I invented in grade school. Granted, I worried much more about handwriting those days. I was more concerned about everything being ‘just right’ than about allowing my imagination to run wild on me.

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Nowadays, I care less about formalities. My exposure to many varied writers and styles and my practice of writing almost daily have unfettered old writing restraints.

Writing is not my first choice of expression after trying others, but it is the most accessible. When the creative itch creeps up my spine, I run to record my thoughts. I feel anxious at any barriers or delays. When I hit The Muse just right, the result is extremely satisfying.

And this, too, is art.

 

Speaking of art, there are many creative ways we are able to express beyond the three I listed. What of dance? Theater? Speech? Display? Organization? Rap? Cooking? Baking? Psychic sensing?

Awhile ago, I wrote this poem:

Shade the negative space of a lone woman;
Daub the dying sun’s embers behind her,
Then soliloquise of heartbeats echoing sunsets.
Charcoal, paint, poetry.

Commit her uplifted hand to a memory-keeper.
Film her swirling hair against swirled light,
Harmonize with deep wind-flutes of regret.
Photograph, film, symphony.

Beat softly to echo the oboes’ cry
And pulse sorrow through interpretation,
As patrons study her angles solemnly.
Rap, dance, art in 3-D.

Feel her dramatic, poignant tears.
See Earth’s brilliant display at days-end.
Then turn, and show us what you see.
Myriad media, expressed endlessly.

We have so many means of expression, and sub-means within any category of these. Clearly, most of us choose words -but, how do you feel about the subject?

Do you agree that we have many arts?

Which do you prefer?

The Worth of a Paycheck

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Last year I was asked if I wanted a job writing content for a “crafting” website. It was really a black hole into ads, affiliates, and pop-ups. And. I. made. it. You know, with SEO terms and such.

They were darned good, too.

I’d say it paid the bills, but it didn’t pay much of anything once one accounted for stress, time away from my other duties, and the housekeeper I enlisted to supposedly help with the second problem in this series of issues.

After the company in charge kept increasing demands far too many times, we mutually split ways. I was so relieved.

Lately, however, I’ve come to miss having money. As such, my tired mom brain theorized, Surely, there are other jobs out there like that one. In fact, people kept telling me I was way underpaid. I’ll bet I can get a better writing job for more money!

Oh ye that scoff, you are, perhaps, correct to do so.

have found some better-paying listings. Problem is, those ones want full time -often in an office. I like not putting pants on when I write.

Others, well… WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!

This is the exact job listing I found for a deluded company online that uses Unsplash images for their company webpage. Yep. FREE images for their official webpage:

We are looking for content writers that can write 600-750 word articles that are applicable to a wide range of categories (technology, business, health, family, etc..) Our writers work when and where they want. This is a very flexible position that allows writers to write as many articles as they want. Writers need to be able to write at least 15 articles (600-750 words) per week in order to be accepted for this position.Writers will receive a keyword used for SEO purposes as well as category and it will be the role of the writer to create a well written article that matches the category and naturally uses the keyword throughout the article. As mentioned before, there is a lot of flexibility with this position and all that is required is good quality work.

Writers will be compensated $10 for every article written with bonuses available for reaching specified milestones.

Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of grammar and spelling
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Fluent in the English language
  • Copywriting
  • Ability to navigate Google Sheets and Google Docs
  • Honesty and self-discipline

They also want you to sign over the deed to your car and house, donate plasma in the guise of a “company party,” and sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the Welcome to the Family packet.

I may have made up that last paragraph.

For the record, I was paid twice this shystery company’s proposed amount, for five articles of 500 words, that could be typed and submitted whilst in my pajamas. I did not have to be fluent and excellent and grammatical, though I naturally am. I was simply told to write “with voice.”

Unfortunately, the job market underpayment plot thickens…

My searching brought me to a few online freelance writing sites like Indeed and Freelancer. On there, one hiring entity offered $1 per 500 words! The joy! And the (mostly Indian, by their profiles) writers were lining up like thirsty desert nomads.

If you are a writer, don’t agree to jobs like this. My four-year-old deserves more than $10 for 600-750 words and at least 15 articles per week. Everyone deserves more than $1 for the same. And so do you.

 

Glenn Carstens-Peters

This is what it means to create: not to make something out of nothing, but to make order out of chaos. A creative scientist or historian does not make up facts but orders facts; he sees connections between them rather than seeing them as random data.

A creative writer does not make up new words but arranges familiar words in patterns which say something fresh to us.

-Harold S. Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (51, 52).

Thanks to Confessions of an Irish Procrastinator for nominating me for quotes. I only like to share one, myself; but thanks for shouting out. 🙂

Hello, My Name Is

“Welcome to our little engagement.” A middle-aged woman smiled up at me. She was dressed like a 50’s commercial of a housewife at an evening ball. “Please, find your name tag and join the group.” She gestured to the table in front of her with a well-veined hand ending in Avon-pink fingernails. Her smile was practiced and her actions just slightly exaggerated.

I glanced over my shoulder, expecting to see a camera crew. But, no; there was just a normal wall, various potted artificial trees posted at two unobtrusive doors, and an empty, dark hallway beyond the open doors.

I turned back to the white tablecloth of name tags with their friendly hostess. She smiled graciously again, waiting. Looking down at the options, I was not certain which name was mine. What sort of party am I at? I wondered as I read over them.

“Perhaps,” the woman began, reaching forward and brushing slightly against her rose corsage, “This one, dear.” She picked up a sticker and proffered it to me in the light grip of those nails. I took it, read it, nodded slightly at her expectant look, and adhered it to my chest. She held out her hand for the backing, and smiled up at me as she disposed of it somewhere behind the rectangular table and her folding chair.

“Refreshments will be served in half an hour. Please enjoy yourself before then.” I had been dismissed. She stared at the doors behind me, where I could hear the sounds of more guests approaching. I took one last look at her vintage updo; large, starburst earrings; and rouged cheek. Then, I stepped around the table and into the room beyond.

Intentionally-dim lighting shadowed a small open area with more of those artificial ficus clumped artistically round the walls. A few other women were standing idly: one, drawing a drink near a white tableclothed food area; two chatting with feigned reactions of hilarity at the opposite end of the table; a final woman looking pensive as she meditated on the fine silk leaves of the east wall’s foliage.

I walked slowly toward the drink area as well, though I was not really thirsty. I tried to walk in a way that looked graceful and confident. I knew that I really looked barely-stable and uncertain. As if to make that point, my left toe caught on the floor and I stumbled somewhat. No one seemed to notice and I successfully drew closer.

I stopped and examined the table settings, using that as an excuse to also smooth down the cotton dress I seemed to be wearing. The punch and its drinker were to my left; the chatting women and plant-studier were to my right. A pile of clear plastic plates sat in front of me and various stratifications of empty cake plates, platters, and bowls led eventually to the conversing couple.

“Hi! I’m Confident in Public but Not in Intimate Relationships,” an unexpected voice to my left said. She was a perky and -yes- confident voice. I envied the self-assured tone and slight Southern drawl of her enunciations. Turning to see what face was associated with this introduction; I was greeted by a mid-length, auburn bob curling slightly around a friendly, open face. The hair and face were attached to a slender woman sporting a dress much like my own, in a bold shade of red instead of my pastel blue. The exact words she greeted me with were written boldly on the white square sticker attached above her left breast. She was the punch-drinking woman, and was standing next to me with a hand outstretched expectantly. Her other hand was holding a cup full of red drink.

Not having another obvious option, I took her hand. She applied just the right amount of pressure; a grip that was comfortably, confidently tight but also soft and gentle. “Ah,” she nodded, as I released her tight grip quickly, “I see.” She had read my name tag. I blushed and moved my eyes away from her direct gaze. I pretended interest in the laughing women, who took that exact moment to pause awkwardly in their falsely familiar exchange.

Confident took a sip from her cup, and studied the other women with me. She swallowed and nodded toward them. “That’s More Creative Than Logical and Talks Too Loud. They’re fun. You should go introduce yourself.” She studied my tag again, and generously added, “I’ll go with you.”

She started forward purposefully, and I trailed behind. I tried to imitate her gait without looking like the circus monkey I was certain I resembled.

“Hi, Creative. Hi, Loud,” Confident greeted the women. They smiled and turned to Confident expectantly. “Anything happen while I’ve been gone?” She teased. They laughed; Loud’s a noisy, irritating imitation of sincere gaiety.

“I’d like you to meet my new friend,” Confident gestured to me, standing hesitantly to her right. I saw their smiles fade a few levels as their focus turned on me, then a few more as they made out the words on my sticker.

“Hi,” I said, trying to sound like I hadn’t noticed the dimming effect I’d had. A bit too late, I held out my hand to shake theirs. They reciprocated, in turn. I knew my grip was not as perfect an act as my “friend’s,” but I attempted to imitate the feel of hers as I touched hands with silvery-clad Creative and orange-dressed Loud. Having completed this ritual, we all stood around idly wondering what to do next.

“Well,” Confident supplied finally, “Don’t let me interrupt you two.” She smiled and winked at them. “I know you were having a great chat just now.” The others looked relieved, smiled back at her, and nodded in agreement.

“Oh, yes,” Loud answered emphatically. I saw Creative step back very slightly though she still looked at her companion with pretended pleasure. “Creative here was just telling me about a very funny friend she met back on her first day of college.” She laughed annoyingly again; Creative joined in, more quietly and less annoyingly.

“Sounds great!” Confident responded, adding an assured giggle of her own. I smiled weakly. “We’ll go pop over to see Introvert. Then maybe you can tell us all about it when we come back.” They nodded agreeably (“Sounds good!” Loud exclaimed.) and we continued on to the artificial plant and a quiet brunette still appearing to examine it.

“Hello, again, Innie,” Confident said as we approached the last woman’s area. A petite, long-haired woman of some mid-age turned slowly to blink at us through round eyeglasses. She smiled slightly and intelligently at the space between us.

Confident failed to catch Introvert’s eye. Shrugging, she laid her punch-free hand on my shoulder in a friendly manner. “My friend here just arrived so I brought her over to meet you.”

The small woman turned her body to me, and I was able to read her label: Introverted Intellectual. I smiled. This was always a sort I could speak with, at least somewhat. The conversation depended on whether I had any experience with the topics she had, and how conversant she felt at the time.

As I mused, Introverted frowned and studied my name. I felt a compulsion to turn or hide it, and she was only the fourth person to be introduced to me.

Introverted’s small frame stayed slightly hunched forward, almost seeming to give to the weight of her hanging hairstyle. Her head and glasses pointed upwards to meet my eyes. “I’m pleased to meet you,” she told me softly, sincerely.

“Pleased to meet you,” I replied, pleasantly surprised but also cautious. I knew no one was actually pleased to meet me.

I caught an action from my peripheral vision: Confident taking another casual drink to fill the silence. “Ah,” she began. Introverted and I politely turned her direction. “I see some more ladies have arrived.” Confident nodded toward the door and we looked as well. A party of four or five newcomers was clumped around the hostess’ table, plus two more just through the door. The green, pink, gray, turquoise, brown, white, and yellow movement was a garden of blowing flower tops.

“I’ll just pop over and settle these folks in,” Confident continued. She smiled at me; I timidly returned it. She smiled at Introverted; she was still studying the entranceway. “Don’t worry, dear. I’ll be back again to introduce y’all later.” Confident walked off confidently, ready to bring her necessary order to those tangled weeds.

Introverted and I relaxed in the brief silence and shared solitude. I wondered how many more people I’d have to meet, and who would have to meet me, before the distraction of food.