As a writer, I'm always on the lookout for "characters." I'm the creepy eavesdropper in the coffee shop. I'm that stranger you catch staring at you at a restaurant. I'm sitting in the corner sketching out your personality as I perceive it, which isn't fair to be sure. It's not even as fair as a first date. You get ten minutes to make your first impression and you don't even know I'm there.

Sometimes I don't have to be a creeper. Sometimes people throw their blazing uniqueness right in my face. As I was driving my children to school earlier this week, I apparently pissed off another driver by--honestly I don't know what I did. We were driving, I moved over into the left-turn lane and she kept going straight, but for the two minutes we were stopped at the light she screamed, spit, and made a variety of gestures at me that were decidedly not any known form of sign language. I think she was trying to flip me off, but she was really bad at it. I feel like I got gypsy-cursed at the stop light. I kept waiting for my hair to fall out or to turn into a rat, but so far I'm good (knock on wood). It's possible I've watched one too many episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But still, it was nerve-wracking to watch this middle-aged woman turn into the Angry German Kid or Christian Bale (Language warning)

My son is in a communication class in college and as I was helping him with him homework, I learned about the Johari Window, which measures four areas of your personality--Arena, Blindspot, Facade, and Unknown. You can start building your own by following this link You choose five words that you feel best describe you and then ask others to do the same.This builds on the idea that there are things about you that are known to you and others, things that are known to you but not others, things that are known to others but not you, and things that no one knows about you. It can also be helpful in building characters for a story if you want to really geek out about it (which I generally do).

My poem today is by Terry Gifford from Whale Watching with a Boy and a Goat. I had the opportunity to meet Terry in 2006 at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference, and got a signed copy of this book from him. The inscription reads, "For Cynthia, sensuous poet who watches, best wishes for your great writing, Terry." I thought the inscription was appropriate for this post since it's mostly about...watching.

Second Chance 
For Bob Winter

And when the mountains came,
squeezed up between tectonic plates,
before ice, before frost, before water,
by Terry Giffordthey sang to each other in the raw colours
of the earth's mineral palette.

The air screamed its cold sky-scream
as deserts stretched themselves out
for the duration, not expecting the rains
which cut and crossed them towards
rising lakes of greens and deep blues.

And out of a lake, from its aeons
of chemical mutations and many deaths
of many species, there flew the first fish
again, wandering cautiously as if evolved
to avoid, this time, the growth of a brain.