I Hate Writing Bios (Until They Are Done, Of Course)


I hate writing bios.  I will procrastinate until the very last minute.  That is exactly what I did when I had to write my bio for the 2012 SAMLA (South Atlantic Modern Language Association) Conference. I am reading on the Creative Nonfiction panel this weekend. The piece I am reading is called Outliers and Outsiders about my first and only experience eating Rocky Mountain Oysters.  They are a delicacy in Wyoming.  They are not seafood; they are bull balls.

Rocky Mountain Oysters

This is our panel:

185. Text as Memoir: Tales of travel, immigration, and exile
SAMLA Creative Non-Fiction Writers, Session I
Regular Session
Saturday—2:45 pm to 4:15 pm
Empire Ballroom D
Chair: Patricia Leaf-Prince, North Carolina Central University
Secretary: Megan E. Miller-Oteri, East Carolina University
1. Wanna-be, Don’t-wanna-be, or Real? Belonging in America – Lisa Carl,
North Carolina Central University
2. K-Mart and Apple ’84 – Matt Sailor, Georgia State University
3. Montreal – Hayley Hughes, Wright State University
4. Outliers and Outsiders – Megan E. Miller-Oteri, East Carolina University

Here is my bio that will be read by the Chair of the panel to introduce me.  I am glad I got that crossed off my to do list. I really do hate writing bios.  Speaking about yourself in third person is just weird.  My paper is edited and I am almost packed.  The conference is in Durham this year so I do not have to travel far this year.

Megan Oteri has lived in every time zone, but her favorite is Mountain Standard Time.  She writes about her passion for Wyoming and its mosaic of landscape, nature, people, and lifestyle. It wasn’t love at first sight though. In fact, she thought Wyoming was no man’s land at first. She moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming when she was 15 years old from Chicago. In an attempt to escape the least populated state in the union, she went to college as far away as she could: Providence, Rhode Island.  Her classmates and soccer teammates called her “Cheyenne” and “Wyoming.”  Having never met anyone from Wyoming, most people believed she rode a horse to school. Each time she took the train home for school breaks, her love affair with Wyoming deepened.  There is a beauty to Wyoming you come to know and understand — there is magic in the sky; every night sunsets dance across the horizon in a mural of color.  Megan loves Wyoming’s wide open spaces. It is like no other place on Earth. She will always be “Forever West” in her heart; she calls Wyoming home, even though she lives in North Carolina.  Her piece, Outliers and Outsiders is about an experience she had shortly after moving to Wyoming from Chicago when she was 15 years old.  

 Megan has a Masters Degree in English with a concentration in Creative Nonfiction from East Carolina University and a Bachelors Degree in Special and Elementary Education from Providence College.  She is a freelance writer and photographer who writes when her toddler sleeps.  Her book, Baby Monitor is awaiting publication.  She is working on a historic food memoir about her great-grandmother’s catering and hot meal delivery business in Evanston, Illinois that was a model for the nation in the early 1920’s.  The Community Kitchen is about women in the kitchen and history in the making.  Food = Story.

Bio photo

Another thing that is big news is I received a Regional Artist Project Grant to go to Evanston, Illinois to research The Community Kitchen.  I will be able to go in person to the home of the CK and research the archives at the Evanston History Center and Northwestern University’s archives.  This is very exciting.  Another thing I proudly crossed a rather large to do list today was signing the contract. I actually wrote out a list of all the items I need to bring.  I am embracing my love of to do lists.  I really do love a to do list that I can cross things off.

PS – I have a zit I have named Sam (in honor of appearing the day before I present at SAMLA) under my left eye.  Yes, I am vain.  Shame. Shame.  It is poetic justice since I did not have acne as a teenager and I am reading a paper about being a teenager.  I was not able to cross off: Get rid of zit on my to do list, unfortunately.

What’s on your to do list?

Peace & Poetry.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

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Confession: I Hate Dressing Up For Halloween


Fall Foliage

So I have confession to make — I just am not into Halloween (well, the dressing up part).  I never have been.  Sure, I remember my favorite costume–my mom made it for me.  It was a mouse costume, with huge stuffed mouse hips and butt, complete with a tail with a mousetrap on it.  It was precious.

Other than that — that’s all I got for Halloween memories of dressing up.  What I did enjoy was going to haunted houses as a kid.

I do remember going to the rich neighborhood as a kid because they had houses that gave out regular size candy bars!

It is fun getting allllllllllllllllllllll that candy.  It is a holiday for kids.  OK — now that I am writing about it, I am sort of getting into it.  Reminiscent of popcorn balls (if someone gave my kid one of those–it would go right in the trash).  I remember having to go through my candy as a kid in the 80’s and look for candy with razor blades in them because of it happening and being warned either at school to check my candy or from the news.  I am now the adult who wants to give kids pencils and apples.  Practical and healthy.  But I probably will opt for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut M & Ms (my favorite candy).  I’d give Snow Caps if they came in mini boxes.  Those are my favorite movie candy.

I have already devoured the Kit-Kats I bought (and the Starbursts).  I have vowed to lose 20 pounds.  But most likely I will gain 20 pounds with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas around the bend.

“Trick or Treat”

Here is a kale bouquet!

ha ha

Anyway, Happy Halloween. We still have to get our pumpkins to carve and costumes.  I don’t dress up to give out candy, nor do I decorate my house.  I usually go to another neighborhood — in search of the big candy bars! ha ha

Be safe. No popcorn balls unfortunately   Gone are the days of knowing and trusting your neighbors.  We live in a different time now.  I do remember how much fun it was to go off alone with my friends trick-or-treating as a kid.  I think I will escort Ben until he goes to college.  Just kidding.

Ben did not like this costume. This is a photo from his 1st Halloween. We opted for a striped onesie with a lion hat instead.

Maybe sophomore year in high school I will just follow him around in a car.

Here are some spots you can read some of my work out this week:

  • Attachment Parenting International’s blog — a piece on postpartum depression and struggles with breastfeeding — well, actually struggles with the whole new mom gig: Motherhood: The New Frontier. ‎”It wasn’t until I allowed myself to follow my instincts and relax that I realized there is no manual to being a mother. I just followed my heart.” – memomuse
  • Talenthouse’s blog — an interview with me about photography, Wyoming as my inspiration, cowboys, and rodeo: Featured Photographer: Megan Oteri.  “Beneath every artist, is a scar that never quite healed.” – memomuse

Mystic


This poem, Mystic, was originally posted on my website, http://www.meganoteri.wordpress.com, that was dedicated to all things rodeo.  I recently made the website password protected to prevent further photo piracy.  I am figuring out what to do about that website.  Lots of left brain stuff has to happen before I make my next move with that website.  So, for now, we will continue our right brain magic here at memomuse.  Oh, how I love the right brain!

For the record, I used to be a Special Education teacher (I was a teacher for 13 years — now I am a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer and photographer), and when I had to get IEP (Individual Education Plan) paperwork ready for IEP meetings, I was a left brained rock star.  I do have a left brain, and a whole brain, but I love me some right brain muse, where color and poetry seeps out like a river running wild, wrapping itself elegantly around a mountain.  So, with that being said, here is a poem I wrote in 2009 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, as the last of the rodeo trailers, cowboys, cowgirls, horses, and people left Frontier Park, when Cheyenne Frontier Days ended.  The photo of this beautiful horse (sepia print) I named Mystic, was one of the last horses in the stalls.  She and I had ourselves a right brained conversation.

I love horses!  What I appreciate and love even more, are the people who take care of them.

It is a lot of work to take care of a horse.  A friend of mine (shout out TJ) recently was up all night, sleeping on and off in her barn, taking care of and loving her horse, who had an injury.  So this is a shout out to all horse lovers and for the people who take care of horses.

Source: artflakes.com

Mystic ~ Photo by Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

Mystic

After the rodeo fans

leave

and the cowboys drive off

to the next rodeo

the horses graze under a sunlit sky

the emptiness of Frontier Park stands still

hearts ache for 2010

and the next time they’ll see each other at The Daddy

horses hold patience while feeding

and an intangible sadness calms the lull

off in the distance are

rodeo cowboys driving down long winding roads

to another ride

another rose

under a sunset somewhere across Western landscape

Poem by Megan Oteri

April is National Poetry Month (this post was originally written in April 2012).  Cowboy Poetry week is April 15 – 21.  Do you know any cowboy poets or cowgirl poets?  I am looking for cowboy poets on the PBR and PRCA rodeo circuit for an article I am writing on Cowboy Poetry.  If you know of any poetic cowboys or cowgirls, tell them to give me a shout.   They can contact me at memomuse@gmail.com.

“Up the Down Staircase” ~ Photo by Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved ~ Photo of a cowboy going up the stairs in the cowboy ready area.

I think it is rather serendipitous that my photo of Wyoming cowboy poet and country crooner, Chris LeDoux was up for voting the week of Cowboy Poetry week.  Voting started April 16 for my photo of Chris.  Here is a link to the photo, Chris LeDoux, on Talenthouse.  You can become a supporter today and you will get an email reminder from Talenthouse telling you when voting opens.  I am a fan of reminders.  I will also be posting a story about meeting Chris LeDoux at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2003.  He is a special man and oh, those sparkly eyes and beautiful smile, can make a Wyoming girl blush.  Chris and I went to the same high school in Cheyenne (not at the same time): Cheyenne Central.  Go Indians!  I promise it is a good one.

Here is a video of one of my favorite Chris LeDoux songs: This Cowboy Hat

Also, check out the  Chris LeDoux official website, run by his son, Will LeDoux.  When you go to the website, you will be greeted by Chris’ music.   Check out the tab that says, One Ride, while you are on the website too.  One Ride is a musical that depicts the life of a rodeo cowboy, set to Chris LeDoux’s music.  I can’t wait to see the musical when it comes to a theater near me.  Shout out in the comments if you have seen it.  I am writing a guest post on, Lost in E Minor, about it.  I would love to hear your thoughts on it.  Also, shout out if you want and share your thoughts on Chris LeDoux.

And I will leave you with a quote I really like.

“Why not just do something a little on the gentle side.” ~ Chris LeDoux

Please vote for my photo, “Smile”  today.  It is the last day to vote. Here is the link to the photo.  I just need enough votes to get in the top 50 so they judges will look at it.  Talenthouse is American Idol for artists.  You can also read this post,  to learn more about the cowboy in the photo — professional bull rider, Clint Craig.

Thank you for your support.