Blogs by Stephanie Barbé Hammer

Magically Real || What To Do When You’re Feeling Extraneous

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Theater and Dance

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I feel extraneous these days. The political situation (which, is distressing, if not downright depressing, no matter where you stand politically), combined with the long ferry lines to and from the island, and the losses of the Whidbey MFA program, the Coupeville radio station, and the Coupeville pharmacy (I’m not sure that’s related, but I’m throwing it in anyway because I really miss it), along with the financial threats to the local hospital make things feel difficult here. I can’t, for the life of me, get a community college to hire me as an adjunct lecturer, although I’ve won two teaching awards and have three graduate degrees.

Yup, it’s time to face facts: I’m extraneous.

So, what am I doing? I’m reading a bunch of books — novels and poetry — I’m writing (working on three or four different projects), and I’m going to volunteer at the Island Shakespeare Festival in Langley.

Magically Real | How About a Little List?

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Literary

Friends, I just finished taking a wonderful nonfiction writing class in Coupeville with my former Northwest Institute of Literary Arts teacher, essayist Ana Maria Spagna, and her friend, the amazing novelist Laura Pritchett. They were big on having us make lists, then asking us to use them creatively.

Lists can be a great way to clean out your brain. You dump the data in those numbered rows, and then you have it all there in front of you for safe keeping.

Magically Real | Paradise No (but What About Some Utopia?)

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Literary

Friends – a lot of Whidbey denizens call this place “paradise.”

“Welcome to paradise,” my new neighbors (at the time) told us, and “life in paradise” is something that Coupeville acquaintances say to me all the time (of course Coupeville probably IS very close to being paradise, but I digress).

I grimace a little bit whenever I hear this well-meaning phrase. Probably because I am an ex-professor, and so I have to deconstruct and analyze everything.

Magically Real || How About a Poem?

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Literary

Friends – I was talking to my t’ai chi teacher Lynne last week, and she told me that she usually didn’t “like” poetry, but she liked mine because I wrote about things like dishwashers.

I hear this all the time. Not the dishwasher part. I mean the part where people say they “don’t like poetry.” They tend to make this statement in an ashamed and embarrassed way (Lynne didn’t, but then, you have to remember that she is very Zen and enlightened). When most folks make this confession, they say it like they might be admitting “I don’t like broccoli,” meaning “I know it’s good for me, and it’s wrong for me not to like it, but it doesn’t taste good!”

Magically Real || Who Is “Us?”

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, History

On our island, we like to think that we are removed from the greater problems of our country and our planet. But imagine this: right after the election, Larry and I were scared to go to our usual Thursday wine tasting event because we didn’t know what to say to our drinking friends who didn’t vote the way we did. We made ourselves go, but friends, I felt afraid. And while the conversation was pleasant, it was strained. I still feel afraid.

Magically Real || It’s all happening at the Coupeville Dump

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Community, Humor, Literary

Friends: now that I live on an island, I find myself thinking about where things come from. Like electricity. And where things go. Like our garbage.

Magically Real || Islands

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Feature

Well, here I am on my home island, the island of Manhattan, attending a wedding for my step-niece, Leah.

Magically Real || Make yourself at home. Or don’t.

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Community, Literary

It’s an interesting expression isn’t it? “Make yourself at home” is an invitation, but it’s also a sort of command.

Magically Real || 24-hour Wind Advisory Diary: Sunday, March 13 (or… ‘this time I’m ready for the storm—sort of’)

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Feature

12 Midnight – Texted best friend in Seattle. Text reads: “High winds make me think we may not make it to Puget Sound’s MusselFest. You better stay home.”

Magically Real || Don’t cry for me, oh, South Whidbey

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Community

A few months ago a Langley acquaintance told me he felt sorry for me because I live north of Classic Road. That is to say, he pitied me because I live in Coupeville, which—if you’re reading this blog and aren’t from these parts—is in the middle of Whidbey Island.

MAGICALLY REAL || Saturday twice, fresh air and a glass of water

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Travel

Friends – it’s official. I just did some time traveling.

I’m serious. I went back in time this past Saturday, and lived the same day twice. The first time I experienced last Saturday, my husband and I walked through snow flurries in an ancient neighborhood in Beijing.

Magically Real || What You Learn When the Lights Go Off

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Community

Friends, I’ve experienced blackouts before. I lived in NYC during the big blackout of 1977.

Magically Real || Life in the (super-duper) slow lane

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Literary

Being a Whidbey writer means that you can work in your pajamas, or in your slippers. Or both.

Here, in Coupeville, my neighbors are gradually getting used to seeing me in PJs ’til lunchtime, or not seeing me in the morning at all.

Four Writing Wonders

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Literary

Whidbey may be an island, but we draw some of the most brilliant writers in the US to our foggy shores.

Recently, I’ve spent time with not one but TWO Washington State Poets Laureate. (By the way, it’s not Poet Laureates, but rather Poets Laureate. Like Attorneys General. Explanation courtesy of current Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen.)

What to do when the fog rolls in

by Stephanie Barbé Hammer in Blogs, Literary

People like to complain about fog and mist. When I lived in Geneva many years ago, everyone I knew complained about the grey skies, the mist and the damp winds.

Everyone, that is, except for some people.