Unhappened Stories

I often wish I had made the effort to enjoy music with my grandmother when she was alive.  On lazy days my vinyl treasures blast Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, and Count Basie, with singers from that era.  I wonder what facial expressions grandmother would have made, what tapping of a foot or shake of a finger.  I crack a bittersweet smile.  A slippery clarinet reminds me how I might have entertained her back then, if only I’d practiced more in high school band class, or explored beyond my age-accepted genres.

I’d ask, “Why does that man’s voice wiggle like that when he sings the last word in each stanza?”  She’d say, “That was the style in those days,” meaning, “… in my days.”

She’d add her sweet soprano to Marlene’s voice, somewhere between alto and a place exotic.  I’d smile, my gleaming eyes telling her how relevant her music and her passion remain.  “I never really cared for Dietrich, but the boys sure loved her.”

“What boys?” I’d ask – wondering if she meant one of her husbands, or my uncles – looking for a story.

“The ones that came home after the war.”

But I never was much for listening to stories back then.  Wasn’t big on sitting still and paying attention to older folks, even my grandmother.  That is why this story never happened.

Lead by the Leader Who Leads Me to Lead

Just an update to those who might be wondering – “Was this just another leap of hope off a cliff of effort lacking?”  I did jump.  I was free-falling for about two months and finally found my wings at month three.  I added about 20K (after editing) to my working novel and about another 10K total across three other active projects.  At month four I faced a moral dilemma in my cloud-puffed dream land.  Having returned home, living in semi-retired bliss with my wife, I felt called back to leadership with the youth program I had left more than two years prior.  Called I was, for I was hired back in the beginning of month six and now find myself working four – tens, and attempt to stretch what days I have off between family, home chores, and scribbling occasional notes in my notebook for the “later more.”

Perhaps my cliff diving experience will not inspire other aspiring writers.  Perhaps, like Disney, if the birds don’t keep flitting and the sun doesn’t keep shining while melodic tunes play and dancing goes on forever – then you feel as if the dive was a failure.  So to those that are Disney-tized, Corvus_ruficollisI bid you adieu and wish you well.  To realists, clothed in sackcloth but clinging to your capes nonetheless, I share the following.

I haven’t hit the ground.  The forced scheduling has pelted my spirits with frustration and anger surrounding my writing goals;  I concede to the pangs of discouragement on a regular basis.  Still the raven that cries “Nevermore,” bolsters my resolve to prove the wicked little wit wrong.  I’m not soaring anymore, but I still glide, and sometimes I manage to flap incessantly.  I didn’t want to return to my previous life, didn’t want to have to be “in charge” of anything again.  But the same One that nudged me off the cliff and gave me wings the first time – still stirs my muse, drafts my days, and knows the numbers of the hair on my head.  My times are in the Creator’s hands.  I already sense a deeper maturity in my word formations, in my structure, and in my ideas when I write them.  The 2018 date remains.  I can’t even see the bottom yet.  Realists rock.

Cow Tipping and Goal Setting

The cow got tipped.  Anxiety and the fear of becoming invisible (in a bad way) kept the aspiring writer from full-heartedly pursuing the end-all-be-all business plan.  Finding and fulfilling new roles (when the career that was your mission and purpose for so long has been set aside) is enough of a challenge.  I let myself off the hook and took up gardening as I eased into the daily writing routines.  You – who chase dreams outright or in your head and heart – please excuse the the lengthy absence as the cow picks itself up, dusts itself off, and begins striving once again to interrupt a mere fraction of your day to enlighten, entertain, or poke at status quo.

The Writer’s Business Plan.

Nixed except for some basic goals for the first year.  Outlining methods, to include a marketing plan and platform will be renewed when there’s something of substance to get pushy about.  Suffice to say there was a wealth of information on the basic “how to” provided online.  My favorites are listed here for those that would like to begin work on their own.

There were a plethora of books, too many to list.  Check into it for yourself if you’re on a mission.

The Writer’s Goals.

Keep in mind that a goal without a deadline is just a pipe dream.  Here are the modified goals (having tried on several for size and pitched them when they became stifling or a source of negative self talk) for this baby-writer.

1. I will write every day in my Scrivener created Writer’s Journal, using it as a taskmaster and single place to ensure this happens.  Each entry will follow no particular rules as to genre (creative writing, journaling, observations, thought, ideas) but will be purposed toward a single mission – to find a voice that best suites my writing.

2. I will read no less than 80 books in 2015, with a near even mix of non-fiction, literary fiction, sci-fi, YA, and the occasional Indie or unconventional read.

3. I will explore memberships in professional writer associations (SFWA, PNWA, etc) in addition to SCBWI membership and develop a plan for membership into those organizations which best suit me by the end of 2015.

4. Based on finding my voice, and landing on a few projects that I can stay committed to, I will develop project goals and plans for submission and publication no later than June 2015.

That’s it.  Enough said.  Now we can commence with the grazing of new books, writing resources and practices, the romance of writing, and the overall beauty of the pastures.

Cold Damn House

The electric box of inefficient warm is set high,
but the fan pushing the orange hot cools it on impact.
You’d think the oil heater on the other side
would play its part, spew some warm.
Instead it pretends all is well.
The glass patio door makes sure of that.
Heat rises, so the ice air bites at my ankles.
I can’t feel my feet.
I think of the hot summers from years long gone –
the hot pavement shimmering in the radiant day,
but the tile floor and the glass door are still.
Tonight they stare, catatonic, heartless –
relentless refrigerators of my nibbled spirit.
So I put on a housecoat over my jeans and layers,
a tortoise shell against the frigid room,
drink my tea, dance my blood, and wait
for summer or pneumonia
whichever comes first.

this is how it happened

Working on my business plan (I will soon post some resources I’ve found for those of you interested), still not at the end of my commitment here in Idaho, and this morning as I’m preparing to leave for work when the following poem flooded my brain.  I couldn’t walk out the door without first racing to my mac and getting it down before I lost it.  This is the madness of how my procrastination (in going to work) happens.  Still, I’m just so thankful for this gift.  Needs some work, but thought I’d share.  Reminds me of how Spiderman was made.

this is how it happened

as I lay beneath a cloud,
a rainy mist that formed a shroud
descended to my haptic loud.
engulfed me whole;
swallowed my protected soul
and spit me out
(not feeling thirsty in a drought),
but left me changed,
not quite deranged,
painted gifts that left me strange.
made my thinking twisted round –
blocky reason had no sound.
made me swim in music sheets –
crisp and moving rhythmic beats.
and all at once I touched a blank
and flooded word trains like a tank
invading fields of poppies bright.
a lyric frenzy made me write
poetic verse all through the night,
and in the morning when I woke
my veins were smoke –
as if a stranger took a poke
into the rivers
(my flowing rhyme-laced honey givers).

The Business of a Mission

A writer who wants to be published needs a business plan.  I’ve been pondering “next steps” as I work to wrap up my 18 year career in the next two weeks and transition to the next career of full-time writing.  That’s actually a sentence laced with hefty meaning and depth, because my career thus far has not been the average eight or ten hour-a-day J-O-B.  It’s been a mission.  A rewarding CAUSE – with the added benefit of a paycheck.

I’m not leaving my job because I dislike it.  I’m not leaving my job because writing is more important.  On the contrary – writing books is absolutely overshadowed by the importance and impact of my current position.  So, why am I leaving my job to write?

A more apropos question is: “Why are you leaving your job and becoming a writer?”  I’m leaving my job for the following reasons.

  1. It’s emotionally and mentally fatiguing and I’m losing stamina.  In many careers that wouldn’t make much of a difference.  Experience trumps speed in many cases because it often results in a more accurate and quality product or outcome.  So even the most energetic and speedy folks need experienced co-workers or leaders they can seek with questions, advice, or to study the differences between “shiny” and “speedy.”  Youthwork, however, requires energy that lasts.
  2. I have reached a peak.  I feel like my contributions thus far have made a difference, will continue to make a difference, and any more I have to give would perhaps feel like punching the clock rather than changing the world.
  3. I’m away from my partner – my “One,” and although the plan to work this far away for a time was a mutual decision, the time has come and we want to be HOME.
  4. God has put me in a position (with laser accuracy as usual) where I have a supportive spouse, am relatively debt free, and we can financially meet our needs while living in a community that fosters writing and the arts.  It’s like He’s offering me that trip to Disneyland and all I have to do is put on my Mickey ears.
  5. Finally, I have confidence that others will be able, not only to carry my piece of the mission forward as well or better than I , and moreover they will carry it further, at this point, than I could manage.  That gives me cause for celebration.

I’m becoming a writer because I can finally enter into this new endeavor without the pressure of wanting to “leave my mark.”  I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to meaningful ventures.  Now, just knowing that I’ve been blessed to be able to make a difference thus far, I’m off the hook.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to write meaningful things, but if I’m not the best at it for a very long time, I’ll be happy and content to just work on my craft daily, and strengthen my skills.

What does all this have to do with a business plan?  As I pondered my motives for writing in the coming years, I still waver between refining my craft and breaking all kinds of records for how quickly I can get published (traditionally) and start selling books.  It’s habit.  I regress to what I’ve always known – if you don’t know what to do next, just pick what needs done AND DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE.  I’m not a competitor at the expense of others.  But I’ve always relied on that edge to feel good at the end of the day/week/month about what I’ve accomplished.

Writing is going to be another thing entirely, and if I’m going to accomplish anything (refining or otherwise) I need to keep my head in the right place.  So I need a business plan, a set of goals, to stay focused on what it is I’m doing while “successfully unemployed” during the next two years.  So if you, like me, are a newly reborn writer and want to expand or clarify what it is you’re actually moving toward … if you ever ask yourself, “what the heck am I doing?” … stick around as I explore how to form a business plan when your first, most immediate goal isn’t profit.

On a Wing and a Prayer

The countdown to becoming a successfully unemployed writer continues with only 16 days 6 hours and 55 minutes remaining at the time of this post.  Yesterday I took an important step (not the MOST important step, but a good one) in the journey.  I entered a contest.  I don’t know why, but it leaves that old song “On a Wing and a Prayer,” in my head.  That’s certainly how it feels.  Even if I don’t win, I think these butterflies aren’t going to wear off until after the first year of submissions.

I’ll be returning to my home in the Pacific Northwest (I’m not sure if Idaho counts toward the PacNW but it doesn’t feel like it right now in the midst of snowshoe weather).  While home on vacation, M made me aware of the ARS POETICA contest on Bainbridge Island for writers in something like a three or four county adjoining region.  What better way to start 2015 – my writing year – than to enter a contest in my hometown area?  Then I read the criteria:

  • No more than 30 lines.
  • That includes the spaces between stanzas.
  • We mean it.

Okay, they didn’t actually say the last one.  Still, most of my poems (blank lines included) are just over the 30 mark.  Let me rephrase – some of my BEST poems are just over the 30 lines criteria.  UGH!  The entry fee covered up to 30 entries so I did the Walmart thing and made sure I got the most bang for my buck.  Not knowing if there was a theme or how the contest originated, I did a miniscule amount of research (“miniscule research” – not a recommended strategy).

Turns out there are several poems by that name but the one that seemed most famous or historically significant was by Horace in ancient times.  In summary – he wrote it about writing poetry and drama.  So I thought I’d stick to similar themes.

It was difficult but I selected the following:

  1. Take Me With You

  2. one writer morning, and

  3. Mine.

What do you think?  They’re short (it’s the rules) so you can read ’em quick.  Tell me honestly if you think I have a shot.  Honest and productive criticism is also much appreciated.


Cloudy with a Chance of Change – Conclusion

Gusts and lightning, hurricanes
Tornadoes, floods, torrential rains
The Captain lashes to the wheel –
Character – an even keel.

Speaking of the weather,
Let not these words dismay –
Change may be a feather
That falls on who it may,

But each is her own Captain,
Her well marked maps abound.
No feather tells a Captain
Which depths that she must sound.


Cloudy with a Chance of Change

Speaking of the weather,
I think it’s safe to say,
Change is like a feather
That falls on who it may.

It flits, it floats, it falling, flies,
Emits a casual lift of ties,
But not for easy, not for cheap.
Its shoulder queasy wants to keep

The ties that bind, the merry smiles
The hearty find, the traveled miles.
The bearer, weighted down with change,
Does find the passage dim and strange.

And wanting still to hold that place –
The people, friendships, love, and grace –
Doth reach both ways but stands so still,
The future frays the battled will.

And so she knows the change must win,
And freeing courage deep within,
Releases anchors founded here.
Tucks safe the memories held so dear,

And lets the winds of fortune wail,
The goals she’s set – the billowed sail.
So waving, frantic that they’ll see
She cuts the mooring, cruises free.

The sunset forward, history aft,
Heartaches cried and funnies laughed,
A ballast full of lessons learned,
Friendships forged, demons burned –

The Captain sets a course for Then,
Embraces now, begins again.
So Change unfettered, rides the clock
And elsewhere seeks another dock.


Tune in for the conclusion of this self-fulfilling prophecy on December 20th.

Help! I Swallowed the Canary

Photo Courtesy of Salim Yousuf Kazi

Hello all you fellow comrades in ink, you swarthy (I’ve always wanted to use that word) pirates of letters, you makers of mayhem sewn into denouement!  I interrupt (mooooo!) this NaNoWriMo broadcast to post a question.  How do you keep a secret?!

A new and delicious plot twist came to me and I really want to tell the world!  Let me back up.  This is my third attempt at NaNoWriMo.  I prepared like a prize fighter for this one.  The story I’m writing has been in there (the metaphoric barrel of monkeys known as my brain) for nearly a year.  I’ve scratched ideas on it here and there (three different notebooks have little scribbles I’ve had to decipher and wonder what I was thinking).  I plotted.  I actually outlined this thing (as far as my non-organized, chaotic and frenetic little brainwaves would let me).  Too many parentheses?  Okay.

Here’s my point.  It gets BORING, and one easily loses motivation when writing a story that has spent so much time reprogramming the brain into thinking it’s usual, humdrum, run-of-the-mill, and bland.  Perhaps this is just a story’s “death by familiarity syndrome” (not on Google yet), but every writer knows – it is real.  So when this plot twist smacked me in the face out of the blue, I was smitten.  I nearly bought it a ring.

Having just come out of the ho-hum doldrums and found new energy in writing this novel, I know what King explains, in his On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft, is true.  “Don’t tell.”  If I tell, it will start to lose its luster.  So I walk around like I swallowed the canary.  Well, I did.

Any tricks or advice on this impulse control temptation?

Image Courtesy of Salim Yousuf Kazi at http://syklovingcanaries.weebly.com/index.html

In Preparation for NaNoWriMo

Here’s what you can expect from the interruptingcow blog in November.  No more “reblogs” this month.  You’ll find quick reads each day by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  That means that each day I will post the best sentence or small passage from the previous day’s word count.  It also means some of it won’t make much sense because you won’t necessarily be getting it in chronological or even contextual form.  Since first drafts are hideous, I’m sure there were be various forms of disclaimers scattered throughout the month, but I will try to refrain.

Each day’s post will not necessarily relate to one another.  I will simply select what I believe is the best structured or lyrical offering for your reading pleasure.  That’s it.  So you’ll still have to buy the book to get the real storyline sometime in 2016 perhaps.  Here’s how I arrived at this plan:

Press the button on my phone and the picture of M and I tells me it’s 9:30pm.  I’ve just spent three hours (interspersed with the occasional Trick-or-Treater at the door) reading up on some basic writing instruction to reign in my thoughts for the NaNoWriMo.  I began this journey in search of a basic “one-size-fits-all” method for outlining a story idea and creating a timeline.

I had this great idea – if only I could string up some master plan on my wall, maybe this year would be different.  Maybe instead of becoming bored out of my mind with my story by the 15th of the month, I will have the ability to jump around on the timeline and develop the characters like I want.  Maybe that will help me avoid worrying about where I’m going with that morning’s offerings.  But alas, no particular methodology tore itself from the pages and invaded me like a ghost, speaking through me of its long lost efficiency in a Russian accent.

Instead, I got frustrated quickly with the different styles I read about how to write.  “Get to the flipping’ point,” I yelled while trampling through one popular writer’s garden of nostalgia and memoir-style ramblings before she finally said, “There is no point.”  And that’s just it.  There really isn’t.  I’m leaving a job I know inside and out for this dream of writing.  The closer I get, the more it feels like a shadowy woods filled with howls and cracking limbs, with no clear footpath drawing me toward . . . something.

“To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.”  So says Gertrude Stein, and I’m beginning to realize this as truth.  There is no point but to write.  There may be a partial path that you can cut back with your machete and trudge through for a bit, but eventually you hit a rock wall or some other obstacle.  If you can’t climb it or cross it, you have to leave that trail you’ve built completely and start from the perimeter again until you can clear a path to the center.

Oh sure, you can try to double back halfway and head in again from the same trail.  But you risk ending up with a series of mazes that never lead to the conclusion.  You hope that the center is what you think it is.  You hope it will bring the relief and joy, or the depth and meaning you imagine exists there.  But for all you know, you risk sweat and tears just to get to a clearing with a simple little sign that reads, “Congratulations – you made it.  Good luck on your next hike.”  Son of a …

So begins my third NaNoWriMo attempt.  The first time was a whim.  I wasn’t aware that without planning, dedication, and stamina you can’t actually write anything that fast (much less anything of worth).  The second time I was more prepared but ADD and writer’s block drop-kicked me out of the game and then, like the 5Ks I’ve run, I quit trying so hard when I saw the finish line.  I couldn’t face all that effort amounting to less than a hill of beans when I broke the cardinal rule of first drafts and began reading it over and over again.  “Crap.  Pure crap.”  And that was that.

Now I’m wiser.  I know first drafts are supposed to be crap.  I know that writing stamina and the rudimentary “word count” is half the battle.  I trust in product and content – and the final plot stability or literary value be damned at this point.  I will write.  This month.  Each day.  I will not stop until I’ve reached my selected word count (even if that means I dip into December).  Afterward, I will drop that puppy into a drawer for six months and forget about it.  In May or June I’ll get started on sculpting.  Whatever will be, will be.

Freedom Candy – Part 2 of 2

Big Rock Candy MountainThe trek to the man’s store was less about the candy for her, and more about the limited freedom it afforded.  A sheltered, smothered little girl, she felt like fine China that never came off the shelf.  While her parents tried to protect her from bullying and the less savory aspects life, the result of their loving efforts was a much too shiny innocence that attracted the attention of the most insecure brats, both on the block and in the halls at school.  She often felt helpless and brittle, caged and uncertain of herself.  The walk into the little town was practice for the walk she longed to take into a world she could own and dominate, away from the rules and control of her over-bearing parents.

Past the bank, past the bakery, the phone company and the library, past the church where her parents took her for exposure, they walked.  No one questioned a gaggle of children in those days, in the small little towns, making their way down the center of everything.  They stopped here and there for sidewalk treasures:  rocks that fit their youthful hands, uniquely bent nails, bugs and frogs.  Rounded stones and undamaged bottle caps clicked against each other in their pockets.  Broken glass they weren’t supposed to touch was defiantly scooped up and tossed into trash cans, proving to each other they weren’t concerned with the dangers.

In time, as the only girl along for the trip, she became one of the boys.  She spit and cussed along with the others in a show of solidarity, and because it made her feel empowered.  In time, the brittleness shattered from her core, and what she found there was an angry but strong, confused but determined individual.  She didn’t want to wear dresses or jewelry like the other girls because it reminded her of that frail little China doll that she wasn’t allowed to play with, for fear of breaking it.  She didn’t care what kind of candy stick the man sold her, as long as it wasn’t green apple.

The candy store, with all it’s choices, was the world in vivid splashes of truth and facades, twists of choices and obligations.  She wasn’t yet ready to map out her future, but she knew she could not let anyone draw that landscape for her.

In high school, years later, Al put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger.  It had nothing to do with her.  Anyway, that’s what she told herself.  He had proposed to her the year before, much to his brother’s dismay.  She had been kind but firm, but suddenly, it was as if the last six years disappeared and they were right back at that bus stop.  She was a “dyke,” and much worse, he’d said, and he would let everyone know.  The bully of her childhood had fallen in love, and then betrayed that sentiment when she declined another prison of protection and sheltering.  With his putrid words of anger and a faulty, broken heart – he’d voiced her worst fear.

She’d hugged Benny when the news of Al’s suicide made the rounds.  She remembered his gift of courage on the school bus, and would later cherish his brother’s gift of self-discovery.

(Read Part 1, edited)


I cannot get this story “just so.”  I can’t figure out how to tie all the ends.  As is, it gets out the points fine – but I cannot help but think there must be a better, more lyrical way to transmit the story.  Please – I would great appreciate any feedback fellow writers or avid readers provide.

Freedom Candy – Part 1 of 2

Candy sticksThere was a man who sold candy.  Thirty years past its prime, his store held rows and rows of jars with different flavors of stick candy for ten cents a piece.  I’m sure there were other things for sale, but a dime was something a kid could come by easier than a dollar.

Weeks were full of restless drama with the neighborhood kids, crowded buses with seats, sticky from dirty hands and snot, bustling hallways separating the sanctuaries of classrooms, and the after school, latch-key scenario – she wasn’t allowed to go out and play until one of her working parents came home.  Such weeks had this one thing, this occasional adventure, to look forward to.  If the rain let up long enough, she could convince her folks the ground wouldn’t be muddy.  If the sun was glowing and their spirits less taxed, she’d get to go with some friends into to town, and buy a candy stick or two.

The field between the newly developing housing complex and the road into town was flat and low.  She and her friends would walk, skip, or run across its mowed green carpet, and then climb the embankment to the fortified road four feet up.

Cal, her next door neighbor, awkward and lanky with little muscle on his growing frame, was always along for the trip.  They were in fourth grade together and yet, strangely they rarely spoke at school despite their “best friend” status in the neighborhood.  Her parents probably wouldn’t have allowed her to go if he hadn’t been present.

A tiny skeleton of a child with a big head misnamed Mike usually wanted to go.  He was only in the first grade, and lived across from her in the biggest house on the block.  Although he was an annoyance in their daily play adventures, he was always welcome when they went to the candy store, because he always had enough to buy extra for everyone.  Little Mike was either too generous to consider what other candy he could have purchased with his two or three dollars, or else they maneuvered him away from the possibilities to protect their sugar striped interests.

Al and Benny, usually her tormentors at the isolated morning bus stop, were also allowed to go.  Such enemies in the desolate frontiers where parents were typically absent, were not recognized for their evil in the presence of adults.  Not if you wanted to live to tell the story.  Adults clouded the dynamics of power when it came to bullies, and while Al and Benny might cease their abuse for a time (when her father visited their house and spoke with their parents), eventually their anger over being “ratted out” would come to a head.  They brought an actual rope as their threat one morning after.

A year later, Benny would walk off the school bus with a bloody nose.  Confused at his childhood crush on her, he would express himself with fists that bounced harmlessly off her bulky snowsuit.  Realizing her worst fears were coming true, no one was coming to her aid as he pummeled her with this assault, she pulled back and straightened her arm – right into his face.  The motion of the bus may have helped the outcome, and the bus driver was relieved to watch the age of tormenting the girl come to an end.  On that day, Benny gave her the best gift any boy (aside from his brother) would ever offer – his actions opened her eyes to her capacity for courage.

(Read Part 2)


HK Causeway Bay Show Flat Upper East 18 香精油 bottle April-30-2011She had made the comment in humor earlier – but only in part.  In truth – she really did think the restaurant’s spa-like bathroom merited an extra ten dollars on the bill for brunch.  After all, bathrooms were a kind of sanctuary – the most intimate of activities (both sexy and embarrassing) were done there.

It was clean, tidy, tiled, and decorated in richly dark colors to create an ambiance of relaxation and comfort.  The leather lounge chairs in a tucked away corner were lighted, inviting you to sit and read or enjoy a moment of reprieve from the hustle and scurry that were just outside the door.  Most impressive was the choice it offered in soaps and lotions to top off your potty experience.  “Vanilla Mulberry,” or “Lime Patchouli” for soaps and four other flavors of lotions were displayed at the sinks and on the walls facing those mirrored masterpieces of granite.  Heaven.

In what was usually the most offensive olfactory environment in most places, this restaurant had offered a bouquet of pleasant aromas.  She couldn’t decide which soap to use, so she used both and washed her hands twice.

Two hours later when the woman dressed in three layers of clothing crammed into the airline seat next to her – the heavy stench of body odor permeating every square foot of air around – she was overjoyed that her hands still smelled of patchouli.

Code: Yellow Butterfly – Part 2 of 2

Yellow-Butterfly-Macro - West Virginia - ForestWanderMusic reaches out from the little car’s speakers and wrestles with her mood.  Now drums – pumping her blood and thumping her foot.  Now strings – loosing her shoulders and strumming her heart.  She takes a deep breath and slows the car to the posted speed limit; she lets the sunshine fabric of the world outside saturate her soul.  “This is working,” she thinks.

Winding around the river twists of the road, she hums the change of tune – even smiles, just a little.  “This is working.”  Ahead, a fairy-like minstrel of peace is singing the sunlight through its tiny, yellow wings.  The butterfly – an electric symbol of her new attitude – darts, dances, bobs and bounces.  It tickles the scene like a paintbrush of cheer as she rounds the corner going 40 miles per hour.  Then someone pulls the plug.

The tiny harbinger dives suddenly – disappears in front of the car’s hood.  She doesn’t react.  Rabbits, foxes, deer, elk – these and more have trained her eye and steering against reacting in haste and dying on these Idaho roads.  The rear-view mirror plays the visual requiem as she watches.  The stringed instruments of her hope pluck the “money note” as the yellow dancer rises, high in the air.  Half a second after, the contralto that lives inside her mind wails the Verismo, that tragic truth she knew, deep down, was coming.  The butterfly falls, in a straight yellow line, to the road behind her. “You can’t change your mood today,” she tells the road ahead.  One last glance, to be sure, and the Aria of her intellect begins.  “You can only change your outside.”

Relaxing into her pissed off, grime of depression – she resolves to leave her anger in check with a simple strategy.  She imagines scenarios at work:  happy people, needy people, hurried and stressed people, all of them wanting more than a nod or smile as they approach.  “Yellow Butterfly!” she imagines her self talk as she encodes this lesson into her brain.  “Don’t kill it; don’t admire it; don’t think you can feed from its trough of positive energy.”  She pulls into the parking lot, turning everything motor or electronic off except her intentions.  She practices once more before walking inside.

“Yellow Butterfly – walk away!”