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.

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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.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Promises to Not Keep

I don’t like using the word “never.”  Still, I think it’s called for today.

Never say you’ll do something “when hell freezes over.”  In the world we live in today that isn’t such a far-fetched scenario.  In fact, I said I felt like going to work maybe when the bowels of Hades burped dry ice (how many ways can you say “hell freezes over?”), and it began raining down a storm of hail stones about five minutes ago.  Frozen little pebbles flailed against my tin roof rent house and buffeted my little Toyota Yaris parked in the drive.  I ask you – is it not nearly April?

Earthquakes and Tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes, mudslides and flash floods, blizzards … this is our little rock in space now.   There’s really nowhere you can live these days where a natural disaster of some kind isn’t possible.  My point?  Don’t base your safety on geography, and don’t set conditions for your compliance or behavior contingent on a raging, hormonal lady nature that you have absolutely no control over.

Lost: Cape

It’s a bird’s eye view I get – on the drive to and from work. I hit play on my iPod and listen to the latest book I’m into; then maybe two or three minutes in, I’m off on a tangent. Could have been a word that tripped my trigger. Could have been a concept, like “calling a friend,” or “a tsunami in Malaysia,” and I’m outside the car window, traipsing through the tundra with light bulbs and peppermints.

I know all the twists and curves by now. I seem to leave the mechanical part of my body, muscle-memory activated, at the wheel when I go on these side trips. Sometimes I don’t know how I manage not to get a speeding ticket, or how I avoid hitting a cow standing in the road. But when I drift into the cockpit, the speedometer is always right at 50. I don’t have cruise control. My foot just knows by now, I guess.

A delicious word spoken by the narrator and I’m off on another errand of make-believe. I eventually got wise, and nowadays I cue my phone’s voice recorder before I pull out onto the road. I never remember it all the right way later. It’s a bird’s eye view I get, on those winding roads, into my storytelling superpower.

Now, if I could just find my damn cape.

Cruel Cruel Summer

When I was a kid I escaped into a fuzzy box that measured about a foot and a half by a foot and a half called our television.  It was black and white and usually the picture included those reception flurries, but I was young and had imagination on my side.  One particular show that got stuck in my psyche had to do with some bratty kids (older than me at the time I first watched) who played a very mean trick on a girl by locking her in a closet during the only day of that decade that they could go out and play in the sunlight.  Even then I was hypnotized by sci-fi stories.

The story reached into my little heart and squeezed any chance that I would develop a hope for humanity until long into my adult years.  Given that I was often the brunt of childhood bullying and cruelty, I could identify with the theme.  A group of children prepared for the one time they might get to see the sun, play in the warmth of its rays, and soak up its infusion of happy reprieve from a dark and rainy world that enveloped them for every ten years of their lives.  This is how I remember it.  And to the best of my recollection, without provocation these children turned on one little girl and thought it would be funny to lock her in a closet and taunt her.  But in the midst of their cruel joke, a bell or whistle summoned them for their outdoor adventure.  As each child peeled away, the ones left, one-by-one, faced one of those split-second conundrums we find so regular in life.  If they let the girl out, they’d be in trouble.  If they ran, the children left would have to deal with it.  And of of course, the last few children ran faster to avoid making the decision.

100_1616.JPGThey rushed to answer the call, forgetting the girl they had bullied.  They frolicked and had their rings around the rosies, their hide and seek; they had their flower picking tree climbing sport.  Music played in the background as the show transported the viewer into their little hearts and minds, muscles and motivation awakening, depression sloughing off, and a Spring rebirth set of emotions were solicited.

Then the music changed and the sky darkened, as if reminding us (the children and the viewer) of the evil deed we had almost forgotten.  As the rain cried it’s sadness for the condemned little brats, they returned to the building with its fake sun lamps and confining walls.  And, I remember this the most, they suddenly balked at what they had done.  It was as if they had just been joking and meant to let her out before they all went outside, but had been overcome with excitement and forgotten.  I think that is what stuck with me the most.  They regretted what they had done, but my little mind realized for the first time that “sorry” and regret don’t change cruelty and hurt.

The television production of this story tried to end in resolution.  They let the little girl out with timidness and quiet, gathered in a little circle of trepidation and sensitivity … even gave her the treasures they had plundered while outside.  Showered with flowers and such, she smiled and apparently forgave them.  But even at four years old, I didn’t buy any of it.

I grew up, of course.   As often happens, some event or happenstance tripped my mind and I recalled the captivating show in my adulthood.  For years I searched and searched for a title or series, tried to find that show online or for purchase since it had such an impact on me.  I finally discovered it in a Ray Bradbury short called “All Summer in a Day.”   It’s found in Bradbury’s collection “A Medicine for Melancholy” lately published by HarperCollins e-books on pages 88 – 93.  What a treasure.  It was like finding a twenty in a pocket or book you haven’t checked in months!  Frankly, finding the story in print is the only reason I can describe my faint memories of the television show with such clarity.

There it was – the evidence of those little demons and their evil-dripping doings.  I read with passion, dug in and wrapped the words around me like a security blanket.  Now I would be able to dissect my skepticism in human beings.  Now I would be able to start unpacking my lack of trust in my fellow earthlings.   Then it hit me.  The ending.

“Then one of them gave a little cry.
‘Margot!’
‘What?’
‘She’s still in the closet where we locked her.’
‘Margot.’
They stood as if someone had driven them, like so many stakes, into the floor.  They looked at each other and then looked away.  They glanced out at the world that was raining now and raining and raining steadily.  They could not meet each other’s glances.  Their faces were solemn and pale.  They looked at their hands and feet, their faces down.
‘Margot.’
One of the girls said, ‘Well …?’
No one moved.
‘Go on,’ whispered the girl.
They walked slowly down the hall in the sound of cold rain.  They turned through the doorway to the room in the sound of the storm and thunder, lightning on their faces, blue and terrible.  They walked over to the closet door slowly and stood by it.
Behind the closet door was only silence.
They unlocked the door, even more slowly, and let Margot out.”

Bradbury didn’t sugarcoat it.  He didn’t explain it away as a childhood foolishness, a resolvable conflict.  Unlike the producers of the television adaptation, he allowed the full frontal nakedness of the situation to take hold of the reader.  His ending plunged me into the hollow, vacant hole that bullying  and cruelty leave in their wake.  It drew attention to the deadening of the heart and a thickening of the skin, requiring years of positives to undo the single negative done in a child’s development stages.  There is NOTHING after they open the door and let their victim out.

I work with youth, teenagers actually.  And I’m amazed when I see a group of broken, hurting, “struggling to find themselves in others” teenagers begin to form groups and target someone among them.  I don’t care about all I’ve read – touting human nature, the us/them and group-think.  I can appreciate the one time we all fall into that muck, and afterward seeing the fruits of our insecurities and mean spiritedness, resolving to never be the cause of such pain and hurt again.  Yet I still find it hard to understand how a thinking being, having had the chance to see  or analyze their bullying aftermath, can continue with that behavior.

In war, it’s “kill or be killed.”  I get that.  And as a teenager, it can sometimes feel like that in the war on self-esteem and confidence, battling to fit in and/or stand out in a good way.  But I think we’ve devolved when it comes to youth development in this country.  Telling your child to fight back used to be promoted as the best practice for parents, fearfully raising their children to be good people who weren’t taken advantage of by others.  But that didn’t always work with some children.

Those were, and sometimes still are, the children society doesn’t want to acknowledge.  So the “fight back” strategy was deployed full force, and those children that couldn’t were looked upon with pity and, yes, disdain.

Nowadays there are new tactics and different strategies to handle bullying.  Training and educating kids about bullying and it’s components is important.  But when training kids results in a boy claiming he is being bullied because another kid called him a name after he passed gas in the lunch line … I mean really?!

Getting the adults involved is key.  Yes, this detracts from youth developing coping skills in some cases, but it also demands that all children are treated with respect and dignity and raises the seriousness of bullying to a higher level.  Still – we can’t catch them all.

I’m still left with a longing for them to wake-up and GET IT.  Care for your fellow human.  On a microscopic level you are destroying the planet before the next big weapon is even developed.  Photo by inturruptingcowGet over your little developing selves and think about the little developing pal next to you.  Because at the end of the day, I’m still left with an emptiness – wondering, fearing what happens after they let Margot out?

Californians, I Implore You!

In an article on Discovery News, by Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor of LiveScience, he writes:

“In February 1975, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Haicheng, a city of 1 million people located in China’s Liaoning province. But one day earlier, city officials ordered an evacuation based in part on reports of strange animal behavior: Hibernating snakes in the area, for example, abandoned their winter hideouts months before normal. The early evacuation of Haicheng is credited with saving thousands of human lives.”

Can Oarfish Predict Earthquakes? : Discovery News.

And now, according to this article, an 14-foot long oarfish was found on an island beach off Southern California a little over a week ago, the second one in five days.  The first one was 18-feet.

Can Oarfish Predict Earthquakes? : Discovery News

I grew up learning that an earthquake could result in the Sunshine State slipping along its fault line and sliding into the ocean.  Of course, teachers said that was an old theory and that most scientists had more recently repented of their claims, admitting that such a cataclysmic event could be hundreds of years in the future.  I remember thinking, “Why take the risk?”  I couldn’t understand how people living there could go about their day-to-day lives without fearing this event.  An even older me wondered if scientists downplayed the possibility, much like they did when politicians ignored or discredited the global warming research, because high-dollar condo owners, realtors, (etc.etc.) with vested interests in keeping the region marketable put the screws to them.

Does that make me a conspiracy theorist?  An alarmist?  There are other articles out there about this that do not ring the bell in the tower.  This one, for instance, focuses on the science and … I appreciate that.

What I know is, if I had been living there and come across this ancient looking fish on the beach that day, the second in five days, I wouldn’t have been among the smiling group showing it off in this photo.  I’d have been the one racing home to pack my house and get the heck out of there.  Why isn’t anyone making a bigger deal out of this?  I know whales beach all the time, but does this kind of thing happen all the time – the deep sea creatures beaching?  Is this article just exploiting something that is a common occurrence?

Flow Engaged

Cotton Candy

There’s a swish and I’m disengaged.  It’s that moment between wakefulness and sleep, when I can still hear the crickets or the podcast, but I don’t feel the rest of my body.  That moment when my inner self tells me, demands me to rest.  I rarely listen.  I fight my own parts, surreal and tangible, and instead grope at one last thing.  I work all day and tend to chores and “have to” items when I get home.  What ever happened to that swirled fabric of space/time, wrapped around us like cotton-candy, that we used to call “free time?”

In my aged writing state, there’s a different sort of existence that happens nearly every day.  It comes when the ocean of fatigue begins to swallow me, and I fight tooth and nail, to regain the surface.  That one-more-thing is waiting, I know it, like an inflated raft marked “good book,” or a piece of driftwood known as “write something.”  It would feel so good to just let the waters have me, yet I want just one more thing in my head, or out of it.

It’s at these times that, if I’m smart and lucky, I can write like a pro.  There’s enough energy to hold real still and let my fingers do the talking, as my creative energy flows to the keyboard without the daily grind inhibitors or the analysis corruption that happen when I’m fully awake.  That’s when flow occurs for me.  It’s not good for my heart health, but perhaps it’s less harmful than cigarettes.

The Politics of Esteem

Havre Train Station - Amtrak

On a 20 hour train ride from Spokane to Minot I overheard a conversation that resulted in my sadness and poor outlook on the human race – myself a member.  Somewhere around Havre, MT two women got on board with a wealth of other new passengers.  Those of us who had treasured our two-seat comfort were disappointed, but it was to be expected sooner or later.

These two women were fascinating to watch because, although they shared a common language (accent) and geography, they were the epitome of night and day.  Julie was thin, fit, and of average stature.  Janice was shorter and rotund, and her shirt revealed her backside whenever she bent over to get anything out of her bag.  Julie was stylish in her stone washed jeans, layered fashion t-shirts, and textured Justin boots.  Apparently Janice and her husband used to live across from Julie and her husband years ago.  And today they had met at the Havre train depot, both of them headed back to Minnesota.

In listening to their conversation, I learned that Julie is a cancer survivor.  Janice sent her a card after she learned about her former neighbor’s plight months ago.  She asked if Julie got it.  She did.  She had just decided not to respond.  Who knows?  Maybe surviving a near death experience like cancer makes you simplify and you worry less about social expectations like returning a correspondence.

During their initial exchange, Janice made several attempts to reconnect.  She even settled for getting their husbands (who apparently used to be good friends) back in touch.  Julie’s husband was up in Canada on his Harley enjoying a ride so that he wouldn’t miss Julie as much while she was gone.  I got the feeling that Janice’s husband still works.

Growing up, my parents were never really the social butterflies you see on those sitcoms where neighbors talk to neighbors over the fence and have the occasional barbecues.  And even today, when I move to a new place, its very difficult for me to be neighborly.  But Julie and Janice, from the clues in their conversation, had been the kind of neighbors that take baked goods to each other and collect each other’s mail when they’re out of town.  I was having trouble liking Julie as this went on.

Julie said words that were to be expected when Janice spoke.  She replied at the appropriate times and even came and leaned on the empty seat in front of us near the end of the conversation to face her “friend” and engage fully.  But Julie spoke a different kind of language with her body language, the words she chose, and her tone.  In Julie-language she quite obviously said, “I’m so far past you … so much better than you … this won’t go anywhere after we get off the train.”  Her replies near the end said, “I’ve been there, done that,” or “Oh, I can do you one better.”

Julie has beaten cancer and she is happy to talk about it to anyone that wants to hear.  She likes the way they look at her after she tells them.  As soon as a fellow passenger (a rather artsy looking Seattleite with long, well kempt hair and Birkenstocks) heard a name he recognized, he joined in the conversation.  Visually comparing the two, Julie quickly dropped Janice like a hot potato.  Janice may not have noticed, but I did and for some deep seeded reason I felt pissed.

Doug and Julie realized they had several relatives in common and began talking about what a small world it was and how uncanny it was to discover each other.  Julie got the attention she’d been seeking, in the package she preferred.  I know the label is used more commonly on men, but I have to say that Julie was a tool.  I watched as Janice slowly settled herself in for a long train ride next to a total stranger (me) who didn’t like to talk much.  Was I projecting some underlying sadness of my own in this social defeat of Janice’s?  Perhaps.

But with each conversation, each one so unlike me to instigate or perpetuate, I was speaking to Janice in Julie-language.  “We’re real, dammit.  We matter.  We GET that everything in life doesn’t work out perfect and fit in neat little designer Justin’s or Birkenstocks.  Our joys are just as important as anyone else’s.  Our pains are just as relevant.  We may not have been to the chemical warfront and returned to tell our stories over scars and glasses of fine wine.  But cancer comes in many forms.  Self-serving social cancer can hurt people too.  We will pray for Julie’s condition.”

My Hugging Coach

When I tell you that I went to a “hugging coach,” it’s important you know two things. First, it was by accident that I became a student of the hug. Second, it is the only subject I ever failed.   For reasons I will not explain at this writing, I am a very socially awkward individual. In crowded settings I squawk like a chicken and screech like an eagle while people are, all around me, whispering. I’m speaking metaphorically here, of course. I don’t actually make those noises; I’m actually rather quiet. But that’s how it feels to be in social settings without a clear mission.

When I was younger, I was spared some terrible embarrassment when, seeing I was new and shy, an 11th grade English teacher pointed me toward the Drama Club. Learning how to come out of my shell and pretend I had other traits and skills was essential to my development into, and survival as, an adult. My favorite trait to imitate is confidence. An element I lack, that I try to overcompensate for when necessary, is affection of the sentimental type. I don’t mean I find it difficult to show or express love to someone I care deeply about. I don’t have much trouble giving hell to people I dislike. The complication exists when people that I’m not so adamant about attempt to express something, sort of, in the middle. I mean, well let me paint a picture.

Picture it – 1998. A swarm of teenagers in uniform transformed from stationary pillars of silence, in neat little ranks and files – to a raucous gaggle of excited children, racing for their parents’ arms. I had just dismissed the cadets from the final formation before liberty. My boss and mentor at the time smiled at each of the staff as he thanked them, and wished them a pleasant time off duty. With each hand shake, he pulled them in for a hug, and sent each one hot-stepping it home for some much needed “R & R.” I felt my face blanch and casually disappeared below decks to log off the computers and gather my things. He headed me off as I tried walking past him on the gangway.

“Good job Team Leader S,” he grinned and reached an arm out toward my shoulder. He was going for that hug. I grimaced and leaned in slightly. I felt the coach-like pat on my back as our shoulders bumped. I was thankful that I had thought to carry enough out so that both my hands were encumbered, leaving me no arm to return the “Go Team!” hug. “We’ll make a hugger out of you yet, Ms. S.” His laughter wasn’t mocking, or demeaning. He was a good mentor and I appreciated his outlook and experience. But he knew, along with everyone else on the team, that I was not that particular brand of person described as, “a hugger.”

This is one story, one of many that preceded and followed it, that outlines my social adversities as they pertain to hugging (among other situations). It wasn’t until, close to 8 years later, I started dissecting my mental insides and deduced – something was rotten in the state of me. That’s when I was referred to a hugging coach. That wasn’t what was on her business card, sure, but that’s the essence of what she was.

With her help, I delved into the family tree, sought roots for my various jungles, and found trails I could hike to escape, survive, or make peace with my fears run amok. I did some journaling, reconnected with my spiritual beliefs, and talked more to her than to any other person prior to that time. Life was okay, and then life was good. The most memorable aspect that still resounds in my head from those sessions is the “hug practice.”

I had explained that I was uncomfortable, for many reasons, with hugging everyday friends. Which angle do you use when going in for the hug? What do you do with your arms and hands? What about people who are different heights? What if you hug one person who is standing next to someone you don’t want to hug, and they indicate a hug is in order? It’s all so ridiculously horrid to have to decipher and process!

My hugging coach did her best. She provided simple logic to these and other questions. We practiced scenarios; she even taught me a particular hug that seemed to solve all my problems. The “Sideways Hug” allows you to keep the front of your body free from bodily contact, while still offering an arm to the person who feels they absolutely must be hugged by you. If done correctly (I should say, “skillfully”), the two of you will resemble a greeting card to onlookers. It will be as if you are posing for a picture.  If don’t clumsily, the accosting hugger will try to fold that card, thereby negating your attempts at diplomacy, and throw their second arm around your neck. This not only defeats the purpose, but results in a situation exponentially more uncomfortable than if you had just stiffened and allowed the original hug attack to occur.

Kidding aside, I know that a person who feels the need to touch another person in public, to enter their personal space, does not always do so callously. For some, a hug is a great way to punctuate a final, parting sentence, and is no more an invasion than a “high five.” For others, perhaps they subconsciously sense a connection with you, and want to physically acknowledge it in a way that makes you aware of it too. So … just to clarify, hugs are not always attacks. Regardless of how thoughtless and assuming huggers may seem, I don’t take their advances to heart anymore.

That said, I never mastered the art of the hug. I was able to identify, to analyze, to compensate or overcome. I turned much of what I learned from my “hugging coach,” into ink or bytes. Scripture says blood is the life of the animal; I think ink is the life of the imagination. And while I may not be likely to welcome a hug physically, I am certainly interested in receiving “hugs” in the form of feedback in the comment section. Let’s hear it. How many artists out there identify with a distaste for crowds, an awkwardness in social settings, or are prone to verbal faux pas?  Any other non-huggers out there?

Time to Write

To open my mac now, with the sounds of playing children and laughing families mingling with the smells of barbecue and wood burning stoves … all of it wafting through my window, well it feels so weird.  “Time to write” – what a foreign concept.

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Off the Grid

Today the phones went out.  It feels like one of those scary movies where a small town in the sticks is suddenly, and without warning, shut off from the rest of the civilized world.  Because most of the town gets what little internet it has over the phone lines – there’s absolutely no way to get any message to the outside world short of packing up and driving the hour trip to a place where there might be phone or internet.

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From the Womb

I think the moment I came out of the womb I was too crowded.  It’s why I spend so much time in the bathroom.  Not because I primp or spend hours putting on lipstick. I only wear blush.  I need more time by myself to be myself. I need more time with my voices of reason and calmness.

Tonight I drove up French Mountain road and turned left on Shanghai Divide.  It was a dangerous, beautiful, peaceful ride.  I saw a black bear cub, three white tail deer, and some bunny rabbits.  No one talked to me and I didn’t have to listen.

Tonight was the first night in a long time that I’ve missed my 8pm goal to post something.  I sacrificed 24 minutes to gain my sanity.  Life is good.

First Lines – Sometimes you’re nearly spent before the ride even starts

Like a thick, red velvet curtain, opening sentences pull open the imagination and anticipation. Hardwiring an instant connection with the mind of the writer, the opening sentences carve a groove in your soul to fit the rest of the story into. If shiny, resounding, or even just steady or clever – they crack the resolve open and spill out respect and gratitude for the author. Sometimes you’re nearly spent before the ride even starts. Continue reading

Church-Lady Perfume

A stench that was once a curiosity – old fashioned “church lady” perfume.  Of course that’s a fragment, but so is the memory.  I recall a tiny, smooth bottle with a glass stopper, filled with what would become two dissonant memories. Continue reading