Thursday, December 30, 2010

Skunk Thinking

“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose one self.” - Soren Kierkegaard

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When I first announced taking my writing seriously, I was told certain anonymity would be required for professionalism. On some things I might agree, on others I feel the human equivalent of a writer can’t be ignored and makes them more assessable - real. In all things we need a certain level of reality to slip in from time to time. This post is one example.

The bottom of the bed bounces up and down; a little earthquake announcing a restless pup is convinced I’m long past good morning, and in need of a nudge. With a playful smirk, peeking with one eye open, she knows, I know she’s up to mischief. Pretending to yawn, my arm stretches overhead pulling the blankets over my face. Did she take the bait? My giggles warm a breathy patch of sheet layered over nose and mouth.

Within moments I’m on a trampoline, jostled, “Oomph!” A four legged ball of fur launches toward me. Her cold nose snuffs the sheet above my eyes. Unable to suffuse my laughter any longer I burst from the covers and tackle her in a playful hug. She happily settles beside me with her head lain over my stomach. I let the quiet settle around us for a few moments. How she recognizes what I need dumfounds me, but she does. Pup and woman alike, we master stillness.

“January is almost here,” I whisper.

Pickles perks up her head, ready to listen, waiting, but my melancholy silences any more complaints.

You’re happier when you write,” his words echo from memory. Words are hard to come by right now, I argue silently. I can’t do this, just leave me be. The well wasn’t empty by a long shot; words hang in the balance, ready and willing to pour like a fount from me. My courage had temporarily plugged up the flow, like a stopper in a kitchen sink. Stupid skunk, over thinking every single nuance, worried to the point of defining me by…January…

An Anniversary creeps forward, closer and closer, day by day. My eyes squeeze shut tight as if that could slow time.

“You’ve been deaf for six years; it’s a date nothing more, nothing less…” With determination I throw back the covers and stomp around the bed. Pickles stands in the middle of the bed, head cocked, unsure what to do. I glance into those deep brown eyes and shrug my shoulders – lost myself.

“Where is the courage I possessed back then?” I ask burying my face into the scruff of fur at her neck. Haven’t I proven I’m more than this yet?” A tear cascades over sleep chaffed skin and I’m transported back to my former self, who wanted to give up because communication seemed near impossible. Fiercely wiping my pajama sleeve across my eyes, I scold, “Knock it off, coward. This is nothing, nothing compared to yesterday.” One sum – that’s the equivalent you’re allowed for your deafness, I vowed silently.

Whatever I fear will never be the sum of who I am as a person. Of course I’m afraid of succeeding or not, we all are in one form or another. You only fail or can rightfully be accused of cowardice if you DON’T try. I’m a writer and as long as the words flow, I’m going to continue to challenge my fears. This is small compared to what I’ve already accomplished. 2011 will be the writers year, my year.

My wish for you in the coming year: Conquer your fears – try, it’s all anyone can ask. You’ll find courage when you least expect it. It stares back at me, every day from a pair of deep brown eyes. See yourself through another’s eyes, you will be amazed.

Happy New Year!




Picture from here

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Life and Times...of a Dog

"When the Man waked up he said,
'What is Wild Dog doing here?'
And the Woman said,
'His name is not Wild Dog any more,
but the First Friend,
because he will be our friend
for always and always and always.'"
- Rudyard Kipling

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I feel fur brush against skin, a comingling of human and animal hair. The couch reverberates with warm breathy snores, disrupted by a gentle oomph and contented sigh accentuated by the occasional warm sleepy head nudge. Her presence is warming in more ways than the heavy weight she pushes against me trying to get as close as humanly possible.

I get nostalgic this time of year; it’s her birthday and the anniversary of my awakening. Sounds colossal describing our beginnings this way - the pure simplicity of need that attaches us in more ways than not. Need, is such a heavy handed word. We two souls, hers and mine, are to each other a kindred friendship made to last a lifetime.

On December 12th, 2006, Pickles entered my life for the first time and wove her spell.

What’s so special about her? Besides the fact she’s a Katrina survivor or quite literally my ears? She’s the embodiment of compassion and life. For those who don’t know our story - I’m deaf and she’s my working dog. Trust me, I didn’t realize the possibilities either until a thing called need, pointed me in her direction. Nor did I understand, sometimes gifts of spirit arrive in the most unexpected guise.

Where did we (dog and woman) begin? - In stillness. It’s no secret I loathed my decent into silence. Hatred appropiately defines my demeanor in those days. So much so, I locked myself away from the world at large. To me going deaf had been a death of sorts and I mourned the loss of my hearing, the life I knew…and then along came Pickles. She was the animal doppelganger to my personality. She’d lost everything in Katrina, her home, her forever family…yet…she stood before me grinning as only a dog can and defied the rules of my closed existence with a challenge in her eyes to be more than my deafness.

Who I am today, started with her: The writer who learned to hear with her eyes. The woman who she (Pickles) taught to dare the impossible, and best friend (to a creature thankfully not human). Never did I imagine the life lessons, such a loving, four legged creature would portray.

You can’t train a bond like ours. Training doesn’t teach a dog to sit beside your bed all night worried when you’re sick (I woke up one morning to a red eyed pup that hadn’t slept a wink, with her head nestled over the edge of the bed). Nor does training teach comfort, laughter, kindness, or any of the numerous daily life lessons that dog and woman alike share.

Like the holiday season itself, there is a hint of something more between us. So with great pleasure I wish you - Happy Birthday Pickles! I couldn’t ask for a more loyal friend and mischief maker.

To everyone else, I wish you all the beauty your hearts can hold, all the spirit and lessons of a dog named Pickles, and words a plenty from a writer who appreciates the small things. Happy Holidays! I’ll see you in the New Year.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm a Dreamer

"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one." - John Lennon

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Thirty years ago today John Lennon was assassinated. I can't imagine not paying tribute in one form or another to the man, the icon that he was. If ever a man believed in dreams...

I'm a dreamer. I'm also a writer who knows when to give the proverbial nod to another, whose words encapsulate whatever I might have said. Please visit (click-->) Glass Cases for an enjoyable tribute we can all take something away from.



Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
-Imagine by John Lennon

Picture from here

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It Came Without...

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?" - Theodor Seuss Geisel

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Sometimes our bodies boycott any notion of doing much else and wind down for a much needed rest; followed by coughs and sniffles which serve as warnings like a beacon signal in the night -an impending cold or virus is on the prowl. In any case a person isn’t much likely to do anything else but give up the ghost of wellness until the foreign entity has taken its due.

Nose sore, eyes bleary with nothing to do outside of sleep, I stare remorsefully out the window watching the rain batten against the roof and windows. The dour and bleak sky mirrors my own mood, a virtual pity party taking place on both sides of the window pane. At that very moment, it came…a slow thickening of condensation, a wind blown chill, and a bit of white. I blinked unsure, wondering if my eyes betrayed me - a hallucination brought on by phlegm clogged senses. How can this be? Not now...not when I’m bedded down sick?

Snow zigzagged down from a charcoal skyline. The wind howled and the flakes grew thick and fell more furious. Sour, lip curled up in a snarl, I pitied me more for being sick. Everything in view wore a cloak of iridescent frost and glimmered, taunting me, as I sat perched childlike in front of the window.

Snow doused memories tug at my heart: A child pouting on Christmas day, not for what wasn’t beneath the tree but for the missing flurries and cold weather she once knew. The young woman spellbound by a winter storm with childish glee. The grown woman who shrieks in laughter in flannel pajamas and slippers kicking up snow and chasing a dog in the indigo moonlight, to a shared kiss in the middle of a busy sidewalk with her face upturned and snowflakes catching in her eyelashes. Giggles rent the air as she breathlessly pursues her husband around their car, snowball in hand, slip-sliding around until she lands face first in a snow bank. So many more…they unfold, these gifts of spirit handed out like seasons of a life.

The snow melted that day. I however, found a sense of ambience despite my sick predicament. Yes, there will be days we scoff and renege on our good sense of compassion and kindness. Days lost to regrettable forlorn. May we have more days of child wonder and laughter than not.

In light of the spirit of the season, I want to take this moment to thank all my loyal friends and readers. You’ve stood by me steadfast and loving despite my continued lackadaisical approach to posting. My muse has definitely been on holiday - on and off the page. Hopefully she’ll return full vigor in the coming weeks. Enjoy the new layout in the meantime - tis’ a kindness for your eyes and mine.

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Large picture from here

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Day in Front of Us

“Our strength is often composed of the weakness we're damned if we're going to show”
– Mignon McLaughlin

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I feel her small body weighing down the cat carrier and a single tear wets my eyelashes. My gut instinct is to open the door and set her free. Instead I reach fingers through the mesh lattice, greeted by whiskers across skin and the sandpaper wetness of tongue licking finger tips. My heart sits in my throat suffocating.

Three months, why couldn’t she understand such a small feat? All she needed to do was settle down and allow herself to fit in, belong for a time. Incomprehensible hatred boils to the surface. How dare she make me an insignificant and unworthy part of her life? The tears come unbidden and I’m ashamed at this emotional outburst. This was never about me.

Then again, I made this about me refusing to see the warning signs: A mind unhinged – from one extreme to another, tinged with sharp hostility, swayed to an impassionate demand for attention in the next heartbeat. Nutmeg’s cruel, greedy possessiveness pushed all away, so none may enter her world – the imbalance to her wanton attention seeking; the merry-go-round encapsulating my summer and providing this moment of introspective abuse.

Standing on the porch a chill permeates the morning: The kind of cold that seeps deep and hardens sore muscles and awakens evening’s longing for warmth in the dusty hues of sundown and sets the night’s hoarfrost glinting in indigo darkness. It’s the last kiss of autumn and promise of snow in the wintry wind across the horizon. The kind of cold warning – time had gotten away from me and I failed this small creature encased in the cat carrier.

She can’t be an inside cat, nor outside for that matter, acting like a dog on attack guard whenever another warm body should approach. I hate again, not her, rather the ignorant excuses of humanity responsible for abandoning her. For there is where it must have began, this unhinging of a mind, this need to possess an enclosed porch where she guarded food and refuge alike from all but her.

With winter approaching, there will be others seeking nourishment and warmth. What cost one soul, for many? Damn the decision, damn the heart that beats in me, and damn the mind which acknowledges I’m making the right decision.

Three days ago I turned Nutmeg over to a shelter we work with. I don’t know anything from the moment she left my home. Somewhere inside of me, I want…I need to be disillusioned and believe someone will notice her wild, mischievous spirit and take her home to a quiet existence of solitary, undivided love. Either way, I don’t want to know. I don’t think my heart can take knowing.

Yesterday, the porch was filled with three warm bodies, happy for the attention, seeking sustenance and shelter against the bitter wind and hard ground. Today, I caught sight of dirty white fur peeking through the trees. More will come, but I’ll forever question this simmering hatred brewed beneath the exterior of my heart and wonder how long before I harden.

Life is a mixture of hope and disbelief, compassion and anger, compromise and willful stubbornness. Without guarantees we blunder our way forward and question our very existence. Every once in a while we get a glimpse, a sampling of a sure thing and hold on for dear life. My writing is that for me, without which I wouldn’t be able to immortalize a cat named Nutmeg. At least as a writer I can write my emotions into words.

I don’t have all the answers, nobody does. I can keep learning and trying till I’m almost there, close to perfect – nothing is ever perfect. So take the day, the task in front of you and find the heart of it. Therein lays the beauty of a life…yours and mine.

[For Nutmeg’s original introduction into my life, go here --> Hysteria .]



Picture from here

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bully Syndrome

*This post isn’t about writing per say. It is however about a writer, her take on life, and the bully syndrome.

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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A friend (Christina Lee) asked me, “If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I and what would it be?”

My first instinct was to say nothing; I would change nothing as we are the sum of our experiences. It’s the same answer I’ve always given. You need to understand, I like who I am right now, at this time in my life. However, when I sat down and contemplated the question over and removed my immediate response, the answer changed.

I grew up with a hearing disability and a mother who insisted by any means possible I would be treated normal and participate in a public school environment – versus a deaf school. Some of you may be cheering in the background and saying, ‘yes – way to go and good for her’. What you don’t see is the hours I’m taken out of class for speech therapy during school hours (alienating me). What you don’t see is the ruthless bullies that flick my hearing aide making it squeal painfully in my ear. No one sees the bullies…ever. The kids who sneer and say, “What?” as if it’s a joke; I learned early on not to give that response when I couldn’t hear ‘what’ someone said.

Excluded, invisible, a joke, freak, afraid of something I couldn’t change (me), ritualistic days of torture…

Following my mother’s example all I ever wanted to be was normal, just like everyone else. So naturally I strived not to stand out in the crowd and become any more noticeable than necessary. The thing is: I wasn’t ‘normal’. I had a disability. There isn’t anything wrong with being different, unique, or having an atypical viewpoint in which you look at life. Today, I realize those kids were insecure, confused human beings afraid of diversity or anything which didn’t fit their boxed perception of life. Cowards whose reaction to fear is brutality.

Diverse means you don’t fit a certain idea of normalcy. The bully mentality doesn’t know how to react to you, because ‘you’ are outside of the box – a four squared boring space, they grew up in – you’re different. In short they’re stumped in a very narrow minded space, a space you’re existence challenges.

My bullies and all the naysayers that claimed I would never be anything, made me who I am today…and I wish I could have shared this lesson with those kids who committed suicide. Eventually, you get a thicker skin and new eyes to witness how pathetic these people truly are. Space is existential, consisting of time and place. Every one of us shares their space with strangers at any given moment. No one should be required to beg, plead, or change to fit in someone’s space, click, or group dynamics. No one has the power to demand that of you, nor should they.

These days I still come across the bullies all grown up - One of those narrow minded individuals who can’t comprehend how a deaf woman can speak eloquently, or carry on a conversation with them because she reads lips. I worked away my childhood to fit into their world. Today, I’m so damn comfortable in my skin and thrilled I don’t ‘have’ to share my space with these diminutive individuals.

So what would I change about myself? I’d learn to become comfortable in my skin sooner and learn to let the bullies co-exist, lumped in a separate world (narrow like their mindset). A world I would grow out of and learn to expand my wings. I wish I knew then, to be proud of me, in all my unique differences.

What advice would I give the bullied me: Don’t let anyone clip your wings; the heights you will soar are beyond anything you ever imagined.



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Monday, October 18, 2010

Basement Santa

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My body is tilted off balance with the laundry basket propped on my hip one handed, while I struggle to slide the bolt lock to the basement door back with the other. I hesitate before opening the door as a shiver played my spine like a xylophone. A sign of bad karma, bad luck? Open the door already wimp.

Without a doubt, basements hold their own element of suspense; they’re damp, cold, concrete enclaves’ playing guest appearances in almost ever horror movie ever made. Creepy basements don’t bother me. However, a dirt encrusted, soot smudged, unblinking mannequin, in a bad version of a 60’s Santa suit scares the crap out of me. We’ve all encountered ‘that’ Santa at one point or another in our lives and balled our eyes out, convinced there was no freaking way Santa was anything like the mall version. The problem - ‘my’ version of evil Santa is lurking in the basement.

My laundry had no sympathy for my fear, growing into a mountainous heap more threatening than Santa. The laundry and the smell won, hands down. Ascending the stairs into the bowels of basement hell, cold air wafts up to greet me. My eyes fall on Santa in high-water red overalls, missing his boots. I do believe he was missing a few toes as well. His beard a rat’s nest gray, fingers posed into claws. Why anyone ever thought this spectacle could entice someone into a music store during the holidays is beyond me. On closer inspection, I realize the paint on one of Santa’s eyes has been scraped off and I can’t help but shudder.

I hugged the contour of the stairs, trying desperately not to brush up against Basement Santa and rush to put in a load of laundry and be done with it. When I turned around, there he sat in all his demented glory, bent forward into the passage between the wall and the stairs. Had he moved?

I refused to run back up the stairs, squaring my shoulders and forcing myself to walk stiffly by. Santa’s hand lifted up off his lap. I ran like the wind up the stairs and slammed the door shut, leaning against the door with all my weight and breathing heavy. Thump, thump, the door bounced against my back from the weight of something on the other side. Holy crap on a cracker (trust me, my profanity would turn virgins into heathens – this is the polite version).

Imagine every horror movie cliché you’ve ever watched. Now remember screaming at the screen, “Don’t open that door…don’t go outside…look out…” - you get the idea. Now start screaming at me. So what do I do? Make like a cliché and grab a pan and open the door. My cat Socrates flies out of the dark snarling and screeching like a banshee. I slam the door shut behind her, slide the bolt home, and avoid the basement until Santa’s evicted.

Was Socrates the guilty culprit? Probably. In any case, I hate mannequins.

The moral of this story? I’m deep in the midst of revisions and I’m finding more words are getting evicted in the same fashion as Santa than not. Does it scare me? I’d say it’s on an even keel with Basement Santa. On that analogy alone, cleaning out the basement (first draft) of my manuscript is bound to have the same profound effect. Useless words and structure bog down a storyline. Just like Santa wouldn’t be half as scary if he actually had a twinkle in his eye and rosy cheeks, my words will flow into lyrical prose.

I’m much happier writing the horror on the page in front of me than living it. Anyone remember Silent Night, Deadly Night? (Winks) Don’t let your fears keep you from finding out what’s on the other side of the door.

*On a side note: Basement Santa is a more appropiate story for Halloween than the holidays. I’m really not a Santa prude. Where did he end up? On someone else’s porch.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Perfectly Imperfect

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” – Henry Miller

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For weeks on end, I searched; bereft of actually knowing what I needed to find. One moment I would be overcome by domestic frenzy, unwilling to leave a thing undone…and the next I’m lost staring off into the woods with longing etched across my face. Frantic slowly eased into submissive boredom. Apparently, the middle ground is what I found lacking as the days rolled into a month of unsettled compromise.

Whenever the opportunity afforded itself, the open road would call and beckon and I…I would answer. Full of apprehension – tinged with a huge dose of hope, my eyes searched the rolling countryside and scaled the mountains; waiting, watching, for what may come.

Minutes passed into hours, days, and weeks, until the mountainside began to wear a cloak of russet amber and burgundy maple. Goldenrod bent in waves, a sea of yellow nodding from the open fields. Squirrels were no longer frolicking playfully (it’s been a while since a crab apple bounced off my head), rush about cheeks swollen with their winter gathering. For some reason this saddened me. My malaise hadn’t hindered the ever tireless trek of time.

On the road once again, the trip winding down and the pup in need of relief, we stop. In due time she discovers a steep path on an incline, I glance down with misgivings. Oh it’s doable, getting back up would be another thing altogether. The sun glints off something out of the corner of my eye. Pickles had caught the scent of the water and looked up at me begging. Can you guess who won?

I breathe in deep the aroma of river water, mud stones, and damp earth, while standing in the shallow river bed, wet jeans and sneakers, socks soaked through. No, I hadn’t planned on wading in the river with my clothes on. Pickles tends to pick and choose the eventful scenarios and how they play out, more times than not.

The sun warmed the top of my head, the water felt refreshing not cold at all. On each side the river stones went on for miles, an invitation to explore as far as the eye could see. A coil begins to unwind inside of me and I come alive, a smile spreading across my face. Here – here is what I was searching for. Someplace new and untamed, a place where silence echoed and bounced back to me splashed on the shoreline and against my limbs. Imperfectly perfect.

A burnt orange leaf dips and weaves over the stones following the twist and turns of the water – Pickles pounces before the leaf disappears. Kind of like the words I’ve needed these past weeks; flowing along at a trickle, me trying to pounce on the relevant ones, the perfect revision. Perfect words are rare. Imperfect lives with instances of perfection, an easier find.

I’d forgotten the one facet that makes me the kind of writer I am. I’m there in the imperfections, the storyteller who tells the story through my eyes and lets you in.

In searching for the perfection, I forgot to let myself into my own story, my own imperfect creation and I lost the most essential ingredient of all – my words. Revisions are hell, but I have to remember not to lose me in the process.

But then again, I think sometimes you have to get lost in order to find yourself. Hard to believe it’s as simple as that…



Picture from here

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scream like a Girl

“A girl is a person who screams at the mouse and smiles at the wolf.” Shyam Kapoor

Let’s get a couple things straight here; I’ve never been a screamer. Maybe, it’s the tomboy in me, but I don’t ever remember letting out one of those high pitched wailing screams - A scream capable of sending a shudder dancing up someone’s spine and teeth chattering in grinding pulsation.

Since we’re trading personality traits, I'll readily admit I am a flinger. I’m 98% sure all humans are ingrained with the fling reflex on the off chance something offending, somehow finds its way into their hand.

All these things play a role in the following story. Beware what happens when a writer’s imagination gets away with her.

I turned off the light and snuggled down into clean sheets and up to Paul. My hand absently strokes against something rough, which tickles my palm (this isn’t that kind of story). I immediately felt along the length of my braid to the tail end, making sure my braid wasn’t the culprit. The realization that’s not me slams home with a shudder. Fingers outstretched, I explore the space beside my pillow once again. Oh holy mother…whatever it is, is now in my hand with legs, lots of legs. I fling it toward the end of the bed.

Now here’s where it gets stupid, really stupid. I should have known. A classic ‘don’t open that door’ moment from a horror movie. For one the working dog wonder did not run out of the room post haste with her tail tucked between her legs, and she’s deathly afraid of bugs.

Reluctant to turn on the light like a frightened little girl, I refused to be alarmed and curl back up under the covers, only to stare restless for hours at the end of the bed. Waiting. My eyes droop heavily, shuttering open and closed in a fitful fight against the sandman and sleep. Slumber wins in a welcome tired reprieve.

Mere minutes later, my eyes fly open. Something had scurried crablike over my wrist and off. A low moan, escapes my lips. Fingers curl inward and around the revolting crawling heap until goo leaks down over my knuckles, followed by a crackling pop. I react and fling the predatory nuisance over the edge of the bed. With a groan, I grab up a handful of tissues and scrub at my hand.

At this point you would think (at least the logical assumption would be), I’d turn on a light to see my nemesis. Instead, I push myself deep into the middle of the bed - shoving Paul to the edge and almost off the far side, and wrap the sheets and quilt around me tight, leaving my side of the bed bare. I sat vigil waiting, expecting something to come crawling over the edge with possible reinforcements this time.

Dare I peek? The way my night was going? Not a chance. At this rate, I’d find the boogey man hiding under the bed. Four AM – I finally fall into a fitful sleep.

The next morning emboldened by the light of day, I searched every square inch of my bedroom for the night creeper. Nothing – not one single insectile leg or denizen was to be found.

So now we’ve established three things: I’m not a screamer, I’m a flinger, and I’m a writer. If only I could stop psyching myself out and imagining a nauseating creature crawling off to lick her wounds and spawning more of her ilk for revenge.

Things of note:
*Paul would have gladly come to my rescue had I awoke him.
**No one was bitten by a repugnant bug during this reenactment.
***Writer’s tend to let their imaginations create dystopia realities, when confronted by alien like bugs.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hysteria

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

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I stood in front of the door to the music room, my hand held in midair over the doorknob ready to push the door open. With a weary sigh, I let my hand drop to my side and walk over to the stairs and sit down, sorely disappointed with myself.

Shut in the room sat my latest rescue cat. Never in all the years, of saving these abandoned animals had I feared one. Nutmeg – so named for her coloring, had found me not long after she had gotten pregnant. Nothing but skin and bones, Paul and I had made the decision to have her pregnancy terminated in order to save this tiny cat - who wove around our legs while we decided her fate. Gentle, loving, wanting to please, and be held Nutmeg, came back a very different animal.

Paul gave up his music room and his lessons for two weeks in order to give her time to heal and recover - twelve long days to be exact. Two days later she bit deep into the meat of my hand. She’s nervous and afraid I reasoned and didn’t think much of it. The next day she lashed into my leg so violently, I bled and would sport bruises for over a week. Paul joked, "Must be you." She appeared fine for him. That same day she left three scratches across his face.

So, I sat on the steps, embarrassed this tiny tyrant had gotten the best of me. In an act of bravado, I strode to the door and went in and dared to approach my nemesis. She purred and curled up in my lap. I cried, I didn’t trust her and wanted so much to make her right again. Slowly but surely Meg as she came to be known in her gentler times, healed. The day we had to cut her stitches and remove them (due to the nature of her health the vet chose not to put in dissolvable stitches) both Paul and I, anticipated a few scars. Much to our chagrin and surprise, she gave us little resistance.

We now have one last hurdle - find her a home, where she’s the only pet. Our (not so) gentle Meg, isn’t so kind to other animals. She fights for everything and anything. Alone she’s the gentlest creature around. If she appears to be a kitten in the above photo, she is. I still believe there is a home, a place where she belongs, and I’ll find it. I haven’t given up on her.

I came to realize over the past three weeks, dealing with her is not much different than writing. The courage it takes to open a door and risk what lies on the other side; is the same courage that continued to spur me on as I wrote the final pages of my current book. I’m in awe of what I accomplished (animal and book). I left the last thousand or so words until yesterday…I wanted to keep them close and refused to let them go, languishing in the ending.

In a year and some odd months, I’ve written three books – Close to 232,000 words. If that isn’t practice and determination, I don’t know what is. There are still revisions to be made on my latest work in progress. But not unlike working with Nutmeg, I’m resolved and passionate enough about what I do – someday a book of mine, will find its way into a publishing house. Courage is the single step you take, one in front of the other, into your dreams. I can’t/won’t be one of those people who sit back and wonder about the ‘what if’s’. I plan to finish what I started, and go on to start another and another…Because dreams were never one dimensional.

*In a side note: We have rescued pregnant cats before and watched over them full term, finding homes for the kittens after they were old enough to be weaned. This decision wasn't made lightly. The health of the mother, overrode all else. Everything we do with these rescues is out of pocket. We’re making a difference one animal at a time and I’ll continue writing one page at a time. Life, it's about those things we are most passionate about.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Missing

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Missing, gone, off the airwaves, definitely NOT here - If there is even a ghost of a chance I can return soon...

As it stands right now, I’m haunting the air waves, a spirit on the line that can’t reach out and connect. Thanks due to my internet provider, who doesn’t understand my predicament. Trust me, on any other occasion I’m honestly not this rude or distant from my readers. Due to my deafness I rely heavily on this form of communication.

The wireless asylum curators have been given the ultimatum to fix it once and for all or lose me as a client. In any event if that happens - I’ll have a whole lot of time to haunt up a new provider, phone company, and cable service. Ah yes, that’s the problem in a nutshell. They control every single air wave coming into my home.

Meanwhile, feel free to peruse my previous post if you haven’t already. Shattered Prose haunted up a years worth of post and bypassed an anniversary. What a way to celebrate, a mere ghost of a presence online. Here’s haunting you with a tenacious short (very short) reprieve.



Picture from here

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Free Falling...

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” – Erich Fromm

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Exasperated I vigorously rub my forehead in consternation. Not again. Four visits from the cable company concerning my network connection, four different men – each performing some difficult task and assuring me this time it would work. Only to find once again I’m floating in nether space with no connection what-so-ever to the web. Pickles head perks up beneath my office chair and without warning she darts off after one of the cats.

My youngest cat, Feather, thought the cord to my USB key would make a wondrous new toy. Her thievery exposed by the click - click bounce of my USB toggle against wooden floor boards. Cord in mouth she runs pall mell toward the stairs with a dog in chase. It finally registers; my book is attached at the end of her new play toy. My work in progress is at the mercy of these two, who think a game is afoot when I join the chase. Within moments I’m back in front of my computer, the dog with a self satisfied smile getting a pat on the head. She knows she did well, in alerting me to something I couldn’t hear.

Lo and behold the connection is back. I’m online, a gift of time for however long the wireless gods deem me worthy.

My tenuous hold on this sporadic connection leaves me hesitant and wary of forging ahead on my writing for the day. I remember another moment, another day when my fingers poised over the keyboard, unsure – frightened in some small way of the direction my life would take. A year ago - truly? A year spent writing, creating, and plotting? A year in which I proclaimed myself a writer and set it down in stone on a blog for all to see and hold me accountable for…

Three books later, hours spent letting my fingers pour my minds musings out on the screen in front of me, and I swear it most certainly doesn’t feel like a year.

The question then begs of me, what would you tell your writer self of a year ago today?

I would tell her:

Go ahead and let your fingers sing across the keyboard. Stay curious and learn. Even if you don’t follow all the rules of your chosen profession, what you do learn and take to heart will be priceless.

You will have days of wanting to toss your laptop out the window, days of agonistic misery where you ponder why in the world you choose to do something that offers no instant gratification. Writing will test the very fiber of your patience.

You will also have days the words flow unbidden and you’ve lost hours at the drop of a hat. Lost minutes stolen by endless lines of prose and dialogue you won’t have with anyone even remotely human.

There will be moments you feel so utterly alone, followed by moments of clarity that you are never truly alone when faced with a head full of colorful characters taking up residence.

Most important –I now know no matter what unfolds from here on out, I can’t/you won’t imagine life any other way. From yesteryear to today, each day brings improvements, hopes, and the fulfillment of a dream. So go ahead let your fingers loose, let the words flow, for no other reason than you can’t imagine not. Jump off the ledge of your misgivings and learn to fly.

So with my faithful sidekick Pickles, a faulty internet connection, and a head full of characters – I bid Happy Anniversary to the first year of Shattered Prose. For better or worse this journey continues…



Picture from here

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Mighty Red Pen

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I have a tendency to do everything back-assward. Can you imagine how that encroaches on my writing? Take for instance the first draft: Everyone knows you basically write without thought to grammar, spelling, and *blink* editing. The general rule is to get the story out of your brain and in some semblance of order on the page in front of you. Everything else comes in the consecutive drafts later on. Sounds easy enough right?

Uhm, yeah, if you say so…

For starters, I’m a free form writer. I let strange variations of plot (whatever story won’t stop nitpicking away at me until I give it a voice) flow. No outline, no clue as to where the story goes from beginning to end. In some ways I’m like a reader who picks up a book by a debut author – until it’s written the story is just as fresh and new to me, as it is for them. I love that the ending catches me by surprise or hits me out of left field.

To make things even more interesting (remember cardinal rule breaker here)…I broke the fundamental rule of the first draft and let a Beta reader work over my pages with a bright red pen. Those red marks danced circles around my words and left a macabre sight. Lines shadowed in parenthesis scolding in big red letters – REDO, echoes of – this makes no sense or this is unbelievable. My manuscript cringes in its designated binder, begging the red pen for mercy.

I wouldn’t say I’m a diehard rebel. For instance, I kowtowed to the popular rule of no edits in the first draft (which is challenging). So now, the binder sits in full view taunting me. I did read all the corrections and do take those red dashes across my prose serious. Those marks let me know in some nefarious way if I’m heading in the right direction or veered so far off the mark I’m no longer working on the same storyline.

No worries, I get my dues in the end. I get the satisfaction of knowing my Beta reader still doesn’t have a clue how this book ends. To me, that’s good writing. I managed to lay the groundwork, feeding just enough to let the foreshadowing work its magic. He senses the underlying currents with my characters and wants more.

Writers are excellent weavers. We pull the strands of words, chapters, characters and plot together, into an extensive web of enchantment and mystery. Even so, there are days those strands don’t pull tight enough or yank the web eschewed – as evidenced by the mighty red pen. So I pull the web apart and rework the strands until I can present something worthy of the spider in Charlotte’s Web.

At the end of the day I need to ask myself, is the way I write working for me? You tell me. The latest red pen declaration was, “Oh F*** me!” That would be in response to a revealing piece of the story. In case you’re wondering…yes, he did give me a flattering appraisal. His surprise turned out to be all the encouragement I needed.

The mighty red pen…where would I be without your constant challenging, encouraging scarlet scribbles across my words?

*This has been a public service message to remind me why I don’t outright kill the wielder of the RED pen (winks).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Writing Adjacent Life

“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some under culture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”
- Don Delillo

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She had a mind of her own and I let her lead me – the anchor slowing down her progress, tethered by a leash. Nose to the ground, she wove back and forth, a half second pause - long enough to glance back over her shoulder. Her eyes challenging me to follow as she dipped her head parting the foliage and disappeared down a hidden deer path. I hesitate; I could barely make out the curve of her black tail with the white tip a few feet in front of me. The leash went whip sharp tense and held, coaxing me to follow.

I dipped down, an outstretched hand in front of me, and glimpse a miniature tunnel made by flowering towers of Dame’s Rocket bent in an arch by the eroding switch cane bamboo. I took a tentative step forward and a soft laugh escapes. Encouraged by the sound, Pickles’ head reappears. Her mischievous grin seemed to say, what did I tell you? I barely have time to breathe in the delicate scent of flowers along her dog made tunnel, before I felt the pull of her leash beckoning. Petals tickle my face and thorny tendrils nick my arms. Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole came to mind.

We’ve traveled this way to the creek before. This is a first for the Dames to have grown so tall in the bamboo forest. Pickles nudges my hand impatiently, she smells the water and knows the creek isn’t far. We plunge our way through cane 3ft or more above our heads, with little visibility, our only guide the trampled foot path of deer before us, until at last we made it to the creek’s edge. I found Paradise on a hot May afternoon, skipping from one stone to the next trying to keep my footing, splashed by a wet dog chasing twigs twisting and tumbling down the stream; as we followed another tunnel of sorts carved by time and water.

A momentary reprieve in an otherwise never-ending writing splurge and gift of sanity to keep me going; when, I accidentally deleted day’s worth of work. Heartsick and frustrated my sidekick ignored my pouting and ranting, curved a paw around my hand and glanced toward the door. She knew I’d get her meaning. Another outing, in the same general direction we took a few days previous, except we didn’t go down the tunnel of Dame’s Rocket. Pickles wanted to explore a different path, another adventure.

Taking a lesson from Pickles, that evening I sat down and started over, exploring diverse words and taking my book in a new direction. In the back of my mind I held the wonder of the flowering tunnel and realized - life is in the writing. Some words, just like days can’t be salvaged, but the idea and heart of what is written still exist; still lives, waiting for the right tandem and flow to carry them from head to finger tip. And such is life - sometimes we’re not meant to grasp where the story leads us, or given answers to what the day brings. Dare to discover, dare to trust in the simple things.

Today, I’m still filling pages, writing chapters and duplicating life in words. It’s a high I’m not ready to come down from just yet. Unfortunately (or not), my absence will be for a few more weeks yet. It’s all good. I’m simply giving in to my muse (and busy rewarding the sidekick – wonder dog extraordinaire).




Picture from here...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Weeks

“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” - Anonymous

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Sometimes writing feels like madness, others like euphoria, for a writer to lasso words into lines of prose fluidly streaming our imaginations, capturing a moment or lifetime in a few lines. All parts of the equation luring the writer in me. Words fascinate me; they are puzzles for a muse to fit together into whatever he or she might render possible with an ounce of beguiling creativity.

In as much as I savor writing, at times my muse eludes even me. Not exactly - I’m one of the more fortunate ones to get haunted by mine. Folly, gave me a playful, insightful, muse who tends to get distracted rather easy, leaping and bounding all over the place, instead of doing what a muse/I should be doing.

Which to tell you the truth is getting me in a bit of hot water. I’ve spent far too long on the current draft of my book than need be. All the pieces are set and ready to place in their respective chapters; I simply need to sit, butt in chair and finish the remaining pages. To be honest, I love the direction this book is taking. So much so, that I’m unplugging for two weeks to finish (this draft).

Yes, I’m giving myself a self-imposed deadline. Someone needs to kick my virtual ass into gear, who else if not me. Until then follow your muse, whatever it may be…

Friday, May 14, 2010

Those Eyes...

“Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those peepers?
Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those eyes?”
- Johnny Mercer

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It’s come to my attention I have an abundance of eyes turned my way as of late. Don’t believe me? Check out my sidebar, right over there -->. See that little area with all the smiling faces under ‘The Followers – Prose Aficionados’.

What’s that you said? I changed up the tagline? Uh yeah, I couldn’t help myself - the whole writer-esque mindset where I can’t leave well enough alone and need to imprint my fevered imagination on a line of words (Nah, nothing to do with being a writer – not at all).

In light of so many newcomers, I’ve decided it’s time to become more ‘complacent’? Not the word I want? Of course not, I knew that. How about friendly, outgoing, polite and compliant, do any of those words work?

The whole reasoning behind this post is a simple (not quite) decision; to try and start replying like the polite little writer I supposedly am to comments. Yes, I know I’m nefariously shy and will probably be screaming bloody murder in a corner somewhere before it’s all over. It’s not that horrendous you say?

Think I’m kidding? Here’s an example of a conversation with me, thanks to a sweet friend Janna Qualman who asked an interesting question on her blog. "While we wait," she asked, "What would we talk about?" My answer:

“Life. How the mystery of it all brought us together to that precise moment, this conversation. I would watch your lips move to hear you, your hand movements and body language; letting myself get to know those things that make you unique in the way you carry yourself and talk.

First conversations mesmerize me with all the details to the above. I would seem shy at first so you...you dear friend would carry most of the conversation. Promise though by its end, I would know you and the tendrils of friendship would have dug deeper into the trunk of my being.”

Ah, you see? Simple words come easy on a page in written form, in life – I quake with a whole different signature. Not to mention my tendency to be long winded. Yet, despite not being able to see you and gather who you are from all the above…I’m willing to throw down the gauntlet and open myself up to questions in an effort to begin replying to my comments.

I offer you this, ‘Ask any question within reason’. Although, I still reserve the right to plead the 5th if need be.

Well, what are you waiting for? Quickly before I change my mind *winks*. Honestly, no need to rush. All comments end up in my inbox, so I’ll be able to reply even weeks from now. I’m just not so sure how well my fragile psyche will hold up (she says, with a raised eyebrow, smiling broadly).

I’ve included the lyrics to ‘Jeepers Creepers’. The whole concept worked well for this post. I doubt Frank Sinatra ever thought, when he sang this song, it might inspire a horror movie by the same name. Horrendous fun, what do you know?

“Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those peepers?
Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those eyes?
Gosh all git-up, how'd you get so lit up?
Gosh all git up, how'd it get that size?
Golly gee, when you turn those heaters on,
Woe is me, got to put my cheaters on.
Jeepers creepers, where'd you get those peepers?
Oh those weepers, how they hypnotize!
Where'd you get those eyes?”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother of us all...

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before.”
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

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This topic challenged me in unexpected ways and opened a sense of ethereal understanding in yet others. No matter what kind of mother brought us into this world, the circumstances or reasoning behind our births, we owe that one fundamental respect and thank you to the woman who gave us life.

One of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for mother is: maternal tenderness and affection. If that is the case, wouldn’t that apply to any decent compassionate human being? We all carry a mothering instinct in us to protect, shelter, and care for others of our species. In light of that basic comprehension, what if the role of mother changed to who ever molded the person you are now?

Perhaps we didn’t discover exactly what it meant to be mothered until we became adults or parents ourselves. What if we took someone or they took us under our/their wing and showed simple compassion and appreciation; is that not mothering?

This Sunday celebrate the very act of having been born and those saintly souls who mother our spirits. As a mother myself, I gave the world a daughter and she gave me the unconditional love and honor of being her mother. I have earned my place in her heart and life. Ask yourself who has earned that place in yours and honor them with all the glory they deserve not just in a single day, but all the days of your life.

Even Edgar Allen Poe in all his dysfunctional haunted understanding of life, could behold the beauty of that which is called Mother:

“Because I feel that in the heavens above
The angels, whispering one to another,
Can find among their burning tears of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore, by that dear name I have long called you,
You who are more than mother unto me.”
-- Edgar Allan Poe



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Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Ocean In Me...

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”
– James A Froude

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There are several different labels used to describe a person; there are familial titles, society standards and occupations on one hand, on the other gender, heritage, and character. It’s easy enough to accept how we may appear to complete strangers - that is until we’re giving a box or a few lines asking us to describe ourselves. Suddenly we feel almost godlike when we’re given the ability to pick and choose what we wish to define us.

I’ve always found definitions limiting. How can anyone possibly grasp the bigger picture of who you are from a few short stipulating words? It takes time to see all the facets of what makes someone unique. Taking that into consideration, one of the words I use to describe myself easily besides a writer is - deaf. Anyone that has read me for any length of time knows it’s been a learning process to own up to that.

For new readers who may be curious and afraid of offending by asking; no I wasn’t always deaf. I grew up hearing impaired. The nerve damage to both of my ears would continue to destroy what hearing I had, until my impending deafness five years ago. I’ve had people say to me, “I can’t imagine what that must be like.” Neither could I, until it happened. I can honestly say nothing could ever fully prepare someone for that kind of life changing loss.

People have used words such as courageous and inspiring to describe me. I don’t get it. Why? Anyone else in the same situation would have found a way, to do whatever they needed to get through each day. It’s human nature to adapt. Without getting into the issues I faced, let’s just say five years later it’s still a learning process. I refused to take it lying down and found a way to communicate and exist in a hearing world.

So what does this have to do with writing - everything and maybe to someone else nothing at all. Words gave my silence voice, strength, compassion and life. Writing allowed me to be on an even pedestal with everyone else. The same passion I apply to my writing, is not unlike that which I overcame my insecurities with my deafness.

Here on these pages, I’m considered no different than you or anyone else. I still face obstacles with my deafness even in a writing capacity. Conferences and writing seminars are rather difficult under the circumstances. So maybe I have to work a little harder to get where I want to be. To me it just makes it that much more rewarding. I’m no different than anyone else, not really, not here or in life.

Find something you’re passionate enough about and willing to sacrifice for and you’ll find a dream in the making. That last sentiment is anyone’s choice.

Food for thought – When you pick up a conch shell on the beach and put it to your ear, do you hear the ocean? I do, in the sand beneath my feet as it crashes to the shore, in the tangy salt air wafting up my nostrils, in the cold spill of bubbling water and foam spreading across the sand, and in the slimy tendrils of seaweed wrapped around my ankles. I hear the ocean with everything I am. It’s the same way I approach life and my writing.

The question isn’t what defines you; rather how passionate are you about life? I’ll leave you with a quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, "I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”



Picture found here

Friday, April 23, 2010

Writers Anonymous

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A woman nervously enters the dank basement, walking quietly over to the chairs in the middle of the room. She clumsily bangs into a metal chair, wincing as it scrapes along the concrete floor like nails on a chalkboard and quickly takes a seat. Her palms are sweaty, her mouth dry, and she’s not exactly sure why she’s here.

My name is Indigo. I’m a writer.

My writing has gotten out of hand to the point I can no longer watch television or a movie with someone else, due to occasional bouts of spouting out the plot and sequence of events and giving away the storyline.

It’s been so long since I read a book like a normal functioning human being, without poring over newfound words and dissecting what I’m reading to see if I can find the author’s voice. I’m often left dumbfounded asking why I didn’t think of that and hell bent on learning trade secrets.

I have more friends and enemies running around in my head than I do in real life.

I lose huge chunks of time; only to discover pages of typewritten words I don’t remember typing.

Friends and family should be warned they may or may not end up being a character in something I’ve written. Fair warning I could be writing about any of you right now. I’ve comprised a whole horror book on my neighbors alone (then again I’m sure that’s rationally normal).

I miss conversations and stare rudely at people I don’t know, filing away details for future characters in my head.

It’s been days since I stepped outside my house, or wore anything besides pajamas. Sometimes I forget to shower. I simply run out of time, sucked into the latest WIP (work in progress). Of which I seem to have several spewing forth at one time. I can’t seem to be satisfied with one storyline. I’m greedy that way.

Several times in any given day I come *pinches finger’s together* this close to tossing my laptop out the window.

I tend to scare people around me with sudden bursts of, “Aha”, and “I Got it”, at the top of my lungs or sputtering on and on about characters no-one knows. It’s all I talk about…I don’t understand why it should be so confusing.

My house has dust bunnies that scurry out from hiding with a hint of a breeze. They’re bigger than my foot. I’ve learned to expertly stack the dishes beside the sink into mini mountains. Loved ones often offer up food in the form of buckets of chicken or Chinese take-out. I forget to cook sometimes. Laundry? - That’s depends on smell-a-vision.

Right now I’m imagining Woody the woodchuck, digging holes in the snobby neighbors lawn (He lives beneath my shed – the woodchuck not the neighbor), and dandelions are yellow paint spatters from nature’s brush, and I’m a twenty something that wears Ed Hardy High-tops (The last is true, except the age thing – no that doesn’t have anything to do with being a writer. I’m just thrilled to have gotten them for a mere $20, compared to the usual $73). Sue me I don’t act my age.

I’m prone to bouts of illusions that make life seem…other than.

You know what? I don’t necessarily see a problem here. Sure I can’t comment on blogs as much and rarely visit reality. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I doubt any writer would, maybe that’s why I’m the lone one in – “Writers Anonymous”.



Original picture found here

Friday, April 9, 2010

Escaping the Asylum of my Mind

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise”
- John Lennon

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Steeped neck deep in the latest draft I’m writing, I glanced up at the news just in time to see the close captioning cross the screen, “By Friday we should return to reality.”

“Hah!” I laughed. “Not anytime soon I’m afraid,” came out in whispered sarcasm.

The return to reality sentiment came by way of my local weatherman, in reference to the 20 degree rise in temperature from the norm.

I think any writer that dips their toe in the river of fiction, can honestly say there is a very thin line between surrealism and what life seems so thickly steeped in - reality. I know it’s not a far stretch for me. Perhaps its easier having found myself submerged in the silence of my deafness, or maybe I’m speaking for a larger share of writers than I realize.

The only way I hear my voice in this deaf world is upstairs, in my head space. I also get the lovely honor of sharing that head space with multiple characters who tend to be a little on the dark side. It may surprise quite a few of my readers, how effortlessly I write from an ugly perspective, compared to the delightful descriptive prose I often lend here.

Why is that?

I’m willing to delve into the frightening in order to discover the beauty hidden within the repulsive. Sometimes the most terrifying things in life are that which you can’t see. In that sense, I have a head full of broken, startling, horrid characters roaming about. They keep company with resilient, strong beautiful spirits. It’s an uneasy balance of both. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Such is life.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
(Blackbird lyrics by the Beatles).



Picture from here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Where is the Compassion?

“Compassion literally means to feel with, to suffer with. Everyone is capable of compassion, and yet everyone tends to avoid it because it's uncomfortable. And the avoidance produces psychic numbing -- resistance to experiencing our pain for the world and other beings.” – Joanna Macy

I’m many things in this life - I’m deaf, I’m a mother, lover, friend, and a writer. That last takes precedence here.

Even though I may be deaf, my words have substance, a voice that can plead or bring moments to life. There comes a time when we can no longer remain silent. A time when something affects us so deeply we’re not afraid to shed tears, hurt or find that compassionate place within us to take a stand. As a writer, I chose to let my words reach out to you. You don’t have to agree with me…just take a moment…to listen.

I often have the TV playing in the background - its visual to me is what music would be for someone who hears. Yesterday evening my dog ran up to the TV, pacing back and forth upset, so naturally I looked up to see what distressed her. By this time Pickles was all out whining and pawing the wooden chest that held the TV, as if that could make it stop and my heart hurt to see what she saw. I called her over to me and we both comforted one another - human and dog, her body trembling, my heart racing - witnessing the devastation of an American Icon.

PhotobucketCan you imagine existing wild and free, suddenly alerted to the sound of helicopter blades cutting the air, coming closer and closer? You hear the beast before you see it. When you do, your heart leaps, your nostrils flare in fear and you run like the wind trying to outrace this new menace. Running ragged and hard for miles - hours, you can’t stop for it looms closer and closer and you’re forced down the mountain under a hovering helicopter in desert heat.

When you finally do get a reprieve you’re trapped, exhausted, lost, confused. Your mane is tangled with burrs and debris and your flank is soaked with perspiration. Your nostrils are running, you’re overheated and you’re separated from your mother. Without warning your legs go lame and the last thing, the worst - you’ve died in captivity, deadened eyes crusted open and mirrored with terror.

Can you imagine the despair and panic that remain long after the dust settles? Separated from all you know, the land, your band and family…

That’s what happened in a wild horse round-up on the Calico Range located just outside of Reno, Nevada, over and over for two months solid, until the round up ended in early March. Wild horses once coveted as an American Icon are now being run ragged by hovering machinery and corralled into captivity. Why? All because claims made by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that the horses were starving or dehydrated – claims of protection and welfare. The same horses that witnesses refuted were healthy and in no way in harm. All under the guise of what our government calls management, when in fact they are denying these horses the very thing we have fought so hard for in this country for ourselves - freedom.

Out of over 2000 horses rounded up, 77 are dead including 2 foals that lost the outer layer of their hooves. 39 Mares miscarried. More will die before this is over, before they are auctioned off or slaughtered. Now you have to ask yourself, is this what you want your tax dollars spent on? Is this what you call protecting a species? Surely you would expect the BLM to be aware the winter months would herald heavily pregnant mares and endanger them. Isn’t that part of what protection is, knowing that which you profess to protect?

Even a dog could see the wrong in what unfolded on the TV screen. How is it humans failed to see what an animal instantly recognized and understood?

Don’t take my word for it, watch a video of a roundup unfold and ask your heart who you hurt for, the animal or the beast in the machinery?



Better yet watch this PSA <-click here, find out how you can take a stand and contact your elected officials in Washington, DC. All the information you need is found throughout the PSA.

We are better than this. Human beings can’t ignore how cruel this makes “us” appear as a species. May we be reminded of Peter Singer’s quote, “All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.”



Picture found here

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rain Dancing

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening.” – Woodrow Wilson

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I breathed a sigh of relief looking out the window specked with wet droplets, wishing I could hear the rain gently fall - pooling into puddles and flowing into rivulets which turn to meandering small tributaries ants wouldn’t dare forge. Placing my fingers on the clear reflective surface and tracing runaway multi-facets of clear streams, I smile as the cool dampness invades my fingertips.

Relief floods through me in weary contentment. The hazy day outside my window promises a well needed reprieve. I want – need to lose myself in the comfort of my couch, an Indian blanket strewn across my knees and my laptop waiting, ever waiting for days such as this for the dance to begin.

Spring’s arrival kissed my cheeks with warmth and mischievously tousled my hair in blithe merriment in recent weeks - playing havoc with the nature lover in me. How could I not want to lose myself in the fresh scent of dirt and gentle breezes invading through windows at half mast? Grass never a greener, green – emerald, jade and shades of olive let loose from imprisoned snow.

Old Maid woodchuck came out from under the shed to take a bow, her winter fur with it’s tuffs of beige shimmering in the sunlight. A visit to the creek gave way to the blue jay’s soaring flight at eye level across my path. Let’s not forget the bright red backyard bird to the north – the Cardinal or the beautiful Oriole. They’ve all properly graced us with their company these early spring days.

And yet…I smile looking out my window fogged with each exhale. Yes, spring has let the sun kiss my lips and the new growth of lawn tickle my senses. “Almost”, I whisper, not yet, I’m not quite ready yet to leave this space I inhabit to write. It’s comfort enough to know ere long I’ll have my hands buried in dark brown soil and dirt ground beneath my fingernails as I plant and knead the earth.

I’ll take what comes, no rush, no candor just wanton days of ‘what if’s’. As I let my fingers loose across the keyboard, my heart flutters and the words begin to fly free to grace the page. It’s the perfect day, my kind of day, to let my fingers do a little…rain dancing…



Picture found here

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Time?

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When told the reason for daylight
savings time the Old Indian said,
"Only the Government would believe
that you could cut a foot off the
top of a blanket, sew it to the
bottom, and have a longer blanket."

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Pickles doesn't get it either.
"Say what? You save daylight how?
This is going to mess with dinner
time isn't it?"

Paintings by Terry Sodd
Pickles is all mine...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Don't Stop the Music

“I know I can be colorful
I know I can be gray
I know this loser's living fortunate
cause I know you will love me either way”

Finally given the opportunity to relax after a harried day, with the words to the above lyrics in live performance running through my head; I wrap my legs under me in my office chair and twist it around to stare out across the living room, out toward the bleak gray sky with skeletal winter branches stabbing skyward. My thoughts are lost in that frozen tundra beyond the window.

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“Most were being good for goodness sake
but you wouldn't pantomime”

Shaking myself from my reverie, needing to write and finding myself all kinds of distracted, I glance down and break out in peals of laughter. Nothing so hilarious but perhaps to me, my feet were wrapped in opposing colors - one sock varying degrees of blue, the other shades of gray. I couldn’t tell you why this was so amusing to me, other than I was wearing mismatched socks.

Pickles sits up on her haunches and bats the air with her paws, entertained by my giddiness, causing me to laugh even more. While I laughed my hand crossed laying flat against my chest and I giggle. There you are, I thought. In this way I could hear something I had been missing, my voice - nestled in the heart of me. Oh sure, I could hear myself speak all the time. Although I’m not sure I want to be the deaf woman walking around with her hand over her heart, leaving people wondering if at any moment I might break out into a rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Later still I find myself needing a song, some kind of music to build the crescendo of the moment I’ve just written on the screen in front of me. You would think that discovering new music would have been an impossible task since I became deaf over five years ago. Amazingly no…If anything I find I appreciate the discovery even more now.

Keep in mind I was able to hear right up until I went deaf. Add in all the music versatility that I used to enjoy from one extreme to another, from a monk’s choir to punk rock and it’s not a hard stretch to imagine a new sound, no matter how different. With today’s technology it’s amazingly easy for a deaf individual to hear music in their own distinctive way. It’s all about bringing the other senses into play and recording them in your mind like an orchestra.

Having discovered lyrics I’ve never heard before, I’ll go in search of reviews of what the band sounds like. Are they hard punk or delicate strands of melody? Is there a heavy bass played? (Bass lends a louder acoustic sound that comes through a speaker or amp in a jovial vibrato).

When I’ve found what I need, I close my eyes and listen.

The candle gives off the scent of brisk evergreen reminiscent of a forest dew morning. I hear a complex song, a less gritty version of Nirvana. The latter a band I’m familiar with so it’s not really that much of a stretch, then I play the words I’ve gleaned from the lyrics to ‘Who I am’ by Smile Empty Soul in my mind.

“No one knows the way I feel a part of me I have to find
Buried somewhere deep beneath my skin
The emptiness in me is faded
And I can see my life is waiting
Now I know I’m living for who I am”

Did you hear it? Not only did I hear it, It gave me the edge I needed to feel for the protagonist in my latest story. She’s gritty and angry at the world - full of emotional overflow. She’s me and she’s not – writ across these pages.

Hearing despite being deaf for me was a skill honed by time. Just as time will hone these delicate strands of words I write into something we both hear. I learned by testing my boundaries and questioning everything. My world doesn’t subsist in the box deaf might have labeled me. Nor will my writing. It’s an extension of who I am. We – you and I live/write with the best parts of who we are.



*The first two stanzas were by the Verve Pipe from the song ‘Colorful’
*Pickles - my working dog for the deaf.

Picture from here

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brain Clunk

“For every failure, there's an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” – Mary Kay Ash

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A few days ago I read something that stopped me dead in my tracks (Cue the sound of an engine falling out of a car). I couldn’t shift back into gear for the life of me until I reassessed my thoughts on the matter.

It doesn’t happen often.

For the most part I read and glean all I can and move on.

What was all the commotion about? Janet Reid had posted a Typography link that held these two lines ensconced.

“What has happened to our conviction?” and “Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?”

I balked, stammered and watched the video again and again, until I ended up going in search of the original poem by Taylor Mali. I was enthralled, wanting/needing to follow suit and reaffirm my own convictions.

Convictions - Those strong persuasions of belief that lend strength and credence to who we are and what we stand for. Sound familiar?

It’s effortless to forget things which once stirred us to speak out and up. What happened to those times we made decisions with the utmost conviction, knowing this is what you were meant to do – be?

In this day and age of choices it’s all too easy to leave it to someone else or better yet - give up, because the road has suddenly become unbearable and difficult. After all without our convictions what could possibly drive us to pursue that avenue of hardship?

Take my choice to be a writer for instance, it’s a long difficult journey to get to the publishing stage. There are self doubts and days of pulling your hair out, screaming fits of what am I doing to myself. It’s a rare opportunity to get that pat on the back with exclamations of you're doing great, keep up the good work. A choice in which you learn you’re a company of one, who may or may not have that best seller in you.

So why do it? - Because I can’t imagine doing anything else. Life is a process of repeatedly falling and getting back up until you’re strong enough to stand against the tide. The only way you get there or anywhere in life, is having the conviction to believe in yourself.

Without a doubt there will be days conviction in itself won't be enough and you'll need all the courage and brute determination you can spare to stay the course.

So the question belies – Am I writer? Do I see things in poetic detail or lives played out in the form of characters in a book. Am I a storyteller who loves to imagine all the possibilities of consequences? Better yet…go ahead and ask the hard question. Do I believe I’m a writer?




Picture from here