Random Thoughts and Flat Apple Pie

~ The ‘Let’s Write That Book!’ blog series is starting Sunday, November 17th — not 16th — as this editor realized. And I’m the one heading the series …. sheeh….

 

~ Second wonderful day of retirement and I’m feeling sick and worn out. I wonder if that’s a psychological letdown or a medical paradox? I still feel like I’m on vacation and have to report to duty next Monday. That always made me feel sick…

 

~ Don’t teach your dog to bark at squirrels in the bird feeder if you don’t let them bark 24-7. My husband taught (as a joke) and we’ve been joking at 6 a.m. for the past few months. Now that I can sleep in it’s not so funny.

 

~ We dropped our Dish TV subscription and have been living through Amazon Prime and a pretty decent TV antenna. I have to watch my favorite TV shows through my computer hooked up to the TV now, which I don’t mind, but I’m finding I am caring less and less about all those TV shows that I had  to keep up with when I had DISH. I’d rather listen to music or watch Chinese TV series with English subtitles now. Strange turn.

 

~ The further I get from actually going to Paris, the further I am getting from writing book about going. I am hoping this is a temporary pause due to real life circumstances, but all the research and daydreams and twists in the story just make me tired.

 

~ Writing is making me tired.

 

~ I have to learn to cook all over again. With hubby on night shift and me coming home before he leaves, either he’s cooked and left it for me or I was on my own for dinner. Cans of ravioli aside, I haven’t tried to be Julia Child in quite a while.

 

~ Do you go through ebbs and flows like this too? Does time bring you back where you want to be? 

 

~ Think I’ll go make a Flat Apple Pie. Dessert is good for the soul.

 

Changing Styles

“How Do I Start This Story?”

You know I love to write. I love the process of developing worlds and chaos and love and confusion. As if real life is any different.

Well, I’m thinking of writing another book.

Every now and then I try a new style, just to see if I can “do it.” I put those words in quotations  because it’s not easy for me to go from one style to another. From a murder mystery who-done-it to a historic love story. From a modern-day time traveler to a scientist in the future.

I still have a hard time writing 3rd person. I’m much better writing from one person’s point of view, not several.

But I’ve been reading some  literary fiction lately, and thought about giving that a try.

What is literary fiction, you may ask?

So do a lot of others, it seems. There are as many answers as there are stars. But basically genre writing highlights a specific area, is narrative driven, has a predictable formula, and provides entertainment. Literary writing is language driven, there is not any real style formula, and it provides meaning and cultural value.

When I think of genre writing I think of what I’ve written: time travel, other worlds. Genres includes horror, historical fiction, and mystery romance. Stephen King and Harry Potter. When I think of literary fiction I think of Jane Eyre and The Handmaid’s Tale.

I know I know — write what you know. Who you are. All of that.

But don’t you sometimes want to try something different?

If you play tennis, don’t you want to try squash sometime? If you bake nothing but chocolate cakes, doesn’t a complicated strudel call you now and then?

In order to grow, to explore, to be a master at creation, you have to test the water of new worlds. It doesn’t matter if you succeed in those worlds. But you have to immerse yourself sometimes in something new and different.

I am also drawn into the Gothic style of Poe and the Lovecraftian style of H.P. Something deep and flowery and intense and full of obscure words and inferences. I suppose you had to be there to write like that, but why not experiment a little?

I’ll let you know how the experiment goes. If it rocks the roof or just sounds like Claudia on mind enhancing drugs. I can’t totally destroy my style, but I can try and change my shoe size now and then.

I will just have to stuff the toes with kleenex…

 

Have A Mishmash In Your Head?

A mishmash of thoughts this Monday evening….

It has been five days since I made the vow to dump sensationalized social media. I am happy to report that I haven’t a clue as to what Trump is tweeting nor what Kim Kardashian is saying about her mother/sister/husband. It is refreshing.

I am watching the movie Gladiator. It is an epic production, but all the killing makes me sad. Oh, it’s only a movie, but it’s based on a truth. How many people have died in one war or another? And I’m not just talking about the United States. The Mongol Conquests took 34,641,016+; Spanish Conquest of the Aztec World, 24,300,000+, and back home, World War II, 36,696,798+. (statistics from Wikipedia.) There is no glory in war. When will the world learn this?

I have lost the buzz to write. Is it the weather? Is it that I’m tired when I get home from work? Have I given up? I would say this happens to everyone now and then, but at this moment, I don’t care. And that’s what’s not good. I’ve left my heroine on a parallel planet pregnant with the king’s child, not married, someone trying to kill her, and the edge of the world is crumbling. Why can’t I get going on this? 

I love my cats and like my dog, but I have been a crazy person lately babysitting my brother-in-law’s yappy dog. And over the weekend my son’s dog, too. I am feeling so anti-pet lately…is that because I’m getting old? Tired of dogs and cats sleeping on my bed so I can’t turn over? Tired of their meowing because they’re hungry or bored? I do admit my patience is thinning the older I get. Just trying to keep my cool. .

Do you go through grandparent withdrawal? Do you pace the floor and count the days until you can next get together? My heart hurts for those of you who live far from your grandbabies. Even if they’re in high school or college, they’re still your grandbabes. What wonderful, naughty, childish things you do when you are together! Sit on the floor (and can’t get up), ride a bike (better get a helmet and shin guards), play baseball (can’t catch but, oh well..), eat ice cream cones (one scoop or two?) I’m rested and ready.

Do you like the winter? The gentle sparkle of falling flakes, the laughter of children playing in the snow, fireplaces and hot chocolate, snuggles and cuddles and crisp cold air that brings a hard blush to your face?

I don’t either. Come on Spring!

 

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst

7-the-importance-of-unicorns-and-bratwurstOld one are good ones…they make me smile..

This is one of those ethereal, out-of-body titles that try to connect the cosmic to the ordinary, the magical to the mundane.  I was hit by this title some time ago, not having a clue as to what it meant or what I would eventually write about.  Even now, as my fingers hit the keys, I have no idea where this story line is going.  But isn’t that so much like our everyday lives?

We start out the week with the most noble of intentions.  Perhaps we have a satisfying experience meditating Sunday morning, or are able to sleep in a couple of extra hours.  Maybe our football team finally won a game.  Nonetheless, our day is delightful, and we end the night feeling satisfied.  All is right with the world, with our This is the power of the unicorn.  It is the magical sensation that connects earth and sky, dreams and reality, kids and parents.  In this hazy-yet-authentic state, the world is a soft, mystical place, offering rewards and blessings at every turn.  You could actually lose those ten pounds or finally clean off your desk, or finally start reading that novel you bought five months ago.  You are still based in reality, but the remnant good feelings are enough to move you towards the light and find satisfaction in the simplest things.

Monday comes along, a tough day for many.  A majority of us will drudge our way to work, blinking at the shortness of the weekend, and find our nine-to-five groove again.  Tuesday seems to be a lot harder than Monday.  Our failure to go to bed early over the weekend now is catching up with us, along with laundry that has mysteriously piled up and the bills we swear we mailed yesterday.

Wednesday is hump day and we wonder just who is doing the humping.  Our resolve not to eat ten chocolate chip cookies in a row is weakening; our commitment to walk a mile or two after work is being thwarted by thunderstorms or ice storms or plagues of locusts.  We can never get our hair to do what our hairdresser did; our plans to cook Coq a Vin has gone by the wayside, seeing as the chicken is still frozen and we don’t have any red wine in the house to cook with anyway.

Thursday creeps into our lives with a thread of hesitancy.  After all, school has scheduled your son’s basketball game at the same time as your daughter’s piano recital, both of which are at the same time as your bowling league, which is at the same time your favorite TV show is on, which you would have recorded had the your DVR not been full.

By Friday your resolutions are out the window along with that novel you can’t choke down anymore.  The weekend is coming; that means a thousand activities shoved into a mere 48 hours.  It means going to visit your mom on the way to  free-sample crowds at the grocery store, and coming home to an overanxious dog who just dumped the garbage all over the kitchen floor.  It is hoping the video store still has a copy of that brand new movie that everyone is talking about but you, and trying to decide whether to cook a gourmet meal or just throw sausages on the grill.

This is the bratwurst part, the raw-meat-of-reality part. Bratwurst is a wonderful German sausage, filled with flavor and spices and grilled to perfection.  How metaphoric that little pocket of meat and fat is!  It is the answer to all the cosmic questions in life! It fulfills the need for sustenance (it is a food group), it nurtures your creative side (sauerkraut?  Mustard?  Hot or German?)  It is available in abundance (you can buy them in three pound boxes), and it affords you the freedom of choice  (10 minutes on the grill; burble them in beer and onions for 15 and grill for 5; slice them up and fry with potatoes for 20).

How clear it all becomes!  This little sausage is the answer to all metaphysical speculation, the answer to who we are and why we are on this planet.  It is tasty and filling, satisfying those inner child needs and outer kid bravados.  It ties the madness of the week up into a link that goes down easy and can be burped out in a satisfying form later through the night.  It is the spice of life.

I never thought of unicorns and bratwursts as the symbols for Life; I always thought that symbol was that little stick person with the big egg head.  Now that I have been enlightened, I can see that symbol does look like someone celebrating the bratwurst of life, arms out, joyous and all encompassing.

And the significance of the unicorn part?

I’m not quite sure, but I will ask the one standing behind me after I find out if he wants mustard on his bratwurst.

Be Nice

1035x1035-20140310-elton-x1800-1394485893I was going to write a blog today about the election.

Nah.

I was going to write a blog about violence on TV these days.

Nah.

Then I thought about talking about writing. My writing, your writing.

Triple Nah.

Then I thought…what’s left?

In this crazy world, the flux bends reality until none of us recognize what is right in front of us. I try and put my finger on the pulse of the world, and most times all that happens is that I prick my finger. The media has turned and twisted every day conversations into fodder not even fit for cattle.

Why do we do it? Why do insecurities make crazies out of the simplest people?

We all are motivated between fear and confidence, between being someone and being no one. We are taught to listen and obey. Too extreme. Now it’s attack or be attacked. We are judged by what we wear and how we speak and what we know or don’t know.

It’s a mean world out there.

I’m not saying previous generations were any better. But they did not have social media at their disposal as a tool to bully and lie and pontificate. Generations age, and as they do, tend to give up the fight sooner.

I’m not giving up — every day I meet good people. Honest people. People who love and are afraid and have hope. These good people are overshadowed by the runaway media that is intent on pounding us into the ground until we resemble oatmeal.

I’m not saying we don’t need media: we wouldn’t have such strong child rights and animal rights and the ability to track down serial killers and molesters and everything dark with the world without it. But we don’t need social media trolling or bullying in the name of getting more “likes”.

Me — I’m going back to ground roots philosophy. Write a book, write a blog. Donate to a charity of my choice. Teach my grand kids to live and love and to be nice to each other. Give someone a ride. Pick up and put back things that have fallen off the shelf. Read. Give positive feedback to blogs, stories, and tweets.  Bake cookies. Play fetch with my dogs. Play fetch with YOUR dogs. Take a picture.

I’m going to tell everyone to Chill Out and Be Fucking Nice To Each Other and Move On.

My friend Elton said it best:

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road        ~Elton John, 1973

Finding Dorothy’s Shoes

Ruby-slippers-wizard-of-ozI absolutely love when comments on one blog flow into thoughts and inspiration on another. That’s why I love following the writers I do.

In her blog, A Journey Called Life, (https://architar.wordpress.com), my friend Archita wrote a story called “A note from the evening” (https://architar.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/a-note-from-the-evening/). It is a first-person narrative to someone  — a friend, it seems — to that friend’s ego. To that friend’s mind. It has to be to their unconscious mind, for the conscious mind was not listening.

Her short tale explains all the motions and routines the narrator will do for the friend who never stops complaining. For the complaining is nothing new. The friend cannot see past her stubbornness to change her direction in life; the friend who insists the narrator has the banquet and the friend barely the leftovers.

It made me think and then think again. First I wondered if the friend was (figuartively) me…me in other situations. We all have the tendency to whine — life is never the bed of roses we dream of. But I hoped — still hope — that I have found a way out of that tedious state of blaming the world for some of my own bad decisions.

The more I thought, the more I realized that I have friends like that, too. I think we all do. People who just can’t get out of the whirlpool. People who don’t really want to get out of the whirlpool. That it’s easier to complain and point fingers than to do something about the situation.

Many situations are hard. There is no denying this. Life is hard. But life is also good. There is proof of that all around us.

You will continue your story- about children, about how busy you really are, about how you never had any help, about how only death can bring you your peace. Then you will ask me if I watched your favorite show on TV.

I often wonder how people get out of the whirlpools they swim in. It takes determination. It takes work. My dad and father-in-law both gave up smoking after 50 years of two packs a day. That wasn’t a walk through the roses, believe me. My friend is going back to school to get her childhood education degree, and she is in her mid-50s. Another friend has had multiple operations on knees and shoulders and had cancer in his pancreas and still manages to go camping with us a couple times a year.

Who is to decide what is too heavy a burden to bear? Who is to decide what is enough help?

Let me tell you, death looks terrible on poems. Death looks more terrible when it’s just news. Death never gives peace. Life is peace. In living, in grief, in celebrating, in friendships- you find what death lacks- a life.

Archita and I bantered back and forth in the comment section about when it’s time to listen, when it’s time to intervene, when it’s time to walk away.  It’s not easy to know the difference between being a friend, a sounding board, and an enabler. From drinking to being unemployed to being divorced, the path out of the darkness isn’t an easy one to find. But I believe we all have that inner knowledge that lets us know where to draw the line between all of the above.

I suggested she suggest the magic release of Creativity to her friend. I  know so many who have turned to the Arts to save their souls, to release their souls, to find their souls. That’s why I encourage it so much. It doesn’t matter if you crochet or make scrapbooks or write poetry. Your love for artistic freedom makes you better and better. A better artist, a better person, a better friend. Archita found her own soul again through creativity — she only hoped her friend could, too.

But that’s another story.

Do go and read Archita’s blog if you find time. You might find yourself in her shoes. Which, in the end,  just might be Dorothy’s shoes.

Lost in the Matrix

tumblr_mxpq0pMO941sxqh33o1_400Philosophical Tuesday.

Now…bear with me one minute. Quick techy babble coming.

Am watching “The Matrix”, which in itself is a complicated psycho babble movie, full of innuendoes and intentions and thoughts in the 5th dimension. It is one of those times that I don’t mind everything being over my head.

According to The Matrix for Dummies, Neo learns that the matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to make us feel like we are living a normal life, when in fact it is nothing more than an energy factory for AIs.

Us poor humans. We have to be good for something.

In these movies are blue pills and red pills and humans in pods grown in fields and the dude Morpheus whose words and appearances are marked by thunder and often orchestra crescendos.  There are computer aliens and walking, talking computer viruses and a whole lot more going on.

Here’s the psycho babble part. According to Spark  Notes:

Many precedents exist for the idea that the real world is an illusion, and the Matrix trilogy is riddled with specific references to philosophers who have entertained this idea. Although the films are meant to stand on their own and create their own set of philosophical questions, the Wachowskis pay homage to these precedents through….. Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Socrates’ Visit to the Oracle of Delphi, and the work of Descartes. 

Okay. The point of this blog this evening is:  Who are these guys?

Let’s take a mini philo tour. And I do mean mini.

Baudrillard believes that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is of a simulation of reality. Plato‘s  major philosophical assumption is that the world revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it, and that the real world can only be apprehended intellectually. The Oracle of Delphi is that Socrates truly was the wisest because all others were under the false impression that they knew more than they actually knew, that true wisdom lies in recognizing one’s own ignorance. And Descartes poses the question of how he can know with certainty that the world he experiences is not an illusion, that since he believes in what he sees and feels while dreaming, he cannot trust his senses to tell him that he is not still dreaming. I think, therefore I am (and all that stuff).

They all sound like Morpheusisms to me. Which bring me to the point of this evening’s blog.

What kind of minds think up these things?

Do people with minds like these eat cheeseburgers and swear when they hit their finger with a hammer and throw up when they get the flu and play cards with kids? I mean — what do brilliant minds do for fun?

These kinds of thoughts exist on a plane somewhere between the clouds and the stars and around the corner from the speed of light. These thoughts are so deep that deep sea oil rigs dance on their heads. I am fascinated by the train of these philosophies, yet I don’t really understand them.  Do these philosophers have a day job like you and me? When they’re not discussing the differences between reality and illusion, do they go to baseball games? Eat pizza with anchovies? Sing in the shower?

I’m  sure they were all fun guys with just weird hobbies. Like us writers and painters and all. And in the end, it doesn’t matter if you understand things like this or not. In worlds like yours and mine, it’s much more fun pretending you know something than wandering around, sad because you just don’t “get it.”

Like those horizontally challenged numbers.

 

Dream A Little Dream

GODZILLA - 2014 FILM STILL - Photo Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

In my late night cannot-sleep mental meanderings, I often think how cool it would be if the afterlife were nothing more than eternal dreaming. Long after the neurons stop flashing, I’d still love to exist on a dreamplane someplace. Meeting people, doing weird things, drifting here and there, trying to make sense of nonsense.

Although the way I dream, I’d still have to have a “cosmic” wake up now and then.

They say we all dream. It’s just that some of us linger in the twilight longer than others. Hence, not enough deep sleep equals insomnia, dark circles under the eyes, and weird dreams.

Do you remember your dreams?

I would love to remember more of mine, although the more tendrils I pull out of the dream base, the more nonsense I find.

I do a lot of walking from building to building, making my way through warehouses, offices with eternal hallways, crossing city streets, and back through theaters and more underground buildings. I do a lot of “boss” dreaming, too, past and present, in offices I’ve never seen in my life. Strange people show up in my dreams, often TV or movie types, people I’ve often never given second thought to. I also still dream of my mom, although she’s been on the other side for 30 years.

Of course, weirdness is relative. I’ve seen godzillas in the distance but never a unicorn. I’ve flown and jumped off buildings and been able to take giant bounces down the street but have never gone to another planet. I write a lot of time travel stories, but I have yet to dream about going back in time.

In other words, I don’t encounter my daytime daydreams in my nighttime ones.

Maybe on some level that’s a good thing. Not being able to distinguish dreams from daydreams might be the first step to insanity. And I’m already a deal off-kilter.

But then, that would lead to quite an interesting writing career. Wasn’t Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft a bit on the “eccentric” side? (see http://brainz.org/10-writers-who-were-mentally-disturbed/ for a little eye opener).

I wonder what Stephen King or Dean Koontz dream about?

Maybe I don’t want to see where those tendrils go…

Start Your Strategy Now

militarycatStrategy.

A powerful word. A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. It could also be coined for military operations, but that’s not where we are today. (At least I’m not…I dunno about the cat on the right, though).

Sounds so easy. Set a major or overall aim. Write out a plan. Follow the plan. Achieve the major or overall aim.

Why is it we start out with such good intentions on getting to that “policy” yet find we are wandering down the Yellow Brick Road?

I know a number of you out there are creative souls. You write, you paint, you go to art fairs and gardening seminars and are speakers at conferences. You know what you want to do, make a plan, and carry that plan out. That is why you are successful.

I am not. Yet.

It seems that every time I turn around another light bulb goes off, lighting my way to fame and famine of the writing kind. This is not the 70s — you must be a part of what confuses you in order to be a part of the bigger confusion. I must say I love those light bulbs going off, though. It’s like the Goddess has smiled down upon my pudgy body and says, “Hey girl! You done BoHo-ing for the day yet? I’ve got an idea here! ” And somewhere between all the confusion of my life I find  time to listen.

I had an idea for a new novel. Exciting, challenging. A lot of research, a lot of medical stuff. I used a prologue from a different story I started a few years ago (and never finished), and adapted it to the New Novel.

That’s the last I’ve worked on it.

I have so many other projects that fit into my time schedule that writing Gone With The Wind Book 4 just isn’t in the picture. And that’s just the fact, Jack.

You all have projects in different stages. Some are realities, like actually finishing a novel, or entering a writing contest, or finishing the painting or sketch you’ve worked so hard on. But time isn’t the same across the universe. Where you have time to do an art piece with mosaics, you don’t have time to  write a blog. What started as a three-section painting now may have to be reconditioned as a one-piece masterpiece. We just can’t do everything we set out to do.

And the sooner we “get” that, the easier our strategy becomes.

As you know, I am a BIG advocate of getting out there and putting your Creative Mark on the world. Whether you are 20 or 80, if you’ve got a goal, a gift, go for it. That’s where strategy comes in. Figuring out the pros and cons of your forward movement.  What would it hurt if you e-mailed or Twittered a favorite author/columnist/blogger and asked them to take a look at your work? What harm is there in sending off a letter offering your presentation skills or your gourmet talents?

All they can say is NO.  All they can do is ignore your efforts.

BUT THEN:

Last July I went to the Art Fair on the Square in Madison, WI. There were hundreds of different artists in hundreds of different venues. I found the artwork that I thought would work in my Sunday Evening Art Gallery; took their cards; and e-mailed three so far. They all were honored I liked their work so much and had no problem with me highlighting their work and their website.

All that angst, that fear, walking around the art fair, telling myself I’m not a curator or a famous art critic, was for nothing. These people were friendly and open … and said YES.

So now my strategy is to produce what I promised.

And how much fun is THAT?

 

 

 

Going One Way Or Another

tumblr_n768syHP341tp9r4eo1_500

According to my online personality profile, Sagittarius is the traveler of the zodiac and considers every day an opportunity for another adventure. This a cheerful, spontaneous, and idealistic individual with an exceptional sense of humor.

Well, I don’t have the money to be a big traveller, but I do try and get away now and then. This coming up weekend is one of those times. Boys are going fishing for 4 days (coming home by dinnertime); a chance to make my days totally up to me. So I have turned the have-to-go-up-north trip for 4 days into a writer’s retreat.

And I can’t wait.

And I know that somehow or another it will get screwed up.

I have made a list of things I’d “like” to get done — “like” the key word, as to leave room for walking and sitting on the deck and nodding off and going to town to hit the homemade chocolate shop.

But Fate and me have a rocky relationship. I imagine it’s going to be more like me setting out my laptop, my notes, opening the window to let the breeze blow through, glass of soda and a few treats at hands-length, and me spending half my time in the bathroom.

My husband says he can’t take me anywhere. And this is not a new thing: I’ve gotten upset stomachs or headaches or whatever almost every time we’ve gone out — for the last 35 years.

I don’t know if it’s my psyche that goes up and over the top, imagining such a good time that it gets sick ahead of time; or my stomach cramping in anticipation; or something innocent I ate the day before decides to do the polka in my intestines. But every time I get ready to have a GOOD time, I spend half my time aching in the bathroom or on the bed.

This time it’s a freakin’ 4-day weekend! No movie stars or famous writers stopping by, no fancy dinner, no wine or alcohol of any kind. I don’t want to mess up, because I have this big novel idea that I want to dig into for a few hours every day. Why is it that every time I go up north I get horrible sinus headaches or crappy stomach problems?

I know — it’s probably psychosomatic. I suggest, therefore I am. I don’t think about it and I still am. These burbles have caused many headaches through my married life; I’m surprised my husband doesn’t have a first aid kit filled with Imodium, aspirin, sinus pills, doggie bags, and crackers. He’s had enough experience in this genre.

So with a Sagittarian outlook, I’m going to be a cheerful, spontaneous, and idealistic individual, and pack my laptop, notebooks, soda, snacks, Imodium, aspirin, and sinus pills, and hope for the best. You can’t keep a good writer down — not when they’ve got the calling.

And, after all, I have written notes in the bathroom before…

Do You Get It?

Black Circle
Black Circle

One of my favorite bloggers, David, posted a 36-word poem the other day, doing his best to “understand” it. http://davidkanigan.com/2015/08/20/oh-well/. a very lovely, emotional poem. I tried to understand it, too. And while a whiff of sense wafted around my senses, I, too, had a hard time with interpretation.

It made me wonder.

Do people who write and paint and sculpt truly abstract things truly understand their meaning?

And, if so, why are so many of us so duh about it?

Look. I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes I have to have TV show plots explained to me. Sometimes I don’t get the end of the joke. Abstract, in the purest sense of the word, is, well, abstract to me.

But most times I “get it” after pondering on things for a bit. Eventually the proverbial light bulb goes on and most of what I read/look at/listen to makes sense. (Except rap music). The truly abstract aspect of an artist’s creativity is something totally different for me, though.

An example of this confusing state of mind is Russian artist Kasmir Malevich (1878-1935).  A Polish-Russian painter and art theoretician, he was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the avant-garde Suprematism movement (an art movement in Russia that produced abstract works featuring flat geometric forms).

Maybe it’s because I skipped Geometry in high school. Maybe it’s because my teachers taught me to write in full sentences and not in cryptic phrases. But somewhere along the line I never got into simple geometric forms.  At least, not as a form of art.

Malevich explains his aesthetic theory. “Under Suprematism I understand the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” He viewed the Russian Revolution as having paved the way for a new society in which materialism would eventually lead to spiritual freedom.

I’m afraid I don’t quite get that from the painting above, either.

What is this roadblock I have to understanding the other side of the universe?  I opened my Sunday Evening Art Gallery so that I could share what I considered Unique Art. Different Art. Personal Art. Something created that, even though in one way or another you don’t always “get” it, there is some thread of familiarity that runs between the artwork and the viewer.

I never studied Art theory either, so that might explain some of my unappreciativeness. I can make a connection between my friend Dawn Whitehead‘s sculptures and the world, even though most times I’m grasping at straws. I can figure out haikus and rambling poetry as long as there is an ending that makes sense.

Words thrown together without an immediate connection — that I have a much harder time with.

I am determined to delve a little further into this Suprematism movement, along with poetry that has category names but no sense. I want to be a little part of every art movement around me, even if at times the art doesn’t move me. A child of the world, as they say.

Even if I continue to get D- on my comprehension tests.

 

Ask

B3hKx3FCIAAGEIG Sometimes — no, wait — most of the time —  I feel like the machine that keeps track of your heart rate. Up, down. Spiky Up. Spikey Down. Rhythmic, predictable. Up. Down. Spikey Up. Spikey Down.

One minute I think — no, wait — I know — I know what I’m doing. Charge full speed ahead. Do it my way. Oh, do the work, do the research, but since most around me don’t listen to me anyway, just do it.

The next minute — no, wait — the next day — I have no confidence at all. What the heck was I thinking? It was a waste of time/energy/thought process.

This year is my Golden Year. Sssssssssixttty Twooooooo….(you know how hard that is to say). Golden because I finally have found a second wind, a second dream, a second chance. I’ve found a calling, and I don’t want to let go.

But also, being sixty two, I have had my fill of other’s ideas, criticisms, and opinions. I’m tired of listening to opinions that go nowhere, eyes that glaze, and minds that are always closed.

Herein lies the spike up and down.

I find I still do need eyes that glaze and closed minds to open my own. And I still need to reach out to others for help.

After all these years I still find that I still am afraid of putting out my ideas to others. I’m afraid of rejection, closed minds, eyes that glaze — all that negative stuff. And I find that all of that gets in the way of getting what I really want.

I know I’ve said this to you before, but don’t be afraid to share your ideas and directions with those who can really keep you on task. Those who enjoy your work and can give you the boost you need to take it to the next level.

Those who can see what you cannot.

Never take suggestions from those whose opinions you respect as criticism. Don’t take them as daggers to the heart, or balloons bursting in front of you. I know that’s the first place we all go. But it’s a waste of time and heart.

Tonight I broke bread — or rather ice cream — with a friend whose experience and friendship I trust. So I threw out my idea(s) for my Golden Stuff, and got some excellent feedback. Feedback I wasn’t expecting. Feedback that I hadn’t even thought of. Feedback I wouldn’t have gotten had I not “put it out there.” I know now that I have more work to do — and that’s a good thing.

Working on your dreams is a lot of work — whether you’re 25 or 55 or ___ (fill in the blank). Don’t settle for yesterday. Or maybe take yesterday and use it for today, which will be for tomorrow. And ask others. Take their thoughts and see if they fit within your own. If they don’t fit, that’s okay. But you’ll never know if they fit until you try.

Let’s work on this puzzle together.

 

READ THESE (gimmicky) GUIDELINES NOW!!

dos-donts-celebrities1The world is full of gimmicks — full of one-liners and sensational promises for everything from growing hair to making money while staying at home.  Just do this. Pay a fee for that. Follow these 5 rules and 10 guidelines and you’ll be smarter, prettier, richer, and so on.

Well, I want to cash in on that rigmarole, too. Every blogger wants to be popular. Well read. Recommended. Vital to the survival of the planet. Admit it — we don’t care about statistics, yet every time we get a new follower we do the Snoopy Dance.

So in that same (silly) vein, here are tried-and-true rules for you to follow if you want to be a popular, magnetic, P’s and Q’s type of over-the-top blogger.

DO…

*  Write about kittens/cats and puppies/dogs. No one can resist the cuteness of baby animals. Even if they poop in your lap or chew your new pair of shoes, there’s something cute about the whole thing.

*  Pictures. People love pictures. Nature’s a good one: flowers, trees, paths. Can’t beat Mother Nature for a Stress Buster. Makes ya just wanna go out and do the Irish jig, doesn’t it?

*  Use pictures of food. Even if your recipe/story/antidote doesn’t have anything to do with the pic, who can resist an image of ooey gooey caramel or creamy, cheesy lasagna or a bead-sweating glass of whatever? Makes my mouth water just to think about it.

*  Quotes. People love stories that start or end with quotes. Surely Mel Brooks or Clint Eastwood carry the same charisma as Dali Lama or William Shakespeare. Try a “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” kinda lead in. You’ll knock ’em dead.

*  Lists. People can’t resist lists. The top 5 to 10 of anything is enough to hold their attention. Now, no one says these lists have to make sense — no one pays much attention to the rules once they leave your blog anyway. But they certainly are eye-catchers!

* Talk to make-believe characters. People love being entertained. I know of a blogger who talks to cheeseburgers and gargoyles. Why not you? And, who knows? They may be more informative and entertaining the evening news.

 

Don’t…

*  Go overly long on the length of your blog. I know you want to unburden your soul, explore the possibilities, make new friends, share recipes, etc., etc., etc. But  you and I know that the attention span of most readers is less than that of a gnat. At 600 words you’ve still got an audience. By 800 people are starting to open a second window on their computer. 900 to 1000 words people are throwing a load of laundry in between sentences. Anything on it’s way up to 2000 words might well be voted “Novel of the Year.”

*  Steal — borrow. The Internet is full of ideas. Borrow what you like and make it yours. If you DO borrow directly from someone, give them the credit they’re due. Readers don’t necessarily care if your words sound familiar — they just don’t want to get sued for reading them.

*  Talk about the same thing over and over. If you are sharing pain, share it. If you are sharing music, or thoughts on television shows, share it. Then talk about something else. Show your progress. Your research. Your over-vivid imagination. People love getting lost. Let them get lost in your mind.

*  Give up writing the best blog you can. Make sure every sentence counts. You want to reach as many readers as you can with your message, no matter what that message is. Good bloggers are followed, not by the quantity they pump out, but by the quality. A story that makes you think, makes you feel, makes you chuckle, will stay with the reader a lot longer than one that flashes in the night.

And — (wait for it…) Who needs hot flashes in the night anyway?

Welcome to my 5th Dimension

greatestgifeverWell, I think I’m over my vacation. And I’ve gotten the Art Gallery stuff out of my system (at least until Sunday).  I’m following a few blogs that do “Wordless Wednesdays,” and I’m really enjoying their pictures. And I think — maybe I can add that to my blog, too.

In the next second I think — what’s wrong with me? What’s with this “over-achiever” thing I seem to be going through?

It’s worse than puberty. Or maybe just LIKE puberty. When you blossom into a young lady (or young man), your thoughts are obsessed with sex. Wanting it, thinking about it, dreaming about it.  Fifty years later, your obsession turns from what used to be to what can be. (And trust me — it’s not sexually oriented). Lost between a tedious job and dreams of retirement, your psyche reaches out to do MORE. Whatever MORE may be to you.

I suppose that’s where “too much of a good thing” comes from.

Like too much chocolate or too much lasagna (can there really be too much of either?), too much variety in a blog is not only confusing to the reader but to you as well. Most bloggers have a theme, a direction, a reason for sharing their thoughts. And those who identify with those themes/directions/reasons follow and share and (hopefully) get something positive out of it.

But when you go this way one day and that way the next and over there the next, there tends to be a bit of confusion on the direction part. I could have started my Sunday Evening Art Gallery as its own separate blog, but I found that I wanted to share these discoveries with YOU, my friends. Knowing how eccentric a middle-aged woman (say…62-ish) can be, you can maybe connect my looking for older age direction with odd, unique art.

Thin though that line may be, I’ve worked hard to keep it strong. Introducing another dimension to this already multi-dimensional blog might be the bonie that made the doggie fat. Too much of a good thing leads to a predicable end.

Getting fat and lazy. And that’s already a struggle.

So my friends-who-have-wordless-Wednesdays — go for it. I love trying NOT to say anything to your unique pictures. And I love the added dimension it gives your blog.

As for me — I’m already bouncing around in the 5th dimension. And there’s no no place out there for being wordless.

HaChaCha Hermione

tumblr_m6nj6jcdgM1rvv4n8o1_500I came across an article the other day that confirmed what I’ve thought all along. According to J.K. Rowling, Hermione should have ended up with Harry Potter, not Ron Weasley. (http://time.com/3680/j-k-rowling-says-hermione-should-have-ended-up-with-harry-potter-not-ron/ )

Duh.

Although I LOVE the books (and the movies), I could have told you that there was never any real chemistry between Hermione and Ron. None. Opposites attract, you say. Looking at my husband and me, that could very well be true. He’s logic, I’m pretzel. He’s smart, I’m trying. He has the patience of a saint, I would rather stand and complain and fidget. But seriously. Hermione was smart, resourceful, and outgoing. Ron was dull, jealous, and a little thick. Hermione sparkled every moment she was around Harry. Her sparkle was practically non-existent around Ron. I mean, anyone who read the books could see that. So it made me start to think.

What other characters in books and/or movies should never have gotten together?

The revised, re-pumped Star Trek movie franchise. Spock and Uhura? Naw. Even if he does dip into his emotions now and then. She’s so smoldering she should be in her own spaceship. Indiana Jones and any of his female co-stars. Was there really any hachacha between any of them? And don’t say it was more of a satire/drama. So was The Mummy. And Rick and Evelyn O’Connell made danger take a back seat to hot teasing.

J.K.’s admission also made me take a look at my own characters. Book One and Book Two: the same two stars. Book One the heroine doesn’t get the hero because she’s busy trying to stay alive. Book Two she goes back to look for him and they spend most of the book dancing around previous commitments. My third novel is more an independent-woman-in-a-situation sort of book, romance more a hint than a possibility. (I may have her connect with the hero in the sequel).

Maybe I’ve been skirting the real issue – chemistry. a.k.a Sex. Admit it. Sex sells. Chemistry makes you want to strip off your clothes and get shamelessly amorous. Like you can’t keep your hands (oh..and mind) off of the other person. But we all know there has to be some kind of depth behind the chemistry/sex to make it last more than one night. Harry and Hermione were always hugging, touching, and adventuring together. There was never any such show of affection between Hermione and Ron. Actually, Ron was more of a third wheel (as was Ron’s sister who wound up with Harry).

But all this is hindsight. J.K. had a real belief in her pairings, and it was up to the reader to see her world as she did. And hers was a delightful world to get lost in.

So I wonder. Do you have books or movies where the pairings have been less-than-satisfying? Have you seen coupling that doesn’t really make sense?

Something Wicked This Way Squats

CAM00855 I love Fall. It’s the time of the month/year that blogs and Facebook and other visual media are filled with golden colors, leaves and woods and pumpkin patches. I love the crispness of the air, the chill of the day, the blankets and the hot chocolate. It’s also the time for my favorite holiday — the little haunting ritual of Trick-or-Treat.

I could share memories of Halloweens past, but I’d rather share a confession.

Now, I am one of those tree-hugging grannies. I move worms from the wet pavement to the grass after rainstorms, talk to bunnies that peek at me from the grass line, and give my pets extra food all the time. I cry at the end of Face Off and Bones, and refuse to listen to sappy music (except for at Christmas time) because of the same cry factor. So, needless to say, I’m a softy.

Flash backwards to last Sunday. Trick-or-treating with my little grandbaby. It was a family affair, everyone out to trick and treat and eat a lot of food afterwards. I pulled out my very cool hooded cape, grabbed a pair of matching gloves, and a mask I got at our annual camping cookoff, and decided to be the candy-giver-outer. (I’m usually the trick-or-treat guardian granny).

Now for my confession. I took a perverse delight in sitting perfectly still, holding the candy bowl, waiting for the treaters to come to the door, moving only when they came up close. I didn’t jump at them; I didn’t spook them. I just turned veerrrryy slowly and let them pick their treat. It was one of those “is it a statue or is it real?” kinda things.

Not a big confession as far as confessions go. But what did surprise me is that there were times that I wanted to scare them. Not a Freddy-Krueger-kind-of-scare…just a little make-their-eyes-bug-out scare. A make-them-jump scare. I chastised myself, wondering if all of my Walking Dead and American Horror stories had  finally came home to roost. If all the bullies that picked on me during my middle school years were hidden behind the Batman and Jake the Pirate costumes. If this was a control thing: dominate the little children, be in charge of the moment, hold the Sword of Damocles above their head. If this was a psychological game that only psychos play. If I could slip in and out of being a psycho without anyone knowing it.

The reality of it was that it was just a creative writing granny, chilled and stiff, waiting for her family to come back from trick-or-treating.

Getting older is a trick. And I am a trip. Is there a treat in there too?

Perfection

tchaikovskyPerfection.

We all seek it.

Yet it means something different to everyone.

The perfect sunrise. The perfect smile. The perfect chocolate soufflé. One person’s perfection is someone else’s faux pax.

The great thing is it doesn’t matter what someone else’s perfection is. You can have unlimited perfection in your life every day.

Take music. A great rock and roll solo. A sweet, tear-jerking melody. A choir that sounds like angels. All stir emotions deep inside; emotions that want an outlet. Need an outlet.

And sometimes music is just the thing to bring you out into the light of day.

I was listening to the following piece this morning, through earphones, simply sitting and being.The 1812 Overture by Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky was written in 1880 to commemorate Russia’s defense of its motherland against Napoleon’s army in 1812. It has been used as fireworks fodder and cereal background.

A cliche of classical proportions, it takes forever to get to the finale, building, teasing, then pulling back. Cannon fire is in some scores; a choir at the beginning in others. But Tchaikovsky knew dynamics. He knew how to tell a story through music. The struggle of the peasants. Their heartbreak. Their struggles. Their war. Their victory.

Do me a favor. Put your earphones/headphones on and take 4 minutes and listen to this finale. Let your emotions build with the music. Don’t think — just feel. Just for 4 minutes.

And tell me it’s not perfection.

Oh — and P.S. — Turn it UP —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=u2W1Wi2U9sQ

Scared Straight

scaredA beautiful Sunday morning — a bit cloudy, a bit cool, but quiet, romantic, inspirational. The younger side of me says I should go for a walk, clean out the basement, do all sorts of “active” things on my one full day off. My creative side says it’s a great day to sit and write. You can imagine which one I am going to listen to.

I was all pumped up this morning to write about an article I just wrote for Retirement and Good Living (http://retirementandgoodliving.com/retirement-is-a-10-letter-word/) which is about retirement and the doors that open once you say sayonara to punching a time clock or being a slave to an alarm clock. (It’s really a great article…check it out!)

But on my way here I had to pass through Yahoo, and couldn’t help but stop and peek at the news headlines.  A singer demands a wheelchair-bound member of the audience stand before he continued his concert. Another singer asked the world to “Forget My Weird Butt — Check out my Underboob!”   This sports figure beat his 4-year-old with a switch and this other knocked his girlfriend out. And I begin to wonder — what’s the point?

We struggle all our lives to make it to the golden grounds, only to find it’s polluted with nonsense and outrageous behavior. I know show business has been show business since the first caveman bopped another on the head and a third thought it funny. But I also am seeing how it takes more and more to get a rise out of an audience these days. Things that were off-color years ago are the rage today, and being a close-to-senior makes it even more difficult to fathom where entertainment will go next.

I myself am a parody of the media of today. One of my favorite television shows has turned gruesomely violent this year, and some part of me still wants to watch what “happens” to all of them in the end. As if my moral compass ticks and says, “they’re all so bad something bad HAS to happen to them.” Another show I started to watch has turned into such a screwed up mess that all I want to do is see what the alien baby looks like. I could care less about the drama surrounding the main characters. Just let me see the end product. One of my favorite chefs is a pillar of manners in one show and a cursing madman in another.

The world has become a frightening place of voyeurs watching, not doing. I myself am squirmy at blood and guts. I abhor violence and am a fraidy cat when it comes to people yelling or losing their temper and throwing things (or worse). Yet I find myself sitting on the edge of the entertainment world, watching it from afar, uncomfortable and nightmarish, looking for a silver lining amongst the blood and gore.

Even the writing world has broken its limits as to what is readable and what is not. Everyone around me has read this entertaining novel about a man who murders a family and the girl survivor who unknowingly hitches a ride with him in his camper. I freaked out about half way through the novel, tried to read it again and again, but just couldn’t get passed the kid who was killed and stitched up in the window.

What makes the world rotate like this? Why is humanity such a violent place?

I know this topic is way off the retirement mark. But it’s like I pretend that once I “retire” I can cut off the horror of the world and live in my own antiseptic version of reality. That I can wake up and write and clean a little and go watch my grandson play soccer and the world will be a safe one to fall asleep in.

Which, of course, is a fantasy in itself.

My solution is a naive one, yet I believe it will help me keep what little innocence I still have. Stop watching TV shows that butcher anything but a chicken, let the entertainment world entertain itself, and stick by the simple things in life that make me happy. I don’t need to be involved with the parts of the world I can’t do anything about — I should stick with those parts where what I do DOES matter. Work with disabled children, walk for the Cure, be a shoulder to cry on for friends who are having a hard time of things.  Go to charity events that benefit those I love, help those less fortunate get back on their feet.

Life is too short to be worrying about entertainer’s wardrobe malfunctions or their asinine antics in front of an audience.  Let them live in their world, and I’ll live in mine.

Besides — how funny would it be if MY wardrobe malfunctioned?

 

It’s All About Me…Isn’t It??

stressI will probably wait a few days before I publish this blog, because I don’t want to send too many blogs out a week, filling up mailboxes and facebooks with more personal dribble. After all, it’s invading your personal space, and you might not like me for it.

That’s the stress talking.

My husband came home from his 2nd shift job and woke me up at 4 a.m., asking if I was okay. It seems the knob on the stove wasn’t turned off all the way and the house was filled with gas fumes.

This is me talking through the stress.

I always thought the older I got, the less I’d care about things that upset me. That I could truly not give a $hiT about things that plague my every day existence.

That hasn’t happened.

I seem to be taking more and more things personally. I wasn’t near the stove yesterday except to take rice from the pot. I was second in line, delayed by at least 10 minutes because I was on the phone. But I was stressed because I thought I “might” have been the one who didn’t turn the handle all the way vertical. And stress, being what it is, told me that my husband and kids might start thinking I’m getting senile.

I’m training a newbee at work, and I’m upset because I’m training him on something I’ve never quite worked on, and his desktop shortcuts are different from my shortcuts, and my Photoshop froze up mid-demonstration, plus  I’m slow in getting the hang of learning something new. And stress, being what it is, told me that I might lose my job or get reprimanded or not get a raise because of my dilemmas.

We are paying off medical bills as steadily as we can, and have worked with doctors and hospitals and told them we can’t afford “their” payment plan. We send in a goodly chunk of money every month, yet they still like to call and remind me of how much money I owe. And stress, being what it is, told me that I could go to jail or get in trouble for not paying off thousands of dollars of bills right away.

My wonderful daughter-in-law is spending Friday morning at my house, waiting for her husband to get off of work so they can follow us on a weekend escape, and I feel I have to spend 4 hours just cleaning my kitchen so she doesn’t get ptomaine poisoning. And stress, being what it is, tells me that she might not like me anymore if she has to spend four hours in my messy house.

Why am I so screwed up about these things?

I know I should save the stress for big things…Lord we know we all go through them. Jobs, families, and illnesses are all sources of stress. But lately I feel like I’m taking the blame for everything, leading to higher cholesterol, sleepless nights, heartburn, and worse. I’ve been told to let it go — you can only do so much, you can’t change others, do your best. Blah blah. After all, it’s not my fault if a computer program freezes or someone else is late for something I want to go to. Don’t sweat the small stuff, they say. Smell the roses. Get some fresh air and clear your head. Don’t take it so personally.

But I do. All of it.

I’m already taking something to keep the door closed on an all-out anxiety attack. Still I have to stop my mind from wandering and wondering about stupid things that have nothing to do with my reality yet really stress me out, like: what would it be like to be tortured? What would it feel like to be mangled in a car accident? What if I anger somebody and they come back and turn postal on me?

It’s like I have something to do with all the bumbles of the world. Like if only I were smarter or quicker or more graceful I could avoid most of the faux pauxs that happen around me. I don’t move as quickly or as calculatedly as I used to. 61 is not 31. But that doesn’t mean I’m one step away from senility, either. Who is thinking I’m getting senile? No one  but me.

Yet I continue to second guess everything I wear, everything I do. I don’t work efficiently enough, I don’t clean my house well enough, I don’t learn fast enough. I’m not sure what “enough” is, but I’m sure someone somewhere down the line thinks that. I should have enough time to work and fill the dishwasher and visit my grandson and grocery shop. I should be able to remember codes and go to bed on time and cook great meals and go for walks.

But I don’t.

And that stresses me out even more.

I doubt if  I’ll go to jail because I’ve made up my own payment plans, or never have my grandbaby over because I have dust bunnies peeking out from beneath my couch.  I doubt one negative remark will terminate my friendships, or that leaving dirty dishes in the sink will make it into the local newspaper. I will still be the same person I was yesterday, which, in the grand circle of things, isn’t a bad thing.

I’ve got to find a way to not take the world personally. It certainly doesn’t take me personally. I’ve got to find a way to let go of a lifetime of self-doubt and self-judgement.

But now I’m going to stress out about how to do that.

 

A Star is Form(ed)

pastaI love watching  people “livin’ the dream.” Watching the Food Network’s last Food Network Star, that was a popular phrase shared by the contestants and mentors as well. And really — doing what you love doing, walking the hallowed halls of Food Network, past the gods and goddesses of cuisine, travelling to places like Caesar’s Palace and restaurants that offer $1,000 ice cream sundaes — how can you not be living someone’s dream?

Television is truly a dream all its own. I watched season 6 of Face Off, and one of the episodes sent the contestants to Japan. To Japan! Just to give the prosthetic makeup artists a little bit of inspiration?  They can inspire me like that any time they want.

Or Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen. Most of those contestants are animals from the start, but when they win challenges they do things like go sailing or have champagne lunch on the beach or, for the final competitors, a night in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. With a view!

I know I sound like I’m jealous — and I am. I know there are only a few that can rise to the top, creamy white and perfect. Some of it is luck, some of it talent, but a lot of it is throwing hangups and insecurities to the wind and just going for it. It’s using that innate talent that we all have and doing something with it, not being afraid to put it out there; not being afraid to fail.

I think I’ve always been afraid to put it out there because I’ve always been afraid to fail.

Our parents raise us as well as they can. Their hangups, their ignorance, seep into our growth whether we want it to or not. But their confidence, their dreams, their positive reinforcement seep into our growth as well. Cheering us on at soccer games, sitting and listening to us in choir concerts, marveling at our crayon drawings, all help us feel better about ourselves.

This is where our power as an adult comes from. Where it can be used for good or for evil.

I have always been what I consider a “nice  girl.” I was picked on through middle school, but I got passed it and moved along through boyfriends and job. Married and had kids. During my lonely days I kept a journal. I wrote stories. I aged. I role played, which was impromptu writing. I kept more journals. More stories. Poetry. More writing. My parents were good to me, but they never really encouraged me to follow my dream.  Maybe I should have gone to college and been an English or Writing major. But they didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the focus. To be honest, I don’t think a lot of us did that back then.

There are always a lot of winners and losers in the world. Only one person can become a Master Chef. Only one person can be the owner of the fanciest restaurant in San Francisco or Accountant of the Year.

But there are a lot of wonderful, brilliant, fun people at number two. Or three. Or seventeen. After we get over our jealousy of what others “get” (which…come on…we all feel…at least initially), we can can celebrate our love of our craft no matter where we are. We can encourage our kids and grandkids to go for what they want. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t become number one? So what?

Parents have the power to make that okay, too.

That doesn’t mean we don’t teach our kids and grandkids to compete. The working world is still a working world, and you rarely get ahead by being cute or dressing like Beverly Hills. Most successful people know what they can and cannot do, and go after what they can do.  They work hard, play hard, and love hard, so when failure comes their way they have other outlets waiting for them.

I still would love to be one of the portraits hanging down the Food Network Studio Hallway, but my cooking skills would never stand up against those with more experience. No matter — I know a couple of kids who love to cook. Why not encourage them along the way? Encourage them to have fun while they hone their skills? For that matter, why not say something positive about someone’s poem or drawing or how well they hit a baseball? What have you got to lose?

I’m still working on putting myself out there creative-wise. What have I got to lose? Besides — I still have time to push J.K. Rowling off her throne and take her publishing crown.

Even if it is too small for this swollen head…

 

Ye of Little Faith … or Willpower … May Read

ice creamI am so weak. I am such a loser.

I’ve been sluggish lately; trying to adjust to my husband’s new job schedule (nights), my job schedule (days), cooking and not cooking, sleeping and not sleeping. All those things post-menopausal women go through.

I was going to try and do something about the sluggish thing. Diets aren’t for me. I love the taste of food too much. But common sense told me I can’t live on Fettuccine Alfredo and lasagna the rest of my life…not if I wanted to live to see 70. Or 80. Or, goddess be on my side, 90.

So I was going to go on that low-carb diet. Lots of meat, veggies, and water. I drink a lot of water at work already, so that’s not a problem. I started walking during my morning and afternoon work breaks. I was being a good doobie.

Then stress comes along. Too much salad too many days in a row kept me in the bathroom. Scrambling around in my frig for something that goes with the meat/veggie/water thing that is ready in 15 minutes more than impossible. Husband cooks dinner that I have to clean up. Can’t catch up with my writing or my friends or my sleep. So the crabbies hit me full force. And what do I do?

Meet my bff at McDonalds for an ice cream sundae. Then have a bowl of cereal (carbs!!) before bed.

What ever happened to MAKING A COMMITMENT? What ever happened to WILL POWER? What ever happened to the whipped cream and nuts that are supposed to come atop the sundae?

I admit my weakness will not cause the moon to slip out of orbit or get Gordon Ramsey to stop yelling at his Hell Kitchenites. But it bugs me that I can’t seem to stay true to trying to lose a few pounds. Oh, I know — tomorrow is another day. I didn’t fall off any wagon. I’m still walking and drinking water and eyeballing salads. I KNOW I have to move it or lose it. Cut proportions. There are already a dozen things I can’t eat any more because they mess me up in one way or ten.

But somehow it just seemed right to share my joys and sorrows with my bff over cheap ice cream. She, too, is swimming in her own pool of drama, but somehow we found comfort and support over a chocolate dipped ice cream cone and a hot fudge sundae. Seeking solace and laughs and camaraderie,  I would have willingly followed her to the local Italian restaurant, too.  That’s what friends do.

Tomorrow I will be back on the low-carb road. I chopped up some chicken for my salad and will have a burger for breakfast, along with some grapes and broccoli and whatever else my frig gives up. I will not be weak. I will not give up.

But I will be looking for my next excuse for a plate of Shrimp Scampi. With noodles.

I’m….Too Sexy for My (too small) Shirt….

1950vogueLiberation!

At least that’s what my mind calls it. I’ve been going through my closet and getting rid of ANYTHING that doesn’t fit/has a stain/looks frumpy.

You do that all the time, don’t you? Or don’t you?

I am the first to admit that sometimes it’s hard to donate that great-looking, swingy dress that looks smashing with those gold sandals. How many parties and barbeques did we attend together?  What doesn’t compute is that it’s not as flowy as it was 15 years ago.

15 Years?? What kind of fashion maven am I?

Fashion for women is a very touchy thing. I still have my mother’s mink stoles in the front closet that she wore 50 years ago. I can’t think of a party or dinner that they would fit in, though. I still am a fan of shoulder pads in women’s sweaters, but the look I get when I wear any that are left in my closet is worth ripping them out. I am not a fashion dinosaur — I’m more like a make-the-most-of-your-bad-purchase kinda gal. Some things I thought would look great once I got them home looked just as “iffy” as they did the day I plunked them off the shelf. But I stubbornly hang it in my closet hoping they will look better. They never do.

Now, men — in an odd, pretzel-logic sort of way, this goes for you, too. I mean, how many wrenches does one man need? How many fishing lures?  Bottle openers?

And clothes? Shoes? Bling? I am all for the odd piece, the one-in-a-million outfit. I am for keeping shoes that are comfortable and jewelry that is inherited. But between those two places is a bizillion pieces of collectables that would be better off being collected elsewhere. Think of all the little kids who would LOVE to start their fishing tackle box with one of the eight identical lures you are holding onto. The unemployed woman who would look smashing in the shirt and pants that haven’t fit you since 2001.  And what granny wouldn’t give her eye teeth (if she still had them) for a pair of comfy slippers that someone gave you years ago and you’ve never worn because they’re too big?

Perhaps there is a deeper psychological issue here, one that my little fried brain can’t digest right at the moment. I believe we are always “spring cleaning.” Our collections define us, mold us. If we don’t get out from under our old trappings we can never evolve…never follow our beautiful, wandering, growing nature. There is so much out there for us to experience. So why not? Keep a bit of the old, opt out for the new. If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it. If you haven’t fished with it in a year, stash it. Quit cluttering up your todays with yesterdays. It’s a fact of life. You can only use one wrench at a time. Having six of the same size doesn’t increase your chances of fixing whatever it is you are fixing.

Once you thin out your earthly possessions, you will be amazed at how the clutter in your head thins out, too. You wear what you really enjoy wearing — what really looks good. You catch  fish with the reliable lures your daddy gave you…you don’t need to keep the “maybe” ones that have cluttered up your tackle box for so long.

There is a double meaning somewhere in here as well. But I’ve no time to think about it. I see those dreadful, adorable sandals that pinch my feet sticking out from beneath the bed.

I’m sure there’s a bitchy boss out there who would love to wear them.

 

The Connection

phantomThere is something about a live experience — a concert, a reading, a play — that, when done correctly, vibrates you to your very core. There is an energy, a connection, with the artist that can move mountains. And when your mountain is moved…well, you can well imagine.

Through the loving generosity of family, I attended a performance of Phantom of the Opera last night. A chance to dress up, sparkle a little. A chance to elevate myself up from the everyday grind of cleaning and cooking and sitting in front of a computer screen for 8 hours a day.  The lights dimmed, the orchestra swelled, and the doomed relationship between the Phantom and Christine began.

I am not necessarily an opera affectionado; I’ve seen maybe two in my life. But this encounter was more than listening to singing and dancing and orchestral surges. It was becoming a part of the interplay between actors telling a story. It was as if the Phantom and Christine and Raoul were living their sad, melodic lives just for me.

I tend to get a little choky and teary at episodes of soulful interactions. I used to be embarrassed about shedding tears, especially in public. Crybaby comes to mind…hormonal as well. But the tears I shed at live performances come from a different well — a well that has no faucet, no hot and cold handles. They just appear — slowly, silently, swiftly.

I don’t even know what the trigger is. This time it was the beautiful song  Music of the Night. Sometimes it’s a sappy song like Wonderful World by the one and only Louie. Sometimes it’s the crescendo at the end of an orchestral piece, like the 1812 Overture. Sometimes it’s the words. A poetry reading, or a blog that just sends lightning bolts to the heart.  I’ve cried during TV shows like Chicago Fire or endings of movies like Passion of Mind.

The triggers are always different, but the overwhelmingness is the same. It is like the meeting of souls. Someone’s words, someone’s music, someone’s painting, reaches out and strums your heartstrings like a Stradivarius. You don’t always know which way it’s coming, but you know you will always be right in its path when it comes.

I think that’s why live performances are so fascinating. So magical. When you experience what the creator wants you to experience, there is a meeting of the minds, meeting of the souls, that cannot be explained. A beautiful painting. A well-written book. A love song. An actor so perfected in his craft that you can literally see a phantom in love or a warrior before battle. You see them, you feel them. Your heart bursts with emotion with their loves and hates and the choices they have to make. Even if they’re not real.

This energy exchange crosses over into other avenues as well. There is nothing more exciting than sitting on the sidelines of a football or basketball game. The players can’t hear you or see your collection of expressions, but  there is something about screaming in tandem with thousands sitting right next to you that keeps your spirit soaring.

I don’t know Cooper Grodin (the Phantom) or Ben Jacoby (Raoul) or Julia Udine (Christine). I don’t know what their favorite junk food is or if they have a mortgage payment. What I do know about them — and other artists — is the love they have for their craft. The pride they have in having honed this love into something that others can enjoy as well. And, for the brief moment we connect, them on stage or in a movie or writing that pivotal scene in their book, our hearts are seeing the same thing. It is me on the stage; it is me dancing the ballet. It is me bursting out in song or craft and showing the world what I can do.

Make an effort to see something live this summer. A band at a local bar; a poet reading from their chapbook; an orchestra in the park  or a play or a rock concert. It doesn’t matter what avenue you take — just go and take a chance on connecting with someone who understands you. Who can instantly turn on your water faucets with a word, a note, a sketch. They will never know who you are, never know what your favorite food is or what you take for a headache.

But they will certainly feel your energy. And you theirs.

 

Escape With An Oldie But Goodie

2013-08-14 16.59.06It has been one heck of a week. I shall not go into the sorid details, but suffice it to say I’ve come out on the other side clean and meek and reformed. So to speak.  I’m going away for the weekend to sit and look at the lake and play with my grandson and go for walks and watch cheesy videotapes (no TV). I don’t get phone service up there, which is probably a good thing (except I’ll have a lot of posts to read when I get back).

So I wanted to leave you with some fun reading from June of 2012. It’s about a disease I still have….Italktoomuchitis.

Happy Memorial Day!

 

 

Chit Chattin’ Chatty Cathy

doll Chatty Cathy

I subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true.  It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.

I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.

I don’t remember when I contracted this disease.  It certainly wasn’t in grade school (too ugly), nor high school (too busy trying to get pinned). I worked in downtown Chicago for a PR department, but trust me, it was far from glamorous…or talkative. ( I was rather submissive in those days.) Found love, got married and had babies. I didn’t think of myself as overly verbal back then. But now I wonder — when did I become so…chatty?

Chatty is a relative word. Those of us old enough can remember the “Chatty Cathy” doll.  Pull her string and she’d say a half dozen things. What a novel idea at the time. For those of you a bit younger, this phenomenon was a highlight in Steve Martin’s tirade in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “It’s like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn’t pull it out and snap it back – you would. Gnah..gnah…” Well,I’m beginning to think I’m that doll — and I’m the one pulling the string.

These last few years I think I’ve carried the chatty thing a bit too far. One question and everybody knows what I had for dinner last night, why I think my cousin’s child is out of control, the cramps I had this morning, and how much my dentist charged for root canal. I spill my son’s secrets to his wife, and tell my customers not to buy today for it goes on sale tomorrow. What is wrong with me? Since when have I become this effervescent fount of non-interesting information? I find I want to respond to everything. I have an answer for everything. Whether or not it’s informed. I find I have little patience for opinions other than mine, and need to comment on every and all things that come my way. Fortunately, I keep my mouth shut most of the time, but believe me, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I wonder if it’s that old person syndrome. You know ― the older you get, the less you care about what others think.  That seemed like such a cliché when I was younger. All those old fogies saying what they want to, not caring if they offend this person or that.  Most over 70 were a little crotchety and unreasonable, but hey, maybe they just weren’t thinking straight. Pre-Alzheimer’s and such.

As I got older I started to get where they were coming from. Now that I’m teasing the 60 mark, I’m finding those outspoken 70-year-olds weren’t so far off the mark after all.  Having spent a lifetime trying to get my thoughts and opinions across to others, I can see why caution is thrown to the wind and oldies say just what they think. I’ve been questioned and second-guessed more times than you can count; I’ve been unsure of my choices and bothered by the choices of others. I sometimes wonder if I should have turned right instead of left, if I would have made a difference, if I should have said something back then.

And I have gotten to the point where I’m tired of not being listened to.

I’m not saying that my opinion is any better than anyone else’s. We know the world by what we’ve experienced. I have kept my thoughts and opinions respectful and private. But in suppressing the nonsense that runs constantly through my head, I find myself talking and sharing more than when I was 20. It’s like the filter is broken. And I wonder — is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Through this need to reveal more than the neighborhood stripper, I find myself volunteering information that no one is interested in. Well, maybe they are, but in a superficial sort of way. I think we all do that — we listen to others babble their life stories, their grocery store nightmares, their crazy family history or their list of illnesses. We listen because we really do care. Not that we can do anything about their stories, but because we know that sometimes others just need someone to listen.

Often the babble that comes out of other mouths has nothing to do with what’s really going on inside. Maybe the storyteller suffers from insecurities, or illness, or loneliness. Maybe sharing the story of their kid’s accomplishments is a way to assure them that they did a good job as a mother or father. Maybe all they want is to be noticed. To be cared about. To be liked.

Many things fuel our chatter — or lack of. Where we’ve come from is not nearly as important as where we are headed.  If chit chatting about great recipes or the knucklehead in the cubicle down the hall gives us a little clearer sense of self, I’m all for it. We all need to get the chit out of our heads so we can think clearer and feel stronger. And as long as the chat is not destructive, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of babble at the bubbler.

Alas, sometimes I think my only solution is to wire my jaws shut.

You Bowl Me Over

bowlingLet’s start this out with the truth. I suck at bowling. Let’s finish this up with the truth. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the crazy fun you can have with people you don’t fully know.

No one can know any one 100%. Fact of life. Who knows what’s in the minds of your significant other, your great kid, your best friend. Heck, you don’t even know YOU as much as you think. Having said that, think about how many “others” you come in contact with every day. If you work outside the house, if you have kids that go to school, you always find someone you can share small talk with. Sometimes the small talk grows into comfortable talk. Sometimes the comfortable talk tumbles into good friend talk.  But no matter where you allow the friendship to go, there is always something good to come from it.

Some people will tell you their life story in 10 minutes. Others will hold secrets as long as you know them. That’s a fact of life, too. As long as you don’t demand more (or less) from these “others” you might find real people that you enjoy being around.

I’ve been blessed in my life with a great husband, great kids, and great friends. It hasn’t always been this way. These days we laugh that wherever there’s an “A” (my last name initial), there is drama. Cancer. Passing On. Water damage from a broken faucet while your house is up for sale. It can be a big thing, it can be a small thing. But it’s always SOMEthing. That’s why you need to find friendship, a good time, whenever you can. A few fun hours can clear your thoughts, move you forward.

Back to sucking at bowling. I went to the company outing Saturday, doing my best to throw a ball down the alley, mostly winding up with gutter balls and single digit pins. To think I met my husband at a bowling alley 35 years ago was a flash down an alley I barely remember (no pun intended).

But what didn’t suck was that I had fun with people that I see in a totally different environment 40 hours a week. A single mother, a married mother of one, and a single would-make-a-great-mother, all made bowling and friendship such an easy thing. During the week we all sit tied to our desks, way over our heads in work, barely sharing tales of what we did yesterday, no less what we did years ago. Yet these are people that I see day in and day out. People who accept me for what they see. People who don’t judge me for past mistakes or slights or wrong turns. There’s no way we could know each other’s upside down lives, yet we are drawn by the common need for friendship and understanding that their “upside down” lives looks hauntingly familiar.

People don’t need to be a full-time member of your personal entourage to be your friend. While you don’t have to share intimate details, you can share the best part of yourself with others who need it. An ear to listen, advice from experience — it doesn’t matter. I learn from those who have walked my path as well as those who are walking across the field somewhere. Laughing over the little things, like bowling, makes the rest of life easier. It won’t cure the disease or a broken heart or unemployment, but it will let you know you’re not alone in the wilderness.

Now…if someone could just teach me how to bowl…

Seven Fashion NoNos for Goddesses of All Ages

pantsDuring these doldrums of Winter, I’ve been planning my new fashion statement. Or rather looking for one. I’m up for the Boho Chic style (Old Lady BoHo http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu). But I can’t really BoHo now, because there’s something about wind chills of ten below and snow two feet deep in every direction that discourages peasant dresses and shawls and beaded whatevers. I figure between now and Spring I’ll gather up some fun things and have fun being a fun kinda woman.

But lately I’ve been seeing a few “Middle Age Magic” women following their own fashion muse, and, well, the sight is not a pretty one. I am all for comfort, fashion, and practicality. My BoHo is not your BoHo and all that. But good taste should always be good taste. I am all for the “this is who I am” state of being, too, but there are some things Middle Age (and older) women should really think twice about.  Here are a few of my humble fashion suggestions:

1.   Leggings and long sweaters and boots can look good on some women. Velvety purple leggings can not. Ever.

2.   Pigtails should only be worn by women under 10 or those who want to play the baby doll thing with their loved one. In private.

3.   Makeup is not a necessity. A fresh face is. Cleopatra’s eyes looked good only on Cleopatra. On older women it just looks scary.

4.   I know it’s sometimes necessary to run to the store in jogging pants. It’s just the nature of the beast. But jogging pants and chuggie boots and parkas are not a fashion statement now or ever. Remember — you are a woman first. Don’t ever be mistaken for the football player down the street.

5.  The office is as good a place as any to try out a new look. Just don’t be the one to test the dress code every time you do. You do nothing but create army punishment for the rest of us, making us unhappy co-workers and fashion enemies.

6.  Did I mention the thing about leggings and sweaters and boots? The older you get, the more you should think twice about it.

7.   Know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to try new looks. Just use your head. Don’t wear shoes that pinch, pants that bulge in the butt, tops that show too much of your endowments, shoes your father would wear, tops that make you look like a sausage, colors that make you look like a clown, or earrings bigger than your head.

There is fashion, and then there is fashion. And then there is no fashion. And then there is deliberate no fashion. Don’t let your steadfastness close your mind to the colors and sensations of the world. But in the same vein, don’t let your need to make a statement as you get older make you say something you’ll regret later. If a look works, great. If not, make sure you have a great look to go back to. Be proud of who you are and how you got there. Don’t let others dictate the colors of your feathers. But don’t forget you’ve GOT feathers.

And they never look good in velvety purple leggings.

Winter Crabs

Im-CrabbyI have a question for all of you, young and old, hot and cold, here, there, and everywhere.

But first, my turn.

I often think the older I get the crabbier I get. I find I have less tolerance, less worldliness, than I did years ago.  This lioness of emotions seems to rear its head during the cold, dark, snowy days of winter.

Does anyone out there find themselves turning into sulking, bulking creatures this time of the year?

I feel bad about this. I really do. I have a job that I can tolerate for another 7 or 8 years, great co-workers, and a short commute to and from work. I have a family that’s fun and loving, I’ve got great friends that ride the roller coaster of life with me all the time, and right now I have a chocolate chip cookie and glass of milk to keep me happy. I’m cancer free (as far as I know), I walked away from a rollover, and my sick cat has turned the corner and is getting better.

Yet still I walk outside and hate the weather, hate the freeze and the snow and the gray. And I find myself saying the “hate” work more often than not. I personally believe hate is a strong word and should be reserved for truly evil people and things, but it seems to slip out on a frequent basis these days. I have little energy to do the things I love, and have insomnia to the max. I feel fat and dumpy and don’t want to deal with either.

This isn’t me — is it?

I am a lover of life, lover of friends and chocolate and watching movies with my grandbaby.  Yet a lot of the time I feel I’m wandering aimlessly through the cold, not caring if I’m entertained or not. What a contrast of emotions. Which, in turn, messes me up even more.

I really think the older I get the more the weather affects me. I don’t remember feeling this cranky when I was younger. Maybe I was, yet I was too busy with kids and soccer games to pay attention to it. I mean well — I am still nice to people, and I do find my way to the computer now and then.  I know this mindset isn’t set in stone, but I do feel it’s stuck in a snowbank somewhere.

So let me know — are you affected by the depths of winter? Are you a Dr. Jeckyll waiting to turn into a Mr. Hyde? Or are you a fluffy snowflake having a wonderful time turning into a diamond?

I’d love to hear your side of the weather. And, if not, you can always growl…

Wind of Change

2It starts slow, soft, like a kitten’s breath. In the distance, barely noticeable. Soon it gathers momentum, tumbling over cornfields, ruffling the trees in city parks, bumbling around skyscrapers. You sense it before you feel it. Before you understand it.

The Wind of Change.

You don’t always know where the wind comes from, or, as often, why. Perhaps it’s triggered by a thought, a conversation, a color or a moment. But it’s a familiar sensation, a fresh scent. One you’ve felt before.

And you know this Wind of Change is coming for You.

This is not a foreboding wind; dark things don’t bother to ride the wind.  No…it’s a good sign. An encouraging sign. Maybe it’s whispering that you’re finally pregnant. Or that you’re going to finally lose 10 pounds or 50 pounds. Or that your financial future is about to change. Or that you are about to change.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t darkness trying to stop your growth; most likely you won’t win the lottery tomorrow or make up for years of abuse in a whiff of a moment.

Maybe the soft breeze is your signal to find your dream, to find your purpose in life. To move on. You know — that dream/purpose/growth that’s always with you, afraid to come out and see the light for fear of getting burned.  Perhaps the wind is telling you that things are really all right out here.

The Winds of Change can start small and stay small. Not  every breeze that comes and goes rocks your world. Perhaps the change will be as small as starting to say hi to people you don’t know. Maybe it’s starting to clean the dead debris off your houseplants. Maybe it’s looking into the mirror and once a day say, “You’re okay by me.”

When the wind blows your way, you taste the sweetness of the future, the positive vibrations of change. It’s not meant to be an overhaul…it’s meant to be a tinkle. A tingle. A psychic note that something is coming.

My wind has been tinkling my chimes for about a week now. Maybe it’s the anticipation of cutting and coloring my hair, or getting away for a week to our family cabin. Maybe I’ll get lost in a new story or discover a long forgotten gem.  Whatever it is, I know it’s going to be a welcome change.

Don’t hesitate to blow your own wind of change.

This song seems to haunt my blog today…I hope you like it too….thank the Scorpions…

 

Tuning In

Tuning In

I was watching an old “Closer” tonight. Brenda’s kooky future sister-in-law was calling herself an “intuitionist” (as opposed to a psychic), reading auras, getting signals from skin-to-skin contact, and receiving telepathic messages, helping the Task Force solve another murder.  It was an amusing combination of murder and mayhem, and, as usual, the character was so obnoxiously cosmic she made everyone roll their eyes.

After digesting this hour and moving forward, I started to think about the validity of one’s second sense ― something we all have, and all dismiss.  How many times have we met someone and instantly made an impression that later proved to be right on? We do it all the time. We instantly like or dislike someone. Admit it. It is only when our guilty conscience kicks in that we note our prejudices and tell ourselves that no one is always as they seem at first glance. The book-and-its-cover thing.

We get impulses and intuitions and psychic images all the time. Sometimes we know the phone is going to ring before it does. We have an urge to leave for work early only to find that just ten minutes later there was an accident that tied up traffic for three hours. And it’s not always the big-deal intuitions we get.  Moms know their kids are sick long before their kids do. Kids know when their moms are about to call (or text).  We know when our friends need to talk without them saying a word, and when our check is going to bounce.

Yet we dismiss these quirks as just that ― quirks.  No one can know the future. No one can channel energy from the cosmos or talk to dead people.  It’s all in one’s imagination. An active imagination.  Yet how many times do you talk to your mom or dad who’ve passed away some time ago? How many times do you connect with someone’s intimate feelings through the power of the written word? How many times do you walk through the woods and feel the energy around you? Energy you can’t see, energy you can’t explain. There are people who talk to God and Archangel Michael and others who swear their grandma is right there giving advice.

Humans have a need to label everything around them – compartmentalize what they can so they can feel they have “control” of their world. Which, we all know, is impossible. Nevertheless, we all do it. To me, mathematics and physics are in the same world as astral traveling. I will never understand the p’s and q’s of combinatorial geometry and lepton flavor violation, but they hold as much fascination to me as the Kobayashi Maru or the Dementors.

So someone outside of our sphere says they can talk to ghosts or read the glow around the human body.  Just because we can’t see or do out-of-the-ordinary things like that doesn’t mean they can’t. We can’t see electrons with the human eye, but scientists insist they exist. We say there is not life on other planets, yet there are giant tube worms that live a mile below the ocean surface under incredible pressure, and gain nourishment in an environment with chemistry radically different from our atmosphere.

Some psychics and mediums have devalued the importance of true life intuition. But you see, you don’t need a cosmic guru to tell you you are making bad choices — that you are overeating, in a bad relationship, or smoking too much. You are your own best intuitive when it comes to these things. You just have to listen to yourself. To the magic that speaks to you every moment of the day. Don’t be so quick to dismiss your innate ability to feel and understand the world around you. 

Can others read auras and predict the future? Can the future be seen in the spattering of tea leaves in the bottom of the cup or in the alignment of the stars?  What does it matter? All these connections to the world of the mind and the Otherworld are nothing more than people paying attention.  Those who seem gifted do nothing more than pay attention to the world around them. They watch people’s faces, notice the tapping of impatient feet or hear the anxiety in their voice. They know you are looking for answers, for guidance. So they do their best to guide you on your way, or to open your mind to new possibilities.

They do it — you can do it too.

I’m not saying the “intuitionist” is the wave of the future ― I’m just saying that there is a bit of the “intuitionist” in all of us. Seek guidance when you need it, listen to your own spirit guide when you don’t. Have fun lining up planets for your next shopping spree or matching your astrology sign with potential love interests. Just have fun with your intuition, period. It’s a part of you, of your very DNA.

Ah…DNA… Deoxyribonucleic acid. Another one of those winjy kinds of words. Think I’ll put that in the same pocket as ESP. Extra Sensory Perception. I don’t understand the depth of either word, but they make me feel good, knowing that they’re both a part of me.

Now…what do I “feel” my hubby will make for dinner tonight?

What Is True Success?

So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we  had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.

Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too.  Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.

This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb.  I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in  my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.

That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture.  Yet more often I think  I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.

How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator;  good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.

Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short  story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely.  I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers.  I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the  result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off  the main character.

There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.

So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world…  humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.

Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…

Claudia Anderson

Where Do You Want To Go?

I know most of you peek in and out with a whiff of the air; life is busy like that. I am the same way. Too many things I want to do, too little time. The story of all of our lives.

As you know, my passion (outside of my family, grandbaby, cooking and the latest Star Trek movie), is writing, followed by reading. I have been trying to read the Grey thing; I think I’m too old to be impressed by it (although I must say it goes where no one has gone before). Everyone likes to read different things: everyone has their own style, topics, and interests. That’s why reading is ssoooo much fun.  

My bigger obsession, though, is writing. My style is all over the place, but the bulk of it is more on the imaginary side. A favorite theme iof mine is the “middle age woman” traveling through time, in one direction or the other, exploring the new worlds from a middle age woman’s point of view. (Original, eh?)

So……a question for you.

If you were whisked through a “veil” into another world, what would it be like? Know that you would know nothing (or little to nothing) about the time period, or, if it were another planet/world, their society.  What kind of world would you like to explore?

I’ll go first.

My most current novel is about a middle aged, New Age woman who is whisked away to another planet where the inhabitants are a mixture of Ancient Rome and Spaceship City.  She does her best to try and adapt to a society who are based in ancient superstition and futuristic technology, while trying to solve a murder.

Your turn!

Don’t Worry About It!

          th_Cheshire_Cat_KHREC  They say routines get easier as you get older. That’s why adults have an easier time dealing with telephone solicitors, making grocery lists, and analyzing football games.  Why is it, then, that getting ready for work in the morning is often more confusing than a “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle?

            Let’s take this morning, for example. Woke up more than an hour before I needed to leave for work. Now, mind you, I have no children to get ready for school, my animals were already fed, and I didn’t have to dig through the basket for clean underwear.  I took a quick shower, made my lunch, grabbed a banana, and ran out the door.  I didn’t do the makeup thing or the curl-my-hair thing. And I still was almost late. Checking out my main campground (where I work), others looked so smooth and…mmm…together.  The guys were groomed, the gals were fresh.  Few (if any) look as frazzled and windblown as me.

            Time Management, you say.  I swear I am proactive.  It’s just that my time is lost somewhere in Einstein’s Relativity Time Dilation Theory. This morning I managed to slice, salt and paper towel eggplant for dinner; throw an excess of grapefruits in a bag for company distribution; and even took time to select jewelry to match my top. But somehow I still managed to look like a bag lady schlepping bundles in the back door of work.

            Get Up Earlier, you say.  I don’t know about most of you, but 5:20 a.m. is already pushing the sanity button.  Seeing as I woke up at 4 a.m. anyway (when various cats and dogs chose to share my side of the bed), you’d think I’d have the stamina to get up and get going.  Right. My husband showers, shaves, dresses, feeds the dogs and cats and fish, makes himself a breakfast sandwich, lets the dogs out again, brushes his teeth, checks the weather, and leaves for work all in 35 minutes.  What’s up with that?

            Be More Organized, you say. Pick out your clothes the night before. Make your lunch the night before. Take a shorter shower so you don’t have to put your makeup on in the warehouse bathroom. Color-coordinate your jewelry (gold together, silver together, rhinestones together) so the choices are quicker. Now you’re getting to the edge of implausible. How would I know what I’d be hungry for at 12:30 p.m. the next day? What if the shirt I wanted to wear suddenly sported a ketchup stain? What jewelry would go with that?

            Enlist Help, you say. That he-man who flies through his (or her) morning chores can pick up a few more tasks along the way, too. Knowing my tendency to move slow (so I don’t forget anything), I should have him double check the stove and curling iron before he leaves to make sure they’re turned off, have him make me a sandwich while he make himself one, and since he’s  superman and out to his car long before I take my vitamins, maybe I’ll have him start my car as well. That way I don’t have to drive the first couple of miles peering through a strip one scraper width wide.

            Accept It, you say.  The more you fight your routine, the more messed up things get.  What is the purpose of a routine if you don’t stick to it? Realize that you do stick to it ― you just interpret the parameters of these things your own way. So you don’t always remember to bring the bills to drop in the mailbox. So you don’t remember to pack bottled water or the book you read until one in the morning.  So what?  Has anyone ever mentioned your non-ironed shirt or your pants that occasionally ride up your calf because of static?  Not really. Accept that, even though the field has been filled with obstacles, you have managed to stay within the safety of the goal posts.

            Look ― the things your friends worry about have nothing to do with what you brought for lunch or if your hair was cut too short.  Friends are more worried about what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling. How your family is doing. What you’re doing Saturday night. If you’re feeling okay and if they can do anything to help you feel better. Those who judge you by your rigid adhesion to schedules don’t understand who you really are. So they don’t matter. Respect the rules, abide by the ones that can get you in trouble, and strive to keep the rest.

            Don’t Worry About It, you say.  Now, that’s about the most sensible advice you’ve given me today.

 

Time Management — or Really the Lack Thereof

Round and Round and Round She Goes…….Where She Stops Nobody Knows……

Does your life often feel like that?? Lately my life has been that! No time to blog, no time to write, barely time to breathe. As I sit here jotting down a few words of wisdom, I am scratching and digging and itching the skin off the top of my feet where chiggers fed a few days ago. What kind of wisdom is that?

I really believe the drought in the Midwest has drained the sanity out of us mere mortals. If I thought I had little patience before, ask me how I feel after camping for two days in 90 degree breezeless weather. (On second thought, don’t ask…) On one hand, chiggered ankles were a small price to pay to be with my grandson for the weekend. But, upon reflection, I could have thought of 50 other places more suitable to both my “temperament” and “temperature.”  We won’t talk about sweating, but with temperatures at 100 one tends to sweat in places you never knew you could sweat in.

The heat also messes with my sense of organization. (Like I had any to begin with…)  I look around the house and see all the things I should do but don’t have time to do because I’m busy doing other things. We all have days of disorganization. But why does it seem lately that I’ve had weeks of it? Maybe I need a little time management or something.  A search in Yahoo brings up time management games, tips, skills, techniques, strategies, software, training, books, articles, and activities. Wow. I am overwhelmed just by so many choices. This is more than just turn right or left; this is riding on the twirliest roller coaster in the land.

Is my madness just a case of time mismanagement? Of poor planning? Or is it that our world has gotten so big, so advanced, so fast, that there are literally millions (as opposed to dozens) of activity melons that are ripe for the picking? Our ancestors didn’t have such a cornucopia of delights to choose from. Extra curricular activities were limited by your pocketbook and your proximity to town.  Reading (how about sinking your teeth into The Scarlet Pimpernel?), walking (didn’t you see Sense and Sensibility?), checkers or chess, or singing around the piano (think Christmas Carol), were the highlights of adult play.  Granddaughter in another state having a birthday? Too bad — too far. Want to go swimming to cool off? Too bad — closest body of water is five hours by mule.  Want to go out for dinner? Too bad. Town is ten miles by mule.

These people didn’t have an unlimited choice of entertainment like we do. Blogging, surfing the Net, playing online or video games, talking on the phone, watching 20 Closer reruns you’d DVR’d, reading Star Magazine, dancing to your IPod — all are activities that would be chinese to them.  I know we don’t do all those things, but admit it — we get pretty darn close. Add going to work,  grocery shopping, driving to birthday parties and soccer games, watering the garden, mowing the lawn, washing clothes, getting a hair cut, going to the dentist or doctor, all contribute to the roller coaster ride we put ourselves on.

Here are a few tips I found on the “Time Management Tips” List:

Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going.  How many three-ringed notebooks do I have to carry around??

Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. See my blog https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/real-lists-vs-fantasy-lists/ to clarify real lists vs. fantasy lists.

Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce our results.  I already spend 110 percent of my time doing this – where did they get 50??

Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing.  Oh, does that mean I can pull into McDonalds for a hot fudge sundae on my way to the grocery store?

Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.  I do this before I go to sleep and between alarm snoozes in the morning. Plans sound better when you’re half asleep.

Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. When you only get 10 minutes for morning break and you’ve got three phone calls to make, that’s tacking on another 15 minutes to an already squished schedule. Mmmm…

Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done. Yeah, tell that to your dogs and cats and kids…

Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. About the only free time I have lately is on the toilet — not what I consider a conducive atmosphere for answering emails and phone calls.

Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.  I use these to generate the business of friendship and gossip…whatchu talkin’ about??

Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results. Now that’s the smartest thing I’ve heard all day.

I guess I’ll just have to do what I can when I can. After all, there’s so much more to see, to do, to write.  And I’m sure there will be plenty of time to get organized on the “other” side.

Won’t there?

Chit Chattin’ Chatty Cathy

I subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true.  It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.

I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.

I don’t remember when I contracted this disease.  It certainly wasn’t in grade school (too ugly), nor high school (too busy trying to get pinned). I worked in downtown Chicago for a PR department, but trust me, it was far from glamorous…or talkative. ( I was rather submissive in those days.) Found love, got married and had babies. I didn’t think of myself as overly verbal back then. But now I wonder — when did I become so…chatty?

Chatty is a relative word. Those of us old enough can remember the “Chatty Cathy” doll.  Pull her string and she’d say a half dozen things. What a novel idea at the time. For those of you a bit younger, this phenomenon was a highlight in Steve Martin’s tirade in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “It’s like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn’t pull it out and snap it back – you would. Gnah..gnah…” Well, I’m beginning to think I’m that doll — and I’m the one pulling the string.

These last few years I think I’ve carried the chatty thing a bit too far. One question and everybody knows what I had for dinner last night, why I think my cousin’s child is out of control, the cramps I had this morning, and how much my dentist charged for root canal. I spill my son’s secrets to his wife, and tell my customers not to buy today for it goes on sale tomorrow. What is wrong with me? Since when have I become this effervescent fount of non-interesting information? I find I want to respond to everything. I have an answer for everything. Whether or not it’s informed. I find I have little patience for opinions other than mine, and need to comment on every and all things that come my way. Fortunately, I keep my mouth shut most of the time, but believe me, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I wonder if it’s that old person syndrome. You know ― the older you get, the less you care about what others think.  That seemed like such a cliché when I was younger. All those old fogies saying what they want to, not caring if they offend this person or that.  Most over 70 were a little crotchety and unreasonable, but hey, maybe they just weren’t thinking straight. Pre-Alzheimer’s and such.

As I got older I started to get where they were coming from. Now that I’m teasing the 60 mark, I’m finding those outspoken 70-year-olds weren’t so far off the mark after all.  Having spent a lifetime trying to get my thoughts and opinions across to others, I can see why caution is thrown to the wind and oldies say just what they think. I’ve been questioned and second-guessed more times than you can count; I’ve been unsure of my choices and bothered by the choices of others. I sometimes wonder if I should have turned right instead of left, if I would have made a difference, if I should have said something back then.

And I have gotten to the point where I’m tired of not being listened to.

I’m not saying that my opinion is any better than anyone else’s. We know the world by what we’ve experienced. I have kept my thoughts and opinions respectful and private. But in suppressing the nonsense that runs constantly through my head, I find myself talking and sharing more than when I was 20. It’s like the filter is broken. And I wonder — is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Through this need to reveal more than the neighborhood stripper, I find myself volunteering information that no one is interested in. Well, maybe they are, but in a superficial sort of way. I think we all do that — we listen to others babble their life stories, their grocery store nightmares, their crazy family history or their list of illnesses. We listen because we really do care. Not that we can do anything about their stories, but because we know that sometimes others just need someone to listen.

Often the babble that comes out of other mouths has nothing to do with what’s really going on inside. Maybe the storyteller suffers from insecurities, or illness, or loneliness. Maybe sharing the story of their kid’s accomplishments is a way to assure them that they did a good job as a mother or father. Maybe all they want is to be noticed. To be cared about. To be liked.

Many things fuel our chatter — or lack of. Where we’ve come from is not nearly as important as where we are headed.  If chit chatting about great recipes or the knucklehead in the cubicle down the hall gives us a little clearer sense of self, I’m all for it. We all need to get the chit out of our heads so we can think clearer and feel stronger. And as long as the chat is not destructive, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of babble at the bubbler.

Alas, sometimes I think my only solution is to wire my jaws shut.

See What You Have Missed!

I know the winter dulldrums are upon us, yet spring is flirting from across the banquet hall filled with diners. We can’t quite see her yet, but I noticed one extra sparkle on the horizon, so she’s on her way.  Before the mad rush of her annual appearance scatters us to the four winds as we open windows, walk a little more, spring clean, play fetch with our dogs, and get more serious about our eating habits, I thought I’d bring a few of my ditties to the forefront (in case you need to apply one to your upcoming Spring Pledge):

To Dream or Not to Dream: That is the Question — Turn your restlessness into meaningful nonsense. Just don’t take yourself too literally

Reincarnation as a Walmart Greeter — Good deeds don’t go unrewarded, no matter where you end up in the end

Dancing in a Too Tight Tutu — You are never too old for anything. What are you waiting for?

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese — The learning/language gap between generations

On Base of Bony Orbit —  This one is an important read, especially if you’re going to a party where words impress

Merlot at the Lake House — Are we what we watch?

Viva Las Vegas! — A wonderful place to get lost in

Nothing to Write About: My Life is a Bore — How “unboring” we really are

The Hand of Guilt — Stop carrying that monkey on your shoulder

The Sashaying Mink — Closet adventurists

Sex — What is it and Where Did it Go? — the joys of middle age prancing

Time to Remodel — let the Picasso in YOU come out

Please take a few minutes to see where we’ve been. Let me know if you have any favorites, any ideas.  And hold on, for the future is full of promise — and blogs!

Time to Remodel

Time to remodel.  Those words strike terror in some, delight in others. Probably most of our abodes could use a refresher course in Martha Stewart 101. Shampooing carpets, washing windows, and rearranging the pantry are all fine and dandy, but sooner or later you get to the point where you just can’t stand the grease marks behind the stove or the coffee stains on the rug any longer.

 I was perfectly happy with my little hideaway in the country. I’ve spent many a day playing with kids, petting dogs, cooking for family and friends, and dancing in front of the speakers between these walls. The décor was right for the time: a unicorn plate here, a deer head there. I felt I had the best of both worlds.

 But lately strange apparitions began to appear. A lot more spots had appeared on said wall, and the rugs looked more like a Dalmatian rug.  My kitchen cabinets were stuffed fuller than rummage sale bins, and those birdcages atop the cabinets started to have a fuzzy edge to them.  I can’t see the living room over the counter top because of the three beta bowls, various potteries, an air freshener, and a stack of newspapers that eventually will wind up in the kitty litter box. I couldn’t find anything, I couldn’t reach anything.

 Yes, I needed a change. A shot of the ‘ol adrenalin in our living space. Once I (we) gave the OK, my mind began running like a mad dog after a cheeseburger. Colors, textures, flooring all screamed at me. “Pick me! Pick me!”  Echoing right behind those screams were those of my husband. “Cheap! Cheap!”

 Being a Sagittarius, I embrace change. The bigger up front, the better. Of course, Sagittarians are also notorious for not finishing their projects, but that’s fodder for another story. The roller coaster ride began. How about black and white and wrought iron?  Too gothic.  How about a tropical look – cantaloupe and soft turquoise? No, my mother’s frig was turquoise. Scarred me for life. Boring! Blasé! Old World! I forced myself to center. Slow down.  But so many colors to choose from! Honey! Mint Green! Butterscotch! Red and White! Why didn’t I have a plan before I started?

 My husband maps out the future one bullet point at a time. Why couldn’t I? He had the responsibility of picking out new flooring. No problem. Oak laminate was on sale. It wasn’t that easy for me. I needed to create atmosphere. Ambience. A binding swirl from kitchen to dining room to living room to hallway and back.  Didn’t he see that that wasn’t something to be taken lightly?  My in-laws already did the North Woods look, and I used to have black and white checked in a house we lived in many moons ago. Even though I have a thing for unicorns and faeries, I’m not sure their place is in the kitchen beside polish sausage and sauerkraut.

 I wanted this second go around to be different. This terrified my husband. He has a hard time imagining anything outside four ivory walls and a couple of mounted fish.  He had nervous flashbacks. Like the time I painted the bottom half of a bedroom wall burgundy, or painted a landscape complete with brick walls, urns, and a giant wrought iron gate in my back hallway, or stenciled vines winding from one room to the next. Now that I’m older and less inclined to care about what others think, perhaps he feared the worst. Like I would paint a graveyard scene or an Andy Warhol tribute. Not so. Not so.

Besides ― I didn’t have much money other than for flooring, some paint, and splash tiles. Anything I came up with had to come from the garage sale stack in the mudroom or my local second hand store.  So what do you do when you have champagne taste on a lemonade budget? Why, you do what any creative sprite would do ― you call in another Muse! I was sure Michelangelo or Rembrandt has a few faes they could send my way. After all, inspiration is all around us. In us.  We are not only sales clerks, graphic designers, insurance transcriptionists, or day care workers ― we are musicians, artists, landscapers, psychologists and miracle workers. All I needed to do was open my eyes and look around.

 I didn’t want my rooms to look like Picasso came to visit, or something only Bobby Flay could cook in. I picked out some sand stone-ish tiles and a paint called pearls and lace. That was a start. Suddenly the rooms began to metamorphous.  I didn’t have to walk into the wind chimes on my way out the patio door, or bump my knee on the table jutting out into the living room. Exchanging sheers for the dusty antique lace ones downstairs gave my dining room a much different feel. A few gargoyles atop the cabinets, a few pieces of pottery, and voila! A new me!

All this angst about nothing made me think that it should be just as easy to remodel your inner temple. Clean out the dust bunnies, read a book, go for a walk, play at a new playground. You know who you are ― have some fun with yourself. Drop the drama that dogs your heels every day. Learn to wipe off your inner counters more often, and let the real you shine through.

My mother kept the same drapes and rug and wall colors for 30 years. My mother-in-law too. I never got to ask them if those were really their decorating dreams or someone else’s.  If their inner temple ever slipped out to meet their outer one. If they even knew they had an inner temple.

 I haven’t quite gotten the green light as far as wall decorations and furniture removal, but the highest hurdle has been jumped. I move forward constantly, and respond to my husband’s “Cheap! Cheap!” with my own rebel yell: “Negotiate! Negotiate!”

Nothing to Write About — My Life is a Bore

            Fifteen hundred words.  One thousand, five hundred words.  That’s what the contest rules stated.  Surely I could come up with something to write about in fifteen hundred words or less. I sat at the kitchen table, spiral notebook open, pen poised.  But my pen stopped after the word “Someday”, the “Y” becoming an ornate doodle of Elizabethan proportions.  What could I write about?  My life was so ordinary, so mundane compared to the experiences of those around me.  I had no juicy stories of divorce to share; no exotic locations to describe, no secrets to expose. 

            I sighed, looking at the fancy “Y” on the paper.  What about humor?  I thought about some of the funny stories I’d heard through the years.  There was the one about my husband’s childhood friend Meathead who built a go-cart out of a lawn mower engine and a ladder and some old wheels.  It was direct drive, no brakes, no steering wheel to speak of — all it did was go forward.  Meat took off, drove down the alley and right into a telephone pole, splitting the ladder by its rungs, the scene unfolding like something out of a cartoon.  Or the time another friend tried to be George Washington on the point of their fishing boat, standing strong and proud as it came to shore.  The boat slid onto the sand bank, hitting a sand hill just a little too fast, and he went flying into the air, making a perfect mud angel.

            Naw, I wasn’t good at humor.  What else?  What about drama?  I thought about tidbits I could turn into an entertaining yet meaningful short story.  I thought about my father, a proud man who fought in World War II.  He remembered the war as if it were yesterday, yet when he died at 85 he could barely remember what he had for breakfast.  I remembered the story he told about being in a foxhole with a couple of his buddies.  He turned to grab his thermos and pour a cup of coffee; a shell landed in the foxhole, exploded, and when he turned around his bunkmate was gone. Or the story of my friend’s daughter and her struggle with cystic fibrosis.  The beautiful girl who died at twenty-eight because her lungs just couldn’t support her body anymore. It was the first funeral service I had been to where I’d had seen a “life” board; a bulletin board filed with pictures that spanned the girl’s entire life.  I couldn’t believe her board could be so full at 28 years old. Or something sappy about family illnesses or faithful pets.

            No, those weren’t the kind of stories judges wanted to read.  Not in a mere fifteen hundred words.   Surely there was something extraordinary I could write about.  Oh, there’s my friend Ari — she’s wild and creative and just a bit eccentric.  She talks to spirits and ghosts, and is delightfully in tune not only with her psychic powers but also her business sense.  What about the friends I made at the Renaissance Faire?  There was the gypsy wench from Germany and her artistic husband who created medieval magic from fabric. And there was the short, hairy artist with a beard that ran half way down his neck that worked marvels with pewter.  Wild people, great people.

            Or my family members.  Loud and burly Uncle Bill, balding and boisterous, a loving man that enjoyed a beer or ten as much as burgers and brats; or Uncle Scott on the other side of the family, the one with the heart of gold and a passion for aqua shoes.  Then there was Grandpa, the fishing guru and legend, someone who knew everybody and everything that happened in his little town.  And what about my kids when they were little?  Rooms so messy we’d need a bulldozer to clean them, or paintball wars, or wrapping Christmas presents while eating shrimp at midnight?

            I kept doodling on the empty page.  What about all the friends I’ve made through the years? I’ve known farmers and writers, mechanics and truck drivers.  I’ve come to know special education teachers and helicopter pilots, football quarterbacks and massage therapists.  Surely there were stories scattered throughout their lives.  Well, I had friends, but no one extraordinary to write about.  No one who spent time in prison or traveled through Africa on safari or had lunch with the President of the United States. No one that broke any records or invented something that changed the face of America.  All I knew were people who worked for a living: ordinary people that fished or painted or watched movies on the side of a barn or made jewelry or delivered pizza or coached soccer teams.

             I tore off the top sheet of paper, crumbling it into a tight ball, and started on a fresh, clean sheet.  The black ballpoint rested on the thin blue line of the paper, ready.  Yet nothing would flow.  Not an “E” or an “S” or anything in between.  I looked outside the window at the emerald green fields and weatherworn barns in the distance.  The sky was electric blue, and the pine trees appeared as arrows pointed skyward.  The chatter from the birds was almost deafening as cardinals, blue jays, and a handful of other serenaded from the edge of the woods.   For all I knew there could be elves and fairies just on the other side of the sumacs, unicorns mingling with the horses at the farm next door, and aliens making crop circles in the field on the o]=her side of my house. There could have been CIA agents or ex-Nazi criminals posing as salesmen at the store in town.  There could be a meteor heading towards my little town right at that very moment, or treasure buried under the lopsided oak tree at the edge of my property.

            But I would never know, because I was convinced I lived in a vanilla-coated world.  There wasn’t one single person to interview, nor one inspirational vista, nor one slice of comedy to fill my empty sheet of paper.  There was never anything interesting going on in my life.

            At least not fifteen hundred words worth.

Viva Las Vegas!

If you ever want to go to a place that is a cornucopia of faces, bodies and energies, there is no more an entertaining place to lose your money or your mind than Las Vegas.  Forget this Mecca’s main thrust — gambling — and slip around the edge to the weirdness that permeates the city that never sleeps.  It’s magical in its own sparkling way — gambling and lights and music and shows and people.  Lots and lots of people. It’s a place where cosmic energy mingles with electric billboards, turning normal, well-meaning visitors into Dr. Jekyll /Mr. Hyde parodies. 

 The first time I went to Las Vegas I was very family-conscious.  My husband and I took his parents and our two kids to the land of decadence and sunshine.  One child was 12, the other seven.  This was the time of the “family friendly” Vegas — acrobats flying across the ceilings at Circus Circus, knights jousting at Excalibur.  Besides stopping now and then to throw a quarter or two into a slot machine, we also rented a van and toured Hoover Dam and Death Valley.  I left the world of lights with a blue glass from Excalibur and most of my gambling money in tact.

A few years later and my husband and I got the urge to go again, this time leaving the kids with the afore-mentioned grandparents. I went out and bought some sexy dresses and a couple of those individual liquor bottles to mix with my soda on the plane.  We caught a topless show and dared to walk the length of the strip drinking strawberry margaritas right in the open.  The lights and nights were magical.  I stayed up a little later and got up a little earlier. I left the world of lights with a winning jackpot and a gold glass from the Hilton.

 The third time it was my 25th wedding anniversary, and what better place to renew our vows than in the land of drive-thru churches?   We almost said “I Do” in front of Elvis, but decided we’d rather buy Elvis dice instead.  I wanted to stay up late, sleep late, lie around at the pool, win money, and get kitschy with Liberace and his museum. But my best laid plans sooner or later became parodies of themselves.  My biological clock just didn’t want to kick into glitter time.  We burped up dollar hot dogs and cheap beer. I got sunburn at the pool, put too much wasabi on my sushi, and developed a painful blister on my foot.  We drank strawberry margaritas for breakfast and milk for lunch and Pepto Bismol for dinner.   I went to bed a little earlier, slept a little later, and didn’t go through as many quarters as the last time.  I wasn’t interested in the shows, and the restaurants were less designer chef names and more all-you-can-eat buffets.  I moved a little slower and sat down a little more frequently.

What happened to the magic?  Where was the glow of the child, the carefree gambler, the woman who wanted to rub elbows with Wayne Newton and Celine Dion?  Did I finally outgrow my need to be sparkled and jingled to death? This time the glitter felt  different.  The energy that permeated the casinos and lounges had turned around on itself, slowly becoming more a part of me than something outside of me.  Maybe it was because I stopped judging everyone else’s clothes and size and gambling habits and let myself flow down the river rather than speedboat up the opposite way.  Once I let Vegas be Vegas, I was able to experience the myriad of energy levels that constantly billowed around me. And I realized I didn’t have to buzz through that world 24/7, seeing all, doing all. I just let the world of sparkle sparkle.

Once I got away from the mad desire to throw one more quarter into the slot machine, I found Vegas a world filled with all sorts of faces and personalities, all ages, all races. In this world, people felt free to be who they were, or, more often, who they dreamed they were.  In this world of make believe, all dreamers were equal.  Farmers, secretaries, and corporate presidents shared fantasies of castles and pyramids, Italian palaces and French towers.  Both babes and grandparents got a glimpse of life in the fast lane. Grannies sparkled as much as show girls, and cowboy boots walked right next to tennies. Winners and losers were all the same here: both sides of the fence existed at the same time. Einstein’s theory of relativity threads through it all, rewarding some, cheating others, and sadly, caring not what you leave behind.

People were always laughing, whether at themselves, the crowd, or each other. There was a constant flow of bodies moving between casinos, a maze of colors, heights and textures.  I didn’t know if they were rich or poor, sick or lonely; if they had won a million dollars or if they just spent their children’s college fund.  Nor did it matter. We were all merely specks of glitter in the galaxy of life, sharing a moment or two with others in a reality not our own. We shared a nod, a raised glass, a glimpse of understanding. We became part of the throbbing heartbeat of a city that swallowed us all, spitting us out when it came time to go home.   When the vacation was over, I left the city as I found it.  I left the sparkles, the glitter, and the dreams of fortune and glory to those who would follow. I had all the glory I needed back in my little town in Wisconsin.  What I did bring back, though, was a glimpse of my other side ― the kooky one who peeks out now and then, daring me to follow. That side assured me I would be back.

I forgot to get my glass.

Merlot at the Lake House

Quick.  Name a handful of your favorite movies. Not the “great” ones that are in your library ― the ones that define you. The ones you don’t admit entertain you time and time gain.  Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?

 It’s Saturday night: the boys are sleeping, the dogs have had their bonies, and I have settled down with a glass of merlot. Been a long day, a long week. Having just come off of my father-in-law’s passing and pressure-filled days at work, I find my emotional state still dancing on stalagmites. So I pull out a movie ― one I haven’t allowed myself to watch in some time. The Lake House.  Why is that?

There is nothing wrong with movies and books that reflect our inner selves. We are, of course, a reflection of many things around us — movies, books, the weather, the heart.  We develop our creativity based on what we’ve learned and what we’ve experienced. That is why self-help and raw human confession books are so popular. We are a world lost in the chaos of ego, everyone needing to be heard, no matter what the cost.

But back to movies and books. Both are tools of escapism; both reflect a little bit of what fascinates us deep inside. Not that we would live that life ― just that that life seems to resonate a bit with something Freud or Nietzsche would have had a field day with. Some connections are obvious; others are as nebulous as the morning fog.  My husband is nut when it comes to John Wayne ― any form, any era. Is he a big, larger-than-life hero type? Maybe not, but I can see flashes of the Duke in the way he struts sometimes.  Another good friend of mine loves books by Stephen King; I don’t think she is off on some modern-day blood and gore pilgrimage, but I can see her fascination ― the impossible becoming possible.

So what about The Lake House? Does this genre define who I am?  Am I lost in the fantasy of two time periods communicating through a mailbox? I am a preacher that we are  all multi-faceted diamonds in the rough. That we are so much more than the whole of our parts. And we are. But there are still signs in the universe (and in the media) that are plainly obvious.  Some resonate louder than others. Let’s ramble off a few of my favorite movies: The Lake House, Passion of Mind, Practical Magic, Chocolat. I’m sure that says a whole lot about my inner and outer spirit. That I am an escapist, a romantic, a time traveler. Funny that I also write about time travel, modern day women thrust into arenas not of their choosing:  alien worlds. Does my writing parallel my movie and book preferences? Does yours? Not just your writing, but your artwork; the books you read, the homemade cards you design, the jewelry you make, the dishes you cook when you are free to be yourself.

Sometimes we fall prey to pressure from the outside to be or think or watch what everyone else is being and thinking and watching.  As we get older, we fear we will be made fun of if we do not get the meaning of Barton Fink or Super Bad, or we don’t get rap or MTV, or we don’t laugh at movies filled with stoned characters or girls with their breasts hanging down to Brazil and back. I myself tremble at the thought of telling others I enjoy listening to Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra as much as Gaelic Storm or Steely Dan or Metallica. How can I be spread so thin over the planet? How can music and movies and books reflect who I am, who I’d love to be, when I’m in a hundred places at one time?

 As we get older our needs change. What thrilled us at 20 bores us at 50. Not that our youth is invalidated; on the contrary. We have evolved, just like everyone else. The things we thought risqué at 25 make us smile knowingly at 40. I suppose that’s because the world ever evolves, ever moves forward. And even though we move forward as well, we have the ability to focus on whatever era we wish. I have a friend who loves science fiction; the science part, the infinity part. This person works with computers, a field infinite and definitely scientific. Is sci-fi merely an extension of their reality? What about another friend who is very logical during the day yet hooked into murder mysteries all other times? Is her enjoyment of figuring out “who did it?” a reflection of working things out in her life?

 I suppose the point of this story is to encourage you to follow whatever direction your spirit guide sends you. When I was younger I questioned everything. “Does this mean something?” “If I turn right and go through the woods, instead of left and down to the field, does it mean something?” Now I know that every decision is just that. A choice. Turn left, turn right. It doesn’t matter. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a choice. Both turns take you back to who you are. Just like whatever movies you watch, whatever books you read. Enjoy adventure, enjoy historical sagas. Enjoy accounting manuals. It doesn’t matter.

 Having found that contentment regarding my decisions, I wonder what it means that my other favorite movies include Boondocks Saints and Con Air.

 Put… the bunny…back in the box…

On Base of Bony Orbit

When not being busy as a Goddess Gypsy Irish/Polish Writing Queen (I’m not really sure what that is…), I also spend 40 hours a week working on catalogs. I enter data, order images and copy, and proofread everything from the original description to the final glossy prepress page. One of my catalogs is dedicated to health care. Besides pages being filled with replicas of every body part (inside or outside) you can imagine, I also come across some extraordinary vocabulary.

This catalog is not one of those over-the-top linguistic nightmares, but a publication that is sophisticated enough to be grammatically specific and accurate when needed. At first the vernacular was a tsunami blowing around me. A lot of the images made me blush (scarlet, no less), and the descriptions were mostly gibble to me.  But now that I’m a seasoned veteran (sort of), I look at the catalog with a skewered sense of humor. Take the title of this blog, for instance. On Base of Bony Orbit is a description of an eye model; an orbit is the cavity in the skull that contains the eye; the eye socket. So, pulling myself away from the labrynth of product numbers, misspelled words and overlapping graphics, here are a few chuckles and chasms I found along the way.

Romantic Pairings (don’t these sound like lovey-dovey couples from the past?)

                         Cephalic and Basilic                         Systolic and Diostolic

                        Lavage and Gavage                           Bradycardia and Tachycardia

                        Larynx and Pharnyx                         Holodiastolic and Holosystolic

                       Maximus and Medius                       Tibula and Fibula

Linguistics

Another alien world in this catalog is the world of words. Oh sure, dictionaries and technical manuals are full of words only Einstein can decipher.  But, hey! I am merely an enlightened female on the road to who-knows-where! And these words are in my catalog:

                    Sphygomanometer                        Periocardiocentesus

                    Hepatobilliary                                Cricothyrotomy

                    Pneumothorax                               Sternocledidomastoid

                   Bulbospongiosus                            Intraosseous

                   Illococcygenus                                Supraspinatus

                  Meniscofemoral                              Oropharyngeal

Who Else is Here?

Did you know that there are a lot of people hanging around inside of you, too? Is there no such thing as total privacy?

             Ludwig’s Plate

            Loops of Heale

            Adam’s Apple

            Henle’s Loop

            Papillary Duct of Bellini

            Bowman’s Capsule

            Angle of Louis

 Junkyard

There seems to be a lot of junk and space inside of you, too. Just take a look at what’s really inside of you:

             caverns                               stems                        radicals                tubes   

             arches                                 trees                         hammers              valves         

             anvils                                 roofs                         cords                      roots

            discs                                    nails                         vaults                     canals 

           branches                            cavities                     bulbs                      plates   

           pyramids

Stumble Through Ancient Rome

 The body is filled with Latin terminology.  Sometimes I feel I should say, “ciao, baby!” Thank you Italy…

             Vastus lateralis                                Palmaris ulnaris

            Flexor carpi radialis                        Levator anguli oris

            Palmar aponeurosis                        Prominentia larngea

            Lateral decubitus                            Scala tympani

            Orbicularis acculi                           Peroneus brevis

            Patent ductus arteriosus 

 What is That?

             Shorter words that still make no sense to me:

            caecum                       pylorus                concha                       ischium

            vomer                        obdurator             pons                            taenia

            otic                              choroid                bolus                          calyces

            necrotic                      maxilla                occiput                       ulnar

 I’m sure there are plenty of other additions I (or you, for a matter of fact),  could add to these lists. But this one has already given me a headache. But all in all, you’d have to say I have quite an interesting proofreading life.

I hope I opened your eyes to the reality of your body.  You know – the ones on bony orbits. They say your body is a temple, but I think it’s nothing more than an over-articulate, voyeuristic catch basin.

Now – didn’t you find that humerus?        

I Didn’t Know I Spoke Chinese

Do you believe that children and their parents speak two different languages?  Do you ever try and communicate with someone who hasn’t a clue as to what you are saying?

The teen years are stressful for those going through them. Puberty comes crashing in any time between the ages of 12 and 16, estrogen and testosterone fighting for space inside a body that is growing in too many directions at one time.  But hey. What about the ones on the other side of those swings? Those who pay for hot lunches and gym shoes and nail polish?  Not only do we have to put up with I-pods and cell phones, but we have to learn to speak a whole new language in order to be understood.  It is as if we have stepped over the threshold of reality into an entirely new universe.

 Life seemed so much simpler when our kids were toddlers. The years between two and, say, five, are probably the most rewarding for all forms of parental figures.  We can do no wrong; our children hang on our every word.  They fear and revere us. They bounce around from moment to moment wanting only to please those in charge.  Pick up your toys?  Of course! Eat your spaghetti?  Of course!  Clean your room?  Of course! We speak, they listen, and things are ideal.

Then comes those “cute” years, say, six through nine.  Everything they do and say is cute, especially when they pout and say “no” with wide-eyed enthusiasm.  Pick up your toys?  No! I wanna play with ‘em a little longer.  Eat your spaghetti?  No! I want pizza instead.  Clean your room?  No!  I gotta have twenty dolls in the corner!  They are starting to catch on to the power of being an individual.  They still brush their teeth and do their homework and go to bed pretty much on time, but they learn to manipulate the world by talking or playing or whining, probably all three.

By the time middle school comes around, there is a slight Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-ish personality starting to surface. Football games and study nights with friends start to take on a bit more significance as our middle schoolers begin to feel the strength of their own convictions.  Pick up your toys?  Oh please, I don’t play with ‘toys’ anymore.  Eat your spaghetti.  Red sauce? I’d rather have cheese.  Clean your room.  Oh mommy dear and/daddy dear — it is clean!  A little clip in their voice should be the giveaway that they are catching on to you.

Just when you think you have settled the beast that rustles inside your child, their high school days hit you right between the eyes. Music becomes some thundering beat with  alking rather than singing; wearing jeans that cut low enough to show off underwear or vertical fissures becomes the fashion statement of the day. Homework becomes an enigma.  School semesters are identified by fall, winter and spring sports, and words like Paris and Pink suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

You wake up one morning sprouting antennae from your head. Your voice becomes a booming echo down an empty tunnel or a high-pitched squeak riding the airwaves.  Suddenly you speak a foreign language: ρτε τα παιχνίδια σας  (pick up your toys in Greek);  съешьте ваше спагеттио (eat your spaghetti in Russian), and 投入您的衣裳去, (Chinese for clean your room). Their eyes become glazed and their expression reminds you of eating a lemon.  One day you are a friendly, loving parent, the next moment you are Godzilla’s cousin.  You don’t know what you are talking about ― your ideas or so old-fashioned they will be amazed if you make it to 50.

How did this happen?  How did we fall off of our pedestal?  One moment our child is reaching up to be held, the next moment they cringe if you hug them in public.  Is this the reward for all of our hard work?  All our love?

Well, trust me.  This too will pass.  As your children approach their twenties, they are amazed at how smart you’ve suddenly become.  Your old-fashioned ideas transform into newly discovered truths of their generation.  The older they get, the more human you become.  Your antennae suddenly don’t seem so out-of-place; as a matter of fact, they kinda look cute on your old frame.  You find a common ground through life and all its ups and downs, and they finally understand what you’ve been saying all these years.  Words and ideas flow once again, and your pedestal gets packed away somewhere deep in their heart, only to be pulled out when you are not looking.

Either that — or you have finally learned to speak Chinese.

Sprinkles

          The past few weeks have been the bottom of the roller coaster ride for me. After a bit of a medical drama, I am well, back into whatever groove middle aged women get into, trying to build my energy back up to see what trouble I can get into. How much trouble can a goddess like me get into? We won’t go into past details, but there have been times in the past that I have stepped over that preverbal line, most times with no consequences, other times being dutifully chastised and set back upon the straight and narrow.

            The funny thing about my misadventures is that, in the eyes of the world (especially to those under 40), the things that I’ve gotten in trouble for are powdered sugar compared to what others have done. I have never hung with the “wild” crowd, never gotten arrested, reprimanded by principals, or been asked to leave.  I’ve led a pretty vanilla life and stayed fairly happy and clean cut. I try not to compare my life, my ups and downs, with others. For, as you know, you will always be overblessed in one way and underblessed in another.  My dirty laundry is someone else’s humorous fluff.

            Going in and out of the hospital changes your perspective on a lot of things. Suddenly losing those last few pounds doesn’t seem so important. Or finally losing weight to get healthy rises to the top of your list. Your family becomes a priority, along with your health, your pets, and your pastimes. You sit and wonder why you’ve wasted so much time setting unrealistic goals and then were so hard on yourself when you didn’t achieve them. Your desires and your timelines seemed to have gotten crisscrossed, a Celtic design that has no beginning or no end. You will do A as soon as you accomplish B. You will buy outfit C as soon as you lose D pounds. You’ll go visit someone as soon as you (fill in the blank).

            I know you’ve heard this story a thousand times a thousand different ways. Don’t wait until trauma and tragedy arrive at your doorstep before you learn to live your life.  Well, what do you do if that dynamic duo arrives at your door and you’ve already been living your life? Are you supposed to go further off the deep end? Are you supposed to  throw away the restraints of society and be a wild and free sprite?

            I was lucky, not only to have a good prognosis, but to have wild and fun things to come back to. Our Polish Sausage Making Party has been going on for 14 years, an annual madhouse that seems to be growing every year. I had a laptop, waiting for me to create another fantasy, another out-of-the-box story. I have kids to bug and a grandson to spoil and friends to compare drinking stories with.  I have a room full of second-hand books waiting to be read, sweaters that need sparkles sewn on them, and sushi that  needs to be shared with girlfriends.

            I decided long ago that I was tired of being on the outside looking in. I was tired of being vanilla in a rainbow world. I’ve always respected my bosses and the law, always been polite (sometimes to the point of nausea), and given money to charity or to my kids (sometimes the same thing). But I also found out that if you want something in  your life, you need to be the one to go for it. You can’t wait for those things to come to you. That goes for friends, restaurant reservations, and health issues. Sometimes “going for it” makes you a little more aggressive than you usually are. Succeeding at “going for it” makes you feel stronger and smarter.  It makes you raise your own bar a notch or two higher. And you have yourself to thank for it.

            Going through a health predicament only reinforced the importance of finding out who I am and what I want in life. That what I wanted in my life is nothing more or less than anyone else wants. I just make sure I made lemonade every time I can. I make a point of getting together with friends often, and family birthdays become family reunions a  dozen times a year. I don’t want life to pass me by and at the end be filled with thoughts of why I didn’t do this or that.

            You are never going to be rich enough, thin enough, smart enough, for A to really ever meet B. So take the victories you make along the way and celebrate them. Don’t spend days and months and years waiting for the “payoff.”  The payoff is here and now. If you pass up picnics on the beach with the family because you want to lose weight first, you’ve done nothing but miss a great picnic. If you wait until your kids are in college to go away for the weekend you’ll never get away, for most of the time they come back to haunt you. Turning down an invitation to walk through a festival with family members because you need to clean your house does nothing but toss another fun time into the twilight zone.

            There is always room in your life for adventure. To cross some lines. To speak up. To stand up.  There’s always time for you to change your direction, your health, your dreams.  To be proactive. Not inactive. If the jester hat fits you, wear it! If bling is your thing, bling!  Always wanted to try and cook Thai? Go for it ― even if you’re the only  one who will eat it. Don’t wait for someone else to initiate a pizza night or drinks after work ― call, plan, and do it. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to “take their turn.”

            This is the only turn you’re going to get. Don’t let anyone else take your turn for you. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla, but just think of how much better it is with hocolate syrup and whipped cream.  

            And me?  I think I’ll try rainbow sherbet with multi-colored sprinkles. Can’t get enough of that color thing…

Dancing in a Too-Tight Tutu

I was sitting around the other day with my gal friends, sharing tales about the weekend. We all seemed to have gone through the same delightful experience, albeit in different ways. We all were relaxed, having a good time, and probably drank a little too much, for we all said, “I’m too old for this.”  One sat with friends and sipped with friends all day, one went to an outdoor concert, and I party hopped.  I’m sure the situations were on the same astral plane as many others “my age.”  Time flows, excitement and comfort wraps around us, the atmosphere make us feel good, and before you know it we are waking up the next morning with a headache, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

This psychic phenomenon is not limited to girls sharing drinking stories. This magical phrase echoes around us all the time.  My husband and I spent one glorious day working outside. The air was cool, the dogs well-behaved, and we planted flowers in pots and mowed the lawn and fixed broken things and worked in the yard a little. Maybe more than just a little, for the next morning we both woke up, joints stiff, hands scratched, and twinges in the small of our back, saying, “I’m too old for this.”

Just think of how many times you have said this. In fun and in fear.  A mother with a house full of 10-year-old girls staying overnight, giggling and talking till wee hours of the morning; college kids downstairs, friends over, drinking beer and playing cards, getting louder and rowdier with each hand; babysitting more than one of anything younger than five. You’re trying to be nice. You’re trying to be patient. But hours into the melee you think, “I’m too old for this.”

As I always like to point out, age is in your point of view.  When the ladies shared their drinking stories, I wanted to stand and cheer.  There were late 30s mingling with mid 40s mingling with late 50s. One has a 10-year-old, one has two in high school, I have one in college and one married.  Yet all three of us unconsciously slipped back into our early 20s, losing track of time and responsibilities and all the trimmings that go with it, at least for an hour or two. Were we trying to recapture our youth? Were we silly old goats   trying to dance the dance of the sprite in a tutu that was too tight? Or were we just human beings who never forgot how to have fun?

By now we all know that life is what you make of it. Jobs and kids and finances and health problems plague us all. Some can pick up and make a clean slate of everything; others have to muddle through the chaos and hope they squeeze out the other side sane. So when they say laughter is the best medicine, it really is. Sharing stories, playing games, dancing and prancing and acting silly all are ways to exorcise the demons we create for ourselves. I’m too fat. I’m too dumb. I’m tired of my job. I’m tired of my mother. I’m tired of being a mother. All tinny squeaks in our ear that cause us to over-analyze, over-react, and over emote. All of which get us nowhere in the end.

So what’s wrong with not acting our age? What is our age, anyway? If judged by our bodies, it might be ancient. If judged by our responsibilities it might be grown up. If judged by our dreams, it might be juvenile. Somehow there has to be a way to unite all sides of ourselves into one happy camper. So why not let go of those inhibitions once in a while? Why not drop the fear of embarrassing yourself (or others) and laugh with others? It’s not like you haven’t been embarrassed before, or never will be again. But you would be amazed the different feeling you get when you are a part of the joke, not a victim of it.

The great thing about taking chances like these, and saying “I’m too old for this” is that you find you are really not too old for anything. Alright – maybe bungee jumping or running in a marathon when you’re not a runner are contenders for never again. But even those occurrences show that you were not too old to at least try them.  The obvious choices are usually general ones: take a class about something you always wanted to know about; start walking around the block at night so you can walk in the annual Relay for Life; buy yourself a journal (or a laptop) and start recording those thoughts you thought you’d never get out of your system. Volunteer at a shelter or sanctuary and make friends with the animals.

Not up to all that work? How about wearing a color you’ve never worn before? Are you a meat and potatoes kinda dresser? Add a piece of bling to your wardrobe. Take a chance on bringing extra attention to yourself. You will be amazed at how many people notice ― and how many like the “new you.” Go to a concert and sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Dance like a crazy person in front of the speakers to your favorite music.

Oh sure, you say. You go dance in front of the speakers…you wear the bling. You wear the tutu that’s too tight.  I hate to admit it, but I already do. And I can’t tell you how scary and liberating it is.  And, even if I pull a muscle dancing the “hoochi coo”, it’s a great feeling to know that no one will ever forget the sight of me “hoochi cooing” in a too-tight tutu.

Especially with a glass of wine in my hand.

©2012 Claudia Anderson

To Dream or Not to Dream…That Is the Question

       33 To Dream or Not to Dream     One of the yin-yangs of hormone fluctuation is sleep, or lack of it.  Between hot flashes and finding a comfortable position, my REM’s make rare visits,  leaving my consciousness floating in the bubbles of semi-sleep through the world of dreams.  Now, many people say they don’t dream; others leave a notepad on their nightstand so they can record the ching chang jumble that comes out in the middle of the night.  I believe we all dream, but length, depth and retaining capacity is what makes everyone’s claim different.

         Scientists and talk show hosts tell us our lives are influenced by anything and everything, and our dreams are one way of dealing with all of it. Dreams, and  their alter ego, nightmares, can result from everything from eating pizza before bed to an argument earlier in the day. Dreams can be triggered by stress, anticipation, having too much time on your hands or, more likely, not enough.  Scary movies, sappy movies, long distance phone calls — everything can leave a chip in your mind that can explode into a myriad of dreamy scenarios.

            The great thing about this flight through those shadowed clouds, though, is the variety of experiences it presents.  I doubt my conscious mind could make up half the things my subconscious does. And if it could, would it be as fun?  In my dreams I interact with bosses from 20 years ago and talk to family members who are no longer with me.  I wander the halls of my grade school, look out on Lake Michigan from a high-rise balcony, and walk through castles of long ago.  I have driven off cliffs and been chased by  unseen dragony/monster things. I have stood in a shadowy alley talking to Edward Norton and had coffee with Kiefer Sutherland.  I have run from building to building to building, either looking for something or trying to get somewhere, and have jumped and bounced and flown my way across the landscape.

            Where in Jove’s name do we get these ideas from? 

           Being a writer, I often bring some of the unearthliness of my subconscious and put it into forms that entertain me and others. Without analyzing every laugh and tear, I try to bring these esoteric beings into my writing. The more nonsensical, the better. Other people transform their dreams into paintings, gardens, photography, and card making. 

            Of course, the down side of dreams is that they don’t always give you a direct answer to your cosmic questions.  It is fairly obvious that when I dream of my son as a toddler rather than a college kid, I am searching for the olden days connection we had when I was omnipotent and he was subservient.  When I am wandering through corridors and cross loading docks and down long hallways filled with shops and warehouses and theaters I am lost in more ways than I care to admit. But instead of interpreting these dreams as portents of bad things to come, I would rather see them as insights to the possibilities that lie ahead. We have the ability to choose which meanings we take to heart and which  we toss out.  We can choose to see rain in the clouds or we can just see clouds.  We can choose to see dragons shapes or bouncy cotton balls in those clouds or we can just see clouds. 

            The best course is always to take a little of both. Don’t ignore the clouds that are really thunderheads, and don’t get the idea of stepping out of a plane to bounce on their springy tops.  But also let those clouds be dragons or snakes or baby diapers. Nod at the thread of reality that runs through the middle, then make what you will of the rest.   Don’t worry what others think your dreams mean, or if you can’t remember their endings.  The old adage that it’s the journey that counts, not the destination, is just as true in your onscious state of mind as in your conscious one.  Don’t read more into your dreams than what is there.  And create whatever you want from them.

            As for me, I’m looking forward to tonight.  I told Kiefer I’d meet him at the coffee shop sometime around eleven.  Maybe I’ll even ride my dragon there.

I’m Not Paranoid — I LIKE Looking Over My Shoulder

          

Have you every done something, created something, that, even though it was fun at the time, gave you a feeling that one day it would come back and bite you in the…leg?  I don’t mean those illicit or illegal things you may or may not have drank/smoked/ingested when you were young and stupid.  These are more the things you have done in
the heat of the moment of your adult life that make you look over your shoulder and say…oh dear…what if someone finds out?

Let me explain.  One day I was having a bad day — you know those kinds of bad days — stress and miscommunications and a bout of acid reflex that turned out to be gallstones. Too many projects, too little time. It was a tough moment: deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.  I needed therapy, I needed relief.  Other than finding another job, I needed a way to release all of my pent up emotions so that I wouldn’t start playing a kazoo in the parking lot every morning.

So what does a writer do to release the pressures of every day stress?   We write, of course!  I sat down with my little laptop and wrote this wonderfully twisted short story about sales managers and voodoo symbols and poisoned candied violets.   I had a psycho antagonist and a young, up-and-coming, newly promoted female heroine. I had a clash of egos, a bit of upper class snobbery, and even a twist ending.  It was great writing, great therapy.  So much so that, after polishing it up a bit, I thought about trying to get it published.

It was then that I felt the nibble on my leg.  What if I did get it published?  What if it became a best-selling short story?  What if I actually made money on it?  What if the world — or worse, someone I knew — found out that the story was inspired by them?  It’s kinda like having your best friend buying you a present from her favorite store, something that fits her personality to a T but is a major faux paux in your fashion circle.  She loves it, you hate it.  You think about taking it back to the store to exchange it for something more…you.  So you laugh about it with a friend at a barbecue, and who should appear on the other side of the grill but that same-said friend wearing the same-said T.  What if she heard you?  What if she asks you why you weren’t wearing your “gift”?  What if someone says, “Isn’t that the awful shirt you were just talking about?”  Odds are your friend never heard a word, but…

 This sort of paranoia crosses all generations, all friendships, all common sense. It’s not just a writing thing ― we all get weird when we say something about someone that we later regret, fearing the repercussions that might follow.  We do many things in the throes of passion that make us feel self conscious when we come floating back to reality sometime later. What would happen if the kids walked into the bedroom one night to legs and arms were all over the place when they thought you were out to a movie? What  would happen if we called in sick to work only to run into our boss at the mall? What if, in a fit of rage, we threw a rotten squash out the back door, only to inadvertently smack the neighbor’s dog in the chops?

We have been taught that we have to please everyone, make everyone feel good, even at our own expense.  While that may ring true most of the time, there are times you just need to take a chance on being naughty.  Take a chance on getting caught.  I didn’t mean any harm when I started writing my ditty.  I had always wanted to see if I could write something spooky and revengeful and strange and it was just an accident that the bad guy looked a lot like the co-worker hulking over my shoulder all the time.  I never really meant for the antagonist to resemble my co-worker. Nor would I ever think that he would go out and poison the world because sales were down.  But it made for such darn good fiction!

Maybe I’m just overreacting. The resemblance to any real person, place or publication is purely circumstantial.  Isn’t that what disclaimers are all about? No one I know would read “Horror Daily” or other scary publications and recognize my antagonist  — they are too busy reading gossip magazines.  And anyway, there could always be a dozen other “Claudia’s” in the writing world.  No one would know it was me.  Would they?

So the dilemma is this:  What do I do with this great story now that it’s written?  Do I keep it in a journal, hidden away, only to go back and read it whenever I am under pressure?  Or do I get brave, send it out to contests and publishers and take my chances?  Do I give in to my paranoia, or throw care to the wind and just go for it? 

I think for now I’m just going to let it sit in my computer.  I’ll wait until the pressure is released and the people in my office return to being human again.  Then I will send it out to such obscure publications that there would be no way in Hades he would read it.

I also will remember not to eat any candied violets.

Frivolous Facts and Faldaral Part II

In Star Wars, The Millennium Falcon was originally modeled after a hamburger with an olive next to it. Because the name of the ship had not been finalized at this time, storyboards refer to as the pirate ship. Some boards indicate for the first version of the pirate ship (which became the Blockade Runner) to be changed into the ‘Hamburger Boogie’ version.  Hans Solo rides off into the galaxy sunset aboard the quarter pounder.

In the movie Carrie, the slow motion scene at the end of the movie was filmed in reverse to simulate ghostlike movement effects. If watched vigilantly, cars can be seen driving backwards in the upper left hand corner of the screen. When I was younger, playing “Strawberry Fields Forever” by the Beatles backwards revealed Paul was dead, too. Alas, I could never get the turntable to turn backwards fast enough to prove anything.

For the movie the Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland was paid $35 a week while Toto received $125 a week. That renubds me of one of my earlier blogs, Diamonds Are A Dog’s Best Friend.

To achieve the sound of thousands of snakes slithering in the movie Indiana Jones and the Raider’s Ark, sound designer Ben Burtt stuck his fingers into a cheese casserole. This was augmented by applying wet sponges to the rubber on a skateboard. Eww. Clever — but eww.

Basil (the herb) was once believed to have the power to breed scorpions. According to one recipe, “three crushed leaves are put under a clay pot. After a few days a tiny scorpion will be born”.  With the help of basil one could also summon scorpions. Pliny, a Roman writer, claimed that a handful of basil pounded with 10 sea crabs would do the trick. What the real connection between basil and scorpions was we will never know. Nor do we want to.

Average number of eggs laid by the female American Oysterer year: 500 million. Usually only one oyster out of the bunch reaches maturity. Those numbers make me itch.

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour – about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin. I wonder why that never equates as pounds lost on a diet.

Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, Psycho, which actually took 7 days to shoot. The article never said how much chocolate syrup was used. A lot of sundaes went topless that week.

 Jethro Tull is not the name of the rock singer responsible for such songs as “Aqualung” and “Thick as a Brick.” Jethro Tull is the name of the band. The singer is Ian Anderson. The original Jethro Tull was an English horticulturalist who invented the seed drill. Reminds me of the movie Armageddon. Oscar: I tell you one thing that really drives me nuts, is people who think that Jethro Tull is just a person in a band. Psychologist: Who is Jethro Tull?

 During World War II, bakers in the United States were ordered to stop selling sliced bread for the duration of the war on January 18, 1943. Only whole loaves were made available to the public. It was never explained how this action helped the war effort.

 The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. It was the fashion in Renaissance Florence to shave them off. I wonder if they wore underwear that peeked out of their pants, too. No one would ever know.

When the Mother Ship passes over Devil’s Tower near the end of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, R2-D2 can be seen hanging from the bottom of the ship.

The carpet designs seen in Sid’s hallway in Toy Story are the same carpet designs seen in The Shining. That’s the creepy side of recycling.

Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. Yum. Or is is it Yuk?

The strawberry flavor in your ice cream contains 50 different chemicals. Nature cannot be imitated, and this is the best example. Just to recreate the flavor of “strawberry”, some fast food companies add 50 different chemicals including benzyl isobutyrate, phenythyl alcohol, amyl acetate, mint and cognac. So, the next time you consume strawberry flavored ice creams, milkshakes or desserts, do remember the recipe. Now that’s not Yum OR Yuk. That’s Ick. Vanilla, please.

A quarter of raw potato placed in each shoe at night will keep the leather soft and the shoes smelling fresh and clean. They forgot to add that if you don’t take the potato out it turns into potato toe jam.
In 1939, the Hollywood Production Code dictated what could and could not be shown or said on screen, and Rhett Butler’s memorable last line in the famous Gone With the Wind, presented a serious problem. A few of the suggested alternatives were “Frankly my dear… I just don’t care,” “… it makes my gorge rise,” “… my indifference is boundless,”  “… I don’t give a hoot,” and “… nothing could interest me less.” Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000 for using the word “damn”, in fact the Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, to insure that Selznick would be in compliance with the code. Henceforth, the words “hell” and “damn” would be banned except when their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.” With that
amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett’s closing line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  Which is a damn good thing.

And, finally…..for those of you with time on your hands….

 If you counted 24 hours a day, it would take 31,688 years to reach one trillion!

The Emperor’s Clothes — the Naked Truth

            This is a pump-yourself-up kind of blog.  A universal message.  Just wherever I type writing you substitute your own creative passion.  Okay?

            I had the best time this evening.  Not only did I get to share coffee and gossip and love and energy with my best friend, I learned a lot about my personal creativity outlet, writing.  As much as we say we have a lot to learn about our passions and that we’re open to new ideas and critiques and opinions, we really aren’t.  We hold our best (and
worst) work to our chest, having poured love and angst and laughter and sweat and tears into it, but are hesitant to share all that power with friends and buddies.  So we polish our work, nickel and dime it to death, then enter it in a contest or show. Or worse, do nothing with it. Most of us are afraid to share our artistic baby with anyone else.  What if they don’t like it?  What if I think it’s good but others think it stinks?

             I suffer from the “Emperor’s Clothes” syndrome. You know that fable ― the king was a jerk, so one day his attendants convinced him he was dressed in the most beautiful outfit ever. It was just invisible.  And he was naked. So the dumb king fell for their flattery and wore the “invisible suit” to a court function.  You can imagine the laughter he pulled out from friends and strangers alike.  I think many of us are just like him. We are afraid that even though we think what we’ve written is really good, others will pat our head and smile and say, “Oh, that’s cute/good/nice.”  Then they will go home laughing their buttniks off, thinking, “Oh my gaaawd!”   So why bother offering our creation to the world? 

            One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is to not listen to that stinky piece of cheese demon on my shoulder that keeps filling my head with doubt. Why have I wasted so much time swimming in the pool of insecurity? How narrow-minded I’ve been!   I’ve let my insecurities creep into conversations and query letters.  I’ve been almost toe-kissing in my subservience to potential agents and publishers.  Even though I really am proud of what I’ve written, I’ve been afraid to seem too enthusiastic.  After all, the Emperor’s Clothes…

            Tonight I learned that it’s really okay to toot our own horn.  To be strong and aggressive and outwards about our passion.  That those on the other end of the query letter (or
photo studio or art gallery) would rather take a chance on someone who believes in their work than someone who shies away from it.  

            I suppose that’s why I started this blog. I had a boatload of short stories just yearning for release.  I have folders full of poetry and novels and research and all kinds of things that make me happy. While most of my dabblings were for my own entertainment, there were some I thought worth sharing. Would anyone read my ramblings? Would anyone think they’re as charming as I do? Would my readers run off and tell their friends what garbage they just read?

            I suppose that demon never falls far from my shoulder. From your shoulder. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shove it off the minute it returns. Pull it off, hold it arm’s length in front of you, and tell it you are tired of its ramblings. That you are okay just the way you are, and that your art is always evolving. And flush that cheese down the toilet.

            Don’t be afraid to tout your artwork. Don’t you want to show off the things you’ve worked so hard to create? Your paintings, your jewelry, your garden? What about
that graphic art you’ve been hiding? The cookbook you’ve been putting together? The furniture you refurnish? What are you sitting on that you should be sharing with the world?

             You only get one chance at this life. Why not throw conventionality to the wind and put yourself out there?  Believe in yourself, believe in what you write.  Sell it like
you believe in what you write.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Rejection?  Like it hasn’t happened before.  Like it won’t happen again. People going to laugh at you? Been there, done that. Who cares? Don’t let “thanks but no thanks” stop you from submitting the strongest, most positive masterpiece you can create.

            It’s time for me to change my clothes ― this Emperor’s outfit never really fit right anyway. You see, I’ve got my eye on some saucy little salsa outfit I saw at Good Will…

Frivolous Facts and Falderal

Why not fill your head with useless — but amusing — information? Here’s a few facts that you can toss around with friends and family.

 

In the Lord of the Rings, although Bill the Pony is a feature of the novel, the writers initially decided not to include him as the Fellowship make their journey for the simple logistical reason of transporting a horse deep into the mountains.  The problem was solved in the more difficult shots by using the classic pantomime trick of dressing two people up as a horse, one at the front and one at the back.                                                                                                                                                                                              

The average American’s vocabulary is around 10,000 words — 15,000 if you are really smart.  Shakespeare had a vocabulary of over 29,000 words.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

47 elephants and dancing bears survived the sinking of the Titanic and got jobs in New York thereafter.

In the movie Carrie, the slow motion scene at the end of the movie was filmed in reverse to simulate ghostlike movement effects. If watched vigilantly, cars can be seen driving backwards in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

For the movie The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland got paid $35 a week, while Toto got paid $125.

The national anthem of Greece has 158 verses. No one in Greece has memorized all 158 verses.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.