Obsession or Therapy?

15 - 1I’m in trouble.

I thought that by the time I got to mid-middle age I’d give up collecting “things.” You know — weird oddities that tickled your fancy back in the day, but now you’ve got so many you need a room with wall-to-wall shelving to keep them all in.

My thing was unicorns. IS unicorns. But my desire to pick up every stray statue/stuffed animal/poster has dwindled through the years. I’m content with my headboard full of uni’s and pegasus’s and the occasional dragon. Plus the corner curio. Plus the dresser. Plus the bookshelves. Plus … you get it.

Now I’m hooked on something which, on the surface, seems a lot less harmful. After all, it they don’t take up shelf space.

I’m hooked on gifs.

For those who know the word but forget the meaning, a gif is a computer image that moves. I’m sure there’s a simpler explanation, but you get the gist. Waterfalls have running water; skies have sparkling stars; women have flowing hair. I don’t know how they are made, but I think they are so cool.

I’ve started a collection on my laptop; they have their own folder and their own corner of the desktop. Now it’s not so bad — maybe 20-3o or so. What am I going to do when my collection dips into the hundreds? I tell myself they are for blogs and writing columns and … well, for enhancement of whatever I create in this three dimensional world. There is always a logical explanation for everything. All you need to do is find it.

But really they are just cool to watch. It’s like magic. I don’t want to know how its done, nor do I want to start creating them myself. I already have 1,000 things on my to-do list; creating moving pictures is not one of them.

I supposed in the short run it’s safer than collecting salt and pepper shakers or antique cars. I don’t have to dust them. But I’ve temporarily cut myself off from one of my Google+ communities, for it’s nothing BUT gifs. And I admit. I am weak. I can see me having a folder of 500 by year’s end, taking up good computer space. I can see me wasting time watching water fall instead of writing or reading. And that is not so cool.

My writing to-do list is nearly as obnoxious as my household to-do list. I really don’t have time to be downloading and watching every moving pic that tickles my fancy. But for now it seems I’m addicted. Hopefully, it will go by the wayside like roller discos and mullets. But until then — be prepared.

Do you collect things that you really don’t need to collect any more?

Are You Or Are You Not?

writing girlSome of the best advice, the best posts, are posted by others. If you are on Facebook, you know what I mean. The following post was shared on my FB by my very special friend and writer Jane O, who found this on Author’s Publish (www.authorpublish.com), who published it from an article submitted by Chantelle Atkins (http://chantelleatkins.com/), Chantelle also is a fun writer, and she hit the target with her article, “How to Know if You Are a Writer.”  It’s a little over a thousand words, but it’s soooo true! See how many are you!

They say that everyone has at least one good book in them. Does that make you a writer? Or is it more than that? Is it something you decide to be, something you learn to be, or something you have always been whether you liked it or not?

The following statements are what I believe marks someone as a writer. The following factors distinguish writers from other individuals. You don’t have to agree with every statement except the last one. It is the ultimate defining factor, but all the others are key factors that inform why I am a writer

You stare into space. You gaze out of windows. You fall into trances. You drift away. Reality jerks you back. People get impatient and roll their eyes. Get your head out of the clouds, they said when I was young. They told me to stop daydreaming. Don’t stop daydreaming.

Your concentration is variable. Sometimes it is like a dog with a bone, fixed and savage, eyes narrowed, teeth clenched, hands like claws, fingers pounding at the keyboard. Nothing can break you. You keep going until your back aches and your neck cricks and your bladder protests. Other times you are in and out, like clouds in the sky, drifting and aimless. This is because people want your attention and your mind is somewhere else. Sometimes it is because words, images, and voices are forming and joining in your head. You have to sit back and be patient. Don’t try to force it.

Real life gets in the way. This is annoying. Especially when you are on a roll. Housework, real jobs, phone calls driving places, and shopping can all interfere with your writing. You’ve got to do all these things, because real life dictates that you must. But these things are often a chore, something you resent and rush through. Just to get back to the story.

You can’t sleep at night. Your head is full of it all. All of the time. It is relentless. Their voices are getting louder. They are drumming at your door. Kicking their feet against the wall. Moaning and whining. They want their turn. When is it going to be their turn? They’ve told you so much now. You know what they look like. You know what they sound like, how they speak, what slang they use, what their mannerisms are. You know their stories and their dilemmas. You just want to get some sleep! But you can’t, not until it is done. Not until things are settled. They are in control and they know it.

Inspiration comes at strange and wonderful times. Dialogue springs into your head. Characters grow and change, becoming more real. They sneer and jostle and roll their eyes and seep inside your consciousness. Plot twists you never knew you were capable of dreaming up. Oh my God! Where did that come from? Who would have thought? But of course…that would be brilliant…that would work, that would tie in and make sense…and then…and then…You have to get home quick. You need a pen. A phone to tap into. Anything. You must not forget. You must not lose it!

You people watch. You don’t know you are doing it. It is not on purpose. You are often a loner, an introvert, someone who carries things around, cradles them inside until writing sets them free. You think people are not for you, not really. But they are. Because they are the life and soul of the stories. And they are everywhere, doing what people do. They are sloshing drinks and swearing under their breath. They are wiping oil stained fingers down their shirt. They are sighing in the queue at the store,  biting their lips with some secret unknown worry. They are shiny with sweat, frantic with unrealized dreams and potential. They have whiskered chins and nicotine fingers, fat thighs, and newspapers rolled under arms, they have backpacks and are going somewhere, but where and why? They pass you on the street, they look through you, they are chatting on the phone, they are always living lives, secret and unknown. They could be anyone. They could have a story.

You suffer from crippling self-doubt. It has plagued you for years. You don’t blow your own trumpet or beg for attention. You swallow the words you really want to say. You don’t know why you write, I mean, who are you? Who are you to write anything? Who wants to know? Who will care? But you do it because you have always done it. One way or another. Sometimes life gets in the way and people tell you to wake up and stop dreaming. Make money, work jobs, pay bills, care for kids. They wonder why you care about writing. What is that? It doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t make you any money. But you know why you do it. You do it because you would go crazy if you didn’t. Because the voices would get too loud to bear. Because the people inside your head would feel lost and let down, be voiceless and alone. Because of all the things you don’t say in real life, all the things you have stood by and watched and heard and felt and thought, because all those things need to come out. All those things. They need to be heard.

You write. Ultimately it comes down to this one fact. This is the crux of it. If you are a writer, you write. Whatever it is. Poems, fiction, non-fiction, blogs. Whether you share it or not, whether you publish it or not, whether you think you are good at it or not. You do it anyway, there is no choice.

Weird World

xI swear, the older I get, the weirder the world gets.

We human beings are an interesting lot. Not only do we wait five minutes for a close parking space when there’s six of them five spaces back, but hold deep conversations with our pets (including our fish), go on one-food diets (the banana diet, the steak diet, the carrot diet), wear spandex (which never looks good on anyone), and dial numbers our cell phone while driving and drinking a soda. It seems that we also have an insatiable appetite for the absurd, for the extraordinary. For the idiotic.

And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

We all have slowed down to look at an accident; that’s a strange but common habit. I think it’s one of those “There, for the grace of God, go I” kind of thing. So it is with chuckling at people who fall down or get stuck in their car door,  playing fantasy football (how can you bet on someone who might not even be playing?), or playing the lottery. We do things and watch things and say things and hope things will make sense in the end. But then there’s the things that cross the line of normalcy.  Things that touch that nugget of sanity that we hold so close and dear and tight. An invasion of the senses…an invasion of the common sense kind.

There are television shows about people who can barely walk through their houses because of the “stuff” they’ve collected, restaurants who have dead bugs and two inches of grime mixed with dirt on their food vents, and young, hip people who do nothing but swear and have sex and  hang out somewhere in Jersey. There are talk shows where the guests scream and swear and throw things at each other, and others where they share their most private disfunctions. There are movies about dismemberment, torture, and being buried alive. Cities crumble like dominoes and civilizations are wiped out.

And America watches. And wants more.

I have to admit that I’ve fallen into some of these holes.  Half the time I can only take the first 30 minutes of Restaurant Impossible or Kitchen Nightmares. (Those kinds of shows make me not want to eat out ever again.)   I have peeked into the show “Hoarders,” although I can only stand 5 minutes at a time.  The bloody dismemberment/torture things I steer clear of, although I have been known to peek out from behind the pillow to watch a few zombies get their heads chopped off.

So I ask you: Why are humans drawn towards the flame of extremism?

This nonsense runs the gamut from funny to freakish.  Why do we ride the fastest and highest rollercoaster in the land?  Why do we make three dates for the same time, knowing we can’t keep any of them? Why do we waste time watching TV shows about murderers and drug addicts and out-of-control bikers? Why can’t we turn away from movies about cheating wives or possessed nuns or hillbilly duck call makers? Hollywood has made death and destruction and sex second nature to us. The more blood, the better. The more bizarre the situation, the better. The more stupidity, the more we watch.

Why do we push ourselves to the horrific edges that we do?

Maybe it’s an attempt to reconnect with our primal self. An attempt to prove to ourselves that we’re better than we think.  Better than everyone else thinks. That we can experience absurdity at its worst and  survive. After all, survival is primal. It is a part of our DNA.  And there are a lot of techniques we have developed through the centuries to maintain that level of survival.

I’m not tearing down others’ forms of entertainment. Everyone is different. Everyone comes from a different part of the cosmic thread to form that all-familiar tapestry of life. But I do sometimes wonder how far humans will go for the sake of entertainment. How scared we will allow ourselves to become. How smug we will get from others’ misfortunes. After all, it is them and not us, right?

How this all ties together for a blog I’m not sure. All I know is that I don’t want to be one of those people who  throw their panties at a talk show host. I don’t want to be sliced or diced or have to eat bugs to survive on some deserted island. I don’t want to taxidermy my pets after their demise or tattoo every inch of my body.

But what I don’t want even more is to desensitize my life. To compare cinema buildings toppling to the fall of the Twin Towers. I prefer to take the lame train through life. I don’t need to prove my endurance level is higher than the rest of the world. I don’t need my adrenalin pumping any faster nor have my blood pressure shoot up.

That’s what my day job is for.