Happy NBC (Nightmare Before Christmas) and the Merriest of New Year's

Just wanted to share a little of my bizarre holiday cheer and wish everyone a Happy Christmas and whatever else you may celebrate! This year, we decided to have a Nightmare Before (and During) Christmas. Why the heck not? I also wanted to send out best wishes for everyone's New Year. May 2012 bring us all happiness, prosperity, and that much closer to our dreams coming true...



Where is all the quality gray (or is that "grey"?) note card stock??? I'm finding pink, green, yellow, blue, peach, pumpkin, lettuce, almond, raspberry, and cherry. I'm not making a freaking salad!! Okay, maybe gray (grey) isn't people's first choice in card stock, but "lettuce"? "Pumpkin"?? My greeting card line is called Cards for a Gloomy Day, not Cards for Happy Bunnies Blowing Sunshine Up Your A**!!!! Argh. 


Starting a business is one of those complicated things, isn't it?

Ahem. Yes, silly me. I somehow thought the whole process of starting a publishing company would be easier! Just kidding. I actually did know better. I’ve been in “business” for my entire working “career”…for other people’s businesses. I’ve worked my ass off (I wish) for other’s dreams. Four months ago I decided to do my thing and it’s been a happy, frenetic, and yes, scary ride! At the moment, I’m in the red-tape section of the journey (apparently). So, everything has pretty much come to a halt, while I fill out forms and applications and more forms and more applications. Paper work!! Fictitious Business Name application, Federal Tax ID forms, Seller’s Permit application, and blah dee freaking blah blah bleech deech (when all else fails, make up words). I’ve started filling out forms in my dreams. Totally sad.  What kind of sick, twisted people dream up all these damn forms anyway?? I’m pretty proud of myself that I haven’t blown a brain circuit, and then again, maybe I have and just haven’t noticed (what with drowning in paperwork and all).

Okay, so I’m venting (in a BLOG??? Unheard of!). The truth is I’m having the best time ever, bleeding !$&&****@@@!!! forms aside. Yeah, this is all a pain, but it truly is for something completely worthwhile, yes? I’m doing my thing! Making my dream come true and yay, me! As such this is, in a way, “my party.” Leslie Gore, sing it…


And things were going so well…

Typical. In the midst of all this creating, polishing up my first book (“polishing” sounds so much easier than editing, doesn’t it?), working on my second, third, and fourth book, doodling my greeting cards, tweaking the website (ad nauseum) and blah-blah-blah-di-di-bee-blah, I am dealing with doubts, doubts, DOUBTS! Will it always be this way? Probably, yes. Our creative expressions hide in the creases and folds of our hearts. Peeking out, every-so-often, and filling us with such yearning. Yet, creating things that we love seems to always be shadowed by Looming Doubt (nice title, I can work with it…or not). Whether our creative expressions are children, stories, blogging, painting, needlepoint, music, or dinner, Looming Doubt is always hanging around to put in his two measly, but somehow quite off-putting, cents. WTF?? Or is it just me? Nah, I can’t be the only one dealing with this crap. And that really is all that doubt is, isn’t it? Crap. In my case this “crap” boils down to self-sabotage. It’s better to knock yourself off the Path of Wonder and Light, isn’t it? Why wait for others to smack you down? Besides, I’m just so damn much better at it! Hah!

One of the nice things about getting older (and there are so few perks), is that you start seeing the patterns in your life. When you’ve done something ten bazillion times, yes, it does begin to dawn on you that “hey, maybe there is some sort of, whaddya call it? Pattern. Yeah, maybe there’s some sort of pattern going on here.” Self-sabotage seems to be something that I find so enjoyable that I keep coming back to the Well of Self-Doubt and drinking, drinking, drinking away as if there’s no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow. Or at least, I hope there is! And when you wake up the morning after an evening of self-flagellation and everything hurts, you start to think that maybe, perhaps, it might be better to have not indulged in the first place. Hah! What a revelation! One of the other perks of getting older? You realize that you have less time to waste. Get this freaking show on the road already!

Yes. Get on with it. What is it that hides in the creases of your heart? What is that desire that both teases and taunts you? Bring it out. Get on with it. Put Looming Doubt in the closet, or find a convenient rubbish bin. Oh yeah, old Looming will be back, but keep brushing him aside. Or better yet, tell him to “talk to the hand” and while he’s busy yammering away, you can get on with it.


Ta Dah!

Finally, finally, FINALLY created my website and it is (semi) ready for prime time! Sort of like me…semi-ready for prime time (or day time, night time, 3 in the morning time). A little background, please. I started it in August (this year! I’m not that bad). It’s been quite the journey! Got discouraged. Plugged away at it some more. Got discouraged some more. Reworked the entire site four (#@#!!!$%#@#!!!!!) times. Got really PISSED off at it! Then finally, finally, FINALLY finished it. But then a website is never really “finished.” It’s sort of like housework, a bit more fun and creative, but somehow I don’t get quite as angry/frustrated washing dishes the way I do while trying to create html (etc and blah-dee-blah).

Eventually (hopefully it won't take another 3-months!), I'll get my e-store done and then I'll be able to start selling my greeting cards (you know, those cards everyone is lining up for!). Didn't I mention I’m starting a greeting card company? I was working my way up to it. I’ve decided to fund the cost for self-publishing by starting a greeting card company. Wise decision? Who the f**k knows?? We’ll see how far I get. Regardless, I’m having fun and that’s a good thing. And I’m definitely not playing hard to get with my life.

If you are so inclined, check out website and let me know what you think. No brutal honesty, please. http://www.intricateknot.com/


Just a doodle…

The “Brambles of Suspicion” nasty buggers!
So, I’ve decided to draw my own pictures to add to my finished, but not-yet-published book. I know, seriously?? Yep. It’s one of those kind of books and I’m going to include maps, etc. It’s good exercise for my fingers (huh??) and as it turns out a very good motivational technique. We writers can use all the motivational techniques we can wrap our heads around! I’m finding it validating and inspiring to create these little doodles. I see my universe so vividly it’s wonderful to share it not only through words, but through these drawings as well. Besides, if I'm going to put my heart and spirit "out there" I might as well put it ALL out there! Why the hell not? Don't answer that. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons not to, including the old "Crap! Now people can point and laugh at me!" or worse yet, "Double-crap! No one is even looking at me (my book) to even just point and laugh!"

Then I hear Freddy Mercury sing, “This is your life, don’t play hard to get” and I just say f*ck-it. I know, I talk to myself A LOT. Perhaps I should go to a shrink, but I just don't have the time! I am way too busy thinking up the nutty stuff.

The real thing is once I stopped trying to get my book published through traditional means, and decided to go the Indie Route, I’ve found it nothing but FREEING! Amen.


Something to ponder...

"I think I'm losing my grip, but I can still make a fist..." Trent Reznor from the song, "Getting Smaller"

Yes, it's uncivilized of me, but I really like the fact that I can indeed still make a fist. And though the next line in the song is "I still have my one good arm that I can use to beat myself up," I am choosing instead to hone in on the "I can still make a fist" part. What that means to me is that although some things in my life appear to be slipping away (long time friends, job stability, sanity…you know, those oh-so-unnecessary things!), I can still stand up for myself. I can fight for me, usually with me, but that’s beside the point!

I’m still standing (hah! Elton John) and as long as I am, I can make my dreams come true. Isn’t that really the truth? As long as you’re still breathing, you can make it (whatever “it” is!) happen. You’re still managing to suck in that H2O so there are lessons to be learned, stars to be reached for, and gifts for you to give. Once you stop breathing? Game over (at least this time around). So, I try not to worry so much about losing my grip on those rare (many) occasions and focus instead on making a fist. If nothing else, this will (hopefully) ensure that I’m ready the next time Life tries to sucker punch me once again…

White Chapel

Just some Halloween fun. Image is of Christ Church Spitalfields in the White Chapel area of London. I added our demon friends.


Getting into the Halloween Spirit

Halloween is hands-down my favorite time of the year. Fair warning: there will be more posts like this one. Hah!
I took this photo while on a Jack the Ripper walking tour in the White Chapel area of London. 
The building is a converted tenement near the corner of Wilkes and Princelet. It was a spooky, creepy night given the subject matter of the tour and it was a full moon! Excellent fun! 
Of course, I added the demon-type guy hovering over the building. Or did I? Mawahahahaha... 


From Bathrobes to Rags…(in ten easy steps! Hah!)

After pulling my sleeve out a bowl of milk and cornflakes the other morning, the question presented itself to me…why do I surround myself in rags? What am I saying to myself??

A little background, please. About 5 years ago (could be 6, could be 4, all my friends know that the whole memory thing? Not really what I’m about!), my lovely, soft chenille bathrobe disintegrated. It wasn’t quick or painless. My robe languished, slowly losing bits of itself along the way. A pocket ripped in ’92. The left underarm split, leaving a gaping hole back in ’98. The elbows of the sleeves had worn so thin, rice paper would be proud to call them mama and papa. 2000 was the year that the right side at the waist gave up staying together and the two sides parted ways. The sash shredded over time so that when the robe finally gasped its last breath, it was little more than an unglorified string.

I don’t let go of or give up on things easily. I keep remembering the good times, when my bathrobe was fresh and new and in one whole piece, and all was right in the world. Okay, I made that last part up. I don’t think all has ever been right in the world, even when my robe was still hanging happily on the hook in my bathroom.

So bathrobe disintegrated about 5 or so years ago, I was very attached to it, I’d had it a long time, blah, blah. Okay, so we’ve established that I don’t give up easily and that apparently I’m not a seamstress. Have we also established that I’ve not replaced the robe, yet? Consider it established. Instead of a robe, I use several ancient, baggy, and a-tad-too-long-in-the-sleeves (remember the bowl of milk and cornflakes?) flannel shirts. You didn’t know flannel was ancient? Come on! They found the bones of a T-Rex wearing a gray, flannel shirt. Dinosaurs sewing skills may be questionable, but their taste in comfy garments is above reproach.  

You may ask, why haven’t I replaced the robe? I said you may ask. Me, not so much. Why replace it? I’m doing just fine with all my ancient, baggy, and a-tad-too-long-in-the-sleeves flannel shirts! Besides, we all know how what an arduous process it is breaking in a new robe!

The only problem with the “ancient” part of my flannel shirts is that this equates to torn, holey (not to be confused with holy, that is another blog), and in general looking a great deal like rags and much less like a shirt part. Plus, these shirt/rags don’t cover my knees (which do get cold in the winter) like a nice, cozy robe does.

This got me to thinking about all the other rags I wear and/or hang onto. My house is filled with rags! I’m always thinking, “Nah, no need to throw out that towel, shirt, shorts, whatever. I can still wear those jeans, shirt, shorts around the house.” Uh. Why? “I know! I’ll use it for dusting or cleaning.” Do I dust? Hmm…rarely. Am I that into cleaning? That would be a big, fat NO, folks. So what is this obsession I have with rags? Am I not worthy of the new, the unworn, and the untorn? Ah. We have a winner. Here we are again. The question of worthiness.

That’s it. After 40 odd (very) years of struggling with the concept of my worth, I’ve had it! NO more rags!! I’m going to go through my closets, cupboards, and drawers and banish all the rags from my doorstep (and from the house, too). To paraphrase the quote of one hell of a lady, “As God is my witness, as God is my witness these rags are not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never wear rags again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill all the rags I encounter. As God is my witness, I'll never wear rags again.” Cue dramatic music. 

Question of the Day...

It speaks to the essential perversity of human beings that what we are most afraid of is also most often what we desire above all. We will find ourselves doing anything, absolutely anything to run from it. Damage relationships, make ourselves ill, even jump off buildings to avoid doing what we most want…or is that just me? Crap. It's just me, isn't? 


Ice Cube Trays and Other Frustrations

Disclaimer: contrary to the title, I don’t have anything against ice cube trays, per se. I also don’t know if I will get to any “other frustrations” in this blog, as the list of my frustrations tends to be quite long these days. Just saying.

Everyone knows (whether they do it or not is another matter) that after you empty out the ice cube trays of ice, you need to refill them with water and put them back into the freezer. This way, we get delightful fresh ice again. My burning question is: why is it that after emptying the ice cube trays and refilling them I can never, never, NEVER get them back into the freezer without dumping out 60% (give or take) of the water onto my kitchen floor and then dribbling another 20% (again, give or take) of the water all over the freezer? And in this rather anti-process the water that gleefully spills out of the ice cube trays (rebellious water that apparently has something against being made into ice cubes) generally covers the bag of frozen peas or corn in a fine layer of ice.

Honestly, really, and truly I am so damn careful carrying those trays back to the freezer. Additionally, I have a seriously small ass kitchen! It's not like I have to walk the Sahara from the sink to the fridge. There are no booby traps on my kitchen floor. I don’t have to cross a bridge made of sticks and chewing gum to get from the sink to the fridge. From the kitchen sink to my freezer is maybe two steps. God only knows (and maybe even She doesn't know) what will happen the day I do manage to live or even own a place that has a big kitchen. I probably won't even get 5% of the water left in the tray. My ice cubes will be paper thin. Then again, if I have the money for a kitchen bigger than the size of a small walk-in closet, maybe I'll be able to afford a fridge with an ice maker. Hey, a girl can dream.

Is this why men notoriously don’t refill the ice cube trays? Because they know it is not possible to get these suckers back into the freezer with the necessary water? Crap. Am I the only one who didn’t know it wasn’t possible?

Everyone talks about the great conspiracies of the world:
-          Toys that require batteries to run, mysteriously fail to come with the necessary batteries.
-          Hot dogs come in packages of 8, whereas hot dog buns come in packages of 10.
-          A pair of socks go into the dryer, but only one comes out. By the way, there are many theories on this: Sock Demons who love to eat just one (2 are just too filling); the Laundry Gods always demand a sacrifice; sock makers worked out a deal with the manufacturers of driers who came up with a device that is installed in all driers, which sucks out one sock per load of laundry. This keeps the sock makers in the bucks. And of course, my favorite theory, which is that socks by nature are highly competitive and they hate their twin. Let’s face it, wouldn’t you grow to hate someone that was balled up in a drawer with you most of the time? So…they both go into the drier, have a major fight (tee shirts and underwear take sides, place bets on who they think will be the winner so they aren’t any help), and after a bloody battle one of them finally kills and eats the other. The entire laundry load is in on it.
-          And other great conspiracies, blah blah.

What’s missing from this list, folks? That’s right. The Refilling the Ice Cube Tray conspiracy. NO one is talking. What do we have to fear? Is my life in danger right now because I have dared to bring this shameful secret to light? Balls to that! I’m talking.

If you’re wondering if I’ve gone off the deep-end, you’re not alone; however, that isn’t the point. The point is that this is genuinely if not a conspiracy, a mystery. Either ice cube trays do not want to be refilled or water does not wish to be made into ice cubes. I know this to be a fact because I have conducted experiments. Yeah, I know. Sad really. Doesn’t she have anything better to do with her time? No. I really don’t.

I have placed empty trays in the freezer and tried to pour water into them from a glass. This didn’t work, either. The trays would not accept the water and the water ended up all over the freezer. Everywhere in fact EXCEPT the ice cube tray. Coincidence? I think not.

I just realized something. Maybe the problem isn’t the trays or the water. Maybe it’s the freezer. Wow. This entire time, I was sure it was one of these two. I had practically convicted one or both of them at any given moment…and all along it may have been the freezer, sitting in the corner of my kitchen: tall, silent, and…cold. Holy crap.

Nothing has been decided, yet. Of course, there are further experiments to be made. I’ll keep at it and keep you informed. 


The Voices in Our Heads…

We all hear voices in our heads. Seriously, I’m not nuts and neither are you. Well…you I’m not so certain of and truth be told, I’m not always sure what side of the sanity fence I sit on either, but hear me out before fitting me for a straight jacket.

The voices keep us company. It’s that dialog that plays in your head while you peruse the produce at the market,
“Hmm…peaches look nice today. Mmm, smell good, too. What the heck? Peaches it is. Yeah, yeah I know I need to eat more spinach, but I have to have the peaches, man!”
Then there’s good cop, bad cop,
“You want to write for a living? Hah! Get real. You’re going nowhere, see? You’re staying right here in this dead end job. ‘Cos that’s where you belong, see?”
“Hey, back off Karl. Let the kid breathe here. When she says she wants to write for living, maybe she’s talking about writing recipes for Good Housekeeping or something. Doesn’t mean she wants to cut out of her 9 to 5er, does it kid? You gotta let me know. I can’t keep Karl off your back for long. Come clean with me and we’ll see about reducing your time. Maybe you could write for a living later on, say another 10 to 20?”
I’ve tried to stay quiet about the whole writing thing, because I know there’s a lot more voices just itching for a chance to jump in and squash the entire notion. Terrible when you have to keep things both to and from yourself, isn’t it?
Then there’s that child. You know, the scared one. The child that feels overwhelmed in this great big bad world we live in.
“I can’t ask the boss for a raise. He’ll fire me!”
“I can’t live by myself. Who will take care of me?”
“I’m not going to get that mole checked out. And no one can make me.”
Where’s the adult? The steady, good-head-on-your-shoulders adult? That adult needs to tell the child to go out and play, while you (the adult) handle talking to the boss about that over-due raise, calming yourself so that you can take care of yourself, and make that appointment with the dermatologist.
Now we’re getting somewhere! How about the angel and devil? Everyone knows about these two.
“I can’t tell Barbara no. I’m always there for her and this time is no different. So what if it’s my birthday and I have a slipped disc in my back. I have to help her move. That’s what friends are for…no matter how inappropriate the request, I just need to be a good person and put my own needs on hold.”
“Fuck Barbara. It’s always me, me, me with her! Go get yourself a slice of that chocolate cake you’ve been salivating over, turn up the music, or check out that movie you want to see. I repeat, fuck Barbara.”
Of course, Adult needs to step in now and again with Devil; otherwise, you might find yourself eating more than one slice of chocolate cake, end up weighing 400 lbs. and need to be removed from your house with a crane. Listen to the Devil sparingly.
I know that good cop or bad, child or adult, angel or devil, all these voices belong to me. All me, just different expressions of me. The day I start to think these voices are outside of me, that’s the day I’m in serious trouble. I’m talking do not pass Go, do not collect $200 just go straight to the not-so-funny-farm.
Shall we go a step further? Why the hell not? I’ve got nothing better to do right now! In addition to the voices that argue, cajole, and sometimes sing in our heads, some of us (okay, most of us) have TAPES that play in our heads. Yeah, yeah. Get this. The “Voices” are sometimes too busy doing whatever else it is that they do when they’re not taunting or encouraging you (maybe taunting or encouraging someone else? Maybe these voices don’t belong to me! Eeeek), but they will leave tapes for your listening dis-pleasure.
With all these voices/tapes, sometimes I get a big, fat headache!

I say “dis-pleasure” because generally these tapes are of the negative variety. Why? Who the fuck knows? We humans are just weird that way. What’s that song that you can’t get out of your head? Your favorite? Hell no! It’s that song you despise that pings through your brain for hours on end. So the tapes? Negative. We like to play tapes that say, “you’re a loser, you’re a loser, you’re a loser” ad nauseam. Or maybe you prefer, “you can’t do that, you can’t do that, you can’t do that.” Whatever your preference, it’s all about the negative. What’s the freaking point? It’s the Man keeping you down! Keeping you under control and all status quo. The “Man” in this instance is the Mind. Your mind, that is. 
“Don’t rock the boat” is the motto of the Mind. Oh, did you think your mind was your friend? Hah! Are you an amateur? All the Mind cares about is staying in control and It does that best by keeping you UNDER control. The Mind doesn’t give a fuck about freedom or happiness, especially yours. Control does not equal happiness, love, freedom, or creativity. Get it? And the real bummer part? We’re so damn easy to control! Just tell us a few bad things about ourselves, scare us a little and we’re all too happy to go sit in the corner, like good girls and boys, eat our gruel, maybe suck on our thumb, definitely question nothing, and go nowhere.  So I say, stop the tape. Burn the tape. And while you’re at it, get rid of the damn tape player, too! All those bad things people told you? All lies. You are amazing. You can do it. In fact you can do anything. Human beings have infinite potential and an endless capacity to love, which includes loving yourself. Don’t let anyone, even and maybe especially yourself, tell you any differently. Why? ‘Cos it’s a waste of your time. You can be out there experiencing incredible moments in life. You can be traveling, creating fabulous art, laughing with good friends, or meeting your soul mate. 
Our voices can cheer us on or cut us off at the knees (gruesome image, no?). We’re not helpless, though. As much as we’d like to think we’re at effect of these voices, we’re really not.
“Oh poor, poor me. My dad was always telling me what a loser I am. I can’t change him. Can’t change myself. I’m just a loser.”
Well, you’re right about one thing. You cannot change your dad (or your mom, your fifth grade art teacher, Adam Balm the bully who beat you up every Tuesday at Fillmore Junior High, the list, unfortunately goes on) and you cannot change your past. All of it is a done deal; HOWEVER, you can change the dad in your head. Instead of calling you a loser, your dad can apologize for all the years he tried to crush your spirit and tromp all over your dreams. Yes. The dad in your head can change and you are the only one who can change him. Make him everything you ever wanted. Just like He-Man, you have the power.
When it comes to the voices in our heads, we are the puppet master. Don’t believe me? Try it. Someone in your head telling you that you’re not good enough, that you don’t quite measure up, and that other people are just so much damn better than you? Tell that voice to go to hell and stay there.
Move on. Overcome your past. Tell the negative voices to shut the fuck up and tell the positive voices to speak up! Or if that’s a bit too rough for you, simply turn the volume down on the negative channel and pump up the volume on the Positive-Yay-For-Me channel. Yeah, you get that channel, too. It’s not on the Prime Package, it comes on the Basic.

Sounds bitter, but really I'm not...

I'm re-reading "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes and just wanted to send out a big thanks to all of those who abused, neglected, ridiculed, and abandoned me. You're all the reason I'm a writer. Whoo-hoo!


Coming Home - Part I

Last year my husband and I went on a 3-week honeymoon to the United Kingdom. Being weirdos (and proud of it!), we passed on the traditional warm tropical island getaway and opted for a rainy, cold island. We made this decision for several very good reasons. In no particular order:
-     We are weirdos and the idea of lying on a beach sipping Mai Tais just doesn’t ring our bells!
-     I’ve never been to the UK and have wanted to go since I was 10 years old.
-     My husband is from the UK, lived there all his life until giving it up to move to sunny California in order to be with me (sigh!). During our courtship, he talked up the wonders of Edinburgh (where he lived at the time) and of course, I had to find out if he was exaggerating! Besides this, he really wanted to show me the world he came from and being totally infatuated with the man, I wanted him to show me the world he came from.
-    I’ve never been to the UK and have wanted to go since I was 10 years old.
-    My husband’s youngest sister was getting married and asked him to give her away. Isn’t that sweet? Of course we were going.
-    Did I mention that I’ve never been to the UK and have wanted to go since I was 10 years old?
We decided to take 3-weeks only because neither of us could take off 3-months from work! We’re not wealthy people, but kept saying to ourselves “who knows when we’ll get to go back? Let’s make the most of it.” A three week trip is a huge deal and as such, we knew we couldn’t just book a flight and pack a toothbrush! At first, we tried a travel agent, but Steve and I are basically “Indie” at heart. Yeah, our budget was tight, but we didn’t want to end up in the “typical” places. Essentially, we really wanted to plan it ourselves and make discoveries along the way. And although the destination is pretty cool, it really is all about the journey, man.
It took us a year to save and plan and organize “Our Fabulous Honeymoon,” as we called it. Sometimes, we faltered along the way, wondering how we were going to make this happen financially. We researched, agonized, planned, agonized, re-planned, re-agonized, went wildly out into Left Field (such a nice place. Love it there.), came back to earth (bummer!), planned again, bought tickets, put down deposits, made reservations, planned some more, finalized, crossed our fingers and held our breath. Planning our honeymoon was nearly as fun as actually going on the trip! Not really. But it was a lot of fun.
Having fun with Steve is pretty darn easy. My husband is extremely, amazingly wonderful. I waited a long time for him to turn up! He’s spontaneous and natural and witty and sexy and supportive…he is everything I ever dreamed.  Most importantly Steve suits me down to the ground and we just plain suit each other. Doing anything together is major fun: buying groceries, writing, watching TV, fixing the toilet, taking a walk, doing the dishes, going to a concert, and planning fabulous honeymoons.
I couldn’t sleep the night before we left, but who cares! We boarded our first plane and “excited” is way too mild a word for what I was feeling. I couldn’t believe it. I’m finally going to the UK and I’m going with this wonderful man who I happen to be married to. I mean seriously, how cool is that? The coolest!!
Guess I should let you in on where we went! In England we visited London, Oxford, Birkenhead (where the family is!), Liverpool, and the Northumberland area. In Scotland we visited the Borders region, Edinburgh, and Stirling. We flew into London, took the train to Oxford, picked up our rental car and Steve drove us through incredible scenery to Birkenhead where we stopped off for a freaking awesome wedding, then moved on to Scotland. And we saw castles! Lots and lots of castles! We tromped around everywhere, made two to three castles (or palaces or abbeys) a day and it wasn’t enough. Every night we went to bed exhausted and invigorated at the same time (told you we were weirdos!).
If you’re getting ready for me to drop the other shoe or a bomb of some sort, forget it. Not happening. We had an AMAZING time. I saw such beauty, it would make me cry. Steve would be driving and I’d be snapping pictures and balling. It’s so green. The skies are awesome, even when gray and filled with downpour doom. Yes, Beauty has a price and in the UK that price is paid in raindrops falling on your head (and shoulders and getting all over your glasses, completely ruining your hairdo…you get the idea!).
Rain, rain, rain!
Cows just outside the hotel where Steve's sister's wedding took place.
Craster, England
On the way back from Dunstenberg Castle

It was more than just the mere beauty that made me cry, though. I had this sense of returning. I belonged here. I belong in the UK. This is my real home and I was coming home. I’ve never had that feeling about a place ever and I’ve been to some incredible places, beautiful places…but nothing is like home. Nothing. And now I know that. What the hell am I doing in Southern California?? It’s as if my entire life the land of fish and chips, castles, royalty, amazing history, sticky toffee pudding, and rain, rain, and more rain had been waiting patiently for me to return. The feeling was so overwhelming that I couldn’t express it to Steve. I’d just end up crying. The tears were a curious mixture of sadness mingling with the utter and complete joy of coming home. The sadness is regret. Waiting so long to find my place in the world! Why did it take me so long? Why didn’t I make this happen 20, even 10 years ago? Regrets are an extravagance that I do not like to indulge in for very long. What’s the point? Learn the lesson and move on.
I believe that things happen when we are ready and I honestly cannot say that I was ready to experience all I did on this trip 20 or even 10 years ago. I was meant to go home last year, with Steve by my side. Now we’re back in sunny Cali and it’s been exactly a year since we were in the UK. I cannot tell you how much I miss home. I try not to think about it often, because again this would be an indulgence. Why wallow? What a waste of time! I really try to be grateful. At least I know, right? I have that. Or was ignorance bliss? Nah. Ignorance is for pussies!! Hah!
So this is part one. You noticed that, eh? Part two? I’ll leave you with this…when you finally find the place you belong, do you sing with joy? Scream in terror? Or weep with bitter longing? All three, my friend. All three and sometimes all at the very same time. And yes, you look pretty crazy singing, screaming, and weeping all at once. People think you’re nuts and guess what? They’re right!  But cut yourself some slack, you’ve discovered a piece of the puzzle of your life. Isn’t that something worthy enough to send you a bit over the edge? For a teensy while? Absodamnlutely.


Disturbing Thought of the Day

You know you're in trouble when you feel yourself competing with your imaginary friend. And when jealousy starts to bloom, watch out.



Being a writer is like being possessed by a strange (is there any other kind?) beast, who can force you to do its bidding at any hour and any place. This Beast doesn’t care if you’re at your day job, in the middle of a dinner party, rock climbing, giving the baby a bath, or even asleep after a way-too-long, punishing day (at the day job). The Beast wakes you up and drags you from your bed with promises of excitement and the possibility of satisfaction. Yeah. Weird, huh? Honestly, honestly the writer has no control over the Beast. Even desperate pleas of tiredness or not-now’s appease it not! 

Why do I call “it” a Beast? What would you call something that drags you out of bed in the proverbial middle of the night? Sue? Kevin? I don’t think so. Actually, I do sometimes call my beast Harold. “Harold” just sounds less intimidating than “Beast.”

Once that Harold (or whatever you call the Beast) grabs you by the throat and forces you down in front of the computer screen, typewriter, pen and paper, you are riveted. You must write whatever Harold tells you to and no breaks are allowed. You are not allowed to eat, answer the phone, clean your kitchen, down an Ibuprofen because your back and neck are killing you from typing away for hours upon hours (even if it is on the same freaking sentence!!!!), or even have a pee. Sometimes, while in the grip of Harold, I find myself forgetting to breathe and suddenly have to gasp for air, as if I were drowning (or being choked). Yay! Whoo-hoo! It is SO way fun being a writer! Sorry, Harold. We humans need to breathe. Not buying it? Look at this way, if I don’t breathe your fun ends. Get it?

Of course, no one else can see this Beast…until you read the writer’s work. Then the Beast is revealed in all its gloriousness (or un-gloriousness, depending). The funny (not really) thing is, there isn’t just one Beast! Oh no. Things couldn’t be that easy, could they? Hell no. Harold is not alone. There are a multitude of Beasts and where Harold leaves off, another is quite happy to take his place. Sadly, sadly the writer’s relationship with the Beast(s) actually begins in fear, runs to excitement, then back to fear and…dependence. It’s all a bit Stockholm Syndrome really. Because you know what happens next? Harold rubs his hands together with glee at this bit! He disappears. Yep. Leaves you hanging. Nasty, bad Harold! So there you are, half way out of a plane, just dangling over the middle of the Sahara (or places much less glamorous, you just never know).

In anguish, you may decide to strike out on your own. Yeah, who needs that freaking Beast anyway? I can do this. Hah! Novice, eh? You can’t go anywhere without the Beast, man. You want to keep it real? Then you have to move with the Beast.

If this all sounds nuts (what? seriously?) then, well it probably IS nuts. But we writers really can’t help it. So read our stuff and have a smidge of pity for us. We may have written this at 7:00 in the morning, after finally dropping off to sleep at 3:00 and left to our Own Devices (sounds totally ominous, doesn’t it?) you begin to jot down this drivel and decide to share it with others and- Crap. Gotta go, Harold is calling…


So, I decided to self-publish...

What am I thinking? After years of stop and starts, has my brain finally stopped functioning all together? It isn’t a wonder. Okay, so those were the first and second questions that popped in my head. Shortly followed by, “Why the f*** not?” A writer’s life is full of peril…and rejection. Your writings are your dearest children. They can do no wrong. Your children are the brightest, most handsome and beautiful. They detract from no one, they only add to grace of the world. How could anyone reject these gems?
If I self-publish I am eliminating the middle-men of rejection, the publishers, agents, and editors and I am taking my children straight to the source…the public. Yes. The public may reject my stories. Of course this is quite possible. Don’t you think I know this? Yet, this feels more honest to me. The public will not reject my works because I may not make them enough money or I’m not commercial enough. The public will reject me if they just plain don’t like my stories. Honest. Real. Personal.
Will it be easy for me to accept this honest rejection? Hell no. But “them’s the breaks,” folks! And perhaps it will help me grow as a writer and a human being.
Besides all of the above, you know what? I want to be in control. Me. It’s my Universe. My stories. My characters. Win or lose. Right or wrong. Why shouldn’t I control every other aspect of these endeavors? The cover art, the price, the distribution, the promotion, everything. Writing is what I came into this world to do. I’ve always known that. I just didn’t know that I also came in to be a publisher.


Not My Dream

The Boss
So, he's a bit crazy (but not in the good way, like me, my husband, and my friends!) and a lot controlling. Sound familiar? I bet. He's difficult, changes his mind on how he wants me to handle things, and often I feel bad about myself because of the way he speaks to me and treats ("treat"?? it's definitely NOT a treat!!) me. Example? He throws rubber bands, paper clips, and Post-Its on the floor of his office for me to pick up. I've been working for him for over 5-years. I didn't start yesterday. I came to this company with well over 10-years experience in (bleech) office work. I've been around the block a few times, okay? I'm not a "newbie." Yet, at times he will go into long, complicated explanations on how to send a fax. Seriously? Is this really a good use of my time? Yeah, I know he's paying me, so what the hell? But you know it doesn't stop there, folks. It's not like he recognizes the fact that he's taken up 20 to 30 minutes of my time up explaining something that doesn't need explanation...he'll then ask me if I've written up that subcontract or followed up on such-and-such. Oh really? And when was I supposed to do that?? Whatever!!!!

It's Complicated
How did I end up at this company? It's just him and I (he and I? me and him? whatever). When I started here, there were about 10 employees. The man who hired me is the son of the man I work for now. The son is the son-in-law of my best pal, who I've known for well over 20-years. Close call, eh? I like to play everything close to the heart. Just to make it reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly complicated and difficult. Why not? What? Have I got something better to do with my time? Hah!

Only, it's not so complicated anymore...
Those 10 employees? All left or laid off. The company has been hit pretty hard by this economy (the easy explanation, but there's only so much room in this little box). Yeah, and the son who hired me? Doesn't work for the company (i.e. his father) anymore. He left because he didn't want to work with his father anymore (again, the easy explanation, for expediency's sake). Oh, and the "best friend"? Not my friend anymore. We had an earth-shattering-blow-the-f**k-out-hum-dinger and haven't spoke in almost a year. I may or may not explain this further in a separate blog.

Weird and Difficult
After the son left? As you might imagine, working with the dad was no frolic through Lollypop Land. Anger and hurt-feelings abound, and who was there as the whipping boy? Yep, lucky me!! That evened out. He got less angry. Father and Son patched things up, but son is still out on his own. Good for him, I say. But...as to me, I find myself working for this man at a job like so many others. I've always tried to take "ownership" at my work. Makes me a great employee. I take responsibility. I'm willing to bend over backwards and basically contort myself into whatever shape my employer asks of me and I've been able to do this while essentially maintaining my integrity. Pretty amazing, huh? The catch? There is always a catch, right? This all takes its toll, man. This year...well, it's been rough. You cannot repress the emotions that I have over the years and not pay a price. I've come through that, though and I'm finding my way through to the other side.

The "Other Side"
One of the things I've realized? This isn't MY FREAKING DREAM! Who cares what this man wants me to do or how he wants me to do it? This is HIS dream. I'm just helping him out the best I can, to support his dream and in exchange for this I get a paycheck. The paycheck helps pay the bills, until I can get MY OWN DREAM to start paying those dang bills. That's what is getting me through the work day now. When the Boss starts getting up my nose, my mantra is...not my dream...not my dream...not my dream. And it's working. Amen, Sisters and Brothers.


Creating a Blog

"Come on, this isn't a "new thing,"l!" No, it truly isn't. Just a matter of taking the "blog" in my head (runs 24-7, folks) and transferring it (copy only, original stays in my brain) to this little box. How hard can it be? Well...if you're a touch neurotic (like myself), we could be here a while. I'll put it this way. It took me 3-days to figure out what "design" I wanted for my "blog." And after all that hemming and hawing (what the hell is "hawing," anyway? sounds violent!) I'm still not sure if I'm happy. Yeah, the "design" shouldn't be a big deal; however, that's probably only true if you're not me. Would have loved to not use any template what-so-ever and just totally do my own thang (if you know what I mean). However, Google is pretty kewl and they've given us a lot of options to play with. So here it is. Until I change it, that is! Hah!

Why am I writing this dang thang anyway? Creative outlet, my friend. Yep, I need 'em BIG TIME. Sorry, didn't mean to shout I just get excited about creative outlets! Love them!! I'm at the point in my life, however, that I can't just keep having creative outlets just for me...I need to get it out there. Out there. Out where you are, for example. Been writing most of my life. It's pretty much like breathing for me and I want to make my living it at. Heck yeah! I'm tired of being shy, modest, "issue" ridden, whatever. It is time to put up or shut the h*ll up! Not ready to shut up, so, here I am.

I'll give you a word or two of caution, I am a little demented. If weird isn't your thang, this may not be right place for you. But hey, I can play it straight (so to speak), too and there are times when I'm pretty sure I'm brilliant. Of course there are the other times when I'm full of plain old crap. Hah! I'm working on creating a website for my brilliant bits and (yep, you guessed it!) here in this blog is where I can color outside the lines and at times be full of just plain old crap. I know I'm not alone. We all have our stuff. If you've reached a certain age, you know what I'm talking about. This blog is an outlet for my particular (and peculiar) stuff. Hope you enjoy.