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!