Observations

Passages

butterfly-wordsWriters write. It’s what we do. Whether it’s a coherent tumbling of sentences that happen to fall into a pile of paragraphs and make sense, or it’s just a random thought bouncing along a breeze like a flitting butterfly—we write. We jot ideas onto postie-notes and the backs of envelopes. We scramble for our voice recorders and voice-to-text apps. We will stop talking in the middle of a sentence, eyes glazing over, as we wander off to some thread of the muse’s whim. We may or may not always come back from that last one, and we do apologize for the interruption. But it’s what we are and what we do.

And we have to react. We have to jot it down and get it out. Whether we’re exorcising it or just sharing (there is a difference, “Blood Type” blog coming), the snippets must go or we’ll go crazy. You can only have so many voices in your head before you snap—just ask Sybil.

The following is one of those moments. It has been sitting, untouched though often thought of, in the “Random Passages” folder for years. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it will ever be anything. But it’s there, like a lost child in an overcrowded department store. So for #throwbackthursday #tbt, I’ll toss out some ancient words originally scribbled on the back of a napkin…


CHILDREN OF THE GODS

The most dangerous things in the history of the world have been children playing with things they don’t understand. A child’s imagination was responsible for the original flood, as he pulled his hand through the mud and drowned the little pile of ants he had collected. A little girl’s whim toppled a mountain and destroyed a town when she wished fire would rain from the skies. And possibly most unknown, but with the most impact, was the little boy who made an entire civilization disappear with a handful of straw braids and his mother’s ink pots. By twisting magic together into one braid, and declaring what each was capable of, Carson destroyed Atlantis. And changed the future of the Earth, forever.


Thursday has become about sharing. Today I share with those who read my drivel, and nod to others who have the disease. But hey, you can all play along. Think outside the box for #tbt. Put the pictures away and share something else from the past. Here’s mine. What are your mental hallways harboring? Do you have ancient unheard words in your hard drive haunting you?

Something’s Missing

blacksquare2My dreams often feel like warped, twisted, versions of some sort of reality television show filmed by those who failed therapy, ignored their court-appointed rehab, and haven’t been to AA for so long they think it stands for And Another. My camera man is drunk and my special effects crew is on crack. I’ve said both of those things before. After the last week, I believe it wholeheartedly. Because now it seems the set director is on vacation and the intern doesn’t work fast enough.

But I can’t seem to figure out why, what it means, or even how fast Freud would just give up and lock me into a nice safe room with a snug jacket and fluffy walls.

For instance… See the image for today? How many times did you refresh thinking there was something wrong with it? Nope, there’s not. That’s actually just a plain black box of nothing. And the star of my dreams lately.

I don’t remember the dreams themselves most of the time, which is normal after the first cup of coffee, but I do remember the little black squares. I remember they’re not important or even really noticed during the dream, but afterward I could tell you where they appeared. Very strange. See, these black blocks are speckled throughout and simply provide a nothingness instead of details, in a freaky two-dimensional cut-out construction paper kinda way. For instance, I’ll be able to see everything in the room and talk or move around or do whatever it is I’m doing, but the black blocks will be where the detail isn’t finished. Like on top of an end table, instead of knickknacks, lamps or books. Or on a wall, in lieu of pictures. Or even on a menu, rather than actual choices.

It’s very bizarre and seems to be completely acceptable in the dream. Oh if only I could do the whole lucid dreaming thing and pause all the action while yelling at the design crew to finish up.

Of course, my dreams are still wonky, don’t get me wrong. Just this morning I woke from being out for a drink with the girls, in a restaurant located in an old western clothing store where they never took the clothes off the wall or removed the racks of boleros and cowboy boots. Nikki was pissed off because she was enjoying a cigar in the wrong part of the restaurant, and her boss told her she had to put it out and go stash it in her office—for whatever reason I decided to bring it there for her and set it in a dish on her desk, only to have the maid service ask me if they should dump it or keep it. Drew was in the bathroom milking lab mice and using it for some explosive experiment to get his students to pay attention. And of course, the sewage accident that shot dirty water out a port on the wall—the water retaining the shape of the pipe and chasing people around ala the water worm from The Abyss. Yup, perfectly normal dream for me… except the black squares in the bar at the restaurant, on the fishtank, obscuring portions of the bathroom lab, hiding the other items on the desk, and filling in for the faces, clothes or hands of the people at the next table.

Yeah… welcome to my dreamworld, here’s a black square—just put it anywhere.

 

Paper Dolls

paperdollToo much death lately.

First it was my nana. Nana was tough. Is still tough some days. Then we lost a women I once called Ma who’s son I never married but who’s grandchildren I used to plan in swirling hearts on school notebooks—I still don’t know what to call her twenty-five years after her son and I broke up. (What the hell do you call the mother of your first love, whose house you basically lived in for several years? I haven’t even seen her since we unexpectedly buried one of the gang fifteen years ago.) And now…now my aunt Jean.

They come in threes. I can be done now, right?

I told you about Nana. I started a blog about Ma B, but I can’t figure out what to feel, let alone say. My aunt, though? Shock. Tears… followed by the numbness of denial, then on to anger, and back to tears, all happened in the span of the phone call from my mother Saturday. I spent the rest of the day just trying to absorb the reality, bombarded with memories.

As I sit here, in the stillness of insomnia’s hours, I am realizing now how lucky I was to spend as much time with family as I did when I was growing up. I had sleepovers with Aunt Jean much like I did Nana. And the strongest memories of her and Uncle Jim are from those times, not just the visits. While there are many memories, there’s one that seems to jump up and yell for attention, repeatedly haunting me throughout the weekend. The paper dolls.

See, my aunt gave my sister and I paper dolls to play with. For those who don’t remember or just don’t know, these are thin cardboard cut-out figures in underwear with tabbed clothes you hang on the body (see picture). My first attempt to over-analyze why this memory seemed so needy was the innocence of it. We used to actually play with paper. No cell phones, iPads, Xbox or internet. Paper. There’s something about generational innocence there that seems to want to be said, but doesn’t really need to be, because everyone knows it, gets it, sees it. It just is. Times change, entertainment changes, blah blah change. So I let that analysis fade away and went back to the memory itself.

My aunt didn’t just hand them to us and walk away. They weren’t something to occupy us. They were something to do with us, to broaden our imagination, and explore our artistic side. She gave us the dolls and clothes, but then she pulled out paper, and colored pencils (I remember her having to sharpen those over and over with a knife—ah the old days), and sat with us. She showed us how to make our own tabbed wardrobes. We spent hours doing this, on many sleepovers, for several years. I remember thinking how artistic we were for getting to use the colored pencils instead of crayons. I remember tracing the dolls and designing—from clothes to shoes to even the hair, we could dress them up fancy or down to earth, give them blond hair or brunette, hanging down, in a pony or under a hat. We could change their appearance, and with it, the two dimensional illusion of personality, wants, desires, hobbies and habits.

And that’s where the little analyst in my head jumped on board and latched on.

Paper dolls were an introduction to the various masks we would wear throughout our life. We were just learning to put them on something else first, before testing the waters with our own naked selves. As we grow and evolve, our fashion changes, our outward appearance changes, our public attitude and persona change. What we show the world is nothing more than a tabbed piece of paper, lovingly cut out of our imagination and hung precariously from our shoulders. Some outfits we keep until they yellow with age or get torn or lost in the mix of things. Others we try out and shed as quickly as a new divorcee plays dress-up to find herself in the lost pieces of wardrobe. But they’re all just that, outward appearance. The paper doll underneath remains naked, fragile, vulnerable to the elements of time.

I’m going to miss my aunt horribly. For so many reasons. She was the record keeper for our lineage (the last blood gypsy of her generation), the maker of paper dolls and sharpener of colored pencils, and a champion of the arts (she was a rosemaling master, and her eldest an artist). And as is with all who pass on, I will cherish the memories, and take from them the lessons they offer…

Which, in this case, means I need to make new outfits for my paper doll self. I need a knife to sharpen the colored pencils, and with that, maybe a band-aid.

 

Beyond the Sidewalk

sidewalk

There is no quote today. Only me. And I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve had a lot of heavy thoughts lately, as I analyze and over-analyze my life, my decisions, my actions—midlife consideration, as I’m calling it, rather than crisis. As such, the way true consequences work, my blog may or may not be as heavy, clouded, jumbled, deep, or murky as my mind has been, but well, there it is… you’ve been warned.

When I was five years old, I watched King Kong with my friend Billy. Billy, and his sister Trina, lived kitty-corner from us in a quaint little neighborhood filled with tiny one-family homes and brownstone buildings sporting anywhere from two to four families. It was a nice neighborhood—houses lined up like pretty maids all in a row—in a time when the world may not have been much safer than it is now, but we perceived it as such because the news didn’t report on every single atrocity happening around us for the sake of shock value, by career-climbing newsmen who were more ambitious than judicious, hired by the unwieldy number of stations focused only on ratings. My memories are that of a child. I remember pretty little maids, with nice yards, friendly faces, and a feeling of community and safety—where a kid could fall off their bike, get hurt, and stop at any neighbor’s house for help without worrying about being buried in the basement with the other hapless souls who had wandered by.

Inside that child’s memory is Billy. And King Kong. After we watched the movie, we went out to play in the yard—because that’s what kids used to do. And while he had his arms out in front of him ala The Mummy, slowly stalking my sad impersonation of Fay Wray, I was backing up to get away from his supposedly menacing monkey. I tripped on a piece of sidewalk that had broken and buckled, like the one in the picture, and fell straight back onto my head, with a loud crack and an echoing bounce I still remember. Long story short, I cut the back of my head wide open and ended up with several stitches (ask me for the long story sometime at a con, it’s fun and includes gems like blood vs sweat, freaking out babysitters for fun and profit, and ruining mom’s day out with the girls).

Over the years, I’ve thought about Billy and Trina—specifically the day of King Kong for Billy, and an unfortunate tanning experience because of Trina. But this is about King Kong, and that sidewalk… that damn sidewalk.

The sidewalk is a magical thing when you think about it. It’s the first boundary we need to cross as children. When we’re finally allowed to play outside by ourselves, no mommy watching our every move and chasing us away from the dangers of the street, we are told to “stay in the yard.” And we do. Dutifully most of the time. Our initial foray to the sidewalk is the (still present in my life, always) chalk that let us express ourselves in fits of proud glory until the rains washed away our hard work. We didn’t cry when our hard work was erased, because we didn’t see the downside. We saw the clean slate and cheered because we’d get to fill it with the colors of our imagination all over again. Then we used the sidewalk to tackle and master the great and terrible vehicle of doom that would become our lives until sixteen allowed for four wheels instead of two—the almighty bicycle (yeah, banana seats!). Even then we were told to stay on the sidewalk (or driveway if you had one), but absolutely no going into the street. Eventually, we were allowed to roam past it, to go beyond that magical sidewalk. At which point, the sidewalk became a boundary again only when we found ourselves in trouble and were grounded back to the yard. Back within the confines of that cold gray slab which marked our home turf. Our safety zone.

We started with that sidewalk, but as we grew, we strove to go beyond other boundaries. To reach out and stretch our legs, taking strides—sometimes small, sometimes giant—to push on and go forth. To explore and adventure. We left the safety of the neighborhood and went to school. We finished that and moved out to find our own sidewalks. Some stayed close to the unforgiving cement they were comfortable with, others took the chance to run, either chasing their dreams or looking for them. Some left their hometown and found new sidewalks. Some left the state just to see if there were sidewalks elsewhere.

Every time we crossed the sidewalk, real or metaphorical, we experienced life. Good and bad. We saw amazing things, we met new people, we made incredible memories, we survived horrible tragedies—those no one warned us of, as well as those we had to learn for ourselves, even though we’d been warned, repeatedly—and we learned the varying degrees of disappointment as it balanced against achievement. Life is not a smooth piece of glass we walk along. It’s a sidewalk—full of cracked slabs, raised pieces waiting to trip you, and weeds desperately poking through any weaknesses along the way.

They say you can never go home again, and it’s true. Home isn’t the same once you’ve been beyond the sidewalk, but the yearning to return to its safety is very real. When we’re up, we call home and share our excitement. When we’re down, we think of going back and hiding behind the boundaries we knew… but outgrew. We can’t go back. It’s not the same. It may look like it, but it’s not. Not once you look past the fresh paint and new street signs. Not once you walk down that familiar sidewalk to the exact spot that became your first scar only to find the sidewalk isn’t buckled anymore. It’s been replaced. It’s no longer yours. It belongs to a new generation who doesn’t even know your blood was spilled there.

I suppose it’s the mature thing to fully realize the meaning behind “you can’t go home again.” It’s good to be at a point where you understand exactly why, and accept that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just change. Change happens.

So here I am, not quite awake on my first cup of coffee, listening to the birds chirp as the world wakes up around me. And I find myself sitting on my steps looking out at the sidewalk. I’m thinking back over all the sidewalks I’ve crossed. All the porches and steps I’ve sat on before crossing them, or after. I’m cataloging all the lessons and losses, dreams and disappointments, smiles and scars. And it all becomes a swirl of doubt, leaving me to ponder whether I should have crossed the sidewalk and gone exploring in the first place. It has become a question of whether or not all that wonderment was worth all the wounds.

My older self thinks of the welcoming smells of mom’s kitchen, the safety of her stoop, the fact that I always have and always will sleep best under her roof. But I know, I know, “you can’t go home again.”  I accept that and swim in a little lake of self-pity for a bit, feeling lost as I stare at my coffee. Lately, I feel like I’m floating aimlessly, treading water, unsure if it’s toward shore or away from it. And when I look up to the sidewalk again, I can see the younger me, standing there with her long waves made darker by the streak of blood running down the center of them. And I remember. She didn’t curse the sidewalk that tripped her. She didn’t try and step back inside the boundaries of the grass. She stood up, wiped her face—mixing tears and blood into something that would dry and be labelled determination—and took a brave step forward.

I have a full box of chalk, a handful of band-aids, and a lot more sidewalks to cross. Whether I cross them or not, only time will tell…

 

 

 

Everywhere…

typewriterheadEvery writer is asked: Where do you get your ideas?
Quick answer: Everywhere…

The longer answer is: anything we may read, hear, see, a combination of them, or a completely warped version of them based on either playing the “what if” game or letting our muse naturally twist their reality into something we call fiction to keep the white coats away. *whew* (ideas and the muse are always run-on, editing fixes that in the prose!) Or just, you know, our random thoughts.

A prime example of the simple ideas: sitting in an airport for more than an hour people watching, or simply reading the news.

More complicated twists of reality come from a place deep inside us. A place the medical profession would like to dub with some terminology—if not a diagnosis—treat with drugs we can’t pronounce, and call us sick and unusual. But really? When each writer on the planet is capable of doing it, is it really all that unusual? Who’s to say we’re not the normal ones and there’s something wrong with all of you?

Nevermind. I know we’re the crazy ones. I just wanted to see if I could either a. say that with a straight face, b. get any of you to believe it.

Why do I know we’re (or at least me) the crazy ones? Because this happened:

I talk to myself. All the time. Always have. I don’t know if it’s part of my writer mind or just my own personal psychosis, but I do. A lot. This morning, as I rambled on about nothing while getting ready for the dayjob, an innocent (sort of) comment from my own mouth twisted on the way out and hung in the air around me. But let me back up and let you watch it happen…

First, I talked myself through several outfit changes (convincing myself I looked great in something, only to change out of it). I babbled to no one but the girl in the mirror (who in all seriousness really makes me angry some days, but that’s a different blog) while I attempted to tame the locks I consider unruly but many girls actually pay to perm just this way. And then I kept myself verbal company while doing my makeup. Now I don’t wear a lot of makeup, so as you can imagine, that was a pretty short conversation. But that’s where the magical spark happened.

“Hmmm… pale lips. Always with the pale pathetic stupid colorless lips. Need color. What shade? Something light. Not actual ‘look at me’ whore red or anything, just a little bump of color. Enough for the coroner to notice.”

Really? Where’d that last part come from? What the hell happened to me that made that a completely natural thing to say? Mom? Is there something I’m not remembering?!

I accepted the comment as normal for me and went on about my morning with a strange smile—almost pleased with my crazy. I put on the silver pieces, grabbed lunch & the laptop, and hit the road. But before I reached my exit, thirteen minutes later, I realized I hadn’t heard a single thing on the radio during the drive. I was too busy letting the muse twist that comment into an entire storyline. Poor Maggie. She’s not necessarily blue* and she’s definitely not out of lipstick*… but she’s got a path coming into view through the trees that will not be any fun at all…

THAT is where story ideas come from =)

 

* and that is how you sneak in a few pimps for other writers =) Go ahead, mouse over the links, click, check ’em out!

Offend This…

fuckoffoffensive  adjective
1. causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry.

I call BULLSHIT. When did humans become such big babies? Offensive is nothing more than a made up word. It is designed to shift the blame away from the person choosing to take offense and dump guilt and/or subjective shame onto the person expressing their opinion. Someone’s right* to voice their opinion is now less important than that opinion being globally acceptable, making it now the fault of the person thinking, speaking, or acting freely according to their own beliefs, ideals, morals, or just stupid thoughts. Because yes, we are entitled to have our very own stupid thoughts. All of us. As often as we want. And we are allowed to share them, with friends, enemies and anyone who will listen. But we are not allowed to force other people to believe them, buy them, or even feel guilty because we had them. Apparently, therein lies the confusion. We each need to worry about ourselves, rather that being so overly concerned policing everyone else that we don’t even notice we’re worse than what we’re judging…

My mother taught me at a very early age that no one else can make you feel anything. You choose to feel it. And holy shit is everyone choosing to be offended lately. By everything… on the 24-hour channels of television, twitter, facebook, and anywhere else the planet has gone and given voice to everyone (including me, the irony isn’t lost, trust me) so they can have their little spaz attacks at 140 characters a blip, 50 million blips a second. Bullshit. All of it. And quite frankly, I’m sick to death of hearing about it. I cannot even count anymore how many times a day I see something and think “So? Get over it.” Now it’s my turn.

Grow. The fuck. Up.

You wanna believe in god? Good for you. Hope it helps you sleep at night. Leave me out of it. And hey, maybe keep in mind: the same rights that give you the power to believe, give other people the right to not agree with you. Until you convince the big man himself to come on down and smote someone on live television, nothing you think, say, or do will make you right and them wrong (including and especially, judging others… pretty sure it says right there in that super duper magical tome of yours “judge not lest…” how’s that go? Lest you get cheesecake? No, that’s not it. Oh yeah, don’t do it cuz your ass is gonna be judged by your god and you’re gonna have some ‘splaing to do. God called, he wants his book back.) Some of the best people I know are dirty rotten atheists. Some of the most horrible I know are Christian. I don’t blame their character on their belief or disbelief, quite the opposite.

You wanna be pissed off about Henry Rollins’ personal opinion? Tough shit. He gets to have one. And good for him for having the balls to say what he felt. Did I adore Robin Williams? Absolutely. Am I sad he’s gone? Absolutely. Will I pretend to understand what he was going through or why he made the decision he did, and therefore judge either him or anyone with an opinion about it? Nope. Did I think Henry Rollins owed anyone an apology? Oh hell no. Henry had the same rights to an opinion as Robin did to action. Don’t like what Henry said? Too bad. But hey, isn’t it cool how you have a right to not agree—however, you have to choose to be offended. Oh and pssst, Henry, *holds universal telephone hand gesture up to ear* call me. We’ll do drinks.

You wanna have some psychotic pseudo sex-police spaz because a comic book has a sexy woman on the cover? Are you freaking kidding me?! I wish I had Spider-Woman’s new ass. Almost as much as I bet some people (men and women) wish real boys had packages like those portrayed on Spiderman, Batman, and the rest of them in the fictional world of ink and paper. Screw that. Seriously. It’s a freaking comic book. Pick a real issue to have a fit about. Don’t know any? Watch/read the news for ten minutes. While you were whining about a drawing, several thousand people died for no good reason… in a couple different places…

Gonna dump a bucket of ice water over your head, donate the money, do both—good for you. Or did you plan to do neither and just bitch about it instead, without even looking up what the hell the cause even is? Get over yourself. ALS (and other issues, diseases, causes, etc that have been changed-up in the challenge as it spreads) is now not only collecting a metric butt-ton of money, it is doing exactly what it was designed to do: spread awareness. I bet you’ve heard of it now. Ignore it if you want, but could you do it quietly? Maybe with a shiny red gag ball in your face (you can find those at any outlet sex store currently riding the coat tails of 50 Shades of Gray, another topic everyone including my blind, deaf goldfish has an opinion about). You’re having a fit about a charity is not only painful to watch, it’s showcasing your inbred issues. Why not just go to the children’s ward at the cancer center and tell them all to stop whining and die already? Because seriously, that’s how stupid and insensitive you sound. Hope you or anyone you know is never afflicted with any medical condition…

Enough? You get it? Good, now shut the hell up and hug someone. And before you hop up on the soap box using your social media outlet of anonymity, perhaps you should use the soap to clean the windows in your glass house and take a good long look in the mirror. We are dust, people. That’s it. There’s a huge ass universe out there, Earth is but a dot among many, and we’re each less than a spec on it. We can’t control nature, we can’t stop time, but we can try and get along with each other. We don’t all have to agree—hell, it would be boring if we did—but we do have to co-exist, with reason rather than force. Don’t like something someone said or did, walk away, turn the channel, unfriend them, whatever. Just do it without choosing to be offended and thinking they owe you an apology. They don’t owe you shit, other than respecting your freedoms and life and not taking either from you.

Oh and really, Henry… call =)

*obviously I’m speaking of places where freedom of speech is a right, so don’t be a dickhead and try and come back with some lame argument for other places.

 

 

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