WTF

Intrinsic Value of the Existential You

pennyjarSelf-worth comes from one thing—
thinking that you are worthy.
~ Wayne Dyer

Have a yard* sale and you’ll find yourself putting little tags on everything—giving reduced value to things you once thought worth much more than you’re now willing to accept for them. At the end of the day, you’ll count the change you’ve received, the crumpled bills, and the smattering of things even the scavengers didn’t want. And you’ll be richer for it. For the items traded, for the people spoken to, and for the time, entertainment and adventure you put into the day—because life is an adventure with the right attitude.

I’m turning 45 this month. And it’s been an adventure all right. While I’m usually not one to evaluate my life on every birthday or New Year, I find I am this time. I’m divorced. My kids are gone. And I’m not where I thought I would be in this lifetime…at all, on any level. For a while, those thoughts made me feel very alone in the world. So I faced it.

I woke up that way a couple weeks ago as I said goodbye to an era—alone, in a motel room, absorbing my aloneness. And I found something rather strange in the quiet. Me. I remembered not everything that breaks is broken—you have to break a glo-stick for it to glow, you have to break a fortune cookie to get the fortune. And upon breaking me, I found me. Hi world! Welcome to the second half of me.

But the alone continued to sit at the edge of my mind for some time. I felt a little lost, a little scared. The screaming had subsided and the silence was a bit too much. Then a whisper started in the darkness. “Why don’t you do this…?” “Why don’t you do that…?” And I realized I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t old. I wasn’t done. I had just finally matured to the me-portion of my life.

I don’t have kids to worry about on a daily basis. I don’t have a partner to please. I just have me. I can stay in my pj’s all day and write on the weekend if I want to. I can play with my herbs and oils, research the family lineage, read a biography, blow bubbles at WalMart, whatever. I can eat nothing but salads for a week and no one can complain. I can come and go as I please. I can go places I’m interested in without worrying about it being entertaining to others in my life. And I can enjoy myself, alone or in a crowd—with friends, with strangers, or with nobody.

In the quiet, I remembered life is a giant yard sale. Things come and go. People come and go. Sometimes you’re the seller, sometimes you’re the buyer. But you are the only one who can put value on you. No one else gives you worth, only you do. Sure, for a the first portion I was being guided by parents, and the second portion I was guiding others and not worrying about me. But eventually there’s quiet. Eventually, there was just me.

I know my worth. I’m a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague. I’m a concert-giving rockstar in the shower, a dancing queen while cooking, a 12-year old laying in the grass talking to bugs, an old woman conversing with the moon, a mermaid in the water, a gypsy, a writer, and just a girl. My value is a jar of pennies. Some are shiny, some dull. Some are new, some old.  Some worth a penny, some much more. I’ve spent a lifetime filling that jar. I don’t need to count the pennies or show them to anyone, I just need to smile and know I’ve got them. I paid my dues. I’ve earned me-time. And it’s time for the true adventures to begin…

 

*Garage sale, yard sale, rummage sale… what the heck is wrong with this country that we need 3 different way of saying “buy this crap I don’t want anymore”? And thanks to those on twitter who helped** me decide which to use.

**And by “help” I mean told. Told with force and a waving fist. #loveyamouse!

#trending

twitterdudesThe internet is a strange strange thing. Social media makes it even stranger. You can plan and plot how to expose something new and get no buzz. You can ask a question you really want to know the answer to and get nothing. And then you can say something completely random and your feed explodes. Makes. No. Sense.

So welcome to No Sense Thursday.

Today’s question: what makes your feed trend? What bizarre thing can you discuss, question, or otherwise mention that gets the most feedback, responses and attention? Because it isn’t what you want it to be. I’ve been watching everyone’s feed and have learned, it rarely is. Examples you say? Why certainly… (and yes, please, feel free to follow anyone I may mention in this particular blog)

My personal favorite for the week — saw this the other day, and it sums this up perfectly.  @steveniles (Steve Niles) summed it up well with “I say ‘good morning’ and lose three followers. I’ll try ‘fuck you’ tomorrow and see what happens.”

@marysangiovanni (Mary SanGiovanni) twittered a cthulu emoticon /\(;,,;)/\ and it was the number one most re-tweeted thing she’s ever posted. Also popular are her tweets regarding cannibalism and NJ traffic… she writes books she’d like you care about too =)

@natesouthard (Nate Southard) has random squawks of pointless rage get the most response. He’s declared this is either a terrible commentary on the population or the golden secret of working in the horror small press—take your pick.

@Nukegumby (Michael Huyck) has a wide range of popular tweets, from funny to sarcastic to accidentally motivational. Yes, accidentally motivational. No rhyme. No reason.

@bobford (Robert Ford) can say something truly horrific about midgets and gains followers—if I said the same thing I would not only lose followers, I would get hate mail (justifiably so). He proclaims hatred of all things Michigan while driving through there and gains followers. I say it’s cold and lose 10.

@DaveThomas76 (Dave Thomas) past a lot of things, but if it’s about booze (aka: “Is it too early to drink scotch?” or “Martinis: so much more than a breakfast drink”), people always seem to chime right in. He wonders if his followers are functioning alkies too =)

me @kelli_owen ? Yeah… I post comments about the dayjob, my books, crazy news tidbits… mostly to my following of loyal crickets. But the moment I say anything remotely lesbian or sexual in general, especially to one of my female friends, I’ve got everyone’s attention.

It’s strange. What will grab someone’s attention is so bizarre. Anger, humor, cruelty — very popular. So, the question is… What strange non-important topic do YOU twitter about that makes your feed explode? As an experiment, feel free to answer here, but also and more importantly, answer in twitter by posting a link to this (or just retweet the tweet that got you here) and hashtag your answer in the tweet if possible. It will be like a meme and a hashtag had an illegitimate lovechild…  (feel free to copy and paste this and fill in the blank)

RT: @kelli_owen Fun Blog: #trending http://wp.me/p2tbLH-X5  answer: #_______

 

 

Broken Promises

borrowed from http://thinksbooks.blogspot.com/The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
~ Robert Frost

What is New Year’s Eve? Easy. We drink, we laugh, we tell stories while we reminisce about the year (whether good or bad), and we make promises to do this or change that in the coming year.

Ahhh, the New Year’s Resolution.

We often make these promises out loud and in front of friends, but they’re really supposed to be promises to ourselves. Whether or not we mean them. Whether or not we are only playing along with the social experiment that is nothing more than a grand gesture of superficial self-evaluation. Whether or not it’s peer pressure, or some other misguided reason to change for some benefit that is less than pure and far from true. We make promises on New Year’s Eve… by the millions. Some make one. Some make lists worth.

But, like all promises made for the wrong reasons, in the heat of the moment, under pressure, or uttered out loud to give it some sort of physicality, reality, or validity, we break them. Of course, promises get broken all the time. Every day. By strangers and loved ones alike. Some of them hurt others, some of them hurt ourselves, and some of them do no damage at all—as they were inconsequential or never believed to be real in the first place. Unfortunately, the risk of the cumulative effect of those broken promises over a lifetime is that eventually you believe nothing.

The most famous broken promises made through the fog of champagne and silly hats? Start exercising, stop smoking, etc. Quit this or start that. Blah blah. Think back, I imagine at some point in your life you’ve muttered the words yourself. I have.

This year, I promise something different. I promise nothing… and everything. Nothing, because I have had enough of broken promises. Because I’m about one step away from that jaded soul that believes nothing even when they can see it, taste it, and touch it. And I promise everything because I want to experience life, rather than just survive it. I want to absorb what I can from this crappy world and see if I can’t still find the happiness in the mud puddles of bullshit that seem to be scattered everywhere in the parking lot of my metaphorical life. 2013 started shitty and ended in the same exact place. Nothing changed. Not one damned thing. Time to BE the change…

Have a safe New Year’s Eve, everyone. See ya on the flip side!

*image borrowed from thinks books

Let’s Get Dad a Tank For Christmas

iwanttobelieveel4This post has nothing to do with my dad, Christmas, or a tank. And only a little to do with the X-files’ poster and UFOs.  Of course, it’s not about LOLcats either — which is good — so please, no throwing tomatoes at the screen.

It’s about conspiracies. Or rather, the theories that abound — even more so now that we have the internet to help propagate paranoia, supposition, and false information.

See, there’s been a lot of television programming in my house lately that leans toward the strange, the bizarre, the unspoken, hidden, or otherwise secretive. Ancient Aliens, America Unearthed, Mysteries at the Museum, etc.—from ancient alien theorists (drink!) to secret cults and strange NSA data centers. It was that last bit that inspired the title for the blog. After watching a piece on the information stored by the government, there was a discussion about how they decide what’s dangerous and what’s just a conversation. I’ve joked about getting my dad a tank for the front yard for years. I’ve told him a couple times that I’ve found one online but he wasn’t getting it because the shipping would cost a college fund. But does the NSA know that I’m actually talking about a real tank, for my actual dad, for the holiday known as Christmas? Or do they think it’s some bizarre code, like “dad” is really the president, and “tank” is really some weapon or plan or something. Who knows. I once checked out the wrong combination of books from the library and called the FBI in the same week and ended up with a dark sedan with tinted windows outside the house for a month or so. Anything is possible. But this particular show spurred a fun conversation and google search, which then led to Bob Ford being a trouble maker and suggesting I google certain things just to see how fast the NSA shows up at the door—I chose not to follow his suggestion.

Now, I watch all those shows. I’m intrigued by what they’re investigating more than I am what they’re proposing. I make fun of them on occasion for jumping the shark and have turned a couple of them into drinking games, but I enjoy them at the same time. I don’t necessarily believe the conclusions they come to, but I like that they open the topics up for debate, discussions, and insane theories of my own. I’m not what you would call a conspiracy theorist, I’m more a curious pain in the ass (just ask the priests back at catholic school… they “loved” my million and two questions they couldn’t answer).

Some of the top conspiracy theories on google are:

  1. New World Order – group of international elites controls and manipulates governments, industry & media worldwide
  2. Lee Harvey Oswald either didn’t act alone or didn’t do it at all
  3. Marilyn Monroe was killed by the Kennedys
  4. Cancer has been cured but costs less than treatment so they won’t release it
  5. 9/11 was either done by our own government or covered up by it
  6. Elvis (and Tupac for that matter) is not dead
  7. The moon landing was a hoax and all those pictures were taken right here on earth in a studio
  8. Area 51 – ’nuff said

So, since I still haven’t found an actual tank for dad at a reasonable price with shipping included, and it’s Monday rather than Thursday and therefore my strange behavior could be a conspiracy of its own, let’s toss out the question you knew I was going to ask way up at the first mention of the NSA… What’s your “favorite” conspiracy theory. Now, of course I use the word “favorite” with caution, much like “who’s your favorite serial killer?” No one really likes serial killers—when you say that you actually mean “which one intrigues you the most, or you study the most, or you find the most bizarre, etc.”.

Explanations and examples aside… my answer? I’m a huge, will-watch-anything-at-all-to-do-with the Freemasons, Illuminati, and any other secret cult, group, or society even if only linked to the Masons on a the dust of the fringe of a robe they no longer wear. My grandfather was a Shriner/Mason and his ring had my attention from a very young age. The fact that I’m just a girl and am not allowed to join on any level may have something to do with it as well… I never have reacted well when told I can’t do something =)

What’s your poison? Your passion? Your go-to conspiracy of choice? Go ahead, you can answer… no one is watching, recording, or storing this conversation anywhere… no, really…

 

 

First Date Fail

bunnyIt’s been a while since I tossed a Thursday question out to the cosmos… But it was fun and I need to come out of my cave a little, so let’s try one of these and see what happens. I’m rusty, out of practice, and yes, I know it’s Friday. But Friday is traditionally date night, so let’s take that idea and run with it with First Date Fail.

Yes, fail.

Not because the relationship failed, not because you never called them again, but because, in hindsight, that particular date maybe didn’t go as well as you had planned, hoped, or expected the universe to write for you like a hollywood moment. Yeah, that date.

While not every relationship succeeds, they all have a unique beginning. From a 50-year marriage to a blind date you can’t wait to forget, they all have some shred of a story to tell. Here’s your chance. Let me oil these squeaky hinges and give you a giggle before I bat my eyelashes and ask you to entertain me back.

A boy once asked me out while I was working—while I was at work. I said no. He asked again an hour later. I said no. He told me we could just go to a graduation party for a mutual friend and nothing else, just spend time together. I hemmed and hawed and said “Fine. But I have to be back here by 2am.” After all, my car was parked there at work and I would need it. Eventually. Right?

So we went to the party, talked to other people more than each other, and got back in the truck. We did not go back to my car. Instead, we decided we hadn’t really gotten a chance to talk to each other, so we drove around. Now mind you, I was new to this town and within five minutes was completely lost on the backroads he seemed to wander down like he had personally named them. I didn’t know if he was a serial killer taking me to my final resting place or not, and caught myself sizing him up to see if there was a chance I could take him. I didn’t think so. I was doomed. And the conversation continued as he distracted my pessimistic thoughts with interesting topics and comments that made me laugh. It was actually going fairly well…

Until the rabbit.

Those backroads were dark. The wildlife doesn’t understand roads are for vehicles, not them. And before I could gasp and he could brake, there was a *thump thump* as the front and back driver’s tires turned bunny foo-foo into road pizza. Now, things happen. Animals get hit. It’s not unusual. But when he stopped to make sure it was dead, to which I found him chivalrous as he didn’t want the animal to suffer, I learned this was not only unusual but the chivalry was questionable.

He got out and reached into the bed of the truck, pulling free a mini baseball bat.

“What is that?” I’m pretty sure my eyes were about the size of the moon.

“My little thumper.”

“Your what? What’s that for?” (Did you know if you furrow your eyebrows hard enough it actually hurts?)

“In case it’s not dead.”

“You’re going to kill it again?”

I’m pretty sure he answered, but in the years since, it has become part of the blur that followed. I buried my face in my hands and began rethinking the serial killer questions. I tried to block the world out, but from outside the truck I heard *KER-RACK!* followed by a slew of profanity and the most horrible noise I’ve ever heard.

A dying bunny does NOT make a happy noise. Nor can it just die quietly like an over-acting B-movie star hoping to get noticed. Oh no. It makes this hideous cry and sounds like rubber bands snapping against rocks inside the throat of a child being throttled while their toddler sibling stands nearby screaming at the top of their tiny lungs. To reiterate, it is NOT a pleasant noise. There was another *thump* sound and the horrific noises stopped.

A double bang in the bed of the truck and the door slamming pulled me from the happy place I had forced myself to go.

“Oh my god.” I looked at this boy. He was tall, he was dark, he was nice, and he had just destroyed an animal on our first date.

“I know, right? Pisses me off.”

“What?” I was so confused at that point I likely looked like a teenage boy in the girl’s locker room—both confused and intrigued.

So it turned out, the *ker-rack* I had heard was him missing the bunny, hitting the road with his “thumper” instead of hitting Thumper, and breaking it in two. He was mad because he broke his little critter club. He hit it cleanly with the second attempt and only half the bat, thus putting it out of it’s misery.

I nervously laughed about the whole thing and we drove on, getting me back to my car eventually—though 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. are not the same thing. I nervously laughed about it for a couple years actually. Eventually, I started wondering if that hadn’t been my warning, my red flags, my runanddonotlookback moment for this relationship. But then I wouldn’t have my two beautiful children. Yeah… that was their dad for those of you who know him. For those of you who only know “of” him, you’re not shocked, so don’t pretend.

I don’t remember much of that first date, other than the sound of a dying bunny and the truly deep-seated desire that developed to never ever ever hear that noise again. Red flags I ignored? Blood, murder, mayhem, and the possibility of being victim to a serial killer? Yeah, I’m going to call that ‘first date fail.’ But it makes for a fun story, sorta.

Now then, entertain me… red flags missed on a first date? Horrible first date you ran from and never looked back? You know you’ve had at least one horrible evening you may have actually paid for the privilege to have. Share with the class…

A Rose By Any Other Name…

roseBut what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
~ “Sympathy for the Devil” The Rolling Stones

Well, it seems my muse is trying to deal with shit. It’s used to bleeding on the page. It’s used to borrowing my keyboard to help me process things. But apparently, there’s no way I can process certain things with blood. I need tears. An ocean full of them—found on a lovely little vacation I was offered. And after a couple weeks of conversations with the surf, feet in Caribbean waters, and many evenings with a talkative moon, my muse has lost her mind.

So rather than working on the semi-sorta-not-really sequel to Live Specimens (Floaters), or the actual sequel to Waiting Out Winter (The Hatch), or even my coming of age, going home again, dedication to a lost friend that will teeter the line of thriller and horror in a whole new way, I’m playing dodge ball with a muse harboring a romantic streak. Stupid thing. And wicked aim. She’s been covered in blood and bandages for so long, she’s blinded and has no idea how much I don’t know what to do with this.

Which means I’m doing what I’m supposed to do—shut up and write. She speaks, I type. She whispers, I type. She screams, I get the headphones and type until she quiets down. I have no choice. I know this. I’ve tried ignoring her before. It never ends well…

So the question is, if a thriller/horror writer is suddenly taking a sabbatical from the creepy and cooky, does she do so under a different name? What say ye, oh faithful readers. Would you want to know and thus read or recommend the softer side of the Gypsy? Or should I hide this under a pseudonym like the dirty secret I’m still holding onto since second grade? (It’s okay, Mrs. Johnston, I’ll never tell anyone!)

Coming soon to a bookstore near you… a new Owen book. Sorta. With a severe lack of dead bodies, blood, and including ohmygodwhatiswrongwithme romance. And the burning question isn’t even WTF anymore, it’s whether or not to use my name or give this side of the muse a new moniker. A whole different genre, different feel, different audience, different pre-readers… so the name? Hmmm… Whatcha think?

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Appearances

— · Rosie's Bookapalooza · —
October 5, 2019
Johnstown, PA

— · Merrimack Valley · —
Halloween Book Festival
October 12, 2019
Haverhill, MA

— · 2nd and Charles · —
Horror Writers' Panel
October 26, 2019
Harrisburg, PA

— · Read and Scream · —
Chester County Library
November 2, 2019
Exton, PA

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