Flights of Fancy

It was far more satisfying than I expected it to be.

I was nervous as I parked my car and walked to the door. I was a little early but someone was expecting me and the door was unlocked. Settling myself in a comfy oversize chair, I fiddled with my jacket. Should I take it off?

And so begins my nine week Creative Writing course, you bunch of perverts.

It’s a very small class, 6 students, all women, and one very talkative, surprisingly youthful teacher. He talked for almost two and a half hours straight. We did a couple of in class exercises, that I really struggled with and he gave us our first assignment.

Choose a favorite song, write a one page scene not using any of the lyrics. We’ll see if I can guess the song when we read them together next class.

My first thought, I’m definitely doing something by the Bee Gees. Not only because I love the Bee Gees but also because, my teacher was born in 1985. Yup, the year I was a junior in high school. I could be Hemingway in drag and he’d never be able to guess my song from a scene with zero lyrics. I briefly considered, Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen, I want your sex by George Michael and even Tom Sawyer by Rush, but one of the students is a ten year old girl. In a college writing course. This will be more challenging than I anticipated.

So, in accordance with the rules of fair play, I’ve chosen a song from not only his lifetime, but in a crazy moment of benevolence, a top 40 hit from 2016. The movie it accompanied was better than I thought it would be, but not a hit by any means.

 

My favorite song from last year?

 

 

I’m sure the reason I’m always turning the volume up when this song is played has something to do with the eerie combination of singing/speaking lyrics and that bass that vibrates the very seat cushions in my car. That’s the safe answer. Otherwise I might have to admit I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, every time she stepped on-screen. And if I admit that….

Well, let’s just say I’m sure.

For now.

 

How could you say that?

I’m taking a writing class starting tomorrow night. I’m pretty excited, it’s been a while since I’ve sat in a room with other like-minded people and talked about writing, in real life. For the next six weeks I’ll be busy every Thursday night from six to eight. It’s a creative writing class, taught by an award-winning author of, among other things, furry fiction.

Yes, there is a huge market. I had to google it too.

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But I digress, I’m telling you that so that I can tell you this.

This morning I got up early, I rushed my girls to get ready and myself, I dropped off my middle child thirty-five minutes before her school started (she went to the school library to read with another early arriving friend). The youngest and I then drove about fifteen minutes to pick up a friend and get her to her work on time as her car is currently out of commission. This wasn’t the first time we’d done this and honestly, it hasn’t been that big of a deal to me. I enjoy helping.

Until today, that is.

As we drove back into town, we talked back and forth about the previous evening and school work came up. She’s working on an online degree. I commiserated with the course load and admitted I’m glad to be done with college, to which, she replied.

“Yeah, you’re one of those people who would need to actually attend class. You aren’t a self-starter. You know, you don’t have that drive.”

Luckily we were approaching the front of her workplace and I could pretend to concentrate on getting a good spot at the sidewalk and keep my mouth shut. She got out of the car, said she’d see me later and off we all went in our opposite directions.

I drove to the parking lot at the school, trying to remember if I’ve ever been more egregiously insulted. The resulting thundercloud accompanied me the entire day. šŸŒ© Today was not a day to misbehave in my line of sight. šŸ“šŸ˜”

This friend has not known me long and I found myself wondering, all freaking day, what she saw in me that would inspire such a statement. Perhaps because in the last four days that I’ve driven her to work she’s been about three minutes late each day, except today. Maybe that lack of planning or motivation showed poorly. Maybe I don’t talk enough, maybe I talk too much. Maybe because I’m only a tutor, not a teacher. Maybe I just should let her have her opinion and not worry about it.

Maybe.

It made me angry.

I may be an A++ procrastinator in writing but, dammit, I get things DONE everywhere else!

It wasn’t until I got home and talked told a close friend about it that I realized how angry I was. The swear words flew and so did my temper.

And then it was over.

My friend laughed, “I bet that felt good!”

I flopped down, winded. “It did.”

“Next time, let her know how wrong she is. Where is that wit that leaves me no retreat when I’ve pissed you off?” he asked.

“I was driving,” I explained testily.

“Bullshit, you want to be liked. Stop it. We’ve all said those stupid ass things without thinking and been called on it. Quit giving people a bye because you want them to think you’re nice.”

I flipped him off.

I am nice, DAMMIT!

 

 

 

Happy Valentines Day

For all of you who put up with my zig zagging blog, smiling kindly as I post about a gentleman’s delicate parts one day and prayer the next….A little Valentine for you.

 

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My newest published book is live on Amazon and FREE to download to your Kindle on Valentines Day. (click on FREE to go to the site) It’s the first book I wrote, but don’t let that deter you! I’ve been told by many that these are two of the best characters I’ve written. They are so well liked that from time to time people will actually ask me how Mitch and Carly are doing. I kid you not.

It’s a sweet little romance with lots of laughs. For those of you not interested in my steamier fare, this is the book for you.

If you love my little story, perhaps you’ll consider leaving a review.

If you don’t like it, maybe consider not leaving a review. šŸ™„šŸ¤šŸ˜ˆ

 

 

Writing, Emotional Cheating?

Earlier this week, I was standing innocently in the lunchroom waiting for chaos to ensue when my boss stepped up and said hello. I’m always caught off guard, seeing him in that particular area and usually start the conversation looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

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Um, what was that?

This particular day, he asked me about my writing. I said it was going slow but I had my first actual book coming out soon and that was cool. He asked me what I write and I admitted it was just fiction, a love story. Every time I answer that question he follows it up with, Is it one of the racy ones? I shake my head, Not this one, I tell him. He kind of laughs, then launches into a bit about how he’d run out of stuff to read last week in the middle of the night and had resorted to the magazines lying around the house. He’d read through Time then found an article in Vogue magazine that asked the question, Is writing romance emotional cheating? He wondered what I thought about that.

I don’t know what I think about that.

He asked if the husbands of romance writers felt threatened by the brawny, thoughtful, rich men that filled the pages of their books and by association, the women’s minds.

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That got me thinking about that place in my mind I go to write. That world where my characters and 99% of my curiosity live. I know three men I’ve invited to see that world. None of whom have ever lived with me. Is that emotional cheating? It’s a place I share only with the like-minded, only with those who’ve shown an interest. No one who lives with me has any interest in that place or what goes on there. They want to know what there is to eat and why must they have a bedtime.

The few writers I talk to on a regular basis also live in their writing space alone, sharing with a select few, none of which are their significant other.

My boss’s question seemed more toward the ‘Are they upset because they can’t live up to the fantasy?’ He’s not read anything I’ve written so I’ll cut him some slack. My men are normal. Okay, except Mitch, he was famous. All the other men I’ve written are just men. They are construction workers, scientists, land developers, a pilot, a cowboy, the last great King Under the Mountain (okay, he was exceptional). In my imagination, men aren’t ultra rich or powerful, they’re super power is awareness. They notice stuff. They want simple things and have learned that the right woman makes it easy. She needs laughter, she needs to feel safe, she needs to be surprised and she needs someone who will show up when it isn’t convenient or desirable.

Perhaps we are filling a need within ourselves. I see how it could make some men uneasy.

Is it emotional cheating or simple cartography, mapping a pathway to a new reality?

 

 

Prayer

I’ve been thinking about prayer this weekend, for a couple of reasons. First, because as I was walking down an empty hallway at school last week I whispered a prayer. An honest to goodness, beginning to ending prayer, professed in the manner with which I was raised. And second, because I’m sick again this weekend. When I’m coming down with some kind of infection, my first clue is everything becomes impossible. Emotions swamp me and next thing I know I’m hiding in my bathroom crying my eyes out because everything I do is hopeless and I will never touch my dreams.

As some of you may have heard, I have a new book available on Amazon. I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to tweak a beautiful cover I purchased to satisfy Amazon. I still haven’t managed it. I’ve kept telling myself I’m not going to blog about it till I have it just so. Thus, partway through the week I found myself fighting tears of frustration while walking down an empty hallway and I tripped and fell headfirst into my childhood. The prayer was short and fervent, after which I straightened my big girl panties and got on with my job. That was that.

By Friday night I was a quivering soggy mess, hiding in my bathroom. Cursing myself for being so foolish as to even whisper the words, heartbroken with loneliness and swearing up and down that I am finished tutoring the sweetest kid on the planet because for the life of her she cannot stop sneezing, coughing and blowing her nose as we crouch over books together in 6X6 room. I mean, the poor kid has been sick since Christmas and my immune system is in full rebellion.

So, what does this have to do with prayer? praying-614374_1920

I’ve learned not to pray and it bothers me greatly that sometimes I slip up and beg for a miracle. I was raised saying personal prayers twice a day, family prayers twice a day, prayers at mealtimes (yes, all three), and was encouraged daily to pray for others, for their health, for their safety, for their blessings. I even knew a girl in high school who prayed before she bought a pair of shoes, unwilling to make even that simple choice without guidance. Just to be clear, back then at the height of my religious practice, I thought she was a nitwit.

What happened? Well, no one thing, that I know for sure.

Life wore me down, blessings were few and far between at a time I was working harder than I ever had to be worthy, and still the water was closing over my head. It was about this time that my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I redoubled my prayerful efforts. I fasted, I donated more time to my church, I laid awake at night crying and praying. I honestly say, I have never offered myself in any more heartfelt manner.

It took a year or so before I realized I couldn’t continue in that manner and survive. A year after that, I finally realized that I was not making any difference, but I was making myself crazy.

I haven’t prayed since. No, not once, until earlier this week. Today as I laid in bed, willing myself to be better by Monday, I wondered, was it the impending illness, the stress of trying to get the paperback ready, the grind of my current personal situation…what brought me back to that childlike place where words we utter into the air, magically bring about miracles? Yes, no doubt the perfect storm of all of the above.

The reason I write about it here, is for my own clarity. I write it down here because I’ve never said out loud that if prayer couldn’t be bothered to save my mom, a woman who never missed a chance to pray, and I mean pray like there is no tomorrow for fifteen or twenty minutes while her children passed out from starvation around her…, what chance do I have, me with my wilful temperament, my carnal heart and selfish dreams.How dare I attempt to fool myself into thinking all is well, by whispering a few words to the sky? If the most devout can pray for years and fail, then what does prayer really mean? What good is a prayer uttered by the wicked and the woefully impious?

 

Hung

Note:Ā  This is an old blog post written a year ago. Sadly, it is still quite relevant, haha. I’ve been kept from my usual blogging by a nagging book launch and a bout of influenza. Fear not! I’m on the mend and will be back to blogging in a day or so, but until then, a little something old.

Carly

 

So, I’ve been struggling to write.

I managed a short story at New Years.

I finished a long overdue edit on a novel.

I started a new story last fall that I love, but lately I’ve just struggled to put words down.

When I want to look productive so my kids will leave me alone, I sit at the computer, open my word document, pop in my headphones and lately, watched HBO’s Hung.

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Yup, you read that right. Yes, it’s about what you’re thinking.

Someday when I look back on my forties, it will be with a secret little smile. It’s when I finally stopped feeling bad/guilty about sex.

What? Oh, you want to hear more about Hung? Okay.

It’s about a forty-something high school teacher, former jock, crashed out of the big leagues due to injury, hits a rough patch in life and comes to believe the only thing he has going for him is his big dick. No, I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve watched enough episodes that I’m beginning to wonder if they’ll ever show me. I’m listening to one now, flipping between screens when something sounds too good to miss. The actor starring in it is that guy from The Punisher, the hardly watched Marvel movie. I find Thomas Jane a bit unassuming, or so I thought. His version of Frank Castle did show up briefly in an erotic short story of mine. Maybe my subconscious knows secrets about me.

Maybe I should write in my sleep.

How can it be so difficult to do something I find so pleasurable? I’m talking about writing now. Everything seems to be plotting against me. My job, my life, my extended family. I feel like the things I currently write, get me nowhere. I write notes about students I work with, I write stupid attempts at blogging, I write notes to my children’s teachers, I write my name on checks, I write letters to my father, in short, I write everything but what I love to write.Ā  I love to write happy endings, happier encounters and witty conversation. How I love good conversation!

Perhaps that’s reminder enough to bring me back and sit me down in front of my page again tomorrow. Well, that and Ray with his big problem solving dick.

Loving the Limits

I subscribe to an inspirational blog that delivers a daily post into my email, first thing every morning. Every morning I read the title, perhaps the first paragraph or two, sometimes the entire post. After a year of following the blog, I know what to expect. It will want me to stretch. I’ll be encouraged to look ahead, to reach a little further, to push myself a little harder, to step out of my comfort zone.

I did that a lot last year, stepped out of my comfort zone. At times with resounding success, but often with spasms of discomfort followed by time wasted and self-recrimination. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last year of my life, trust your gut. What is my gut saying? Learn to love your limits.

Immediately that annoyingly energetic and mercilessly optimistic part of my brain weighs in with, What a load of shit! Don’t listen to her, she’dĀ  be happy if we stayed home every night, reading and writing and crap like that. That’s no kind of life! Tell me you aren’t taking this seriously!

That last bit echoes through me, and I smile. My gut tells me I’m on the right track.

In our world of constant connection, social media, picture feeds and instant messaging, it isn’t enough just to live. You must prove you live, and that you do so with the best of them. Instantly. Constantly. Exhaustively.

My gut knows, that isn’t me. I’m finally listening. Understanding my limits allows me more freedom to explore my curiosities. Nurturing my limits means less time spent chasing experiences that leave me unsatisfied and filled with that vague uneasiness that I am not enough. Loving my limits gives me the opportunity to lift my head at that whisper of movement that sends a frisson of excitement down my spine.person-851456_1920

Listening to my gut means coming to terms with a few things. It means recognizing myself and allowing the grief and relief that come with the realization that I am not all things to everyone. Shedding the machined parts of myself that make me clumsy and heavy. Admitting I’m better one on one than in a group, not taking offense when people step away for need of connection, allowing myself to be happy with what I am and not wasting time wishing to be what I cannot.

When I let go of all that and look up, I realize it’s not a freak flag I’m flying, it’s just my flag, my banner, my colors. They’re beautiful, warm and earthy with just enough vibrancy to attract the like-minded. I imagine the moment a step pauses just outside my wall. I’d look up from my book as they take in my ensign. Feeling relaxed and safe inside my limits, I’m able to meet their gaze.

Does that little quirk at the corner of your mouth feel familiar?

Closing my book, I smile as the secret door opens.

 

 

 

A Jewel

Growing up in the backwoods of Idaho, I came in contact with many colorful characters. Most of them related in on way or another to one or both of my parents, who were second cousins themselves. (Oh yeah, that’s a whole other blog post)

Earlier this week, late in the evening I received a text message from my youngest sister who had included a link to the obituary for one of my aunts. She died on January 1st, after, what I call, a long illness. It wasn’t terribly shocking, though she was still in her sixties and rather young to die. As I read the simple paragraphs, I was struck first by the realization that we shared a birthday month and at 64, she was not even twenty years older than me. The rest of the column read like any other small town tribute. It praised her work in the local church, meticulously listed her surviving family members, carefully counted her grandchildren, pointing out she attended more of her kids and grand kids sports activities “…than any other parent or grandparent.”

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Ditch Jewel-beauty found in the ugliest of places

 

Since my own mother’s death two years ago, I often find myself wondering what any given person would think if they could read what their family wrote about them after they died. It strikes me oddly that the things most spoken are the lives left behind, the good works, the suffering done in silence. Are the things the living remember truly what the deceased were most proud of?

I only ask because I know some of the inside story of her family life. I know she was my favorite aunt, growing up. In the boisterous house that was my grandma’s, filled to the brim with loud laughing men, busy women shooing away herds of wild running children, she was soft and quiet. Never demanding hugs or kisses, just a soft touch on your shoulder or gently leaning against you to whisper it was good to see you. She smelled like flowers and seemed oddly out-of-place next to her braying, obnoxious husband. She always brought delicious food and I never heard her complain about living in a town with a population barely reaching into the triple digits. She always mentioned how pretty I was, how the color I wore made my eyes sparkle. She was jealous of my hair, told me so time and again. As the years went on I saw her less and less, she didn’t change a bit. There were many problems with her children, with her husband, with her health. I never heard about any of them from her. She was an accomplished masseuse and always offered me her services. She would say, “You should come out and let me give you a massage, I bet it would help and I’d love to do it.” I would smile and thank her, give her a big hug, but I would never drive the thirty-five miles out to the old homestead. For most, maybe all of her married life, she lived in my grandma’s old house. The house, on a dairy farm, was where my mother’s siblings were all raised. Grandma got to move to a new house but she got the old house because her husband wanted the farm.

I’m sitting here tonight, wondering again, about a woman I should have known so well, yet hardly knew at all. I’m bothered that she died and I never took the time to ask her what made her happy, what she dreamed about, where she got her phenomenal stamina. I’m sad that she spent her entire life in such a depressing little town with such spiteful people. I remember my mom telling me that my aunt wanted a divorce, mom was scandalized. Knowing whom she married and where she lived, I asked, “Only just now?” Mom laughed, but she could, she’d escaped.

I’ve come to know other of my aunts better in the intervening years, indeed, have a very close relationship with one who is my rock and another who keeps tabs on me, not letting me forget she loves me. I want to do better with these I have left, I want to know them better than just an aunt. When they die,Ā  my desire is to have no need of reading their obituary because I asked them while they were alive, because I knew them well enough that I don’t need to read a list of their descendants, or of their service. I’ll already know what their hopes were, what dreams were fulfilled and that they’re leaving this world more suffused with light and love than when they arrived.3-3k_syej1s-julia-caesar

 

Undoubtedly my Aunt Jewel is going to a better place, a place of less pain both physical and emotional. I wish her a blissful journey and the joy I think she deserved but got so little of here.

 

2016 is Done

Put a fork in it, it’s finally over.

2016 reminded me of that time I hiked in the Arizona back country for five days in the same clothes then splurged on TWO rolls of quarters for one amazing hot shower. It’s the kind of stink you don’t realize you have until about a mile below the South Rim when you get a whiff of that first, freshly scrubbed day hiker, then see them give you a wider berth than the passing mule trains.

You’re welcome 2017.

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My New Year celebration is a general thankfulness that I’ve survived another year and that I can’t remember most of it. It’s true. I’m not one to journal and I have kids, so I’m left with the very high highs, the lowest of the lows and that vague uneasiness that signals I’m forgetting something I’ll wish I hadn’t in the days to come.

I’m celebrating this year, well, like I always do. Sitting up with the girls as they try to stay awake till midnight. Every year, one of them burns out between 1130-1200. Last year the middle child played on pots and pans at midnight, much to the enjoyment of the crotchety old people who lived below us but should have decamped decades ago to one of those Arizona enclaves that don’t allow anyone younger than 55 inside the gates after dark. I’m thankful she hasn’t brought up the possibility of using her snare drum to celebrate tonight.

My final thoughts on 2016, I’m glad to see the hind end of you. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. No, don’t even think of texting me.

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As for 2017, be warned, I’m not taking any more years like your younger brother there. I suggest you learn from this and know if you’re planning on staying in this house there will be no more shenanigans. You thought it was bad watching me taking a stand with 2016? It’s only going to get worse. You’re damn right, I don’t care how special you are! The second I realize that you are taking me for granted I’ll kick your ass so far, 2025 will be bringing it to me as her New Year Baby.

You’ve been warned.

Now, go out and have a good time, my best friend and I have plans that can only take place under cover of darkness, surrounded by fluff and cloaked in silence…

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Me, hanging out with my best friend

A White Christmas

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For those of you keeping (thank you Lord I don’t live there!) count, as of 6:00 am on December 26th, our Christmas Day blizzard had dumped 12.5 inches of snow on us. All day today the wind played in the piles of white stuff, moving it about in swirls of 30 plus mph. We’re under our second snow emergency of the year, and only first responders and snowplows/front end loaders are out on the roads. They had to switch from snowplows to front end loaders because the snowplows kept getting stuck, in the snow. Needless to say, with the major interstate shut down from East to West borders and more than 90% of all other roads also drifted in, our state was closed today, just the whole damn state.

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My apartment is the third floor corner there… another good storm and I won’t need to take the stairs anymore. These pictures were snapped after the tractors had been running most of the morning.

Oh, you want to hear the total snowfall since Thanksgiving? 40.5 inches. It makes me kind of giddy, we still have at least three months of winter to go.

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