Delete

The man’s finger poised over the iPad’s delete button.

Delete or not?  After several years on Twitter, he still wasn’t sure what to do.  The Infamous Picture had kicked off his rise on the platform and to his surprise, the subscriber number had increased despite everything.   He’d been careful ever since, but that seemed to be the problem.  Was he too careful or not careful enough?

His hand dropped to the leather seat.  He gazed out at the German countryside as the limo sped to Schönefeld Airport.  For the past few days, he and his colleagues from his latest project had celebrated his birthday in style.  After his fandom had sent so many birthday greetings, he thought they might appreciate a peek into his life.  So he’d shared some harmless pictures with them. 

Harmless.  Right, he thought. 

He’d enjoyed the days before social media when he’d sent long missives through a designated website and that was that.  Nobody interfered.  It was just me and the fans, he thought.  Now it’s me and fans and the world.

He admired a lovely selfie he’d snapped of himself and a few colleagues.  The production PR said it had not authorized any release of cast and crew photos.

Damn it.

If he were honest, he really missed the silence for days and weeks after clicking “send.”   At least until he received mail in reply or curiosity killed him and he consulted the forums.  Now, the responses came fast and he just couldn’t not look.

“Nice pic!”  Hmm, yes it is.

“Is that your new girlfriend?”  Heh, not if her husband has anything to say about it.

“Were you drunk?” Wait – what? I was sober as a judge.

Sheesh!  Click. Delete.

Next, a picture of an abstract sculpture depicting a man, he was told – a cast gift.  The sculptor alerted him that the painting behind the piece was not available for public viewing.  Oops!

“Nice pic!”   Of course.

“Love the painting!”   I know, right?

“Was the sculptor drunk?”   What?  Hmmm.  No clue.

Click. Delete.

Oh.  A selfie of himself on set.  Could the production PR tell? Best to be safe.

“Nice pic!”   Right.

“Thanks for sharing!”   You’re welcome!

“You don’t have to photoshop your selfies.  We love your wrinkles!”  What??? Like I would be vain enough to rub out my  – wait, the lines aren’t that bad, are they?”

Shit.  Click. Delete.

There.  Four tweets left for the week.  That should take care of everything.

Oh wait. The funny one is still here.  He perused the entry containing a selfie with plant leaves sticking out of his ears and mouth followed by a quotation.  He wasn’t sure if everybody got the reference.  He wasn’t sure if he got the reference.

“Nice pic!”  Who is this person?

“Goofy dude!”   Yes, yes it is.

“Were you drunk?”  Am I getting some sort of reputation?  Well yes, yes I was.

Click. Delete.

Three entries left.  He smirked at the selfie of himself trying to pinch a liquor cart.

“Nice photo!”  Oh, that’s a change!

“Very cute!”   I thought so.

“Hey, you’ve deleted three entries!”  And one more makes four.

Click. Delete.

He looked at the last two entries: an innocuous quote and a selfie of him showing off some wild looking socks. Should he leave them? They were harmless enough.  But would he be giving them significance by not deleting them?  Would fans read something into it all?   Surely not.  He’d leave them.

His eyes shifted to the flurry of comments hitting his Twitter timeline.

Why do you keep deleting tweets like this?”

“You know once you post, it’s out there forever, right?”

“Are you drunk?”

The man sighed.  He had to do what he had to do.  If it meant deleting posts, then so be it.  He just couldn’t leave things on his timeline if it caused problems.  Besides, he’d noticed that the deletions gave his fans something to discuss.  They seemed almost as important as his posts which was handy during periods when he really had nothing to say.  His finger hovered over the quote entry.

Click. Delete.

“I loved that quote!”

“Dude! What are you doing!”

“You gotta lay off the sauce, man!”

He eyed the socks entry.  On second thought, the socks seemed controversial – verrrrry controversial.   He had a right to change his mind didn’t he?

Click.  Delete.

The man smirked.   That should hold them.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

[Hi all!  I know it’s been four months.  Will explain later but first, here’s what you’d rather see today.  Enjoy.]

***

The man looked at the gray sky again and sighed.

He perched on the railing, feeling all elbows and knees as he tried not to bump the two women on either side.  A young brunette to his left chattered nonstop with her companion.  On his right, a mature woman in a baseball cap sat reading a pamphlet.  He didn’t want to disturb either of them.

Around him, the excited flow of chatter rose and fell as experts on little mobile screens discussed the imminent first total solar eclipse of the century.  Everybody seemed to have prepared for the event with bagged lunches, information pamphlets, eclipse glasses and extra batteries for their mobiles.  Of course, he had come only with sunglasses that offered no protection. Don’t stare at the sun, experts warned.  So he’d spent the last hour glancing up at the sky for a only second or two. Not that it really mattered now.

His impromptu trip to this college town to personally witness the phenomenon had turned out to be a waste of time. He’d taken the needed the break in his schedule and arrived that morning unprepared.  The morning dawned with blue skies.  Now, ominous clouds had rolled in, blotting out the sun and threatening to make the thing a non-event.  It’d put him in a worse mood – just the opposite of what he’d hoped for.  Story of my life, he thought. 

Squirming on the metal bar, he managed to jostle both women.  Damn it. I’m not in the mood for small talk.

Both budged over just a bit.   The chirpy one threw him a toothy grin . “It’s packed and jammed, huh?” She waited for an answer.

He blinked at the American, trying to process the slang and the accent.  Oh, she must mean it’s close quarters here.  No shit. I should just leave. He managed a weak smile and a nod before studying the sky as if there were something to see.  He felt her turn away slowly to turn address her companion.  The woman on his right closed her booklet and looked off into the distance.

So now you’re moody and rude.  He felt like a tosser.  He should apologize somehow, or at least try to chat Chirpy up – only he couldn’t bring himself to do it. 

The man’s head dropped and he gave a sharp exhale.  It was that time of year again when he felt his mortality.  Well, not so much his age – he had reconciled himself to growing older as a fact of life.  But his youth oriented profession pressured him to strive and achieve his goals before The Powers That Be perceived him as too old.  He’d gained success later in his career; that maturity had helped him cope with it but now he felt behind the eight ball, as the Americans say, as if he had to achieve it now, whatever it was. 

He stared at his clenched hands.  What was his looking for? He had no right to complain.  He’d appeared in a play off-Broadway to positive reviews, snagged some roles in feature movies and even worked in independent films where he could hone his skills and stretch himself.  He was breaking into the US market. His agent touted him as a new kind of rising star.  Why did he feel as if aging was blotting out his star, much like the clouds blotted out the sun overhead -that he was running out of time? Damn it, was he always going to become so maudlin this time of year?

“Damn it, damn it, damn it, ” he hissed.

“Are you okay?” A soft voice on his right. The baseball cap woman.

The man glanced at her, readying a brushoff but stopped.  Two brown eyes gazed back.  No, not just brown but big and soft, steady and caring.  They seemed to pull him in.

It was out of his mouth before he knew what had happened.  “Tomorrow is my birthday!”  Alright.  Now, that explains everything.

He expected his behavior to elicit the surprise but he didn’t expect the rest, as her eyes registered consideration and then knowing.

“Ah,” she said, her lips curling into faint smile.  She nodded and regarded him for a moment.  “You need to look up.”

He blinked. Look up? What did that mean?

“Here.  Take my eclipse glasses.  They’re certified,” she stated wryly.

He donned the glasses and looked up. “But they’re completely dark. I can’t see a thing!”

He reached to take them off, but she stayed his arm. “Keep watching. Never mind the clouds.  It’s almost time.”

The man looked up.  Was something happening? Yes! Against the dark filter slowly appeared a vivid sliver of orange crescent. The crowd cheered.  The clouds have parted, she murmured.  He grinned. The clouds had parted just in the nick of time.  The moon moved in front of the sun leaving nothing but the sun’s corona. 

“Totality!” somebody yelled and the crowd cheered louder.

“It’s quite dark now. Like dawn before sunrise,” she murmured close. “But there’s always dark before light.”

“Amazing,” he breathed.

The woman murmured again.  “Now, you only have to wait for the light. When it comes, it will be brilliant.”

As the moon rolled away from the sun, a pinpoint of orange began to glow bigger and brighter until an engagement ring of light burst into view. The crowd cheered again.

The man whipped off the glasses and turned grinning to the woman.  “A total eclipse.  That was absolutely amazing!”

She smiled back and squeezed his arm.  “Don’t forget: you only have to wait for the light. When it comes, it’s brilliant. Enjoy it.”

He stared as she jumped down from the railing and turned back to him.

“And don’t forget: have a happy birthday.”

***

 

[Have a happy birthday Richard Armitage, wherever you are.]

 

Deutsche Sprechen

I’m still rusty in the writing department but at least The Man has been rescued from London 2014.  Thanks to Servetus for her expert help.

Enjoy.

*****

The Man tried not to fidget in the low-back, short-seated chair.  No, think in German. Chair, sessel.

He’d folded himself as gracefully as possible but still felt all jutting knees and elbows.  His bum had gone numb and an earlier wiggle told him the chair’s fabric was every bit as itchy as he feared.   He longed to jump up and shake his arse.  That might make this interview junket more interesting.   An image of him dancing to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Out sprang to mind.  A smirk tugged at his lips.  Arse.  He knew this one: arsch

His earpiece fell silent.  The interviewer on the small television just out of camera range smiled with an air of expectancy.  The Man blinked.  Oi!  What had the journalist been asking… a synopsis of his new spy series…yes!  Ja!

“The show is about a CIA operative who is sent to the Berlin bureau…”  Yes, he hadn’t missed a beat and he’d been practicing his German to boot.

A few more questions and the face on the screen changed again.  The stage manager cued him again.  He began his spiel again. To promote the series,  his PR people had scheduled twelve interviews back to back in rapid succession.    Which one was this?  He’d lost count.   Hmm, count!  Eins, zwei, drei! 

To be honest,  the press junkets weren’t all that bad.  He’d learned variations of the same answers so that each interview seemed fresh.  He knew what the questions would be; nothing could really surprise him.  It was a small price to pay to stay a successful actor.  He had to promote his work. There was only one downside actually -the boredom. What was German for boredom?   It was hard to not drift off- Wait, what was that?

“…tall for a dwarf role. How tall are you?”

Okay, maybe there was another downside: inane questions about his work.  If he had a pound for every time he’d been asked that he could retire now. 

“I’m six feet three and three-quarter in my stocking feet.”  He smiled.  Last interview he said six feet two and half.  No worries.  Keeping it fresh.

“…trained in a circus.  Is that true?”

The Man sighed.  Clearly this would haunt him the rest of his days.  Couldn’t he just say he slept with the elephants and swept horse shit?  Scheisse.  Yes, he would. 

“Yes, I did it to get my actor’s equity card.”   Nah, he couldn’t do it. 

The interviewers switched again.  Ah, the last one.  Who was this one?  Ah, Gretchen with an accent. Not American.  Definitely European.  Maybe German?  This might be interesting.

“So your career began in a circus?”

Maybe not.   Hmm, speaking of German,  he’d been conjugating verbs on his own all summer.  Recalling them could help with the boredom.  Let’s see… to say is sagen. Ich sage, du sagst, es sagt.  To love: lieben. liebe, liebst, liebt.  To live: wohnen.  Wohne, wohnst wohnt.  To get something: besorgen. besorge, besorgst, besorgt.  Didn’t his colleagues on set teach him some phrases too?   Ich konnte es…. her?…ihm…no, ihr ….not…nicht…besorgen.   I couldn’t get it for her.  His friends had seemed particularly proud of his pronunciation.

“Yes!  Ich konnte es ihr nicht besorgen!”

His earpiece fell silent.  He blinked.   Uh oh, he didn’t just -. 

On the small screen, Gretchen smiled wryly.  Her eyes twinkled.  “I see.” 

He mentally kicked himself and smiled.  “I’m so sorry; my mind wandered.  I’ve been practicing my German.  Getting ready to start filming for the second series.” 

She pursed her lips.  “Love scenes maybe?”

His froze.  Why? What did I just say?”

“What do you think you said?”

He swallowed.  “I couldn’t get it for her.”

She broke into a full grin.  Well, yes. But I was asking you about a girlfriend, maybe?  So it could also mean, “I couldn’t get it up for her.”

Oh shit, I’m going to kill them.   What were his PR people going to say about this, especially after the whole social media/mobile thing?

“But don’t worry.  It made an interesting interview.  Auf Wiedersehen, Mein Liebster.”

The screen went black.

The Man slumped.  Well, they could edit that out later.  At least it wasn’t live.

Was it?

 

Writing Wall: An Untenable Situation

This is a short story I wrote a few years ago based a friend’s elderly mother.  Enjoy.

***

It’s not true I hate everything.

Sure, I don’t like this dinner with the overcooked turkey, dry stuffing, and mushy potato salad.  I hate the ugly knit pantsuit picked for me and despise the way Elise styled my hair into a ratty bun.  The pumps pinch my bunions, and I really need to scratch in a delicate place.  I would throw my plate across the room to get the attention of this nattering family if I could raise my bum arm.  Instead, I sit in a wheelchair, scowling into my plate, blinking back tears, and thinking of the last Thanksgiving when I prepared the holiday dinner fit for a queen – or me, at least.

Sigh.  Elise fusses again, hovering around me like a bird around a wilting flower.  She’s my favorite child.  We decided I’d live with her when the time came, but it hasn’t been anything I anticipated; I imagined being independent, living downstairs in the “mother-in-law” apartment, driving to my usual daily walks around the mall, the Wednesday night bridge games, or the occasional night out with the girls.  Instead, I exist in a jerry-rigged bedroom off the kitchen.

Elise’s smothering cheeriness sucks the very breath from me.

I can’t seem to wrap my tongue around words like before, but you’d think I was speaking gibberish the way they repeat outlandish things back to me.  Really, after ninety-two years on this earth, people should know me by now – understand me.  Shouldn’t they?

“Mom, would you like some more green beans?”

Oh, good heavens, no. They taste like Sissy dumped them from a can and cooked them to death to boot. I taught Elise to cook, but obviously she hasn’t passed it down to her daughter.  Surely Elise must remember all the fluffy mashed potatoes, the delectable roasts, and the fresh string beans from our modest garden.  She certainly knew how to cook turkey to perfect, juicy done-ness; Sissy only presented this dry, tasteless excuse for a bird.  And what was with all the mushy food?  Really, I’m not a babbling baby who needs to gum her meals.

“Elaine, did you hear her?  Have some more, you need to eat.”

Yes, I can hear just fine, Stephen.  No, I’m not hungry and don’t need my son-in-law to keep harping on my diet. That’s another thing: the portions are too big.  I eat what I can; the rest they should save.  There’s no reason for me to paw over it so they can throw good food away.  Back when times were hard, we did not waste food like that.

Ah, time for everybody to disperse to different rooms. I see the young ones trooping into the den to play on their video games.  Must be time for Stephen and boys to puff their cigars outside; the smoke isn’t good for me, you know.  Sissy’s cleaning the kitchen.  I’d love to hear the gossip in there but-.

“You look tired, Mom.  Ready for a nap?”

Yes, all that hovering and nattering has tired me out, but I really don’t like being put to bed like some toddler. Well, it’s not so much the naps I hate; it’s the gloom that falls after the door closes. It’s just me, wrapped up in the blankets, the darkness and the quiet, confined to a bed until somebody moves me.  Often I lie awake staring at the walls, the silence so deep that Death could come any second and take me at last. I’ll close my eyes and never wake up; he’ll take my hand and we’ll walk out the front door together.  When I feel ill, I warn Elise I’m waiting to die, but she gives me a vacant look and bustles around as if I hadn’t said a word.  I hate when she does that.

The day nurse doesn’t demand I take naps.  When I’m tired, I can doze off in the comfy winged-back chair with the music of Lawrence Welk on the television. I don’t mind sitting in companionable silence – no nattering, no hovering … just the click of her knitting needles.

Then I can cast my mind back to better days with dear Albert and our times together, to when we first met as children at school, our first date at the local soda shop, our courtship spent jitterbugging the nights away, and the lonely separation during the war.  I think about our modest wedding after the army released him from the hospital.  I relive the births of each of our children, their first hesitant steps, their graduations, their weddings.  I think about life after my Al: the bridge games, the mall walks, and the grandchildren.  I loved those things.

So, it’s not true that I hate everything.

 

On Missing Muses

I imitated one of my fictional stories and joined a writers’ group at the nearby library last November.  The group is fluid, consisting of about five older regulars and a revolving number of newcomers (to me).  They meet the second and fourth Monday on the month to read our stuff and have it critiqued. 

My attendance had been interrupted by first by the holidays, then visitors and finally an unshakable writing paralysis.  I’d submitted an old ghost story for the group to review and happily survived the process. Nobody skewered me; they’d enjoyed the story (although it needed a few tweaks) and looked forward to seeing more of my work. 

But my muse was missing in action.  How could I critique others’ work when I had nothing really to offer up?  Many in the group were working on novels and bringing in chapters.  I hadn’t written anything for quite some time and felt like a fraud. Walking past the library to the local cantina, I remembered that it was again the fourth Monday of the month.  I mulled over a rather delicious strawberry margarita. Should I go?  Sure, said the margarita.  There will be other muses there.  Maybe you’ll catch one!  Making a mental note not to order a big drink next time,  I rushed to the meeting, hoping to catch a muse that was non-alcoholic. 

The regulars greeted me as if I’d never been away but no muse jumped me at the door.  The usual suspects pulled out their book chapters.  Wait, I blurted out.  Does anybody have writer’s block?   One man raised his hand.  We exchanged battle weary sighs.  You just have to write, said the novelists.  You just have to sit down and do it.  Don’t wait for a muse.  Try to write a sentence differently.  Write nonsense.  But you just have to write and the rest will come.   The facilitator asked who would submit a story for next time?  Well, I had a short story.  It’s old, I added as if an apology.  We wouldn’t have known that until you told us, they said.  It doesn’t matter.  Then they bowed their heads and began critiquing. 

I looked around the room at the writers laboring over their literary children.  Some were inspired, some weren’t.  Then I recalled that the man with his writer’s block had yet to submit a completed story while I was there, but he never missed a meeting.  That’s tenacity.

Even though I already intellectually knew their advice, there’s nothing like a group of writers poring over their work, saying it aloud that puts things in perspective.

NaNoWriMo 2016 is Starting!

nanowrimo_desktop_by_hermiejr157National Novel Writing Month 2016 is here!  If you’ve been itching to write that Great Novel then this is the month to do it.  You know you want to.  Just sit down and pound out 1,667 words and you’re on your way.  Don’t have an outline? Don’t worry.  Be a pantser and make it up as you go.  Spontaneity is good too.  Check out the website or writing.com inspiration or support.  Everything is at your fingertips there.

Leave me a comment if you’re getting started.  Maybe this can become a mega-thread for participants.

Happy Halloween!

halloweenI’d planned to have another spooky story ready but sadly that’s not the case.  It’s not a lack of motivation but problems with sparking something good enough to post.  Where’s my muse when I need him!

Anyway this marks the day when I indulge in too much candy while awaiting little trick 0’treaters at the door. This will take place at my friends’ house since condo building living is not Halloween friendly.  They just moved and have no idea how many children to expect in the new neighborhood.  Considering that the area is a little woodsy, probably not that many.  More candy for me!

Have a Happy Halloween folks.

The Writing Wall: Four Day Stay

haunted-houseAs many of you know, I started writing in childhood, interrupted by a very long period as a legal scrivener. There’s something about the field that kills creativity.  Thinking outside the box requires almost physical effort.  A few years ago began reclaiming that part of me I left behind and joined writing.com.  I wrote some stories, entered some contests and did pretty well. You can take a look at my portfolio here.  Then I fell into the Big Sleep.  Now that I’m out of hibernation, it’s back to the grindstone.

To keep myself honest, I will be posting short fiction pieces (in addition to The Man Series – don’t worry!) here on Writing Wall.  The subjects will be whatever strikes me, so if you don’t like one piece, you might like another.  In honor of upcoming Halloween, here is a story written three years ago. It’s a mash-up of two events: one is my great-grandfather’s apocryphal (maybe) tale that occurred in post WWI Chicago, and the other one concerns a house purportedly written about in the newspapers of the day.  It would be fun to research, yes?

Enjoy Four Day Stay.

*****

The place sat empty for years, but William Leary didn’t care.  Nor did he care that the nervous, shifty-eyed landlord had left him to sweep, scrub, and drag out the grime and junk from years of neglect.  His friends warned that a large apartment rented at such a ridiculous price even during these hard times spelled trouble, but that advice went ignored.  William cared only that it was cheap.  With a large five-room apartment, he could make a pretty penny bringing in lodgers to fill the space.  Sure, he didn’t have much schooling, but he prided himself on having a good eye for deals and a level head.  He paid the rumors no mind, slapped the money down on Friday, and moved in two days later.

Monday night, he walked from work, tired and foot sore.  Being a porter wasn’t easy; he looked forward to getting off his feet a bit, but he had prospective lodgers to interview first.  There’s probably five or six of them waiting, eager to line his pockets.  The thought put a little spring in his step.  He headed home.

When the lodgers didn’t beat a path to his door that night, he was surprised. He shifted in his only chair in the freshly scrubbed parlor, puffed on a cigarette, drummed his fingers, and gazed at the empty space. He had hardly a stick of furniture, and had been counting on boarders to bring their own. He heaved a sigh.

Siiiigh.”

It echoed off the bare walls and floors, and fell harsh on his ear. Illuminated only by a dingy pool of light cast by the rickety lamp behind him, he pondered the situation. He had no money to waste on ads, and word of mouth trumped newspapers any time. What had kept them away?  Surely it wasn’t the silly rumors?

After a while, he noticed something about the silence. Even on a hot summer night in the room closest to the street, he could hear nothing – no cars, doors, dogs – nothing. The silence felt almost oppressive in its completeness.  Had he gone deaf? He coughed to make sure.

Cough.”

Another faint echo.  Nah, just getting all fired up about nothing. He stubbed out the cigarette, rose and switched on the wireless, his prized possession.

“…Pre…dent Roo…velt …nounced…the…will…ceed… actment…” Static crackled through the speaker. William frowned. This old box could get a signal from anywhere on a drop of a dime. There had to be interference from somewhere.  He continued twisting the knobs in case reception improved.

Squeee floomp . Squeee floomp.

He lifted his head.  What was that?

Squeee floomp . Squeee floomp.

His head turned, following the sound. That noise – was coming from the back of the hallway!  He barely knew where the light switch was, but – aha!  The meager bulb barely came to life before sputtering, dying, and engulfing him again in gloom.

Squeee floomp . Squeee floomp.

He drew in a deep breath. All righty now. This was no time to get spooked by some noise. He just needed to walk down the hall, into the den and then the kitchen.  Placing a guiding hand on the wall, he took one step and then another.  Another jamb and glass paneled door told him that he’d found the den.

Squeee floomp . Squeee floomp

He groped again for a switch. Just as the dim bulb flickered on, the noise stopped. He strode into the middle of the empty room. Well, all the windows and bedroom doors were closed tight. He twisted the bedroom door knob for good measure. Yup, shut.  So, the only thing left was the kitchen door.

He gave it a tentative push.

It creaked, and then swung back into place.

He waited.

Nothing.

A careful check of the kitchen’s back door and closed pantry revealed the same thing.  Nothing.  He scowled at the kitchen door and tested it again.  It swung once, twice, then nothing.

He stared. The noise must have been this door swinging  – like somebody going in and out.

The fine hairs on his arms prickled. Of course that was silly; he was completely, totally alone in this damn silence. What was the matter with him?  A few noises caused by a bad draft, and suddenly he was a screaming Nelly?  He must be more tired than he thought.  He gave himself a mental shake. Tomorrow, he’d find a lodger.  That would take care of the – emptiness – of the place.  And he’d get some oil for the creaky door.

He slept well that night.

Tuesday night, William strode home, optimistic that he’d put out the word about needing new lodgers.  Skeezer had joked about the place being dubbed the Four Day Stay, ‘so good luck with those boarders,’ but he was a silly old coot. Still, that night found William sprawled in the same chair under the same dingy lamp, drumming his fingers.  He’d done some more scrubbing around the place, added a small wooden table in the den that he’d found back in the alley, and laid a few possessions around to make the place a little homier.

Squee floomp.

He sat bold upright, mouth falling open.

Oh no, NO.

Just in case he had a bad draft problem, he’d latched all the windows and closed all the doors.  That should’ve taken care of things. What in the –

Squee floomp. Squee floomp.

He jumped to his feet.

No, there had to be something else, something he’d missed.  Things did not just go bump in the night.  Sure of his bearings, he flicked the switch in the hall.  The bulb fizzled.  What in the hell?  He just changed it. Could the wiring be bad?

He glanced over his shoulder, a bit hesitant to leave the dim but comforting glow from the parlor.  He gazed down the long hall and swallowed hard.  Okay, don’t be a chicken.  Just go on in and see what in the hell’s causing that draft.  There’s a logical explanation.  Fingertips brushing the walls, he moved towards the den.

Squee floomp. Squee floomp.

A sharp bump into the paneled door signaled his destination.  He grabbed the switch.  In the seconds the bulb took to die, he stood rooted to the spot as the kitchen door swung widely open to inky blackness before quickly slamming shut.

Squee FLOOMP

The bulb exploded with a pop.

He jumped back, heart racing.

What?  What had just happened?

He waited in the darkness for heaven knew what.  Seconds elapsed, then a minute.  He heard nothing but the rasp of his own breathing.

Nothing.

Okay, Okay.  It’s okay.  He reached in his pocket for the box of matches; a strike and the match sprang to life.  He held it out before him like a talisman, moved to the center of the room and turned full circle.

Nothing.

Okay, Okay.  He approached the kitchen door.  Its silence seemed to mock him.  A tentative shove revealed nothing amiss beyond but another broken bulb.  By the fourth match, he’d collected his wits.  All right.  He had a faulty electrical system and a bad draft, that’s all.  That’s all it could be.

It took a while to fall asleep that night.

___

On Wednesday, William headed home with not as much pep in his stride.  More of the fellas had jokingly asked how his stay was going.  He’d laughed it off but it irked that people were superstitious enough to listen to stupid rumors.  Sure, there might be problems with the electrical, and some odd noises, but no logical person would pass up a great deal like his.  He sighed and gripped the package containing his supper.  At least he’s gotten a nice cheap cut from the butcher; he’d fry it up tonight.  Nothing like the smell of home cooking to bring around any possible lookie-lous.

He sat in his chair under the dingy light, peering through the plume of cigarette smoke.  Nobody had knocked on his door.  He snorted and mashed the stub into the tray. What was wrong with people?  This was the twentieth century, not some bygone time with spooks and ghouls.  If he didn’t find any lodgers soon, he’d have to foot the rent by himself.  The dream of squirreling away a little money seemed farther and farther away.

Squee floomp

He startled.

Damn.  There it was again.

He jumped to his feet, but paused.  Hold on. If it’s nothing but a draft messing with the door, then it would soon stop by itself, just like before.  All he had to do was wait it out.

Squee floomp

He reached for the cigarette box, hands shaking.  Okay, too shaky to smoke.  All right Leary, keep it together.  It’s just a bit of noise, that’s all.

Squee floomp

He wandered around the parlor, straightening the lamp shade, touching the table, checking the walls, looking for any distraction.  Teeth on edge, he tapped his fingers along the fireplace mantle.  He stopped before the old cast off clock as the hands ticked to 10:00.

Squee floomp

He retreated to the chair and held its arms in a death grip.  He closed his eyes, willing his heart to stop racing. That damn noise, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. He could wait this out. He could – block the door!  Yes, he could find something to prop against it, and then tomorrow, he’d get a latch.

Satisfied with the plan, he made it to the den’s entry before realizing he had nothing to use.  A strike of a match, and he spotted the solution.

Yes, the table!

The flame blew out.

Damn it!

He struck another match and froze.

The glow caught the kitchen door swinging open like a giant mouth before slamming closed and snuffing the light.

Squee FLOOMP

Heart pounding in his ears, he grabbed the table and shoved, its legs grating across the floor.  It slammed against the door with a bang.

YES!  That ought to do the trick.

SLAM SLAM

What in the hell was that!

He struck another match.  He turned, his jaw dropped.  Now, the glass paneled door was closed and the back bed room door – stood wide open like a gaping maul.

He didn’t sleep that night.

__

On Thursday night, William hurried along, very late.  Sweaty fingers clutched the parcel holding tonight’s supper.  He wanted to head anyplace besides home but had no choice. Friends had sent his way locals from down South who needed quick lodgings tonight and more importantly, knew nothing about the rumors. With new boarders in the place, things should stay quiet.

He sent up a prayer: Oh please Lord, let them come.

The moment he opened the front door, he knew his pray had been answered.  He could hear the voices drifting from the den and sighed with relief that they had arrived.

Hang on, what was this?

He paused on the threshold and stared.

They already moved in lock, stock, and barrel!  He eyed the old settee in the parlor, and other pieces he didn’t recognize.  Did his friends tell them they could do this?  He’d never intended to send them away, but it would’ve been nice to a look them over before he took their money.

He walked down the hall. Well, they’d fixed the lights, hung some portraits, thrown down a nice runner in the hall.  Was that really oriental?  Their stuff was mighty nice, not anything they’d want to leave anywhere.

At the den’s entry, he gawked in amazement.

His table was gone. In its place, sat a large dining set surrounded by four hardy looking men, ties and high stiff collars loosened and sleeves rolled, engaged in a rowdy game of poker.  They laughed and joked, their glasses of amber colored liquid tinkling and clinking as they sipped and revealed their hands. Smoke wafting from their cigars enveloped the room in a haze.  William admired the two pretty young women with gold combs flashing in high-piled, dark hair, long white dresses, and high-top buttoned shoes peeking beneath the skirts. They hovered behind the men, smiling and whispering to each other.

William blinked.  Well, this was – interesting and a bit disturbing.  How could strangers move into a man’s home and make themselves comfortable like this?  Didn’t they realize they were just boarders?  He called out a greeting.

“Hey there.”

Nobody looked his way.

Were they ignoring him?  What the hell was going on?

He wandered in, at a loss what to do.  His damp fingers reminded him of the soggy package in his hand.  He went into the kitchen and thrust the parcel into the ice box, none too gently. Were these folks raised in a barn?  Sure, he needed lodgers but they took the cake.  Moving in, taking over, smoking, gambling, without so much as a ‘howdy do’ or ‘here’s your money.’  He’d give them a piece of his mind, by God.

BLAM  BLAM

AAAAAAAUUUUUUUUGH

He jerked around.

What in the blazes?

He’d heard enough to recognize gunshots.

Trouble!

He raced towards the scream, pushed back through the swinging door and –

– Ran into utter darkness and absolute silence.

He blinked like a mole.  Who turned out the lights?  What happened?  Where were they?  He called out in confusion.

Hello?

Hello.

A faint echo. Not surprising but should he hear one if -?

His mind reeled.  He felt at once hot and cold, his body fighting what his brain already knew.  He brought out the box of matches.  No, no, no. It can’t be.

“C’mon now, I know you’re here.”

Know you’re here

“Now look here, this isn’t funny.”

Isn’t funny

“Stop playing games!”

Playing games

He gulped.  His shaky hands moved of their own accord.  A few false strikes and the match flared.

He stepped forward and bumped against something small.

Startled, he held the match closer.  His table.

Swallowing hard, he willed himself to look up.  The glow revealed what he knew would be there –

– An empty room.

No people. No furniture. Not even a lingering whiff of cordite.

Nothing.

His mind raced, filling in the details he’d been too busy to notice. The old light fixtures – where had they come from? And the wallpaper, nobody could’ve hung that in a few hours. Those people – they looked like something from his childhood with the high collars, long skirts and high-buttoned shoes. And they had that strange gauzy look like cheesecloth, if he could’ve reached out and put his hand –

– No, no, no, NOOOO!

He opened his mouth in a silent scream; his legs carried him forward, ramming against the table, bumping into door frames, into walls.  He groped and stumbled for the exit – for the escape.

He didn’t stop for his clothes, his furniture, or his beloved wireless.  He flung open the front door, and rushed headlong down the stairs and into the night.

The door closed behind him.

He never went back.

 

Repost: Happiness

Since I’m behind in writing and many of you enjoy The Man Series, I’m reposting a story written for the Crucible premiere.  It still seems appropriate.

Enjoy.

*****

The man stood smiling, nodding, murmuring thanks.

Thank you.

More hands reached out to deliver congratulatory slaps on the back.

Thank you so much.

He felt like a bobble-head as faces -both friendly and unrecognizable – swam in and out of his vision.  The after party’s din rose, signaling the arrival of another cast member.  A hand thrust a glass of water into his.  He took a grateful sip, cooling his parched throat.

Oh thank you.

A voice called into his ear – the red haired bloke holding up his smartphone – “So you want to hear what the critics said?”

The man blinked.  What, press reviews already? His stomach clinched at their mention.  He wasn’t ready.  No, he was but – no he wasn’t.  From all the kudos around him, things had clearly gone well, but still.  He opened his mouth to answer when another face swam into view. Who was he?

Thank you.

The bloke chuckled, launching into the many preliminary tweets. Ah yes, Twitter – no more waiting for morning after print reviews.  Above the noise, the man head “astounding,” “masterful presence,” “great performance.” His eyes grew round.  They liked him, they really liked him!  He didn’t think his face muscles could smile or his head nod any harder.  It was all good.  He’d done it!  He’d worked years to reach this night.  He’d really arrived.  He allowed himself a moment to savor it all.

But now that the verdict was in, he felt – past tired.  He must have hobnobbed with everybody in the ball room and back stage at the theatre.  Oh damn. Frowning, he rubbed his forehead.  Well, everybody but his fans who’d been waiting at the stage door.  He’d tried to get to them but the autograph hounds had pushed forward, blocking most of them.  He’d had so little time. Damn it.  He hoped they understood and forgave him.

Another hand at his shoulder.

Thank you so much.

He took a deep breath as exhaustion from the four hour play washed over him. He ached.  The faces seemed to press closer, the din grow louder.  He felt light headed and oddly unreal.  Air.   He needed some air.

***

He leaned against the hotel’s facade, breathing in the cool night air, the claustrophobic feeling receding.  Despite the throng of press and people inside, the Strand was peaceful and almost empty.  One or two cabs whizzed by.  Nobody stood around except for him and the doorman who’d glanced his way a few times.   The man nodded at him and looked away.  He would stay out here for a few minutes then head back in before they came looking for him.  Right now, he would just enjoy the solitude.

“Excuse me, sir.”  The doorman appeared at his side.  “Don’t mean to bother but I think those are for you.”

Long stemmed red roses lay carefully placed to the side of the steps.  The man walked over and picked one up.  What was this?  Tied around the stem was a piece of paper stating “JustGiving: £10, much love.”  He retrieved another. “JustGiving: £15, with love.”  And another – “JustGiving: £5, all our love.”  His confusion cleared.  Of course, these were from the fans!  Each rose must represent a donation to his charities.  Stooping, he quickly retrieved every one.  As his arms filled with flowers, the exhaustion fell away.  He stood, a giant smile on his face.

A perfect bouquet.

Thank you,  he whispered.

*****

Congratulation to Richard Armitage and the cast and crew of Love, Love, Love.

NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo-calmWriters, it’s that time of the year again.  NaNoWriMo (say that three times really fast) or National Novel Writing Month begins next month.  Do you have a novel locked inside and just can’t get it out?  Then NaNoWriMo is for you.  For those who know nothing about it, you spend 30 straight days pounding out a novel from beginning to end.  How do you write a novel in 30 days?  Well, badly of course.  The point is to get the idea out of you head and on the medium of your choice.  Organizers set the word minimum at 50,000 although you certainly are free to go over.  NaNoWriMo is not a contest in which you submit a story and win a prize although you do race to the 50,000 word finish line with yourself and/or writing buddies.  What you win is the satisfaction of having produced a draft novel.  It’s doable!  Just pledge to yourself to type 1,667 words a day and you’re there.

October is usually prep month in which writers mull over characters, solidify plots and prepare outlines.  But if you don’t have enough time and hate outlining, you can be a pantser but sitting down and writing free form through inspiration.  I’ve done it both ways.  Several years ago I started late and wrote a 30,000 word story starring Marion and Guy of Gisborne that was pure pantsing.   Two years later I used an outline for a 51,000 word psychological thriller.  With fine editing assistance, I posted the Guy story for Christmas that year on my blog.  However like most first drafts, the thriller was simply dreadful and has not seen the light of day.  Still, at its center is a good story.  So this year I will rewrite it into something hopefully readable and worth editing.

So join me at NaNoWriMo.org and let’s start writing!  If you have any questions and need more gentle *cough* persuasion, comment below.

On Quitting Whining

QWSW postcard

QWSW postcard

Continuing from yesterday’s missive, I really needed a shot in the arm. A friend told said there was a writer’s conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan the first week in October and did I want to come?  Well, the name intrigued me: Quit Whining, Start Writing.  It was direct, blunt, and what I needed to hear.  It would be my first writer’s conference. I was game.

We arrived late Friday afternoon at Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Airport, a supposedly upscale but slightly seedy hotel that was neither near the airport nor particularly well managed.  We felt like Goldilocks with that being too this or this being not enough that.  But the place was priced more reasonably than downtown hotels and we had a car, so things balanced out.  We opted to skip the opening dinner that evening and freeze in the too cold pool and nearly pass out in the too steaming hot tub.

We arrived at the college building downtown near the river bright and early at 8:00AM.  I don’t know if this is usually the case but the conference consisted of five one hour long section divided by 30 minute breaks to talk to the speakers/vendors.  Each section had three sessions from which to choose.  Choices ranged from copyright law to illustrating book covers to marketing.  My schedule included Your Story Needs A Skeleton, Writing Mysteriously, Why Social Media Never Works Out the Way You Planned, and Writing About Place. The sessions were interesting but only so much material could be covered in an hour.

Writing Mysteriously (surprise surprise) was my favorite.  Finally I would learn how to outline a mystery.  Well, not exactly.  I learned there is no one way to do anything.  In fact, some teachers contradicted what I’d just heard in the previous session.  This wasn’t a revelation – I’d read many differing books on writing – but somehow being in a room with baby writers like me who aspired to be *Authors*  like the speakers seemed to make it more real for me.  The possibility was real.  So while I failed to come away with a mythical blueprint, I felt inspired -which is why I attended the conference – to start writing again.  And here I am, back to blogging.

More tomorrow.

4th Blogiversary: I Went to London Town…

dominoes[The 4th anniversary of my “accidental” blog passed on December 28th.  It was a very change filled interesting year to say the least.  Surprising of all was how Real Life and fandom collided in such an unexpected way.  I wrote this piece several months ago, thinking I would use it to conclude a series about The Crucible.  However in a way it summarizes the mishmash of thoughts inspired over the past year. It’s a good time to share it now.]

I spent last night with a friend discussing how a series of events have been clicking into place, one after other, like dominoes falling, hitting the next one and the next, cascading down the line as they needed to.  She suggested that the dominoes may always have been there, waiting for the right angle for me to see them – pointing the way to what I needed.  I’d bought the tickets to see The Crucible on September 10th and 11th, knowing I’d probably not be able to go.  For months, I said I’d go only if A, B, and C happened – in order by September 5th.   As time went on, chances grew slimmer and slimmer.  But then amazing things happened.

I thought it started in June with a friend rushing over to help sort my financial mess.  Click.  All caused by my illness and subsequent retirement.  Click click.  Calling the realtor I’d consulted the year before who immediately leaped in the cash breach of fixing up the condo. Click. Rousing out of my inertia to whip the place into shape (no small feat). Click.  Signing the listing agreement and going live in 12 days. Click.  Finding a seller in just 11 days.  Click.  Being housed and supported by incredible friends pending the move and closing.  Click.  Weathering a bumpy process but finally closing on September 5th. Click. Booking a flight, room and flying to London in three days flat.  Click. Moving about town despite being in physically bad shape. Click.

All to see a play right?

Wrong.

Picture or it didn't happen.  Richard Armitage and me.  92nd ST Y, NYC.

Picture or it didn’t happen. Richard Armitage and me. 92nd ST Y, NYC.

That wasn’t the big domino.  To explain I’ll have to back up – to my childhood.  Amidst all the dysfunctional drama, I came away feeling like I didn’t matter, as if I were invisible.  Of course as an adult (and with lots of therapy), I understood it wasn’t true but the realization never sank past a superficial level.  That critical inner voice always whispered otherwise; and I had to keep correcting that tape again and again.  This explains why I was so disconcerted at the Proust cast party when Richard Armitage kept watching me and Zan.  After all, how could my crush display any curiosity towards me? I felt – naked – in my glaring visibility. His glances said: I see you.  Who are you?  Subconsciously, it confused me that he would think I mattered enough to inspire curiosity.

After the party, the inner voice returned, brushing the episode aside: he just wondered what the hell both of us were doing there. Who was I after all.  Running up to London, I half-feared he might remember me.  He’d seen me long enough at the party. What if he knew I was *gasp* a fan? (After all, if your crush remembers you’re a fan, it’s hard to really deny it, ya know?). Oh no, they said. He meets hundreds of people. You’re good.  So part of me wanted to be safe in my perceived invisibility.  Seems a bit ridiculous, but this is what I told myself.

During the first two stage doors, he was still too emotionally enmeshed in his role to interact fully with the fans. A veil existed between him and us.  He kept his head down, uttered thanks somewhat robot-like, and scrawled his autograph.  However after the last performance, he dropped the character and was fully present. I observed him animatedly replying to fans but not speaking first.

I expected maybe a fleeting eye contact and a signature.  Instead, he glanced at me fleetingly, look down, began to write, looked back up at me and said: hello.  And waited for me to answer.

I’m sure that inner voice died of shock.  Surely in that moment, my mind was a void.  I thought nothing, heard nothing, and saw only two blue eyes staring at me, judiang in the flesh dressed in a black coat standing on a small sidewalk outside a London theater, recognized, awaiting a simple reply. I see you. I remember you.  Hi there.  I reflexively answered hello back. And it was over.  I turned to my grinning London friend.  “Why didn’t you tell me he’d recognize me?” I exclaimed.  “Because, I knew he would,” she answered, as if to say: why not – you needed that to happen.

So me, the anti-fangurl, went to London and what I unwittingly got from the crush himself was – inarguable validation.  It’s pretty hard to think I’m invisible and don’t matter when the crush somehow remembers me months later, does a double-take and speaks first.  I haven’t heard that particular inner voice since. Click.

Don’t forget, my friend said, that couldn’t have happened had not been for the Proust party.  Click.

So after years of therapy, I learned a final lesson in accepting my value as a person.  And it makes it easier to accept others’ good estimation and opinion of me.

Click.

Dr. G.  was ecstatic.

 

The Great Driving Experiment

A western suburb. 12:15PM

The car’s engine hums smoothly.  I nervously clutch the gear, ready to shift into “Reverse” and take a deep breath.

Jodi, my psyche id, grumbles from the back seat. “Did you turn on the heat? It’s still cold in here.”

I pause to fiddle with the controls. “It’ll take time for the engine to warm up.”

Jada, my superego, clears her throat from the passenger side. “How can you be cold? You’re an id.”

Jodi pouts. “Still get cold. I notice we’re all bundled in coats just like Judi’s.”

Quiet One, my ego now called Julie, snickers in the back. “We are Judi.  Just don’t make her more nervous than she already is.”

Jodi sighs.  “I know she hasn’t driven in 20 years!  She just needs to relax and forget that she’s maneuvering two tons of steel out onto the road with other moving tons of steel and reach the movie theater.”

I shrink a little. “Right.”

Julie elbows Jodi.  “Ready when you are.”

Jada clears her throat again.

I shift gears, back out of the space and start making laps around the building ring road to familiarize myself with the controls.

Jada beams. “You’re doing well!”

Jodi leans forward points over my shoulder.  “OMG!”

I nearly stamp on the brakes, looking for an oncoming diesel. “What? WHAT?”

Her surprisingly manicured finger points more. “The windshield is fogging up!”

Can a psyche fog windows?  I was pretty sure I’d stopped breathing.  Pulling over near the meadow, I fiddle some more.  The window defogs.

Jada frowns.  “It’s sunny out.  You should put on some shades.”

Now suddenly aware of the sun, I squint. “Don’t have them with me…”

Jodi tuts.  “We should go back for them.”

I add, frustration rising, “… because I can’t find them!” I stare pointedly in the rear view mirror back at Jodi.

Julie intercedes. “Another time maybe?  We should be getting to the theater.”

I nod nervously, head to the main road and stop at the light.

Jodi sits back and chirps brightly. “Let’s kick it.  I can taste that popcorn now.”

Jada frowns.  “If we’re heading just across this street, shouldn’t we be in the middle lane?”

Uh oh. I peer at the chalky road where salt has whited out the lines. “I think we are.”  It looks like the middle.

The left turn light flashes.  A car behind me honks.

Jodi yelps. “OMG, we’re in the wrong lane!  What will we do?”

I grit my teeth. Can I murder myself – just a little piece?  Was she always this excitable? “There’s nothing I can do.”

Julie suddenly speaks.  “It’s okay.  We’re straddling the line just a little. Just shoot across when you can.”

The light turns green.  I cross the road and head onto the mall’s ring road.

Jada nods encouragingly.  “Nice right turn.”

Jodi is ever helpful.  “Look out, stop sign!”

I grip the wheel.  “I can see the stop signs!”

She’s relentless. “And watch out for that woman walking to that car…”

“She’s forty feet away!”

Jodi takes umbrage. “Well, you don’t have to yell.  You know gals, Judi seems way too stressed.  Say, you’re passing up parking spaces….”

I park in a wide open area and shut off the engine, sagging in relief.   Julie gives me a quiet nod of approval.  “You done good.”

Jada pats my hand and smiles.

Jodi cheers. “Told you we would get here alright.  We’re a team. Now we can see the movie and drive back home.”

I groan, then follow my posse into the cold.

Now I’ve Gone and Done It

honda fitI’m the excited owner of a new car.  Since I still don’t have my new driving glasses, the dealership kindly drove me and Red (yes, she has a name) home.  She’s now resting comfortably in tenants’ parking awaiting her first foray across to the mall to see Selma at the newly reopened, super fancy AMC Theater.  My friends and I went to dinner to celebrate and I’m beyond stuffed, tired too.  The suburban metamorphosis continues.

For certain inquiring minds:

Brand: 2015 Honda Fit

Color: Red, red, red.  Really red.

iPhone/USB/Bluetooth connectivity;  YES

Audio connectivity:  YES

GPS: No

Will talk more tomorrow.

 

The Allure of Freedom vs the Power of Crazy

Anxiety+GirlAs you already know, I’ve transplanted from the city with its public transportation and no car to the middle of suburbia with its endless malls and no car.  In fact, I reside across the street from a major mall.  But like most of these developments, the mall covers literally acres.  I can’t, say, walk from here to the cinema, or Target, or any of other stores and restaurants.  I need a car.  Did I mention I sold my last car in 1996 and haven’t driven in 20 years?

I learned to drive at age 26.  Prior to that time, my poor vision and lazy eye stopped short of the legal requirements.  Then with a good eye doctor who gradually changed my prescription glasses over time, my vision improved to 20/40.  Overjoyed, I took a driving course and got my license.  But that happiness bubble burst when I started sharing the road with all the other guy.  Let’s face it, city driving can be harrowing.   Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a bad driver.  But city driving required such defensive maneuvering that I developed anxiety.  By this I mean I was anxious – not panic stricken).  So  I stopped driving.   Then I became engaged and a bought car in anticipation of living in a new house in the burbs.  When things went south, I took the car back to the city where I drove it seldom.  Why did I need it?  Public transportation and taxis took me anywhere I needed to go.  I sold the car (but kept the license).

Flash forward to now with friends driving me around.  They haven’t seemed to mind but we all know I could benefit from more freedom to get myself around – like across the street to the mall.  So where does the anxiety enter?  Over the years, I’ve had two types of anxiety dreams: the first has me forgetting to attend classes until finals; the other has me driving, sometimes well, sometimes badly.  I’d awake glad I didn’t even own a car.  Everybody with whom I talked have reassured me that suburban driving is much easier and less stressful, especially if I venture out between 10AM and 4PM.  I could refresh my skills by driving around parking lots and going short distances.  My confidence would grow; the anxiety would lessen, and everything would work out.  And with eye surgeries, my vision has improved even more.  I want to believe them.

The allure of freedom bested anxiety today.  My friend (who is knowledgeable about car buying and leasing) and I went to a car dealership, asked questions and started crunching numbers. (I drove a little but my friend took it out on the major road).  After extensive back and forth,  I got the best deal for my financial situation.  The salesman expects me back tomorrow to finalize the deal.  I feel anxious and little fearful.  But buying a car will force me to deal with the anxiety issue and get out on my own.  As with other things that have happened to me over the past six months, a strange feeling of karma came into play during the talks, as if a way had been cleared for me to have this car.  Even my friend remarked on the strange unexpected turn of things in my favor.  I’m not the mystical sort, but even it gave me pause.

Wish me luck.

Surreal Saturday: Blogging Is Non-Habit Forming

clockSo I just missed the deadline for yesterday’s post.  Ordinarily I write for the next day but this time, I’ve been leaving things until the night of that day’s post.  Oddly since retiring, I’ve not fallen into a routine.  Before, I fit my life into the limited free available after work.  Blogging didn’t pose such a big problem; a three hour post-dinner deadline always loomed.  Now with all the time in the world – you’d think I would write reams.  That’s not been the case.  After 25 years working, it’s hilarious to develop time management problems in retirement.  This goes back to an issue I touched on last year.  I spent my time always reacting to negative motivation on the job (i.e., work deadlines, micromanaging etc).   Now I have to be proactive; all the impetus must come from within.  But that’s one of the problems with/recovering from depression – finding the mysterious self-motivation.

Then I wonder about other people with illnesses who seem to have no problem in the respect.  People like Stephen Fry who acts, produces, lectures, hosts, blogs, geeks, writes, advocates and seemingly has his fingers in every UK entertainment pie despite being bi-polar.  Closer to home, The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson writes books and a hilarious bawdy off-kilter blog even with depressive and anxiety disorders.  Both of these people manage to regiment their time quite well.  Are they juggling many balls to stay ahead of their illnesses, or is The Secret keeping busy and productive with many things.

Maybe I’m suffering from too much time on my hands.

Since you made it this far, here’s a treat – a man who doesn’t have enough time on his hands.  I’d love to ask him about time management.

Enjoy.

 

Richard Armitage photo by Robert Ashcroft

Richard Armitage photo by Robert Ashcroft

 

Interlude XLII: What Me, Volunteer?

There’s no polished piece tonight.  I spent most of the day with my friend Mary shlepping from store to store purchasing materials for an upcoming high school production of The Snow Queen. The costumer had a hacked credit card, and although she’s the musical director Mary had to leap into the breach.  Where do I come in?  I’m now her volunteer assistant and she’s over the moon at the prospect of putting me to work.  But before I can actually interact with the kids, I must sift through hours of paperwork for background checking, online training, and what I exasperatingly call “Chester the Molester” instruction so that I know of, am vigilant about, and don’t run afoul concerning inappropriate interactions with minors.  Becoming a volunteer sadly isn’t the same these days. This prep school is quite posh and quite large, so they have a lot to protect by dotting all “i’s” and crossing all “t’s.”  I must be squeaky clean.  All this must be done pronto, naturally.  Mary wants me in place for the next production, Phantom of the Opera, one of my favorite musicals.

So I leave you with my latest Richard Armitage favorite that he recently tweeted.  I think it’s the cold and lovely snow that really pulls me in.  Would I lie?

Enjoy.

RA skiing

 

Hey There!

me inagural ballNo, I didn’t miss a day, Dear Reader.  The site was offline for 24 hours due to a certain slippage of the mind regarding an annual renewal.  As I’ve been reminded, that means a post today.  Wracked my brain all day, I did, but nothing percolated to the surface.  So I’ll resort to my usual fallback – pictures!

No, this one isn’t one of that guy I kept meeting last year whathisname.  When I came across it in a drawer, I did a double-take.  Who is that babe she?  That’s me, circa January 1993, attending an inaugural ball.  I usually hate my photos; they make me look old, fatter and wrinkly unattractive but this one is hoochiemama exceptional.  My cousin, who did the hair and makeup, had a lot to do with the presentation.   The funny thing is I’d gained weight over the holidays and thought I was fat at the time.  What???  If only I had yesterday’s youth and today’s common sense and confidence.  I’d have been positively ferocious gotten anything I wanted.

Clearly I can’t go back 22 years and recapture all that even with a face and body lifts, hair dye and Weight Watchers and I wouldn’t.  I like the older, wiser, more assured me better thanks to years of expensive therapy.  Still, a little poundage tweaking will be good for my health and knees.  So up this goes on my refrigerator to remind me not to open the door.

A Stage of Grief; or Disciplining the Discipline

stages-of-griefDay 2

I’m stuck in a stage of grief.  I gaze out the window overlooking a snowy prairie and a charmingly named furniture store called The Dump, and a mental tape in my head plays: I’m only here temporarily. My motivation wanes.  I consider trial leasing a car to acquire a bit more independence here in the ‘burbs, despite not having driven for 20 years. I’m only here temporarily.  The determination leeches away.  My friends and family reassure me that my apartment is lovely and decorated beautifully, it’s really not much smaller than the condo. I’m only here temporarily. Satisfaction dwindles.  I sit at the computer poised to say – something.  I’m only here temporarily.  The procrastination kicks in.

I am only here temporarily, until the summer of 2016 when my credit has healed enough to let me purchase something. But that’s over 18 months away – a year and a half of living to do.  But as the days go by and I go through the motions, something inside keeps me from smoothly accepting the permanence of this particular transition.  What I knew is completely gone against my will: the job, the career, the mental wherewithal, the condo, the lifestyle. It’s so damn final.  I recognize nothing but my friends.  They ask how am I doing in the ‘burbs and I always answer: adjusting.  How long does it take to adjust?  My pragmatic self is silent – strangely so.  I check in on my sartorial psyche Jodi, Jada, and Julie but they are silent too.  Well, not Jodi; I suspect she’s the one resisting change, resisting acceptance.  I’m not sure what to do for her.

This feeds a kind of mental paralysis. I procrastinate and magnify issues until I’m an inert, anxious, fearful blob.  There are things I need to do: physical therapy, going for the final post-cataract exam, getting new glasses, test driving, exploring my new world, writing.  Those same baby steps, all over again.  I think about toddlers and their determination to walk just like everybody else. After three and half years of barely holding my life together with spit and wire, I want a “normal” existence too.  If psychological acceptance isn’t happening right now, then determination and discipline is the only way through.

So I plant my butt in a chair and type while that tape plays: I’m only here temporarily, and remind myself that I don’t need an ideal setting to pour out my thoughts.  While my psyche still mourns for what was lost, part of me must look forward and do somethingIf you can’t write about the fandom or HIM, Dr. G. says with a twinkle in her eye, then write what you feel now.

So here I am. Writing.

Serene Sunday: Winter Wonderland

Happy New Year all!  Hope you enjoyed your holidays.  Mine was festive and filling – very filling – which leads me to one of two resolutions I made.  Usually I resolve to not make resolutions because I’ll be sure to keep that one.  But this year I really need to accomplish two things.  The second is to lose the all the weight gained during my dark period.  I’ve done it before and will do it again.

The first is to WRITE.  Dr. G. mandated that I park my butt and put fingers to the keyboard.  Every day.  One story.  One paragraph.  One word.  It doesn’t matter what about what as long as I discipline myself to get the words out and over the dreaded Writer’s Block.  I’d love to talk about whatshisname, that Armitage dude, but first I need to examine what’s obstructing the flow.   Then I’ll tackle The Crucible, RA’s surprising effect on me, the Marlise Boland debacle, my final opinion on Thorin, a certain blog nomination, and my place in fandom now.

So this is me, writing.  You, Dear Reader, will keep me honest.  Go ahead.  Hold my feet to the fire.  This is important.

In honor of the fresh snow on the ground, the oncoming winter storm, and my love of the fluffy stuff, I present a favorite song probably posted already, but hey, this is a new January.  So here is Winter Wonderland sung by Johnny Mathis.

Winter Wonderland sung by Johnny Mathis

♪ Make sure to see the new wide screen version; a link is below and also in the video responses. Winter Wonderland ~ Sung by Johnny Mathis ~ No copy infraction intended on my videos. ~ Dedicated to the romantic Christmas heart that beats in each of us.