Deja Vu

Here is something short and sweet.  Still feeling rusty.  Enjoy!

******

 

The man sat furious but resolute.

He imagined himself implacable, immovable in the face of his plight.  Surely under the grime, coarse scarf and dark great coat, his foes will see the light of his resolve.   He flexed his shoulders, noting the coils of tension.

Ohhhh, it felt so good.

“Okay.  Ten minute break!”

The man blinked as the dark seventeenth century gaol disappeared, replaced by the glaring hot lights of the photographer’s studio.  Hands tugged at the coat.  Smiling sheepishly at the assistant, he stood.  As the garment fell from his arms, he realized how hot and heavy it was actually.  In his mind, it had been a cold brutal winter.  He’d even shivered.

He accepted the offered bottle of water and idly walked over to the refreshment table filled with the usual fare: bagels, doughnuts, containers of juice, coffee.  Ugh.  Too bad he couldn’t have any of it – needed to watch his weight and all that.   Oh, and chocolate doughnuts – his favorite – large, freshly baked, lots of delicious gooey chocolaty frosting.   The tip of his tongue poked out as he leaned over in concentration.

He stood up.  Wait a minute.  He didn’t have to obsess about his weight any more.  He snorted.  His “sex symbol” days were behind him.  He no longer had to ripple his abs in order to get attention at auditions.  In fact, his career had taken just the artistic turn he craved with serious meaty role and no skin in sight.  While filming the trilogy, he’d been more covered up than anything.  The next film left his shirts soaked to the skin but hardly sexy.  He performed a staging and managed to be the only one to keep all his clothes during a racy scene, to his delight.   The last project had him deliciously mangy with long stringy hair, shapeless ragged clothes, and unkempt scruff.  Now he would play a seventeenth century Puritan onstage.  Not a milieu for any nudity.  Come to think of it, he’d not gotten his kit off in years.  Just as well – he was getting to old for that kind of thing.  Not that he’d struggled to be an “artiste” as they say, but it worked out nicely.  No more bum shots.  No more gratuitous half nude scenes.  No more need for chiseled abs.   Bring on the pizza and beer.  His fans might be disappointed, but that was the way it would be now.

He picked up the chocolate doughnut.  His stomach rumbled at the warm yeasty aroma.  Ah, come here my sweet.

“Your shirt, sir?”

The man blinked at the assistant.  “What?”

“I need your shirt.”

Would this require a wardrobe change?  Who knew Puritans were so stylish?  Sadly relinquishing the doughnut and licking his fingers, he fumbled with the buttons and handed over the garment, awaiting the next change.  Instead she produced a bottle, poured a bit of viscous liquid into her hands, and looked up with a faint smile.

“Boss says the next set will be shirtless.”  She broke into a full grin.  “I’ll oil you up a bit and add some smudges to match the face.”

He knew it was useless as soon as the words left his mouth. “But what does this have to do with-”

The photographer breezed by.  “Ah yes marvelous.  This part will focus on the characters vulnerability and defenselessness.  Take your place in two minutes.”

The man stood morose and not so resolute as hands rubbed him down – was she humming?  He doubted vulnerability and defenselessness would first cross fans’ minds.  His frowned.  He was pretty sure he had no half nude scenes on stage.  Didn’t he?  He glanced down at his abs.

Shit.

 

 

On Dropping Out of Sight; or My Multi-tasker is Broken

multitaskingNo, I haven’t dropped off the earth.  I’m still doing pretty well, give or take a few days; and I haven’t forgotten you all while I foray into writerdom.  So what’s happening?  Why no posts?  Well, I have a problem.  It’s worse than hemorrhoids, worse than constipation.  It’s even worse than MENOPAUSE (that’s a whole ‘nother post).

My multi-tasker is broken.

You know, that skill set that allows you to do ten things at once, not well, but still multiple things.  I excelled at keeping balls in the air in the past even when plagued by Winston, the black dog of depression.  However, Winston ran amok this time and broke a few things, mainly what the diagnostic manuals call concentration, persistence and pace.   These abilities are more precious than a Ming dynasty vase and crucial to performing daily functions – like working.  When I retired, Dr. G. and I assumed relief from the stress would help put the pieces back together again.  Well, the answer has been yes and no.  Yes, I can concentrate better, complete more detailed tasks, and work on ongoing projects; the foray into writing original fiction has been better than what I anticipated.

But I can’t seem to multi-task to save my life.  You know, doing more than one thing each day: writing fiction and exercising; writing fiction and dieting properly, writing fiction and blogging.  Things normal people accomplish in their daily schedules.  Now that I’ve progressed to more detailed tasks and I want to, say, write AND blog in the same day, the gal in the control room says: sorry, the multi-tasker is still broken; did you insure this thing?  I don’t even know what that insurance would look like.

Therefore, I’ll blog when I can.  Right now, I’m still prepping for NaNoWriMo which kicks off next month.  Since it’s an exercise in total creative writing  obsessiveness immersion, I don’t expect to be even eating then.  I’m also preparing to formally submit a short story for publication for the first time ever.  Then I’ll wait eight weeks for my first rejection letter ever.  I’m really chuffed.  

But don’t worry, the psych pose wants a summit to discuss problems (the newly named Julie has more to say, to the chagrin of Jada and Jodi); Patty the pom hints at divorcing me if her attention allotment drops any more; and The Man is overdue for another adventure. (Speaking of The Man, I submitted one of his stories for review.  Reviewers that got it loved him; the ones who didn’t asked: why doesn’t he have a name?)  I’ll try to post when I can and see if I can find the warranty on my multi-tasker.

 

 

 

The Fear of Writing or; Upping the Ante

snoopy writingRemember in grammar school when the teacher decided you’d achieved enough gold stars and moved you to a harder group?  Remember your first day in the group when you realized those coveted gold stars would be harder to achieve?  (Well, that’s the way it was back them thar days, so bear with me).  That exact feeling hit me after joining my new online writers’ group.

The group emphasizes writing original fiction, (read: stories with original characters), not fan fiction.  There’s a certain snobbery element attached but I understand the reasoning. The site’s purpose is to stimulate creativity so a writer can spread her wings. This is not to disparage fan fiction writers (indeed, I’m one of them) by saying their stories cannot be quite creative. However, it’s not until a writer branches into her own universe can she take full flight without the encumbrance of copyright issues and the preconceived notions of an audience.

As soon as I joined, I posted examples of my fan fiction. They received only a few reviews. There has not been enough feedback upon which to assess my strengths and weaknesses or even receive validation that I have real marketable talent. So, I felt stymied by a low lying creeping fear. Now that I had talked with writers intent on publishing their works, I heard a niggling voice in the back of my mind. Could I make the transition from fan to original fiction? Could I leave the preconceived world of Guy of Gisborne, for example, and create my own universe? Did I have the imagination? Of course, I should not have compare myself to people who have been honing their skills a lot longer than I have but I know in the publishing world, TPTB make comparisons all the time.

I’ve been reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness for the past several nights. It soothed me a bit not because it’s astounding award winning material, but because I felt good enough to have written that book that an editor thought well good enough to publish. (This isn’t a slur on Harkness, or maybe it is; I could be delusional and unmarketable). Then there’s the 50 Shades of Grey series which in my opinion is poorly written fan fiction, but those books have flown off the shelves. I don’t fancy myself a Maya Angelou or Colleen McCullough but I wouldn’t mind being somewhere in the ballpark some day. I don’t expect to compose a classic talked about long after I’m gone, but I do want to make a living as a published writer.

This brings me back to the fear of having stepped out of my comfort zone by joining the group. I’ve been warned that before I even get to The Book, I need to write – a lot. But over the last several weeks, I wrote nothing. I used to write stories in my head, behind my eyelids, but even that didn’t occur. Feeling a bit paralyzed, I finally poured all this out to the writing group. They all said they felt the same fear. It’s what motivated them to keep improving. Confidence and no fear, they said, would indeed leave me clutching at delusions.

Finally, somebody in the chat counseled that I simply sit down and write. Write less than 1000 words based on a set contest prompt. Keep it simple, change it up, and don’t think too hard about it. Just do it, they said, like the Nike slogan: dredge up anything, polish and post it. Then the big fear and angst would be out there, over and done with. So armed with the prompt, “There was no reason to look back” I finally hashed out an original short story and posted it to the contest. I don’t expect to win, but the whole point is to gain experience writing. Funnily enough, it’s only been three hours and already I’ve gotten 2 very good reviews. Whew.  I’m not sure if I expected to implode had the story not gone over well but I’m happy for the positive feedback.

You know, the chat group was right.  All I needed to get that first story out there.  I feel the flow already.

If you want to read it, it’s here.

 

Doctor, Doctor

“Oh doctor, I have a terrible problem.”  She shifted in the chair, tense and nervous.

He picked up the pad and clicked open the pen.  “What seems to be troubling you?”

“Well, I really don’t know where to begin.”  Her eyes met his only briefly before skittering away.

He nodded.  “That’s perfectly alright.  Take your time.”

She shifted again and sighed. “Do you mind if I lay down?”

He nodded, gesturing towards the nearby sofa. “Be my guest.”

He observed the young woman as she wrestled with adjusting her sweater and skirt all at once.  Clearly she was embarrassed and decidedly uncomfortable. He arched as a brow as she shifted this way and that on the buttoned leather surface.

She grunted, then gave a little smile of apology.  “Sorry, it hurts when I do that.”

A corner of his mouth quirked.  “Then maybe you shouldn’t do that.”

She glanced blankly at him before fixing her gaze on the ceiling. Adjusting her glasses and blinking rapidly, she finally blurted it out: “I’ve got a fetish for older men in cardigans!”

He schooled his face to remain neutral.  “A fetish?”

Her words jumped over each other. “Yes, that’s why the uni clinic referred me to you!  Half my professors are old men and everywhere I look, there they are in cardigans.  I can’t concentrate in class.  All I can think of stroking those soft looking sweaters and feeling the muscles of their arms while they lecture me in their firm authoritative voices, and then ripping them right off.  I know this is weird, Doctor.  I’m simply a wreck!”

He stared for a moment, then began scribbling notes.  The uni clinic had referred him some interesting cases but this was a first.   “So you think this is some sort of sexual compulsion?”

She clutched at her necklace. “Oh, I know it is.  I’ve been this way since I was seven, watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on PBS.  He changed into his sweater every episode.  And when I’d look into those eyes and he sang “Would you be mine?  Would you be mine?” I thought yes, yes, YES!”

His pen paused mid-air. Seriously?  Was he being punk’d?  It would be like the staff to play a practical joke.

He sat forward, allowing the half-smile to break through.  “Tell me more.”

 

****

This slap dash ficlet courtesy of this post here.

 

More This And That; or Striking Matches

writing2No, I haven’t fallen into another Bermuda Triangle, just offline mostly.  But more about me later.

The memorial fund will remain open until  September 17th, which should give those who have been told me they are on vacation more time to contribute.  I’ve noted each and every donation and kept close count.  To keep things honest, I’ll post evidence of the final amount and contribution to JustGiving. (We are talking “I can buy a new iDevice level of giving here, people!  This is truly a marvelous community).

Now, back to me.  The issue of positive versus negative motivation hasn’t resolved yet.   The problem has been breaking old habits and the expectation that only negative consequences seem to get me moving. After a lifetime of reacting to imminent deadlines – it’s due tomorrow; or dire consequences – pay this bill or sit in the dark, it’s very strange trying to become proactive instead of reactive.  I still feel like Pavlov’s dog, trained to react at the first bell tow of doom. Where writing is concerned, pro-action involves looking for the dry kindling and the right fuel to light a fire under me.

To combat the ennui that set in, I started preparing for NaNoWriMo 2013 (National Novel Writing Month).  Although I managed a novelette (The Chest: password is red) in 2011, last year just wasn’t in the cards.  This year seems doable.  But the 50,000 word goal won’t happen without an outline to keep things on track.  I started plotting an ambitious psycho-thriller when I ran headlong into that rusty door blocking Judi’s Door of Wild Imagination.  After flailing around, I whined to a fellow blogger who referred me to a writing prompt app created by a website called writing.com.  It’s a repository and support resource for all things written.  It’s by writers, for writers.  From what I’ve gleaned over the past three days, the constant contests encourage writers to post their work and get it reviewed honestly by others.  More recognition brings more reviews.  There are private reviewing groups and chats.  The point is to get work out before other people.  What’s more nerve wracking and moving out of my comfort zone than putting my stories out there to be judged by writers? I signed up.

I’m hoping this group can provide the oil to pry that rusty door open to writing original fiction.  But baby steps still.

Frotteur

The man couldn’t decide.

He’d ducked into the specialty shop during his break in the photoshoot looking for a few Halloween items. The sight of jack o’ lanterns, ghoulish costumes, and ghosts made from sheets with cutout eyes had arrested his attention when he’d spotted it earlier. Unfortunately, it had also attracted half of London apparently, considering the crush of last minute shoppers that evening. He perused the dimly lit shelves searching for the perfect “something” for his young relative, but what would he like? The narrow aisles offered not much room, and he dodged and shifted as the people brushed past with a rushed “pardon” and “excuse me,” barely heard above the Creature Feature tunes playing in the background. Sometimes contact between strangers couldn’t be avoided like today, but it lasted just a second and was gone. He thought nothing more about it.

He was torn between two plastic tombstones, one saying “RIP Shawty” and the other “See You Soon,” when he noticed something different. It started as a faint brushing of fabric against fabric, then an increasing softness pressing into the middle of his back, accompanied by a whiff of floral perfume. Instead of stopping immediately, it continued, pressing more completely downwards, a ridge of buttons along his spine, past a belt in the small of his back, and along the curve of his arse. He would have sworn that he could feel every indentation and contour of her coat and body, as if he’d not been wearing two tee shirts and a bulky knit sweater. Mmm, nice, he thought for a second. Despite secretly enjoying their proximity, he’d have moved then, lest she think that he was taking advantage. He was a gentleman and clearly, the milling throng had forced her against him.

But just as he became aware of the delicious pressure of her body, a hand rose, lightly brushing his leg. Slender splayed fingers gently grasped his right hip. Again, instead of moving immediately, the fingers lingered. The hand shifted slightly, so that the thumb moved from the jutting bone to the soft area nearer his loins. At once, he felt electrified, as if his jeans and pants had melted away and the finger touched the soft sensitive skin beneath. He gasped at the sensation. A frisson of pleasure shot through him as her finger gently circled the area clockwise, once, twice, three times. Then he heard a husky “pardon” and the hand and pressure at his back disappeared.

He turned, open mouthed, as he watched her back, hair and coat floating behind her, retreating through the door and out into the street. Good grief, he thought. First it’s fans stroking his beard; now he was getting turned on by strange women frottering him in specialty shops among the plastic tombstones. What has gotten into him? What on earth would his mum say? At that thought, he chuckled. What would she say, indeed. Turning back towards the shelf, he finally noticed the teen a few feet away staring at him. She arched a brow in what apparently was part surprise, part amusement, as her eyes drifted significantly down and up again, before she engrossed herself suddenly in the fine print on a tombstone.

He looked down and covered himself quickly with the plastic prop.

Oh shit.

****

I totally blame Guylty after her post here. She’s out of control, I’ll tell ya.

Portraiture

The man fought the annoying self-consciousness while the photographer reset up his gear quickly. As the assistant pointed the lights at the huge shiny steel door, the man presumed that was his mark. He strode across the black marble floor and stood. Giving his arms a slight shake, he tried to relax. He thought he ought to appreciate the richness of the dark blue suit and crisp black shirt. They screamed expensive and felt it too. But mostly he felt like a dressed up doll in a stiff frock, scared to put a crease in anything, and very self-conscious.

His agent had setup this personal photo shoot, stating his new image overhaul required the expertise of a renowned photographer. The man knew nothing about photography but if the amount of high tech gear and number of assistants signified the best, then this man was one of them. Assistants turned the klieg and box lights in his direction. The man squinted. He never enjoyed taking pictures at any time. It was alright for PR productions; he could inhabit a character and forget the cameras. But for these personal photo shoots, it was an endurance test. He simply wasn’t a person to put himself forward in personal photos. Some of the past photographers had simply pointed a lens and expected him to do something. He never understood what they wanted him to reveal in a glance. He was just – him. They would call out directions: “smile,” “turn your head this way,” “smoulder,” and he would go through the motions not knowing if he gave them what they wanted or if the whole thing resulted in a disaster. They’d never said it was a disaster naturally, but a cursory glance at his flat doll figure in the stills told him the story. No, he wasn’t a fan of these photo shoots. How long was it anyway?

He shifted awkwardly, feeling suddenly the weight of his arms and hands. His hands- he never knew what to so with his hands. The hot lights beat down. A droplet slid between his shoulder blades. Oh please don’t let him sweat these posh duds, thought the man. Give some direction, anything to take my mind off this thing. He caught the eye of the photographer who cocked his head and picked up a digital camera with a long tether to a laptop.

The photographer stood and regarded him. “That’s a good spot. Stay there.”

The man nodded, happy for any direction.

The photographer continued to regard him, a quizzical crease in his brow. “Look, let’s try something different. Think about a scenario: you’re at a friend’s party standing with a group of people. A woman you’ve seen but never met is across the room. Your nemesis approaches her. Show me how you feel.”

The man blinked. A scenario – yes, he could do scenarios.

As he visualized, the lights and cameras and gear faded away. He heard music, laughter and bustle of conversation around him. He smiled at a sad joke before catching sight of her. She was here, across the room. She looked ravishing in a dark frock, matching her swept back hair. Her hesitant glances around the room told him that she didn’t know many people here. Her eyes alighted on him and flittered away. Maybe he should go introduce himself. Her eyes flickered back. No, wait he shouldn’t seem too over-eager, like a wolf pouncing on the first lamb in the door. He should be casual like, yeah. Sliding his left hand into the pocket of his trousers and crossing one foot over the other, he casually leaned back against the wall. Her eyes moved back and watched him. He lifted his chin and smiled charmingly. Shall I come over?

Suddenly a real wolf loomed at her elbow. The man knew the actor. He was a douchebag and unprofessional to boot. The woman smiled up at the actor and kissed his cheek. Oh, she knew him! The actor seemed a bit touchy feely, lightly caressing her arm, her elbow. The man felt conflicted, torn between staying put or trying to claim the ravishing woman and getting rid of the tosser pawing her. He glowered. He smouldered.

“Fabulous,” whispered the photographer.

 

[Thanks to Guylty for the inspiration here.]

 

Life Is Good; or, What’s Happening To Me???

Happy PillsRemember when you’re in a particular mood, everything you see and hear reinforces that mood?  I’m in an extended version of that.  I take five medications to keep myself even keel.  For two years as the number of pills rose and fell, I groused that I had to take even one.  Eventually, as the number crept up, I became resigned to the idea of ingesting medication cocktails, something which horrified me since my job dealt with mainly failed therapeutic and pharmaceutical attempts to gain “normalcy.”  I referred sarcastically to them as my “Happy Pills” because they weren’t actually making me happy.  The idea of being upbeat and happy was as alien and weird as my perky friend chirped when my backpack was stolen in London: “well, we’ve never been to a British police station before!”  (No, I didn’t smack her).  However as the depression receded, I realized that the little compressed rolls of chemicals really were my happy pills.  Now I’m horrified not at the number but at the niggling fear that I might have forgotten to take them.  (That’s usually just a momentary fear of relapse).

happyThis has been the lock screen on my iPhone. I found the smiley faces in an app program and edited the words.  The old me would have found the picture corny and nauseating overkill; adding the words would have been inconceivable.  Now both the picture and words have meaning.  Each pill says that I need and must not forget them; if they fail, then there will be other pills to take their place.  They aren’t a cure or a panacea; only a means by which I can live life fully.  The words remind me to live that life and appreciate it, no matter how small the activity.  So each morning when I wake feeling contented and exhilarated, I revel that feeling.  If my new sheets feels especially soft, I roll around in them.  When I opened the blinds finally and washed the bedroom windows after three years, I felt pride in the accomplishment instead of fixating on the dirt and the cobweb.  (Yikes!)  When completing a task, I congratulate myself.  When speaking to a neighbor, I smile.  When petting Patty, cheer that she’s happy, healthy and groomed.  I concentrate on the positive side of things.  So I understand my friend a little better now.  While I might not bounce to the police station, I do stay “GOOD morning” to people and mean it. ***

*** Don’t worry.  I’ve got a gallon of Snarky Pills on the side too.  I’ll take one tomorrow.   SHHHH!

 

Monday, Monday: Update

updateAs some of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook may have noticed, I’ve been socializing my heart out this summer.  Reconnecting with the world has been a bit scary but fun: scary because I always feel a little trepidation that there might be awkwardness or resentment after letting so much time lapse; fun because I discover the fear is all in my mind and the relationships pick up as if we chatted last month.  Summer is half over and I still have two trips and four get-togethers to go, not counting the usual treks to the burbs.  It’s funny. While depressed, I felt all alone and couldn’t remember knowing anybody hardly.  Now, I realize my social web is much broader than I recalled.  Mental illness truly is a hideous liar.

As you might have guessed, my mood has been rock solid stable for two months and counting.  It seems Dr. G. and I have found the Holy Grail, otherwise known as the right medication cocktail.  I’m chuffed.  Patty, my little Pomeranian is too.  She’s been happy and talkative (which may or may not be a good thing).  At least she’s enjoying all the attention she’s getting from visitors.

There’s been another development.  Once the depression receded, I realized my vision had worsened.  Thinking I simply needed new glasses, I visited the optometrist, who alarmingly sent me to the ophthalmologist. It turns out that my cataracts (at my age!) had accelerated; vision in my good eye has worsened to the point that I need the thing removed.   The first surgery is scheduled for late October.  If all goes well, the second surgery on the left eye occurs about a month later.  They will implant corrective lenses so that I might not need thick glasses for the first time in my life.  So, there may be a silver lining in yet another dark cloud this year.

2013 has been a hell of a year and it’s only July.

The Ride

Big City

1:11PM

I sit staring out the windshield as the bus trundles down South Boul Mich, musing to myself that Dr. G. will be happy to mark one more week of mood stability.  Back-to-back good progress reports feels so unusual and satisfying.  I breathe deeply and let out a happy sigh.

Quiet One, my personality ego, sighs suddenly beside me.

I startle and whisper furiously. “Wha??? What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be out in public!”

She turns an amused smile towards me. “You know I’m a figment of your imagination.  Just think to me.”

Jodi, my id, pipes up in the seat behind me. “Try not moving your lips.”

Jada, my superego, beside her, murmurs. “I told you not to startle her.”

My Pomeranian Patty pops her head out of my capacious bag and grins.   I don’t recall packing her.

The lady across the aisle throws me a curious glance. I clamp my mouth shut and think-whisper. “It’s just that you all never come out in public.. ”

Quiet One glances out the window at the passing greenery. “I wanted to talk to you.”

Jodi leans forward and whispers in my ear. “She’s coming out.”

I blink.  This is total news to me.  “WHAT?”

Quiet One turns and glares at her.  “Didn’t you promise to not eavesdrop and zip it?”

Jada tuts.

Patty shakes her head.

Jodi slumps in her seat, arms akimbo.

Quiet One continues. “Judi, we need to talk about you and me – our relationship.”

I tense slightly.  Did we have relationship problems?  I don’t really know because my ego is an enigma to me. I can’t recall much of our past together and well – she’s so damn quiet.  She resembles a younger, thinner, wiser, smarter version of the ideal me.  Her image seems to brighten or flatten according to my mood like a lights on a dimmer switch.  Apparently, today my mood is fabulous because Quiet One looks vibrant in a bright orange tropical sundress and Jackie O. sunglasses.  I notice the other two wear sundresses as well, but not as loudly as Quiet One.  I look down at my white capri pants and t-shirt.  Apparently my personality trio is going places. Even Patty has a bright green wee scarf around her neck.  Need to step up my game.

I clear my throat. “So, what do you want to talk about?”

She pauses briefly.  “I want to tell you about me – who I am.”

I perk up.  “Oh, I know who you are. You’re my “ego.”” After all, if the other two were id and superego, by process of elimination, what’s left.

Jodi pipes up again.  “Judi’s sooo Freudian, isn’t she?”

Jada elbows her silent.

Quiet One sighs.

Patty chuffs.

Quiet One demurs. “Nope.  I’m not part of that Freudian psycho-sexual dynamic. I’m more than your sense of self – I’m something higher.  I embody the sense there’s something more outside of yourself, bridge the gap between the isolation within and the greater focus without.  I kept you going when during the worst, because somehow you knew things could get better – would get better.  That was me. I embody your aspirations, passions, striving – I’m your higher self.”

She glances back at her compadres. “It doesn’t mean I’m better than you two, just that I’m another interpretation of a different aspect.”

Jodi nods. “Very Jungian, you know.”

Jada nods. “Exactly.”

Patty stares at Quiet, clearly impressed.

I stare too. All I can say is: “Wow.”  My mind is a whirl. I can a thousand questions if only I can formulate them.

Quiet One continues. “So, since we’re getting to know each other again, I think I need a real name.”

Jodi practically bounces in her seat. “Oh, this will be fun!  Well, we all have four lettered names and use all the vowels except “e” and “i” in the first syllable.”

Jada frowns. “What does that leave? “Jidi?” “Jedie.”

Jodi thinks. “Jedi?”

Quiet One objects. “Nothing resembling Jedi. Jodi will make Star Wars jokes the rest of my existence.”

Jodi turns a toothy grin to her.

Patty smiles.

We’re all silent as the bus slides past the lunching crowd on the steps of the Art Institute.

I interject. “Don’t like “Jill.”

The two throw out more. “”Jillie?””

Quiet One turns to me and smiles brightly. “Julie.  My name is Julie. The closest thing to you Judi in more ways than one.”

The bus arrives at our stop.

Julie winks, rises and heads for the door. “Time to tell Dr. G.”

 

Fetish

The man knew it was wrong the moment he saw the three women, but he couldn’t help it.  He’d spotted them as he left the studio, tired from a long day on the set.  From the sudden intense whispering and shy smiles his way, he knew they were fans.  Ordinarily, he felt pleased and a little gratified to meet fans, making small talk, scrawling autographs and posing for pictures.  But this promised something more – naughty. A thrill of anticipation rushed through him as he approached.

He scanned their faces, judging who could be The One.  The slight blonde, standing behind the two older women, didn’t seem a likely prospect.  She smiled and eyed him in a polite detached manner, lacking the “fan” aura.   She likely accompanied her friends to the studio just to observe.  The youngest of the trio looked ready to burst with excitement, shoulders scrunched in tension, hands clasped in front of her tightly, and the widest smile he’d ever seen.  He would have been able to see her shining eyes but she could barely look him in the eye. No, she wasn’t “it.”

As he turned to the oldest of the trio, his heart sped up.  The tall brunette stood nearly eye to eye with him. She regarded him in a more subdued fashion with a crooked uncertain grin and cocked head.  The eyes gave her away: they darted from his and away. Ordinarily, he’d think she was stealing sneaky glimpses of his mouth, but he knew that wasn’t it.  It was the BEARD.

He reached up reflexively to touch it.  This was the beard’s second stretch for his character.  After four weeks, it had grown in but hadn’t reached it’s full potential.  Commentators on Alia’s blog called it “the baby beard.”  He smirked.  When the itchiness of the growth subsided, he quite liked the surprising silkiness of it.  He also liked another thing: the fans touching it.  That discovery occurred when a fan had asked to touch it on a dare.  He’d posed in amusement for the photo but had been secretly shocked by one thing; the frisson of tension he’d felt the second her fingers stroked his face.  It was as if another part of himself had leaned forward figuratively to luxuriate in her touch.  It had felt so – sensual.  He hadn’t regarded himself as a particular tactile person in this touchy-feely business, so he’d been caught out by the fleeting intense surge of pleasure.  Friends did not produce the same effect; the touch of a fan seemed somehow thrilling and – forbidden, yes, deliciously forbidden.

His hand’s motion quickly drew her eyes.  Her top lip sucked at the bottom.   Surely news of the earlier fan had gotten out; she wanted to touch his beard too.  Her eyes darted back to his questioningly.  His smile widened as that naughty part of him tempted her by leaning forward.  She took the bait.

“Would you like to?” He leaned tantalizingly close, marveling how he could invade her personal space like this.  Who was he and what was he doing?

“May I?”  She didn’t seem to mind.

Her hand seemed to move in slow motion as it rose from her side. The anticipation stretched as she came closer and closer and then – just the barest, lightest touch. His eyes fluttered closed as her fingers left a trail of subtle sensation across his cheek and along the jawline.  He slowly exhaled breath he’d not realized he’d been holding and he shuddered lightly.  Delicious.  Simply delicious. The hand fell away suddenly.  His eyes opened.  Good grief, had she noticed?  She smiled, thanked him, and glanced in amazement at her friends.  No, she’d probably remembered she’d been stroking the beard of a stranger.  She’d been too enthralled in her own experience do notice his.   He collected himself and posed for the group photo, pretty sure that his eyes possessed a bit more twinkle.  He sent them off with a nod and smile.

He turned away, heading for his bike. Tonight, he would relive the moment over and over.  Maybe Alia would write a post about it – beard stroking by strangers as pleasure.  He reached the bike and stopped in his tracks.  Good grief. What was fandom doing to him?

He had a fetish.

 

 

C’mon Baby Light My Fire; or the Underbelly of Motivation

I know the feeling.

I know the feeling.

With a change in medication regimen, my mood has been stabilized on the positive side of neutral for almost three weeks.  This has been the longest stretch since the London trip in June 2011.  Dr. G. tried this regimen previously, but wondered if it would work sans work stress. Voila!  I feel good.  I know there’s no cure for depression, but I hope this regimen has a long viability.

So why haven’t I been blogging? Interesting question.  I mulled over this for some time with Dr. G.  Why haven’t I been motivated to blog since I feel so good?  The answer: because I feel so good.  Good feelings are a positive motivation, but my entire life has been controlled by reflex reactions to dire external consequences.  Negative motivation is an entrenched behavior, and such a thing is very, very difficult to change. Musing that I want to do X, so it gets done is an unusual and unfamiliar concept.  Distraction and desperation motivated the previous long stretch of blogging.  Now, what’s stressful about happy feelings?  Dr. G., who has been pushing blogging big time, suggested working up to writing my novel (did I mention that?) as a motivation.  But realization of a real book won’t happen for years; it doesn’t have the punch of immediacy.  No pressure?  Oh dear.  No matter my real or imagined excuses, I’ve decided to allot time every morning after rising to blog, write – type something.  Let’s see how this goes.

So what have I been doing for almost three weeks?  Making busy work and plans. Firstly, there will be no more snap decisions – retirement was enough.  I need to move forward with careful consideration.  The condo sale is on hold because 1) I love the place and am not ready for any emotional fallout from suddenly wrenching myself away, and 2) I don’t know where to land and certainly don’t want to move someplace I don’t want to be, and 3) I can feasibly stay for another year while I sort things (repairs, painting, clean-out, etc.).  I’ll have more than enough time to research living in other parts of the city or the suburbs while becoming mentally and physically fit.

Also, I’ve been PC video gaming, namely playing RIFT.  Now don’t laugh; this has been therapeutic. I played game therapy for psych rehab in the wilds of Ohio with my friend a few weeks ago. The first half of the week, she beat me easily, every single game.  Ridiculously simple-minded and silly mistakes characterized my play.  I used to be a damn good player and this secretly chapped my ass.  However, because of focus and concentration issues, my ability to persist in either has eroded badly.  It’s been like an atrophying muscle. So I hunkered down and exercised it over the week. By the end of the trip, I finally won several games.  So when RIFT went “free to play,” I decided to check it out again.  Gaming requires extended periods of concentration. The characters embark on missions called quests, work on trade skills, duel, etc. etc. etc. It’s a massive time sink.  After an initial stretch of play, my interest quickly waned but then I discovered a game aspect called Dimensions.  A dimension is the player’s own world crafted with special items.   If it’s not sold in-game, it has to be made or recreated (morphed).  For example, there is no item called a turkey dinner platter, so it must be recreated. I must break the image down into parts and conceptualize what obtainable items can be rotated, flipped, sized, pushed, and pulled to look like a real turkey dinner platter (3 burlap bags, 6 decorative sweetberries, and a patterned urn).  The morphing requires a lot of focus and thought.  So, I’ve been crafting in my own dimension (my inner decorator is happy) while gaming, and exercising focus and concentration.  Bizarre, eh?  But it’s working.  Eventually, this interest will wane (after I finish six more tiers), but that focus muscle will be a little stronger.

great room

The Great Room. Most of the furniture is crafted.

kitchen

Everything crafted but the walls and floor.

My character and her dog in a top hat of course, Kirby.

My character and her dog in a top hat of course, Kirby.

guest house

I built EVERYTHING – including the house.

bath

Luxurious bathroom. I made that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I suppose the odd gaming has created a POSITIVE motivation in psych rehab. Who knew?

 

 

 

 

Mental Rehab: Slacking

I’m clinging to a strong wifi signal at the local mart. My iPad informed me it was old and tired. Poor baby. Writing has been in fits and starts- mostly fits. And stops. But there is a “The Man” story coming before the week is over.

Watch this space.

Here, have something cute.

20130604-143317.jpg

Dreamlet

I lie suddenly in my current bed in my current home. The lamp to my right partially lights the room; it’s late at night. There’s a book in my lap. I glance casually to the figure beside me.

His long, dark, gray-streaked locks fall across his shoulder. Long fingers scratch idly at the matching beard. There’s a glint of humor in the down cast eyes; a corner of his mouth quirks. My eyes wander from his eyes, down the long nose, across the smiling lips and finally over the broad, bare chest. A mat of dark hair trails over hard muscle and out of view. Propped on his right elbow, he shifts a bit.

He glances up at me, blue eyes questioning.

I motion at the lamp. “Do you have enough light?”

Thorin glances back at his book. “I’m fine.”

***
This is what my Catholic upbringing has done to me. Sigh.

Mental Rehab: Day 1

In case anybody was wondering “whither Judiang,” I’ve journeyed to the wilds of Ohio for an annual get-together with friends at a cabin in the woods by a lake.  My friend has just finished showing me around the new school where she teaches. It’s a very lovely 21st century school with all the bells and whistles but in a location so rural there’s no phone reception.  This causes a cognitive dissonance in my citified, always connected mind.  But it gets better: the cabin has dicey phone reception and no wi-fi.  I will spend a week not cruising the internet, not playing Borderlands 2, not obsessively viewing strange crap on YouTube, not tweeting at 2AM instead of sleeping, not NOT.  Instead I will engage in unfamiliar activities like talking with live people in the same room, walking about, pointing at unusual animals (read: horsies and piggies), eating nutritious food, and letting the sun touch me.  My iPad has a tethered keyboard, so I could like – write – with no internet distractions.  My friend thinks I can do this for a week.  Uh huh.  She also promises that she’ll take me to an internet cafe if I start seem unhinged.

I wonder how she’ll be able to tell.

Uh oh, she’s finished closing her classroom for the school year.  Wish me luck.  I’ll post when I can.

Oh, and Happy Guy Day.

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne, realizing he has no competition in the series.

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne, realizing he has no competition in the series.

Fanstravaganza 4: The Experiment

 

The Man had a nice buzz going.

He sat before his laptop sipping the third glass of pinot noir, something he was now in the habit of doing whenever dealing with his fandom.  It seemed to smooth over the annoying aspects of some admirers, leaving him feeling calm and serene.  He felt comfortable with social media now and had committed no gaffes since The Fiasco on Twitter.  He’d updated Facebook sporadically and approved the launch of his own official website. He’d even commandeered a laptop and tweeted for his colleagues during a Twitter Q&A session.  His PR people were chuffed. Even the Red-Haired Bloke congratulated him for establishing a solid social media presence so quickly.

He smiled.  Nobody knew about his most satisfying presence as Alia.  He’d created her as a semi-regular blogger and respected member of the community.  Her steady outpouring of short stories had garnered a respectable number of subscribers.  Now that she was solidly established, he felt the urge to expand his horizons.  The stories were nice, but he worried that his readers might become bored.  Alia needed a bit more verve – more edge.  Newer, younger fans liked racy and naughty.  So he decided to step outside his comfort zone as a writer and treat them to something totally different.  It wold be a great experiment.  He could do this.

Taking a deep breath, he leaned forward and began to type.

*****

The Man’s foot tapped impatiently as he waited for the laptop to boot.  He’d waited all day, not peeking at any of Alia’s email or her blog.  Part excited and nervous, he’d prolonged the suspense for as long as he could stand it.  Hopefully, his story had been well received. He’d worked so hard on it and felt so delightfully naughty in the process.

He clicked through to Alia’s blog, spotting the story’s title, “The Honey Pots and the Hungry Bandit,” and scrolled down to the comments.  Oh, loads of comments!  He read eagerly.

“BRILLIANT ALIA!”

He beamed.  Yes!

“My favorite line was ‘He struck deep into her, bringing forth a gentle moan with his meaty, galloping, Machiavellian beast into her womanly undiscovered country.’  Clearly this satire is a stinging indictment on the patriarchal perspective on female exploitation. Bravo!”

The Man’s smile tilted.  Satire? Okaaay.  I’ll take it.

“Oh Alia, this is the funniest porn I’ve ever read.  ‘Her breasts slapped him in the face like two giant pendulums as he stormed her glistening pearly gates again and again and again.’ LOL!”

He frowned and sniffed. Porn?  Wasn’t this erotica? His research said to be descriptive but not clinical…

“Alia, this parody is priceless!  My fave was ‘She guided his throbbing, marauding arrow into her unspoiled forest.’”

He sighed.  Okay, maybe I did let Alia get a bit carried away but don’t women like this kind of stuff? Wasn’t there some bodice ripper novel called Sweet Savage something?

“Hey, I haven’t laughed this hard since going back and reading an old copy of Sweet Savage Loving from the 1970’s.  Good job!”

Hmm, okay, they liked it 40 years ago.

“Alia, you know the book ‘50 Shades of Grey?’ You should have named this ’50 Shades of Purple Prose.’ Keep up the good work!”

Ouch.

He stared at the screen forlornly.  His porn story was a success, but his erotica career died. Maybe he should have researched more?  He glanced over at his copy of 50 Shades.  The novel was a runaway best seller after all.

Sighing, he picked up the book and began to read.

 

Happy Second Tuesday; or Missing My Second Blogiversary

Yes, I’m terribly late to the party as usual, but Happy New Year to all.  Welcome, new subscribers and viewers to this blog.  I’m always amazed by the traffic here even when there’s nothing new to read.  Thanks for coming and do feel free to look through the archive.   Also, thank you Dear Readers for your encouragement and steadfastness.  Your patience will be rewarded with more posts soon.  In fact, it’s on doctor’s orders.  Seriously.  But more on that later.

Since the end of November, ArmitageWorld has gone from famine to feast, a glut actually.  It’s provided a cornucopia of subjects to discuss.  There’s still the review of The Hobbit, and a second (and third) look at Thorin.   Then, there’s the epic Richard Armitage report card.  Truth be told, settling on criteria for assessment has been giving me fits, but it’s beeen sorted.  I’m binding and gagging Inner Fangurl, and aiming for the most fair and impartial perspective view possible.  Well, as impartial as an anti-fangurl can be. (Yes, I’m still searching for how to really describe myself).  I’ve also altered the focus from his performance at the NZ premiere to the entire Hobbit tour.   The emergence of RA on the world stage has been too fascinating not to cover in entirety.  Later on, I’ll discuss who I think he is, or isn’t.

Speaking of fascinating, I’ve also been observing fandom’s reaction to the film and tour.   As this blog’s title states, I enjoy watching people.   Even though I’ve been in fandom’s for 20 years, I’ve never had a chance to observe firsthand, a fandom’s response to a crush’s rapid ascension to potential stardom. It’s been quite interesting.  I might get run out of fandom on a rail, but you’re get my unvarnished opinions on my perception of ArmitageWorld after 2+ years, the changes occuring within it, and where I see it heading. 

This all reminds me: my 2nd blogiversary passed on December 28, 2012.   A lot has happened in these past two years personally.  I’ll explore what it has meant for me, where I am currently, and hope to be in the next year.  You’ll see more short stories with my inner trio, Jada, Jodi, and Quiet One (let’s not forget Patty the pom and Dr.G.); the conflicted muses (Sir Guy vs. Thorin?); excerpts from a possible mystery; The Man; and anything else escaping from my fevered imaginings. 

Does that sound like enough to kick off 2013?  Stay tuned.

Oh, and have pic.

Richard Armitage in 2004 photo shoot, courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com

Richard Armitage in 2004 photo shoot, courtesy RichardArmitageNet.com

Merry Christmas Eve

Home

8:30PM

I lie back on the couch patting my stuffed belly and gazing contentedly at my two chums, Elsa and Trinalin.   Santa Trinalin passes out the presents from under the twinkling tree.  Fake embers glow not too unconvincingly in the fireplace.  O Holy Night plays from speakers on the mantle.  Patty lies on the rug, watching us fling wrapping about.  A scrap falls across her nose.

Elsa hums to the music. “Have we heard this before?”

I shoot her a look.  “Maybe…”

I open a packet containing a collector’s edition of Rolling Stone’s magazine with Thorin on the cover.  Entertainment Weekly with Thorin.  The Hobbit storybook – more Thorin.  I sense a pattern and smirk at Trina.

Trinalin grins.  “It’s so good to feed your fandom for once, Judi.”

I feel a slight cringe and am not sure why.  They both know that I blog and about whom. What’s the problem? My inner trio, id Jodi, supergo Jada, and ego Quiet One, all chuckle.

Jada sighs and rolls her eyes.

Jodi whispers. “Fangurrrrrrrrrrl.”

Quiet One giggles.

Elsa seems to read my mind, smiling knowingly.

The playlist offers up a another version of O Holy Night.  Uh oh.

Trina smirks. “I’m pretty sure we’ve heard this before.”

I blithely ignore her.  More wrapping paper flies.  It’s a 5 inch Thorin action figure.  My 50+ year old self is ridiculously pleased.  I rip him out of the packaging and play with his little Orcrist and dagger.

Jada inspects it.  “Oh, all his parts move!”

Jodi guffaws. “All?  Are you sure? He’s kind of small. Is he fully functional?”

Quiet One giggles.  “Hey, his cloak moves too.”

I can’t help myself.  I’m 9 years old again, playing with my Skipper dolly.  I furtively lift the cloak and peer under.

Trina catches me and laughs.  BUSTED.  She snaps my picture and tweets it.  Me and my little Thorin doll.  Sigh.

O Holy Night dials up a third time.  Damnit.

Both Elsa and Trina pounce. “So, got any other Christmas music or what?”

I protest.  “Look, I only had about 36 versions when I checked.  Last year.”

Jodi is ever observant.  “Say, we’re missing Rudolph in here.”

Jada nods. “Yes, you haven’t had him sing this year.”

Quiet One chuckles.

I fetch Rudolph from the den.  He’s an animated red-nosed reindeer that sings tunes from the beloved Christmas special from my childhood.  I activate the singing by squeezing his ear.

Rudolph suddenly sings in a deep baritone. “Are you going to laugh at my nose too?”

We all blink at the not so childlike sounding little reindeer.  His batteries have run down.

Trina shrugs.  “Well, guess his balls have dropped.”

I gape at Trina.  “What! You’ve just ruined my childhood!”

Everybody bursts into laughter.

***

Merry Christmas Eve, all.

Here is an excerpt from the special.  Enjoy.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xqACmJvqaU

Fantasia

The man grinned foolishly.

He lie in his own bed, for once, staring at the ceiling.  The publicity tour for his long project had taken him around the world and back home finally, on its last leg.  He’s conquered his thing with the Red Carpet and schmoozed with so many media types, that he was surprised he wasn’t sprouting gibberish.  He felt beyond exhaustion but the moment his head hit the pillow, he was suddenly wide awake.  Oddly, he didn’t want to think about all the incredible experiences he’d just encountered, but something else.

No, he needed some much needed rest.  Tomorrow started early; he needed to finish the AM program circuit without bags hanging under his eyes.  He had no time to humor himself.  Turning unto his side, he burrowed into the pillow and willed himself to count sheep.  The sheep morphed to ponies that morphed to dwarves that changes to – his eyes snapped open.

Damnit.  He could practically hear the laptop calling him.  He calculated fuzzily that he hadn’t been online in over a week.  Was that too much time?  He flopped onto his back.  He had no way of knowing.  He’d have to check.

***

The man sat at the laptop, sipping a glass of wine, neither of which was a good idea.  He paused to reflect.  He’d always wanted a place to let it all hang out, to be as chatty or reticent as he wanted, to discuss his fears and desires, to be creative, to nurture that geeky, creative side of himself.  He’d always fancied himself something of a writer.  His character biographies he created for his roles no doubt signaled a frustrated novelist. He’d written other stories never mentioned to a soul, stories containing characters woven completely from his vivid imagination.  No ideal outlet existed to share his fiction, and the demands of his day job limited any full time pursuit.   Ironically, his own fandom was that sort of place.  He’d checked his Twitter hashtag and found fans discussing creative projects and events happening on the blogs, forums and tumblrs.  They piqued his curiosity.  He’d imagined that if he were a fan, he would join a community like this.  He’d imagined also what kind of fan he’d be here.

Smiling, he went immediately to a blog called, “And So It Goes” written by Alia.  Alia was a 40 something educated, literary woman who’d emerged in fandom a month ago.  She was intelligent, erudite, reserved,and still reticent in disclosing facts about herself.  She was also funny, a bit naughty and had the knack of getting facts straight about him and squelching rumors.  She’d recently revealed herself to be a talented writer with a vivid imagination, having posted a few of her short stories to good receptions.  He really liked Alia; she was exactly how he pictured himself.  Scrolling down to the comments section on her latest story, he observed that she had picked up quite a few new commentators.  Taking another swig of wine, he leaned eagerly forward to read.

***

The man smirked at the new signs as the large group of cheering fans held them aloft for him to read. Thank heavens they were talking to him now.  He pulled out the ever-ready Sharpie, and scrawled his signature.  He nodded and winked at a few for good measure , provoking bigger smiles if that were possible.  Sending the last off, he entered the building and ducked into an alcove.  Good, nobody could see.  He pulled out the iPhone and tapped open his Twitter account, but paused for a second to think.  Chuckling, he tapped open his secret Twitter account: @Alia.  “OMG, I just met The Man!,” Alia tweeted.  He thought and added, “he winked at me!”  Maybe she might blog about it later; he’d have to finesse that.  Or maybe something for Tumblr?

He grinned fiendishly.  This was all manner of wrong.  He was being terrible, awful – diabolical, practically.

But he was having such fun!

 

A Respite and Reflections

I’m enjoying one those rare evenings when nothing urgently presses at the moment.  The Christmas tree is up and decorated, but needs some TLC from the local hardware store.  One holiday party is over.  I need to shake people down for their gift lists but that’s another day.  And there’s nothing to report from The Great Hobbit Tour blitz, thank goodness.  Now that I can hear myself think, a few thoughts have jumped out at me.

It’s been great without Winston, my black dog of depression.  He’s been MIA since May and counting.  Last year at this, I could barely get through the holidays.  Grudgingly, I threw up the tree, decorated slap-dash, and dragged myself to two parties I found a mental ordeal.  This year, the tree got the full treatment as I sang carols before rushing off to a holiday party.  My weekends are quickly filling up this month.  Old friends are reconnecting.

As soon as Winston fled, I met with external Real Life problems that I can’t do anything about right now, but they kept me on edge and wobbly.  The only thing I can do, instead of waiting for the problems to resolve, is to put them in a box, push them to the back of my mind and get on with it.  So, I’ve reemerged once again, flying to NYC for the day, blogging the Hobbit tour, chattering on Twitter (sorry Facebook), and reconnecting with people in real life and online.  Yeah, I’m tubthumping – I get knocked down, but I get up again.  I’m still gathering my mental resources.  It’s slow going, but considering how far I’ve come, I can’t complain.  Baby steps, baby steps.

It feels good to feel good.

As an older fan, I still have some reflections on the NYC trip.  I also haven’t forgotten about RA’s report card; I’ve decided to expand the critique to include the entire tour.  Then I will answer this question: Has RA overtaken my crush on David Tennant?  Wouldn’t you like to know?  Hmmm?

***

 

Give RA that warm and fuzzy feeling.  Congratulate him and show your appreciation by gift bombing his Justgiving page!  Show him and the world you care.

You know you want to.