The Moment We Last Fell

THE MOMENT WE LAST FELL


Today, I had NO choice but to leave the dusty, but mostly sanitary and virus free, confines of the Pharoah Buddy Compound. I went out into the badlands in search of sustenance and some other supplies.

I am what is left of an old guard of warrior – now turned poet, left alone to care for the elders of my tribe and its acquaintances, as well as the great, but often ill, Pharoah Buddy.

My name is Winter NightTiger –  Nocturnal Witch and retired Warrior. I have been lost for years, ever since the untimely death of my Witch companion and Familiar, the soft Ganymede.

Despite my loss, and my dusty and prickly spirit, I mustered the old magick, rarely used anymore, to place a force field of deflecting energy about my body the night prior to my quest. This is a gift few have, and a power for which I have always been grateful.

I prayed to the oldest of gods among the Universe to allow my success, and ensure my safe return; free from the touch of the invisible, evil Monster that has invaded so many lands near and far, and tortured and even killed so many helpless folks while they were just living. I’ve cried for so many strangers, people only akin to me through the force of the Great Spirit. I have pulled my sword so many times, seeking to destroy what lurks in the Void, to save a ravaged species. Yet, feeling pangs of guilt, I wonder if we aren’t being served up what we have dished out. It happens sometimes, when Mother Nature punishes us. But, ’tis a story for another day.

Despite a fairly sleepless night  and a tiredness burning behind my eyes, I arose while it was still dark, tiptoeing around the castle so as not to awake the castle’s chronically worried – the Most High Elder, or Pharaoh Buddy who feels he must ride the wind with me at any time, in any weather, at any cost. I knew that to avoid much lamenting or ride begging, I had to be as quiet as a church mouse.

So, armed with my shield, hand sanitizer, tissues, and prepared to don vinyl gloves, I set out at dawn to seek the much needed goods as quickly as I could find and gather any of them.

Though there is closer vendors, I set out on longer trip. Going further into the wastelands, seeking that which I knew those closest to me could not supply due to not carrying the products even under normal circumstances. That grand trading post is The World of Wally, where I hoped to find the Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Crumbles that I sought…among other things.

When I arrived at the trading post, the other travelers there were in good spirits too, despite waiting outside in inclement weather for the doors to open.

There were only about 20 of us strangers at 7:00am. With a newfound happiness of finding a courage to venture outdoors, many folks seemed glad to see others and spoke, talking above the blaring winds, of their circumstances and experiences; finding camaraderie in fear and helplessness; in boredom and loneliness; in the need to help and be helped. Yet, you could hear it in voices and see it on faces…the hard-to-hide feeling of being the Most Hunted.

Nothing could hide it. Not gloves, nor masks, nor smiles, nor gleaming eyes. It was there. There in the uneasiness in the step, saddness of the heart, worry upon the face. The feeling of helplessness snuggled underneath the masks of courage. Us all…the Aging, and already Aged, Warriors. Not a Younger in sight at that moment; we are People of Legend.

When the doors opened, we all made jokes and waved our “good luck, be safe,” to one another…wishes that I knew were genuine. This World is changing…again. Can we navigate well enough to survive it…again?

A few of us who made friends ran across each other in the market again. There were a couple of fellows who I might’ve wanted to talk to longer under other circumstances, but we just  passed by and smiled, making quick but positive comments.

During my foraging, I enlisted the aid of a tall gentleman to reach something from a top shelf, and despite being of the Hunted – like me, he stopped with good cheer and plucked an out-of-reach bag of Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Crumbles from the depths of the tallest shelf of a cooler section. He even made small talk for about 5 seconds as he steered his cart back onto his own trail. We do have need of each other.

As swiftly as I could, I made my way through the large, fairly empty trading post, where the strangers were well behaved and kept a decent distance from one another…lest the Monster finds us huddled too close…the odors of healthy human hosts too overbearing to resist.

During my hunt, I was able to commandeer hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, toilet paper and bleach – once dying breeds seeming to be making a resurgence in some territories. I was ecstatic to find the elusive sanitizing wipes, and the ever-evasive, dying species…the sanitizer of hands.

I was able to find much of what the Most High elders of my tribe – my Queen Mother and her good friend, Lady Mary, needed.

Yesterday, I had ventured to the Kingdom of the Smart Pets for no-touch curbside service of the Pharoah’s prescription specialty grub and healthy treats. The trek was seemingly uneventful and I never left my chariot. The Kingdom of the Smart Pets lives to serve the pharaohs, kings, queens, wood peckers, flea scratchers, and the feathered jokers in our miserable human lives…despite those same Servants also being among the Hunted. They, along with those that labor in places such as The World of Wally, and infirmaries where Servants take care of the ill – despite their own odds, these are the strong along with hero First Responders and emergency personnel, and those that pick up our waste and clean our messes. These are the best of our species.

I exchanged cash for my foods and dry goods at the trading post of Wally, then hurried to my chariot as the winds whipped at my hair and water sprinkled from dark clouds. Despite that, a fierce wind can be our friend, possibly blowing the Monster to points uninhabited, ripping its tentacle feelers along the route.

As I loaded the chariot, I looked this way and that…searching for a flying Creeper; an airborne Monster that no animal can see with the naked eye. “Where are you hiding, shadowy Monster? You, who has even outdone, even impressed, the Devil. Will you leave us be?”

I heard no answer with my ears. But despite the only noise being that of the wind, I felt an answer to my final question was given, although unspoken: “I have just begun.”

Other than that ominous feeling, I fought off doom and gloom and deemed my quest quite successful.

The Elders were grateful and joyful upon my return. Pharoah Buddy was happy to see me, yet, was loaded with questions of the “why didn’t you take me with…you shouldn’t have gone alone” sort.

I hope that I was swift enough and kept enough distance from others to elude the silent Monster that lurks in shared spaces and atop oatmeal canisters and packages of beef jerky.

Each time a member of a tribe, a house, compound, or kingdom, and so forth, goes out in search of supplies, they go alone. And upon return, they do not know if they have lead the silent, yet deadly, Monster back to their home.

Once home, the terrifyingly real waiting period begins another cycle.

I disguarded my armour in the carriage house, to rid myself of possible tentacles or spores deposited by the Monster. I donned my robe, and breathed deeply, unsure of the future of my House.

Be strong, fearless species. We shall rise again. But hopefully, we will emerge from this darkness, more patient, kinder and smarter than at the moment we last fell.

Copyright 2020 Wanda Paryla

HOPE

There’s  a saying, printed on canvass, that hangs in my office. It reads, “Hope is a joyful expectation of good.” I’ve been contemplating that for some time now. I look at it, longingly, needless to say, each time I go into my office.

We shouldn’t give up the hope of good things to come for us or those we care for. No matter what they are. Even something as small as that you hope the cupcakes your baking don’t burn. Or that your new sweater doesn’t stretch out of shape in the wash.

Then we have those big ones. The hopes of better jobs, raises in pay, the completion of a first-draft novel, retirement in a better place. Maybe there’s the hope that your number will come in at the Roulette table, or that your square wins big on your office Superbowl bet. Or even bigger, that your body will be healed of aches, pains, or disease. Or that your mind will be healed of some ailment that your heart bares heavily…or the lack of said hope.

I find that when one finally gives up on hope is when their losses to challenges stack up. The jar full of hopelessness-es becomes a teetering tower. Sometimes, unfortunately, our tower of losses comes crashing down. And where do we go from there?

Some people do not have to fight cancer, or homelessness, or starvation to run out of hopes. Everyone has their own battles and we should not down others because someone else “has it worse than you.” No one’s failures, regrets or letdowns belong to another, and therefore cannot be understood by any other. We can sympathize, empathize, berate, hold up or slap down…but we cannot fully understand.

If you feel there is no more hope, that you have lost the last bit – don’t believe it. Do not let your mind convince you. Keep looking. Look under the bed, in a high school photo, in a book, in an old shoe box…just look. Pet a dog, listen to birds sing…watch the snow fall. But look.

A long time ago, I heard a mother tell her child to “not hope for things she can never achieve.” I call bull shit! Why? I have many hopes…dreams…that I may never – will never – achieve. But I keep them. I keep them to remind me that it can be done, and if not by me, by someone else. Fuck off, naysayers. That’s what I say.

But, yes, it’s such a heart boost to achieve a hope…such as a goal, or a life’s dream…or as something as simple as saving enough money for new shoes. They can be all sorts of things from learning to throw a ball to making a winning touchdown on Superbowl day, to baking your first “from scratch” cake to meeting and cooking with Rachel Ray, from writing an A+ school essay to writing for Time or Rolling Stone; from overcoming a sprained ankle to beating a deadly disease, or from overcoming a fear of spiders…to stepping down from a building’s ledge after a suicidal thought.

Hope is all we have when we find ourselves deep in the great abyss of losses or even choices. When we’ve lost it all or screwed it up…or someone did that for us…and there’s no person around at 1:00 A.M. to console us, there’s hope (and maybe your cat). Hope is there, smiling upon us, trying to show us the barely-there light burning at the end of a long-ass tunnel of treachery. Hope is reflected in the eyes of your deceased grandmother’s last photo, in the hoot of an owl, or in the colors of a rainbow, in the memory of how a song makes you feel, or the in the moves of an adrift feather.

Thanks for reading, and may your hopes be fulfilled.

 

The Poison that Stole My Creativity

Greetings!  Please forgive any typing errors or crazy sentences, and for some of you, I believe you may see two font sizes here. I guess that’s the difference between typing on my phone and typing on the computer. I shall try to fix this the next time I get on the computer. LOL!. It has taken me several days to write this, and I may not have edited it well. And most of all, please forgive the length. I am good for writing lengthy blogs, but this one may take the cake due to the subject matter.

Okay. I thought maybe I was losing my mind. I thought maybe I was depressed. Then I thought that – once again- I had writer’s block. It’s been so bad, as you can see, I have neglected my blog for almost a year. I couldn’t even right a blog!

I’m on the fence when it comes to writer’s block.  I’m not really sure if I believe in the concept. Or maybe I just don’t have a deep enough understanding of writer’s block. Maybe because there are several definitions of writers block, each according to each individual writer’s perspective.

I believe that writer’s block can be caused by one or many things. Often procrastination, sometimes illness,  most often distractions from life. Those distractions are ones we actually allow.  We need to take time to write, don’t we? Record that block time in your datebook; stick to it.

I have projects on the table, things I’ve been working on for months, even years. A book that was filling up with poetry, and so many other things. Even an editing project or two.

I was in the midst of writing – attempting to write – Chicago Down when I realized that I can’t. I just can’t. Nothing’s changed in my head. I can see it, feel it, hear it, taste it. But it won’t come out. It just will not travel from my brain through my arms and hands onto the page (or the computer screen as it were).

I did not notice it at first. It came on so slowly. And then just one day it hit hard. I stopped. It reminded me of when a bird flies into a clean, clear glass window. How he just slams into it and then drops to the ground and flutters around down there. Sometimes he doesn’t recover. That seemed to be me.

I was…still am…unable to control my own creative mind and thought processes. I begged my Muse desperately for help. Believe it or not, I even talked to the long-dead Al Capone. Asking him for inspiration. Literally speaking scenarios aloud or picturing them in my head and asking him what should I write? What would you write? What should I do? The truth is, I didn’t really need those answers. I could see it just like always. What I was asking for was a way to take that film out of my head and put it on the page like I have for the last 35 years! I was asking Al, and Muse, how to write it out on the page, not actually what to write, but how to write it…onto the page! Get it?

Every time I write fiction lately it reads more like a newspaper article than a fictional story. Thankfully I’ve not had too many problems with poetry. No matter what type of poetry or how long or short the piece. That could be because of the rhyming words. Maybe? *Shrug* Your guess is as good as mine.

For months I contemplated why my ocean was drained of writing powers. Where are my mermaids, unicorns and flying fish?

I tried to do everything to get it back. Whatever “it” is. I call it writer’s block, but the problem is, I have no problem imagining things the way I have for the last three decades! I just cannot get my arms, fingers and brain to communicate with each other. It’s sort of like…say…you can see a word in your head and you can hear yourself or someone else pronounce it, but when you go to speak it, you’re mute. That’s me. That’s how I feel right now. I’m creatively mute. I can see it, but can’t speak it…or write it out, as it were.

I spoke with fellow writers about it. Talked to other artists. I set blocks of time for writing where I just sat in front of my computer and did nothing. Or typed aimless sentences because that seemed to work for me and others in the past.

To fuel my creativity, I looked up real facts on the internet; looked at newspaper articles, etc, and would copy and paste them into the timeline of the novel so that I could rewrite them in my own words. Adding things in between like fake situations and circumstances.

Wow. That didn’t work. It looked horrible. Sounded horrible.

Then one day at the physician’s office, I was complaining about all sorts of things. The poor doc! Then she said to me, it’s your beta blocker. I was like, what? Now this was some time ago. Deep in my heart I felt it was the medication. Fast forward, I tried another medication and it made me almost lose my mind. I actually would sort of black out, and it seemed like I woke up in another place. Sometimes it would take me several seconds to get my bearings. I don’t like that, and I certainly don’t like the idea of that happening to me on an interstate by a toll booth during rush times.

So, doc put me back on my original beta blocker. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t. That’s how I look at it. There’s really not many other medications that I can try. So, now, with some professional help, I am working to break through the barrier that the beta blocker has built.

The doc said that I can absolutely break through it. She said it’s sort of like when people have a brain injury, or stroke, or some kind of mental trauma in their lives that happened to them, and they have to relearn things, or regain memories. She said I have to break through; I can break through, and the brain will react similarly to when people’s brains forge new pathways after a physical or mental trauma.

So I had to dig through boxes to find some writer workbooks I purchased in the past. I bought them with interest, but then found a project and never really worked with them, so I have great books now to use to help me out. Ms. Professional Nut-curer told me to utilize the lessons. And to read, read, read fiction, especially smaller novella-type books. She said to read shorter novels and short stories so that I don’t lose interest in the middle of a story. The beta blocker is also causing a sort of attention deficit, but only where reading and writing (anything at all) is concerned and I need to stick to shorter stories for now. She said if I read a few pages and my Noodle is urging me to stop and go eat ice cream or play on Facebook, I must overcome and read one more page. But, I do need to stop when I cannot recall what I just read on the extra pages, or can’t decipher the meaning behind the scenes if there is one.

I am fighting this. Unfortunately for me, I am terribly sensitive to medications. I have rarely taken them in my life for this reason. One of the results is my high tolerance to pain being that over-the-counter meds like Naproxen or Ibuprofen is about all I can tolerate. Also, I’ve been a very low user of penicillin and other antibiotics, hence my high positive response to them. Only these last 3-4 years have I been a avid user of antibiotics due to a chronic condition that causes colon infections and powerful antibiotics are often needed. Anyway, let me put it this way… if a medication side affect is dizziness or sleepiness, etc…look out. I’ll be passed out somewhere before you know it.

I take a beta blocker for a rapid heart beat with no known cause, at this time. One day around New Year’s Day, 2016, I was drinking a wine product. I had about 4 ounces in a glass. I drank most of it over a period of 30 minutes. My heart rate increased quickly, stayed high for a couple of days along with my blood pressure, and I ended up in a hospital emergency room where I stay for three nights. I never drank a wine product again…because I can’t.

As an update, my heart and all it’s parts are perfectly healthy. In fact, the doc that did the angiogram said that if he had not seen me…he would’ve thought I was 10 years younger than my age…I was actually 46. He said I have a very healthy heart, my arteries are free of plaque, etc. Later that year, October, I had a Doppler on my legs. Thoroughly on the right leg. The person who performed it stated the same thing about my leg arteries. They both encouraged me to take caution and care for my healthy heart and arteries…literally telling me how lucky I am. I believe them.

Getting back to the beta blocker story. I am now working through the block(er) with the suggested mental and creative exercises. Also using meditation when I can. And of course, I just keep on trying to write my stories. I keep on trying even if it means I just stare at the last sentence I wrote three weeks earlier, or even just blinking my eyes at a blank MS Word page. Or staring at a photo of Al Capone, or of a river at dawn, or of my favorite place – a beach of South Padre Island.

I find it so hard to believe that such a low dose of this medication has had such a negative impact upon my creativity and though processes. But, alas, here it is. And it does other things as well…like give me the skin creepy-crawlies, and cause odd dreams, and sometimes nightmares.

I just want to encourage you all to take a look at your medications if you think you have become different because of one of them or a combination of meds. And, try to do something about it before taking one medication leads you to take another medication to relieve you of a side effect of another. Sometimes doctors and pharmacists do not realize it’s your medications. Never, ever feel afraid or too intimidated to tell them that you do feel it’s your med. That almost happened to me. Doc thought I’d need sleeping pills or an anti-depressant, etc.

My sleeplessness is caused from the pill building up in my system. My depression is caused from my inability to do the one thing in this world that relieves my stress and tension. The one thing that I’m good at. The only thing that I’m good at. I thought, at one point, I was becoming useless and worthless. How odd that we label ourselves in such ways.

We are thinking I should take the medication in a time-released option. I may try it.

A friend of mine was on several medications. A family member of his complained to me that my friend’s behavior was very odd. I inquired about medications he was on. When he told me what they were, I named two and said those should not be taken together. It just so happened that they were prescribed by two different doctors and my friend did not tell the docs truthfully what he was being prescribed by the other. Turns out that I was correct and his medications were changed. I’m glad because they were clashing something terrible.

Just be careful of your meds. The doc doesn’t always know best. But you do. If a negative effects persist for more than a couple weeks, call the doctor. But if the effect is too overbearing, do not wait for several days to go by as it can ruin you. We all know it takes time sometimes for a negative side effect to work itself out. But don’t let it set you on fire. Speaking of fire. I was prescribed a steroid for inflammation, and even though I had read the possible side effects, I didn’t realize one was telling me to stop taking it. I continued through the whole prescription. I now have permanent high blood pressure brought on by the prolonged use of the steroid because I did not recognize my discomfort as a side effect. I never had high BP in my life not brought about an illness or condition. My usual BP was always normal. Not anymore. Now I take blood pressure medication and my BP may never again be normal…all because of the side effects of another medication. Sadly, a medication I probably didn’t need.

So for those of you who have been waiting for a book after the New Year, it may not happen. But do not give up on me, or be disappointed in me…I will come back. I just hate it when promises are broken. I hate it when people are broken too. Please forgive me for that. It’s been out of my hands. But I will make a come back. Me and my Noodle…and Muse, and Al Capone.

As always, thank you for reading.

~Wanda

I AM MAGIC…

… and that’s why they will never be me.

I think it’s ridiculous…actually, it’s awful, how some people try to stop other people from being individuals. From being who they are. From doing what they must to bring fillment into their life.

People who question the choices of others who are deciphering life’s passages, really have no life of their own. Or they’re just damn right jealous. Listen, if you say you want to buy a new car, and you have a job and are credit worthy, you should be able to buy a new car. And no one, and I mean no one!…especially if you are an adult, should put in their 2 cents. They shouldn’t tell you whether or not you should buy a car. If it’s a mistake, it’s your mistake to make and all others need to shut their damn mouths.

If you want a Dodge and everyone else tells you you should buy a Ford, buy that damn Dodge. And if you want a yellow car, and everybody else is telling you should get a black or white car, buy the yellow one.

Never ever let other people deter you from your goal. Do not let them project their wants, or likes and dislikes on to you. Do what makes you happy.

Of course, like everything else, there should be a limit to this. Let’s stick to buying cars, making trips around the world, starting new jobs, or finding a new place to live. Or whether you want a dog or cat. Now when you’re out to do harm to others, or yourself, that’s when you should heed the opinions of others, and look at them as valued. Let’s live legally. We’ll all be happier that way.

I find that when trying to make life’s decisions, the naysayers get in the way. And they say things like, “Well I would never do that. I’d rather have this over that.” Well guess what God damn it, go and get it!…and leave me the hell alone. Leave all of us the hell alone. There’s some people too afraid to make a leap; to make a huge decision. They do not want to adult…Hell, no. They just freeze! And then, right when your ready to jump into the deep end, here they come with their negativity and fears…often, it’s fear of your success… of you finding happiness, or whatever it is that you seek. They fear your courage. Because they don’t have it. And they don’t want to find it. They want to, maybe unconsciously, deter you from seeking happiness altogether, much less finding it.

Too many people in the world are just sitting back floating. While many of us like to float, I prefer to float…in a swimming pool. Or in a boat on a lake. Just don’t float through what’s left of your life. If you are doing this, and you are depressed, maybe that’s why you are depressed. People can get depressed because they are being held back by their own ho-humming. There is no one responsible for your life but you. And only you! If you feel people are holding you down or are responsible for your situation, you should take a look at what you are missing. Is it education? Experience? A good attitude? Perseverance? Gumption? Hmm…I wonder. Shuck off those weights and step across that threshold that you, yourself, built to keep you in line. To keep you from living.

So what do you think? That you’re too poor, too rich, red-haired, too old, etc., to do this or that? No, you’re not. You’re just a stick-in-the-mud. Am I right? Take a good look at you. Are you a stick? If you are not a stick, but a human, jump out of the mud. As for me, I’m out…

I’m out, because I am magic…and they can never be me.

Thank you for reading. As you can see, my blog is once again alive. And I will start posting again. I’ve been through some trying times this last couple years. I was at a bad place, fighting many demons, most of my own creation. I have felt nothing but numbness and bitterness. Filling with rage. But I was not always like that. Where did I go? Even the things I love doing the most like writing and reading have suffered. The things that used to bring me happiness only caused me more pain, because I could not do them. I could not participate. And when I looked in the mirror, I saw the action behind me, but I was frozen. Like a stick in the mud. This has been going on for so long, I thought that, every now and then, I had gotten my head above water. That I was free. I even wrote blogs and Facebook posts about it. But I was just a fool. Now I have truly overcome. I have, indeed, crawled out of the mud.

I am magic. And they can never be me.

-Wanda

Why Does My Briefcase Matter?

WHY DOES MY BRIEFCASE MATTER?: A Question of Class.

So. Here’s something regarding the subject of discrimination, prejudice or judgement that you won’t see every day. 

Why do some people regard me differently when I carry a briefcase (aka: my laptop in a laptop case) to work and back? 

You might be wondering why I am bringing this up? Well because there’s been so much in the news about different types of discrimination or prejudice and how one person allegedly views another for various, and sometimes odd, reasons.

I wear blue jeans and tennis shoes to work everyday. I usually just wear a colored pullover shirt…like a t-shirt, and often wear logo t-shirts on Fridays.

For the particular position I have now, I do not dress up. I do not wear slacks. I do not wear dresses or skirts. I do not wear dress shoes. And I very rarely wear makeup – mostly because in the summer my building is too damn hot to cake that shit up on my face.

Despite that I dress this way, people seemingly treat me differently when I carry a laptop. For instance, on the days that I carry a laptop/briefcase, some people waiting for, or in the elevator, wearing dresses and suits who also carry briefcases, or laptop cases, and other such bags used to carry paperwork and files, look at me and smile or make small talk. Especially men! On the days that I don’t carry said case, and might just carry my bag with my lunch in it or other personal items, they ignore me. Now why is that?

I’ll tell you why that is. It’s called class division or separation. And when they ignore me, it’s quiet discrimination. For some reason, humans eye each other trying to glean information about one another. Said info is often incorrect. We view each other in particular ways. We focus on something, something that we believe defines a person and we run with it. On the days I have a briefcase or laptop case, I am important. I’m as important as the lawyers on the upper floors. Or the people who work on that floor where that very important person’s office is located – despite the fact that we all work for that main important guy. Then on the days I don’t carry a case, the same type of people don’t regard me at all, and don’t want to. Why does my laptop, or the carrying case, define me?

It’s some kind of trigger, you see. To see someone carry this type case, such as a laptop case, briefcase, or a document bag says to some people that you are well educated, employed, well paid, and that you are of a higher class than people that don’t carry these types of things. And if you have to carry these things while in a suit, you’re even higher class than the others who don’t wear suits.

I find a problem with this since I know many people that go to work everyday empty handed, wearing blue jeans, holey t-shirts and flip-flops, and they get paid double…even triple…what I do. And I know plenty of people who run off to work everyday with a case, such as a briefcase, and get paid less than I do and they have to buy their suits at places where clothes are so costly that I wouldn’t buy a pair of socks there. Oh, the vanity. We must keep up appearances.

I’m a writer. A self-published author. And I’m broke. My briefcase, or laptop case means nothing when it comes to my class status. Yes, I have a higher education. Yes, I have an okay paying public-service job. But I am really nobody outside of what I author. And my briefcase will never make me somebody.

I know that perhaps this is an odd thing for me to notice. And maybe an even stranger thing for me to blog about. But it’s bothered me for some time, so much that I felt I had to talk about it. 

Briefcase, laptop case, document case: An old-time class divider seen through new eyes.

Thanks for reading.

A New Look

Good day to you all.

I’m all too happy to admit how much my author/writer friends have, unknowingly, inspired me to not give up my craft.

Several times over the past couple of years, I’ve mentioned on Facebook how hard it’s become for me to write. Once upon a time, the words flowed like water to wine. Like rapids even. Then one day, they were seemingly gone. Dried up. It went beyond writer’s block. The words were just gone. It was so bad that I asked the doctor if I could be getting Alzheimer’s. I was lost.

But my hopes that the words would return to me were kept alive vicariously through others. I’d watch their progress, secretly cheering them on. Their words and the thrill of performing their craft were not lost. Quite the contrary.

Recently, I got very ill. And as I lay in my hospital bed the first week in January waiting for the cardiologist to tell me I had some terrible heart ailment (luckily and thankfully, my heart & arteries are as exquisite and tough as Ethan Hunt), I was also very lucky. Due to these terrifying circumstances, I had some time to go over the good old mistakes-made list. I got a chance to see what many others never get to. My heart appears healthy.  But no one knew that for sure at the time.

Alone in the middle of the night – hooked up to all sorts of scary, beeping shit – in an all too quiet room in the cardiac unit, perhaps dying at 46, I was scared shitless as this Scorpio held back her emotions.

Hell, if I died, I was not going out all dramatic like a pussy. Heck, no. I’m Scorpio. I rule death. And if She’s coming for me, she better have 40 silver fucking pitchforks.

Regardless of how worried this warrior pretended not to be, death nor sleep ever came.

At the top of my mistakes-made list was not the things that I thought would be there such as vacations I didn’t take, the kids I didn’t birth, or sorrow at fights with family members. Nothing about a Master’s degree, or the lottery, or all the sugar I’ve consumed in my lifetime. Not even apologies never spoken.

There were two things there. Two sorrows. They are: never loving in return the men that loved me; never giving them a chance. They DID love me. I know that now.

The next is: giving up on my writing for reasons truly unknown to me at the time. I was beaten into submission by me, but had no clue.

Some who know me chalked up the lost interest in writing to depression, sadness, anger, etc. All sorts of barriers. A couple of thrifty pals delegated it to my recent obsession with fixing my past. Or my desire to live there, which actually may have caused my sadness. Maybe they are correct. It was destroying me on many levels. Keeping me blind to all the good; allowing me to only see the bad. I was drowning.

I had no idea what was going on. Maybe I was blind on purpose. That happens, you know? I think I’ve been fighting my age. Maybe those who are older than I know what I mean.

So I enjoyed watching my writer friends. I think if there was no Internet,  I might not have had access to them and who knows where I’d be now. In what state of mind.

They are all winners. And despite that I wasn’t writing, they didn’t treat me any differently than they had years ago. They let me stay in the winner’s circle while, unknowingly, hanging on to me by threads.

I’ve been ill before and hospitalized. But never with something potentially life-threatening.  Life ending. For awhile I was like, “FTW? Figures.” But, while we’re still searching for answers, I’m very much alive. My mistakes-made list is changeable because I’m not dead yet. It’s changeable because I’ve seen others change directions many times.

Scorpio may rule death, but also rebirth. I’m reborn. It’s not time to return to the Underworld just yet. The gods have forced my eyes toward what I should see: the good. This goes beyond writing. It encompasses my spirituality and beliefs. It extends to who I know, where I live, as well as to my abilities of storytelling. My ancestors have given me a gift, and I’m still alive to use it. I should not abuse that.

My advice: do not fight the inevitable.  Change only what can certainly be moved. Let the rest go.

Thank you for reading.

-Wanda

When Your Own Writing Sickens You…

Book fire

 

That’s right. You read the title correctly.

 
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever looked at a pile of your own manuscript sitting there, just minding its own business as it has for an undocumented amount of time, and you hate it? Just the thought of flipping through it makes you want to vomit. Or leave the house?

 
Maybe you’ve got a bunch of work saved on your hard drive, flash drive, or in Drop Box – or some other “cloud” archive, and the thought of opening it and looking at even the title of one or more of that crap makes you want to drink vodka. Have you experienced that?

 
Okay, so, those are extreme. (Maybe for you, but not for me.)

 
I had been going like mad. Muse was hitting me with ideas and storylines and character development like she was hurling mud pies at me. I had all I could do to keep up…or duck. You all know what mud pies are? I don’t think there’s a place in the world where anyone under the age of, maybe 35, isn’t familiar with a mud pie. But one cannot be sure. I’m sure. Haha.

 
Anyway, so there we were – her and I, just plugging along. A new idea, a new chapter. An old idea, a few new paragraphs. My notebook is half full of ideas and all the juicy things that go with them. Oh yes, a mile a minute.
Then, nothing. A few months ago, I hit a brick wall. No, I did not get writer’s block. It wasn’t even procrastination. It was plain old, bonafide….something. Something bad. Laziness is wrong. Maybe it was something more like depression, but that’s not really accurate either. I just stopped. I had just got finished writing a line and stopped for the day. I saved everything, turned off the computer, and that was it. That was all I wrote.

 
Oh, I tried a few things. Tried to look at stuff. Then my own writing made me sick. I hated it. I came so close to deleting months, even years of work. But I couldn’t do it. I would imagine myself printing everything out and burning it in the street.

 
Then I went numb and found myself just doing nothing. And the truth is I did not give one stinky hoot. Really. I was like, “Yay! I’m free! No more writing.” Oh boy. Then I’d get upset and feel guilty.

 
Then it set in hard. This depression-like feeling. And as silly as it sounds, I didn’t relate it to my writing. I mean, my lack thereof. Months went by. In fact, much of this year has gone by and my writing has just been lying around dormant for most of the months that have passed.

 
I started Chicago Down. Then, I worked on Angel Maker. Then I started slacking. Then some odd tale with no name came into my mind. I wrote 3,000 words then stopped again. I really did as I said. I shut down the computer and never did anything else.

 
Starting around the Independence Day weekend, I started thinking about myself. Not in a narcissistic kind of way. Just about my past in general. I always felt I had some talent lurking somewhere. Ever since I was a kid. Talent for writing fiction. I also had interest in directing movies or making music videos. I went to broadcasting school in my early twenties. Many people don’t know that. I think I would have made a good deejay.

 
I thought I’d make a great this or that throughout my lifetime. Unfortunately, I never tried a great many of those things. There were some I did try, but didn’t take them far enough to even glimpse a result.

 
Starting and finishing my book, Someday Always Comes, was a great accomplishment for me where my interests lie. But now it sits on a virtual Amazon shelf over two years after publication all alone. My very own love, my pride and joy. My very own Gone with the Wind. I didn’t know what to do with it. I’m broken-hearted about it. How can I revive it?

 
I’ve been considering other authors I’m familiar with, whose growth I have witnessed in the world of writing and publishing, and public relations, etc. I’ve been bearing in mind what they’ve been doing and how they accomplish what they do or what they have in the past. Then I was thinking about myself with those things in mind.

 
I think I got ho-hummed over my failure to promote, or to know how to promote, Someday Always Comes. I feel the story is worth reading. Really, I do. I caused its failure. That makes me sad. And, to go a step further, I did not know how to redeem it after interest dropped. More and more time went by and then I just gave up, citing the book is too old to revive. But after thinking about others that I know have talent – and how they succeeded, or at least keep an active voice in the publishing and self-publishing worlds, I see my awful, passive mistakes. I knew they were there all along. I did. I knew. I just refused to look because I might feel even worse than I had been previously.

 
But after looking at my work – all this work lying around on the floor, on flash drives, just all around, I did not feel worse. Sure, I felt brainless while milling it over. Then I thought, “Why are you crying over spilled milk when there’s more in the refrigerator? Here’s a towel – clean it up, Silly!”

 
Yes, I talk to myself like that often. But don’t overlook the whole point. Or even half of the point. I knew immediately that I had to stop this. I’ve been doing this crap most of my adult life: being negative toward myself and giving up on my projects; my interests. I’ve also found that when those closest to me do not care about my projects, or support me, I give up on them more quickly. I find my excitement fizzles out. I get a “No one cares. So who cares anymore? Not me,” attitude and I stop working the project, and even stop talking about it or other ideas.

 
I often long for other writers to talk to about my work. But I don’t know anyone personally, here in the same area. I don’t even know if I can be active member of any physical writing group. I have this phobia about my work. I really do. I know some of you do too. How do you get past the fear of sharing your unfinished work and it being stolen. Yeah, like someone wants to steal from me. Actually, the truth is, I had something stolen from me once many, many years ago. I guess the experience still makes me uneasy.

 
Ok. So no one cares. My sister doesn’t care. My brother doesn’t care. My niece doesn’t care. My mom, now she is always ready to listen to me. She doesn’t read anymore, but she likes me to read my work to her. When I read it, she “hears” my mistakes or any odd language or sentences. She’s always been a great help. But I have no one else to support me. Or anyone to talk to about what I do. And the sad thing is, they just do not care. My family situation is a blog for another day. In truth, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that I do not get support from them.

 
But wait. What the hell? No one cares? Some do. My readers do. They’ve said so. It’s been helpful to have their support and to have people that show curiosity. I admit that. But, hell. I care too. Fuck all those who are born to care due to their role in my life. If they do not give a damn enough about me or my work to read my book, screw it! I care about it. My 20 fans and readers care. I have a few friends that care.

 
The writing. It’s what is mine. And guess what my family of uncaring meanies, I do have fans. A few prized diamonds in the rough, they are. My small bundle of joy. I have a coworker who read Someday Always Comes, and I share my other work with her. She gives me nothing but praise. She has passed my book all around the office. She tells everyone that I am a great writer. I love it. Yes, yes I do. Even if she is stretching the truth a bit, it’s okay.

 
Support from family, friends, even coworkers means everything. However, with all the ups and downs – like mine…family doesn’t care, coworkers do care…I think as writers we should pick and choose our support – not the other way around. What I mean is, we need to seek it out. If we just stand around waiting for it…we’d be waiting for ages. I took a chance on telling a coworker who reads a lot about my book. She’s an avid reader and has given me overwhelming feedback. See? I would not have gotten a new fan and great feedback if I didn’t take a chance on her. Seek it. Don’t wait for it to find you.

 
Suddenly, I feel revived. I feel my accomplishments like I never had in the past. I feel all those half-finished manuscripts calling me. I feel the readers waiting for them. I do, I feel it. Can you feel it?

 

2015 Goals And Changes

2015 GOALS and CHANGES

I am still thinking about 2015. In my last blog regarding the subject, I wrote about no longer letting people take things from me: my time, my successes, my joys, etc.

But there are other things I have in mind too. Things that did not really seem to matter to me until I gave them some thought.

I have been thinking about the Border’s bookstores that went out of business. My local Border’s – despite it was what could be considered a “big-box retailer” – was my oasis; my get-away-from-it-all place. The atmosphere, the people who worked there, the whole place was special to me despite it was a Border’s. It had a small-business feel. It was located in a town where public transportation is virtually non-existent, so when I went there, I knew I would not be followed by my family of stalkers.

When it closed, I mourned for weeks. I was lost. I even cried. That’s how important that place was for me. There was just no place like the café there where they knew my name and what I liked to order most. I miss them all. Those jerks closed all Border’s stores and as far as I am concerned, they made a HUGE mistake. Like huge. Bigger than big.

So over the last couple of years, with no other place that could adapt to my needs or me to its atmosphere, I’ve been wandering lost. I cannot find a place with the ambiance that that particular store and café afforded me. I go out to a certain Barnes & Noble once in a while. The one that is closest to my home; however, it is farther than the old Border’s used to be. I don’t get there often enough to become a regular, and I certainly do not get the treatment and service I got at the Border’s that was in LaGrange, IL. That is the place so many story ideas came alive for me. It was a place of Ah-ha! moments. There was so much inspiration there. I loved being in the café at the winter holidays because the store was on a corner and the café overlooked the town square. The scene was so graceful and nostalgic with those large windows framing a view of holiday lights, snow, scurrying people, and the original train depot. It was like something out of a story book; like a Hallmark original Christmas movie.

Now here I am, always looking for that next nook to hide in. Then I thought, “Well, how about my small-town library?” I mean, sure, there’s no window views, or a café, but it’s nice and quiet and it needs business to keep going. I’ve made it a goal to check out more library books this year, and to actually use the quiet atmosphere as a place to hide away and write. I can bring my laptop and dive in. Even if I use it only a couple of weekend days per month, it’ll be more than I have in the past.

As far as checking out books to read or for research, I rarely do that either. I take it in spurts. Instead, I found myself wishing I had a Chicago Public Library card. Well, in truth, my local library can get whatever I might need in most cases. I guess the massive size of many Chicago branches is what really holds my interest. But my village library needs business too. The town I live in has a population of less than 12,500. I like it that way…I just wish it was further away from Chicago. So why in Hades do I want to go to Chicago? I hate it anyway. Blah! All they do there is rob people and murder one another.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I, or anyone other citizen of my town, cannot be murdered within the village limits, but we like our rose-colored glasses. I mean, between 2000 and 2012 there were only 3 murders: one in 2000, one in 2009, and again in 2011. I do not know the stats for 2013 -14. There has been a good deal of thefts, robberies, and car thefts. However, if we could look at the reports we’ll probably find that many of these were either committed by dumbass teens or people NOT from the village. They were committed by Chicagoans and creeps from suburbs that share garbage with Chicago, suburbs like Burbank and Oak Lawn. Maybe Bridgeview.

Anyway, I can still walk my dog here after the sun goes down without calling for a police escort and sending out homing pigeons to check for creepy people.

Oh, I really got off topic, right? I guess I just wanted to paint a picture of a small-town library that needs its business. I try to use our local businesses, but we don’t have many. I try often to utilize small businesses instead of big-box retailers when I can, and I’ll even drive to other ‘burbs to go to these places. Sometimes you will even find me in Chicago once in a blue moon. I find, though, that these are specialty shops where I find essentials that big retailers do not dare to sell. And that’s okay with me.

Since my town’s library is small and runs on a strict operating budget, I have decided to be a better patron. I usually donate to them books I’ve read, especially the nice hardcover books. Evens so, a few times this past summer I found myself selling them at the used bookstore. I will not do that this year. While I enjoy shopping at the used bookstore, I think I’ll stick to buying instead of selling in 2015.

In addition to my goals to be a better library user, and to better frequent small businesses, and of course, to not let people steal my thunder, most of my goals for 2015 revolve around writing.

The only resolution I made for 2015 is to be a writer. Yes, I said a WRITER. Even this resolution must be completed in small steps and goals to be accomplished. I am very tired of the term “writer’s block.” I use that term sometimes. Others use it. I’m not sure that every time I can’t finished something, or come up with a new idea, or a twist, spin, climax, or a new character I should call it writer’s block. Therefore, I am nixing that term from my vocabulary for 2015. Let’s see if it helps me any where progress is concerned.

Truly, I think writer’s block is the easy way out. A way for us to avoid questions like: Are you writing a new book? How’s that new book coming along? Did you finish writing that book? How’s that new character working out? Did you do that research on Three Stooges you talked about a few months back? Have you worked out your new writing schedule? Is Mary Poppins still singing to you during your showers? Is IT and Stephen King still invading your nightmares? Does Scooby-Doo still dance in a tutu behind your eyelids while you meditate? What color is this character’s eyes; is he a cowboy who rides a camel? You said a camel, right?

You get the picture. So, no more writer’s block. If anyone on WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter, etc., sees me write the term writer’s block in regards to myself, or hears me speak it…please remind me that there’s no such term (according to me).

On top of all that, I have other goals – actually, there is a resolution, but a big one that must be met through baby steps and one goal at a time. This is why so many resolutions fail. We attempt to meet the resolution in the first couple of months, if not the first couple of weeks. For example, we cannot come off of the winter holidays – Thanksgiving, Yule, Christmas and New Year’s – and expect to lose 50 pounds by February 14. It won’t happen. And so it goes with many resolutions. You must make small goals to reach that 50. Try 5 or 10 pounds first. Even if you lose only 15 pounds by the end of December 2015, you did not fail at the entire resolution, so do not give up. You will still be healthier than you were on December 31, 2014.

For me, my most important goal resolves around my spirituality. I intend on finding it again. It’s going to take most of the year. I’m on a journey. I assure you, I have to do this.

My next goal is health related. Not necessarily weight-loss related, but it might turn out to be a plus. Some of you may recall (especially my Facebook friends) that I’ve talked about some health problems I acquired during the last couple of years. So my health goals revolve around that. I’ve never been one to challenge a healthcare professional’s best advice. I know they are correct and that I have to do what it takes to keep my colon in shape. Colons cannot be replaced yet. Not like livers, kidneys, hearts and the like. It’s one of those if-you-abuse-it-you’ll-lose-it organs.

So my goals regarding health are to walk more, eat more veggies and avoid things I know damned well make me sick. No more ground beef! The infections are going to plague me regardless, and the hospital is unavoidable, but I can do things to lower the impact, soften the blow and slow things down.

I heard on the news a couple of days back that they…whoever THEY are…may have found a cure for colon infections. I pray for it. If you’ve never had an episode of Diverticulitis, where you vomit so hard that you are sure your colon has moved into your stomach, and your vision goes black except for those stars – one in each eye – right before you lose your senses and fall over between the toilet and the sink and get stuck – most cannot imagine. Yep. That’s me.

So I must, for my own good, make some healthcare goals.

I read Scorpio’s horoscope for 2015. It looks good. I find that it relates to some of my goals, some I’ve mentioned here and a few I’ll keep to myself.

I hope that you are having a great 2015 so far. Remember, junk those resolutions, or set GOALS to accomplish them. You might find it more helpful in accomplishing ideas and hopes.

Thanks for reading!