Thursday, December 31, 2009

365 Day Challenge for 2010

I know now what my 365 Day Challenge will be for 2010.  I will keep a Gratitude Journal.  Every night I will write 5 things that I am grateful for.  I can just list them or I can go into detail on them.  Whatever. 

I have a notebook and pen sitting by the bed.  Who will join me?

Welcome 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

bloodshot intercession

Special nod once more to EasyStreet Prompts for tonight's post.

Blue moons come around more often than you think.
Life can be funny that way.
Other times it is just plain hurtful but your
Ordinary days bring a sense of comfort.
Did you decide which socks match your
Sandals or does it even matter anymore?
Health issues consume the day when you grow
Older and closer to death.
Thanks for nothing, I say. Then,

Inspiration sneaks in on those pessimistic thoughts
Nudging out the curmudgeon, the crone.
The sunrise is too beautiful to comprehend and its
Energy rays push through the clouds of your negativity,
Reaching down into the real, true, honest
Center of YOU.
Enigmas now seem entertaining,
Smiles fling off the frown, and so
Simple things that frustrated yesterday or were
Ignored for something trivial now
Open their petals once more and welcome a
Newness of spirit inside.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Pen Review: JML Classic Pen Set (As Seen on TV!)

(Disclaimer: I'm still getting use to taking digital photos, so these are by no means great pictures.)

I was bored and needed to get out of the house yesterday, so while the rest of the fam went to see a movie that I didn’t care to, I went over to my local Walgreens. I was looking for a cheap sketchbook to use in my latest urge to “do something different.” When I get around office supplies or any sort of pens, paper, and whathaveyou, I don’t rush, I peruse. This drives anyone who is with me totally bonkers.

Stuck haphazardly in the junky looking clearance bin-ish thingy was this rectangular black box. I pulled it out from under the stuff that will eventually be written off and trashed. This is what I found:
“JML Classic Pen Set” (As Seen on TV!) (Virtually Indestructible Nib!) My eyes immediately stuck on the fountain pen picture. (Don’t you love the little one of it sticking out of a dartboard? How literary of them!) I read the label and then made my way over to a cashier for a price check: $19.99. While it was obviously one of those items that Walgreens gets only for clueless Christmas shoppers, it was not on sale. Since I have impulsive shopping tendencies, I purchased it with the thought that the fountain pen alone was worth $20!

A handsome presentation. (I think I can reuse the tray & box to store my other fountain pens.)

I tested all the pens out. (From left to right.) There was a micro ball pen (ballpoint for the normal person). Blue ink. Writes very nice. The propelling pencil (come on now, it’s a mechanical pencil, for pete’s sake) worked okay. The eraser, tinier than a Good & Plenty licorice piece, is under the plunger. The multi-pen doesn’t work. Only one tip comes out, but it writes very nice, too. I figure I can just use the one and when it runs out, switch the cartridges and keep on going. The ball pen (ballpoint) writes beautifully in blue ink. The roller pen writes with smooth black ink. And, finally on the right, the fountain pen.

I used a red ink cartridge for the test. It went in with a bit of difficulty. You have to push kind of hard on it to seat it and the instructions (yes, they provided instructions for all the pens) said to give the cartridge a squeeze to start the ink flow. Okay.
I used the fountain pen for my journal page today. I am using a Miquelrius notebook and so far, fine/Xfine-nibbed fountain pens do really well on the paper. This fountain pen has a medium nib and with the red ink it writes wet. The ink is a nice shade of red, I must say. The pen writes smoothly and feels fairly good in the hand but as you can see from the picture, medium nibs are not compatible with my handwriting.
There was significant show through on the back of the paper, as you can see. Being one of those weird people who hate to waste paper, I don’t care for that so much.

So, all in all, on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “ick” and 5 being “bliss”, I give this pen a 2.5. It earns points just for being a fountain pen, writes well, looks good. It loses points for being too wet, medium nibbed, tiny cartridges (I used half of the ink for one page in my journal).

I think I may try to convert it to an eyedropper and use a drier ink. Does anyone have any suggestions on which ink would work here?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Whew! That was pretty darn nice.

The day with my brother's family turned out to be a good one.  We talked of old times and family financial planning regarding my mother.  My nephew is so TALL and very funny.  And my sister-in-law is just plain wonderful.  It's been two years since we were all together and whatever was wrong back then has passed by and it is all cool.

Still, I am glad it is over and I'm once more at home.

By the way, I had some very nice words from Julie at Whatever.  (Thank you!)  Stop by and check out her blog.  You'll then know why she's one of the regulars I visit.

Can someone tell me how to imbed (embed?) a link in here so I don't have to paste the whole darn thing?

12/28/09 Update:  Thanks to Julie at Whatever, I know how to link.  It's the button labeled "link" on the Blogger Dashboard.  Duh.  Thank you Julie! 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Hey.  I'm back.  It's Christmas Eve.  I worked today for the half of my job that I don't like.  I'm not in a good mood.  Holiday stress has led to a couple of spats with hubby.  I find myself retreating internally.  Not good.

We met hubby's side of the family at a local Chinese restaurant for dinner.  Very pleasant people but the first part of dinner was strained thanks to the above mentioned spats and our inability to shed them at the door.  I take responsibility for that.  But we managed to loosen up and feel the love that filled the room.  Good bye hugs brought tears to my eyes.

Upon arriving home, we brought out the meager gifts we purchased for each other.  The cat isn't sure about her gift and would rather play in the paper shopping bag.  The dog tore into her wrapped toy and then left it on the bed surrounded by shredded paper.

Tomorrow is Christmas with my side of the family.  It will be difficult.  My brother and his family come from an ultra conservative part of the US and my family tends to be on the liberal side.  My mother gave me orders to not respond to his hurtful remarks or political rants.  I doubt that she requested the same from him.  Ah well, I am overweight so I'll go out for a walk when it gets too much.  (Note to self: bring a heavy coat and wear walking shoes.)

I will honestly be so relieved when tomorrow is over.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Confession

Hi.  My name is JoniB and I am not a Christian.

There.  It’s public.  Whew!

I used to be a “born again” Bible-thumping idiot in high school.  I had religious stickers all over my notebooks, I wore religious pins on my work uniform, I had the supplemental books, music, and etc.  I was pretty damned icky in those days.  But, cutting myself some slack, I was in high school and wanted to belong.  Amazingly, I had some really cool friends who stood by me anyway.

Flash forward 25 years.  I’m sitting at a bus stop in the Phoenix summer heat trying to talk to my daughter.  A younger man, who I’ll affectionately call “Bible-Bob” walks up and hands out Christian propaganda to everyone.  I refuse it saying that I’m already there.  Mistake.  He wants to “share.”  I politely but curtly answer and turn back to my daughter.  Several times this happens.  Finally, he gets so frustrated that I – a woman – am not giving him – a man – the attention he deserves, so he tells me that I’m not a true believer because I’m wearing men’s clothes.  (As usual, I think of my snappy comeback YEARS later.  Dammit.)  Anyway, it degenerates into a yelling match.  He wins because he got me angry. 

Flash forward 10 years – today.  After that incident, blended with researching and observing other religions (click here), I see three main points:  they are all man-made theologies, they are led by men who want money, and they show their fear of women by using their religious dogma to keep them under control.  Bible-Bob wants women in skirts & dresses.  If Bobby had done any thinking for himself, he’d know that I was wearing jeans for the same reason he was not wearing robes.  Fashion and function.  Men started wearing pants in the 1500’s (pockets were invented in 1540).  Women were kept in dresses for easy access to sex.  (They didn’t wear underwear.) 

Look at the Orthodox Jews.  Women have to keep their hair covered or wear that ugly wig.  They also have to keep their elbows and knees covered – but still wear skirts.  What is that all about?  The Taliban and other Middle Eastern beliefs have women enveloped in sheets.  Men blame women for having sexual thoughts.  Hello?  Isn't that the old primal "survival of the species" urge?  (I won’t even go into where I believe some men store their brains.)

Okay, so where do I go from here?  What is it that I DO believe?  I honestly don’t know yet.  When I walk to work in the pre-dawn darkness, I still feel the need to pray.  I just don’t know who is on the other end of the phone.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?

By Neil Gaiman and the Twitterverse
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Check out the link above.  It's a jaw dropper in the writer's world.  Neil Gaiman (love his work!) is using the new social technology to write stories.  Twitter, in this case.

This leads me to my personal dilemma.  All this new social media is whirling around me so fast I feel queasy.  I am not a user of Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or any other application.  I don't have time for it.  Neil is a full-time writer, so I guess he has time.  (How this is possible, given the schedule he keeps, I haven't a clue.  It could be the old "man vs woman" and their "responsibilities" crap that persists even into the 21st Century.  I won't go further.)

My point, and I think I may have one lying around here somewhere, is that with the print media melting into the past, e-book readers and other digital media on the rise, where does this leave me?  I still love the feel of paper in my hands.  I can't read long articles on the monitor and have to print them out.  I love the smell of a new book.  (Yes, I smell books.)  I also keep my journal by hand and do a fair amount of my creative writing by hand.  The whole ambiance of a fountain pen and delicious paper is my idea of heaven.  Am I, if I want to see my words in print, going to have to chuck all that for FaceBook?

I think this dog may be too old.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

EasyStreet Prompts - Random Words

skate . impounded . indestructible neanderthal .

bivouac , serviceable tidbit . agitated .

contemporary cockfight . ghost . lumbago .

delegation . dissuaded . 
tragically hip

“So, what do you want to do?  Do you want to go skate?”
“Nah.  Mine were impounded after that fight with Dean.” 
“Man, he’s an indestructible neanderthal.  What started that, by the way?”
“Aw, hell.  We were on bivouac--”
“The scouts?”
“Yeah.  It was my last one before the Eagle ceremony, right?”
“He dumps his breakfast all over my sleeping bag.”
“On purpose?”
“I don’t know.”
“He has an inner ear infection, Mom said.”
“Thanks for that serviceable tidbit.  Late, but thanks.  Anyway, so I calmly walk up to him and ask him why the fuck he did that and he gets a bit agitated.”
“Okay, and then what?”
“Well, we mix it up, a mild contemporary cockfight thing, you know, with the punching and biting.”
“Then Dean stops in mid-punch.  He’s frozen like he’s seen a ghost with lumbago.  So I stop and look around.  Here comes Franklin with a delegation of the other scout masters.”
“Uh oh.  I can see what’s coming.”
“No you can’t.  Dean straightens up and starts talking a mile a minute.  He points out the sleeping bag and the weather and this and that and before you know it, he’s dissuaded the scoutmasters from disciplining either of us!”
“Dean?  Dean did that?”
“Yep.  Then Franklin--”
“Who is so tragically hip that it makes me want to hurl.”
“Yeah.  Franklin turns maroon, spins around, and stalks off.  Turns out he told my mom and she’s taken most of my sport stuff away for the month.”
“Bummer, man.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hi. I'm Still Here. I Think.

Hi everyone.  I am so sorry I haven't posted for a while.  Things "out there" have been, well, crazy.  I hope to be able to stop, breathe, and get some writing done this weekend.

I have a question for you.  Does this sound like you:  Everyone I have around me and everyone I encounter has demands on me in various degrees.  I have demands on many others, again in various degrees.  It's like our realities clash and clang and bounce around like bumper cars.  And we all think our reality is more important than anyone else's.  I feel alternately entitled and guilty in rapid succession and even at the same time.  It's a wonder I don't "lose it."  I can't help but feel that we are genetically NOT structured for this.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More Random Words

(Thanks again to EasyStreet Prompts!)
     “Okay, so he’s not royalty,” she said as she punched down the dough in the bowl.  Turning back to the counter, she sprinkled flour on it and then dusted her hands with the rest.  “And he’s rather innocuous when you get right down to it.  But his delivery of the presentation was unprofessional and, to be honest, almost flippant!”
     Her friend put the coffee pot back onto the warmer and took a sip from the steaming mug as she pulled out a chair.  “So in my girlish translation, you think he’s gay.”
     “Yeah, but what if he is?  It doesn’t matter one bit.  It’s just that he’s so in your face with his latest ideas.  Last week it was fasting.  Sure, lots of people do it for many reasons.  He pulled it into every conversation we had.”  She dumped the dough onto the floured counter and punched it so hard that a puff of flour made her sneeze. 
     “Okay, I know what you mean on that.  Plus he is always talking about his career.  To me it smacks of indecisiveness and a sort of patchy retirement.”
     “Uh huh.”  She leaned hard into the dough, turned it, and leaned hard again.  The muscles in her shoulders gave up the tension that held them tight and sore.
     Running a finger around the rim of her mug, her friend let the silence stretch a moment longer, and then said, “Another thing is his excesses with color.  Every week or so, his office completely changes.  That cannot be good for the operating budget.”
     “That’s a good point.  I’ll have to ask some innocent questions here and there.  Hand me those two loaf pans, will you?”
     “Here.  You know, maybe we feel threatened.”
     “Threatened?  By what?”
     “His backhanded mojo.”
     She laughed.  “You’ll need to add a concordance to that book you’re writing.  That’s a mighty weird phrase.”  She put the loaf pans in a sunny windowsill and covered them with a tea towel.  “But I get what you mean.  There, that ought to do it.”
     “How long do they sit there?”
     “Another hour or so.  They have to stay warm for the final rising.”
     “Bread baking is stupefying.”
     “It’s not that bad.  Just pull up your bootstraps and dig in.”
     “You are such an oversimplified mommy.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Give away at Notebook Stories!

If you haven't heard or read anything about Moleskine planners, check out the Review on the Color A Month 2010 planners at Notebook Stories.  I'm hooked on Nifty's blog.  So many notebooks, so little ink!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo abandoned

Well, dear readers, I failed.  I let life get the better of me and I've given up the NaNo chase.  Sigh.

However, something interesting happened on the way to the finish line.  I began to write my 2007 novel again.  It seems that the reason last year and this year haven't panned out is because I'm not finished with the 2007 story.  So, here's the new plan: work on 2007 again.  Rewrite, revise, and get it into some coherent shape so that I'm not embarrassed to have others read it.  The plan is to work on getting a legitimate manuscript completed.

And that's where the plan stops.  Sending it out to agents will be another topic I'm not willing to discuss right now.  FIRST, get the manuscript written and polished.

In the meantime, I need more writing practice.  I've not written a successful (in MY definition) short story.  I jumped right into novels.  I follow quite a few writing blogs and their advice is to practice, practice, practice and start with the short story.  They are well published.  They ought to know what they are talking about.

Okay.  That's the plan.  Keep the butt in the chair.

Oh, yeah - check out the latest Nova program on dreams:     Way cool.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Great TED Talk that you will enjoy

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

This is one of my secret vices.  I love watching these videos because they inspire me and also make me laugh.  Tonight I watched Jonathan Zittrain talk about the internet.  Amazing stuff I never knew and I was so taken aback that I felt I had to share.  It's about 20 minutes in length and you will love it all.  I promise.

Check out the full list of videos.  Great, great stuff.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who is Who is Me?

Cynthia over at Creative Writing Corner had an interesting question: Are There Many Versions of You? This struck a chord with me. I’ve often felt that I don’t know who my true self is because I AM so different with others.  Cynthia’s main point was this: who is the real self? Given the lives we lead, communicating with hundreds, even thousands more people than our parents ever did or their parents before them, we must diversify ourselves to survive and thrive. At what cost?

I was required to take a Strength Finders test for one job and it was, as all of these type tests are, easily manipulated into giving the results that you think the boss is looking for. Therefore, it is not you. So, the work-a-day world commences and you demonstrate repeatedly that you are not what that test showed you to be. Friction and conflict ensue. Chalk one up for the bad side.

People with heart-rending problems call in to my upstairs job looking for help or a point in a better direction and I become another person for them, a “Mother” figure to vent to, cry with, and then receive some advice, guidance or just wishes for future success. This is one for the good side, in my opinion.

Friends see someone who blends with them, family sees all the sides above and more, but at the end of the day when I sit down with my thoughts, I do wonder just who I really am? I get so fragmented and folded and bent “out there” that the “in here” is wrinkled and dented as well.

Is it the knowing that this is so why I tend to write as others may paint, sew, compose, or sculpt? Is it the creative side of us that irons us out into the true self?

Cynthia, I don’t have answers, but I share your question!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Admit It - I Started the Whole Thing

I have always felt inferior for not having a college education. (This feeling was/is assisted by some a-hole bosses that I won't name.)  Entry level jobs are all that I could ever get because of it.  When I was graduating high school - with honors - I was told that I could not attend college.  My family was barely scraping by.  Of course no one in my tiny town even mentioned to any of us (that I know of) that scholorships and grants were still plentiful and I could have had major assistance.  Instead I get a grant to go to a vocational school for dental assisting.  Yawn.

So the other day, I'm surfing the net and I see an ad: Working Moms Return to School - Obama funds Pell grants - or something along those lines.  Pell grants I've heard of.  Here's the start of my mistake:  I click on the ad and take the short survey to see if I qualify.  Apparently, (clue #1) I must because I'm directed to a list of online universities.  I recognize most of them.

I click on Colorado Technical University.  They have an AA in general studies, which is what I'd need to go further with anything.  They stop at the information gathering page (clue #2) "to send you more information."  I, fool that I am, fill it out INCLUDING (I'm a bigger idiot than I thought) my cell phone number.

Wisely (chortle if you must) I use my email address that I reserve for shopping and when I'm not entirely sure about someone.  It has a blocking feature.  Their email with the link to their site comes almost immediately to my inbox. 

I could have choked from the rates they quote for their classes.  ONLINE!  There's virtually no overhead for online classes, so WTF?  I click out of it and decide to hang up that idea.  I could get an AA from our local community college system for half the price and have face to face classes to boot.

Now comes the part I regret.  Colorado Technical University uses a call center located in the Bahamas.  By doing this, they do not have to follow the FCC regulations.  No matter how many times I tell them not to call my cell phone, they can ignore it and call again.  And again.  There is no recourse on my end.  I've been called all blasted weekend!  It started last week at work, but I keep my cell phone on silent and saw the missed calls message several times.

So, as a lesson out there, folks:  If they insist on a phone number, give them a fictious one or better yet, give them your fax number.  I've emailed Colorado Technical University about this, but I fear their Contact Us link goes to India or some other place that will ignore the request.  Live and learn.

UPDATE:  12/06/09  The cell phone calls have stopped.  Yay!  The emails have bloomed and gone to seed and the spam is growing now.  Lesson #2 - DO NOT click on any online ads.  That's why I took Google Ads off this blog.  They were advertising some very undesirable items here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

21,617 and

counting!  I'm way behind in my word count, but with my MUST USE vacation time next week (10 glorious days in a row!), I'm not panicking.  Yet.

Does anyone know the latin word for "giddyup"?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quo Vadis Notebook: Habana - The Review

I received a Quo Vadis Habana Notebook in the mail after I politely requested one on the Quo Vadis blog.  (Okay, I begged.  Happy?)  I didn't find it right away.  My family has this cute little quirk of dumping the mail wherever they feel so inclined and maybe, just maybe you'll get lucky and find that bill before it comes due.  Okay.  Fine.

Then, I set it aside thinking that after NaNoWriMo I'd open it and see what was what.  It stared at me.  I actually dreamt of it last night.  Surrounded by many, many bottles of ink, there it sat waiting for me.  I know an omen when I dream one.

First of all, THANK YOU to Karen of Exaclair, Inc. for sending the notebook.  Please note that I have no affiliation with Exaclair - except in these recurring fantasies where I get locked in their warehouse for a long weekend with a fully loaded fountain pen and a box cutter.  (Hmmm... Might be time to see my shrink again.)

Okay, so.  The facts are these, my friends:
  • Lined - not too wide and not too narrow.
  • Round corners - love it!
  • Ribbon marker - classy.
  • Pocket insert - might come in handy, who knows?
  • 80 sheets - okay, I'm a pig and want more.
  • 6" x 9" - fits into my purse with total ease.
  • Elastic closure - way cool and not bulky at the connection points.
  • Clairfontaine paper - 90 gr. - more to come on this one.
The cover is a selling point for me.  It feels leathery, yes, but best of all it feels somewhat cushy.  It feels rich.  It feels soft.  It feels great.  The only thing that I hesitated on was that it doesn't lie flat when opened.  It's new, of course, so I can forgive a bit of that.  It won't stop me from using the notebook.

The inside:  I wrote with three of my fountain pens using three different inks.  None of my pens are expensive because I just don't have that kind of lifestyle.  But I have to say, the paper is superb!  

My first pen was my fine nibbed Hero that looks like a Parker 51.  Using Pelikan Brilliant Black I wrote a few lines.  Scratchy.  My nib, not the paper.  No bleed through.  No feathering.  On to the next pen.

Second pen was my Preppy fine nib (yes, I go for the fines.  I write too weirdly for anything else.) using a green ink cartidge.  Smooth.  I could still hear my pen on the page, but it was romantic, not harsh at all.  Again, no bleed through or feathering.

Third, and last pen, was my Pilot Petit 1, fine nib, and a blue-black cartridge.  Total bliss.  Smooth, sleek and fast.  This was perfect.  Even with my carpal tunnel, I could write a long time on this surface.  And of course, no bleed through or feathering.  I can easily use both sides of the page.

No wonder Clairfontaine has the reputation of being the finest paper out there.  It is true.

Thank you, Karen at Exaclair, Inc.!  I truly enjoy this product.  Now, about the secret location of your warehouse...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

6,882 Words So Far!

And dang if the "Traveling Shovel of Death" didn't show up just as they said it would.  I'm flabbergasted to say the least.

Mixed emotion time again: 
  1. I'm worried that with this weekend's conference, I'll get way behind in my word count. 
    • Anxiety,
    • Panic,
    • Depression,
    • Resignation 
  2. But I was informed yesterday that I have 80 hours of vacation to use before Thanksgiving.  Yeah.  Right.  Well, I managed to schedule 40 of them in the week before Thanksgiving - writing time!  Yay!  And I'm allowed to carry over 40 to use the week between Christmas and New Years - sleeping time!  Yay!  AND my 2nd boss has given his approval as well.  (Juggling my time between two bosses is most of the reason that I have all this time to use.  When I can take off from one, I can't from the other.)
    • Confusion
    • Panic
    • Realization
    • Relief
Life gets way too complicated sometimes.

Anyway, I'm off to bed.  Good night and good word counts to everybody!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update and BIG News!

Okay - I'm at 2,274 words.  The kick-off event was great.  Thank you "rosiecheeks" - our official municipal liason for NaNoWriMo!

Big news!  I've been published!  will lead you back to this blog to my piece entitled "A Woman of a Certain Age."  This is my first published work.  I think I can officially call myself a writer.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween & Happy NaNoWriMo Eve!

The countdown has begun.

The hubby and I are charging the laptop batteries and I'm dusting off my Viking helmet (with braids).  Tonight, at the witching hour, we begin NaNoWriMo 2009!  I'm really pumped about this, can you tell?

For the first time doing NaNo, we are going to a kick-off party & write-in at a local restaurant.  I have my title, some research saved to the desktop, and I've got a baggie of prompts to add to the laptop bag and I've set my 'puter to the power saver setting.  (Outlets are hard to find in restaurants.)

I'm hoping that in the spirit of Halloween, I become a creative vampyre and feed off of all the energy in the room.  I've done that at some poetry events where I'm able to sit in the back so I don't distract the performer.  It's just amazing what comes out of the pen during those moments.

Getting a bit sleepy and need to take a nap.  I'll write again in a few days to let you know how I'm doing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Scene is Set

No, not to begin my NaNo novel, but to write my NaNo novel in.  My hubby, bless his heart, pitched in and helped me convert an unused guestroom (that was really the den but had nothing but the HUGE worn out bed to sit on while browsing through our wall of books) into:

Our new office! 

The carpet is torn up and dispatched with, the desks are moved in.  His is a beautiful desk a friend gave him a year ago for his workshop.  I hated putting it out there in the hot, dry, dust with no one to visit it.  So, without much tap dancing, I got him to agree to bring it in.  Easier said than done.  We actually had to take a door off its hinges.

But, we are set to go for NaNoWriMo!  (Six days away.  Gulp.)

Oh, yeah.  I called in sick today.  I needed a mental health day to ease the horrible  headache I woke up with and this sure did it!  I am so jazzed. 

There are a few tweaks that need to be made, but nothing that we can't live with for the moment.  Yeah, it looks hodgepodge with all the second hand furniture (an old bed headboard is my bookcase) and such, but the main factor here is function

Someday I'll even figure out how to upload pictures here and then I'll show you where I write.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My dogs are barkin'!

Hi.  Sorry I haven't written for a while.  I'm pooped.  63 hour work-week pooped with all 23 hours of overtime coming in the last three days.

I hope to be back at it soon, but another tough week is coming.  What am I saying?- I have a tough month ahead.  I'll be a bit better after November 7th or 8th.  Then this blog will just be competing with NaNoWriMo for my attention.

Stand by, folks...  I will return.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Write about avenues of escape.

She squeezed her eyes shut and then squeezed some more until she could see stars. Maybe when she opened her eyes she would be in a different place, in a different time, a different person entirely. Maybe when she opened her eyes...

No. He was still there. Head lolling off to one side, snoring. Feet, dirty and rough, splayed about on the clean bedspread. Dressed in nothing but his dirty underwear, he radiated alcohol and stale smoke from the casino's back room. At least this time, she mused, he hadn't peed the bed. But as soon as she thought this, the yellow water flowered through his underwear and ran between his legs soaking the bedding underneath. She began to cry.

They married young, right out of high school. Her college dream was shoved aside when he moved them to Los Angeles to avoid joining the family construction business. He worked many different odd jobs while she worked days as a waitress in a coffee shop and nights in a local bar. Then he decided to take up an offer by one of his buddies to work in Los Vegas dealing blackjack. It was the same story there. If he wasn't fired from the places he worked, he'd find a reason to quit.

That was thirty-four years ago and he'd been unemployed for most of it. She looked at herself in the mirror and wondered who that old woman that looked back was. Her hands shook as she ran thin fingers through her brittle grey hair. Brown liver spots littered her cheeks. She couldn't tell herself these were freckles any longer.

Suddenly she was angry.  She knew that no one else was to blame but herself. She allowed this to happen. She let things go rather than saying anything because it would end up in a fight and she would end up apologizing for some slight misdeed and then soothe it all away. He'd walk around the house, thin-lipped and demanding, "What if I go out for a drink now and then and what if I do a little gambling here and there? At least I don't take up with any strange women, now do I?"

A snort, a gasp, a growl, and then he rolled over. Silence lingered only seconds before a renewing of the snores. The smell from the alcohol, smoke, and urine pushed with body odor, made her gag.

And it made up her mind. She pulled the curtain covering the closet aside, grabbed a couple of canvas shopping bags and started to fill them with her clothes. Then she stopped. What would she do for money? He took it all last night. Maybe, just maybe he won this time? She went to the tiny living room and picked up the pants he'd shucked off in the middle of the room. She searched the pockets.

Keys. She put them in her pocket. She was taking the car. Coins. Also, in her pocket. A few wadded up bills, mostly singles. In her pocket. The wallet. Credit cards, mostly maxed out. In her pocket. No more money.

The kitchen drawer held the checkbook and address book. They went in her other pocket. The tiny notebook with passwords to the online bill paying sites joined them. What else? She looked around the kitchen, then the living room, scanning, searching for other things she could use. She would leave nothing for him. For a moment she considered taking the groceries, too, but ended up taking a box of granola bars and leaving the rest. He couldn't cook anyway.

Returning to her bags, she paused, pulled everything out and repacked with just her nightgown, some work clothes and underwear. Her cosmetics were few. Dollar store shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and brush, a hair brush and comb. Then she slid her latest romance novel down one side. Looking around she saw the old Bible on the shelf and gave a snort. Fat lot of good that piece of crap did her. All lies.

Slipping the shopping bag handles over one arm, she slung her purse on the other shoulder and selected the car key. Praying to the Universe for a decent amount of gas, she walked out the door and into her new life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Don't Quite Follow You

There are days when I feel my house is just not big enough.  Sheesh!  There are only three of us (and a small dog and a long cat) in a three bedroom house!  Yet, there are times we - inadvertantly - follow each other through the house.

It starts in the kitchen or laundry room.  I need to put something in the bedroom at the other end of the house.  I walk out of the kitchen into the dining room where my hubby has just gotten up from the main computer to tell me something he's just learned.  So he follows me as I walk to the bedroom to tell me about it.


It starts in the kitchen or laundry room.  I have something to put in the bedroom.  My daughter has just grabbed a soda from the fridge and heads back to her bedroom & computer.   Hubby, in the dining room gets up to tell me something... and on it goes with variations on this theme.

It unnerves me.  I really don't know how they feel as I haven't said much of anything about it.  I mean, what's the point?  It isn't something deliberately done.  The only time I do say something is when they all follow me to the bathroom and sometimes INTO the bathroom to continue the discussion.  Again, sheesh!

My point?  I flash back to "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Hunters International" and their oft repeated comments about feeling creeped out by the sound or feeling of someone/thing following them.  Then I think about how creepy it feels when you are walking down the sidewalk and someone is behind you walking a bit faster than you.  That moment when they overtake you is one that freezes time for me.  It might be the inherent fright I feel living in a big city.  It bothers me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sidesaddle Temptress

(Prompt courtesy of Easy Street Prompts)

Sitting astride the metaphorical stallion
I pull the reins to halt the beast
Distant horizons entice me
East or west, north or south
Such is the question
And I wait for the answer
Life will not wait
Everyone must make

THE decision.
Everyone must live with it, too
Many regrets and
Possibilities are left behind
They nip away at our peace of mind
Releasing those thoughts are difficult
Everyone has them, and
So do I
So do you

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nagging feeling

I hate this.  I have this horrible feeling like I'm forgetting something.  Something important.  I have 2 meetings coming up that I am in charge of.  Both seem like they are under control and I'm prepared completely except for the usual last minute stuff: printing and stuffing.  I've checked, re-checked, and checked again.  What am I missing?

Or is it that I'm so used to flying by the seat of my pants and grabbing and clutching at last minute items?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"You have stayed too long."

"I know. But, I just can't..."

"Yes, you can." It sat down on the chair across from her and leaned close, "I know it's scary. New things are always scary." It sat back in the chair and seemed to sigh.

"What do you know about scary? You DO scary but do you feel scared?"

"Yes, sometimes. I feel scared when they bring psychics and mediums here. I feel scared when they carry new devices. I never know what will happen then."


"Because they might find a way to send me over."

"So? Aren't you supposed to go over?"

"That's hard to say. I stayed here and then it was too late to go over. My doorway closed."

"But if they opened a new doorway?"

"I don't know." It sighed again but this time it was tinged with aggravation. "This isn't about me. It's about you. You need to move on."

"You don't. Why should I?"

"Because you are still alive. You have a life ahead of you and that life is meant to experience things, see new places, meet new people."

She fell back on the bed, arms spread wide. "I'm just not ready, okay?"

"You can't sit here and talk to me all night."

"Why not? Where are you going?"

"Nowhere. Stop this arguing now. Get to bed and in the morning I want to see that suitcase packed and you waiting for the taxi." It softened its voice and added, "You can send me postcards, you know. I can flip them over and read them when the mailman drops them through the slot."

"I guess." She rolled over and then spun around to face it. "Okay, the real reason I don't want to go? I'm afraid that when I come back I won't be able to see you or talk to you or you'll just be gone." Her voice caught, "You are my best friend."

"And you are one of mine. I'll be here, never fear that. And I'll find a way to let you know that should the worst happen." It stood up and drifted to the wall. "Now, get some sleep. I'll see you before you go."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I love autumn.

The sharp edge of desert summer heat has finally softened for the fall. We’ve been experiencing below average temperatures and clouds decorate our skies once more. As I walked to work this morning I was blessed with enough rain that I used my umbrella for the first time in months. (I almost detected a bit of dust poof out as I opened it.)

This is the time of year that I consider to be my personal New Year with new goals and projects beginning. Breathing comes easier now. Reflection and introspection fill my spirit and lead me to the page. Fiction is pushed momentarily to the side and journaling takes priority. The usual resistance is gone and I spiral down to find my truth.

The desert hasn’t always been my home. I grew up in rural Minnesota. Autumn was more subtle there but beginnings were just as bold as now. The start of school and with it the start of new notebooks and other supplies blended with the change in weather created an indelible imprint upon me that will never leave.

So, dear readers, we head off to a New Year, a new beginning, and the next year with great interest. What will our future hold? Where will we find that next piece of our personal puzzle?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why not ...?

Why not dream?  It saves your sanity in this crazy world. 

Why not dream?  To think that this is all there is could be a sin.

Why not dream?  There are worse ways to spend the time.

Why not dream?  The real world calls it planning.

Why not dream?  Possiblities can only be seen through the window of a dream.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another weekend passes by

Crap.  It's Sunday night.  Work tomorrow.   It starts with a "Staff Meeting" that is basically - well, never mind.  It's just more whining that neither of us really needs right now.

I managed to get the back yard hay field mowed.  Now the cat is pissed off.  She loved playing jungle kitty and hiding low in the grass until the little dog passed by whereupon she'd pounce and scare the dog into a freak-out.  Now it is literally a level playing field.  The dog, of course, loves it.  In addition to the attacks from the cat, she has allergies to the grass and would come in with a red blotchy tummy.

The washing machine is on its third load.  It is so different from the old Estate.  That had two dials.  This has five.  Yes, five.  Believe it or not, it was the simplest Whirlpool model that Sears had.  I did not want a computer panel.  One tiny thing breaks and you have to replace the whole freaking computer.  Pass!

The hubby and I have decided to turn the spare bedroom/den into a home office.  This will be a slow project.  Since we don't have a decent enough house to invite anyone to spend the night, this seems like a good idea.  My writing desk is in our bedroom and it is not working out.  Everyone ends up in here on the king-sized bed and I get no writing done.  Step one is getting that old bed out of the house and into the alley.  We want to clear the room completely and tear up the carpet.  It's worn out and we don't need the extra allergens of dust mites either.  Fortunately, our 1954 ranch style home was built with polished and dyed cement floors.  Dark brown.  Yuck.  Can anyone say:  Area Rugs?

As you can see from the upper right corner, I updated my author profile on NaNoWriMO today and am officially in the running for that 50K finish line.  If I cross, I will splurge and get the T-shirt.

Well, the dog is snoring, so I guess it is time to wrap it up for tonight.  Sleep well, my friends.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mixed feelings

The new washing machine will be delivered tomorrow.  This brings up several emotional responses.
  • I feel relieved that I won't have to go to a laundromat.
  • I feel panicky because my credit card is now maxed out and there is no safety net anymore.
  • I feel sad because I tend to become attached to my major appliances (& cars) and I hate goodbyes in any form.
  • I feel high from making a guilt-free purchase - we NEEDED this.  I've gone without a dryer before and it is rather pleasant to hang clothes out on the line.
What a mixed bag of feelings.  I realize that this is because I'm human and a woman to top it off.  Women are naturally gifted at multitasking in all sorts of ways.  This is just one example.  I'm just blessed with a comprehending husband and a daughter that also has the gift.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Feeling bummed again

Well, washing machine repairman said it couldn't be fixed for less than $400.  Rats.  So I gave him a handshake and my last $60 in cash.  I've just spent the last 2 hours on research and it looks like it will be another Whirlpool.  Heck, the Estate - made by Whirlpool - was 17 years old (I checked the file) and was last repaired in May of 2008, so that should be a good choice. 

Top loading for me.  Every single review I read on front loading mentioned the mildew/mold problem of the drums and door seals staying wet unless you wipe them down when you are done.  Excuse me?  I have enough to remember to pull the last load out of the dryer.  And try training the family to wipe it down?  Sheeyeah.  And monkeys... well, you get the idea.

The next question is, do I want that shiny red one?  It's a good price.  My old dryer is white and I'm NOT going to replace that on the esthetics point.  I really don't care if they don't match.  Function is king in this household.

Hubby is out golfing.  I found a $20 hiding under the mess on the kitchen counter/telephone area.  They are getting an okay price because their tee-time is not during prime time.  I wish I had married "me" sometimes.

Looks like I'll be digging up some quarters for the laundromat.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

That wooshing sound was my paycheck

Payday?  What payday?  It's gone.  Actually, totally, completely, GONE.


It's going to be challenging for awhile folks.  I've hit bottom and can't dig my way any deeper.  This of course puts me in a somewhat sour mood.  No Arizona Art Supply visit on Saturday for inks.


Bright side:  I have a job.  I live in a metropolitain area and am walking distance close to almost everything I need.  The public library around here is awsome.  Books and DVDs for free and since you have to turn them back in... no clutter!  Bonus!  We have a computer with internet connection.  I have paper and plenty of pens in many forms.  I have my imagination.  I have my dog and a very weird cat.  I have a husband and a daughter and we love each other - most of the time, anyway.

Groceries will be tough.  Pancakes will be a staple.  Ramen noodles.  But we need to lose weight, so this may be good.  Walking and cutting down on our calories.  I just bought a big bottle of multi-vitamins and our prescriptions were just refilled, so we can go for a while on those.

This is do-able!  I'm originally from Minnesota and I was raised in a farming background where you learned to "make do" and be tough.  I have one last item to put on a credit card and the rest will have to wait.  Our washing machine broke down yesterday and the repairman is coming on Friday.  I am a great believer in fixing things until they just can't be fixed anymore.

All right then.  I'm feeling better.  Thanks for listening while I worked through this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random Words #5

Prompt #677:  (Courtesy of EasyStreet Prompts)

connivery . misjudged . unresigned prizefighter . perks . citronella effigy . wayfaring . integrated nuptials . floorboard . repaired . repellent . overpaid . alphabetical ego

Her connivery backfired when she misjudged the unresigned prizefighter. Perks became nothing more than a citronella effigy in a wayfaring world. Integrated nuptials aside, the floorboard was repaired. It was repellant how overpaid someone with an alphabetical ego could be.

(Sorry, folks.  It's been a tough day.  I really need to play the lottery.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Write about a premonition

Shannon looked up at the clear blue sky and blinked. It looked the same as it always did. The air around her smelled the same as it always did. She shut her eyes and listened. Nothing out of the ordinary there, either. Yet, something was wrong.

She shifted her weight around and uncurled her legs from the chair she sat in. The clock on the patio wall read almost 8 a.m. The day had barely begun and already she felt a heavy hand pressing on her chest.

Monday. She would normally at work by now, beginning a pointless staff meeting where she sat, listened to everyone else's upcoming week, and took the occasional note of a task someone would toss her way like a scrap to a cowering dog. Being only part-time she felt disconnected from the goings on and distant from the other employees. Her boss alternated micro-managing with complete dismissal to the point where Shannon hated to see him walk into the office.

Unable to face another dead meeting, Shannon emailed in sick. Well, she reasoned, I am sick of that job. I just can't face it today. So, out went an email with her regrets and the instant that email left the outbox, the heavy hand began clutching at her chest walls.

She admitted to herself that she doesn't do much of anything when she is at work. The bare minimum and no more. I'm a terrible employee. I don't stay a minute passed quitting time. I sneak out early every chance I get. I read the paper or the internet news when no one is there. I only work when someone is watching me.

I'm going to be fired. Today was the last straw.

Shannon took a sip of coffee and thought about getting fired. It's the rejection that hurts, she told herself. But that really happened soon after I was hired. Hell, I can get another job. I've worked retail before and I can learn waitressing. I can collect unemployment for a while, too. I couldn't do that if I'd quit.

She stood up and walked inside and turned on her computer. I'll look for another job. There will be something out there for me. I can do anything. I can.

The horizon blinked.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Write about a fragrance

Moods influence what I chose to surround myself with. One of my ex-bosses remarked that he could tell my attitude by the music I was listening to. He was so right on that.  I listen to classical when I'm nervous and unsure of myself, new age meditation instrumentals when I'm stressed out, heavy metal when I'm royally pissed off. (There's been a lot of metal playing lately, too.)

But fragrance is different. If you can get beyond the person who bathes in strong and obnoxious colognes that beat you over the head when they merely pass you by, smell is the most powerful sense we have to cue memories. Just today my friend mentioned that she could still smell the penicillin her father used on the farm during a particularly difficult year with their cattle. Pine-Sol reminds me of our basement when Mom got into one of her cleaning jags.

I like cinnamon and spice on winter evenings to feel cozy and calm. Lavender during the day makes me feel sophisticated and confident. Melon and cucumber on summer mornings make me feel bright and open.

Creosote bushes in the desert after a rain brings on the best emotions for me. The clean, slightly spiced scent lends the feeling of wide open skies, the immensity of the world and all its wonderful possibilities. I feel energized and centered. I feel the earth is alive. I feel like my spirit flies free.

I wish they could put that in a bottle. I'd buy a case.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Random Words #4

Prompt #673 - courtesy of EasyStreet Prompts
moderation . horsefeathers . self-righteous copyboy . itemize . subliminal bluff . concoct . delicate hoosegow . dispensation . evacuee . afoul . winnow . staccato artillery

"Moderation in all things, Ellie."

"Oh, horsefeathers! You are nothing but a self-righteous copyboy."

Nelson, put his hands on his hips and squinted at Ellie. "If you'd quit drinking all that coffee, perhaps you'd be less likely to spend half your working hours in the restroom. I won't even mention the constant trips to the vending machine or all the time you spend outside smoking."

"Leave it to you to itemize everyone's faults. Well, I don't have time to listen to your preaching. Go away and let me work in peace."

"I can't. We go to press in fifteen minutes and Larkin wants those stories pronto." Nelson started tapping his foot but stopped when he realized the carpet muffled the effort.

Ellie sat back in her leather task chair and stared over Nelson's head. She surmised that Nelson was too thick headed to try a subliminal bluff, so she tried to concoct another reason to get him out of her doorway. She shook her head and then gave up. Digging through a pile of papers that were perched haphazardly on the corner of her credenza, Ellie pulled out a sheet and waved it in Nelson's direction. "Here's one. By time you deliver it to Larkin and come back, I'll have the other one.

"Oh no. He told me not to come back until I had all three from you."

"Well, that puts you in a delicate hoosegow, doesn't it? You see, Nelson, I don't have them complete yet and I can't work with you standing there. If you leave, I can get them done. If you stay, well, there's no dispensation."

Nelson growled and turned on his heel. It took a great effort not to slam her office door, but he shut it with just a smart snap instead. He looked at his watch, then back at Ellie's office door. He leaned back against her wall, crossed his arms over his chest and slid down to sit on the marble floor to wait.

Ellie, relieved that the door had closed, called up her latest files on her laptop. There was the story about the evacuee who inadvertently ran afoul of the local law, and there was the other story she wrote about farmers trying to winnow their wheat while cringing to staccato artillery fire across the river from their fields. This story, as was the other, was essentially finished, but lacked her trademark smart ass concluding comments at the end. The jokes just weren't there anymore.

Friday, September 25, 2009


It's been "one of those weeks," dear readers. Too many business-related functions and duties kept me tied up in knots and unable to put a coherent sentence together. Friday has arrived and with a brandy by my side, I breathe in and let it all go until Monday.

I've had a cursory search of my home office space to locate my folder with all the handouts from a qui gong (derived from tai chi) class I attended several years ago. With the building pressures that life is shoveling my way lately, I feel I should step up the intensity of the search. I'm in need of something healthier than alcohol to deal with the stress.

AND I will be heading to the page a bit more often to work on those writing muscles. November is just around the corner and it is very important to me to cross that finish line this year. Why? Because it makes all that outside stress seem insignificant in light of my heart's true desire.

Publishing is not even on the table at this stage. I'm still an apprentice at this craft/art. It may come in time. I'll know it when I see it. For now, I just write.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This is where I went wrong.

There was no moon to help guide me on this scarcely used gravel road that led to god only knew where. Because the road dipped and rose and curved unpredictability, the headlights could only give me immediate information. I stopped the car and turned to look again to see if they were following. Nothing. I turned off the engine, opened the door and leaned out. Again, nothing.

My heart slowed a fraction as I walked around the car to try get my bearings. The darkness whispered fearful images of wild animals and crazy men with hooks for hands. I shivered and slowly walked up the rise I had just driven down, my feet crunching and sliding on the loose stones.

Still nothing. They must have missed me when I turned off the county highway. I sighed in relief as I walked back to the front of my car in search of a space where I could turn around. The trees grew thick and from their size, I judged them to be old and gave no room to maneuver an about-face. I got back in the car, started the engine and crept forward keeping any eye to the sides of the road.

After roughly 15 minutes of this, I was thinking of just putting the car into reverse and backing my way out to the highway. Then, through the trees to the left, I saw a dim bluish light. A house? I drove on until I saw an even narrower opening to the left and the light became brighter. I turned the car toward it.

The gravel road became a pitted dirt farm trail. I bounced and jolted my way towards the light. Suddenly the trees stopped and I pulled into a clearing. The light came not from a house, but an undulating cloud of something that floated above a small unkempt graveyard. I stopped and got out of my car.

This is where I went wrong.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I hate Mondays

After 2 1/2 glasses of wine, I've finally mellowed out. It was not a good morning for me. Nonetheless, I'm counting my blessings here: I have a job. Half of my job is totally cool. The other half sucks dirty dishwater. So I will keep my focus on the good half. The sucky half will be done by the end of the year and while that puts my future in somewhat of a question, I am at this point not caring in the slightest.

The upshot of the sucky job is that it is pushing me to the page. This is mostly just to prove to myself that I do indeed exist and have value. Getting ignored, or worse, getting noticed only when a mistake is made, has been a good thing in that I have restarted this blog and my off work hours are being spent in more creative ways. Reading blogs instead of watching TV is one.

I just read a bit of a blog that mentioned a 365 Day Challenge. Take a photo of yourself everyday for 365 days and post them to the proper category on Flickr. Way cool. However, I'm not much on photographing myself. Just ask my family. So, what else I could do?

This blog, yeah. But when NaNoWriMo rolls around again, I may not be posting every day - unless it is posting my word count, etc. So. Think, think, think.

This is where YOU come in. Yes, YOU. I know who you are. I challenge you to come up with a 365 Day Challenge. If you do it, then I will. Let me know what you intend to do and I'll come up with one of my own. We start on January 1, 2010. That's enough time for us each to think of what we will do. Are you in?

For the record: post a comment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Random Words #3

Prompt #413: random words and phrases (Courtesy of Easystreet Prompts)

hydrated . annuity . mythological multiplication . roadrunner . inconsiderate song . disorienting
estranged victim . fusion . deluded . lettered . beluga . impractical adoption

In an effort to stay hydrated in the dry air conditioned room, I sucked on the last few drops of bottled water. I was sitting in an uncomfortably hard chair waiting for my accountant to read the latest quarterly report on my annuity.

"I don't understand this," he said finally looking up at me, "this is nothing but mythological multiplication. A roadrunner in hell could do better."

Stunned, I stood up and walked to the window. The only sound came from the soft muzak system as it played an inconsiderate song. I hated the original and the muzak version only made it worse.

"Sidney, this is quite disorienting. I feel like an estranged victim," I said.

"I quite understand. This report is a fusion of deluded minds." He sat back in his leather chair and swiveled to see me better. "To think that this report, from a company that insists on hand lettered business cards and beluga caviar, can function with this impractical adoption of accounting is beyond me."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Random Words #2

Prompt #669: random words and phrases (Courtesy of Easystreet Prompts)

unafraid . Spartacus . prominent retiree . bargaining . unmerciful Freemason . subtotal . atomic icebox . deepen . meritorious

Unafraid, Sparticus, prominent retiree of Pleasant Acres Trailer Park, began bargaining with the unmerciful Freemason landlord for a subtotal of six cases of ice cream sandwiches that were kept in the atomic icebox to deepen their frozen state, with the single hope of bringing meritorious results back to the residents of the Park.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On the eve of the funeral.

I sat on the metal folding chair too long. My butt was numb and my hip started to send shooting pains down my thigh. I shifted and squirmed in an effort to ease the discomfort. But I didn't leave. The preacher was a contractor for the funeral home. He didn't know the guy in the casket. Neither did I but I lied and said he was my cousin. A few faked tears and they left me alone.

I am a ghost hunting junkie. I watched every episode of Ghost Whisperer and now I follow Ghost Hunters on TV. I read everything I can find on the internet, too. But I never saw a ghost in person. Or, rather, in the non-person. So there I sat. Waiting.

I'd read that a person sticks around for ten days after they die before they go into the light. This guy died on Tuesday. He had to show up sometime. I squinted in the low light. I didn't say anything aloud because I knew there were other people in the building. Once I almost asked the janitor if he ever saw anyone, but I was afraid he'd squeal on me and I'd get kicked out.

The low chime of the clock in the hallway let me know it was two in the morning. The mortician finally gave up trying to get me to leave. He had to stay, of course. State law. So about eleven, he brought me a cup of water and told me that he'd be in his office lying down should I need anything. I heard a door click shut a moment later and then nothing since. I'm guessing he doesn't snore.

Just when I came to the conclusion that I was an idiot for doing this and stood up, there was a flash of dark in the corner. Darker than the dark. Just like on TV. I looked again. Then I pulled out the digital voice recorder and said, "I'll do some EVP work now." The dark left. The overhead light snapped on and the mortician guy glared at me.

I walked out to my car feeling like a fool. Sliding behind the wheel, I adjusted my rear-view mirror. The dark shape sat in the back seat. It said, "I was wondering when the hell you'd finally leave. Let's get out of here."

(This is not one of my better pieces.  I was just not inspired to write tonight.  Sorry.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

What is something you do well?

Today's prompt is perfect for me. There are very few things I feel I'm "good" at doing. The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, what this blog is all about: daydreaming.

I walk to and from work. This walk takes me passed a few residential buildings but the lion's share is commercial property. All this is on a busy (read BUSY) road in a metropolitan environment. Traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, is a major issue but the seemingly endless concrete and asphalt that is punctuated by postage stamp blocks of grass, decorative rock, and anemic trees and shrubbery is not my idea of inspirational views. My radio/cassette player (remember them?) recently bit the dust, so to make my walk home more entertaining, I daydream.

I won't reveal what those daydreams consist of; they are private and some of them, if revealed, would land me in a whole world of trouble and I don't need any more of that than what I have now.  However, I've always found it interesting that most people think daydreaming is something to be embarrassed about. To be ashamed of. Which is totally not so.

I had my revelation on daydreaming many years ago, when I was still in grade school. I read James Thurber's short story called "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." (It was also made into a movie starring Danny Kaye, but I've never seen it.) The main character is a daydreamer. James Thurber put my dirty little secret into a short story thereby informing me that other people did it, too. What a relief!

Not long after I read "Walter Mitty" I read a book - whose title escapes me at the moment - but the story was about a young girl who watched her neighbors, even spying on them, and then wrote everything down in her notebook. While this did not affect me for many years, eventually I connected the two stories and I picked up my pen and wrote down some of my daydreams. They were extremely silly once the ink had dried, but it freed something inside of me that had unknowingly been locked away.

So, now I daydream freely and I write. I feel a freedom of sorts when I do both. The writing could easily be denied me but no one can take away my daydreams. No one. That is so cool.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random words and phrases

Prompt #665: random words and phrases (Courtesy of Easystreet Prompts)

Affirmation . vertebrae . localized drama . nonbelligerent . conventional haircut . stick . invisible trout . forget . necklace . cablegram . tactical . subdivided forefathers

I delivered my affirmation with a straightened set of vertebrae. There was localized drama in the audience, but for the most part it was nonbelligerent. My conventional haircut was overlooked when I held out the stick holding my invisible trout. (I forget. Was I wearing that necklace when the cablegram arrived?) Anyway, it might have been a tactical error because it reminded them of what had been made of our subdivided forefathers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When I Turned 50

When I turned 50, I took inventory:

When I turned 50, I gained what?
Weight, yes okay
Saggy boobs, yes okay
Creaks and groans, hell yes okay

When I turned 50 I gained freedom
Bible Bob’s unchristian words vaporized
I wear pants because he doesn’t wear robes
But he’s deaf to a woman in jeans

When I turned 50 I gained knowledge
I’m just fine without a college degree
I can read and write anyway
And it’s okay not to know

When I turned 50 I gained a life
Metal music does not lead to Satan or drugs
So that’s Metallica
Hello Ozzy!

When I turned 50, I gained a soul
I “got it” when I read a poem
The schoolroom could no longer suck it dry
The red wagon was just a red wagon

When I turned 50, I gained myself
I don’t have to wear makeup
I don’t have to wear heels
I can wear the skin I’m in now

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Route 19

The bus wheezes out of the early winter darkness and groans to a stop in front of my shivering frame. Gentle warmth slips out as the doors hiss open in greeting. I step into the light, slide my card through the reader, and look for a seat. Tossed down the aisle as the bus pulls back into traffic, I break the silence of the passengers as I excuse myself to squeeze between two men.

Scanning the faces, I look for the “regulars” in the mix. In the back Sleeping Guy is resting his head on the window; oblivious to the jolt and jangle of the bus. Across from me is Big Man With Tiny Backpack. Today he wears a too small jacket over his unvarying dark t-shirt and black athletic pants. Smiling Angry Man, whose smile never reaches his eyes, is by the rear exit. I am afraid of him. The Stop Requested bell pierces the stillness. Waitress gets off the bus and is replaced by Hospital Scrub Guy.

Cold air rushing in the open door pokes at my knees. The dim light in the front of the bus turns gold as the date and time scroll by marking this moment in my life. The houses and apartments slide by the windows. I take a slow, deep breath and close my eyes.

When I open my eyes I am blinded by the intense afternoon sun of summer shining through the lightly shaded windows. Blinking, I look down to see a young girl’s dirty flip-flop framing her polished toe nails. My nostrils sting with the smell of dried sweat that permeates the air.

I look up to see Prim Lady in her familiar small straw hat chatting with the driver. Professional Guy Who Never Sits adds a comment while Old Lady Who Dresses Like A Little Girl, her transfer ticket safely pinned to her collar like a name tag, sits on the edge of her seat straining to see around him.

The air conditioner struggles to calm the heat of our bodies as we make yet another stop to pick up more people to add to the boisterous mob and I wonder where they will fit in the overcrowded bus. Working its way through the afternoon rush hour traffic, the bus jerks and jostles the passengers who try in vain not to touch each other.

My street announced, I impatiently pull the Stop Requested cord and weave my way to the door. Outside, I pause for a moment to reposition my backpack and look back at the group slowly boarding the bus. Glad to be nearly home for the day, I walk away.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Office Haiku

Sit under false light
Pressing plastic keys quickly
Where is my tree now?

Walls of gentle fabric
Become a prison of sorts
My gatekeeper chimes

Emails bury me
Time savers suck up the time
Paradox sneezes

Note: Out of Office!
Taking a deep breath somewhere
Back when bills come due

Paper pushers unite!
Company has recycling
For employees as well

It’s all attitude
How you perceive changes
Company motto

Coffee pot contents
Become a source of control
Life should be better

Pen and inkwells gone
Typewriters are hard to find
Computers are here

Sunlight rests on desk
A bit of peace finds a home
Tepid coffee smiles

At last it’s payday
Rip open that envelope
It’s already gone

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A woman of a certain age…

Dedicated to the memory of
Bronwyn Stacey Reynolds Joplin (1961 - 2010)

We agreed to meet for happy hour at the neighborhood bar. My three-doors-down neighbor happens to be my best friend, which is quite convenient. It was Friday and she sat at our regular booth watching me walk in.

“Leave it at the office,” Trudy said when I slid in opposite her. Sally, the only waitress in the joint, placed my usual gin and tonic in front of me before I even settled my butt in the dented part of the bench.

“I did,” I replied and took a sip off the top. “I left it lying in the middle of the office floor in an ever-widening pool of his own blood.” I took a healthy swig, and sat back.

Trudy shook her head. “Where do we hide this body? Really, Marianne. What happened this time?”

You see, folks, I’ve changed in the last year. It seems that my faulty uterus was a plug that held my anger in. When it came out, so did the anger. And there was a lot of it. I’m a woman of a certain age. We are too young and not financially ready for retirement and we are too old to put up with the bullshit any longer.

“Another self-help book. The little Shit had a sticky note marking chapter two and it said, ‘Please read this section and I will, too. We’ll discuss it on Monday.’” I took a long draw on my drink. The cold bittersweet fluid started to hit my veins and I could feel my blood pressure drop. I looked up at Trudy. She was leaning back, arms crossed, and grinning.

“I’m surprised he tried that again. The last book stopped up the men’s room toilet. Did they ever replace the carpet in the hallway?”

I nodded. “Yeah. I guess I should be glad I didn’t have to pay the bill.” Trudy waited. “I was cool as a cucumber this time. I just took out the sticky and threw it away. I put the book on the bookshelf and closed up the office. Totally unsatisfying.”

Trudy shook her head again and drained her rum and coke. Sally replaced it before Trudy could put the empty glass down.

Sally’s of a certain age herself. She knows. Sally used to be in the same boat, actually. Sporting two masters’ degrees and a half-finished doctorate thesis, Sally chucked it all to wait tables in a bar. She tells people that she finally got smart.

Trudy, on the other hand, has always been smart. When her high school counselor was pushing college brochures at her, she was using them to light her joint. The next fall when most of our peers were jumping through another set of educational hoops, Trudy took her college savings and backpacked through Europe for six years. It kept her in writing material for the next thirty years and after fourteen novels and scores of short stories and poems, she finally ran out. It didn’t worry her, though. She’d picked up a camera and found a new outlet. Damned thing is that it was working. She is just one of those people who listen to their hearts. I guess that’s what I love about her.

“So when are you going to tell them all to stuff it?” she asked.

“I can’t Trudy. You know I won’t get another job. I’m an old lady who will always end up in entry-level positions if someone actually hired me over those little blonde bimbos with the perky boobs.” I looked down at my own sagging chest and sighed. “I’m holding on though. The Shit is working on a new line of financing that if it works will require him to hire more people. If that happens, I might get to slide over to work for one of them.”

“Better the devil you know, Marianne.”

“Yeah. We could cliché all night but it wouldn’t help. No, Trudy, I’m going to ride it out and see what happens. If he has the Board as fooled as I think he does…”

“Judging from that bonus you told me he got, I’d say that was a safe assumption.”

I nodded. “Yep, and that may mean that he’ll move on. And that puts Erica up a notch.” Erica, another woman of a certain age, also suffers under the Shit’s thumb. We both concluded that our mutual boss has issues with his mother.

We sat back and watched Sally put the bowl of pretzels down between us. She straightened and looked at us with a squint. “Pretzels ain’t going to cut it today, are they?”

We agreed. Sally picked up the pretzels and disappeared into the kitchen. Someone put a quarter in the jukebox and Grace Slick joined the conversation with “White Rabbit.” The jukebox jockey frowned at us when Trudy and I loudly joined in.

“Now there’s one lady who had a clue,” I said waving my glass at the jukebox when the song ended. “To Grace!”

Sally returned with a fresh basket of deep-fried zucchini and mushrooms. Chocolate works during the week but on Friday there’s nothing like hot fat and alcohol to ease tight mental muscles and calm the chakras into place.

“So. What are you going to do in the meantime?” Trudy dipped her mushroom in the Ranch dressing and watched it slide off again.

“Take it. What else is there?”

Trudy nodded. “I guess it is better than driving out to the desert to bury bodies.”

“Yeah,” I said, “You can’t lie to save your soul. You’d crack the minute a cop asks your name.”

“And you’d look so smug they’d know you were the perp immediately. So much for Thelma and Louise, eh?” she said.

Sally put another round of drinks in front of us, motioned for me to slide over and sat down with us. She’d brought a beer with her. “My shift is over.”

I looked at my watch. “It’s only 6:40.”

Sally pointed at a girl with a long blonde ponytail putting mugs of beer on a tray.  She was wearing a tight tank top and jean shorts that were so short her butt cheeks hung out. “I can’t compete with fresh tits and ass. Might as well call it a day.”

Saturday, September 12, 2009


The ’96 Ford Ranger XLT came fully loaded with an AM/FM cassette player, air conditioning, power steering, four voices and a ghost. Turned up loud, the radio almost drowns out the voices, but the ghost still rides shotgun.

The day before my father died, I sat on the edge of his bed while he sat in a chair looking at his dinner and picking at it. The tubes he wore were too numerous to count and the IV machine’s alarm kept going off giving a sense of urgency that I shoved to the back of my mind.

I gave Dad a flyer I had downloaded from a website that my husband, told me about. A procedure to help minor blood vessels take over from the damaged vessels at the heart. It was successful on one of my husband's co-workers, it would be with Dad. But he barely looked at the paper before folding it in half and tucking it inside his unread paperback novel.

He kept fidgeting. Finally, after some idle chat, he looked away and said, “You know, Joni, this isn’t going to last forever.”

“I know Dad,” I quickly responded and pushed those thoughts away again.

“Do you want the truck?”

“Sure. Unless Greg...”

Dad shook his head and murmured something about Greg not needing it. We resumed our trivial conversation. Neither of us could talk about what was staring at us in that room.

Dad died early the next morning.

Six months later, I drove away from my parents’ house with the truck. Dad sat there, turned slightly towards me, elbow resting on his raised knee, nodding. Greg’s grief-stricken mandate, “You will never sell that truck!” came in one ear, while Mom’s disgusted voice declared in the other ear, “Just like your father. If I had known, I would have bought you a car. Greg should have that truck.” Then Gary’s gentle voice said, “It was your father’s wish. You need to honor that.” Soon, I heard myself at the hospital with the sudden realization that Dad knew he was dying, “Dad wanted me to have the truck.”

I cried most of that two-hour drive home. Dad sat silently beside me, nodding.

They are still there. They wait for me to back out of the driveway before pecking away at me. I talk to Dad. The voices stop while I tell him how much I love that truck even though I fear the day when something will happen to it and Greg will find out. He nods.

Each jolt and jounce of the rough suspension brings me closer to the woman I want to be. Tough, independent, and confident. “I’m driving a truck, Dad. I’m not a wimp anymore.” He nods.

I tell him how even though we all must die, no one is ever ready to go or to let go. I tell him how much I miss him even though we argued about most everything. He nods.

Then the voices start in again. I turn up the radio and deliberately aim for the bumpy part of the road. We all drive on. Together.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Aftershocks of the full moon

(See blog post March 10, 2008 “Moon Story”)

When the sun came up, Betsy put out the small campfire, scuffled out her tracks, and made her way down the crumbly narrow trail that led down off the mesa. She threw her canteen and empty satchel onto the passenger seat of her rusty '72 Ford pickup and climbed in behind the wheel. The drive out back to the road was slow and rough. Several times her forearms brushed the steering wheel causing renewed stinging sensations. She swore softly.

The road, a pot-holed gravel ribbon that led back to the house, was particularly dusty this morning. Grit filled Betsy's nose and she could feel it on her teeth. It hadn't rained in several months. The farm's well was low and her garden was barely hanging on. The chickens were even panting in the heat.

Grandmother's voice spoke again in her head, repeating the old stories. It was over five years since she died, but recently the stories became louder and more urgent.  The words Betsy chanted in the moon light were unknown to her yet they had come easily from her lips. It hadn't been Betsy's voice that spoke last night, but her Grandmother's. What seemed natural then now made her feel creeped out.  She hoped last night's ceremony would put Grandmother's spirit at rest. Time would tell.

A cloud of dust enveloped the truck when she stopped in front of her barn and hung in the air like a brown fog.  Her cat sat on an up-turned bucket and stared at her. The chickens huddled motionless in the shade. Betsy climbed out of the truck and stood still. It was quiet. Silent. Not even an insect buzzed. She looked up at the sky. It was a dead blue and the sun seemed bigger and menacing. Sweat dripped down her throat and pooled under her breasts. Her mouth went dry.

Betsy closed her eyes, shook her head and then waved her arms at the scene. "Stop it! Just stop it! This is getting ridiculous!" She stomped her foot and said, "I am going in the house to get a drink of water. When I come out again, things had better be back to normal because my fuse is really short. Do you hear me?'  She paused. "I said, DO YOU HEAR ME?"

It was as if the world winked. An almost imperceptible blink. A slight breeze ruffled the feathers of the brown hen. The cat jumped down, stretched and padded off into the barn. On the distant horizon a small but heavy white cloud began to grow.