Yup, Life is Complicated

I won’t ever forget the date: January 12, 2000.  I had moved two and a half years previously from Boston, Massachusetts, where I had spent ten amazing years; getting my degree, becoming a part of a vibrant community, and really growing up.  I moved to Boston from a small town in Alberta, Canada, where I was born and spent twenty years, to go to Theatre school and realize my childhood dream of treading the boards on Broadway.

To this day, I’m not sure of the exact reason that made me want to move to Los Angeles, California.  There were a lot of factors – relationships, jobs, opportunities, but when I vacationed there for a week in June 1997, I made a decision, and by that November, I was back permanently.

Even though it was not a move to a different country, it sure felt like one. Culture shock hit me – I needed a car to get anywhere.  I knew only a couple of people, and so depended on them for introducing me around – a lot of pressure for them – and had to find a job that would pay the bills but still be flexible enough so I could audition and take classes.  No problem, right?

The pond of Los Angeles turned out to be enormous for this little fish.  Getting acclimated to the traffic, the culture, the weather – it was the hardest transition I’ve ever made, and I’m pretty good at geographics, trust me.  I managed to find an office job, get set up in an apartment by myself, and made a couple of close friends; I even started doing work in theatre as well.  I was in my early 30’s, and though I was depressed that I had not met my self-imposed “Goals by 30” (Husband, Kids, Broadway), I was doing OK.  I had my twelve-toed Calico cat who made the journey West with me, thrift store furniture, a used Honda, and a clunky computer to surf the internet on (what internet there was fifteen years ago was fledgling and slow), and, feeling extremely alone, and lonely, I set out to meet someone, using brand-new dating websites like Spark and AOL.

I’ve always been drawn to the bad boys. I don’t know why. The ones who never quite commit, that always leave you hanging, but have that broken, chewy caramel center inside their hard candy shell. I struck up a friendship with one such Lost Boy on that fateful January 12, 2000.  Isolated and missing my Boston community, and a walkable centralized city, we wrote back and forth via e-mail for a couple of weeks before meeting in person.

I should have listened to my instincts, the ones that said, “Nope. Don’t do it. Just keep walking,” when we finally saw each other. But I didn’t. 

He had hair down to his waist, with a Kool-Aid-colored goatee, a lip, eyebrow, and nose piercing; wore a hockey jersey and mid-calf cutoff jeans with white socks and black Converse hi-tops, and a black watchmen’s cap. 

But those eyes.

Piercing and blue, they were full of rage and love and hurt and pain and soft and hard and need, all at once. I was hooked immediately. We hugged a little awkwardly, and headed out to dinner at Spoons Restaurant, chowing on onion bites and draft beer.  We drank a bit more than we probably should.  My resistance was low, I was lonely, and my self-esteem was non-existent.  We had sex that night for the first of only – maybe – a half a dozen times; and I got pregnant.

When I saw that “+” sign on the ClearBlue test, it was like a Hitchcock movie.  I saw my face in the bathroom mirror, and my focus dimmed, feeling like I was in a tunnel – reality moving away from me as I stood still.  I cried and didn’t stop for about two weeks.

I told him a few days later; I’m pretty sure I had already made up my mind about what I wanted to do, but I wanted to hear him out.  He threw out the “Hail Mary” and I bought it.  “I love you,” and, “I want to be with you,” and, “I just don’t think it’s the right time right now for either of us,” and, “in the future,” and, most importantly, “after we’re married.”  I nodded.  I was relieved. I had never felt so stupid in my whole life. I had been a good, Catholic girl most of my life. The judgment I had rendered on so many others now fell hard on me.

But, I listened, to my inner voice, this time. It wasn’t the right time for us; I didn’t know if that time would ever be right.  He had a problem with alcohol – his blackout drinking continued, and after the abortion, we only slept together once more, even though he kept saying that he loved me.  He finally admitted that he wasn’t in love with me. When we would go out, he would drink till he passed out, and I would put him to bed and sleep on the couch.

After a few months of that, through a weird “six degrees of separation” coincidence, a co-worker asked to speak to me, and when we were alone, told me that her friend knew a friend of his – and that they were “together.” I was hurt, but somehow, I think I already knew.

As if this wasn’t humiliating enough for me to stop seeing him, or answering his calls, I answered his phone once while he was in the shower, and got an earful from that girl he was seeing, where somehow I became “the other woman” and “in the way of his happiness.”

This went on for almost a year.  I am ashamed to admit that.  I couldn’t let go.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t focus at work.  I lost almost all of my friends, because I couldn’t stop obsessing about him, and what he was doing, and who he was doing it with, and most importantly, why he wasn’t doing it with me.  I thought so little of myself that I couldn’t see how bad this whole situation was, and didn’t have the courage and self-esteem to say, “enough.” I didn’t know who I was going to be, without him, and I didn’t want to find out.

I came home from work every day, and immediately turned on the TV.  It was on for noise, not for content.  I didn’t care what it showed, I just couldn’t stand the silence in the apartment.  On the way home I would stop at the grocery store, or the convenience store, and buy two large bags of junk food. It didn’t matter what it was, as long as it was big, and crunchy, and bad for me.  I would stand in my kitchen, over the sink, listening to the news, or whatever program was on the station I had randomly chosen, and look out the window at the green hills over Burbank, eating everything that was in those two bags without being conscious of it.  Sometimes afterwards, I would throw up. It was pretty much the only thing I was eating – I couldn’t concentrate at work; I was sleepwalking through my life.

I don’t know why the next set of events fell into place in exactly the way that they did, but as I look back it seemed like sheer providence that they did.  I had gone to a St. Patrick’s celebration at a bar with him, and he drank heavily. I decided to try and keep up with him, drinking everything he did.  As we walked back to my apartment, I collapsed on to someone’s lawn and passed out. He left me there and continued to my apartment.  Fortunately, my next-door neighbors were walking home shortly after and found me, helping me up and getting me home.

The next morning, he was gone, and I struggled to get up and go to work.  But I did.  I thought all morning about how I could commit suicide and make the pain stop. Nothing was working, so to me, logically, suicide was the next thing to try.

The window by my desk at work looked over the 134 Freeway, at the Central Ave. overpass.  I had a floor to ceiling view of the mountains in Glendale that day, swathed in mist, lush and green, as a late winter rainstorm slaked the parched earth.  I turned my desk chair towards it, and just stared.  I felt contentment for the first time in many months.  I felt I had lost my faith since all of this began, and I sighed heavily as tears threatened to leak out of my eyes.  “If you’re there, if anyone’s there, in the Universe, tell me what I’m supposed to do! I’m so lost and so unhappy. What am I to do?” I said quietly, the green of the hills and the overcast clouds calming me.  The cars on the freeway below made sluicing water sounds as they splashed through the puddles on the asphalt. I sighed one more time, and as I blinked away the tears, a rainbow came into my sightline from the west, translucent, vivid.  I held my breath as if afraid that my breathing would blow it away. I blinked twice more and it was gone.

Feeling stronger than I had in a long time, I turned to my computer screen.  I vaguely remember someone mentioning Al-Anon to me.  I can’t remember if it was a friend, or a stranger, but I am completely in their debt for it.  I found a lunchtime meeting right down the street from me, got in my car, and showed up.  I was so afraid to go up the stairs to the meeting room, but my legs seemed to go of their own volition. I listened to people share the same feelings, and hurt, and hopelessness that I felt at that moment. A kind woman came over to where I was sitting and introduced herself to me. She became my first sponsor. I told her a little of why I had come, and she gave me her phone number, and said, “call me tomorrow.”  So I did.

We talked, she listened, and she didn’t judge. I laughed for the first time in many months, and she invited me to other meetings, even picking me up, and when I balked, she said gently, with kindness in her eyes, “get in the car.”

At the meetings, I met other people who had similar experiences, and different ones, but we all felt those same feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, despair.

I worked the Al-Anon program really hard those first few years, as if my life depended on it; because it did. I learned so much about myself, and about the disease of alcoholism. I slowly started to regain my self-esteem. I started to trust again. I became a better employee. I was just a worker among workers, person among people. I was able to contribute to society instead of just taking.

It took a lot of time, and writing, and tears, and soul-searching, to come out of the severe depression and hopelessness I had been in. When it came time to make my amends, of course my ex was on the list. I was able to take responsibility for my part in that relationship, ask for forgiveness, and ask what I could do to correct it. He did not want to hear it. But I was able to say goodbye to the person I had been, that had in some ways, thought I deserved to treat and be treated the way that relationship was.

It was the last bit of cleaning up that part of my past.  It had been four years since I had dated, and through listening and watching others, I learned what that really was about.  How not to fall into the physical part of it so quickly – to talk and laugh and learn about a person before giving my deserving heart, and my beautiful body.  Because looks and libido will always fade over time, and if you can’t have a conversation with someone, or make each other laugh, it’s going to be a really long slog.

I was terrified to date in L.A., but my friends and my sponsor helped me navigate those uncharted, and often stormy, waters.  I continued to work my program, and met a sweet, kind, generous, lovely man who gave me butterflies when he smiled at me.  We were married two-and-a-half years later at City Hall in San Francisco, quietly, with two witnesses, and the love bursting out of our eyes.  Eight months later we held a big reception in a friend’s backyard, so that we could share our commitment to one another, and to say, “thank you” to the people who had held us up, protected us, loved us, and strengthened us.

The day wasn’t perfect, the marriage has its troubles now and again, but it’s been ten years; almost fourteen since we met. I look back at that person I was seventeen years ago, and I know the she is nothing like me now.  Marriage is hard work.  Life is hard work, too.  But the rewards are so unbelievable. I wouldn’t have it any other way, truly.

I am still sad sometimes, about the decision I made in terminating my pregnancy.  I would have a seventeen year-old, going on eighteen now. But without a shadow of doubt, it was the right decision for me, at that time.  It was the catalyst, for me, to a new way of living.  If it hadn’t happened in the exact way that it did, I know I would not be where I am right now.

Was it a pyrrhic victory? I hope not. Life is not always wonderful; and I’m not always happy, but I am a better person, in all ways; I am more useful to God, my friends, and my family than I was that lonely night, January 12, 2000, when this was all set in motion. I continue to grow and give away what I have learned, even though the price exacted was enormous. But you know what? If I could go back and do it differently, I don’t know that I would.  That’s how much this journey has been worth to me.

The Caterpillar and Me

The disease of Alcoholism is insidious. It cannot be cured, but it can be arrested. You can’t ever stop moving forward with recovery from it, because you won’t be standing still; you’ll be moving backward. Those of us affected by it, in a relative or friend, are in a similar situation – we must always strive for that daily reprieve from our character defects and “stinking thinking” – or the feelings, the defects, and the self-loathing return, most of the time worse than they were before.

I’ve been struggling the past couple of years with program. Since I’ve moved to Altadena, I don’t attend the same meetings I used to, and I miss being part of and having people around who know my whole story. And, while there are some good meetings in my area, they are not just the same. So I judge the meeting and the recovery that is there. I don’t give of myself to offer my perspective on my 16 years in program. I look at it as a burden, not a gift, to be sitting in the rooms.

So, this weekend, at the Women’s Retreat I go to every year in Santa Barbara, I was hoping for some answers. Hoping for a Louisville Slugger upside the head (because sometimes that’s the only way I can hear) about what to do with my program.

The drive up was busy, as usual, and I honestly don’t know how people commute long distances/time each day. I have such a defect of “right and wrong” that when someone acts like a jerk while driving it sends me over the edge. “Why would someone DO that? He just screwed over EVERYONE!” That type of deal.

When I pulled in to the lush, peaceful grounds two hours and forty minutes later, I just needed to decompress. Those who had been up there for hours before already were peaceful and in great moods. When one of them went to hug me, I balked. Because of the drive and I was uptight, but also because I’m not great with hugs. If I’m situated in a place and have my bearings and feel safe, I’m more likely to hug and be hugged. But mostly I’m like a caged cat, scratching and hissing and just trying to get to a dark corner so I can acclimate and let the knot in my stomach unclench.

I thought it best not to subject anyone else to my attitude, so I grabbed my camera and started walking the expansive grounds. The light was so amazing right then, I knew it would be beautiful with all the trees and flora and fauna about.

I started to calm down just seeing how the light was playing with the trees, and the statuary, and the tiny breeze making everything change every few seconds. I could feel myself relaxing with each click of the shutter.

I headed toward the labyrinth, a type of meditational maze laid out on the grounds, that I have walked several times and always felt better after doing so. I met a black, fuzzy caterpillar on the stones at the entrance, and stopped to watch him motor along, doing his own thing. The pamphlet at the wooden box refreshed my memory about how to use the labyrinth to most effectiveness.

Quieting my mind, and opening my heart, I entered. I followed along the rock-edged layout, aware of where my thoughts were going and how I felt. I began to notice that even though I switchbacked through the labyrinth, I kept moving forward. Sometimes, it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, that I was moving backwards, but I always kept moving. I started to understand: this was my journey. I make the choices about which way I go. I don’t have to do it the way everyone else is doing it – that’s THEIR journey, not mine! I am lucky that I have a sponsor who, if I came up to her and said, “I think I need to stand on my head at meetings, so the blood rushing there can help me think,” would say to me, “Sounds good, honey, just don’t wear a skirt!” Because she, too, understands that it’s my journey, and no one else’s. What works for someone else might not work for me, and vice versa. And that’s why we share so openly and honestly about what is really going on for us. It’s the only way to help ourselves, and to help others on their journey make choices about what works and doesn’t, for themselves.

Exiting the labyrinth, I felt lighter, present, and more centered than I have in ages. I headed back to the main meeting room, seeing my fuzzy black caterpillar friend again, this time in the middle of the road. I worried that he might get run over, or not be able to get back to his food source again. I stood there and thought about “helping” him for a long time. A couple walking a dog gave me some very strange looks as I stood there, but whatever. I decided to try and pick up the caterpillar and move him to the grass. I tried to pick him up, but he tensed up, and the spiky bristles on his back made it difficult to get him. So I let him be and continued on back where the rest of the women were.

I realized that the road may not have been optimal, but in the end, the caterpillar had his own journey too.

This Is Why I Don’t Like Being Hugged.


This is not a new phenom for me. It’s been this way since… probably before middle school. Because, it was never just a hug. It was political. Or sexual. Or forced. Or unwanted. Or fake. But worse than that, for me, it pretty much always turned into being sick. And besides all that, I’m tall, so whoever is hugging me feels the need to reach up and get the crook of their arm around my neck and drag me down to their level! Or curl their shoulder cap up under my throat, strangling me.

Hugging, to me, is VERY INTIMATE. Yes, I needed to shout that. I don’t care for this “touchy, feely” part of society I’m apparently a part of. A lot of it seems so forced, so fake. Like it’s just what we do now. Even in primate packs, physical affection/grooming is reserved to members that are known to each other, comfortable with each other.

I say, “NO!”

As a member of a 12-step group, I would consistently sneak in through the kitchen at the meeting room, rather than endure the gauntlet of “Greeter” hugs that awaited me should I go through the front doors. And it always turned into a competition of who could grab me before I protested. “BUT WE LOVE YOU!” Like somehow if you just exposed me to the same uncomfortable behavior I would give up and accept. Capitulate. Just go with the flow. Resistance is futile.

My Western Civ teacher in college told us how he thought we shouldn’t say “I love you” too much. His belief was that by saying it over and over and over, at any time, for any reason, diminished its meaning. I kinda agree. On the flipside, I don’t think you should be stingy with saying “I love you” to those you really DO love. Especially children. They do need to hear it, and when you say it, you need to look in their eyes and mean it. I feel the same way about hugging.

And then there are the conversations that people had about my dislike of hugging.

“Oh, she’ll learn, one day.”

“It may take a long time, until she likes herself more.”

“When she sees what she’s missing.”

As an adult, I make sure that I get permission if by some crack in the cosmos I feel like hugging at that particular moment. Even I am struck by sentimental thoughts sometimes. At a party at our house one Christmas, my friend and her family were saying goodnight, and I leaned down to her oldest, to get on his level (who must have been 10 or 11 at the time), said how glad I was that he had come, and could I give him a hug? He immediately said “No!” and I said, “Fair enough! Would it be OK to shake your hand then?” And he gave a little smile, and we shook.

This is MY body. No one else’s. I have never had autonomy over it, never felt comfortable to say “no.” Didn’t feel I ever had the right to not let someone touch me, or put me on their knee, pick me up, stroke my hair, “you’re such a pretty little girl!”

As if that makes it OK. Oh, I’m pretty! OK, then, I guess I am just an object for you to do with as you wish.

Maybe then, pal. Now, it’s over my dead fucking body.

When I hug you, I really mean it. If I hug you, it’s real. Like my husband’s hugs. Pure magic. But they are borne out of trust, respect, love, consideration, and time. They are intimate.

Last week, someone hugged me (I couldn’t cut it off at the pass) and held on. It was nice, fine, they told me they missed me, etc., and then let go. Then ten seconds later, mentioned, “I’m not feeling great tonight.”

Fuck. Literally, just fuck. Cue up 36 hours later, my nose is stuffed, throat scratchy and coughing, headache.

FIVE DAYS OF THAT CRAP. For one ten-second hug.

I ask you, is it really worth it? To me, it is not. I know you like me. You care about me. Then hold out your hands. Chances are, I’ll let you take my hands. Squeeze them. Look into my eyes and tell me what you have to tell me, and I’ll return the sentiment. We can smile, maybe I can touch your upper arm gently, or you can touch mine.

And then, if it’s cold and flu season, I can go wash my hands. Please don’t take it personally.

Six years.


I’ve been feeling “off” for about a week. As if something were approaching, or something I’d forgotten was supposed to happen.

I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I tried to experience it differently. I wanted to actually feel whatever emotion was being brought up, instead of stuffing it down with work, TV, food, Facebook, etc.

Feelings can be scary, for sure. They don’t seem safe. They never were when I was a child. I can’t tell you how many times I was told, “You’re not a nice girl,” when I would display any emotion other than happiness. I was not allowed to have any of those big feelings. They were too scary for other people. So, I would compartmentalize, not feel, eat, and do anything not to feel. Became the shell of a person I would remain for many years.

Imagine my surprise when I remembered that today is the 6th anniversary of my father’s death. No wonder I’ve been so squirrely. No wonder I’ve been off my game for a while.

And now, a whole host of other feelings come up – guilt (for not being more upset), doubt (has it really been six years?), resignation (yes, really gone, yes, never coming back). I know that there’s some residual anger in there too. Grief is SO complex. You can’t feel one thing without feeling something else too.

I guess it does get a little easier each year. It’s not because I don’t love him anymore, or have forgotten about him. It’s because the grief is not so fresh. It’s still sad. But I’ve been living for six years since – had time to work on it, express it, feel it. And by feeling all of those huge emotions, I’ve gotten through it. Gotten to the other side. Accepted it. That is the natural course of things. We are supposed to feel, to love, so that we can KEEP feeling, and loving. Stopping that is unnatural. We dam up the energy, the vibrations, the spirit and soul of being human.

I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to feel it, heal it. To be human is to feel. Someone once said to me, “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience – we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” And so, bringing the feelings down from just the “neck and above” to seat them viscerally, expands their strength exponentially. These bodies. They are incredibly beautiful with the immediacy and depth of their feelings.

Once I was able to see that feelings couldn’t kill me (although sometimes it FELT like they would), and that the sooner I really felt and dealt, the sooner I got to being better, feeling it became a habit. Almost like doing a fourth step – where you feel so clean afterwards, you don’t want to do anything to mark it up again. I don’t want to dam up the feelings again and hurt myself in the process.

Dad, I love you so much. I miss you terribly. There’s so much I want to share with you. I thank you for everything you gave me. For everything I became because of you, and in spite of you. You were human, and flawed (as we all are), but you were amazing. You are so loved. You are so missed.


You were Dynamite, Kid.


I read a few weeks ago with wistfulness that the professional wrestler Tom Billington had died at his home in England.

Wistfulness because I am now at the point in my life where important parts of my childhood and growing up have started dying with regular occurrence.

Tom Billington wrestled under the name “the Dynamite Kid” since his start in 1979. Back then, wrestling wasn’t flash, steroid-abusing, pumped-up long-haired loudmouths. There was a lot of technical moves, holds, flips – it was more about slipping out of a grasp than spectacle.

My sister and her then-boyfriend would take me to see Stampede Wrestling on Saturday nights in Edmonchuck. Nearly a decade older than me, and stuck babysitting, she found it was something that would keep me occupied and captivated while they courted. I remember asking for boyfriend’s cigarette pack and a pen, then going up to Keith Hart (son of Stu Hart, brother to Bret Hart, and the rest of the Hart wrestling franchise) as a 12-year old and asking for an autograph. He was gracious, with a very cute smile and bushy moustache. I was hooked. We came back to Stampede Wrestling a lot. And of course, watching it every Saturday morning on CTV with Ed Whalen (or “Wailin’ Ed” as his nickname went, because of his nasal voice), keeping up on who won the belts, who beat who… I probably should have gotten outside a bit more as a kid!

Dynamite Kid appeared on the scene and shook the dust off of everything. He was small (5’9”), skinny, and quick. The presence he brought to the ring was undeniable. Explosive, exciting, energized, he would handspring out of holds and risk dangerous maneuvers (like headbutting his opponent by jumping from the top of the turnbuckle) to win the crowd’s favor. There was always a roar and a buzz that went through the arena when he entered and wrestled. He was so popular and successful that a generation of other kids who thought, or were told, that they were too small to wrestle, emulated his moves and his tights, right down to the same haircut.

It was fun. I was less annoying to the dating couple when I was entertained. Plus, there was always cold pop and a hot dog or some other not-so-good-for-me snack as a bonus.

There was a definite melancholic smile on my face remembering all the things I used to do to get through the long winters up in Canada. I like to think it made me well-rounded – it’s good to know about what people do for entertainment. It tells you a lot about them.

I know that Tom Billington’s out-of-the-ring persona was well-documented as nasty. He and his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, bulked up and joined up as the tag-team “British Bulldogs” and it got away from the wrestling I remember and more into spectacle and schoolyard taunting and bullying that I didn’t care for.  I lost interest, and truly, I don’t know enough about it to comment. I just know, that the Dynamite Kid, fresh on the scene, made a huge impression on me. He was an enormous, notable part of my growing up in prairie Edmonton, Alberta. I hope he finds some peace now. Or at least respite from a pained, broken body.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I’ve never been a good sleeper. The norm for me is four or five wake-ups a night, sometimes to pee, other times just to listen and make sure All is Well. Growing up in an alcoholic home, I got into this habit very early on. As a child, my hearing and intuition were always on high alert, just in case I needed to be ready for…whatever. Always on guard.

In Macbeth, Shakespeare writes some of the best metaphors for sleep. It’s a favorite play of mine.

Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,

The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,

Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

Isn’t that beautiful? The death of each day’s life. No matter how we try to save time, work non-stop – days die and we must sleep. Now that I am a woman of a certain age, hormones play into my pas de deux of insomnia, coupled with my already fitful light sleep. I am a MESS.

I cannot remember the last time I got through the night without waking up. I’ve tried many things – exercise; not drinking coffee past noon; turning the TV off an hour before bed; not using my iPad to read (the light is a subliminal signal to stay awake); not drinking ANYTHING past 8 p.m.; meditation; sleep apps, with all their varied background sounds (I’m partial to rain, thunder, and trains). It’s exhausting.

I want to try an old-fashioned mantel clock – one that peals out the hours every hour on the hour. My husband and I just returned from vacation in Boston, where we stayed in Rockport MA for two nights out of the trip. The B&B was close to the town church, and its steeple with a clock. Maybe it was the bed, or the ocean air, but I can vaguely remember, through my dreaming state, counting the chimes and relaxing when I knew it was only four a.m. and I could still drift off; I didn’t need to get up yet.

My doctor wants to give me something; non-habit forming and light, just to see if it could bring about a normal sleep pattern. I’m hesitant – no – resistant to that. I think that if you force sleep to come on, it’s not as restful as a cycle brought on by your own normal circadian rhythms. So, you’re going to be worse than when you started!

What’s the solution? I don’t know. Maybe I’m metamorphosing into something else. I’m a terrific napper. Sunday afternoons are my favorite – right after lunch, on the couch with a blankie and the kitties, I’m good for ninety minutes. I feel great when I wake up, but then invariably end up alert till one or two in the morning. 5:30 a.m. comes pretty quickly after that.

Even now, it’s four p.m. and I’m ready to close my eyes, even for fifteen minutes, but I’ve got another three and a half hours of places to go and people to see before I call it a night.

There’s something to be said for being reincarnated as a spoiled house-cat with comfy beds and hideaway spots, where I could sleep my twenty hours a day in peace.

Maybe in my next life.

Fat-Bottomed Girls…

We really DO make the rockin’ world go ’round. Yeah.

In anticipation of Seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Sunday, I’ve been listening to my old Queen albums. I’ll never forget hearing “The Game” in my friend Andrea’s bedroom. It was 1980, we were in Grade 7, and I was still pretty much into a lot of my sisters’ music – The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Peter Frampton.

The first single, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was a favorite because to me it sounded a lot like an Elvis/50s rocker mashup and in addition to me liking it, my parents did as well. I loved that my mum would dance and swing me around to the big guitar strums.

I will admit, I’m still into more lyrical, dare I say even “folksy” artists – Joni Mitchell being the be-all end-all. I guess I am such a wordwhore that the poetry and ballad-like stanzas that could stand on their own is what captivates me.

Then, I heard “Another One Bites the Dust” and my head exploded. Lights, camera, action. That bass line, the way Freddie slinked all over the melody, velvety and sexy, then blew my ears off on the bridge – my world opened, I exited the log cabin and began to see in Technicolor, and I was off to see the Wizard.

Rami Malek looks like he channeled Freddie. I hope the premise of the movie is about ALL of the singer’s life, and not just his voice and songwriting. He was multi-faceted, and even though there are plenty of parts of him that most people don’t want to know, or deal with, it’s important to see that at that time in history, he was just who he was, and he didn’t care who knew it.

He is unparalleled vocally. There will never be another Freddie. I am so glad for that early summer day in 1980 when the doors of all types of music (not just the AM radio singles) opened up to me.

Rest in peace, Freddie. We sure could use your words and your voice right now.

Inspiration or Desperation?

I heard at the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference 2018 that “Inspiration is for Amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

What a quote. I love it. Because it’s true – like the man who wouldn’t buy a ticket after praying to God to win the lottery, you can’t expect the fruits without doing the work. The simple act of creating something, whatever it may be – a grocery list, a post-it to your partner saying “I love you,” or your to-do – all of these help loosen the grip of Writer’s Block.

Today, it’s Hallowe’en. I know, nobody puts the apostrophe in anymore. But I like it. I didn’t dress up this year for work, didn’t buy candy because we live on such a busy street with traffic that kids and parents shun it like the plague. I can’t get myself into it. I have tried. Grateful I’m not a parent where I have to not continually disappoint my offspring with how lame I am.

I’m truly struggling with keeping good thoughts in my head. There is so much noise! So many distractions. Trying to look on the bright side of that, maybe I just want to be part of everything. Like, I’m so enamored with all of it that I can’t bear to miss a second of any of it!

I hope that is the case. I hope I’m not fracturing off into an inability to focus for more than a few minutes on whatever is in front of me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to read for hours, or draw, and sometimes, write for that long as well.

Does this distraction happen with age? Is it only going to get worse? Christ, I hope not.

Promises, Promises

I made a deal with myself that I would post to my writing blog every day. I used to post fairly often. Now, trying to get back into it feels like trying to run a marathon after being in a coma for years. Let’s just do a little sprint then, shall we? Build up some endurance.

Struggling to put my butt in the seat is an ongoing task. Before November 2016, it was always about not having time, trying to be perfect, wanting to wait until “inspiration” struck me. I’d be waiting a long time.

Now, my mind is so fractured, what with rallies to go to, campaigns to give to, email after email coming about “Vote!” and being horrified, shocked, not shocked, despondent, and filled with ennui, on a daily basis. There is so much noise from everywhere, including my own head, that it’s difficult to quiet my conscious self enough to string coherent sentences together.

Morning pages, as instructed, three of them – seem to have the same array of “FUCK!” and “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE!” at the top of the first page as my mind screams to sort through the pond scum that the night before’s dreams have congealed into, like a horrible green jello salad brought to a fancy potluck.

Just write. Write. Don’t see it as an empty page, something that has to make sense or have unity, but maybe more like letting air out of an overfilled balloon – the latex stretched taut, and you’re afraid to touch it lest it squeak and blow. Let the pressure out on to the page – who cares what it says – at least it’s out of your bean and not bouncing around your cranium anymore.

I know that daily life is better when I do the things that make it so: eat well, sleep well, take some exercise, laugh a lot, cry a little. Writing has to be part of that, for a well-rounded personality. It’s not only the physical things we must do to take care of ourselves, it’s the mental and spiritual too.

And just like that, Day 2 of everyday blog writing, is done.





The Rabbit Hole

I took a fantastic seminar this weekend at the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference in Pasadena. It was worth it to see the genre of Historical Fiction get some spotlight time. It’s a love-hate for me – I love reading it, and I hate writing it. Most of the time.

For someone who is as easily distracted as me (oooo…look! SHINY!), research is often the rabbit hole I fall into, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and emerging many, many hours later, with circles under my eyes, and a desperate need for caffeine to make it through the rest of the day.

This does not happen only with my book research. My latest is ancestry.com, where I go off on tangents and lines that are only remotely related, but it’s still so much fun digging back in the past, I plow on.

The novel that I’m working on now, Hunger’s Echo, requires details that are well-researched, and sourced. The Great Hunger in Ireland was a terrible genocide that we will probably never know the scope of, as records are not always reliable from that time.

This is where I find myself searching and striving to get it right. Not just for myself, but for the countless, graveless, faceless, nameless others who were the victims.

I’m grateful that I received some tools on how to “Delve into the Past.” Setting time limits for myself, and being firm about what I really need to research can prevent rabbit-holing.

Care to make a wager on when I’ll resurface today?