Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Sad Month of October

I just spent a half hour googling the names of old friends, mostly to see if I could find tham and partly because it the birthday of one of them--Happy Birthday, Eileen, wherever you are... I did find two. One hasn't made an entry in her blog in 2 years. The other seems to be doing something out there in cyberspace.

I wish I had some real friends, not just cyber friends. The problem is, I keep kicking them out the door. Why? Because from my POV they keep getting toxic to me and I can't be around them anymore.

Take the case of this last. It was three years this October that I had to tell her, "I wish you well in your process, but I can't be there while you go through it." She'd had a particularly bad summer: losing her first real boyfriend, getting mono, having problems at work. And I tried to be there for her, I really tried. But it gets tiresome and draining hearing all the excuses and the "my problems are so much worse than other people's" and all that. I was spending hours with my therapist just talking about her instead of myself. I was spending hours on the computer writing her e-mails, trying to make positive suggestions and chatting with her. It got so bad for her at one point that my husband and I did an intervention: we told her, "Either you call this therapist right now, she's expecting your call, or we're loading you into the truck and taking you for an evaluation at St. Mary's." She chose to call the therapist, but I don;t think that did her any good either. And she certainly didn't appreciate the intervention. All I ever heard from her was "No one understands me," and "no one is there for me," and "there's nothing I can do." So I finally had to call it quits. On the day I did that I got so upset my husband had to take ME to the clinic to be sedated because I couldn't stop crying and crying over the last e-mail she sent me.

And yet, she contacted my husband around Christmas time about getting back some of her stuff I had borrowed and returning mine, and she said, "I don;t even know what happened." I think probably in her mind it was yet another case of someone she thought of as a friend stabbing her in the back and abandoning her out of the blue. I hate to think of her thinking of me that way, but I had to take care of myself.

I wrote a letter to this friend at the time which I never sent. But I'm going to post it here.

Dear A______:

I had decided I wasn't going to respond to your e-mail beyond returning your stuff. Then Michael told me you called him and said you "didn't even know what happened." So, on the off chance that you do actually want to know what happened, I thought I'd give it one more shot. Although the very fact that you don’t know “what happened” says to me that you haven’t been paying attention, so I can’t help but think that anything more I try to say is a waste of effort.

See, a big part of the problem is that for the last year or more you've pretty much constantly been asking "what happened," but when I (or anyone else, it seems) venture an opinion, you won't hear it. You don't listen. You prefer to believe that no one can possibly understand what's going on with you and no one has anything valuable to say. And you get angry and nasty and defensive, and continue in behaviors that are not helpful, all the while complaining about how much your life sucks and how powerless you are to do anything about it. You demean your friends behind their backs-and in my case, to my face--because they don't offer you some perfect solution, instead of making an effort to recognise and appreciate their real concern for you.

So what happened? I got tired, that's what happened. I tried really hard to be there, and listen, and validate your experience, and model a positive outlook, because I could see that you have issues that are bogging you down and I work hard to maintain my faith that a person in pain doesn't actually want to be in pain. That if I can shine a light on the hope that she can't see for herself, she'll naturally turn towards it and use it as the beginning of a step out. Because people don't want to be in pain.

But in your case, I've had to come to the difficult conclusion that that isn't true. Your conduct shows me that, in fact, you do want to be in pain. Instead of receiving a positive outlook as a sign of hope, you sneer at it as something moronic. Or you regard it askance, as if it's some kind of trick, a poisonous snake that will bite you the minute your back is turned. You look for the wrong and when you find it--as you inevitably do, as you're looking so hard for it--it just proves to you that nothing can change and you were right all along.

The last time I mentioned this to you, you claimed to recognise that everything good has a nugget of bad and everything bad has a nugget of good. But the reality is that you don't show any sign of actually believing that. You look really hard for the bad in the good, sure. But I've never seen you reach out to the good in the bad without going out of your way to enumerate all the reasons that good is false. Someone gives you a compliment and you turn it aside. You feel enjoyment and you're "stupid." Happy endings are "unrealistic," and therefore dumb.

How can you expect good things to find you if you spend so much time and energy shoving them away? You don't have to do that. Nothing that's happened to you means you have to do that. You're choosing it. You're practicing an addiction to your pain by not challenging the patterns and the inner voices that keep you in it. It's not the pain I can't be around; it's the addiction.

And that's where this comes back to "what happened." Because in order to cling to your pain you got in the habit of invalidating my experience. If I tried to express concern for you, you got defensive and angry because I was misinterpreting you. You'd say stuff like, your life was so horrible and you were just going to die in a ditch somewhere and when I said that made me scared for you and I wished you'd get some help you'd say, well, you weren't going to off yourself so leave you alone and stop telling you what to do. You'd talk about how much you hated work and how much it got you down and when I said if it was so bad maybe it wasn't doing you any good to be there you came back with how it was the only positive thing in your life. You contradicted yourself constantly to make me wrong. When I tried to say pain sucks and I know how it is and there's ways out if you want to take them, you got down on me for "giving you a lecture" because I can't possibly know anything about you and how trapped you feel. You spat on what I had to give you and then claimed I hadn't tried to give you anything.

You kept saying no one was there for you. The reality is that your definition of what being there for you looks like is so narrow no one can fit into it. And I got tired of trying, and being spat on and told I wasn't doing it right and I wasn't good enough.

I tried to be your friend and offer stuff about me, but I got a pretty clear message that you didn't want that. Everything had to be about your pain. When I tried to share mine, your only response was, "Get a hobby." I tried to share things that I liked and you acted like I was an idiot. When we came home from Pagosa and I told you I had a headache one night and I stayed home and watched "Sister Act 2" on TV, your immediate response was, "Too bad." You didn't bother to wait to hear what I thought or ask whether I liked it. Then when I told you I had actually enjoyed it you had to tell me all the reasons it sucked. That was really rude and unpleasant and it just reinforced that you think I'm a moron. I don't need that.

You seem to have this impression that you're a really good friend and you're always there for other people, but it just isn't true--at least not in my case. I tried to share my work with you--which is the most important thing to me and involves struggles you can't even imagine--and you didn't even read it until I asked you about it six months later. And then you're all, "Oh, I didn't know what you wanted." What I wanted was for you to participate in our relationship. What I wanted was to share something with you that was important and scary to me. What I wanted was for you to be interested in me for my sake. And if you couldn't do that I would have appreciated your being honest enough to say, "you know, I said I'd read this but I'm just not up to it now."

You withhold yourself from real contact. In fact, when real contact tries to find you, you slap it away. And I have no doubt you have reasons for doing so that seem good to you. But it hurts me and it makes me tired. I don't want it any more.

In case you're interested, I'm going to go ahead and explain why I had decided not to answer your last e-mail. My original idea was to answer it with what I'm about to say. Then I decided since you haven't really been interested in my point of view for some time, it wasn't worth my effort.

The long and the short of it is, I'm not interested in "talking about" what happened because that last e-mail didn't demonstrate to me that you're willing to listen. What would demonstrate that? Something more like:

"I miss you. I'm sorry about what happened. I don't even know what happened (which you didn't bother to say to me, only to Michael) but I'd like to understand. I'm ready to hear what you have to say."

It certainly wouldn't include an attempt to lay a guilt trip on me for the fact that you had bought me a birthday present before I decided I was done being hurt, which is what you did. Though I am extremely unwilling to extend myself right now, it is possible for me to entertain the thought that you didn't intend it and didn't know you were doing it. So here's an explanation.

Maybe what you intended to say was, "I felt really bad and I didn't know what to do." That's not what you said. Saying, "I had this present all wrapped and then I lay awake for nights wondering whether or not to give it to you on your birthday. If you don't want it I'll give it to charity," says

"Look at all the trouble I went to for you. Look at all the pain you put me through. Poor me. Don't you feel bad now? Aren't you sorry you caused me such distress? And if you can't appreciate the trouble I went to I'll find someone who does because you don't deserve it anyway."

Well, no, I don't and I'm not.

If that isn't what you meant to say, a more appropriate was of putting it would be to say, "I already had your present and I know it's my responsibility to decide what to do with it, but I just couldn't decide what would be the right thing. So, I'm sorry to put this off on you, but I'm just going to leave it and you can take it if you want it." Or even, "I already had your birthday present and I hope that despite everything you'll accept it."

That's as far as that letter got, and I don;t remember now how I meant to finish it. At the time I was so hurt all I could say to my husband was, "Keep her away from me!"

I wish now sometimes we could talk. If this person approached me and asked to talk about what had happened between us, I would be open to that. But my condition is, she has to ask. So where does that leave me? Alone, I guess.

See, the thing is before I'd want to open a dialog I'd have to have some indication that she'd maybe gone a little way towards changing. I think of her and of that time and my stomach crawls. I don;t regain trust easily. But I'd be willing to try if only she asked. If we could start over.

But maybe there are no second chances. And so my friends are all in cyberspace, where we can;t get too close and hurt each other too badly.

And I think that's a damn shame.

The Power of Blood

I woke up to a bright, beautiful, crisp morning today...and the telltale cramps that mean only one thing: yes, it's That Time Of Month.

There's a relief that comes when the time arrives because it means that the PMS of the preceeding week or so is over for a time. I actually am in very good spirits. But the process itself is...not empowering to me, though some women see it so. In fact, I have such bad cramps that all I want to do is lie on the couch with a heating pad on my belly and moan softly until my husband brings me bonbons and tea.

as for the blood itself...I know of women who collect it and even make drawings with it, which they display prominently about the house. Okay, this seems icky to me, but I can understand the impulse. There's power in blood. That's why men have been afraid of women for years untold: we bleed and bleed and don't die. It's like we have such a vast reservoir of this power that it must needs overflow once a month just to bring us into normal territory. And old women are even scarier. What's happening to that blood power once they stop bleeding? Is it just building up? Making them more and more powerful? Some ancient and/or indigenous cultures have thought so.

Power in blood. When I was a cutter, back in high school, I used to write in my journals in blood. I would draw pictures like a child fingerpainting. I would splatter it on the page with wild glee, just to see the shapes it made. You would not believe how much blood it takes actually to write in it: a lot more than you would imagine. But it never scared me. It felt powerful, taking this substance from my body and using it to create. It feels like the most basic tool of creation is your own blood: the first ink. The one that says "Pay attention to this; it's important." I suppose that's why, in demon lore, contracts with the devil or any powerful entity are always signed in blood.

I don;t do that now, but sometimes I think about it. You can;t very well write a blog in blood and a red font just isn;t the same. Although I suppose the colour is why red is a popular ink for grading papers and the like: it harks back to the primal power of writing in blood. It says, "Pay attention."

Red is for stop signs and ambulance lights. Red is for danger. Red is for labels that warn you of the possible contraindications of your medication.

Red is for lots of things, but mostly, red is for blood.

The Power of blood.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why I Hate the "Strolling Scones" (org. published Aug 2006)

As this evil band is one of the headliners at the festival I just mentioned, I felt the need to re-publish this blog from my myspace of a year ago:

Why I hate the "Strolling Scones"
Current mood: nauseated

I can't stand it anymore. I've talked around and around this issue without naming names (mostly in my other blog), and I can't stand it anymore. I may become the town pariah--like I have any friends anyway. People who think I belong to the so-called "artistic" community will certainly have to re-evaluate. But my disgust has grown to the point that it is stronger than my fear.

In Paonia, where I live, there are a lot of people who muddle around with music. I won't say musicians, because I think probably 75% of the people I'm talking about aren't actually musicians and calling them musicians is an insult to the 25% who actually are. And by being an actual musician, I mean not a person who plays any particular genre, but a person who has a particular respect for and relationship to music, and one who is willing to address issues and dysfunction and put the self aside for that relationship. Not just a person who gets off on the performance aspect, or someone who grooves to the bongos while stoned on Friday nights. Or someone who can muddle through a fakebook but who never practices. Or someone who plays when s/he gets paid for it but otherwise won't participate.

Well, anyway. Where I live there are a whole lot of dilettantes who get off on strutting around calling themselves artists while not ever really doing the work of acquiring consistent technique. I was in a band with one of these people for a number of years. She was hostile, manipulative and disruptive; she was not honest about what she wanted or what she was willing to do, she refused to learn or practice, she would not allow any kind of criticism or her abilities or performance, she alienated the audiences, threw fits when she wasn't the center of attention, expected the rest of the band to read her mind and resented it when we did or would not, and expected the rest of the band, and me in particular, to cover up her lack of preparation while she swanned around playing the rock star.

this person, who I still balk at mentioning by name, once said, "I'd play the triangle if it meant I could be in a headline band." To which I would have said, "Great, since there's no place for a triangle in this band you can leave and we'll find someone else who can really play the instrument you pretend to play."

This person, when my husband and bandmate told her that "he never really felt like he had a chance to get to be her friend," looked at him with a superior air and replied, "Oh, is that important to you?" as if she had scored some kind of point.

Well, the upshot is that after several years of trying to make things work out--and yes, I really should have wised up sooner, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa--I left the band, which promptly fell apart. (I heard later from various sources that this person went around telling people this was my fault because I was so controlling and wouldn't let people do what they wanted to do--a blatant lie.)

Anyway. Some time later, another band in town--one whose members, incidentally, I count among the real musicians--put together a 60s revival act for a New Year's eve party. They called this group "the Strolling Scones." Cute. I had no problem with this UNTIL the original 4-piece line-up added two more members, one of whom was my former bandmate. I could have dealt if the New Year's eve gig had been a one-shot deal, but the Strolling Scones (and I think this was a cute name for a one-shot deal but just too precious for an ongoing venture) have been playing ever since. They've even made a CD.

It makes me literally sick at my stomach that a person who was pretty much solely responsible for destroying my band is now getting strokes for being a prominent performer (although, as an acquaintence recently said, "she's still a really unpleasant person"), while I came out of the whole band debacle so emotionally damaged that the very thought of playing music where anyone can see me plummets me into an anxiety attack.

It makes me doubly sick, as well as angry, that I've heard that this person has actually become a pretty good performer. I suppose that's petty of me. I try really hard to be happy that she's got something out of her new situation that she didn't get in our band. But I'm not. Because I think that only will allow her to continue to blame me for our band not being the band she wanted it to be, when it was really her lack of honesty and participation. And also, I'm totally pissed off that she would make an effort in this situation that she refused to make before. But maybe the Strolling Scones environment is less demanding of personal responsibility than I was.

And it makes me just ill to see a comment on the Scones' myspace page that reads "if (this person) is involved, it must be good..." when I have first hand experience of her morbid toxicity, over-inflated opinion of herself and just plain lack of talent.

So, I HATE THE STROLLING SCONES. I hate them without ever having heard them and with no intention of ever hearing them. I hate them because this person is involved. Rick, Helen, Carol, I'm sorry. You guys are great--Rick is one of the best bandleaders I've seen in action--and sweet. But I can't respect anyone who associates with the other female member of your band. I simply can't imagine anyone with an ounce of sense putting up with her in any kind of creative endeavour for any length of time. And if you haven't noticed the problems...well, it makes me wonder.

So sue me.

I also used to go get my hair cut by one of the members of this band but I find I just can't bring myself to be in her presence ay longer. I'm really sorry about that because she was a really good stylist. But seeing "Scones" memorabilia all over the studio makes my stomch churn.

Come for the Festival, Brother? (II)

So the last weekend of September here in lovely Paonia, Colorado is the time of the infamous Mountain Harvest Festival. This event has been going on for something like six years now--I know because my band played at the first one, shortly before we broke up.

I do not go to this festival, although this year I REALLY should because SMTtF is based on a festival very much like it. I do not go because it irritates me. It irritates me because it seems geared towards a certain clique in town: they're the ones who go and even the ones who perform in it. The Music acts are always the same and I ask myself, "Why should I pay $17 to go see all of them at one time when I can see any of them for free practically any time I want to at other times of the year?" I ask myself, "Why is there never anyone new on the program?"

I ask myself, "Why am I never invited to read my work at the so-called "Harvest of Voices," a gathering of poets, writers and performance artists that usually kicks off the show?

When I was doing my book signing a year ago, one of the organisers of this event was present. She was carrying on a spirited conversation with another woman about how their group is not, in fact, a clique; "We just want to make sure that people with some quality and experience in their work are the ones performing." SHE SAID THIS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, AT MY BOOK SIGNING, NEVER HAVING ASKED ME. I about fell out of my chair. I wish now I had said something to her, like, "Marion, if your group isn;t a clique why have I never been asked to participate in your little parties?" I mean, it's not like she doesn't know I'm a writer. I used to go to open readings all the time and she always gushed about my work when I read it.

The truth is, this year I'm not nearly so upset about it. I think I have halfway convinced myself that the reason they don;t ask me is that they are threatened by my ability and professionalism. I have halfway convinced myself that asking me to read at their little "Harvest of Voices" would be like asking Stephen King to read at the Presbyterian Ladies' writing association social. Anyway, I didn't have my hopes up like I did some years. I spent many of the first years of this festival thing dying to be asked to participate in some way. Now I really just don't care.

This, of course, does not keep me from wishing the whole thing would be visited by a violent rainstorm that would knock out the power during the musical portion of the program. Tee Hee. Unfortunately the skies seem to be clearing from their earlier grey state. Hmm, it IS windy though. I had a power outage from the wind not too long ago. Maybe if I pray to Boreas...

I'm a wicked, wicked woman.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Falling apart: that's what I feel like. I just realised (at twenty after two) that I totally spaced taking my morning meds. Then I freaked, wondering if it was okay to take them now. I finally decided it was and I took them and now my stomach hurts really badly.

Can't sit still can;t concentrate can;t get dressed can;t get out of bed can't go anywhere can't seem to avoid hitting the semi-colon when I mean to hit the apostraphe...I don;t know how I feel except I feel that I'm slipping again. Slipping into a darkness.

There was a time once when I was so depressed all I did was sleep. I took one sleeping pill after another, everytime I woke up I just took one. I think I stayed asleep for three days that way. I wonder if I'm heading that direction now?

But I don;t feel the crushing weight of depression. This restlessness is foreign to me and I want it to go away.

It would be okay if I could actually DO anything but I can't....I can't concentrate on anything for more than about five minutes at a time. I have the first bits of She Moved Through the Fair going through my head over and over like a mantra and I can;t seem to sit still long enough to write them down. I'm afraid if I start writing I won't be able to stop and though that would actually be a good thing it terrifies me. What is that about?

Why did that last paragraph refuse to turn the right colour?????

More than anything this sense of falling all the time.

I have an appointment with my psychiatrist in October and I'm so afraid he's going to stick me in the hospital. II've managed to avoid that for over 20 years and I don't want to go back. We can;t afford it; we have no insurance. If we did it wouldn;t be so bad, I suppose. At least something familiar in this weirdness.

Where's my coffee?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Today: Anxiety

There's a line from a song that goes:

"Insanity: I can feel the knives inside my brain
I stand alone at the threshold of my pain."

And if you replace the first word with Anxiety, that's how I feel today.

I could have guessed this was coming. What with everything yesterday, I totally spaced taking my anxiety meds not once but twice. And so...

It starts right away, as soon as I open my eyes. I don't want to get out of bed. The bed seems the only safe place for me, really. But I know I have to get up so I convince myself it won't be all that bad just to get up and peruse the Internet and have a cup of coffee.

My stomach is churning and my brain is churning. My shoulders feel stiff and tense and I can feel a scream building in my throat, just behind where my Adam's apple would be if I had one. Even my ears feel tense. I swallow and I get no relief. I try to breathe and feel as if I'm slowly being strangled. When I take a deep breath I begin to shake and pant like a dog or an unbroken horse.

I go to my desk with my coffee and that's all right for a while, chatting with my internet friends--the only friends I have, really. Then I begin thinking that spending so much time on the Internet is really wasteful and dumb and I begin beating myself up for it. That makes the anxiety worse. I begin to think of ending the session and doing something useful. My breath comes in gasps. Those knives in my brain are twisting and there are words there: words I can't quite make out but I know they're berating me for being lazy, among other things. They often call me a liar. It's like a constant buzzing in my ears, or like ny brain is infested with flies. Everything I do is wrong somehow. I just want to curl up in a corner. I want the buzzing to stop.

Finally I manage to get up and eat some breakfast. I take my morning meds. I tidy up the kitchen, shaking all the while. Then I begin to think about getting dressed and the shaking gets worse. There are so many steps to getting dressed and I don;t know if I can handle them. There's washing. Do I just wash my face or do I take a shower? I know my hair needs washed because I haven't been able to accomplish that in a week or so--eeeww--but if I wash my hair it will just get sweaty again if I manage to do anything like go out for a walk or do Pilates. I fully have intended to do Pilates today but right at the moment I don't know if I can. Even popping the DVD into the player seems like too much. It's a decision and I can't make decisions.

I don;t get dressed. I sit down and play a computer game and smoke. Then I write this. I still feel sick at my stomach and I don't know what to do. Everything seems so difficult. So full of consequence. If I get dressed without washing my hair I have to do it later because tonight is my radio show and I can't go out of the house looking like this. If I wash my hair I can't really do anything active, which I ought to do because I've been so inactive all week. Can I do Pilates without getting dressed? That seems wrong somehow in a way I can't define.

So I come here and write this and it doesn't help. It doesn't make me feel any better, setting this down. I wonder if anyone will read it. I wonder if people will think I'm crazy. I wonder if I think I'm crazy. I don;t really, but this anxiety is too much.

I think I willl not get dressed just yet. Maybe later...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday is Geek Day...

So I got up at WAY too fucking early in the morning so I could be at least in a semi-conscious state by the time my computer repair person arrived. He was supposed to be here at nine. Nine came; he didn't. Nine-thirty, ten, ten-thirty...what, did he get stuck in World of Warcraft and spaced out that we had an appointment? Finally around eleven I got a call: "I'm on my way! Really!" By this time I'm on fire and also bouncing off the walls from too much coffee and not enough tobacco (I didnt smoke all morning so he wouldn;t have to breathe my evil fumes; wasn't that considerate of me? I have since made up for the lack by smoking like a chimney.) I funed around some more. Then he shows up. And he's SUCH a nice guy, I immediately felt like an idiot for being upset with him for being 2 hours late. I mean, in a small county with only 2 real computer services this poor guy is really overworked and he doesn't charge near enough.

Anyway. He went to work and pretty soon had my system sorted: yes, ma'am it WAS the CPU fan which was no longer functioning as a fan in any capacity--it was more like an interesting sculpture stuck in my hardware. Then we networked my computer with my husband's, which we had tried to do on our own but hadn't been able to manage. I got to play geek on one computer while Scott did his thing on the other and that was fun. It kind of makes me regret the days when I trained as a computer tech and then never went anywhere with it. I could be making loads of money now...

Goodbye Norton; Hello Avast! I'm an honorary geek, I have it on good authority.

Then came the freak out. After Scott left, I decided to update my website. I click on the website design software icon and nothing happens. WHAT THE FUCK? I keep doing this for about fifteen minutes and am wondering all the time if my whole website is lost somewhere in cyberspace. I sign onto the net--no, it's still there, I just can't do anything with it. I call Scott in a panic, but being the honorary geek that I am I keep trying to find the problem on my own. FINALLY I locate the download for my sitebuilder software (Yahoo had this REALLY well hidden; I can;t imnagine why). I redownload and reinstall the software and ta-daa! it works. None of my data was even lost. So I call Scott back and tell him to disregard my previous messsage and spend the rest of the day adding new stuff to my site.

So go there already!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Size 14!

A couple of weeks ago I was ordering fall clothes. (I get most of my clothes from a wonderful store called Newport News and you can find them on the web at But beware, because since I discovered them I have become totally addicted!) I needed new clothes because since joining Weight watchers back in June I have lost nearly thirty pounds and everyting I own literally hangs off me like sacks.

So anyway, I decided to order some jeans. I ordered a size 14 not expecting them to fit yet; just wondering how far I had to go before hitting that size. Wellthey came today and THEY FIT! I was so excited I jumped up and down.

Now all you people out there who consider Britney Spears fat at size ten maY wonder that I greet size 14 with such joy. But it's been 20 years since I was that size. I'm begining to feel like I own my body againand that's such a relief I can't tell you. For years I'vebeen walking around in this tub of lard that I KNEW didn't belong to me. Now I feel that Ican actually reach my goal (another 40 lbs to go).

It's really hard being fat and i don't think a person who has never been fat can really understand it. You look in th e mirror and hate yourself. You think, "That's not me!" and that there's a thin person hiding in there that just can't get out. You don't understand how you got that way, really. It seems so easy when they tell you "eat less and exercise more," but believe me before WW I tried everything. And nothing worked. So you get more and more depressed. Especially when the perfect model is still shaped like a stick. You just KNOW everyone is seeing not you, but your size.

So Hooray for me!!

That's all.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm bored

this is the worst feeling. I'm so bored. and it's not like there isn't anything to do here. I could play my flute or any of a variety of musical instruments. I could write on any one of a number of novels. I could--gasp--clean house or garden or do things like that. But nothing interests me.

I remember feeling this way as a kid: telling my mom I was bored and having her suggest all these things for me to do andmy saying, "I don't wanna do that."

I heaR this is is a sign of depression. I don't want it to be a sign of depression. I don't want to be depressed any more. Moreover, I don't want to have my meds messed with. I want to be normal for once in my life.

But the wrost thing is not being able to read. If you've followed my blogs you know that I have in the past read well over a hundred books a year. This year I doubt I've read twenty. Why? I can't concentrate. I read a word or a line or a chapter and I feel like I can't sit still for any more.

Books used to be my refuge and now that refuge is gone.

I stil hate this laptop and my back hurts so I'm going to quit this now. I can't even concentrate on what I'm writing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


my computer goed boom yesterday. there I was, innocently playing a game, when all of a sudden the blue screen of death appeared and a horrible grinding noise erupted frm the bowels of the contraption itself. I turned the thing of, tried to start it again and nothing. so I called the friendly if horendously busy compter guy. I also cleaned my office, which was disgusting and I didn't want the computer guy exposed to the month old grashopper carcasses and other presents the cats haveleft me overthe summer. By that time I fiured maybe my computer had just overheated and tried it again. Success! if only temporary: after about ten minutes the blue screen of death once more made its appearance and I knew this was a serious issue. WAAHHHHH!

I am presentl typing this on my husband's laptop which I hate. It has a little tiny keyboard and all the keys are so close together that I can't help but hit the wrong ones, or miss the space bar, all of which bringsmy typing speed way down and is very frustrating. I know some people love their laptops.. I am not one. My husband actually suggested gettingme a laptop last nightand I just stared at him. No,no, no laptop for me!! I want my desktop!!! I wantmy office with its cute little cubby holes!1!!!

So anyway, if you don't ear fromme for a while, this is why. I am waiting or the nicecomputer man to fix my system,
I suppose it could ave come at a worse time. after all, I d id get my submssion out before the crash. that's awesome.

and if you want to know how I'm feelingabout that.......YYYAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! But at least I'm not throwing up today. :lol:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Time for the 2 p.m. Schmeerskahooven!

well, it's off. the first submission of TUQG, that is, and I'm totally having a spazz about it. I thought I could take this calmly, but no, I feel like throwing up repeatedly. I keep remembering all the horror stories about submissions that I've heard--like the woman who sent a submission in only to ave it returned three DAYS later with the words "NO THANK YOU" scrawled on it in red ink....

When I was younger I had a lot more confidence. I could send submissions off without a second thought, sure that they'd be successful. And none of them ever were (well, except for "Moon Turn the Tides"). Which was a huge blow to my ego--after all I spent the years from 14-18 virtually winning every writing prize I applied for. So it's been a long time since I felt that high of success and I am beginning to think I never will.

Granted, there are various forms of rejection. I was astonished to learn this when my husband took a creative writing class last semeter. because I always got very nice personal letters from editors. But I guess most people get form letters and some people just get pink slips. I guess I should have kept trying.

Problem is, I want it all now. I want to be a bestselling author NOW. I have a hard time with the work involved and part of me says, "If you don;t like it then fuck you." I also started out submitting to big publications, like The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, rather than smaller once that might be willing to take a chance and pay you in copies. Well, that's what I did. I don't want to take small steps. I want the giant step, which is why I published Dragons of the Mind by myself. Unfortunately that was not as big a step as I would have liked, as I have only sold about 35 copies of the dang thing. Everyone who reads it loves it, so why can't I get more people to read it? exposure. I don't have it.

I know that artists do their art for themselves (thanks for reminding me of this, Alex). But there comes a time when you really want it to be out there. And as long as it's out there you don't really care who likes it and who doesn't. But the fact that it's out there enables you to continue. Sometimes writing is the most depressing thing, sitting in a little room all by yourself inventing stuff. You want the audience. I once told a therapist, "Plants don't live to be watered, but if you don;t water them they die." Writing is similar. For me at least, if I don't get that....recognition, someone at least reading it no matter what they think, the urge to write just dries up.

A big thank you to all who encouraged me to do this and who are sending stong vibes to Tor books in New York to take on this project! If you want to do the same I would welcome your participation.

And if it doesn't work, I'll just keep trying until it does.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Day is It?

It's her birthday today. That woman who used to be my best friend up until 5 years ago when her bad attitude and general toxicity about ruined my life and surely had a good deal to do with ruining my health.

Why can't I forget these things? Some people don't remember birthdays, I always do, even the birthdays of people I haven't seen in near on 30 years. I don't forget. And we were friends for so long, I doubt I'll ever forget.

Today I am remembering all the good times we had together. The good things about her. The times she was genuine with me and not a person stuck always behind a mask of others' expectations. The times she was honest, not reciting lines.

The truth is, I miss her still. I miss having a living, breathing girlfriend.

The sad thing is, I doubt she understands to this day what she did to me that made me break off the relationship. She has a pretty good life now, from what I hear and see. She has what she wants and though it's not whatI would want I'm glad for her. That's today. Tomorrow I may go back to referring to her as the bitch, but today she's just my lost friend, as lost as if she had died.

So happy birthday Elliot. Wherever you are in your mind I still remember you as a one time friend. and that's the thing that hurts the most.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I coulda been a contender...

so I finally got up the nerve to look through the score sheets I received after entering The Unquiet Grave in a novel contest last year. (Okay, to be honest I didn't look at them; I had my husband read them to me from a safe distance.) I did not win this contest or even make the finals; if I had this blog would not be what it is. that's just in case you're curious.

What astounds me about these score sheets is just how varied the responses on them are. One judge graded me relatively high (71 out of 80 points). Another graded me in the middle range (61 out of 80) and the last, who had the task of reading my submission because the other two didn't agree by 10 points graded me very low indeed: a mere 52 out of 80. This, needless to say was rather a blow to my ego as I am used to attaining high writing scores in everything I do without even trying.

But what confounds me the most is the diffference in the comments. One judge says, "I don;t know what the main character is feeling." Another says, "it's perfectly clear how the main character is feeling." One judge says "Your use of detail is your strong point" and another says "you use too much detail; trust the reader more." I mean, how am I supposed to know who to believe here?

That's the bitch of writing for a commercial audience: the subjectivity of the reader. You never know, when you're sitting in your little room writing away, how anyone is going to react to anything. You only have yourself to go by. And in the end you succeed or fail not because of what you've done, but because of how someone judges what you've done. That's hard to take.

Funny story here: about the time I got these score sheets back a woman wrote an article in the newsletter of the writers' organisation I belong to. She got back the critique and package from a contest she failed to make the finals in on the same day she got a call from a publisher saying they were going to buy her book. I mean, is that weird or what? It just depends on who you get that day, I guess.

In the end, I failed to make the finals because of that low score, because it was one point closer to the middle score than the middle score was to the high score, and they add the two closest scores to get your final outcome. Well, to be honest, even if it hadn't been for that low score I wouldn't have made the finals because 71 and 61 don't quite add up to 135, the minimum qualifying score. Why couldn't that middle judge have given me 3 more points??? That's going to haunt me for a long time, especially as some of her comments seemed wishy washy, like she didn't want to go one way or the other, high or low. You know, like that teacher you had in school who never gave out A's just because. It haunts me now especially since I've decided to "submit, submit, submit," rather than publish the dang thing myself and save myself a lot of grief.

I think that low-scoring judge really wanted to be a critic--one of the kinds who doesn't look at the work in front of him but looks for the work as he thinks it should be. And that's frightening to me. What if I get an editor like that? Of course, in the music business I've heard it's good not to be too perfect because producers want something they can leave a stamp on, not something too polished. But is it the same in the writing field? I don't know. All I can think is how it will feel if I get the call. The call saying someone out there has seen the worth of my work and is willing to take a chance on my book.

And then I won;t be saying, "I COULDA been a contender." I'll really be one.

Well, I've decided.

I've taken the decision: I am NOT going to publish The Unquiet Grave myself. I'm going to start the tedious round of submissions. I figure, what have I got to lose except small pieces of my ego?

Gee, I don;t really have anything to say about this, except: if you;re looking to read TUQG, please put some energy, prayer, or what-have-you into my success at getting this thing published or finding a reputable agent.

I just think there's more wrong with the POD industry than there is right, to tell the honest truth. They're not there to sell your books: they're there to sell their services. and some of those services are QUITE expensive. Take a $900 base price for a fairly well designed book, add another $300 to havbe it copyrighted (if you do it yourself through the U.S. copyright office it's $45), another hundred for the Library of Congress get the idea. and that doesn't include marketing of any kind. Plus, if you want your book to be returnable--something most major bookstores demand--that's ANOTHER $700 for just a year.

POD companies also don;t sell a lot of books. They're seen as vanity presses, which don;t have a very good reputation among booksellers and reviewers. So don;t go to one expecting to have the next break out best seller because it probably isn't going to happen.

I do think there are lots of problems with "traditional" publishing methods as well, not least the subjectiveness of the whole industry. But I'm going to give it a shot.

It's been a long time since I've tried to have a book published and things have changed---not least my writing. So maybe, just maybe I have a chance.

That's all for now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sweet Surprises

I remember the date very well. It was June 2nd, 1977 and I was 14 years old, spending the night with a friend. Up until that time my musical experience had been limited to the Beatles, Jethro Tull and Cat Stevens, as well as the local easy listening station. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Beth was a metal head. I guess in these days you wouldn;t call her a metalhead anymore than you'd call Led Zeppelin and Queen Heavy Metal, but that's how they were known then. Now I guess they'd just go by the label hard rock. Anyway. Beth started playing me music out of her collection. And blown away doesn;t begin to describe how I felt. I guess considering my listening history it would not have been out of order to suppose I'd hate the stuff she played me, but I loved it. I felt my blood pounding with the guitar and the drums. I felt alive and awake in a way I never had before. And it sure didn;t hurt that most of the guys on the album covers were wearing very tight clothes and were extremely good looking.

She saved her favourite band, Sweet, for last. She really wanted me to like them because a lot of people in our country didn't at the time: they were seen as a cheesy mix of Led Zep and Queen or an ex-bubble pop band trying desperately to make its own way without talented songwriters. But I loved them quite as much as Beth had hoped I would and ended up being obsessed with them for the next few years, even to harbouring a massive crush on their guitar member (incidentally, the only member of the band still playing and one acknowledged as the most talented).

Sweet did start as a bubble pop band. Remember the dreadful "Little Willy?" That was one of theirs. So was the odious "Wig Wam Bam." Both were written by the team of Chinn and Chapman (or Chinnichap) for the up and coming band. If most people think of Sweet they think of those songs, or of the later "Love is like Oxygen," which, though written by my darling Andy Scott, I think is a terrible song. But between the Chinnichap era and the time of the album Level Headed (or Leather Headed, as we called it then) Sweet was one of the rockin'est hard rock bands out there and also one of the most underrated. All anyone really knows of them is "Fox on the Run" and "Ballroom Blitz," and while both those numbers are good in a catchy poppy sort of way, they don;t capture the drive and energy of "Done me Wrong Alright" or "Sweet F.A." or...well anything else that the band wrote themselves during that brief period when they were known for their thundering guitar riffs, rapid staccato drumming and layered vocals.

I once owned the entire Sweet catalog on Vinyl, but years of poverty driving me to sell my most prized possessions soon relieved me of the burden. Now, I've been wanting to hear some Sweet again for years, but all I could find were compilations of their early stuff (ironically called "The Best of Sweet---eughh!). But today I did an Amazon search and found...yes, almost the whole catalog released on CD, Imports and all. Oh to hear "Midnight to Daylight" and "Action" again! What did I do? I bought the whole thing, of course. Even though I couldn;t really afford it. I mean, what are credit cards for?

I can't wait for these discs to come. I'll be ripping them out of the plastic and blasting the house down with the sounds of one of my favourite bands--the only way to listen to Sweet is REALLY REALLY LOUD!!!! And if the neighbours don't approve....too bad!

Now, does anyone have a copy of Strung Up that they're willing to part with?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I wish I had something more interesting to say than whine about my depression, but I don't. I wish I wasn;t depressed, but I am.

I guess I should be grateful that I'm not as depressed as I was a year ago or so, but I still can't but feel that true happiness is out of my reach. Every day it gets a little harder to get out of bed, a little harder to get dressed. When I do get dressed I most likely put on gnarly old sweatpants and a threadbare t-shirt because it just doesn;t seem worth it to put on anything else. No one ever sees me and I rarely see anyone. I don't miss these things. And that's part of being depressed that's frightening to me: how little I miss things. I vaguely remember times when I was energetic and active and had activities in my life that I enjoyed. But these things are distant as the memories of dreams. Like they happened to someone else, or like I read about them somewhere.

This is more familiar, this grey fog that creeps into my heart more and more every day. I've struggled with it as long as I can remember, honestly. I remember feeling this way when I was nine years old. Even then I knew I had no value. But even then I could find things that gave me a moment's happiness. Not so anymore. It's as if I've tried everything, leeched all the hapiness I could out of every activity imaginable and I can't think of anything else I'd like or like to do.

People who don't suffer this can't imagine it. They think you can just snap out of it or perk up at will. But dead flowers don;t come back to life and that's a fact.

I'm tired of this now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Family, By Request

I got a comment the other day on a blog I wrote way back in January asking me to delve more into my family dysfunction. Well, I don;t know if I can do that, precisely, but here's a brief picture:

My father was a minister (he's been gone now for some years). My mother was an English teacher (Middle school) She's stilll with us and probably will be for a good many years to come. They grew up during the GReat Depression and I think that shaped a lot of their lives. Also, they lived quite some time in the 1950s, that time of Leave it to Beaver families and not being talked about and specifically not mentioning BAD THINGS that might be going on.

They had five children, four girls and one boy. I'm convinced they meant to stop after my brother was born because there are nearly eight years between him and me. I told my mom once that I thought I was a mistake. Her reply was, "You may have been unexpected but that doesn;t mean we love you any less." Hmmm.

My dad was ten years older than my mom. They met during WWII. her father never approved and never let my dad forget it, from what I can gather. Being married just after the war meant that they brought up most of their children during the '50s. Then the 1960s hit and nothing was ever the same again. I think this is onhe of the defining moments of my parents' lives. They just weren't able to make the adjustment from the repression of the '50s to the freedom of the '60s and when their older girls started marching to a different drummer, well...I hope you get the idea because being about 1 at the time I don;t really have many memories of this.

In 1961 of thereabouts, my eldest sister got pregnant. Of course, my parents wanted to hush it up. They made arrangements for her to go away to a home for unwed mothers. My sister, understandably, wanted noting to do with this. She eloped with her boyfriend and because she was underage, got his mother to stand up before the city clerk and say she was my mother so the marriage could come off (My parents had it annulled later). But the worst thing was the pregnancy out of wedlock, as far as my parents were concerned. This was the defining tragedy of my mother's life, and maybe my father's too. It didn't make matters any better when my next eldest sister became a heroin junkie and ran off to california where she had two children out of wedlock to different fathers (I think; they don;t resemble one another in the least).

Now you;d think, by today's standards of understanding, that someone would have got a clue from this that all was not right in the Lampe household. But all my parents could tink was that the girls were intrinsically bad. Which always puzzled me, as the grandchildren from these alliances were always treated quite a bit better than I was. When I had problems, it was seen as another sign of that intrinsic badness. I don't know how many times I was told, "You;re going to grow up to be just like your two older sisters." It didn;t matter what I did. The thing I remember was wanting to perm my hair. This seems innocent enough to me, but somehow to my mother it was a sign that I was going to get pregnant and run away, I guess, because she just threw a fit at me. I permed my hair anyway, and I never DID get pregnant or even have a boyfriend until much, much later.

I always felt shut out of my family. They don't talk. At least, they don;t talk to me. Between my elder siblings there's a bond--they grew up together. But by the time I was old enough to talk to or even have any idea what was going on, they were all gone. And they continue to shut me out to this day. I've tried communicating with them but the best I get is a card on my birthday, if they remember. My two older sisters don;t send me cards at all. It's like I don't exist on some level. I've never understood why this is. To me, it seems to reinforce the idea that I'm somehow the black sheep of the family and that all the troubles are my fault.

A couple of years ago I had a series of miscarriages. I really wanted my family to be there for me at the time and I went out of my way to write to my next oldest sister (the good one). I was really open and told her all my fears and what it had been like growing up. Her response was, "How could you say Daddy didn't love you? He always loved little children." I remember his holding his grandchildren and even me when I was very small. But my main memories of are him telling me how bad I was and how much trouble I was and that I treated my mother like mud all the time. How can you think someone loves you when this is all you hear?

No one was there for me growing up. In juvenile novels there's slways someone: an aunt, a teacher, a librarian who encourages the protagonist to blossom and grow. But there was no one like that in my life. Just me and my thoughts. Is it any wonder I felt I didn't deserve to live?

Of course I know now that there's a real scientific basis for my continuing depression and flights of mania. But at the time it was just, "Stop being bad. Stop being upsetting." My mother accused me once when I was in tears of "Being a good actress." My therapist asked me just the other day why on earth anyone would act like they were in pain like that. But I get so confused sometimes, I don;t know what I'm really feeling or whether I'm just making it up. I don;t know what's real.

I don;t know if this is what that person wanted me to write but that's what has come to me right now and I don;t think I can go on anymore. Not with this, I mean. My life is still in the balance but I thik I'm coming out okay. THis time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A bad day

this major mental illness thing is no joke.

it's funny--even though I now have a real diagnosis from reputable, diplomaed, liscened therapists and psychiatrists I still have a hard time with that major mental illness label. It's not just the label. it's that I spent so long hearing that I was just making things up, that nothing was "Wrong" with me, that I was selfish and sttention seeking, etc...maybe you get the picture. maybe you don't. Maybe you;d have to be me to really understand it, and since you're not me, well...all I can say is these taunting voices are constantly in my head like the buzzing of flies and whenever I try to talk to anyone about my feelings and experience the flies get very loud.

anyway, yesterday was a really bad day. I've been suffering increasing anxiety for weeks now--the kind of anxiety that makes you scared to go out of the house in case someone, god forbid, should actually see you much less try to talk to you. I keep thinking people are coming to get me and although I know in my head that no one is going to some drag me out of my bed and pillory me in the middle of the night in my soul I really don;t know it. I keep expecting that I'll be punished for something, some unmentionable crime I've committed totally unaware. The crime of just being. because in my soul I feel that I'm bad. My therapist keeps telling me I don;t do bad things; in fact, I'm a strangely good and compassionate person. But that doesn;t help. It's that Calvinist idea of grace getting in the way--that if you're on the list you;re good andif not you're irredeemable no matter what acts you may perform in this life. I know I come down on the irredeemable side just for getting born. I don't have to be a mass murderer or anything. It doesn't make any difference, just as doing good things do not add to my total goodness.

well, I finally called my psychiatrist who prescribed more anti-anxiety medication, tank all the gods so I'm doing better today. but he asked me, was there anything about this time of year that I had associations with that might make this a troublesome time. And I started crying uncontrollably and remembered my high school....not just high school, but grade school, from third grade on up. An abominably abusive place. For ten years I had to go and be mentally, verbally, emotionally and even sexually abused at this school. And there was no one to talk to about it. My parents just told me--making matters worse--that I should be grateful for the opportunity to go there because if I didn;t I would be forced to go to the DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS--said in tones that made me understand that this was the lowest circle of hell, at least in my parents' estimation and I was a terribly ungrateful and selfish child for wanting not to be abused every day of my life. I even had to go to day camp there in the summer so there was no escape. Ever. I was scared all the time. When I tried to talk to the teachers about this they blew me off, probably because my mother was also a teacher there. Or maybe they had been told not to listen to me, I don;t know.

It was the most terrible thing remembering this, like I was back there again, helpless, with no where to turn. I cried myself into a migraine.

Then I went to see my therapist. I don;t remember everything I told her but she's of the opinion that I'm in a rapid cycling mixed state, which is something Bipolar people get that I don;t understand, and that I should tell my pdoc what I had told her. But if I can't remember, how can I tell him? the one good thing though, is that I finally convinced her that these voices in my head that contradict everything I say are NOT just old tapes and not just memories of things people have said to me in the past--they're living and present and I don't feel they're part of me at all. I don;t think they're a hallucination either. It's like...struggling always against some loud noise that blots out my own thoughts and makes it impossible for me to speak. And if anyone contradicts something I say, the voices just say, "See, what did I tell you?" So talking about what's going on with me is incredibly difficult.

Anyway, I have permission to take it easy and let the new meds do their work. Which is what I plan to do now that I'm done writing this.

And if you didn;t think I was crazy before I bet you sure do now. I don;t mind though. It feels more honest.

It feels weird sometimes to post these things on the internet where anyone can see them. But I feel a lot less exposed here than I do in general, so that's okay too.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Day, and welcome to it.

Some of you may know and most of you may not know that I'm Bipolar and I suffer from PTSD. Because of this, I haven't ever held a job for longer than two years and the last time I "worked" was some ten years ago. I feel really guilty about this. Even when my therapist and my pdoc say it would be a BAD IDEA for me to try to get a job as of yet, I feel guilty. I feel like I don;t contribute anything to our household. I feel bad that my husband has to be the wage-earner eventhough he's told me repeatedly that he'd rather have less money and a sane wife than someone who's suicidal from going to a job she hates. It's not just a particular job. It's any job. The concept of JOB, to me, means pain, never earning enough, never having tiome to yourself, being exhausted all the get the picture.

So Anyway, this summer I took the plunge and decided to apply for disability because I can't work.

It's hard for me to say "can't work." In my brain I believe I just WON'T work because I'm lazy. But I've been told I can't work and I try to believe that. It's hard.

Well, I just got a big package of MORE FORMS to fill out to verify the extent of my disability. The very first question was, "Give a detailed description of your day from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed at night." The problem with this is that they only allowed you about a third of a page to give this detailed description. I had to continue on the back of the page but it still wasn't enough. A real analysis would go something like this:

"I get up really late because I want to be asleep all the time because my bed is the only place I really feel safe. I pour myself a cup of coffee left over from the coffee my husband made in the morning. I feel bad that I don;t get up earlier and see him off to work or school, and that I don't have a job of my own. I spend a few moments thinking about how lazy I am. Then I spend about two hours in front of my computer perusing internet headlines and visiting various forums where I have the only friends in my life because I'm so afraid of real people that I don't have any real friends. After I've done this for a while, I begin to feel guilty because I'm spending time on something so unimportant, so I get up from my chair and make breakfast, which is always the same thing (yoghurt and granola with a sliced banana, if anyone cares). I take my numerous meds if I remember. Usually it takes me a while to remember and I have a moment of, "Oh, meds, right, I'm not normal." After this I clean up the kichen a little so at least last night's dishes aren't strewn all over the palce. I wash my face and wonder if I'm going to get dressed today. About this time, I start having an anxiety attack because I start thinking of all the things I should be doing, like cleaning the house and weeding in the garden and going downtown to check the post. My palms start sweating. Sometimes I manage to force myself to go out despite the panic and sometimes I don't. So I spend the rest of my day feeling bad because I didn't go out and do things. I berate myself constantly for the state of my yard and house. I tell myself I know people with far greater disabilities than I have who not only manage to do all these things but have jobs as well and kids too, and I wonder if I''m just a lazy piece of shit.

I try to read sometimes but I can't concentrate on anything more than about 30 minutes before I have to put it away and do something else. I stare at my flute case and think about practicing and don;t. Then I spend some time feeling bad about that. After which I probably play computer games and continue to cruise the internet for a while. I think about writing and don't. I feel guilty about that. I tell myself that a real writer would just get over all this, that it's the censor in me trying to make me not write and I should fight it but I don;t feel I have what it takes to fight--or is that just an excuse?

When my husband comes home we sit around for a while and stare at the walls, him because he's so tired from working or from school and me because I can;t think of anything to say. He asks me how my day has been and it's always the same. After a while we throw together some dinner and I think about all the elaborate Indian dinners I used to cook before I got so depressed, that I can't be bothered to deal with now. Sometimes I'm not even up to cooking and my husband does it.

After dinner, we sit around and drool some more before my husband starts on his homework. I try to read some more but usually end up playing computer games until bedtime and thinking about all the things I used to do.

And that's what MY day looks like. How's yours?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Today: Words

I'm always amazed, when I read other writers' works, how many words are misused. I can;t beoieve they slip past the editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. Like, in one quite excellent book, the author kept talking about "The yolk of slavery," which gave me an great image of slaves with eggs all over their heads but I think was not what the author had in mind. It's "Yoke" in that sense, my dear.

So today, for your edification (and to take out some of my frustrations), here are some commonly misused words and their definitions.

Nauseated Vs. Nauseous.
Nauseated is how you feel after you eat something bad, or when you have the flu. Nauseous is something disgusting. So you might be nauseated after eating a nauseous mess of porridge. You don;t feel nauseous; that would mean you;re likely to make someone sick. Well, I've known a few people like that.

Aggravated Vs. Irritated
You're irritated with a person. A condition is aggravated by something. You might be irritated because the cream your doctor prescribed aggravated the boils on your bum. You are not aggravated. Your skin, however, might be irritated as a result of the aggravation. (Thanks to Robbie Merliss, O.D. for this one)

Venemous Vs. Poisonous
Something is venemous if it bites you and you get sick. Something is poisonous if you bite IT and you get sick. So snakes are venemous, not poisonous (unlesss you happen to eat bad snake meat and become nauseated).

Whence, Hence, Thence etc.
I'm always amazed at how often I see these misused. Whence means "from where." So saying "From Whence..." is redundant. Likewise hence means "from here" and thence means "from there." You don;t need the "from to be stated again when using any of these words, even if you think it sounds better. It's just wrong. Their relations, whither, hither and thither are similar. Whither means "To where." Hither means "to here." Thither means "to there." So you don;t need to say "to whither are you going?" It's redundant. please try to remember this one as it drives me bananas.

Wherefore means "why." Juliet says "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" because she's wondering why he has to be who he is, NOT because she's wondering where he's got to.

Its vs. It's
Another of my pet peeves. Its (no apostrophe) is the possesive of the pronoun "It." It's means "it is" or sometimes "it has." Remember: It's a shame that the cat lost its collar. If you can't replace one word with two, there's no call for the apostrophe.

Lie vs. Lay
lie is an intrasitive verb. this means it does not take an object. Lay is a transitive verb. this means it DOES take an object, always. You LIE down. A hen LAYS an egg.

And that's enough instruction for today. I hope you have found the above useful and informative!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Anxiety and Guilt

bad day for me today. I woke up later than I would have liked and still wanted to pull the covers over my head and hide. moved slowly through all my morning routine and could barely get dressed (if you call natty old sweatpants and a t-shirt dressed...). Couldn't stop thinking of all the things I meant to do today, SHOULD be doing and the more I thought about them the worse I felt.

anxiety like a lump in the pit of my stomach. sweaty palms. it's a body sensation, no thought to it, just "run away, run away." Apparently the thought of all the things I meant to do--like going downtown--triggered my flight or fight response. Apparently this is part of PTSD and I'm just going to have to live with it happening from time to time. So nothing got done.

and to make matters worse there's the guilt. my therapist says I feel guilt when I don;t do something I think others want me to do or do something I think others don;t want me to do, but the only person putting pressure on me today is me. unless you count the ever-present societal expectation that a person should be a certain way. or maybe it's my belief that other people think I should be a certain way? I don't know.

guilt feels like...fear to me. not good to say a feeling feels like another feeling, but that's as close as I can get. it feels like the fear of being punished. So does anxiety. so I wonder if for me anxiety and guilt are somehow inextricably linked. Like feeling a whip across your shoulders. In school we used to call it "the hunched feeling."

Sometimes, like now, I get these horrible moments of deja vu and I'm sure something bad is going to happen. I see myself writing this exact blog and I know I've seen this scene or montage before and then something bad happened. like a phone call telling me my husband has been in an accident or something--that's what I always expect. It's just a moment then it's gone but the fear remains.

I have no more thoughts about this, but I was trying to write a blog and I think I succeeded in that. So I'm done now.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Passion--where's mine?

My husband makes wands. Wands for Harry Potter fans, wands for witchy types, just nice carved wands for anyone who might want to have a wand in his or her life. Last week he walked into the Witchy Shoppe in the city and sold eleven of the things in a go without even trying. He doesn;t make them because he can sell them; that was just a nice bonus. He's always had a thing for sticks and the wand thing grew out of it naturally. Now he's working on a website devoted to his wands.

Or I have another friend who quilts. Her latest project is called "Catnaps:" small quilts for cats. She has a lovely website too. But she doesn't make them because she can sell them; she's said herself that's just an excuse. She likes to quilt. More than that, she loves fabric. The quilts and the website are an excuse for her to get more and more fabric. To indulge in this thing she's passionate about.

I think about things like this and wonder where my passion has gone.

I had a lot of it when I was younger--like in high school. For music, for writing, for painting, for all kinds of stuff. Well, we;re all passionate in High School...but don't most of us keep some of that passion as we age? Whether we put it into a career or a hobby, don'e we feel something for what we do?

I don't. At least, not mostly. I do remember feeling some passion when I was working on the stories for Dragons of the Mind, but that was so long ago I can hardly remember what it felt like. Mostly, my life is one of extreme...flatness: odd for someone with Bipolar Disorder, but there it is. I just don't feel interested in the things I do. Not the way I have sometimes in the past.

I think it's weird for a creative person to feel so little. Because I can still create, but it doesn't feed me in any way, you know? It's just something I do automatically. Or don't do recently, because I'm so fed up with this whole business of finding everything so boring.

Some of it could have to do with the meds I'm on to "even out my mood." Because my fits of passion could easily have been episodes of mania. I think they were. But I also remember being into stuff without being manic about it. I don;t feel into anything these days. It's all just...flat, like I said.

Where's my passion gone? Sometimes I think they beat it out of me in the hospital. Sometimes I think it was gone before the first time I was hospitalised. Like something broke in me and though I've been in therapy for years that thing has never been recovered. I wonder if it ever CAN be recovered or healed. When I think about what I would need for that to happen I think of things that seem impossible, like selling a million copies of my book or winning the World Fantasy Award or stuff like that. But I don't know if even that would help, or if it would just provide some more outside motivation to keep going when what I want is internal, not external.

In college I wrote a poem:

Once everything was a poem.
Now nothing is.
Not even this.

That best describes what I'm talking about, Once everything was involving, a source of inspiration and creativity. Now I have to work at it all the time. Now I have to pretend, and I don't like pretending.

When I try to talk to other writers about this they looks at me like I'm crazy. I mean, the common wisdom of the time is to follow your passion--if your passion is writing then write! They can't conceive of writing without it, which I do every day.

How do you follow your bliss when there is none?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What I've been doing...

So what have I been doing in the last few days, other than fretting about the situation I posted about last, smoking WAY too much and playing Bookworm Adventures until my eyes fall out?

Well, I've been thinking a lot about She Moved Through The Fair, the next book in my Caitlin Ross series. In it, Caitlin tracks a destructive magical amulet through the week-long Gordarosa Harvest Festival and eventually finds it closer to home than she suspected.

SMTtF started as a mundane murder mystery. In fact, it was the first Caitling Ross story I thought of (with the help of my darling and creative husband) some five or six years ago. Consequently, it's changed a lot since then. For one thing, Caitlin was a simple musician, without any of the more arcane elements to her persona that we come to hear of in The Unquiet Grave. For another, for all you people who are interested in the writer's process, it was written in the third person. And Timber had red hair.

But the biggest stumbling block I'm having now is that it was mundane. A Ha! you say, That's where the magic amulet comes in. And you'd be right. I invented the amulet when I was about halfway through TUQG so that there would be a reason for this book to be a Caitlin Ross story and not just a random Cozy.

But I'm having trouble remembering just how the amulet fits in to the murders. That's what I get for not writing things down I suppose. I know I had a Great Idea and pretty much the whole book planned out at one point. But did I take notes? Of course not. I thought I would remember. Of course years have gone by since the Great Idea and I DON'T remember. And I feel like I can't get started writing until I do.

Editorial meeting, help! This is where I need a team of writers to back me up with little notecards all filled with ideas that I can pin up on a bulletin board, just so I can keep track of what's going on. Because I have at least six Caitlin Ross books in my mind at this point--enough to keep me going for several years if they ever become more than vague notions (or should I ever sell a book to a real publisher or win the lottery so I can keep publishing them by myself).

Oh, and in case you've been wondering, the narrator of "Gifts of a Generous Heart" in Dragons of the Mind WAS indeed Caitlin Ross.

I've also been thinking about writing a letter to my mother, but that's another story that would entail the use of much tobacco and perhaps some whiskey.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Got My Mad On

So, the last few days have not been good ones for me. Why? I'll tell you:

Background: some of you may know this, but several years ago I was in a band with a woman who I had known for some years and was close friends with--or thought I was close friends with. To make a long story short, her disruptive and hostile behavious in the band, her compulsive lying behind my back and her refusal to do the work that was needed to play her part caused the end of the band and the end of our friendship. In fact, I haven't spoken to her in some six years.

Well, this woman is involved in the same volunteer organisation that I'm involved in (fortunately we don;t ever come into contact and never have to interact). A few days ago, another person in this organisation sent out an email to the listserve requesting that people who hadn;t RSVP to a meeting he was setting up with the intention of bringing the volunteers closer together and finding new ways we could contribute to the organisation. Sounds like a good idea, no? Well, this woman didn;t think so and she worte back a long screed--which she posted publicly--about why it was a bad idea and unnecessary and all that. This post was, in my eye and ear--for my husband reminds me that when we read stuff she's posted we can;t help but hear her intonation and see her expressions and they have had a lasting effect--patronising and condescending and pretty much out of line, especially to be posted for all to see. Well, the person organising the meeting took it like a gentleman and I suppose that should have been the end of it. But both my husband and I were so riled that he couldn;t help but comment on what he saw as the inappropriateness of the original post, saying that he thought the forum was a place to exchange ideas in a supportive atmosphere not to condescend to and lambaste people for their ideas and willingness to go one step further than absolutely required.

Of course this caused a huge stink. One person wrote back, "A good good clean fun," a sentiment with which I can't agree, having been on the receiving end of too many of them to count. Lambasting someone for his idea is hurtful and non-constructive. And I said as much, and I added privately that this particular woman couldn't leave the organisation soon enough to suit me if that was her attitude. Boy, I shouldn;t have said that! I was told in no uncertain terms that that was out of line as she had contributed so many volunteer hours. Excuse me, but there's more to volunteering than hours put in, in my book.

Well, anyway, just when the flap had started to die down, this woman posted again saying that the matter should have been between her and the other person involved and it was really no one else's business to comment on it. excuse me? then why did you post on a public forum, you moron? In my opinion, this was another attempt on her part to create dissent where there shouldn't really have been that much--a simple yes or no reply to the invitation would have sufficed. She went on to say that "If you want to REALLY contribute to this organisation," one should find out how much money she's giving to the next fundraiser and match it. Boy did that make my blood boil. It all comes down to money, does it? Well, we all can;t be living off trust funds like some people I could name. I feel like posting the Biblical parable about the poor woman who gave her last three coppers to the alms box and what the Jeez said to the Pharisee who derided her for it.

If anything, this should have proved to people how destructive this woman is, but no. No one seems to get it and if I say anything it's just put down to my being crazy with a grudge about the band stuff. I hate that. One person said, "My bullshit meter rates (this woman) as okay." I want to tell him his bullshit meter must be broken and I hope he never has the opportunity to find out just how broken it is.

But there's a conspiracy of silence among some elements of this town about just how dysfunctional it is. That's something I really can;t cope with. And this whole thing has brought up the band issues and the lying and the hostility and all again for me when I thought I was fairly over it. So I've been mad and sick at my stomach, not to mention believing that everyone is going to come down on me and burn me at the stake for what I've said. But come on. I broke off a 25-year friendship with this woman over her behaviour. Do you think I;d do that on a whim? Can you get that there might be some ruth on my side of the issue? Obviously not.

So that's why the last few days have not been good for me. Hope yours have been better.

One good thing came of it: I was so mad I cleaned my house. Now THAT'S mad!