SQUIRREL! Errant thoughts of a writer who is blocked

I can’t move my fingers.

They are reluctant to obey me.

My brain refuses to churn out any sort of ideas and words simply won’t come. Playlists don’t work. Word sprints don’t work.

Nothing will come.

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“What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?”

I sing this randomly during the day. It was from a hulu commercial and got stuck in my head. I sang it once in my high school choir. I think I blocked out the memory because it wasn’t until I got to the chorus that I even remembered I had.

Darn Ear Worms. But at least it was something good, right?

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I have a shameful secret.

I’ve read 11 books in two months.

That’s not shameful though. What IS shameful is that I’ve read them on my Kindle. My brand new Kindle that I swore up and down I would never own.

The Kindle that saves space and trees and has free books I can save to my account on Prime and Good Reads. The Kindle that has page-free convenience, which also means hands-free, which means snacking and reading at the same time.

The Kindle I bought a special leather cover for that was made to look like a book.

It was blue. Dark blue. A color I don’t normally gravitate to. Beauty and the Beast blue.

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I don’t know if I could ever live in a Tiny House with my family. If I was by myself  or with a partner then yes. If we could travel together then definitely yes. I could see myself in a Gypsy Caravan.

I have too much stuff. Too many clothes. Too many crafts.

No that’s not true about the crafts.

But the stuff, yes.

I either want a big sprawling house with four bedrooms and a large, lush yard or a Tiny House. $430K or $30K.

Man I wish I could afford either. Instead I’m in government housing in southern California.

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I like looking at Wedding Dresses. So many fabrics and styles. Ugly, beautiful, intricate and plain.

Somebody dreamed those up. They took the images from their heads and put it on paper and then sewed it into a dress. The completion of an artist’s dream and the pinnacle of a bride’s dream.

I like looking at women in wedding dresses. No matter what they look like or where they came from, they all share the same shining hope. They have the sparkle of a woman in love, dressing up in the most beautiful outfit she’ll ever own, to walk toward the partner she wants to spend the rest of her life.

Every lady deserves to feel like the star of the show; a modern day princess, at least for one day (although it really needs to be more).

Even if most wedding receptions suck unless you have thousands of dollars to spend.

Weddings. Guh.

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I am so grateful for my cat. I’m glad I didn’t get a dog.

She’s brought so much joy and tranquility to my home. She’s affectionate and hilarious and protective. She loves music and having her shoulder blades scratched and she doesn’t mind so much when I pet her belly anymore. She doesn’t even mind when I call her Fat Girl. Winter was good to her.

(Thanks mom, for the extra food!)

When I call her, she comes and maow’s at me, blinking up at me with her yellow-green eyes.

She knows where home is and she doesn’t let any other cat near. Or dog for that matter. Unless she doesn’t have a choice.

She loves her collar. She won’t let me take it off to change it.

Sometimes she’ll sit at my feet when I’m at the computer and reach up with her claws and hook into my thighs until I rub her head. And keep rubbing until she can’t hold on anymore. My skin has permanent claw pricks. I’ve gotten used to the sting.

I get slow blinks and I am often a snuggle partner when we read together on the bed. She sleeps between my husband and I find myself pressed up against the wall in the morning to give her maximum room.

She loves new blankets more than anything, especially quilts. Fresh out of the laundry and folded as thick as they can get is preferred.

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Sometimes I miss being in choir.

I couldn’t read a lick of music. I just knew when a dot was higher on the line, my voice needed to go higher.

I could match pitch though. As long as there were others to match with.

Never did I ever try out for a solo.

I liked being part of a group, working toward the same goal. I liked the music and the way my body felt after singing.

Like it was vibrating.

Like a bell.

I still want to punch my high school choir teacher in the face. Or maybe in the throat. What an asshole. Chipmunk man.

I’ve sadly lost my singing voice to age, child birthing and obesity.

I tried a karaoke game with my kids and I couldn’t even get through 5 songs without my vocal chords seizing up.

I’m sad I’m an alto/tenor now. I miss my soaring soprano voice.

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Quickie #29 Lazy days and Sun rays

PROMPT: What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

I don’t really have a clear answer for this. Or rather, I have too many answers for this.

Most of my days now are spent by myself and I can do what I want whenever I want (now that I have a carrrrrr!!!) so whenever I have a day “off” it’s spent reading or watching Netflix or window shopping.

I enjoy staying home most of the time. I’m a hermit by nature and I like being with my kids. They’re friggin’ hilarious.  Going on a family outing to a restaurant or bowling is nice when we have a little extra to spend. Eventually we’ll even get brave enough to take the kids to different KINDS of restaurants,other than McDonald’s and Burger King (haaa…)

One kind of lazy day I enjoy is when I can read all day under the covers or curled up on the couch with endless cups of tea and then get gussied up to go out at night to a concert or to a bar with a sassy friend. Sometimes I like to listen to loud music and shout at people until my throat is sore. It’s rare, but the release is nice.

When I’m feeling like I need a change or scenery, sometimes I’ll pack a picnic and go cruise the back roads with the radio blasting and the windows down. It’s even better when a friend is driving and we’re singing together and rehashing “the good ol’ days”. Granted this is more a spring and summer activity but still one of my faves. I love being kidnapped for adventures.

I especially like the rare days I get to spend with my mom since she works evenings/ early mornings and then sleeps during the afternoon when I have to work. We’re employed by the same company but work in different stores so when we do get together we tell horror stories about it and empathize with each other.

Retail is AWESOME. You should try it!

At the core of it though my favorite lazy days require mainly Entertainment, Drinks (alcoholic or non, doesn’t matter), Laughter and Family. And maybe throw in some good home-made food although pizza is never a bad option.

The Intoxication of Accomplishment

Shame on me. I went two weeks without posting a damn thing on here. I was doing so good too! I’m sorry. BUT! I’ll tell you why I haven’t been posting. I finally accomplished one of my goals for the year.

I GOT MY OWN CAR. (The picture featured was taken off the internet. It’s not my ACTUAL car. Seriously, snow in southern California? HA!)

*GASSSSPPPP* I KNOW!! My own car! My very first one that I don’t have to share! Well, It’s a truck. A 1997 Toyota 4Runner, which is almost exactly what I wanted. I know a car would have been more economical but I didn’t know which way my life was going to go when I started looking. I figured a truck or a compact SUV covered a lot of bases. House. Commuter. Ghetto Limousine. Mover. Sanctuary. Freedom. Not the best on gas so it won’t be a state travel vehicle unless I win the lottery but really, that’s the only down side.

Even more of a shocker…I found it on CRAIGSLIST.

*Pauses for reaction then squeals happily* I KNOWWWWWWWW!!

Craigslist is a cesspool of trolls and scammers so I knew I had to tread with caution. I found a few trucks I liked and I kept my eye on them while I waited for my tax return to come in. I warred with myself over the prudence of getting another vehicle. Yes it was convenient for errands. I was usually stuck cramming them either on the weekend or after work at 10 pm because during the day, I had no transportation. (Thank gawd for Winco, which stays open 24/7). Besides that, I knew the truck would give me peace of mind in case of emergencies like someone got sick or a friend needed a ride.

But then there was the downside of having to pay for two of everything now with two vehicles. Two registrations. Two insurance policies. Two tanks of gas a week. Two mechanics bills. Plus I had never used so much of our tax return on one thing before. I bought the truck for $3000. That could have been money for braces and replacement teeth and savings for my girls’ college funds! It felt wasteful to spend so much on something just for me and I went back and forth a lot over the last two weeks.

More than any of that though was the pure shining thought of “I ACCOMPLISHED MY GOAL.”

My plans nearly always fall through. Bad planning or no motivation or whatever. But after I blew up my life last May, everything shrank down to one single goal: get a car. That was it. Survive somehow and get a car. And I did it. All on my own!

I found a listing for a red Toyota 4runner on craigslist and saw that it was close to me, only two towns over. It immediately stuck out to me because there was a whole paragraph about the car rather than just the specs and a price. The seller sounded friendly and honest and so, with sweaty palms, I texted him. Normally on craigslist when you text, you don’t get a reply back for about a day/week so when half an hour later I heard my phone beep with an unfamiliar text, I was shocked.

We made a plan to meet up that Saturday so I could check things out. I was so nervous I brought a small army with me. My husband and kids as well as my Uncle Steve (a mechanic all his life) and my cousin/bestie Rebecca (also a mechanic). I wanted to know that logic and careful inspection matched my gut instinct; that this was a good deal. I had a GOOD feeling about this truck and about the guy.

Also, it was raining, which I see as a purification and a blessing.

When we pulled up, I was taken aback when the guy came to meet us. He was a dead ringer for Alec Baldwin. I shit you not. Piercing blue eyes and everything. AND! He’d know my Uncle Gary (ANOTHER mechanic who owns his own garage) for 20 years!!! Everything was Kismet about this meeting. I felt immediately at ease. The guy was forthcoming with information and my Uncle went over the car with a fine tooth comb. The right front blinker was out. Eh. Easy fix. There were little cosmetic problems like the paint was peeling and some bondo had been applied at some point over a bump that was now coming off.

I didn’t care about cosmetic. I preferred older roughed up cars because it’s less of a heart break when (not if) I bang into something and dent it or scratch it. Gives it character! Yeah!

More and more as I stood and looked at it, I knew it was going to be mine. Despite my husband’s urging to get a car with better fuel economy and everyone’s insistence that I didn’t need a truck (they don’t KNOW that), this was my truck. MINE. It was the culmination of years of being trapped at home, of walking from the grocery store with two gallons of milk, of not being able to go on fun trips because I didn’t have my own transportation.

And it was the ONE THING I had planned on; my singular focus.

I still marvel at my truck every time I walk out to get in it. I’m paranoid about every sound it makes and I pay careful attention to the gas gauge and the mileage. I’ve vowed to take better care of it than my previous cars (the ones my HUSBAND drove 90% of the time). I will learn about car maintenance and put fluids in regularly and detail it every month. I’m going to get new window decals for it to personalize it and get a first aid kit and rags and a funnel and a jack.

I’m going to take a trip one of these weekends to some place I’ve never been, just to say I did it, on my own, in my new truck.

My old man Truck. I’m calling him Marty Baldwin. Most cars are girls I suppose (dunno why) but I have yet to find a reliable male to service me. Hopefully this one pans out.

 

 

 

Quickie #19 Overnight Optimal Optical

PROMPT: If you woke up tomorrow and discovered that everything in life was now free, what is the first thing you would do? 

This is a matter of practicality VS. desire.

Practicality:

I would fix my face.

Not like, plastic surgery. That’s dumb. But I was born with a crooked eye and it only got worse with age. I’ve dealt with it my whole life and it’s tiresome. There are certain imperfections I can deal with but having a crooked eye is not one of them.

Screw you people who say “You’re perfect, just the way you are.” That’s bull shit.

Try living through my middle school years where other kids would slide their desks away from me in the class room, thinking having a crooked eye was contagious. Try smiling in the face of kids who would call you ‘cyclops’ and ‘three eyes’ and cut in front of you in the lunch line because you’ve become paralyzed with pain. Or have adults look BEHIND them because they can’t figure out if you’re looking at THEM or someone else.

It’s a fucking problem and it would be the first thing that would get fixed. I think that is a helluva lot better than saying “I’d get liposuction” or a “tummy tuck”. Fat is an changeable flaw, Bad eyes are not.

In addition to the crooked eye, I would definitely get my teeth fixed. They’re bad; have been bad for awhile but not having insurance kinda made them worse. So they’d be next on the list. Dental for me and my family.

Desire:

I would pull my kids out of school and we would travel all over the world as a family.

Spend a year in France, a year in Japan, a year in Africa…wherever we wanted. Learn real life skills, learn tolerance and acceptance and culture from the source, not just Americanized patriotic bull. Create empathy in my kids and give them a healthy dose of reality.

So much of humanity is being connected through the internet which is a great thing but we’re losing physical human connections. People are unwilling to go out and communicate because it’s so damn hard any more. Many more people are becoming agoraphobic, refusing to leave their houses and just stay online with friends. Why? Because it’s hard for people to open up and be accepted for their weird selves.

Online you can be anyone. You can be as confident as can be because you can erase a bad comment. You can be a blingin’ master rapper or a hottie barbie girl with photo shop. Anybody but yourself. You do you. Hopefully it works! For me, give me the real thing.

Let your freak flags fly people! Go out and see for yourself there are many more people LIKE you than unlike you.

Travel, learn acceptance, love yourself.

Quickies #9 Simply having a Wonderful Christmas Time!!

PROMPT: What is your favorite holiday and what do you love about it? 

CHRISTMAS!!! Without a doubt, christmas. I celebrated it as a child and there was so much excitement and traditions to be followed during december. It was like, thanksgiving was the vacation that got us ready for Christmas. We ate and played and passed out from tryptophan OD to conserve energy. Then–THEN!!– it was go time.

We felt it, even at a young age. The change, the shift toward the last holiday of the year. THE BIG ONE.

It started with a list and it was always written in descending desired order. Top three gifts first and back when we were kids, those weren’t ipods and drones. They were usually CD’s, a somewhat expensive toy ($40 or less), books (guess who asked for those?), and crafting kits. I always put down one impossible gift, which was a “white Christmas”. It kind of became a tradition in and of itself. Gifts that we KNEW we would get every year were: Pajamas. Yep. Flannel ones. I still have my last pair! Life Saver candy books. SOOOO much better back when they had all the different flavor packs rather than just one bland boring kind repeated 8 times. Chapped stick. And, for me at least, blank journals. Go figure.

Alright. Lists, check! Next came the tree. This was usually the first week in December and we always had fresh trees. Sometimes we would cut it ourselves at a farm and other times we would buy it already cut. It was a competition to see who could find the best tree. Winner takes bragging rights for the entire year.

Once we got it home it was my sister’s job to help trim the bottom and I would transform the branches into a little wreath that I wound with ribbon and put on my door. Then the official Christmas magic started! Putting on lights and my sister and I always got to put on our birth year Christmas ornaments first; the balls my mom got for us the year we were born. Then it was a matter of speed versus perfection.

Jennifer would try her best to put more ornaments on the tree than me whereas I would go around behind her back and make sure that no two same colored balls were next to each other and there wasn’t any crowding on the branches. It had to be JUST RIGHT. I remember one year when my sister didn’t show up for Christmas, mom and I strung popcorn while watching “Snowden” on TV (movie with famous ice skater Katrina Witt). We ate more of it than we strung I think but it was a memory I’ll never forget.

Slowly the wrapped presents would start to appear under the tree and then the baking would commence. Friendship bread, oatmeal raisin cookies, brownies, banana nut muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. Fattening up for the kill. Cookie dough is the best in the world. Just sayin’. Family would start trickling into town and school would let out for vacation so we got to sleep in. Oh gawd HEAVEN!

Christmas eve we were allowed to open ONE gift to tide us over and then while the coffee maker trickled with life giving fluid Christmas Day, Jenni and I opened our stockings, littering brightly colored paper everywhere. Batteries were probably the most anticipated gift because that meant something under the tree required them. Heck yes.

Not hard to see why Christmas is my favorite holiday. It has the best decorations (green and red FTW!), the best smells (I LOVE fresh pine tree smell and cinnamon apple candles), and the best memories.

 

 

 

 

Ipod S. S. S.– “Mind like a Diamond”

“Nobody’s Listening” Linkin park—— Anger, strength, truth, ignorance, pain, struggle, no fear (Musician, school activist, journalist, trans?)

“Diamonds” Rihanna——hope, love, life, energy, positivity, seeing true, rising up, being true, (Fan girl, stalker, sends him letters to fuel is fire,)

“Mississippi Bayou” Delta Bombers—— travel, shenanigans, purpose (Going to meet the idol?, girl needs her boyfriend to take her, )

“Firefly” Breaking Benjamin——- hope, reaching, go together, need/don’t want to need, kindred souls, (View of idol, inspired by diamond girl?, asked to meet her,)

“Misery Business” Paramore——- jealousy, possessiveness, bragging, cat fight, head games (diamond girl gets cat fished or is too late? or is she the victor and it’s her bragging? or is the guy a player? Does he want her as a writer for him?)

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He’s brilliant. He channels my inner most thoughts and is not afraid to speak them. People LISTEN to him when he cries “Truth! Truth in the face of Lies!” Our shared truth. Because my letters reach him and we are the same. 

He’s calling for me. 

Her words echo through my mirror-lined head. Before it was a dizzying swirl of the same static thoughts. Her diamonds reflect in them now and bring me clarity. I’ve extended my hand to her. Will she come?

I’m going to go. Frank won’t understand but he doesn’t need to. He’s down for a road trip, always. BYOB and his truck will take you anywhere. Neither of us have ever been to New York. The ride was mainly country music and Frank re-telling his same old stories. I don’t dare tell him what’s on my mind. He’d never believe it but still. It felt too new and precious to say out loud. 

I’m here. Are you? How far away are you?

I’m coming.

We need one more fill up and then we’ll be in city limits. Led me through one last time. Let your Truth shine for me. I look down at the printed address on heavy card stock. It’s dirty, sweaty, folded and re-folded Should we ask someone? New York clamors like a hungry shark around bleeding fish. 

They’re gathering. All of them that just won’t do; that just aren’t you. Where are you? I’ll wait till the very last has gone, I swear.

I finally got the answer I needed. New Yorkers are hardly friendly. Frank grabbed one by the scruff of the neck and shook him like a naughty kitten until he pointed out the building to me. What a guy, right? I brush the dust off my skirt and adjust my fly away hair. I would dab on some perfume to mask the exhaust smell but I didn’t have any. 

I’m going up. Such a long and a short way. 

I’m getting antsy and this smile has been stuck to my face so long I’m afraid it’s frozen in place. These people don’t hear. They only see.

Oh.

There’s a sea of women. An estrogen ocean. Frank whistled low and heads turned toward us, judging us, smirking and frowning and calculating. What have they made you do? I clutch my purse and try to cling to your words. Nobody’s Listening. You’re right, they only see stars and dollar signs. It’s not your looks that grabbed the spot light. We know that. I’m coming. 

I raise my arm and wait.

I hear a commotion outside while the others interview the 70th blonde haired, blue eyed girl. I stand up, heart and hope leaping wildly. They try to stop me from opening the door but I’m small and too quick. I dart out and on the fair end of the room, amid the colors, I see one black rectangle held in a deathly pale hand.

“Blind are you all. Vain are you. Naive are you, all of you as children die and politicians lie and eat your lives for dinner. They shut down and you cry. Stop feeding the drought. Get up. Rise up, you million against a few. GET UP! RISE UP! Shed blood not tears! Make them work with shame and blame and release yourself from fear.” 

My God I am so scared.

“You came.”

Yes, I did.

“It’s her,” he said to the bewildered cadre of people following behind him. He parted the feminine ocean like Moses through the Red Sea. “My Diamond in the rough. The one I was telling you about.”

I watched their eyes take in my jet black hair, ghost white skin, bright purple lip stick and triple eye brow piercing. At least I had on a skirt, even if it did make me look like Lydia Deets. 

“You want HER as back up singer?”

Our mouths dropped open in tandem and I broke out in a cold sweat. Singer? Me?

“No no. She’s my new song writer.”

He reached for my hand and I gave him the envelope. We waved it at them with a cocky grin. 

“The secret to my recent success. Hire her or you’re fired.”

Frank whistled. 

Real or Not Real? Location, location, location!

Hello my friends. Welcome back!

Lately I’ve been thinking about locations. Why? Well, I live in southern California and recently I’ve decided that the weather is bi-polar. Yep. I’ve taken to wearing tank tops with a coat just so I’m prepared for any eventuality. Being on the coast, we have such a thing called “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” It’s a time of year where we get a cloudy maritime layer of yuck over the city for the better part of the day and the sweet Cali sun will bust through. This year the weather seems to be flip-flopping a bit more than usual and I find I have to change my clothing at least once a day to follow suit.

Annoying sometimes as a resident. Intriguing as a Writer.

This got me thinking about all the books I’ve read that were based on real cities and places. I really love it when authors do this. The fact that I could board a plane to Forks, Washington or Manhattan, New York and follow the steps of the character; see the sights they saw and ate where they ate is very appealing. There’s a kind of grounding in reality with this kind of setting. Blue sky. Green grass. Neon lights. Yapping dogs. It’s comforting and familiar and it makes me that much more connected to the book.

I’ve set my “Silver Sun” story partly in my own city. I love being able to share a walk down Main Street with my readers and describe the smell of Thai food mixing with the pizza place across the street. I can include real live people (with permission of course) that I’ve talked to, like my favorite postal worker and my cat’s veterinarian. Not to mention its kind of cheating. There’s no need to make up a city and people to interact with. They’re already pre-set for the writing!

It definitely has appeal for a writer (and a resident in my case. I’m lucky to live in my little paradise.) Even less than desirable cities and neighborhoods can make intriguing stories. “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton comes to mind and “A Child called It” by Dave Pelzer We just wouldn’t necessarily want to GO to those places. They’re tangible locations you could put  a pin in on a map though.

Then again you can also change reality and still base it on earthly locations. A melding of the two. There’s a whole genre that has explored this phenomenon and it’s called “Fiction” with sub-genres such as Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Magical Realism. A certain percentage of the story is based on earth with cities and people who resemble reality but might have portals to other worlds or have mythical creatures walking among the humans.

I think that would be a really awesome reality to live in. This kind of setting is where I base a lot of my stories in. There’s so much freedom! To be able to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge and then rebuild it with super advanced alien technology or step through a mirror and end up in another realm is appealing to imagine, not to mention write. You can choose how much science and how much fantasy are included in your story although you run the risk of getting those ultra fussy critics that demand facts to support your werewolf metamorphosis theory.  (My husband is one of these *ROLLS EYES*)

And then there is, in my opinion, the hardest kind of setting to write. Let’s sing about it Jasmine!

~”A whollee neewww worrlllddddd! A dazzling place I never knew!”~

Sorry. There’s your ear worm for the week. But it’s true. Writing an entirely new world is a daunting task. I’ve read quite a few Epic fantasy sagas that are so rich in politics and language and lore I wonder how they ever found the time to FINISH it. “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien, “Symphony of Ages” by Elizabeth Haydon and “The Belgariad/Mallorean” series by David Eddings. So much work and thought and love went into each one of these stories. But even these are still roughly based on reality.

Creme de la Creme? Science Fiction writing. How about we take all this up to the stars? I don’t read much Science Fiction because it’s not my cup of tea but I greatly admire authors who write this genre. This is completely new territory that they literally build from scratch. So little is known about space and what IS known barely makes sense to the professionals who study it much less curious writers. However, this, in its own way, gives complete freedom to the author to write whatever they want; even more so than fantasy writers.

Advanced technology. Brand new races of people. New threats and planets and galaxies born from their imagination. New problems and conflicts and malfunctions. New issues with politics and marriage and bearing children. All off the surface of the earth into the last frontier. How amazing is that?!

I certainly don’t have the fortitude or the will to create something out of nothing. Yet. Baby steps. But deciding where you’re going to base your story changes the whole tone of it. The setting really IS its own character. Probably the most important side character ever. World building gives the reader a frame of reference to where everything is happening to the main characters and paints the canvas of your mind with color and feeling. Don’t treat it like the background that it is. Make sure you can engage all five senses when you’re writing and have your characters interact with their surroundings frequently.

Keep it real. Or fantastical ;D Your choice!

Enjoy and keep plodding.