Saturday, June 19, 2004

Another day, another review

I just looked out the window. The sky is a back lit pale blue, white around the edges, and it looks like someone has smeared dirt in swaths up and down above the trees in the north. Some of the dirt is paler, almost cream-colored, from the light of the sun going down. The pine trees are bending in the wind and the day is nearly gone. A sudden flash of lightning is followed by a crashing boom that reverberates beneath my feet in my loft office, but the sky is a bit lighter still out the office window and darker thru the windows at the south of the cabin over the deck. Another storm on its way.

This has been a week of violent thunderstorms, sleet, hail, and electrical outages. Three mornings I have awakened to the clock radio at my bedside blinking 12:00. After checking the time on my watch I see that anywhere from 7 to 9 hours have passed while I slept soundly. This feels more like spring in Ohio than summer in Colorado, but then again I'm not sure what summer in Colorado is supposed to be like. Somehow I doubt there will be another drought this year and the forests will be safe yet again from fire. Last summer I spent in a basement apartment with my nose pressed to the screen of a computer either designing and maintaining two web sites and doing my regular job. I came out of my hole in the ground to buy groceries and follow thru on appointments, but little else. When I came up here at the end of last July it was warm and sunny and clear with only one day of rain and electricity the whole time. So, I'm not quite sure what to expect. One thing is always certain, change is inevitable and constant.

Despite the late start and inability to get online -- and getting kicked offline by the thunderstorms running thru here off and on all day -- I managed to finish a book and a review to go along with it. A book about organization, which I sorely need, but which I have been lax about since I came to Colorado. Back home in Ohio in storage my filing cabinet, files, and organization waits in the dark. I began traveling without it and I miss the comfort and security of knowing exactly where everything is, from interview and research material to paid and unpaid bills, manuscripts, and article ideas. While the book was interesting and somewhat helpful, it gave me what I've been meaning to design for myself -- a database for submission tracking. I have one at Writer's Market Online, but I seldom use it. Too cumbersome and I get out of the habit. Today, I changed my laziness and downloaded a submission tracker and took most of the afternoon and evening inputting all the data I had written out on a homemade sheet that was difficult to read. (I have a tendency to scribble when I'm in a hurry) At least it's all down there, even though I discovered that some places where I submitted poetry or stories are either missing. I've probably written down the wrong website or not enough information to find it again. Oh, well, if they accept me they'll let me know; if not it will sit on my tracker like some of the stories I sent out about four years ago I've yet to hear about. Oh, I've contacted the publishers, but they have no record of having received my submission. Considering how many submissions they get and since they don't know me from the rest of the slush pile, it's not all that surprising.

I did realize thru all this that I have had a goodly number of acceptances and some of my work will be published this summer and followed by checks. I do need to get on the ball and get more of my work out there, but this had to be done first so that all I need do is input one submission instead of 100. Getting things like that together are much harder than keeping them up once they're set up.

I also had a program for inputting expenses and income, but that is on a computer I can no longer access because it just makes funny noises when I boot it up. I'll get it back eventually, but in the meantime I need to get hold of some of the software stored in Ohio so I can put the programs on these computers and get back on track. I prefer a certain amount of clutter, but not when it means I will have to pull out my hair come tax time. I like having hard copies and backups. It's the only anal retentive part of me, but it worked for me in the past. And I'm sure none of this is important to anyone but me.

In some ways I have been tentative about putting down any deep roots because I never know from one year to the next where I'll be. I admit to wanting to stay here for the foreseeable future and I am fighting to stay here, but if I can't generate a sufficient income I may have no choice but to go back to Ohio or get a regular job and drain all my creative energy into someone else's business instead of my own. Maybe if I had a regular queue of students for my online course on characterization, I wouldn't worry so much, but there are so many online courses out there given by people who have been teaching them longer than I and they have better publicity. I guess I'll have to work on that.

Another reason for getting things organized today is that I want a long peaceful day to work on the next phase of hoops I need to jump thru in order to be chosen as acquisitions editor for a publishing house. They are impressed with my qualifications and background, but I am one fish in a teeming pond -- or so they say. After this hoop, supposing I actually get thru it without getting stuck or falling on my duff, I have one more hoop to jump thru. I wonder what new torture they will devise. The review sheet is detailed enough and they expect me to be able to do 3 to 4 submissions an hour, including the review. Thank Providence or Talent or someone/something that I type very, very fast or I would be in trouble.

Anyway, I could use a break and I should fix something to eat, but I'm not really hungry and I feel energized. Don't know why, especially since my left shoulder is a bit sore. I guess I'll dive into the market listings and see what kinds of stories and articles and essays I can turn out before tomorrow, always supposing I can actually write something worthwhile. In the meantime, I'll play a little Pyramid and take a deep breath before the plunge thru the hoop.

One more thing . . . have you seen Big Fish? I didn't think I was going to like it, but after I got into it (about two minutes) I found myself walking the fantasy road with the characters. I love Albert Finney and Susan Sarandon, although in a very small part, was quite ingenuous and sweet. It was the story of a many with big dreams and the ability to spin stories around the simple facts of his life that make them magical and special. His son hates the stories and his father's "lies" until he finds out everything he has believed about his father was a mistake. At the center of each story was a big kernel of truth and at the center of the fantasy was the constancy and love of his family who, to him, were reality while everything else was fantasy. Sorry if I'm giving away the plot, but it is a wonderful story. And there have been so many wonderful stories lately, like Life as a House, which I believe should have won more acclaim from critics and the Academy. Kevin Kline has never been more on his game and the story is just wonderful. A simple story of life and fear and estrangement and redemption wound in and around the building of a house and a gift. Made me realize that I don't want to wait until (or if) I'm diagnosed with a terminal illness to realize my dreams or tell the people I love how much I love them. Life is about living and loving and regrets are for never.

Despite coming to Colorado under false pretenses and being cheated and lied to, I have no regrets. I have a wonderful, if quiet, life and I'm happy even with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I can either live my life and forget the sword is above me or I can waste my life testing the hair and worrying when it's going to fall. I may die tomorrow or next week, but for now, for this moment, I'm going to wallow in life and live my dreams. I don't want to wait until I'm too old or sick to enjoy them. No time like the present to live. To me, that's what living is for -- living.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Did you ever...

really listen to classical music, especially Rachmaninoff?

I spent the day lost in a fog of music and thunderstorms that made my phone connection unstable. I kept getting cut off. But I listened to the music, really listened, and was transported to a place where emotions had touch, sound, taste, feel, and view. A storm raged outside the windows, lashing the deck with fury at being kept back for so long. Thunder exploded in bursts like roars of joy and exaltation while lightning, purple and white jagged tridents, split the steel gray sky and torrents of fresh ozone scented rain battered the dry ground. All the while Rachmaninoff with his lyric notes wound in and around a deeper more intense and darker background bass thunder, matching the story outside and inside me, coaxing and then ripping emotions to the surface where they were washed in the lash of chorded notes and pummeled with deep rumblings until I was washed clean and bright and new.

I don't know what made me choose Rachmaninoff or why I chose Mozart to follow, but the music I thought would help me focus on writing and the changing nature of my life changed me. I remember reading something by Laura Equivel, a story set in the near future when certain music is banned from public consumption because of the emotions and memories it triggers. Music is used only by trained professionals and only as prescribed by the medical conventions. Some music is outlawed completely and even the professionals are not allowed to listen to it alone or outside clinical constraints.

It always seemed strange to me that people who love new music (new age, hip hop, dance music, pop, rock, etc.) never took the time to really listen to classical music. Maybe they were afraid they would be changed. They were right. Music does change us, especially when it is more than background noise in elevators and on hold lines. The same notes I learned to play as a child, single simple notes, EGBDF, FACE, all of them, sharps, flats, naturals, and all the different times and paces, are just notes, simple, single notes that in the right framework and in the hands of a master can turn us inside out or spur our mental faculties to undreamed of heights. I guess that's why I love musicals so much, because life is better with a score. No words are needed, just the music.

When movies first came out, organists played special scores to go with the action on the screen, wringing tears and emotions, laughter and fear, and even amazement with the sound. The words didn't get in the way. There was only the music and the scenes unfolding before your eyes in a black and white world full of adventure, love, diversity, poverty, happiness, everything you could imagine. But always there was the music, weaving a spell in and around the scenes, and transporting you to another world that left you blinking and straining to see back in the bright sunlight outside the womb of the theater.

So today, and tonight, I bare my emotions and my thoughts and prepare the inner ground for a new day, a new life, a new way of working and writing, hoping the music will cast a spell on me and magically change my mundane words into something more, something as much like the music I love as it is possible.

The past is gone, a tear stained memory of what might have been, and the future is here, a lover reaching to take my hand. I accept.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

cool meme

Yoinked from Sarah, the [info]divineneutrino

I am the Nile!
Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

And since I'm trying to conserve energy and space (I'm about to embark on a day-long writing fest), I'll add my quickie here.

Nothing much to tell. Got a great night's sleep (when I finally went to bed) and woke up to a beautiful blue cloudless sky and my plants flourishing in the sun. Didn't have to water anyone this morning since they had a drink sometime during the night and seem to have enough of the life giving liquid. Didn't have to deplete my Nile capacity, so to speak.

I had a wonderful idea for a Cup of Comfort story on love that is due today. For some reason, I had the overwhelming urge to call my Mom well past the last call time (that's 10:00 p.m.) and told her I wanted to make sure she knew I loved her. She said she knew. I felt better after that. Don't know why.

But here's the schedule today:

1. Write story for Cup of Comfort for Love
2. Make card for Father's Day and write poem for same
3. Write inspirational story for Byline Magazine
4. Write paranormal column
5. Write Grammar Goofs column
6. Write P&P column for Litha
7. Write last book review due
8. Take mail to post office
9. Get something to eat NOW!

So, later, folks. I'm going to be writing. Email if you'd like just to give me a break now and then and in the meantime -- ENJOY THIS BEAUTIFUL DAY wherever you are.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I choose happiness

How can anyone be sad when there is such beauty in the world?

My little sister emailed with such feelings of sadness and pain that it hurt to read her words. I know she is having a very rough time just getting back to work and into the swing of things and she is unhappy with her life and the rest of the world. I know how that feels, how you feel there is nothing but clouds and rain and pain in your future and it will never end. No homily or bromide, like "tomorrow's another day" or "things will get better" or "time heals all wounds" and such, is going to help. Of course tomorrow's another day. What would it be? Another month? Another week? Another yesterday? Things do get better but they also get worse. And time doesn't heal ALL wounds. Sometimes the wounds get worse and never heal or you die. How's that for reality?

Pain is inevitable. It is inherent in the process of living. So we have to hang on, with our fingernails and teeth if necessary, to every bit of happiness we can find. Pain only lasts as long as you give it space in your mind. Drugs don't help; they just postpone the pain and make it worse when the drugs aren't available any more, adding the pain of withdrawal. Using drugs is like wearing thick socks and heavy shoes to protect your feet and then taking them off and walking over gravel or thorns. If you're not used to it, you're going to be in pain until the calluses form and protect your feet. Why do you think they call it tender foot?

Someone once told me love is a choice. I believe happiness is a choice. Like today, for instance.

I drove down to the post office to mail my DVDs back to Netflix and pick up my mail. The sky was clear and blue and in the distance between the trees the mountains were frosted with snow. The scene was perfect. On the side of the road a doe grazed sweet green shoots and watched me drive by and stop. She grazed on, pricking her ears from time to time, and moving into the shadow of a bush when I didn't move on. A little red fox raced across the road and slipped into the shadows of a low bush. Gary Puckett sang to me and I sang along as I drove. A breeze tickled the loose hairs around my neck and ears and the sun was warm on my skin. Yellow and white flowers spread along the side of the road and aspen tree leaves, lime green now, shook as I drove by. On the way back home, heavy cotton puffs clumped above me, piling up and turning gray, but were unable to cover the sun for long or block out the deep blue of the sky. A foaming surf of cloud horses race toward the blue shores, mares' tails whipping in a wind I cannot feel high above me. Hummingbirds greeted me when I got out of the car and butterflies of all colors flit floated on an errant breeze. The ground glitters with sun struck bits of gold, fool's gold, and the air is warm and redolent of the deep musky scent of pine trees almost ready to let fly with their green pollen.

Inside, the laundry is ready to go into the dryer and it smells clean and fresh. A bunch of yarrow and some yellow lupine-looking sprig go into water in a window to root and another bigger bunch of bright white yarrow with its tiny yellow centers are banded and hung upside down in the bedroom closet to dry and scent the air. On the deck, hummingbirds scold and dog fight, spiraling up into the sky until they are pin point specks of black. At the top of their flight, they jackknife back down to the earth whirring so close I can feel the breath of their blurring wings. I chitter at them and they gather closer, racing in for a quick sip and then back out again, whizzing and whirring by me in all sides like bees around a busy hive. Little white topped weeds straggle along the rocky ground beneath the deck and butterflies dance on the breeze. And I'm happy.

Music greets me inside and there is work to be done, but I can focus happily because I know all this beauty will await me when I am ready to look up and greet it again.

I don't have a lot of money and it will be weeks before I have any more. I don't know where the money will come from, but it doesn't matter; it will come. It doesn't matter when or from where because at this moment I am happy and at peace. I have a wonderful, if spartan, life and I have everything I need. When I need more it will be here.

For today, for this moment, I choose to be happy.


I just don't believe it. I have done everything possible to make my leaving The Rose & Thorn as painless as possible. The only thing that remains to be done is something I started last week, which is dealing with tech support about the bulletin boards. I started the contact and feel I should continue with it until everything is done and I have left the website better than I found it. It's just a character flaw. One of many, I assure you.

This morning I received a message from the Editor in Chief letting me know that my services were no longer required and I should let the new coders have the access codes so they can get on with the fall issue. I've already given the coders the access codes (I sent them last week), but I asked they not mess with the Cpanel until I had the boards' problem resolved. They said they would leave it untouched. Evidently, the EIC didn't get THAT message either. She gets so few of the messages I, and some of the other staff members, send unless it's something she wants to know or see.

In her message to me this morning, she also notified me that SHE would contact the host and change over ownership of the site. I explained that's sort of like me going to her bank and telling them I would handle all her checking and credit card accounts from that point on. I believe that is considered theft or fraud or something equally illegal and un-lovely. She just can't wait to get rid of me, so maybe she did get my message about her attitude, micro-managing, and stealing ideas she had publicly decried two weeks or so before she decided to send them out as her own. The tone in her email is dismissive, rude, and disrespectful. She is done with me and she wants control NOW!

I wouldn't have a problem with it, except that once I start a project I like to finish it. That's the way I am.

Her last email told me she was contacting the new coders and would let me know when they had finished contacting the host to change over ownership. So I have emailed her backup copies of the boards and I am now on the phone with the host to change over ownership. I should just let her try to change over ownership and see what happens when they tell her they can't and then conveniently not get her email messages demanding I give her ownership.

New wrinkle. I just talked to the host and in order to transfer ownership of the site I have to fill out papers and send them in. She's not going to like that at all. Gee, that's too bad. Should I take my time filling out the papers and sending them in? I don't know about that, but one thing I do know is that I can't wait to email and tell her.

Sorry, another character flaw. I like to made rude, dismissive, and otherwise disrespectful people wait. Don't you?

Sunday, June 13, 2004


Yesterday was full of wonky weather. I woke up to snow, which quickly melted, and then was assaulted off and on all day with rain and ominous gray skies that promised more fury but passed on without unleashing it here. Until about 6 when a tremendous crack of lightning announced a hail storm. I ran downstairs as fast as my screwed up knee would allow and brought all my plants inside sustaining very little damage to them but ending up looking like I had some mutant form of chicken pox all over. I have extremely sensitive skin and every exposed surface was marked in red by the hail that hit me. I'm sure there were red circles all over my scalp, too, but I didn't think to check. Seeing my arms, legs, and cleavage was enough. Later on that evening, just before sunset, the skies let loose with their promised fury and rain lashed the deck and everything in sight, the trees bending nearly horizontal in the face of battering winds. I'm not certain, but I may lose some of my seedlings. I hope their root systems are strong enough that I will only lose the leaves and some flowers and they will bounce back, but I'm not sure at this point if I will ever be able to leave my babies outside in this unpredictable weather. Oh, well, at least that means more oxygen and cleaner air for me in here.

Today the sky is full of dirty gray rags bunched up to let loose more fury, but to the south the snow capped mountain peaks are gleaming white in the sun and a patch of blue like a perfect aquamarine winks thru the trees. I guess I'll see.

In the meantime, I'm off for a shower and to do a little laundry so I have something to wear to go to the movies to see Harry Potter before he's gone. I'd rather not brave the screaming kids on a Sunday afternoon, but there's only one showing on weekdays and when it lets out the roads are blacker than the pits of hell and not even high beam cuts a clear path very far ahead. At 65 mph that's asking for an accident, especially with jerks screaming by on the two-lane highway or riding my bumper. I'm not a nervous driver, but I know my car's limits and I don't exceed them (unless absolutely necessary) because I have a particular fondness for continuing my existence.

Anyway, off to the shower to bask in chamomile scented lather and douse my scalp with rosemary tea and more scented lather. Must be working. My previously silver roots are going back to my original brown. I can live with that.

I'll shut up now.