Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bring on the pain...

Hit me with the whips and chains. Beat me. Hang me upside down. Something. Anything. I'm tired of writing.

I never thought it would happen that I would get tired of writing, but the very idea makes me feel tired. I'm avoiding it like an old boyfriend marrying my sister who's afraid I'll spill the beans that he said she's the homeliest woman on the face of the earth when he dated me. I'd almost rather talk to a bill collector right now, not that I have any money to give him, but it would be preferable to the mountain of junk that faces me.

I'm tired of writing about body building and exercises and nutrition and food/drug supplements until I am about to go ballistic. I like my old life where I wrote what I wanted instead of what I had to write. So this is the copywriter's life. I wish I'd known and married some rich old geezer with no relatives, one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the grave in a high wind on the side of a mountain. Sex with his wrinkled, toothless almost-corpse would be better. Not even Viagra will help me write this crap.

Okay, so someone point me in the direction of said geezer. I want out. Of course he has to agree to separate residences and I'll agree to conjugal visits, preferably with a blindfold and a cigarette waiting (and I don't smoke). Enough whining.

At least there are one or two bright spots on the horizon. I just finished an excellent book, about which I will write a review tonight, and which should be posted at The Celebrity Cafe by next week. It's a mystery set in good old decadent Cleveland, Ohio and points south and a real page turner. There is a mediocre book with more medical sensibility than Naked Lunch and a bit of an eye opener about the medical profession and who gets to be a doctor. Then, last and least, a funny little self-published book called Chowder: The Server's Field Manual, which was somewhat amusing and opened my eyes about what really goes on with the people who smile when they serve you the soup they just spit in. It even comes with a card game designed to give servers something play instead of your food. However, the game is aimed at making servers happy and customers embarrassed and put-upon. As a one-time waitress, I'm still not sure whether I like that, although some customers definitely deserve the moron treatment.

On top of all this, I got a phone call from my mother, the second in two days. She also called me again a few minutes ago to ask what of my exercise equipment and wicker furnishings I wanted her to sell. (Hey, Mom? Sell anything that isn't nailed down for whatever you can get!) She also asked if I was serious about selling my paintings. Yes and no. I can use the money, but I love those paintings. It took many years and a lot of sacrifice to accumulate my treasures and I can't even hang them here because it would cost too much to have them shipped and I don't think my parents will be making any more cross country trips. They certainly won't fit in my car if I end up having to decamp here either. *sigh* C'est la vie. At least she didn't ask if I wanted to sell my books. She knows better.

The first of two calls tonight was to let me know Mom had found one of my stories--her favorite--about my "vacation" in New Orleans during the last days of the World's Fair. She even read it to me. I haven't seen it since I gave her my last copy after it had been rejected by nearly every magazine in the country. (word of warning: if you ever decide to visit my parents, be prepared to be forced to read said story)

I haven't heard anyone read the story to me although I had read it countless times and I did live the actual events. I was stunned. I'm a much better writer than I knew.

I know. That sounds conceited, but it is true. NOLA came alive again for me and I remembered walking the streets of New Orleans and the French Quarter as if it were yesterday. It's a homeless person's travelogue. I wonder if a publisher would be interested in a travelogue from the homeless point of view? COuld be interesting.

Anyway, I surprise myself that I was ever that good. But not any more. My writing skills are deteriorating as I write this. Soon I will begin to start using keywords endlessly to make my journal come up higher in the search engines, writing pointless, repetitive drivel for money.

Someone save me!

Monday, September 06, 2004

Have you considered... technology has changed us?

Not in the usual way of making things easier, but in how we communicate and our level, or lack, of patience?

We expect immediate answers, constant communication. Patience is almost a lost art. Want dinner in a hurry? Nuke it. Most microwaves don't go above 15 minutes for the cheap ones and digital microwaves have a quick feature that doesn't go above 6. Writing letters is nearly a lost art, give over to the business letter that serves as hard copy proof in a court or for a file. Penmanship has gone down the tubes for most people and isn't even taught in schools any more. Lovers, family and friends...and even enemies...are connected by sound at the speed of light through microwaves, satellites, and fiber optics.

Instead of responding to diatribes in the newspapers, making them a much more interesting read, people flame each other on the net, which still makes for some interesting reading even if the respondents are Neanderthal idiots who can't form a complete sentence. Net-speak is sufficient to be understood. Graffiti of the nuclear age.

Letters once took months to reach from one party to the other, often getting lost when ships went down, mail trains were attacked by bandits or Indians or simply went off the rails due to some natural (often unnatural) disaster, or pony express riders just didn't make it to the end of the trail intact. Letters are buried all around the world, moldering, decomposing or waiting to be found by someone, but not the someone who waited for word about some important event.

With telegraph, telephone, and now computers, we don't have to wait so long. We are not bound by the vagaries of natural disaster, unless you count electricity, computer viruses, and hard drive crashes. Even when natural, or man-made, disasters occur, there are other options: telephone, cell phone, or someone else's computer. Smoke signals of the nuclear age and easier to read.

What does this do to the art of patience? Destroys it. Why should we wait with so many technological marvels at our disposal to communicate. Someone must really be in the back of beyond where there are no cell towers, no computer access, and no telephones to be unable to respond in some fashion. The miracle of instant communications is that we have any patience left at all.

All this technology also give us another problem: far too much information. We need to say something to fill up all that white space, keep a conversation going, especially since the time is unlimited with unlimited dial-up/DSL/cable service at one low affordable price. After all, we can't spend all our time working or cruising the net for porn or research or whatever. Or can we?

Communication is a shorthand speak of symbols and letters that stand for words. We are moving backward, devolving. How will the archaeologists of the future decipher our codes without a Rosetta stone?

Historians, scientists, and archaeologists believe communication in the ancient world evolved from symbols and single letters to take the place of the spoken word to spelling out words, but what if they are wrong. What if their hieroglyphic shorthand was the devolution of communication and the ancient world's net speak? Are we the living proof? Fully formed and spelled words and sentences devolving into letters, emoticons, symbols, and shorthand to make communicating even faster at the speed of light. Is it possible. Are we reliving a past that has played out over and over millennia after millennia for time out of mind? Do we have things backward?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

But I was sleeping...

At least I was trying to sleep. No, I was sleeping and having a wonderful dream when the phone rang in my dream, slowly pulling me away from the center of the action, from the wonderful dream I was having, but it was real. A faint bell ringing. The phone again. I stirred in the darkness, caught between waking and sleeping. The phone was ringing. Who would call me in the middle of the night. Sudden flash. Trouble. I got up and stumbled to the living room, but the phone had stopped ringing. Maybe I was dreaming after all. I picked up the phone and looked. The number was still lit up. [info]elementalmuse's number was on the phone. But my phone card has no more minutes and I couldn't call her back.

Something must be wrong for her to call me at 2 in the morning. She didn't call back. I fretted, tossed and turned courting sleep, fretting over what could be wrong. Good news? Bad news? Should I go upstairs and check my email? No, I want to go back to sleep. I want my dream back. But something could be wrong. What should I do? Sleep, some part of me whispered in my ear. If it was important she would have called back. Sleep, yes, sleep. But no, something could be wrong. So go online and check your email. But it's cold out there and it's warm here with a lovely cold breath of mountain air seeping thru the open window. Sleep and don't worry. Everything will work out all right.

I checked my email. Nothing. I went back to bed and finally managed to fall asleep. Usually, I have no problems. I can sleep any time anywhere and in just about any position.

Sweet dreams followed and I plunged head first into the deep warm well of Morpheus's making. Until...

A siren? Up here? In the year I've lived here, and when I visited for two weeks, I never heard sirens. I hear trucks and cars going by below my hilltop perch, but I don't hear anything else. No sirens. No screams. The occasional gunshot. But no sirens.

Someone or something is determined to disturb my sleep, forcing me to open my eyes and crawl from my cocoon of warmth and peace. The siren was coming closer and closer. It has been so long I can't tell an emergency vehicle from a police car. The siren was definitely coming closer, the sound caroming off the rocks and trees, waning, getting louder as it wound around the curves up the hill closer and closer. Then the sound seemed to fade a little at a time. He must have turned off on Elkdale and wound down the other side.

And then it hit me. The world outside my window, usually green and gold and suffused with morning blues and whites and pastels of the rising sun was wrong. It didn't look right. It was all white. Snow? Yes, it's snowing. Little salt shaker falls of white sifting onto everything. It's actually snowing. White world, green and gold and browns peering thru the thickening cover of white.

My plants! I'll lose my plants!

I got up and got dressed. Didn't brush my teeth or my hair. Didn't take a shower, just pulled on my clothes and shoes and headed for the deck where my plants were bowed beneath the growing weight of snow. Wet, heavy, water laden snow quickly obscured my plants.

Carrying the hummingbird feeder, I hung it on the bar and went to my plants. Were they dead? Frozen? I took the dill stalks and shook them. Snow flew everywhere and the scent of dill rose in a grateful cloud. Dill. I carried it inside and placed it in the wan sunlight in front of the doors near my telescope. One by one, I shook off the heavy enveloping frosty blanket and carried my plants inside. I'm sure some will die, but at least I won't have to water them today. The snow fast melting in the warmth inside the cabin will take care of that for me.

This has been the most freakish year, full of rain and cold and snow. Snow until June and now snow in September. At least the ski runs, if this continues, will open early, intoning their siren's call to snowbirds and winter seekers, those who circle the globe following the Snow Queen, fearing spring and summer and the warmth that drives her dripping into the northern latitudes far from the punishment of sun and heat.

At least my headache is gone. I thought it was just another big thunder storm forking the sky with vivid fireworks of lightning flares and flashes and strikes on its way, but it was the herald of the Snow Queen. Now I know I have to get the wood pile cut and stacked and clear out the ashes from the stove. Winter will be early this year.

Squirrels and chipmunks leap and cavort and chase across the deepening white, enjoying the snow day. I wonder if they have foreseen this and have raided my plants and crops to store for their winter snacking comfort.

My warm dreams are gone in the wake of the cold awakening. I am awake now, but I'm not really happy about it. At least I saved the plants and my eyes are open, but I don't guarantee anything else. I can't. My functional mind hasn't caught up with the animal instinct yet.

If it doesn't find me, maybe I can slip away and slip back between the sheets to seek those warm dreams again.