Sunday, November 25, 2012

Don't Forget to Remember

Ask any writer when their Muse typically visits and you'll hear such replies as: "When I'm driving," or "When I'm showering." Yes, our fair Creative Creatures have an odd sense of timing when it comes to delivering divine doses of literary splendor. Some have a tendency to creep up in the wee hours of the morn, commonly sometime just after midnight when the writer is tucked away in another night's slumber. I've been privy to this particular happenstance. Most often I'll awaken, even if only for a few minutes, to entertain the ideas as they are laid out before me. And I'll jot them down on the notepad at my bedside, right? Nope. Up until a short while ago I was more than capable of committing these lovely  little ditties to memory, more than sufficient at rising the next morning to find them waiting in tact in the sleepy-eyed recesses of my mind. But, that was then...

They say the memory is the second thing to go. What's the first, you ask? Well, that depends on who is giving the answer. It isn't relevant to this conversation anyway. No matter what order of appearance. No matter its rank. The act of recollection is a thing of fleeting beauty. And as with most of life's little beauties, allow me to be among the first to tell you. Eventually it begins to slip. Here's another newsflash: You don't have to be older than dirt for this to apply to you. You don't have to be hurried, harried or otherwise overwhelmed. And it isn't always the big things you forget (like your kids, as Mrs. McCallister did - shame on you, dear woman!) It could be something as simply sinister as the placement of a small yet (somewhat) equally troubling item - i.e. "Where the hell did I put my car keys?"

How's that? You say this has happened to you? Raise your hand if you've ever barreled into a room, full speed ahead only to suddenly have no clue why you went there in the first place. Yep, me too. Hands down now. What can we do?

Fret not! This is the stuff of humanness at its most perfectly imperfect. Oscar Wilde said, "Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us." Thing of it is - sometimes we don't have a pen handy. Sometimes the pages get so yellowed and faded it's hard to read the words. Sometimes the images are too blurry or obscure to make them out with any certainty. Therein, my friends, lies the unfortunate fly in the ointment. So take pictures, take notes and take heart. Enjoy and appreciate that which you can easily recall. Conjure your precious past at will and treat it kindly. And never for one minute assume that Memory is yours to keep forever.

It isn't.

Now where was I? Ah yes! The weary-eyed writer. All at once it seems her Muse-inspired plot hole has gone missing in the light of day...well, the writer will learn. She will start sleeping with a notepad on the nightstand - just in case. Kind of like insurance, minus that smart-mouthed gecko.

Carry on. If you can remember what it is you were going to do next ;)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Turkey

It isn't that I'm here with another gripe. I know y'all are about as tired of my fussiness as I am. This time I'm merely speculating with a teeny-tiny side dish of disdain. Okay, not that. More like wistfulness. I'm wistfully wondering what happened to Thanksgiving. In case you haven't noticed your turkey has a belly like a bowl full of jelly. Yes, yet another holiday is being hustled and hurried along to accommodate the spinning calendar  which suddenly seems to be super-charged in its rotation. Lately Xmas arrives in the stores hot on the heels of Halloween. The witches hats and bags of candy are stocked Klaustrophobically close to the candy canes and silver lanes aglow. If you're lucky, or if you happen to have your super-sonic X ray vision handy, you might spy an errant Cornucopia or a can of cranberry sauce, a sure sign that Thanksgiving is still around, if only sandwiched between the months a tad more snugly than it was before.
Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I don't like Christmas. In fact, I'm quite fond of it. It's more that I don't like the feeling of being rushed into things. Gives me the sensation that I'm late to a party I was just invited to. Can't a girl have a moment to throw together something decent to wear? Sheesh!
Consider me the voice of the turkey. Okay, on second thought, don't do that. What say I'm merely a proponent of all the holidays. I firmly believe they each deserve their 15 minutes of fame. Why should any of them have to share the spotlight? Santa is a jolly old soul. And we know he's Nice and not Naughty. He'd never knowingly steal the Turkey's thunder, now would he?
So what's the big deal, you ask? So what if St. Nick borrows some extra  limelight? There are worse things, right? Naturally. Still...
Perhaps I'm merely worried I'm falling under. This morning there are Christmas songs playing on the radio and yes, I'm listening. I'm debating decking the halls. It IS the hap - hap - happiest season of all. Isn't it?
Oh the pressure. I'm simply suggesting we slow down long enough to smell the gravy.
I suppose it's another one of those "if you can't beat 'em, you may as well join 'em" scenarios. Maybe it's more like "If you can't EAT 'em, join 'em."  After all it's impossible to ignore the fact that the star of this particular show usually ends up baking in a 350 degree oven for about four hours.
Ho-ho- Happy Thanksgiving all the same, gang!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Of Bullies & Bill Murray

Right off the bat allow me to state that my title is not indicative of any ill will I have for the great comedic actor, Mr. Murray. Quite the contrary. I really enjoy his dry humor and performances. I'm merely referring to the movie starring Bill, entitled "Groundhog Day" wherein the main character is trapped in an odd universal chasm where he is forced to relive the same day over and over and over again - until, ultimately he gets it right. Check scene here:
Yes, it is extremely frustrating, indeed, Bill. This is how I'm feeling lately too, thanks to the bully that has been Mother Nature, pummeling the east coast first with a major hurricane and then with a quickie Nor'easter dumping rain, snow, trees and power outages on our already wet and previously-pummeled parade. In my case with both storms, I went to bed in a warmly heated, pleasantly lit home and awoke at an Ungodly pre-dawn hour in a dark, cold room. Quickly, I checked the alarm clock for the red glowing numbers.
And they were gone. (Groan)
It's like I wanted to stand up, throw open the window and scream, "NO! NOT AGAIN! MAKE IT STOP!" But that would be senseless and I might disturb the neighbors. I was forced to face facts once again. As we spoke about in the last post, we human beings don't stand a snowballs chance in hell against the fury that is Nature, an ill-tempered beast that she is, at times, bent on destruction and heartache. If that isn't a bully I don't know what is.
Bullies, it would seem, take many forms. (Insert seamless segue to the actual topic at hand.) In addition to the weather, lately it has come to my attention that bullies hide behind their computer screens in the most seemingly innocent of places. Some bullies pose as readers, lovers of the written word. Yet, dare they come across a book that does not fit their particular style. Woe is the author who spends two years or so of his life crafting a novel that the Bully doesn't happen to like for one reason or another. The Bully, disguised as a "reviewer" will think nothing of attacking said author, to within an inch of his life - all from the comfort of Bully's keyboard. Please, readers, I implore you. Dislike and disagree all you want to but do not disparage. Pause before you write. Ask yourself if you would be inclined to say those things to the author's face. State your case, share your opinion, and remember it is just that - an opinion. Not a rule. Others may be likely to see it differently. And by all means try a little tenderness.
Another case is that of these so-called forums designed to provide an informative meeting place for gathering information on literary agencies and agents, publishers and editors. Of late, I'm discouraged to find so much in the way of mob-mentality, name-calling, nasty, mean-girl attacks against innocent people on these forums. This behavior is simply atrocious and unacceptable. Haven't we learned to do unto others? To settle our grievances like adults? To play nice? I'd like to think we have. And yet...the sad fact is, bullies roam here too.
In the wake of the recent weather-related natural disasters I climb aboard my soap box to suggest that we take a moment to consider the feelings of others, the possible suffering of which we may not be aware by outward appearances and conduct ourselves accordingly. With humility, graciousness and kindness.
Thank you for allowing my minor rant. Please know that I appreciate the good in each of you lovely people who visit here. Your support means the world to me :) Peace out!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

With A Huff and A Puff of Gratitude

As most of you know by now, the Big Bad Wolf Sandy, strutted her stuff around here this past week, leaving a trail of mass destruction in her wake. I was one of those folks affected by her huffing and puffing. Allow me state up front, THIS WAS A NATIONAL DISASTER and I by no means wish to trivialize this catastrophic weather event. Many people lost their homes and some lost their lives. I'm constantly humbled by the power of Mother Nature and how truly meek we are in comparison. In contrast, I suppose I was one of the fortunate few. My roof suffered some minor damage as did our fence and we lost lights, heat and hot water for four days dictating that we to$$ a fridge full of food. I was inconvenienced. I was anxious. I was put out and put upon. My mind frantically sought out some sense of normalcy as my kids moved into my sister's house where there was still electricity though no TV or Internet. I drove around town dodging fallen trees and avoiding accidents at intersections with missing traffic lights. I rationed my gas, as it swiftly became, and still remains, a precious commodity. I jokingly referred to these days as my "Amish Experiment." Yet deep down I was not laughing. I was panicking. I was learning. I was taking stock of the human mind, my own and others, and observing how it reacts to being thrust out of its element and into a state of chaos.

Most people are creatures of habit. We relish the known. We shrink from that which is foreign or uncomfortable. Uncertainty breeds anxiety. And perhaps we don't truly appreciate the simple luxuries in life - like flipping a switch and having it obey. Like a cup of coffee in the a.m., going to work, earning a paycheck, and coming home to a hot meal in a home you know and love. Watching your favorite TV shows in the evening. A warm shower. A warm bed. Maybe we take these things for granted. Maybe the Universe intends to remind us, every now and then. The message:

Be Grateful.

All that we have is terribly temporary and can, at any given moment, be taken away from us, just like that.

Waking this morning in a place that feels like mine again (TV playing softly in the background, laptop up and running, toast on my plate) is a strange yet lovely sensation. It's crazy how the mind quickly forgets its routines when forced out of them, and how when presented with the opportunity, will become cautiously, giddily reacquainted.

At this moment many East Coast residents are still without power. Many have suffered unimaginable losses. Please continue to keep their recovery in your mind and consider helping out in some small way, even if only with a prayer.

This is just one scene of what transpired, a tree across a roadway near our home.This was mild in comparison to other photos I've seen. May God bless this area and its communities and bring about a speedy return to life as we knew it.