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Life As Seen from the Left Shoulder

26 Apr

Hey there hi there ho there. Why, yes, I have fallen off the face of the earth. Luckily, I landed somewhere around the left shoulder of the earth and hope to begin my climb soon.


It’s an odd neighborhood in which I live. Built at the height of the housing boom, it was among the first to go KAboom when the economy tanked. Must be interesting from the air — verdant yards with pools and swaying  palms checkerboarded with other yards that, for kindness’s sake, we call “replete with native flora.”

We fall among the natives.

Other than two half-barrels with blueberry bushes and one with a chrysanthemum, we get what nature gives us. This April, it’s given us graceful sea of yellow wildflowers. Lots of them. It was pretty, but it was also kind of suspicious. Nothing gifted so freely could be benevolent. Looked ’em up. Yep. Ragweed.

I’ve decided to invent an obscure form of allergy to the plant in order to explain my malaise of late. Forget sneezing.  Under the influence of ragweed, my brain has decided to act like it’s 3AM all day long. You know the nightmarish feeling. Today’s the worst.  Everything’s “stupid.” But I am afraid that a weed trimmer won’t help because I can’t invent an obscure version of the device that would match the power of my “allergy.”

I’m using too many quotes. See? Everything’s stupid. 😉

Changing the subject…

HEY! I totally called James Durbin’s song choice last week on American Idol. Out of all the songs released in the last eleven years, I went straight to the one he chose, Muse’s “Uprising.” Am I genius? Am I psychic? I had posted my guess on various discussion threads but was roundly ignored. So neener on them! Neener! (In order to be on a message board, one must be twelve or prepared to act twelve.)

My friend Sam introduced me to a word: phontrum. It’s a feeling of sympathetic embarrassment so intense, it causes one to squirm or, in severe cases, have to leave the room. It’s a useful word, especially when watching a movie or television.

I had a moment of fist pumping YES when I heard what James was singing (again, I’m twelve), and then I felt the fear. He was performing second — the death slot. (No matter what the producers say, the performer in the second slot is far more prone to elimination than anyone else, so they must schedule it that way intentionally after watching rehearsals.) Was he going to murder it? James is my favorite, and I probably have unreasonable hopes for each performance.

And then he comes out of smoke leading marching band drummers! PHONTRUM! Oh, the phontrum! We groaned, and I threw my arm over my eyes, unable to look. It turned out okay, although I had to watch it a few times before I could allow myself to enjoy it.

Today, (thanks ragweed) I am suffering phontrum about my own life. Don’t even get me started about the phontrum I feel about my novel. Remember, everything is stupid.

Anyway, just a random post to get me back in the habit. Hope you all have been doing well and are suffering no phontrum or obscure ragweed allergies.



29 Mar

Spring pollen has entered my brain. It’s swirling in there, leaving me blank, scattered, and sleeeeepy. Hypnotic, that stuff. All I’ve had energy for lately is slow-poke reading on my Nook (Kerouac’s On the Road, at the moment) and hamster-like refreshing of American Idol blogs. More! More gossip and grousing, please! Why do I care? I shouldn’t. I don’t. But I do. When I’m this tired, it takes big manipulative shiny things to keep my attention. Plus, I just love that stupid show.

Last night, I dreamed about James Durbin. (No, not like that.) He was still in high school, and I was this Rufus-like character (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) who had to make sure he stayed on track to become an AI contestant in the future. Somehow, this involved helping him and his friends set off the school sprinkler system.

I’d say I need to turn off the television, but that’s my one and only TV vice, so I don’t want to. I’ll just say it’s because of my son’s asperger’s diagnosis and my hope to support him in his dreams. Okay? Okay. Good. ‘Nuff said.

On the writing front, I realized that if I ended my early chapters on a cliffhanger note, it gave me more momentum in starting the next chapters and kept each from having a happy ending (which is kind of a no-no).

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

15 Feb

From my fortune cookie:

Today’s oak tree is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.

I knew it was good to be a stubborn eccentric.

Plugging away at my story today so I can be tomorrow’s oak tree.

Or an author.

Or something.

The Anniversary of DOOM

16 Jan

I’ve noticed something recently.

Nearly every blog I read is roughly one year old.

Now, why is that?

Is it near the one year mark that one hits one’s stride and gains a widespread following?

Or…should I be…afraid?

What precisely happens to a blog that’s, say, one and a HALF?

[Insert Twilight Zone theme]

(Don’t give me that “because they all started as a New Year’s resolution” song and dance. I detect something more sinister. Because it’s more entertaining that way.)

P.S. — Hi, entire writing blogosphere! I’m reading Save the Cat, too! Great book. And I love how he saves the cat on page xv of the Introduction. A perfect, engaging example to prove he knows what he’s talking about.

You Cannot Fight the Elfman

1 Jan

Okay, Brain. You’ve wallowed in the darkness of our novel’s ending for a few days now. You’ve added an extra layer of misery to every character. You’ve brought the depths of despair into our real life.

To you, I say, “Enough!”

I’m whipping out the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack!

Yep. Yep. Try to fight that.

The beginning of the novel has a lot of misery, too. Remember? But it also has magic. We need that magic.

Listen… Listen to Danny Elfman’s twinkly, sparkly, billowing score and take us back to the beginning. Take us to that rutted dirt road leading to the Mortimer Woods. And let the rewrite begin.

(With luck, my preoccupation with the ending is an omen that I might actually reach said ending by this time next year. Or it may be because of the date. Terrible things happen on New Years Eve 1969/70. Or maybe George Harrison is still acting uptight and telling me, “My songs are at the end of the book, man.”)

Spiders and Spiders and Spiders, Oh My!

25 Sep

Tonight, I stumbled upon a website where people discussed black widows and how impossible they are to get rid of, how if you see one, there are probably a zillion more. I haven’t seen any in the house, but I find them on the porch, in the garage, and under my planting boxes out back.

Shudder. Shudder again.

I’m now convinced I’m surrounded, that they’re lurking in every corner, and, should I light my lamp in the wee hours, I’ll find a small army of the monstrosities scurrying into the dark places, abandoning their march to come and get me.

I have a Stephen King brain. I should probably write horror. But I’d scare myself.

I’ve started half a dozen blog posts over the last few days and deleted each one. I’d get no more than a few lines in before deciding they were all lame. Like this one. And, also like this one, they all had a Stephen King horror element.

There was one about how every time I leave the house I see a dark red Jeep Wrangler driving by slowly or parked in an odd place. I even saw it cruising past in the grocery store lot the other day. Creepy. And the man in the driver’s seat was looking at me. Creepier. (Or probably just sensible since I was waiting to turn into his lane.)

Photo courtesy Getty ImagesThat inspired another post about Stephen King’s low men (or Can-Toi). They’re ratlike creatures in human disguise. They hate humans but revere our popular culture, so they have names like Van Gogh Baez or James Cagney, and they drive outlandish classic cars. You’ll know they’re coming to get you when you start seeing chalk drawings of stars, unusual lost pet signs (sometimes bearing your name as the pet’s name), and then those conspicuous vehicles. A red convertible Jeep Wrangler isn’t that unusual, but it’s eye catching, and there was that gigantic, tarp-style, professionally printed lost parakeet sign a while back… Not to mention the bright yellow 1950s Chevy that parks by my sons’ school.  No chalk on the sidewalks, but there is that patch of curled-up dead earthworms that my kindergartner calls The Alphabet Worms.  It’s just the same but different! Hmm.

See, that’s when I decided I didn’t want my blog to become a portrait of my descent into madness.  (Is it bad blog manners to insert a winking smilie? Just imagine one here.)

No writing today. I’m preoccupied with editing a twelve-page breakup scene into something a lot shorter and more manageable.

Hope you all are enjoying better autumn weather than we are. One hundred five in late September is just insulting.