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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/932976-Off-the-Cuff--My-Other-Journal
by Joy
Rated: 13+ · Book · Writing · #932976
Impromptu writing, whatever comes...on writing or whatever the question of the day is.
Free clipart from About.comKathleen-613's creation for my blogFree clipart from About.com

*Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth*

Blog City image small

*Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth* *Earth*

Marci's gift sig
Thank you Marci Missing Everyone *Heart* for this lovely sig.

I've been blogging all through my days without knowing that it was blogging; although, this isn't necessarily the only thing I do without knowing what I'm doing.

Since I write on anything that's available around me, my life has been full of pieces of scribbled paper flying about like confetti. I'm so happy to finally have a permanent place to chew the fat. *Smile*

So far my chewing the fat is on and off. *Laugh* Maybe, I lack teeth.

Feel free to comment, if you wish. *Smile*

Given by Blainecindy, the mayor of Blog City
Thank you very much, Cindy, for this honor and the beautiful graphic.

*Pencil* This Blog Continues in "Everyday Canvas *Pencil*

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December 16, 2015 at 10:17am
December 16, 2015 at 10:17am
I love the British, although to them, we Americans are too illiterate, too happy-go-lucky, and too easily aroused by insignificant events, even if they don't openly say so. Even so, one of the reasons I love the British is that they have brought cynicism to the highest degree of one polished, great art.

Sometimes, the British can be unbelievably negative but even that negativity is intriguing and entertaining; so what, if it may infuriate some. I love that their cynicism leads to excellent humor, and by being around them and constantly reading their newspapers and other work (one of my weaknesses), a person may suddenly realize that their cynicism has infected his way of thinking. Take my word for it, it does. Case in point: One of my sons subscribed to Guardian for about two to three years. Before this venture of his, he and his father used to get along wonderfully. Nowadays, when they start talking to each other, I run for the hills. *Laugh*

Still, I love the British. To show why, here's an excerpt that has to do with writers from Julian Barnes's Through the Window--page 30

"The Queen of England, advised by her government, appoints knights and peers; the nation at large, by more informal means, appoints national treasures. To achieve this status, it is not sufficient just to be outstanding in your profession; you need to reflect back how the country imagines itself to be...

It is hard for living writers to become National Treasures, but not impossible. Charm is important; so is the capacity not to threaten not to be obviously clever; you should be perceptive but not too intellectual. A most successful national treasure of the last century was John Betjeman, whose genial, bumbly appearances on television overcame the handicap of his being a poet. Someone like Betjeman's contemporary Evelyn Waugh could never have become a treasure--too rude, too openly contemptuous of those whose opinions he despised...

When it comes to the dead, it is hard to retain or posthumously acquire treasuredom. Being a Great Writer in itself has little to do with the matter."

If this isn't high art, I don't know what is.
August 4, 2014 at 4:19pm
August 4, 2014 at 4:19pm
In the occupational world, they say good followers make better leaders. I guess I am neither, but I am good at following my own bliss, which is doing what I like to do, which doesn't mean any dangerous and childish thing that can hurt me or others.

I guess if I were to make a routine list, it would start with checking into WdC every day and my e-mail, attending to the needs of my home and family (to a certain degree), keeping up with how my sons and my extended family are doing, my reading, watering a few odd plant pots, and the regular stuff we all like do, like checking our bank accounts, brushing teeth, showering etc. Any other thing is haphazard following, which cannot be described as following per se, as it depends on whether I want to do it or not at that given moment.

After reading what I just wrote in the paragraph above, I guess I'll go with what Joseph Campbell said, because following my bliss fits with who I am the most.

He said, "If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

Nowadays, I don't fight against the flow of things, and I even avoid arguments when I can. I do, however, decide on stuff when I have to and follow through my decisions. Since, if I have promised myself or someone else something, I must act on it, as a promise is a promise.

In any case, to follow my bliss, I first listen to my insides--call it heart if you wish. If I feel joy and excitement for any possibility of action, idea, or opportunity inside me, I then act on it, and if I can, I share the experience with whoever wishes to know of it.

So far so good for my modus operandi. But then Joseph Campbell also said, ""Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold."

Come to think of it, with all my stumbling, I should be King Midas, but then, who wants golden donkey ears? Yet, what is considered gold is most likely not my understanding of gold, for I am quite happy with my falling, if it happens as the result of following my bliss, since at each fall, from where I have landed, I watch the ground, the soil, and the busy ants living their lives, and if I haven't broken my pen during all those falls, then maybe I can write about those things. *Wink* *Smile*


Prompt for Monday: Tell us about something you follow. (Interpret this anyway that grooves your noodle)
August 2, 2014 at 11:32pm
August 2, 2014 at 11:32pm
Each kind of character can be used effectively in a prose piece or a poem as long as that character works well with the premise and fits the requirements of the plot. There is no one character, therefore, that would seem foreign or not usable for a writer, whether that character is a homeless man, a Zen monk, a suburban housewife or even a murderer. What is important in a decent piece is that something or someone goes through a change, and the second most important point is that the writer knows his characters well enough.

The contradictions within a character and contradictions around him create the conflict, just as every character must have inside him, the seeds of his future development.

Just for the fun of it, I'll tackle each character in a short piece, starting with a homeless man. Wish me luck. It is eleven o'clock, and I must finish writing this before twelve. *Laugh*

Jerry Spencer lay on the ground near the park bench, his head resting behind his arms in a huge pile of fall leaves, as he inhaled the crisp, cool fragrance of them before the sun came up. Everything was quiet around him, except for the rustling of foliage falling from the trees. From where he lay, he watched the fancy neighborhood at the other end of the park come to life. Flickering lights inside the homes and sounds of warming engines were signaling the beginning of the day. Luckily, the ground was still warm enough and the leaves had added to the softness of his makeshift bed through the night.

Jerry's eyes caught hold of the white house closest to him. He knew that the couple who lived there went to work each day. He had watched them carefully day in and day out. As soon as both their cars hit the road, Jerry arose, brushing the leaves off him, and walked slowly to the back porch of that home. Nervously, he looked around, then stuck his hand in the large pot that housed a dwarf pine and retrieved a key.

Safely inside, he made his way to the fridge for his breakfast. Once finished, he washed, dried, and returned the utensils he used to their original place. Then, he went to the bathroom and took a shower. As a courtesy to the lady of the house, he cleaned the bathroom and swept the kitchen floor.

The ringing phone startled him, only because it reminded him of his working days of long ago and his home and family far away. He looked around the house, noticing the books, potted indoor plants, and the photographs, especially the photographs. The warmth of them pained him and made him want to hear the voices of his loved ones. He reached for the phone and dialed.

"Hello?" When that familiar voice echoed in his ears, he hastily put the phone down and raced out of the house, not forgetting to put the key in its place. He muttered to himself, "Unforgiven." How could he ever be forgiven for murdering a man, even if the courts deemed it an accident and let him loose?

As Jerry made his way into the park, his eyes focused on a strange sight. On the park bench, near which he had spent the night, a young man with a shaved head and long dress was humming a some strange song. Curious, he ambled toward this odd spectacle of a man.

After clearing his throat to get the man's attention, Jerry asked, "Excuse me, Sir, I never heard that song before. It sounds so...different."

The man bowed his head to Jerry slightly standing up, then he sat down again. "I am praising the sun, Brother. The sun shines on all our reflections as the hearts beat in steady time."

This man had to be slightly off his rocker. Jerry thought he should just leave and find another place to sit.

"Brother Choenden is talking about our reflections on the sun. The reflections of emptiness," a woman's voice said behind Jerry. When Jerry turned around, she saw a young woman with straw-colored hair, wearing a green hoodie. She was pushing a baby carriage back and forth. A housewife for sure, but what was she doing talking so strangely?

"Good day, Tara," the strange man said. "I presume you are here for your mantra, today. Unfortunately, you are not ready for it, yet."

"I'll never be ready," the woman said disappointed, as she pushed the baby carriage. "Maybe tomorrow, then? Please?"

The strange man nodded and bent his head. The housewife left. "What is she after?" Jerry asked.

"A piece of her truth," the man said. "And if I gave her something close to it, she would make a belief out of it. It is the ego, you see. Guilt, anger, pride, unfounded beliefs...all that come from the ego." Then, he giggled. "The ego is funny!"

"Yes, you may have something there," Jerry muttered, moving away.

The ego, huh? Was that his ego not accepting the truth? Maybe it was really an accident. Maybe it was his guilt that had turned him into a murderer. He should reflect on this, he thought.

Maybe the next time he called his mother, he would talk. Maybe the next day, or the day after, or whenever...whenever he would finish reflecting on this ego thing.

See, all four characters, a homeless man, maybe a murderer, a zen monk, and a suburban housewife all together in a makeshift story that needs a serious re-write. *Laugh*

Prompt: What kind of character seems foreign to you...
Whoever you choose that's the persona I would like you to adopt. Try writing in his or her voice.

August 1, 2014 at 8:35pm
August 1, 2014 at 8:35pm
Five years ago, on our local library's donated book sale, I came across a book titled, Ernest Hemingway on Writing, Edited by Larry W. Phillips, copyright 1984. This is probably one of the best, if not the best, anything I ever purchased for a dollar.

On page 15 of my prized possession, which has a home on the shelf next to my computer table, is a quote. I think most anyone of us can relate to Hemingway's feeling on writing in this quote, even if we cannot succeed as spectacularly as he has.

Hemingway says:
"Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done—so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well."
To Ivan Kashkin, 1935 –Selected Letters, p. 419

Yes, whatever we write no matter how well and magnificently we put our words into lines and paragraphs, we can never write as well as it can be written. Yet, we still do it, with the distant hope of capturing at least a speck of perfection, as our complicated joy lies in that attempt.

While we translate our thinking into text, the further we go in writing the more alone we feel. We feel alone because of the way we must work, and our allowed time for writing feels as if it is becoming shorter and shorter. Then we feel if we waste that time, we are as guilty as having committed a sin, for which there is no literary forgiveness.

I as one have nightmares of symbolic quality about writing, on what I have omitted or committed to the paper or screen. In case of omitting, with Hemingway, it is a quality and it shows. As a much, much lesser writer, when I omit things, it shows up like holes. Yet, I try, still, for in trying is my delight and that proof for my existence.

Luckily for humanity, each one of us has a well inside--I think. In it is the learning of hearing, thinking, feeling, not feeling, seeing or ignoring. The wonder and brilliance of writing hides in that well. Whether we have it in reach to easily pluck or we have to wait for it to surface on its own, we still have to try.

As Hemingway implied in another quote, it is highly ill-fated and dangerous for me, as a writer, to talk about how I write in general or how I write any one thing. Only because it puts me in a box and constricts my options for experimentation. It is the biggest reason why I don't answer any questions such as: Why do you write? Where do you get your ideas from? Why do you or don't you publish?

For me, writing is motion in itself, no matter how much broader a certain part of my anatomy gets. In writing, everything changes as it moves. Sometimes, the story is there; at other times, it changes as I go along. As to characters, some of them come from real life; others I invent from my experience and understanding of people.

In any case, one thing seems to be certain to me: as writers we are all observers of ourselves, people, and life. With that, I am sure, Hemingway would agree.


Prompt: Pick one of Papa's quotes and create your blog entry with that as your focal point. This can go in many directions depending on your choice of quote. If you have a favorite Hemingway book, please share that too!

In answer to the prompt: All Hemingway books are my favorites. *Smile*

July 31, 2014 at 11:11am
July 31, 2014 at 11:11am
I don't like breaking things. Period. If anything, yesterday, I felt guilty even when I dropped and broke a glass bottle meant to be tossed into the recyclables bin. This is because, recently, I adopted the belief that everything has some energy hidden inside it. Yes, even the non-living things. Some physicists believe that, also. They believe that, just like our bodies, every single thing is of energy slowed down.

On the other hand, I can't say or list any item that I never break. There is no such thing as never when it comes to breaking. As much as I don't like breaking tangible things, I do break them...by accident. And still by accident, I probably broke hearts, promises, loyalties, friendships, people's hopes or pride, as well as numerous computers.

Yet, my promise is a promise. If I promised something using my free will, you can be sure I'll bring heaven and earth together to keep that promise, but if someone pushed me to promise anything by using emotional blackmail or whatever, I am most certainly going to break that promise.

I don't like breaking hearts either, but since the truth will set the people free, I wouldn't hesitate to tell them the truth, and they better face up to it even if the truth I utter will break their hearts.

Holding on to my friendships is a joy, especially the old ones, but one of them was broken a few years ago because of that friend's neediness. She, who lives 1300 miles away, wanted us to write letters to each other every single day, long hand. She hates phones and e-mail. Now, I can hardly keep up with my electronic correspondence; how am I going to keep up with the long-hand one? I wouldn't mind it if she wrote to me and I wrote back depending on my time, maybe in a couple of weeks or so. She kept writing to me, and when my answer was two weeks late, she was furious. She said I didn't like her and didn't want anything to do with her. Well, anyone who knows me knows I hate being pushed into anything. If pushed, I'm outa there in a blink. Still, she's the one who has stopped the correspondence.

Another thing I don't like to break is the rules, even the unfair ones. Rules, starting with the ones of morality and ethics, are there for the simple reason that to make things work and to make people live peacefully together. If I didn't like a rule, I would try to change it, but I would hesitate to break it, especially the kind of rule that benefits a population.

Picasso said, "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist." That kind of rule breaking means freeing oneself from the old judgments to create space or art for new understanding, which is perfectly fine with me.

More important than any one thing I have said so far are the people. Sometimes, they break, too. This doesn't make them weak; this makes them wounded. If we can't put them together, we must make sure we handle their shards with tenderness, so they do not cause a gash on our hands or on anyone else's feet stepping on them.


Prompt: Make a list of 5 things that you never break like: a heart, promise, your computer or whatever else comes to mind.
July 26, 2014 at 7:23pm
July 26, 2014 at 7:23pm
Writing a blog is a lot of fun, but it can get tiresome fast if no one is commenting or reading.

To bait readers, writing as often as we can should come first. Then a good overall theme is necessary to attract the attention of people who are interested in that theme. In my blog's case, however, I had been trying to keep to the writing theme in general, but with Blog City, since we are writing from prompts, this became something difficult to do, although since Blog City, I am having a lot more fun writing in my blog.

To accommodate this change in my blog, with every entry, I try to put in at least a sentence that has something to do with writing, to give the idea that my blog is about me but in regard to the craft of writing. In my case, since I have been deviating from the general theme, I try to concentrate more on the content and try to stick to one main idea.

It is important to find one's niche in the blogging world. This is usually what the writer is passionate about, for it to add value to the readers' lives. Surely, originality, or in other words, our own stuff and being ourselves is what counts. Honesty, transparency, and being real attracts more readers, all the time.

Writing teachers usually would say, "Find your own voice." Now this is a great advice, but how are we going to find anything if we don't write? I would say, whether we think we have a voice or not, to just keep on plugging. The voice will come on its own.

Another thing article writing taught me is the POV; that is to use "we" instead of "you" when talking about negative behaviors and tendencies. Even in teaching, "we" works better than the accusatory of condescending "you."

Since it may flood the newsfeed in WdC, it is not a good idea-I think- to let the members know we have added to our blogs every single day, unless what we write really could interest everyone. On the other hand, there is no problem in giving a link in Twitter, FB, and other sites where we can.

Blogs that contain videos and graphics are always more interesting, but here in WdC, where those things have a limit, the count for them adds up quickly, and soon enough we could run out. For that reason, I am careful with those things, but if I had a blog offsite, I would definitely try to make it as interesting as I could and add anything that would enrich me and my readers.


Prompt: What pointers would you give me to become a good blogger.? Do you think pictures are important in a blog? Music? Links to information?
July 21, 2014 at 5:00pm
July 21, 2014 at 5:00pm
Posted in Huffington post --07/20/2014 3:40 pm EDT--, the headline reads as "Lindsey Graham Calls John Kerry 'Delusional'." According to the paper, this happened during a "Meet the Press Interview, in regard to John Kerry's foreign policy analysis. Graham also said, "He didn't call Putin the thug that he is..."

Now, this is not the worst language I've heard in the political arena, and neither am I against Lindsey Graham or for John Kerry, but I am against the name-calling that we so often hear, especially during the political campaigns. Now that the two parties have dug their trenches deeply, the name-calling is not limited to the campaign days' attack ads or to the heads of states and nations considered the enemy. Unfortunately, according to the TV political analysts, these attack ads and name-calling do work to get the votes.

Yet, is this right? Is this the way to behave as civilized humans, no matter where we stand on any given issue? Aren't there other more mature and acceptable ways and language of responding to undesirable situations?

Then, even a bigger question poses itself. Aren't we, as citizens and voters, more or less responsible for the speech and actions of the people who represent us, and shouldn't we be more demanding of mature speech and behavior from them?

I believe there is always a better, more sophisticated, and more polite mode of speech and action. In addition, when dealing with opposing notions or criticism, the use of insulting language lowers the speaker's level of maturity; therefore, it should be that in a civilized society, such people with foul, insulting mouths should be less liked and respected. By the same token, when push comes to shove, they may also prove to be less effective in achieving anything worthwhile.

Worse yet, in the long run, such behavior opens up to the feelings of revenge and hate in both camps, resulting in warlike actions with bullies and toughs taking on the weaker side through hate-driven, racially or religiously motivated words and actions.

Sticking up for one's beliefs and thoughts is our birthright, which is backed by the US constitution. Except it shouldn't cross the line into the hooligans' speech and behavior, and lawlessness.


Prompt: Pick a headline from your local newspaper or favorite on-line news source and share your feelings about it. Be sure to include the headline somewhere in your blog.
July 19, 2014 at 5:10pm
July 19, 2014 at 5:10pm
Genetically modified? Should I be hesitant? Difficult concepts to make heads and tails of those, but then, as a result of my self-knowledge, I'll probably make tails of it.

To start with, I am a genetically modified human, since I am a mutt and my blood type is 0+. 0+ blood types have been around since the dawn of civilization, since the hunter and the hunted-hunter era. My hubby's blood type is A+, which scientists claim came later with the farmer-gatherer era. As an aside, this may be my only one-upmanship, but it gives me something to gloat about. Then, since my known, tried-and-true mutt-hood is only of the last century or so, just imagine how much genetic change/modification must have gone into me, with my blood type around for so long.

See, I told you, I'd make tails of it. *Wink*

As to genetically modified food, I'm a fan of globe grapes, which are genetically modified. I'm also happy that when I bite into an apple, a worm doesn't take his hat off to greet me.

My other point is, grievances against GM foods made a big splash first in Europe. As much as I have enjoyed traipsing through Europe in my younger years, I also know that Europe's bark is bigger than its bite, and usually Europe's bark is just wind, speaking in polite company. USA should stand on its own feet, no matter how varied and numerous feet it generates.

To be fair, the studies of the effects of genetically modified corn on Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars show that some harm is hidden in this thing, but then, I don't think I qualify to be counted as a Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar with my 0+ blood type. Besides, GM foods are pest and disease resistant, and herbicide, cold, and drought tolerant, and they help to feed the third world populations that would starve and die otherwise.

On the other side of the coin, their long-term effects are unknown to human health, and they are known to create new allergens for sensitive people. Since their safety factor is still iffy or unproven, I think we should proceed with caution. I also believe GMO products should be properly labeled to give the consumers a fair choice.

Speaking for myself, I am more wary of pesticides on produce and the practice of feeding animal parts to livestock and poultry than my fear of the GMOs. For that reason, I usually purchase free-range grass-fed beef products and organic poultry and greens, and if by chance I eat a GMO product, I don't go into a frenzy. As I indicated above, some GMO products are even desirable for me, until their harm is unequivocally proven.


Prompt: How do you feel about genetically modified food? Should companies be made to label their food if it contains genetically modified ingredients?
July 15, 2014 at 9:17am
July 15, 2014 at 9:17am
I consider any kind of paranoia to be a mental malady, as paranoia's origins lie in thoughts of anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. As such, go the conspiracy theories.

I equate conspiracy theories with stink. When something rots, it gives out a bad odor. There is something rotten there, but it is usually unknown whether it’s coming from a true source or some group’s rotten thinking. Whatever the case may be, the plain truth usually shows up in time.

Those of us who lived through the 1970s will remember the Italian journalist, beautiful Oriana Fallaci’s theory of French-Arab alliance against the US and Israel to turn Europe into an accessory of the Islamic world. My question was why would the French do that? It just didn’t make sense.

Then, most persecutions or genocides usually spring from a prejudice of some kind. The persecution of the Bahai in Iran is rooted in various conspiracy theories with the paranoid thinking of the Bahai to be agents of foreign governments and out to destroy Islam.

Yet another, which really angers me, is the one about the US government being behind the 9/11 attacks. Maybe we don’t have a perfect government at any one time, but only the deranged would have the audacity to think our own government would attack us.

And with our present President, all kinds of conspiracy theories abound due to some people’s or group’s specific prejudicial thinking. I think such conspiracy theories have no more value than being malicious gossip.

On the other hand, some conspiracy theories have proven to be true, such as the one that involved the Mafia, which its existence went unheeded until the 1960s. People knew that organized crime existed, but not to the extent that its control involved big businesses and the CIA.

Another type of paranoia or distorted belief involves animal testing, most of which is unnecessary, cruel, and immoral. Where openness, an understanding of decision-making, and accountability is hidden from the public, it is doomed to be thought of as suspicious and irrational, and unfortunately, that is what goes on in the laboratories involved in animal experimentation.

Those with the distorted idea, which is the other face of paranoia, say that testing on animals is beneficial to human wellness. Yet, if alternatives do exist, and they do; so why not use the alternatives, then?

I believe pain or death brought on animals through experimentation and testing to be immoral, and what makes me furious has been the kind of testing, not for diseases but for beauty products. What kind of egocentric species are we that we force living beings to endure all kinds of torture just to look a tiny bit prettier or more handsome? As to the testing of animals for pharmaceuticals, we cannot be sure if this is efficient either because most products are metabolized differently in animals than in humans. Probably that is why some medications end up being terribly harmful to humans. Remember the Thalidomide babies who were born with birth defects? Or others that caused death to humans?

Then again, humans are also tested, however voluntarily, in order to find out about the positives and negatives of an iffy medication. For that reason, it could be understandable if a certain drug to benefit humans with a terrible disease such as cancer can be tested on animals, too, but only if that testing benefits the animals as well, as animal cancer exists also. Otherwise, I consider animal testing to be inhuman and unnecessary


1. Do you believe in any conspiracy theories? Which ones and why?
2. Let's go hardcore issue. Animal testing - yes, no, maybe. Let me hear your opinion
July 14, 2014 at 3:54pm
July 14, 2014 at 3:54pm
If I hadn't traveled so much, I wouldn't have known the value of staycations. Travel, especially when it involves the overseas trips, is exciting, exhilarating, and life-changing, but you have to have the stamina to put up with it, which my husband and I did as we enjoyed every minute of our travels and vacations on our younger days.

Up to ten years ago, as if sensing what was to come, our trips became as frequent as they could get. Later on, they tapered off. On our last long trip in 2008, while we were boarding the plane in the Istanbul airport, we had to go through seven checkpoints. We became really tired even before boarding the plane for a 12 hour flight. To this day, I wonder about those check points. Why seven? Isn't once or twice of taking off shoes and emptying overnight bags enough? I understand the threat of terrorism, but what about the passengers?

In spite of all that trouble, looking back, I miss the excitement of the long trips, but we neither have the stamina nor the patience to put up with such a trip anymore; thus, surfaced our staycation, skipping the expense and the stress of travel.

I like staycations now, but to be on one needs creativity and stick-to-itiveness. For any staycation or vacation, all members taking part has to have a say in the plans. Then, while on the staycation, it is important not to get sucked back into business as usual. Another thing that helps is turning off the cell and landline phones, and the internet at least for a few hours in a day, especially if our everyday work depends on those things. For people who keep house on a regular basis, it is a good idea to eat out often and let the laundry pile up. I know it is difficult to bear, but we must remember we are on our vacation. In addition, while planning for local excursions, --be it sailing, fishing, golfing or to the beach, park, or museum-- it is a good idea to make use of the deals, such as going to movies and local theater during the midday when it is cheaper than in the evening.

On the other hand, I think, if counting dollars and pennies is not a problem, why shouldn't I splurge and enjoy myself? After all, I have decided on a staycation, mainly to avoid the hassle and agony of travel. On my staycation, I can do anything I want; mix up my routine, go to bed late, and feel free to be silly and surf the web or read chick-lit all day if I wish. But then, hubby and I are retired, and we're on a perpetual staycation already.

Hence, cheers for our old-age staycation! *Glass5*


Prompt: Vacation or Staycation: which do you prefer and why?
July 12, 2014 at 3:58pm
July 12, 2014 at 3:58pm
"Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn't block traffic," said a newscaster, once. Inside my house, everything and everyone blocks traffic, due to long narrow corridors and a kitchen that is reminiscent of a galley. Those who designed this place must have had a fetish with long and narrow. Yet, the rooms are large and that's what sold the house to us.

One thing though. Traffic in my house is like the American Congress. Any time we think we are going somewhere, we hit another jam, and foot traffic congestion adds to the frustration of not getting anything done.

Thus, if I were to put up traffic signs, the corridors would definitely get Pedestrian Walkway signals. In the rooms, One Way arrows for situations around the tables and other furniture so the place does not have traffic pileups and hazardous conditions. No Passageway signs or blinking lights in the middle sections of the two living rooms are also needed, depending on which room my husband is watching TV. Walking between his chair and the TV equals driving through a red light and is punishable by cranky behavior.

In the master bedroom, his side and her side are private property that deserve warning signs, saying, No Tresspassing // Access without Permission is Prohibited.

Into the entrance to the study, which is another narrow corridor, may be Active Driveway/ Do Not Park Here, inside the study, at the desk and computer, Slow Down, at the computer chair, Dead End, and behind the computer table, Hidden Computer Drives (Cords)/ Slow Down.

In addition, during the tile cleanups, those yellow cones that say Caution/ Cuidado, Wet floor/Piso Mojado are needed, as well as portable entry barriers on two sides of the corridors or the kitchen, cordoned off with two-sided Caution belts for pedestrian warning or for fallen food items and cutlery. And especially when I am working in the kitchen, Private Driveway/ Do Not Block; on top of the sink, Wet Sinkhole, Use Water with Caution; on the stove, Fire Lane / Tow-Away Zone, and near the oven, Fire Zone 2/ Keep Clear at All Times.

Yet the most necessary signs have to favor us, the dashing desperados, with a Hollywood Bowl Traffic Lights System for toilets to indicate in which of the four bathrooms the seat is up or down.


Prompt: If you had traffic signs in your house, your office any space you spend frequent time what would they say? Would there be more than one?
July 11, 2014 at 4:04pm
July 11, 2014 at 4:04pm
Much can be said for spontaneity. I often find myself winging it, no matter how many plans I make and how much I prepare me for anything. But then, how do I know what I’m going to do, until I do it?

From a favorable perspective, spontaneity casts aside foolish plans and too much prior preparation, thus eliminating disappointment and heartbreak. Spontaneity is also entertaining and has humor in it, which is usually an unbridled outburst of humor with a punchline at its end.

It isn’t that I don’t give importance to planning. Planning does help to a degree, especially when I am treading a relatively new ground, but even inside planned things, spontaneity can exist to give flavor to life. Otherwise an all-planned anything might as well come out of a factory line.

In my life, some of the most thrilling things have been done on impulse, like registering in Writing.com 13 years ago, but the recognition of the best and the most durable thing I have ever done spontaneously goes to my marriage. I accepted to marry my husband after knowing him only about two months, and then we were married six months after we first met. People in my family, except a couple of uncles, were against it, and my mother was livid. Yet the marriage is still ongoing, and going well, after 47 years.

To wrap it up, spontaneity is not a blind, disorderly urge or a mere show of caprice. If I suddenly jumped off a bridge or tried to play with a rhinoceros if I met one, that couldn’t be called a spontaneous act. That would be a truly foolish act. Spontaneity, on the other hand, has more to do with creativity and gut feeling, and probably with collective consciousness, if there is such a thing. Spontaneity is not something that is being done to a person either; it is the person consciously doing something unexpected and adventurous. As Oscar Wilde said, “Spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art”; to which I would like to add, “without us being aware of the preparations.”


Prompt: What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?
July 8, 2014 at 1:52pm
July 8, 2014 at 1:52pm
A Beatles song says:
“Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be…”

This isn’t my favorite song; yet, it sings of a life lesson that took me way too long to figure out, but then, to convert any life lesson into an attitude takes its sweet time, as well.

I used to worry about anything that I lost control over, and not only matters that concerned me but also situations that involved others. If I didn’t try to help someone or do their dirty physical and emotional work for them, it felt like the universe would crumble on top of every one of us. This was such a defeatist approach.

While each of us have a tendency to exert control in certain situations—as some control is also essential, I wanted to ease all worries, fix all broken and torn things and people, and ease all sticky situations. I wasn’t a control freak in the sense of telling people what to do, which I never did, but I wanted to ease every single rotten situation under the sun. Looking back, I ask myself: “Just who did you think you were? God?” *Laugh*

Maybe my being an only child or maybe having a mother who was emotionally dependent on me as well as being the punishing, critical type had to do with this behavior, or maybe I needed to feel superior in some way; the reason, whatever it was, doesn’t matter. My way of being overly concerned about anything and everything was faulty.

In time, somehow, I saw that the problems either were solved on their own or they became assimilated into everyday life, and no one truly fared the worst for it. Still, it was my internist, eventually, who opened my eyes to my shortcoming when I developed high blood pressure, which runs in my family by the way, but my freaky fix-everything nature was adding to it. So in my mid-forties, I started a meditation regimen and also some deep thinking, which involved finding a peaceful area with no distractions and choose an important topic to think about. The peaceful area for me was a hammock under the oak trees and the important topic was why I worried so, about everything and everyone in my world. There, the importance of the serenity prayer became crystal clear. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Its first part was the one I lacked: to accept the things I cannot change.

Einstein said, “The world, as we have created it, is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” So true. Too often, we drift toward a predetermined mold laid for us by those around us or even by ourselves. Once we realize we are stuck in a mold, then we can find a way to break out of it.


Prompt: What is a lesson in life that took you way too long to figure out?
July 7, 2014 at 6:26pm
July 7, 2014 at 6:26pm
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
- Albert Einstein

Quite often, I say something that comes out from obtuse side of my brain, something inane, shortsighted, or pointless. I still blush when I recall what I told our bank manager several years ago. “We don’t have any debt. We just have mortgage, and I have to pay the Mastercard.” *Rolleyes* Lucky for me, I am not the only dopey one in the world.

This one by Imelda Marcos, the once-first-lady of Phillippines, the lady with the humongous shoe collection, is hilarious. I think she said this when being criticized for her haphazard spending: "I get so tired listening to one million dollars here, one million dollars there. It's so petty."

Then, what about this British government report on why cod fish are disappearing from the North Sea? “"Cod are not very good swimmers so they are easily overtaken by trawlers and nets."

And another one from a British politician’s campaign: “"Labour MPs and councillors representing Wansbeck for decades have only achieved one of the highest teenage pregnancies records."

But the British cannot match our politicians in gobbledygook. "The world is more like it is now then it ever has before." President D. Eisenhower

Or another president, George W. Bush, who said in 2000, "They misunderestimated me." And three years later on May 7, 2003, “I think war is a dangerous place.”

Not to forget Dan Quayle, former US Vice President. “If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.”
And also: “The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century.”

Even so, no politician can match a lawyer, but then aren’t most of the politicians have a law degree? Oh well, the following are from court documents.

Lawyer: "You say that the stairs went down to the basement?"
Witness: "Yes."
Lawyer: "And these stairs, did they go up also?"

Then there is this one:
Lawyer: "Were you acquainted with the deceased?"
Witness: "Yes sir."
Lawyer: "Before or after he died?"

And another one:
Lawyer: "What is your relationship with the plaintiff?"
Witness: "She is my daughter."
Lawyer: "Was she your daughter on February 13, 1979?"

And I am not even touching the movie stars. After all, that limelight acts like pepper spray on the eyes and the applause like nitrous oxide on the brain. *Laugh*


Prompt: It was a stupid thing to say... .
July 5, 2014 at 11:09pm
July 5, 2014 at 11:09pm
I consider July 4th an inspirational day, loud but with spirit, with all the fanfare, festivities, and fireworks. Yet, to me, living things bring the most spiritual awakenings.

In the same or similar vein, since I didn’t want to be the angel of death to my bromeliad of three months old--as it has been at least three months since it graced my porch-, I decided to re-pot it. Since very few people repot bromeliads, it was a daring venture. I could hear master gardeners’ voices in my head: “You don’t repot a bromeliad; you cut its shoots and repot those.” But how could I separate four shoots and an already flowered mommy?

No matter who says what, mine is a vase-type bromeliad, with flaring rosettes, and repotting it to a much larger pot is probably the only repotting for it I’ll have to do, ever. In other words, there won’t be any more repotting. If it dares to outgrow this huge pot, it will have to go directly into the soil by the side of the house, which I hope won’t happen for at least three more years.

Charles Bukowski said: “Only the plants and the animals are true comrades. I drink to them and with them.”

Variety adds up to the beauty of nature. So, all opinions on the caring of nature or sharing drinks or comradeships are beautiful and charming. Chances are I won’t ever be sharing a drink with my bromeliad, but since it is a living thing, repotting it was the best thing I did in celebration, among all the other things I did yesterday, and yesterday was a hectic one, as on our usually very quiet street, all the firecracking aliens seemed to convene to set the neighborhood pooches ahowling. Then, because of the rain, I did a lot of cooking inside, while the fireworks on every channel on TV repeated the same patriotic songs over and over.

Through it all, my bromeliad seemed to love its new home. Somehow, it must have sensed that this change was not for change’s sake but because of necessity. Today, it looked brighter and happier than ever, eager in the participation of new growth in its future, like the rest of us. *Smile*

Prompt: What was the most important thing that happened yesterday?
July 3, 2014 at 6:59pm
July 3, 2014 at 6:59pm
Ours is a complex world. A highly networked society, business, family, and even a solo person is prone to an abrupt change, thus the crisis. It sometimes takes getting used to a situation to stay calm in the face of a crisis, especially if a similar situation has been handled well earlier. With some highly strung individuals, even being accustomed may not work.

In 2004, in our area, we suffered through two hurricanes fifteen days apart. We had three other couples with us in the house, as their homes were in a more dangerous zone. The first hurricane hovered over us for thirty-six hours, rattling the shutters and throwing things around which we only heard but didn't see because the house was in the dark with the electricity gone and all the windows shuttered. Meanwhile the newscasters on the radio added to the dread as they supposedly tried to guide us through the ordeal. After the hurricanes passed, several people commented that I was the calmest among all of them, and I believe I was. Simply because there was little I could do but live through the danger while taking care of the house and the guests.

There was one time, however, about three decades ago, when one of my sons was badly hurt. At that instant, I felt totally helpless. I threw up and was a wreck physically. Although a couple of hours later, I composed myself and handled the situation quite well. That was the only time in my life when I totally lost it.

Usually and so far, in the face of a crisis, I act and feel quite calm. I assess the situation, gather data, and try to think of the best and the fastest solution. In some cases, I am also pro-active and try not to get into situations that may end up in a crisis. For that reason, most of the projects I am involved in turn out all right.

As the world changes around me, this seemingly stable attitude may not always work. I don't know how I would face a terrible life-altering situation, should it come to pass. But then deep down, I know that we must deal with the traumas in our lives. I also think we go through trials in order to understand others in the same or similar situations, and afterwards, to find ourselves in a better place of understanding life in general. One thing I can attest to is that, should a crisis show up, avoiding it makes things worse because the more you try to cover things up, the more they float to the top.

When a crisis looms in the horizon, my psychological support is the serenity prayer.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

In addition, as a writer, facing a crisis and watching others go through their own crises help to construct credible plots with believable characters. It helps to look at the positive in everything. *Smile*


Prompt: Honestly, evaluate the way you respond to a crisis situation. Are you happy with the way you react?
July 1, 2014 at 7:34pm
July 1, 2014 at 7:34pm
I guess I am stuck in the twentieth century as far as romance films are concerned. I like a little romance in a movie or in fiction, but I also want other aspects of life in the plot. For that reason, any trite and senseless romance story feels like porn to me, with my apologies to romance screenwriters…

My all-time favorite romance movie is Casablanca. I also liked a few others in the twentieth century, but since the issue here is the twenty-first century, I asked hubby if he remembered any such movie we went to. He recalled a softcore French movie with the title Heading South (2005), which I have no memory of. He swears we watched it together during a NY trip; I know my memory erases unsavory stuff, and probably that is what happened.

Then I recalled the 2001 Moulin Rouge, which won several Oscar nominations, more than any other movie, but I don’t think it won many statues at the end. We went to see it for Nicole Kidman, and sorry if I am going to upset anyone, but I disliked it from the bottom of my heart. The characters talked in clichés, stealing lines and titles from here and there, which annoyed me immensely.

On the other hand, to this day, I recall the 1952 version of it, dramatizing the life and love of the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, which tore at my heart during the sixties when I watched it. Chances are, with romance movies, I do belong in the last century. When I search deep in my memory for romance movies that I really liked during the later decades Ghost (1990) and When Harry Met Sally (1989) spring up.

So I checked the internet. The top romance movies of 21st century are: Her, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Notebook, Bridget Jones’s Diary, 50 first Days, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Amelie, Life as We Know It, The 40-Year Old Virgin, A Walk to Remember, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Kate and Leopold, Love Actually, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Friends with Benefits, Letters to Juliet, etc.

Of these, I read the book of The Notebook. So seeing the movie was out, as sappiness fails for me, although I am sure the movie was good. Everyone says so.

Then I checked the plots of the above-mentioned movies list. I figured Amélie (2001), a French movie, and The Lunchbox (2013), an Indian movie, might appeal to me.

For Amélie, the plot is written as:
Amélie is a shy waitress in a Montmartre café. After returning a long-lost childhood treasure to a former occupant of her apartment, and seeing the effect it has on him, she decides to set out on a mission to make others happy and in the meantime pursues a quirky guy who collects discarded photo booth pictures.

As for Lunchbox:
The plot is built around an unexpected meeting of two lonely hearts and all the metaphorical implications of lovingly prepared food. "The Lunchbox" is the sort of film that feels every bit the old-fashioned Hollywood romance. That's true whether your idea of "old-fashioned" is a movie starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, or Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

See? There I go again! Maybe I’ll watch Lunch Box from its DVD.


Prompt: In your opinion, what is the best 21st century romance film and why? (If you haven't seen a romantic movie in the past 14 years, then use a 21st century book - and get out to the movies soon!)
June 30, 2014 at 11:51am
June 30, 2014 at 11:51am
An Anaïs Nin quote says, "It is in the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately."

Life in its essence is emotional, as it happens probably by accident, depending on which sperm will catch which egg. In my first form, that is eight to nine months before my birth, I must have had such a crisis, to be followed by the many my time-span has presented and will present. When life is over, although many of us grieve over the potential wasted in needless death, it will probably be the last emotional crisis for me. I am predicting--or foreboding, if you insist--that my last words will be: "Phew! Thank God!"

Surely this is an exclamation, and as exclamations go, their meaning is more in the way we say them than in the words they contain. As such, I am guessing my last words will cover many meanings.

The first meaning may mean, "Thank God, this hardship is over." Life is not easy, since we are always under an emotional bombardment as the results of different kinds of events. Each day we wake up and wonder or plan on how we'll handle the shelling and protect ourselves the best. Still there are plenty of times when we get hit broadside and collapse.

The second meaning may mean, "Thank God, I'm all done without making too much fuss, taking up precious space, or hurting others." This feeling comes to me partially from the Hippocratic Oath of "according to my ability and my judgment and I shall never do harm to anyone." Not that I have taken that Oath, but I value the never-doing-harm bit in it, at least knowingly. Unknowingly, I am sure I have hurt someone or other, but it was never intentional.

The third meaning will have to do with thanking for the opportunity of life, for what I experienced, for what I learned. Then the other meanings can be grouped under this third meaning of feeling my thanks.

I'll feel grateful for to have had the courage to dive into my own wreck, looking and searching inside, and surviving, and in doing so, to have done justice to my own complexity, mainly for the outcome of to have broken down self-delusion and isolation, and being acquainted with love, especially agápe; for when love is spiritual, it encompasses everything, everyone, and all kinds of love.

Then, I shall be deeply thankful for the people. "We can count on so few people to go that hard way with us." Yet, so many have opened my heart and mind, awakening me to a world and possibly many worlds that I would have missed, if it weren't for them. Most of the time, I didn't search for those people; they were cast in my way by fate, karma, synchronicity or coincidence, in whichever terms you wish to put it.

Another area to give thanks for are in the material that was thrown on my way, such as books, arts and crafts, music, and other such media that changed me, places I visited or moved into, and people and ideas I met and came to love.

While saying that phrase, "Phew, Thank God!" I am hoping I shall be experiencing an eventless death in my bed, hopefully during sleep, without being a burden to anyone. I don't even care whether or not someone who thinks he is godly gives me my last rites. Who cares about the last rites after being granted all the rights that life has offered?


Prompt: These are my final words. In many movies characters are given that moment right before they die to say their final words. What will be your final words?
Optional Bonus: What are the circumstances of your dramatic demise?

June 28, 2014 at 6:36pm
June 28, 2014 at 6:36pm
When it comes to divisiveness, both similarities and differences can be divisive. In the same vein, both can work as unifiers. To insist that either similarities or differences cause a division would result in a fallacious argument.

Here in Writing.com, we are all writers. In that we are similar. Yet, we all have our own styles, our specific vocabularies, and our own degrees of experience with the craft. Don’t we all embrace our differences and live and work quite happily together?

Emile Durkheim says: “Social solidarity is a wholly moral phenomenon which by itself is not amenable to exact observation and especially not to measurement.” If we take the word solidarity as the opposite of division, this will mean that, whether we are similar or different, finding unity or solidarity has to be a moral obligation. I think this is because there can be differences in similar beings and similarities in different ones.

The key to unity among people is not how similarities bind us; it is finding a way to make our differences work together. People, groups, religions, and nations are pretty much alike. Unfortunately their definitions are usually based upon the differences, and even more unfortunately, some of us end up poking fun at or scorning those differences, which this practice only encourages division.

Akin to this, similarities sometimes cause jealousy and hate, and therefore serious division among people. Just imagine, in any situation, two very similar people going for the same prize in a competition or aiming to get in the good graces of another person in a higher position. If they focus on the negatives of the people and the situation, there will be a division between them, and if they focus on the positives, they will find a way to work together.

Yet, even similar people do things differently at times and possibly quite often and vice versa. In either case, I tell myself this has nothing to do with right or wrong; thus, there is no need for feeling a separation from the other person or group.


Prompt: Differences and similarities: which divides us more?
June 26, 2014 at 12:47pm
June 26, 2014 at 12:47pm
"Lorsque j'avais six ans j'ai vu, une fois, une magnifique image, dans un livre sur la Forêt Vierge qui s'appelait "Histoires Vécues". Ca représentait un serpent boa qui avalait un fauve."

Gotcha! *Laugh*

Joking aside, this is the opening sentences of Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It has been translated as: "Once when I was six years old I saw a beautiful picture in a book about the primeval forest called True Stories. It showed a boa constrictor swallowing an animal."

Even though The Little Prince is my all-time favorite book, as first sentences of written works go, this one averages in the middle of the opening-lines arc. I like it better when suddenly, I'm right inside the story.

My second all-time favorite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Its opening also averages in the middle of the arc. "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day." Although there is action in this sentence, it doesn't really tell me anything about the story. Still it pulls me in.

Now check the following out. These opening sentences have action and they tell or imply something about the general story.

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

"It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love." Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera

No wonder Gabriel Garcia Marquez won the Nobel prize for literature, as did most of the authors in the following examples:

"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish." Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea

"Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed." James Joyce, Ulysses

"It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not." Paul Auster, City of Glass

"Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting." William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

"Mother died today." Albert Camus, The Stranger

"They shoot the white girl first." Toni Morrison, Paradise

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis

Many writers give the utmost importance due to the opening lines. Stephen King spends months and even years, writing opening lines. He says he just writes the story, then goes back and works on the opening line.

The opening line is not only there as a hook, but it also serves as a quick introduction to a writer's style, as a good sentence tends to do.

A really bad first sentence, many times, has convinced me not to read a novel or a story. A sentence like, "This is what happened," doesn't say anything to me. It is dull, uncreative, and sounds like the hesitant writer is trying pull his courage together to tell me something he is pushed to tell. In the same vein is the opening line that starts with the weather especially when the weather has no bearing on the story. Blatant grammar flaws are no help either.

On the other hand, I'll go on reading the story if the first sentence pulls me in right into the action or hints at or says something about the general plot or the main character. Then, I'm overjoyed if that sentence has a distinct voice in it, usually the writer's voice. With a truly good story, a powerful voice is there in the first sentence.

It can be argued that a story won't stand alone on its first sentence and the plot and characters are the real work. Agreed! Still, the first sentence is the first thing that acquaints me to the story; therefore, its muscle is incredibly strong.


Prompt: Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your Blog entry.

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