Impromptu writing, whatever comes...on writing or whatever the question of the day is.
Thank you Marci Missing Everyone 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.
So far my chewing the fat is on and off. Maybe, I lack teeth.
Feel free to comment, if you wish.
This Blog Continues in "Everyday Canvas "
|Dreams are big in human life and in fiction. Dreams that come only once may be significant or forgettable; however, I believe, the repetitive dreams are the dramatics of our psyche when it is trying to tell us something.
It is as if a repeating dream is a dramatic play with a designing principle, which tries to make the dreamers confront with their sins, what is ailing them, and the ghosts of their past.
Again like a stage play, the repeating dream has a theme line that says: You must face the truths about yourself and others. Then you must either forgive or deal with those. This theme line, therefore, is the healthy revaluation of our relationship to our dreams, and through them, to each other.
The repeating dreamâs scenario has a story world, also. It may be a maze or a jungle you canât get out of, a dark house full of crannies and nooks where family secrets are hidden away, or a vehicle that keeps transporting you to an alien place, where you donât want to be in.
Still, like a full-fledged drama, the dream has a symbol line. The fun part is, the dream varies the details of a symbol each time it repeats itself.
The books about dreams usually interpret those symbols. Yet, I am sure for each person those symbols do change; I found, however, a few of such generalized symbols, said to apply to most people, also apply to me. One of them is the house representing the body. If I dream of a house lacking light or with some part broken or missing, I know itâs my psyche telling me something is not quite right with my body. The other is me driving a vehicle. If the vehicle goes out of control in some way, it may show there is something in my life that is gone haywire, in other words, âout of control.â
But a never-ending dream would be a nightmare, a pathology, belonging with serious mental illness, and should anyone have it, to get out of it, they would need intense psychiatric care and medications that would probably fall in the categories of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, SSRI, or antipsychotics.*
Dreams are the language of a person's subconscious mind. They're a reliable source of insight, personal enrichment, and life affirming revelations. They are what the psychologists use as their primary indicative tools. They are sometimes what our fantasies turn into, which we may succeed to make into reality, but if we can't, there is heartbreak, as the song from Les Miserables says at its end:
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.
As to the prompt that made me write my thoughts on dreams, it is a great prompt, but it is a prompt for a fictional story. Such a storyâs construction should deserve more than the half hour I have for blogging. Probably I can tackle it in the future, in a different book item reserved for short stories.
*Psychiatric medicine categories mentioned above are gratis from hubby.
Prompt: Never Ending Dream At an old bookstore, you found a book on interpreting dreams that you just had to have. You fall asleep reading the book and find yourself in a dream that you cannot wake up from.
I can't wait to see your responses!
Prompt: What is it? How will you get back to reality?
|Many things get better with age: cheese, antiques, whiskey, wine. But then, when it comes to people, whining gets better with age and so do the headfakes.
Whining gets better because there are so many things to whine about: memory loss, wrinkles, sagging, leaking, long trips, short trips, creaky joints, health problems, going to seed, where you put your false teeth, etc., etc. You have to keep in mind that, when an old person finally gets his head together, his body starts falling apart. In the same vein, when an elderly person makes up his mind, he's adamant about his decision; unless, he forgets what that thing he decided upon was about. Thus, in old age, wining or whining or both are understandable, because old people traveled all the way from terrible twos and acne, to wrinkles, creases, and puckers.
The youngsters, on the other hand, become immune to the whining eventually. As soon as the old one clues in to that, he knows it is time to use headfakes, because by then, he has mastered them to perfection. Just why do you think old people lead the population in swing voting? That's one organized, national elderly headfake, for you.
Yet, there are many other headfakes the old ones use against their children or anyone from the younger generation. It starts with faking as if they are listening to the doctors' or the young ones' advice, but not really, since diplomacy may be ailing but is not dead. Then the rest of the headfakes may range from acting clueless as if they've fallen asleep in their easy chairs only to hear juicy gossip, to playing deaf to unwanted questions or requests for financial help, or coming up with the most perfect cough attack, or driving even slower than normal when a youngster, who uses a hybrid vehicle as if a Maserati, tailgates their car.
An old man I know has perfected a great on-the-phone headfake against pushy telephone salespeople. He listens for a long while to the pesky seller, as if he's all attention and he's interested in what the salesperson is saying and his product. Then, at the end, the old man says something like, "Thank you but you have the wrong number," or something really far out like, "Say hello to your wife for me," and he puts the phone down. Now, how's that for an attitude?
And how do I know all this? Guess!
Right, old people are all around me, and I am an old person.
And as an old person, I have arrived at one major conclusion: Life is unfair, but I won't sit out the dance to it, for I am still refusing to grow up.
There, I said it. Take it or leave it!
Prompt: What gets better with age?
|First I have to question the criteria for measuring super intelligence or extreme good looks. Who can really measure those? The criteria for either is iffy at best, and changeable always, according to the century and place people are in. A person or persons who can define these undefinables deserve credit and praise, but I doubt anyone can do that.
I never think too much about good looks or whether I have them or not. As long as I donât gross people out, I am fine with the way I look. Also, I donât see me; others do, and I believe my looks are their problem.
As to intelligence, I can take apart what I believe its components are and talk about those as they relate to me. Even then, I will be generalizing and showing some serious lack of vision. Still, for the sake of argument, Iâm going to tackle the challenge.
First, I think everyone is intelligent to some unmeasurable degree. My suspicion is, those who lack an unnamed part of intelligence are those who think they know everything or act as if they do. Truly intelligent people, assuming we can measure intelligence, would have an underlying sense of humility. Even a person who has studied/learned all his life would know he can be wrong on many things. He would also realize the sum of things he doesnât know is much greater than the things he thinks he knows.
This, I believe I am well aware of. I know I donât know everything and everything I know is iffy and changeable. If this werenât true, I wouldnât start my reviews with a caveat.
A highly intelligent personâs neural networks, both in the right and left brain, has to working much better than anyone elseâs. That I am sure is NOT the case for me, so I would like to have that, if it were possible.
I would also like to have a much better and more controllable memory function. My memory is sometimes quite sharp, but sometimes I think it takes a leave of absence to go hibernate underground. Thus the memory part of high intelligence is what I would aim for first.
As to conceptual thinking, although I am interested mostly in concrete concepts, I find abstract thought also amazing. A bit more creativity could help with my writing, I think.
Then, if a part of high intelligence is the quick grasp of ideas and situations, why not? Give me that, too.
Yet, other areas weigh heavy also, like the ability to survive and stay fit, having interpersonal skills, latching on to the thoughts, beliefs, and intentions of others quickly, ability to reason, ability to solve problems quickly and effectively, etc. Who wouldnât like to have all those?
Lastly, having chewed the fat on all that, I believe human brain isnât as immense as we think/hope it is. It is limited by size and by its being of matter and not of energy. True, energy passes through it to make it work, but the brain is still a thing and it is limited. I think that is why some people are musical prodigies while others are mathematical wizards, while others excel in other areas. If anyone ever had the perfect brain and intelligence, human life wouldnât let her or him use it to its full capacity, because ours is only a butterflyâs life span measured in years.
Prompt: Would you rather be SUPER INTELLIGENT or EXTREMELY GOOD LOOKING? Why?
|"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
So many years of life, so many moments to remember. So, there it goes: Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, and meow...
My mother is seriously ill. The character that she is, she refuses to go to the hospital; therefore, she's at home, recuperating. The doctor stops by daily.
Suddenly, one day, the illness turns scary. My grandma and I think she's dying. We call the doctor. Grandma sends me downstairs to the kitchen to make tea. Since Mom won't take her medicine by mouth, it has to be dissolved in some kind of a hot liquid.
While I wait for the kettle's whistle, I sit at the kitchen table, holding my head in my hands. My tabby cat jumps on the table, something he never does as he's not allowed.
Without any fear of a scolding, he begins to lick my face, his meows like the coos of a pigeon. He is singing to me the song of the moment, the song of soothing, the song of solace that will weave in my memory's threads never to be forgotten, unlike any other moment lost in time. I let my hands caress the soft fur, tracing thoughts along the curve of the spine of his tiny body. My cat helps me make it over this dark ravine, in one continuous stream of his meows.
This moment in time stays pristine. This moment that created smiles out of dread is not wasted. This moment, vapor-like though it was, is used and reused in difficult times when one of my karmic tales suddenly pops up to challenge me.
What a cat my tabby was several decades ago; what a cat he still is in my memory!
|Todayâs question is: Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
Ahem! Glad I am not asked to provide an infographic on this. I wouldnât know where to find a ghost.
My answer is:
No, to the best of my knowledge, I havenât seen a real âBoo!â ghost, and for the sake of my own mental safety, I take Confuciusâs words to heart on the subject. Now, please donât jump to conclusions; it wasnât Confuciusâs ghost who talked to me. I just read his sayings in a book. Anyhow, Confucius advised: âRespect ghosts and gods, but keep away from them.â This is one heck of a good warning I am going to honor for the rest of my life, as I am taking no chances.
Anyhow, the Chinese are a wild bunch, as they have a Ghost Festival or rather a Hungry Ghost Festival, called Yu Lan each year. Something like our Halloween, I guess. On Halloween, our kids are hungry for candy; on Yu LAn, Chinese ghosts are hungry. Imagine trying to feed those ghosts!
Coming back to me, even though I deny spotting ghosts anywhere in my vicinity, a few telepathic occurrences have happened to yours truly. Close enough, I should say; nevertheless, I can explain some of those experiences as brain functions or rather malfunctions. Yet, the others that step into the precognitive range have no explanation at all. Even so, letâs not make too much of my tiny experiences for now, since I am a big chicken, still afraid of the dark at my advanced age, and I have no intention of meeting the unknown at this juncture in my life.
I sense there is something out there, however, something surrounding the ghost idea, but with the minimal knowledge I have on the subject at this point, I canât deny or accept it, since existence of ghosts is only claimed to be true by those who bust ghosts or declare to know them personally in the murky area of a dubious expertise, which I suspect, is up for grabs by anyone.
Where imaginary ghosts are concerned, the nicer ones are in my stories or in the stories I read. My favorite ghost of all time is Casper the Friendly Ghost, since I watched its reruns with my kids, once upon a dinosaur time. In my opinion, that is what a ghost should be: Casper-like, confined inside a book, the screen, or the TV, and far, far away from me.
|Ambrose Pierce defined history, in his The Devilâs Dictionary as: âAn account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.â And Oscar Wilde said: âHistory is merely gossip.â Gossip or not, history is full of ridiculously funny events, some too dumb to be real, but is.
If I could witness any one of those events, I would have loved to be among the reporters on the beach in Agadir, Morocco in 1911 summer, to witness a scene with Hermann Wilhelm Wilbergâs-- A.K.A The Endangered Germanâs--running around the beach waving his arms up and down at the German warship, Panther.
To get a better view of this poor guy, letâs take a look at the backstory of this scene:
After the deployment of a substantial force of French troops in the interior of Morocco in April 1911, creating what is known in history as the First Moroccan Crisis, the German government decided to send a warship to the port of Agadir. By this act, Germans hoped to either seize that part of Morocco for themselves or pressure the French into compensating them with land in the Congo, but they didnât want to unveil their true intention immediately because this would be tactless, strategically.
As the world did find out how good Germans are with similar fiction much later in the century, the German intelligence, then, fabricated a story. They would imply that they sent a warship to protect German citizens in Morocco. But, lo and behold, there were no German Citizens in Agadir. In the entire country of Morocco, there was only one German, Hermann Wilhelm Wilberg, a mining engineer sent there during the early summer of 1911 as a representative for the Hamburg-Marrokko-Gesellschaft.
Imagine Herr Wilbergâs shock when he received a coded telegram, ordering him to go to Agadir and wait for the warships. Since the poor guy didnât know code, it took the Germans three telegrams to get their point across.
To add more salt to this sea tale, the ship that the Germans sent waited at the Agadir Harbor for three days until Wilberg could get there on July 4, 1911, after a few other comical delays that took place involving his journey. By this time, the reporters who had gotten the news had made it to Agadir faster than Wilberg, and they were lying in wait for whatever was in store for their thirsty pens.
When Wilberg finally made it to the beach, he realized he had no way of contacting the ship. So he began running up and down the beach, waving his arms, and yelling, âProtect me! I am Wilberg!â
But what that shipâs crew saw, or they thought they saw, was some crazy Moroccan running up and down the beach, trying to sell them his wares, probably rugs or nuts. Eventually, Wilbur tired out and just stood there, looking at the ship in defeat. It was only then that the crew realized who he was.
This story observed to its minutiae by the reporters made the headlines around the world, dubbing Wilberg âThe Endangered German.â
Afterwards, with the British foreign secretaryâs intervention, this tiny problem between Germany and France was swept under the rugâŠbut only until the First World War.
Such a slapstick of history!
The definition of slapstick is: humor involving exaggerated physical activity which exceeds the boundaries of common sense.
Well, doesn't the shoe fit?
|Commuting is a taste to be acquired through experience. I guess when people compare their commutes, they are either boasting or complaining. Those who hate the commute think of it as a serious, cancerous disease. Those who love it tend to lecture the ones who don't.
I don't commute anymore, but because I've had a longer life than most who are going to answer this prompt, I've had a number of commuting experiences. All of them, including those that popped up requiring air travel once in a while, were pleasurable for me, because I put my time to good use. Leave it to me to modify any experience into a reading-writing opportunity. On the planes, I read, wrote letters and lists, did planning, and the most delightful of everything, observed and listened to people, turning the airplane into my private office. Of course, all this was before the checkpoints in airports went insane.
For me, the highlight of a commuting experience was when I could observe other passengers, as they compared their trips from home to office. When people talk during their commuting, they tend to blurt out the intimate details of their lives, especially in the mornings when they feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. These details I listened to with great interest.
The 7:15 A.M. train from Long Island to NY City, from where I boarded, took about one hour fifteen minutes to Penn Station. Although the kinds of jobs they did differed greatly, the commuters I met on that train were the same people every day, since they all had to be at work at about the same time as me or most anyone on board. As a result, strong friendships were formed between co-commuters who griped about their spouses, mothers, fathers, children, children's homework, illnesses, the rotten secretary at the doctor's office, high prices, taxes, and on and on. I remember, they passed photographs around, exchanged answers to crossword puzzles, and even played cards. I even recall, in the Technicolor of my mind, the face of the woman who used to knit non-stop, so much so that, at one point, I had wondered if her knitting was somehow connected to her livelihood.
On the 7:15 A.M., ignoring the conductors' sidelong glances and their musical announcements of the stations, some commuters traveled with their coffees in a thermos bottles, while others came in with Starbucks paper cups, steam spiraling upward from the slits of their flattop lids, and still others brought their entire breakfast to the train. I made small talk with them sometimes, but not for too long, because I had cultivated the habit of discreetly recording their conversations inside a folder, as if doing office work. The trick was to keep my head down and not glance at the speaker's direction, since being found out was a chance I didn't want to take. If they did find me out, not only would I have to change trains but also my office hours, or worse, I would have to take my car and suffer the misery of the Long Island Expressway.
Although I owned a car and used it around our home base, I never drove it to my workplace, if the commute took more than half an hour. On a daily basis, with using the car to go to work, the risk factor rises greatly. It was just a stroke of luck that wherever I worked, public transportation was very good, especially in New York City and to and from its suburbs.
In New York City's effective network, people bustle about in a mass of hurried spirits, and although they may kick up a fuss about commuting to work every day, they are happier commuters in comparison to the users of public transportation in other cities. In most other locations, strenuous driving and long commutes take their toll on a person's mental and physical health, family relationships, and even his efficiency as a worker. It is said that long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia. On the other hand, adapting one's attitude and making the best of a difficult thing may ease the burden greatly.
Times have certainly changed since my commuting days. At this stage in my life from where I sit, I do feel for those who have to spend long hours back and forth to work, driving or carpooling, and if they are saying that their commute is killing them, I believe their words. They have to be telling the truth.
|Imagine being handed a chance, akin to magic, where by accident or design, a moment is given back to you, a mystical moment you'd want to relive, a moment that comes back to you like starburst. If that were possible, l would lightly shake my memories and opt for a tiny instant hidden from view, a moment inside which I would change nothing, possibly a moment of epiphany the other humans around me would ignore.
And yes, I have such a moment tucked inside my mind. An enchanted, delicate moment of roses and a rosebush, reflecting the sacred spirit of the earth. That moment touched me with the sheen and whisper of the tender soil, as if nymphs and fairies took over and created something extraordinary.
About three or four decades ago, without being made privy to the delicate nature of roses, I decided to cultivate a rose garden in a section of the very large backyard of our new place. As Long Island soil is nitrogenous, I had no problem making an easy success of my first 55 rose bushes, and my garden prospered. Supremely happy and encouraged, I decided to graft several roses to one sturdy rose bush, without any familiarity to grafting and without knowing if the bush would accept any other rose's DNA.
A few days later, my grafted stems from five rose bushes with different colors still were attached to the main bush, if only by the cotton strips I had wrapped around the branches tightly, for them to hold the cuttings. A few people told me to give it up for it was useless because only expert gardeners would take on such a venture. Discouraged, I gave up, but before I could unwrap the cuttings, we had to take a business trip that lasted several days. That business venture had sprung on us suddenly, giving me almost no time to pack.
During the trip, I drifted around in gloom, convinced that my entire garden would suffer terribly and perish in my absence. So, the minute we returned home, I ran to my rose garden without even setting foot inside the house.
What awed me in an instant was a dreamy loveliness, surpassing any prayer for beauty. My rose garden was bursting with fragrance and color, proud of its splendid roses over the bushes' shiny green leaves. Moreover, my clumsy experiment had turned out just fine, and the grafted stems had established themselves on the mother bush, with three of them already forming tiny flower buds. Later on in summer, hauntingly, that rose bush would exhibit five different colors of roses.
But that exquisite moment, that first sight of my rose garden with its tender hues, beautiful beyond all beauty, despite my absence and neglect, charmed and touched me deeply, making me revere the divinity and forgiving nature of land. A divinity that had communed with me and rewarded my enthusiasm, ignorant and inexperienced though I might have been.
|"Nobody deserves your tears, but whoever deserves them will not make you cry." Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Such a truthful statement, and it applies to me because my truth is, I practically never shed tears. Something in me stops tears spilling out of my eyes. But if I could cry, I would, yesterday evening.
Where I live, yesterday was a miserable day with several tornado warnings, torrential rain, and strong winds. Cell phones beeped with warnings, and a few panic-stricken people called each other to see if they were all right in the storm. Oh, the fury of the skies at that time...
But then the rain stopped around five o'clock; the muggy air cooled down, and we could open the windows and doors again. In another hour or so, I noticed a golden sky with bluish-purple clouds drifting by. The light golden color in the background shone as if it were backlighted through a mirrored glass screen. To me this felt like the drying of tears, after a good cry. Not that I cry, but I have observed some people who do a fantastic job of crying with tears that resemble diamonds. The sky reminded me of that, reminded me of a person who is in the process of drying those tears and shedding his/her grief.
Following this panorama, in the next few minutes, burst a sudden splendor. The sky turned crimson with purple clouds and yellow highlights. As if it were doing a dance of joy...Such a stunning color scheme that the First Artist must have put together when He created the skies...
I watched this magnificence from my backyard, knowing the pleasure's not mine to keep. Not the storm, neither the beautiful skies. All I had was the moment to cherish. As Rumi said:
"Look as long as you can
at the friend you love
No matter whether that friend is moving away from you
or coming back toward you."
So whether what we encounter is the storms of grief and pain or the calm of beauty and joy, it is momentary, just as our lives were destined to be, because for His masterpiece, the First Artist created everything in transitory colors.
|The winter god lives in the wildest of skies, where no birds, planes, or supermen dare to fly. The fierce ice and the thick snow drifts experiment with voodoo, combining their powers as if to suck the joy out of earthlings.
Then, together with the chilling wind and tumbling snow, my kids walk in tracking piles of the white stuff beneath their boots. They complain that the pond is frozen, and they have given up on the snowman. So cold from their eyelashes dangle crystals of ice. So cold even the dog whines.
But we have hot soup inside, fire in the fireplace, and mother's love. And we all know daddy will be home soon, his ears and hands numb.
Don't shoot me, but I just lied to you...a bit.
I lied by writing the first three paragraphs above in the present tense, as if it is happening to me today, this year. I should have written those in past perfect because my kids are grown now, and we live in South Florida, where winters are so mild that, on a rare day or two, if the temperature falls under 40 F, Floridians wear everything they own in layers, thinking the poles shifted or it is Armageddon.
Truth is, those things in the beginning paragraphs did happen to me...a long time ago, when we lived in New York. So they are just twisted memories turned upside down and thrown forward in time. They are not perfect lies. But then, nothing I do is ever perfect.
My downfall is, I love grabbing words to twirl them around, just to beat thoughts into submission so they can play a few tricks. Then, after the tricks are done, I shake them up, so maybe the truth comes out. Just as, Albert Camus said: " Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object." Now, doesn't my referring to this quote show that, once upon a dinosaur time, I used to worship the existentialists?
And no, I am not gloating or acting according to the once-upon-a-time commercial's message: If you got it, flaunt it! No flaunting here, and I do feel for those who have suffered with the unending winter, this year.
I think, however, this year's savage winter in the country is an abnormal event, and it will pass soon enough. So, dear friends, believe me I hate to read in the news and see online and on TV all that you're suffering through, and I commiserate with you in spirit, while I keep writing every which way...and loose.
|He enters into my dream still wrapped inside the same bed sheet, which is called himation, I believe. It's the same outfit he wore during his performances in Ancient Greece. One end of the sheet is thrown over his left shoulder. Even after two and a half millenniums, he remains a very attractive man, the kind who should still be on stage.
"You called, Mortal?" he asks haughtily. "Why can't you leave me to my own absurdity?" The last part of what he says is from Antigone. Show off! I think. But then he shrugs, reading my mind. "All men make mistakes, but..." He pauses as if he has forgotten his own words. "The only crime is pride, and I don't have pride. What about you? Is it because of your pride you summoned me?"
"Because of my blog, Sophocles, Sir," I say faintly.
Sophocles squints at me, as his hand pats his curly, rounded beard. "Your blog is a bog. How foolish your deeds!"
I can understand his snickering at my blog because he was the most-awarded writer in the dramatic competitions of ancient Athens. And yet, he has accepted to give me an hour. Hmmmm...Can this be because someone or some writing prompt is making him? Truly, I would understand if he refused. After all, he has spent a good part of his eternity with Asclepius and Zeus.
What? Zeus? Does he still believe in those gods after being in the company of the real higher-ups?
Solemnly, he straightens his back. "Gods are who or what we consider as gods. My gods are for me; yours is for you. Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the Gods must be inviolate. I say naught on the subject more than that, as no enemy is worse than bad advice."
He has done it, again. I must not forget that Sophocles can read minds, and I don't want to go into the sticky subject of comparative religions anyhow, so I ask him a question. "Please, Sir Sophocles, is it true that you gave up acting because of a weak voice?"
He lifts his chin up huffily. "My voice may have been weak for the Theatron, but people are still hearing me, don't they? Fortune is not on the side of the faint-hearted."
"Yes, of course, Sir Sophocles. We still hear you in the twenty-first century. And if I may, have you given any thought to the Oedipus complex? What do you think of Freud's interpretation?"
Sophocles frowns. "Freud is a fool. He took it all wrong. Alas, how terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the man that's wise!" He grimaces.
"I agree, Sir. I didn't think you approved of him, anyway. But let me jump to a different subject. While in my teens, I was mesmerized by your Antigone. I am sure millions also have been and will be through the centuries. What is your secret? How can I learn from you?"
"Learn from me? About what?" Sophocles rolls his eyes. "I died while reading aloud. I was reading Antigone. You want to die reading Antigone, too?" His laugh is loud, unexpected. "You must learn to ask clearer questions if you want exact answers. But this last statement, you just put it in my mouth, didn't you, Mortal?"
I feel the heat rising to my face. Did I just blush?
"In truth, Sir," I mumble apologetically, "that is what one of my teachers used to say, as this is a dream and dreams are my jumbled-up reality. Anyway, what I would like to know is: What is the most important thing in everything...writing, drama, pain of life, you name it?"
"One thing, one word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love. We are all born to join in love, not hate - that is our nature."
"You mean love will fix even my writing?"
"Loving writing will fix any writing. To whatever it is you love, you offer your effort, and success is dependent on effort, but think deeply of what you deem as success." He pauses a few seconds, as if giving me time to think. Then with a nod, he adds, "Love is the only success. When you love, you love even the most foolish, and this is true the other way around, too."
I push my glasses on the bridge of my nose. "The other way around?"
"Being loved, silly Mortal." He takes a deep breath, a sigh almost. "Remember, no matter how foolish your deeds, those who love you will love you still."
"Thank you for saying that, Sir Sophocles. Because...because sometimes, I worry about that. I mean the-other-way-around thing, for foolish is my second nature. Could be first, even."
Sophocles shakes his head. "Hmmmm...The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities, but in your case...I leave this judgment to you until you learn more, a lot more, and unbend your mind. Now, my time is up and I must bid farewell, as all dreams must come to an end."
And in saying so, Sophocles fades away, but as he is fading, I grasp a corner of the sheet covering him and open my eyes to a new day inside my own crumpled up bed sheets.
But then, that's the way dreams go.
|Purple, green, and gold--meaning justice, faith, and power-, decorations, perfumes, marching bands, beads and trinkets, masks and costumes, pirates and witches on parade, Fortune Telling, Voodoo, Palm ReadersâŠYes, I watched Mardi GrasâŠfrom a home movie our friends made a long time ago.
It was pure pizzazz, King Cake, Jambalaya and Jazz. And nothing racy, as they must have edited the spicy stuff out, for the sake of their and our children, very young at the time. I remember they told us jokingly, âJust know this much. Mardi Gras rhymes with bra or rather the lack of it.â
Despite their wild reputation, the parades, for what little Iâve seen and heard, are colorful and funny. I guess thatâs the idea behind them. When a parade passes through a street people throw beads, small toys, pirate money, and candy. The floats in Mardi Gras parades have mythological themes, with Bacchus and Orpheus leading the way.
Talking about Orpheus, once upon a time, I really wanted to visit Rio where the worldâs biggest dance party with the Samba dancers takes place. My wish for Rio sprung from my fascination of a movie that I watched when I was in my late teens: Black Orpheus. The music of the movie was haunting to me then, as well as its sad story. I think it was early sixties or late fifties when more than half the population of WdC wasnât born yet.
As luck would have it, my husband and I were in New Orleans for a convention two years before Katrina hit. The month was May, with no trace of the Mardi-Gras madness, and we generally stuck to the French Quarter. I recall most vividly the Jackson Square and the few interesting, quirky, far-out people, street musicians, and acrobats I met around there; also the sixteen-feet high levee- the wall we walked on, where the city was seven feet below sea level, and the French Restaurant-Antoineâs I think, and CafĂ© du Monde.
Still, if I were to attend any Mardi Gras celebration, I would stick to food since Mardi Gras means âfat Tuesdayâ for those who like to stuff their faces before observing Lent. I love food and I wonât hesitate to go overboard with it once in a while. I recall having Gumbo and Shrimp Creole in New Orleans, but there were other foods, too, deliciously spicy, whose names I canât remember, but their tastes still linger on in my palateâs memory.
|I'm So Excited! Is a silly movie, a comedy, whose original title is Los Amantes Pasajeros
I don't want to give away the plot, but just a hint of it, here.
When it appears as though the end is in sight, the pilots, flight crew, and passengers of a plane heading to Mexico City try to forget the anguish of the moment.
If you watch the trailer , you'll see a woman in agony while sitting in her seat inside the airplane. That woman could be me on February 11.
On February 11, I felt the same agony, only much stronger, when I sat in front of my less-than-a-year-old laptop and tried to wake it up. The night before, the thing was working perfectly. So, I clicked on the sleep button and went to bed. Next morning, my baby did not wake up. No matter how many times I rebooted it, just the HP logo kept coming up, but nothing else.
First, I felt a sheen of sweat on my forehead, then all my muscles started quivering. Heat flushed through my body and my heart sped up as if it were traveling in light years.
I picked the laptop and rushed to my hubby's study where his desktop is, with the idea of crying wolf to the HP Support. Luckily, in chat, a techie named Ajit was patient and knowledgeable enough to help me. Under his guidance, I ran a test, in which the hard disk passed. But then, even Ajit's directions could not help my stubborn laptop to wake up.
Thus, a factory voyage to Texas was arranged with FedEx. At that time, there was a snowstorm and most of the airports worked under duress or didn't work at all, while I was suffering at the same grief level of death or Armageddon and worrying my entire family about my sanity. Finally, four long days later, the laptop was in FedEx's hands.
While my laptop, with the name Joy's Toy, laid in the HP hospital, I rediscovered notebooks, I mean real-life ones with sheets of paper spiral bound, and began writing inside them the notes on small pieces of paper that lay haphazardly around my desk. This is where my laptop adventure began resembling the above-mentioned movie. After all, if you can't beat'em, join'em, and make the best of a disaster.
Then, about five days ago, the laptop arrived, with the note, "Sorry, we couldn't transfer your data." But the laptop now worked in its re-infantilized state. It was like someone waking up with amnesia. Even its name was HP-PC. Luckily, I had most of everything backed up in flash drives and saved in Dropbox.
It is true, I had to reprogram it and download again my programs, even if this took three days. But as of two days ago, it was touchdown –like the airplane- with everything I need in the laptop, making me truly delighted about having survived the ordeal with little to nothing loss.
Now with a wide grin, I am like a bouncing ball, in spite of knowing I act hyper, immature, and foolish. But I feel a lightness in my chest, and the adrenaline rush of having regained Joy's Toy, albeit with the alien HP-PC name.
Yes, I am very excited to have my baby back.
|Anything humorous, as long as it is not slapstick appeals to me. The same goes for political humor, even when the humor is lopsided, like that of Bill Maherâs. I watch him every Friday evening and laugh, even if I donât agree with his views. There are other comics, of course, on TV, whose antics I watch every now and then.
Most everyoneâs humor, however, flaunts a bias. The comic usually puts down the group or party whose ideas and actions are in contrast to his beliefs, while not touching the ones too much that he sides with.
Jay Leno wasnât like that. He gave it equally to everyone, right, left, up, or down. He was special that way. He also found something to highlight the human condition in each of his jokes. Unfortunately, he was too aged according to NBCâs assumptions. Well, NBC will have to find out who will watch NBC or NOT from now on.
In the same vein, when it comes to writing about politics, humorous or not, I think the political writings do not stand the test of time as well as those works that address the human condition. The works that hold up the human condition stay past their prime. Take Shakespeare for example. Some of his plays can be considered political, but in all of them, the human condition has the top rank.
Thomas C Foster, in his very perceptive book How to Read Literature Like a professor, says:
âI hate âpoliticalâ writingânovels, plays, poems. They donât travel well, donât age well, and generally arenât much good in their own time and place, however sincere they may be.â
Once he delves deeper into the above statement, he continues on with:
âI love âpoliticalâ writing. Writing that engages the realities of the worldâthat thinks about human problems including those in the social and political realm that addresses the rights of persons and the wrongs of those in powerâcan be not only interesting but hugely compelling.â
Surely, his second statement deals with the human condition, which has the pole position in an astute writerâs mind.
Accordingly, Jay Leno was classy. He cared for all people no matter what their beliefs or political stances. He cared about what the general population cared about. Too bad NBC could not see that.
I am going to miss Jay Leno's opening monologues and off-hand, impromptu humor.
|Caveat: Just a tongue-in-cheek blog entry. Don't take it too seriously.
In its article, Evolution is Not an Obvious or Intuitive Concept Big Think writes we humans are related to the strawberry. Yes, we are both soil-bound, but the relationship stops there. True, man didnât create the strawberry or the soil or even himself. But like the stronger creatures such as the alligator, he devours and destroys or mars those below him on the food chain, even the soil and the air. Yet, this is the law of nature in our universe, which is a violent and cruel one.
Not that what the article is writing is false, but I resent the insistence on the fact-whether it is a fact or not-that Iâm somewhat related to a strawberry or the making too much of the buildup of all life forms. If I am that much related to a strawberry, what is keeping me from devouring my human cousins?
In addition, in conflict with its title, the article excerpts from Walt Whitmanâs Song of Myself to glorify poetic thinking, as if to show proof. In his poetic figures of speech, I bet Whitman meant something different, as Whitman was pointing to feelings, and not to the chromosome twists. Plus, why bring Whitman into this?
I understand that the concept of the self is fluid and it encompasses all nature, but then, we are a separate species, arenât we? Even if we might have descended from other life forms...
Then the article goes to validate its train of reasoning by bringing in the human genome project, which is out to unlock the life code we carry in ourselves. Although I am not denying all the wonderful work and the value of the excellent research, I feel shortchanged somehow. The whole argument in the article points to some form of self-denial or at least some partial self denial. I am not insisting on the religionsâ claim that man is the highest life form, but I prefer to be special. I think mankind is a special life form that can think, feel, and arrive to conclusions, at least some of the time. And it has its major differences from a strawberry.
Still, since I have carped so much, I forgive those who think I am a cousin to the strawberry, if for nothing but to free myself from the self-defeating energy of resentment, and because I mentioned the strawberry idea this much, I think Iâll go have a few strawberries with creamâŠahem!âŠ, which are NOT my cousins.
|Being of the prehistoric era, I have written quite conventionally. So donât let the title of this entry fool you. Yet, recently, Iâve been trying to break the ties of convention and experimenting with writing stories that do not agree with my usual modus operandi. Tsk,tsk! A woman my age! Although what I talk about are not gimmicks but real experimentation with odd pieces.
But then, if what comes out feels like a part of a story, I stick it into a story, later, and sometimes, much much later. Thus out the door goes my planning the usual way, which is: idea development of the idea or the three-sentence outline characters to fit the three-sentence outline fully developed outline that includes the setting and what have you.
When the conventional methods are given the pink slip, then comes the tiny pieces that go nowhere on their own.
My favorite of all those tiny incomplete pieces are my lists. Sometimes I even write a short piece using my grocery list after I come home from shopping. They usually stink, but they are fun.
Then comes the slice-of-life or vignette type that offers a random moment, scene or observation but it is not a complete story on its own. I love doing this, too. Sometimes, I write the same scene or moment from the POVâs of several different characters, which can be quite tricky. I think this is called Rashomon after the movie. It ends up in not too successful, though interesting, work since it can confuse the reader, but who cares when you are having fun? Right?
Talking about fun, while writing, I always have fun. If I didnât have fun, I wouldnât write. I am no masochist, believe me, and I never sympathized with the angel of death that came and slew the Slaughterer that killed the Ox that drank the Water that extinguished the Fire that burnt the Stick that beat the Dog that bit the Cat that ate the GoatâŠand so on.
As such, there was that experiment with epistolary fiction, but without an outline or even an idea. I chose two of my old characters one from one novel and another from another novel, and without any central concept or direction, I had them write letters to each other. Voila! A new story was born, however incongruous.
All these, I fool around with in a note-book, not the kind that comes inside our computers but the old-fashioned wire-bound one. It is more fun to let the ink flow onto the paper.
I have always been a lover of free-flow; however, free-flow I can do on the computer just as well. These things I am experimenting with are better suited in wire-bound notebooks, lest I mix them up with other work in the computer. Mind you, I am not saying serious work, because the word serious scares me, and I never do serious work with fiction or poetry.
Getting back to unserious, maybe in my next venture, Iâll try something else, by introducing a character smarter and more knowledgeable than I am. More knowledgeable is already done, as most of my characters are. By smarter I mean someone like a geek, someone who knows more science than the science that already exists and that we can research, then act like weâve known those fancy facts, all along. Geez, I think I just described an alien. How about another epistolary between that alien and Poppaea, Emperor Neroâs wife? A real odd couple that would make.
Now I wonder how many more bizarre ideas will take hold of me next?
|Tough morning! Miracle that I could finally manage to clean the laptop off the malware that sneaked in with Google Beta. I understand people need money from the ads, but sneaking inside computers just to flood them with ads negates the invention of computer technology and internet usage. People may just give up and go live other lives, like real lives interacting with each other face to face.
Weird thing is, the adware and malware have nice names like Webexenhanced, otshot, BTControlToolbar, Internethelper3, whitesmokebtoolbar, etc. (I think I forgot one of them, but it doesn't matter.) They try to make you think they are there inside your computer for a good reason. I don't know which one it was, but one of those wouldn't even let me search it through Google. It figures, right?
They even passed by Norton, PC Utility Kit, and Optimizer Pro. Years ago, I had anti-adware programs, too, but I figured, then, that they themselves were responsible for the occasional pop-ups I kept getting. So now, I try to clean up myself and use the PC Utility Kit at least twice a week, which the PC utility kit has the habit of dumping off the cookies from the sites I frequent, but that's little trouble, in comparison to the ads that won't let me open a page.
Of course, all the time I spent on these pests this morning doesn't make me immune to adware and whatever may pop up as the technology's sent-from-hell demons, but as they say, "Don't go in the kitchen, if you can't stand the heat." Lol!
|Reviewing other writers humbles me. There is so much talent on our site. Some of it is raw and needs to be polished, but that is a given. From where I stand, 99% of the ideas and the premises that start a piece are brilliant.
Reviewing makes me think seriously if my words can make the writing stronger and impactful, and if they are helping and encouraging the writer whose work I am reviewing.
Reviewing makes me research new facts and check upon what I know to validate what I tell to the other writer. Around my desk, right on the table and left on my shelves are my resources for grammar, syntax, and diction. Plus how-to books on fiction and poetry. I also use the internet; however, I donât totally trust the www, unless the site belongs to a school of higher learning.
Reviewing also encourages and motivates me to do better with my own work. I try harder. True, sometimes my work doesnât look like it, but I try anyway.
As to being reviewed: Peer reviews are helpful, usually, and they go much beyond proofreading. It is important to be reviewed by another writer, even if she or he is a novice. A non-writer would probably say, âI liked your workâ or âI hated your work,â without understanding what goes into writing certain a piece or what a certain genre requires. This is understandable because non-writers are not trained what to look for in that certain piece.
On the other hand, having several other writers looking over a piece not only results in critical feedback but also supplies the writer of the piece with a wide range of different opinions.
A first draft is rarely perfect, and my work, I consider, never to be perfect. Even if I havenât goofed on construction and grammar, chances are I have omitted some necessary areas and overdone others. Thus, I am open to suggestions and take negative critiques quite well; however, I donât let them define me or my writing either, because one has to allow some flexibility for differences in the personalities of the reviewers. For example, what may feel too sappy for one reviewer may be emotionally uplifting for another. In other words, we all have our special likes, dislikes, and biases, and these may differ from person to person.
Judging from the reactions of some writers who have received not so glorifying reviews, I understand it is very difficult to take the less than complimentary words from another writer. Even so, it is a good idea not to let any review to lower oneâs confidence or enthusiasm, and more significantly, it is important to keep on writing. As some clichĂ©s have the power of truth, Practice makes perfect.
| Most of the country is under the influence of an Arctic Vortex. The diagram of it looks like a funnel with the open end at the North Pole and the tube part of the funnel upon the Midwest and NorthEast to Southeast of the USA, which means the cold air is being poured on top of us.
With flights canceled, schools closed, hospitals treating the people for hypothermia and frostbite, and snow piles up to two feet in places, it is a good time to catch up on oneâs reading, under a blanket in front of the fireplace. Of course, Iâm dreaming of this, dreaming of the times when I was much younger. Where I am now, way down in South Florida, daytime temperature, despite the bright sun and blue skies, has dipped to 58 and nighttime temps to the 40s. This is the weather I like, not that hot as it usually is. I know it wonât stay like this more than a day, but I'm grateful for this tiny taste of coolness.
Even though I love the weather here today, Iâm dressed just as I would have been, as if I were living in the Northeast, courtesy of my blood thinning medication that makes me feel the chill more than anyone else. Chill or no chill, I still dream of my old home under the snow in moonlight with its tall oaks and two acres of wild backyard. I still feel like the times when I was young and didnât mind shoveling the snow at all.
In fact, I didnât mind the snow one bitâŠthen. Thinking about it, the whole winter memories of once upon a time, "has given my heart a change of mood," as Robert Frost wrote:
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
I take what I can get from life. I take the sun and the wind and whatever else comes my way, as existence itself is fleeting and free. Anything that I deem to go wrong is nothing but a plot twist in my life. The plot twists of life as an idea is not mine, but I read it online and loved it. Maybe it is the plot twists like the arctic vortex that give our life on earth its zest.
âBlow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
As manâs ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend rememberâd not.
From As You Like It--Act II, Scene 7
|Iâm not too keen on making resolutions, for if I canât or wonât keep them, Iâll kick myself forever and ever. On the other hand, resolutions are necessary, and they do help, even if people may falter somehow. Since I equate resolutions with promises, I just donât see me breaking a promise, especially to myself. My problem with resolutions are that when I falter, I give me a hard time through my inner mafia, equal to a black eye and a few broken bones, and this would be where my inner editor would find a new life.
As far as my inner editor goes, over the years, I have subdued him but not yet succeeded in doing away with him totally. Still, he is bed-ridden and not breathing well, and it would be a mercy-killing if I got rid of him this year. Could this be a resolution? Maybe, but what if I canât?
Where reading is concerned, it is covered. I read like a nut already. I have two kindles and a nook plus the flash drive with old stuff from Gutenberg.com, not to mention the books I check out from the library.
On the subject of writing, I write every day, true, but I have neglected free-flow writing during the last year. So, in the file in my computer, Iâll free write, even if for three minutes. And I wonât let this free-flow writing project get in the way of my everyday-writing project.
As to my everyday-writing project, on the days when real life gets in the way or my head just canât come up with new material, I write a book review, review someoneâs writing on WdC, write in my blog, or do all of the mentioned on the same day, time permitting. This has been my practice during the last couple of years, and I see no reason to change or add to it. It works as is.
Another resolution could be to write either to a prompt once a week or enter a contest on the site. After all, I did write a newsletter on writing to prompts. Shouldnât I take my own advice?
Today, I saw a quote on the web. âA comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.â That could be pointing to a most important resolution. I like to write what I like to write in the genres I like to write, but would it kill me to try other avenues?
Looking over my shoulder, did I just make resolutions even if the wording is iffy? Yes, I did. Now, I better keep them or elseâŠ