Blog started in Jan 2005: 1st entries for Write in Every Genre. Then the REAL ME begins
It Hurts When I Stop Talking
Sometime in Fall of 1998, when a visit from Dad was infrequent, and primarily at the mercy of his 88 Toyota making the 50 mile journey, I was being treated to lunch. The restaurant was my choice, I think. Sisley Italian Kitchen at the Town Center mall was somewhere my dad had not yet tried, so that was my pick. Either I was being treated to the luxury of lunch and adult conversation without my husband and 5 year old son in tow, or that's just how the moment has lodged in my memory. The more I think about it, they probably were there, but enjoying the Italian food too much to bother interrupting.
Daddy and his lady friend at the time, Anne, came up together and made a day of it with me and the family. We were eating together and talking about some of my scripts, stories, coverages, poems and other creative attempts that really were not seeing the light of day. I think I'd just finished a group reading of The Artist's Way and was in a terribly frenetic mood over my writing. I think I'd just given them an entire rundown on a speculative Star Trek script.
My Dad asked me point blank, “Why don’t you write it?? Anne agreed. It sure sounded like I wanted to write it. Why wasn't I writing seriously? It's what I'd set out to do when earning my college degree in Broadcasting many years earlier.
Heck, I should, I agreed non-verbally.
But, I didn’t.
Blogs can be wild, unpredictable storehouses of moments, tangents, creative dervishes, if you will. I'm getting a firmer handle on my creative cycle. My mental compost heap (which is a catch phrase from Natalie Goldman or Julia Cameron - I can't think which, right now) finally seems to be allowing a fairly regular seepage of by-products. That may be a gross analogy, but I give myself credit to categorize my work in raw terms. It proves that I'm not so much the procrastinating perfectionist that I once was.
Still, I always seem to need prompts and motivation. Being a self-starter is the next step. My attempt to keep up in the Write in Every Genre Contest at the beginning of the year seemed like a perfect point to launch the blog.
|A life slice -- Thought this morning I should write a short story (recollection or fiction not sure yet) about what I remember about turning nine. I have a niece turning nine this month. In mulling my own childhood over, I knew tht I wanted to recall the birthday party attended by my entire 4th grade class (I was out several months of school due to a surgery). The large Magnolia trees in the park across from our house...I'm pretty sure my mom must've supplied a pinata. The other thing I recall was all the at-home study I had to do on the explorers (de Gama, Columbus and such).
Details of that year not as clear as even earlier...when we lived in San Pedro: I have so much memory of the exact structure of the stairwell for the Apt we lived in. since it was two or three sets of stairs, which my mom had to help me up (leg braces and/or full leg casts on a three year old -- imagine that!
|NextStage, Story Number..., and What it is -- Why it is important labels are three interrelated ideas Iam puttting down this morning. Suddenly it is like 10 weeks of lockdown layered by a week of local curfews have appeared in the form of these ideas. Not so much working for someone or "getting a job" "side hustle" but creating my lifeswork based on all the things I have ever remembered / valued. I am certain that it has crystallized now after a mind space of three and a half hours with little need for conversation, while being focused on trying to make it home by curfew on June 2nd.
Everything from my enjoyment of the space program (viewing the live televised record of U.S. spaceflight; stages of rockets) being referenced in the name, NextStage. To the distinction that I am the family member responsible for numbering Mom's recollections in the form of, "Story Number ... (unearned, I think) at Mom's recent (February 2020) retirement.
; although, I am now seeing a way to utilize that as a website / business in making custom archival labels for family items that need to get passed on into the greater world, but not have their stories forgotten.
|Compared to some people seriously impacted by the economic consequences of the global pandemic, I am fine. I accept that this is partly by chance. I did make a conscious choice contractually, before layoffs and unemployment of so many occurred, which sustained my income until the end of 2020. Supported by a faith that things happen, not as a punishment, instead in response -- and that the law of good is acting for all, so I feel at ease on most days. I have been additionally helped by already living an existence unlike many others. Satisfied with less space, willing to live off one income, have one car and/or use public transit, have my grown children move in. I have been able to support local business with much in DoorDash orders. How will I look back on this and what does it say about me?
The one or two rough patches I have experienced did not even qualify for mental health counseling according to a contractor with Kaiser. Guess I should be grateful. I even found myself looking up the stages of grief. I think we are all going through that; some more than others.
|When I read or listen to other people talk about the experience of sisterhood, I know that my sister and I are not alien; there are ways that our experience fits all the norms. But after an unexpectedly brusque response to a disagreement -- See. I cannot even call it a fight -- I do not believe we ever have had a fight. I do not believe my spouse of 32 years and I have ever had a fight... Might not be factually true, as I can remember some solitary periods of isolated anger in the aftermath of non-fights. That's the way my brain rewrites the interaction into memory. So, I guess it is possible my memories are not an accurate reality, maybe...I. So, I wouldn't make a good witness in a criminal case, sure. But that doesn't make my brain's function a bad thing -- I think my relationships are good. Realizing that from the other person's perspective, maybe the relationship is "less than." don't know.
"Most of all, I worry that she is happy" is a late comment contained in a sister relationship piece I read today in this other blog archive
It does not specifically mirror our experience, but its wisdom still resonates for me. I encourage you to read it.
I struggle today, wanting to post it to her Facebook timeline as a message that we have sisterhood. I always thought that was enough. I asked her to realize I am sorry for however the pushback of my words set her apart from me. That would not be a final forceful declaration against her person, ever. The course of action she made as a suggestion was all that I was rejecting, not her. And in hindsight, I do not even know what was triggering about the suggestion (It had something to do with two words, which I no longer can recall...my mind's safety protocol...great).
Instead, I know I have to process in this slower, less direct and like so many people are learning to navigate right now...isolated manner, that is against my wishes.
In hindsight her request was not even unreasonable, we just got in a roundabout. Even with a few texts and a long-hand letter response from her, this is far from resolved. It's deeper, but for now she tells me she cannot plumb the depths with me. Everything (maybe not everything) has been dredged up onto the shore, and I am asked to sit here on the beach while it rots in the sun. She's walked away, offering to possibly come close enough again to the pile (and me) once its content has dehydrated and shriveled. Then we have to catalog wondering, what was this?
I rewrite the reference quote from the other piece to admit:
"Most of all I assume that she is happy"
My sister's unexpected response, like a baseball slider pitch served knowing that it's this batter's weakness, forces me to reassess my readiness. My beliefs about life and love have been colored by recent changes to environment and action, by physical truths, by any of the changeable perceptions that affect a human. Also true for my sister, but of course, hers is a different kaleidoscope. Life and love are constants. Society and different cultures do not all teach this directly, and also, we each individually easily forget. But just as I can accept that the grief of death is also love, the relationship strain for survivors is also life.
Existing together is hard. Existing apart is hard. And, in life and love, we have to learn to do both -- but few think to tell this as some great lesson for fear of scaring children of all ages (?) -- my guess. Clearly, not prepared, that's all I am pointing out. I can factually recall that many I know have already lost someone, but that doesn't mean one confronts one's own mortality, until one does. Is this part of what has been inserted on the path for my sister and I? Not sure. She is 9 1/2 years younger than me, and my only sibling. The age gap itself has already always been a factor. Another circumstance not in our control (our parents divorce) made our interactions few, but from my account, not strained. However, this is an area where I can see my ideal recall of no previous fights makes so much more sense.
Similar experiences cannot span the gap, it seem to maintain it, how could it not, with the brain I have that remembers simply, unnuanced? We both have our own families with spouses, and we live in different locations. Am I meant to pull off the winning double-header with no one else on base?
As I wait this out, because I know it is no game, I look back on when and how we've teamed or not. When have I done little just out of inexperience and lack of practice? How, without having to struggle, have she and I functioned together just as family should, and it goes without saying?
Preparing myself for a new season, one that may include uncharted territory, but hopeful that the errors and fouls of words become just a set of stats that can near change what the spirit of our sisterhood can always be.
|Confident in the next steps I take...yet I am going to give myself some development time. More Spanish under my belt, re-written resume if helpful. Working with and paying down my creditors. Staying healthy. Reading and writing on a schedule. Those five goals are probably my best Foundation.
|Sleeping dogs. (My oldest dog, Max, a Chihuahua mix sometimes referred to as a MinPin, is eighteen years old, and is currently snoring next to me.) For about ten days (and nights) I have noticed just how much my two dogs (and cat) sleep. I believe I never really took notice of it previously, because the work week puts the mind in a trance. By the time I am home, my concern is for my own relaxation, and so I am paying little attention to other beings around me -- which I see is sad. Now, joined in this global order to stay in place, I am an observer full-time. I also do think the animals are as bewildered as their people are to be spending time together / apart(?). I will tell you, these babies definitely still want their routine followed. The mealtime is demanded.
|As I anticipate the emergence from this cocoon of waiting, I open an email from a non-profit that has every year been on the fringe of my experience, but which I have never had the time/confidence to be a part of. Nicely, and deservedly, the group WriteGirl is being awarded in the Los Angeles Times Book Awards this April 17th with the Innovator's Award. Each year, a group of girls releases an anthology of writing from the efforts of its members and their mentors. The quote/practice below is from within the pages of the most recent, This Moment
Writing activity from This Moment: Take a journey of self-discovery
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.
Select one of the topics below. As you focus on that topic and reflect, slowly trace your finger along the path as a “walk through the labyrinth” and allow your creative ideas to percolate. When you get to the center, take a pause and use that moment to write down your ideas and thoughts. After a few minutes of writing, place your finger back on the center of the labyrinth, trace yourself back out, once again focusing on the topic, and then take a few more minutes to write. Cultivate self-awareness. Take time to reflect on past events and memories.
1. Mindfulness: Just breathe. How does my breath feel? How deeply am I breathing? What does the air feel like? When was another time when I focused on my breath or breathing? Describe that time.
2. Confidence: What does confidence look like? Who gives me confidence? When have I felt confident and comfortable?
3. Wisdom: Think of an animal you saw recently. What does that animal have to teach you about life? If that animal could speak, what advice does it have for you?
4. Emotion: Take a personal inventory of how you feel right now. How do you feel? Is there any part of your body that feels tense or tight? What are the sounds around you? Can you list all of them?
5. Inspiration: Think of a color you love. What are all the objects that you have seen in that color? What does that color make you feel? What is one memory you have where that color was significant?
|I am waiting to hear back about an opportunity. It may be the first step on the path "not taken," whether I am granted the opportunity or not. Having agreed to the possibility, already my thinking and planning has shifted. New ideas come through. Projects that have laid buried due to disinterest suddenly seem important again. I had some sense that the piles of things at home I wouldn't touch or treated with total disregard were the result of a cruddy insipid bout of depression that has been about me for months.
It has the potential to free me from a financial burden or two, if I manage the money well. Already it is freeing my mind to consider working somewhere new and/or working in a completely different fashion. If I really listen, I can trust what I am thinking is real -- that my wishing and planning as if it is my reality already -- and have confidence that I know what is best for me. So, again, a verification that all the little things in the world that have given me a thrill throughout my lifetime have purpose. Leading me to a wholeness of purpose that will define and redefine me should I allow;Is that a new definition for Legacy?
"A talent for making activity accessible" seems to me a better, succinct explanation for what I do, and better than any job title I have or will hold. I have that talent whether you are my charge and only eight or nine, or you take a workshop with me as an adult; it does not matter.
The Soundtrack of my Life
One beautiful memory from my relationship with my dad was the time he took me to see the stage play of Amadeus. Mark Hamill
portrayed Mozart, and a stand-in I no longer remember portrayed Solieri -- and I am not saying the actor was not memorable, he just was not F. Murray Abraham! (For those of you who have seen the award-winning film, you of course know that excellent performance.
I even forgot to mention at my father's memorial why I asked the pianist to play Mozart...that shared experience back in the Eighties was part of the reason. My father's life-long appreciation of classical music, of certain composers and musicians, of Public radio stations like, KPFK, or KPCC. He also tried to play, although he essentially drove my mom mad over the practiced repetition of Moonlight Sonata in the night.
Piano Symphony 11 in three movements Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart