Grim’s List Seems An Awesome Idea

I saw a beautiful tweet today. It seems my writing hiatus is ending.

 

Restless

As I post this, the rain has me trapped, and it makes me upset. This is unusual. I have a mad passion for thunderstorms, but not this one. My writing has had a major distraction. Mom came by and handed me something that steals my sleep, my attempts at writing fiction, and my ability to pay attention to anything anyone else is saying, because in my mind I’m revisiting places and capturing them in magnificent detail.

I now own a 4k camcorder and 2 tripods with bells and whistles. I’ll need a couple of lenses, macro shots on it suck and those are necessary for the plethora of bugs I’ll be chasing through the grass like I’m on a miniature safari. The zoom is awesome though. My eyes have gotten so bad I can’t see birds in trees anymore, but now I can not only see them, I can save them and see them again. Also, it has an excellent microphone and I can extract the sound track of beautiful areas.

I really like what I’ve done with the blog lately, turning my ramblings into quick notes under the flash makes it a better read, and I’ve gained a few more followers that way. But this camera… it’s a game changer.

I’ve had dreams, y’all. Dreams of doing things like going camping near where Bigfoot has been seen and taking nature videos and sound recordings out there, so when I do the thing where I put on my headphones and half of me starts pretending I live in the woods, it can be where Bigfoot lives. Or I can explore abandoned places, haunted houses, graveyards, murder sites, treacherous looking sites of urban decay, and play them back late at night when everyone is sleeping. Then I can stay up writing by the light of my adventures.

Last year ended in massive disappointment for me. My adventures in Staten Island ended and the only sightseeing I managed was on the island itself. I didn’t even get to see all the cool things there (though I did snag a couple of rocks from the mansion where a mafia hitman dismembered a dude). I was too worried about having someone with me if I tried to go into the city for safety and security. I don’t like crowds. I didn’t want to deal with a toddler while I was distracted sightseeing in that crowd, especially if I wanted to stop and write in the middle of a neat atmosphere. Joe was too tired on the weekends, and the weeks kept passing until I felt so much pressure that I ended up trying to take the bus multiple times and failed. Once there was this bus/foot race until I got sick on the side of the road (running with fibro and a low level migraine sucks), and there was all kinds of getting lost or confused about the bus routes.

I had my hopes set on quite a few things, like seeing Poe’s banister, drinking with the ghost of Dylan Thomas, and walking over the bones in Washington Square park. I even wanted more of just the island, seeing more of the crumbling cemeteries, nature preserves, the abandoned hospital… sigh.

I didn’t even get to explore inside the murder mansion because a van was parked in the front so I was worried someone was inside. Probably always parked there to deter “visitors” by the same person who stuck a mannequin in the window for the ghost hunters to see when they tried to take long distance photos to peek inside. I’d show you a pic but I lost it. I lost all my Staten Island pics except what was used on the blog when I decided to be a moron and not back up my documents.

Work directly from the cloud, people.

As I was saying, I had plans, goals, things I wanted to do. I wanted these places to inspire my writing, put more color to my fiction, possibly even end up in a little dark tourism style travel writing. But no, I couldn’t get my shit together quickly enough. The disappointment was enough to shut me up about my life, and make me stick to just the tiny little stories I manage to churn out in the moments the toddler is still.

Which ended up good. I enjoy rambling about my life, but meanwhile, the place started looking more like a collection of stories, and I picked up a few more followers from it. At first, I hoped to lick my wounds and then start applying what I wanted to a local level, then I would start talking about my life again.

After all, I haven’t seen some of the cool stuff around Tulsa that could thrill me. I’m not from the area and haven’t had a car until recently. So, I was going to take my little Craig’s list freebie camera around some of the sights, like the forgotten graveyard under downtown and the hanging tree near there, when Mom told me about the 4k camcorder she bought on a whim that has been sitting around her house, unused, for about a year. I can’t believe we’re related.

Therefore, I have been waiting. Spring is here. I have transportation, gas money, and an air popcorn popper. That last bit will help with the ravenous squirrels that swarm you in Woodward park, which is next to the haunted Tulsa Garden Center, full of flowers and bees to photograph. I have not gone on this wonderful little adventure that I have been looking forward to since January, as I have been waiting on this camera and spring. Now, both are here.

So are the thunderstorms for the next couple of days. And this isn’t one of those waterproof type cameras. Fuck.

What this all means for the blog goes a little something like this: not much yet. I don’t even have software to edit 4k or a desktop computer at the moment. But, I can export photos and it records in mp4 at the same time, so I can share a few adventures occasionally.

However, because I like the blog being mostly a chain of stories, these posts might happen on a day other than Tuesday (which will remain flash day), when circumstances permit me to have an adventure. I may end up reviving my old blog (which was nature oriented) just for those posts and link to them here, not sure yet. For now, I will resume weekly flash stories next week, while I figure out how to use this thing and wait for the rain to end.

Also, very soon, summer is coming. My teen will be out of school, and Joe already rented a beautiful place for the family to be together again. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be going back to New York. Not to Staten Island, though I will revisit a few things I miss pictures of. Long Island this time, where there’s an active serial killer and we have access to two back yards, one with a pool. Gonna be a great summer.

I hope the move goes better than last time.

20180903_122543_HDR.jpg

Zombies Just Wanna Be Loved

I am mortified at my lack of presence here lately. Every day I’ve been wanting to write, but couldn’t. Besides moving back to Tulsa (sigh), there were the holidays, and a few dashes of the kind of drama I don’t really want to go on about here.

And the unpacking, oh man the chaos. We left the trailer looking like a tornado went through it. I had to deep clean everything and start reorganizing before I could unpack. The two year old “helped”, so naturally it went painfully slow. I only found where she put my hair brush yesterday.

It wasn’t just that I couldn’t write, I couldn’t even find my coat and shoes for two weeks after we got back. I had to run around in my bathrobe and slippers that I was wearing for the drive down here. I’m still not done cleaning and unpacking. At a couple of points I was down with the flu. Also, with fibromyalgia, winter is always a struggle. And as I said in a brief update post, I didn’t even have a laptop cord for a while.

I’m throwing out a list of excuses, but there’s a point to it. I feel so guilty for missing so many posts, but the main reason is not how busy I was (that happens to everyone). It’s because I used up my emergency posts during the packing, move, and surrounding chores the first time we relocated in October. I figured my stash would build up again the way it was created, by occasionally writing an extra piece or two as relevant ideas occurred to me.

I mean, surely I wouldn’t need to dip into my extra writing folder too many times so quickly after depleting it, right? Sigh. I’m old enough to know better, and how tempted fates get mischievous. I want to be a professional writer and here I am skipping posts frequently.

So, I learned. I shall apply this lesson immediately. My next few posts will be brief, just a simple bit of flash, so I can focus on building up my stash again (during cleaning breaks). I’m going to pull a single tarot card out of my deck each week and use it as a prompt, posting the resulting story without any of my usual blathering on about aspects of my life that impact my writing, until I have a safety net back in place and my house is less chaotic. I mean, I’d say clean, but I love writing too much for that to happen.

P.S. – Post title is a song reference.

img_2543

Cake

I can hear their cries for the boy over the incessant banging. I know the ancient chest of doors barricading the door is heavy and sound, but I’m worried about the bookshelves covering the windows. Can they be tipped over the couch that locks them in place?

I smile at my new little friend, cold and muddy from his run through the forest. “No reason to worry,” I lie, “We only need to hold out just a little longer and help should arrive.”

“That’s what my dad said.” My heart sinks with grief at the insane cruelty of the human race. Whatever madness caused this mob, at least it will be easy to get justice for his family. “Well, help is even closer now. I tell you what, we don’t have to listen to them. Let’s turn up the radio really loud and go eat cake in the kitchen while we wait for the police.”

He held my hand and followed quietly, but I could tell that trying to turn his crisis into a party was a mistake. I didn’t know what to do other than to try and be chipper though, it’s what I’ve always done.

I pulled out the leftover cake I was fortunate to have on hand, and placed the chef’s knife next to it. “Would you mind setting the table?” I asked as I rummaged in the dishwasher for a pair of forks.

“M’am?” He asked shyly. I looked over my shoulder and froze as I saw the blade in his hand. “I’m not hungry for cake.” He smiled, and I realized I had been wrong to assume the blood on the corner of his mouth had been his own.

Sometimes you have to carry your home on the inside.

I have a recurring dream, one that always brings me comfort, though to some it might be considered a nightmare. There’s a place I visit, and when I’m there, I soar with freedom. Sometimes literally, because hey, dream. I know when I’m in this place again, not because I recognize it, nothing in it is ever truly familiar. It’s not the look of the land, it’s the spirit.

I might be walking down a prosperous neighborhood, admiring the occasional flash of stained glass and enjoying thrills of delight at lawn gnomes tucked discreetly in well-tended flower gardens.

IMG_2205

I’m always on the move, a quiet pressure deep inside urging me away from where I was, and onward to where I am going. Looking for something intangible, looking for something I can hold, something to satisfy the desire that can’t be filled.

Sometimes, I’ll admit it, sometimes I’m looking for something to steal. Stolen treasures are even more exciting. But I never find anything. There is nothing that calls to be mine.

Maybe I enter a home, only to pass through to the other side, winding my way through backyards and over fences. Maybe I turn down an alley, or take a shortcut across an empty lot. Maybe I stick to the streets and simply make another turn, and it all falls away to something else. A new neighborhood, a new adventure.

On this street, colorful laundry flutters in the air. Cautious eyes on strained faces peek through open windows while the sweat drips from their brow. The colors of the homes change from brick to adobe, and strong spices flow from a market on the corner.

A breathless push through the excited market might turn me into a rustic neighborhood of wood and pine, or one that likes to mix up its architectural style with a minimalist modern flare. Every street has something new, everything a gleaming snapshot of the shiniest treasures that area has to offer, be they succulent or depraved, glitters of the exotic or the luxurious, the serene or the mysterious, and always, always out of reach. No matter how simple the treasure I have found might be.

Always. Be it a lawn gnome, or a family sitting down at the table together for a meal.

IMG_2354

I never live there, I am always walking through, and everything I see is out of my reach, therefore exotic and exciting.

I know exactly why I have this dream, and I know exactly why it comforts me. I won’t tell you every detail, but I might hint that when I wanted to live in the woods, there was a reason it might have been preferable to home. Maybe more than one reason.

Those reasons stopped in my teenage years, and so did my attempts to run off and live like a feral child. I was always caught, but those moments of freedom wandering around unfamiliar streets affected me forever. To the point that they molded my dreams.

When I started riding a bike to explore, the dreams started sometimes taking on the feel of flying, racing along in pure joy up and down the roads. Never high enough to reach the sky, or even avoid cars without a lot of effort, but a nice smooth gliding flight that I had the joy of recreating when I woke up and got on my bike again. I don’t have a bike anymore, but I still fly through neighborhoods in my sleep.

When I lived on the street, the longing to be a part of the places I passed through grew to something more intense, darker, but comforting and familiar in its own way. The dreamy landscapes I wandered through grew more colorful, more diverse, more like an entire city contained in a small area, each street a representation of the best of all the towns I’ve wandered through, secret treasures and fascinations intact.

Know what reminds me of that oddly comforting dream, that recurring expression of an emotion I know no name for other than wanderlust? That word only expresses the desire, not the blissful satisfaction of something new and exciting washing over you in waves as you experience temporary release from despair (or, more recently, mild annoyance).

IMG_2013

Walking around Staten Island, that’s what. The smallest, greenest borough of New York City. A variety of cultures stacked on top of each other, some streets new and shiny and some streets cracking and mossy, and all of them beautiful.

If I were forced (well, persuaded by love) to live in pollution and population filled New Fucking York City, this would be the place to stick me. Home of protected marshlands, deer, subcutaneous egg laying sand fleas, and reputedly practically the whole damn island is haunted.

Seeing the state of many of these places, once shining and now peeling with grief, crammed right up next to homes oozing prosperous promises, I can see why rumors of ghosts linger. Also, there was that serial killer with his associated scandalous hospital, then the other abandoned hospital that’s supposed to be like an entire village, the mob hitman who cut up that dude in that mansion… Anyway, you know. Fun history alongside all that birth of our nation stuff.

IMG_2371

I want you to take a moment and put yourself in my skin, with forty some-odd years of that dream driving your spirit. Now add twenty years of living in virtual confinement, restrained by poverty, lack of transportation, and the life of a single mother struggling to get through school (before I met Joe), followed by a new bundle of joy and the chaining to the home that brings.

Then suddenly…

I’m living in a landscape that holds some of the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood of my spirit. The landscape around me mirrors adventures that have called to me for decades. I play in unexplored landscapes and unfamiliar cultures just when I’m walking to the store. Awesome.

As pleasant as this place is, it is still New York City. Exotic, challenging, and bold. I walk, and I look around, and I feel my soul taking it in to store for later, material for memories that will become stories and dreams. My inner life grows wealthier, my need for stimulation being fed.

And Joe is talking about possibly sending us back to Tulsa.

Oklahoma. Land of flat, dull, and boring. We don’t even have basements, or homes above shops. I grew up surrounded by people who picked on me for reading for fun. People who had no idea how to eat an artichoke and had never eaten shrimp and ask you what church you belong to when you meet because it’s assumed you are Christian.

I mean, okay I get it. When it comes down to it, our current housing situation is not going to work out for a multitude of reasons. It would be less expensive to ship us off, we could save money to buy land faster, and oh boy, I do want land.

But I haven’t explored Manhattan yet, and it’s December so it’s cold and Joe’s commute is twice as long because of shoppers and tourists. I don’t think I want to face that crowd. Stuck in traffic that long with a hyper toddler, not a good idea either. If I were alone, the crowd and cold would just be part of the adventure, but I just can’t do it to her. I was hoping to visit the city with her in the spring, but now I hear I might not even be in the city over Christmas.

I had my heart set on so many things. I won’t get to tour the best graffiti, or eat a dandelion in Central Park. I might not even get a chance to see Poe’s banister before we leave. I did get to gather seashells with my daughter, and I do admit the beach was lovely (if you admire the tragedy of urban decay and can vaguely enjoy the horror you feel while you watch trash bobbing in the waves).

IMG_2075 - Copy

I thought I would be here for a year, and that I wouldn’t have to be apart from Joe again. I wanted to walk through Washington Square park while wondering how many bones I was walking across. I wanted to drink with the ghost of Dylan Thomas. Now, instead, I may be going back to the trailer. To paint the walls in a vain attempt to inject optimism and a woodland theme into my life.

Or, as I was informed this morning, perhaps we’ll be moving to Long Island, with an actual view of the ocean. It would be longer until we saved enough for land, but we would stay together and I could continue my plans for the rest of the year.

This should be earth-shatteringly good news, a possibility to cling to, but it’s just making me worried it won’t happen.

Once again, I’m not sure of where I will be and when. The way possibilities keep popping up, then fading away around here, that might be going on for a while. In a way, it’s cool. All the possibilities have positive eventual outcomes, even going back to the land of flat, dead, and boring will lead to land, so I know I can adapt.

It’s just that, well, humans are complicated creatures and the seed for adventure isn’t the only thing in my heart. Lots of stuff lives there.

Fucking anxiety and PTSD to name a couple. Know what stuff like that doesn’t like? Instability. Unpredictable futures. Trying to get settled in, and just when you do, it’s time to move again. I totally signed up for this journey, I just didn’t realize it would jump around so much or move so fast.

I am not reacting well. Thankfully, middle age doesn’t just come with wrinkles. It also comes with a lifetime of experience and skill sets to stave off the waves of panic attacks that would have been hell in this situation when I was younger.

And I have a brand new, shiny skill set that hasn’t even gotten boring yet. Bullet journaling about organization, a routine, pain solutions, family meals, standard life skills that will remain consistent no matter where we live or what we are doing. That helps.

I mean, I just got a new journal for 2019 a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve at least started notes on collections for more than half of the pages, so apparently it’s helping quite frequently. I have to say though, copying recipes from Pinterest into my BUJO is the most white girl thing I’ve ever done. At least I don’t think I’ve been so drunk that I’ve lost a shoe in public.

P.S.- I finally caved and got Scrivener, and had one of those moments where angels sang in chorus while light radiated so hard my hair blew back. I’ve already started a bullet journal page with custom icons.

P.P.S. – Posting Tuesdays now. I tried posting when my views were at their peak, apparently that is not a good strategy to get more views on my blog.

Celebrating My Inner Domestic Goddess

This week, I’ve put my projects aside. Mucking through the aftermath of a sick household made me start to see that it’s far too easy for me to let my home fall into total disrepair. It might be time to re-balance and organize my primary job as Mommy. If that job is more efficient, I will have more time to write.

Naturally, there is only one method that someone like me would use to do such a thing, because I need rulers and colored pencils to be a large part of my life. So, I bought a brand new bullet journal to start setting up for 2019.

IMG_2401

I have sketched out a habit tracker for every month and planned or already started collections for meal planning, holiday menus, chore maps and scheduling, etc. The dates and calendars I am making might be for 2019, but the collections and task organizations I can start using now.

IMG_2398

I’d show you more pages, but my eyes are horrid. I can’t make text clear to me even when I’m reading, photography of text does not work out well.

I’m excited though. A new pair of glasses has finally climbed up to the top of our priority list, I’ve already had the exam, and I’m stoked. I was told I would never see clearly again, but apparently I didn’t understand that was with single vision glasses. It looks like bifocals might end up being life altering.

I have to wait a few days, but hopefully both my art and my photography will improve. It will certainly be easier to see if my camera is in focus. It will make drawing easier to do, but I’m also hoping it will make it easier to control my fingers, I know fibromyalgia will keep my fingers stiff but maybe better vision will help hand/eye coordination.

Once I get my shiny new glasses I’ll post a few more of my favorite pages.

Come to think of it, the story has a lot to do with adaptation itself…

I miss one major thing about the trailer. Magnificent childproofing from one end to the other. Even if I didn’t get time to retreat to my writing desk where I could write uninterrupted, I could still place my laptop on the bar, out of her reach, and write while sitting on a bar-stool. All within reach of my coffee pot, and an easy view of Princess Tomboy wherever she may be.

It is not so easy to write around her here. Every room has nooks and crannies I need to keep her out of, there is no spot where I can see all the places she likes to play. And chores keep eating up my “yay, the baby is sleeping” time.

I mentioned recently that I realized I can get writing time on walks, but it’s starting to get cold, so walks will get shorter and then non-existent soon. But I will persist.

I’ll carve the time out relentlessly, until I find enough solutions to give me what I need to focus. In the meantime, I have tricks to try to keep reminding me of my current story-lines, so I can work things out in my head.

This sounds better in theory than practice. Most of my papers in college were worked out in my head during chores and showers before I sat down to write them once my son went to bed. He was older though, and she is at an age where she is far more distracting and exhausting.

Thankfully, my tricks will let me keep the motivation to snatch whatever time I can, and when she distracts me I have continual reminders to pull my head back in that game, so that hopefully (by the third or fourth try), I can finally manage to finish a train of thought.

Ambiance noise is a big part of it, sounds of wolves in a thunderstorm kept me company when diving into The Raven, sounds of busy urban settings are helping me nourish this particular story.

I go about my day with my noise-canceling headphones helping me maintain a suitable environment, and I doodle in small bursts when she lets me, something easier for me to pick up and put down than writing. Though the distraction does seem to decrease the quality of my art.

Ah, the sacrifices we make in the joy of raising our little chaotic monsterlings.

Here is how I’m maintaining focus on a story to illuminate the word Grim, for my Poe’s Raven Eggs project.

IMG_23102

I doodle on this and keep my notebook near, jotting down bits and pieces to organize and develop as soon as I get the chance.

IMG_2332

This particular bit was me focusing on sensory details, in preparation for an exercise I like to do based on what I learned in the book A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings by Mary Buckham.

My next step is to come up with a setting and put my character in it, and just imagine it from their point of view for a little bit, allowing the passage to show characterization through how they react with the environment:

The air is turning crisp, each breath slightly sharp and refreshing, with the bright scents clear from the morning dew. Low clouds blanket the sky, allowing me to stray a little further from the safety of the tunnels, to stay in the open air just a little longer, enjoying the fetid breeze from a nearby dumpster, ripe with the heady aroma of aging meat.

The comforting scent of wet stone, the quiet hollow shadows, glittering glass reminding me of the old caverns and their hidden sparkling treasures, a home lost to me so long ago.

The occasional echoing screeches from the heavy machines, twisting and echoing in the tunnels to distort like the cry of raptors singing the joy of the hunt, cheer my soul.

At this point, I know where I’m going to go with the story, and I do have to say that this process has helped. Only because it’s chaos here as the toddler grows stronger, faster, more cunning.

I was really worried as I worked on the picture of the Raven’s nest (which I want to redo soon). Ideas didn’t seem like they were coming, and I was in dismay that I might have to face the possibility that I had the dreaded writer’s block.

Thankfully, It looks like I’m carving my own way out just fine. Slowly, but I will persist and I will adapt.

She’ll grow up people watching while I feed the birds in parks.

What a relief. For a few weeks now, I’ve been diligently indulging my creative process, but writing just wasn’t happening. Only one or two days a week have ended up with me writing more than a paragraph or two of actual fiction since I moved here.

Not for lack of trying. I filled my head with the symbolism of Raven, Yew, and the lyrics of Poe. I listened to mountain wolves howling in a thunderstorm, imagined the setting around me back in Poe’s time, and kept my writer’s journal within quick reach.

When occasions to write did pop up, they were brief and distracting. Too many days of errands. Too many frustrations and complications settling in to a new home and routine. Too energetic of a toddler testing every tiny dangerous or irritating thing in her new environment.

I was writing, a little, but all my ideas seemed empty and none of them shined any more than the others. My focus just stuttered and fizzled, and nothing seemed to be developing into anything worthy.

I finally had one of those moments though; when something so obvious hits you that you feel embarrassed for missing it for so long.

I’ve already been wanting to go to cool places to write, to creatively express certain atmospheres. I’ve been thinking of it as a tourist activity, my family keeping an eye on her while I jot down some notes inspired by the location.

But why do I have to wait for them to be with me?

We take a lot of walks. When Princess Tomboy starts trying to see if the curtains will work as a swing, or what the loudest banging noise she can find might be, a long walk is just the thing to settle her down. We spend most of our morning on strolls with my Craig’s list freebie camera at the ready for interesting natural treasures.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So why on earth haven’t I been stopping places for a quick little picnic and some light writing? If I can find a way to keep her entertained while she’s safely strapped into the stroller, then I will have the ability to focus on something without worrying about her.

I mean duh, field work is basic routine exercise for art, photography, and writing. I enjoy them all, and have been doing different kinds of field work since I was a teen.

Right now, my monsterling will only stay quiet for a minute or two while I try to grab a quick bumblebee close up, but if I work with her enough we might find some ways to extend that to a few minutes to write, or even start doing some sketching on location.

I know several places I’d like to revisit, including numerous cemeteries that seem to be hidden all over the neighborhood.

IMG_2089

One in particular has stones half hidden in the grass, stones so old the names faded away, a spot that dates back to the original Dutch settlers of the area.

But wait, there’s more.

IMG_2001

Abandoned places eaten by vines and graffiti. Moss-covered stone walls flanked by polished stone lions. Homes that tell the story of decline over the generations as new homes rise up next to them bursting with prosperity.

Crumbling nooks and crannies full of moss and twisted trees pushing up patterns in the sidewalk with their roots, reminders this was once all old growth forest lush from the ocean air. Were there wolves still sometimes roaming the edges of the city back in the time of Poe?

Places that tell stories. Places where I might have to plop down on the sidewalk to spend a moment with my writing, but I certainly can do so, as long as the toddler is content with where we are.

Just knowing that I’ve found a way to protect my writing time was enough to get my inner muse talking smoothly. The realization happened in the morning and by the evening several shallow ideas clicked together into a shiny multifaceted idea quite worthy of illuminating Grim.

It reminded me of how all I had to do in Tulsa was set up a desk all of my own. The next thing I knew, everything started clicking into place and my notebooks filled quickly.

I finally hear the cracking of an egg as a young story is ready to emerge, and it will be nurtured as I explore the city. I will learn to take my protected writing space with me, adaptable and persistent.

I have totally got to get my hands on some native seedbombs for pollinators and wildlife to leave around me while I explore. I’d have a blast doing it slingshot style.

P.S. – On the top menu is a link to a new page, inspired by too many sessions of fumbling around for links to text curious relatives and neighbors that want to see my writing. The Guided Tour lists some of my favorite bits of my blog.

The Eggs Are Starting To Mumble

I may not have done a lot of writing for this week, but my enjoyment of this poem just keeps going up. I figured that by this time I’d be wanting to move on to my own words, but instead I decided I want to memorize it, write it down, make it pretty, and carry it with me everywhere.

IMG_2196

I know the colors are a little saturated for a lord from the Night’s Plutonian shore, but I’m wanting to do a wax resist. It’s been so long since I’ve tried that, I might as well say I’ve never done it before because I don’t remember a lick about it. If I ruin my raven in the process, I’m gonna cry.

IMG_2188

And then do another one because I might ultimately be wasting my time, but let’s face it, I’m a housewife with a very active baby girl who seems every bit as adventurous as her momma. I just want need something to do that keeps me sane in the middle of chaos, even if it’s not churning out a lot of writing at this point.

I will though, I have shadows of meaning lurking in the corners of my imagination, tantalizing me, whispering my name from the branches of barren, twisted trees shrieking in the wind.

A few brief pieces have fallen from my head this week. I was browsing around and ran across a prompt for a beautiful sentence, and right then and there I surprised myself with this:

In silence, I caress the silk, months of my strained eyes and pricked fingers as I stitched the delicate symbols, stained with the blood of my labor, and now my fresh tears as I know that as I finished the shroud I must finish his life as well.

So my ability to come up with flash seems to be improving. That’s nice. Not sure if it was because of this project or the skill books I’ve been reading lately. I’ll be writing up a page on those soon, a recommended reading type page.

P.S. – I have decided that rather than posting with a loose deadline of “sometime on Thursday”, I’m going to make it a scheduled posting at noon on Friday and see if that doesn’t help me reach more people.

Raven’s Eggs

Restless in the new place, anxious to start writing again, but we haven’t fully settled in to new routines yet. I’ve lost my protected writing time now my helper’s school is back in session, and I feel kind of lost in every space I try to claim as my writing spot.

I’ve had an idea for a while though, and a few things I’m focusing on came together in a way that makes it the perfect project for now. It won’t get me churning out material right away, but will allow me to slowly savor the process for a change, a chance to see what happens when I slow down and rely more on the art side of my creative journaling.

I would like to see what happens if I illustrate a story creation process, using art alongside words to help me maintain focus while I mull over concepts.

I think of it as illumination, a modern form of the scribe’s artwork back when the bible was the only printed story in town. I feel that creative journaling is more about capturing your own essence and experience, but this is journaling the birth of a story. Sometimes very productive, sometimes just a lot of fun.

Only this time what I want to illuminate is the process of illumination, images that express one method of developing a story this way,  images that can serve as references so I can tape a pretty list of my favorite writing exercises to the wall. I will put more effort than usual into them, slowing myself down to a crawl.

Lately, my inner muse has been stuttering. If I slow down and focus on the minute details of the process, will the next few stories come out with more confidence even in a distracting environment, the way slow deliberate movements in Tai-Chi are supposed to help you move instinctively?

Will I get more ideas? Better ideas? Or will it be a waste of time, an excuse to focus on something that ultimately will distract me, an artful form of procrastination similar to seeking out your protagonist’s favorite color or high school mascot?

Then an image came to me that promises it definitely won’t be a waste of time, because what I see will completely capture my current mood and excitement, making the project a nice reminder of this point in my life.

Since I’m not actually a tourist, I haven’t gotten to start my spooky tourism yet, but I’m psyching myself up by browsing the complete works of Poe. One of those things happened where one thought hit the other, and now there is this:

IMG_2109

The first step is to find the words. Guess where the words are from, go on, guess.

IMG_2103

I plucked an assortment of pretty words, loosely sorted them into three groups of seeming emotion or meaning, and my favorite word from each group will be the driving concept. Each egg will hatch a story inspired mostly by exploring that word, but how the word develops will be shaped by the archetype of the Raven, especially aspects of him that Poe seemed to admire when studying his forgotten lore.

Bring on October. I’m coming for you, Poe’s banister. And I bring tribute.

Updates:

Not an earth-shattering project, but one with updates nonetheless. It is turning out to be helpful while I adapt to a new environment and routine, and it is helping prevent a total stall to my creativity.

9.28.18 – Small Raven feathered plot bunnies are stirring within at their eggs. This poem is with me everywhere, in everything I do.

10.12.18 – I feel a little silly when one solution for writing time finally occurs to me.

10.19.18 – Still struggling with my new environment, but I will persist and make a way to make this work. A story for one word is finally developing nicely, I know exactly what I want to do, I just need to find the time to write it.

10.26.18 – Couldn’t resist sharing some world building in story form. I know what I want to express about all the stories, this week will be about getting rough drafts finished for all of them. They will be developed at the same time, so shared when revision is complete.

 

 

Boing, boing, boing.

This week, I dove headfirst into a semi-distraction. One that will help my writing in the end in more ways than one, even if it doesn’t seem connected at first.

Also, it may look like I’m about to lapse into irrelevant whining. Stick with me. This is for writers, I have no intention of boring you with details.

I mentioned that hunting dinosaurs helps me with my goal of whipping my chronic pain into submission, so I can go camping. I can afford equipment and the occasional road trip now, after all. Can’t let pain hold me back from that one, I have bigfeet to meet.

Exercise can relieve the pain of fibromyalgia. Not at first though. At first, it gets worse and it’s kind of hard to tell if I’ve sprained something, or it’s just my nerve endings being idiots and panicking like wussy little bitches again.

So, I take it slow and gentle. My dumb ass has certainly pushed myself too hard in the past, and then gone and made recovery a slow thing because it’s hard to tell if I’m walking around on a real injury or not.

Luckily, milestones still happen even when taking it easy. I’ve finally reached the flexibility that I had before I got pregnant with my daughter. This milestone is simple, but opens a lot of possibilities.

I am now flexible enough to start learning to belly dance again. I was struggling with simple moves when I got pregnant, those isolations are magnificent physical therapy.

Plus, I realized that I have some resources now. I can afford some simple equipment to make my routines more effective. And I realized something else, too. I would be seeing Joe in a month, and that might not be time to lose a lot of weight, but I can get as toned as possible.

So, I splurged, bought some simple equipment from Walmart, and have been using it to work out my nervous energy and excitement. I’ll be seeing him at the end of this month. Bouncing on a ball and kicking in delight is certainly my mood.

All week long, instead of writing I’ve been working on learning to use my new stuff, motivated by my girly crush but incredibly happy that a side effect will be more mobility and (drumroll) better brain health, increasing the circulation my brain needs for writing.

A lot of skill books I’ve been perusing lately (both meanings) have mentioned the connection between writing and exercise. Julia Cameron frequently praises walking and its merits for the creative person. Jordan Rosenfeld praises the merits of moving around so much she makes it part of the learning process for her chapters in A Writer’s Guide to Persistence. In Fire Up Your Writing BrainSusan Reynolds gives the neurological benefits of increased circulation from sustained exercise on brain health, making the general task of writing more efficient.

That’s just the stuff I’ve run across in the last couple of months. I know I have things from school that talked about the neurological benefits of exercise. It also has the indirect side effect of increasing discipline and energy, both traits put to good use in a writing practice.

Anyway, it’s nice how it all comes together. Like when you shop at thrift stores because you’re broke, but you realize that you are also conserving resources, and you know your money goes to a charity rather than “the man”. Never do anything for just one reason, it’s a waste of time.

Now I can dance and play for beauty, for relaxation, for health, for mind, and eventual awesome nature adventures (likely to provide content for my writing). Naturally, I will also dance to awaken my muse.

As long as no one is looking, I get a chance to dance through imaginary and exotic locations while dreaming up adventures far away. Seductive little plot bunnies will lazily drip from my fluttering fingers. The kind of daydreaming that can happen when relaxing and gently moving while listening to music can do magic.

IMG_1816

P.S. – I want to just straight up talk to people in chronic pain now. Those with no need to hear can wander off, this is where I hid the boring details.

Please move around as much as you can. You don’t have to work to the point of pain and buckets of sweat, especially if, like me, you are an idiot with a history of pushing yourself to the point of injury. Just start with something gentle, and do a steady pace so you don’t burn out or overextend.

If there are things that you can’t do, find something you can do. Find things that feel good and provide immediate pain relief, like yoga or water aerobics (YMCA sometimes provides classes if you need more than internet instructions).

I have friends with chronic pain that only faced it with medication and rest, and as the years went on, they collapsed under the weight of it, to the point that they can’t live a life without assistance. I’ve seen people rely on medication, and end up adding opiate addiction to their list of problems, and it looks a lot worse than pain alone.

I’ve had friends with conditions that will always prevent certain exercise (especially spinal conditions) that still do what they can as much as they can, and they live independently. My own experience shows me that if I don’t move around when I start getting sore, I am asking for a very limited life full of pain.

My experience has also shown me how limited money can be, and how priorities often put frivolous things, like simple equipment for physical therapy, aside.

This is what my most recent shopping spree has taught me, and what I want to share with you.

If you suffer from chronic pain, but you’re flat broke and you can’t justify spending $15 on a stupid foam roller or a bouncy ball, do so anyway (if your doctor agrees). Don’t starve, but maybe eat beans rather than hamburger helper a couple of times. Or, see if you can make your home more resource efficient to lower your bills. Turn off more lights, block drafts, that kind of stuff. Find a way to work simple equipment in, it’s worth the investment.

I’d start with a stability ball. Don’t worry about an instructional DVD. Apparently you have internet access, and YouTube is full of instructional videos. Sitting upright and doing slow clockwise and counter clockwise circles with my hips feels sooo good when my lower back locks up. When my upper back is stiff, resting across the top of the ball can really help me open it up for some relief.

The foam roller “hurts so good”. It confuses your nerves into submission. Be careful of your lower spine, and don’t worry about fumbling around like an idiot at first, you’ll get the hang of it.

Other stuff, like walking weights and yoga blocks are optional but inexpensive. They can help you reach your goals more quickly and give you a wider range of options. The more options you have, the more varied and effective your routine becomes. I am reaching areas that need work more easily now.

My best weapon against pain, yoga, doesn’t require any equipment and the internet is full of instruction. I started doing it when I was 14 and my back started hurting. Because I mostly use it for pain control, I can’t do anything super impressive. Just knowing a handful of moves that alleviate my most common pains has been a great way to get more comfortable.

It feels great, and it doesn’t require getting sweaty. Plus, yoga teaches you to listen to your body, and that is a great way to prevent pain from bad posture. You become more aware of areas under strain, adjust your balance to soften the pressure, and your muscles are stronger to help hold you in the new posture.

When pregnant with my son, I was forced into inactivity by bedrest (preeclampsia). Before I was pregnant, my pain was just some annoying bad back stuff and old injuries that refused to heal right. Sometimes they would spasm, but I hadn’t reached the point of thinking anything was seriously wrong.

After he was born, I was crawling on the ground in pain. I had lead an active enough life, walking and biking everywhere because I’m not fond of cars, and the muscles had prevented a lot of my pain. My reaction to sudden weakness and the pain that came with it was to sit on a heating pad and rest.

That wasn’t a good idea, and I spent a couple of years where a week out of every month I had to use a cane. When I started walking instead of taking the bus, struggling through the pain that wanted to hold me back, after a few months I was able to put my cane aside and I haven’t needed it regularly since.

When life forces me into inactivity and I start exercising to recover, there is a certain point were even though I’m moving gently, post-exercise stiffness kicks in and adds another layer to my pain. I’ve learned to love when this happens.

For one thing, the best way to deal with it is to stretch. Get up and move around, work it out. This means it just reinforces my goals, and I start working a little harder, but stretching feels great so I don’t mind.

The next phase is just around the corner, and it’s a great one. The pain starts moving from my joints to the surrounding muscle, and then shortly after that my overall pain starts decreasing.

Stiff muscle pain means they are healing, growing stronger tissue, that stronger tissue starts cushioning my joints and my nerve endings, and makes it easier to hold correct posture for longer periods of time, preventing some of the pain from occurring in the first place. Reward.

This is why I’m drawing out this long, personal, and probably somewhat boring story. If you have pain, and you’ve tried to work it out, but it just got worse and you gave up, as long as your doctor is okay with it, consider trying again. Keep your Epsom salts and heating pads on hand, and work out stiffness with stretching.

Not every condition is like mine, but if your doctor has been a jerk harassing you about exercise, please give into it. You’ll recover some of the bits of life lost to pain.