Monthly Archives: April 2014


I have no idea where this came from, only that I awoke with part of it going through my head in the middle of what was, indeed, a dark and stormy night. I don’t even know where it leads, if in fact it leads anywhere. But I liked the sound of it and decided to share. Enjoy.


Would it help if I said it had been a dark and stormy night? No, likely not. Better to tell the truth in a case such as this. Always better to tell the truth anyway but especially here.

It was night so of course it was dark but it was clear with plenty of stars visible and a crescent moon hanging directly above my head. The air was still, the leaves and branches on the trees stiff as if awaiting orders from some other realm. In fact, all of nature looked as if someone had hit a pause button somewhere.

What would happen when they finally hit play again? I didn’t want to know, only wanted to enjoy the momentary peace. But I was too tense, too on edge. I sat, unmoving in the shadows under the tree in our front yard, sure that the slightest sound might disturb the night’s slumber, might awaken whoever was in charge of the controls.

And then…and then it would all be over.


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A long, strange trip

As I drove through a series of small towns this past weekend, I was struck by how little had changed in the years since my last visit. I don’t know why. I know how this works. I know how glacially time can move in such places.

From the people swarming around the Dairy Dream on a warm spring night, to the teenage couple sitting on the steps of their house trying to decide what to do with their evening, to the ancient but still functional drive-in movie theater that has seen far better days. Even the plain brick newspaper building with the same old silver lettering out front.

It’s actually kind of charming when you’re just passing through.

Until you can’t find a gas station that is. Thank all the gods for my GPS and a late model car that actually tells me how many miles I can drive on what is left on my tank. Because I left the mid-sized college town thinking I had plenty to get me to the next station. I passed one and didn’t even notice it until it was in my rearview mirror. Oh well, I thought, I’ll get the next one.

Silly city person.

When I finally started to get nervous, I searched my GPS for the nearest station. Surely the people who live out there have to gas up somewhere right? It said it was three miles away. Perfect. I still had 15 miles left in my tank. But then the directions took me two miles in one direction and 17 in another. And I had already started the trek there. So I searched for the next one. Five miles away. And on the way, I saw the problem with the first station – it was part of a service plaza on the turnpike so I couldn’t enter it from the little country road I was on.

By the time I came up on the next small town, I had four or five miles left to my tank and had started imagining knocking on random doors for help. I was less than a mile from the Speedway before it came into view and I’d rarely been so happy to see one.

Reason 5,376 I love my big city.

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I’ve noticed my left eye twitching off and on lately. Most often, it happens after I sneeze, which is oddly common at work. Something about the air here makes me sneeze several times a day most of the time. A coworker compares our building air to airplane air and I can’t disagree with her.

I finally looked up what might actually be wrong and it seems that it is likely stress and the like. I can buy that too what with a couple of big events coming in the very near future. But I also found multiple entries on superstitions surrounding an eye twitch, both good and bad.

So, depending on what you believe –

–          I will soon be receiving money

–          A stranger will come into my life and bring happiness

–          I will handle difficult situations and become a responsible person (a backhanded compliment if there ever was one).

–          My plans will be carried out smoothly

–          I will be calm and patient in the future (yeah, right).

–          I will meet my soulmate (hmm…if there is such a thing, I’m not convinced she’s not already my sweetie).


 –          A close associate or family member is gossiping about me (I’m sure mom has nothing nice to say right about now so sure, why not?)

–          A death may occur in my family

–          I am going to lose my job

–          I will get into an argument with a family member and end up severing ties (a bit late for that I think)

–          My past secrets will be revealed.

–          Someone is plotting against me

–          I will run into debt/suffer a large loss regarding money.

Apparently it all boils down to making a lot of money or losing it all. Right then. I’ll continue avoiding the local casino.

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Zen and Baseball

If you know me and see me between April and October, it’s no secret that I’m passionate baseball fan. I’m glued to the broadcasts when they’re on and curse like a sailor when we lose which, unfortunately, is often.

A lot has been said about the philosophy behind the game. People have used it as a metaphor for life and how often you can fail still come out a winner. After all, even the best hitters strike out 60-70% of the time and a team can lose more than a third of their games and still have a pretty phenomenal season.

And yet, it’s a game where little actions can mean everything. A base hit can spark a rally. An errant throw can cost a team the lead or even the whole game. As Crash Davis points out in Bull Durham, the difference between making the big leagues and staying in the minors can be as small as an extra hit a week. The little stuff adds up.

All of this is what draws me to the game. I love the minutia. I love that the season is not just a marathon but a mystery novel – you can’t be sure what the important parts were until the very end.

The other night, I heard a different philosophical theory that is hitting me particularly hard. See, my team is not starting out well. We’re having trouble scoring, even our best pitchers are struggling to get outs, we give up leads as quickly as we get them. We’re a mess. As a result, one of the younger players was apparently lamenting the stats that appear on the giant scoreboard over the bleachers every time he comes to bat.

A veteran player told him, “The numbers on the scoreboard only represent what’s happened in the past. You can’t do anything about that. “All you can control is what happens from now on.”

Our t.v. commentator, who I usually can’t stand, went on for some time about the wisdom of this and said, “I don’t know why more players don’t subscribe to this.”

Because that is some seriously zen, Field of Dreams type shit right there. That was deep and I don’t expect most people, athletes or not, apply this as often as they should.

Obviously the concept of looking forward instead of dwelling in the past is not a new one, but I’ve rarely heard it in such tangible terms. Look – those numbers right there – in giant neon for the entire world to see. You may only see them as your failings, but those numbers are not you. Those numbers don’t represent your potential or what you will accomplish tonight, tomorrow, or the rest of the season.

You can change them. Go and concentrate on changing them.

God that’s…that’s huge. For once, I was glad to be watching the game on t.v. instead of listening to the radio broadcast.

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When I was a Christian, every now and then you would hear of someone who had been deeply involved in the church who suddenly left. Of course, much like most break-ups between individuals, it probably wasn’t as sudden as it had seemed. But such news was always offered with great solemnity and in hushed tones. Because how could someone do such a thing to such a loving, almighty God as ours? How could you leave such a place of perfect joy?

Meanwhile, there was always a small part of me that was a little envious. The last time I heard of such a thing happening while I was attending a church, I was already questioning my own beliefs. Eventually, I too began missing a few Sundays here and there, then quitting a few volunteer positions, and leaving altogether. It took me years. Sometimes I wonder what was said about me. How long did they hold out hope that I would return? Did they pray for me?

I no longer care. I have, as some would say, found my bliss. And I am freer, and more comfortable with myself than ever.

Funny how easy it is to assume that what is right for you is right for everyone.

When I first entered the kink community, the first event I went to that wasn’t at my home dungeon was out of town and held in a hotel. I carpooled and roomed with a couple of girlfriends and on the way out, we noticed that a small Christian congregation had taken over one of the smaller meeting rooms.

Of course, we laughed at the irony of what else had just happened at the hotel and moved on. But before we did, one of my friends giggled and said, “I feel like I should go to confession only – I don’t have anything to confess.”

She was much younger than me, barely of legal age to be at such a party. And she had this high, squeaky voice that perpetually made her sound like a child. I loved that she had come to the community so young, that she had figured out what she wanted and needed without so many of the hangups that those of us who come in later in life face.

Over the years, I saw less and less of her as she came and went, dated people out of town, etc. Life often gets in the way and pulls people in other directions so I didn’t think much about it. But I recently heard that she had left the kink community and turned to Christianity. A mutual friend only discovered this after being unable to reach her for some time and then running into her unexpectedly.

My first reaction was to be sad, sad that someone could leave such an amazing place of freedom and happiness only to –

Only to what? Find their own bliss? No, I can’t be sad over that anymore. The only regretful thing I can see here is that she didn’t return an email or phone call to let anyone know what was up. Otherwise? The choice, as always, is hers. I hope she finds the happiness she seeks.

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Too Soon?

Years ago, I had an idea for a series of short stories. I started a couple, even tried to research online while the internet was still fairly new. To give you an idea how long ago this was, I had them saved on a small floppy disc. I think it may still be around somewhere because those things are totally making a comeback someday. It’ll be like vinyl. Or not.

Anyway, I didn’t get far. I was moving a lot at the time, switched jobs a few times, and was newly married with a stepchild. There wasn’t a lot of time for such a project. But the idea has stayed with me, coming back to me every now and then and tickling the back of my brain with subtle reminders.

Suddenly, the reminders aren’t so subtle. While driving to work this morning, I thought about the stories I had previously started and realized one that I was particularly excited about would no longer work. The male lead was too much like my current male lead and if I went back to it I would feel like I was rehashing the same old territory. But other ones came to mind to replace it and there’s one I even got excited about starting.

Oh, and I have yet another, completely separate, novel idea floating around back there too. Because apparently, now that my brain has figured out it can actually finish a book, it is full of all sorts of ideas.

But once again, I’m in a serious relationship, now with a small business of my own, working full-time, with one series of novels in progress, and there still isn’t a lot of time for such a project.

Honestly, I find this a good problem to have. It’s tempting to complain, say “why can’t this wait for a better time?” But when would that time be?

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And now the wheels of heaven stop

It started as a joke. A way to make light of the fact that I was going to a kinky play party that would technically be ending on Easter morning. Why not play up the religious angle and make things a little extra naughty? But the implications of what we ended up discussing. The thought of actually turning my back on something I once held so sacred and mocking it. Sure it’s fine for others. But that’s them. They’re separate. This was me. This felt out of bounds, too taboo.

The emotions hit me hard and fast. Clearly my religious upbringing still had some hold on me and needed to be addressed. The only question was how? I considered a big dramatic ritual but quickly realized I was overthinking it. Maybe it didn’t need to be so solemn or so cathartic. Maybe I really could have fun with it while also making my actions meaningful to me.

But as I went about gathering what I felt was needed, it became clear that this was going to hold a certain amount of gravitas. How could it not? I thought about what sort of scene I wanted and imagined one where I would shed the necessary layers (in this case, a full-on Jesus costume) to reveal a confident, sexual woman.

The first two people I told respectfully bowed out. I could hardly blame them but it took them doing so for me to rethink my entire plan. Maybe I would arrive and simply gauge the energy of the group, talk to a few people and see if anyone was willing to go to this place with me. If not, I was determined not to be disappointed.

And then I talked to yet another party and he almost offhandedly suggested that it might be more meaningful if there was some sort of ordeal first.

Of course.

It would need to be an ordeal. I would need to be able to fight. After all, the Nice Baptist Girl didn’t die an easy death and her ghost occasionally returns even to this day. But could I do that in the space provided? In front of this audience and not offend half the membership? Likely not. Though I did talk to a few people Saturday who seemed supportive, including one who rather adamantly suggested that anyone who was offended could get the hell out, I was glad I decided to wait. There needs to be more thought, more planning into who is involved and what the expectations are.

Someday, the opportunity for such a scene will present itself and I will be ready. Until then, maybe it’s not even necessary. The Nice Baptist Girl is indeed gone and it may be time to simply let her go quietly.


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Crossing lines

Where is the line between irreverence and blasphemy? When do laughs and giggles turn to nervous titters? Are people – clergy, fanatics, even saints – fair game while deities are not? What about man made rituals? Does it matter if it is your religion or someone else’s?

I find the line is blurry. Clouded even by my own past, my own biases. And yet the urge to not just cross it but go so far over it that I lose sight of where it was in the first place is strong. It’s a compulsion, compulsory. If I can let it go, can I be less angry? Is it worth it to possibly offend those close to me in order to prove something to myself?

All these things are going through my head this morning. Sometime before tomorrow night, I hope to find the answers.

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So Many Words, So Little Time

“Words, words. They are all we have to go on.” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

In one of my first English classes in college, the teacher told us something that pretty much blew my mind. We must have been talking about some rule or other – it’s been too long to remember which one now – but part of our discussion included him saying, “You can break any rule you want, as long as you have a good reason.”

That was not something my little Baptist brain was used to hearing or expected to hear in connection with…well, anything. More than 20 years later? I’ve applied it to almost every area of my life. But more on that in another post. Probably multiple posts.

I can do math. I don’t like it, but I can handle the basics to get me through life. But it bothers me that everything is so black and white. So unchanging. Two plus two is always going to equal four. I know, I know, if you get far enough into the theoretical stuff, things get more interesting. But I’m never going to go there.

To me, math is multiplication tables and long division, figuring out how much 30% off my favorite shoes is or calculating an appropriate tip. The answer is always going to be the same – the shoes are still too expensive and even when I round up, I won’t make up for all the assholes who didn’t bother to leave anything.

But language is dynamic. Meanings of words change over time. Words can have multiple meanings. Context changes everything. Every rule has at least one exception. It’s fantastic and exciting to me.

Every sentence is supposed to have a noun and a verb right? Allrighty then. You’re not supposed to start a sentence with a conjunction? But I do it all the time.

The irony of course is that I also love and appreciate the precision of language. Saunter implies something very different than walk. Stare and gaze are very different than look. Defiance is separate from anger. The list goes on and on and the people I admire most are the ones who know how to use these words effectively, can pick out the exact right ones and make it look effortless, simple even.

I once got in a debate with someone online over how the word marriage was being redefined by those who advocate for same-sex marriages. At one point, the other person wrote, “but why should meanings of words change at all?” You could almost hear them whining through the text.

Forget for a minute that this is not the first time marriage has been redefined. I tried to explain to this person that language itself is constantly changing, that words often have different, disparate meanings. For that matter, definitions often depend on location. England uses words vastly differently than we do. Lift is a noun for god’s sake. I’ve seen Irish slang include “shower” to mean a “group of people.”

They weren’t interested in that sort of logic and we quickly went our own ways. But what baffled me was that this person wasn’t just homophobic but had taken that disgust and seemingly applied it to all language everywhere. Now, I can’t say I’m for all the changes that I see happening in English. I’m never going to accept “dominate” as a noun for instance. But it’s still interesting and I’m curious to see how language will continue to grow and adapt.

If I come back in 100 years, will I recognize it? Or will misplaced apostrophes be even more ubiquitous and send me into a murderous rage?

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A Most Dangerous Job

“Audiences don’t know someone sits down and writes a picture. They think the actors make it up as they go along.” Joe Gillis – Sunset Blvd.

Man, who knew being a writer could be such a tough gig?

The first two books I read by Stephen King were Dark Half and Misery – I was sure he had a death wish. Later, in college, I dove into Billy Wilder’s films and found, among other classics, Sunset Blvd. Suddenly, becoming a writer didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.

Sunset Blvd. helped spark a love for movies about movies though, and one of my favorites is State and Main. And though Philip Seymour Hoffman was among my favorite actors, he’s not what I love about it. Mostly because his character gets ignored. A lot. To the point that he is barely memorable in it at all. But at least the character survives the process. What is particularly disheartening however, is that after watching a documentary series about screenwriters, I have a feeling that movie isn’t far off.

If I say the names Bernie Taupin or Jim Steinman to people, I am often met with blank stares. If I say Elton John, Meat Loaf or Bonnie Tyler, especially to my fellow 80s children, I get recognition. Incredible because those last three wouldn’t be anywhere without the first two. Elton and Bonnie even seem to recognize that – two out of three ain’t bad right?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame includes a few early songwriting teams such as Holland, Dozier, and Holland; Lieber and Stoller; and Goffin and King. But when Elton John was inducted, even he seemed stunned to be up there alone. He actually called Bernie up and gave him the physical award. It’s one of the things I love most about him. That neither Taupin nor Steinman have been inducted baffles me and frustrates me anew every year.

So why don’t we value writers? Is it simply that we don’t see them? We see the results of their work but unless they are performing, they are nowhere to be found. And we certainly do not see the hours, months, sometimes years of effort they put into the finished product.

In fiction, I have a feeling that writers often take the opportunity to work out their own neuroses or describe their own experiences. Certainly as a horror writer, King had every reason to fear his own pseudonym or his own “number one fan.” And I have seen enough interviews with Wilder that I can hear that Sunset Blvd. quote in his trademark German accent. I would bet good money that line was his (he always worked with a collaborator but if you watch all his films, you start to be able to pick out his patterns).

But that doesn’t explain real life. Why do only writers seem interested in who is behind our favorite works? Is it that we value language in a way that others don’t? Is it that we do understand the sweat that so often goes into producing something of value?

I do get it to an extent. The brown dirt cowboy isn’t nearly as flashy as Captain Fantastic. On the other hand, if you’ve ever seen Steinman, he is, as Meat once said, “One weird dude.” You’d think he’d be worth a little more interest. Of course, it doesn’t help that both he and Taupin have that reclusive artist trait going for them in spades. It may actually be the only thing my two favorite songwriters have in common. Taupin fronted a band for two whole albums and among the reasons he listed for giving it up was that he had  inexplicably found himself a frontman. He went back to his ranch and his paintings and while I wish the Farm Dogs had done more, I can’t say I actually blame him.

I think a writer’s temperament must be very different from that of a performer. Some people can do both but many of us can’t. I know I’ve always preferred to be in the background rather than the spotlight. Keep me behind the scenes and I’m a happy camper. Make me speak in front of people and it doesn’t matter how passionate I am about the topic. It’s not my strength. Similarly, I’m better in print than I am in person.

All that to say I don’t really have an answer. I’m just fascinated by the recurring theme I keep seeing and much as I wish I could change it, I think many of us are happy back here behind our typewriters and computer screens.  Just feed us every now and then, pat us on the head and recognize we’re here. And you know, maybe don’t kill us. That’s not so much to ask is it?

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