I’m gonna miss you Jack;

 My subject line is a line from the Yo Gabba Gabba  good-bye song one of my patients loves so very much that I have it memorized. I bought it from Kristian and Steve. I keep calling Steve the Boss. They actually are partners, not in the "when will everyone keep their nose out of other peoples bedrooms" kind of partner, but in the "complete respect, friendship and shared profits" kind of partner way. Together, they own and run the best music store I have been in since the one where a young (and cute)hippie musician played me A certain Crimson King and enchanted me away from a strictly blues, folk (and closet opera) fanatic into a prog rock appreciator.  That music store became my only music source for two decades. The courtship of that mind-expanding, freedom filled summer  became the relationship bar that no other music store could ever reach again, until this year. 

The store in California (whose name I never did and still don’t remember but I can still drive there/hitch there with my eyes closed) was my last music store relationship. We broke up as my family and career expanded, it had always been a long distance liason, and now time constraints and the ready availability of free and cheap vinyl music just begging me to use it, made me forget my first love.

I revisited my first love on a pilgrimage with friends up the Pacific Coast Highway in 2005.The shop is old, vintage, and the owner, still cute and shorter than I remember is not so young either. But it was still there, on the corner of anyones’s way into San Francisco the last time I drove Route 1; and I still left with two new CD’s of music I didn’t know existed till I entered and couldn’t live without once I had. I also left with his business card and that achy bitter sweet taste of memories and a promise of lunch we never did.. I have spent the last couple decades of my life looking for that same kind of experience again, that first love rush of buying music from people who know music and talk music and embrace me with music like a family reunion hug..

Hoodlums came into my life like must true loves, kind of by accident. I may love music but I also love books. And my sons. Not necessarily in that order, although they may tell you it is. My youngest son lives in Tempe, AZ. And there was an apartment available in the same complex as he and his lady. I took it because the price was excellent and I liked being near my son. I also knew nearby was an Independent Bookstore I had frequented named "Changing Hands". They often hosted authors I appreciated like "James Owen" or "Christopher Moore", and even facilitated my addictive print habit by buying back books that I had completed for credit towards new books. There was a Trader Joe’s in the strip mall too. That actually is how I found Hoodlums

 I was walking with my new book purchase clutched close to my chest, off to buy some veggie sushi and a dark beer to go home and recover from the move I had just completed. Wherever I walk, I look in windows. And there it was, after the pub, a record store.

I certainly did not know how much this store would come to mean to me, at first glance it was attractively indie and the guy behind the counter was playing some kick-ass blues, but there was nothing to tell me that this would not be just one more browse and buy encounter. I went inside and threw my challenge glove upon the counter. I had a friend who used to play hair rock now plays classical guitar and could this guy recommend a good birthday present for him..three CD’s (which I gave and own now) and some conversation later I exited that store knowing that love really can happen twice in a lifetime.

 I am a little sad today because I am moving away, now. Not too far away to still go there a couple times a month but it is no longer walking distance from my home. I visited Hoodlums as a break from cleaning that apartment today (another son has a house I am renting in San Tan Valley but that is a different non-blog worthy story) and left again with two CD’s I didn’t know existed and now cannot live without and will be critical parts of my Nanowriting soundtrack. Music and words are integrally connected for me.

Today my taste in music is as eclectic as everything else I do or own, but now as then, I only have one record store.

Magical contagion and viral hope versus realistic anhedonia….

About a week ago, I saw John Lennon’s piano in the wood so to speak; the one he composed "Imagine" on, the one that toured in the name of peace. It has come to its final home in the Scottsdale, AZ, MIM.

Physically, it is a unprepossessing and somewhat battered Steinway, but metaphorically it is the womb of legend. In the pristine and silent museum I approached this shrine. Just outside my rational vision vibrated a messy kaleidescope of noise and color. With more than ears I heard the larval notes being played, a few bars at a time, as the tune inspired by Yoko’s poem  crawled from the ivory into Lennon’s hand. I was infected and affected and my eyes got a little wet; deep breath to ground me.

It is not hard for me to Imagine. I do believe in magic and the contagion of invisible things, like hope and germs, love and hate, peace or despair. There is a science to it all, and I think it is not coincidence that a belief in magic (albeit some name it faith) has increased in the last few decades as our control of the "meat" world has slipped beyond our usual means. Hope is what we have to sustain us even as social paradigms, religious paragons and political ideals fail to keep our bodies safe or our bellies full. Spreading  viral hope is why I still write, even though the days of making my living with words is behind me. Like many modern writers my work has a bit of fantasy in it. 

Fantasy literature as a genre is at an all time high, especially among the young readers. The Horatio Alger stories of my childhood and the detectives who only needed to wear the right pumps and follow the clues don’t work as well in a world where the rich and powerful grow ever more rich and powerful as the working middle class become the working poor. Self made men are not believable heroes in a time when success is more often who you know than what you do. To believe in a fairy Godmother gives us Cinderella’s singing voice, so that we can sing into wells and out windows while the corporate step sisters grind our families beneath their bejeweled heels. I too have wished uopn a star and so I understand the increased cultural popularity of fantasy writers; but what of the equally burgeoning paparazzi parade and cult of celebrity. If we seek to escape the wicked tyrants, what explains our then obsessive collecting of every small sequin that falls off these same grinding shoes?

It is the self-same magical thinking that makes us play Elven Avatars, knock wood, and buy lottery tickets that fuels the modern cult of fandom.  By being near to, or touching, or even just reading about those who have what we desire we hope to become a little more like them.  I understand this magical contagion; just as I was transported by the energy of Lennon’s piano, I attend author signings, have paid for backstage passes to meet the original RENT cast and distributed flyers in sweltering heat to shake hands in awe with the members of Queensryche. I did this to get a little magic fairy dust sprinkled on me.  Most recently, I sat at the feet, so to speak of a much admired game designer for an evening sharing my Porter and inhaling his genius like a drug. 

I guess it is the choice of pop-culture’s Tinkerbells that puzzles me. The quality of the dust is unrelated to the level of a persons celebrity for me, it is correlated instead to my ability to be transported by the body of their work and where there "magic" takes me. Hence my dismay this morning as i shopped the current crop offerring in the digital cult of celebrity..

It started with me  putzing around this morning telling myself I was trying to figure out what to write, (when in fact I was avoiding writing.) I was surprised, may I say flabbergasted at the top ten stories I surfed to with Twitter, LJ and Yahoo. I was even more horrified as these are not what the media is force feeding anyone, it is what the public enmasse are choosing to click on themselves.

Three of the stories were horrific versions of human cruelty that propagated a belief in realistic anahedonia and the rest were scandal mongering. The upside of all this was I was cured of surfing in about 45 minutes which is a very short time for me to be cyber distracted and I was totally re-inspired to Nanowrimo.

Words are my weapon. Naming is powerful. My stories of hope and compassion vibrate when I speak them, even if you don’t hear them. Every  Naming matters.Psychology Today ran an article a few years ago about an experiment where people watched the sugar being added to the water and the labels being placed and yet they had a hard time drinking the bottle labeled "poison", the participants also hesitated at the bottle labeled "not poison" since our minds have a hard time registering negatives in the portion where connections are made,  although none hesitated to drink and enjoy the bottle labeled "sucrose".

I  don’t remember all the details, but the same article went on to tell about it taking twice as many positive connections to overrule negative connections. Maybe I will look up the article when I am done nano’ing. In December I can Google the Psychology Today website, I know it was 2007 or 2008 because of where I read the article. It would be nice to read it again, but for now I will just keep on prepping for Nanowrimo and encouraging and commenting to my nanobuddies, because its gonna take a lot of  creative, positive, and hopeful hedonism to get this world back on track. I shift the signed copies of  "Medicine Road" and "Here There Be Dragons", knock on the wooden table that displays them, pop in another CD and  rock  out my gratitude to the divine I am not in this alone.  I may never be Tinkerbell or even a Lost Boy, but this november with 50,000 words, I will fly.

Am I mature yet?

 My Observations on the phrases and phases of Emotional Maturity

Infant and Toddler

"Help Me, Help Me!"

"Mine"

"My byself!"

"No!"

"Listen!"

Adolescence

"I can take care of myself."

"I earned that, It’s my fair share."

"What’s in it for me?"

"Whatever"

"Yes I hear you, but….."

Adult
"Thank you"

"Would you like some of mine?"

"May I help you."

"I am not sure that is the best decision for me."

"Yes, I hear you and….."


Writers Block: When I grow up or You Never Make Mistakes Just Opportunities.

The writer’s block prompt for today asks if my parents made any mistakes. I have come to believe they did not. This might be hard to believe for anyone who knows my biographical history.

My father did not know best in very many things. However, he was the one who, when they discovered I was reading better than I was talking, brought me ever more challenging books, and when I had finished all the volumes in the children’s section gave permission for me to check out whatever I wanted from wherever I wanted in the library. He took a toddler to a Robert Frost reading at the college and his showing off my ability to dramatically recite led to my youthful acting career. One of the only bits of professional writing still extant in the digital age is a direct result of being with my foster parents which would not have happened without my father making the choices he made.

My mother was a brilliant, artistic and musically gifted woman raised in the straight jacket of conservative religion. Economic realities forced her ever into the workforce and yet she made our daily bread, sewed our clothing and maintained an impeccable house. All this while still keeping all the rules and choices of her religious and cultural identity. From her I learned the textile arts and how to make something useful out of nothing, she was the master of Stone Soup. She died when I was still a child.

But the question was, "Did my parents make mistakes and how has that affected my adulthood?" This week I panicked, true panic attack with tears and palpitations and that tunnel feeling of trauma because I was standing in an empty apartment that had been home. This effect might be considered a negative and is residual eddies of a stone cast by my father when I was a teen, but was his leaving a mistake?

I think that question is easier when one is young and still believes in sourcing the root of a problem and blasting it into oblivion, rather than trimming the branches and leaves of whatever weed or tree has grown into some usable shade and then finding a cool spot to sit. For years and more than a few dollars I searched for the growth point of my affirmative answer to that question. I am glad I never found it, or eradicated it. I like the shade.

I was once my parents biggest critics.I held them forever ransomed in my heart for all I was and all I hadn’t in my life, and I thought I had nothing and I didn’t really like me. Therefore, I didn’t really like them. During all this I still was employed, had relationships, bore children. Inside the empty hole grew larger from the acid of anger and hate until there wasn’t enough anything to fill it up. Thankfully my life exploded or imploded in such a way that I sought help. Helping others was an integral part of helping myself. As Authentic Self began to gain in strength and I realized how little in life really was about me, I stopped wanting to root out and change my past.

I tried to grow past blame and anger and grow into a bit of personal and social responsibility, so in talking about my parents and childhood I switched my tactic to humor and forgiveness. I made a joke that covered in one sentence the made for TV-movie scandal plot that was my childhood complete with historical allusion. I forgave my parents, because forgiveness is never permission. I forgave, but did not forget nor would I see their choices as anything but mistakes and internally my Ego still excused many of my own "mistakes" by internally referencing my childhood circumstances.

As I stepped from the victim cape and into a victor costume came guilt; and I am one who believe guilt has a place in our lives, not shame, guilt. A conscience is a wonderful thing to nurture, sort of an internal GPS that says hey, you are truly making a wrong turn here, I stopped looking at all that had been done to me and instead began to look at the trail of havoc I had wrought. I have remained stuck in this mode of still believing wrong had been done to me and I had done wrong and trying to do less wrong while repairing and being responsible for past wreckage.

Recently another paradigm shift has begun to take place. It all started with my eco-consciousness and wanting to learn to compost. It is amazing how nourishing a little garbage can become when properly handled. Compost was my epiphany. Now I am applying the three "r"s to everything that is past and using it to help what I currently am planting.

"R"educe: Less is more. Whether its writing a novel, eating popcorn or driving the freeway, I go for the minimum number needed to fill the need. This also applies to my ego, preferring to un-capitalize the "I" and get it a life, cause its really more fun when its not about me.

"R"euse: Most of life’s experiences can have a point if we let them. Compost the organic, restructure the fallen, and re-imagine the neglected. This works for things, people, and experiences. Who knew the tatting I despised learning as a child would be so prized as a skill by my renaissance friends, or that old t-shirts made such good rugs. And nano-buddies, Writing is one of my favorite ways to re-use all my experiences. A life of only happy would a boring novel make. If your life is truly broken, as mine was once, then what an opportunity to create a beautiful mosaic.

"R"ecycle: Share. Ideas, hugs, everything. Pay all the good stuff forward. And no worries, there really are no new ideas, just new ways of presenting them that make them an original. Love eddies forward in remarkable ways, and those "mistakes" my parents made were "blessings" whose waves pushed me to shores where my life would never have landed otherwise.

I am a summation of all the threads that interplay to make this weave and therefore I would not name one a mistake and pull it free. Of course I am old, and a parent, and a parent whose children have become wonderful men in spite of her parenting so my answer may be tainted or at least tinted by that perspective.

In summation, I made myself a rule when I began writing this blog that I would follow in print one of my ethical guidelines "If you can’t say something nice, you just aren’t trying hard enough, and if you still can’t say something nice even after effort then silence is golden." I thought this would be hardest in areas of my childhood or health and yet I find as I accepted the writer’s block challenge today, this is not true. I can say parenting is a lot like writing. Not everything that I write is brilliant or even usable, but none of it is mistakes and some I have cast aside have later become the basis for true brilliance.

My parents actions may have rarely made the "To Do" list of any parenting book, but I would not be who I am today without the sum of all their decisions, and I like who I am today. So, no, my parents didn’t make any mistakes and neither do I. But there have been a WHOLE LOT of opportunities to compost. 🙂

Cartography and “Ur”tree or finding the root of the story

I start today’s blog with gratitude, because gratitude is the golden brown sugar on the oatmeal of my life.  I love oatmeal and am currently being fed metaphorically and in real time with a bowl made by my roommate. Yum! Original oatmeal dusted with crusting globs and melty drizzles of organic brown sugar made by someone else is both nourishment and nurture. I am grateful today for the new permanent home, for my sons who turned out amazing in spite of me making this possible, and for the friends who do for me what I either can’t or am unwilling to do for myself. I needed breakfast badly but just couldn’t raise the energy to cook. Food is a language of love I am fluent in and am eating every delicious mouthful of my friends love for me with relish.

I am eating this oatmeal awkwardly though, with a flour scoop because we have not yet found the silverware in the unpacking. Part of me believes that we would have found them if I had just been able to maintain control, if things had been done the right (read that MY) way. If I could just do everything myself or manage to map out everyone else’s behavior (so says the OCD evil voice in my head) I would have written guides to what is where, and a concise grid of how things were to go instead of a jumble of badly packed unlabeled boxes, deep scratches in the floor and broken furniture and books (moving company issues, whole other story). I struggle with resentment wanting to rewrite my gratitude because anger is the scratch to the guilt itch that says if I had just planned, charted and organized completely enough, this move would have been easy, peasy.  The Ego believes I should have drawn a map of how the move would go for everyone, including myself, to follow and then i would be eating this oatmeal with a spoon not a flour scoop.

I do love maps.  Maps are a useful tool and cartography is a an art form that fascinates me. I wonder when I am driving long commutes if there is a place to take classes in cartography, one of the replayed fantasy lives I live while driving has my next career being a mapmaker. My children grew up in a home where the fold out maps from National Geographic were the art on our apartment walls. Both the dream and the outline of the story of my life as I wanted it to be told were layered in red and blue and green lines on a rich cream background, and late at night when it was just me and my maps and my Selectric earning the egg money I would take breaks and read the names of towns and countries I would one day visit. I have visited many of them.

My sons are grown now and all have GPS systems. I prefer maps. I would rather look up the destination and discover my way than be told where to go, and scolded when I didn’t take the fastest most direct route.  Perhaps that is why I am eating with a flour scoop. I am when all is said and done an adventurer still, as much about the journey as the destination.  Even when I write prose I begin with only the most basic of idea or outline, I splice my sapling of a tale into the root of the Great Story Tree (see James Owen’s "Search for the Red Dragon, or Charles de Lint "Newford Stories", or Stephen King "Gunslinger" if unfamiliar with this idea) and let it blossom and bear what fruit it may. 

Journeying is not the same as wandering. Poetry is my joyful wandering. Poetry and music is the journey whose purpose is smelling the flowers or rain and seeing the colors of the rocks crunching under foot, in this kind of verbal journeying every step is the destination. For prose to be effective I do need a map and a destination or I find myself wandering in ever decreasing circles until I am just chewing my tail.

So many questions on the Nanowrimo lists on the right or best way to "win" Nanowrimo.   How much preparation, how much outlining, etc. My answer is simple, whatever gets you there is the best way. If you are a GPS writer then the order the Nanowrimo bible and follow it, you will succeed. GPS directions and a GPS approach to living works; my sons are rarely lost and have certainly succeeded more quickly  than I in the real world  (I am living in my son’s first of two homes, I own none) Most of my friends live GPS lives and at times I envy them their accomplishments and acquisitions. They envy my interpretive "map only" stories. At Rincon, a young, intelligent, creative and very pretty man and I were swapping stories. I had had a bit or Pumpkin Porter which dropped my invisibility shield and loosened my tongue a bit letting a large portion of my life spill out. His comment to me was "Either you have lived the most interesting life I have ever heard, or you are a pathological lliar".

I smiled and said both, knowing the "lies" per say are the things I leave out, because no one would ever believe them.

So what then is the right way, the best way to map out a successful one month journey through writing a 50,000 word novel?  "Ur" **way.  Oh, and actually writing. All the maps or GPS’s in the world are useless if the feet aren’t moving or the wheels aren’t turning.

Oatmeal is an adventure when eaten with a flour scoop, but spoons work pretty well, too. 

And gratitude is the sweetener I prefer no matter with what instrument I am served my oatmeal.

* *If there seems to be an abundance of references to the "Imaginarium Geographica" in my blogs right now it is because I am rereading them from the beginning to the current book five. I recommend them if you are at all a book geek because they are brilliantly crafted with all the layers of classic fantasy fiction that has tapped the story tree root and grown its own forest. I do turn off TV and social networks during Nanowrimo but I find reading is an important part of Nanowrimo for my relaxation and reward when the daily word count is completed and I pick a genre that is not what I will be writing. This year it is this series and a few of the writers to whom it pays homage.

My tweets

  • Tue, 15:53: Modern proverb,if driven breakneck speed in2 forest 8years remember who got u there and no blame current driver 4 only being 2 years out.

More Invisible than usual, sorry but real blog tomorrow

I am moved. The boxes are filling up the living room like the veggie Chipolte burrito is filling my tummy. Son and wife brought them over for dinner. They IS Yummy, (The burritoes not the boxes or my son and DIL, I did not eat them).

I did not write the last two mornings for any real amount of time. No internet and no energy. All spent on the move. Still need to clean the old apartment and still need to unpack and organize but the actual move is completed.

Kind of like writing a nanovel, this packing everything up and moving, gotta stick to the basics, keep the goal in mind the whole time, no side tracking into reading the books or polishing the geegaws….

Tomorrow begins the finessing, which is what the other 11 months are about for a nanowriters nanovels.

Namaste.