Mystery Blogger Awarded

Thanks to Beckie of Beckie’s Mental Masterfulness for nominating me last week; and on my birthday, no less!

Here are my answers to Beckie’s awesome queries:

  1. Do you collect something, if so, what?
    I just might have a problem collecting books. Yes, I can quit when I -okay; no, no I can’t.

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    may have more than this.

  2. Other than writing, do you have any other hobbies or activities that you enjoy?
    I am a mother and housewife (and regular wife, and taxi, and….) “other than writing.” *Sigh* As such, my other hobbies need to fit between the cracks. They include reading, running, camping, and artsing.
  3. What is your most embarrassing moment in public?
    I puked on several kids at our choir concert in fifth grade.
  4. If you had your choice of sleeping on a bed of nails or eating chocolate covered ants, which would you choose, and why?
    I seriously think this question needs more parameters. I mean; if I only had to sleep on the nail bed for ten seconds, that’d be fine. If I only had to try one ant, that would also be fine.
    Mostly I don’t think I would be able to sleep on nails or chew insects.

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    Cute; but, UGH!

  5. What is your worse pet-peeve?
    I’ve been thinking about this one. My worst pet-peeve is people being selfish, especially at the expense of others. Seriously, people, have some manners if you can’t have empathy.

Some of my favorite posts I giggled to myself over include “Encounter in the Alley,” “Silent but Tardy,” “Everlore,” “My Muse,” and “A Spoonful of Limericks.”

Any stragglers-on to my blog know I’m not a huge fan of this chain mail thing, so my nominees are more a list of blogs I follow that I highly recommend you all check out. If they want to answer the questions, more power to them.

Len of Len’s Daily Diary. Brilliant mind, touching observations, and excellent story-teller.

Treeshallow Musings. She’s a gifted poet and word-painter.

Geoff. If you haven’t read Mr. LePard yet, that may be better for your health.

H.R.R. Gorman. Also an excellent writer; delving into a little sci-fi, a little horror, a little fun.

Beverly Hughes. One of my favorite people. She writes moving and insightful posts about mental illness and her journeyings.

Official Nominees: you may choose to answer my questions:

  • Is there anything chocolate cannot solve?
  • Are fabric softeners really effective?
  • Who is your favorite Disney princess?
  • Which storybook villain would always win a limerick competition?
  • If you could vote for anyone to be leader of your respective country, who would it be and why wouldn’t it be Girl Scout Tagalong cookies?

If interested, here are the rules and such:

Rules:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  4. Answer the 5 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  5. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  6. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  7. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  9. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  10. Share a link to your best post(s).

Photo Credits:
Susan Yin
mi_shots

The Stages of Being a Writer Reader

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I read a book recently.

Whilst reading, I noticed I was mentally composing questions or reprimands to the author.

Did you really just do that? Why’d you make her go there?

This is a change from the reading mind of my childhood; the time when I completely absorbed into a story, lived in the world, and watched the characters walking about. I’d surface from the last page, blinking at supposed reality, but not really entering it till all memories of Narnia or Yorkshire or The Enchanted Forest dissipated.

And then I’d pick up the sequel.

Looking at both ends of my experience, I’ve realized a path, a journey, a progression in my reading.

At first, in the child years of absorption, I was a toddler at Disneyland. Everything was beautiful, exciting, without flaw, and controlled by adults who handled all the details so all I had to do was have fun.

After that, the pleasure of the thing was ruined by high school English teachers. They insisted on an analysis of why every ride was fun, what the motives of the costumed characters really were, and what else Walt Disney meant by his questionable “It’s a Small World After All.”

In college, I moved on to read about the underprivileged workers at Disneyland. Who was the real ‘power’ behind what powered the rides, how could we feel exactly as he felt, and why must we be part of the hedonistic problem?

Between then and now, of course, is Mom Brain. With limited cranial capacity, I’ve had to read non-fiction to plan the amusement park trip so that every else could have fun. I got to ride a few fun books, but always followed up with the self-help variety once guilt kicked in.

And today we’re also here: a year after dedicating myself more fully to the idea that I can write, that I can create something like Disneyland.

Eventually.

Right?

So I’m mentally yelling at other authors about their design. Typical.

I wonder when I’ll get to the point of recognizing constructions or anticipating smart-sounding elements like ‘rising action.’ Will I ever be invited to Club 33?

I probably need to read some more. Has anyone else noticed a change in how s/he reads? Do you still enjoy reading?

Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-One

Wil’s eyes scanned the page without absorbing any of the words upon it. Her mind was with her ears: anxiously straining to hear movements from her parents’ room. All seemed quiet, but her father was not the noisy type.

She carefully adjusted her position on her bed, attempting to make it look as though she were comfortably reading and had not just landed after a hurried rush down the hall. Being further into the book would help, but she had to read it for English class and didn’t want to skip ahead.

Wil sighed. The few sentences she’d managed to swallow had not given her many hopes for its content so far. She’d expected more from a book with a title about killing. So far, the author had written about two kids in a boring town with a father for a lawyer who didn’t like it. One had a broken arm, but they blamed Andrew Jackson for it?

She heard the door at the end of the hall open. “To heck with that,” Wil whispered, then flipped the book open to the middle and pretended to be absorbed.

Her bedroom door opened to reveal her father, tiredly blinking in the light. Wil looked up and pretended to be startled.

“Dad!” She said. “What are you doing home?”

Rob rubbed his hand on the side of his gruff face, gathering thoughts for words. “I didn’t sleep last night, so I called in sick.”

Wil couldn’t ever remember him doing that, unless he was so sick he couldn’t get out of bed. If he didn’t work, Rob didn’t get paid. She looked at him in surprise.

“I, uh,” Rob began. He was still rubbing his face. He looked unsure about what to say. His eyes looked around Wil’s room, at the book she was holding. Finally, he met his daughter’s gaze.

“Cynthia and I want to talk to you,” he said. His eyes looked at her sadly, then turned to look toward the living room. “I’ll go see if she’s ready to talk.”

Wil sat up and moved to follow him. “No, no,” her father gestured tiredly. “You wait here. Keep reading your book.” He smiled a bit, then left.

Wil heard his slow tread down the hall. He was much quieter without work boots on. She turned the pages back to the beginning, where she’d actually been. Low mumbling (her father’s voice) answered by higher, softer pitches (her mother) was picked up by her left ear. As usual, a coughing fit began.

Subconsciously, Wil tensed up. She tried to tune her surroundings out and tune her reading in. Jem? Dill? Wil thought. Who named these poor kids?

“Wil?” Cynthia called from the living room.

“Coming, Mom!” Wil answered. She closed the book gratefully and rolled off her bed. Straightening her coat, scarf, and hair; she realized she still had her gloves on. Hopefully, her father hadn’t noticed. She slipped them off and put them into her pocket, then headed down the hall.

 

Continued from Fifty.
Keep reading to Fifty-Two.

The Very Worst Missionary

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I haven’t been able to read an actual, physical book since…

Let’s see: how old is my youngest? And, how long was his gestation period? Divide by four, carry the two, add a year… Maybe we’d better go with a very safe date. When did the Berlin Wall fall again?

This uncultured gulf has been due to children, children, and housework. Lately, however, I’m pleased to confess that my free reading time has been spent catching up on the blogs that automatically fill my inbox with 45 daily posts.

Yeah, yeah. I know I need to cut back. I can stop anytime I want. It’s my life; my choice.

What does this rambling have to do with the title of my blog post tonight? It’s called “setting the scene.” For; I found out about a woman’s blog, and accompanying book, whilst reading through the Fractured Faith site. I think.

Point is, I read one post by Jamie Wright about how to edit the swearing in her published book and was laughing audibly (for you, M). Right there, on the spot, I ordered her book from the Amazon. After it arrived, I read it non-stop. You know, between feeding, cleaning, avoiding work, writing, sleeping, conversing, and living.

It took me a few days, but Jamie Wright’s book was FREAKING HILARIOUS.

Allow me, if you will, to quote some of my favorite passages:

“God will not be swallowed like a pill to cure herpes of your soul so you can run in a field of sunflowers with your hot boyfriend.”

 

“When you struggle in your forties with things that wrecked you at fifteen, I don’t think you’re supposed to say so out loud. It makes people uncomfortable.

“Everyone loves an underdog, but we prefer our stories of wrestling and redemption to be told in the past tense: I was depressed. I had anxiety. I felt insecure. I slept around… We’d rather hear from drunks when they’re sober, our depressed when they’re happy, our sick when they’re healed. We want to see wild horses broken and to believe in the hands that tamed them, because most of us hold our own dark places of wrestling with unbridled messes in our souls that sometimes spill over into life, and we desperately need to see that maybe we too can overcome the things that are ruining us.”

 

“The past lies beneath our beliefs like the soil of our soul. It’s the wet clay and dry bones and clumpy dirt, the grit and gravel, the small stones and loose sand, and the petrified turds that the adult formation of our faith must rest upon. Your history is like an inheritance, a patch of land that, though you may not have had much choice in its early cultivation, belongs solely to you.”

As you can read, she’s a conversational storyteller with an attitude; but one who says some deeply profound things in a relatable way.

This was worth the cost of actual purchase, plus more. You should get a copy, too.

Fair warning, however: if you are a prudish sort in terms of language, buy the book and follow her guide for editing. She’s unapologetic about some very common cuss words, but you’ll be able to black out the most egregious.

And, frankly, she makes it very clear that you can take her as she is or, simply, not. I consider myself very prudish over cussing, but found her profanity fit perfectly well with the dialogue of the writing.

My Muse?

The screen flickered, blown by magic breath or electric-grid blip. The cursor blinked. Blinked again. And again. I held my breath, expectant.

The same thing happened that had happened a few minutes before, yesterday, and every day since I’d committed to writing daily: NOTHING.

I leaned a disappointed elbow onto the desk, straight into the crinkling pile of candy bar wrappings and chocolate crumbs. Face rested in hand; cheap, upbeat computer music mocked my efforts.

I sighed.

A loud belch nearly unseated me. Thanking the good, solid seat The Lord blessed me with, I turned to see a large, rumpled, hazy apparition tottering to the right of the computer desk. It was dressed like a messy pirate, complete with overcoat and large boots.

He? held a bottle, equally transparent. Distractedly, I wondered if it contained only fumes.

The personage looked in my direction. I think. I returned the glance, attempting eye contact. Neither of us spoke. Both of us blinked.

“What are you?” I managed. Mentally, I reprimanded my manners.

“Whaddya mean?” a deep voice responded, slurred. I decided he was probably a man -er, man’s ghost. Wavering slightly, he jabbed a translucent finger my way. “YOU dragged me over here!”

Surprised, I considered. Apprehension dawned.

“I didn’t summon you, that I know of,” I defended. “Unless,” I hesitated, feeling sick, “You’re my muse?”

Grating laughter broke his scowling face. My expression of confusion and concern deepened. Who was this? Finally, his mirth subsided. Taking a long swig of emptiness from the bottle, he returned to the task of hazy staring. “Nah,” he supplied.

I blinked. My puzzled expressions were getting a lot of practice.

“So….” I began, allowing him the chance to take up the thread. He didn’t. I swallowed, and tried a more complete sentence. “So, if you’re not my muse,” I paused, “then who are you,” another pause, “and how did I summon you?”

I sat back, creaking the cushioned chair. I was determined to wait for his response without further prompting.

He lifted the bottle, studying its water-soaked label. “I’m Muse’s, er, relation,” he answered, casually, but more quietly. “Name’s Motivation.” Hiccuping, he tried another bottled inhalation.

I turned this over mentally, silently. “Muse’s relation?” I wondered aloud.

He seemed upset by my question. Well, he looked huffy. “‘S right.” He stuck out his incorporeal double chin. “Through marriage.”

I could sense this topic would only lead to more offense, on his part. Frankly, however, I didn’t know what to do with this unexpected guest. He didn’t seem willing to offer more than moody stares.

“Look,” I began, “I don’t want to be rude here, but I was …expecting someone -you know, different.” I watched the face, and wall behind it, to be sure of comprehension without affront.

Instead, he shrugged. “You get what you get,” he stated; laughed, “and you don’t throw a fit.”

Now was my turn to be upset. “What do you mean?” I had difficulty keeping my voice civil. “I followed all the steps I read about!”

He chortled, sipped air, and gave me a knowing look.

“I… I read books!” I defended.

“How many?” he demanded, keeping his eyebrows at their sarcastic bent.

“Er,” I floundered, “Well, I started a few, then didn’t really have time to finish, so…”

“What else?” he interrupted, amused.

I thought over the recommendations. “I sat down, committed to write.” My voice sounded a bit whiny, even to me. “I mean, I’m writing, here!”

His face softened a bit, and he leaned through the wall before realizing that did nothing to help support him. “True,” he conceded. “However,” he snickered, “I don’t think that game you have running in the background helps.”

I looked at my screen, out of Motivation’s view. “That’s my music,” I said, hastily clicking to Close Window on Fallout Shelter. His expression was back to its mocking amusement.

“Which is another thing,” I continued. “Music! You can’t say I haven’t been trying that.”

“Also true,” he said. “Although, your stuff’s garbage. I like me some Nirvana, myself.”

I sat, processing that information. Somehow, I couldn’t picture this sodden spirit rocking out. For one thing, wouldn’t that be extremely painful once the morning-after headache hit him? Of course, one had to have a solid head to get aches.

“Point is,” he continued, “You’re going about this all wrong.” He tucked the empty bottle into his overcoat somehow. Placing his hands on his hips, he explained, “You can’t get a decent muse with halfway measures.”

His large, airy hand waved at the littered computer desk as he expounded. “Finish books, only write during writing time, try good music, and lay off the chocolate.” Satisfied, he leaned back away from me.

“But,” I began, sorry to lose the only being I’d successfully summoned, “I got you. That’s something.” I realized how rude I’d sounded, and glanced up to apologize.

He, however, was laughing again. “You did. Sort-of.” The outline of his arms and hair seemed to be fading. Yawning and scratching at air-torso, he added, “Thing is, you can’t wait around for Motivation. And, you can’t actually have me.”

The wall behind him was becoming clearer as he was becoming less so. “Good luck, Chelsea,” he echoed.

Though hardly visible at all, I heard his distant chortle. “Though, Luck doesn’t come without work, either!”

 

 

Bad Habits Die -Look! A Dancing GIF

A few years back, I wanted to start writing in earnest. My only outlet was a strange social website involving faces and books, so I thought to start there. I definitely could not start a blog. Those things were going out of style; were old news. No one would read what I wrote on a blog.

That’s not to say that Facebook didn’t have problems, too. I know! I thought. I’ll make it what want to read. Others will follow suit and I’ll have a veritable salon of thinkers, writers, and readers. I’ll post whimsical brilliance that will be loved and shared the world over.

I knew my writing was better than what my “friends” posted. And, re-posted. And, re-posted.

I began writing daily. I tried funny, well-written, poetry, observations. I imagined my audience to be thrilled with this departure from the mundane. Surely, everyone would flock to me and what I offered, instead of to the flashing, dancing cat gifs.

Sadly, ’twas not so.

After about two years, I had to admit defeat. Besides a general dropping-off of readership, I had personally developed impulse-driven tendencies and depressive conclusions about my popularity.

What really got me? Facebook notified me that my friends, even the ones who really were friends, were commenting and re-posting GARBAGE -while leaving my posts silent.

As most artists can attest, my writings were so much a piece of my soul at times that I felt personally disliked.

At the suggestion of a real-life friend; in real life; with real, spoken words -I moved my writing over here to blogworld.

Hi.

Facebook, meanwhile, can continue its downward spiral to an advertising cesspool. I tried, but all its users want it to be what it is. Nothing more; continually, much less.

As for us, keep reading. Keep writing. Keep expressing.

Over the River and Through the Woods

This morning, I dreamed of returning to my grandmother’s house.

I walked through the door in wonder, and my feet slowly echoed a dark tread through memories. Everything was browns and shadows. The walls and floors were like stage walls -façades of what her house really had been.

I sought her lookout living room. This had been hers: from the praying Harvesters guarding either side of her music cabinet to Where’s Waldo? books hidden near the wall by the glass doors leading onto her narrow, darkwood deck. We always felt like kings overseeing her vast backyard, since her rambler-castle opened up to two floors in the back.

Now this room was as empty and nondescript as an uninhabited paper shack. There were no signs of any decorations, and only my imagination furnished it.

Eagerly, I turned to the stairs that steeply dropped from one side of the living room. I had always loved these narrow, turning steps into the dark, unfinished lower level. Down there had been a cement floor carpeted with fraying rugs; an old, metal wood-burning stove she might light; paintings of Victorian figures looking disapproving at us from shadows; antique toys to play with; a huge stuffed couch; a bar we played pretend at; and the hallway to her food storage, computer, bedroom, and art studio.

Even in life the basement was a dim, dusty, disused area. Now, not even the stairs were there. I looked over the empty gap and saw an incomplete staircase of books. How would I get down and salvage what I could?

The floor gave way beneath me, in an impossible tilt of the entire slab, and I traveled to the lower level on a falling teeter-totter of living room.

I walked around this angled now-ceiling to look around. My mind told me I was downstairs, but it was one, closed-off room. There were secrets stored behind a wall, as all basements appear in my dreams; but, there also was an enormous, dirty cardboard box with a torn-open top to examine. The book staircase was a stage prop of shiny-bound classics purchased only for looks that would never be read.

Inside the box, though, I found mounds of literature that were her. Antique Dick and Jane and dusty A Child’s Garden of Verses sat piled on Old Hat, New Hat and hundreds of unnamed children’s classics, properly faded and aged and loved. Scattered atop this scattered library was a large collection of pages, like a broken-binding calendar or matte-sheet magazine, covered in her writing and illustrations. She had been an artist.

I was in a state of near-waking, and told myself to get these things out, somehow, and get them to my mother. My mother coveted her mother’s things, especially after the house, furniture, and artwork had never resurfaced since her death.

This was a physical impossibility, however; as I saw the enormity of the cardboard box, tested the weight of the books, and wondered at the boxed-in state of the basement itself. The dream slipped away, leaving only memory dust and frustration.

I awoke determined to somehow get my grandmother’s belongings from some hidden location I must have been inspired to seek. Only, it really is all gone. The house has been sold. And even the living model of my imagination has turned to facsimile.

Door of the Mind

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I open the door hesitantly, but trusting and curious enough that I take that initiative. What will greet me?

Will I be thrown into a dark, metal lift, hearing only the sounds of creaking? Is there a girl standing there, shyly looking at her shoes as her personality and past are outlined? Is there an entryway I must cross first, through the ancient history of the world I’ve entered?

This, this is why I travel. But, coupled with the delight of a new place are feelings of apprehension of where I will be taken next. I may open the door, but the journey is one in which I follow the mind tracks of the author afterwards.

Please don’t force my eyes to see gory shreds of a person amidst an otherwise enthralling tapestry of words. Don’t make me swallow a detailed draught of misery when you have the opportunity and power to dose me immersively with a more intelligent and simpler vintage.

I want to visit the differing landscapes of your stories, formed and built by a unique mind. Dragging me through gritty details soils my thoughts and convinces me of the dirty qualities of your own.