Thursday, October 13, 2011

Self Doubt is an Evil Bitch

I am in a downward spiral of self doubt right now. I usually experience this once or twice a year and no matter how many times I go through it, I'll never get used to it or like it. Self doubt just plain sucks. It's like the mean girl in high school who mocked your outfit (the one you spent the entire previous night picking out) or threw gum in your hair and laughed. Basically, self doubt is an evil bitch.

Rejection has been coming too frequently and the old adage "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" can bite me. All I want to be when I grow up is a writer. I'm not asking for a multi-million dollar career here, but to get to the point where I can earn enough to write full time. Right now this dream is as likely as it was for me to get named Homecoming Queen.

With each passing day, my dream seems to shrink farther back on the horizon. I continue to pursue it even though my heartbeat is erratic, I need an inhaler for a sudden onset of asthma and I have a cramp in my side the size of Manhattan. I fear that I won't have the stamina to keep up the pursuit. Complacency is on the side of the road trying to lure me in with an ice cold glass of water. How long can I last without taking a sip?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ode to Stephen King

My high school Creative Writing teacher hated Stephen King. From the day he made that known by chastising me for choosing King as my favorite author (and ripping my paper on him apart), I doubted his abilities to teach me anything. You can't get much more creative than Stephen King. He brings childhood fears to life and amplifies the pre-existing fear in your head. I still look sideways at storm drains and give them wide clearance because I sure as hell don't want to find a clown lurking down there (IT). Whenever a family member has really bad gas pains, I can't help but wonder if a shit weasel is incubating in their lower intestine (Dreamcatcher). I live in Maine and find it entirely plausible that frogs with razor sharp teeth will fall from the sky ("Rainy Season", from Nightmares & Dreamscapes).

I just finished reading Dolores Claiborne for the umpteenth time and I am still blown away by the sheer genius of his work. He tells the story in first person, in the voice of a sixty-five year old Down East Island woman. Dolores' life story is revealed, in great depth and detail, during her confession to the island police, which spans just one night. This is truly a masterpiece and focuses not on supernatural or paranormal fears, but on real life and how decisions or actions impact lives - not necessarily for the better.

Stephen King is a prolific writer and each story stands alone. The characters are unique and nothing ever seems formulaic. From the Dark Tower series to The Green Mile, each is its own unique work.

My creative writing teacher did teach me something after all... 1) I can hold a grudge for almost as long as Stephen King's writing career and 2) My creative writing teacher wasn't creative. (He wore khaki's and sweater vests - that should have been my first clue.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


My mom has always been a little vague about her side of the family. I was close with my grandparents before they passed and my grandmother's sister. I know my Uncle and his family, plus some of cousins on my grandmother's side of the family, but my grandfather's family has always been shrouded in mystery. All I know is my Boppa, who was Irish Catholic, fell in love with and married my Nana, who was Irish Protestant. Everything went to shit after that and my Boppa was practically disowned. My mother carries the grudge like the Olympic Torch, never letting the flame die out.

Tonight, on the way to gym, she revealed that her cousin (my Boppa's niece)had called the night before. Apparently her brother had passed away at the end of July. I asked if they were still in Canada, which is where my great-grandparents emigrated to from Ireland. "No," she said. "She's in Massachusetts."

For as long as I can remember, I don't recall her ever mentioning that we have family less than a two hour drive away. My grandparents settled in Boston, which is where my mom and her brother were born and raised. I have faint memories of my Great Aunt Mary, my Boppa's sister, living in Boston.

My mom must have sensed my interest (I'm into geneology and caught onto this lead like freaking Sherlock Holmes) because she started mentioning who was who and most of them were alcoholics. She also was quick to remind me that she doesn't associate with them "not after how they treated your grandfather". I didn't point out that most of "those" people are probably dead.

I choose my battles.

My grandfather is almost like a paranormal or mythological creature in my mind. I've heard stories of his abilities as a fortune teller, where he used a deck of cards and was well known for his accuracy. These stories fascinate me. Did he inherit this gift from his father? I want to know his family - my family, after all we share DNA. The elders are passing away and with them, they will take an untold history. A history probably more richly remembered than the bitter recollections shaped by a decades old grudge.

I choose my battles and my next move will most likely create one. My mom made a choice to ignore her relatives, but she can't make the same decision for me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Relaxation? Yeah, right.

I remember when summers used to stretch out endless ahead of me. Nowadays they seem shorter than ever. True, I don't have three months off like when I was in school and most of my days are spent confined to an 8 X 10 cubicle. Since cubicalism a form of corporate torture, you'd think time would move painfully slow. What I've come to realize is, I'm just extremely busy and when you're trying to cram a full-time job (with a half hour commute each way), taking care of the family, marketing a bar and restaurant for your brother, plus writing into each day, well the pace can get exhausting.

Meanwhile, my teenage son had the nerve to say he was bored three days in to his summer vacation. I didn't roll my eyes...until my back was facing him. What I wouldn't do for a good, old fashioned "school's out for summer" summer. I know I would finish my book, spend some time chilling with my toes in the hot sand; breathing in the salt air. I'd dominate over the weeds in the flower beds and when I fell into bed exhausted at night, it would be a good exhausted. Not the "my soul was sucked out by the upholstery on the cubicle walls" exhausted.

I'd make lemonade from scratch, paint my toenails once a week, go hiking with the dog in the morning, and the hamper would stay empty because as with the weeds - I will conquer the dirty laundry. Oh, to have the time to sit all day (only moving to follow the shade) and read. I'd let Matthew accumulate all the driving hours he needs to get his license (making sure we stopped for ice cream along the way). We'd pick strawberries and eat them until our lips were stained red. Then we'd wait for blueberry season and do it all over again. I'd treasure the summer because he is sixteen and college is just around the corner.

Some nights we'd drive down the coast with the windows down. We (the whole family) would play miniature golf or check out one of the amusement parks. On hot sticky nights, I'd sit near an open window, hoping to catch a breeze, and watch the sky flicker on the horizon from a distant storm. I'd hold a glass up to my neck to let the cool condensation drip down and disappear underneath my shirt. I'd be relaxed because I'm not forced to do chores on one of the two weekend days we usually have off. Time would slow to a leisurely pace with seconds marked by the blinking of lightning bugs; hours counted by the rise and fall of the tides.

Just imagining this perfect summer is calming and I'm motivated to find a way to squeeze some of these moments into my schedule. Guaranteed there are some things I can set aside for a rainy day.

What would be your perfect summer?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Healing Touch

This is a story I entered for a monthly online flash fiction competition and it was the winning entry! The parameters were that the story needed to be under 715 words, the genre was Fantasy and the theme was "Heroes".

Here is The Healing Touch:

People were dying. Corpses of the young, old, and in between filled the streets. The stench was overwhelming, the swarms of flies even worse. The Bubonic Plague or the Black Death is what this horror had been named. These were dark days indeed.

Alesya had the power to slow the disease and to heal the sick, but she dared not to. Her mother possessed the same curse and ignited a wave of hysteria after displaying her abilities. Alesya was just five years old when she was forced to watch her mother die at the hands of the village leaders. Years later, the smell of burnt flesh still haunted her. Orphaned and fearing the same fate, she had hidden on the outskirts of the community and stayed there. Only at night did she venture in and scavenge for scraps of food or seek temporary refuge in the church.

Despite her harsh environment; her teeth didn’t rot, her skin remained clear of pockmarks, she never fell ill and she flourished into a beauty that rivaled any of the other young women in her village. Still no one wanted to have anything to do with her. She received glances brimming with suspicion and fear whenever she crossed anyone’s path.

Once the plague hit, the villagers had something new to fear. They forgot about Alesya and didn’t even notice when she started venturing into the village during the day. She was drawn to the sickness. Every cell in her body itched, practically vibrated, with the need to heal. Yet she fought it. These people didn’t deserve it. Plus, her mother’s death served as a warning of what would happen to her if she did try.

It was mid-day when Alesya made her way through the center of town. The usual bustling marketplace was empty. The heavy, wooden vendor carts were overturned; abandoned. Dead bodies lay in the street decomposing into the dirt. A man stumbled past her unseeing, his eyes clouded with disease. Alesya covered her nose and mouth with her hand, but nothing could mask the odor. Death had settled in and was here to stay.

She walked up the stone steps to the church, surprised to find the doors open. The pews were empty; a fine layer of dust muted the usual luster of the black walnut. Along with life, the plague claimed faith.

Alesya took a step towards the aisle when a low moaning caught her attention. She turned in the doorway towards the noise. The itching in her body manifested in her palms and grew stronger, pulsing out to her fingertips, as she took in the scene below.

A young girl and her mother had collapsed at the base of the steps. The daughter struggled to pull her mother to her feet, but didn’t have the strength. The mother, the source of the moaning, lay on her side. The skirt of her dress had bunched up around her knees, revealing grayish skin mangled with bruises and sores. The woman’s breathing was labored and wet, like she was drowning in mucus.

"Please help my mother,” the little girl pleaded, reminding Alesya of how she had tried to save her own mother’s life.

She descended the steps, knelt down on the cool stone and took both of the mother’s hands in hers. The itching in her palms stopped the moment they made contact. She closed her eyes and let her body take over.

As if traveling inside the dying woman, she saw the cells under attack, the organs bloated and toxic. One by one she drew the sickness out. Alesya’s body, a vessel immune to the plague, absorbed everything.

When only healthy pink tissue remained she opened her eyes. The mother, her breathing restored to normal, stared at her.

Alesya hung her head, waiting for the accusation. She took a risk saving this woman.

“It’s a miracle. Are you an angel?”

“No. I’m just a girl.”


The legend still exists to this day - when an angel in the guise of a young woman, with skin as white as ivory and possessing unearthly beauty, descended from the church and delivered the land from the grips of Death himself.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My First Public Reading - Update

So, I survived my first public reading with only a couple of minor mishaps. Well, one minor, the other a little bit more traumatizing. Everything went according to plan; I put together the excerpts I wanted to read, edited them after reading the pages out loud and had one of my good friends read them over too. The day of the reading I printed out the pages and this is where I made a mistake...I didn't clip or staple them together (insert foreshadowing here).

The rest of the day consisted of a lovely late afternoon lunch (seafood chowder), some shopping with one of my best friends from high school who came up for vacation, and a beer at my brother's bar. This took my mind off of the nervousness which was slowly building as the time for my reading grew closer. My friend, Shannon, and I left my brother's bar to head home, meet the hubs, and pick up my pages. I grabbed them off the table and made my second mistake...I didn't check to make sure I had them all.

The reading was held at a small bar in Portland called Mama's Crowbar. The room filled up quickly and I was pleased that so many friends and family had gathered to support me.

One of the authors was sick, so there were just three of us and I was to go last. This was good because I had time to see what the other authors did. During the other readings I sipped on a beer to take the edge off. By the time it was my turn, I was relatively relaxed and confident in my reading abilities.

I only tripped over a few words and it was great when people reacted to something I said. Then the cell phone started ringing. It was one of those awkward moments where if I were in the audience, I'd hate whoever was responsible for not only distracting me, but the performer. Here, I was the performer and I tried to press on, but I could see people looking around the room. Being that I had the microphone, I took control of the situation. "Sorry," I said in a voie louder than my usual. "So, yeah, that's my phone." (This would be the minor mishap referenced at the beginning.) I was the asshole who didn't turn off my phone and ironically it rang during my reading. Fortunately people laughed. If at me, I deserved it.

My favorite excerpt was saved for last and it was just getting to the really juicy part when I turned the page and was back on page one. Yup, I left the last two pages at home on the kitchen table. What could I do, but admit my mistake and shrug my shoulders. People wanted to know what happened next, I left them hanging and the organizer of the event said I write suspense for a reason.

Anyway, I didn't get booed and I made some new friends so overall, it was a good night. Next time I do a reading (oh yes, there will be a next time), I will make sure to turn off my cell phone and staple the damn pages together!

Here are some pictures and a recap of the Scratchpad Reading Series

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My First Public Reading!

I'm one of the authors reading at the next installment of the Scratchpad Reading Series. This is my first reading and I am ever so thankful it's being held at a bar (Hemingway would approve).

Here's a link to details about the venue and the Scratchpad Series, a quarterly event.
I'll be reading from End of the Road (working title), a novel I've been working on over the past year. Here's a brief excerpt:

I round the bend and can barely make out the shoulder of the road, which is wider because of a clearing. I decide to pull over until the storm passes. I speed up, but another flash of lightning reveals a group of people standing on the shoulder and I’m barreling towards them. Reflexes kick in and I turn left, over-correcting in the process. My tires hydroplane and before I can gain control, my car punches through the guardrail.

A scream is stuck in my throat and I can’t breathe. My car is suspended in mid-air and I am vaguely aware that my foot is still pressing down on the brake pedal. Don’t let go of the brakes, you’re not going anywhere as long as you keep your foot on the brakes, I think to myself. "Oh no,no,no...NO!” I shriek, wrapping my arms up over my face and head to protect them when the car begins to plummet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paranormal Activity...and not the movie

Today I tweeted that the paranormal activity had returned to my house after a relatively quiet period. A couple people wanted details. These are hard to provide in 140 characters, so here we are.

The current house I live in with my husband and stepson is not the first house I've lived in with freaky, unexplainable occurrences. In fact, my first experience with the paranormal didn't happen in my own house.

Rewind to my childhood in New Jersey. I was a young adult, maybe a tween, when I had my first "encounter". This happened at my friend's house, who also happened to live next door. We were hanging out in her living room when a loud bang erupted from the kitchen. We screamed, jumped and crept (in stealth mode) into the kitchen to investigate as we were the only ones home. A mug was on the floor, shattered into pieces. My friend's mom had a rack of mugs on the wall which were used more for decoration than function. Anyway, the design was similar to a coat rack, with a knob on the end to prevent the mugs from sliding off. Someone, or something, had to physically lift the handle over the hook to remove a mug. This, of course, sent chills down our forearms. Then something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I turned and saw, coming down the three small steps, which led to the kitchen, an apparition; cloudy, mist-like and transparent. Some facial features could be made out, but nothing definitive. My friend couldn't see it, but she wasn't too far behind when I ran shrieking from the room.

Fast forward to college, my senior year, and to a house in the Fairmount area of Philadelphia I rented with three friends. First, random things started to go missing. An item of clothing here and there, a serving dish, and other miscellaneous items. We really didn't think much of it since none of us were neat freaks. My cat, Winston, would act strangely at if he was following something with his eyes, something we couldn't see. Plus, there were the cold spots, but it was an old house. All of this wasn't exactly paranormal and can easily be explained. What happened next couldn't. Two of my roommates were alone in the house, hanging out in the living room and watching T.V. It was winter, the windows were closed, we didn't have a lot of foot traffic on our street and the television wasn't that loud. It was also daytime and our neighbor, whose house adjoined ours, was at work. How they explained it was that, out of nowhere, it sounded like they were smack dab in the middle of a party; several voices murmuring and a piano tinkling in the background. This freaked them out and they abandoned ship.

My parents were the next to experience something strange and unexplainable. They were in town for my graduation. I stayed at a graduation party while they went back to my house to go to bed. My roommates weren't there and they had the place to themselves. One of the cool features of this late 1800's rowhome is that the owners had modernized it with a black metal spiral staircase which ran through the center of the house, from the finished basement to the roof deck. My parents were sleeping in a room near the staircase. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, they were woken by the sound of someone going upstairs, past their floor to the third. Moments later, on the third floor, my roomate's radio turned on, but he wasn't there. Noone was.

Needless to say I was happy to move out after college! I made my way north to Portland, Maine and moved in with my parents temporarily. They had relocated to a gorgeous cape while I was in college and it took me a while to get settled in and used to the sounds the house made. There was the usual creaking and settling, especially during the bitter cold winters. Footsteps walking upstairs, when your downstairs and nobody else is home? Not normal. So I asked my mom if she had seen or heard anything. She said she wasn't surprised because the father of the family they bought the house from had died. He succumbed to cancer after a long and painful battle. Initially I was unnerved, but his spirit was harmless...still is.

A year after moving to Maine, I set out across the country and settled in Phoenix, Arizona. I lived in a series of fairly new apartments and didn't experience anything out of the oridinary (except the gypsies that lived in the complex, but that's another story). I met my future husband and we moved in together, eventually renting a house in Glendale. A few weird things happened there, but really only a few. For example, the clothes dryer would turn on by itself and my husband got his ass slapped in the kitchen (once, and not by me, I was in the bathroom and we had 2 cats at the time - I don't think they could have reached that high). It was after we were married and had relocated to Clarkdale, Arizona, when the real fun started to happen. We rented a house from the original owners (they had built the house, which was less than a decade old). We had sweeping, panoramic views of the Sedona Red Rocks from the front yard and were in the foothills of majestic Mingus Mountain. We eventually bought the house, despite it's "character".

I can't recall when the activity started exactly, but I know it was summer because the windows were closed with the air condtioning on. This is significant because we didn't have a breeze or source for a draft. My husband and I were sleeping when our bedroom door slammed shut, forcing us awake. It was daylight and we both laid there in our sleepy state looking at the door when the knob turned and the door swung open. My stepson, who was seven at the time, was living with us and I expected him to be in the doorway, but he wasn't. No one was there. His room was on the other side of the house and he was still asleep.

The door slamming thing happened every once in awhile and alternated from closet, to bathroom, to office door. Then the thermostat would go to radically high heat or extremely cold. The most memorable phenomenon happened one night when my friend was over. We were all in the living room watching TV. The house had an open layout, where there was a wall which divided the kitchen and the living room, with the dining area a large, shared space. My stepson's bedroom was off of the dining room and our two dogs were passed out on his bed. So, there we were in the living room when a shrill whistle, similar to the one I used to call the dogs, came from the kitchen. We all stared at each other with our mouths hanging open and even more so after the dogs came running out of my stepson's room and directly into the kitchen. I was convinced after that we had something unusual going on.

Now here we are back in Portland, Maine. When we first moved here, we stayed with my parents. Myself, my husband and stepson all heard the footsteps (hence the he's still harmless part). A few months later we found a house and moved in. Just like in Philadelphia, things started to go missing. Namely our silverware. First the forks, so we bought more. Then the butter knives started to disappear, so we replaced them. Then the spoons started to dwindle in number! A flurry of activity has occurred since. We live in a ranch, so the main living space is all on one floor and we only have two bedrooms - our house is compact. We have a full basement, which is used all the time, and an attic we have yet to explore. A breezeway was contructed to connect the house to a two-car garage.

One day I was getting dressed for work (my stepson was at school, my husband at work) and it was just me and the cat in the bedroom when I heard the footsteps. Someone was walking down the hallway, from the kitchen, towards my open bedroom door. I called out, thinking my husband had come home. No response. My cat heard the footsteps too and she went over to the door to see who was here. Of course the hallway was empty.

Since then we've had the basement door open on its own, the bathroom faucet turn on, and knocking on the walls. We've heard a little girl singing. Her voice drifts up through the floorboards from the basement. Usually after one of is laughing or using a sing song voice, she'll carry on after we've stopped. That's definitely one of the freakiest sounds...ever.

Over the past six months or so, things have quieted down...until today. I was home alone this morning and in the kitchen doing my usual routine. My stepson's bedroom is right off of the kitchen and since he was at a sleepover, our dog was seriously depressed, so we left the door open for him to lay on Matthew's bed. The dog had been chilling on Matthew's bed until he smelled my eggs cooking and he wandered out, nose in the air. When he realized he wasn't going to get any human food, he turned around to go back into Matthew's room. He stopped just outside the open door, crouched down low and began growling. This is something he never does and it caught me off guard. I walked up behind him and he was staring at my stepson's bed, growling and the fur on his back was standing straight up. Bullwinkle backed up against my legs and I don't know if he was trying to get away or prevent me from going into the room. Applying the standard ghost hunting techniques, I called out for a sign or a noise. Nothin happened. I stepped into the bedroom and Bullwinkle stayed behind growling. Thirty seconds or so passed before he joined me in the room. He stopped growling, hopped up on the bed and obsessively sniffed the corner of the mattress as if something had recently been there.

This whole episode was definitely strange, but I still had to get ready for work and by this point, I'm running a few minutes behind schedule. When I'm in the shower, I hear the door to the garage from the house slam shut. A distinctive sound we are familiar with. I thought my husband had stopped by the house. He hadn't. I called him later, once I got to work, to confirm. I'm not the only one to have experiences today. My husband got home after work and went to use the bathroom. He was alone in the house so he left the door open. While he was sitting on "the throne", he heard the door to the garage slam shut. The dog even ran out from the living room to see who was here, but returned moments later when there was no one to greet. A few minutes after that, the basement door, which is across the hall from the bathroom, clicks open and slowly swings until it is wide open. My husband is watching this as the hairs on his arms rise with fear.

With this sudden onset of activity, I've been thinking about any signs we might have missed and it dawned on me...just last week when I was setting the table, I made a comment about how our forks are disappearing again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Music and Emotion

The conversation I had at dinner was so special, I needed to write it down. My husband's friend was over and a conversation about movies which made us cry segued to music. My sixteen year old stepson remarked that he doesn't understand how some songs can make people cry. Practically in unison, my husband, his friend and myself said that someday he would. I explained to him that at one point in his life he will experience a traumatic moment where his heart is broken and he'll find the one song which completely captures his mood...that totally gets him. This song will be so perfect that even though it's tortuous, he will want to play it over and over again.

The adults in the room proceeded to name off their said meaningful song. Mine is Black by Pearl Jam. After a particularly angsty period of my senior year in high school, I found myself with a broken heart. The boy I confided my true feelings to (after mustering up every ounce of courage my being possessed), had not reciprocated. This, combined with the uncertainty of what my post-high school life held, turned me into a weeping zombie. Black was my heartsong.

To this day when Black comes on the radio, I always sing these last lines the loudest and they still make my voice thick with tears:

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be the sun in somebody else's sky, but why, why, can't it be, can't it be mine...

As far as I'm concerned, Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard are the lyrical gangsters. Black is forever woven into the patchwork quilt that is my life. Any tears spilled were worth it and I don't regret any heartbroken minute.

Do you have that "one" song and similar memory?

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Mother of All Rants

It is 2011, right? For all that is going on in the world, you’d think we were back in the 1970’s. Take the current potential for a government shutdown, just the icing on a layer cake; each layer made up of one political, social and global issue after another. All of these issues have been visited before…over 30 years ago.

1) Women’s Rights - Planned Parenthood is the tipping point for the budget. Basically women’s health and if you really want to get down to the core – abortion.

Back in 1973, Roe V. Wade hit the Supreme Court and the decision, which launched women’s rights ahead decades (or so we thought), really pissed off conservative Republicans and they have never been able to get over it. Once again, in 2011, women’ rights hang in the balance.

2) Environment - On April 22, 1970, the United States celebrated the first Earth Day. Despite this progressive moment, and massive protests, the government and greedy oil companies moved ahead and began construction on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1973. The BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago? The result of government and greedy governments.

In the same decade where the U.S. celebrated the earth and recognized the need for more environmental protection, a partial nuclear meltdown occurred at Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant on March 28, 1979. Now, Japan is reeling from one of the top three largest nuclear disasters in the world. Fingers are already being pointed towards Tokyo Electric Power Company for their faulty oversight.

The damage to the environment, from these two most recent disasters, is incalculable. Dead, baby Bottlenose Dolphins are washing ashore in the Gulf region; many pre-term fetuses. Farmers and fishermen in Japan have had their livelihoods snuffed out practically overnight as a result of radiation contamination and fears.

3) Immigration and Labor – Citizens and legislators fought hard in the 1970’s to establish legislation which put an end to discrimination. Affirmative action and equal opportunity employment were important policies passed with hopes that our segregated history would be just that…history. Our country no longer needed to stand divided and we could move forward in a positive direction.

In 2010, Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer, made national headlines when she basically declared war on the national immigration policy and tried to pass a bill which made racial profiling acceptable. Then there is the so called “Birther Movement”, which is spawned out of ignorance by people who believe President Obama was not born on U.S. soil, despite documentation being provided. Why, because he has a different sounding name and darker skin? Not since the 1970’s has our country seen so much divisiveness.

In 1975, the Mexican – American United Farm Workers walked away victorious when California required growers to collectively bargain with the elected representatives from the union. Wisconsin, as well as other states, are now re-examining, and attempting to strip away these collective bargaining rights. Workers are once again forming picket lines and protesting to keep what is rightfully theirs.

Sure there has been some progress…we have phones that think for us; beta was replaced with VHS, which was replaced with DVDs; the Berlin Wall was torn down and there have been great advancements in medicine.

Technology aside, when I examine the parallels between now and then, it’s sad to see how little progress has been made in my lifetime. The global climate (environmental, socio and political) has changed and we as a country, and as a people, have to evolve with those changes. Going backwards isn’t the answer. We certainly don’t want history to repeat itself (ie: Civil War, Hitler).

For those select few in our leadership who wish to remove funding for Planned Parenthood, maybe wait until everyone has health coverage under a national plan, with affordable access to all the services Planned Parenthood provides. Otherwise be prepared for back room abortions, self-abortions, and/or children which are unwanted and wind up burdening the system.

As a woman, I don’ think the government should have a say on when I should or should not have sex, conceive, go on birth control, or have any say over my body at all…period.

For those select few who have issues with immigrants and minorities, our founding fathers were immigrants. The Statue of Liberty is revered as a beacon of hope for a new life in a country which won't oppress and offers oppotunities. The “White America” you believe you are preserving doesn’t exist anymore. We are a multi-cultural, multi-racial nation. President Obama, who was elected by a majority, is representative of this fact. You need to stop trying to hold the country back and let our government evolve as needed.

If worker's rights are infringed upon, prepare for companies to take advantage of their employees and for unsafe working conditions to resurface. It's happened before and it can happen again.

Where the environment is concerned, I really hope history doesn’t keep repeating itself. Face it, nuclear power is bad. It’s like creating a disease without the vaccine. Maybe oil is so difficult to extract for a reason. What happens when you stick a syringe in an orange and suck the juice out? Exactly. Is oil a cooling barrier between the Earth’s core and its surface? What happens when the oil is being extracted faster than it can be replenished? It’s not just “we should” look at alternative energy sources, but we need to implement them.

Government pockets shouldn’t be so easily filled by corporations either, but that is a much longer rant and I’m running out of steam here. When I get mad and frustrated I need to write it out. Thanks to the many advances in technology, I’m able to share this on the internet, and will do so while this is still a free country.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Highs and Lows

Life is a balance, this is true. With the highs, come the lows. I've never been more reminded of that than this week, particularly yesterday. Thursday morning started off with me thinking it was Friday. I flitted about the kitchen, getting my coffee and making my son's lunch. About halfway through spreading Miracle Whip on a slice of bread did it dawn on me that is was only Thursday.

Later that morning...

I'm at work, sitting at my desk and realize it's almost April. Yes, time flies blah, blah, blah, but the month is significant because March is my remission month and marked six years of being cancer free (Thyroid Cancer). How had I let this anniversary pass by unnoticed? No sooner do I think this when I get a text message from my dear friend who was diagnosed with the same type of cancer (only two years before me and at a later stage). She sent a picture of her and her husband with their freshly shaven heads. She has never been able to declare herself cancer free since her diagnosis and is on a drug trial which causes hair loss.

Tears sprung up and I rushed to the office bathroom for a good cry. It's difficult to celebrate my good health for it was my friend's condition, which made me schedule an appointment with my doctor (after I experienced discomfort in my neck). Seeing her bald head reminded me of the reality of her situation. Now, eight years after her diagnosis, she is still fighting and has never once stopped.

Later that afternoon...

I received news that a story I entered in a flash fiction competition was the winner and will appear in an anthology being published in 2012. This news made me want to jump up and do an Irish jig in my cubicle (I refrained). By this point in the day I had a headache from the volley of emotions. The "acceptance high" carried me through the rest of the day and into the night...until I had to go online and check me sons grades to see if they had improved since the previous week.

Later that night....

His grades were worse. *sigh*

Friday, April 1st, 1:00 a.m.

I'm sure today will bring more of the same highs and lows, just in different, equally exciting combinations. Life is grand and provides great fodder, doesn't it?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Drawing the Line

As I write this, I have a cat perched on my arm. She is soft, purring and occasionally licks the back of my hand. She is a happy cat because she has me all to herself. In this showering of affection lies a's extremely hard to write when you have a cat perched on your arm. When she stretches her paws out and touches the mouse on the laptop, thus moving the cursor, that makes it even more difficult.

So why don't I just kick the cat off? Because I work all day and until the dog goes to bed with my son, Snowball (said cat) is in hiding. When it's just me and her she hangs out and gets her lovin'. I feel guilty dislodging her for all she wants is her share of attention.

The time has come though to evict the cat from her perch. I need to write as my stories aren't going to do it themselves and the cat limits my typing abilities.

Snowball, I'm drawing the line in the need to find a another spot to act cute in. We'll still be in the same room together, just with some space.

Now let's see how long this lasts. Her fuzzy face has a way of wearing down my will.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back the Truck Up

I learned a very important lesson - probably the most valuable lesson of the year - and the year has only just begun: you need to back up your work. Stop procrastinating and do it! Save to Google docs, a flash drive or a back-up hard drive - anything.

Twas two nights before New Year's Eve and my laptop started acting weird, so I stopped what I was doing and started running a security scan. One after the other threats kept popping up until, in total, the anti-virus detected eight Trojan viruses. All but two were able to be quarantined and removed. The others had already firmly implanted themselves in the core operating system. In other words, my laptop was on the road to becoming toast.

All of my short stories, one completed novel, and three other novels in progress (all over 40K words in length) were on there and I didn't have them backed up anywhere.

The irony of the whole scenario is I received a flash drive USB doo-hickey as a Christmas present with about 300 billion GB of storage space (tech geeks tell me this is a lot of space). Had I used it yet? Nope. My husband, who is tech savvy and part geek, attempted to save the My Documents folder onto the flash drive and it didn't work. Then the blue screen of death appeared. I saw all the hours I spent bent over the keyboard flash before my eyes at that moment. Anxiety, comparable to when I was diagnosed with cancer, took over my mind and body as quickly as the viruses had corrupted my computer.

I am probably being dramatic but writing is my life, it's what keeps me sane, and the thought of losing everything I had written terrified me. It's not like I have every single word stored in my brain and I can just type it out again.

Today was the moment of new Dell laptop arrived and my fabulous husband (who I now owe big time) managed to extract my files from the old laptop onto the flash drive. Every single file is intact. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I didn't realize I had been holding my breath for over a week (that has to be some kind of record).

So please, writers I implore you. Don't let this happen to you! Back up, back up, back up!