Tuesday, June 30, 2015

you must be out of your friggin' mind

~ click image to make biggerer ~

The prompt today was to talking about writing: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Writing is hard. Sometimes I hate it so much. Like right now when I can’t seem to get my thoughts on paper or when it seems I have no thoughts. This happens a lot. Why, you ask. I know you do because this is important stuff we’re discussing here. I’ve lost my train of thought already.

Oh, yeah. It’s hard because all of my words suck. There they are in my brain. They seem sort of ok sitting there in my grey matter all comfy cozy and shiny bright. Then they seep out of my fingertips translated onto the page and they are weak, colorless and boring as all get out. Makes me want to barf, cry and curl into a ball in a corner somewhere. I’m pathetic, thinking this is something I can or should do. Totally pointless.

And now we’re stuck. I suck.

The cursor sat there flashing for about ten minutes while I berated myself for my inadequacies.  

Now, we’re at the part where I just put down some words just so I can say I participated in the act of writing. I read somewhere that writers are always writing even when they’re not putting anything down on paper. I’ve got that paper down. I’m writing when I watch TV, when I’m doing the dishes and when I’m driving back and forth to work. Lots and lots of really cool stuff is always being written in my brain. You aren’t going to read any of it because I struggle with the physical act of writing. The habit of writing. This part of writing isn’t very pretty. It’s hard work, really, really hard work. It makes me whine. It makes me want to drink wine.

The pressure of writing first thing in the morning before i go to work is helpful. Finite time forces me to get some words out into the world. Granted, they’re mostly not too good of words [sic] but they are physical and thus more real.

On rare occasions, I might capture a breeze raising the hair on my arms, the sunlight of a perfect day making the leaves on my dogwood glow while the squirrels frolic from branch to branch. I have once or twice written something that has made a real live person exclaim out loud in surprise. I’ve even on occasion written something I have not found too hideous. There were even a couple of times when the words just flew onto the paper and an hour has gone by where I was totally out of myself in a state of pure bliss. These times are so perfectly and painfully beautiful, such immediate ecstasy that the high is embedded in my soul the way a drug addict imprints a high that has to be continually chased even though the chances of reaching that high again are minuscule.

So, there you have it: I write for the illusive, addictive high of a few perfectly strung together words. It’s a sickness.

Monday, June 29, 2015

sister of the sea

Mermaid ~ April 1995, watercolor & ink on tracing paper (c) vanessa v kilmer
~ click image to make biggerer ~

Waves of brine and froth washed over the rocks jutting out into the ocean. The sea was violent and angry, expressing a dissatisfaction with the way things were going in the world. Plastic bottles, limp cardboard and tin cans washed up on the shore, regurgitated from the bowels of the salty deep.

Darya bobbed in the roiling water, confused by the flotsam surrounding her. She hadn’t noticed any ships going down in the area. She dove under the surface to investigate. She followed the trail of garbage. At first it confined itself to a line but as she moved further away from the shore it spread out covering the entire Atlantic Ocean. This was a disaster. No wonder the bounding main was mad. She’d be angry if she were covered in filth. As a matter of fact, she was feeling kind of dirty after swimming through the dreck. She needed to find some clean space to freshen up.

After swimming south for two days, Darya went around the Cape of Good Hope and into the Indian Ocean. It was just as bad here as it was in the Atlantic. She moved on through the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Philippines into the Pacific Ocean. She checked out the Southern Pacific Ocean: filthy. She had to go down deep into the Mariana Trench to find so fresh water. She cleaned up as best she could before visiting the fifth and final ocean, the Arctic.

She shivered her way under the ice floes and icebergs. She found bits of garbage stuck in the frozen waters.

There were times on her journey when she had to stop to help a fellow creature get out of a confusing maze of debris. Floating trash could be so confusing for creatures who used sonar to navigate. Once she had to clean out the plates of some baleen whales. None of this stuff was edible or nourishment to any of the animals or fish in the oceans. She needed to do something more to help but she had no idea how to solve such a massive catastrophe as this.

While she was helping a dolphin clean out his blow hole, she remembered something she had seen when she was dipping down deep into the Mariana Trench. She took a wad of gum out of the dolphin’s blow hole and then she took off. Time was running out.

She swam down, deeper than she’d ever gone before. The pressure was tremendous. She was getting a headache and her ears were popping. Her lungs hurt. She kept going. She was almost at the bottom. She reached the container (marked with the yellow and black rotating fan symbol) that had been dumped here a few years ago. Though it was round, it bulged out and pulsed at its circumference making it look like a living thing.

Darya pulled the plug at the top. The pressure released. The waters all over the Earth contracted and expanded and blew all of the garbage onto the land where it originally came from.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

mind dump or drunk writing on a sunday night

One prompt for today suggested I write a list; a list of anything. This is not tickling my fancy. What is making me do a happy dance - while sitting in my cushy chair with my feet up - is this lovely little G & T. It’s not really little but it sure is lovely. Ice cold gin is a joy, a gift from the gods. And with the tonic, I will forever be protected from malaria which is a clear and present danger in New Jersey. I wouldn’t lie to you. I would and you’d enjoy it.

I didn’t write first thing this morning. I was at my daughter’s house and I didn’t get my coffee in a timely fashion and I didn’t have a table to set up my iPad. All of this is bullshit because I could have worked around it all but I didn’t. So shoot me. I am writing now. It’s scintillating and well worth the wait.  

The drive to her house or back to mine takes about one and a half hours. She lives in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area. I live in New Jersey across the Delaware River from North East Philadelphia. I always want to fall asleep if I’m on a drive of more than a half hour. I’m prone to daydreaming, too, which makes me sleepy. The sky was full of big poofy clouds. I wanted to crawl up into them and cuddle and snuggle like in my grandmother’s feather beds. We used to sleep with the windows wide open in winter; it made sleeping under the down comforters comforting. I felt safe and warm.

It’s Sunday afternoon. Weekends are never long enough. Sometimes they are too long. Have you ever noticed how life is so full of noise. There’s no quiet anywhere. The only sounds that calm me down are either rain on the windows or a breeze in the trees. These sounds are a soothing white noise that help me feel at peace. They’re like someone petting my brain. I can see the sparking along my synapses dampening like a gas burner being turned down. The heat never goes away completely but it becomes manageable.

I’ve made it a whole week, seven days of writing every day. All I have to do is keep doing it. So easy, yet so hard. Mostly its the voices, those voices that badger me with thoughts of “why bother?” The voices peck at me like black birds ignoring a scare crow. Whose fooled by this bull shit? Not me because I want to give up every single moment of every single day. I really, this dream I have is laughable. Believe me, no one laughs hard than I do. And then I have a panic attack. Time is running out. I can’t die without doing this. I just can’t. I hyperventilate. I can’t see straight. The voices peck me raw and yet I can’t allow myself to die without making the attempt. I just fucking can’t.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

fickle finger of fairy fate

~ click image to make biggerer ~

Once upon a time (actually just last week), there lived a pointy fairy named Molly Sweet. She was pink and smelled like cotton candy. The pointy part comes in because she gelled her hair up in sharp peaks that shot off in all directions from her head. She didn’t speak.

The other fairies badgered her day and night with questions.

Simple questions:

“What’s your name?” They didn’t know her name was Molly Sweet. Only I know which is why I was able to tell you.

“Can I lick you?” She smelled like cotton candy, remember? I hope you’re paying attention ‘cus this shit is important.

Difficult questions:

“Why is the sky green?” Yes, the sky is green. You’re just color-blind.

“Why do you taste like cotton candy?” One fairy actually got close enough to lick Molly Sweet. He just barely got out the fact that Molly Sweet not only smelled like cotton candy but did indeed also taste like cotton candy just before he died of the injuries Molly Sweet inflicted on him.

No matter what they threw at her, she remained quiet.

No one knew why she didn’t speak. They didn’t know if she was incapable or if she choose not to. She showed up one day (actually just last week) and never said a word. The other fairies were naturally curious.

Fairies are big talkers. They like to share. They like to overshare. They like to fill the air with their jibber jabber. You know that chattering sound you hear that you attribute to grasshoppers rubbing their legs together? That’s really a plague of fairies all talking over one another. From the minute they open their eyes each night they start: their glossy purple stockings, the nectar they supped, flying through the dogwood blossoms, outwitting fireflies, kidnapping babies, disrupting the regimented lives of worker bees and army ants, the smell coming from between a dragon’s toes. On and on, from moonrise to sunset, they produce a ceaseless amount of noise.

The other big thing about fairies is that they want what they want when they want it which is usually like now or sooner. So when Molly Sweet didn’t give them any indication of what was up with her, they began a systematic attempt to force a response from her. This wasn’t planned. It’s just how fairies are. You know, the nature of the beast.

They tried everything: banana peels on the pathway she took to the brook, pulling her wings, hiding her hair gel. This lasted about seven minutes. Fairies have short attention spans. Next thing you know, a squirrel ran through their glade and they were off hiding his nuts from him.

Molly Sweet stamped her tiny foot. The jewel encrusted rings on her toes sparkled in the star light.

“Hey,” she screamed out at the disappearing fairies. But it was too late. They were off on new adventures and she was no longer the center of their attention. Her moment of fame had passed.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What's Up with That?

“if something is important, do it every day; if it’s not important, don’t do it at all” - Dan John, Lifting and Throws Coach

So, I read this quote somewhere, not sure exactly, since I bounce all over the place most days, but it stuck with me. I’ve had it backwards all of this time. I’ve put all the “shoulds” ahead of the things I consider important and couldn’t figure out why I was miserable and dissatisfied.

I’d do all my chores first: dishes, bills, work, things for other people. All these things that make me a “good person.” I was alleviating some guilt - not all of the guilt because I did these things with such resentment and imperfection and I knew it  - but never getting rid of the constant depression. I’m not talking about unhappiness here, either. I’m talking about a perpetual suppression of myself. It got so bad I couldn’t even make a simple To Do list anymore. My brain just said, “Stop it. I hate this crap and I am no longer going to be your enabler. Fix this now, bitch.” Yeah, my brain called me the “B” word.

And then, as serendipitous things happen when they are most fortuitous, I read the quote above and I did a V-8 head smack. (I’m linking to their site so I don’t have to put up a registered trademark symbol. Not really. I like V-8, a lot. No, I do. I’m not kidding.)

So, the question became, “What’s most important to me and how do I make sure I show myself how important it is?”

My writing is the most important thing to me. I must finish my books and get them published. They must come first. I have to make these things a habit.  

#1 - I must write every day, with no days off. To this end, the first thing I do each day is I write 500 words, any words, about anything, every morning with my morning coffee.

#2 - I must work on Revena’s Revenge every day.

Everything else comes after these two things. These 500 words make Day 5. (I’m only at about 350 words at this point in my little story.)

I’ve also got a working outline done for Revena’s Revenge and a much better opening scene.

I feel much better and it seems my brain has unclenched its sphincter muscle and its letting me think again. Thank the gods, because I was forgetting to do some really weird things.

It is very strange putting myself first. Most people don’t get this thing I want and feel I could spend my time doing something more normal or useful or whatev’s. Guilt is causing some twinges but I am learning to control that better.

So, now you know what this crap is that you will be seeing here each day. We can call it a mind dump or flash fiction or just the morning mess that it is. Regardless of how pointless and bizarre it may appear, I assure you this IS the MOST important thing in the world.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

No Rest for the Wicked

The river and harbors have breached their banks. There are floods filling up the roadways, the sewers so full that they backup into the streets. I run along the sidewalks just out pacing the flow of the rising waters. The stinking, chunk-filled liquid laps at my heels. I race up the stone steps into the long-abandoned convent, through the halls to the stairwell that takes me up to the roof. Water rises to the gables. I stand on the parapet, my toes curling on the edges, holding on with a talon-like grip. I take a deep breath and leap out into the air. Wind whips around me, blowing my hair into my fave, the tips poking me in the eyes causing them to water. I blink to ease the pain and block the view. I don’t want to look down but I’m drawn to the vision of whirlpools and waves demolishing the buildings of brick, cement and steel below me. Uprooted trees float like corks upon the aqueous turmoil.

Thermals lift me higher and toss me about disorienting me and making me dizzy. I no longer know which way is up. Or down. I fall, tumbling feet over head. My fingertips brush the wet rage engulfing the world. I take a deep breath expecting to plunge into the abyss when I find myself in a cardboard box. I collapse in relief, my fingertips gripping the damp edges. I’m whisked off over the edge of a cliff but unlike the coyote, I don’t drop down and go splat into the dry desert. Instead I go higher, across the canyon and above the opposite edge. I come to a soft landing in front of my old elementary school. I finally feel like I can relax until the 1930’s style gangsters show up in their Cadillac V-16 with their Thompson Sub-Machine guns and aim for my heart.

I start running and they give chase. The dirt road is filled with little, sharp stones that bruise and cut my feet. I run so fast that I kick up a cloud of dust that blocks the vision of the hoods trying to reach me. They start firing blind. Bullets rain all around me but I’m protected by my white sphere of light which lifts me into the air like Glinda the Good Witch’s rainbow bubble. Only my bubble is made of bullet-proof glass so I escape and end up in my special place.

The moss is as soft as cotton. A brook babbles next to my head. Spring-green leaves dance overhead in a light breeze. A spotted fawn lies beside me and keeps me warm. The alarm goes off. The bowl of salt water on the side table didn’t absorb any negative energy. The dream catcher over my head didn’t catch any dreams (at least, not before they got in my head.) Starting the night with self-directed dream scenarios didn’t keep my thoughts on a more congenial path.

I groan. There’s no wondering why I wake up exhausted.   

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Real Conspiracy

Picture a wood-paneled room in a secluded castle in a mountain forest. Two cotton-topped men sit in leather armchairs before a roaring fire.They discuss their plans for the future, lovingly code-named: How to take over the world by breeding and raising human cattle:

  1. Give them an invisible man in the sky who will take care of them after they’re dead. He has determined their lives long in advance so they accept their lot in life and they won’t have to do anything to change their lives. If they work hard in this life and accept their current suffering, they will be saved and rewarded in heaven. Thus, they will not question their status. “Blessed are the meek…” and “Blessed are the poor…”
  2. Take away birth control and abortion; remove a woman’s right to choose. A large pool of available labor is needed to keep things running and we don’t want to have to pay too much for their upkeep. Make sure they have lots of children. The more poor people around, the cheaper it is to keep them. We will have slaves in all but name. And this way, we won’t have to have any responsibility for them at all. They’ll think they are taking care of themselves and have freedom. There will be so many of them that we can keep wages low. They will fight among themselves for the privilege of serving us. We’ll propagandize it as the cream will rise to the top. Some of them will think they’re special and do their best to keep others from taking what little they have.
  3. We’ll have to educate them just enough so they can run our infrastructure but we’ll need to  teach them the myths that will keep them in their places. Their fate is predetermined. Teach them to pray for the ability to accept their lot in life with grace, humility and happiness. Their attitude will get them to the promised land.
  4. Scare them to death. The sky is falling. There are evil people out to get them. Threats are everywhere. Make them so paranoid about the bogey man that they are always looking in the opposite direction when we pollute their air and water or charge so much for a college education that most people won’t even bother.
  5. Since they will have to work two and three jobs to survive, advertise quick, processed foods that will keep them borderline alive. They’ll have just enough energy to keep working but they won’t ever feel really good and their brains won’t work well enough to think beyond the next moment.
  6. Make health care too expensive for optimal health but be sure to have enough emergency rooms in case of epidemics. You know what happened during the Black Plague. So many servants were wiped out that the rich landowners had to start treating their laborers better. We can’t chance that happening again.
  7. When all else fails, build lots of prisons to house the trouble makers, the individuals, the outspoken, the rebels. And raise taxes on the working class to pay for it so we have an additional revenue stream.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tender-Hearted Fool

Bacon and brewing rich dark coffee fill the late night diner with the sounds and smells of comfort that every insomniac and crack addict recognizes. Heavy white porcelain chimes in the background. Only a gum-cracking, pink haired waitress could make the scene more cliche.

The suit cries out, clutches his chest and falls to the floor. A brief vacuum of sensory perception is followed by the piercing scream of a skeletal woman who jettisons from a dark back booth out into the snowstorm. She will be found frozen to death by the dumpster in the alley in the morning. I know because I can see other people’s futures. Or more accurately, when they no longer have a future.

The waitress rushes over to the man on the floor. He’s dead but she loosens his tie and slaps his creek. He doesn’t respond. The cook comes out of the kitchen, stands over the pair, grease dripping from his spatula. The dishwasher peeks through a crack in the double doors, only one eye and water-logged fingertips visible.

“No cell reception.”

A couple of starving art students OD-ing on caffeine and ketchup packs so they can afford a single pay-as-you-go phone between them add to the manic energy in the room.

“I told you, the blizzard is blocking the satellites.”

“Yeah, yeah. You know everything. So, tell us...what do we do?”

No response from the five live people in the restaurant. Technically, I’m alive too but I am extra long lived so I don’t consider myself among the regularly living. I pull the edges of the hood of my sweatshirt around my face and hunch down further in my seat.

My movement draws the attention of the waitress. Tears roll down her face. Her lower lip trembles. Her eyes lock onto mine. She doesn’t flinch or look away. She sighs.

“You can get his heart pumping again.”

I shake my head.

“He promised to set up a trust for our child but he didn’t sign the papers yet.”


“Our son is ill. I need the money to take care of him.”

I lose the staring contest.

I promised myself I would never do it again but I feel myself weakening under the pressure of her need. Bringing back the dead never went well for anyone. Once a soul leaves its shell, it doesn’t want to go back to the old. It only wants something new. It gets royally pissed off when you try to force it into a used skin.  

I close my eyes and cover my face with my hands.


She wasn’t begging. She was tugging on my empathy. I see a small, young boy laying in a white bed, his skin blending with the sheets.

I push my life force towards the dead man. A voice in my head tries to remind me of the danger. I tell it to shut up. I turn cold as the corpse gets warm. He sits up, sucking air.

The waitress cackles and claps her hands. Her skin splits and falls to the floor. The demon fills the room, shattering all of the glass in the building. Shards pierce my skin before I make it under the table.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Calling

Jason stood before the window staring out at the still dark lawn in front of his house. The view was hidden by night and his own reflection. His black hair was darker in the glass. It stood on end from the hours he spent crushing it within his worried hands. He needed a shave.

He had no idea who had sent him the turkey. The ruined carcass of the roasted bird lay all over his kitchen counter. Bits of its flesh sprinkled the olive green linoleum like meat confetti. The unorthodox stuffing he pulled out of the bird was hidden in his freezer. Normally, turkey would put him in a pleasant stupor but he hadn’t slept in two days.

He wanted nothing more than peace. Instead, the voices in his head clamored for attention. The loudest voice told him to take his find to the university’s archaeology department and let them deal with the repercussions. He spent years dreaming of making a world-shattering find like this. Beware what you ask for. He choked on his laughter.

Another voice suggested he find a buyer, get rich and go hide for the last few days until the end came.

The quietest voice, the most timid of the three and yet the most persistent, kept telling him to do something to prevent the inevitable.

The option to hide and do nothing seemed the easiest. Except he couldn’t sleep. And he hadn’t been able to go back into the kitchen once he hid his prize. His stomach grumbled but food was out of the question.

He leaned his forehead on the glass, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He’d start with an easy decision. Do nothing or do something. Something or nothing. Nothing would require he sit down and atrophy in the same space with that thing. A jolt of adrenaline kicked off a panic attack.

The freezer door hit the wall. Jason grabbed the brown-paper-wrapped bundle. He jammed it in his jeans pocket and ran out the door. He hit the damp grass face first after only three steps. His leg cramped and burned from his hip down. Smoked wafted from his pant’s pocket. He smelled the paper burning. He slapped at the flames until the package hit the ground. The fire poofed out with a pop.

The note said it would know if he tried to shirk his duty. It would know his true intentions. He stared at it. The rising sun hit its edge and blinded him for a second. That stab of light cleared his mind. He rose to his knees. He reached for the box. Its metal was cool on his fingertips. He got up and limped back into the house.

He got a bottle of water. He sat in his favorite, worn out recliner. He opened the water bottle. He opened the silver box. He took the stone out and placed it on his tongue, took a swig of water and swallowed. Let the world’s redemption begin.