Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Look It Up Club

Once upon a time, I was a fourth grader. I had a magical teacher named Mr. Hall. After lunch, he read us chapter books.

He introduced me to a club where I have been a lifelong member.

The “look it up” club. It wasn’t a club in reality. It was a way of engaging children, me, with a love of looking up the meaning of words.

I love it when I am reading and I stumble on a word I’m not familiar with; or a word I don’t see often; or a mix of words that aren’t commonly used together.

Brain bleach – it means just what it sounds like. Something to clean your brain of nastiness. What a valuable thing for these times.

Recently I was reading one of my favorite authors, Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Castle. She used the words psychic dissonance. I am fixated on the concept of cognitive dissonance and consonance. But psychic dissonance – intriguing.

Psychic means relating to the soul or mind.

Dissonance means a tension or clash between two disharmonious or unsuitable elements. An example being the current dissonance between a politicians words and their behavior.

Psychic dissonance would then be a clash in the mind caused by two conflicting thoughts or energies.

Maybe a good example would be so many romance readers who love books where the hero is an alpha male. They love to read such a fictional character on the page but in reality they would never allow a real man to treat them that way.

Another example might be – I was watching Gordon Ramsey cook with someone else. That person put shaved chocolate on their cooked ground beef. Gordon could not wrap his mind around the notion of chocolate on ground beef but when he tasted it – it was good.

Psychic dissonance – it’s enough to give me a wordgasm.

De Doo Doo Doo by the Police

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Chatty Kathy; Kristen Hampton, Lorelai Gilmore

The plan was, once my daughter headed upstairs for her procedure, I’d find my spot, set myself up comfortable with some coffee and write.

You know what Steven Wright says about plans. “You should plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.”

Of course, that’s irrelevant here and he’s crazy.

While I was getting myself set up – four people settled in at the table beside me. And one of them started talking. Non-stop. In an annoying voice. I looked over and thought, they’ve got scrubs on. They’re working. They won’t be there long.

To quote the narrator for Sponge Bob Square Pants: “2 years later…”

Okay not two years but forty-five minutes later, she was still talking. And the other three people at the table were alternating between nodding as if they were listening and doing something on their phones.

Chatty Kathy: “blah blah blah ice water, nurse, urinal cakes, call button, Jello”

Person to the left: nodding her head

Person to the right: typing on his phone

So, I moved.

My daughter had two procedures and they both went well. On the way home she said – it’s Tuesday. I wonder if Kristen Hampton has a new product testing video on Facebook.

And she did. This time she was testing microwave-able pork rinds. Things to know if you’re not a Kristen Hampton fan. 1 – You should be. She’s awesome. 2 – On Tuesday’s she tests new products in her car if she’s in town. Or in her golf cart type vehicle if she’s out and about on her farm. 3 – She’s funny. 4 – Sometimes on youtube.com she does a cooking show called White Trash Kitchen which is also funny.

This Tuesday she was in her car. I didn’t get how she did this because I was driving while listening, but somehow she snuck a microwave into the car that worked off of the cigarette lighter charger thing. Evidently it was her wife Terra’s because she was worried about Terra finding out before she got started and reclaiming it.

Which started her on a tangent about some 5000 people who unsubscribed to her page after her last product testing video because she referred to Terra as her wife and they got upset.

She does that. Goes off on tangents. She also talks non-stop.

Kristen Hampton: “Me and my grandpa when we were little, well when I was little, he was not little he was old, he was always old since I knew him, because I was born and he was already old, but we used to go get a Pepsi and pork skins and that was our little treat.”

Huh. When she does it, it doesn’t bother me. In fact, it’s amusing.

Which led me to thinking about the Queen of non-stop fast talking; Lorelai Gilmore.

If you aren’t a Gilmore Girls fan, I can’t help you. There is, in fact, no help for you.

As a demonstration of the awesomeness of Lorelai and her daughter Rory – if you’re a fan – travel down memory lane with me – if you’re not – go on youtube.com and find this scene afterwards.

Fans – you know what scene I mean. She is talking to Rory about writing a character reference letter for Luke and she tells Rory she can’t seem to get it written. Rory advises her to just sit down and put pen to paper and write it.

Lorelai tells Rory she tried that and it didn’t work. Rory asks why.

Lorelai Gilmore: “My brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish…bicycle, unitard, hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey, monkey, underpants.”

Rory Gilmore: :”Hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey, monkey, underpants?”

Lorelai Gilmore: :”Exactly that’s what I’m saying. It’s a big bag of weird in there.”

In conclusion, there are times when non-stop talking is annoying as fuck.

There are other times when it’s just plain funny.



Thursday, February 15, 2024

Don't Wait For Inspiration

I attend Tuesday night Zoom meetings for Pinellas Writers. The issue of whether or not to wait for inspiration comes up frequently. I've read a lot of really good writers opinion on this and it's almost always - don't wait.

James Clear, who wrote a book I really enjoyed called Atomic Habits, has a newsletter I subscribe to. Recently he had the following in his newsletter:

Chuck Close self portrait

"Painter and visual artist Chuck Close on inspiration:

"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to do an awful lot of work.

All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case."

Source: Interview (March 2007)"

I think Chuck Close's words are one of the best explanations of why sitting around waiting for inspiration does not work.

I Like To Move It

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

A Fairytale For Melanie

 Long ago there was a girl, a girl and a dog. They lived a happy life in a lovely city in a land called California.

One of the girls, Jasmine, was studying to be a massage therapist. She spent hours of her day in peace and quiet learning to use therapeutic touch to heal aches and pains and strained muscles. She received a lot of praise from customers who thought her hands were magic.

The other girl, Melanie, worked in a coffee shop. She took the dog, Lasher, with her. Before she opened the doors of the shop, she would chant while she concocted a special drink for the day.

“We all come from the goddess and to her we shall return

Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean.”

 The owner of the shop felt lucky to have such a girl working for him and he would always ask her, “What kind of brew are you blessing my customers with today?” Melanie would hand him a sample of the drink on her way to open the doors.

After work Jasmine, Melanie and Lasher would head for the sea. They liked to live outdoors in parks overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Melanie would bring home leftover bagels and they would stop at a stand or a farmers market for fruits and vegetables and cans of food for Lasher.

They timed things so their arrival back at camp every day coincided with the dolphins coming in to play and feed. They would watch the dolphins frolic in the water while they chanted over the food that they were preparing to eat.

“Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inana”

Evenings slid into nights filled with gazing at stars and reading books they checked out from the library in Cardiff By the Sea. Melanie would play guitar and sing. Jasmine would take Lasher for long walks.

Sometimes boys would appear, enamored by Jasmine’s magic hands or Melanie’s melodic voice. They would take blankets out under the stars for hours and then the boys were sent on their way.

Life was idyllic. Such times are usually fleeting, though, and that was the case for the two girls and their dog. Trouble started when Lasher got sick. Melanie searched high and low for the right veterinarian but she knew – the right veterinarian was back in Maine. Meanwhile a bad man had become obsessed with Jasmines touch and he was stalking her. Melanie needed to take Lasher back to Maine and Jasmine needed to move indoors so she could protect herself.

“We all come from the goddess and to her we shall return

Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean.” 

They made their plans. The last night they would spend together would be Beltane. They decided to spend it on Black’s Beach even though getting there could be tricky. It meant climbing down the side of a cliff covered in loose gravel with backpacks full of stuff and with a drum tied to the bottom of the pack. There were a few scary heart-pounding seconds of feet sliding but they arrived safely at the bottom.

 A full moon filled the surf with energy and it crashed onto the beach making a kind of watery music. Lasher ran in and out of the water while Melanie and Jasmine built a balefire with wood from the packs. They found comfortable spots to sit on across from each other with the fire between them.

Journal and pen beside them had to be weighed down with rocks as the wind threatened to carry it away. Jasmine drew a circle of salt around them for protection. They beat their drums and sang the chant while the surf pounded and Lasher ran everywhere building energy to a crescendo.

“We all come from the goddess and to her we shall return

Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean.

Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inana”

 They rose from their seats, put down the drums and danced. They took turns jumping over the fire leaving the things they wanted to let go of on one side and calling the things they wanted to embrace into themselves on the other side.

When they started to tire and the energy waned, they wandered back to their seats, picked up journal and pen and wrote. They wrote of the beauty of the night. They wrote of the sorrow put in their hearts by the reality of parting company. They begged the goddess to reunite them someday and they vowed to continue asking until it happened.

Exhausted from dancing and drained emotionally, they walked down to the edge of the water. They got their feet wet in the sea and bathed their faces in the moon. They hugged and cried until there seemed to be nothing left inside them but peace.

“Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inana”

Their sleeping bags were in the car and they needed to retrieve them to sleep on the beach as the night had turned chilly. A knowing came over Jasmine and she insisted they carry everything up to the car. They made their way slowly up the cliff face. They were stashing things inside the trunk when a familiar man’s voice said, “You came up. I was just about to come and join you.”

Jasmine inhaled sharply: her stalker. She whispered quietly to Melanie, “Let’s get the car loaded and leave quickly.” Melanie nodded. The man kept speaking and they nodded and said uh-huhs so he wouldn’t get angry. He was focused on Jasmine so Melanie put Lasher in the backseat, got in herself and locked all the doors except the passenger side, Jasmine’s door. When Melanie started the car, he realized what was happening and stepped in Jasmine’s path. Lasher started growling low in his throat, steadily getting louder.

Jasmine took a step away from the man and put her hand up to stop him coming closer. They stared at each other. He started to step towards her again just as the wind kicked up and there was the loud shrieking sound of an alarm accompanied by honking. He turned and ran towards the noisy vehicle which must have been his.  Jasmine jumped in the car, slammed and locked her door and Melanie raced away.

 “We all come from the goddess and to her we shall return

Like a drop of rain, flowing to the ocean.”

Melanie planned to drive all night. She was a night owl and more comfortable that way. Jasmine was ready to shower, eat and rest. They parted at Jasmine’s door with one last hug. She watched until she couldn’t see the car any more then went inside.

Later in bed, Jasmine read the words she wrote in her journal and started to envision life on her own. She would be sad for a while but she would be okay. Hours down the road Melanie did the same. All that remained of their time together was memory and hope.

The reading of this story today and always is a plea to the universe. Please reunite me with my friend.

“Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inana

We all come from the goddess and to her we shall return

Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean

The goddess is alive. Magic is afoot.

The goddess is alive. Magic is afoot.

The goddess is alive. Magic is afoot.”


Blessed be.