NANCY’S SIDE

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The actual street my book takes its name from…

Note– I, the writer, was challenged to let one of my characters answer a series of questions. Being a truly magnanimous sort, I asked Nancy Stockhorst if she wished to give a small interview. She graciously allowed me to record her answers, which I did, just as she gave them. I did not edit them or leave anything out; it’s a very much warts and all little gabfest. This gabfest, of course, deals only with the House on Clark Boulevard issues, story and problems, not on Alice in Oregonlandia or yes, Saint Lysette and Bloody Alice, that’s right, a book three!, which wraps up the tale of the Stockhorst women. Notice that Nancy suggested I mention those other books; she’s quite a fearless sort and very pragmatic about more than just ghosts and how to cook a turkey. You wrote my story, she said, now get it out there. Isn’t that what you writers do?

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from the Hiffington Post. Christmas, circa the 70’s.

NANCY’S SIDE: An Interview with Nancy Stockhorst

My name is Nancy Stockhorst. My story was told to a writer, a local one. I never thought it would, um, well, be seen by anyone. I told her she should write comedies and nice adventure yarns, things people actually want to read. I suppose if anyone read about a few days of their life magnified and dissected so, they’d get uncomfortable, too.

1. What do you like to read in your spare time and has it prepared you for living through your own story?

Oh my, I’ve been reading that James Herriot book, about the vet. Where this vet has adventures with animals back in the Twenties. No, the Thirties, right before the war started. I enjoy it very much when I can get a moment to read. I have, well, had…two small children, a house, a dog, a kitten, some chickens, a husband and so much to do. And, well, there are other things that take up my time. Sometimes, they get very busy. I guess you could call them ghosts. I don’t talk about this, with anyone. I, anymore, just ignore them. They giggle and play tricks, that’s the little boys. They’re dead, I don’t know who they are or why they died. And there’s a little girl with a doll, the tongue tries to lick me. There’s one with jacks. One with a tea set, always trying to get me to play tea party. And. And there’s others, but I ignore them as best I can. I tell them to leave me alone if I have a lot to do. Oh, Mr. Herriot, in that book, just does his job. I’d love a lazy day to finish that first book of his and start one of his others. But you can’t, not when your children are so small yet and so busy all the time.

2. Do you think a character should be able to choose their own genre or do you think that would lead to chaos across the bookshelves?

Well, if my story were told by another writer, I guess it would still be a sort of ghost story. I don’t know how others see their stories. I suppose Mr. Herriot would not wish his book put into the cooking section. That wouldn’t make sense. We all wish to be heroes and not be made fun of. Others put us into groups but we don’t have to stay there. But if you’re telling a tale about ghosts, then why try to put it into the pile about boats? It doesn’t make sense.

3. If you had to write a story yourself, would it be in the same vein as the story you’re currently living through?

Oh good heavens, no. I’d not ever reveal what that Ms. Wuehler revealed about me! I feel very exposed and silly. She did try to capture most of it, but I came across so, well, as I did. I’m not like that! I try very hard to do the best I can and be a good wife and good mother. Those dust ups with Alice! And little boys take a bit of time to learn how to use a toilet! Aaron was a baby! Art was not himself during most of that. I do not cuss so! I’m very careful what I say. I’m always very careful. I came across as some…actor. As if I go about all day pretending that I like being a wife and mother; I do like being a wife and mother! This would just be a tale of a family getting through the holidays, they pile holidays up so. Thanksgiving and then a month later, it’s Christmas. Halloween right before that! Dealing with all that would fill a book no one would be ashamed to have on their bookshelf. Real things as done by real people. And I’d never include the other elements. There’s no need to talk about that stuff. Or what really happened to the chickens.

4. Do you think this story is sharing the greatest moment of your life?

Of course not. Wuehler strung together my lowest moments possible. Where things were not going well. Where I let myself get carried away, and where I let the others in that house get to me. I do like the bits about the Calgon bath salts and the red string, that was accurate and true. But other parts, I wish had not been put on a page. I felt and still feel rather, well, naked. All that silly fighting with Alice, when do mothers and daughters not have petty little fights? Where I let Mr. Blue…I won’t talk about that or him. I won’t give him that satisfaction. He won’t win, not ever.

5. If you were allowed to edit your story yourself would you cast yourself in the leading role or keep out of the limelight?

Of course I would make myself look good. Do we not all do that? My brother Tom is always the hero or the victim of his own tales, he comes out on top or someone else is to blame for whatever he did. He’s your typical man. Well, he is. Do we not all do that, though? We scrub away the troubling bits of ourselves when we tell stories about ourselves or gloss over something to make ourselves seem better or nicer or kinder or wiser. I did throw that damn cat. That was left in! I’d never include that if I were telling this story. I did punish Alice for talking out of school about things I told her not to talk about. Any mother would have done the same. I do like the bits about Ruth and Carl, they were portrayed almost exactly as they actually are. Just good solid farm folks. My own parents got nearly the same respect. I think Joan would be tickled over how she came across. I came off so oddly. I love my family. The writer of my tale makes it seem I don’t even like them that much.

6. Would you ever want to know the full page count of your story?

Mm. Well. From what I hear and see, Wuehler has been recording the Stockhorst tales into further volumes. She’s even now started a third. Several times over started it. As if there is more than one way to tell a story? I have no idea how many pages my little confession turned into. Most of what made it to the page seems determined to paint me in a very strange light. I did what I had to. To fight off that Mr. Blue and everything he did to me. Oh yes, there was also Mr. Peepers. He lived in Alice’s room. Aaron had his cowboy blanket and Alice had some little…thing that lived with her. He seemed harmless or I would have run him off. I did what I had to. I made pies and baked turkeys and figured out how to make all the others leave me alone. That could be reduced to about a page or two. For Reader’s Digest. And you could leave out all the ghosts and rolling beasties and Mr. Blue. I’d just be an ordinary woman dealing with children, a husband, pets, in-laws and holidays.

7. Have any scenes been cut from your story that you want putting back in place?

Oh goodness, the writer just put everything I told her onto the page willy-nilly. She even included the little moment when I spoke to my Aunt Pansy in the library! Oh, there was that scuffle over just how to explain my leaving the house when things got so very bad that one night near Christmas. She had me hurting Art, she had me running over to Susan’s, she had me calling my mother. Finally, she settled on me reaching out to Tom, my brother, to come get me. Who was cheating on his girlfriend, Freedom, so that was another way for the writer to show my brother in a not so kindly light. Yes, that was my brother’s girlfriend’s name. Freedom. She came with Tom to the Thanksgiving dinner at my house and she, well, seemed to see them, too. I could never quite trust her. But Tom, now, my brother came right over, in the middle of the night, didn’t he? I was portrayed as off my rocker and about ready to be sent to the insane asylum. I’d have left out how hysterical I came across. Well, not hysterical, really, more…focused and angry. Those other scenes had me a bit nicer and more like me, but the writer decided on having Tom come get me. I barely remember that night, so I let the writer take liberties, as they say.

8. If you could ever meet a reader in person would you ask for their review of your story?

I guess. I’d like to hear how I come across and if they’ve experienced anything like that. It seems there are other people who know about ghosts and such, I did look them up and read about them. It’s how I knew about making those bottles for catching ghosts and oh, dream catchers. And the red threads. But then again, the story is so off and odd. And not normal. I’ve kept most of what happened to me a secret in real life. Now my secrets are being turned into fiction, for people to read at the beach! It’s rather an uncomfortable feeling. And then to have people judging you based on whatever Wuehler chose to write about me! So much was left out. Perhaps her other takes on the Stockhorst family will include just the nice stuff. I know how hard and awful life can be; there’s no need to just write that sort of story only. Funny things happen all the time. Good things happen all the time. We don’t need a constant reminder that life can be awful and sometimes the dryer explodes a week after you buy it brand new. I’d also like to hear, from readers, how they dealt with daughters like Alice. There were days I thought I’d sell her to the Salvation Army!

9. Would you rather your story be light and entertaining or leave your readers with questions when it’s finished?

Well, my story did end on a rather abrupt and awful note. The writer just stopped writing. Called it a day! That’s not where my story ended, my story is still going, so to speak.

I’d have liked the House on Clark Boulevard to end with that Christmas chapter, where it’s just a normal family enjoying the holiday. It was done for shock effect, that ending, I scolded that writer and called her a hack. She informed me that the story does continue, in something I hope she only jokingly called Alice of Oregonlandia. Is it a comedy, I asked her. Sure, it’s got lots of jokes, the writer said. What is this further story about? Oh, it continues with Alice in the hot seat. About ten years later. Am I in it? I had to ask that. The writer just gave me a look. I take it I won’t like whatever that story, featuring Alice, will be, either. I think, if my story can get retold, I’d like to disguise my name. And make it more about trying to get ready for the holidays and not so much about the watching eyes, the trick-playing ghosts, the gigglers in the wall, Mr. Peepers, the furry rolling things and that stupid, murderous Mr. Blue. Did I do what he wanted? No, I did not! Yes, a more light-hearted, sweet approach. That’s what people want, not the gritty, dirty, ordinary sort of stuff that happens in people’s houses. Though, that can be fascinating, just not when it’s all about you and your house and your family, of course.

10. Are you happy for the problems in your life to be used as catharsis for your readers?

I had to look that word up. Well, I get so busy. So, someone will read my story and feel better? That might be a good thing. I just hope that Wuehler remembers I’m a real human being and not perfect if she includes me in her next attempt. And to be kind. That the truth might be shocking and titillating but that doesn’t mean it has to be told.

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Vale, Oregon. Yes, there’s an actual Bates Motel there.

And now, it’s your turn!! Buckle up, dear fellow writers. 

Ten questions for your character of choice to take a whack at:

1. What hobbies or interests do you have? Are they a part of the tale told about you? Why or why not?

2. What are you political leanings? What religion, if any, are you? Has the writer misrepresented you in these areas?

3. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone else? Why did you do it? Would you do that same act again and, if so, why?

4. What kind of sandwich do you like? Describe it. Are you a foodie? Do they have sandwiches in your realm, kingdom or plane?

5. Did the person/s telling your tale get it right? What would you change? What captured the essential you? What would you get rid of in your own tale?

6. Is it important that readers like you? Why or why not?

7. What’s your job, career or profession? Has this influenced your story in any way, shape or form?

8. Why does your story need to be told? What will a reader get from it?

9. Do you regret having your story known to others? Why or why not? Would you pick a different writer to tell your tale?

10. What parting words of wisdom would you like to leave us all with?

 

OH!! I’d like to thank Fellow KGHH author  C.A (Christine) Ardron, for suggesting I try this challenge. I’d like to nominate Lucy Brazier, K.T. McQueen or James Peartree. 

Ardron’s post:  https://morethanacat.com/2017/06/17/byrd-speaks/

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Mad Men and Madder Women

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from Salon

INTRO:

I am sitting here listening to Metallica sing Turn the Page and wondering if I can write at all. Yep. One of those days.

PART ONE: SHITBILL MOANINGS

Oh and the contents of the Mitch McConnel Shitbill AKA Some Health Care Bill We Wrote To Make Obama Look Bad and Give Us Lots of Gold went out over the airwaves.

It seems to be, in a nutshell, take from the poorest, the sickest, those who were born with vaginas, the elderly, children, the mentally and physically disabled…and give all to the rich old white guys at the very tippy top.

I’ve heard ‘cruel’, ‘mean’, ‘sadistic’, etc applied to this fuckery. American health care has become a case of lords versus peasants. Where those set to lose the most argue in favor of losing everything so they can stick it to ‘libtards’. Where liberals stand around and wring their hands. Where standing up for things like justice and civil rights and land, air and water that’s not lethally polluted will ‘hurt your cause’…No, that’s not from Orwell’s 1984. That’s ‘advice’ for how liberals should proceed from now on…silent about all they see and playing nice to not get votes because of all the gerrymandering and…oh fuck. Oh. Oh, I understand now.

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from the Policy

PART TWO: FASCISM 101

I understand now about Vichy. About why Germany under Hitler did what it did. Franco. Mussolini. Stalin. All the Big Daddies of Absolute Power.

That gradual weaning away of decency. That falling away of looking at each other as humans. That gradual demonization of the other. The shifting of those awful sands so that fighting against those taking up the reins for absolute power becomes an act of treason. So that willful blindness to corruption and greed and savagery becomes a merit badge. That Make America Great Again is code for Go Along with Everything We Do No Matter What.

A sneer that those whining elitists, they need to get jobs, lol. Marches? They don’t do anything, what are you marching for? LOL! Snowflakes! Find a safe space, snowflakes! SNOWFLAKES!  Vulgar nasty women! Our women are nice and pleasant! Just shut your goddamn mouths and sit your asses down, this is America! Support your president! Support your president, maybe we need to 2A your commie asses! Just get over it, just get over it, JUST GET OVER IT.

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from Spin

PART THREE: BRIGHT SPOTS

There are bright spots, of course. Voices that ring like big glad bells through the muck and the mire. People laughing at this shit and then bringing a shovel to combat the mountains of bullshit. Journalists, senators, ordinary sorts. Comedians, oh, where would we be without satire and sharp-eyed noticers noticing publicly what’s going on.  Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers…

Artists and farmers. Hollywood elites and granny dragging her oxygen tank to protest the loss of her rights…the resistance. They are antidotes to the poison. They give me hope. They allow me to realize, this, too, shall pass. Except…Canada and Mexico might need to team up, invade us and restore a democratic government and teach us how democracy works in a few years. Though, all those nuclear warheads. Just waiting for Velveeta Jezus to aim them at something. Like Chicago. Or Los Angeles. Or Portland. Maybe a small group of soldiers will take down the clowns and Cana-Mexi troops won’t have to bother. We Americans…always waiting for heroes.

Which is our biggest problem.

We’re that Bonnie Tyler song about holding out for a hero until the morning light. We want our politicians to magically turn into saints. We want Bernie Sanders to become a grumpy St. Peter, we wanted Obama to become better than Jesus, we wanted…yeah, there’s a list. And when someone who’s the same color as a rotting cantaloupe makes the very promises you long to hear…of course you’d vote for it. You’d have voted for a rabid hyena on meth as long as it wasn’t Hilary.

PART FOUR: I FINALLY GET AROUND TO MAD MEN

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from Wiki

Oh…girls, be careful. Act like ladies and keep those voices dulcet-toned and sweet. Never get old and never be too pretty yet don’t be too fat and ugly, either. Say just the right thing so no men get upset and yet let you run for office, how cute. Oh yeah, we don’t need feminism in the West. Of course not.

Remember, girls, be like those pleasing, do anything to please secretaries and wives in Mad Men, and keep your real selves for private. That’s what we learned from Hilary’s not getting elected despite winning the popular vote. From any other liberal gal running for office or already elected.

Don’t be nakedly ambitious, it’s not attractive! No pant suits! Don’t be grandma-aged! Yet act like a grandma, one of those nice Hallmark grandmas! Don’t be a threat, yet be strong yet bake cookies. And you must, now more than ever, gals…be attractive or no one will want to play with you.  But don’t be a slut or wear too much makeup or show a bra strap. Tee hee.

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I’m sort of joking about that…sort of not joking at all. Nancy Pelosi is getting blamed and villified…instead of those who rig the elections and smear the crap and…ugh. Come on, gals!! Get those faces filled with Botox and say just the right words so no one notices much what you say. Oh fudge!! Did I get off-topic or what???

Me bad. LOL. Tee hee.

 

PART FIVE: THE BEGINNING OF THE END

I went from wanting to whimper about rejections, wondering if I could write at all, to, tee hee, discussing gender politics, ‘murican health care and Mad Men. Which I’ve been watching so it colors everything a bit. Yes, will have a smoke and some scotch with my egg salad sandwich at lunch today…I hate scotch, so no, I’ll be throwing back homemade dandelion wine. Which I also use to cure my cancer, which I think I have, because going to a doctor is kind of like planning a trip to the moon. A fantastical, far too expensive endeavor at this point in time.

Thank goodness I have a gun. Which I actually do. If my cancer–which I think I have, oh my quinoa and kale stuffed gluten free zita baked casserole!  I looked up some symptoms on this blog written by this woman who’s totally legit, she worked for a construction company, so she knows how evil and awful Big Pharma and all that is–my symptoms were almost listed there. I do have toes. I have toes!

So if my cancer gets out of hand, I can shoot those who don’t like ‘murica and get away with it, because I’m too mentally ill to stand trial. Yay!!! Being patriotic cures cancer!! You were right, Paul Ryan! Real patriots don’t get sick! They also die off before they burden others with their care!

PART SIX: CHICKENS DESERVE TO BE EATEN

Thank you, I’ll be here all year, try the chicken! [As eating baby calves, AKA veal, is unethical and cruel. But chickens deserve to be eaten, because they are evil socialist commie birds who oppose the wall that will save ‘murica.]

You can now return to browsing cat videos, porn and the latest conspiracy theories. My favorite one is that Obama is set to take over America from a secret mansion. Any. Day. Now. Yep! No, I didn’t make that up. I didn’t. I wish I had. I’d be a lot more famous. Sigh.

I really did start this off to be about writing. The nuts and bolts of trying to hold up under constant, relentless, unmerciful rejection while trying to stay positive and cheerful, at least in public. Can someone gently steer me back on track next time? I seem incapable of self-direction, have no steely resolve and go off the path more than poor Little Red Riding Hood. Maybe that’s a novel. Or a poem! Or an essay about a stream! Squirrel! Wasn’t that movie funny and who cried at that first part? Hands? Okay, now I’m just babbling, like a stream. A stream full of wet, bloated dreams. Oh. Oh!

ENDING: LEAVE EM HANGIN’

Yeah, I’m done. Oh, read where you’re supposed to end your blog posts with questions to engage readers. Let’s see…mmm. When you hatewatch Twilight, do you drink scotch or Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill? Asking for a friend. Thanks!

 

 

Angel From Montgomery and Me

If you have no idea what Angel From Montgomery is, then that’s your fault, not mine.

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from Happy Birthday Wishes. 

PART ONE: German Chocolate Cake 

So. It’s that day. That day. That horrible day that comes around once a year. No, not Christmas! Birthday. Yes, moi is a Gemini. [That’s, apparently and allegedly, why I’m batshit crazy and scary shallow and a writer. Yep.] My mother once brought home a birthday cake with cracked frosting that she’d bought in the markdown bin, a German Chocolate cake, at that. Which is not a cake I even like, as my very very Norwegian grandmother [who made them for my German grandpa…] made them all the time and it was a cake that was for every day consumption. That’s pretty petty, but I am a Gemini. I’ve had people in my family die on my birthday. I’ve had relatives, including my own daddy, get hurt enough to have to go to the ER, on my birthday. I’ve spent this day curled up in a fetal position praying to make it through to twilight. I just breathe a sigh of relief when June 18th is over. When it’s just a day and I had some cake, a cake I’ve made, usually and nothing happens.

Part Two: Subject Change–

I listened to that song a couple days ago. Yes, it’s a song. Bonnie Raitt and her smoky yet clear voice, John Prine. Yeah. This is the song I pull up when I’m staring at rock bottom and thinking, well, not thinking at all, that maybe today. Maybe today. And listening to a lifetime compressed into about five minutes…somehow provides an antidote to the poisons that infect me. I won’t delve into this, nobody cares. Depression gets you an eyeroll and an earnest “Have you tried thinking happy thoughts and being positive?” Yeah. And hey, my writing is filled with angst, sighs, moans, groans, suffering and death. Occasionally I write Facebook posts about making bread. Balance, ya’ll.

Part Three: Lyrics by John Prine

It’s gorgeous here today. The doves have hatched a single baby. The people protesting Julius Caesar have never bothered to read it…and–

I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child who’s grown old

If dreams were thunder
And lightning was desire
This old house would’ve burned down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

When I was a young girl
I had me a cowboy
He wasn’t much to look at
Just a free ramblin’ man
But that was a long time
And no matter how I tried
The years they just rolled by
Like a broken down dam

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

There’s flies in the kitchen
I can hear them there buzzin’
And I ain’t done nothing since I woke up today
But how the hell can a person
Go on to work in the morning
Come home in the evening
And have nothing to say

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go

John Prine, from self-titled 1971 album– John Prine.

 

Serious Writer

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Free-range grazing. Yes, that bovine wanders over the highway at will. Welcome to Eastern Oregon. This is also the landscape where my trilogy pole dances and gyrates. Yay!

Welp, re-reading some stuff I flung on a page. Working on new project. June calls like a jaded whore, looking to make two dollars. I have hedges to trim, old dead stuff to haul out of the yard and birds to piss off when I pass too close to their territory.

I need to take some ibuprofen, for problems I’ll not disgust you gentle readers with. We gals are supposed to not mention our unmentionables but let others mention them for us, in ways both creepy and savagely awful. [She’s got a great ass. Dry-boxed old bitch. Oh now, surely you know exactly…of course you do.] If a gal mentions her own stuff, ahem, in public, she’s a dirty, vulgar not-a-lady. So. I won’t mention, at all, why I’ll be gulping a near overdose of pain killers this morn. It’s indelicate. Ahem.

Back to writin’!!

So!! I have about fifteen thou words on Saint Lysette and Bloody Alice, yes, I’ve changed the title a bit. [See blog post right before this one!] I’m already itching to scrap that version and start again instead of pushing grimly through with WHAT I ALREADY HAVE. I can keep what I have, just start a new file, see what good chunks remain in place what new chunks bob up. If that even makes sense?! It makes sense to me. I do that for playwriting. Rewrites tend to be a start over from scratch, to see what sticks around and what goes away. A technique taught to me and my fellow grad school flunkies [I’m kidding, none of us flunked] during a weekend workshop. Where you set aside your drafts, and start over and over…which is, granted, not for everyone. It works for me. It frees me, in a way. It also helps you, in that charming phrase, kill your darlings. Those phrases or passages or, at times, actual characters, that just stop the flow of your work. You might love a turn of phrase or a description that just makes you grin for days…but it might not be best for your project.

I’m also wrestling with JUST WHAT IS THE DAMN STORY HERE.

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Jake, also, wonders what the damn story is. 

As in…it’s a meandering mess in my head. I need to scheme and plan and dream and talk to myself —yes, I speak scenes and words aloud. I work out this and that aloud. I can’t be the only writer/artist who does this. I try to make sure no one else is home when I start spouting like Lady Macbeth. Or that I’m not in Wal-Mart buying hand grenades and flip flops. I try to pretend I’m not batshit crazy as hard as I can some days. I should get an award or at least a Nice Participation Award certificate–to figure out just where this is going. And then, of course, not go there at all because the story galloped off for the hills with a mocking tee hee. Not to mention a kick in the face when I tried to control it. Or, to be succinct and staid as a beige couch cushion…I need to get out of the way of the story. Except the story has yet to try to gallop about in any direction. Maybe there is no story. Maybe it’s just vignettes that don’t add up to jack squat! Whee!!!

Oh yeah, we have another shooting. A giant fire in London. There was some talk about impeachment. And how a Keebler Elf got grilled like a hamburger by a much-interrupted Senator, except she was rude and mean, according to the Other Side and didn’t do doodle to the Keebler Elf of Satan and…Fuck!! Probably why I want to go outside, where the still-fresh air is, and cut dead branches off the local bushes and trees and shout insults back at the ranting blackbirds. Get outta my sky, you damn birds! Go back to California, you hippie freak birds! Why do you hate Jesus and America, you anti-human freaks? Oh sure, it’s a lot of fun. I get to yell crazy shit and the birds…I’m not sure what the birds get out of it but who cares, right, they’re birds. Who cares, as long as I get something out of it. [Yes, I think some of the Fox Propaganda is starting to infect yours truly. I’m starting to just hate everything and everyone. Not that I am Ms. Peace Love Joy, but I am finding it far easier to just go, whatever, whenever something happens anymore…]

Off the scary political grandstanding going on and back to the grubby chore of writing.

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Up around Lookout Mountain. The infamous Snake River.  A dirt road. Anything could happen. Anything…

Ah…ah. This new project seems a chore, a…ugh. I’m not taking any joy in it. There’s no real compulsion there, yet, to see what happens next…Maybe there’s three books instead of one here. From Lysette’s angle, from Alice’s viewpoint, from Nancy’s neck of the woods. Or a three part book where I’m not leaping about from different narrative puddles. The same story told three different ways. Mm…that could get tedious and boring. Or be a real goddamn writing challenge. Or…mmm. Or maybe I can just focus on one untrustworthy narrator. Or. Or. Or.

Squirrel!!

Maybe I need to do an outline, gulp. As I’ve done them for all other big novel-esque projects, to at least give myself a fighting chance. I’m oddly very German that way. I don’t know why it would be German to do outlines but…yeah. [Oh yeah, the meticulous records kept of the death camps and…oh yeah. And having a lot of German ancestors, I can, surely, claim a somewhat knowledge of Germanic orderliness. I mean, the French are not known for lists and order and checking the right boxes off, is all. Why did I go off about Germans? Oh.] It might help me focus on just who should tell this story and, gulp, what the actual story is. I have a vague climax in mind– where one sister…for the other sister and then there’s pie. I can’t give it all away here, that would be anticlimactic for any who might actually bother to read the finished, if ever, product!

So. What to do to gild my steaming turd.

Which is probably much better than I make it out to be. I tend to be rather a ghastly Negative Nelly about my own flipperies in the writing arena. My confidence shagged ass south, permanently, for the long winter of my life. Yes, do cry for me, Argentina. [That works on several levels. Tee hee.] Which, if you’ve dipped your toesies into my blog, you’ve noticed. I know, if I just projected TONS OF HAPPY THOUGHTS out into the universe, which is just waiting to MAKE ME A WINNER, then everything will magically fall into place. I just have to envision happy shit and the universe will deliver happy shit to my doorway via great big exciting packages full of chocolate, rainbows, puppies and stardust. Oh…must work on how vastly and cynically cynical I am, too. That will go on a list, written in a neat, precise hand. Must stop being cynical.

Ah, the pain killers have kicked in.

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This is why the interior of my head looks like. It’s also an artsy shot I attempted capturing light coming through the torn canvas flap that hangs on the front of the old barn. Take that, birds!

 

BLOG POST ABOUT VAGUE WRITING PROJECT

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Crackle the Dragon by DraikJaick, Reddit

Yep, I started Book Three of my [some name] trilogy. I’m about six thou words in. Started it, like, two days ago. I’m going back and forth in narrative, a dueling banjos sorta cacophony. Two sisters, one story, everything finally explained. Intrigued?? Well, pull up a chair, friend. Let me walk you through this!

I was all bopping along, project-free, with misty ideas of writing an American-heavy dirge on the, gulp, probably real life scenario of–OMG Why Is the Velveeta Twatwaffle Nuking Canada? Only, I’d have those I find politically repugnant as the Main Characters saying patriotic schtuff and things. Just so I can ‘understand’ and ‘give them a voice’ and…yeah, I just fucking can’t summon up enough demonic power to fuel a short play handling that, let alone a full length musical. [Yes, it would have to be a musical. I just saw Royal Wedding last night and now, must write a musical where someone tap dances while singing vaguely racists lyrics and pinching girls in tight costumes. It’s on my bucket list.] When, as projects do, a terrible, awful, maybe somewhat okay idea birthed itself from the birth canal of my creativity. [Eww, gross!! My idea is all covered in icky creative birth fluids!! Ewwww!!]

What if.

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from Pinterest

That WHAT IF dragon uncurling its loathsome body. Breathing in my ear. What if Lysette…the mute sister who got her voice back…what if she and Alice and Nancy get a showdown or have to team up to fight the forces of darkness or have to take on the devil or…oooooooh. Mmmmm. Wheels spinning. The wheels on the writer go round and round, round and round, round and round. Nancy, of course, our main gal from House on Clark Boulevard, and her daughter Alice, who has her own turn in Alice of Oregonlandia and Lysette…who’s a big girl now in the mythical grunge smear of the late 90′s. And since I’m dealing with ghosts and death and the devil and…those that have died can return for a bit of a cameo and some clean up batting.

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from IMDb. Lysette went to school in Seattle and Frasier was set there. Coincidence??

Storyline?? Bwha ha ha ha.

Right now, it’s a vague mess about Alice being accused of…oh, let’s say, a crime, a big one. And she’s broken, battered and broken all over again by life, by what the devil…yeah. It ain’t pretty, but do we want characters who barely break a sweat and then win the lottery? After four hundred pages where the worst thing that happened to them was a broken fingernail and a bad haircut? NO, OF COURSE NOT. Lysette, now, she’s a tough cookie, in the mold of all tough cookies everywhere. Hey, fluck you, I’m like ten pages in, if that. She’s DEVELOPING. No, I’m not defensive or bitter. YOU ARE. Are we done fighting? M’kay. I’m letting whatever wishes to be free be free on the page for now. If Lysette comes out like a cross between Buffy and one of those femme fatale broads from film noir, hey, for right now…I’m gonna let her be who she wishes to be. Is that so wrong? [As long as something gets on a page, is that not the whole point of writing?? I read that somewhere. Maybe one of those super-positive slogans people post over pictures of fuzzy baby ducks. Fuzzy baby ducks!]

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from the Daily Mail. Fuzzy ducks, indeed. 

Okay, so Saint Lysette-– which is the working title I have right now for Book Three in my [name here] trilogy…like I stated earlier, it’s told from both Alice’s end and Lysette’s. I might even add…a third viewpoint to this heady feminine mix. Might. Considering it. It’s being percolated and bottle fed in my creativity nursery. [It would be Nancy. Nancy!! Yes, do it. Maybe. We’ll see.] I forgot where this paragraph was going. I’ve got MST3K pulled up and it’s DISTRACTING me from this obligatory blog post about latest vague project that’s oozing from my creativity nursery like a sullen mythical lizard on heroin.

Yeah.

So.

Anyway!!

I feel totally vindicated now. Yep. Totally. [Fuck you, you Velveeta Stalin Wannabe! At least I didn’t call you a piece of shit or show you sans head. Yay for me!]

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from Gunsmoke and Knitting. Yep, I borrowed someone else’s apt description. I think it was Velveeta Vader. But like the real stuff, you can throw it at anything and it sticks.

Oh, before I jump off the cliff, um…my favorite bit of news out of the UK elections. Lord Buckethead. I have no idea what his political views were or are. I am not endorsing said Lord Buckethead. But. Someone went around with a bucket on their head and got three hundred or so votes in that quickdraw election that May called for. It’s the little things that cheer you up and make you grin ear to ear and realize you can badly survive another day on Planet Shitball. Lord Buckethead, well done, sir. Well done.

If LBH was some British version of a KKK…ugh. Must now go look up politics of LBH. Sigh! No sigh needed!! AWESOME POSSUM APPLESAUCE. Next time I have to vote in ‘murica, I am writing Lord Buckethead in for ‘write-in candidate’ slot. My mother used to write Snoopy. She’d write Snoopy in as her candidate of choice. Because in America, we’d rather vote for cartoon characters than the actual…yeah, anyway.

Anyway!

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from the Chive. American politics is still weirder and far less funny than this, however. Ouch. 

OH WAIT!! A bit more of your precious browsing time!! Here’s, yes, the dreaded writing sample that must, of course, be included in a post about um, a novel. It’s the opening salvo! Mr. Peepers is still with us!! Who’s Mr. Peepers?? You’ll have to wait for the FIRST BOOK OF MY [some catchy, social media friendly name here] TRILOGY TO FIND OUT. Yay!! Oh. This is first draft-ish. It’s rough, bold and will probably leave a rash.  Enjoy!!!

June, 1998

MR. IDAHO

Mr. Peepers had gotten on my last cotton-pickin’ nerve. I pulled into the Deadman’s rest stop, outside of Pendleton, with the idea that I should shag my ass back to Seattle. I yanked a pack of Luckies out of my cleavage and noticed a young man watching me as he slithered out of his Ford 4by4 two-tone. Young, dark blond hair a bit too long, a scruffy face like he’d forgotten to shave or he was trying to look like Cobain, who was fucking dead as Reaganomics. Mr. Peepers made a schmoan sound, a sigh and a moan conbined. “We don’t have time for this, Missie Lysette!”

I got out of my old Dodge, stretched, made sure lover boy saw it, made sure lover boy got a real good look at my charms. He came right over. His plates had that Idaho tinge, and he was from Ada county. Was he headed toward Portland or back home? Like I gave a rat in a blender. “Hey, stranger.” I purred at the man, who stopped, his somewhat homely face lighting up like one of those Christmas decorations you buy at Wal-Mart, a cheap decoration you hope doesn’t kill you when you plug it in that first time. The closer Prince Charming got, the more fun I wanted to have with him. Just a young farm boy meeting up with a femme fatale. I had a knife, coated with salt, stuffed in my sock. I’d spill his guts if he tried anything funky. I had before. “You got a light?”

 

 

 

Tooth

It’s two in the morning and I have a bad tooth. Can’t afford the dentist. At least the super-painkillers I got last year still work a bit and there’s the bottle of ibuprofen and a ten year old bottle of Orajel if I feel daring. As I’m allergic to Benzocaine.  It touches my skin, I get swelling, redness, a rash.

Ah but I’m not dribbling out words in the small wee of the night to whine about my lack of access to modern dentistry due to not being born with a trust fund…no no, I have started the third book in what might be an actual gosh darn trilogy. I know!! I’m excited, too. My brain, lately seems to have stopped working. No soup for my brain, to badly para-mix a quote from Seinfeld. I just saw that episode, by the way. Still funny.

So…have no real story in mind for this third book. I just had a notion that Nancy’s other daughter, the one she thinks is imaginary, should take center stage and that the women of the Stockhorst tribe should have it out…or fight the devil. Or both or neither of those things or option C. Which I’ve not thought of yet because I’m, like, three pages in and already wanting to rewrite that. Which is good.

I’ve called this ender in my ‘trilogy’, Saint Lysette. So far, I really like what flowed like a ditch full of dirty water onto the white screen. She’s a tough, savage cookie who likes to play games at rest stops…and Mr. Peepers is still with us. And I want to bring back that character that…and I want Alice to have that moment with her mother and…And I want…

So. Three possible books. The House on Clark Boulevard. Alice in Oregonlandia. And Saint Lysette. Two are written. This last one has just been started…oh the places you’ll go, as Dr. Seuss crowed.

My tooth seems ready to let me sleep.

Oh, on a totally not writerly at all note…I saw Wonder Woman. I went by myself. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I don’t want to pick that movie apart. When you hear the slogan for WWI…The War to End All Wars…and you start weeping, in a dark theatre…because…Because you wish…you wish such foolish, never to be realized things. World peace has become a tag line, a joke, a…And today was D-Day. When the Allies took the beach at Normandy. 1944. Only the dead have seen the end of war, as Plato wrote.

Well, I have a new project. I saw a movie. My tooth aches. Good night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITTLE FROG

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Monsieur Froggy. Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon…

 

PART ONE: IN WHICH I FIND A SMALL FROG

Today, in the dog’s outside pool, a small, bewildered frog swam to and fro. I noticed it coming to the surface for a breath, then diving back down. What? An actual frog in a black tank of water? How did it get in there? Was it dropped there by some bird? Did it come off Jake, the big Lab, who uses that hard rubber cow tank full of rather scummy water, to cool off on hot days? I try to keep the water fresh. The water insists on evolving into an interesting little world despite my indifferent maintenance of that rubber pool.

That small frog. Floating about on the surface, clearly wondering how to get past that giant black wall.

So I made an executive decision. I scooped that little life up and popped it into a jar. Where that little life would travel a bit, safe and protected, to either the Warm Springs ditch just below the house or even to the Malheur River. Where it would slip beneath the brown waters and go where it wished. Clearly, the frog expected the worst. Why had it been moved from a relatively open and aquatic world to a tiny glass cylinder that perhaps still smelled of dandelion wine? The frog clung to the glass and then clung to the plastic as I transferred it, yet again, to a small lidded leftovers and small treasures container. What the hell, lady??

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View from the top. Mr. Frog awaiting his fate.

 

PART TWO: A WALK WITH A VIEW

Molly went with me to the irrigation ditch below the house. We two walked down to the ditch bank, she sniffed every ground squirrel hole and waited for me to help her hunt. A storm brewed, the sky going from that pale blue to that bumpy bruised glory that is the cosmic visage in the western high desert skies during storms. That Big Sky Country that extends from Montana all the way into the mythic reaches of the Manly Mythical West. That spectacular display of raw, elemental power and a blend of blues, from robin’s egg aqua to Baba Yaga fierce navy eye color. I always imagined that famous witch with eyes so dark blue they seemed black until you got close for their tornado blue to skewer you.

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Molly deciding yes, she’d like to go for walkies.

Mr. Frog sloshed about.

The water ran very high. Flooding has been common since the ghastly amounts of snow transformed into actual lakes of water that overflowed banks, went over damn and wreaked an unmerry havoc even yet as I type this. A lone egg floated in the debris that had gathered around the flotsam around the opening that allowed the water to flow uninterrupted beneath the road. A white egg bobbing in the faint current. Perhaps a duck egg. I opened the container’s lid and gently poured Monsieur Froggy onto mud right above the surface. He tumbled, then leaped. Those long ridiculous amphibian legs, the small webbed feet. He sank beneath the water, I saw him for a moment and then, not even a ripple to mark a frog had been there.

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A dust storm right before actual rain showed up. Dust storms are far more common in Eastern Oregon than rain.

 

PART THREE: STRAY THOUGHTS ON A SMALL FROG

Liberty. Liberty is a muddy farm ditch and water weeds throwing out long green locks to waver just beneath the surface like the locks of some shy mermaid.

Yes, I went out of my way to save a small, unimportant frog. I find I still fiercely care about the teeny lives that cross my path and need a bit of help or even a lift from a closed in dog pool to an open ditch where that life will take its chances with the local predators and accidents and fate itself alike. I find I am not yet numb. That as I write this and think of Manchester and Kabul and Portland, Oregon and Syria and…That I care. That something in my heart bleeds and stings. What can I do?

Love does not combat this hatred. The hatred of homegrown beasts, the hatred of not-homegrown beasts…their hatred is one and the same. Kill the other, kill the other, kill the other.  I’m afraid. That vast savage tide seems about to break over us again. When we forget those other vast savage tides that were only held back by…I don’t even know right now if they were held back at all. If those rancid tides just kept coming in to shores that secretly or not so secretly welcomed them with a promise that soon, soon…Soon, your time will come around again and some rough beast will slouch its way to Bethlehem already born and past ready to use its claws. Use them in a way we can’t recover from until the next bout of vast savage tide begins to gather postulants and the grinning faithful who have God and Truth on their side. I want to mouth the pretty bromides that love conquers hate, that love conquers hate but…it doesn’t. Hate waits and is patient and makes plans…love thinks it can win. Hate never gets tired but love grows old. And here we are again, on the brink of something truly ghastly, with only a few more little pushes to allow that tide to roll on in with a filthy happy sigh. We expect people to be decent. We expect them to care. We expect them to find charity toward those they’ve been told are subhuman garbage…we expect them to change and learn a lesson and magically stop being who they are. We expect them to stop hating. We expect. I’m afraid actual hatred doesn’t work that way at all; it’s not a movie where some life lesson is learned after…What rough beast slouches its way toward America to be born. What rough beast is already here. What rough beast.

PART FOUR: REGROUPING

I had started off this post to merely tell about a tiny slice of time taking a trapped frog to a ditch. Some bright, shallow, slightly amusing take on country life, small amphibians and a happy dog. I am not a sharer of my deep, tender, raw anything…I have been badly and at times, publicly, burned alive for it. With everyone laughing as I burned and writhed and tried to pretend I wasn’t melting in agony. I retreated to words. I retreated behind walls of words. The world bewilders and tires me. Sometimes the words flow, sometimes they remain limp and DOA on that poor page. I started off this post and thoughts got in my way.

I am perhaps at the lowest point in my life right now. I admit that. My thoughts fill with horrible things that feel so comforting. Shhh, just go away now. Shh, just slip away now. Shhh, it’s all right, just slip away now. That nearly endless refrain that never goes silent, that gentle chorus of the damned. But today, I helped a small, bewildered frog. I watched it sink beneath brown waters, into the wavering hair of the bright green water weeds. The dog, Molly, nearly stood on a small snake. I lifted an old board and there it was, the tongue flicking nervously in and out as it lay there curled up in a perfect circle, a tan snake, perhaps even a young rattler…or a young bull snake or a snake I’ve yet to name, hoping it would not have to escape from its comfortable little spot beneath that old, rotting board. I carefully put that board back down and Molly never saw the snake. I saw it. I crossed paths with a small frog today and a small, young snake. I did what I could and I tried to harm no one. That I still wish to help and harm no little life…

I don’t know if that means anything anymore.

PART FIVE: CONFESSIONAL 

Oh I didn’t mean for this to become confessional. To offer a glimpse of my cringing, naked, nearly dead soul. How far must I fall yet to climb back up…or am I not climbing back up this time around. And will I, like that small frog, sink beneath waters and pass from the story. I will not know his ending. He was trapped in that dog pool. I scooped him up and took him to the irrigation ditch. I let him go. He went. Is there a better small story than that? A story that ends with a bit of hope and mystery and a cool descent into unknown depths? Is it not a version of the Birth/Life/Death/Birth trope? I am nearly dreamless these days and breathing in the faint, still-lingering fumes of Hope and Ambition and Purpose. Hope is the worst. It kills by slow, awful, decades-long degrees…Hope is the thing with tiny razor blades, that perches in the soul.

PART SIX: THAT ROUGH BEAST HOPE

Hope is the thing that even that rough beast cannot devour. Hope is the thing even that vast savage tide can’t drown. Hope is that small, bewildered frog seeming to sigh with real happiness as it sank, sank, sank until I couldn’t see it anymore.

Maybe it’s not love that’s needed right now. Maybe it’s something far more ancient and resilient and malleable. Maybe it’s hope. Faith, love and hope, the greatest of these…is hope. Faith fades, love dies…but hope is idiotically, mindlessly eternal. Maybe it’s hope that conquers that tide starting to roll in. The notion that things cannot remain so dark and relentlessly grim and stark as shadows on a wall.

Hope is the thing with tiny razor blades, that perches in the soul.

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from Tiny Snek Comics