I wrote a scathing diatribe on the political hellscape that is ‘murica lately. Instead, to welcome yet another interminable month in this interminable slog of a life, I’ll write about rocks. I’ll mention two novels that will hit sometime that could be any time, really. And something of mine that got included in a literary journal.
Military parade with a bloated price tag. Tanks. Money to pay for this culled from the national parks and veteran’s programs. With ticket prices, VIP seats! Sumbitch! Kids in cages. But hey, Nike pulled the Betsy Ross flag design and PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS CAUSE FREEDOM AND RIGHTS AND HONORING THE TROOPS OR…or…or…mm. Is that blood leaking from my ears?
Yeah, I’m painting rocks. Badly. But it’s been a long time since I’ve painted anything. It seems a lot of people I know have turned to artsy crafty stuff to deal with…the drumbeats that celebrate the end of my country. With those supporting this screaming that we should get over it. With a ‘snowflake’ thrown in there.
I have friends also painting mandalas on rocks, leaving them places. Or writing some inspirational on a pebble, leaving it where others can find it and hopefully get inspired.
I do have a reason for why I’m slapping cheap paint on free rocks.
Last year, I went to the Death Rattle writer’s conference in Nampa, Idaho. I tried to sell some books. I was ill prepared. I didn’t have the fancy bank transaction app on my knock off Chinese-made phone. Where you can take people’s credit cards, run a transaction. Cause I didn’t even know that existed…I’m woefully behind the tech times. I’m also not up with how to sell your shit in these ultra-modern times. So. Learning experience.
I did get out of the house and mingle with others. Plus right there!
So I will attempt another attempt at a booth. You don’t have to pay a fee. Just apply for a spot. It’s held in a small alley by a bar. You sit there and try to smile and look inviting and friendly. Everyone seems to know everyone else. They’re all old friends or at least nodding acquaintances. But this time, for my wares, I intend to offer some art.
This takes place in October so I have the long hot summer to create. Or try to create something I can display without cringing.
I’ll also make some salt clay somethings. I was thinking pendants. One of a kind, small, tasteful, pretty. As I would love something like that and would scrape pennies out of the cup holders in the car to get one. I could also do some Christmas ornaments or even Halloween ornaments. I do write a lot of horror fiction. And it is my fave holiday.
If I focus on this rather pleasant problem, I do not focus on the crud coating my brain or the GODDAMN FUCKERY THAT IS CHEETOLINI and all that. At least, not entirely.
Also, I find other friends painting rocks or quilting. I noticed that Seth Andrews, who does the Thinking Atheist podcast, among other endeavors, got hooked on the Great British Baking Show. He’s been baking. I know tons of folks who love that show and then try to bake. Like, oh, me. Me, I’m one of those.
I am also hooked on baking competition shows. I find baking so oddly fulfilling. I take raw ingredients, produce something roughly like what I saw. I’ve even managed to produce loaves of bread. I’ve moved from just schlupping the dough into a heated up giant cast iron pot into cutting the lump of dough in half, then placing that into bread pans.
I’ve graduated to seeing what I can shape the dough into. Can I braid it or…turn it into something actually pretty or French Bakery-esque?
Yeah, no, not yet. But I haven’t been baking bread for that long and it takes a lot of flour. And yeast. It seems like a lot of people need comfort and an outlet to deal with reality lately. That everyone seems to have picked up some sort of art hobby or baking or throwing away all their stuff in some sort of supercleanse or life enema. I wonder why. I don’t. That was sarcasm. I don’t wonder why at all.
I feel like I’ve got an actual plan here, planning for a booth space I might not even get. But it’s a long-range plan. Longer than “make it through day.”
Ah, a flash fiction piece of mine, By Starlight By Starlight My Dear, is included in the latest edition of A Door is a Jar literary magazine. I had entered an earlier version of this same one that got soundly rejected, with actual criticism sent my way. I rewrote it. It got better. A Door is a Jar accepted it and there ya go.
Oh, so I think I have two books in editing right now. Alice in Oregonlandia, the not at all anticipated sequel to my dead on arrival House on Clark Boulevard. I kid, I kid! You’re supposed to Always Be Closing. That line from the Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross.
It takes up about ten years after the end of House. Alice gets a turn. The fall out of Nancy’s time in that house. Alice discovering a few truths about herself. How Art steps up as dad and caregiver.
Aftermath, which is my take on…wait for it…zombies. I know. I know. But!! It follows Hannah as she finds herself in a world run by zombies, after killing herself because she was trapped in a dead end space by zombies. Hannah tries to navigate her way through a vastly changed world, where zombies run everything and have all the political, economic and actual power. Set in Boise, Idaho, because, frankly, it’s an hour down the road from me. I had great fun writing this. Isn’t that the point of all this?
Thank you to everyone who bothers to read these. I appreciate it. I can be a tedious bore with my depression and endless string of failures. My tiny advances that give me a tiny bit of hope that maybe I should keep writing. That maybe today I can find whatever courage or gumption it takes to just keep plugging on.
You cannot avoid the news. About the American concentration camps housing children in filth, abject starkness, no basic necessities. Like soap. Or tooth paste or a toothbrush. Or diapers for babies and toddlers. Or food beyond enough not to outright starve people.
The GOP frame this as it’s the fault of the Democrats for not funding so and so. That those kids can leave any time. Just walk out. Past armed guards and…go off into the sunset, I guess. That Obama did it first so the GOP and Trump are helpless not to do that as well. The separation of families, the torturing of children, the secrecy and lies. Except it was Jeff Sessions, last year, who put this policy into place.
But what do facts matter when brown people can finally be treated as cockroaches again? Or more than usual.
We hear pundits and amateur alike point out how dangerous the language used is. That it hearkens back to Nazi Germany, to Rwanda, to Cambodia, to places where mass exterminations took place.
Dehumanizing others to make it okay to kill them in heart-stopping numbers. Thousands. Hundred thousands. Millions. Rats. Cockroaches. Scum. Rapists. Diseased. They all carry diseases. They’re all gang members and sex traffickers. So it’s good that we’re taking those kids away. Who are all trained to come here to infiltrate us anyway.
I did read where the Trump Concentration Camps are to be put under the auspices of the military. Which means no oversight. No monitoring. Nobody allowed in who is not authorized. Rather like Guantanamo Bay.
That those kids are being forcibly adopted out, even as parents seek to get reunited with them. Rather like America did with Native American children. Like the Australians did with Aboriginal children. Like Canada did with…There seems to be a pattern here.
The government of the US stepped in, on those reservations. They placed children into boarding schools, cut off their hair, forced them to speak English only, taught them to be farmers or some trade thought suitable to be useful to society. They were not allowed to visit their families. They were not allowed to go home, back to the place they had to call home instead of where their people had been for centuries. As those lands were now plowed under or buried beneath emerging cities. All of this right after the wrenching years of the American Civil War. Once again, the near success of stripping identity and pride away from people deemed less than or not quite human or not human at all.
You hear that Christians built America. You look under that even a little, you see Chinese people laying the tracks for the railroads that would connect the East coast to the West coast. NYC to Frisco. Except you don’t call it Frisco. Those that live there have told me that. But the Chinese were brought over to build the paths for the steel horses, and to fill the brothels and to wash the clothes and cook the food. To be laborers of all kinds, in every way. Families back in China sold their children during that time period, or sold themselves or got on boats heading to the brash new country as there was a horrific drought at that time.
Rather like the Irish and the Great Potato Famine era.
Rather like the American-helped drug wars happening in other parts of the Americas in current time.
Droughts, famines, man-made horrors that seemingly have no end, can and do send people to escape them, outlive them. Refugees. Outcasts. Seekers. They all have individual names. They are all humans. Same as I am.
There is a massacre of Chinese gold miners in my own back forty, so to speak. In Hells Canyon, the great rift in Northeast Oregon, very western Idaho. A group of about thirty people were slaughtered. They had set up a mining claim on the Snake River, the river that gouged the canyon out of the rocks same as the Colorado did the Grand Canyon. They had some success.
There’s gold yet in Eastern Oregon mountains, streams, lakes and rivers. You can stop and pan for gold alongside the freeway if you like. At least you used to. I haven’t driven up there for a while, it might be gone.
White men crept up on this peaceful group. Killed them, wounded them, took their gold. Some of the men were founders of Joseph, Oregon. Which is named for a Nez Perce leader who very nearly won against the US cavalry. If you don’t know that story, you should look it up. It will break whatever’s left of your heart. But he got a town named for him, set against the truly lovely Wallowa Lake. You can take a paddleboat out on it. You can walk around and look at the art and statues. You can attend Chief Joseph Days. In honor of a defeated cockroach.
The men who killed the Chinese were not punished. There was a sort of trial. No convictions. Everyone knew they had done this but the Chinese were regarded as a necessary evil, a blight. They were not granted the right to seek citizenship. Their customs, language and way of life were considered disposable or laughable. Bodies of those that had died had to be buried in China or the spirits of the dead could not find rest.
The laws regarding those from Asia said that Asians were not welcome. They had been brought here as children or…what does it matter. I guess. It’s old history. It has no bearing on anything today.
It seems all I have left is a ghostly wisp of sarcasm. A faint wraith with no power left to startle or actually haunt. I cannot even muster up a good sneer or that dry tone needed to deliver the deft blows of a well-placed absurdity into the squawkings about ‘illegals and gang bangers here to ruin ‘murica’.
I am not surprised that Christians justify what is going on now at the border and elsewhere with those whose skin marks them as targets. That seething hatred to dominate and oppress seems built into the foundations of that religion. It has never been about love. It’s been about domination, conquest and erasing all opponents as ruthlessly as possible. I might be exaggerating. I don’t think I am.
It’s my religion as well. At least it was. Brought up a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a Protestant. Martin Luther started an actual holy war with the Catholic Church back in 1495 or so. I was baptized. I was confirmed as a member of the congregation. My grandparents were staunch Lutherans.
I cannot see either of them going along with what’s going on now. Their two sons do. My dad. My uncle. They are both Fox junkies; they shoot up on Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson instead of heroin. They cry fake news in echo of their lord and savior. They go off into that haze, that high, with a blissful smile.
But I cannot see my grandparents, who were alive for WWII, condoning this. I might be coloring them with rosy lights here but I honestly do not think my church-going grandparents who both spoke other languages and were one generation or so from being migrants themselves, would clap and cheer at children in concentration camps.
Whatever faith I might have had in God has leaked away like dirty water into the sand. Evaporated. I think today I am finally admitting I no longer believe. It’s been a long time coming, as the song goes. I look at my country. I listen to the people around me grumbling about illegals. About how Trump is trying to save us and the lefties won’t get in line to let that happen.
My despair is profound, and awful.
There are children being kept in inhumane conditions in overcrowded cages. We are arguing over what to name such a thing. We are arguing that it’s just a matter of Democrats not willing to give ICE some funding or send funds toward the wall. That there’s a crisis at the border and the Democrats want a flood of…
Everything is broken. Another song title from Dylan. But it’s apt here. Never again. Just words after all.
I skimmed an aggressively positive art-related how to blog correctly post, as you do. When you’re scrolling with a bored WTF am I doing with my life? air over on Twitter or elsewhere.
The social media sites that seem to be the wildly popular versus those who are not, with nobody-land, right there in the middle of those two extremes, being virtually uninhabited. It’s an either/or world when it comes to likes for a post across the social media global-sphere.
Whatever! Totes my goats!
So! 80 percent ‘helpful’ content for those who bother to ‘stop by’ for a visit and 20 percent SELL YOUR WARES. 80/20 which equals a hundred!
So, here’s my advice for writers.
Do not follow my example, ever. There!!
Whatever I do, writers and wannabe writers…you do the opposite. Glad I could help.
Ha ha ha, okay.
I should work up a list of writerly advice. So those that ‘stop by’ can chuckle, shake their heads or nod with wide-eyed wonder at my deep nearly unfathomable wisdom.
It’s an either-or world lately.
I must reflect that here…instead of writing a fifty page monologue with no paragraph breaks entitled, simply, “manifesto”.
Which would basically just be cuss words arranged in, hopefully, some new and startling formations, and which will end with ‘death to all enemies of unicorns’.
Because actually naming your enemy or enemies in revenge-minded cuss word-laced pages means I might have to start a GoFundMe page for a team of lawyers to get me off on the insanity plea.
All of which would make for the blog posts that the blogger who gave the rules for successful art blogging warned against!
Number one rule for writers from me? I guess it’s write. Yeah. Write stuff down. Send it off. Wait for the rejections. It’s a fun and fulfilling cycle that will turn you into a stellar human ‘bean’. Ha ha.
Always end on a happy, jokey note. Develop a heavy thick skin would be my other rule…or pretend to. You can sob in private, after all. You can pretend really hard in public.
That’s what adulting is, after all.
Oh– I have two books for sale. Two!
Oregon Gothic and House on Clark Boulevard.
I also might have Aftermath coming out soon. It’s been in editing for a while, so.
After that will probably be The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane. I’m reading through that now and it’s a hoot! I’m not puking over how bad my own prose is! That’s always a plus plus plus! Cannibal bikers versus wily old ladies in Fallon, Nevada! It’s funny and a lot gross!
Dreams. They invade our sleep like strange armies. Jumbles of images, faces we’ve gathered while awake. I remember reading that the faces you see in your dream are faces you’ve seen while awake. As your brain can’t or won’t make up new faces to delight or frighten you with during dreaming time. There are no strangers in our dreams. Which is rather creepy.
Well. Last night. Yours truly had a dream. Where I combined my local scenery with that guy from Fifty Shades.
Stop. Stop right there.
You’re either laughing or already looking to perform an exorcism on yourself after reading even that far. It’s not one of THOSE DREAMS.
It was more me walking up and down the lane and road by the house as we chatted, then we were riding in a car, in what looked like downtown Los Angeles somewhere, at night. You know how dreams abruptly switch locations on you? Yep.
Summer. Sunshine. Yet the corn field across the way seemed in its winter state. Yellow bits of stalks left, the electric fence up to keep the feeder cattle contained. As people turn out their herds on harvested corn fields here, let them eat away to their heart’s content on corn stalks. Not being in the cow business, I have little to no interest as to why this is. Something about not wanting those giving birth to be too fat or something. I really do need to perk up my ears about the bovine trade, oh dear. Where was I. Oh yes.
Summer yet winter corn!
The juxtaposing of two seasons, yet the harmony of it. All while I’m chatting away to Mr. Fifty Shades. Jamie Dornan?
My truly malicious naughty dream inventor creature slapped together some amalgam of the Fifty Shades brooder with what is probably not the actor’s personality at all. Also, this amalgam stood in the lane, quite a distance from me. I walked up and down the road! Yet we could hear each other fine.
We had supernatural hearing. As you do in dreams.
Yes, a bit of polite flirting. I remember him muttering I wasn’t ready yet. Ugh? Then I was asking him what it was like to make that movie, if that was okay to ask him.
So it went from the Fifty Shades character to the actor, back and forth, like a weird game of chat tennis. It was both the Fifty Shades grim alpha hamster and the more down to earth, perhaps a bit more realistic actor persona.
Which I totally made up, I’m sure, for that dream series of sequences. Am I a fan of Dornan or harboring a ghastly desperate want to get a slice of that fantasy? Not that I know of!
The dream ended before we two arrived at whatever destination in this convertible car. You should always drive in downtown Los Angeles in a convertible when dreaming– that’s my sage advice for now and always. But we clearly liked talking to each other. I perhaps miss people I can talk to– that might be what this dream tried, in symbols, movie stars and country roads, to tell me. TALK TO ACTUAL PEOPLE, YOU TWIT.
Maybe it’s a warning. Talk to real people before you actually do become one of those crazy hermit sorts, muttering at the rats you’ve made your boon companions about the state of today’s youth.
Maybe it’s meant to tell me to stop watching awful movies, just watch the ones that win lots of awards. No, no! I’ll never give up my junkie bad movie ways! No no no!
Ah, well, probably be checking the mail in my dreams tonight while chatting up one of the sharks from Sharknado.
Don’t bite me, combined with– Did you enjoy being one of the main sharks? Wherewith the shark will bite me, then answer–Tip top, I did, old chum, it was jolly good fun, lots of laughs.
You’re British??Why is everyone British these days??
Don’t be spiffy, dahling. I’d like to chew your arm off, do put that in the mailbox already!
[My dream creator might add some Jeeves and Wooster in there, oh heck.]
A bit of light-hearted nonsense on a cloudy January day.
I also completed a one act play.
You may now cheer, clap your hands, grin foolishly for hours, o gentle readers. Celebrate in a suitable fashion. Remember to get some rest afterward.
I wrote twenty pages or so of dialogue about tigers, Pocatello, Idaho, and ghosts.
It needs some spiffing, pages numbered, nipple clamps added, but by Jove, it’s a rough draft! Mr. Gray will be so pleased.
Happy Halloween!! Here’s the flash fiction piece I read aloud for Death Rattle.
VINEHEART AND THE STOLEN DAUGHTERS
I stand at the window, look down. Far below me, is the old forest. The sky stretches in every direction like a gorgeous blue cloth, and I long to touch it, I long to grow wings. I reach out my hand. The sky ignores me. How long have I been in this citadel of stone and malice? My entire life. I write my small story on the pale gray stones, I use my finger and ink made of nightmares, so she cannot read it. I use my tears to wipe away the words that I fear remain etched deep, no matter how hard I scrub at them with my shabby homespun skirts. She brings me clothes once a year, plain and serviceable. Food appears in little brittle baskets. I empty myself into a bucket, there is water for washing my face, a cloth. At mystical times of the year, I have to take a full bath, under her eyes, to be cleansed and fresh-smelling for her rituals and rites. She brings me fresh flowers, not realizing how it cuts me to trace each petal, rub each leaf against my skin. Smell the odors of earth and life itself coming from that slowly dying thing.
Her name is Vineheart. A sorceress, a goddess, a demon, I am not sure what she actually is. She wanted a child. And here I am, almost grown. Vineheart will throw me away soon. The ghosts in this remaining bit of an ancient keep taught me to read, to make letters and words, and then swore me to silence…the ghosts of her other stolen daughters. Soon, I, too, will come visit the new daughter, stolen from some village cradle. Wearing whatever last I wore when still alive. One sits near the crumbling bit of wall, combing out her long transparent hair, over and over, with a transparent jeweled brush. Her throat sports another mouth, bloodless now. Vineheart simply butchered her with a stone knife. This ghost never speaks, just combs her long, long hair.
No. I will not wait here for that fate. My hair is long as well, Vineheart likes to play with it and tell me tales of dragons and ancient queens. She has just been here, and she was cold, distant, her pale eyes darting toward that village beyond the forest, where new babies wait for her long fingers to pluck them away in the cold expanses of the night. I watched her change into a raven and fly away, away. She used to lurk nearby, to see if I would try to escape. But lately, she seems indifferent to keeping me safe and locked away from all others. Oh can’t you just die, she sighed out, under her breath, her hair pale gold and dull. My hair is black as midnight and no matter what she does to it, it turns back into midnight and night itself. She quite hates my hair and curses it on occasion, but somehow, it refuses to bow to her wishes.
I know she has gone to look for a new baby to raise to fifteen years or so, before discarding that one and finding another…her endless cycle. She will return to this old ruin, long since fallen to armies no longer remembered, with a screaming babe in her stringy arms. And I will die by poison or her stone knife. My bones will be used to talk to her gods, as she used the bones of the other daughters she forcibly adopted. They told me. They watched her as she flayed their skin, removed their muscles and organs, scraped their bones clean. And how she sobbed, as if grieving. But still stripping the coverings of skin and flesh from their skeletons.
I fasten the end of my hair to the hook. The hook I always fasten it to pull Vineheart up. This will hurt me. It hurts when she yanks herself up my locks, though she is as small and delicate as the bones of a fish. I look down, the earth below me promising to break my body. And I ease myself over the ledge, my legs dangling, my hands gripping the stone edge, my hair coiled and roped and waiting for me to fall. My fingers let go. The fall shocks me. Freedom shocks me. I look up just as my hair yanks me about, and I scream at the pain, I scream. I lay there, on the earth. I think my ankle is broken, the bones poke at my skin. My scalp will never recover from that fall from grace. I am surrounded by the ghosts of my fellow stolen daughters for a moment, then they become clouds above my head. I need a new name. Rapunzel’s the name of every ghost here.
Well, it’s almost here. Book fair in Nampa, Idaho, for the Death Rattle writer’s festival. I airily asked for booth space to sell my stack of unsold books. Then, I decided I needed posters to advertise I’m a REAL WRITER. So I’ve been obsessing over that. Redoing them. Discovering I had some green body glitter from way back that, yes, can be used accordingly. I’ve been using spray paint.
I’ll also be reading a short piece called Vineheart and the Stolen Daughters, which is a quickie take on Rapunzel.
My mood is low, and I almost want to bow out of this whole thing. Just hide in my room. I had a job interview, I botched it, I did something very wrong. I didn’t get a job I could do in my sleep half-dead with typhoid. With two degrees in that subject. I seem to have “loser” tattooed on my forehead…I know, you’re supposed to be positive all the damn time. Sorry. I’ll buck up. Write some zany review of a television show that’s been off the air for years. Yeah. It’s been raining. We needed it.