Today Linda asks us to write about the first word that comes to mind from the last picture we took. I took this shot of my fried veggies at the OC Fair last weekend. These were a mix of mushrooms, artichokes, and zucchini. The first two were delicious, but the zucchini was meh. I also had a roasted ear of corn earlier, which was good, but not as yummy as I remember. As I found a seat with my veggies, I saw a place selling mac&cheese egg rolls and I’ve been thinking about them all week. They’re probably disgusting, but I’d like to try one now. I don’t usually eat fried food, except when I have a migraine. I sometimes get a small pack of fries, which makes my head feel better. Idk why. They also had fried frogs’ legs at the fair ~ at the kiosk where my friend bought a bacon wrapped corn dog ~ and I remembered how I tried those as a kid in NYC, not fried though. They really did taste like chicken. Seems disgusting now, but then so does chicken when you really think about it. My mom burned herself badly once when frying chicken and never made it again. I watched her cut open an aloe plant to soothe her skin. I have a big bottle of aloe for sunburn, but I’m generally too careful to get one. I put on lots of sunscreen before I went to the fair. Pretty much all the food there is fried and/or loaded with sugar, so it’s not gonna be a healthy day unless you sneak in your own food or fast.
I used to like to drink alcohol and began early. I had champagne at our neighbor’s apartment when I was 9 and my parents didn’t care (they were there too). The thing I associate most with that night is that the neighbors kept playing “Sugar Sugar” on their record player. My parents never made alcohol a forbidden thing ~ they just wanted me to be responsible with the car after I began driving. Of course, I wasn’t. But TG nothing bad happened. I was lucky, not smart or skilled in this respect. Just lucky.
Like many people, I used to associate drinking with dating and romance. It was normal back in the day (and probably still is, idk) for first dates to consist of a drink, or two or three, and then maybe dinner if we were still getting along, or not. Dinner dates almost always included a drink or a bottle of wine. Weddings and special occasions were booze-fests and still are, I guess. Funny that alcohol is ALSO associated with breakups, grief, and sadness in general ~ and not only in country songs but in real life. Drink when you’re happy, drink when you’re sad. Just keep it flowing.
I sound anti-alcohol, which I’m not. I’m just sad that it doesn’t agree with me any longer, and I wish it did because I enjoy the taste and the buzz. Occasionally, I can have a small amount (very small) with no ill-effects ~ last Saturday I had half a glass of pear ale and was fine ~ but if I have any more than that, I’m pretty much guaranteed a stabby migraine. I miss coming home from work and having a glass of one of my favorite merlots (pictured above) or having a yummy margarita or piña colada in a restaurant. I fell in love with cinnamon whiskey on a date way back when and it would be so nice to have that again (the whiskey, not the date). I also miss Bailey’s Irish Cream, which is fabulous over vanilla or coffee ice cream…
Although I strive to be serene and even-tempered, the truth is that my moods do swing wildly from blue (optimism) to black (pessimism). I don’t think this is some sort of chemical imbalance as much as a reaction to specific circumstances. Take today, for example. I’ve been really tired lately, even though I have managed to get a normal amount of sleep most nights. But yesterday I literally crashed at 8PM. I went to bed then and woke at 4AM with a raging migraine. IDK why. It could be anything from too much sleep to too little, from the weather to to caffeine. I know it can’t be alcohol because I haven’t had any in ages. Point is, I was in a really dark mood from this nauseating, throbbing pain. I decided I would take a sick day and cancel on my friends tonight.
But then I took sumatriptan and anti-nausea meds, plus put some magic Chinese green elixir on my neck and forehead. Idk what this magic elixir actually is, but it helps, even though (as my doctor points out regarding Icy Hot, which is very similar) it could simply be a way of agitating my nerve cells so I don’t notice the pain so much. It’s not a drug, so it doesn’t really DO anything, except it seems to alleviate some of the worst pain, that’s all I know. And by the time it began wearing off, the migraine med had kicked in. So I went from feeling really bummed out to being happy or at least feeling neutral and deciding I’d go to work after all and hang with my peeps tonight.
These mood swings happen with my hobbies. I was so into painting for a while and spent a bunch of money on art supplies. I painted every time I had a free day. But none of my work came out as good as that random rainbow tree I did at my daughter’s house. I guess that was pure luck. I hate everything else I’ve done and have thrown it all away. Every time I go to the art tutorial Facebook page I see all this FABULOUS stuff, with people going oh hi this is my very first attempt… what do you think? Idk if it’s BS or what, but these pieces are all SO GOOD. This has made me super discouraged and I haven’t painted for over a month. I don’t feel it’s irrational. It is the absolute truth that my painting isn’t good; it’s also true that you can’t improve without practicing. But I’m 60 and have no desire to spend decades practicing art. My idea was to have a few fun hours painting here and there and end up with projects I liked to look at. That hasn’t happened, even when I try to closely follow a tutorial. It’s like when I was 11 and spent a summer drawing doggies from a you-can-draw-doggies book. No, I can’t fucking draw dogs! ARGH!
As far as writing, I swing wildly between believing I write well and that I’m just awful. This isn’t a compliment-fish; there is nothing anyone can say to change my mind either way. It’s all about my mood. I recently reread Switching Positions and think it’s really funny. But then I read a couple of my more “serious” romance pieces and think they suck. I can’t seem to portray the intense visceral chemistry and unbreakable emotional attachment between my protags the way other romance writers can. Maybe because I’ve never experienced that in real life, lol. Actually, in Ghosted, I got close (though it’s more of a mystery than a romance) ~ I put a ton of work into Ghosted, and it’s OK, I guess, but then I read Jodi Picoult’s Vanishing Acts a few days ago and am like holy crap this is so excellent! I can never even dream of writing anything on that level. Now I don’t feel like finishing any more of my crap in progress. My OCD screams at me to finish, but I don’t always listen to my OCD. Maybe I’ve written enough and should just start watching TV like a normal person, even if my self–identity is kinda wrapped up in the writer label.
I feel like turning comments off for this post because I really DO NOT want any compliments about my writing. They’re just going to seem patronizing to me right now. I’d like to hear commiseration on mood swings though. Then I might not feel like such a weirdo. Do you one day decide you’re great at X thing and the next day believe you are terrible at X? Please elaborate. I really don’t enjoy the motion sickness of careening between blue and black. Jim’s prompt of sky today inspired this word vomit, so you can blame him. I immediately thought of this Jackson Browne song when I read his post, and no I’m not going to C&P a pile of Wikipedia text here when everyone is capable of looking up JB facts themselves if they are interested. I’m just writing about ME and, to me, this song is about the search for self, whatever that is, and while mine sometimes seems clearly defined, other times it’s as elusive as a whisper in the rain…
You’re the color of the sky Reflected in each store-front window pane You’re the whispering and the sighing Of my tires in the rain You’re the hidden cost and the thing that’s lost In everything I do Yeah and I’ll never stop looking for you
In the sunlight and the shadows And the faces on the avenue That’s the way love is That’s the way love is That’s the way love is Sky, sky blue and black
I celebrated this July 4th by flinging off my self-imposed yoke of fiction writing tyranny. Hurrah! Instead of dumping tea into Boston Harbor, I spilled it all over my laptop and destroyed my keyboard, thereby depriving myself of the means to gaze at the screen wondering why a best-selling novel authored by me doesn’t materialize while I screw around reading the news. Tuesday I had a meltdown while visiting my daughters because I’m so frustrated and stressed over my lack of writing progress and success, so I suspect the tea spill was a subconscious rebellion.
Of course I could buy a new laptop, but I don’t want to. My hard drive is fine and safe, if anyone cares, and most of my stuff is backed up, but I can’t write fiction on my phone. I feel relieved. I spent the day watching movies and doing NOTHING. I’m tired of telling myself that the minute I get home from the office, after typing on a computer all day, I have to start working on a novel or else I’m failing at life. Most nights I don’t even write ~ I just sit there, tired and miserable, staring at the screen, until I crash into sleep.
Maybe my subconscious was also at work when I titled my last book of poetry All She Wrote. At the time, I meant it about a specific situation… or so I thought. In any case, I don’t intend to stop blogging or tweeting, or even writing the occasional poem, all of which are phone-friendly. I’m only talking about giving up the agony of fiction writing and the hopelessness of self-promo. These nowhere goals have been adding to my depression. (I probably shouldn’t use the word depression, but since I allow people with regular bad headaches to call them migraines, I figure I can have a pass.)
These are the movies I watched yesterday:
1. Spaceballs! So freaking funny. I can’t believe I never saw it before. Loved it. Just what I needed to cheer me up. And whatever happened to Daphne Zuniga? So pretty! She was in a sweet romcom with my honey John Cusack back in the day. What was that? Be my google.
2. Winter’s Bone. Yikes, what an intense movie. I can see the appeal of Jennifer Lawrence now. She is incredible in this utterly bleak yet fantastic film.
3. The Age of Innocence. Generally I don’t like narrated movies, but there are exceptions to every rule, and this is one. What a lovely film. Everyone was superb. Daniel Day-Lewis is such a gifted actor ~ what a shame he retired.
I plan to feast madly on movies and books from now on. Other people have created delicious art and I’m simply going to nom up theirs and shoot down any idea that I need to write a novel, should such a crazy notion ever raise its nasty serpentine head again out of the tangled jungle of my mind. Begone, slithery, sanity-stealing, ego constrictor of doom.
Fandango’s provocative question today flings me into the dreaded realm of Overthink. Basically, I can’t come up with three wishes without going down the rabbit hole into Crazyland. Read at your own risk…
It seems like a no-brainer: just wish for good health and happiness for my family, right? But would that include my daughters, their husbands, and my grands, or would I need separate wishes for each person? And what if good health and happiness are distinct in Wishingville? Then I’d need 12 wishes… 6 happies and 6 healthies. And what if there are more grands eventually…
But how about my own health? I’d like to be free from chronic pain. Yet what if this pain actually protects me from something worse, like resuming dating? One of the reasons I’ve stopped (besides the whole thing being horrible) is because I’m in too much pain to be fun anymore. Maybe my pain is a blessing. I still have a nice life filled with my wonderful family and good friends, and I’m able to work, read, and write (knock wood), but being intimate with someone? Ugh, forget it. Plus, I often have issues with doing normal stuff like walking a few miles.
What about wishing for a f*ckton of money? That sounds like a good idea, and it would solve other problems too, plus enable me to help peeps, but I have to think about those stories where money either comes from a tragedy or results in one. It’s too scary to be greedy. Best to be satisfied with what I already have.
Going back in time to change things we regret doing or failing to do or even to say something different to someone is too fraught with issues as we have seen many times in science fiction, so I can’t get aboard that train of thought.
How about stepping outside my selfish bubble and wishing for something that benefits the entire world? Well geez, so many possibilities! Eliminating cancer is a popular wish. But at what hidden price? This seems like the start of a horror novel. A scientist finds the cure because of my wish, but the side effect is that survivors turn into cannibals or something.
But peace on earth seems safe enough. No more wars, no more fighting, just everyone blissfully sharing everything and having babies until we run out of space. And then what? I know! For my second wish, I could wish for a second earth so half of these happy non-warring earthlings could go there. And maybe my third wish should be one more earth, just in case. Idk where they would exist though, in order to be exactly like this earth, but surely there’s enough room in all the vastness for three earths to get the same amount of sun, etc.
But those aren’t really fun wishes. They’re noble, but meh. It’s more enjoyable to contemplate the selfish scenarios. How about three small wishes to generate immediate pleasure for ME without disrupting the fabric of the universe? Like how about giving me more painting talent? Surely that wouldn’t require taking something from another person or place. For my other two, one each to my daughters for optimal health. There, done.
The great thing about wishing & hoping & dreaming & praying is that it accomplishes nothing. Oh sure, maybe you feel good while engaging in one or more of these activities, but they have no effect whatsoever on actual events. Feel free to disagree, but no one can prove that praying causes anything, else my mother would still be alive. But that’s OK. We like to believe that our intense emotions get “out there,” somehow, and are powerful enough to have a physical effect. And maybe it’s good in some cases that people pray as opposed to taking action. Like isn’t it better for a rejected lover to wish and hope and dream than to go out and stalk the object of their desire like a deranged maniac?
That’s what the men in the white coats try to tell me anyway…
This week Dr. Tanya asks about 5 food fads we hate. I’m not a fan of new things generally, so I don’t try every fad that comes along; however, I think I can scramble up 5 today.
1. Fake milks. They just taste weird, especially in tea. I’ve never gotten used to them, though I can tolerate soy milk in coffee. Almond milk is yucky and so is oat. I don’t even know what oat milk is, but it doesn’t taste good, that’s for sure!
2. The supersizing trend. Bigger is NOT always better, and with our obesity epidemic here in the US, no one needs a bucket of fries with their lunch. The most annoying thing is that if you want a smaller portion, you don’t get any break on the price. In fact, you’re rewarded by ordering the “deal” of a meal sized for a whale. Same in grocery stores too, but that’s more catering to households with multiple people. If I don’t buy a gargantuan pack of massive TP rolls that will last me 6 months, I’m penalized on the price. Not to mention, we don’t all live in mansions with extra rooms to store excess items.
3. Bacon on everything. I’m not a bacon hater, per se, though I have ethical issues with eating pigs. That doesn’t stop me from nomming up an Egg McMuffin every once in a while though. But I definitely do not want bacon on salads, potatoes, cheeseburgers, or any other thing that is fine by itself. I tried a bacon cupcake once, and the cake part was horrible. Bacon does NOT belong in cake! But I must admit that a little sprinkle of crunchy bacon bits on the frosting was rather tasty.
4. Kale. WTF is with this stupid rabbit food? Spinach is far superior and just as good for you. I get annoyed even seeing the word “kale” on a menu. Go away! Give it to bunnies and turtles. Turtles love kale, which should tell you something right there.
5. Macarons. This was the biggest disappointment in my life! For a long time, I’d seen pictures of macarons, which are absolutely adorable. They come in a bunch of colors and look totally scrumptious. I was so excited to try one. And? Nothing. A big fat zero. I see them everywhere now, but I know better than to bother with them. Tasteless dreck. Don’t judge a cookie by its cover, and give me a plain, old-fashioned chocolate chip one, OK?
This weekend marked another step in my “return to normalcy:” I took the plunge and went back to my gym for the first time in over a year. Since my back is messed up, I only did a half hour on the elliptical, but I feel good about that. And then… ah bliss! I went into the deliciously warm jacuzzi and it was fabulous! Relaxing as a massage. I could have stayed in there all day, mmm. The gym wasn’t crowded and I felt perfectly safe (I had both vaxes back in April). I’ll be doing this again soon. Big smile!
Things are getting back to “normal” in Orange County, California. This week we achieved the yellow tier in the Cootie War. I’ve never been a zealot in following directions, but I did take the mask-wearing and hand-washing seriously. I’ve also been fully vaccinated.
Normal, of course, means traffic everywhere and it’s been increasing. The pic is old, but the cars are back jamming up the roads same as before.
Anyway, I lost interest in wandering malls years ago, before the Cootie War, since it’s so much more convenient to shop online. But yesterday I had an appointment scheduled at the Apple store, so off I went. After finishing my biz there, I thought, hmm, why not look around?
I have to confess that it was entirely enjoyable! I didn’t buy anything, but it was great to see stuff in person. I looked at baby clothes for the grands, checking out fabrics and colors and prices. There was an art gallery I had completely forgotten about, and it made me so happy just to absorb all the beautiful vibes. There was also art from kids displayed throughout the mall. I checked out the cool items in an upscale home decorating store… not to buy, just to ogle. I thought about getting something from Starbucks… maybe next time.
But the main takeaway is that my mall walk was simply unstructured time, free of pressure and purpose. I didn’t need anything nor did I really want anything. I was just chilling. I let the sense perceptions swirl around my mind without the need to make a decision, to click something, to feel productive.
Everyone was masked and I felt perfectly safe. I don’t want to be afraid to interact with peeps. It’s great to feel like I’m part of society again instead of hiding away in my home. I liked chatting with the Apple guy, and it was fun to see families out and about.
Melanie asks if we think gratitude is necessary. For a contented life, in my case, it is definitely necessary. The last man I dated wondered how I could be grateful for anything if I didn’t believe in God. That’s pretty narrow-minded and judgy, in my opinion. I am grateful every day for the good things in my life, even if I am not thanking some Guy in the Sky for them. I respect other views, but personally I have not experienced a glimpse of the supernatural, except in feverish dreams.
Part of the reason I feel grateful is because there is so much badness in the world, yet I am lucky enough to have kind and successful daughters, two sweet grands, a loving kitty, a happy living situation, and a good job. When I start to moan about my back hurting or the horrible traffic or whatever unpleasant thing, it helps me to think of the positives. It doesn’t take the pain away, but focusing on gratitude for the good keeps me from narrowing my emotional aspect to the bad.
Also, I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes, and I have rightfully been invoiced for them. Not by a god, but by the direct consequences of actions. Meanwhile, I’ve worked hard and been rewarded for that, mostly. I am constantly thankful for my perseverance in unfortunate circumstances and for the good people in my life who have helped me. Things could be worse… and I’m grateful they aren’t!