Why I Blog? … No, Really, I’m asking.

I started this blog so I could:

  1. Keep up with some folks when I divorced Facebook.
  2. Add another creative outlet to keep The Associates (aka voices in my head) quite and in harmony.
  3. Share some photographs when I take any worth a damn.
  4. Share some Flash Fiction…

Ohhhh, but there’s the rub.

I put up two short stories and was working on a third when up popped a list of short story contests on my Twitter feed.  Hmmm.  Perhaps I should think seriously about the contest thing.  Put my money where my proverbial mouth is.  For around $20, I could submit a story, along with two thousand or so people (ack!) and see if I get anywhere.  The contests pay out a decent monetary award and publish your work on their sites, in their magazines, or even a few have anthologies published.  Neat. There are many rules and guidelines, a overarching one in almost every contest?  You can’t be “published” anywhere else.  Not even on your own blog.

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While not entirely bad news, as now I can run around saying I’m a published author. Albeit for a brief window on a barely read blog site, but we leave that part out, right?   I was sort of hoping I could post a few tales I’ve spun, entertain a few folks, get some feed back, and maybe, just maybe, be discovered as if I were some leggy red-head sitting at the soda counter in some near Hollywood diner.  Yes, yes, I’m well aware the 40s are over and they’d like their hat back.  I’m keeping the hat.  And a little of the dream.

So long story short (take that punners), if you want to read anything I’ve written lately, ask. Perhaps I’ll just keep a list of titles and you can check them out like at a library.

Because damn it, I might enter a contest or two. *sits up straight at the soda counter*

Useful Advice on Writing – The Holy-Moly Grail of ‘Net Surfing

As one meanders about the interwebz, it is difficult, nay impossible, to avoid running into advice. Advice about anything; too many things. Even if one is seeking advice, it is often a sales pitch, a scam, or clearly written by the president of the Tin Foil Hat Society. Regardless, even some of the better advice is at such a high level it provide more frustration than anything to be put in the tool-kit for practical use.

Yet every so often, a gem is trapped in the webz and ripe for your taking.

Claire Bradshaw has written such a gem. Here is an expert from her blog post on WritersEdit.com titled “9 SIMPLE WAYS TO SHARPEN YOUR MANUSCRIPT”:

TIP: Here’s a fun little test to help you identify instances of passive voice. Every time you suspect a sentence might be passive, try inserting the words ‘by zombies’ after the verb in the sentence. As a general rule, if the new sentence makes sense, it’s in the passive voice!
For example: ‘The rose bush was planted in the corner of the garden’ becomes ‘The rose bush was planted by zombies in the corner of the garden’. This addition makes sense, indicating passive voice.
Consider a change to something like ‘The rose bush grew in the corner of the garden’ or ‘There was a rose bush in the corner of the garden’.

See? Useful advice with strategies. And Zombies! Check out the rest of her post here:
http://bit.ly/20b0Whi

Where Is the Line?

When we are children, we have no skills to navigate the world. We take tentative steps, then zoom about, fascinated by it all. Yet, we can not speak, we can not advocate for ourselves. In an ideal situation a parent or two teach you to communicate, in the process, they learn your style, what your grunts, gestures, and made up words mean.

I think of a bawling toddler, swept up in an adults arms and removed from a situation. Perhaps a situation of danger. The toddler doesn’t understand the intrusion on perceived freedom. The child doesn’t understand, or care to understand, that the action was in their best interest.

Where do we draw the line for this behavior when it comes to the elderly?

How do you tell an adult that either their mobility or other faculties are impending their ability to live an independent life on their terms? Their actions are no longer safe and other adults, now younger, will advocate for them and their safety.

The elderly, if still firm of mind, are not child-like. They had full, hopefully rich lives. To remove freedoms is an extreme measure. If a person of reasonably sound mind makes a choice to refuse medical intervention, refuses to surrender the basics of a free life, is it right or wrong for others to take action to end those enjoyments in the name of safety and longevity?

I went through this with my father. He had a stroke at age 76. He lost his ability to use his right arm and could not walk. He was able to stand, making getting in and out of the car a possibility. Due to his age and other health complications, he was unable to return to his house. To his home. Every day, his wish was to not be in the retirement home. Every day he sat in his wheel chair and watched as the gurneys with the blue bags rolled by – another soldier fallen. Until it was him. His last wish was to die at home and that was not something that was possible.

My mother would never have been able to provide the kind of care he needed, which included hygiene, therapy, medications, and other acts of physical care she was unable to perform. Despite his insisting he could manage, he remained in the VA Retirement Home until his final, ragged breath.

Now. A friend of decades has had a series of strokes. He is mobile, but he can not speak, read, or write. He has to take a litany of medications. I have been told he is unable to live independently. If he doesn’t take his medication, it isn’t just a possibility of death, it is a possibly of a crippling stroke where he could be unable to move, potentially left to suffer for hours. Or days. The stroke could be severe enough to take away everything about him except his beating heart. Curled immobile, unable to speak, move, feed himself, take care of his hygiene. Death would be a blessed mercy compared to that kind of existence.

Yet, are the consequences of his choices his and his alone? He lived his life on his terms; is this the time to take that from him?

Where is the line?

Why Is It So HOT In Here? – Are You There, Great Creator? It’s Me, Peg.

I certainly hope You’re happy.  I’m starting to wonder if I’ve done something wrong to upset You.  I’ve been writing in my daily gratitude journal, doing sunrise yoga, recycling, recharging my crystals, and keeping all my volunteer hours with the shelter.  Is this about the book club?  Yes, we do drink quite a bit of wine and spend far too much time talking about men than books, but I don’t see how any of that would make You so angry.

As You very well know, I was doing the weekly grocery shopping at Whole Foods.  As I turned down the aisle to find vegan lentil soup, a feeling crept over me.  A slow, steady sensation of bursting into flames. “What fresh h is this?” I thought.  As the warmth, and by warmth I mean smoldering depths of center Earth, moved up my ribs, over my chest, creeping toward my face, I staggered, certain the store was under some sort of bio-attack.  Sweat erupted from my skin and ran in torrents down my body, through my clothes. Through blurring vision I noted that everyone else was just lah-dee-dahing about their day as if the end of the world hadn’t just arrived.

Hot, so very HOT.  I clutched the edge of the shelf, knocking cans of vegan beans (what the h else is being put in a can of black beans???) all over the floor.  I grabbed a sack of low dust Tahitian rice and mopped the layer of sweat from my face.

I don’t actually remember dashing to the frozen food section. My senses returned as the joy of icy cold, frozen peas rolled down my shirt.  I tore into several bags, dumping them in the front and back.  I was resting my head on a stack of organic corn nibblet pouches when I felt a tapping on my shoulder.

Now I have to do my shopping at the Krogers, where I’m positive they don’t sell organic pomegranate paste.

You’re not the least bit funny, Great Creator, not one little bit.

The Scar – Flash Fiction

A friend, a plastic surgeon, once offered to fix the scar on my left forearm.  She thought it was a shame that such pale, unblemished skin should have such a nasty looking scar.  I declined.

That’s the scar from when I put my fist through the glass of the French doors where we lived.  It was the only time you made me furious.  You implied I’d be happier with someone else.  All I heard was you pushing me away.

This scar is the only truth I ever gave to you, the only moment when I fought to remain seen by you. It is the only thing I think of as beautiful about myself.

Filling In the Holes

Sometimes in life bad things will happen.  Those things may be so bad they punch a hole right through who you are.  They have the power to change you – because you will want to fill that hole.  You are driven to fill that hole.  It feels as if all you know, all you are, is leaking out of the hole.  That feeling of losing yourself, of yourself being stolen from you is fear.  We have a choice how to fill the hole.  It simply doesn’t feel as if it is a choice.  Fear motivates, and it motivates quickly.  It also has the terrible ability to transform very quickly into anger.  Anger feels like sturdy, solid stuff to pack in to the hole.  Anger provides a false sense of strength and security.  Yet anger is an emotional cancer.  We allow whatever bad thing that punched a hole in us to remain.  In an effort to push the bad as far away as possible, we use anger to anchor it firmly to us.

It feels like such a familiar, comforting barrier from the bad that the idea of letting it go is perverse.  To open the hole is to feel fear, to feel fear is to know we are pouring out of the hole punched through us.

Even when there is a realization that the anger is a cancer, that nothing has been taken from us, that the fear is fleeting and has no power, we believe the anchor is too firmly planted, cemented into us with deep rooted tendrils we can never pull out.

That is the ultimate lie of fear and anger.  They are not deeply rooted.  They are gossamer wisps with no ability to hold on to us.  It is us who cling to them.  It is very much the matter of making the choice to let go.  It is finding faith that though the hole is very real, you will not ooze out and collapse, and there are other ways to fill the hole.

Fill those dark places with your true self, with love, with compassion, with understanding, and with forgiveness.

It’s easy.  It isn’t.  It is both.  There’s only one way to do it.  Or a multitude.  No one can tell you how.  Many are willing to help you.  You can try countless times, but you  only do it once.

And it’s worth it.

Are You There, Great Creator? It’s Me, Peg

Well You just never stop being full of surprises, do You?  We’ve come a long way, and You never let me down…well, other than my two chest bunnies.  I guess when I prayed for them to arrive so many years ago I should have been more specific about keeping them in like-new condition for the remainder of my life.  Now instead of looking like two firm grapefruits, they more resemble two under-inflated beach balls (complete with stripes!).  Those once pert n ppls now seem preoccupied with finding change on the floor of wherever I go.  Putting on a b requires having more arrangement skills than a wedding florist.

But I’m not complaining, Great Creator.  They were nice while they lasted.  The higher the top, the further the drop, right Great Creator? LOL.

I have to run now, time for the weekly book club with the girls.  When I get back, we really need to talk about this mustache.