Archive for August, 2012

For the second, maybe third time today, I have started out to do one thing and ended up with something else entirely, so this post comes from a divine intervention of sorts.

Spontaneity hasn’t always been in my deck, but I’m learning to let the cards bend as they may, finding tranquility in the unwritten parts of life.

When I was, oh I don’t know, let’s say around seven years old, I was in the garden with a friend.

“Eat it,” she said.  “You’ll see.  It tastes just like honey!”

Being the people pleaser I still am was, I obliged.  I took the soft, pale pink bloom, held it up to the sun and watched as the petals became transparent; their delicate veins lying vivid against the anemic backdrop.

With only a hint of hesitation, I pushed the flower into my mouth and pressed my lips down, crushing it.

“It’s called Honeysuckle,” she jeered. “You’re supposed to suck on it!”

I stood there letting the bud seep a surprisingly sour juice over my tingling tongue.  A feeling set in; one I wasn’t familiar with at the time, but over the years I’ve come to know it as ‘the bad feeling.’  You know the one…the one where your kerosene-soaked heart plunges deep into the pit of your stomach and taunts it with brewing sparks.

“Why aren’t you eating one?” I asked her, hoping I didn’t already know the answer.

“Oh, I had one earlier,” she lied. “You just didn’t see me.”

My heart sunk lower, teasing the pit with its looming flick switch…

I turned and ran through the ivy-covered archway, back to where the adults were lounging on their lawn chairs, enjoying the cloudless afternoon.

Curling up on my *Aunt’s lap, I tucked my head into her shoulder.

“I ate a Honeysuckle,” I barely whispered into her neck.

“Oh dear,” she breathed, her frost-laden lips oddly emitting the scent of the Vaseline-like perfume she rubbed on her wrists every morning.  “Honeysuckle is poisonous!” – the p in poisonous came off sounding like a dry smoke ring being puffed into the air.

Poisonous.  My heart burst, then plummeted down to my toes, incinerating that nasty, old pit, lighting it in a hot, blue blaze.

“Yeah, I know,” I sighed…and lied, unable to say more.

Every night after that, for what seemed like months on end, I sobbed myself to sleep, waiting for the toxic nectar to still my clamoring pulse, praying I’d wake up in the morning, begging that the Honeysuckle wouldn’t be the end of me.

It never occurred to me that my Aunt didn’t seem all that concerned or that she hadn’t told my mother.  Had I been older and wiser, I would’ve realized these were signs that I probably wasn’t in grave danger.

I don’t know why I kept it inside…why I didn’t want to burden anyone…why I felt it was such a deep, dark secret.  I don’t know why my Aunt thought it was okay to tell a seven year old that something she ate was poisonous and leave it at that, but in the end, I drew the conclusion that *there weren’t a lot of steadfast truths in life, merely perceptions and perceptions can be our adversaries, atrophies and afflictions or we can add water, turn them into pulp and use them to write about on.

Thanks for the title, Britney


*this is an adaptation of a quote by Gustave Flaubert

*in the world of fiction i have many ‘aunts’ – don’t worry; you’re not this one  (see post thirty-five, #3)

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It’s my birthday!  I don’t often use exclamation marks, but in this case I’m attempting to make myself feel better about being another year older.  It’s already lost its audacity though, as my birthday was yesterday.  It turns out yesterday was an optimum day for birthdays, not new posts.

I’m from the North of Ireland, Belfast born.  I’m proud of my heritage and cherish my visits back to the abundance of family and friends I am lucky enough to have left over there.

Searching for a little inspiration to adorn my facebook page on the morn’ of my birth day, I came across a quote by a fellow Irishman, Brendan Behan.  It goes like this:

I’m a drinker with a writing problem.” ~ Brendan Behan

Now, I have no way of really knowing why, but I promptly lost two followers; almost as fast I uploaded, they checked out.

Brendan and I are trying not to take it personally, but we have to be honest, it stung just a little, especially for me, it being my special day n’ all.

I could jump to many conclusions about why they deserted me, but we all know what assuming does.  It’s not flattering.  I’m just going to accept their departure gracefully and adopt the attitude that perhaps I have done you all a disservice in not making clear (which, by the way, is the opposite of hazy) what you can expect from me.  I accept responsibility.  I am eager to rectify:

1. I do not praise alcoholism, but I will promote someone who was able to achieve substantial success and become “one of the most important Irish literary figures of the 20th century” in his forty-one short years here on earth.

2. I don’t pick and choose.  Holding back is not my forte.

3. I fib.  I pick, I choose, I do hold back.  I don’t depict autobiographical events without blending them into almost unrecognizable abstract.

4. I’m British, I write and I drink.  Unlike Mr. Behan, I don’t see any of these as a problem, but for your reading pleasure, I try not to mix the three.

5. I secretly like being another year older.  I just needed an excuse to use an exclamation mark.

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Wind whipped across the open window during my drive in to work and filled my head with flapping flags; I was running low on airbrush black and completely out of golden beige, the abandoned kitty I rescued four days ago (and half-heartedly tried to find a home for) was all too effortlessly curling up into my surrogate swaddle and just why had I decided I didn’t need to shave my legs this morning?

And then I heard it; the ad for printed toilet paper.  Yes, toilet paper adorned with advertising for various businesses and, you guessed it coupons.  Have I ever told you how much I despise coupons?  Pretty sure I’ve mentioned it.

Well, now I hate them even more.  We’re blasted with ads at every turn and inundated with fluffy discounts that sit at the bottoms of our purses only to be found once the purchase has been made or the expiry date has come and gone.

We go to coliseums and impressive light shows are begging for our open our wallets, we ride public transit (or drive alongside it) and are told what to watch and now we get to share our (very) private moments with Panago Pizza and twenty percent off a prime rib roast.

It somewhat reminds me of the days when toilet paper came in baby blue, light pink and mint green.  (Oh be quiet.  I’m not that old, I’ve heard stories) But seriously, there’s a reason that (toxic) stuff doesn’t exist anymore.

Toxic Toilet Tissue

I really don’t begrudge these fine young caniba…er, men of the millions they’ll probably make on this venture, but when the time comes, I’ll be more than happy to flush their dreams down the toilet.

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I’m not a rah, rah, rah girl.  I believe I’ve mentioned before, I was never a cheerleader. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for a little support, but it can only go so far. Eventually, the game ends, everyone goes home, the pom poms are tossed and we’re alone. What then?

I haven’t written for a while. I’ve been traveling, dirty and distracted, busy, not connected to the World Wide Web; all valid reasons for my somewhat short hiatus.

We all know I could’ve made time. I had my laptop. Writing and saving to post at a later date was always an option.

But I discovered something interesting about myself – the greater the gap, the heavier the fog, the fainter my fortitude.

A few cheers along the way did light a search for what inspired the rally. I reread several of my past posts and found myself thinking; “How did I do that? How did I sound so convincing?” Convincing that is, that I believed in myself, what I was writing and my ability to write it.

It proved to me something that I didn’t know I didn’t know; belief  in one’s self is everything.

Hopefully the cheers don’t stop. They are much needed and are appreciated more than possibly known, but the belief those cheers cause us to chase is imperative to persuasive writing. Hell, belief is imperative to doing anything convincingly.

We need to enjoy the rally and not engage the boos, we’ve gotta hear the accolades and not cry over the crud, we must pledge to prepare, perform and produce, not fall prey to position.

Success is the prize; trainers, cheerleaders and coaches can help push us there, but it’s our own two feet that will find the line and finish the race.

Don’t give up your place for anyone.

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“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Man, nursery rhymes are messed up.

Words can hurt, but they can also make us incredibly happy…euphoric in fact, when chosen wisely, used correctly and placed strategically.

But what if we only had a thousand? A thousand words to get to our point, a thousand words to evoke and enthrall, a thousand words to sell our very being, or a thousand words to make them believe?

We’d choose wisely, that’s what.

Write, write, write. The more letters littering the page the better is what a lot of us start out thinking and sometimes, it feels good to watch that word count rising. We feel like we’re getting somewhere, hitting a target…reaching a goal. But sometimes, we lose sight of what our goal was in the first place, or rather what it should have been. Was it to hit two hundred thousand words or to write with a flow and fervor of unquestionable quality?

One is not the same as the other.

I watched “A Thousand Words” a couple of weeks ago. My kids chose it and convinced me to sit and watch with them. I was cleaning up from one trip and packing for another, so I was reluctant and realizing it wasn’t the drama I wanted it to be after seeing Eddie Murphy’s face, I complained even further. (It seems I’m not a huge fan of silly when I have serious business to take care of)

But I soon quieted. It appeared Mr. Murphy was to play a literary agent and that’s all it took to draw me in. For me, the movie could’ve been about nothing else and I may have even secretly wished it were. As it turned out, there was a moral to the story.

He portrayed a fast and fancy agent that didn’t read. He was able of course, but simply chose not to. He went after big clients with the “it” factor; clients that would bring in mega money using a whole bunch of words saying a whole bunch of nothing. You know…the Hiltons and Kardashians of the world. (You can throw stones now)

Eddie’s career is put on hold when he is given a symbolic hourglass of time left on earth. How fast the sand falls is up to him; each word a grain and there are only, you guessed it, a thousand of them.

It takes him a while, but in the end, he learns to think before speaking, pick wisely…choose meaning.

It made me think of times when all I wanted to do was fill an entire notebook with scrawl; the more the merrier. Heck, I probably even dreamed of filling two notebooks. That was my goal – quality far from the forefront of my thoughts.

So, whether it takes a fast-draining hourglass, a leaf-losing tree or a badly reviewed movie starring Eddie Murphy, I’m grateful I have persuasive kids to make me to sit down and learn that sometimes silly can be real serious.


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