Hamster Wheels… 

Sometimes life is about taking leaps when you aren’t sure where you are going to land. But you need to leap because the hamster wheel you are on is only staying in the cage and there’s an opportunity to “go outside”. That’s where I feel I am at right now. And when one of my best friends offered me the opportunity to try something different by joining the Rodan + Fields team, I initially (ok, a few times) put her off. This is not for me. No way. I don’t think I fit the bill. All those thoughts ran through my head. But… there was a but. But, what if? And I couldn’t stop that what if as much as I tried. Continue reading

#ThePlague (or Return to the Living)

Doubt. Doubt plagues me me at every step. Am I good enough? echoes between the hollows of my skull. A relentless mantra that paralyzes. Freezes in time the thought, the action, the urge to try.

Doubt, and its friend delay, are self-realizing prophecies. It would be correct  to say I won’t achieve what I want because I am not good enough, because I won’t – if never try. 

And by trying, I practice. And everyone knows practice makes perfect. 

Fuck doubt. I got this. 

In Which She Takes a Break (Also Known As: Yah, Right)

My first novel, the one that has taken me nearly two and a half years to write, is finally being read by actual people for the first time! And by actual people, I mean someone who is not me. Of course, directly after I sent it out to my wonderful beta readers I started re-reading it again and found it lacking in SOO many areas. Apparently I have learned a lot since starting my third edit and finishing it. And I’ve started getting feedback which is awesome and amazing and a bit soul crushing to think of how much work that novel still has left. Continue reading

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

When I was a young school kid, if someone had told me that I would still be doing book reports, I probably would have laughed. And yet here I am, of middling thirties deciding independently on my own that I want to do “book reports” again.  

Some may be long, some may be short. Some may be good reviews, and some may be bad. I’m hoping I read more good books than bad. Although heaven help me, one of the worst books I’ve ever read I couldn’t put down. Please don’t make me mention it. I’m truly embarrassed.  

So, to kick my new book review postings off we’ll start with One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. 
One Hundred Years of Solitude took almost that long for me to finish (well, minus 90 years). A decade ago the scent of freshly printed pages filled my head and fueled my imagination as I meandered through the aisles of a bookstore, searching for something to distract me from a post break-up aching heart. The vibrant greens of this book drew my eye (I know it’s said to never judge a book by its cover – but I believe we all do to some point, at least initially). I reached for it not realizing it would be ten years later before I came to the end.  

  

The verdant lushness of the cover that enticed me melds perfectly with the damp wilderness that would become the town Macando, founded by a group of semi-refugees lead by Jose Acardio Buendía from Riohacha (vaguely identified as somewhere over the mountains). The “where” and “when” of Macando took time for me to decipher – perhaps the residents of Macando also felt the same confusion, as time and distance stretched and contracted and repeated with the annual visit of gypsies, perpetual habitation by ghosts of relatives long past, and the mysterious parchments written in a strange touch – the deciphering of which one male from each generation would attempt to undertake at one point or another.  

The novel follows the family of the Buendías from founders of a flourishing town, pillars of the community, to the eventual demise of both good name and town. An epic saga of bitterness, obsession, and the pig-tails that may not have grown on the body but are there in the heart. Translated into English by Gregory Rabassa, the words are evocative, merging mystical happenings next to the mundane. The assumption of Remedios to the everlasting battle with red ants are spoken of in the same matter-of-fact way. The story meanders a bit, following one family member, and then without warning the mention of another will detour the story. Even with the non-linear plot the language of the story kept me hooked (at least this second time around).  

With the continuous repetition of Jose Acardío’s and Aureliano’s in this novel I had to reference the family tree depicted at the beginning of the novel often, quite often in fact. The repetition of names annoyed me during the first half of this novel. Why would a family continue to use the same two variances of the same name? Why would an author torture his reader so? Even the females were not immune to the repetition, but on a lesser scale. As the story continued its spiral path to the ending, I began to see the point Márquez was attempting and my annoyance disappeared, replaced with a slight smile and nod to the novel in my hands. Well done, sir, well done.  

 

Buendía Family Tree. source: unknown
 
Mysterious parchments left by Melquíades, the ethereal gypsy friend of Jose Acardío (the first), were obsessed over by generational members of the family and then, as was wont to be were distracted by new obsessions (usually love). Like the characters in the book I also became distracted from this novel. This is not a novel you can put down and pick up a few months later – not unless you have a much better memory than I (which is quite possible- my memory is… What was I saying?) Anyway, the first time round non-linear trajectory of the novel did not hold my attention when came up against my new obsession… also love. There are no time for books when LOVE has first sprung! Luckily this book still graced our dusty shelves when I was looking for a tactile book to hold. I love my Kindle app, but sometimes I want to feel the paper under my fingers. I am glad I picked up this masterpiece again. It’s not easy reading, and sometimes it’s not even that enjoyable – it can be disturbing and unsettling or even slightly boring, but those are all parts of the journey for the life and death of the Buendías, those are all parts of the journey for our own lives.    

  

Jared Leto is a vampire and other musings

Someone told me recently that Bill Murrary’s character in Groundhog Day (a movie that I could watch over and over) was supposed to have spent 10,000 years repeating the same day. This supposedly is based on a Hindu (?) idea that it takes 10,000 years to perfect a soul. (This could all be verifiable with a simple Google search, but its validity is beside the point for this blog post.) 

10,000 years. Of repeating the same damn day. I would go crazy several times over. I literally cannot even imagine how long that is. Poor Bill Murray. 

When I was in a young teenager I desperately wanted to be a vampire. So much so that I wore a garnet necklace with a false back around my neck with a note tucked inside that read Dear Vampire – please drink my blood and make me a vampire like you. Thanks! (Or something to that effect.) My desire stemmed less from an urge to drink blood and more from a want to never grow old, to live forever. And to hang out with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. I could add Jared Leto but I didn’t realize he was a vampire until very recently. There is no other explanation for his supernatural skin. How can he look the same in his mid-40s as he did when I watched him with angsty googly eyes in middle school. See? Vampire – a day walking one for sure. Has anyone seen him in direct sunlight? I wonder if he sparkles like Edward Cullen… 

Anyway I officially take back my request dear vampire. I couldn’t stand eternal life I think. I need deadlines (no pun intended) to drive me forward. If I had all the time in the world what would be the motivation to complete anything? Although, having a body not subject to the whims of gravity would be alright I suppose… But at what cost? 

…this is a really weird post. I must stop waking up in the middle of the night to write my blog.  

Trashing My Soft Pillows (or the Joy of Editing)

IMG_0863
My cat literally eating my work.

It is a sad day for me. I’ve been working extensively on reworking Chapter 10. There are so many things that happen in this chapter and as soon as I reread it I was aware that changes – drastic changes – were going to have to be made. One of those changes is letting go of a scene that I really loved.

It makes sense that it needs to go though. The build up to through out the book is lacking. I feel if I take a step back, as the reader it wouldn’t make sense.  It’s hard though when YOU are so into your characters YOU can see it. It has to go though. In the scope of the story it doesn’t make sense to keep, it’s extraneous. This is the first time I’ve encountered deleting an entire scene that I was really attached to.

So, I’ve decided to post the “deleted scene” as it were here. Lucky readers! 🙂

Deleted Scene – Chapter 10 – Fireflies at Dusk (WIP)

Ruby had hardly managed to cross the street when Agatha flew out of the small, but crowded bar next to the park. Agatha’s cheeks were flushed with high color as she barreled towards her excitedly.

“Did you hear? Did you hear?” she said laughing and gasping as she caught up to Ruby.

Agatha’s smile had always been infectious, and despite the trepidation Ruby was feeling she felt herself smiling back. “Yes, I heard! I hope this means they will surrender and then Edgar will come back to me sooner.”

Agatha’s smile faded and she mumbled under her breath in a sing song fashion, “Edgar, Edgar, Edgar…” They had reached the bench now. It was partially shaded by the thick green leaves on old oak tree, a nice reprieve from the August heat. Ruby sank gratefully down onto the bench. The heat was making her feel a little queasy. Or so she kept telling herself. It’s not true until you actually say it out loud, she thought.

“I feel like all I hear from you is Edgar this- Edgar that.” Agatha continued petulantly. Ruby looked at Agatha astonished. She had never spoken to her like that. Agatha sat down and put her face close to Ruby’s, “Do you ever talk about me?”

“What?” Ruby asked confused. “Have you been drinking?” She knew the answer to that without having a reply. The fumes from Agatha’s breath had wafted over her as she had grown closer.

“So what if I have,” Agatha said playfully, a twinkle in her eye. She innocently twirled a strand of red hair around one of her fingers.

“Agatha! It’s the middle of the day for god sakes.”
“Lighten up Rubes. We just finished this war- basically it’s all but over. I deserve a little celebration. A little time to relax,” she waved her arms around indicating the space around her, “No. We deserve this. Come with me.” Agatha grabbed Ruby’s arm to pull her towards the bar, but Ruby pulled back resisting.

“No Agatha!” Ruby struggled to have her arm released. “Let go!”

Agatha let her arm go and turned back to Ruby, her expression surprisingly hurt. “Ruby…” she began, then stopped. Abruptly she threw her arms around Ruby’s neck and laid her head down on her shoulder. Automatically, as if comforting a small child, Ruby brought her hand up to caress her head. “I’m tired of secrets between us Ruby.”

A jolt ran through Ruby. It was impossible for Agatha to know certainly, wasn’t it? “Secrets…” she managed to squeak out through tight vocal cords.

“There’s so much I’ve wanted to tell you, for so long… but…there’s some things that are just too hard-” Ruby relaxed a little as she realized Agatha was talking about herself. Agatha took a big breath and then released it. “Ruby you know I love you right?”

Ruby smiled softly, patting her friends arm and trying to gently disentangle herself. The close public contact, almost intimate in nature, was starting to make her slightly uncomfortable. “Yes, Agatha I know. I love you too.”

Agatha raised her head from Ruby’s shoulder and shook her head back and forth vigorously. “No, I really love you.”

“Yes, that’s what you just said.”

Agatha look frustrated, as if her point wasn’t being made or understood. Then she nodded curtly as decision was made and grabbed Ruby’s face gently in her hands and carefully placed a tender kiss on her lips. Her lips were like soft pillows on Ruby’s and it took her a moment to register what was happening.

Ruby shot back appalled, “What are you doing? Agatha!” Ruby hand floundered to her lips which were pleasantly warmed from the contact. “What,” she repeated, a warning note deepening her tone, “was that?”

Agatha’s face went through a variety of expressions in the short moment before she spoke, from scared, to hurt, and then finally defiant. “Oh what? Did I shock you ‘little miss proper’? Did I offend your sensibilities?”

“Agatha…” Ruby’s voice trembled from shock “Are you feeling okay? I think you… I think you may be really drunk.” Ruby stood up and took Agatha by the forearm. “Come on, I’ll get you home.”

Agatha sneered contemptuously and roughly pulled her arm back. “Yes, that’s what I am. Tossed, three sheets to the wind and all that. Sorry ‘bout all that mess with loving you and kissing you,” she spat out. “No, actually I’m not,” she said changing tactics. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long while, since we were girls, only I didn’t know what it was I was really feeling. I know now.” Agatha grabbed Ruby’s free hand and said softer. “Ruby, please… Think about it. I love you, you love me – and maybe not the way that I love you… yet. But that’s probably because you never gave yourself a chance. I am here. I’ve always been here for you. I know it- it may seem odd, but I’ve been… I love you Ruby, and not in the way that a sister loves a sister.”

Ruby shook her head trying to release Agatha’s grip on her hand. “Get away from me! How could you? Not only… not only the fact that you are a woman, but you know I am in love with Edgar!”

A curtain fell down in Agatha’s eyes, the luminous light extinguished for once. She said nothing for a moment, and Ruby turned to go when she spoke. “You’re right. You always are. I’m always the screw up. Forget I ever said anything…” Agatha grabbed her hand bag that had been tossed carelessly on the bench and quickly walked away, back into the bar. A small cheer rose from inside as Agatha made her entrance back in through the dark door.

Shell-shocked, Ruby looked around her. Miraculously, the streets which had teemed with people only a few minutes before looked practically deserted. If anyone had noticed the disturbance at the bench, they thankfully had kept walking and minded their own business. She touched her own lips again trying to put the pieces of her shattered view together.

Urban Camping (or the joy of eavesdropping)

It’s 4:30am. This is the point where I am unable to pretend that I’m not sleeping on thinly veiled brick. My daughter is sleeping peacefully beside me, cocooned in blankets – my husband gave up long ago (he hurt his neck yesterday so he has an excuse). I was awoken this time by both the soreness of my right side and the close sound of a short-legged animal munching in the bushes next to us and then brushing against the side of the tent as it passed. I was too scared to look, but did let out a protective hiss. (All things are scared of snakes, right?)

 

Urban camping at its finest
 
This wasn’t the first time I was awoken tonight – for the record it’s probably been a collection of twilight sleep broken by sounds of helicopters, cars passing by way too fast, and the conversations of drunk people as they return back to their cars from the scattering of cool bars cropping up in my ‘hood.

The most interesting (and yet horrifying) snippet of conversation overheard tonight went something like this… 

Her: She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know I tell you everything. She assumes, but she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know I told you about the R.A.P.E

(Silence, followed by a low grunt — i imagine HE was looking at his phone but that is just my mind trying to fill in details.)

He: I’m listening.  … But you did tell me.

Her: Yea, but she doesn’t know… 

At this point they trail off past hearing distance. Although the topic was somewhat disturbing it does bring me back to one of the reasons I enjoy writing- capturing moments of life and expanding on them. I have a whole short story out of that small window of conversation, at least.

I love observing and listening to the world around me and trying to recapture a bit of life back into the page. Although my back is aching and I’m fairly sure a nap is in my near future perhaps I will let my daughter convince me to go “camping” again — but first I need to get a better barrier between me and the brick. I’ve read a lot of historical/fantasy fiction in my day and have determined that modern day humans (okay, me) have gone soft.

Telling ghost stories