Friday, November 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PSA

The following is almost entirely off-topic for this blog, except for the fact that Dennis Kucinich is a Vegan - YES! And I think it's important. I didn't write the following, it is an email from Kucinich for President. I am posting it here simply to do what I can to get the word out about a DIFFERENT kind of presidential candidate; someone who seems to actually have some integrity. Might be nice for a change, don't you think?

Back to the usual blather tomorrow!

Thanks for taking the time to look into this under-publicized candidate.

xo
Joy

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IN DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACY

We all know that something is very wrong in our country. The Rule of Law, the Balance of Powers, and our Constitutionally guaranteed Civil Liberties have been under sustained assault by an Administration that is brazen and unrepentant in its abuses of our rights and our founding principles. And, to make matters worse, the Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate have failed to exercise the Constitutional authority granted to Congress to stop those abuses and hold violators accountable.

The results? The powers of the Executive Branch have gone unchecked and its policies unchallenged. The Congress and the American people were deceived into an illegal and immoral war in Iraq, and those same deceptions and manipulations are being used to justify a new war in Iran. The government is spying on its own citizens, ignoring judicial protections and due process, denying the right of habeas corpus, and refusing to abide by international laws, treaties, and principles.

Our nation faces a crisis, yet its leaders, and the candidates campaigning for the Presidency, refuse to acknowledge or address it in any substantive way.
That's why it's time for: A DIALOGUE FOR DEMOCRACY.

This Thursday, November 29, Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich will host an unprecedented "Dialogue for Democracy" forum that will be streamed LIVE on the Internet at KucinichTV.com. Along with invited guests, Dennis will bring this crisis to the attention of the nation and the world so we can better understand what's wrong, and, more importantly, what we can do about it. The first segment of the LIVE broadcast begins at 11 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. The LIVE forum will resume at 5 p.m. and end at 9:30 p.m.

AN INVITATION TO SPEAK OUT! The Kucinich campaign is also extending this open invitation to representatives of interested organizations and concerned citizens to participate in this "Dialogue" by sending an email to dialogue@kucinich.us. Tell us who you are, the issues you want discussed, and whether you or your organization would like to participate directly during any of the LIVE broadcasts.

OUR DEMOCRACY - YOUR DEMOCRACY - is at stake in this election. And there's something you can do about it. You can stand with the candidate who stands with you. The one candidate who isn't afraid to speak the truth, to give honest answers, and to lay out real solutions that don't protect the status quo. If that's the kind of leader you want, someone who will protect and defend YOUR interests and rights under the Constitution, consider making a contribution to the Kucinich for President Campaign today. It's your way of ensuring that your voice will continue to be heard throughout the debates, the primaries, and the caucuses.

DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT! Any contribution you make now through November 29th is eligible for federal matching funds. That means your $50 contribution becomes a $100 contribution. A $100 contribution becomes $200. BUT THE DEADLINE IS THURSDAY NIGHT, so please don't wait.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Adopt ME!

Last night I did a volunteer dog walking and socialization gig at New York Animal Care and Control through New York Cares.

I have wanted to do this for a long time but put it off for fear of coming home with six new dogs. I mean really, I have a cat because my dog wanted one - I'm not strong when it comes to the critters. But I finally bit the bullet and signed up for this one because I think it's important (and I went armed with the knowledge that Basil wouldn't like another dog getting too much of my attention so I really can't bring home another one - visitors are one thing, a new addition to the household - uh. yeah. not so much.)

I was happy to see that the place was jumping! Not with dogs, but with people who were there to adopt dogs and cats (and even rabbits!) The kennels where they keep the dogs are immaculate and comfy - this too made me happy. I've seen pet stores that aren't so well tended - and fyi never buy from a pet store.

This is one of the little charmers I walked last night. She was just a bundle of happy energy and we met a guy on the walk who (hopefully) is stopping by the shelter today to see if he can adopt her. She is just one of many wonderful, sweet dogs that is looking for a good home. If you live in New York and are thinking about getting a dog (which I HIGHLY recommend you DO!) this is the place to find your furry BFF. Even if you aren't able to adopt right now they have fostering programs for cats and dogs and of course, you can always volunteer to walk these happy pups and get them out in the open for a while.

The staff at NYCACC is so good, the dogs all loved them, which is recommendation enough for me.
She was not loving the 'adopt me' sign; which is why it kept slipping off her back, but I think it's because she knows orange is not her color. Hopefully she won't be wearing it for much longer!

There's really nothing like having a dog. They lower your blood pressure, snuggle you when you're sad, make you laugh and are a constant source of happiness. Why not adopt one today?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving from NYC!

I have a little treat for you this lovely Thanksgiving Day morning. No, not smallpox infested blankets, and no, I'm not here to steal your land. (A-hem. Not that I'm commenting on the holiday or anything like that.) In the spirit of the day as it ought to be, I am not able to bring you yummy roasted squashes and pecan pies, but I am able to bring you some photos that are uniquely New York City.

Last night I went to the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation. You probably know that this takes place every year (this is the 81st year) the night before the big parade. It is an amazing spectacle. Two full city blocks are full of inflating cartoon characters - and people! Okay the balloons are inflating - the people do that the next day.

This is the 3rd or 4th time I've gone to see it and it is the first time I've encountered such huge crowds. Understandable as the weather was INSANELY nice yesterday which brought out the hordes. Hard-core folks like myself go even in crappy weather. (I must give Gary props on that score as well as he and his nephew joined me one year when it was not quite so pleasant a night.) I'm not a fan of parades in general, but I do love the giant balloons.

But before we go to the Balloon Inflation, here are some scenes of my wonderful city:


And here are (Drumroll please) the balloons! Or for you F-Troop fans: It Is BAL-looooon!!!



Now go have your feasts, remember to be thankful that you are here, because being alive and able to celebrate it are gifts not just for today but for every day!

p.s.
Don't you just love that Ronald McDonald is eyeing the earth like a tasty morsel? Scary, no? I'd like to think that someone on the parade line-up committee has a strong sense of the ironic.

Monday, November 19, 2007

First Meme - a cheaty little post

I've never responded to a meme - not that I've had all that many, but still. But the lovely Salty Miss Jill popped this tag over on my other blog so I'm going to do it. For Miss Jill. 'Cause she's salty. (I'm also posting it on my other blog just because I'm super-duper lazy about blogging lately because I'm working on a novel and so many thanks to Miss Jill for giving me an excuse to procrastinate as well as something to post!)

Here are the rules for the meme:

1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven random [?] people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

I'm not comfortable forwarding memes (this being my first) so I'm just going to ignore those last two 'rules'. Watch as I defy authority!

FIRST FACT:
Fear makes me sleepy. I have chronic insomnia but am able to fall asleep quickly and easily and sleep for really long periods when I'm afraid of (or anxious about) doing something or going somewhere.

SECOND FACT:
I find spitting the most repulsive thing. Spit near me and I might just throw up. I actually did vomit on the playground in the 4th grade when a friend spit and it landed on my sneaker. Talk about a chain of events.

THIRD FACT:
I love to play video games. Puzzle games especially because it gets me into a Zen head - while my mouse is clicking away my brain is somewhere else entirely. I also like stuffing envelopes for the same reason.

FOURTH FACT:
I have been coloring my hair since I was 18 (17 really, but I was only 'allowed' to when I was 18). I am no longer sure what my natural color is - and don't think I want to know! When I'm cranky, tense, or feeling really ugly I grab a bottle of peroxide and tint and switch it up. I highly recommend it as therapy.

FIFTH FACT:
I wanted to be a dentist when I was a kid. I love going to the dentist and my dentist is really great about showing me her new equipment and explaining what it's for - does that make me a dentist groupie?

SIXTH FACT:
I don't have a driver's license any more. After a head-on collision with a drunk driver (at 10 a.m. on a weekday morning) I let my license expire.

SEVENTH FACT:
I have no luck with reptiles as pets. I've had lizards and snakes and such and cannot seem to help them thrive. I'd love to have another iguana, but would rather not cut its life short by having it live with me. My favorite part of the movie Terminator was the pet iguana (Pugsley) running loose in the house. So cute!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lazy Blogging

I have been neglecting this blog. It's a combination of trying to avoid procrastination - working on the NaNoWrimo project - and just not having anything much to say (that I can articulate).

In order to get something up here, for the countless millions of readers who have been pining for a new post (oh, okay the three of you) I decided to 'cheat'.

This is a story I wrote, oh dear, easily 6 years ago. I was in a lot of pain at the time. Um. Yeah, 'cause I'm sure that doesn't show in the story. Good thing I pointed that out. But in the spirit of this blog, it should be noted that this was written while I was in the midst of a GODAWFUL, poisonous relationship and dealing with my own illness. I'm much better now. So, if anyone has any concerns, please, don't. This was a long time ago. And far, far away.

* * *

The Old Woman in the Woods


Once upon a time there was a woman who was alone. She had always been alone, as long as most hereabouts knew, any way. She lived in a small stone cottage, in a clearing in the middle of a dense wood. Only occasionally would she come out of the woods, to be seen by the people of the town. She would nod, sometimes, in greeting to some of the old ones she remembered and who remembered her, but never stopped to speak or pass the time of day. She moved through the town, not rushing, but never stopping. She would buy what she needed then return to the cottage in the clearing.

There was a story told that once she had been beautiful, that once she had been young – though the children found it doubtful, she had been old as long as they had been alive. And the stories told of the old woman in the cottage in the clearing said that once, only once, she had been in love.

They say she used to sing. There were some, the very old ones, who remembered a lilting voice rising from the cottage, songs full of flowers and blue skies, of sweethearts and lovers. There were some among the old ones who said she used to dance. They remembered a swirl of red skirts, and flowing blonde hair and the woman twirling and laughing in the tavern. The woman would sing in the tavern sometimes, when someone would play, and if someone would ask. She could sing any tune they would name; she had them all by heart. They say she had an easy laugh then, and would tease and flirt with the men of the town in a playful, innocent way. They say her smile would light the room and her eyes watched everything. She was interested in many things back then, or so the old ones say. She loved books, and would borrow them from any who had them to lend. And she cared for them like baby birds, gently reading them and carefully returning them to their nests.

Only a few of the old ones remained who remembered when the man came. The stranger with the dark hair who seemed so serious and so sad. But they told the story so the rest would know, that once the woman who lived alone in the cottage had been in love.

He came to town with books. He sold them, and bought them, and would trade them if someone had a particularly fine one. He would sit in the tavern and watch. He watched everything. He would write in a book of blank pages, filling them night after night.

One night, they say, the woman came into the tavern while the sad man with the dark hair was there. It was a summer night of driving rain, and while the people ran for shelter and cursed the downpour, they say the woman stood in the middle of town her arms spread wide spinning and laughing as the rain poured down. That night they say, she came into the tavern laughing like a child at herself, soaking wet. She was offered a towel to dry off with and the people were so taken by her child-like glee they begged to hear her sing, while her voice was so full of happiness. She sat atop a table and asked what would they like to hear? Voices called out their favorites, some that everyone knew and would sing along with, and some that were new; but she knew them all. As she listened to their requests and tried to decide which best fit her mood a voice no one recognized called out a song they’d never heard of. The room became quiet and the woman looked into the crowd to find the source of the voice. The sad man closed his book, put down his pen and looked up at the woman. They say that when their eyes met you could feel them touch from across the room, that something magical happened that night. Though the young ones doubt it, how could someone feel a touch from across a room like that?

The sad man stared, and the woman stared back. She nodded towards him, she knew the song, of course she did. And in the hush of the room she began to sing. It was the saddest song they’d ever heard. A song of loss and love, a song of regret and longing, a song so full of passion that it hurt to hear it. And they say that when the woman sang even the coldest heart in the room melted, and grown men cried like children. Though the young ones doubt it, no one could make them cry just by singing a song.

She sang and sang and, the old ones say, when she was done a single tear ran down her cheek. The sad man watched her, and they say, he too had shed a single tear.

After that, the story goes, they were inseparable, the sad dark man and the singing woman. They say he smiled then, when he was with her, and that her laugh was heard from far away, and the echo of her song could be heard in a room for days after she had been there. They say they spoke for hours, he would give her books and she would read them. They would walk together, reading passages to each other and talking long into the nights. The tavern would close around them, then they would walk to the cottage and the old ones say birds would start singing in the dead of night when they passed by the trees where they nested. The old ones say they had never seen two people more in love, that there had never been any in their little town who had shined so in each other’s presence. And it seemed they had always been together, that two halves had made a whole. No one who saw them ever doubted that here was a rare love indeed.

But then, the story goes, on a day not long after he had come to the town, the dark man packed up his cart and rode away. Everyone thought he would return, for he had only gone to the next town to sell and buy his books, or trade them for a particularly fine one. But the night fell and he did not return. Nor the following day, which stretched to weeks and still he did not return. No one spoke of it. No one knew how to ask. The blonde woman no longer came to the tavern in the evenings. The people would see her come into town, they would see her walking but her step had changed. She no longer walked as if she might dance, and no one heard her laugh. There was no echo of her song, and any room she had been in remained cold for days.

Those that got close enough said her eyes were empty, it looked they say, as if she stared inside herself but saw nothing there. She moved through the town, when she came into town at all, as if she were made of straw. When the rain fell now, they said, she would cover her head with a shawl and hug herself as she stumbled back to her cottage, as if the pressure of the rain drops hurt her. They say she trembled sometimes as if she had seen something too awful to speak of, that she would stop in the road with a gasp, staring at nothing, and then, her hand clasped to her mouth she would struggle to move along her way. She would return to the cottage in the clearing, and they say, those who approached, that there was never a light in her window and no sound was heard from the cottage that had once rung with song. But the young ones thought that too strange, who wouldn’t light a candle in the dark of the night?

One day the shopkeeper sent his son to see if the old woman was alright. It had been some time since she had come to the town and the shopkeeper worried. His grandfather had known the blonde woman when she used to sing, he had told the story to him and the shopkeeper was always especially careful that the old woman had all she needed. The boy went to the cottage in the woods and he said later, that he heard a beautiful voice in the woods as he approached the cottage. Someone singing the saddest song he’d ever heard. A song that made him weep. He knocked at the door but no one answered. He pushed the door open and saw the old woman sitting in a chair at a table strewn with books. She had been dead, it seemed, for quite some time.

When the people went to empty her house, for there was no one to claim her things and so they divided them up amongst themselves even though everything they touched felt cold. They found the books on the table had been books filled with scribbled writings. Pages and pages filled with handwritten words. The people put the books into the fire and watched as they burned away to ash. And some say they heard a wail as the pages burned, as if someone were keening. Understand, though, the old ones say, that they burned the books only because the contents were so sad. For page after page after page contained only the single word: “Why?”

The young ones laugh, why would anyone fill a book with just one word over and over like that? But the old ones know. They know. It takes a long time to die of a broken heart.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Books... or How to Procrastinate Writing Your Own

This year for the third time, I'm attempting NaNoWriMo. The first year, 2004, I did it and ended up with a memoir that is, in part, posted now on my other blog. That was a good one. Not good as in, what an excellent memoir, my God woman you should be a best-seller. But good as in, I completed the 50,000 word mark (and then some) and came away with something I was not ashamed of, in fact I was sorta kinda pleased with the whole thing.

The second year I started out great - until somewhere around the 1000 word mark. Yeah. Not so great after all. I lost steam and let the whole endeavor go. Just wasn't gonna happen that year. The following year I bailed altogether writing something like 275 words which let's face it, if you've ever gotten one of my kooky emails you'll know is barely a quick hello, let alone a novel.

This year I'm at it again and I'm very close to the 10,000 word point which is really good in that it means I have slightly more than 22 pages, which is a nice chunk and encourages me to keep it up, and I'm writing fiction this time and it seems to be working.

OF course the fact that I'm writing here indicates that I'm being lazy right about now and falling far behind on the suggested word count of 1,667 per day. That's the average you need to do to achieve 50,000 in the month. It's not bad if you keep up with it, but get behind by even a day and WHAMMO you are seriously behind.

Hello. Meet my serious behind.

What a wonderful tool for writerly procrastination is a blog! You are writing. So nobody can tell you you aren't - ta-da! - here's the proof! But you are still managing to while away the time NOT writing the novel you are so in love with.

Other fun ways to procrastinate include:

1. Bake massive amounts of vegan cupcakes. Yup. Check.

2. Experiment making new bean soups at 8 a.m. Yup. Check.

3. Laundry! An old standby and a great way to avoid things you really want to get done. Yup. Check.

Another great way to procrastinate working on your own novel is to read someone else's book. If you have borrowed it from the library and cannot renew it because it is in such demand, this gives you even greater leverage in terms of procrastination. I MUST finish this book - it's due Tuesday and I do not want to have to pay a fine.

Listen, don't scoff - you all know that when putting off doing something ALL logic works even wacky library logic.

I finished the book I was using to avoid my novel, Eat, Pray, Love. I make an effort to read at least one best-seller a year just so I can say I'm on top of what's going on in the world. A lot of times the book of choice is not something you'd care to discuss. More like eating Cap'n'Crunch for dinner than fine dining at Rosa Mexicano. But this Eat, Pray, Love book was fabulous! Recommended by Bella, the bold and beautiful. It's all spiritual journey this, finding yourself that and it coincides nicely with my own take on spirituality and the journey towards finding peace and happiness. I love that. Nice to know you're not the only one. Plus, it's funny. You know there really isn't enough laughter when it comes to religion and spirituality and that is a shame. If your religion doesn't allow for joy (sorry) and laughter then you might want to think about shaking things up. Same for sex. Sorry, but if you can't get the giggles with someone you're having sex with, then you might not be having all the fun you could be.

Oh look, two more ways to procrastinate. Pray. Have sex.

Or maybe what I really ought to do is pray I can write some sex into my novel and have myself a giggle.

OH!

I just talked myself out of the procrastination. Awesome!



BTW the word count on this post is 702... I wish this counted towards my novel.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Denial or Coping

Here I am in this incredibly great place in my life. I feel happy, I stop in my apartment look around and think I made this. This comfy, happy, SAFE place - a home. And I feel like I'm lucky beyond words in so many ways. I am not the person I was growing up - I'm not the person I was three years ago. Never in my life did I think I would come to a place where I was happy like this. It just didn't seem to be in the cards for me.

This is the kind of thing I enjoy being wrong about.

Yet despite all this happy happy joy joy (good god did I just write that?) the other night I experienced something so bizarre that I wonder if I'm in denial about things. I wonder if there are some issues that rather than addressing and clearing up, the way I've cleared up the clutter that was my living space, that I've merely shoved into boxes and stored away in my brain to be conveniently forgotten about.

I might have mentioned 'round these parts that my parents and I did not have what anyone would call an ideal relationship. They were both alcoholics with many MANY issues of their own, this made life difficult at best. Stability and emotional intimacy and affection were not high priorities in the household I grew up in. Even long after moving away from them the difficulties in our relationships to each other resonated. And when my mother moved in with me four years before she died it simply accented old resentments and my foolish, and unfulfilled, desire to have her love.

So while I know I often sound like a stone cold bitch when I talk about my parents, ending any of my whining and moaning about the past with a dark yet cheery coda of "dead now", there is solid back up for my lack of respect for the dead.

My life improved beyond words after their deaths. I do not miss them.

Except. . . maybe I do.

I'm not in the least happy to concede that notion. Not at all.

Not only does it mean that I have been in denial - something I just abhor because I like to congratulate myself too much for facing the hard stuff about myself (whether I discuss it or not). But there is a possibility that I may have been tricked into denial by my own brain as a defense mechanism. Deal with this later, when you're stronger - you've got enough to get through, this can wait.

The other night I was listening to some music. Songs I'd heard before, no surprises. Except something was different. Something that actually felt like I was cracking open in that space right below the sternum. I actually began crying. It was, to say the least, disturbing. There was something in the lyrics, something in the tone, something that maybe I had let my guard down about that let that music get in and twist me up. I've always been deeply affected by music. At more than one point in my life I have had to give up listening to it entirely because of the emotional impact - happy songs made me sad, sad songs made me think of razor blades. Music is definitely a huge trigger for me.

For the past three years I have been fine listening to any kind of music - happy, sad, anything at all (you know anything that didn't just outright suck - I have standards!) I've listened to it, been affected by it, but only for the moment, only as it should be. Only in positive life-affirming GOOD ways. Then the other night I find my insides splitting opened by songs I've heard before and ended up walking around the streets in the cold with my nose running and trying not to start doing some sort of primal wailing.

May I just say: WTF?!

The songs mentioned childhood sorrows - I'm not going to go into detail, because it's not relevant here. But it was clear to me that I was caught off guard, not even realizing that I've been ON guard about any of this, and that I was crying over my parents.

It has made me think I am afraid to admit that I miss them. Afraid of what that 'missing' will feel like if I let myself feel it. I've had so much sorrow in my life, I do not want to feel anything even close to it again. I never believed I could turn my emotions off, I've always been pretty much a slave to them. Yeah, yeah, get me a collar and leash, very funny. But truly, while I have been adept at hiding my emotions all my life from other people (lesson number one from my parents) I have never been able to hide them from myself.

Along with the fear of what this sort of post-mourning mourning might feel like - should it actually be what's going on, is the disturbing notion of having to figure out the whole love/hate aspect of it all. How do you love someone who has caused you so much pain, has caused such inconceivably strong self-loathing and zero self-esteem? How do you reconcile all that anger and pain with loving them? I just don't know. I'm afraid to find out.

So I ask myself, have I been in denial? Or have I simply put it behind me so I can live.

Music. It's the damnedest thing, huh?