Hemlock Veils Cover Reveal!

HemlockVeils.v5-Final

This is not a sponsored post! This is the cover reveal for my friend Jennie’s book Hemlock Veils that’s coming out in November. Her book was inspired  by the forests near Portland Oregon and since Jennie loves rain and forests and fall weather it was obvious we had to be friends. Jennie is kind, funny, modest, fierce (rawr), and smart. She’s also a talented singer even though she’ll deny it if you tell her that.

If you like fairy tales being retold in fresh ways you have got to buy her book this fall. Check it out:

Hemlock Veils

by Jennie Davenport

Release Date: 11/25/14

Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:

When Elizabeth Ashton escapes her damaging city life and finds herself in the remote town of Hemlock Veils, Oregon, she is smitten by its quaint mystery; but the surrounding forest holds an enchantment she didn’t think existed, and worse, a most terrifying monster. The town claims it vicious and evil, but Elizabeth suspects something is amiss. Even with its enormous, hairy frame, gruesome claws, and knifelike teeth, the monster’s eyes speak to her: wolf-like and ringed with gold, yet holding an awareness that can only be human. That’s when Elizabeth knows she is the only one who can see the struggling soul trapped inside, the soul to which she is moved.

Secretly, Elizabeth befriends the beast at night, discovering there’s more to his story and that the rising of the sun transforms him into a human more complex than his beastly self. Elizabeth eventually learns that his curse is unlike any other and that a single murderous act is all that stands between him and his freedom. Though love is not enough to break his curse, it may be the only means by which the unimaginable can be done: sacrifice a beauty for the beast.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21896322-hemlock-veils?ac=1

About the Author

jennie davenport

Though Jennie Davenport was raised throughout the Midwest, she now lives in the little desert mining town of Bagdad, Arizona, where six guys beg for her constant attention: a husband, three young, blond sons, a German shepherd with a name much mightier than his disposition (Zeus), and a black cat named Mouse. When she isn’t trying to run her home with as little casualties as possible, Jennie loves snuggling with her family, laughing with her friends, delving into brilliant entertainment of any vein, and playing outside. Despite the way being a writer is in her blood, and the wheels of her writerly mind are constantly turning, Jennie likes to think that in another life, she would have been a Broadway star. Or an American Idol finalist.

The Upward Thrust of Death

the upward angle of death

The upward thrust of death is something I’ve spent more hours thinking about than the average mortal. If you’re looking for proof of the irrationality of the death obsessed – consider my simultaneous belief that I would be dead by the age of 30 and the need for silverware to eat food with, a concern that obsessed me when I was 15 years old and planning to leave home.

I’m not in the habit of making promises I know I can’t keep. I’m not in the habit of counting seeds before storms. I’m not in the habit of counting bets before the race is over. Not in the habit of dying before I’ve had a chance to count my appointments with ghosts.

All my life I’ve been looking for my whole tribe and it’s taken stiff education to recognize them, to be brave enough to hail them, to understand that they’re always going to be different in unfathomable ways but be the same in all the ways that engender love, laughter, deep hell cleansing, and complete love. I’m so lucky to have, at this point in my life, gathered so many bright lights around me, tethered by alliances that can’t be denied or diminished. Peers, older generations, and the permeable beautiful youth that needs old hags like me to light the way to the non-partisan table of appetites and passions.

I keep wondering if I’m going to die before I do the thing I was born to do. This goes expressly against everything I believe which is:

1. We die exactly when we’re meant to die, you can’t die when you’re not meant to die.

2. Whatever it is you need to accomplish on this earth, in this life, is immaterial.

3. The only thing that matters is what you did while you had the chance.

I’ve spent so much time in the last two days cleaning up my office and throwing things out. Culling my junk. Sweeping out the dust and shittiest shit ever to hit the shit shelves. Sullied papers, blank letters, torn bits of self esteem, everything that reminds me of everything else except for the stuff that reminds me of the things I can’t bear to forget.

Been burrowing for too long not to know when I’ve hit the underground ocean, the sea-wall of underwater limitations, the line across which I have to swear and dance and tap and kick because I refuse to be held back yet again, silenced, led, and sold.

Good luck with this flesh.

 

It’s been a bloody fucking stupid day.

epic bloody nose

What a fucker of a day. Still feeling the shock of Robin Williams’ death.

Everyone keeps saying “apparent suicide” and I think this is because it has yet to be officially confirmed that it was a suicide rather than foul play or sexual shenanigans gone wrong. Because my mind is always hanging out on bad street corners it keeps wondering how people would react if it turned out he was murdered. It keeps imagining how conversations would go through sudden shifts and we’d drop all the talk about mental illness from the pseudo-helpful perspective and see it turn to blaming crazy people for all crime in the world.

It’s a fucked up world.

But my step mother commenting on my blog upset me way more and threw me off-kilter all day. She accuses of me of being an ignorant American because I dare to question Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. They live there, my biological father and she are spending time in bomb shelters lately and I imagine they are pretty scared. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them or my half brother either. But having Israelis as family members doesn’t mean I have to agree with Israel’s actions or the fact that my own government spends billions of dollars funding not only its own attacks against Iraq but Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

She missed the whole fucking point of the post.

But that’s politics and world view stuff. She accused me of picking on my biological father (her husband) and suggests I need to take responsibility for myself as an adult. This made me angry. I have had to “take responsibility” for myself at an unconscionably young age because my three parents were so busy abandoning me, neglecting me, or hurting me that I have always had to be my own parent and be responsible for my choices whether good or bad without much benefit of parental guidance. So fuck that shit. My father has had plenty of opportunity to show me who he is as a person and he HAS. Oh yes, he has. I have this to say to both him and my step mother:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I let the distant past go a long time ago. But my family has the habit of throwing fresh bullshit onto the carpet the minute I have the last pile deep cleaned and purified so that I must constantly be scrubbing it out on my hands and knees.

She said other things too. Let it go. She tries to – let it go. She hates – LET IT GO. She -

LET. IT. THE. FUCK. GO.

No one’s bombs are justified. No one’s hate is justified. I do not accept.

Some people are calling Robin Williams a coward for killing himself. More bullshit in the carpet of life and all the things and people I care about. My friend Kele wrote a great post addressing suicide shaming:

On Suicide Shaming by Katherine Lampe

Pay special attention to the part about how battling depression is EXHAUSTING. I’ve been doing it for well over 30 years and most of us who’ve been battling it for a long time experience a bone-deep exhaustion at some point.

It’s been an awful day.

Tomorrow is Max’s orientation for high school. My mom has a hernia. Water restrictions are mandatory now. The IRS has sent me registered mail. We are pretty broke and so I need to put things in my Etsy shop again and try to make some extra money. The world is full of hatred and violence and finger pointing and shaming and I just want to crawl into a pile of kittens and sleep.

Which I would do if I could locate a pile of kittens and IF I DIDN’T HAVE CHRONIC INSOMNIA AND POOR SLEEP.

I made soup and I named it “fuck off assholes of the world” It’s a spicy soup made from my garden tomatoes and zucchini, corn, potatoes and pickled jalapenos. It’s amazing and throat punches assholes but nourishes everyone else.

I introduced Max to Louis CK today because he was having a shit time too. His nose was hurting pretty bad because of the scab from the cauterization. We laughed so hard it made everything feel better for a few minutes. The curative powers of making fun of dicks and jiz-smothered  cinnabons cannot be overestimated.

Also, I wore a pair of stolen socks today.*

*I didn’t steal them and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.

Learning Chivalry From a Tough Elementary School

gravestone detail

Philip told me it was raining. I went outside and it was still, the crickets said it’s still summer, but I felt no rain. I walked down the porch stairs and path and stood near the sidewalk and listened with my skin. There were drops. Light and slight, evaporating almost on contact with skin. I laid down on the cement path with my head touching the sidewalk and looked up at the night sky.

It was there, more thin drops like small points of sharp light hitting my warm skin, waking it up. I looked up at the lights on in my house and the familiar experience of being outside looking in was, for once, warm and comforting. I belong somewhere with some people. I belong here. The warmth coming from the house was everything any person could dream of.

This is grace. This is fortune. This is what it feels like to live where there is no war or bombs or excessive crime. I don’t take my fortune for granted. I never do. Every scrap of what I’ve got is cherished though I reserve and exercise the right to complain about minor things because it’s human and it’s natural and I don’t believe in saints and martyrs.

I lay there on the cement walkway with the dark grey sky spread out above me and I wished that everyone on earth could experience this quiet peace as I was able to tonight. I remember the car-jacker in our San Francisco neighborhood shooting off a couple hundred rounds of ammunition and our block being surrounded by police and in the end the only casualty was a homeless man who was killed. I mourned him and after 18 years I still think of him sometimes.

So I thought of all the families listening to missiles drop and crush their neighbors, their own children, all across the world, and I made a secular wish that they might all have what I have right now, this night of quiet and peace.

Don’t care about your race or religion – I wish with all my heart that everyone get a moment like I had tonight. It’s the most any of us can hope for but many never get. This peaceful quiet, this beautiful cessation of abrasive noise and danger.

I have renewed my vow to never be silent about things that matter. Even if it means speaking out puts me in a dangerous situation. Even if it means risking my freedom and friendships. I know who I am and what’s important and I know what silence does to honesty. I know what silence does to the abused. I know how fear fuels evil. I will not be party to it – EVER.

I understand the potential cost. I’ve felt the burn of honesty enough to know the real risks. I’m no innocent with shining armour and virtue. I know the waste of noble action and true empathy. I know what I have to lose and I know what it’s worth.

This week I was remembering the first time I experienced chivalry. I was in second grade in a tough multicultural grade school. I was the victim of frequent bullying and my things were regularly destroyed, my lunchboxes found smashed at the school fence. Kids tormented me and one even tried out her early mugging skills on me.

One day I was saving bees from the asphalt, picking them up and putting them on the weak shrubs growing at the edge of the school yard. Some kids were ridiculing me for trying to save the stupid goddamn bees and this one black boy stepped in and told them all off. I remember trying to ignore the hecklers and this knight stepped in and drew a protective circle around me and told the hecklers to leave me alone or they’d be sorry. He liked bees or me, who can say? I know that I loved him for that. I was going to pick the bees up off the tarmac and set them in the bushes even if it meant I’d be beat up for it later but this gallant older student (5th or 6th grade) became my protector and all my life I have treasured his action, treasured his championship, treasured this protection he offered in a tough school I regularly lost out in.

He didn’t do it because I was some awesome deserving kid. He did it because it was in his code to stand up for the meek, to stand up for others, to risk himself to protect people less able than himself. I have no way of knowing what ever happened to him, how life treated him as he grew up, whether he ever needed someone to stand up for him and had his own guardian or if he was let down?

I am strong now and I am strong in part because he stood up for me. I am a believer in humans because of people like him. I didn’t have much as a kid, no sense of autonomy or bravery. I lived scared shitless in my own home. This fine young man gave me a circle of safety that other students respected.

He shaped my sense of ethics and humanity, my obligation to my greater community of brothers and sisters. He showed me the way to act, to protect, to stand up and say no to assholes. Every time in my life that I’ve mustered the bravery to stand up on someone else’s behalf, he’s been in my heart and my memory.

I wish I knew his name. I knew it when I was 7 years old. I wish I could tell him what a profound effect his small action had on my sense of self and how I have worked to become a torch bearer for chivalry because he spread his cloak for me.

So this week as political opinions become increasingly hateful and divisive with regards to Israel versus Palestinians, I will  wear this memory of chivalry pinned straight through my heart because before we are organized by race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality, we are all human and this is the immutable commonality that binds us all together. At the core of everything the only thing that matters is how we comport ourselves in the world, how we treat others, and our commitment to being empathetic human beings who are willing to risk our own skin to protect others regardless of their differences from us.

 

 

 

The Thing That Is Most True To Me

colorful grave lichen

I’m going to tell you the thing that is most true to me in the entire world:

It does not matter to me what color your skin is, how much money or opportunity you’ve grown up with, how fancy your language is, what faiths and weird beliefs you cherish because they nourish you and make you strive to be your best, whether you like vaginas or penises or both or neither or all of the above, how many kids you have or don’t have, what genitals you were born with or ended up with, what style of clothes you wear, or what nation you come from or fled to.

What matters to me is who you ARE. What matters to me even more than who you are is how you treat other people. Me, the people around us, the people who are different than you. What matters to me is how you treat animals and the earth that feeds you. What matters to me is action.

I may only get to know you for a few minutes and if in that few minutes you are cruel then that is how I will know you. That is what you will be to me.

None of us are perfect beings. I’m far from perfect. I’m the first to see this, to acknowledge it and embrace the fact that perfection isn’t a human condition. You aren’t perfect. I know this and this is why I believe in forgiveness and embrasure.

The thing that is most true to me is that how you act, how you treat others, the earth, animals – this tells me who you really are more than anything else. More than your badges and family names and affiliations and political tribe. Your actions are all I need to know who you are. What and who you stand up for.

What’s most true is that I believe in peace, in inclusion, in education, in love, in science, in nature, in empathy, in sharing, in exploring, in creativity, in authenticity.

I was called antisemitic last night in an ugly online discourse because I questioned how the Israeli government is treating the Palestinians. Because I do not approve of the oppression of any people by any other people. Don’t care what your global history is, don’t care what your race is, don’t care about your goddamn religion. It is never okay with me for one people to enslave or oppress in any way another people.

Period.

Full Stop.

It was wrong for my country to invade Iraq and then occupy it and kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Believing it was wrong for us to do that doesn’t mean I hate my countrymen/women or that I hate the individual soldiers who enlisted. I hate the military and political complex that decided to take wrongful and offensive action against another people.

It doesn’t make me anti-American. It makes me anti-violence. It makes me anti-war. It makes me anti-bigoted.

When I was called antisemitic I explained that I’m far from that. That I love many many Jewish people personally ending by saying that I have many Jewish relatives.

The person who was attacking me ridiculed this saying “that’s worse than saying you have ‘one black friend’” This felt like such a deeply personal blow. It felt like this person was suggesting I was making up “relatives” in order to sound like I have a legitimate opinion. I got angry while I was hurt. Because my (step)dad, the man who raised me from the time I was five, is Jewish. I have grown up with a strong appreciation and love for Judaism and a feeling of familial connection giving me ownership of belonging with and among a Jewish community of people.

He ridiculed me and said more hateful things.

As though loving my own dad, a man who has stood by me most of my life, more than my own fucking biological father did, is nothing. I am some white person with no right to an opinion or a point of view even though this shouldn’t even be a racial fucking issue. He wiped me out with his comments.

Then another person joined in. A white (I guess Jewish?) girl. And they ganged up on me assuming I have read nothing, assuming I haven’t been to Israel myself, suggesting that if I question what Israel is doing that I hate all Jews. Assuming, even, that I am not aware that not all Israelis are Jewish.

I kept trying to rally for some reason even as I felt gut punched.

I can’t explain the feeling in precise terms, only approximations.

It felt like I’d been drained of personhood.

How black people must feel when white people wipe them out as though they aren’t quite human and not qualified to have an opinion based on their own experiences and studies. As though they are incapable of making educated decisions because of the color of their skin.

How I felt when that asswipe chauvinist tenant of ours wouldn’t talk to me because I wasn’t the “man of the house”.

How Jewish people must have felt when the Nazis started sweeping them out of the way because they don’t matter and aren’t quite human or worthy of note, but before the mass slaughtering.

How Palestinians felt when the Jews kicked them out of their homes in Palestine and renamed it Israel.

How gay people feel when someone hurls hatred and bile on them because of how they love and play sexually and it hits them in the solar plexis of personal pain because it gets them in their personhood and then dismisses it as trash.

I will not hate black men or white women because of these two hateful people slinging shit on me at 2am on a sleepless night. I will not hate Jews because of this either.

I was up because I was already having trouble sleeping. I choked back a lot of tears, the kind I couldn’t let loose and still haven’t truly – though they keep threatening to- because once that kind start they get ugly and ragged and I hate crying even for grief.

I blocked them both. I tried to delete all trace of the conversation it was in my power to delete. To clean my heart.

I got in bed at 3am. I kept having to choke back that vile horrible feeling of someone having tried to rip away your right to think, to express, to speak, to BE. I wanted to wake Philip up to tell him but he was already having a restless night and I also knew if I woke him up my dam would break and I would hate myself later for giving in to it. I couldn’t get the hateful words out of my head. They kept washing over me reaffirming that I’m a piece of shit human being, if I’m even human.

But mostly I just felt so awful because I care about Palestinians as much as I care about Jews as much as I care about Christians and Buddhists and Atheists and Mormons and YES EVEN FUCKING SCIENTOLOGISTS* – and to be told you can’t care about one person without hating another goes against my absolute truth as a human being.

Then I got palpitations so bad that if I didn’t know what they were I would have thought I was having a heart attack. Even knowing it was just anxiety – it still scared me.

So today I’ve just been heart sick.

Fucking stupid-ass self – even writing this is making me feel it all again.

Friends have held me up today. My family is awesome. I am surrounded by a lot of love from people of different faiths, races, backgrounds, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, and musical tastes.

Especially people of different musical tastes.

That’s where all my love goes. To people who are interested in honest discourse, acceptance that strives for total human INCLUSION.

I will never pledge my allegiance to a country or tribe of any kind where that allegiance is expected to overlook actions and ethics. I love my country but I will never be blind to the actions of our leaders or our military or our citizens.

Actions speak louder than anything else.

That is the thing that is most true.

It is for all of us to become better than our worst experiences and our worst enemies.

I’m heart sick but stapling and taping my paper-thin hope back together again as I always do every single time it’s ripped apart.

You are your actions and you are the actions you support more than anything else that defines you.

You can’t love peace while clamoring for violent action.

Act accordingly.

I leave you with this short film that sums up the conflict in Israel beautifully and succinctly, please click the link and watch it:

THIS LAND IS MINE

 *I mean, c’mon, it was made up by a science fiction writer – not sure it’s officially left cult status – but I care about the people who follow this weird religion just as much as I do everyone else.

A Big Collection of Small Stresses

43 years

Dream scrap: trying to check into a hotel, cheap hotel, tons of trouble just getting the key but then can’t find the room. Continually getting lost and people try to show it to me and they can’t find it. Then I finally get to my room and I set my things down and leave, immediately forgetting what my room number is and get lost again. It’s in a terrible place anyway and I need to meet up with my friend Richard von Busack because we’re supposed to walk to a pub to meet people. Later I’m in hotel with friends and one has a baby and the baby is trying to stand up and then falls and knocks his head and so I offer to find the hotel nurse and can’t find her, meet strange couple in the hall claiming to be hotel staff but one has a hand covered in soil or coffee grounds.

Later, my friend Sharon is in the room and her friend Colleen and they’re doing art. Colleen is making something really cool out of plastic. I have to leave and take my bicycle and Penny wants to ride in the basket but then we get a flat tire right near the room where a serial killer is staying.

A whole lot of hotel stress.

We have real money stress too. I wonder if this is related?

Hopefully the labels for my salves will be done this weekend. I need to develop my travel emergency first aid kits too.

So. Today is the first day of 3 more months of sobriety for the sake of losing weight.

Today I will not drink alcohol because of ALL THE FUCKING FAT I DON’T WANT TO CARRY ON MY BONES ANY MORE. And because I put too much back on.

I kind of want to bake some bread. An herb bread.

But I want to work on the novel too and it’s already almost 12pm.

I think I will stop buying soft cheese in a week or two to save money and lean up the cooking.

What a lot of random thinking I’m doing. No focus.

I have cavities that need dealing with and dental work we can’t afford to get done. That really stresses me out. I have to have my foot looked at and Max needs his nose cauterized and he has a cluster of warts on one toe that those wart pads aren’t working on so he wants them frozen off or whatever they do for that.

Also – while Max has really grown a lot food wise and is trying a lot of new things – he’s in his narrow part of the eating cycle right now where nothing sounds good to him and many things don’t taste good to him. Very stressful for both of us.

So I guess from the dream to everything I’ve just written, I have a large collection of minor stresses wearing me down. I suppose I better pull myself together and make the most of the next three months.  Save money, make things to sell so I can take care of the little needs and also have money to take this vacation in November.

I wonder if I should give up drinking coffee? That would be an incredible money saver. What would I drink in the morning? I can’t really conceive of how I would handle that. And with no alcohol? YIKES. Black tea is a hundred times cheaper. But that means more 1/2 and 1/2 consumption. Something to think about though. Our coffee is very expensive and I drink a pot a day. (2/3 decaf, remember, and it ends up being about 3 big cups, so put your eyes back in your head). Something to give major thought to.

Maybe just give it up during the week days since there’s no way in hell Philip will give up coffee on the weekends. That would cut out 5 days of coffee drinking. Significant savings.

Yeah. Money is tight. And yes, we could give up going out to dinner on the weekend but it’s something Philip and Max love to do together (and me too, though I don’t go out with them as often now since I don’t eat sushi or like any Japanese food) so I’d rather cut out other expenses.

Time to go feed the dog, get dressed, and nail this day. Or kind of deal with it. Or maybe just crawl through it or whatever.

Professional Versus Personal Success

glassware

Up at 5:30 this morning. I opened my office window and deliciously cold air hit my skin. I am wearing a sweater for the first time in months. I don’t necessarily need it but I relish the sensation of wearing one. Fools me into thinking there’s no way it’s going to be in the high eighties yet again when, in fact, it’s supposed to hit 90.

Tuesday was a marvelous day. Then yesterday I tanked into depression. It appears to be a law of my personal universe that every good day I have must be immediately followed by a bad one. I wasn’t actually depressed in a malaise-y kind of way. I was specifically depressed about my lack of professional success throughout my life. I’m 44 years old and the best career job I ever had was as a design assistant/swatcher getting paid $10 an hour 18 years ago.

I shared these feelings out loud and for once it actually made it worse.

I say I’m depressed because I’ve never succeeded professionally.

And everyone says at least I’m good at gardening.

I realized too late that you can’t put something like that out there and expect not to be patted on the head. There is literally nothing anyone can say to the real cause of my depression so the only thing anyone can do is observe what I actually have going for me which is all the stuff I know how to do well that I can’t make a living doing.

It’s nice to be depressed for an actual REASON for once. So there’s that. Us people with chronic depression spend a lot of time being low for no apparent reason or for ALL THE REASONS OF ALL TIME ALL AT ONCE.

I have only ever had two professional ambitions in life and have succeeded at neither. I wanted to be a fashion designer and a writer. It’s not that I just wanted to spend all my time doing these things, because I’ve spent a lot of my life doing these two things intensively, but I wanted to making a living doing them.

I have long since given up on fashion design. I still love designing clothes but the desire to do it professionally is gone. The last of that ambition died with the failure of Dustpan Alley to pay any bills.

Over the years every time I bring up my ambition to write for a living or cry over writing gigs I didn’t land (all of them) and book proposals denied (just the one) and manuscripts rejected by agents and blogs that never took off enough to create revenue with ads – people always say things like “But you would write anyway, wouldn’t you, even if you couldn’t make a living at it?” and I find this annoying and also curious. Try it with some other professional ambitions.

Someone wants to own their own coffee shop some day.

“But you’d still make coffee even if you couldn’t get your own shop, wouldn’t you?”

Someone wants to be a teacher.

“But even if you can’t land a teaching job, you’d be fulfilled teaching your own kids, right?”

Someone wants to be a banker- oh, never mind.

People imply that I shouldn’t judge my success on my professional ambitions. Like it’s weird for me to consider myself unsuccessful because I haven’t ever been able to make a real living doing what I really want to do. They want to define success in non-monetary terms. It’s gentler. It’s kinder. But it also feels patronizing. The only way to gauge professional success is: ARE YOU ABLE TO PAY YOUR BILLS AND KEEP A ROOF OVER YOUR FAMILY’S HEAD DOING THE WORK YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE DOING?

The answer for me is NO.

Pointing out that a lot of writers can’t make a living writing is not helpful. It’s true that a lot of writers never quit their day job.

But it’s also true that there are millions of writers who DO making a living writing. Most of those are making a modest living. There are very few that go on to be successful on a large and lush scale.

But my ambition isn’t to become one of those rare top level rich and famous writers. That would obviously be fantastic. Would love it. Would cherish it. Would probably become a coke addict and haunt Vegas and stop writing and become a Hollywood bungalow burnout.

All I want is to make a modest living but one that could support my family if Philip lost his job or couldn’t work any more. I want to make it writing books. That is a professional ambition and not a personal one.

Even when I was writing short stories as a kid I was writing for imagined readers. Writing has never been a hobby for me. It has never been about self gratification. I don’t want to publish books just so I can say I’ve published a book. I want to publish books that people will read and enjoy.

Yes, I will always continue to write whether I make a living at it or not. It’s what I DO. It’s also what I AM. But I don’t write for ME. I write for readers. I am always writing for readers. Writing really dramatic EMOTIONALLY GRIPPING bad poems at 11 years old was for readers. I imagined that people would read them and be moved. I probably hoped I’d make some people weep over the really truly DEEP poems. I don’t understand writing just for my own sake. And that is what has made it a professional ambition from the start.

It may be less gentle and kind to measure my professional success by how much money I have or haven’t made pursuing my profession – but that’s how professional ambitions work.

Personal ambitions are different and I’m really great at achieving personal ambitions such as making my own wound salve, growing food, and making the best fucking tart you’ve ever tasted. I’m really good at doing many things. Except laundry. Fuck laundry!

But I have never wanted anything more than I’ve wanted to be a writer making a living writing books. I didn’t even want to be a fashion designer as much as I wanted to make a living writing books.

I’ll never stop reaching for it. I’ll never stop working at it.

But there are always going to be those occasional low days where I feel like shit because I’m middle aged and have worked so hard and am still not even close.

And that’s okay.

Depressed and Happy at the Same Time

upstairs at la rosa

Dream scraps: long journey, walking side of road, collecting wild herbs and flowers, broken people, stopping in a city and really weird creepy shit happens that I can’t quite remember. Probably for the best.

Yesterday was an amazing day. Truly a great day. I wrote both my blog post and spent two hours finishing chapter 3 of Jane Doe. Then headed out to the garden in the early evening when there was a nice breeze and trimmed plants and yanked some out and generally started cleaning up for new plantings. It felt fantastic. That’s my world being in balance.

The kid is pretty surly lately though. I’m definitely not winning any parenting awards. I’ve let him go completely feral up there hanging out with is online friends all day. Sometimes he comes out at night to walk with his dad. Whatever. Soon enough he’ll be starting high school and working his ass off learning for 8 hours a day. I think he can have these last few weeks to do whatever the fuck he wants.

Oh, and his shadow mustache has appeared.

2 days and we begin the next sober period. For real this time. Seriously. Because I need to lose weight for my November vacation. I won’t feel as good if I go like I am now. Also – having put weight back on – SO DEPRESSING. But I’m the one who did it so I don’t get to be pissed off.

Depressed a little bit about lack of actual writing career. The good thing about life  before Twitter is that I didn’t know any agented published authors. Now I know tons of writers with agents and book deals. Le Sigh. The good thing is that all these authors I know are such amazing people and I feel like I get to spend my time with a writing tribe as I work on my book and it’s something my life was missing and that I really needed.

I’ve decided that self publishing is not for me. I got impatient and so we published Cricket and Grey and it looks fantastic and the editing is great so I’m proud of what we produced but I can’t sell stuff for shit. Self promotion is my Achilles heel. This is something I have to keep working on whether self publishing or not but at least when you have an agent and a publisher behind your book it’s easier to promote.

So Jane Doe is going the traditional route. Might take years to sell once I’m done writing it but that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m keeping it short today because I’m going to put in some time on the novel and I still have a Stitch post to write.

Cheers-ish.

a

Everyone Believes in Weird Shit

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Dream scraps: I don’t remember dreaming at all which might explain why I feel slightly more rested today. So weird. It’s rare that I don’t at least wake up remembering that I did dream even if it’s too hazy to pick out a single detail.

I cleaned house yesterday and it felt great. I feel more clear headed today as a result. The guys cleaned the upstairs too so things are pretty shiny around here. Except for the cobwebs on the ceiling, some of which have become large enough to house a morbidly obese family of arachnids.

Oh shit. I just remembered a scrap of my dream and it was awful. Speaking of arachnids reminded me. Max and Philip and I were in a basement or a car garage (public kind) or something and suddenly I saw a huge light yellow (semi-translucent) scorpion headed for Max and I yelled for him to watch out and he and Philip just stood there while the scorpion headed for him and I started screaming for them to move and get out of its way and they wouldn’t.

The humming birds are back in the garden!

I need more graph paper.

My inspiration boards are pretty great.

This is the kind of inane shit that must be released into the atmosphere in order for greater thoughts to be heard and transcribed. The way I said that reminds me of when my mom was really into “channeling”. Not just my mom, but talk of channeling spirituality, messages from divine beings, your inner child, and maybe your dead asshole uncle was everywhere.

I do not channel my writing. I write. I do not channel things through me. Channeling is bullshit.

I used to say I was a spiritual person. I think I said that because I believe people have spirits and I believe that there is “something bigger than me” out there. But I’m not spiritual. Not in the way people understand spirituality. I’m not spiritual. I do not believe that there is any greater purpose in life than to survive as long as you can and then die. I don’t need purpose. The purpose of living is that we’re born and therefore alive and make the most of it you can and stop bitching about how little time you have.

I don’t believe in a “higher” power. I don’t believe there’s some BIG PLAN for us all or for any of us. We make our own plans and then most of the time shit goes down we don’t expect so we make a new plan and then we learn shit and realize that the old plan no longer works and we just keep planning as we go because that’s how you get from point A to point B.

I DO believe in karma and karma is pretty much the same as “reaping what you sow” (isn’t that in the bible or something?). How you treat people, how you treat animals, and how you treat the environments you come in contact with will usually determine the kind of life you have, how you’re treated in return, your health. In one way or another you will get back what you put out there. I don’t think humans always see karma in action. Karma isn’t arranged by a deity or other human beings. It’s just the concept of balance.

I believe in balance. I suppose. I believe there can’t be good without bad, dark without light, true joy without sorrow. Nature is constantly trying to balance itself. Ecosystems get thrown out of balance and life dies and toxins rise and eventually it comes into balance again. On a cellular level we’re always fighting for balance. Our white blood cells multiply to fight sickness and prolonged heightened white blood cell count can kill you. Too many red blood cells can kill you.

Balance is what nature is always striving for.

It’s what humans are constantly fucking with and fucking up.

I’m sick of religious intolerance all across the world. I’m sick of people saying their God is so righteous and GOOD and then torturing people who don’t agree, killing people who don’t agree, segregating people who don’t agree. There will NEVER be one single religion in the entire world. Ever. So everyone needs to learn to live together with respect. The only evil religious people are intolerant zealots and they come in every religion.

EVERY RELIGION GROWS BLOOD THIRSTY TERRORISTS.

If you don’t realize this then you need to go back and take more world history classes. No major religion is without blood and evil on its hands.

I don’t hate any religion. If I hated one religion I would hate them ALL equally. But religion serves a purpose for many human beings and I wouldn’t dream of taking it away from anyone. And as long as religious people don’t try to convert me or force me to live by the laws of their religion, I will live in peace and harmony with them.

I happen to love quite a few religious people. People who I think are fine and smart and cool. Religious friends who are open minded non-hateful religious people. Can we have MORE of these wonderful people in the world, please?

I will make fun of religion, though. Because religion is WEIRD SHIT.

When I make fun of religion or talk about it with irreverence, it is never from a place of hate or true derision. Just total wonderment at the weirdness of religious belief.

Come on! Walking on water? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

1,000 virgins when you die? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

Putting your face in a magic hat? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

Atheists grow terrorists too. And I am not okay with that. I am not okay with atheists who think all religious people are ignorant and inferior because they believe in something different. Nature is full of weird shit.

Platypus. WEIRD SHIT.

We can look at that animal from a scientific and evolutionary stand point and it’s still weird as hell. Atheists generally believe in science and provable things. I think this is reasonable. But that doesn’t make it less weird.

Let us also remember that many religious people have not only their religious beliefs but also believe in science.

Religion and science are not mutually exclusive.

People who don’t believe you can be religious but also value and believe what science tells us are, in my opinion, just showing off their limitation of imagination and limitation in their faith. How great can your faith in God really be if you can’t see how evolution and God do not disprove each other?

Can we all please agree that there’s weird shit in science AND religion and that it’s okay to notice it and okay to laugh, but not okay to hate or look down on people who see things differently or who believe in weird shit?

Because as far as I can tell, all humans believe in some weird shit.

Let’s learn to enjoy each other’s weird shit and also respect it for what it is – personal outlook, philosophy, what makes you get up in the morning, what makes you feel better at the end of a bad day, what soothes your soul when you lose loved ones, what inspires you to be a better human being.

Then let’s kick the shit out of all the people who are shedding blood in our names. Let’s say NO to this evil.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindis, (and all the other ones I can’t name but are there) – all capable of greatness and all responsible for evil events in this world.

But please, people, Muslims have taken the greatest hit lately. Muslims have lost the most people to other people’s hatred. Because of a few extremists. It needs to stop.

Malala Yousafzai is Muslim and was shot by the Taliban.

Malala Yousafzai is an incredible human being. She’s brave, she’s smart, she believes in education and religious acceptance and peace. And she’s Muslim. So many Muslim people are like HER. So stop equating all Muslim people with the Taliban.

You want all people to equate Christianity with Fred Phelps?

Oooh – or how about if all anyone thinks of when they think of Christianity are the priests who rape little boys? You want everyone to believe that ALL Christian men rape little boys?

It would be the worst kind of bigotry and untruth.

So stop equating all Muslims with 9/11. The Taliban was responsible for it. Rail against the actual people who committed that evil.

I know that not a word I’ve written here will make the least bit of difference. I say them anyway in hopes that if enough of us say no to shedding blood and oppressing others in the name of belief (God, science, political, racial) – maybe eventually no one will allow it to keep happening.

I didn’t plan on writing about religious intolerance today. I think it’s just been on my mind because of the the horrors going on in Gaza and the horrors going on in my own country where so many people are fighting to hang onto bigotry in the name of their religion and here in the States it’s the extreme Christians. Eroding women’s rights. Chipping away at their hard-won autonomy of body and spirit.

It all gets me down. I suppose I needed to write all this out because I have to remember and keep close in mind my religious friends who do not represent this hateful crap and whom I love very much. Every time I get angry at extreme Christians closing their fists around the neck of our politics and civil liberties for women and people of color and the LGBT community – I need to remember that there are many Christians in this country who are smart and open minded and cool and loving and accepting of most people. I need to remember that I know tons of Jewish people and 95% of them are against the oppression of Palestinians. I need to remember the few Muslims I’ve met and hung out with who I’ve admired and liked and respected because they were kind and smart and educated and inclusive.

I need reminding all the time not to confuse all the extremist religious people with the reasonable peace loving ones.

That’s why I wrote about this today. Because I needed this reminder in face of all the news stories about the evil side of religious belief.

I’m glad I could have this little talk with myself today.

 

First Thoughts: Monday as Usual

withered blossom

Dream scraps: at one point there were four men who I was (apparently) in charge of who all squeezed themselves into large metal lunch boxes and drove a car that way – it seems they programed the car to run itself automatically. When they arrived where I was and all came out of their boxes I scolded them for doing such a dangerous thing and said that if they liked being inside small metal boxes, that was fine, but the driver must never drive like that again.

Later there were a lot of people and a weird organization and we were divided up in some mysterious way and given some weird tasks that I didn’t understand (Top Chef influence from two days ago?) but we ended up designing paper people. Later on everything was in chaos and I became convinced the whole thing was a bogus set up and started rebelling. Then at some point near the end of the dream I was trying to tape a paper map back together.

I wish I could remember the big important stuff. There was such a lot of other stuff.

So I cut my hand the night before last and couldn’t keep a band aid on it (right near my thumb – I fought an avocado and lost) so I let it go bare and then started putting my wound salve on it. I reapplied throughout the evening and by bed time the cut was closed and not stinging any more. I was also applying it to my very uncomfortable raw skin on my foot where my eczema is very bad and won’t heal. NO, my wound salve is not a cure for eczema. BUT it did get that raw area to harden up and stop hurting so damn much – seems to be half healed this morning. I know that same spot will start itching again soon and the skin will flake and I’ll end up scratching it raw again – but this salve made that area start healing over night.

I also finally came up with some simple labels for the salve tins that I’m happy with. I need Philip to make them for me in Photoshop so I can print them out. Then I can list them on Etsy.

Booked my hotel in Colorado for my writer’s retreat with a few new writing friends I’ve made on Twitter in the last few months. I’M SO EXCITED TO HAVE A LITTLE VACATION AFTER YEARS OF NO VACATION!

I still can’t find my pocket knife and I’m bummed. I really love it. It’s actually useful. I don’t want just any replacement knife, I want that one! At least I found my Opinel. I love that too. But the blade is super stained. I wipe it down after use but it seems to take stains like mad. But it’s great for harvesting squash and greens from the garden.

Finishing the wound salve (and starting a new batch!) and testing it and finding it exceeds my expectations makes me want to get back to writing Book 2 of Cricket and Grey. I have made these to tie in with Cricket. The labels say “Winters Apothecary” on them. They are, essentially, Cricket’s products.

So I guess I continue to be lost with my writing. I got 1200 words into chapter three on Jane Doe on Thursday which was great – felt really good. But I still am not quite – I don’t know. Writer’s block is a complicated bitch. I think the main thing is to simply go where the energy is. Maybe I will become one of those authors able to work on more than one project at a time. The important thing is to sit down every single day and write a few hours. That is the discipline that ends up trumping inspiration. I’m a writer and I need to be writing every single day. It is less important which project I work on. Blog writing is writing. Novel writing is writing. Field notes is writing. The important thing is to keep the language muscles flexible and stretched.

The heat has been killing my energy this past week. It’s going to continue to be in the low nineties and high eighties pretty much forever now.

I have also been staying up late and sleeping in late. I don’t like this habit.

Canning season will be starting soon. I wish I had already gotten my O’Keeffe and Merritt stove completely cleaned and set up. That would be such a boon.

What I want is to get into a new habit of going to bed earlier and getting up early. I’d like to get up early enough to put in some time gardening which I can’t do most of the time because of the heat. Then write. Then hang out with Max or do house stuff, cook.

Oh yeah, and exercise has to happen either really early or really late.

My foot isn’t as bad but I still haven’t made an appointment with the Podiatrist which I need to do.

Time to write a post on Stitch and then get on with the already well advanced day.