Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eve's Prayer

Today I had something else planned for this blog, but my dear friend and fellow writer/blogger/WMD member Eve recently posted such a beautiful poem on her blog, The Desert Rocks, I asked--and received--permission to reprint it here. Do check out Eve's blog, and if you're not already a follower, start now. She's a very talented writer and a first class human being. Knowing her is an inspiration in itself, and I am so honored to be able to call her my friend.


The trumpets sound-
The call is made.
God looks down
You’re not afraid.

Repetitive words constantly
Mumbled in heart-wrenching angst.
You close your eyes and try again,
Reaching upward through the ranks.
Maybe the grandparents can help--
Saints might hear your need--
The disciples are listening,
The Virgin Mary offers relief.
Angels please—


Your desperate plea—


It’s like a scream in your head.
Clasping your hands
‘Fore entering bed,
You urge the Almighty
To spring into action-
Garbling words with sorrowful passion-
Tears flowing-
Spent and alone-
Rooster’s crowing-
You try it again.

The trumpets sound-
The call is made.
God looks down
You’re not afraid.

Monday, August 29, 2011

We All Have One....

How many of you are familiar with the '60s TV series Bewitched? Those of you who have seen it undoubtedly remember Samantha and Darrin's habitually nosy neighbor, Gladys Kravitz, who spent more time at their windows than she did in her own home. That must have been a relief to her laid-back husband, Abner. Mrs. Kravitz's snooping always led to her seeing things no one else saw--or believed.

We all have one, at one time or another in our lives: the neighbor who's always sticking her (or his) nose where it doesn't belong. They're the ones who ask inappropriate questions. You might even catch them looking in your mailbox. They'll grill workmen on your property. They'll accept a delivery for you if you're out, then question you about it when you pick it up. They're the ones who can tell you how many people have visited you in any given day or week, what kind of vehicle they were driving, and how long they stayed. The CIA is missing a great opportunity if they don't recruit these people!

I've had several. When I was a kid, our next-door neighbor seemed to spend all of her time watching our house. Whenever anyone came to visit, she'd interrogate Mom about it. She knew better than to ask Dad.

My former sister dated the son of another neighbor. Dad used to say his family knew more about us than we knew--until Jackie dumped Leroy and he set our house on fire. He went to prison and I got to be the nosy neighbor, intercepting his letters to her and rerouting them to the parole board.

The current nosy neighbor is an employee of our apartment complex. She allegedly works in maintenance, though I've never seen her doing anything but walking her dogs and sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. And when she gossips, she doesn't bother to get her facts straight. I stopped speaking to her when she made a completely inappropriate comment to me one day. 

I'm reluctant to call for any repairs when I'm going to be out. Though she doesn't actually do any kind of repair work, I'm sure she wouldn't pass up an opportunity to snoop around while we're out and she can tag along with the guys who do the real work. Do I sound like I don't trust her? I don't!

For the first six months we lived here, I thought she was a man. Really! She looks like a man, sounds like a man. Then one day, I saw her crossing the courtyard wearing a dress. Okay, that means he/she is a woman. Or a cross-dresser.

Come on...tell me your nosy neighbor stories!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Memory is a Terrible Thing to Lose

Losing one's memory is a frightening thing.
I lost three months of my life when I was seventeen. There was an accident--a brain injury. I was hospitalized for most of that time and even now, forty years later, I have no memory of it other than what I've been told.
My mother had several strokes in the last two and a half years of her life. In that time, she became a stranger to me and me to her. Her personality changed--once an outgoing, optimistic woman, she became shy, withdrawn and uncomfortable around strangers. In the last month of her life, she didn't recognize Collin or I at all.

A longtime family friend was a victim of Alzheimer's. The symptoms began early. He'd forget where he parked his truck. He'd forget where he was going. At first, it was amusing. But with the passing of time, it was apparent that what was happening was no joke. He lived longer than most with the disease, but he wasn't really living during most of those years. He came to the funeral parlor when my dad died. He stood at the casket and looked down at my dad and spoke two powerful words: "I remember."
I was diagnosed with epilepsy after the accident and put on Dilantin, which I took daily for years--but in my early forties, I decided I didn't need it anymore. I wasn't having seizures, after all. That was when the problems started. I was seeing a new doctor and never bothered to mention being epileptic, so when I complained of irritability, mood swings, lightheadedness, headaches, and olofactory distortions, the connection was not made. There were tests--everything from CT scans to doppler ultrasounds to stress tests. And there were misdiagnoses: bipolar 2, a blocked carotid artery, a possible stroke, even a suggestion that I could be diabetic (I'm none of the above).

Finally, an astute neurology resident ordered an EEG and there it was: epilepsy. I told him I'd been diagnosed long ago but didn't have seizures. He proceeded to explain.
Nonconvulsive seizures? Really? So those mini blackouts were seizures? All the times I insisted we had a gas leak and everybody thought I was nuts--those were seizures? I suppose that was explained to me at the hospital all those years ago, but as I said, I have no memory of that time.
Now, the memory issues have worsened. I've been reassured that I am not senile, I do not have Alzheimer's. It turns out that the cause of my memory and concentration problems is so simple it's embarrasing. It's  hormonal.
And here I thought I was breezing through menopause. The hot flashes weren't that bad, and Collin got a few laughs watching me dash out in the snow in shorts. Hormone replacement is out of the question with heart disease rampant in my genes, so....
I suppose I should just be grateful it's not Alzheimer's.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Connor and Lynne (Chasing the Wind) take the Great Underwear Challenge

Lynne: First of all, let us say thank you to Riley and Michael of Beth Muscat's Remember the Eyes trilogy for inviting us to participate in this fun game. 
Connor: You call this fun?
Lynne: Humor me, love.

1. What do you call your underwear? Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?

Connor: I call them unnecessary.
Lynne: I call mine lost, because they usually are. I've often wondered if you throw them away.
Connor: Not my fault! Talk to your son.
Lynne: Kiwi's always my son when he's doing something wrong.
Connor: If that were the case, he'd be your son ninety percent of the time.
Lynne: Only ninety percent?
Connor: He's a perfect angel when he's asleep.

2. Have you ever had that common dream of being in a public place wearing only your underwear?

Lynne: Actually, I had that dream the night before we met. I had to give a lecture in London--that's how we met, remember?
Connor: How could I forget?

3. What's the worst thing you can think of from which to make underwear?

Connor: Duct tape!
Lynne: Duct tape!

4. If you were a pair of underwear, what color would you be?

Connor: This is absurd!
Lynne: Play along. You might actually enjoy it.
Connor: Black.
Lynne: Sapphire blue.

5. Have either of you ever thrown your undies at a celebrity? If so, which one? If not, who would you throw them at, given the opportunity?

Lynne: No, but I've thrown them at Connor on occasion.
Connor: That's how she lets me know she's in the mood.

6. You're out of clean underwear. What do you do?

Lynne: I borrow Connor's.
Connor: I go commando. And that's the reason why.

7. If you could have any message printed on your undies, what would it be?

Lynne: Come and Get It!
Connor: Don't Start What You Can't Finish.

8. Are your old enough to remember Underoos? If so, did you have any?

Connor: Under--what?
Lynne: They still make them, don't they? I think Kiwi would enjoy them.
Connor: Kiwi would probably throw them out the window on the interstate in rush hour traffic....

9. How many bloggers does it take to put underwear on a goat?

Lynne: Five. I know because I participated in a goat makeover in college. It was the night before the biggest game of the year, and the opposing team's mascot was a goat. They were completely humiliated when their mascot ran out onto the football field decked out in Victoria's Secret!
Connor rolls his eyes....
Lynne: Now, wasn't this fun?
Connor: Oh, of course it was....
Lynne: Now to pass the challenge along to the next participants--

At that moment, their two-year-old son, Daniel, nicknamed "Kiwi," comes running through the room with one of Lynne's bras on his head. He's laughing as Connor and Lynne start chasing him....

Keith Jarrett and the Contessa of William Kendall's blogs

Sandy and Nick from Beth Muscat's Wildflower

Aislinn and Alaric from Beth Muscat's The Bracelet

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Dreams May Come

No, this is not a review of the 1998 movie.

It's been said that God sometimes uses dreams to communicate with us. Psychiatrists say dreams are a window to our subconscious. Some are frightening; others are just plain silly. Some of us remember everything we dream, while others remember very little.

My good friend WMD partner and fellow author Mike Saxton has credited lucid dreams for the development of his 7 Scorpions series. I've developed parts of my own novels through dreams--for example, Alex's Images of Hell series of paintings in An Army of Angels came from my own nightmares.
I've seen Sam in my dreams in the six months he's been gone. I dream frequently of my parents, dreams that seem as if they're still here. I suppose a psychiatrist would tell me I have some unresolved subconscious issues with them. I think it just means I miss them. A lot.

After my maternal grandfather passed away, my mother and her brother and sister were searching his house for some important legal documents. They hadn't been able to find the documents--until one day, Mom received a phone call from a friend she hadn't seen in years. Gloria told Mom she'd had a dream about Grandpa, and she didn't know what to make of it. In the dream, he gave her a message to give Mom.
It turned out to be the location of the missing documents.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

My own dad saw his own death in a dream that haunted him for the last three months of his life. He described it to us in great detail...and it happened, exactly as he'd seen it in the dream.
I wonder.... 

Monday, August 15, 2011

If It's August, It Must Be Summer Slam!

Most of my friends don't get my affection (for lack of a better word) for pro wrestling. Sure, it's all scripted. Sure, the storylines are so contrived they make soap operas look like Tolstoy, and the wrestlers go from hero to heel from one event to the next without anything resembling a valid explanation. Though they may act like idiots (as most of them do), many, if not most, are intelligent and highly educated. David Otunga, for example, has a degree from Havard Law School. Evan Bourne was vice-president of marketing for a mailbox company before becoming "Air Bourne."

These guys have dream jobs, when you think about it. When in heel mode, they get to unload a lot of crap and get paid to do it. In any other job, they'd get fired. Stone Cold Steve Austin once got to hit Vince McMahon with a bedpan.  Degeneration X, aka Triple H and Shawn Michaels, once dumped, uh, poop on Vince and his dopey male cheerleaders, the Spirit Squad. Who wouldn't want to do that to their boss? Their antics once inspired some funny "Vince Likes Cocks" T-shirts. (Of course, on the shirt, the word is replaced by an animated rooster....)

Speaking of Triple H, Vince McMahon is not only his boss, he's Triple H's father-in-law. A couple of weeks ago, Triple H got to fire his father-in-law. Now, guys, how many of you would secretly like to kick your in-laws to the curb?

Triple H, the WWE's new Chief Operating Officer (my guess is that Vince actually retired but wanted to go out with a bang), made an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show last week. He admitted that while firing his own father-in-law was awkward, it was also "a lot of fun."

CM Punk had a storyline a while back in which  he became the leader of the cult-like Straight-Edge Society. All of his followers, male and female, shaved their heads (he, of course, did not--at least not by choice).  At least he didn't offer them any Kool-Aid....

Last night, we were at least spared an appearance by Vickie Guerrero, window of the late former champ Eddie Guerrero, who now works for the company as a "manager." Her latest client is the annoying Dolph Ziggler. Vickie screams like a banshee and her catchphrase is, believe it or not, "Excussssse me!"

One of the two main events was a champ vs. champ math between WWE Champion John Cena and the so-called WWE Champion CM Punk (aka CM Skunk), who actually left the WWE after winning the title on July 17th. In the real world, that would mean he forfeited the title. But in the WWE, reality is regularly stretched beyond capacity like a small-size Spanx on an extra-large butt. He had insulted the entire McMahon family, including Triple H and his wife, Stephanie. 

Triple H chose to referee the match himself, stating he was the only one he could trust to get it right. We wondered what the notorious "Cerebral Assassin" meant by that. Before the match, Stephanie assured Punk there were no hard feelings and offered to shake hands with him. He declined, saying, "I would, but I know where it's been."

She was later seen coming out of John Cena's dressing room. Hmmmmm....

Punk won the match. As Cena headed backstage, Kevin Nash came from the audience and decked Punk--whereupon Mexican wrestler Alberto del Rio, winner of the recent Money in the Bank event that promised him an championship match whenever and wherever he chose within the next year,came running out with a referee. He promptly pinned the unconscious Punk and took the title minutes after Punk had won it.

A setup? I guess we'll find out tonight. It wouldn't be the first....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Synchronicity, Anyone?

Everything happens for a reason. The Bible tells us this.
The other day, William asked me if I'd seen the movie The Adjustment Bureau. I hadn't, but I like Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, and William gave it such a positive recommendation, Collin got it from Netflix.

In the film, a rising politician's career is derailed when he gets into a barroom brawl the night he's elected. A secret society of men in hats who seem to have otherworldly powers to manipulate mere mortals are about to put his career back on track when he meets and falls in love with a ballerina, once again derailing his destiny. The more these hat-wearing Fates conspire to keep them apart, the harder he fights to be with her.
The movie reminds me of the book The Celestine Vision, a detailed look at the concept of synchronicity--the belief that supposedly random acts are actually part of a divine plan to keep each of us on the paths we're meant to follow. A wrong turn, a chance meeting, a kind word to a stranger, all seemingly insignificant events that propel us forward in the current of life.

No, nothing happens by chance. But we do have free will. The other half of the equation is how we respond to these occurrences. In the movie, Matt Damon's character chose to fight the plan, and rewrite his destiny. Consider this: a chance meeting between two people, both having a good day. They connect immediately. Maybe they get married. Maybe they have children. Maybe they grow old together.
Or...they meet under the worst possible circumstances. One or both are having a bad day. An innocent remark is taken the wrong way. The connection never happens. Right couple, wrong time. The chance for happiness is missed. What might have been is lost forever.
There's an episode of Touched By An Angel that addresses this. The angel Monica, having a bad day, reacts in a less than angelic way to one person, setting into motion a chain of events that nearly leads to a woman's suicide. Given the chance for a do-over, something we don't often get in real life, the outcome is dramatically different.

A couple of years ago, I happened to post a comment on an IMDb message board for the movie Angels & Demons. I had just published Chasing the Wind and was posting on a lot of message boards to draw interest to the book. I wasn't really connecting with anyone beyond that. William was also posting there. We had exchanged a few comments, but nothing more. I had my professional resume posted on the site. I didn't realize everyone could access it until I received an email from a woman I'd had a bit of dialogue with on that same message board.

I wasn't thrilled that she'd gotten my email address, but we exchanged emails for a while. She was interested in hooking up with William. I suggested she PM him. She did. She was discouraged when she received his response: just his first name. "What did you say to him?" I asked.
"I asked him his name."
He'd answered her. I don't know what more she expected. I sent him a message and noted that on his profile, he listed Long Way Round as one of his favorite TV programs. He said he liked it because he was also a biker. I asked what kind of bike he owned. He answered, and we began a three-way email exchange with the other woman, who was pursuing him in a not-so-subtle manner.

To my knowledge, she never got laid (in spite of a very aggressive campaign on her part), and these days, neither of us is speaking to her. But he and I remain close friends and collaborators. We talked about this a while back, realizing that neither of us would have initiated a relationship beyond the message boards, had she not been looking for some action.
Funny how it all started.... 

New Blogging Schedule:
You've Got To Be Kidding on Mondays
Windchaser's Journey on Wednesdays 
Sam's Story on Fridays
...and I hope you'll check out my book blogs at 
Beishir Books 
Writers of Mass Distraction
Basking in the Afterglow

Monday, August 8, 2011

Everybody But Me....

It's no secret that students in American schools graduate while seriously lacking in education. Jay Leno manages to find a wealth of idiots on the streets of Burbank for his "Jaywalking" segment. Still, one would think they would pick up basic reading skills.
Our lives could depend upon it.
The other day, I was crossing the street near this sign. I barely made it to the center median when a red SUV made a U turn.

It's unusual to pass this one and not find at least one vehicle parked right next to it. Maybe there's some secret code here and with special goggles you can see that it actually reads Reserved Parking For (fill in your name here).

It says Handicapped Parking--but I don't think that includes mental handicaps such as an acutely low IQ. Or chronic laziness.

Care to guess how many people park here to make phone calls?

This one actually says Stop: Everyone But You. The fine print is really, really fine.

This sign in our courtyard didn't put a stop to the kids playing ball until management, fed up with having to replace broken windows, sent out a memo stating that the parents of any kids caught playing ball on the property would be subject to eviction.

Even that hasn't stopped it completely. A few weeks ago, the usual offenders were at it again in the courtyard. A few days ago, I saw two boys kicking a soccer ball around on the next street over.
Is it stupidity, or a sense of entitlement, of "That means everybody but me?"

I wonder how many idiots ignored this one?

New Blogging Schedule:
You've Got To Be Kidding on Mondays
Windchaser's Journey on Wednesdays 
Sam's Story on Fridays
...and I hope you'll check out my book blogs at 
Beishir Books 
Writers of Mass Distraction
Basking in the Afterglow