Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Simple Gifts

Pssst... I spent an entire day doing nothing. Seriously. I didn't allow myself to write, or make art, or do housework. Nothing. I read and watched movies and pretty much just lazed around. This is not an easy 'task' for me. It actually takes effort for me to do nothing.

On Saturday Steve and I spent the day getting errands done and even had the great pleasure of going to lunch together. It's been so long since he's had any kind of "free" time that we've been able to spend just hanging around together.

On Sunday, Steve worked on contracts and I got busy organizing my studio. I'd received so many new items within the past few months and I hadn't taken the time to arrange things so they made sense. Stuff just kind of got crammed wherever it would (barely) fit, and I was getting to the frustration breaking point. I'm not the most organized person in the world, but I can't stand not knowing where stuff is, much less what I have.

Yesterday I played in my newly reorganized studio while Steve did more contract work. Then we shared a dinner of popcorn while watching a movie.

It was what many would consider a boring holiday weekend. To me, it was perfect. Because it was exactly what I needed. I learned something from it.

I learned that it is imperative that I take time out to simply be. To stop, breathe, and... unfocus. It felt like when you stare off into the distance long enough that your vision goes blurry. When you bring your eyes back into focus, it seems like everything is sharper than it was before. It makes you appreciate clarity.

Mmm hmmm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Once and Again

During my self-imposed sabbatical from my blog, I don't wish to deprive others of my daily verbal fodder (like I did yesterday, so sorry). So, I'm re-running one of my old favorites. Following is a post that I wrote on November 23, 2007, shortly after I started writing this blog. It still sings.


Indifference is a disease that kills. It kills the spirit; it kills marriages; it kills people; it kills Mother Nature; it kills the critical thinker that I try to believe dwells somewhere in all of us; it will take us down as a society faster than (*ahem*) Weapons of Mass Destruction. Indifference is a cancer that begins as a small, dull ache, and ignored, works its way through to destroy the entire body. Indifference fostered the Holocaust. Indifference pollutes the air we breathe, and turns babbling streams into wasteland. It's a big, bad, evil, "muthah" of a disease, and we all have it to some extent.

There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference.
~Clare Boothe Luce

Fortunately, there is a cure for indifference. It's a nifty new drug called Righteous Indignation. That's right... anger. While anger is normally seen as a bad emotion, or even as a useless emotion, when processed and used in an informed and constructive manner, it's often the only tool that works. It shakes up apathy; it's causal to reaction; it can't be ignored. Think about it: you're drinking your morning bean, perusing the sports section, mind wandering to mundane daily tasks, when suddenly you hear a loud, angry voice complaining that there's too much foam on their latte. Whether you agree with that person's anger or cause, they've got your attention - they've pulled you from your safe little newsprint world, at least for a moment.

Lately, I've been looking into the hollow eyes of people I meet, people who are only concerned with the next work day, the next bill to pay, the next meal, the next little league game, the next thing to come on TV. I've talked to people who shrug and say, "Ah, what can ya do? Oh well." I want to grab them by the nostrils, bowling ball style, and drag them kicking and screaming (because kicking and screaming would be better than that apathetic pallor, y'know?) into the sunlight. I want to do like Bud did to Lindsey in The Abyss - smack them hard across the face, and shout, "Fight! Right now! Do it! Fight goddammit! Fight!"

Recently, I had a friend let loose in an email rant about the shitty circumstances that are currently reigning o'er his life, and then apologize to me for ranting. I had to go alpha on him for apologizing. People - stop apologizing for feeling what you feel! We're all so caught up in our politically correct cocoons that we're afraid to say anything for fear of offending someone. I mean, are you kidding?! Even if it's directed right at me, I'd much rather hear someone screaming and cursing than to hear desultory resignation in their voice. For fuck's sake - yes, yes, yes! Thrash in the waves, don't just drown! While at first the thrashing might seem futile and fruitless, eventually, maybe, you thrash just the right way and learn to swim. Regardless, what's there to lose? Die trying.

Please, don't be indifferent about the events in your life, about the people in your life, about the crises of the world, about the dying of the land. Get indignant. Be a righteous dude (or dudette). Hey, I understand fully the feeling of, "who am I and what could I possibly do to change anything? After all, I can barely decide which socks to wear." Begin from within. Move your self, your perceptions, your reactions. Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Exact Change Only. I challenge you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blank Canvas

Welcome to another week of IndieInk.org Writer's Challenge II. The folks at IndieInk.org are always welcome to new people joining the fun. You can sign up to do it just once, or you can keep coming back week after week - no pressure, no huge commitment. If you feel like giving it a whirl, click the link here. Pairings are randomly generated, but you never know, you just might be responsible for giving me my next prompt!

This week my prompt comes from Sid, who writes here. The prompt is, "write a piece on how the world is but a canvas to the imagination."

While I wanted to add another bit to my novel, the prompt really rang the bells of my philosophical side. So, I'm going in that direction. However, to further challenge myself and to give my readers a little bonus, I've decided that tomorrow, using the same prompt, I will write a piece that fits in my novel. So, slap a bookmark on it, grab another cup o' bean and join me again in the morning.


Every now and then I take a moment and realize just how fortunate I am. Not (only) because of the many and varied wondrous things that count, like friendships, family, love, home, food, clothing, and a solid sense of who I am. Yes, I'm incredibly fortunate and wealthy in those things. But when I realize just how fortunate I am, it's in the moments that I fully realize my ability to create, and create in so many venues.

I'm a writer, an artist, and a musician. That's the top of my list. I'm also a cook (chef sounds so stuffy, but I could throw down with the big boys if I had to), a baker, and a seamstress, and a few other things that don't make the papers.

I don't consider myself a master of any of them. To me, mastery implies that there's no more upward or forward motion. Mastery equals arriving. I don't want that. Ever. I always want to grow and change, in my life, in my art, in my perception of the world around me.

Besides, there are a lot of so-called masters that I don't agree with, whose work doesn't "do it" for me. I can admire their skill, but the work itself leaves me feeling... unquenched. Conversely, there are a lot of not-masters who produce work that leaves me dazzled and breathless.

Mastery is overrated. Honing is where it's at. Unleashing is where it counts. Living within a skill is... well, it's just magic. When you're crazy in love with what you're doing it's a lot like being crazy in love with a person. It sends you, it throws you ass-over-tea-kettle into realms you couldn't imagine, it makes you smile at oddball times for no apparent reason. And just like loving another person, it's a relationship that's never perfect. It's not meant to be. It's meant to rattle your sensibilities every now and then. It's meant to get you riled, angry even, because you know you're not going to give up on it, so it makes you focus and find a way into it and through it.

So, I'm thrilled to be a Jane of all trades and master of none. I'll take it. Humbly and gratefully and with trembling anticipation, I'll take it. I sing, I play, I do a bit of stand-up comedy, just a touch of drama to keep things real. I can emote and make it sincere. I'm not afraid of my own voice. I know how to use it to get applause. I'm fortunate that the world is my stage.

I'm a writer. The other day someone compared bloggers thinking they're writers, to people who sing karaoke thinking they're Pavarotti. Screw that. I may not have a best selling novel (yet), but I get up and write every day. I write whether anyone reads or not. I write because I love writing, because I love words. I can turn a phrase, stand back, and know it really says something. I'm fortunate that the world is my blank screen.

I'm an artist. I see a palette of color everywhere I look. I see points and vectors and pixels. I see faces in the trees and the clouds and the architecture. I see things differently. I can imagine (easily) things that are not, and are not as they should be. I'm hard pressed to get through a day without slapping some kind of color onto some kind of paper. It's not a great day unless I've got ink or paint on my fingers. I am fortunate that the world is my canvas.

Everything around me influences my creativity in some way. Everything finds a way into me and through me and back out in some creative way.

That's fortune. That's great wealth... to have the entire world be but a canvas to imagination...

...and to have the canvas to capture that imagination.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shells For Change

I know I said I wasn't going to post, but this is a special post, and is something dear to my heart.

The above is a special card that I've designed. The sales of these cards will go toward helping the victims of the tornados that ripped through Alabama in April. My friend Rachel's community was devastated by the storms, and I am working in conjunction with her to get needed funds and goods to the people in her neighborhood. So many of them lost absolutely everything! Half of the proceeds for each dozen of these cards sold will go toward helping Rachel's community. Purchase the cards here.

I have gotten to know Rachel, a fellow blogger, since I stumbled upon one of her posts right after the tornados struck her neighborhood (read her story here). I was so touched by her spirit and her willingness to do whatever she could to help her community recover (read that story here). Many times her posts have left me in tears - both from the beauty of her words, and from the helplessness I felt. So, this is me doing my part to help.

Neither of us is affiliated with any organization. We are simply two people who see needs and who want to make a difference. Isn't that what it's really all about?

If you don't wish to purchase the cards, but would like to make a donation, please contact me at blackinkpad@yahoo.com to find out how. 100% of outright donations will go toward helping Rachel's community.

Thank you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Break It Down

Y'know what? I'm taking a day off from this writing gig.

I'm taking some time away from spewing my every thought and wondering (worrying) where and how it's going to land.

I'm taking a break from diving into the deep end of the pool and hoping I have enough air for the journey back.

I'm adjourning from the need to metaphysically holler out to fellow crashers n' survivors.

I know writing is good therapy. I know getting the soul gunk out is necessary.

But I need a sabbatical from this blog.

I need big canvases and lots of paint. Really big canvases.

What I really need is the company of friends, of which I have very few who are available, and even fewer who I feel I can really talk to, open up to. I need to get out and have coffee and conversation. Even though I feel I have nothing to say.

What I really really need is to quit feeling like I need to be so strong all-the-fucking-time. And I'm well aware that the only person who makes me feel that way is me.

So, I'm stepping away for a day, going on hiatus until Wednesday. I have work to do.

Sometime when a thing is broken, the best thing you can do is take a break.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fengshui Me

Wow, I like what you've done with the place!


What's this?


Pretty cool. Where'd you get that?

Dunno, really. I found a little piece of it one day and really just liked the feel of it. Once I had that little bit of it though, it kind of went all Sorcerer's Apprentice on me and I started finding it all over the place.

Interesting. And what is this?


Where'd you get that?

Oh, it was just a little seedling for a long time. Almost died off once, but I started nurturing it and it really bloomed.

Wow. And this, over here?


When did you get that?

I've had it all along. But it was hidden away in a closet. I finally decided that it was useless unless I took it out of the box and used it.

That's really neat. And this, sitting next to the mirror?

Ah. That's my Sense of Humor. Nothing new there. I've carried it with me all my life and it's gotten me through everything. It works best when I hold it up to the mirror.

Wow, look at that thing... it's huge!

That's Love. I keep knitting at it and I'm hoping that eventually it will cover everything and everyone I come in contact with.

It's really cozy here. Mind if I hang around a while?

Not at all. Make yourself comfortable... that's what friends are for.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kicking the Bucket

Defying Gravity

The other day, someone asked me if writing a novel is on my Bucket List. I laughed and replied, "I don't have a bucket list. Bucket lists are for "someday"... I'm living my life now." And it's true. This is how I feel. Now, I have no problem with anyone having a bucket list. If that's what works for you... groovy. I just can't, and won't, do it.

I like to think my life is open to anything. By creating a list, I feel I'm limiting myself. Do I want to write a novel? Sure. Hell yes! But I don't want to work toward that accomplishment to the exclusion of everything else. If I say, "I'm going to finish my novel before I'm 50," then I'm spending the next 6 months doing little but writing. What will I miss in the process? What if a friend offers me the opportunity to travel to Machu Picchu for a couple of weeks? That's also one of my dreams. Do I go for it and push the novel aside for when I'm 51? Or do I say sorry, but I'm busy?

Yes, I want to write a novel - I probably want to write three or four novels. Yes, I am writing, and will be writing a novel. But, it will come as it comes. It won't be a forced race to some imaginary finish line. Because ultimately, everything I do is about the journey, not about arriving.

I could create a list a mile long, but in making that list, I'm wasting time that could be spent taking a walk on a brilliantly sunny spring day. And if I die tomorrow, I'd rather think that my last moments were spent in action, not merely thinking about "well maybe someday."

And what happens when I die a quarter of the way through the list? Does that mean I'll have regrets? That I'll feel I've somehow failed my own life? That it didn't measure up? That I won't feel I've accomplished everything I want to? Do I look at what remains on that list at the end of my life and just give it a passive shrug and a complacent, "Oh well..."?

Ultimately, I believe in being ready for my dreams to come true, but I don't believe in planning those dreams, I don't believe in putting them in neat little columns and rows and keeping a constant account of them. I don't believe that we can be truly prepared for anything in life... at best we can be ready when it comes.

I don't want my dreams-becoming-reality to be forced events. Prime example... I think it would be all kinds of hot, sexy, and romantic to make love on the side of a mountain in a field of wildflowers. I could plan that, sure. There are plenty of secluded places in the mountains here. I could pack a picnic and a blanket and plan a day for us to go. But for me, that would take the spontaneity out of it, that would ruin the actual moment. The expectation of it happening would make it somehow... less than.

Sometimes dreams come true after we've given up on them, after they've become nothing more than a faded wish. Sometimes we get what we don't even know we want until we have it. You can't plan for any of that. You can't add the intangible and ethereal to a list.

John Lennon nailed it, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." And, brothers n' sisters, it happens fast. I won't say that I'd given up on love when I met Steve, but I sure wasn't looking for it. Hell, I wasn't even in the mood for it. So, when he asked to see me, my feeling was pretty much a half-hearted, "Yeah. Fine. Let's have some fun." And I proceeded to be blown out of my socks by something that I didn't see coming, by something greater than what I could have imagined or wished for, by something I certainly couldn't have ever planned for. A month later, dizzyingly head over heals, I moved in with him.

Make the bucket list if you must, people, but do yourselves a favor and keep it short and don't give it too much control. Life is for living right now. Life is for getting into the moment and riding it for all its worth.

Leave behind memories, not a list of what might have been.

My new theme song, and the song that inspired the above painting...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Just A Coincidence

Defying Gravity (Prototype)

Welcome to my second week of participating in the IndieInk.org Writer's Challenge II. It seems, so far at least, that these prompts are serving to tug my novel out of me. So much the better. The poor tome has lain dormant and ignored for such a very long time.

By the way, the folks at IndieInk.org are always welcome to new people joining the fun. You can sign up to do it just once, or you can keep coming back week after week - no pressure, no huge commitment. If you feel like giving it a whirl, click the link here. Pairings are randomly generated, but you never know, you just might be responsible for giving me my next prompt!

This week my prompt comes from Chamindra, who writes here. The prompt is, "It's just a coincidence."

I like it. Read on...



"I said, 'Stop!'"

"No, I know what you said. Stop what?"

"Stop selling yourself short."

"I'm not really... I just... it's that..."

"Yeah, see? Your thinking is so fucked up you can't even qualify your objections."

That last bit she said with a smirk, he knew. His back was to her, but he could hear it in her voice. Mitch sat at the table, contemplating his coffee cup as though it was going to sprout an oracle, a speaking coffee bean that would reveal all of life's answers to him. "Hell," he thought," At this point I'd settle for some heavily veiled clarity." He turned to Ann, who stood by the fridge, giving him that look, the you-know-I'm-right look, damn her, as she idly twisted and untwisted a dish towel in her hands.

"I know you're right."

"I always am!" She flicked the dish towel playfully in his direction. He loved that half smile of hers, loved that sense of play in her eyes even when she was getting her point across. He stood up from the table and in a single stride was across the room, stealing the towel from her hands. He wrapped it around the back of her neck and pulled her in for a kiss, noting that vague citrus scent in her hair.

Ann pulled back slightly, just far enough to look into his eyes, her arms wrapped around his waist. "You know I'm right."

He held her captive with the towel, and replied, "I know you are. I'm just... I don't know... not scared really, but overwhelmed by what it could mean, by possibilities. I don't want to leap and find out that the water isn't as deep as it looks."

"But how will you know if you don't leap? Do you know how rare it is for a new artist to be offered a gallery opening?"

"I know."

"Do you know how many people would sell their own mothers for a shot to do something that makes them feel good about their lives, that makes them feel like the dreams are there for a reason?"

"I know. I want it. I really do. But Build-In just offered me a bonus if I join them on the new project. What am I supposed to think?"

"It's just a coincidence. Baby, a gold-plated turd is still just a turd. How many more years can your knees take crawling around on concrete? And your back and shoulders are always in agony from hauling equipment around. You've got a chance to do something you love, something you love a lot. Watching you paint is like watching Clapton play guitar. You were meant for it. Besides, your truck is paid off. Worst case, we can live off of my book royalties and ramen. Lots of ramen."

He tried for an imperious look, "Madam, I shall not be a kept man!"

"Oh, yes. You shall be if I ever find the duct tape!" Her hands dropped from his waist and she wedged them into his back pockets.

"It's like that, is it?"

"It is. Seriously, go for it. I'm in this with you and I will stand with you every step of the way."

"I suppose I will."

"Of course you will!" Ann nipped at Mitch's left earlobe and in a whisper chanted, "I'm right, I'm right, I'm right..." Mitch dropped the towel and gave her a teasing swat on the ass.

"Were you this conflicted when you decided to give up teaching and write?"

"Not so much. I needed change. I was miserable and it was making my teaching ineffective. Besides, how could I pass up an opportunity to drive my mother completely insane? You know I live for her heavy sighs over my wretched bohemian lifestyle."

"Bohemian, huh? I've always thought of you as more of a gypsy. You wander around and take the bits and pieces you find, and you turn them into stuff that people like to read."

"Huh. I like that. You know, Grandma Erzsi tells a wonderful story about gypsies coming to her house when she was a girl..."

"You should write her story, Ms. Author. Really, you should. She's a fascinating woman and it'll help keep her memory close."

Ann smiled at him, a slight glint of tears in her eyes, "And you should paint, Mr. Artist. You have your own stories to tell." She ran her hands up and over Mitch's broad chest. She loved how solid he felt, how real, how there. "Interesting that you decided to take the morning off right when I'm having some killer writer's block..."

"It's just a coincidence. But let me see if I can help you with that," Mitch said as he took Ann's hand and led her to the bedroom.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Night & Day

Last night I was sleepless and prowling the house due to the influence of the nearly full moon. I stood outside on the balcony, listening to the frogs and breathing the damp night air. The cloud cover was heavy with not a glimpse of the night sky to be had. But the clouds were bright, lit from behind by the moon, which in turn was lit by the sequestered sun.

The word that came to my mind was "luminous."

I thought that again this morning as I watched the sun slowly burn off the fog and push aside the marine layer.

Luminous. Subtlety. Lit from within. A gentle glow.

There are people who've burst into my life. Sudden and illuminating beacons. Warm, dazzling sun. They seem to make everything shine and sparkle for a short while. They make you want to run and laugh and dance and sing loudly.

There are others who are more like the glow of that moon behind the clouds. They shed a gentle, constant light. A softness. They don't dispel the dark - they recognize the importance of shadow, that without some inscrutable dark, there's no appreciation of light. They make you want to sit still, soak in a moment for all that it is, smile at the color that is revealed in their light, and revel in the quiet.

This is what I've been thinking...

and I could sure use some sleep.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hungarian Dream

Hungarian Dream

I recognized her instantly. It wasn't just that we shared some genetics and I could pick out various family resemblances. I knew her. I would have known her anywhere. She's been showing up in my dreams for the better part of two years now. Always she speaks to me in Hungarian, if she speaks at all. And I always respond in Hungarian, easily, fluidly. This is significant somehow, considering that in my waking life my knowledge of Hungarian is hardly what I'd call fluent.

But the thing is...

I've never seen her before in my life, not even a picture of her. She was dead decades before I came on the scene. And then... last Wednesday I trudged up to the mailbox and came back with a handful of mostly useless stuff - store circulars, bills, junk mail - among which was an envelope from my Mom. As soon as I got back to the house, I dropped everything on the coffee table, grabbed my cheater glasses (aging sucks swamp water!), and tore open the envelope from Mom. I pulled out the contents - a short note from Mom and two pictures. The pictures fell onto the table face down, so I read the note first.

"Dear Barbara Ann (Mom is the only one who gets away with calling me by my full given name), Here are the pictures I told you about. One is your Great great grandmother with your Great Uncle Kálmán. The other is Grandma Schmutzer as a baby with your Great Grandmother. I'll be anxious to hear what you think of them."

Mom knows I like family history(ies). I've always loved fitting pieces into puzzles. Plus, the old days and old ways always give me a sense of connection, of belonging, and an awareness that I owe those long gone generations of my antecedents a life extraordinary.

I picked up the first face-down picture. It was of my Great Great Grandmother and Great Uncle Kálmán (half brother to my Grandma Schmutzer). I smiled at the Hungarian-ness of them, at the obviousness that they were dressed in fancy clothes that they were normally unfamiliar with. Her skirt, while rather elegant and reserved, was wrinkled. Clearly it was kept in a trunk for only the very most special occasions. His little boy suit was a half size too small and the expression on his face was one of a boy wishing to kick off the pinching "good" shoes and change back into some worn knickers and to go play with the ball that he held in his hand. They both wore the solemn expressions seen in so many early 19th century photos. Family photos back then were serious, rare business.

Then I picked up the second picture, the picture of my Grandma and my Great Grandma Rozália. My eyes fell first on the baby, my Grandma. I delighted in seeing the baby who would become my Grandma. Even then, her eyes twinkled with kindness and love, and a sort of laid-back curiosity.

I moved my eyes from the baby's face to look at my Great Grandmother for the first time ever in my life. With a gasp, I nearly dropped the picture as I burst into tears. I recognized her, I knew her. I had seen her so many times in my dreams. I'm covered in goosebumps again just writing this. Some piece of my life, of understanding my life, suddenly fell into place. Something came full circle within me. I don't know any better way to describe it. It shook me to my core. I instantly knew her as the woman from my dreams - and this isn't some woowoo mind shift to try to validate the mystery woman in my dreams. It really was her. Why had she been haunting my dreams for so long? And how? Clearly she's been trying to reach out to me for a while now, and why just doesn't matter.

Picture in hand, I hauled ass up to my studio. I needed a deeper communion. I spent the better part of that afternoon with her, with that picture. I sketched her face, I made the above collage. The more I looked at her, the more familiar she became. Something inside me became whole.

I'm connected. I'm somebody. I am Teresa Pongrácz's great great granddaughter. I am Rozália Pongrácz's great granddaughter. I am Rose Nemes Schmutzer's granddaughter. I know the cadence of the songs these women sang. I know how their hands moved as they washed dishes and sewed. I know the nod of their heads as they spoke.

I'm looking at that picture now, and I can see myself in it. I'm standing just behind and in the middle of my grandma and great grandma. My right hand rests on Great Grandma Rozália's left shoulder, my left gently cradles Grandma Schmutzer's head.

I am following in some amazing footsteps.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pause Ability

For those of you who aren't aware, blogger - the ghost in my little machine from which comes these posts - was down for nearly two days. So, I apologize to the faithful who showed up here today expecting to find my usual brilliance... *cough, choke, sputter* It ain't my fault, I tell ya! I was all prepared to write a really cool thing this morning, but I couldn't get past the gate. It appears from my view of things here, that blogger is still having some glitchy issues. Ah, well... never fear. The cool thing is still safely in my head and will make an appearance on Monday.

To those of you who commented on my last two posts, even though they are not showing up on the posts themselves, I did get email notification of them, and I thank you for your kind words.

The good thing is that all that time I spent not writing, I instead spent playing with paint. It's been a great day and I had a fantastic breakthrough on a piece I've been contemplating.

So, my friends, that's it for now. I mostly wanted to check in and say hello and thank you. Have a great weekend!

Oh, and blogger, ol' buddy... please, please, please get well soon! M'kay?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Totally Screwed

I write all these posts from Steve's computer (mine isn't hooked to the internet). He's a slob in a very cool, mostly adorable absent-minded professor-ish kind of way. Looking at his desk is like looking at one of those hidden objects games - all kinds of fascinating stuff is piled around. There's a belt, loose change, computery stuff, a tiny magnifying mirror, drafting pencils, paper work of all kinds, a wrench, pens, nail clippers, receipts for everything from drills to printer ink cartridges to cigarettes and gummy worms (I am always amused that a 56 year old man has a penchant for gummy worms), and screws and nails. All kinds of screws and nails.

The screws and nails get emptied out of his pockets every night when he comes home from his construction job. There's a pretty good collection of them going on and it fascinates me. There's a different screw and nail for every purpose. While it might work to occasionally substitute one for the other, if you want the job done right, you use the right equipment.

This is his credo, and one that I love.

On my birthday the first year that we were together, he bought me six different pairs of high end scissors, each one destined for a different application, each one sharp and ready for action. He seemed a little sheepish about giving such a gift, saying, "I wanted you to have the right tools to do the things you do." I had to take a very deep breath to keep from crying. I was touched. It showed me that he cared about me being happy and at ease with what I was doing, but more than that, it showed me that he cared about the integrity of what I was doing. In effect, he was saying, "If you're going to do what you do, do it right."

Sure, I'd made do with cheap, fairly dull scissors for years. I barely even realized just how bad they were. Then I made my first project using the new birthday scissors. They worked so well - I could do the job in less time with less hassle and my hand wasn't cramped up afterward.

How often do we sacrifice quality for the purpose of just getting the job done? I sometimes watch the show Chopped, where contestants are given a basket of four unrelated foods and expected to make a dish in 30 minutes. It's always funny watching the judges' faces. I keep waiting for one of them to be completely honest. As they're washing down with water a pea-sized bit of something repulsive, they tend to say things like, "Your use of cumin with the poptarts was brilliant!" I want them to say, "Yeah, it's edible and I'd be thankful for it keeping me alive if I was running out of food in my fallout shelter, but to be honest, it looks and tastes like shit!"

So, I'm sitting here admiring this pile of various screws and nails, and the man who knows why, where, when and how to use each and every one of them. When he builds stuff, it's a sure bet that it's not going to come apart without the help of explosives.

Screw adequacy. Screw mediocrity.

Do it right. Use the proper tools - metaphorically and literally speaking.

If you're going to do what you do, do it right.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On the 5:15

I've always enjoyed a challenge, but yesterday I realized just how much I enjoy a challenge. Granted, I meet most of them with some trepidation, but once I quit with the timid tap dancing and get down with the boogy, I really get off on it. I'd forgotten that somehow. Or maybe I didn't fully realize it. But... damn.

At first I really didn't at all like the prompt for my post yesterday. (Read it here.) I could relate to it way too easily and I didn't want to just post my personal experience(s), which not only would have been all too easy, but also entirely too depressing. I wanted some fun. So, I sipped coffee and circled the damnable prompt for a couple of hours.

I even whined about it until my friend Dave hit me between the eyes with a well aimed bullet. "Just let it flow. You're at your best when you just let it flow."

So, I circled some more, poked at it a little to check for vital signs. Then I thought, "What the hell. It's supposed to be a challenge. So, take a possibly sad-inducing challenge, and bend it to make it fun and funny." Yeah, sure. Great idea. I kind of scoffed at myself, "You're outa your mind..."

Bingo. Out of my mind was exactly where I needed to be.

I needed to step away from the subject as it related to me. Cue huge sigh of relief. From there it was relatively easy. I closed my eyes and the first thing I saw was a cordless phone, a coffee pot, and a pack of cigarettes sitting on a counter. A still life. I looked at them for a few minutes, wondering what they were doing there, who they belonged to. While I was still pondering, a woman walked into the scene, cursing under her breath, grabbed the phone and said, obviously exasperated, "'Lo?"

I liked her instantly. I knew who she was and what she was all about.

And I could not wait to tell her story. (It's giving me goosebumps to write about this now.)

Afterward I caught myself wishing that people would challenge me every day. Then I realized how ridiculous that is. I have the power to challenge myself every day. I have everything I need to force myself to look at things from different angles, to not take for granted what I'm seeing, to take what I'm seeing and throw it into a different context. What kind of an artist or writer am I if I don't force myself to do that on a regular basis?

I'll tell you... a one-angled view leads to complacency, and complacency leads to trite output. I don't ever want that. I want the whole picture and I want to relay the whole picture.

This was all a huge Aha! moment for me. Expect some changes. Expect to see the view from askew.

Expect for me to step aside and let some 'other' do the talking on occasion. What good is having it if I don't use it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

All You Gotta Do Is Call

Today I am writing as part of the Writer's Challenge II over at IndieInk.org. My challenge comes from Rachel, who writes here. The writing prompt she gave me is: "It was the kind of phone call she dreaded, that she prayed would never come. Yet when it finally came, she went numb. Her burden was lifted. Now she could breathe."

I have to admit, at first I felt a bit burdened by the prompt. I've been doing nothing but posting serious shit lately, and I'm really tired of doing that. I mean. C'mon. It's me. I've got a killer sense of humor. It's not that I can't easily "go there" on this prompt. I've both received and made that call. But this is supposed to be a challenge, right? Wriiiiite. So, I'm going to chuck my usual sensibilities in the wadi and treat all of us to a bit of fiction. Yowza.


Fucking phone. Every time she got cozy and deep in a chapter, the thing dragged her back to reality. She'd unhook it, but she didn't want to miss any calls from her editor. With a long suffering sigh, she clicked the save button, then went into the kitchen where she'd left the handset.


"Ann? Honey? It's your mother."

She always felt it necessary to introduce herself, as if Ann wouldn't recognize her voice after 45 years.

"Hi Ma." Her mother hated being called that, said it was disrespectful. Ann never called her anything else. "Hey, hang on. I have to get this damned cat off the counter."

"Oh, but..."

"Hang on!"

The cat was nowhere around, but Ann needed a minute to disconnect her brain from the book and rewire to deal with her mother. She fished a cigarette out of the pack next to the coffee maker, thought about pouring another cup of coffee, then thought better of it. She dug the lighter out of her bathrobe pocket, suddenly aware that it was after 2 p.m. and she still hadn't bothered getting dressed. Ahh, the life of a writer. She lit the smoke, took a deep drag, and picked up the phone again.

"Sorry. Furball's being testy."

"It's okay. Ann. I." There was a long pause. "Ann. Honey."

"What is is, Ma? What's up?"

"Your father's gone."

"Gone? Already? I thought his fishing trip wasn't until next week."

"No. I mean... gone gone. Dead."

"Wha...? Ma! How? When? Christ on a taco..."

"Don't be vulgar. It was a heart attack. I found him in the garage. I think he fell over trying to lift his tackle box. There are fish hooks and bobbers all over the place. It's just a mess."

Ann realized that the ash on her cigarette was over an inch long. She flicked the ash into the sink and took another drag. This news was a real Charlie Foxtrot. She supposed she should be sad, but mostly she was annoyed. The old fart could have waited until she had the final copy of her book to the editor. It wasn't that Ann wasn't upset by the news, but in truth, there had never been much love lost between her and her father. He was a curmudgeon to the highest degree.

"Ann? Honey? Are you still there?"

"Yeah, Ma. Sorry. You want me to come over? Dumb question. I mean. I'll come over. Just give me a few minutes to get cleaned up. I was writing."

"Who are you writing to? Are you looking for a real job?"

Ann closed her eyes and clenched her jaw, biting her tongue slightly to keep from basting her mother with some vitriolic spew. Any self-defense on her part would be completely pointless. Her mother would never acknowledge writing as a "real job." Never mind that she'd had moderate success with her two published books. Without an appearance on Oprah, being an author didn't constitute a "real job."

"Nobody. Ma. I'm working on my book."

"Oh, you're just writing your... your things." Which was followed by the inevitable when-will-you-stop-being-a-disappointment sigh, a classic Ma-ism.


"Oh. One other thing... uh. I haven't called your sister yet. She's been having such trouble with Bobby."

Bobby, Ann's nephew was both her sister Erika's bane and raison d'être. He was 23 years old, without formal education, still lived with her sister and worked part time in a video store (Ann suspected that was only because of unlimited access to the skin flicks) which cut into his full time stint playing video games. He did nothing to help out at home. Erika loved to complain about this, but catered to his every whim and want. She couldn't afford new pantyhose, but the kid always had a fresh bag of cheezedoodles and a sixer of cold mountain dew at the ready. Ann's mother doted on Bobby, her only grandchild.

"Don't worry about it. I'll stop by Erika's place on my way over to your house."

"Oh, thank you, Dear. I wonder if Bobby will want your father's fishing poles."

Ann barely suppressed a snort of laughter. Bobby wouldn't know a worm from his wiener. His idea of nature was letting his slovenly dog lick cheezedoodle dust from his fingers.

"I wouldn't worry about stuff like that just yet, Ma. Listen. I'm going to get off the phone, take a shower and dress. I'll stop by Erika's. That should put me at your house in about an hour? Is that okay? You're alright by yourself until then?"

"Of course, Dear. I'll see you then. B'bye."

"Bye, Ma."

Ann hung up. She looked down and realized that the cigarette had burned down to the butt. She tossed it into a cup that was a quarter of the way filled with cold coffee. She poured a fresh cup of coffee, considered adding a hefty hit of Jameson's to it, decided that was the best idea she'd had all day, and did so. Then she lit another cigarette and went out on the deck. The afternoon was balmy and the breeze soothing. She took a sip of coffee, feeling some sense of reality seep in as she swallowed the hot liquid with its whisky after burn. Then she took a drag from the cigarette and let the smoke out with a slow, even breath.

She shook her head, whispering to the air, "Fuck, Dad... life sure has a way of flicking boogers in your face, huh?"

She took another sip of the coffee. The warm sun enveloped her. She closed her eyes again and took a deep breath.

It felt good just to breathe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

All Together Now

I should have known better. The other day I went trolling for blog topics. My friend Angela said, "You need to do a review, like a re-cap Blog post. I just joined your blog and I don’t want to go back and read all your past stuff so do a “for you who are just joining us” post."

That's like describing the history of the world: Time began, some shit happened, to be continued...

I mean... how the hell do I do that?! Today marks my 800th post. Huzzah!

Oy. Okay. For those of you who are just joining me...

I started this blog three and a half years ago under duress. Basically, I caved to peer pressure. The day I chose to start it, I was under the influence of hives and benadryl and desperate to do anything that would take my mind off of the maddening itch. Even so, I had this underlying hunch that it might be a good outlet for dealing with feelings I had after losing my late mate, John, to cancer. After all, it was only going to be read by a few close friends and family, and it was a good way of keeping them up to speed with my progress as a "widow."

It soon became apparent to me that I was writing my way out of a quagmire of emotion, that every time I wrote I was reaching toward something. And that stretch was helping me grow, was helping me become unstuck from what could just as easily overwhelm me. I wasn't an artist then, not really, not mentally. I thought I might just grow up to be a writer. I remembered something I'd read about writers and writing, it may have been something Stephen King said. It was something to the affect of how even the most far-fetched writing should be honest, should have elements of honesty in it.

I made it my goal to write with complete honesty. Besides, if I was going to use writing to get through my soul gunk, then it had to be honest. Right? Of course right. So I wrote about everything that hit me in any way. I realized that it wasn't just John's death that I needed to deal with, but all of me, everything I felt inside. If I was going to rebirth myself, if I was going to find the path, then I needed to hack away all of the briers. Added to that, my inner (feisty) gypsy had had quite enough of everyone's bullshit, including my own.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, people started following my blog. People I didn't know. I hope I never stop being amazed by that. I hope I never lose the feeling of, "Why? It's just me writing..." But all that writing opened me up, and for some reason people identified (identify) with it. I think the lack of sugar-coating and pussy-footing was a refreshing change.

But, the synopsis. I started by writing about itching. Along the way I wrote about anger, death, grief, sex, cheese, stew, Hungary and Hungarians, books, music, pie, humor, external validation, childhood, words, biscuits, passion, Maori, inspiration, fear, Santa Claus, languages, the journey, friends, strength, walking, dreams, laughter, art, family, travel, self-doubt, relationships, moving, love, animals, movies, nature, and being locked out on the deck. Not in that order.

How do I summate all that?! Five words: Bienvenido a mi vida loca.

It would be easy to storyboard my days, I lost a mate. I worked a going nowhere career. I got involved in a relationship that I knew would never work - and that was okay with me because the occasional sex was worth it. When the sex wasn't worth it, I ditched the asswipe. I met Steve, I fell head-over-heals truly, madly, deeply in love with him, as I still am. I now work as an artist.

But that storyboard doesn't capture the nuance.

Somewhere along the way, somehow in all that openness of writing it all out, an artist emerged. That artist wasn't born in a shuddering heap that took forever to get legs under it, it was a newborn colt, ready to leap and run at the first rush of fresh air. I was only waiting for my own permission to hold a paintbrush. It was part of the No Bullshit Policy in some way - that need to express everything I felt, through any means necessary, no holds barred.

You could say that although my life began in 1961, I didn't begin actively living my life until 2007.

So, for those of you who are just joining me... Some shit happened, time stopped, then time began again, then some other shit happened, and I wrote about it...

to be continued...

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Letter to the Departed

I am taking today off from blogging. Sort of. I'm meeting up with friends for some fun, and I have a ton of stuff to do when I'm not having fun (although the stuff is fun too!). So, in light of all that, I'm stepping away from the computer for the day.

Also, tomorrow it will have been four years since my beloved late mate, John died. To honor his memory, I am reposting the piece I wrote a year ago today. Read it and weep. Seriously.


Took a storm before
my love flowed for you
~C'est La Vie, Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Dear John,

Lately, one of your favorite phrases has been heavy on my mind, "Five years will go by anyway." It's been three years since you left this mortal coil, three years that have at once flown by and stood still. Three years have gone by anyway. I am in awe of the personal growth that I've been through in those three years - I never saw that coming in all of our "life after John" discussions.

One thing that has really impressed me lately is that I have so many friends who wouldn't be part of my life were it not for you. They are friends who, not only have stuck with me through the dark times, but whose friendship has grown deeper in these three years. Timothy is one of those friends. He is, without question, the greatest of those friends. I'm reasonably certain that without the loss of you, our friendship would not have become the shining gem that it is today. We came together in grief, but the tears and laughter we shared were the bond that sealed our friendship. His is such a beautiful, loving, and caring soul. He has more than lived up to his promise to you to be there for me.

I don't know if you made Timothy promise, as you did with me, to not only go on living, but to live well. Either way, he has. We were talking a couple of weeks ago. I said, "You know, Tim... this is going to sound strange... but John's death was the best thing that could have happened to us. His dying launched us. It galvanized us and made us realize that we had so much more living to do, and so much more to offer the world. We wouldn't have become who we are now if he was still around. The rat bastard pushed us!" At this, Tim laughed through his tears, held the phone away from his ear and hollered, "Yeah, J! You pushed us! You hear that?! Fucker!"

Yes, you definitely launched me. I am astounded that something so profoundly sad as your death could bring about so much quintessential good. But, I've learned that sometimes when life takes you through its worst, it's about to give you its best. So it has, because let me tell you, Darlin' Man, if it gets better than this I might just burst. Here's the tricky part, John. I think this will be my last letter to you for a long while, years maybe. I hope you understand. I think you would.

See, the thing is, I no longer use your death as a jumping off point. For a while I needed to, I needed that pivotal moment in time to say, "here is where I became aware of my strength, here is where I found my road." I needed something to remind me that if I got through that, I can get through anything. For quite a while, I measured time in, "that happened when John was still alive" or "that happened after John died." Today, I think I've evolved to the extent that I no longer need to wear that badge of courage. I've sort of become my own woman, and I'm no longer "the girl who survived the great loss." Does that make sense? I'm not sure I'm saying it well. It doesn't mean I miss you any less, and it doesn't at all make the importance of you in my life any less.

This brings me to Steve. Odd as it is, I feel it needs to be said. Maybe I'm the only one who needs that, but hey... it's my life, huh? It's a strange feeling, but I often wish that you and Steve had met somehow. He would have been such a wonderful friend for you to have, and I know he would have liked your spirit. You know... he waited for me for 14 years. He didn't know he was waiting for me, just that he was waiting for the right woman to come along. When you told me there was another out there for me, someone who would give me everything you couldn't, someone I needed to love, I didn't believe you. Hell, I didn't want to believe you! But you described Steve so precisely. I think that's why, when I met him, I felt that I was saying hello to someone I already knew. Ah, John... my heart is so full.

I've been putting all my effort into art. You were right. Rat Bastard... were you ever wrong?! There is so much more depth to my abilities than I allowed, or was even willing to see. It's another part of my life that has grown and blossomed, weed-like, in the past three years. I would have been lost without it.

These three years have been quite a banquet (as life should be), and though I often feel like a beggar at the feast, I enjoy it nonetheless. I know it's not what either of us planned on. It definitely isn't how I expected things to turn out when I first met you 12 years ago. For sure it isn't what I expected when I lost you three years ago. But as with any mélange, different flavors come out at different times. Some flavors linger, some don't. The ripe, piquant flavor of knowing you in my life is, and ever will be, tempered with the bittersweet of saying goodbye. The honor was mine. Thank you.


I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
~Douglas Adams

John P. Johnson
24 September 1960 - 7 May 2007

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Abandon All Hope

We all have hopes. They come in varying sizes and degrees of magnitude.

But our hopes die with us. It's what we do that has any impact, that has any lasting impression. Imagine if Ghandi, or Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King Jr. only hoped they could change the world. Imagine if Van Gogh or Sureat only hoped to one day pick up a paint brush, or if Mozart or Clapton only hoped to play music. They didn't hope. They did.

A few years ago I barely even hoped to be an artist. I shoved it away... I didn't have the skills. There was no way it could happen. What uniqueness did I have to offer? Why would anyone care? There's already such a flood of (unwanted) artwork in the world. Then came a day when I simply had to paint. I had a feeling and a vision that was just too much for me to contain. I didn't really think I could make it work on canvas, but, I thought, what did I have to lose? So, I picked up a paint brush and a few other supplies, and went to work.

That was less than two years ago. Two years! In the past six months I've sold seven paintings, without even really trying. I mean, I don't have an exhibit anywhere. I've yet to be written up in the New York Times (much less the Snohomish Weekly) as an up and comer. So far Oprah hasn't bothered to call. It doesn't matter. I'm selling paintings. Let me say that again, because I hardly believe it myself. I'm selling paintings!

I'm convinced that the sole reason for that is because I gave up hope. That's right. I quit hoping and started doing. I became a Doer.

Has it thrown me into the next tax bracket? (What comes after abject poverty, anyway?) No. But I believe greater things are coming, and coming fast. Because I'm doing.

When your hopes become passion-driven, they become tangible things, and those things get done. When things get done, passion is further fueled... the world around you will change. What you need will come your way because you have, in effect, made yourself a magnet.

Trust me on that. This morning I almost said, "I'm too busy with art to bother blogging." It made me laugh in a rather victorious way... because I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a lot busier. (No worries, I'm not about to give up blogging!)

So... how about it? Abandon hope (Hope is really tired of taking all the heat anyway)... become a Doer!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why Would Anyone Leave?

Today I am writing as part of the Writer's Challenge II over at IndieInk.org. My challenge comes from Rachel, who writes here. The writing prompt she gave me is: "You knew it was going to happen. It was inevitable. You felt it, deep in your bones..."

Ay yi yi... here we go...


It was an unusually warm day for early March. It was so quiet that the silence had that funny low hum to it. I sat in the room, gathering my thoughts, deep breathing some calm that I didn't quite feel. There was a soft knock just before the door opened. She walked in, looking particularly lovely in her fuchsia satin jacket and little black dress. She smiled at me. It was the kind of smile you get from friends who really love you. I smiled back.

She said, "It's so peaceful in here. Why would anyone want to leave?"

I joked back, "Well, y'know... I've got someplace to be."

She came over and hugged me, then took my face in her hands, and said, "Just remember, it's not done until you say, 'I do.'"

I knew what she was trying to tell me. I knew she was telling me that maybe this wasn't the right step for me. I knew that she knew that I knew exactly what she was saying. She was trying to give me an out. I could tell it took everything in her to not say, "Please don't marry him. This is a mistake."

I knew she was right. I felt it too.

I drew in a shaky breath and considered it for a moment. I thought, "She's right. I should run."

But plans had been laid for months, for nearly a year. Friends and family had traveled hundreds of miles to be there. There were 300 deviled eggs and spiral cut ham and pasta salad and cheesecakes waiting.

Besides, I was already dressed. And this is what good catholic girls do. They marry the guy they're sleeping with. They make the best of it even if they know it's not the best choice. They do the right thing in their mama's eyes.

An hour later, I was walking back down the aisle with him, hand in hand. Glad it was done, hopeful, but feeling the dread, and hearing some distant voice inside me saying, "What have you just done?"

I made the best of it for as long as I could. I had enough other distractions in my life that I could ignore a lot of the underlying dissatisfaction in my marriage. I had my craft projects. I had friends. I had work. In truth, he wasn't a bad guy, he wasn't difficult to live with or be around. He was merely apathetic to anything going on around him. Anything but what was on TV.

But I knew that when it began, just as I knew it eight years later when I packed my bags and boxes.

It was an unusually cool day for late May. It was quiet, and I was calm, but for the low thrum of excitement and anticipation that coursed through my veins. I looked over the small collection of things I was taking with me. There was a slight tap on the door. He stood there, tears rimming his eyes. It was the kind of look that you know you will never forget - a little bundle, wrapped in guilt and sorrow, to carry forever.

He said, in an oddly distorted echo of her words so many years before, "Why do you have to leave?"

Twisting my own echoed words in response, I said, "Well, y'know... I've got to be."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Long Stare

I've been sitting here, staring at the monitor, for over an hour. As if some fascinating bit of writing will magically appear. It ain't happening.

I even asked my merry band of miscreants for some topic suggestions and I got bupkis mit kuduchas. Thanks guys.

This is how it is some days.

Part of it is that I'm feeling more than a little reticent based on the observation of a friend of mine. He made a comment earlier, "I'm telling you man, blogs... there is SO much bullshit out there..."

I know he's reading this right now and screaming at his monitor, "But I didn't mean you, B!" And, of course he didn't. I know that.

But you know I'm going to take it into consideration regardless. It's true, I often wonder what the point of this blog is, what my point is. Why do I do it? In a day that is already too short on hours, I spend anywhere from half an hour to two hours sitting here playing shuffle board with words. For what? My own gratification and self-satisfaction at having kept myself sane for another day? I suppose that's worth something, but I could just as easily do that in a private journal, couldn't I?

Why the blog? Why the need to spackle the walls of the internet with my deepest thoughts - important to anyone but me or not?

I'm not looking for validation or reassurance. I think it's my way of screaming out to the Universe from the bottom of my personal little fuzz ball, "I am here! I am here! I am heeeeeerrrre!!!!"

Maybe that's it.

Because, obviously, I can't not post. Even when I feel that my words are boring and stilted, I can't keep myself from hitting the "publish post" button.

I am here.

Monday, May 2, 2011


It turns out that I'm a chronic liar.

I go around telling people, even people who love me and know me well, that I'm fine. That's just how I roll. "How ya doin', Barb?" "I'm fine. You?"

But I lie. I didn't understand this until the other day though.

Let me give you a little background before I tell you how I arrived at the ball all decked out in finery. A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog Q is for Quixotic (read it here). As part of the post, I added a video of John Lennon's song Imagine as sung by the cast of Glee. The song kind of summed up what I was getting at in my post, and when I searched it on youtube and found that version, I really liked how different and heartfelt it was.

I received a couple of negative comments, not about my post, but about my choice in using that version of the song. One person, with all the erudite intelligence of a potato, simply commented, "Glee sucks." My first reaction was, "Christ in a sidecar... I pour my heart out in a post and that's all you can come up with?" I refrained and thought about it a minute. Who was I to know whether or not there was any veracity to her statement? I'd never seen a single episode of Glee.

So, I hopped over to netflix, tossed the first season of Glee on my instant watch queue, and went up to my studio to watch it and work on art.

I was instantly hooked. Apparently I'm now a Gleek. C'est la vie. I've been called worse. It's a fun show, decent enough writing, good music. If it's sophomoric at times... well... show me something on TV that isn't. Besides, it's about a bunch of singing school kids. Duh.

Anyway. Back to the ball and my finery. I was sketching out a design, one eye and both ears cast toward the TV and an episode of Glee. One of the kids belted out a song, tearful defiance in his voice. His father walked in, commented that he was really impressed. Said kid shuffled his feet. The father made a rather vague comment about the kid maybe needing to get some stuff off his chest. The kid looked down at his feet, shook his head and said, "I'm fine."

*cue the drums for Barb's impending revelation*

The father replied, "Nobody who sings like that is fine."

I burst into tears.

Nobody who writes like I do is fine. Nobody who creates art like I do is fine. Nobody who plays the piano and sings like I do is fine.

I'm not fine. I've been lying all this time.

I'm one big walking wound, a massive ulceration of all of the bad stuff that has happened in my life. I write out my sorrow and anger. I paint the madness in my head. I lose my emotion to music. I turn my frustrations into humor.

I roll everything I've experienced into one huge flaming ball of passion, and I channel that into any number of artistic and creative outlets.

But, you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd rather feel too much and have to find places for it to go, than feel too little. I'm not fine, I'm a gloriously, beautifully fucked up individual, and I like it that way.

I get to live every minute of my life because I've gotten used to that raw feeling (anything less feels like passivity). And that...

... is just fine.