Dreams, Family, Writing

July 2019- Knight of Swords

img_1443Back in December, on New Year’s Eve, I did a tarot drawing, one card for each month. July drew The Knight of Swords.  The knight indicates a battle, one that must be fought but the knight can lead that contest to victory. However, the fight must be made. And that is accurate. There are three distinct battles for me to fight this month.

June was a tough month. My parent’s house was destroyed by an electrical fire. No one was hurt but it will be 4-6 months in reconstruction. That is super tough for my elderly parents. It is the house my father was born in and the house I grew up in.

RenderedImage Dealing with the aftermath of the loss of my childhood home is the first battle of July. Getting my parents settled and finding a way for them to take advantage of insurance paying for everything so they can totally remodel their house, make it easy to live in for the remainder of their days will be a victory. However, the road there is hard and my parents are not in great health. Frankie is super worried.

The second battle. My daughter is leaving New York to come here to go back to school and regroup. She is not sure if she will return to New York. She has taken location out of her dreams.

UjkgY2PHSai+iopraTBXTwShe wishes to work at something where she feels passion and purpose, wherever that may be. She has taken a “Women in Tech” scholarship to learn full-stack programming to open up her options for employment. While in school, she is going to live with me. She returns home in August.

To prepare I have donated all my oversized furniture and for the first time in my life, bought new furniture that will allow the space to work comfortable for two. This has felt invigorating but also like closing a chapter of my life again. Change is the only constant in life but it comes slow.

58344333290__BC7FC1A5-CCCB-41A6-B2F6-7C0017396758The third is handing my book over to my two beta readers. I am off this week to finish up the last revisions. I have such mixed feelings. It is a good book, I think. I hope. But it is done. It is time to let it fly.

When one book ends, another must begin. In my little world, Hell is a white blank page. So much possibility for me to wield or destroy. Filling the first pages of a first draft feels like weeding through a field of razor sharp vines, a death by a thousand cuts. Once I get there, it is paradise and when I end a book, I hold paradise for a moment. And then I return right back into Hell.  So into the brink we go in a too hot July.

 

 

#LiverpoolFC, Dreams, Prophecy, Writing

March 2019- Judgment Reversed

img_1439I am marching through 2019 on the draw of 12 cards. In February, it was the Chariot. That pushed me further into my journey. My book, my body, my mentality, all of it pushed forward. Although, parts of the journey have proved to be painful. Still, I persevered. Now it is March.

For March, the Judgment card came up in the reversed position. That fits. In reverse, Judgment card indicates delay and guilt preventing moving on from the past.

I do tend to be my worst enemy in these things. And the past has been haunting me lately in the form of memories, moments lost and gone forever. I know my life is changing forever and that I am in the bottom half of my journey in these bones.  A large bucket of regret feels like it is eating away at my belly. It seems I must find a way to conquer those feelings this month.

 

Physical Stuff

I am 13 workouts into my OrangeTheory workouts and that is going ok. I love doing it, but I am not getting the splat points I want. My knees and right hip prevent me from running on tread and so I am stuck at power walking which is not challenging my heart.  So some frustration there. This is the point where I will usually give up on these things instead of powering through the pain. I will endeavor to continue, cheerfully.

Creative Stuff

I have not reached the query trenches. This makes it so I don’t want to make other kinds of plans until the book is off and gone. I don’t even want to say I am close yet because I have said that before and then been wrong. So another delay and more frustration.

Liverpool FC – The Joy in My Life

%g4wUYipRlmj4KknzJsESAI want to move back to the UK more than I can even express if only to be able to go to Anfield and watch my favorite footballers. Frankie is torn. She reminds me that my roots are still here.

Liverpool is still top of the table so a Phoenix tattoo still looms my future.But like me, Liverpool stalled a bit in February drawing against both West Ham and Man U. They might have clenched their title run by beating both those teams. They did not.

Liverpool won decisively over the teams they beat in February. They beat Bournemouth 3-0 and Watford 5-0. For them, they need to not delay, to let go of past spoils where they lead at Christmas and failed to clench the title in the end. So off into March we go.

 

#LiverpoolFC, Dreams, Prophecy, Soccer, Writing

February 2019- The Chariot

img_1437I did a tarot drawing for 2019 on New Year’s Eve in 2018 as a way to concentrate on the upcoming year. In review, January we saw the Magician – a sign of new beginnings.

In January, I restructured my WIP – taking it from 34 longish chapters into 60 short chapters and I felt this was great forward movement. I also joined a gym of sorts, OrangeTheory, and my body is changing and getting stronger. Other things, closer and personal, are also moving forward.

LFCTattooLiverpool is hanging onto their lead in the Premier League. That matters to me. Watching Liverpool play brings me a joy like nothing else. I will be getting a Liverpool tattoo on my left arm if they win the league in May.  They have 4 points on Tottenham and 5 points on Man City as of this writing. May is a long way off.

In February, The Chariot will fuel the momentum of the new year. This card represents a journey toward a long-awaited destination.  For me, that means getting book into the query trenches or developing all the tools to get the book ready for representation and sale.  It also means getting my health back in gear with my diet and exercise plan.

Two close co-workers fell critically ill in January – one cancer and one a stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side. Both gentlemen are my age and lead healthy lives. We never know when our mortal time will be done so I am reminded to thank the Lord above for the grace of a new day, a new week, a new month, or a new year. This is such a temporary state of existence. We should not squander it.

Pack up for your journey and put that first step out. That is the hardest bit of getting started, that very first step. Try and keep warm. Yes, winter is here but spring is coming. The journey is only beginning and the possibilities around the bend are endless.

 

Dreams, Prophecy, Writing

Mind the Gap

London 057Last night I dreamed I returned to the United Kingdom. I always meant to go back there, to live there for a time once more as I did when I was at University.

The last time I visited, I took my then fourteen year old daughter. We enjoyed such an adventure. There was no plan. We traipsed around England, mostly staying in London, exploring freely.

London had changed a bit since my school days, but not so much as to lose that ambience of long endurance and that incredible air of fable. Time still seemed in long supply, and I believed I would return again. I did not factor in the world going quite so utterly mad.

london night lights bridge

My dream revealed a withered and dying United Kingdom, a divided and broken land, its culture and people utterly vanquished.  South Kensington, the place I had lived as a student, was lined with crucified bodies, heads on spikes. Masked men wearing  black robes patrolled the streets, heavily armed. In my dream, they turned to carrion birds to feed on the ashes of the land they conquered. It was horrifying. Perhaps, a symptom of watching entirely too much Game of Thrones.

I woke up weeping for its demise more than I think I would for my own country. I rolled out of bed in the night’s darkest hours before dawn and immediately took to my computer to seek plane reservations that I might return there before my visions could come to fruition.

I believed I was awake in a bright morning to find my reservations well in place. I packed and gathered my passport and arrived in London. No, I had not awaken from my nightmare. The UK was still there, but it felt dead, like a movie set more than the real place.  I told myself it was the hour of the day, and entered the tube station at Piccadilly Circus.

People packed into the platform and that gave me comfort. Here they all were, citizens of London, waiting for their train. The train came and true to nature, the people queued up to enter as a mechanized and polite voice reminded them.

“Mind the gap.”

No one did. By the time I boarded the train, all of those people disappeared into the gap which for me was a simple step and for them, an unscalable chasm. Then I awoke to my life once more, and I wrote this blog post. Let this only be a nightmare. Please, world, mind the gap.

Christmas, Dreams, Writing

The Angel and My First Guitar

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More than forty years ago, I rose after sunset on a Christmas Eve, my mother fretting that I would be sick on Christmas and loudly blaming her younger sister, my Aunt Ann, for my illness. We were visiting my grandmother in Florida so no snow, the chill in the air limited and only present due to my breaking fever.

I was nine years old and I wanted a guitar more than anything in the world. My aunt worked with the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, at the time, this being the mid-1970s. Watching Allen Collins and Gary Rossington play enthralled me to the point that everything else in the world disappeared. What I wouldn’t give to be able to make a bunch of wood and string make such music. A year or so before that Christmas, Ronnie Van Zant asked me if I was going to be a musician.

A musician? Oh, no, my mother would never allow it, but in that moment, I wanted it so much, almost as much as I wanted to be a writer. My answer came out quiet with despair.

“Girls don’t play guitar.”

I shuddered to hear myself say such a thing. At the time, girls did not play Little League either. Around the year of this question, I had become the first girl in my neck of the woods to play Little League baseball. Maybe, I could play guitar as well.

From about the age of five until after puberty, I despised being a girl because of all the things I was told girls did not do. I was violent about the whole thing, a bit insane really. The diagnosis was “severe gender dysphoria”.  Any dress bought for me, I immediately tore into unwearable shreds. Anything pink burned in the fire place. I did not talk to girls or play with them.

All my friends were boys, but I knew just as they did, I was not one of them. I must have cried when I answered Mr. Van Zant. Yes, I wanted to play the guitar. I did, and I could too.  I had long traded yard work for piano lessons from a neighbor woman, and I could already read music. I had checked out books on guitar chords and frets so had in my mind how the thing was managed.

I don’t have my own recollection of this conversation. My aunt told me the tale. Ann told me Ronnie had laughed at my answer. She could not recall what he said to me, only that it challenged my notion about girls not playing guitar. Ronnie charged Ann with my musical education and she took this seriously. It started with the departed Janis Joplin and continued with the recently emerging Patti Smith and on and on.

So that Christmas I wanted a guitar without much hope of getting one. For me a guitar was much like the Red Ryder BB Gun in A Christmas Story. Not that I would shoot my eye out, but it was not a thing for kids, and most certainly not for girls as far as my mother was concerned. However, that year, I asked for nothing else.

I had a back-up plan. The angel I spoke to every night before I went to sleep suggested it, and I filled a piggy bank with coins I earned raking leaves in the fall and pulling weeds in the spring. I was still too young to babysit which would be more lucrative in years to come, but I could work. I had peddled my bike all the way to the local music store that past summer, a good three-mile track from my house.

I had priced out guitars. The amount might as well have been a million dollars for all the good my savings would do. Even for the six-string that the long-haired salesman told me would be a good “learning” guitar for a kid.

I told my angel I needed a miracle. I did not think my parents could afford something so dear, not when it was hard for them to afford our food every week. The angel agreed about the miracle but not about the guitar. The angel is like that.

Aside from the guitar, I often prayed that I could be recreated as a boy. Then I could play football and my parents would love me more. I wouldn’t seem so weird if I was a boy, I told the angel. Boys always seemed to be allowed more accommodation and tolerance for oddity than girls. If I had been a boy, I reasoned, maybe my parents would even want me to have a guitar.

On that Christmas Eve, my mom was losing her shit because we were so late for church. It was Christmas Eve, and I was listless, pale, hair unkempt, and I probably needed a bath. There was no time for our usual grandiose fight to put a dress on me. Clean corduroys and one of those Christmas sweaters no sane person would be caught dead in on any other night than Christmas Eve were shoved onto my body.

Everyone else had already gone to the church, and it was me and my mom. She caught hold of my arm, this tiny woman of incredible strength, as she pulled me out of my grandmother’s house and into that old station wagon. Everyone else had walked to the church, but there was no time and no parking and I had no strength in my legs.

I remember being a bit frightened as my mom pulled that old clunker of a station wagon into a space that seemed too small, all the while cursing the disarray of the parking situation and that she had not finished her pecan pies or whatever she was contributing that year for Christmas Eve dinner. I said nothing. My mother carried a lot of weight on her shoulders. As strict as she was with me, she was nothing compared to how my grandmother treated her. I understood exactly how insecure and unsettled she felt before the eyes of a woman who never approved fully of anything my mother did.

My mom was not in the least bit concerned that I might be an incubator of viral plague. Her faith was pretty insane. It was Christmas. Whatever noxious illness I might have would not take out my grandmother’s church congregation even if I was cultivating some zombie apocalypse virus (a real possibility considering how I felt that night).

I remember it was hard getting out of the car because mom parked so close to the car in the next space. The next moment claimed a memory that will echo through my life until its end, one of those rare moments. The music coming up from the church in the twilight of that winter’s eve froze time about me. My angel was singing from the body of some child.

“O Holy Night” rang through the night, and all else became silent. I took my mom’s hand. For the first time, I heard the lyric. I listened to the soul of the musical composition as a whole and felt with certainty that only divinity could inspire such a thing.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices

My mother and I entered the church behind the choir as the rest of the voices joined the child who had begun the song. It was glorious and I wished it to go on and on. It did not. I fell asleep on the hard pew in the back of the church. All and all, it was the best church service I ever attended.

I kept a jumble of images of the rest of the night, the giant Santa Claus at my Great Aunt Glenn’s house, my dad wearing a Santa hat that matched the one my Uncle Gene and my Uncle Jim had worn,  watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on a tiny television on the glass sun porch that overlooked the St. John’s River, a quilt that smelled like bourbon and tobacco smoke thrown over me by one of my relatives as I lay on a wicker couch, the sounds of my cousins playing, my little brother almost falling in the river, and his laughing at my mother’s distressed reprimand of him. My brother’s dearest wish at that age was to fall into the river, and I think he finally managed it by the next Christmas.

I slept on a Christmas Eve, maybe for the first time since I had been old enough to understand about presents and magical flying reindeer. My brother tried everything to keep me awake as I was supposed to help him listen for the bells that announced the arrival of Santa and a sleigh carried by aforementioned flying reindeer. I passed that baton onto him that Christmas.

The song “O Holy Night” filled my dreams displacing all the dancing sugar plums and commercial rot that once infested my childish mind. Something spoke to me, too deep, too big, too strong for my spoiled nine-year old mind to comprehend, but the angel assured me it would come to me in time.  It did but not in a way mortal words can express.

The guitar waited for me under my grandmother’s massive tree that Christmas morning.  I could scarce believe it. In the night, I had accepted that my parents could not afford such a present, and that I would be happy with whatever given to me. That made it all the more splendid. I doubt I bothered with my stocking or other presents. I picked up the guitar, half-hearing my aunt tell me the boys from Skynyrd had helped pick it out and tuned it for me. I began to pick out the notes for “O Holy Night”.

The angel smiled at me in his knowing way unobserved by the rest of the family. He was quite smug about it, really, and so I stuck my tongue out him, silly mortal that I am.  I do not think anyone heard the tune I picked out, but my heart filled with the song. My favorite song. Forever.

Dreams, Writing

Twenty Five Years Ago

Twenty-five years ago today, I gave birth. It’s the only truly remarkable thing I have ever done. With a few billion people on the planet, this probably does not seem like much to some. Well, those people would be wrong. Our children are the greatest thing we give to the future. Hope made flesh.

Sometimes people grow up wrong. They become a stain in the world, bringing hate and derision wherever they trod. Yeah, that happens. Not the fault of the birth. Society is a sick, desolate and dying thing. It eats potential like locusts, often stamping out such promise before a first breath is taken. Well-intentioned people with too much power often destroy the possibility of untold numbers of people in their desire to control, in their fear there that is not “enough” to go around. They never tap the potential to find the bountiful reservoirs that can be produced by human ingenuity left to its own devices.

In every new life, there is a hidden and unknown potential to change the world, to move mountains, to create, to solve the unsolvable, to save the hopeless, to see the invisible. In every child, there is this potential no matter who the parents, no matter where the child is born, no matter the circumstances.  Every child born on this earth has the potential to better this world no matter their gender, their race, their heritage.

Some would spare these untapped potentials the inevitable pain of life. Certainly, young and as alone as I was, this was an option given me. No, I found myself holding Pandora’s Box. And I opened it and found hope.  This is what I saw in my newborn daughter. Hope and possibility. From the day of her birth on a cold December day to this day and for all the rest of my days. Happy birthday, Kate, and thank you for coming to visit this spinning rock in this dark corner of the universe.

Christmas, Dreams, Writing

The Angel and My First Guitar

img_0816

More than forty years ago, I rose after sunset on a Christmas Eve, my mother fretting that I would be sick on Christmas and loudly blaming her younger sister, my Aunt Ann, for my illness. We were visiting my grandmother in Florida so no snow, the chill in the air limited and only present due to my breaking fever.

I was nine years old and I wanted a guitar more than anything in the world. My aunt worked with the band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, at the time, this being the mid-1970s. Watching Allen Collins and Gary Rossington play enthralled me to the point that everything else in the world disappeared. What I wouldn’t give to be able to make a bunch of wood and string make such music. A year or so before that Christmas, Ronnie Van Zant asked me if I was going to be a musician.

A musician? Oh, no, my mother would never allow it, but in that moment, I wanted it so much, almost as much as I wanted to be a writer. My answer came out quiet with despair.

“Girls don’t play guitar.”

I shuddered to hear myself say such a thing. At the time, girls did not play Little League either. Around the year of this question, I had become the first girl in my neck of the woods to play Little League baseball. Maybe, I could play guitar as well.

From about the age of five until after puberty, I despised being a girl because of all the things I was told girls did not do. I was violent about the whole thing, a bit insane really. The diagnosis was “severe gender dysphoria”.  Any dress bought for me, I immediately tore into unwearable shreds. Anything pink burned in the fire place. I did not talk to girls or play with them.

All my friends were boys, but I knew just as they did, I was not one of them. I must have cried when I answered Mr. Van Zant. Yes, I wanted to play the guitar. I did, and I could too.  I had long traded yard work for piano lessons from a neighbor woman, and I could already read music. I had checked out books on guitar chords and frets so had in my mind how the thing was managed.

I don’t have my own recollection of this conversation. My aunt told me the tale. Ann told me Ronnie had laughed at my answer. She could not recall what he said to me, only that it challenged my notion about girls not playing guitar. Ronnie charged Ann with my musical education and she took this seriously. It started with the departed Janis Joplin and continued with the recently emerging Patti Smith and on and on.

So that Christmas I wanted a guitar without much hope of getting one. For me a guitar was much like the Red Ryder BB Gun in A Christmas Story. Not that I would shoot my eye out, but it was not a thing for kids, and most certainly not for girls as far as my mother was concerned. However, that year, I asked for nothing else.

I had a back-up plan. The angel I spoke to every night before I went to sleep suggested it, and I filled a piggy bank with coins I earned raking leaves in the fall and pulling weeds in the spring. I was still too young to babysit which would be more lucrative in years to come, but I could work. I had peddled my bike all the way to the local music store that past summer, a good three-mile track from my house.

I had priced out guitars. The amount might as well have been a million dollars for all the good my savings would do. Even for the six-string that the long-haired salesman told me would be a good “learning” guitar for a kid.

I told my angel I needed a miracle. I did not think my parents could afford something so dear, not when it was hard for them to afford our food every week. The angel agreed about the miracle but not about the guitar. The angel is like that.

Aside from the guitar, I often prayed that I could be recreated as a boy. Then I could play football and my parents would love me more. I wouldn’t seem so weird if I was a boy, I told the angel. Boys always seemed to be allowed more accommodation and tolerance for oddity than girls. If I had been a boy, I reasoned, maybe my parents would even want me to have a guitar.

On that Christmas Eve, my mom was losing her shit because we were so late for church. It was Christmas Eve, and I was listless, pale, hair unkempt, and I probably needed a bath. There was no time for our usual grandiose fight to put a dress on me. Clean corduroys and one of those Christmas sweaters no sane person would be caught dead in on any other night than Christmas Eve were shoved onto my body.

Everyone else had already gone to the church, and it was me and my mom. She caught hold of my arm, this tiny woman of incredible strength, as she pulled me out of my grandmother’s house and into that old station wagon. Everyone else had walked to the church, but there was no time and no parking and I had no strength in my legs.

I remember being a bit frightened as my mom pulled that old clunker of a station wagon into a space that seemed too small, all the while cursing the disarray of the parking situation and that she had not finished her pecan pies or whatever she was contributing that year for Christmas Eve dinner. I said nothing. My mother carried a lot of weight on her shoulders. As strict as she was with me, she was nothing compared to how my grandmother treated her. I understood exactly how insecure and unsettled she felt before the eyes of a woman who never approved fully of anything my mother did.

My mom was not in the least bit concerned that I might be an incubator of viral plague. Her faith was pretty insane. It was Christmas. Whatever noxious illness I might have would not take out my grandmother’s church congregation even if I was cultivating some zombie apocalypse virus (a real possibility considering how I felt that night).

I remember it was hard getting out of the car because mom parked so close to the car in the next space. The next moment claimed a memory that will echo through my life until its end, one of those rare moments. The music coming up from the church in the twilight of that winter’s eve froze time about me. My angel was singing from the body of some child.

“O Holy Night” rang through the night, and all else became silent. I took my mom’s hand. For the first time, I heard the lyric. I listened to the soul of the musical composition as a whole and felt with certainty that only divinity could inspire such a thing.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices

My mother and I entered the church behind the choir as the rest of the voices joined the child who had begun the song. It was glorious and I wished it to go on and on. It did not. I fell asleep on the hard pew in the back of the church. All and all, it was the best church service I ever attended.

I kept a jumble of images of the rest of the night, the giant Santa Claus at my Great Aunt Glenn’s house, my dad wearing a Santa hat that matched the one my Uncle Gene and my Uncle Jim had worn,  watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on a tiny television on the glass sun porch that overlooked the St. John’s River, a quilt that smelled like bourbon and tobacco smoke thrown over me by one of my relatives as I lay on a wicker couch, the sounds of my cousins playing, my little brother almost falling in the river, and his laughing at my mother’s distressed reprimand of him. My brother’s dearest wish at that age was to fall into the river, and I think he finally managed it by the next Christmas.

I slept on a Christmas Eve, maybe for the first time since I had been old enough to understand about presents and magical flying reindeer. My brother tried everything to keep me awake as I was supposed to help him listen for the bells that announced the arrival of Santa and a sleigh carried by aforementioned flying reindeer. I passed that baton onto him that Christmas.

The song “O Holy Night” filled my dreams displacing all the dancing sugar plums and commercial rot that once infested my childish mind. Something spoke to me, too deep, too big, too strong for my spoiled nine-year old mind to comprehend, but the angel assured me it would come to me in time.  It did but not in a way mortal words can express.

The guitar waited for me under my grandmother’s massive tree that Christmas morning.  I could scarce believe it. In the night, I had accepted that my parents could not afford such a present, and that I would be happy with whatever given to me. That made it all the more splendid. I doubt I bothered with my stocking or other presents. I picked up the guitar, half-hearing my aunt tell me the boys from Skynyrd had helped pick it out and tuned it for me. I began to pick out the notes for “O Holy Night”.

The angel smiled at me in his knowing way unobserved by the rest of the family. He was quite smug about it, really, and so I stuck my tongue out him, silly mortal that I am.  I do not think anyone heard the tune I picked out, but my heart filled with the song. My favorite song. Forever.