Hell in a Starbucks Cup

It’s been a year since I’ve had caffeine – and it’s been HELL!

Specifically, my signature black tea, and more specifically, sometimes a half a gallon a day!

I was sitting back today, calm as a koala on eucalyptus, thinking I should be doing something – like writing. And it’s been a year since I’ve had real flow.

That flow where you sit back and the ideas come. That flow wherein you read the news and see how each story can become a hundred short stories, a disaster novel, and a rom-com.

I consider how I used to sit at the dining room table, hot cup of black tea mere millimeters from my fingertips, and type like a hamster on a wheel. Go. Go. Go!

It’s the lack of caffeine – of course- which has caused my caustic dry spell. I glance toward the kitchen, knowing, somewhere in there, lies a discarded tea bag at the bottom of an unused drawer.

Screw the doctors! To hell with anxiety! I shall abandon caution and dive over the cliffs of caffeine haven.

I hesitate, like I do now while strung out on herbal bounty, and consider, weigh the pros and cons, and question my decision. Damn chamomile.

A knock on the door steals my attention. (Caffeine improves focus – pro). I pop off the couch and spring toward the door. (No late afternoon caffeine drag – con). I throw open the door. There, on my patio, a tower of chocolates.

SALVATION!

Passion

Today, listening to the soft roar of the waves while walking on the beach, I thought about life’s passions – that thing or those things a person dedicates themselves to until the day they die.

I heard a podcast about an 84 year old man who went on his 121st sunken ship treasure hunt. I remember the stories of Einstein on his death bed still working on his next theory. How wonderful to be that passionate about something that you don’t want to stop ever!

I want to live with that passion. I want to always look forward and be working on my next passion project. Some people wait for retirement to travel or write or follow their life’s desire. But I want to live every day bathing in that fervor.

While work and other projects sometimes keeps me from writing, I can’t completely blame those things. As a teenager, I wrote endlessly, not concerned with sales or promotion. These things, I’ve come to understand, are what temper my passion for writing. The idea of the work that comes after the publication. The work a writer must do these days.

There must be a happy medium. My goal is to live more in my passion. Just write.

Read, Write, Publish

Billy Collins – famous poet – says he published everywhere. Any literary journal that accepted his work, big or small, he was honored.

It’s wonderful to have your hard work recognized. My gratitude for all the literary journals which have published my work. And today – thanks to Jelly Bucket!

JELLYBUCKET.ORG

The Importance of Running Away

Getting away, even if for a day or a weekend, is so important to refresh the creative spirit. Whether or not you actually work or write on this get away isn’t the valuable moment – it’s a temporary respite from the usual.

Research shows “blue space” and “green space” (the beach and the woods) do our minds and bodies good.

Having not taken a trip in the last 18 months has left my spirit in a state of desolation.

Therefore, I took a drive up the coast and landed in Cambria. Cambria is known, I think, as a beach town, but I stayed tucked away in a little cabin in the woods – I got my green space and my blue space. I didn’t write so much as I walked, explored, meandered – but it was enough. It was a gift to my pandemic weary spirit, a reset. Ending the old, beginning anew. It felt nearly normal again.

I returned refreshed, ready for the school year to begin, ready to finish another story.

Runaway. Runaway often. Near or far. Explore. Unplug.

What Does Writing Mean to You?

It was suggested to me recently that I give up writing for awhile.

My mouth fell open and my eyes widened. “Give up writing?”

I was in shock. I jumped to defense, ready to tackle, grab the ball and run for the 50 yard line.

What would I do with all the voices in my head? All the characters who wrangle for a voice, the scenes that require breath to be brought to life? These are real things in writer’s heads. People, places, stories. Non-writers don’t readily understand that.

(I wonder what it’s like to live in a non-writer’s head? What goes on in there if there are no stories? Is there math? *Shudder).

Who in their write/right mind would “give up” their passion, their purpose.

She asked, “What does writing mean to you?”

I realize my defense is not really an answer. What does writing mean to me? I know what is used to mean – it was a survival mechanism. But it was more than that too.

I’m still working on it by the way – a current, present answer to what writing means to me. I just know I can’t not write.

Share with me please – what does writing mean to you?

Troglodytes Unite! uhm, on zoom?

I’m not a materialist. I don’t run out and buy products for the newer, better version. I don’t sway toward bells and whistles or shiny objects. .

When I wrote on my fb that I was getting a new TV after not having one for more than a year, people seemed to collectively gasp. Prior to that, I had an old model – I joke it still had the tube in the back, yet it wasn’t quite that bad.

I don’t own a microwave or a blue ray player and only updated my phone last year.

I’m not a troglodyte. I definitely keep updated, especially in regards to teaching with technology. I’m certified by a national online teaching organization. I train regularly with new learning software.

I’d like to know the ins and outs of more programs like photoshoppe and whatever else I have on this computer.

However, therein lies the problem with technology. There is SOOOO much. And I feel like I’m starring at one screen or another all day every day.

So not having a new whatchamacallit is my way of engaging less with the screen, attempting to live more inside myself than outside myself. I’m not sure how much it works. And it may take more will power than less technology.

The Ghost….

My short story, The Ghost in Her Room, has been published by Dreamers Writing.

The editors were very sweet. Kat mentioned in an email how much the story touched her.

Working with Dreamers Creative Writing has been an extremely pleasant experience.

Thank you!

So now I write….

This morning began as perfect set up for a good writing day. I walked the dogs in the cool air, rain dripped daintily from the sky, neighbors waved from their patios. I brewed a beach bellini tea and plucked a fig fresh from the tree. What could go wrong?

Life happened.

Paperwork of the financial type, grading essays, responding to emails.

Nails on a chalkboard.

The dream like setting beckons, the adoring characters wait. The world I was so lovingly creating has come to a standstill.

I am filled with liverwurst sandwiches.

This is why writers have phoneless, internet limited, no contact writing retreats – which are harder and harder to find.

Can you imagine even being disconnected these days? I used to say – “nothing is going to happen that you can’t hear about an hour later” – to my students to encourage them to put down their phones. But I, too, feel that same tug of addiction these days. The world moves fast. Don’t get back to someone and you lose an opportunity.

Our insta-world expects an insta-response or you’re history.

I just want to write. I want to sit down and not have to worry about anything else except the setting, timeline, character arc, beauty of language, reasoning of scene.

I’ll take the transitional cuppa, the stroll in the garden, anything to get back into my writing state…..

until the next interruption.

To Infinity and… I’ll Stay Here, Thanks

Richard Branson flew to space, then Bezos and his blue crew. A friend of mine wondered about their choice. I said, hey, they’re filthy rich; they’ve been all over the planet. They need something new.

Those who know me know I love travel. I have a deep seated need to experience new spaces, new places, new cultures and people.

For a sliding moment, I felt sorry for these billionaires whose only novel rush might come from a space flight; however, I rejected that thought quite quickly as reductive. They have the cash, why not fly to space?!

And what about the lucky soul who won the extra seat from the person who had to cancel? (First, imagine that! No refund on that ticket!)

I, like many of you,, cannot afford to go to space. But would I want to? I have to ask myself this question. I used to dream of winning publisher’s clearing house, occasionally wish I could guess those lottery numbers. Hell, I’d take finding a wheel full of cash along side the freeway. (I’m not sure why I would ever be on the side of a freeway looking at tires, but stranger things have happened.)

Given the current state of the world, I’m concerned about getting on a plane because of all the f’n nutty people acting out after a year of being locked in. Everyday someone’s being an asshole, refusing to wear a mask, smacking a flight attendant, or trying to open an emergency exit while in flight (did you see the woman duct taped to the seat?!), and getting yanked off a plane by the police.

Bottom line – I’m not ready to fly in our atmosphere. I’m not sure I’d want to fly out of it. Then I heard the trip to space was only ten minutes long. Ten minutes? I’m risking my life for 10 minutes? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When can I spend a week up there? Call me when they have a Starbucks and a CVS. Kitchy shopping. Trinkets to bring home. First painting done in space. Where I can sip space tea next to an asteroid crater. Hike the lunar landing site. Let me know when we can see how real aliens live and tour old space ruins.

I guess there’s still plenty to see and do here. For me, anyway. The natural beauty of New Zealand awaits. There’s an owl sanctuary in Spain, cocoa farms in Costa Rica, the ruins of Pompeii.

I’ll be here. Gaging my luck, I’ll plan my next flight to NC to see my bestie.

Maybe someday space. But not now. I’m writing.

The Beauty of Forward Motion

At the beginning of the semester, there’s an effervescence in the air on campus. The air around us is charged with positive energy. Thousands of students are buzzing with dreams and goals. They are brimming with the excitement of forward motion, their brains producing dopamine, which seems to affect everyone around them.

The excitement of learning, of trying new things, of working toward something new is like a drug, makes one giddy.

Excitement is lost in routine. Some people go on about their lives, thinking they’ve done everything they need to do and they’ve reached a place of comfort. And they get lazy in that comfort, forget to be open to new adventures.

I asked someone recently about Geocaching. I think of it as finding a treasure, accomplishing mini goals; my brain already releasing happiness hormones in response to the thoughts of the challenge overcome!

His response: It sounds childish.

Yes. Maybe. And isn’t that exciting? The very beauty of youth is excitement at every new adventure, big or small! It’s an energy wrapped up in an overflow of snapping and bubbling. And it’s engaging and enigmatic!

Forward momentum – new challenges – it is what keeps us young.

Einstein was said to have been working on a new theory even on his deathbed. After he passed, his brain showed a lack of plaque. Plaque the normal brain develops with aging.

Writers are all about the new and exciting. The next scene, the next chapter, the next story!

Have fun, engage that childlike excitement, set new goals and accomplish them or fail them – it doesn’t matter – just as long as you keep moving forward!