Old Disasters, New Meaning.

The night was black; there was no moon to guide us when we woke up to sound of the earth roaring, the feel of concrete slamming up then down.

Dogs barked and whimpered, car alarms bleated and died out. Then there was silence.

It’d been my first major earthquake.

We pawed our way through the dark hall over broken glass picture frames to find our children, our shoes, the doorway.

In the 1994 earthquake, I lost almost everything. We lived on the second floor of a nice apartment about a mile away from the Reseda Boulevard epicenter where (I believe) 23 people lost their lives.

Everyone in our building got out alive. But the building was destroyed, gas hissed into the alley and we had to flee.

I walked away from that disaster with my daughters. At the time, I didn’t care about all the material things.

All of the “stuff” we had seemed so worthless. And as we rebuilt, I didn’t replace all the junk we had. I didn’t have a mixer or a microwave. I didn’t fill the kitchen with “good plates” and every day plates. My cabinets remained near empty for many years. Slowly, they have been filled with occasionally used items nestled next to the well used necessities. I have things I don’t need. Pretties collected that I’d resisted for so long fill small places here and there.

And here we are again – on the brink of another disaster. And I say – I do not care about all of these things I have collected. I care about my family, my friends, students, neighbors.

My first year psych teacher said to me – before that 1994 Northridge earthquake – “The only real thing of value is meaningful human relationships.” I have always held that close.

We should dismiss our first world concerns of malls, cars, and money. We can put aside our overly independent natures and our me first attitudes. We can do what it takes to make certain that those we love, families and strangers, survive this.

We know what we need to do. We’ve done it before.

Hold on to those you love, even if they are far away right now. Nothing else matters.

 

1994 Earthquake

Plagues and Pandemics throughout History

 

Writing in the Time of Cholera

journalA number of people have mentioned the book Love in the time of Cholera to me lately. Ron Terranova, fellow writer and Poe lover, reminded me Shakespeare had a very fertile writing period during The Black Plague.

My writer and critique friend, Jo Rousseau, said she’s keeping a journal and thought many people should. It would be interesting, she said, to see the pandemic from different points of view.

There are people who are having trouble focusing on writing. I have to admit, I was one of them.

While others are saying they’ve never gotten more done. Perhaps they are in the minority? Or maybe they write well under pressure?

Just the day before Jo mentioned the journal, I started keeping my own. I’ve been plagued by disturbing dreams.

Our lives are changing, but not forever. We will come out of this, we will get through this, and I, personally, want to have something to show for it.

I started listing the things I’m accomplishing every day. I’ve added some other things, pandemic jokes and memes. Someone else is writing down the use of language, such as “social distancing”, and how those words are changing and shaping our understanding of society. It’ll be interesting how this comes to use after the pandemic.

Beyond all the free things being offered to keep us safe and sane, free yoga classes, free workouts, free virtual tours of national parks and art museums, there are a number of other things to keep us busy.

It’ll help us all to accept that, for a little while, we need to stay home and find alternative ways to sail through our days. 90186249_1912526478878981_330678285262389248_o

I urge all writers to keep a journal. Not to focus on writing to publish, but a personal historical account for your children, your grandchildren, or for the future. How will this time be remembered? Consider how we think of the Plague and The Flu Epidemic of 1918. What do you know about it? Do you know any people, any stories, any personal or family accounts of the day to day life? Encourage your children to keep journals too – in the future, compare them.

Journaling has helped me get back to writing.

Stay well. Stay healthy. Be safe.

Much love and appreciation.

Crying

People feel all sorts of ways about crying. I feel it’s cathartic, sometimes needed. Sometimes I worry our world is headed in a different direction. My new story explores a world that feels differently.

Let me know what you think. The Crier on Kindle.

crier cover1

The Idea Farm

The idea farm is a creation – where we keep all of our ideas planted, waiting for the spring.

airplantfarm

PLANT:

There’s a time for the planting – every day, every minute, every conversation, every silence. But pick and choose. My favorite place to get ideas is from overheard snippets of conversations, words and lines heard in passing or overheard in a coffee shop. Sometimes, it’s just a word someone throws out that sticks. It might be an image. Someone posted a photo and it was eerie, strangely haunting to my strange little perception. I have notebooks, torn papers, lists of ideas. And the ideas do come to live when they’re ready.

FERTILIZE:

To keep the idea farm going, we need to keep it fresh. New ideas coming, water flowing, fertilizer tossed around. Water is connected, according to Freud, to our unconscious. Taking a bath before bed is a great way to feed your muse. Fertilize – remember to go back, reread, add a word or two, subtract a word or two, think about it before you go to bed, when you first wake up. Something will bloom. Sometimes it blooms prematurely and I’m up at 3am writing like a madwoman. But it works. I wrote a number of poems and short stories struck by a fever of words and rhythm.  Of Strays and Exes and The Gold Tooth were written under one of those spells.

HARVEST:

When the time is right, you write. You’ll pluck that idea out of the ground and start massaging it into what it was meant to be. Eddy was on a list. It sat there for quite some time waiting for me to be brave enough to pull it out, confident enough to put the words to paper, and strong enough to show it to others. So many more stories came like that – waiting for just the right time, ripe from the time and the fertilizer and ready to burst forth.

 

Much love and luck.

At Home with Your Idea Farm

Here in Southern California, schools closed, businesses limited, no hugging, and it’s raining. The mood has been set:

freehugs

One newscaster is talking about cycling to work. Did he not get the memo?

STAY HOME. TOUCH NO ONE.

Schools have closed – or gone online. Starbucks is limiting in person ordering/seating, not allowing refillable cups, considering going with online ordering and pick up only. Restaurants are closing.

I saw my friends this week, and we didn’t hug. This makes me sad – but it’s completely understandable.

It fedemo manels like we’ve reached the point of all those 80’s sci-fi movies in which people stay inside, afraid to go out, and resist human contact.

In the Stallone/Snipes Sci-Fi flick, Demolition Man, (a genius move btw), people have sex through the use of computer attached to their temporal lobe. They don’t engage in physical contact.

 

I really want to say: keep calm

This, too, shall pass.

You don’t need 148 rolls of toilet paper or 37 boxes of cat litter.  At least, the average person doesn’t need this.  You’re going to wake up surrounded by bleach wipes for the next two years!

I guess this whole thing keeps me home, keeps me writing. Writers, at the very least, should be using this whole scenario to feed your idea farm. (More info on my idea farm on Monday).

 

A Waste of Eyelash Glue

This is in praise of the wallflowers.  Guess what, honey, you’re not missing much.046c4b19426c8c5fc1056eb57014a3df (2)

I had roommate tell me once that it annoyed her to no end that I didn’t seem to go out much and she had the urge to pick me up and throw me out the door to force me to be social.

Uhm, yeah, that would worked.

I guess I’m mostly an introvert. I do have my moments when I’m more extroverted. I guess one could call me bi-verted.

Sometimes, it feels really good to get out and do something I don’t normally do. I’m not talking travel – that I completely do. I’m not talking about getting outside – I do that regularly too.  I’m talking about going out specifically to a event to meet friends and strangers and do some heavy socializing or networking.

It’s not that I’m not good at it. When I’m not feeling forced, I’m really rather good at it.

I do have friends who feel like they’re failures if they don’t have plans on Friday and/or Saturday nights. One friend texted me to write on the wall of her facebook – “had a great time last night” because she didn’t want anyone to know she’d stayed home. Another friend messaged me to write on her social media account, “the party was great, lots of good people… ” etc.  She prompted me what to write.

Silly, I think.

There are times I’ve gone out and didn’t have a lousy time, but it was mediocre at best. I thought – there’s a hundred other things I could be doing that would be more fun, including that age old “I’m washing my hair.”

I went to one party where, in an attempt to be social and get to know the host’s friends, I asked, “So what do you do?”

I was met with dogged stares. “What do you mean what do we do?”

“Uhm, for work, for fun?”  046c4b19426c8c5fc1056eb57014a3df (4)

Some social events include the whole 046c4b19426c8c5fc1056eb57014a3df (3)“no where to sit, no where to stand, hey there’s a table, this table is ours..” followed be hard looks and threatening body language by anyone from people who look like they would murder us for the chair or even the blue hair squad.

I’ve found serenity in not expecting to be out all the time. I’ve found peace in not taking part in activities or events in which I’m not keenly interested just for the sake of socializing.

When I socialize now, it’s so much more gratifying.

At a holiday party, deciding at the last moment to go, I met members of a band who were not “on”. They weren’t playing and they weren’t promenading; they were just hanging out with friends. Some of those friends included a woman who owned a chicken farm and regaled us with stories of cocks and chicks.

At another recent event, a crowd gathered round me. 046c4b19426c8c5fc1056eb57014a3df (5)I found myself surrounded by strangers talking about art. They were all from a local art school and I enjoyed their interpretations and expertise.

Don’t waste the eyelash glue or the time it takes to put it on just to go out because you feel you must. I know there are a ton of counterarguments to this, but my whole focus is love, joy, peace, and serenity. I find those things when I’m not being forced into anything. I find that in doing things I want, not just taking part to take part.

 

 

 

Noreen Lace

 

 

 

 

Baggage Claim -> This way <-

joy1I’ve always chuckled at those dating profiles that read: No baggage.

Jim Morrison said it best – No one here gets out alive. We all have some baggage and we need to claim it!

Some of the baggage is pretty clear and we know what we’re dealing with; however, I think the truth is we all have unidentified baggage hanging around our emotional center.

While some people have a handle on the small things that effect their reactions, many people skim blithely by without questioning their own behavior. They accept that they’ve just always handled certain things in the same way.

I’m thinking road rage, getting overly angry when someone else does something like cuts you off, gets in line in front of you, says certain things, or acts in certain ways – and something comes bubbling up. Sometimes it’s the opposite: a small word, a sideways glance, and something feels like it’s breaking down. We know something is wrong. It feels bad. It makes us feel bad and we overreact.

I believe these things come from our core issues, things done or said to us before we could even learned the difference between right and wrong, left or right.

To be happy, to keep our peace of mind,joy and control of our emotional center, these things need to be sussed out. We need to realize when we get upset with the cashier for not giving us the correct change, it’s not the mistake we’re upset with. It’s something deep down inside that we feel someone wronged us, cheated us, was unfair with us. We take it out on the cashier, but the poor underpaid soul most likely made an error and the feelings we are feeling are from something deeper.

These are the things hindering us from living life with joy. Deal with those.