Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the category “blog rationale”

Float: A Love Story (or “Scientists Prove that Atheists May Not Exist…”)

[Note: I didn’t post at all in February, but started many, many stories that I didn’t finish, and TRIED not to think about my blog’s goal, the deadline for which is fast approaching. The Lourdes Mint who is not writing is usually not reading either, and the whole writing/reading thing SEEMS to go dormant, BUT REALLY it funnels itself, tornado-like, into a poltergeist-ish presence here — one that leaves water running, burns food, compulsively engages in what I’m going to go ahead and call performance art (not a euphemism for anything too far off from that, just so you know), and enthusiastically takes on new projects/commitments even when I don’t have time enough for the ones I’ve already got.

Speaking of which, I just finished helping a friend “proofread” his new book, which I shouldn’t have done probably (no more editing, etc., for me, remember?), but the good thing was that in doing it, I got bitten so good and hard by the word bug that here I finally am again! And, on my way here, I found this article* (kind of interesting) and it reminded me of a conversation that I overheard once in a cafe, next to a hot springs in (a place resembling, on this particular morning) Iceland. Anyway, here’s my “story”…]

Float: A Love Story

“ZZ,” I’ll call him, is a pale, thin-lipped guy who looks like he spends most of his time in a dark room, illuminated only by a computer, living on nothing but coffee and Ho-Hos. He has a beard so huge it looks (and smells, I’m guessing), from where I’m sitting, as though it has its very own ecosystem (the kind that would include plenty of marsupials, mushrooms, and marshy bogs).

“‘Scientists prove that atheists may not exist…’? I don’t understand how one could possibly prove this,” ZZ huffs. “No, actually, what I don’t understand is why one would care to take on such a silly endeavor. Am I really that scary? What, are they bored w/ cancer and AIDS? Pathetic. It makes no sense. I mean, why/how can one … um…?”

He takes an angry sip of his hot frothy whatever and looks at the woman across from him, whom I can only see from the back and who is huddled over her plate, appearing as though she’s just taken a huge bite of something delicious. I crane my neck to try to see what she’s ordered … I’m sill trying to decide.

ZZ continues: “Well, what else do you remember about it, the article?”

Chewing, chewing, chewing, the woman—whom I’ll call “Chortles”—holds up a “hold-on-a-second” finger. ZZ glares at the top of her head, tilted down toward the plate. He begins to yawn (too deeply, too loudly, I think), and blink (too fast, I think), and stroke his beard (once is way more than enough, I think — and then … oh, I cannot hold off much longer on eating … getting to the springs).

I see he is feeling alone, though, and almost jealous of the food on Chortles’ plate, of how happy it makes her (I am too).

“Okay then, what did you say the article was called, again?” ZZ picks up his iPhone, peering into its glassy face through thick, black 1970s “smart person/atheist” glasses. “Hello? [to her] Can I get a web address, or URL, maybe?”

Chortles chortles and, with what sounds like a full mouth, says something about, “key words” and how “no one really needs web addresses” anymore. (And what’s a URL, again?)

ZZ seems pretending not to hear, keeps poking away at his phone. “No access, still? Here? Oh, you!” he hisses at the slick black thing in his hand. “Bastard whelp! Pathetic.”

He sets it down, gently, and begins to examine his hand as though it has just now, at this very moment, appeared. He then looks incredulously at Chortles, who is still chewing, from what I can see—no wonder given that she’s taken another bite or five while ZZ was laying-in to his phone.

Watching her gobbling away, he almost smiles, but also sighs loudly and turns his attention to the panoramic window that runs the length of the entire east wall of the place—furrowing his brow and slowly shaking his head at the sight of the hot-springers. Some are blissing out, others are frolicking, in the pre-dawn, orange-ish glow.

It’s as though they are, in their very being—through either their in-your-face contentedness or their “glad animal movements”—speaking directly to ZZ in some strange language he’s unable understand. And it’s as though he desperately wishes to communicate this disconnect to them, to everyone! The furrowing and shaking continue, becoming more and more pronounced.

“No sense at all … the article, I mean!” he says suddenly, sharply, and abruptly returns his gaze to Chortles, who looks up at him finally and vaguely nods before returning her attention to her plate. She’s slowing down.

“None!” ZZ goes on. “And sense is pretty much my number one criterion—no, my only requirement—when it comes to choosing to give something another moment more of my attention. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” He strokes his beard again, gifting it a little tug this time. “Life really is too short, as they say.”

“Too short for what?” asks Chortles, taking a sip of her steamy beverage as she looks out at the springs. “Oh!” She points toward toward the mountain. “See this? The sun is just about to rise… .”

ZZ gives the view a cursory glance. “Hmmmm, yes, I see.” He turns to her again, pauses. “What did you think of it, the article?” he asks, his thin lips sporting a bit of foam.

Chortles chortles again and sort of shrugs.

“Huh! She laughs,” is all ZZ says as he watches her finish up. He’s hungry, starving, I’m guessing by the looks of him, but he does not seem aware of it … or at least not ready or willing to do anything about it.

Then, suddenly, the first rays of sun appear at the ridge of the deep purple mountain beyond the body of water, long fingers of pure light reaching up, over, and into the ambient glow already there. But I’m so hungry…

“See! I knew…,” says Chortles, beaming, I imagine. ZZ smiles a little, picks at the last bit of her food—says, “Indeed!”

Indeed?! Puh! Of course that’s what he’d say, I think. My food cannot come soon enough… .” But suddenly it’s there, my food—same thing as Chortles’, whose non-communicativeness all this time suddenly makes perfect sense. I’m digging in, watching too as the glow is overcome.

“I’m here now,” the sun says to its pale understudy. “You can lay back, now, relax.”

These words, this thought … strange … come into my mind as I behold the sight along with everyone out in the water and all of us inside too, even the people who work there, even Chortles, even ZZ. And all is almost perfectly quiet until a metal utensil falls to the ground.

“Actually, you know, it is funny,” ZZ says, evidently still thinking of Chortles’ latest non-response (and second chortle) to his desperate plea. “Actually, yours is the perfect response.” ZZ laughs too now, but to me it has plastic, accidental-sounding quality to it, like another utensil, a spork—I’m picturing—falling to the ground.

“Yes, I really did see it as kind of funny,” replies Chortles absently, after she’s tossed her napkin on the plate. “That’s all, really. Now let’s go float, my lamb. That’s what we’re here for, right?”

ZZ smiles at her, even though she’s not looking at him—now standing up, now sweeping crumbs from her front, now grabbing their large woven bag.

“Float, right… Have we paid?” ZZ asks Chortles, beginning to clear the table.

Chortles confirms (“Yup!”), as she pats him on the part of his pants where a butt should have been. He moves slowly, seemingly unsure of where he’s going. “I miss the kids,” he says.

Chortles grabs his shoulder, gently redirecting him. “Me too,” she says and points to the bin near the trash can. “Over there.”

And/but as they walk out, I can hear ZZ winding up again.

“Who wrote it, though? Can you give me anything there? Man, woman? Young, old? American? Anything? … Credentials?”

The door shuts behind them and I can no longer hear what they’re saying, but watch them as lay out their blanket together and then begin, also together, to braid ZZ’s beard or do some equally weird thing to the beast with swift, perfectly coordinated movements. And … I’m done, I decide, thank you—clearing my own table now.

Out on the bank, I move close enough to smell the springs and begin feeling their effect, something, as I lay out my blanket … and as ZZ and Chortles approach the water’s edge.

I am close enough, too, to see how full of doubt ZZ is, it seems, but also how free from fear — as Chortles takes him by the hand and leads him into the shimmering water, which looks almost pinkish-blue in this light.

A little later, I’m surprised, but then not, to see which of the two of them blisses out and which frolicks …

** THE END **

 *Here’s the article: http://www.science20.com/writer_on_the_edge/blog/scientists_discover_that_atheists_might_not_exist_and_thats_not_a_joke-139982

And here, also, are the lyrics from “May It Always Be,” by Bonnie Prince Billy, one of my favorite singer/songwriters—that’s him in the pic, standing in for ZZ. Hate to overload this entry, but I never know when another month might fly by with no post … and because this story/memory reminds of this song.

I’ve been with you for a fairly long time,
May I call you, may I call you, may I call you mine?

And you are near, an’ been with me,
May it always, may it always, may it always be,

Please don’t leave my side, remember I love you,
None of what I have done wrong was really done against you,

If you love me and I’m weak, then weaker you must love me more,
To reinforce what’s also strong, and all the love we have in store,

By example you showed me, living’s alright,
Stay here with me, stay here with me, stay with me tonight,

And come with me when I go to the bedroom,
And we’ll play bride, and we’ll play bride, and we’ll play bride and groom,

If you had not been born you know,
What would I? What would I be then?

I would not have strength to grow,
And be counted, and be counted among men.

Please don’t leave my side, remember I love you,
None of what I have done wrong was really done against you,

If you love me and I’m weak, then weaker you must love me more,
To reinforce what’s also strong, and all the love we have in store,

And in the morning we’ll wrestle and ruin our stomachs with coffee,
Won’t we be, won’t we be, won’t be happy?

We will rise in anger, love and ardor,
Shining, shining, shimmering in loves armor.

[You can hear a good version on YouTube: “Bonnie Prince Billy – May It Always Be (Live in London)”]

[**Photo: Bonnie Prince Billy at Sydney Opera House (2006); read more at http://www.fasterlouder.com.au%5D



“Strategy” is a word like “acceptance” and “surrender” to me (along w/ some others I’d rather not mention, such as goodness [as in virtue, morality] and loyalty, success, happiness), in that I don’t feel I really understand it. I mean, I understand it on an intellectual level, in terms of its simplest “denotation.” But on a practical, day-to-day level, the whole me doesn’t really get it, can’t get inside it, use it w/ confidence, LIVE it — the word or the thing itself.

I look such words up sometimes (often), even though I know, I must know, pretty much exactly what I’ll read there — maybe even more. But “Strategy” and some of the others remain opaque, words that don’t talk to me (that’s how it feels). A neighbor likes to tell his kids, “Complaining isn’t a strategy.” I get that. I agree with it. But it’s not the kind of thing I’d say myself, or even think, because I’m not him and I don’t think or talk like that … oh, and also, I don’t really understand it. I’m more of a “winger,” which can be a beautiful thing when it works out, but oh when it doesn’t, watch out! No, I don’t seem to have some strategies or, if I do, I’m not aware of what they are or how to work them exactly. And my life is telling me I need to figure this out.

To me, accomplishing goals has always gone something like this — decide what I want or realize what I must do, PONDER and mull and discuss, wait till the last minute, and then:

1. Position the right amount of dynamite just so;

2. Light that match; and

3. BAM! (Done.)

4. Pick up the pieces later.

5. Never look back.

6. Yay! Party time.

(Best not to make too big a deal about things we’ve done right, esp. when we are not sure HOW we’ve done them. And at any minute, our successes MAY be revealed as flukes anyway, and … and … I know how all of this sounds.)

A while back, I was explaining to my six-year-old kid that he needs a “strategy” for how to handle situation X in case it arises again. What’s a strategy? (I asked. Not him.) “Strategy, yes. Well … a strategy will help you, uhhh. It’s a plan … that you follow … and it, um…” That’s what got me thinking about it, looking it up, etc., again.

The fact is I have bad feelings about the word. And I realize I have bad feelings about all of these words, some more than others, because they seem to be bandied about in a world that is basically foreign to mine, to roll easily off the tongues of people I may admire but know I can never truly “let my hair down” with — people who: go to bed at a reasonable time; dream sweet dreams; wake fresh, clear-headed; do what they’re f_cking supposed to do (and MORE) in a timely manner — check(!), check(!), and check(!); manage their readily manageable emotions consistently; make “good choices” consistently, w/ no big push-back from appetites/desires/yearnings/leanings that are immoderate, unwholesome, unusual — or how about abstruse? (There’s a word I’m sure I haven’t used since college, but I do know that lonesome feeling of not really being able to explain what exactly it is I’m toiling away at or why.) And back to these people, surprise!!!! They are not only successful (in the simplest AND MOST IMPORTANT sense of the word: they achieve what they set out to do) but also seem/appear to FEEL successful, competent, confident, etc. And this feeling, over time, this attitude, must be worth so much more than any of their individual accomplishments. That’s what I’m thinking about these people.

These people. I want to say, I’d love to say: well, they’re just like that, a different type of person all together, you know? They’re not like me … they’re less complicated, they had an easier transition into adulthood, had more straightforward expectations or aspirations, contain more of that salt of this earth, etc. But now I’m thinking that the real difference, at least one of them, is that these people had/have some seriously handy strategies — not just things they WANT and DESIRE and LONG FOR. But plans about how they would go about accomplishing/getting (some, even one, of) these things, given their resources and the way life goes. And these good, workable plans — I’m betting, based on such people I’ve known well — are not especially CLEVER or CRAFTY, connotations of Strategy that make it too easy for me (and my like) to disassociate from. Such plans are not overly elaborate or flashy, NOR are they rigid, more just “get the job done” kinds of plans. The STRATEGIC people I’m thinking of haven’t wed themselves to a perfectly defined GOAL (which seems to go against much of the popular wisdom re: goal-setting/achieving [e.g., so-called SMART goals]) or to any of the STEPS toward that goal, but seem to just sort of get moving — as the famous quote goes — in the direction of their dreams.

That “in the direction” part is so important, and I’ve always known that, glommed on to that, though I was never sure why. Now I think it’s because I understood/believed it on some level. We don’t have to work out all the details ABOUT ANYTHING in order to make a move. We ALSO don’t have to be completely okay with ourselves, our lives, others in our lives … the world — any of it — before we make a move. If we wait for the conditions to be just right, optimal, conducive, whatever, then IT, whatever it is, will NEVER, ever happen. And yet I, at least, continue to contrive diagrams, frameworks, flow charts, tables, algorithms, etc., to help guide me, to delineate the precise alchemy of transformation, to relieve me of the burden of a given moment’s dilemma/decision (all the while knowing full-well that I will abide, adhere to, follow nothing [or very little] that doesn’t suit me exquisitely in that very moment).

Now, I’m thinking about something my friend Rachel said recently about successful (or was it happy? content? effectual?) people, something about how people who do well (we’ll say) generally have some sort of Plan B, or maybe several Plans B: acceptable alternatives to the ideal scenario, most hoped-for outcome, fondest dream. And this led me to read up on Strategy yet again, in all sorts of contexts. Even though the explanations still seem vague and sort of all-over-the-place to me, the words/concepts that keep popping up are: principle, policy, doctrine, etc. You might think: “ugh.” But really the idea, which to me is way beyond CRAFTY/CLEVER, is that you build a realistic plan — considering your present resources, circumstances, etc. — that keeps you as close to your North Star (the thing upon which you place highest value) as possible while helping you move in the direction of your dreams/goals/whatever. And it’s precisely this emphasis on one’s North Star, this most cherished thing (versus desired end result), that makes strategy strategic: it keeps your plan weather-proof, makes it hardy, and helps you stay on track, reminding you why you keep trying to do what you’re trying to do even when it seems impossible, that nothing seems to be going right, etc.

I think I finally get it. I like it. And I’ve long recognized anyway that “trying to figure it all out first” is a pretty obvious form of procrastination — putting off trying, putting off failing, putting off succeeding, putting off all of it. The hard part is this North Star business (which is how I summed up “guiding principle, policy, etc.,” probably not the most helpful way for me to think of it, given me). But I do think, even with this significant reservation, that I get Strategy well enough to work it. It’s:

  • Being willing to take action THAT FEELS IN LINE W/ MY DESIRED OUTCOME … with no assurances or supports (via solid track record or super-specific plan or goal); AND
  • Putting more of the planning-energy into what I’m going to do to stay on track when all kinds of sh_t doesn’t go my way (because THAT’s a given AND bitching, moaning, etc., has done nothing to help in the past) than into exactly what steps I’m going to take to move forward; AND
  • Considering Plans B (wow… how very novel, this one); AND finally
  • Figuring out/admitting to myself, and possibly others, what my “North Star” is… and then fully accepting/surrendering to it, letting it take its rightful place in my sometimes crazy, often chaotic life.

I’m glad I wrote this (though I’m sure it’s hell to read) because it helped me think through something important, but I doubt I’ll write anything like this again in my five more months of blogging. Who knows, though — whatever I think I need, I’ll do. I have learned a lot here, even when I haven’t commented or been commented on, liked or been liked. YES, even with all I’ve started but haven’t finished, haven’t posted, etc., I’m motivated to keep trudging along. I’m also inspired, so often dazzled, by what I see here in your blogs. And although I don’t think I’m a born blogger, I do think I’ll reach my blog’s goal.

Can not stomach … “prettying” up your piece(s) of sh_t anymore — after 17 years, NO MORE “COPY EDITING” 4 me (finally came up with a New Year’s resolution :))

I am done “WORKING MY MAGIC*” on your UGLY, f_cked up writing. I’m done “copy editing” (aka rewriting, as is often the case) your nonsense. Done pissing you off w/ perfectly sane questions about the CRAZY SH_T YOU put on paper, trying to make it UNDERSTANDABLE (oh, and maybe relevant?) to your intended audience and ALSO done explaining to you the concept of “your intended audience.” I understand that you’re good at what you do, that you’ve done good, important work in the real world**, but many of you have not learned (to bother) to communicate that work to others, a good many of whom (in our field) have an essentially life-or-death need to know. How is that OK? Well, it’s not. It’s an honest-to-gawd travesty, truly. And I at least am done trying to bridge that gap myself, a compulsion that has left me frustrated, exhausted, and worse: feeling like a complete Olive Oyl (i.e., one incapable of learning her lesson).

(In the scene that always flashes across my mind, I recall Olive’s undignified yelping — “Oh, oh dear! Help!!! Oh dear! Popeye!? Somebody!? Anybody!” — as her legs stretch to two or three times their “normal” length, while the space between the dock that she has one enormous foot on and the boat that she has the other on widens. I can’t find the exact image, but this one from “Seasin’s Greetinks” works just as well. See her face? The panic? The ridiculous predicament she’s gotten herself into, AGAIN? Yes, well that’s me, pretty much exactly, as I “copy edit” your crap, which I realize is really not your fault. But still, I’m done.)6925729252_f845e70457

Perhaps you believe that the universe of your work exists somewhere out there, beyond your words, with all its meaning (YOUR meaning) intact. And so if your writing comes close enough to what you want to get across, readers will be able to make it the rest of the way on their own, but I think you’re wrong. I know that even the most motivated readers will not discover your meaning because it’s not there. You have not worked it out for yourself. You have not made the case. You have not communicated. You have not finished the job. And I don’t want to help you fake it anymore with superficial fixes, clever headings, colorful graphics that mean ZERO, etc. — especially when the writing still sucks. Done, I say!

And I feel better now that I’ve realized, or rather admitted, this all to myself. You’ll feel better too, I’m sure, when I STOP asking you to clarify this or that, STOP pushing you to address the gaping holes in your argument, to square your claims w/ the supporting data, etc. I’m not going to panic — just as you’re not. It is, after all, just a New Year’s resolution and you know how they go, but still — here it is for now: no more “copy editing” for me as of January 2015. I like it! I like it a lot! And if I stick with it, it’s really no big deal for you. There are hordes of “copy editors” ready and willing to give you exactly what you want, much better than I ever could. And there are others like me, too, who’d be more than happy to stick it to you when you really need it, when you’re open to it, whatever. I’m done, though, I really do hope…

Yes, this is exactly what I would like for myself (a small but critical part of it anyway) for reasons very similar to those of anyone who makes a resolution. I think by NOT COPY EDITING your crap, I will —

** Be a better — yes, BETTER — person AND parent AND spouse AND friend AND citizen

** Be happier AND more attractive AND healthier AND smarter (or, re: this last one, feel freer to LEAN INTO the smarts I’ve got)

** Have a better attitude toward life’s ups and downs

** Have a much better chance of doing something more suited to me, my desires, my natural skills (I’m absolutely sure I wasn’t born to copy edit, edit, etc., and I do believe I’ve found just the thing … )

I also look forward to not having to pussy-foot around your and other people’s sloppy thinking, sloppier writing, sloppy F_CKING sloppiness. I am sick of saying, “He/she is great at what she DOES, but he/she is just not so adept at putting it into words,” sick of saying it because I usually don’t (IF EVER) mean it anymore, and if I don’t mean it, I shouldn’t say it, right? Right. What’s worse, I doubt it’s always even a question of your ability as much as it’s one of how much you care. And THAT’S the thing that’s really started messing with me: the gawd-awful, lonesome, foolish feeling of knowing, deep down, that I care more than you do about “your” writing. Pussy-footing and all that comes with it (slippery slope there!) = slow but sure soul death.

And taking this step, finally cutting the cord, will help me become a better writer myself, too — I have no doubt. (I’ve picked up some really rotten habits from you!) So I’m hereby dedicating my writing skills, my passion for words and for learning how better to use them and to MAKE THEM do what I know they can do, to the person who can benefit most from them now: ME (2015). I have only five more months to reach my blog’s goal and that work is in the works again! But I will need as much time as I can manage between now and then to even come close to achieving the goal — given my loves, my other priorities, etc.

*          *           *

I’ll admit I’m writing this today because of an Acknowledgment I received in a recently published article that — while “copy editing ” — I really sweated over. I went back and forth with this “author” who — it became clear — had not even read the piece, submitted by her “in-country” team. And she begrudged my every query, bumming over how the additional investigation required was going to IMPACT her holiday. I pointed out that she was free to ignore my questions and suggestions, but — good for her and OTHERS — she chose not to. And even though she gave me quite a bit of grief at first, she filled those gaps and w/ a lot of rewriting (mostly on my part), we were able to make good sense of the new data. As our collaboration drew to a close, she acknowledged VERY OBLIQUELY her previous unpleasantness and also how much better she felt the paper now was because I pushed as I did. And in the very, very end, in the published article, she acknowledged me for my “copy editing.” Pppfffffftt!!!

Do I sound bitter? I guess I do. Was what happened between this person and me in this instance that different from hundreds of similar situations over the years? No. The relationship between subject matter expert/author and editor is inherently, potentially very complicated. I know this. I’ve known this. I’ve been OK with this for a long time. I’ve done much more for an author with no acknowledgment at all and been OK w/ it. I’m not anymore. And a lot of that is on me, not them. It seems that once you’re more familiar w/ a certain subject matter, it’s more difficult — for me at least — to just “copy edit,” even when that’s what a client specifically requests (often, they don’t WANT you to dig around too much because they know they’ve given you crap). But I’m at a point where (at which…) I’m not satisfied to insert a comma here and delete one there when the whole thing makes no sense. And I can no longer readily switch out my copy editor’s hat for my substantive or developmental editor’s hat (or vice versa).

And that’s what has lead to my resolution, not so much my disgruntlement w/ this particular person in this particular case, but my awareness/realization that I can not stomach simply “prettying” up your piece(s) of sh_t anymore. No. That role is distinctly, definitely, definitively no longer satisfying to me. And while I don’t think the quality or value of one’s life (professional or otherwise) can necessarily be measured solely in terms of their (his/her…) satisfaction/fulfillment, I do think that if one finds this to be their lot, even in part, than that one owes it to herself and every one around her to take it seriously, work toward it, etc. And hip, hip! That one may be me. 🙂

Also, the kind of “copy editing” I’m talking about here, especially for someone who resents my input and ultimately doesn’t understand (or won’t own up to) what I’ve done for their writing, now takes much more from me than it brings. And over time, I think I’ve actually wronged something in me that I want to make right again, if possible, something I believe I need for my own writing, my own well being. Not 100% sure what it is yet.

Anyway, it hasn’t been all bad. Far from it. And there are a few pet points I’d like to bid a special farewell to before filing them away:

  • Vague and simple are not the same thing.
  • Simple –> good; simplistic —> not good.
  • Just because something happened, is factual and true, does not mean that it should be included in a given piece of writing.
  • Just because you say so does not make it so (hello Comp 101!)

Sweet, aren’t they? But, ohhhh, round and round I go here. Where’s my editor when I need one?

*          *           *

Anyway. And …

In conclusion, I do NOT find satisfaction or fulfillment rewriting your pieces of sh_t (that are then published) ONLY TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED for “copy editing” your pieces of sh_t. And if this resolution sticks, I do believe I’ll be better, happier, more attractive, more SUCCESSFUL, etc. By gawd, it’s happening already!!! And you’ll be fine too, fine as you ever was. Heh, heh. All the great work that was done, though, that you had something or other to do with, THAT may well slip into oblivion on the backs of the sloppy verbiage you persist in insisting needs little more than a light copy edit or “minor tweaking.” And THAT will probably never stop bumming me out when I think about it. I’ll need to remind myself that it’s out of my hands now (I’ve done more than enough, more than I should have probably, already***).

Possible resolution for 2016? Limit my bumming out about things that are out of my hands.


* WORKING MY MAGIC — Oh, how I’ve always hated this way (your way) of describing what I do. I am a trained professional, like you, and I assure you that I have no magic at my disposal, not when it comes to editing anyway. 😉 Good editing is hard work (that I’m now done with).

** It’s precisely because what you do is SO IMPORTANT that I’ve hung in there as long as I have with you, tried so hard to help. (But I’m done now.)

*** This is something that probably requires more explanation. Maybe later. For now, I’m done. 🙂

Hey, ho, happy 2015!!!!!!!!!!!


It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche (Daily Post/Daily Prompt)

Under the Snow

You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?


Francesca Woodman. ‘House #3, Providence, Rhode Island’ 1976


It just so happens that I WAS caught in an avalanche, and I’m still here, under all the snow. I have only just begun thawing my way out, using a technique for channeling perimenopausal hot flashes into such a fine point that I have set dry leaves on fire just by thinking about WHO the F_CK’S GONNA RAKE ALL OF THOSE F_CKERS. Problem is I can only burn a few at a time. I guess it’s kind of dangerous, too. AND someone still has to get out there and rake. But the heat’s been good for thawing this surprise snow … from the avalanche, I mean, which I really wasn’t expecting here at the end of a suburban cul de sac in November, but thinking back now, I admit that on some level, I knew. I felt it coming.

One might have guessed upon reading my “List of One,” back in June, about our adopted daughter, Sarah, finally coming home — one might have guessed that I’d have trouble with this blog, particularly with meeting its one goal within a year (as stated in “About”). And that “one” would have been right. It has not been the best time ever for writing, definitely not for the deep-dive, total-immersion type of writing experience I was mentally preparing for (read: fantasizing about), just as I was mentally preparing for my husband and I to NOT renew our adoption paperwork again this past August. We were about to call it quits… but then! 🙂

Anyway, I’ve written quite a bit but finished little (the pattern I hoped to break, somehow, by blogging), and not made any real progress on the one (fiction) piece I was drooling over this time last year. I could say, well, that’s life and, look, I have this wonderful family and so much to be grateful for and so why complain or feel bad, etc., etc., … I could say those things. I HAVE said those things. And those things are true. It’s true: Sarah is one more miracle in a life that is already more than I ever could have hoped for, in so many ways. All is so far from how things could’ve very easily turned out for me — given my wild side, my laziness (or ADHD-like stuff), my SELF, my high tolerance for __________ (not sure). Still, even good things and positive developments (there have been more than a few, really) can bring fresh new challenges into your life, resurrect old demons, up the stress factor exponentially.  Things have gotten complicated. For sure.

And ALSO, now, there’s this snow on top of me. I’m really not sure how far the hormones are going to get me or how fast … but I do think my loved ones have noticed I’m missing. So that’s a relief. But then, I begin making progress, start hearing voices out/up there, seeing a bit of light, thinking: I’m doing it! I’m excavating myself from under who knows how many feet of snow JUST BY BEING SUPER ANNOYED!! And then I get even more annoyed BECAUSE I CAN’T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY HAVE THE NERVE TO FEEL ANNOYED, which really burns me up, and that pushes me even further toward freedom. IT SEEMS. But then nightfall hits and the temperature drops and everyone’s sleeping, except me — BURNING in my frozen den, fingers too cold to type … or dig. And I get tired of feeling annoyed and then I just get tired, and I think, “oh, maybe all I need is a li’l nap, you know…. just a short one, just long enough for a mini-dream … and to recharge my BURNER.” But that’s a bad idea — no, THE WORST idea — when you’re stuck under any amount of snow.

So the wisest me in me says, “No, no naps, not now.” She thinks of my family and my writing, pretty much together, and starts digging again. “You can write [and even nap?] when you get out from under this and warm up,” she tells me.

So for now, I’m just digging. And I’m fine with that — I’m a digger, but this is different from my usual digging (a whole other post, there). Now, I say, I’m digging by going to sleep at a normal time (missed that one tonight), digging by eating right, digging by not being a jerk to myself (or Roberto, my dear, and the occasional customer service person who just should not be in customer service), digging by hanging out with my kids and my husband — even if we’re not doing anything even remotely “special” — WITHOUT OBSESSING CONSTANTLY about catching up, getting organized (which is never going to happen…), etc. I dig by “learning to say ‘no'” (ugh, I know, but it’s true) and by not adding things I don’t want or need to do to my already-mammoth-size TO DO list. Dig by letting the past go: the old house, some (many?) of the old friends (many of whom have let me go already, I’m sure), the pet projects that are perpetually “in progress,” and a good many of my fun — even fine — ideas about things I might do. Letting go of the past is a big one, could easily cut that mammoth-size to do list down to a person-size list. I see this so clearly now, underneath all this snow, when before I never really thought of myself as hung up on the past.

The best digging I do, though, has to do with getting to know and accept (dig!) this ONE BODY, this one woman with her one life (maybe, right?) and limited time, energy, and talent. I dig by learning to look her in the eye — and them too, while I’m at it: my most dearest, most LOVED ones — without trying to DIVERT her/their attention from ___________ (not sure, really) — with a ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous re-enactment of a true life event, starring ridiculous/hilarious/outrageous me, or by bitching up  a storm, drumming up a crazy plan, or engaging in any analogous activity/effort,  ALL OF WHICH AID ME IN forking my life over, bit by bit, chunk by chunk, heap by heap to some misbegotten or outdated idea or who I MUST BE (or what I must do) in order to be “OK.”

So I’m digging like that, for the most part. I can write (more) when I get out from under ALL THIS SNOW and warm up. My family needs me, I know, just as I need them. AND (but?) we also need for me to write, which I can’t do unless I keep digging and make it back home again … w/out forgetting the time I spent HERE.


Day 104: So far, so-so

day104Over a quarter of my way into the year during which my “miracle” is supposed to happen, I find myself not so confident that it will, on most days; on other days, I am careful not to think about it at all (or have no time to). Every now and then, I look back into the part of me that started the blog, and I know — just like I did then — that SOMEHOW I have to make it happen. The thing is of course (of course!!!) that it will not happen, I will not reach my goal, as the result of a miracle at all, but as the result of consistent, regular effort: hours and hours of work. And I don’t have hours and hours now. I have “hour” if I am very, very lucky. And with all the practical details and logistical requirements of each day, with two small children and a husband who will be away for most of this month, that hour if it comes at all, is usually at the end of the day … when my mind is a pulpy mess. So I am forced to reconsider the possibility of a miracle. More on that later.

For now, my biggest question is whether I can justify spending any time at all blogging. I see that for many of you, whose blogs are primarily concerned with living a creative life and perhaps specifically with writing, your blog is a way of honing your craft, testing out ideas, and exchanging practical information with like-minded others — about things you are working on outside of your blog. For others, your blog is the thing itself, its own reason for being — it seems to be your main creative outlet. I have admired and enjoyed both of these “types” (among others) and also the gorgeous layouts and high functionality of some of them. My blog falls into neither category. It’s free. I will likely never go premium, add any bells and whistles, or be able to spend much more time on it than I do now.

And I have understood from the beginning that my rationale for the blog is questionable. It’s hard for me to explain to the few friends who know about it, and I haven’t tried too hard to hammer it out for myself even. How exactly is working on this blog supposed to help me finish any of my works, especially when my time is so limited? From where I am right now, especially given the wonderful but major life change that has taken place since I started the blog, I really can’t answer that.

I suspect myself of looking for instant gratification and validation … maybe a little of fun. Company. I’ve gotten a small taste of all. I’ve also bumped up against a few cold shoulders and been told in so many words: YOU DON’T MAKE SENSE. Poison. But that brings me back to this blog, whether it makes sense. I don’t know. I know I’m not doing any of things you’re supposed to do to ensure any real progress in the blog world. Outside of here, I am trying harder. I just found out my main freelancing gig is drying up for six months. So … I plan to join CHADD and to get a babysitter for 7 hours a week to work on my fiction, on it only — no laundry, exercise, etc. And I am not giving up on my goal.

Oh Lourdes! “Real-Time Memoir” and Other Things That Might Not Make Sense

I don’t want to go back to my About page. I really don’t, so I won’t. Not today. Sometimes I do heed my gut. 😉 I remember the gist and my one goal for keeping a blog, which is to be achieved in less than a year — so fewer than 300 days from now. What I don’t remember is how I thought blogging could support or help me meet my goal, how in the world I thought it would not take away from the small store of available time/energy for working on my fiction that I had then, which is now even smaller. And how could I not recognize that for me anyway (knowing myself as I do), blogging could turn out to be just another form of procrastination, the blog itself another place to dawdle, a way to psyche myself into thinking I’m making some sort of progress … when really I have been here — exactly, precisely here — creatively speaking, for 20+ years?

Also, how could I not anticipate (knowing myself as I do) that this world, your world — inhabited, cultivated by so many committed, serious writers — would become one that would matter to me, one that I might care about and want to belong to and even stand out in? I don’t know. Part of the reason is inexperience, ignorance, whatever. I’m not trying to flog myself here, but I never dreamed I’d blog, rarely read blogs up till now (except my mom’s and a handful of friends’), and really, simply had no idea what was going on out here. I thought they were mostly about making crafts; getting super-awesomely organized or happy or healthy or just BETTER in some big way; or making/saving/managing money — not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things. But I see now: I have been more than a little out of it and this out-of-it-ness has been deliberate on some level, I suspect, a fearful reaction to something I could sense but not bear to look at directly, find out more about: the world of writing, and publishing, is forever changed and changing still! It’s eye-opening and maybe a little intimidating, not just the quality of some of the writing here (in my own humble opinion), but also the sense of community and the thought, care, and generosity that obviously go into reading and commenting on one another’s work.

So I look and cannot help wondering, is there hope for me, my stories? I do think so, but I can’t seem to figure out how blogging fits in — I mean, in a way that makes sense to me as/where I am right now. I get the obvious benefits: the very real opportunities that blogging has brought to some, the success many of you have  found, and even the immense satisfaction — of which I’ve had a taste or two — of simply connecting with a few others.

Why all this angst now?

Well one, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Daily Prompt guy’s post yesterday re: gimmicks (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/raymond-carver-simplicity/)  ……………  And I had to ask myself, what is a “Real-Time Memoir” anyway? (This term is in my blog’s subtitle.) I can’t really answer that, so I start thinking: gimmick! Now, I’m not crushed here, not going to panic, but I do think it warrants some thought and that, ultimately, I should have some sort of explanation. I must have had something in mind when I came up with it, which I sort of remember (yammering on about it to a friend while walking the dog, months before Sarah came), but all’s a bit fuzzy now. Maybe the cure for this bout of doubt, the answer to my questions about my blog, lies somewhere in exploring the idea, though. Maybe I’m just not clear on what my blog is for.  [Can’t seem to get rid of these italics.] 

Two, and I almost hate to put this into words: after a long conversation with my six-year-old about lots of things, mostly what we’ve got going on for the rest of the summer, which led to talk about the new school year and how we will try to be better organized in the morning, not so rushed, on time on a more regular basis. Always, even? ………………. I run late, which means WE run late. A lot. We are late as we are having this conversation. So when it comes up, he says, point blank: “You should know better, Mommy” — in the gentlest way possible. But ugh. I should. I do. I start to think about the blog again. Real-time nothing!

Three, I read: “Night Is Young” (http://abozdar.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/night-is-young/), an apparent response to today’s prompt about writer’s block (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/writers-block-party/). And boom! Somehow the juxtaposition hit me like the final line in that Rilke poem, the first time I read it, about the torso of Apollo (see below if you don’t know it; image borrowed from The Paleo Periodical). I started to think about the blog again, doubting it and somehow so much more, slowly but surely inching my way into a comfortable shadow that remains.

Featured Image -- 507

Archaic Torso of Apollo

by Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Like the time I read Nausea and Grendall during the same summer vacation (bad idea for me at the time), somehow this combination of events has packed a good punch.

I hate the way all this sounds, by the way.

May need to reconsider my space-time coordinates (0r those of my goal, rather), recalibrate, reboot, re-re. Or just go out and celebrate my eighth anniversary with my husband tonight (night is sooooooo young now) and, later, sleep on it. 😉


Day 11: Not THAT Lourdes, not THAT Mint, not THAT Miracle

Hello! I am still working on Part 2 of my response to May 27th’s Daily Prompt. It took QUITE a turn — oh my goodness, yes it did. And then there was also this other thing going on (read: sink hole, huge snake, asteroid, etc. — or visit/revisit my Day 5 post, a response to the Daily Prompt).

But for now, I’d just like to clear something up. A friend tried to find my blog and days later she texted me: “I don’t get it. Is this the direction you’re going in?”

I was a little hurt and responded defensively, something like: “What??? It’s not like we haven’t been talking about this — writing — forever. It’s fine if you don’t like what you’re reading, but how can it be that …?”

You can find these online by searching for Lourdes + Mint + Miracle. I might have to try them.

You can find these online by searching for Lourdes + Mint + Miracle. I might have to try them.


“Just send me the URL,” she texted. And then very soon after that: “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Later in an email, subject line: “To Lourdes,” she explained: “so funny, because in our text thread … i was telling you my google search for lourdes miracles led to something VERY different.” For example:  http://www.is-there-a-god.info/life/lourdes.shtml

She went on to comment on my stories, my drawings, my other writings, etc. And I felt happy and encouraged.

I have no idea why I chose the name Lourdes (Lourdes Mint, no less!) … and there’s the issue of THAT name in the context of the rest of blog title, with its “Miracle.” I am not Catholic (nor have I ever been — it has to be said, I think), so I guess I am just a little mystified by the whole thing…. but just a little.

So for now, I remain: Lourdes Mint, author of a blog about my mid-life “Miracle.” Again, though, just to be clear, it is not about that Lourdes, nor these mints, nor that miracle. And I really hope you’re not disappointed to hear that…




Day 9A: Finders, Keepers (Daily Prompt): “No one ever believes my stories” (Part 1)

Trying the Daily Prompt again today (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/finders-keepers/), but it will have to be quick with all I have to do. The only reason I’m allowing myself to respond at all is that I have this wonderful, practically ready-made response, a story actually, that I’ve always wanted to write up and today’s prompt is just screaming, “Today’s the day!”

Just a peek for now: The story comes from a girl I roomed with during my 19th summer, when we were both working at a breakfast and lunch place right on the boardwalk. She was out walking on the beach very early one morning, normal for her, and found a wad of cash (more than $600) in a nice heavy clip and a stunning women’s ring (platinum, she thought, with a remarkably clear emerald), along with some other items in a crumpled, greasy paper bag half-buried in the sand.  She told me all about it a few days later: what she did with it, what happened next, how it all ended — kind of unbelievable, but well worth sharing. (That’s Part 2, so PLEASE come back.)

But first, here is my own personal response to the prompt.

Back then, to be fair (so I’m not ultimately comparing apples to oranges), if I’d found that bag of goodies, I might have taken it to the first person I spotted who appeared to be in any position of authority. Boardwalk security guy on a bike? Perfect. Lifeguard? Yes, probably. Bouncer? Possibly so (depending on whether I knew him). I think I would have been afraid to go to the police — given the neurotically guilty conscience I was plagued with then.

Now, I’m not so sure what I’d do. My guess is I’d either leave the loot where it lie or take it to the police, suspecting that either way, there’d be little difference in outcome — little chance that the lost-lings would be returned to their rightful owner(s). And this is not a dig against police, but more the sense I have that whomever lost the treasures had either stolen them him(or her)self or figured they were gone for good and returned home without them, but with a beefy story to share.

(I can imagine the man with the money clip: “We were lying on our backs until about noon, when Nancy took out some money for lunch. We ate right there on our towels. And then at about 2 pm, as we were turning onto our stomachs — to keep things even, you know — Seth comes out of the water, says he wants a coke. That’s when we realized … . So, what I’m saying is it happened while we were there, right there, but with our eyes closed. Sickens me, Nancy too. And it’s not the things, the money, the ring, the rest of it: they can be replaced. It’s the fact that the place has changed THAT much. Poor Seth, all our kids: they’ll never know the carefree, good times we enjoyed there when we were …” [Nancy, red, almost spitting, as she interrupts: “Actually, that ring cannot be replaced. It belonged to my Aunt Penny. Thank you.“]  Money clip man: “Okay, well. But you — you all — you get my point.”)

Back to what I would do: I’m sure I wouldn’t pocket the stuff — then, now, ever. And I can say with 100% certainty that I wouldn’t have done what Stacy did, not because it was so horrible or wrong or anything like that; it was just so … strange. What she did, the thoughts behind her actions, they simply never would have occurred to me, not in a million years. When she told me the story, she made it clear she was sharing it with me and no one else, not because she didn’t want anyone to know, she said, but because she thought I might believe her. And then she said, I remember like it was yesterday, “No one ever believes my stories.”

Did I believe? Do I now? I don’t know. Every time I ask myself that question, my mind answers with a complete non sequitur. Just now, for example, as I asked myself again, my mind shoots me this memory:

I am sitting with a nice boy on the beach. He likes me but nothing will come of it. He hands me a conch shell, which I’m thinking he must have planted there. (Even then, all the really good shells were gone. And this one seemed to have a weirdly glossy finish.) “Try this: it’s really neat,” he says, as he holds it up to my ear. “What do you hear?” “Ummmmmm, the ocean,” I say, already knowing the answer, which everyone learns early on (right?). “That is neat,” I say. He smiles, so very obviously delighted. But all I heard, all I think anyone hears, from inside a shell is something like, “sssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” or “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” (right?). That day, though, I do hear the ocean (but with my other ear), as the waves are crashing less than 30 feet away from us. I remember suddenly feeling so sorry for the boy, still smiling. “That is neat,” I say again. “Really neat.”Conchboy

So what kind of answer is that? A yes or a no? Did I, do I, believe Stacy’s story or not? Maybe I can’t answer because I don’t have to answer, because it doesn’t matter. Just the telling of a story makes it a thing of the world, something that exists, something to be reckoned with if you’re so inclined — to be passed along (maybe forgotten) or kept like a secret — as I have this story for so long, turning it over and over again with the fingers of mind, my own sparkling emerald. All the while thinking, also, I should write it up. I should, I should, I should — for years — and now here (or rather in Part B), finally, I am! Or, I will, after I get some real work done.

*          *          *

Ugh. Where did the morning go and most of the afternoon? I have to say, so far, this project is wreaking havoc — HAVOC, I say — on my life. I love it. 🙂 But havoc is havoc and I (and mine) can only stand so much. But I do think things will come out okay once I/we get through this transition (using that word WAY too much lately), that they will get better and better and finally be right: I will be writing regularly, finishing pieces I’ve started (the good ones) and starting new ones, and become a writer (that is, for me, a writer people read!) — all with a relatively manageable, liveable life still intact. That’s what I tell Roberto, my husband, and I think he believes me.

I do wish that the process could be more straight forward, more balanced and comfortable, more methodical (oh, hope against hope!), and that I felt just a little more like I know what I’m doing. BUT when you’ve pulled the number(s) I’ve pulled on my creative yearnings for as long as I have (20+ years), I know not to expect or wait for that feeling. So if I will go with it for now, allow that thing (the would-be writer in me) to have her way with me for a time, I  can see a much more workable, peaceable arrangement evolving — and, at some point, success.

But we’re not there yet. Oh, no, we are not. On a day like this, we stare at each other, a great distance between us (nothing much below), and finally fly at each other to meet in mid-air … and do what, exactly? For now, something like this.

Please come back (anyway …) for Part 2! Time to pick up Elliot.


Day 6: The Art of Reappearing

Until last fall, I’d almost accepted the idea that although I’d like to be a writer, I must be missing something essential that could make it/allow it to happen. I’d also almost come to believe what my mother, another aspiring writer, had often said over the years — something like: “Real writers MUST write. If a person is not writing, is able to resist or postpone, that person is not a real writer.” Thankfully, I don’t think she believes that anymore herself. (She’s been blogging away for years, and very well at that.) But my point is, I was pretty much resigned to giving up the dream.


Photo excerpt from “Untitled,” by Francesca Woodman (1976)

Last spring and summer, though, my imagination turned up the volume on its usual constant murmuring. WAY UP! My long-imagined, would-be characters started coming around again, dragging their sketchy, unfinished plot lines behind them. I’d see them hanging around, first maybe in the parking lot of the grocery store where we shop. Then they started camping out in the woods behind our house. But now, more and more frequently, one finds his/her way inside — maybe just taps me on my shoulder as I edit. “Anything going on these days, you know, with my story?,” the last one asked. And I just start rattling off excuses, my special area of expertise. Usually that’s enough to make them disappear, at least for a while. (They are totally grossed out by excuses. Lies practically kill them.) This last one, though, she lingered a bit, started asking questions about what I was working on, how much I was getting paid, etc. Awkward!

But now, it’s not just them. I’ve begun feeling increasingly dogged by feelings of failure and frustration, guilt even. More and more, I’ve come to believe that if I don’t get serious about writing, soon, NOW, and work steadily until I complete a piece, I will … not be well. And I need to be well.

I have this really sweet family, whom I love dearly, and I want them, more than pretty much anything, to see me succeed as a fiction writer, as a whole person. (Our young son, “Elliot,” has a wonderful imagination and has said he wants to become the world’s best comic book writer [among other things]) — how I’d love to set a good example for him to follow in making his own dreams come true, if not in comic book writing than in whatever he chooses.)

Deep down, I know I have not provided much of an example in terms of how to make dreams come true or even set/achieve goals. Deep down, I know I have not been “all here” for a while, maybe forever, and I KNOW that not writing is a big part of the reason why.

So………….. This might be a good time to introduce my gravatar (shown here larger, above right). When I chose it, I thought it was from a photo series called “The Art of Disappearing” (which turned out to be the title of the piece in which I found it), but it’s actually from an untitled series, as I’ve just discovered. Wither way, knowing what little I do of Francesca Woodman’s story, I’m not sure what to make or say of my choice of this image as my gravatar. Although her photos are among my favorite things in the world, and although one could certainly argue that she was the consummate artist — creating for herself, living according to her own rules, making no compromises, etc. — things did not end well for her. Or maybe they ended as she wanted them to.

In any case, check her out here with all these forks. (Maybe I should have posted this on my About page. ;)) Check her out!


“On Being an Angel,” by Francesca Woodman (1977)









……. Okay. It’s okay. I’m okay with my gravatar. Somehow, and I truly don’t know how or on what basis, I trust my choice.

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