Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Tail of Halloweens Past





Sitting here thinking about all the Halloweens of my youth. I've been a clown, a witch, Cyndi Lauper, Tweety Bird, a 1800's ghost, Cher, a cat . . . let me tell you about the cat story since it's fresh in my mind.

I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom when an invitation to a Halloween costume party flew down onto my desk. I couldn't believe it. For several minutes the invitation sat in my hand, and I read and reread it several times. No one had ever invited me to a real party before. I was sure all the other kids were used to the sort of thing, I knew it because they just tossed their cards down without hardly a glance. But I was scanning for the part that said, "Everyone is invited, except Amy." It wasn't there, so my next assumption was that the card had been handed to me by accident. But days went by and no one corrected the mistake. I finally accepted that I'd been invited—by default of course.

The night of the party Mom dropped me off at the front drive of a country house. "I'll be back in a few hours. Have fun, okay?" "Okay . . ." I followed another kid who had been dropped off at the same time to the back yard, where all the children from my class had gathered, unrecognizable in their costumes. I, wearing a black dance leotard, flats, makeshift tail, and pinned-on ears, had transformed myself into a black cat. Little black whiskers were drawn in swipes across my freckled cheeks for the final effect.

It was crisp outside; the air smelled of dead leaves and smoldering fire-pits. Trees on the horizon were shaded dark against a sky just spent of its dusk: electric blue with shades of purple. A few stars prickled out of their holdings, looking down to where I stood—nervous and typically quiet. I still couldn't believe I was an actual part of the festivities! But I took it all in, and didn't refuse the fun of bobbing for apples, eating popcorn balls, roasting hot dogs, and making chit-chat.

After about an hour the mom of the house came out and told everyone it was time to judge who had the best costume. She and her daughters walked around the party goers in slow order, and then convened to make a final decision. "The winner is the cute little black cat, Amy. We all love your costume!" I looked around in disbelief and listened as the other kids made noises of protest. Many of the boys expressed that it wasn't fair a girl should win; a boy should be picked as well and the prize should be shared. The mother shook her head. No, they had picked a winner and it was me. "But, but . . ." A big argument ensued and the sisters took me upstairs to their room away from the chaos. "Don't worry about the boys. They're idiots. You won fair and square. You can hang out and watch Dallas with us for a while, okay?"

I felt rather sick. The boys were still down there making their argument, and I just wanted to say that they could have the stupid prize if they wanted it. I wasn't used to winning anything; it make me feel so obvious. But the girls kept saying I'd earned it and should be proud, boys always got what they wanted. "You stay up here with us and let them complain, we're not budging!" Somehow my winning had become a catalyst for the feminist movement, and here I was no feminist at all. Here I was, a mouse in cat's clothing.

We were called back outside where a final, final decision had been reached: The prize would be shared. I looked up at the sisters; they weren't happy. And you know what? I wasn't happy. Suddenly I felt wronged, why should I share the prize? Just because they couldn't accept losing? Just because they weren't used to it? I'd lost so many times and this was my moment to win. A make-shift blue ribbon was crafted on the spot, and I received the original store-bought one. I accepted it with a smile despite the feeling of being slighted.

Perhaps I'll be a black cat this year in honor of that night so long ago, for the little girl who began to know what it is to stand up for herself, even if it was just a little.

I hope you have a great Halloween. Peace.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Low-Calorie Halloween Treats

Trick or Treat! Here are some Halloween goodies. Have fun! But not too much . . .

1970's Halloween War of the Worlds Just click the player button on the upper right of the page.



Time traveler?


Spooky optical illusion:


Real ghost pictures? Explanations on pictures can be found here:


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A fun-filled blog with no nutritional value whatsoever!


Liam's Birthday cake. Yes the kids helped decorate! They had a lot of fun.


A groovy shelf. And some old books that aren't perfect, but I still love them.





Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spunk


A couple of years ago I found a book of diaries written by a Kansas woman, and being a Kansas woman, I took to it immediately. I love stories of life on the plains, and found this collection extremely compelling. In the book, Plains Woman, we join Martha Farnsworth in her teenage years—full of life, flirty, she has a string of beaus and the typical problems with parents who don't understand. Her own mother died when she was only three-years-old, leaving her to be raised by a passive father and strict, uncaring step-mother. All the typical stuff that you'd find today really, but what isn't typical is the spunk in her writing. You really feel, despite the faded years of time, that we are hearing from a real, live teen-ager, with real problems, and real feelings.

As she grows older, the spunk is replaced by sadness and determination as we read about the death of her sister, moves, and lost beaus. Finally we see her getting married and a whole new chapter of life unfolds, but it is a depressing one. Her husband is an alcoholic, he's mean, unsteady, and physically sick. Martha becomes no more than a caged animal, and her diary becomes her only outlet—we readers are her saving grace. A child carried through wagon travels is born and Martha is elated. For six months we read of her delight—being a mother is a great joy to her and a elation rises from the pages so contagious that we ourselves are full of joy for her infant gift. When the baby dies, and Martha is left again to the gallows of her enslaving marriage, devastation leadens the pages—how can she possibly take one more day with this sorrow, with a man who treats her like a cornered animal? The answer is two things: her belief in God, and that undercurrent of spunk just waiting to return.

The diaries extend through many more decades—Martha was gifted with the ability to recount her daily happenings with a clarity missing from most of the journals I've read. She is honest, candid, optimistic, hopeful. I really enjoyed this book. One thing I found interesting was her psychic ability. She doesn't give it much attention, just records it as a fact: dreams that tell the future; feelings which come to be true. I also found her descriptions of early 1900's Topeka to be quite fascinating. As well as her determination in all things life, such as learning to roller skate and swim competitively in her later years, much later than any other woman or man would think of trying.

You can read some of the entries at this site, though you may have trouble loading the pages. Good luck, and enjoy! http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/212795


Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday to Liam!

This is what a precocious birthday boy looks like. Four-years-old . . . where did the time go?








And I'm afraid he's had enough. Time to go make that cake!

Silent Footage 1905

Here is a 1905 film taken from the front window of a moving a cable car along San Francisco's busy Market Street. You can see how dangerous the streets were back then! People walked right in front of the cable car, cars swerved around without care. Interesting enough is the fact that horse drawn carriages are still in action. And even more interesting is the fact that this video shows a downtown later destroyed by the 1906 earthquake.




Post earthquake San Francisc0

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Lonely Boy

Yesterday I took all the kids (school was out for the last few days) to the park. It was perfect fall weather with the multi-color leaves and grayish sky. I love the smell of the leaves and pine trees this time of year. Well anyway, the park is the same one I used to go to and it has all the old retro playground equipment, plus two bridges over a small creek. The kids really love it and they all had a lot of fun. There was this one little boy who sort of adopted us. He wore a light blue shirt and had sandy blond hair, and he was the only kid there with no parent around. Slowly he worked his way into our group, away from the other group that had a couple of rough boys running around, and started to make chat with a friendly, shy countenance. He commented to me about something silly Julia had done, and I commented back how goofy she was sometimes and he ran off with a smile. When we went across the park to play tag, he followed and I watched as the whole group had fun doing that for a long time. Then when I announced lunch a sad look crossed his face. "Do you have to go? Can't you stay?" He was so sweet, and I felt so bad. "No, we really gotta go. These kids need to eat." I wanted to ask him where his parents were? Was he always out here by himself? Who took care of him, protected him? Instead I told him how nice he was and how much fun all the kids had. He nodded and walked off. I guess I'm gonna call him The Lonely Boy. There's too many of 'em in the world and they all break my heart just a little bit.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Relief

The dreaded Parent Teacher Conferences were yesterday. I was so nervous. You know, after years of going to Julia's IEPs and hearing all these horror stories of what she's doing wrong, I was pleasantly surprised to hear she is doing well in Kindergarten. Yay! My stomach started to hurt just thinking about all those meetings I had to attend in her preschool years.

Many people will never know what it's like to have a child with a sensory disorder. You can't cry about it in public; you have to be strong and get proactive. But let me tell ya, I cried hard in the car so many times those first few years. I felt very alone and very guilty because it must have been my fault: too much tv, not enough attention, the wrong foods, the wrong parenting style, etc. After reading a lot of material on the subject, both technical and personal accounts from parents just like me, I saw that Julia was very sensitive to certain things. Cutting out milk as much as I could (hard because she loves it so much) and really getting in her face to talk and direct her, school, the meetings . . . all of it has helped, and I'm so proud of her!!

I remember when she was three and I made her sit and listen to puppet shows. "Hi, I'm Ralph the dog and what's your name?" "I think her name is Julia. Julia. Can you say your name is Julia?" Nothing. Then a month later she came in the room and said, "My name is Julia," and walked out. There was this wall blocking her from being able to express herself. My job (and the school was a huge part of this) was to break down this wall. I feel it is broken, but she'll always be a little trippy, though not any more than the cool artists I know!

The other thing I wanted to say was how much writing has meant to me as a means of expression and escape. I was terribly down with all of the above and was very alone. And bitter. But I won't go into that. I just want to say that life is good. Julia was sent to me because she needed me, and I needed her. We both traveled this journey together and what a beautiful, smart, creative little girl I have!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meadowland

Hey, I figured out how to post songs from MySpace. If you guys have time you can listen to Meadowland by me. That's right, little old me. OR you can ignore it and not listen and suffer terrible pain in your right pinky for a million years. You decide.


Meadowland by amy saia band

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Spamalicious!


I got to thinkin' about that Spam last night, thanks to Cro's lovely account of their business practices. It made me wonder . . . just what does the word "Spam" mean, exactly? Without wishing to really know, I thought I'd make up a few guesses of my own.

1. Spackle Ham- Admit it, Spam would make a great spackling paste; it has the right color and consistency, and the smell would go away eventually.

2. Spines and Spigots Ham- Yeah, let's not talk about it.

3. Sponge Ham- I bet if you dry this stuff out it would make a great bath sponge. What do you think? I've finally outwitted Martha Stewart!

4. Spank Ham- Instead of threatening your kids with physical violence, you could just threaten them with a Spam dinner. One sight of that lovely tin can and they will transform into little angels.

5. Space Ham- It looks like it came from outer space, it tastes like it came from outer space . . .

6. Spa Ham- the least likely, I know, but if mashed up and applied to the skin, it could make a fabulous facial cream. Didn't Eskimos use to use whale fat for chap stick? See?? Tell your Avon representative to order you up a big old tin of Spam right now!

7. Special Ham- All the pigs in the farmyard know that only special porkers get into a tin of Spam. It's a lifelong dream and we Americans are glad to be a part such a big pig aspiration.

8. Speed Ham- Race car drivers know this stuff makes a great lubricant on their pistons. Ah hell, you all know I haven't a clue what I'm talkin' about. Why do you even come here?!

9. Speleological Ham- I'm really reachin', but maybe, just maybe fifty years or so ago, some cave explorer came across a big cave pig and after a huge struggle (like ten hours) he finally killed the bastard and had a fine feast and he, because he loved himself so much for being such a fine, smart and sexy dude, decided to name the pig species after himself: Stan Paul Jim Ham= Spam (the J is silent). They couldn't put his face on the tin because he died shortly after his discovery—something about a rare cave disease and too much love makin' with cave whores. Poor guy. Jim darlin', this here Spam is for you. MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Take a Trip and Skip Through the Fifties . . .

Here are a few from an earlier decade. A time when life was good and simple. And just a little bit crazy.

Oh come on, you're the man of steel. If anyone can chomp through those rolls with believability, it would be you. Suck it up, Superman. "Ooops, did I accidentally put Kyrptonite in there? Oh gosh, I'm so sorry dear. Let's call Clark Kent over to dinner tonight, he likes my rolls, honey. I'll call him right now!"


I love pictures of refrigerators. I'm a total foodie! However, this thing has been stocked in such a way that, frankly, I am frightened. It's like Aliens have attempted to replicate a typical homo sapiens refrigerator set-up. I mean, look at the eggs! And what's with all the ham? I guess this was during the nuclear age. Eat up folks, we're all gonna die tomorrow! Yay!


This is Julia's idea of a well-balanced diet. In fact, that looks like her and Liam in the picture jumping for joy.


"I still can't see the picture. Something keeps blocking the projector . . ." Oh Sabrina you naughty girl. Are those real or are you packing grapefruit? Good luck loading the film, girl. Call me if you need any help.



Oh yeah, smelling like nasty Lysol is a much better solution. Right. I'm so glad that times have changed. *Shudder*


Ya know, Spam was a good invention and made sense at the time. The war had just ended, people needed good, cheap food that was high in protein and which could be used in various dishes. It is also good for Monty Python sketches. Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam . . . It also makes great paperweights and is a wicked fish-bait.


"Oh Sweetie! Can you update that grocery list again? We're out of . . . cheese, bacon, butter, and ketchup. Oh, and throw some Spam in there. Thanks Honey!"


The fifties were all about mixing the old with the new. I wonder why they didn't use real pictures for this ad though? I want to see an actual model gulping down a big glass of milk and Seven-Up.


This one is for me. I think it's very romantic and I LOOOVE it! Happy Saturday dear friends! Have a good one.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Keep on until the end

The other day, dear friend and artiste Cro Magnon spoke of his troubles in the tower he has been steadily building over the summer. Everything had gone well until a few mismeasured roof beams threw a huge wrench in his chain. He sounded so dejected about the whole thing, whereas before, he had expressed such joy and exuberance. We were all glad when, the next day or so, he jumped right back into the project, found a solution, and now is already on the track toward completion.

Here's what he taught me: never give up. When you have given everything to a project that you love, little glitches can and must be worked out. Take a break, refresh, find solutions, and finish what you started. In the long range no one is going to know where you messed up or how hard the process was. In relations to writing: no one is going to know how many times you wrote your first chapter, or how many agents rejected your book before finding THE ONE. When someone walks into Borders and picks your shiny book off the shelf and starts reading the back cover, they won't know the process. Only you know, and it can be your little badge of honor.

If you keep on with the original passion and joy that you started with, things will work themselves out. Let's remember this. Every. Single Day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Exposition Problems—Youch!

The first section of my book has always given me a lot of trouble. Everything I read suggests keeping the first fifty pages fast paced with a lot of dialogue, but I can't have dialogue between the two main characters because my male MC is DEAD. Yeah. He doesn't know the female MC, Emma, can see him, and she doesn't know he's supposed to be invisible. Though it does make for some really fun situations, such as, one of her lunch breaks where he comes up and sits next to her on the park bench and makes comments about the book she's reading, where she came from, how young she is, etc. She is flustered and feels like he's playing mind games. He doesn't think she can hear him—no one else has before. His fingers are resting close to her bare arm, and she's hiding in this stupid paperback about aliens, just trying to pretend she doesn't care. They've never looked each other in the eye, they've never touched, and a reader has to wade through all of this exposition for a while and trust that I, the writer, am leading them somewhere good. It's a tough one, and like I said, the whole thing has given me trouble from day one.

I did not want Emma to discover that Will was a ghost too soon; I wanted it to be a slow reveal. There's one scene where she goes out to look for him one night, because she figures he must be homeless—what with him never changing his clothes or eating or anything. She goes out and leaves money and a small bag of food—a breeze holds her in place and whispers her name. All the leaves in the trees shiver and shake and times stands still. This couldn't have happened if I had given them a concrete relationship from the start, because in the world of spirits, nothing is concrete. It's about having faith and stepping out of that physical, real world, into a more symbolic, ethereal existence. And Emma being kissed by the breeze is her first introduction into belief beyond proof. It's magic and requires a lot of slow build. I guess in so many ways I have made it hard for readers, but I felt it was right for the story.

I do, however, have real people Emma can talk to. One is her boss at the library: Ethyl the paperback novel reading wise-ass who champions against the evil cult-church who only want to shut her down—knowledge is dangerous in a town that wishes to stay locked in time. They don't want anyone to learn too much, especially ghost man Will, because knowledge means questioning the status quo which can lead to serious revolt. So anyway, that's who Emma talks to at first. Then she meets bad boy Jesse whom she thinks she can trust. He's her friend for awhile, and you think she's forgotten about Will, but things change fast and all is revealed. That's where I have so much dialogue you want to kill me.

Anyone else have massive problems in their books? Isn't it frustrating?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kate Bush

Before Madonna or Tori Amos or Lady Gaga, there was Kate Bush. She was so young when this came out, like 19 I think! Pretty amazing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Someday those pictures are gonna come out . . .

As you know, I am a musician as well as an aspiring writer. Yes, I once lived the wild life folks, it's true. When my first cd came out, a wonderful, wonderful woman I met on the radio asked if I would do a photo shoot to use in her business portfolio. I said yes, and these pictures are the result of her fabulous direction, a bottle of wine, and Neil Young in the background. It was a crazy night and I had a horrible hangover the next day. But the pictures turned out great!

Her name at the time was Allegra Cloud. I'm pretty sure that has changed due to some big upheavals in her life shortly after this photo shoot. Allegra, wherever you are, I hope things are going well. You have a deep and wonderful heart.

I flipped my hair, I jumped up and down, I had people puffing furiously around me to create the smokey atmosphere, I was told to twist and turn and look alluring. "Put on more black eyeliner!" she yelled, so I did in the tiny bathroom with love scribbles all over the tiled walls that her husband Gary had written, slowly over the years. She made me slather vaseline in my hair, pull it up, toss it around. It was crazy. And I'd do it all over again.













And . . . that's it. That's me. Amy Saia.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

70's Sunday

I am in a blocked thought mode, and you know what that means! That's right, 70's ad time!

I chose a few that made me smile, er, made my jaw drop open a few inches. Holy cow! You cats were insane back in the day. If I saw a guy wearing these pants I'd just . . . well, I'd . . . Actually, I don't know what I'd do. There's no amount of coolness that can pass these off. Sorry. Nice mustache though.

Sorry, you'll have to click the picture to see the full thing. If you dare.



And this guy. Do you think they were going for the pissed-off trucker look? Cause that's what they got. The "Ultimate Fashion Climax". Whoa. Just whoa. So . . . is he man enough to fill it? For $45 bucks I certainly hope so. But maybe the hand on the waist is a bit much.



I don't know . . . I don't think I am. Nope. I've decided I'm not. Thanks for asking though.



Works on mustaches too. And we promise you won't look like Freddy Mercury.



"Don't look back, Bob. Don't look back."



Okay, I'm confused. Does he always drink it now and then, or does he sometimes drink it, but not always now, and sometimes then? And does he have to wear that suit? I need a drink.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Imagine Today




In case you haven’t yet noticed, people are celebrating what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. He was born during an air raid in Liverpool England, October 9, 1940, and was killed by a crazed fan on the night of December 8th, 1980. What would John have looked like today? I wonder sometimes. He was worried about going bald, and I think he probably would be thin up on top, perhaps he’d just comb it back in a nice dapper style. He’d probably wear a lot of hats. He’d like the internet because of its instant quality of delivering the news all through the day—John was a purported news junkie, both the good and the bad. He would love iPods. He would hate most modern music, but dig some beats in a few of the songs out there. He liked reggae so whatever might be hanging around, not a very active genre these days, he’d seek out. I think he would be writing books, creating art, speaking out about the environment and our battles in the Mideast. He’d tell us to go ahead and build the damn mosque near the Trade Center, because there’s a whore house just down the street and denying religious freedom is a very hypocritical, non-Jesus thing to do. Work on the mosque inside yerself, mate (sorry, I was channeling here).


Around the time of his death, John had spent around five years being a househusband—as he liked to call himself. He said he may not have bore Sean, but he was going to oversee all foods that went into his body and so as he grew, his health and well-being was from John’s strict, but loving parenting. Yoko said the man should take care of the children after birth, and she became busy with selling estates, talking to numerologists, psychics, stock traders, you name it. John became a literal shut-in those last few years, much like any housewife, only he was a Rock God and unlike any housewife, couldn’t enjoy the pleasure of a day out to refresh his energies. He was extremely paranoid about fans recognizing him, because they always wanted something: a touch, a signature, a button from his shirt, a lock of his hair—it would go on and John knew from experience that the more you gave, the more they wanted. So he hid. He sat up in his room and watched tv and read and smoked and sometimes got high, and he looked out over Central Park at the rest of the world in action. He fantasized about sex, sometimes beautiful, sometimes violent. His childhood memories of living with a promiscuous mother and absent father had caused him to have a skewed view of relationships. It wasn’t until Yoko came along that he was able to see women as more than just things to abuse; she showed him that women were powerful creatures; men had much to learn. Many people wonder why John stayed with Yoko when she was so cold. The truth is John Lennon was in a co-dependent relationship—it wasn’t healthy, he was alone much of those last few years of his life; he was controlled, it has been reported that she was cheating on him, spending his money, etc. But he needed her because she was the only thing on this earth that made him feel safe from himself. He loved her, and say what you will, she did a good job of keeping him in a constant state of self-awareness and internal growth.


Throughout his life, John made comparisons to himself and Jesus. He even tried to look like Jesus, sans the robe and jute sash. And I have to say, that although the rest of the world may find the idea insane, he had a point. Every word that John said was taken as gospel. Much like Ghandi and Martin Luther King—who also have been compared to Jesus—he spoke with the utmost of clarity, had the intense gift of making every word count, so that whatever he said would ring true for the eons of time. People still cling to his statements of peace and love, they look to his personal life for clues on how to live theirs, they still listen to his music to save them from their despair and show them how to embrace unity. And just like Jesus, John was persecuted for those very statements, because peace often attracts violence as a counteraction. We can’t handle peace, it requires too much and we have so little time to devote for such a high concept.


One of my favorite things about John was that he was always in a state of renewal. He continuously looked for faults and tried to fix them. One of his faults though was being transparent—it’s why we loved him, but it’s what killed him. Perhaps if he hadn’t spoken out about the war. Perhaps if he hadn’t made those comments about Jesus. Perhaps if he hadn’t said where he lived and what he loved and what he liked to do, on and on. Perhaps if he hadn’t written his songs so that each sounded as if it were a personal note to all who listened. Perhaps . . .


But that’s not how you live when you’re John Lennon. He gave everything with no feelings of remorse, and so it came to be, unfortunately, that one person felt it was his right to claim his life; make his death an anthem for their own. John and Yoko had been recording all evening. The day had been filled with photo-shoots and interviews for the recent release of Double Fantasy, and John was in a rush to get home and kiss his little boy good-night. Because, despite the cult-rock world he lived in where he could have had maids do it for him, he wanted to be the one who put his little boy to bed and wish him sweet dreams. Yoko stepped out of the car first, followed by John. There were no bodyguards as Yoko had continuously pushed off the request to be dealt with on a later date. Someone called John’s name—it was the young man who’d asked for an autograph hours earlier in the same spot outside the Dakota apartments. John turned and shots were fired. Seven shots in all, but only four penetrated his body, the first one fatal. He was taken to the hospital only to be announced dead shortly thereafter.


It’s what happens next that defines John Lennon, I think. All of a sudden people realized what they had, and what they would have no more. Even I, as a young girl standing on the upper steps of my childhood home, listened to the news with a heavy heart and shock. We knew, finally, with our own eyes and ears, that good men can be taken away and the rest of us must still go on. Knights fall.



Friday, October 8, 2010

A Look Back at the Swine Flu 2009

It was just about this time last year when Julia stepped off the bus looking pale. Her eyes were shadowed by dark rims and she had no energy. I knew it was the H1N1 virus just from the look of her; I'd worried about it for weeks, had even considered the vaccine. Nature made the decision for me. Peeling off her jacket, I led her to the bedroom and watched as she lay down without direction; she was so tired and hot and not at all the little flutterbudget I was used to. I turned on some afternoon cartoons, but she fell asleep in minutes without even watching.

The next few days I watched as she went from high fever to normal and fine, then it would start all over again. It was a strange pattern, and the worst thing was the cough. Sometimes the fever would come back, but her energy had returned to its normal happy level. I tried keep her in the back room with a humidifier and a nice stream of shows or books or music for entertainment.

At some point while taking care of her, I noticed something weird happening to me. I started craving horseradish and would go eat little teaspoonfuls out of the jar in the fridge. I also noticed a strange taste in my mouth, and it wasn't from the horseradish. I thought it was some over greasy potato chips I'd been eating at lunch every day. Deciding not to eat them anymore, I ignored the taste and went on as usual. But there was something else: a strange prickly feeling in my chest. At night I'd lay in bed thinking about Julia, and be startled by this deep, pinpoint sensation, like a popping inside my lungs.

I woke up in a few days with the fever, but ignored it because moms can't get sick. I've had the flu before and took care of the kids the whole time without more than a few little naps and I would do it again. But the fever spiked so high that I lay in bed one night sweating like it was the middle of July. The next day I was fine. I even called my mom and told her I must have gotten over it quick and all was well. That night the fever came back. I ignored it and for the next few days learned to live through the flu's deceptive pattern of temperature, all the while wondering if the growing heaviness in my chest would go away.

I stopped eating. That strange taste in my mouth, the heat, the fatigue, taking care of the kids, had led me to a state of no appetite. That's where things went downhill. I woke up knowing I had lost the battle with my chest and I was scared. Add to this the fact that even though Julia had gotten better, Liam was now showing signs of being sick. The virus was all over the news, people would go in and get worse in a matter of hours. I didn't want outside family to contract it, especially my mother. I know it's stupid, but I told myself I would just have to get better and that was that. My husband was in Texas for work. He'd been there for days and would come back that night, maybe. The recession had made his office nervous and he told me I'd just have to take care of everything myself.

By evening I had already spent the whole day with a hot water bottle against my chest, but the cold inside wouldn't go away. I couldn't talk without coughing, I couldn't do anything without coughing. My chest felt like it had one inch left to take air, and that was about it. I was scared. I paced the kitchen and tried not to cry, but I felt like it, because I was so worried that I would die and I didn't want to die. I love my kids so much and I just wanted to be strong and take care of them. At the same time, I longed for someone to take care of me. I wanted to lay down in bed and know that someone else would take the weight off my shoulders for once in my life.

Around nine o'clock I made a frantic call to my mother. I told her my husband was almost home and the second he walked in that door I was going to drive myself to the hospital. She said she would be up there to watch the kids if he didn't come home and I agreed that would be okay. By nine-thirty he pulled up in the drive and I had my things packed. He looked shocked when I told him what had been happening that whole week and that I was going to the hospital.

It was late October, cold, dark. Silent. I drove to the hospital in a weird mental state. I thought about my life so far and what it was that I wanted for my future. I thought about my book and how I wanted to be published. I thought about my kids and how they needed me to be healthy and strong.

The hospital staff requested I slip on a face mask after I told them I had the flu, then led me to a room for a check-up. X-rays showed I was in the early stages of Pneumonia but that I should be just fine. They didn't test to see if I had the actual Swine Flu—it was pretty much confirmed by my condition. I was so tired, and so relieved to have other people taking care of me, that I just lay there on that hospital bed and slept until they told me it was time to go. They gave me an inhaler, some oxycodin and a prescription for some very strong antibiotics. On the way back home I saw a black 1972 SS Camaro just like I had written in my book. Something in me sparkled back to life and I hit the gas a little and followed it down the road a bit. It was a nice gift from the universe.

I kissed my beautiful children when I got home and crawled in bed and let the drugs do their job. Of course, I had to pay for it, because I threw up all week-end after that, but oh well. We all got better and celebrated Halloween perhaps with a little less energy and body weight than the rest of the world, but we were alive, and for that I am very grateful.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Writing on Intuition

I wrote about The Firebird the other day, one of my short stories that I have out on submission. It will always be one my favorites due to the process, which for me was filled with magic. I often write using intuition—kind of a 'write now, think later' method. It comes from all my years of songwriting. When I wrote lyrics, I'd often have the music first with a feel of what kind of words I'd want with each line of music. There were certain vowels I wanted here or there; if they hadn't come yet, I'd hole myself up in a room with a candle and a cup of hot tea and pace, play guitar, pace, play guitar until the words materialized. I'd call on angels to help if I was in a bad spot.

With fiction I pretty much employ the same method, though there is no music to follow, it's based on an idea. My sentences are structured much like song lyrics—I tend to alternate short to long to keep a good flow just as I would in music.

Intuition is the by-product of me letting go and just allowing the story to flow to the end. I'm not aware of any themes; nothing is forced. It wasn't until the end that I noticed I had themes: Loretta's weight vs the lightness of a bird in flight. The red of the flower vs the cardinal she sees in the park. The drink she chooses is Old Crow—I mean, I didn't even think about that one, it just happened. Oh! The song on the jukebox is a Peggy Lee song, you can guess which one! Didn't mean to do that either. It's strange to look back and see that these things happened, you know? I can't even take credit for them, because I was just stringing words, one after the other until the story had been told. Intuition is humbling and makes me feel blessed.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Be sure to . . . drink . . . your . . . Ovaltine. Ovaltine?! It's a crummy commercial!

I'll add something to the radio show conversation. I'm fairly well versed in American shows, but not so much British. If you want to hear some good Yankee material then follow this link and download the old fashioned radio widget—if you have a Mac. If you have a PC you can still listen but you can't have the cool widget. Sorry.


My favorite show is The Jack Benny Show. He and Rochester were so funny together! And I love Fibber McGee and Molly. The link I gave has tons of mystery programs and old commercials as well, so give it a try. Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Chills and Thrills

Oooooh, it turned cold in Kansas over the weekend. But the sun is shining and temps are projected to go back up sometime in the week, so no worries.

I had another agent request the book, so I proofed the manuscript and sent it off this morning. That's all I'm going to say about that . . .

As for short stories, I have one out called The Firebird. It's about a woman who's trying to make her life perfect, but she has a husband that dislikes her new efforts and he ruins her beautiful picture of the red Heliconia Stricta that she took for photography class. He's also cheating on her, so when she sees the ruined picture she sort of snaps and retreats back into her last imperfection: liquor. Her father died of alcoholism and she's scared of being like him, but can't help it when "these type of desperations hit the hardest." Anyway, I hope it gets published because I really like the character Loretta Raven. She has her flaws, but she is vulnerable in the best way. I love the guy she meets at the bar—Jeremiah Tate. He has a wicked Fu Manchu. Anyway, I'm sure the story isn't perfect, but it was fun to write!

How has Monday been for you?


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Kind of Love

And here's a perfect song for today. The Harptones singing, A Sunday Kind of Love.

Breathe

I can't say that I've ever seen a ghost, but I have experienced what some people call waking dreams and what others call visits from the shadow people. I would wake up, and know that I was awake, but there was no ability to breathe or move my arms; talk or scream. It always felt like someone was there in the room with me, keeping me paralyzed. A feeling of dread would build, and it was if I could hear my own blood rushing inside my ears. Everything would come to a huge climax of fear and then it would stop and I could move and breathe.

One night I woke up fine, but an old music box which I hadn't touched for years just started playing by itself. Again, I saw nothing, but had the feeling of something in the room.

Maybe a week later I had another wake dream, the worst one yet. I was paralyzed, suffocating, stuck in the climax of horrible fear—I just knew something was trying to get to me and it was a very, very evil presence. So, I started to pray. I prayed hard over and over: Hail Mary and Our Father over and over. It stopped and I was sort of clicked out of the paralyzation; the rushing noise ended; the dread left. Make of it what you will, but that was the end of that ordeal for me. I'm not a huge church person and I don't particularly care for organized religion, although I do respect it. I think everyone is at a different spiritual level on this earth and each religion can offer a person what they need at certain times of their life and growth. But there's definitely something out there, and for me yes I do believe it was Jesus, but it could have been Buddha or Moses or Venus or The Great Spirit in the Sky—for anyone else. What amazes me is how fast he showed up. We always think it's unbelievable that God could hear all of our thoughts, when there are so many of us on this earth. But he did. He was the one waiting for me.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love

I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about these kids that have been murdered and who have killed themselves recently due to their sexual orientation. It's really sad, isn't it? I think us humans forget sometimes that our mission on earth is to love. It's really very simple: you just don't hate. When you feel yourself hating someone, you stop and you say, "This is wrong," and you love them instead. You love them by letting them be free, by letting them walk down the street with no insults and no shoves, you love them by trying to accept that their difference is something good, not bad, something beautiful because if they are happy it must be beautiful. We seem to be unable to truly get the concept of love. It can't be pooled into stocks, or eaten, or shot, or set on fire. It's invisible and it's very, very tender. Treat it like a plant and help it to grow. Mission completed.

Do you believe?

Fifty-Five years ago on November 22, 1963, president John Fitzgerald Kennedy rode alongside his wife Jackie in a motorcade through the crowd...