You may have noticed there haven’t been too many articles promoting my writing, interviews, and other creative projects. Sadly, I think the illness that’s kept me inside has robbed me of a good deal of inspiration. There are so many blank pages staring back at me. 🙁

Fortunately, I think I went and broke the cycle by doing a guest blog spot on the lovely Mysti Parker’s blog, where she hosted a writing challenge that featured different authors and bloggers doing personal essays on every letter, A-Z. I’ve been fortunate to cross Mysti’s path a few times, as she is not only an accomplished author I met via Goodreads, but a mentor over at Writer’s Village University. I even won a little contest on her blog last year, writing on a flash fiction prompt. She has a wonderful community of friends and writers out there, and I highly recommend checking her out. 🙂

My letter was “Y”, and I chose to write an essay on youth, and growing older. It is an odd subject for someone my age to tackle, I know. Such reflections are usually done by writers in their 50’s and 60’s. I thought it might be interesting to approach the idea of lost youth from the perspective of someone who is suddenly what the world would consider “an adult”, and doesn’t always feel equipped to handle such a responsibility.

I’d love if you’d read the essay here!

Please show us both some love with likes, comments, sharing, and all that jazz….:)

And, as a bonus, I’m sharing a poem I wrote almost as a joke a few months ago. It’s “Ode To The Trolls”, and designed to teach children (or people of any age) to deal with bullying and being made to feel “less than”. It is both real and satirical (you know, rather like Stephen Colbert), so it’s best read to a Dr. Seuss sing-song rhythm, either aloud or in your head. Enjoy! 😉


“Ode To The Trolls”

“There’s a problem today
That makes everyone mad
Angry and quiet,
Disgusted and sad.
You’ll notice one day
People don’t often agree
And being disrespectful to others
Is something you’ll see.
I don’t recommend it,
You shouldn’t really try it,
But you don’t have to listen
And you don’t have to keep quiet.
You may be a child, an adult
Or a teen
But at some point and some time
You’ll meet someone who’s mean.
She may think she’s funny,
He may be aggressive
But bullies are awful
Really, truly offensive.
On the playground, at work,
Or an Internet troll,
Bullies don’t fit
One particular role.
When one makes the decision
To come after you
You’ll wonder what you did wrong
And what you should do.
The truth is it’s nothing,
You’re perfectly fine
(Though we all do embarrassing things
From time to time.)
And though it may hurt you,
This moment will pass.
Just handle yourself with grace
And with class.
When it comes to people,
It’s easy to see
There is really and truly
Not a right way to be.
When people are angry
And cause a commotion
It’s them and not you
That create this emotion.
People aren’t always good
And they aren’t always bad,
But in the heart of a bully
You’ll often see someone sad.
There isn’t one way to be
That is never a crime;
We’re all going to get picked on
From time to time.
Maybe you’re really smart
Super-nice, extra-pretty
Or always willing to help
Others out in a hurry.
Maybe you have special talents
Are the head of your class,
Have lots of friends,
Or can kick a ball down the grass.
Maybe you’re that one person
That others can find
When they’re sad or they’re scared
Because you’re humble and kind.
Maybe you don’t even know who you are,
What is real, what is true,
But lurking inside
Is something special, creative, and new.
And when people can see it
They become really jealous,
Trying to erase all the great,
Wonderful things people tell us.
Maybe you’re black, and
Maybe you’re white;
Maybe you’re Muslim
Or Israelite.
Maybe you’ve made mistakes
Or you’ve spoken too loud,
Or you’ve done something silly
In front of a crowd.
You might feel too short,
Or you might feel too tall;
Or you might feel like no one
Ever sees you at all.
Maybe your hair is curly
Or red like a fire,
Or you’re bad at sports
But great in the choir.
You might be a guy
Who knows how to dance;
You might be a tomboy
Who always wears pants.
Maybe you’re Asian
And still bad at math,
Or you live with two moms,
Or you live with two dads.
Whoever you are, there’s a stereotype
Of who you should be
And what you should like.
But girls can play football
And boys can like pink.
You must learn to ignore
Those who speak and don’t think.
People may gossip or call you names
Bullies play mischievous,
Devious games.
It’s not your fault,
It’s not your decision.
You don’t deserve all the
Scorn and derision.
You may think it’s you
That you’re stupid, or weird
When the truth is we all have
Our doubts and our fears.
There isn’t one person,
No matter how strong
Who doesn’t look in the mirror
And find something wrong.
When people are bullies,
When people are mean,
They don’t like themselves
And so, make a scene.
People are perfect
In all shapes and all sizes
From all races and countries
Friends are remarkable prizes.
They make your life better,
They make it seem fair
That you are who you are,
That you are here and not there.
But no matter how special you are
Helpful, modest or nice,
Someone will say something mean
Without thinking twice.
Words can hurt deeply,
But whatever they say
Nobody else has the power
To ruin your day.
Whatever happens, and
Whatever you do
You must never, not ever
Once stop being you.
Maybe you’re skinny,
And maybe you’re fat;
Maybe you like dogs
Better than cats.
Being yourself is
To live unrepentant
And having opinions
Is what makes you authentic.
But whatever you say,
And whatever is real
Leads people to judge
The way that you feel.
They’ll tell you you’re wrong
That you should keep quiet
And you may be utterly
Tempted to try it.
When you are yourself,
You’re much criticised;
Supported and loved,
But also despised.
I’ve lived and I’ve learned,
And this much is true:
“Just be yourself”
Isn’t easy to do.
Deep down you must know
There’s no reason for shame,
But you will hear judgment
And you will hear blame.
Whoever you are
And whatever you do,
Somebody, somewhere,
Doesn’t like you.
So, why should you care?
Really, what does it matter?
There will always be people
Who will make your heart shatter.
You take a deep breath,
You count to ten-
Then you put the pieces together
All over again.
Kindness and love
Are still everywhere
But the courage to share them
With others is rare.
People today, they
All want to fit in,
As if being different
Is the world’s biggest sin.
Different is pretty,
Expressive, unique;
It may make someone’s heart
Skip a beat.
People may tell you
Your thinking is wrong,
But they are narrow-minded and scared
Because you are strong.
You don’t have to tell me,
I really do understand
Fitting in with the world
Should be part of the plan.
Going along with the crowd
Makes you feel protected,
Accepted and liked
Instead of rejected.
But those who are different
Help the world change;
Some of the best people ever
Were remarkably strange!
You might be an actor, inventor,
Or poet
You might fight injustice
Love others, and show it.
You might make new music,
Find a cure for disease,
Travel the world,
Rescue kittens from trees.
You might be a pilot,
The first girl aboard submarines,
Or help save the world
By keeping it green.
Or, maybe, one day,
You’ll be a mom or a dad
And deep in your heart
You’ll be awfully glad
That although people hurt you
Or mocked you with glee
You had the courage to say
“I am me!”
Because what makes you so different
Is what makes this all true:
There’s nobody better
Than irreplaceable you. “

~ February 28th, 2014

Thank you to everyone who donated to Ophelia’s Wayward Muse, and to everyone who gave me advice about the publication process! My goal was to raise $600 towards publication of my poetry compilation, and ended up raising $625, so it means a lot to me that my friends believed in this project, and in helping me cross an important goal off of my bucket list. :)

I’ll now be spending the next few weeks working on editing, typesetting, cover design, and making sure that the finished project is something to which I am thrilled to lend my name. I anticipate that publication of the book will be in completed in November, and I’ll also be releasing an e-book format, and listing the book for sale on Amazon.

Of course, we’ll be throwing a huge event in honour of this achievement, because any reason is a good reason to get together with friends and celebrate life, right? It may not be the world’s biggest achievement, but for someone who has spent a lifetime writing poetry and hiding it under her bed in hopes nobody would ever read it, it’s a monumental step. Self-confidence and not diminishing dreams, however small, are an essential part of happiness.

I have never been emotionally fearless enough to put myself out there, because the inevitable criticism and judgment and “You suck” is always hard to take. Acting is a little different; it isn’t *you* who is being judged, so much as a production, a director, a character you’ve been hired to play. Writing, especially the kind of creative stuff I put out there, is intensely personal.

Earlier in the year, I decided that’s exactly *why* I had to start putting myself and my work out there. I have a voice, and a story to tell, which makes me just like every other human being on this earth. Yet, most choose not to tell their stories and not to share their voice with the world, because insecurity and criticism and fear of rejection are really strong demons.

This year, I decided it was time to prove I was stronger.

Some supportive friends have told me this may just be an important and transformative step in the journey of my life, one that admittedly doesn’t have a map. I’m not nearly that ambitious, but it touches me to be reminded that people believe in me. Some people believe in me a lot more than they ought to, and give me more credit than I deserve (I often pretend otherwise, but deep down, I’m a pretty humble person). I think that has been the best part of this process, being reminded I have a support system out there, and that’s a pretty remarkable gift. I may have left New York a long time ago, but a lot of the New York mentality has remained with me: I have the gift of mistakenly feeling I am alone and isolated, even in a crowd of people. I tend to be a bit distrustful, to think the worst of people, especially when it comes to what they think of me.

I woke up really happy this morning, after having a dream in which I was perfectly content and happy. It was an unrealistic dream; in real life, the things that made me happy would never work out that way, but it was a reflection of my idealistic self peeking through.

Being reminded that sometimes, people care about you and believe in you is important, for everyone.

So, a huge thank you to everyone who reached out to me to show support, encouragement, friendship, and to remind me that my friendship has touched them in a positive way. All of you have touched me, as well, or there’d be no inspiration behind this book in the first place. :)

Stay tuned for the occasional update on how Ophelia is progressing. :) Now, time for possibly the least exciting weekend ever. *laughs* (What happened to those days when I was not ill, and lived in a walkable part of town, and downtime was a rarity? I’m not as young as I used to be, but I kind of miss that.)

I don’t have much of interest to write about these days, and I blame reality TV. In particular, the excitement of Big Brother premiering on Thursday, and managing to get me sucked into the drama much more quickly than usual. Despite the absence of Rachel Reilly, I’m entertained to see another of my all-time favourite players, Janelle Pierzina, return as one of the “mentors” (who are essentially experienced team captains.) The other “mentors” wouldn’t have been my first choices: Britney from Season 12, who makes short people look annoying and mean; Mike “Boogie” from Season 2, who seems to have no problem with the fact that everyone in the house knows him as “that douchebag guy who isn’t Dr. Will”; and Dan, the religious football coach who won season 10, but is so unmemorable that I had to look him up to remember who he was, and I still don’t recall a single thing about his season.

Of course, all the “mentors” they’ve picked are people who seem to have settled down and started lives out of the spotlight of reality TV, are married, have kids, or both. This makes for pretty limited drama in the house, since there are 4 people who are married, two who are gay (but of the opposite sex), and two who barely seem old enough to hold hands in the hammock. I think the producers really wanted no “showmances” this season.

As I remarked to The Guy I Am Currently Dating (yes, he watches some reality TV, too…one of the few entertainment-related things we have in common.), it would have been a more interesting choice to put some of the more difficult/controversial characters on the show as “mentors”, and watch the general instability erupt. I wonder why, instead, they took in in the other direction.They seem to have created an environment that seems almost too peaceful and lacking in drama and impending emotional meltdowns.

They’ve also completely given up on the idea of casting random, average people unaffiliated with the world of reality TV, as one of the new contestants is an L.A. blonde who’s made appearances on The Girls Next Door, and the related Playboy reality TV spinoffs, and another is the brother of Russell Hantz from Survivor. Apparently, he intended to keep this a secret, but it’s really not a smart move when you look exactly like a guy who’s been infamous for being a huge asshole on TV for three years, and come from the same state. It’s impossible when you have returning CBS reality show members who have been around long enough to know Russell Hantz. At this point, CBS needs to give that family their own show. It can’t be any worse than the Kardashians, and well, plenty of people are still watching that.

Despite the fact that Big Brother just isn’t quite what it used to be, it still has a way of sucking you into their all-absorbing lives (which, in reality, are not more interesting than whatever you’re doing at that moment), and making you watch the late night feed on Showtime just because you wonder what’s happening. Usually, the answer is nothing, but it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of people with insomnia and a voyeuristic need for drama, and we’re still going to stay up and watch.

One of the interesting things about the Showtime After Dark version of Big Brother is you get to see endless promos for other Showtime shows. Most of them, I’m never going to watch, like Dexter and The Real L Word, but I’m a Weeds fan, and don’t mind being reminded to watch it on Sundays. Also, there’s a new show premiering called “Polyamory: Married And Dating”. While I haven’t seen the show yet, and it only seems to be focused on married couples pursuing lifestyles involving non-monogamy, I kind of applaud them for showing the various types of relationships out there, and how they do and do not work. One storyline focuses on a triad (a married couple with a shared partner), another on a couple that is in an open marriage (but each has separate partners), another on a couple with a guy who is exerting pressure on his spouse to share partners, and a group that lives together in Big Love commune style, with everyone forming a giant extended family.

(Note:This t-shirt is pretty funny. And, yes, you can buy it, if you are so inclined. It’s on sale here.)

Unfortunately, Showtime will probably turn the show into a largely sex-and-drama fueled reality show (much like The Real L Word has done for lesbians) to get viewers, rather than showing examples of the positive and negative aspects of polyamory, and bring awareness of all types of non-monogamous partnerships in the process, but it’s an interesting idea.

I’m pretty convinced that Showtime’s master plan is to turn any alternative lifestyle choice into either a reality show or a black comedy, one taboo subject at a time. Serial killers, drug dealers, weird folks from California, the guy who played Joey on “Friends”, single lesbians, poly couples, and “Big Brother” make for a pretty interesting line-up, which is why I ditched HBO, but kept Showtime! *laughs*

Work has had a tremendous slowdown, and while I should be using the time to be happy about chilling out a little more and having time to work on my own creative projects, I’ve found myself feeling kind of tired and a little bummed. I don’t know if it’s lack of direction and having a concrete task on which to focus each day—I know there are plenty of things, both productive and relaxing, to do with my free time—or it’s just me feeling a little worn out physically. (This is my first summer following the scary and disastrous heatstroke and associated problems of last summer, and it hasn’t been the easiest. Some days are great, and others very challenging. Migraine, vertigo, and heat intolerance seem to be the main issues with which I still struggle.) It could also be that Mercury retrograde is back today, and that always wants to throw everything in life…especially my sense of emotional stability and “life is fun/everything’s going to be OK” out of whack.

On the up side, I’m almost 1/6th of the way towards reaching my goal towards funding my very first book project, Ophelia’s Wayward Muse. I only have 25 days left and it seems like kind of a long way to go, so if you’re the kind of friend who likes me enough to buy me a drink when we get together, consider donating to this project instead! :) You can make a donation of any shape and size (well, maybe not octagonal) through my project’s Kickstarter link. With all the people I know, there’s no way I shouldn’t be able to reach my goal! ;) Thank you to the friends and readers that have supported me thus far..you guys are awesome!!:)

It seems like the weekend has very much gotten away from me…but it’s Sunday, which means time for relaxation and reality television!! I wish weekends were, in fact, just a little longer…*laughs*

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

Although today was not the best of days, mostly because health-related issues were the worst they’d been in some time, probably due to the weather changing rather dramatically (from 83 and sunny to 53 and rainy in 48 hours), I did try to make the best of it. In addition to work and reality TV night, I also caught up on some phone calls, did some reading, completed some SwapBot stuff, and in a burst of inspiration, decided to write in my poetry journal.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was about 8 years old, and my first published piece was in a literary journal at the age of 10, so it goes without saying that it’s been a crucial part of my life for much of my life…and like many pieces of myself, one that got lost along the way.

Almost as if by a message from fate, I lost my beloved poetry journals, which I’d meticulously written in for years. Shortly thereafter, while indisposed and without internet, I lost my domain, which stored the only remaining copies of many of my poems and all my short stories. For the past year or two, I’ve been trying to piece together fragments of lost creativity, always excited when I come across something not taken away from me.

At one time, I had a significant amount of material for an amateur writer: three volumes of poetry (one each from 1993-1999, from 2000-2005, and from 2006 until the present), plus a collection of 12 short stories. In addition, I was publishing a daily and verbose blog, until deciding to take my feelings offline entirely due to some negative experiences in 2006.

I had kind of had to come to the acceptance of the fact that, through some bad luck and negative situations, much of my creative work from most of my adolescent and adult life was gone. It was a hard separation to deal with, and as a result, I largely stopped expressing myself, writing few poems and not resurrecting my blog until last year.

Today, the best thing in the world happened. I was able to rescue a huge portion of material from an earlier, more online-oriented phase in my life. Not everything was there, of course, but I was able to retrieve a number of webpages, all my short stories, and close to 100 poems. It isn’t that everything…or even anything…I retrieved is good, worthy of reading or compiling, but it’s mine and it is immensely special to me.

I feel like a piece of me has been restored. This autumn and winter, which I anticipate will largely be a period of convalescence and solitude, since I’ve been suffering with illness, and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, I intend to reconstruct my poetry journals, and also perhaps add some of my old pages to this site, just for nostalgia’s sake. At some point, I’d like to cross off one of my “bucket list” goals and actually publish my volume of poems, even just for those closest to me.

Some days, you feel like life has rewarded you with allowing you to unexpectedly unearth a jewel. This is one of those days, a day where I’ve regained a piece of myself that’s been gone for some time. I feel more complete, more inspired, and jubilant about this admittedly unimportant discovery.