Flowers and Sunshine

I used to wonder why I always want to write when I’m angry.  Why do those things that twist around like metal from a ravaged junkyard find a way of spilling out of the fingertips?  What is it about the angst, anxiety, worry, and fret that makes creative juices leave the safety of simmer and start to boil?

I used to think maybe it was romance…writer’s tend to be the worst kinds of romantics.  The chicken or the egg theory applies here.  Did our love of writing make us romantic, or did our romanticism make us write?  For the kind of writers that have to write…that need it to cure the ulcer that comes from too much pleasure or pain–they are the latter.  Romanticism came first.  Then, we found a way to express it.  We found a way to find the words that evade us when trying to strum our vocal chords at once.  These rare feelings come at times when it’s hard to walk and chew gum at the same time. As eloquent of speakers as we may be, willing the throat is one request too many.  We write.

The hardest emotions that roll around deep, enjoying the bowels of the mind, and relishing in the moments when the tedious tight rope shakes–those are the one that tickle the keyboard.

I’m pissed.  That sounds simple, but it’s the right word.  I’m pissed off to the uttermost.  It’s not so much important what it is about, than it is I have to say it. I have to convey it, unleash it.  I want the kinesthetic feeling, exercising those fine motor skills, that makes me feel every ounce of it.  Then maybe I can shower that feeling away–but for one splendid moment it robs from me all of my innovation, all of my passion, and all of my words.  Maybe it robs me of nothing.  Maybe that’s why anger makes for the best writing,  The verve it creates, the synergy with the written language lets something ugly become beautiful for a moment.  Maybe this isn’t my dark side, but the optimist in me, forcing shit into art.  Perhaps I’m giving some dead thing a pulse again…the part of me that departed while I was so pissed off.  I feel just a little more flowers and sunshine already.

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The Camelback Scar

It was hot…very hot.  Maybe if Spring had arrived on time in North Carolina instead of playing hooky until mid-April, I would have been more prepared for the Arizona heat.  However, late-March was still being pretty cruel to the southern states.  A sixty-degree day was looking pretty sexy.

The day we decided to climb Camelback Mountain, the giant pile of rocks that pops out of nowhere upon entering Scottsdale, the sun rose laughing at us.  It knew our destinies, even if we didn’t.  I assumed it would be fine…after all, I’m from the land of humidity.  I’d take the dry heat and leave it crying like a little girl when I was through.  I’d been going to the Pure Barre Studio for two months now, and was feeling pretty cocky about my lower body strength too.  I threw on some yoga pants, a hat, and a smile.  I was going to go walk the little trail, with my little smart water in hand and have a dandy day.  I was already thinking ahead to what kind of beer I’d grab afterwards.  A good day loomed.

My husband and I had ventured out west to visit a friend and her husband while he was in Spring Training.  My friend, Susan, my husband, Kimsey, and I decided to hike one day instead of go to the game.  We started trotting up the ankle of Camelback, swinging our iPhones, chatting about where we’d be eating dinner later, already salivating over the famed butter cake. 

It got a little steeper, and we panted a little bit, as expected.  The conversation started trailing, and we were feeling a little proud we were now conquering the tourist attraction, breaking our tiny sweats.  We got to the first overlook, patted ourselves on the back, and took our first rounds of pictures.  Honestly, I thought our mini journey was almost over.  Then I look over and see Susan, perusing a sign with her eyes widening underneath her aviators.

“What?”  I mosey over.

“Holy shit,” she scoffs pointing to our only warning.

I then reviewed the sign informing me that about 75 people per year get rescued off the mountain, that it only gets harder from here, and that I should be carrying with me about ten safety items I did not have.  I glanced down at my sports bra that supported my phone more than anything and looked over at my husband who held the bottle of water the three of us were sharing.  I then took inventory of the little chart that showed how steep things would get.  It looked like a line graph of Mark Cuban’s income stream.

“Umm-Can we do this?” I asked wondering if we were insane.

Somehow we decide we can, and while putting the rising temperature out of our heads, begin the real journey. The first truly scary stretch we came to went practically straight up and touted a slick metal hand rail for us to hoist ourselves with.  I didn’t know if I could or would do this.  I was no experienced hiker.  Frankly, I was afraid.  Somehow, at the same time, I was more afraid of turning around and starting back down that mountain like so many others were.  So, I just started doing it. My hands were sweaty and at one point I thought I would fall backward and boosted myself off another man’s shoe while my husband pulled me up by the arm.  After that, I got a newfound strength.  I just wasn’t going to be afraid.

I climbed several more segments of uphill formations, surveying which rocks to grab, and deciding whether to go upright or on hands and knees. I drifted from right to left, deciding which side would accept me.  I coughed sand out of my lungs and embraced the sharp stones that attempted to leave their marks on my shins.  I no longer thought of the summit, or why I’d come in the first place.  I just thought of the moment, where I was, where to put my foot, and the strange pleasure it gave me the harder it was.  I was disappointed and exhilarated at once each time the trek worsened.   I wanted it to be hard.  I wanted to get marred.  I wanted to sweat.  I wanted to raise hell right back at the sun, and I wanted it to hurt.  I was climbing of the hump of the camel’s unforgiving back now.

This attitude wasn’t like me.  I’m not the girl who camps in the wilderness, or jumps into dark water.  I don’t climb rocks or go on solo kayaking trips.  I don’t do these things.  However, now that I was, I hoped it was tough.  I wanted to wrestle it to the ground, and know it was something real, and that not everyone could do it.

After nearly two hours of the grueling voyage I’d made it to the top.  I bent over, put my hands on the knees, just panting.  When I could breathe again, I remembered I had a prize waiting, and stood up to enjoy the view that would be my reward.  It was an amazing view.  It was a view of hustle an bustle, people hugging, taking pictures.  People chugging out of their canteens. People scurrying.  People who were alive.

The scenery was to die for.  I could see for forever…rock formations, clouds, never-ending skies, but that didn’t do it for me.  I saw people reaching goals, accomplishing something. I saw people proving they could do something tough, and extraordinary. I saw people refusing to quit.  I saw Susan jumping up and down, and my husband conquering his fear of heights.  I saw success.

I’m not a great outdoorsman.  I probably won’t set my sights on Everest.  What I am though, is a go-getter.  I’m a writer who had another experience that made her remember she CAN.  I’m not staring at the summit of the writing world, but I’m not at the bottom either.  I’m somewhere in the middle, in the momentum, in the rocks of Camelback guessing which rocks are the sturdy ones, and I’m going to keep on.  It leads somewhere…I know.  I’ve been to a different form of that place…same kind of battle.  The very same, and I slayed that camel. 

I have a little wound left on my right ankle where a rock scraped me.  It’s a scar less than an inch long.  People laugh when I show them my Camelback injury.  I love it though, because it’s a part of Camelback I carry around.  It’s my souvenir…that it was hard, it hurt a little, and that it was worth it. I realized I want to be a collector of scars, more than anything.  And being a writer, that’s a good thing to be ok with…I guess that goes for really wanting anything.  I hope everyone goes and gets themselves a Camelback kind of scar.

     

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Uphill battle!

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Wow

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Me in the mountainside:)

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We made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking About My Generation

It’s no secret at all that I like to write period pieces.  I’ll dabble a bit in the high 1800s, but it’s the twentieth century I like to tap dance all over.  The dash between 1900 and 2000 fascinates me, and I never thought about why until last night when I had one of my famous random thoughts.

I’ve been watching Cold Case reruns religiously for about a month now.  Each show focuses on a crime that’s gone cold, and they touch on about every decade from the last century.  I find it scintillating.  I’ve gotten to watch a timeline of how these decades developed and eras came to be…and it isn’t just a collection of random fads.  There’s something scientific behind poodle skirts, or big hair, or peace signs, or air Jordans.

  Each era is not only distinct because of the clothes worn or music played…those things are just a product of mindsets.  They reflect what human beings were ready for at the time.  They reflect new ideas being formed into things we listen to or put on our body.  A war, an athlete, or a beverage could have sparked it…it could have been anything that caused a reaction. A lot of times it was many things, and revolutions started without people knowing they were starting them.  However, they could not be rushed.

Time came about organically, and I’ve realized is just an illustration of a growing human being.  Seeing as how I always write character-driven pieces, with the era as much as character as people, I’ve had a “eureka” kind of moment.  We are the times…I just focus on a different part of the human psyche depending on which era I’m engrossed in.  I’m just now realizing why. Different decades represent newness, naivety, rebellion, discovery, and rebirth.  We go through all of these emotions in our lifetimes, but we tend to live in an age focused on one of them, and the crazy part is we really have no way of knowing which until we’re just a memory. 

Almost everyone could have been considered liberal or conservative at what time or another considering what the mind and body was ready for in relation to what experience was available at the time.  Society grew as naturally as it could, and looking back, resembled two teenagers groping around at each other in the dark (I also often write about adolescence…go figure).  The reason?  We are always that person we were when we asked the question “why” for the first time, discovering our egos.  We are always in the age of enlightenment or confusion.  One man’s light is another’s dark.  That’s why there is a liberal out there for every conservative, and a no for every yes.  We aren’t all necessarily on the same path, but we’re on the same timeline.  We’re on the earth when we’re on the earth.  We’re discovering the same things from different views and trying to figure out how to do it together in a common time…and just like that, a culture is born.  It has a heartbeat, a personality, and a tone, that in later years will define it.   People will sing about it, and write about it, and draw about it for years to come.  A few of us have that stir to document it, and I thank God I’m one of them. 

By writing what I write, I’m reflecting on what’s happened, and paving the way, for myself at least, for what’s to come.  When I reflect upon it, when I am confused, and when I’m flailing…that’s when I’m writing about today.  Maybe there are other writers out there doing the same, and we will one day be the anthems of our own generations.  However, there’s no way to know that yet.  That’s for someone after my time to look back on and unveil.  It’s delicious to me to think what age is it?  The one I don’t even know I’m a part of…

The End of a Mid-Winter Night’s Dream

The holidays are a whirlwind.  I can’t decide if I forget who I really am, or find who I really am during that period of time.  It’s a foggy place.  In one sense, I never feel more like myself from that slumber from the real world that occurs every December.  I get to just be Lorna Caye, around only my closest friends and family.  I go back to the basics, and just become the girl I was growing up.  I get to live in some sort of yester-year.

On the other hand, I feel like I lose something over the holidays.  Things around me vanish, and though I get a break from the grind, I don’t feel quite normal.  It’s almost like going into another place, like Shakespeare takes his characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where everything is dancing in a twilight zone.  Is it the past, the present?  The holidays are a little bit surreal, by making me think of people I never think about, or by going to places I never go.  It brings the dead back to life, and rehashes fires burned out long ago.  However, this fantasy world we fall into, decorated in tinsel, and smelling of cinnamon and sausage balls, might be our parallel universe where we can get some peace for a moment.  A strange, mostly happy peace.

We can’t stay there, though.  In the long run, I don’t think we’d even want to.  It’s the place that is so comfortable we don’t hunger, and here on Earth, while we still wear skin for dress, hunger is something we like.  Eleven months out of the year we like to search and scramble for the things that make us who we cannot help but be.  This month that occurs, that is the most wonderful time of the year, leaves behind a bit of flailing.  What was that world we were a part of prior to Thanksgiving?

I think I returned to Lornaland, meaning the one I dance in from January to November sometime yesterday morning.  I suddenly shook the snow out of my eyelashes, and stood up out of my makeshift bed of holly.  My mind went to my blog again, thinking of all the things I needed to share with the world.  I was grumbling again from somewhere inside.  Over the holidays, I hate to admit, the writer in me shut up.  It packed up it’s fountain pen and watched me from afar while I went to the land of colored ribbon, and candy canes.

I started feeling myself come back yesterday morning when I heard the song, “Wicked Games,” by Chris Isaaks.  That song always makes me breathe in phantom coconut oil, and transports me to a beach where people dance half-naked in the nearby crowded streets.  I start sweating immediately, and go Scarlet O’Hara dramatic.  I throw myself on my couch, searching the t.v. for something that can bring me closer to my fantasy.  I start praying to God the movie Cocktail is on somewhere.

The writer re-enters with a raised eyebrow, “there you are, you desperate thing…desperate for the perfect atmosphere, the perfect story.” .

“Don’t patronize me,”  I reply, pretending to sip a rum-runner that’s actually a bottled water with orange Mio added in.

“I have some new stuff for you about that Jenna Lee Ravenel character you thought up a month ago.  You’re gonna love it.  She’s more sultry than ever,”  the writer teases.

“Ok, let’s rock n’ roll,”  I reply, “I’m back.”

As Shakespeare says in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “though she be but little, she is fierce”.  With a pen, that I am.

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“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.”

I Have Daydream…

A few minutes ago I had this strange vision of myself walking around outside dropping keys everywhere.  I don’t know where it came from; it was just one of the random thoughts I have.  These keys were not the boring kind like the ones that open our houses or car doors.  They were lovely, silver and gold skeleton keys.  They were characters really, and there was a certain fanciful quality about them.

I usually don’t have ideas, especially writing ideas, of a supernatural or artistic nature.  I like people, and character-driven studies.  I like to explore people’s tendencies, processes, and natures by manifesting different archetypes through the voices of strong fictitious personalities.  I like writing reality in imagined worlds.  Needless to say, this whimsical key-dropping scenario got some untapped creative juices flowing.  Some corner of my mind I usually don’t hear from started jumping up and down.  Some dormant neurons obviously got bored today.

I decided to follow this process into a forest reminiscent of the forest in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream.  After I dropped the antiquated keys I noticed people started to pick them up.  I climbed a tree and watched them.  They all suddenly developed dialogue bubbles over their heads like ones we would see in a comic strip .  I could see all of their imaginations take control of their minds.  They wanted the keys.  The possibilities of what they could open were delicious.  Ultimately, I knew the keys led nowhere, but that joy they rendered to these wanderers was everywhere.  They were keys that meant possibility, hope, wonder, and creativity.  How I would love to be able to gift that as a writer.

I suddenly picked up a key myself, and unlocked a regal door.  It was like something I had seen at The Biltmore Estate.  I was in a writing room, something I’ve always wanted in my home.  A long time ago I told my husband I wanted one in my dream house.  It would be a quirky room, like if the Elizabethan era butted heads with modern southern-chic decorum.  It would have a high ceiling and loft inside, accessible by a spiral stair case.  It will be the ideal locale for me to get comfy and give my word processing software a workout..oh…and with whimsical curtains, the style of the key…those are a requirement, perhaps with a breeze blowing through.  Delicious.

My key opens my happy, free place, which is the writing realm.  I realized I delight in the idea that others have this place. Perhaps my novel will be a place like this for someone one day.  Regardless of what it is though, I want people to have that fantasy place.  I dreamt it while wide awake today.  Lucid dreams are awesome…so much to do with them because they are clear.

The point of all this is two things…I learned a little about my creative boundaries, which are more vast than I thought they were; and I learned everyone deserves a place to be free.  Everyone needs their own brand of a “writing realm.”  That is what my coherent slumber told me today…I think I loved this brief journey my mind allowed today…my advice to others is to have your own.  Close your eyes, pick up that key and go somewhere.  Go to the realm the key opens in the mind. Imagine and create.