Analyze This

Since my post yesterday, and after reading the link in its comments, I’ve been thinking of how to describe, for myself, what my mental status is like.

Depression seems so black and white.

Anxiety seems so alarming.

Let’s see…

I am the kind of person who is unable to hear or remember or absorb much of anything other than the negative comments made to me, about me, within me.  I will obsess for weeks over a grammar flub or a misplaced giggle during someone’s venting.  I can’t turn that off.

So, then I try to turn it out.  I focus negativity on those around me, people on the road, at the grocery store, my husband, my kids.  But that just makes me feel even more like a horrible person, and so I just retreat altogether.

Through reading, writing, drinking, watching TV or movies, sleeping, eating…  Anything that will blank out my own thoughts and feelings.  I’ve always had an elaborate fantasy life (and I don’t mean that I play RPGs or that I have a closet full of fetish gear).  I mean that since I was a little kid with imaginary friends, I’ve been taking day dreaming to an art form.

I think that’s what most writers do, and it makes so much sense to me that so many writers suffer depression as well.  It’s escapism. 

This doesn’t mean that I don’t find enjoyment in those things, because of course I do.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t put on my best Scroogy Face and interact when necessary, even doing a fairly passable job at socializing.

It’s just a shell.  An act.  Like I’m on autopilot.

Soon, I look around and realize it’s been a week since I’ve swept or vacuumed and my laundry remains unfolded in the basket and my kids are running rampant and my husband barely says a word to me.

I realize that I haven’t been there. 

That’s what I mean by dark, lost, shapeless.  Undefined. 

Unreal.

I know that this too shall pass, that there will be brighter days.

But in case yesterday’s post was less than clear, there ya go…

 

 

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If Scroogy wrote for Soaps

This month marks the epic 50th anniversary of General Hospital, a show near and dear to my heart.  As I watch the events of the 2013 Nurse’s Ball unfold, I can’t help but want to write my own versions of these story arcs.  (Note: I have not watched today’s episode yet, so…)

Ahem:

  1. After Duke’s and Anna’s sexually charged tango performance, we find that someone has again been impersonating one half of one of GH’s legendary supercouples.  Except this time?  It’s Filomena impersonating Anna!  She’s been alive and obsessed with Duke all these years and has come back to PC to claim him.
  2. Richard Simmons reveals the reason for his angry outburst…  He is Sam Morgan’s father!  He blames Lucy and her vampire delusions for the danger Sam & Danny had been in at the hands of Stephen Clay and vows his revenge on everyone who has hurt his daughter and grandson!  It is Richard Simmons who will finally take out Heather Webber after he is taken to the same psychiatric facility for the criminally insane.
  3. Frisco, heartbroken over Felicia’s rejection, turns to his old pal Rick Springfield for solace…  and finds true love!  He serenades him with a rewritten version of Lady of my Heart entitled Laddy of my Heart.  Springfield follows up with a new version of Jessie’s Girl called Maxie’s Dad.
  4. Shawn Butler, jealous that he was left out of the Magic Milo number, storms the stage and goes Full Monty.  The entire place buys a round of congratulatory drinks for Alexis.  She is named the new Mayor of Port Charles and her first order of business is to declare that Shawn must be shirtless 80% of the day.
  5. Sabrina and Patrick, having finally professed their love, are shocked when Britt reveals that her parents, Faison and Evil Dr Obrecht secretly created both Sabrina and Patrick in a genetic superlab, and their offspring will be born with the blood that is the only cure for HIV/AIDS.  They will then reveal that Robin is alive, but she is succumbing to the virus and the only way to save her is for Patrick and Sabrina to procreate.

I’ll be waiting for ABC’s call…

Haha.

When I grew up I wanted to write for TV

Well, there were a gazillion different dream jobs I had throughout childhood.  Fashion designer, baby doctor, prima ballerina…  But the one that stuck around the longest was that I wanted to write for television.

On a tour of a college (not the one I went to), I even asked an English department representative if there were classes in their curriculum that would support this dream.  He sort of poo-poo’d me and said that was a very small niche.  So, hearing that, and similar thoughts and opinions from other well-meaning adults (“That’s a very competitive field.” or “You’d be better off doing something you can actually make money doing.”), I gave up that goal.  I settled for becoming a teacher.  Meh.

I don’t think I was very well suited for teaching.  Although I adore children and I was able to be creative and all of that, I just wasn’t suited for the emotional toll it takes.  Big ups to the teachers out there.  Seriously.  It’s a tough job.

I still think I’m well suited for television scripting.  I really do.

Is 38 too old to make it?  Gah.  Probably.

Dammit.

Herman Melville and Me

Ankylosing Spondylitis:

Ankylosing spondylitis is a long-term disease that involves inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones, and the joints between the spine and pelvis.

These joints become swollen and inflamed. Over time, the affected spinal bones join together.

I was recently diagnosed with degenerative disk disease and arthritis in my hips and so I went crazy and googled up a storm.  This AS disease caught my eye and I became convinced I have this, as well as Multiple sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, and countless other disorders.  Don’t google your  symptoms, Peeps.

But shortly after that, I came across an article about famous writers and their various medical conditions.  Turns out Herman Melville had AS.  And I became convinced that this meant that I am also destined to be a great writer.  Because I am so humble like that.

Haha.  Go ahead and laugh.  I’ll allow it.

Later, Peeps.

Soundtrack of my life

I wasted a whole lot of time today (when I should’ve been writing my novel) making a playlist on Spotify.

I decided that I needed background music to inspire my creativity.  Yeah, that’s the ticket…

Since Courtney is in college for the first part of the novel, and it’s set back when I was ACTUALLY in college, I spent time researching all my favorite songs from the mid 90s.  I rediscovered my love of R.E.M. and Smashing Pumpkins.  I remembered that obsure-ish band I liked called Fuzzy.  I finally admitted that now that grunge is over, I kinda did like Salt n Pepa and TLC, and I’m okay with that.

It’s amazing how songs can take you back.  Just last week I heard November Rain on the radio and remembered hanging out with my college dorm-mates one rainy November afternoon listening to that song with the lights off and the window shade all the way up.  Just watching the rain fall in the Quad.  It really wasn’t as cheesy as it sounds, Peeps.  Okay, maybe it was.

Right now, I’m listening to 4 NonBlondes.  OMG, remember them?  Gah.  Love this song.  “And I try… Oh my God, do I try…”  I remember singing that with mock desperation with my friend Sarah over some, um, relaxation aids.  I wonder whatever happened to Sarah.

Those songs were on the soundtrack to my college experience.

Going way back to my childhood, well, those songs would be from Lionel Ritchie, The Bee Gees,  Barbara Streisand, James Taylor, The Beatles, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Elton John, Carly Simon.  My parent’s favorites, obviously.

My high school tracks would include tunes from New Kids On The Block and Vanilla Ice mixed with INXS and  Depeche Mode.

Post college would include lots of Beastie Boys, Dave Matthews Band and Foo Fighters and dance/club music like “Mr. Vain” or “No Diggity”.

We all have a soundtrack to our lives you know.  What is on yours, Peeps?

Now Read This

Today’s gratitude is for good books.  Well-written, spell-binding, page turners that remind me with every movement of my bookmark that I love to read.

There are three general kinds of books that I like to read.

Books that teach me.

I could’ve just called these non-fiction, but, really I don’t think of myself as a fan of non-fiction per se.  I don’t go to the library and peruse the non-fiction shelves for a book to call out to me.  But, if I’m in a quandary, or on a mission, I often lean on the non-fiction catalog at BCPL to give me guidance.  Diet/nutrition books.  Books on spirituality or meditation.  Books on the art of writing.  Books about child-rearing or marriage.  At this point, I am in the middle of reading 3 non-fiction books.  I pick them up when I’m feeling studious.  And I feel they make me a better person.

Books that inspire me.

Every time I pick up a new Anne Rice book, I’m inspired.  Same with Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Audrey Niffenegger.  I feel a kinship with them as a fellow author, and I aspire to the success and world-wide readership they enjoy.  I read them and think, wow…  That’s how you craft a story.  That’s how you make us care about the characters, see ourselves in them, hope the best or worst for them.  That’s how you build a world.  I just started reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I’m still at the very beginning, but I’m swept in.  I relate to the characters, I can see where they live, I want to know more.  And I think, “Yes.  THIS.  I want to write like this.”

Then there are the books that I read and think, “Wow.  Great story.  Wonderful concept.  But… I could tell it better.”  Holy smokes, I’m full of myself, Peeps.  Gah.  Anyway, I won’t list those here, because that’s just rude and unfair.  But these authors, these books are important too.  There are jillions of readers out there, and there is something for everyone.  And that is awesome.

Books that simply sweep me away.

Some books are simply damn good entertainment.  They are quick reads, not bogged down with a lot of gingerbread, like my Grandma would say.  Books like Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, or the Twilight Saga, or the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom books by Julie Kenner.  I used to be very into Danielle Steele when I was in high school, and now and then I’ll pick up a Nora Roberts book when I want some romance or maybe an Emily Giffin.  When I am in the mood for scary, and I don’t have the patience to read Stephen King, I’ll pick up Dean Koontz.  His book What the Night Knows was one of the scariest books I’ve ever read.  I had to hide it from myself.  No joke.  And for a while there, I was reading a J.D. Robb book a week.  I just adore Eve Dallas.  I will probably go get one of those when I finish Gone Girl.

 

So, thank you publishers.  Thank you libraries and Barnes & Noble.  Thank you Mrs Kadar, my kindergarten teacher.  Thank you Big Bird & Friends.  Thank you Electric Company.  Thank you Mom for reading to me, and being a reader yourself.

Bumps in the night

“Coming to bed soon, babe?”  He asks me, as he stands behind me at my desk.  His warm, warm hands caress my head, my neck, shoulders.  His strong fingers stroke the sides of my throat before he rests his palms on my shoulders.

“Ummm…”  I reply as I continue to type, to finish that one thought. I take my hands off the keyboard and place them over his.  Looking up and back at him, I smile, “Feels good, sweetie.”

“It’s supposed to.”  He smiles tiredly.  “See you upstairs?”

“After I finish this scene.  I’m in the thick of it now.”

He sighs.  “Sure, sure.  Not too late, okay?  It’s your turn to get up with the kids tomorrow.”

“I know, I know.  I’ll be up within the hour.”  I tilt my head up to his, and kiss him softly, “It’s your sleep-in Saturday.”

“Mmm-hmm…  Yeah, right.  Little Miss Writes-a-lot.  Goodnight.”  He gives me another quick peck on the lips and then heads upstairs.  “Make sure the doors are locked and the alarm is set…”  He calls down.

“Will do.”  I call up.

I listen until the creaks from the floor above go quiet, and I’m finally alone with my work.  The house is dark except for the glow of my screen, quiet except for the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.

Ten minutes later, twenty, thirty, maybe, I sit up straight, shake out my hands, and crack my knuckles.  Done for the night.

I sigh contentedly and click the save icon.  While the program shuts down, I’m stretching my back, and thinking longingly of my blanket and pillows waiting for me upstairs.

I see something, a flash of movement behind me reflected in the monitor screen.

My heart skips a beat.

I spin, jerkily, in my seat.

Nothing but the darkened kitchen behind me.

The window shade is open.  Must’ve been a bird or something outside.

Yeah, must’ve.  My heart resumes its normal rhythm.

I click on shut down, and gather up my cell phone and wine glass and head to the kitchen.

I hear the tink-tink-tink Tink tones of my PC going off.

Scrape, swoosh.

I turn on my heels back towards my desk.

Just the darkening computer and my usually messy menagerie of books, scraps of paper, phone chargers, and a couple of jar candles.

I pause for a beat before going to the sink to deposit my empty glass.  It catches the edge of a dirty spoon abandoned in the deep porcelain basin and tips over with a clank.

My whole body starts at the seemingly loud sound in my quiet, sleeping house.

I shake my head and smile.  This is what I get for trying to write a horror novel, I think to myself.  Still, I turn on every light on the way to the bathroom, feeling quite ridiculous nonetheless.

I continue to feel silly as I pull off my sweat pants and tee-shirt, toss them in the laundry basket, and pull my nightshirt from the hook on the door- all while avoiding looking in the mirror.  To test my bravery, I turn towards the bathroom vanity, and watch myself pull on my jammies in the mirror.  Reflection all normal, see?  Just me, the shower curtain, and the towel rack.

Scrape, shuffle, taptaptap.

The sound is coming from the other side of the closed door.

I go still, eyes locked on the door, but the sound doesn’t repeat.

I convince myself it was the wind outside or the house settling.  I take a few deep breaths, give my reflection a crooked smile, and continue my night time routine.

Teeth brushed and flossed, eyes slathered in wrinkle cream, and still rubbing the excess hand lotion on my dry elbows, I am walking towards the staircase, shutting off lights as I go.

Shuffle, scrape, shuffle.  Sigh.

I see its shadow cast across the floor, in the moonlight coming through the kitchen window.

I stop in the doorway.  Frozen in place.  One foot on the cold tile of the kitchen floor, one on the dining room carpet.  My eyes still adjusting in the dark, I still clearly see the shadow moving, a figure coming closer to where I stand.  I cannot lift my head up, I will not.

My skin has gone cold, tingly, alive and aware.  Danger.  I feel my heart pounding in my throat, hear it in my ears.  My mouth goes dry.  The shadow comes closer.  I have to look up, I know this, but I can’t move a muscle.  I am stone.

It’s so close now that all there is is shadow before me on the tiles.  So close that I should hear its breath, but I don’t.

“Look.”  She speaks.

I’ve begun to tremble, my entire self vibrating with tension.  With concentrated effort, I stiffly lift my head, my eyes meet hers.  Shocking blue.  Wine red hair.  Skin so pale, translucent.  The breath I didn’t even realize I was holding comes out in shaky puffs.

“You…”  I exhale and now my breath has quickened to shattering gasps.

“Me.”

A wide wicked smile parts her pale, full lips to reveal glistening fangs.

The last sensation I feel before darkness pulls me under is the burning,  piercing pricks on my throat.

My Vampire could kick your Honor Student’s Butt

One of my must DVR shows is The Vampire Diaries on The CW.  Based very loosely on the novels of the same name by L.J. Smith, the show follows a group of teenagers -some are vampires (Caroline, Stefan, Damon), there are a couple of werewolf/vampire hybrids (Klaus & Tyler), a witch (Bonnie), a boy who can see ghosts (Jeremy), and the human girl who binds them all, Elena.  (I left out plain old human Matt, but, really, I don’t get why he’s still in Mystic Falls.  His parents and sister are gone, and the town is over run with supernaturals with whom he really doesn’t fit in, so…  Move on, Matt.  Move on.)

TVD, as it will heretofore be called, was a show I initially hesitated about watching.  I’d been burned by one too many vampire shows since the end of my beloved Buffy and Angel series.  Moonlight?  Dumb.  But Bestie and (even) her husband was watching, so I dove in.  I actually read the books first and was not impressed.  The show turned out to be an epic surprise.  I loved it.  Damon’s bad-boy charm and quippy one-liners filled the void left by Spike.  Stefan was all broody, romantic, and soulful, like Angel, and even had a crazy evil alter-ego to boot.  Bonnie was a more tragic and less whimsical version of Willow.  And Tyler, well, no offense to the adorable Seth Green, but Oz wasn’t nearly as easy on the eyes, Peeps.  Caroline, probably one of the most underrated characters on the show, is a wonderful mix of both Cordelia and Harmony.  This story world even had its own Giles.  Alas, poor Alaric…  But even though I love the program, something is missing.  Yes, there is no Buffy.  Strong, fierce, badass, quirky, lethally talented with a variety of sharp objects, Buffy.

I had a similar conversation one night at Bestie’s house.  We had watched one of the Twilights that weekend, and also an episode of TVD.  We may have even watched True Blood.  We were on a vampire spree.  One of us lamented about the female heroine’s lack of, um, heroism.

I said, “They should come out with a movie or book or show with a chick vampire who kicks ass.”

Bestie said, “Yeah.  Hey, you should write it!”

“I totally should.”  I paused, thinking it over, “I think I totally could.”

“You definitely could.”

Thus began my ongoing personal saga of writing a vampire novel.  The main character becomes a vampire.  Her name is Courtney.  She rocks.  😀

Watching the most recent episode of TVD, (Spoiler Alert), I am reminded again of the lack of badassery in the latest crop of vampiresses-to-be.  Neither Bella nor Elena give this transition its just desserts.

Elena is just newly a vampire, thanks to being forced off the road by a true bad ass vampiress, Rebekah.  Well, ol’ Becks was just trying to finally rid the world of the most insecure and distressed damsel this side of Forks, WA.  She didn’t know that Elena had been dosed with a little vampire blood to cure her of a bad head injury or some such nonsense.  So, she died with the blood in her system, and accidentally became undead.  Something everyone was so so careful that she’d never turn out to be.  Oh wells.  But did Elena embrace The Dark Gift?  Did she revel in the fact that she was no longer so fragile and weak, so powerless against her enemies?  That she could finally, really do something to protect herself and the people she loves?  No…  she was all wishy-washy and “oh woe, woe… whatever shall I do?” as usual.

If Courtney was in Elena’s shoes, she’d have fed off of Jeremy or Matt or some other nearby mortal as soon as she came to.  Then she’d have kissed both Stefan and Damon full on the mouths and hightailed it to wherever Rebekah was holed up for an epic final showdown.  She might even have donned a kick ass pair of boots.  She seems like a boots kinda gal.

Bella, differs from Elena mostly in one fact.  Elena never wanted immortality.  Bella begged for it.  But like her Mystic Falls counterpart, Miss Swan is the weak link in her group of supernaturals.  She’s constantly in danger, and therefore putting the lives of everyone she knows and loves in jeopardy.  And doing nothing really except whining about it.  C’mon, Bells…  Edward is not the only vampire in the world.  You really want The Dark Gift, I guarantee you could find at least one shimmering Cold One to bestow it upon you.  Then Edward wouldn’t have been wracked with guilt about it, his family wouldn’t risk going against his wishes, Jake & the rest of the Wolf Pack would have one less reason to hate the Cullens, and you’d be less vulnerable to all the baddies who for some reason are constantly after you.

Courtney would probably ignore the Forks coven altogether because they are generally wasting all the awesomeness that comes with being a vampire and that’s just lazy.  They certainly don’t seem to have a full grasp on how different they are from humans, how their existence is a miracle and a curse.  They just lack dimension.  Courtney would be bored.

As you can see Peeps, I’m fired up about my little labor of love.  I’ll perhaps share more with you about Courtney and her story on Fiction Fridays.

But, until then…  Stay Thirsty My Friends.  (I am just so lame)