Shaking Up The Word Wars

A very rough draft post follows:

A shakeup is in the works for The Word Wars. I’ve been in my bubble of me me me, my depression, my anxiety, and my procrastinating ways. Something (or someone) has made me wake up and see what is going on away from my bubble, and I am working on the rough drafts of my response.

The problems our nation faces are not going to go away just by wishing it. Things are starting to affect people I know, and issues touch me personally.

I am going to write more about where I stand on this current administration. And Me Too (because, yeah, #metoo). Adding my voice may not stir things up on the national level, but I might find some like-minded folks in the process. And I will feel I am doing something other than ranting on Twitter or upsetting the cat with my outraged outbursts.

The need to defend journalists and the attacks they are under from our president is constantly on my mind, as I was raised by an old school newspaper reporter, and his memory is not to be messed with on my watch.

So many of our rights are threatened, the backbone of our nation, also known as democracy, is getting strained, and people I know stand in danger of being deported through no fault of their own.

Another big deal for me is the state of California and how we are not doing a good job with housing our homeless. This really bothers me. We are one of the wealthiest states, and we could do a lot more. A lot. So could cities like Oakland, San Francisco, and LA is, I hear, worse than to the Bay Area where I am. But we let people camp on traffic islands, under freeways, and we just walk by like they are part of the (not so nice to look at) scenery of modern daily life.

As I get older, I am naturally going to become more concerned about how I will live out my golden years, which makes me wonder more about how my mom is handling her golden years. There are people in Washington who are enjoying screwing around with all of that. My social security is mine, it is not an entitlement fund. I earned every penny. So stop threatening that.

I have more on my list, more personal issues, and not all are such serious business as the above-mentioned issues. I will discuss them here as well.

I realize I needed a kick in the pants to get me thinking more and writing more about things that come from outside of myself, but affect me on a personal level.

So, there you go. Did I make any sense? Are more than seven people ever going to see this declaration? You’ve got to start somewhere.

And so I will start right here.


Facing the Work in Small Steps

I didn’t participate in a productive way in NaNoWriMo this month. No surprise there. But I did use the month as a form of motivation to concentrate on what it is I actually want to write. I received the same answer I have given myself before: put the fiction away for now, and work on the personal essays. The world around me, the world of my novel, will still be there when I get back to it.

Those of you who also write will not be surprised when I tell you that I then promptly started plotting a short story. Right. But it’s making me finish something, that’s the point. So I told myself. I have some time off from work these next few weeks, and I will either come out of it with one, great, well-thought out, short story, or with a lot of essay topics flying around my head. Of course I have no end of essay topics to start with, so picking one will be the first step. 

To paraphrase, and totally steal from, the astronauts when they landed on the Moon for the first time: that’s one small step for me, one giant step for my writing process.

The Latest Shooter

The latest shooter struck today. He killed 20 people in a Baptist Church in Texas. Last month there was a shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. That guy killed 58 people. People keep getting shot, and the shooters keep on shooting. They know they can get the guns and the ammo, no one will stop them. 

This is America, and we have the right to bear arms. It would also seem that we can kill with impunity, and all that will happen is a jail sentence, or a fortuitous self-inflicted killing, or cop-inflicted killing. Pass Go, and you’re free. What will Washington do? Keep your victims and their families in their prayers. They will stand by you.

But they will not do a damn thing to prevent the next killing. Are we at one a month, now? It seems like it. It seems that the horror of Sandy Hook was not horrible enough to enact any changes in the laws of our nation. Then came the movie theater in Colorado ( or was Sandy Hook first? So many now it becomes confusing) and still: crickets  at the Capitol. 

But, now, hold on a minute. If the killer isn’t white, then there will be outrage in our nation’s Capitol, and on the Twitter accounts of the lawmakers who we count on to make our country safe. We have a right to go shopping, to a concert, to a Walmart, a movie, whatever, and not get shot by a crazy white dude.  

It is only a terrorist act if the attacker is Muslim, or an immigrant. Why, even a 10 year old immigrant with cerebral palsy apparently was a risk to our national security last week. She is no longer in custody, but, excuse me, are you sure she will not strikes terror into the hearts of our heartless ICE agents when she’s 12? 

That’s right. Our country has lost all reason. And what will it finally take to stop all this senseless killing? Certainly the president could care less. He is too busy playing golf and charging the Secret Service over the top fees to stay at his resorts as they protect him. 

I do not think that, even if the Congress and the House became a more friendly and bipartisan place, that we could fix Americans killing fellow Americans quickly. And the NRA would surely never admit any culpability.

This is all very depressing, and not an encouraging way end 2017. It does make me wish for the days when America was a bit more innocent, and a bit more boring. Not to knock progress, no Sir. But the America of today is a shadow of the America I keep in my mind. Perhaps I am a bit delusional, but I picture a country that knows how to run itself without letting the guy at the wheel run us off the road for good.

This message brought to you as an excuse to not be working on my NanoWriMo novel. I’ll sign off now and get back to that project A.S.A.P. Thanks.  

Make Stories out of Swamp Tomatoes

I can’t pass up a great, ridiculous idea like this. I am imagining: why she’d be the swamp, are they heirloom tomatoes, or Roma? Is the zebra a pet, or an imaginary companion? And what’s the deal with the machine guns?? 

The answers are coming, slowly, and as I map it, the plot intricacies come to me. If this goes anywhere, I can see a short story, and I see mind map-charting as a part of the narrative.

Spending today, Sunday, mentally fiddling with this idea helps fill in the blanks in my already in progress novel. It’s been a year since I started that, and I have stalled in major ways, but I haven’t given it up. 

And so it goes.

Listening to Roxane Gay on a Tuesday Night

There are so many things in Roxane Gay’s writing that I identify with, and that I am inspired by. I just now finished listening to City Arts and Lectures on NPR,  a recording of when she was interviewed back in February, at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco. 

She writes about being a woman in America. About being an overweight person, as someone who has purposefully put on pounds in order to not be noticed. She writes about being gang-raped as a young girl, about her boyfriend setting her up for the rape. She has suffered by blaming herself for this, and she has recently released a book about this called Hunger. 

I have had body image issues from a very young age, and I did not experience such a horrific assault as Roxane did, but I was molested by the neighbor boy when I was a very small child. I, too, did not tell my parents when this happened. My self esteem has always suffered, despite the best efforts of the adults who raised me. Other adults in my life constantly warned me not “to get too heavy,” at the same time they were feeding me or giving me something nice to “put in my Hope Chest.” I realize now that they loved me and were concerned about my health, but when I look back at photos from these years (my pre-teen years) I cannot find any evidence that I was overweight. 

Yet the feeling that I was fat, or somehow unacceptable, has always haunted me. Of course, much of this has been due to depression. And, at times I have been seriously overweight.  I did not realize that it was depression until I was in my twenties and was spending summer vacations home from college in my bedroom, brewing pots of coffee at night and reading until dawn, then sleeping until three in the afternoon. One summer I barely left the house and when I went to see a movie with a friend (The Lost Boys-yes, it was that long ago) I was jumpy around the people in the diner where we ate after the show. I got a lot of reading done that summer, but I ate my way through it as much as I read my way through it. After having lost 50 pounds the year after I graduated from high school, I succeeded in putting that plus 20 to 30 pounds more back on in the years I lived in the dorms at University of San Francisco. 

I find myself feeling terrible at times lately, because my prescription anti-anxiety meds have been so effective that I haven’t cared that I put 20+ pounds on in the last year and a half. It didn’t matter until the back fat grew noticeable, and now I feel like I have gone overboard, and what an out of control freak I must be. Yet the rational side of me that thinks there is nothing to worry about has resigned itself to accepting that this is just the new me. And, after all, I am comfortable in a size 12. Who wants to maintain a size 8 figure? Not me, not any more. I like to eat. 

The Roxane Gay City Arts and  Lectures  broadcast  struck me in a very personal, relatable way. Her openness and honesty about her depression and weight issues made me open up the laptop and start this rambling, reflective post. I am also a writer who feels writing helps with the depression. Yet, it takes listening to a broadcast about this topic to get me sitting here writing about it. And this feels seriously disjointed. Yet my theme is: we all have issues, and thank goodness for those who speak openly about these issues. They can save the rest of us. If I could, I would thank Roxane, because her truth-speaking helps to make it a bit easier to face my own issues, and every time I write “all about me” I get a little better. 

So, thank you Roxane Gay, and all the women (and men-everyone, really) who can speak about their dark secrets. It is these secrets that make us who we are as artists, as writers, and as human beings. 

It’s a refreshing change from the feeling that one must always be sunny and have it all together to get themselves through the day. We do what we can with what we have, and, as long as we have that, we have everything we need to survive. For those of us living with depression ( I sometimes think of this as The Depressive Arts) survival is everything. Even for those of us who are not the Fittest. 

The Smell Of Rain

The warm sidewalk
Rain falling
Releases the scent of
Hot summer asphalt
Washing away with
The guttering leaves

Rain on 880
Big rigs kick up
Storms all their own
Bay Bridge misted
Cars fly past

Water all around us
In the element
Rain comes fast upon
Us when its
Seasons first storm

We forget so quickly
In July that this
Will come if
We are patient
Raincoat ready,
Boots in the hall
Weatherize our
Lives and we can have it all

A Sleepy Situation

Why do I sleep when I could be writing? How will I ever succeed, if I constantly sabotage myself? 

Here’s what I know: 

  1. I sleep a lot because my anti-anxiety medication makes me fall asleep after breakfast. 
  2. I watch a lot of TV, which takes up the time I would like to be writing.
  3. I think stories a lot more than I write them. 
  4. This is all very frustrating.

I would never want to stop taking the meds to be less sleepy, because then I’d be anxious and depressed all over again. And still not writing.

At first, the meds made me write. They gave me energy, and I felt excited by the prospect of getting back to the typewriter. I had avoided taking anything for my depression because I had believed that my creativity would be cut off. So I had great hope.

But now, a year later, I’m just sleepy, and at least 15 pounds heavier. I don’t mind the extra weight, but I do mind the sleeping. 

Why not try to fight it, you say? I feel like I do fight it, but I am not winning the battle.

I know. I seem to be a broken record, from post to post I write about the same theme, that of writing about not writing. I am hoping to work it out, and I guess it will take me a while. I see my doctor next week on an unrelated matter, and I plan to bring up this sleepy situation. 

I do know this: I will never stop trying to write. I surround myself with notebooks, and am always writing my outlines and ideas in them.  I am sure I will succeed soon. In fact, this is a better goal than writing a certain amount of words a day: to keep on trying. 

That’s what I’m doing. Just let me take another nap first.