This blog is moving

4 Jan

That’s right, this blog is moving to a new home over at Sally-Rouge.com! In my on-going effort to simplify my life, I have decided to consolidate my internet presence. As such, I’m merging my blog with my personal website and moving forward I will just have the one.

What that means to you, my followers:

  • If you signed up for email notices, you’re going to need to sign up at the new blog. I thought about signing all of you up (since I have your email addresses), but that felt a little too close to spamming, so I’m going to leave the choice up to you. Of course, I do hope you’ll sign up for the new blog. I’ll miss you if you don’t.
  • If you linked here via a bookmark, for the next year there will be a re-direct to take you to my new blog. That gives you one full year to update your bookmark settings.
  • If you’re following this blog via WordPress, DO NOT FEAR!! My new blog is ALSO a WordPress blog, so you’ll still be able to follow me. Simply head on over to the new site and check it out.
  • If you were linking to these posts via facebook or twitter, NOTHING WILL CHANGE FOR YOU! I’m going to be connecting the new blog to those as well, so everything will still be right where you’re used to finding it.

I have copied over the last couple of posts to the new blog, but I will not be taking everything with me. This is a beautiful opportunity for a clean start, I think. The old blog entries will still be there, but I don’t feel the need to carry them over to my newly redesigned site. Some things are better left in the past.

Please allow until January 7th for all final changes to go into effect. Between now and then, I apologize for any wonkiness with the site while I get myself settled.

Happy New Year!! (and an update about The Midsummer Prophecy)

2 Jan

I hope everybody rang in the New Year with joy and good company. My family and I enjoyed a very relaxing, low-key evening of a pajama party with zombie movies. At midnight, we paused the movie to all go get kisses from our puppies. All in all, I have to say it was the most enjoyable New Year’s Eve party I’ve ever been to! 🙂

And as promised, here is your update on The Midsummer Prophecy:

At the end of this week, I will be sending the first two short stories of my upcoming collection off to the editor (who is none other than the incomparable Mr. Keith DeCandido). This will be the very first time I have ever paid someone to review my work. I feel like it’s a milestone along my journey to becoming a professional writer.  It’s momentous and exciting and I think maybe I should pop open some bubbly to celebrate… but all I can think about is the other four stories I need to be working on and making sure I get them done in time to publish this spring. (I can practically hear Keith laughing as he reads this, saying something like “welcome to being a real writer!”)

I am so excited to finally share these stories with the rest of the world. As soon as they’re through editing, these two will be available at The Midsummer Prophecy. The remaining four will be published, along with the two previews, in the spring. Be sure to subscribe to the website so you’ll be the first to know when it all happens!

In closing, I would like to share this image I found yesterday. It’s a quote from Ira Glass (don’t worry, I looked it up), and I wish someone had shown it to me when I got started years ago.

Ira Glass

 

 

Happy New Year, everybody!!

 

A little something to whet your appetite

23 Dec

The Midsummer Prophecy is moving along nicely now. Here’s a little piece of one of the short-stories, to get you excited for what’s coming next:

 

Trouble has a smell. It’s intoxicating and heady, and no matter how much you get you can always go for one more whiff. It has a feel too, and on top of all that, you can even see it. Everybody knows it when they encounter Trouble. It sings out through every fiber of muscle in your body and makes the little hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. It makes you wonder why, when our senses are so highly attuned to watch out for it, we consistently find ourselves neck-deep in the stuff.

I knew when she got in my cab, she was Trouble.

…*IF* you can pull it off.

7 Dec

I’ve been sitting on this for at least a week now. The truth is, I don’t really know what to say. Of all the things I’ve written about in this blog, my marriage to my best friend and our future together as writers was sort of the main topic. Now neither one of those things is going to happen.

The how and why of the matter aren’t that important, and are hardly the topic for a blog post. All anybody needs to know is that I had my reasons for ending both relationships, and I don’t wish her any ill will. We are not on speaking terms, but I hope that in the future when things have settled that might change. Above all else, I wish her happiness and great success in all her future endeavors – both in love and art.

But what about me? Where do I go now? What do I do?

I’m happy to say that in spite of the emotional roller-coaster of the past two weeks, I am still writing. The Midsummer Prophecy was always my idea, going back almost twenty years now, so I will continue to work on it solo. In the past two weeks I’ve made leaps and bounds moving forward with the short story collection, and I have every intention of still honoring the early-2013 release date. (Please check out the website for updates.)

I’m also happy to announce that I am beginning the process of moving to Southern California with my family. After “Superstorm” Sandy and the nor’easter a week later, it was decided that I cannot continue to live in New Jersey. Southern California offers a better climate and all the cutting-edge research for fibromyalgia is taking place there. So that’s where we’re going. It may take us a year to make it all happen, but we have begun the process of relocation.

I have a lot to focus on and keep me busy in the upcoming months. I can’t pretend I’m sorry about that. Distractions are welcome right now…

Sometimes Life throws us a curveball, or gives us lemons, or a million other metaphors for sucking hardcore. We have no control over it. Shit happens, simple as that. But what we do have control over is how we react to that shit. Do we take it on the chin, or go crazy from it? Conduct ourselves with grace and class, or get drunk and act like an idiot? I’m not saying it’s an easy choice, but the older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize it’s one of the only truly free choices we’ve got!

For my part, I’m doing my best to handle this with grace and to stay true to my dreams, even if some of them feel too broken to save right now. Nobody is perfect, and I have no doubt that I’ll make plenty of mistakes as I go, but I hope that in end I’ll be able to look back on my life without any regrets and say I lived my dreams. Hopefully when I look back on this time period in my life, it will have been one of bittersweet transitions that helped me grow into the person I want to be.

I look forward to the next chapter of my own adventure!

Knowing a thing is not the same as understanding it

4 Nov

I think one of the hardest parts of life is losing momentum.

When I first wrote that sentence, I initially said “one of the hardest parts of being an artist” but then I stopped to think about it and realized, no, it’s just life in general. Whether it’s an art project, career endeavor, relationship issues, a new diet or exercise routine… if you lose your momentum, it really sucks, and it really messes with your world. It’s hard to get back into the swing of whatever it was you were doing, and the longer you take to get back to it, the harder it gets to do so.

Sometimes it’s a case of losing skills, as with things like drawing or say, parkour, which require regular practice to be good at it. Sometimes, it’s a case of losing motivation, like with a diet or exercising, because eating cake and watching TV is infinitely and more immediately gratifying than making a salad and hitting the gym. But sometimes, and these are the worst times I think, sometimes you lose your passion. Those are the times when you feel like you’re dying inside a little each inert day, as the moments slip away…along with every missed opportunity.

Those are the worst!

I get that way a lot. It’s probably my greatest obstacle when it comes to being a successful… well… anything! I get really into something and then something happens and, for whatever reason, the fire in me goes out. I lose my passion. It manifests in the form of writer’s block, or self-sabotaging, or simply not being interested anymore. Everything from a nagging sense of doubt in the back of my mind that plagues me until I give up, to extreme anxiety attacks and profound health issues. I am my own worst enemy.

Or I was, anyway. That was the old me; the version of me that lived for the moment and couldn’t concern herself with how she might feel come morning, let alone six months down the line. Fact was, I lacked patience and I lacked discipline, and what wound up happening was that I let myself flit from thing to thing, helter-skelter, with no real purpose or direction, until the next interesting thing catches my attention and then I’d be all about that for a while… until the next thing. You get the point.

The problem with that is, besides the obvious of being a quintessential flake, that you can’t be like that if you want to write. I suppose there are exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking writing is a very lengthy and lonely craft, as I’m coming to learn. It requires a level of dedication that is only rivaled by perhaps keeping bonsai trees. Put bluntly, it takes time to get words onto a page. Back in college I remember being impressed with myself that I could pump out a 5 page, double-spaced paper inside of an hour. Novels are a lot longer than that. Then add to that the research, and the time spent crafting your tale… It adds up, and it adds up quickly. Writers need patience and they need stick-to-it-ness (which I believe, in the days before George W. Bush, was called “determination”).

Along with learning how to outline a plot arc, and how to write with a partner, I also had to learn how to be patient and not get fed up at every bump in the road. Because the honest-to-goodness truth is that I don’t have a stellar track record when it comes to sticking things out or taking them to the next level. My pattern is to get into something and do it for as long as it’s fun, but as soon as it gets hard I lose interest. I’m not naturally this born go-getter who’s willing to make sacrifices because I’m looking at the big picture. I had to learn how to do that. I’m still learning how to do that.

Over the course of the past three years that I’ve been working on this story with my partner, I have had to overcome many challenges. None of them have been as hard as losing momentum, though. It’s something we still struggle with to this day, and something I’m sort of struggling with a little bit right this moment. And what I’m starting to realize, is that maybe this part of it never really goes away. Maybe it’s always easier to eat cake and watch TV. Maybe it’s just a matter of learning how to deal with that and developing the ability to see the bigger picture. Or maybe it just takes a little passion.

Once you get the passion going, it’s one of the best feelings on earth! It’s like a combination of being in love, hanging with your best friend, and eating your favorite food while watching your favorite movie in your favorite place, with a dash of healthy obsession for zest. And just like the inertia of not doing anything feeds into the despondent mental state of losing momentum, accomplishing goals feeds into the passion-driven euphoria. The more you do the thing you love, the more you want to do the thing you love, the more accomplished you feel, the happier you are. And not just “oh I found a twenty!” kind of happy, but deep, intrinsic, soul-satisfyingly happy.

But then just like that! It can disappear and you’re left wrestling with the doldrums of un-productiveness.

I tried to write this blog post several times before, but I wound up deleting it every time. Not because what I’d written was all that bad, but it felt self-indulgent to post it. I was writing for the sake of writing, in an effort to get the passion going again. I was faking it until I making’ed it (I wanted it to still rhyme – don’t take this from me). Everything I was writing though felt very self-serving and none of it was worth sharing with other people.

But I think this draft is a little different. I’m coming off a month of very little progress. Everything from my writing to my sleep and eating habits fell to pieces in the past four or five weeks, and while I’m not happy about it, I did do some serious soul-searching about it and I am taking away a lesson. It’s the lesson that I think is worth sharing, and why I’m writing now. I learned that it’s never going to be truly “easy”. I will have to hone my craft, learn new skills, really focus and apply myself, and there will always be more appealing things than doing what I’m supposed to do. But the trade off for getting my personal goals accomplished is that it fuels my passion. Maybe I wasn’t born with some gift that allows me to buckle down and focus, but I can learn how to do those things. And maybe it’ll get going only to suddenly be hard and passionless all over again, maybe it’ll always be a back-and-forth, give-and-take between moments of passion and moments of struggle… But I’d rather be excited and feel my soul on fire with passion at least some of the time, than not at all.

For a long time I’ve said “the only guaranteed way to fail is to stop trying”, but until recently I’m not sure I really believed in it. I believed that it was a true statement, but I wasn’t sure I believed I could live by it. But I think I can, and I think so long as I keep trying and faking it until I making it (not a word), that I’m on the right track. It doesn’t matter how many times I fall down as long as I always get back up. It took me my entire adult life thus far to really internalize that concept, but I think I’ve got it now. And that’s what I wanted to share, in case anybody else was struggling to understand the same thing.

To The Heartless Coward Who Took It To My Mother

4 Oct

I’m not sure where to begin. By and large, as far as I can tell or track it across the internet, the response to my blog has been positive. Though I haven’t written many posts, I have put a lot of myself into what’s there, and I think people respect my honesty and willingness to share my incredibly unique perspectives. The most amazing aspect of the entire process has been watching the spiderweb of sharing as friends of friends share my posts with their friends. I can’t see where it’s going, and I definitely can’t track it past my own blog, but I can see the number of times it’s been shared, and it truly humbles me.

One of my number one sharers has been my mom. She is so phenomenally proud of me! I know because she tells me so constantly. The crazy lady even went as far as to share my post about marrying my best friend on George freakin’ Takei’s facebook!! She is one very proud mama. Anybody who ever talks to her knows that her children are her pride and joy and among her greatest accomplishments in life (although I’m sure she’s going to argue with me later when she reads this and tell me we ARE her greatest accomplishments, personally I feel the PhD counts a bit, too).

So why on Earth someone who has known her for twelve years, and witnessed (albeit mostly through pictures and stories) my own transformation from bubbly, pudgy, active, outgoing young woman, to timid, agoraphobic, frail, mostly-bedridden woman, would feel the need to insult, disrespect, and hurt my mother…I cannot fathom. And yet, it happened this morning. A delightful woman tried to get my mom to agree with her politically, which my mom didn’t and instead shared my blog as an example of why she feels as she does. Instead of respectfully disagreeing, this woman got nasty and cruel. Mom won’t tell me exactly what was said, but the “clean” version is that she told my mother I “wasn’t sick enough to deserve SSDI”, also saying that Social Security was a drain on the system and therefore so was I. She also equated my engagement to my best friend of twenty years to marrying a dog.

Whether or not that’s how she felt, I don’t know on what planet it is EVER acceptable to be that cruel, or to attack a mother’s love and pride of their children. We all meet people that we don’t really like, or whose lifestyles we don’t necessarily agree with, but that disagreement doesn’t give ANYBODY the right to be cruel! Needless to say, by the time I woke up this morning, several hours after this exchange had happened, my mother was utterly and completely crushed.

I had some rather choice words for that woman on my personal Facebook page, which I won’t repeat here, except for this part. I wish I had your address so I could write this out in my own hand and mail it to you, so you could physically hold my words and let them touch you. Better yet, I wish I had the strength to come to your house and say it to your face. But I don’t. So this will have to suffice.

To the coward who took it upon herself to do this stupid, heartless thing, I wish you only this:
Perfect, unending health for you and all your loved ones. Because clearly you come from the kind of family that would turn their backs on you if you ever became as chronically ill as I have. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful family and friends who will do everything in their power to help me, but I get the feeling all you’ve got is your money. Medical bills suck up money like a desert to a cup of water, and even if it didn’t…. a stack of twenties ain’t gonna hold your hand when you’re scared in the hospital, sweetheart.

I’m Not A Percentage, I’m A Person

2 Oct

Every four years, I find myself beating my head against the wall (usually only figuratively, but not always) as I discover a number of my friends are voting Republican. It’s hard for me not to take it personally. The reason I react so viscerally is because I’m actually offended by their vote, especially so this time. This election is more personal than any other election has ever been for me. I have never been so completely invested in the outcome. One guy is promising me that my way of life will not be compromised and it will even be made better, if I have a little patience, and the other guy is pretty much promising to destroy my life as I know it. Maybe not everybody who’s voting for the other guy means me harm, and maybe some of them even want my way of life to be protected and preserved…but it’s a little more than slightly difficult for me to believe it right now. Most of the time I can ignore something like that and just shake my head sadly, but around the Presidential elections I find it nearly impossible to ignore, and even harder to keep my opinions to myself. The only way I can release the stress caused by this deep hurt is to passive aggressively post memes and articles online in the hopes that these people see the error of their ways and change their mind.

No, that’s not true…or is it??? Well, let’s examine my reasoning.

I have a lot of reasons to be voting Democrat this election. First and foremost, I want to marry a woman, and some of my friends also wish to have same-sex marriages. Obama is the ONLY president in American history to publicly approve of same-sex marriages. Romney supports a Constitutional ban against same-sex marriages. One could argue quite accurately that my future, my family, and the life of my dreams could very well rest upon who wins this next election. Sure, my fiancée and I can still live together, and set up a stack of legal documents to sorta-kinda simulate the rights and protections of marriage. But that’s not why people get married, is it? And I’ve already discussed at rather great length why I want to marry her, so I won’t get into it all over again. Needless to say, that issue right there would be enough to secure my vote. Still, it goes deeper.

Secondly, I’m on permanent disability. I don’t want to be. It wasn’t part of the plan when I left high school a year early. I got my high school diploma, Associates, and Bachelor’s degrees all inside of four years. Then I bummed around for a year working on a Master’s in Criminal Justice before having a massive change of heart and switching schools and majors to Education (turns out all of my classmates were extreme conservatives and I realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for and surrounded by people like them). From there it was a cool ten months to my next degree, a Masters in Education, which I earned with honors. So when I tell you that I was driven, and that I really never intended to wind up on disability, unable to work, you really should believe me.

Regardless, whether or not you think I’m a lazy moocher leaching off the system and contributing to the downfall of this great nation, the fact remains that I cannot hold down a job. I am unreliable because of my condition. I am weak. I am prone to sudden spells of exhaustion during which I begin to tremble until I get some sleep. I have trouble focusing and am distracted by chronic, unrelenting pain and nausea. The Republicans plan on dismantling and privatizing things like Social Security, and goodness only knows what they’ll do for my taxes (apparently we’ll find out during the debates – which honestly does not instill a sense of trust or faith in me). Not that I can really live on the meager $1100 a month I get from SSDI (in one lump sum, no less), and it’s not like I’m on Medicare…because my doctors don’t accept it… but right now that pathetic handout is all I’ve got. That, and the charity of my generous mother, without whom I would be truly and righteously fucked.

Let’s not even discuss what might happen if the Affordable Healthcare Act were to be revoked and I were to say…lose my insurance for some reason. Maybe they raise my rates because of my pre-existing conditions or maybe I miss a payment, and then can’t get new insurance because of those same pre-existing conditions. Oh yeah, and by the way, in New Jersey many doctors, including most of mine, don’t allow you to pay out of pocket because of insurance laws. If I lose my insurance, I lose my ability to manage my illness. Plain as that.

Last, I’m a woman, and my intended spouse is a woman. As a part of the population with vaginas, we would like to remain in control of how those vaginas are used and treated medically. Should our vaginas, or the connected reproductive organs, be used in a way we don’t like, we want to be in control of what’s done from there. Without shame. Without fear. Without threat of subpar or back-alley medical treatment, or the burden of expenses heretofore borne by insurance companies or The State. That is all I’m going to say on that matter.

I could tick off each issue that interests me, such as funding for the arts, or how much I enjoy having reliable firefighters and police officers in my community, but I want to focus on the ones that offend me when I hear people are voting Republican. To recap, those are: Marriage Equality, Social Security, Healthcare, and Women’s Reproductive Rights.

Now, I am aware that different things motivate different people. For example, I know that some people value the future of the education system over marriage equality, and while I may not prioritize things that way, I can understand it. I can even understand people who vote based on their religious beliefs. While I may not “get it”, I can respect their reasoning; after all the first amendment does grant the freedom to practice any faith, and it doesn’t say anything about how much or little you have to believe it.

What I can’t understand though, are people who put fiscal issues ahead of human and civil rights issues. I really can’t wrap my brain around people who say “I have friends who are gay, and I want them to be able to get married, but it’s a lot more important to me that my taxes aren’t raised.” While I know that the economy is in shambles right now, and that a lot of people are suffering, I want you to stop and consider what that says. It is literally saying, “I would rather you be oppressed than have to give up any of my comforts.” And I take offense to it. I really, really do. The same way I take offense to military spending and corporate welfare taking precedence over my wedding, livelihood, healthcare, or reproductive rights. Maybe that’s not the stance of all Republicans, but it IS the stance of the Romney campaign, and it’s not like when you go to the polls you get to say “this only goes for the budget, ok? I am TOTALLY liberal about everything else!”

I know some people are going to accuse me of not knowing what I’m talking about. Or say that it’s easy for me to not care about finances because I’m already poor, so what do I have to lose. But let me tell you something. It’s kind of a secret, or at least it has been up until now…

I am not poor now. I have been poor. THIS is not poor; in fact I’m living in the lap of luxury compared to my childhood. You see, I have been very, very, VERY poor. My childhood was all low-income housing in New York, including a tenement run by a murdering drug lord in the East Village, and a dilapidated caretaker’s house in a graveyard of Staten Island. And that too was opulent in many ways compared to where things were headed. Between the years of 1988 and 1992, or the ages of 7 and 11 in my case, my family lived in a 1987 Dodge Ram van. All four of us, and as much of our possessions as we could fit, all crammed into that van and we toured the country for four years while my parents pursued their dream of becoming musicians.

Well, ok, that’s not entirely true. First my mom’s (now ex) husband lost his job, and then we were kicked out of the caretaker’s house. We wound up doing a six week cross-country mini tour, before camping out at the Sterling Renaissance Festival in New York, which we were also working. I say “we” because my brother and I were nearly as much a part of the act as the music. Twelve weeks became “one more gig” after another, and the next thing we knew, we were homeless, traveling around the country like some really weird version of The Partridge Family.

We had no public assistance for a number of reasons, most of which revolved around not having a permanent address, and besides, I don’t think my mom’s (now ex) husband would have allowed it. No, instead we quite literally relied on the kindness of strangers, and we learned how to be poor. All of us. Before I was 10 years old, I knew to order food at restaurants based on the right hand side of the page – the price. My brother knew to decide whether he was more hungry or thirsty, and to only ask for one item. I knew that my mom collected all the crackers and ketchup packets at dinners and that she made them into soup by mashing them up in a cup of hot water (although I didn’t fully understand until I was older that she would skip meals to make sure my brother and I had enough to eat). At one point, I didn’t own a proper pair of shoes and I was found out when I stepped in a puddle and left footprints in the shape of my foot, not the sole of my shoe. The soles had long since worn away and torn off the bottoms, you see. But shoes were expensive, and I knew that. I honestly don’t remember what happened when we got sick. I don’t remember seeing any doctors or dentists or any of those things during those four years… And all the things we had put in storage? Those were auctioned off when we couldn’t afford to keep up with the payments.

When my mom left her husband in 1992, we did get public assistance. We had food stamps and CHIP. My grandpa helped us get a tiny little townhouse all our own, with a real address. When we got sick, we went to the doctor and got medicine. My brother, 6 by then, saw a dentist for the first time. Our community had programs to help too, such as the local women’s shelter, which provided the BEST holidays me and my brother could remember with sacks of gently used and even new donated toys for us, and my middle school which loaded our car up with food drive boxes. One of those boxes had been in my at-the-time best friend’s class. Yes, she saw it sitting on my kitchen table.

Through the help of those programs, and later with government assistance in the form of student loans, my mom did finally realize her dreams and earned her PhD. She’s now earning a decent living, with a nice house in a good neighborhood with a big yard. Good thing too, since I wound up disabled, unable to work or support myself.

These are my reasons. This is why I am offended when people I hold dear to me tell me they’re voting Republican. It feels like they’re all banding together with all their Republican friends to do things that will hurt me and make my life infinitely more difficult. And I know that’s not true, I’m sure none of them ever stopped to think about how it might make me feel. Which is precisely why I wrote this. So they can know, and hopefully think.