#Blogtoberfest Day 12: Biker Dream (#poem)

I saw them coming on their Harleys
Squinty eyes of a hungry army
The sun was hot and the desert thirsty
Silver bullets armed and dirty

A scarf headed man pointed north
“I hope your loved ones have scattered forth
Explosion is scheduled at high noon”
He looked at his watch and added, “Soon”

How did I get here so far ahead?
My kitty hiding underneath the bed
Will they escape and will we reunite?
Away from danger in the morning sunlight

I’d run from the desert and its special fears
How did I return, hanging with bikers drinking beer?
Wake me, I’m dreaming of ugly times from my past
Where the monster from then appears and outlasts

#Blogtoberfest Day 11: Poetry-Inspired Lyrics

The Flame, Leonard Cohen’s last book of poetry (and more), arrives on Friday. I can’t wait to read it, especially after reading some of the poems in the sample. I got the hard cover because some books should be read in print.

I love that his songs started out as poems. My first song submitted for professional feedback to a NY Broadway composer started out as a poem and he led me down the path to making it a song.

In Nashville, “writing to title” co-write sessions are scheduled – they have nothing to do with poetry but the good news is everybody in the room gets songwriter credit. (Two NSAI mentors loved one of my “hooks” but somehow my story wasn’t the usual Nashville story and it didn’t go anywhere).

In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter by Shelly Peiken, she laments today’s songwriter in L.A. being relegated to “topliner” – the person who is called in to write the melody or lyric or maybe just a hook or phrase. The “producer” provides the “backing track” and gets 50% of writing credit and the rest is divvied up according to some sort of formula.

But you know what? This is what you get when a society decides that humans can be created the same way – sperm donor meets egg donor meets surrogate and somehow the couple who purchases all of this genetic material becomes the “parents” and a “family” is created.

I don’t see much difference in creating a human and in creating a song today. Very sad with many consequences with this type of thinking. But that’s the world people have shouted into being. At least for now. I pray that people will come to their senses some day.

#Blogtoberfest Day 10: Save Me From Walmart

In this small beach town of Central Florida our closest grocery store is the dreaded Walmart. I say dreaded because I’ve always managed to avoid shopping at a Walmart after my first visit years ago.

But it seems that new housing developments in Florida must include a Walmart as your only shopping option. The good news is we’ve been there enough times that we pretty much know where everything is. The bad news is, well, I won’t go into all the bad news. Suffice it to say that I don’t like how they smile and greet you on your way in but then give you a grumpy face as they search your cart and/or bags suspiciously on your way out.

Try searching online for anything but a friendly Walmart greeter. But I did find this photo – that’s pretty much what they look like on your way out.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 9: Epcot Food & Wine, Chocolate Art, and Coco’s Musical Story

Yesterday we made our third trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival –  this time with brother Bob. Little did we know that it also happened to be Columbus Day and the park was packed, especially for a weekday. Ugh!

Still, we had a blast sharing some of our favorite booths with family – the last time was back in 2010.

We started off with the Festival Center, tracking down the Chocolate display, including scenes from Coco, made entirely with chocolate. It was quite impressive!

Then we moved on to France for our favorite beignet with Hazelnut Creme with a glass of champagne – fabulous way to start the day.

Of course, we had to introduce Bob to the Ireland booth, then we chose the paella from Spain, Belgium, and Bob chose some items at India and Africa. We then finished up with my favorite Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles in China – amazing! Rich got a Kung Fu Punch, and while refreshing, was too sweet for me.

On our last stop for the day, we entered the Mexico Pavilion for some much-needed air-conditioning and to see the Dia de Los Muertos exhibit from Cocol One of the exhibits showed time passing, lighting up the scene and then returning to darkness, revealing the dead family members reunited with their family. Really cool!

It was hot and crowded by then and Bob had some plans of his own to do some park hopping before returning to Epcot for some evening noshing, so we called it a day and let Bob continue on his way.

We’ve had such fun playing tourist with family but now it’s time to get back to work. Let’s see what I’m inspired to work on most – my music or my writing.

Chocolate Art

M3

#Blogtoberfest Day 8: Artist Dates

In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about not only morning pages but artist dates. I like to write my morning pages out on the lanai sipping coffee and waiting for the sun to rise. And living here in Central Florida, the weekends are the perfect time for, not only an artist date, but a date with hubby.

This week hubby’s brother is here and we’re having a mini vacay. Yesterday we went to Disney Springs, walked 4 miles and then had an awesome lunch and cocktails out on the water at the Boathouse. I’m not sure how artistically inspiring this vacay will be, but it’s always nice to take a break from the routine.

Jock’s Hangar Bar

The Boathouse Dockside Lounge

Moscow Mule

Clams

Margarita


Amphicar

#Blogtoberfest Day 6: The Mixed Blessings of Daylight Savings Time

Living in Las Vegas, I was not a fan of Daylight Savings Time extending until November. With such extreme brightness all day, all summer long, I couldn’t wait for the sun to set behind the mountains to give some relief.

However, living in Silicon Valley, I rather enjoyed it. After work, I still had time to walk around Lake Elizabeth and would time my walk to end as the sun was setting over San Francisco Bay.

This time last year, we were living in a Florida apartment while building a house in Florida. We were sad toward the end of the build because it was too dark to see the house after work. So, in that case, the Daylight Savings Time extension worked for us because we were able to see the house until just a month before we moved in at the beginning of December.

But now I, once again, can’t wait for the ending of DST because it’s too dark to enjoy my mornings out on the lanai. All summer I would get up early and sit outside, sipping my coffee, writing, praying, preparing for the day ahead and it was absolutely amazing. Truly, the best part of the day. I’m up now but it’s pitch black out. I think I’ll go out anyway and beat the early birds out walking. Or not. Maybe I’ll at least get the coffee going.


My morning view just a couple of weeks ago – at the same time now, except for the street lamp, it’s pitch black out

#Blogtoberfest Day 5: Social Media Makes You Stupid

I believe that people aren’t normally stupid. Dysfunction, inauthenticity makes people look stupid. Social media actually makes people do stupid. It dulls your brain, your thinking ability, lessens your communication/people skills.

Take writing, for example. It’s often been said that you need to exercise your writing muscle and write every day or most days to stay strong. So inactivity weakens that writing muscle. And if you’re inactively writing because you’re sharing photos and likes on social media, your brain becomes lazy.

And so I sit here day after day this October unable to focus on writing a scene. It’s like when I first started writing, only worse. Back then, it took me all day to actually sit down and write a scene. I had good intentions of starting my writing day int he morning. But I couldn’t get anything out of my head until about 4 p.m.

Now I’d be happy if I could do that. Instead, my brain is jello, my attention span is ridiculously short. It’s easier to flip through youtube channels, peek into Twitter, and play a game on my iPad. I might read, but even that seems like a challenge – all of that focus on understanding content.

This is sad and must come to an end. I must sit down  and write every day to get that flabby writing muscle in shape. Even music has become a crutch – it’s easier to open up Logic Pro and start auditioning Apple loops or keyboard a few midi notes.

Maybe that’s what #Blogtoberfest is all about for me – getting my writing muscle back in shape. A daily blog post is the warm-up, hopefully leading to writing a sentence, a paragraph, a page, three pages maybe. That used to come so easily. But one thing I’m noticing is that I feel such peace when I’m sitting down and actually writing something… anything.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 4: Writing When Life Gets in the Way

It seems that as soon as you set a goal, life gets in the way. It certainly has me spinning right now and this is not how I expected my October to go.

I’m not really sure what set Shadow off, but it seems as if he’s having a set back in grieving Skipper because he’s started howling for hours at a time again. Suffice it to say, we’re not getting much sleep around here. And, therefore, not a lot of writing or songwriting. But if I finish #Blogtoberfest, well, I guess that’s a writing accomplishment.

We’re all missing Skipper but knowing how much Shadow is missing Skipper makes it all the harder to cope. But what makes me smile is this photo of the two of them together, knowing how close they were. We printed and framed it in remembrance.


2-year-old Shadow leaning into big daddy, Skipper at 15. Skipper left for the Rainbow Bridge on July 11, 2018 after blessing our lives for 18 years!

#Blogtoberfest Day 3: Post Traumatic Social Media Disorder (PTSMD)

When I first started blogging in 2005 or was it 2004, I don’t remember any more, but it was an empowering opportunity to express myself.  I really hadn’t been “allowed” to do that in my life experience. At first it was terrifying. Then it was liberating! Sharing your deepest thoughts and life’s experiences seemed to be the point of the blog. After all, a blog was supposed to be an online journal – not a marketing tool.

But just as I was thriving by blogging, social media took center stage, and blogs were shoved to the side. And now people feel free to express not only their deepest thoughts, but their deepest hates, prejudices, anger, political opinions, I mean, we all know how ugly it’s become because it’s not just an honest expression, it’s an attack on everything people disagree with.

I deleted Facebook and Instagram. Except for posting blog posts on Twitter, I mostly ignore it. I use LinkedIn only when I want to take a class on what used to be Lynda.com. Unfortunately, Facebook ruined Instagram when they acquired it and LinkedIn ruined Lynda.com when they acquired it and Youtube was much better before Google acquired it. But after 23 years in Silicon Valley, I can tell you that’s how Silicon Valley works – companies grow by acquiring other companies.

Anyway, I also stopped blogging. I retreated. I began to repress my thoughts and feelings online. I turned to poetry. Poetry felt safer. I sat down to write today’s blog post but really had to push myself to write something. I’m going to have to take #Blogtoberfest one day at a time because I’m not sure I’m up to blogging every day for the month of October. That’s 31 blog posts. I  jokingly told myself that maybe I have PTSMD – Post Traumatic Social Media Disorder. 🙂

(photo from The Effects of Social Media on Depression)

#Blogtoberfest Day 2: Reading-Inspired Writing

The call of the novel will not sleep no matter how hard I try to put it to rest. So I’ve decided to prioritize writing for the next two months: this month I’m taking a class to get inspired and next month, I’m seriously considering NanoWriMo, although my first experience with it years ago did not yield anything worthwhile.

In the meantime, I’m reading like mad because reading inspires my writing. I imagine that’s true for all writers, right? We first thought about writing as readers.

I was sampling a few different genres but in the contemporary novels, I was finding too many references to Facebook, texting, Google, etc. I mean, I’ve done all of that, but I don’t want to see it in the novels I read. For some reason, some writers feel they need to include all of that, as if their readers expect it. In fact, I did read a comment about a reader who was disappointed that the book didn’t include social media. But as our society discovers more and more how unhealthy these things are, I think they will disappear from novels and that will really date your so-called contemporary novel.

It’s fiction, it does not need to represent real life. So I’m finding myself more and more reading novels set in the past. In fact, the book I finally settled on reading is set in 1959, Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence by Pamela Cory.

This is inspiring my own writing, because I really enjoy writing stories set in the past and Las Vegas is a frequent setting for me. Thoughts of my next novel are whirling in my head as I read.

#Blogtoberfest Kickoff, Day 1: The Hazards of Social Media

I’ve noticed several vloggers out there kicking off a #Vlogtoberfest for the month of October and I seem to recall that this was once also a thing in the blogging world. So I’ve decided to do my own #blogtoberfest by blogging every day for the month of October.

I’ve missed blogging on a regular basis and when my aunt and I were working on her new blog together, I remembered how much I enjoy it, especially now that I’m really cutting down on social media.

A fan of #deletefacebook and #deleteinstagram, my life has improved greatly. In case you haven’t seen this, check out this link to this guy’s comments on how social media changes our behavior and not in a good way. Or go straight to the source and watch this video with Jaron Lanier. He has some especially insightful comments about how Trump’s Twitter addiction has changed him for the worse. There’s motivation right there to get off.

One of the blessings of getting off social media (not entirely – I’m still holding onto Twitter and was forced to return to LinkedIn when I wanted to take some classes on what was once Lynda.com. Ugh!!

But I don’t find either of these addiction or even compelling – they’re just there. But soon after the founders of Instagram left Facebook, I could see Facebook all over it. Instead of leaving Instagram as it was, which was kinda fun, they’re ruining it by making it more like Facebook. Dudes – if Instagram is supposed to save Facebook, why not leave it alone instead of ruining it, too?

Anyway, one of the blessings of leaving social media is that surprise has returned to my life. Instead of people browsing predictable news feeds on social media, thinking they’re all caught up with your life, they actually surprise you with a text or email or even a phone call – maybe even a visit or meetup. Imagine that!

Getting of social media is the path to sanity, my friends!

(From 5 Legit Reasons to Delete Facebook...)