Random quote of the day:

“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
    And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides,
        that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
    And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”

—Kahlil Gibran, from “On Death,” The Prophet

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.


As of today, I have been retired one year.

It was the best decision I ever made, although it was actually my body that made the decision. It had been rebelling against me for some time—arthritis caught up to me much earlier than it does to most—and it had become increasingly difficult physically get in to work and do my job. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to retire, it would just have been better for me financially if I could have waited longer. But it wasn’t in the cards.

As it turned out, as things often do with the Universe, what I thought of as a negative turned into a positive. If I hadn’t retired when I did, in the month following my actual retirement date a large portion of my funding would have dried up and I would have been scrambling, with diminishing energy, to find new funding. Not only that, my colleagues who have continued to work at my former place of employment have seen changes that have left them deeply distressed. Everyone I’ve spoken to has told me I got out just in time.

I had thought to accomplish more in the year passed. But in reckoning up the score I realize I have accomplished quite a lot. It’s just that most of it has been internal. I am not the same person I was one year ago, and the changes have been mostly positive. Oh sure, there are things that could be better, and in some ways I’ve backslid, but this has been a year of finding myself, of redefining myself. I’ve spoken of this before: I never knew retirement would be so much like adolescence.

So here I am again at the time of the Autumn Equinox, seeking balance and rectification and redefinition. But none of that scares me particularly. It’s part of the ongoing journey, a lifelong process. In the fairy stories, journeys and geas and curses and whatnot always last a year and a day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But I’m good to go.

Random quote of the day:

“The butterfly’s attractiveness derives not only from colors and symmetry: deeper motives contribute to it. We would not think them so beautiful if they did not fly, or if they flew straight and briskly like bees, or if they stung, or above all if they did not enact the perturbing mystery of metamorphosis: the latter assumes in our eyes the value of a badly decoded message, a symbol, a sign.”

—Primo Levi, “Butterflies,” Other People’s Trades

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.


Or nickel plate, as the case may be.

I’ve been in the writing game a long time. I have little to show for it, publishing-wise, except good will. Some editor’s choices on workshops, several close calls with agents and editors for my novels (some frustratingly close), some short stories that were praised by editors but “not quite right” for them (with assurances that I would be able to sell them elsewhere). (“Oh yeah, where?” I always want to ask, but one does not engage in that kind of back and forth with editors generous enough to give one a personal reply.) (They mean well, I assure myself.) (And I’m confident they do mean well. They wouldn’t have taken the time otherwise. I am grateful.)

There’s been enough of that kind of thing that I’ve stopped doubting my ability. I may not be a gold star writer, but I know I don’t suck. If I am good, I think I’m just not the right kind of good. My stuff tends to be hard to categorize, or it slips sideways between categories. And here’s the killer: I once submitted one of my stories to an anthology for interstitial fiction. I got a very generous rejection letter on that, assured it was a great story that I should have no trouble selling elsewhere, but it wasn’t interstitial enough. At that point with that particularly story, I’d submitted to just about every periodical in the known universe and although a number of editors had praised it, no one thought it was “quite right.” So, I put it back in the trunk and decided no more submissions on that one.

I’ve hit that particular wall with a number of my stories. I am not a big fan of short stories nor a talented short story writer. It’s not my thing so I don’t bother anymore because I’ve always figured I was more of a novelist. But I do have several stories that went through a process similar to the story mentioned above. Objectively speaking, I know they are not an embarrassment because professional people who had no dog in the hunt said they were good. And I’ve reached a point in my life where they are just sitting in my trunk—or my treasure chest if I’m in an uncharacteristically upbeat frame of euphemism. I’ve decided that maybe I’ll just start posting them. Time is in infinite supply. Maybe it’s time to share my gold (nickel plate) rather than hoarding it like a miser. (Don’t worry. I don’t have an inflated sense of my own worth. It’s more a sense that it will be doing this or nothing at all for these stories and they will disappear forever once I die and my hard drive is reformatted.)

I’m not 100% sure I’ll do this. First, I’d have to get my website in shape. My web designer left the business and I have no way to update my current site. I am not talented in that way myself. I can do basic html but my brain pretty much freezes when I try to do more. So, I’m thinking of scrapping the old website altogether and doing something simpler, like Square Space. I’m thinking my old website—as much as a love the graphics my designer came up with—is part of the past. Maybe the biggest lesson of the past six months of my life is that I have to let go. I’m in a transition these days that has been unexpectedly difficult. I’m having to redefine myself from the ground up. Who knew retirement could be as baffling as puberty?

I’ve lived most of my life having to conform to the schedules imposed on me by the outside world. Now I have the freedom to do what I want, to make myself anew—and it’s fricking terrifying. And exhilarating. And tingly. And overwhelming. And ohmygodwhatdoIdowiththis? You know, like puberty.

So who am I? Not a fricking clue. But I may not be someone who hoards my gold (nickel plate) anymore. Only time will tell. I hope I don’t run out of time before I figure it out.

Random quote of the day:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.

—Joseph Campbell, quoted in A Joseph Campbell Companion, ed. Diane K. Osbon

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

My morning commute is seven miles from front door to workplace garage. Being Los Angeles, that seven miles is fraught with many traffic headaches. Most mornings it takes about forty minutes—but there have been many notable exceptions.

Today was one of those. My commute took one hour and fifteen minutes. For much of that time I was stuck on the Lincoln Boulevard hill down from the Westchester plateau. There really are only three ways down from the plateau and I was on the wrong one. Construction on the Ballona Creek Bridge near Marina del Rey had reduced four-lane Lincoln to one-lane Lincoln. Even at the top of the hill I couldn’t tell where the problem lay as I was behind a large truck and in the lane next to me was a bus, both effectively blocking my view. I was stuck in the second lane because I knew the first lane was blocked ahead from previous commutes, and I couldn’t get over to the right because everyone in those lanes was just as blocked as I.

So I called work and told them I would be seriously late and tried as hard as I could to go with it and remain calm. Mostly it worked. I thought thoughts, I listened to music, I tried to stay positive, I amused myself by thinking of a guy on the elevator last night who escaped with his life because I didn’t possess an ice pick.

And so I sat for close to an hour. About a half hour in, I noticed a dragonfly, about five inches long. It flew back and forth over the hood of my car six times, not more than a couple of feet from my windshield. Knowing that dragonflies are very symbolic critters, I wondered if it had some message for me?

“This too shall pass.”
“Hello from Mom and Dad.”
“Pay attention, mortal.”
“Concern yourself with what’s important.”
“Which way to the wetlands?”

And in fact when he flew over my car the last time he headed purposefully west, towards the wetlands.

According to

“The dragonfly totem carries the wisdom of transformation and adaptability in life. As spirit animal, the dragonfly is connected to the symbolism of change and light. When the dragonfly shows up in your life, it may remind you to bring a bit more lightness and joy into your life. Those who have this animal as totem may be inclined to delve deep into their emotions and shine their true colors.”

Okay. I wouldn’t necessarily count on that. And don’t even get me started on that whole “spirit animal” thang. I mean, I do acknowledge that I’m in sore need of transformation. But the ways of the world are strong.

It is, however, interesting that this should come up now. I was just having this conversation with myself last night. It was a little less poetic, though. More along the lines of “You better get your s**t together, girl, and stop acting like a baby. Things need to change.”

Maybe the dragonfly was a reminder of that, a reinforcer of my own soul’s message to Self. Maybe a coincidence, but it’s no fun thinking like that, unless you call it a synchronicity.

So, a synchronous message of soul to Self, or Self to self, or…

It was a very beautiful dragonfly, all blue and gold. I loved watching it fly.

Random quote of the day:

“Prayer is not asking for what you think you want, but asking to be changed in ways you can’t imagine.”

—Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.


lily dale cover

Lily Dale is a town in upstate New York with a long history of old-timey mediumship—you know, table rappings, séances, psychic readings, that sort of thing. The town was, as Wikipedia says, “incorporated in 1879 as Cassadaga Lake Free Association, a camp and meeting place for Spiritualists and Freethinkers. The name was changed to The City of Light in 1903 and finally to Lily Dale Assembly in 1906.” It may have updated its image in recent years, but it still is a town of spiritualists, with all that entails.

“Every summer twenty thousand guests come to consult the town’s mediums,” the back cover says, “in hopes of communicating with dead relatives or catching a glimpse of the future. Weaving past with present, the living with the dead, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Christine Wicker investigates the longings for love and connection that draw visitors to ‘the Dale,’ introducing us to a colorful cast of characters along the way—including such famous visitors as Susan B. Anthony, Harry Houdini, and Mae West.”

And I have to say, I really liked this book. It’s not so much about Lily Dale as it’s about the people whose lives changed after visiting and having their worldview shifted. That’s the ultimate charm of the book for me, how Lily Dale works on people. Ms. Wicker paints wonderful portraits of past inhabitants and current seekers, their traumas and triumphs and their inexorable movement toward something larger than themselves. It’s a very human book, for all its spiritualist craziness. The author manages to walk the line between empathy and irony without either mawkishness or mockery.

If you expect a book of scathing skepticism, this is not that book. If you expect a story of earth shattering mystic revelations and great truths…well, some of them may be there, but they’re subtly and often humorously worked into the life stories Ms. Wicker unveils—including her own. I loved her moments of struggle with what she’s encountering, her moments of self-parody and doubt, her will to believe versus her will not to believe. Despite digging in her heels and her best reporter’s instincts, Lily Dale works its charms on her, shifting her paradigm and leaving her feeling better about her life—without surrendering her rationality.

lily assembly-large

Random quote of the day:

“No single event can awaken within us a stranger whose existence we had never suspected. To live is to be slowly born.”

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras (tr. Bodhipaksa)

This is widely misquoted as “A single event can awaken within us a stranger…” To read a fascination analysis of the zen of misquoting, changing meanings, and translations, see this post.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:


“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”

—Anaxagoras, (450 B.C.), quoted by Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics


Which reminds me of this famous bit from Lucretius (yes, I am inflicting poetry on you):

No single thing abides; but all things flow.
Fragment to fragment clings—the things thus grow
Until we know and name them. By degrees
They melt, and are no more the things we know.

Globed from the atoms falling slow or swift
I see the suns, I see the systems lift
Their forms; and even the systems and the suns
Shall go back slowly to the eternal drift.

You too, oh earth—your empires, lands, and seas—
Least with your stars, of all the galaxies,
Globed from the drift like these, like these you too
Shalt go. You are going, hour by hour, like these.

Nothing abides. The seas in delicate haze
Go off; those mooned sands forsake their place;
And where they are, shall other seas in turn
Mow with their scythes of whiteness other bays…

The seeds that once were we take flight and fly,
Winnowed to earth, or whirled along the sky,
Not lost but disunited. Life lives on.
It is the lives, the lives, the lives, that die.

They go beyond recapture and recall,
Lost in the all—indissoluble All:—
Gone like the rainbow from the fountain’s foam,
Gone like the spindrift shuddering down the squall.

Flakes of the water, on the waters cease!
Soul of the body, melt and sleep like these.
Atoms to atoms—weariness to rest—
Ashes to ashes—hopes and fears to peace!

—from On the Nature of Things by Titus Lucretius Carus (89 BC)
(tr. William Ellery Leonard)


Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.