letting go

In 1901, two English ladies—Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain—experienced a timeslip while visiting Versailles, going back for an interlude to the time of Marie Antoinette. They detailed this story in a book called An Adventure. You can read about it here: http://xenophon.org.uk/adventure.html

If you click on the link, then click on “The Music of An Adventure” you can hear a transcription one of the ladies, Ms. Jourdain, a talented musician, made of a strain of music she heard while “there.” Not surprisingly, they received much ridicule from the male establishment of the time, but they clung to their accounts for the rest of their lives. There are inconsistencies in their stories, but other things they reported would have taken a great deal of research on their part to get right. So the account remains controversial even today.

Still, it’s a cranking great yarn. And I say, all cranking great yarns should be true, even if they aren’t.

The Getty Fire was still quite a ways from me but it got perilously close to the LA Basin. The LA Basin isn’t more important than the other areas that have burned but it’s densely packed. If the fires get into the Basin I don’t know how they’ll stop them. It’s something to worry about every time fire gets close to the really crowded areas. Fire departments are stretched so thin right now. They heroically got on top of the Getty fire this time, but we’re still burning, homes are still being lost.

California is a trend leader in many ways. But I would rather not be on the front lines of the devastation caused by global warming. Californians are sharing that with our brethren in hurricane, tornado, and typhoon country. But make no mistake: global warming is coming for us all.

I changed my alarm sound from the annoying ding ding ding ding ding ding a-ding to the sound of a hooting owl echoing in a forest. It’s eerie and wondrous when it drops into the silence of my room.

Someone was talking about animism the other day and it made me think of Ayahuasca, the visionary drug processed by the Quechua people of the Amazon. It’s an arduous process to bring forth the drug, involving many steps, and not at all intuitive. When a Westerner asked the shaman how his people learned to process it he said, “The spirit of the plant told us.”

Trust the road
no matter where it
takes you, how many
forks and crossroads.
Wherever it leads,
in any direction,
is the path you must follow.

Looks like the giant Tick fire was started by a guy who was living in junkyard like conditions and decided to cook his lunch outside on the barbecue. In Santana wind conditions. Florida had nothing to do with it.

I finished the old compilation novel (Beneath a Hollow Moon) and put it in a trunk where it will get moldy or will come back out again and I can make it new. I’ve started another novel, one I’d written a couple of chapters on a long time ago. In fact, chapter one was the last Editor’s Choice I received from the Online Writing Workshop for SFF (OWW) before I left it. Carmina. It’s been doing a siren call to me for the last couple of months, and so far the writing’s been going well. Except for those two previously written chapters it’s completely new writing and that feels really good. Also, a completely different universe from the previous novel, and that also feels good. And the best part? I know the end but have no idea how I’ll get there! I’m stumbling around, but I feel like I’ve finally come home again.

I’ll forever be grateful for the things I learned from OWW, the community I was a part of, and the encouragement I received there. Invaluable.

It’s a process of letting go:
of youth,
of those we love,
of seasons of
grief and joy.
Let them go, let them fly.
Let them find new homes,
or sink away into the earth,
away from my fading heart,
my lightening soul.
Away, now!

My mother loved collecting chatchkes. Some because she loved them, some because they were given to her, some just because they were there. Most of them are not really to my taste, so my plan has been for some time to sell them on eBay. Why shouldn’t someone who actually likes this stuff have it? And why shouldn’t I make a little cash on the side?

I’m keeping some of the chatchkes because I do like them, but there are others I’m keeping because I feel too guilty about selling them. These were dear to my mother and I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them. Let whoever has to clean out this house when I croak and won’t know what my mother loved deal with them. (Sorry, unknown person of the future.)

It’s odd the power that things can have over us. We shouldn’t let them, but we do. Still, I console myself that I am getting rid of a whole bunch of junk. That is, treasures that I do not sufficiently appreciate.

I have put some of the eBay plan into action, but I still have a ways to go before listing and selling. It will only be two weeks today since I left my job and I’ve had some serious depressurizing to do. I’m slowly getting there. I think I have plenty of time to bring this plan about, but we all think that, don’t we? One never knows when time will run out. But I would like to get this junk gone before that poor above-mentioned person has to deal with it. I really want to streamline this house. Need. I need to. For my own sanity.

Maybe I’ll even have the gumption to start cleaning out my mother’s room soon. It will be three years in January since she passed. I’ve moved things into her room in temporary storage, managed to give away all her clothes to the cleaning lady (who actually did the job of cleaning out the closet), but mostly her room remains a time capsule. I just haven’t had the heart to deal with it—and frankly, I see no reason to push myself. It’s an important part of the grieving and moving on cycle, but it’s also important to do things when the time is right for me.

Those things in that room are not my mom, much of it not even vaguely precious to her, but they are the last tenuous physical link I have to her. I need to get to the point of getting rid of them without feeling like I’m getting rid of her.

There are people who will say (who have said) that I should bite the bullet and just do it. But I fundamentally disagree with them. Grief is a process. It must be moved through on its own timetable. And only the one who is doing the grieving knows what that timetable is.

In the meantime, I am surrounded by junk, both precious and not. But I am in motion. I hope to stay in motion, to keep moving forward until time stops.

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.”

—Joseph Campbell, quoted in Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“When your past calls, don’t answer; it has nothing new to say.”

—Deb Sofield, blog, September 10, 2016

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Nostalgia is the art of abandoning details.”

—Amy Shock, Thought Catalog

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Sometimes we can’t find the thing that will make us happy because we can’t let go of the thing that was supposed to.”

—Robert Brault, Twitterfeed, 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

—Wendell Berry, “The Real Work”


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.



I can almost guarantee you that the person I was referring to doesn’t read this blog or my Twitterfeed.

That post wasn’t really about that person, anyway. It was about me not letting go of something that contributes to the clogging of my creative pipeline. That person wanted to put me in my place and I allowed her to do that. I’m trying to let that go so I can be liberated from that influence. I haven’t quite made it yet because, hey, I’m human, but I’m working on it.

That’s what that post was about.

If you are reading this, I love you and I am grateful for all the help you have given me. Okay?

I have only ever taken one critique of my writing personally, and that was largely because it was meant personally. The critiquer mostly wanted to put me in my place and take revenge for an honest review I did of her Very Precious Novel. I told her that her writing was lovely, the characters in her book were interesting people I liked hanging out with, but I thought she’d done some chickenshit stuff with the plotting. Although I used, yanno, polite language, phrased things as positively as I could, trying to be supportive.

In turn, she said my novel was such utter dreck that she couldn’t make it past chapter 3 and didn’t want to waste anymore of her Very Precious Time actually finishing. Except, yanno, in semi-polite language. Though not very polite. Rather dismissive, in fact. Really hard not to take that personally.

Her novel went on to be published, mine did not, but mine got some positive response from agents. The ending was too controversial and “anti-market” but send the next novel along, and etc. Life took over and I wasn’t able to do any of that.

I admit to some perverse gratification when my critiquer’s novel was reviewed in Locus. They called her on the selfsame chickenshit plotting I had. Although the reviewer used, yanno, polite language. Though not as polite as mine. And I’d be lying if I said I was anything less than perversely gratified when the novel didn’t sell well.

Mostly, however, I take criticism like a grown woman. I ask people to read and critique my work because I want honest opinions so I can make it better. And I stay away from the perverse gratification as much as possible because I really do believe that negativity breeds negativity. It’s not healthy for me as a person or an artist to nurse grudges. They’re rather like hoarding useless junk. Too much of it in any one life and you wind up being one of those people buried alive and suffocated to death when a pile of old smelly junk falls on top of you.

No, envy and salacious glee at another person’s fail tend to choke the creative process. That needs to be as free-flowing as possible and if the artist encumbers herself with negative emotions she’ll stop moving altogether. I see it even more clearly now that I have so little time to do creative work, so little Me Time. An artist needs to be able to take those precious moments and run with them whenever they occur, wherever they lead.

And that includes being grateful for the time others spend reviewing and giving honest critiques of my work. I’m grateful for 99.9% of the reviews I’ve gotten. As you can probably tell from the opening of this post, I haven’t entirely succeeded on letting go of that one unfair one. I still grit my teeth when I see that person’s name. Fortunately, I don’t see it much anymore unless I masochistically google it. And I hardly ever do that. Hardly.

I don’t have time for that. I don’t have time for hoarding old newspapers of envy, scrap tin of grudge, and empty boxes of perverse gratification. I need to let go, lighten my load, and liberate myself completely from the junk preventing me from moving freely.

I’ve been coming to terms with my own physical limitations for the last week. I blew my knee out over the weekend and have had a hard time getting around. I had to borrow my mother’s spare walker, which was a huge blow to my ego, especially bringing it to work. I hate the melodrama of it—but it works better and causes me less pain than using a cane. The knee is progressively getting better. I’m hopeful that if I keep off my feet as much as possible this weekend I can do without the walker on Monday. Still, it feels like a ghostly voice whispering in my ear, “You are getting old.”

The truth is, I’ve been dealing with these physical limitations for awhile now. I’ve known for over a year that I need surgery in both knees. I’ve got no cartilage left at all. But I’ve been limping along because . . . who will take care of Mom when I’m laid up?

The recovery is actually a lot quicker than I thought it would be. My doctor says most people are walking up stairs after a couple of weeks. And I want to be able to walk again! This last week has shown me that the time for procrastination is done. Since there’s no one in the family to help me, I’m just going to have to scrape up the money to hire someone. Fortunately, Mom is still relatively high function. We’re talking about someone to run errands, cook meals, keep her on track with the meds and therapies, take her to doctor’s appointments. I’ve got an ambulance company that can take her to and from dialysis. I just have to let go of my protective need to take care of everything myself.

That, of course, is the hardest thing of all to do.

Next Page »