the universe

“What is the strangest thing a stranger has ever said to you?” Mat Auryn asked his followers on Twitter (@matauryn). I remembered this: “I am so lost right now, like when I was a kid on a spinner at the playground and I fell off and I wanted to get back on, but I couldn’t. And it kept spinning.”

I didn’t respond very well, so I wrote this poem:

In real life, I typed up the poem, printed it out, drove back to the bookstore, walked up to the counter she was standing behind and handed it to her. “I wrote this for you,” I said. She laughed nervously. I turned and left.

I don’t know if she laughed at me with her friends, if it meant something, I don’t know what it meant. I just knew I couldn’t leave things as they were, reinforcing her maybe feeling that maybe nobody gave a damn. I concede it was a deeply weird thing for me to do—and probably more about me than her.

I usually went to that bookstore about once a week, but I don’t recall seeing her again. For all I know, she hid out in the storeroom if she saw me coming.

Whatever you need to say, from deep in your soul, say it. It doesn’t matter if people laugh at you. The universe needs to hear it.

And maybe laugh at you as well.


In 2019 I started keeping a coincidence diary—writing down odd linkages as well as the occasional synchronicity. Some of the stuff in this diary is very odd indeed, although much of it is quite mundane. Sometimes, however, patterns emerge even with the mundane coincidences. For instance, they tend to come in clusters. I’ll have a number of them for a month, then nothing for months, then another cluster. And when I reread them as a whole (as I do now and then) even the mundane ones are like a short walk through an uncanny valley. Some in the paranormal field also believe that the more you write them down, the more you will have—but that could just be a matter of perceptive, or paying attention.

I was rereading my diary this morning because I’ve had a string of coincidences in the last week and a half centering around this old post from 2016 about the firewolf in (allegedly) Native American Indian traditions. About a week and a half ago, some random stranger left a comment on that post on my website, telling me about a dream of a fiery wolf he’d had and how my post was just what he needed to read. Which was nice, but I didn’t think much more about it than that. I wondered how he’d found me, so I googled “firewolf” and got a bunch of stuff on a firewolf gaming system, so I tried “firewolf dream” and my post was third on the page. Which was also interesting and nice. A few days after that I was searching my Dreamwidth blog tags on a completely different subject and that post came up in the search. Which was interesting, but not that unusual. Then a few days ago, I read a tweet from an English artist I follow. She had done and posted an illustration of a firewolf. When I asked her where she had heard the story of the firewolf, she referred me to a traditional Jewish storyteller. Apparently, it’s one of their fairytales, a tale of redemption.

So, none of those incidents taken individually are all that odd, but strung together in a short period of time, they take on a different meaning and make me wonder what the Big U is trying to tell me. Skeptics would say that the only meaning is the human capacity to notice coincidence, but that’s no damned fun. I prefer other explanations, as illustrated by another entry in my diary, one that starts out quite mundane then takes a slight turn:

9/9/20: Last night I was watching the 1975 film version of Three Men In A Boat on YouTube and the character played by Tim Curry mentions “housemaid’s knee,” a term I’d never heard before. Today while listening to a Weird Studies podcast on the subject of synchronicity they mentioned housemaid’s knee. At the end of the podcast they said that even mundane coincidences are a way of letting you know that you’re hearing the music of the universe.

Yes, that’s better.

Here’s another, somewhat odder, and another in a string of PJ seeing things (or not seeing things) that makes me wonder about the Big U’s sense of humor. My BFF and I had been watching episodes of Hellier S2 in tandem, she at her house, me at mine. Mothman has become a sort of running joke between us ever since we watched Hellier S1 and I sent her a copy of John Keel’s The Mothman Chronicles to read. (The bracket text is me interjecting.)

2/17/20: I was watching the local news around 5 p.m. Sometimes they use live remotes as a background for the anchors. This time they had a shot of downtown L.A. with two large skyscraper office buildings in the middle distance, shot from the upper floors. As I watched, something dark with flapping wings flew out from behind one of the buildings headed towards the other. Just before it got to the other building it flipped in midair and flapped back the way it had come—but it suddenly disappeared about midway. I jokingly texted my BFF “I think I just saw Mothman,” and told her what I’d seen. I didn’t hear back from her until 7:04 p.m. At just about the time I’d texted her, she’d been walking with her husband [and not reading texts, just walking] and taken a really nasty fall and had to go to urgent care. Fortunately, nothing broken but she got pretty banged up and had a black eye. We were joking that Mothman had been warning of her personal mini-disaster [since some people believe he’s a harbinger of disaster]. I’m willing to believe what I saw was a trompe l’oeil or floating eye smuts or some sort of camera distortion, but the timing was still weird.

I haven’t even mentioned some of the weirdest coincidences in my diary. Maybe someday. And coincidence, of course, is in the l’oeil of the beholder sometimes, but the contemplation of them certainly makes the universe a more interesting place.

It’s so odd writing again for characters I first created 5 novels ago (Jeremy, Susan, Carmina, Maff from Blood Geek). Kind of like meeting up with old friends you haven’t talked to in 20 years. You kind of know them, but you kind of don’t, and it’s partially getting to know them all over again but with this strange deja vu.

Oh, criminy! The December 19 Democratic debate is going to be held about two blocks from here, at Loyola Marymount instead of UCLA. Looks like I don’t leave the house that day.

The Lao Tzu quote I used for the November 8 random quote of the day is so ubiquitous that it appears on t-shirts and coffee mugs, but I couldn’t verify that he actually said it. I don’t normally like to use quotes I can’t verify because there’s already too much of that on the internet. And I try to avoid ubiquitous quotes altogether, because generally the more ubiquitous they are, the less likely they are to be an accurate attribution. But when I pulled this one out of my random quote file yesterday shortly after posting about learning to live with limitations on Twitter, I thought, “Okay, Universe, I get the message.” I felt I had to use it. So, “attributed to Lao Tzu” and adding to its ubiquitousness. (Any time I use “attributed to” it means I couldn’t verify the authenticity of the attribution but decided to use the quote anyway.)

An interesting article on art and arthritis:

We overcome what we must. I’m kind of in a place now where I’ve said to myself, “You can either limit yourself because of your legs [arthritis] or do what you are able to and not make excuses.” This is almost a daily argument I have with myself.

I think I finally turned the corner there (and I really am so much better off than so many others). I’m still limited but trying not to limit myself. It’s tough not to give in to despair and self-pity sometimes, though, when you can’t do things like you used to do. But that accomplishes nothing. The lady in the arthritis article come through it, too, after a requisite period of mourning.

Losing my eyesight would be utter devastation. I think of what it did to my mom. Her stroke left her with severe vision impairment and she’d been a visual artist all her life. But she never gave up, not until maybe the last six months of her life when other things started to take their toll.

I fear sight loss, too. But that’s a fear for another day, and not part of my current objective reality. We have to deal with what’s on our plate right now, and keep digging deep to find the resources to continue in some way to be who we truly are.

If I had an RV, I’d call my RV Maria.

Yoiks. So many talking heads in the chapter I’ve been working on, and characters standing around frozen until it’s their turn to talk. I look forward to the rewrites. A very long scene, and possibly told from the wrong POV, but talking heads are easy to write when you’re trying to get through a lot of information. Not so much interesting to read, though. I still look forward to the rewrites.

People love to hate, and they love dancing around in their underwear feeling superior to everyone else.

Here’s another interesting article: “Ancestor Worship with Mother Nature: How Indigenous Death Rituals Illuminate the Web of Life” by Maria Popova:

The worst earworms are ones that play in your sleep and every time you wake up the tune starts up. Or is that just me? For a week, every time I woke up “My Darling Clementine” started playing in my head. I finally had to unleash extreme countermeasures by singing “Brandy” to myself until that replaced it. Lately, they have improved considerably. “Brandy” was replaced by “Look At Me,” which is heavy rotation on a VW commercial right now, then “Ave Maria,” also in heavy commercial rotation (Amazon). But that has now been replaced by Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” which is not in a commercial but a gift from the gods. A much classier run of earworms.

Yesterday, I decided to try a new deck of tarot. I had a reproduction of the Marseille deck that I’d never used and was going through it preparing to ask what they call interview questions to get to know the cards. I was shuffling them, hadn’t even asked a question yet, but one of them leapt from my hands and fell on the floor, which is always supposed to be significant. It fell sideways so it was neither upright nor reversed.

What card was it? This guy:

I stared at it, gobsmacked, then laughed. What else could I do? I picked him up and immediately opened the Marseille interpretation booklet.

Upright: “Energy and resources to advance, still looking for the right direction. Hovering above practical constraints. Determination and perseverance.”

Reversed: “Confusion, negative and inhibiting thoughts, self defeat. Sloppy use of one’s own tools may cause damage.”

I was still puzzled as to what the Knight was trying to tell me, but in the interval between then and now, I think I have a clearer picture. I went back to when he first started making his appearance, when he came up twice in the same reading, both times reversed. It occurred to me that I should perhaps always read him from the reversed position? But then I thought about the way he’d landed on the floor, sideways. As if I were at a tipping point and it could go either way.

It also occurred to me that I am at somewhat of a tipping point in my life—physically, spiritually, and in my creative life. I’ve been treading water, not really pushing myself too hard, allowing rationalization to dictate my momentum (or lack thereof) rather than just getting on with things.

So maybe Mr. Knight is telling me to get over myself and get moving.

If that’s not what he’s saying, I’m sure he’ll crop up again because I firmly believe the Universe repeats itself until you do get the message. Sometimes with slaps upside the head. And the slaps get harder the longer you refuse to listen.

I’m listening, Universe. I just hope I’m understanding.

Random quote of the day:

“In my youth I regarded the Universe as an open book, printed in the language of physical equations, whereas now it appears to me as a text written in invisible ink, of which, in our rare moments of grace, we are able to decipher a small fragment.”

—Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing

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.


I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not young enough to be absolutely certain I know the truth. The shades of grey multiply with each year. But that’s okay. The things that important are beyond those kinds of thought processes. We can feel around their edges, if we try real hard and remember they’re always changing shape anyway.

I’ve been sick for the last few months, all sorts of unusual gastrointestinal and stomach issues, about every two weeks, interspersed with bouts of feeling absolutely fine. I finally went to the doctor last Friday. He thought it might be pancreatitis brought on by a medication he prescribed just about two months ago, because that’s one of the rare possible side effects. I’m not sure about that because people are usually hospitalized for pancreatitis and he didn’t suggest that. True, I resisted going to the doctor all that time–because that’s just what I do. I finally took myself off that medicine in late June. I’ve been gradually improving, sort of, although I’ve been sick again for the last 4 days. Each bout of this is milder than the last, but I am definitely sick of being sick. I think doc was mostly baffled by my symptoms but agreed with my decision to take myself off the medicine. He is having blood and other tests done, but no results yet.

Today’s Google doodle is quite wonderful–and quite emotional for me. Maybe it’s because the moon landing was one of the seminal events of my young life; maybe it’s because we had hope then that the world might come together now that we could see how tiny and fragile our Earth was. I’ve never had that kind of hope again–well, maybe for a short time when the Berlin wall came down. Hope is as fragile as our Earth suspended in the immense blackness of space.

I should also add that I had that kind of crazy hope again when President Obama was elected. But.

I bet the phone answering system in Heaven is Hell.

Great article by Maria Popova at Brainpickings: The Banality of Evil: Hannah Arendt on the Normalization of Human Wickedness and Our Only Effective Antidote to It

Best fortune cookie fortune I ever got? After a long dinner conversation with my artist friend about whether we should continue to pursue our art or give up: “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” My friend got the same fortune. We told a mutual artist friend about it and went back to the same restaurant, partially because of the food but partially because of the fortune. We got the usual run-of-the-mill fortunes but our other friend, who had also been questioning whether to give up the art, got “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” #Synchronicity

That feeling when you listen to a piece of music you loved in your youth that you haven’t listened to for a long time…but it no longer works. #NotOdeToJoy


The Universe is infinite, yet small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

SOCIAL EXPERIMENT: Someone on Twitter posted, “If you come across this tweet, reply with the grade you were in when you had your first nonwhite teacher.” Oh God. I can’t remember even one, even in college. THIS IS SO BAD.

People are surprised that a large segment of the public are credulous and strenuously resist logic. Even a casual reading of history shows this has always been so. The difference now is that we have entire news outlets and social media sites promoting the lack of critical thinking.

Everyone is a conflicted human being. We have to admit that to ourselves or risk getting ourselves into a lot of trouble.

It’s interesting: Because I just write and push through without editing to get words on the page, my first drafts always have a lot more of my working class origins in them. I leave some of that language in if it suits the character, refine it if not.

Random quote of the day:

“In my youth I regarded the Universe as an open book, printed in the language of physical equations, whereas now it appears to me as a text written in invisible ink, of which, in our rare moments of grace, we are able to decipher a small fragment.”

—Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself the last couple of days for various reasons. Just this morning I was lying in bed doing a “poor me” routine in my head. I eventually told myself to put a sock in it and get over myself. As I swung my legs out of bed I noticed a stamped envelope sitting on the floor next to the bed that I’d swear wasn’t there before.

Let me back up a bit first before going there.

A few nights ago, I had a dream about my cousin S. We had a “misunderstanding” not quite a year and a half ago and haven’t spoken since. I love her and regretted things were that way but I didn’t know if I should contact her. I didn’t know if she’d welcome contact. So, I took the easy way out and stayed silent. It’s not as if I have a lot of relatives left in this world. I’ve got really good friends, for which I’m very grateful, but not that many relatives left that I’m close to. Oh, there are legions of cousins and even a niece or nephew or two but I hardly know them. They’re virtually strangers. But S. has been in my life most of my life. This dream reminded me of that.

When I got up the morning after the dream I did a lot of thinking. I very much believe in dreams as messages, both from the deeper core of who we are and from that part of us that is connected to the larger universe. I thought this dream might be something of the latter. I thought I had to reach out, but I wasn’t brave enough for an email and most especially not a call. I texted S. and asked how she was doing. She texted me back and we chatted a bit. No mention was made of the misunderstanding (for which I am grateful—not that brave) but at least we talked and were friendly.

I really don’t want to lose contact with her. I really want her to know that she means a lot to me. Maybe I’ll work up the courage to say/do more later, but for now I’ve done what I could.

So, that envelope on the floor this morning. I recognized it before I picked it up and it did startle me to see it. Inside was a letter from my aunt, S.’s mother, who died of breast cancer some years ago. She wrote it while going through chemo and although she did have a lot to say about how miserable she felt, her pluck and sense of humor also came through strongly. She faced that trial with courage. It did give me some much-needed perspective.

The thing is, as I said, I don’t remember it being there the night before. And coming as it did so closely on the heels of that dream about S.…It was too much of a coincidence for me to pass it off as coincidence. I had pulled some books out of the bookshelf near the bed yesterday that hadn’t been moved in quite some time, so maybe the letter had been tucked in with them—although I can’t imagine why I would put it there. It was a precious letter to me. And, anyway, I only put that information here in the spirit of full disclosure and for those who need the comfort of coincidence to get them through the day. For me, it was no coincidence.

Now, what was my aunt or the universe was trying to tell me? That’s a bit murkier. Was it a rebuke for not contacting S. before, for the misunderstanding, for not having the courage to communicate more? Was it a thank you for doing what I had done? Was it reinforcing the “get over yourself” for feeling self-pity? Was it a reminder that I needed to finish that story based on my aunt? Or was it just a general “hey there”?

I’m afraid figuring that out is beyond me at this point, though I’ll work on it. That’s the thing about “communications.” They are often quite murky. It’s part of our process to figure them out on our own, I think. We learn more that way, I guess. But dang.

Maybe the message is as simple as don’t take things for granted. Don’t take this life for granted. Get on with what you’re meant to do in this life and be good to the people you care for because it and they can be taken from you at any moment. Use the gifts you have been given. That’s the true mission for any of us in this world. That, I believe, is what the Universe truly requires of us: use it or lose it.

Random quote of the day:

“The closest you will ever come in this life to an orderly universe is a good library.”

—Ashleigh Brilliant, Pot-Shots

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:

“The arc of the moral universe retreats and advances like a samba.”

—Teju Cole, Twitterfeed, June 26, 2013

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.

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