Month: December 2012

Deep and Meaningful

I wanted to write something of value for my Fringelings on New Year’s Eve. Something personal yet inclusive, inspirational without being hokey.  Spent the morning paging through poetry books, googling quotes.  I got nothing.

This year I will work towards more, I will work towards better, I will work towards feeling like enough.

Veritate et virtute “with truth and courage”

Happy New Year, I’m wishing the very best to all my readers, fellow bloggers, and anyone else who happens along.

Just in case you need something to get you in the mood:

An old timer’s New York New Year’s gift

It Makes Me Wonder

stairway to heaven

stairway to heaven (Photo credit: Cromo)

Last night, when Husband got home from work, we watched the clip of Heart performing Stairway to Heaven at the Kennedy Center. It was an amazing performance,  Ann Wilson’s voice strong and pure; I can’t imagine a finer arrangement to play homage to Led Zeppelin.  And let’s be honest, tell me it didn’t/doesn’t make you smile to see Michelle Obama grooving in her seat.

It brought me back. The hours and hours spent listening to them. I never saw Led Zeppelin live, though I did see the Honeydrippers, and Robert Plant again on a solo tour.  I don’t remember where either concert was held, but I have a clear picture of being so far from the stage at Plant’s show that I was glad one of the friend who were with me smiled and chatted with the guys next to us, so we could share their binoculars. I can’t remember if Husband and I saw him together, and neither could he, but I suspect not. Somehow Husband always got decent, if not excellent, seats.

A mesh of memories were triggered, not just the concerts.  Like being wrapped in a worn quilt with an old and stinky lobster trap over it. The overriding memory was of sitting on the edges of a Brooklyn park at night, a few friends and a guitar. We used to do that a lot, get a bunch of kids together in a park or on the beach, and remove ourselves from the world and the city with music. I was never a musician or a singer, but I always wrote, and like every other angst filled teen saw myself as the next Sylvia Plath. So sometimes there’d be a real effort, a real plan (ha!) to the night, one of the more talented guitarists would sit with me, and he or she would throw some chords together while I and whatever other writers were there would come up with lyrics. All terrible, I’m sure, all forgotten by morning. There’s a certain amount of noise that goes with living in the city at night, and the level considered acceptable was a lot more in those days than now. I grew up across the street from one of those parks, which really weren’t parks at all, but concrete playgrounds and yards attached to elementary schools. You could tell the time by the sounds you heard. Little ones shrieking, before 4 pm, basketballs thumping, “foul!” “fuck you, go home if you don’t like it!” 3-8 or 9pm, thwok-“shit!” were the handball players, between 7 and midnight, music, shouts, firecrackers, and “shut the fuck up, man!” between 10pm and 2am, waking to the thwop-thwak of the paddleball players at 7am.

This one night was perfect, magical to my teenaged self. I can’t remember who I was with, not names or faces, just the shadows next to me, the splintered wood of the bench under my butt, acrid smell and bitter taste of the luke warm, green bottle of Heineken, and a sweet female voice singing Stairway to Heaven. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, no clue how to get there, or even where there was, but I believed I could.


handball (Photo credit: gt8073a)

Jumped the Gun or Getting a Head Start?

Skizze zur Radierung „Sprint“

Skizze zur Radierung „Sprint“ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw Fatigue last night for Friday Night Madness, and we both talked about renewed efforts to pursue our respective arts. We talked about being flexible. Sort of, we talked about me being flexible. I think I can be, fiction, short fiction, romance, essays, blogging–though I’ve got limits. I cannot write erotica. Really, I tried, it didn’t flow. Or moan, or anything else it should do. Fatigue suggested writing reviews as a potential money maker.  I’m not sure how that would work, with me never going to the movies, or the theater, and usually reading books looong after their original copyright dates, but I’m not opposed to the idea.



I woke up at 5 am today, and spent the next 6 hours researching e-publishing vs self publishing. Again. I’ve done this many times before. Once Man Child and Nerd Child were awake and in the living room, I forced them to listen to me debate which path to try first. I’m pretty sure Nerd Child slipped his ear buds back in halfway through, but he appeared attentive at appropriate intervals.


And then, I did it. Please, dear Fringelings, don’t think I knocked off query and synopsis inside of an hour, both were already long written, edited, re-written and re-edited, waiting in my files. I submitted my short contemporary romance to an e-publisher, including query, synopsis, and pseudonym, following submission guidelines.


For this first stab at e-publishing, I went with the e-division of one of the big houses. I know, I know, this means less likely acceptance, but it’s a shot.


Do any of you have experience with submitting to/ publishing with any of the e-publishers? Words of wisdom? Voices of experience? Cautionary tales?


I am determined to get back on track with my writing and submitting this year, and take control of whatever I can.



022. (Photo credit: angela larose)


Hey 2012! Don’t Let the Door Hit You on Your Way Out

Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...

Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 1905 chasing old man 1904 into history. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It had moments, but overall, for me, 2012 sucked.  Starting Mrs Fringe was definitely a highlight; it was my way of stomping my spread out and beat up old foot, saying,”Yes! There is still a me.”


This New Year’s, I’m going to pretend there’s a possibility that life will be better, and I will have more moments.  And by better, I mean not any worse.  I’m old enough, had my ass kicked enough, to know this won’t happen magically. The problem with downward mobility is picturing it as a spiral, the pure golden spiral of mathematics or the spiral galaxies of the universe.


English: Golden spiral in rectangles. Portuguê...

English: Golden spiral in rectangles. Português: Espiral dourada dentro de retângulos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In other words, a somewhat predictable, plottable course. I don’t think plottable is a word, but it suits my purposes, so I’ll call it poetic license.  But for most of us living on the Fringe, it isn’t (assuming your descent isn’t the product of  addiction, cause that’s a different sort of blog). It’s more of a roller coaster without the ups. Squeaking along wheels shrieking and scraping against the tracks, and then a plunge that drives your teeth into your tongue and cracks your shoulder blade against the too low back of the seat.  But somehow, no matter how painful the ride is, you stay seated, following the directions like a good sheep, “Do Not Unbuckle Safety Belt While Ride is in Motion.”


I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions in a gazillion years.  It feels so Hallmark to me. But I’m thinking…gift giving at Christmastime is Hallmark, in and of itself.  However, I received some amazing gifts this Christmas that made me leak in their acknowledgement of Mrs Fringe as someone who counts. Here , here, and I can’t thank you enough here. Also, here. So out of this commercial and Hallmark tradition came something beautiful and human. The New Comfort Food cookbook had me thinking about the importance of being ok with being me, being grounded enough to say trying something different doesn’t mean becoming someone different. I’m going to test this, and see if maybe I can make a resolution or two in order to recognize my own humanity. I have three days to decide on a resolution or two, I’m thinking one will involve regular writing submissions.

Do you use the new year to make resolutions?




If I can figure out how to unclench my jaw, and get my brain to release my fingers from their death grip on the sides of this box car, I’m going to search my pockets for the tickets that must be hidden, and try a different ride.


Get Yer Tickets Here!

Get Yer Tickets Here! (Photo credit: HeyThereSpaceman.)


Writing Prompts for Rebels


Exploded pen

Exploded pen (Photo credit: quinn.anya)

In the interest of delaying Christmas prep, I started the day by checking out Facebook.  After hearing whispers and sniggers yesterday, I saw it; Facebook has changed their writing prompts.  They’ve done this before, when I first joined it just said my name and … Then it said “write something.” Today, it wanted to know how I’m feeling. I hit refresh, and it asked “what’s going on?” Really?  I thought this was social networking. Wouldn’t be very social if I began each day telling about my midlife aches and how many times I was awakened during the night.


I understand, the powers that be are experimenting with prompts to encourage conversations and drive traffic. Maybe users reposting all those memes instead of chats are bad for business.


Naturally, this made me think of writing prompts in general, and how very bad I’m always been with them. I just don’t find inspirational-you too-can tomes to be effective for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got enough books on writing and the publishing business to stock the reference section of a medium sized bookstore. But the feel good, court your muse, take out a fresh sheet of paper, “I’m a good friend…” 20 minutes of stream of consciousness, GO! Mmyeah, no. I know Anne Lamott works for many, but she isn’t my gal. My favorite is Stephen King’s On Writing, but I’m also quite fond of Some Writers Deserve to Starve, by Elaura Niles.  Really, no treatise on how to write has ever touched the elegance of Strunk and White, The Elements of Style.



No Spitting sign

No Spitting sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do so many books on creative writing include these squishy prompts and exercises? Whenever I read one, I feel like every elementary school teacher I had has me locked in an overenthusiastic hug while chanting, “What did you do on summer vacation?” And Mr Talbot has a little issue keeping the spittle inside his mouth, some might say slobbery.

So when I see these feel good, meaningful prompts, I shudder. And roll my eyes. If the prompt/exercise instructions actually includes the word muse, I giggle. No matter what I do, I do not feel inspired to write. Not just uninspired, but frozen, locked, hard pressed to remember that I’ve ever strung more than two words together to form a sentence.

Why are all these prompts designed to be feel good? I know many who feel great about themselves and their writing isn’t very good. They don’t see it, because they’re busy feeling good. I know others who question their every word, torture themselves over each comma, also not a surefire recipe for enjoyable work. Can’t tell as easily with this group, because their manifestos are locked in the attic next to the absinthe, waiting to be discovered posthumously.

This has me wondering thinking about what type of writing prompt will work for me. In the past, deadlines have worked. I’m pretty sure a paycheck would work. It’s self evident that looking at the laundry pile will get my fingers tap dancing across the keyboard. But a single phrase or sentence designed to let my not so inner verbose self loose?

Maybe if it was a clear direction to shut the fuck up.

What works/doesn’t work for you? If you read (or have read) books on writing, do you prefer the inspirational ones, dry and simple mechanics, or stories of other, successful writers?

omit needless words. repeat as necessary.

omit needless words. repeat as necessary. (Photo credit: darkmatter)


Mrs Fringe Remembers

empty platter

empty platter (Photo credit: Julep67)

a time when holidays and the work that went with them were fun.  I can’t pinpoint when it stopped, but it has.  I cook. I used to cook more frequently, more elaborately, and for more people than I do now.  I used to love to cook, challenge myself with new ingredients and recipes, but now, not so much. I still enjoy it sometimes, still like to try new recipes, but the holidays?  Every year I try to cut back a dish or two and the prep involved, but the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be. The dicing, sauteing, braising and sifting that used to give me a thrill is now just work. The hunt for the perfect ingredients necessitating hitting six grocery stores isn’t the treasure hunt it once was.

I could blame the kids and Husband, “I spoiled them.” It’s true, they’re used to good food, they’re used to fresh ingredients and most everything cooked from scratch. But the truth is their finicky palates aren’t a mystery, I’m the same way. If it’s my holiday too, which it is, and if I’m doing the work, which I am, then I want to enjoy the meal(s). I couldn’t possibly cook any fewer items than I’m planning for the dinners if I don’t want anyone to be hungry.

Christmas Eve Dinner: Baked Ziti (making the sauce right now), Horseradish Crusted Roast Beef, Spinach, Pear, and Parmesan Salad, Pumpkin Torte for dessert.

Christmas Brunch: Vanilla Maple French Toast, Cheesy Baked Grits, Asst breakfast meats, fake and real.

Christmas Dinner: Ham, Cauliflower roasted with Olives, Capers, and Pignolis, Some kind of mashed potatoes, not sure which kind, and a Rice Pudding Pear Tart.

It took until late this morning for me to decide what I’m going to cook this year. Man Child went with me to one grocery store, Nerd Child went with me to another, and I sent Man Child without me to the third. Unfortunately, he just texted to tell me they have no hams, spiral sliced or not.  Yes, it’s true! I stopped making the fresh ham from scratch a few years ago, and buy the ones that are precooked, just need to be heated. Wrestling with that big leg… the soaking, the skinning, the crying, I gave up.

I used to make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies, at least 7 different types each year, in the week leading up to Christmas.

Molasses comic

Molasses comic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They were math, language arts, history, and science lessons for the kids. They were an art, a pleasure, an excellent gift for people when you want to gift something personal and/or inexpensive. I stopped doing that when we moved into this apartment, the kitchen is impossibly small. This didn’t include the 2 or 3 cakes and/or pies I would make. Two years ago, Man Child asked for my cookie recipes so he could make them with his friends at his boarding school.  Sure.  It was actually a surprise for me, he came home with the cookies, having used the kitchen of one of his teachers. Absolutely one of the top 5 gifts I’ve ever received. –Speaking of fabulous gifts, one of my friends sent me a great paring knife!  A completely unexpected pleasure–both the knife and realizing he reads Mrs Fringe.

Who does the cooking for your holiday celebrations? Are you a fellow lunatic who won’t eat bottled salad dressing?

We spend Christmas Day at home now, I prep brunch the night before, after the stuff from Christmas Eve dinner is cleaned up, in between wrapping gifts and searching for the tripod to set up the video camera. It makes for a nice Christmas morning, I wake up and make coffee, shove the casserole dishes in the oven, and brunch cooks while we have fun opening presents, taking bad pictures, and knocking over the tripod.

So, what gives? I still love the idea of Christmas, the magic reflected on Flower Child’s face when she comes into the living room, watching the kids open their gifts, seeing the pleasure on Husband’s face as he watches them, seeing the excitement on their faces when he and I unwrap our own presents, the silliness of eating chocolate at 7 in the morning. Brunch is an open invitation and informal, I always make a lot so we usually have at least a couple of friends or relatives stop by, feels good.

Maybe I’m just a cranky old lady, and need to start making reservations for dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Dennys-Restaurant 12

Dennys-Restaurant 12 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Moments: On Christmas, Mourning, and Family

Hark! My angel :)

Hark! My angel 🙂

Yesterday I went Christmas shopping and had Man Child, Nerd Child, and Flower Child decorate the tree. It all had to be done, and I just didn’t feel like it. I am rarely “on top of” the Christmas shopping.  I always swear I will budget for it throughout the year, shop early, but usually, I’m scrambling, same as I’m doing now. I wondered why I do this at all, do Christmas presents even make any sense? This is the first year where I only have one child in school this week before Christmas, both boys are on break already.  Great! Except it feels like the school knows this, and therefore ramped up the extras so I can still spend my week running on empty from obligation to obligation.

I’m feeling umm, off balance since the shooting in Newtown CT on Friday. I stand by my statement from my last post, it didn’t make any sense and it still doesn’t.  If anything, I’m more confused than I was 4 days ago. What does this level of grief mean for our nation?  How much is personal, for the families and immediate community, and how much is ours, as a society, to take on? Where’s the line between sharing the burden of grief and glamorizing a heinous act? People are talking, and I hope they continue to do so.  Much of the talk is bluster and rhetoric, I can toe that crap to the side without a problem.  But I’ve also seen the beginnings of thoughtful discourse, with points and possibilities that should be explored. I am not a historian, and don’t know what was intended by the 2nd Amendment, or the correct way to apply it, if at all, in today’s society.

We are a nation of freedoms. With freedom comes responsibility.  Or in the plain English of Fringeland, the freedom to fuck up.  This is what, in my opinion, we should be talking about.  Personal responsibilities and how they apply to our families, our communities, our society.  I think, long ago, this used to be called ethics. But no, I don’t have a romanticized vision of the way things “used to be.” The reality is there are other atrocities that no longer occur here, are no longer legal or acceptable, that once were.

I ran around yesterday, my very best chicken without a head routine.  At the end of the day, I went to walk a dog. This dog’s owners have become friends, and are two people I respect and admire tremendously.  Man Child came with me, and though I’ve known them a few years now, this was the first time they were meeting. A moment.  In the midst of these days heavy with both bullshit and mourning, a moment of beauty.  I like these friends very much, they live their lives with integrity, and embody lives well lived. Another, newer friend recently met Nerd Child.  Another beautiful moment.  I like my children, they are thoughtful human beings and define possibilities. One has a strong sense of duty, immediate responsibilities. One has a keen instinctive eye for looking at the greater good, seems to have been born with the scales of justice connecting the chambers of his heart. One has an exquisite sense of social justice, crying at the thought of anyone being hungry. They have their own thoughts and opinions, separate from mine, Husband’s, and each other.

I don’t think I’ve hit on the purpose or meaning of life, as a parent or otherwise. I hold no answers, and as I get older, find more questions. As a parent, I want my children to believe in themselves and strive for their dreams, achieving some.  I want them to be responsible, contributing members of society. I want their dreams to include being responsible, contributing members of society. I want them to have their moments, hopefully more than I do, but still, moments when they can take a breath and say, “this is ok. I am ok.”

Personal moments aren’t enough to put aside the greater questions we need to examine and try to answer. They do not, can not, and should not negate loss, personal or public. Personal loss does not negate community or societal obligations. But if we value these moments, and recognize them because of their potential impact on others, they can matter.


lint (Photo credit: freebeets)


No Words

There are no words for this morning’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  No words, but I want to howl.

Senseless. It made no sense two hours ago, it will make no sense two hours from now, it will make no sense two years from now.

At least 18 children slaughtered, at least 8 more adults who devoted their lives to service for these children, for the community, slaughtered.

There can not be an answer.  I don’t care what the talking heads say tonight, tomorrow, next week.

Maybe if I waited to post, I would have more coherent thoughts. I don’t think so. Only this howl.

My heart is breaking for all of those involved.

Flower field

Flower field (Photo credit: CaptSpaulding)

XX vs Xwhy

English: A bearded lady from P.T. Barnum's cir...

English: A bearded lady from P.T. Barnum’s circus. This is from an article about Barnum in a Russian magazine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are we done arguing about whether or not there are gender differences?  Really, we’re different. Exceptions in the various ways in specific people, and yes, yes, we’re equally valuable, but different.

Some of these differences are cultural. Others just seem to be hard wired, in the genes, evident in prepubescents. I’d like to explore one of those differences today.

Mission 24 - Empty

Mission 24 – Empty (Photo credit: Jessia Hime)

Men are unable to replace a roll of toilet paper. I’m not even talking about hanging it from the roller, and won’t begin to touch which is the correct way for the paper to hang. Just taking out a new roll.

I realize women use toilet paper more frequently than men. But they use it. If I go into the bathroom and there’s no toilet paper, I bring in a new roll. If I’m leaving the bathroom and have used the last of the toilet paper, I get a new roll. If I’m in the living room on my computer and hear a masculine call from the bathroom, I get a new roll.

My father was ahead of his time, did a lot of the traditionally “female” jobs around the house. But never once did I see him replace the toilet paper. Maybe my parents aren’t such a great example, though. My mother had a thing about not having garbage in the house. Ever. Of any type. So many times I saw her remove the last twenty or so sheets of toilet paper and flush them just so she could replace it with a puffy and linty new roll. I know this because I watched, always hoping to see her pull out a package of pink toilet paper. Or blue, but the bathroom was pink, so pink would have made more sense.  If you’re young, you don’t know that toilet paper used to be available in colors (scented too, but that’s another story).  No, it was always white. Cheaper, and my father was a Depression baby who did the shopping–he would drive 3 miles each way for a store honoring double coupons. This is remarkable because there was a grocery store and two drug stores within a three block radius of where we lived. Driving three miles, he passed at least 9 other options.

Husband never replaces the roll. Nor does Man Child or Nerd Child. Flower Child, however, will.  She’ll even take the extra 10 minutes to hang it.

Maybe if I could find colored toilet paper, the males of the house would be inspired to replace it.

1970's Bathroom Suite

1970’s Bathroom Suite (Photo credit: libertygrace0)