Take the Safety Off

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Well, kiddo, you’re not going to die happy if you don’t at least take a run at it. An early morning thought. I’d been avoiding writing a novel version of the short story “In the Land of Two-Legged Women,” which had been critiqued in Master Class taught by Margaret Atwood at the 92nd St Y in New York. Atwood said she thought it could be a novel and movie. My god! Atwood said that? Time to get to work. Yeah, right.
Many years later I woke up with the get-on-with-it kiddo thought. The story takes place in the city state of Ramprend and it is not a good place for females. Girls’ legs are sawn off at the onset of puberty. I did not want to go into that place again. I survived it for a short story but a novel length of time in Ramprend was downright scary. I feared what happened in Ramprend wouldn’t stay in Ramprend and I would become completely freaky. Weird, but it was there, producing years of avoidance.

There was also something else going on. Writing about something and actually doing it are obviously not the same. However, there are actions with which a writer might not want to be associated.We all live with inner critics. Mine would scream, “How could you imagine such things? What will people think of you? All kinds of assumptions would be made about the writer. All kinds of actions might be tried against the work and its writer. Social media as we know it didn’t exist when I was going through this. If it had, I would not have been surprised at death threats, given the pathetic creeps who prowl the internet.

Thinking about being on my death bed feeling like a damned coward drove me to my Mac. I found I could enter Ramprend everyday, then step back into my life. I got through it. I wrote the scary thing. After a long search Inanna Publications accepted it. It is forthcoming this Spring.

I’ve made my peace, more or less, with being able to write what I did. Actually, I’ve gone further, darker, and am planning on continuing to do so. I’m glad I got off the coward path, even though I scare myself from time to time, as I did with “Lock and Load,” a short story in which a woman murders a sexual harasser who’s been making her life and those of three colleagues absolutely miserable. There’s the possibility she’ll get away with it.

Not too long after writing it a sentence popped into my head, “I’ve taken the safety off my voice.” In the subterranean depths of my soul I’d known for years I could write dark, very dark. I avoided acknowledging that. There is the novel with its darkness, but in some weird fashion I must have been treating it differently because it happens in a made-up world. My attitude about my world was there is so much negativity, why add to the darkness people can fall into? Thus, I tried to write honestly while remaining a “good” person.

When I think about my writing, I invariably think about other writers. I’ve known people who write very well and have urges to do so, yet they rarely write—or have given it up entirely. One reason for avoidance discussed by psychotherapists, writers, visual artists is a fear of creating. They who want to write can feel they should not presume to think they could create something no one else could. They’re certainly not gods who can bring forth what’s never before been made manifest.

“Creativity is neither the product of neurosis nor simple talent, but an intense courageous encounter with the Gods.” Rollo May. Read his “The Courage to Create.”

Another reason for writing avoidance, related to the above, can be expressed as, “Oh, my god! What terrible, horrible, awful, embarrassing stuff might come tumbling out if I don’t watch my mouth.” There are many things we can want to keep out of sight, even our own sight. Mean-spirited acts. Desires for the not-usual. Anger—a particular bugaboo for women. Fear. Vulnerability—a bugaboo for men. It takes courage to follow Virginia Woolf’s declaration. “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” That includes the people you create.

Telling the truth about yourself does not mean you have to share all of it with the world. But to write honestly, interestingly you need to acknowledge you have complexities, including thoughts, feelings, behaviors you wish weren’t part of you. They’ve been kept hidden because if acknowledged, known, they’d be viewed as not nice or yucky or weak or pathetic or downright abominable to “good” people. However, consider this. Nice, good people tend to produce boring writing. Boring because it isn’t lifelike, it doesn’t ring true. I suggest you heed Margaret Atwood. “The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by another person, and not even by yourself at some later date.”

With a gun, the safety is on or it is off. With the writing voice the safety can be kind of off. Writers can push themselves, but not enough to gain the richness their work could have with the voice safety off. Richness includes not-nice stuff. Life isn’t unending days of joy and laughter. And neither are good stories. Or essays or poems. Robert Ready, writing professor (Drew University, New Jersey), tells students to make some noise in their writing. He sent the following to this writer, “As a story teller, thou shalt believe in rage, lust, treachery, self-deception, all the ways people have of binding themselves and others on the wheel of fire Lear rages on.”
 
Take the safety off. Make some noise. Remember—no one is going to read it, not even you.

Originally posted on “The Artist Unleashed” blog on 7/9/16 under another name.

 

 

 

Big Daddy

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I could very well be wrong but I wonder if young women are supporting Bernie Sanders because he’s seen as the good daddy who will make everything right. I can hear Elizabeth Taylor’s voice in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” saying, “Big Daddy.” A little girl voice. Her desires are not the same as young women following Sanders, but with them I can imagine a young voice trying to connect with the one who will solve all the problems.

For the most part older women, feminist or not, know that men aren’t saviors. Men are humans, which means they give some, but they expect something in return—sometimes too much. But young women don’t have the experience to know that—unless they’ve regularly been coming up against men who are just plain stupid or awful. Women can spin great fantasies about men who will take care of them. However, we live in patriarchy, the serious Big Daddy world, and in that world Big Daddy is like a two-edged sword, capable of cutting for good or ill.

Much is made about women being caretakers but many women end up not wanting to be like their caretakers, their mothers? Does this play a part in the attachment to Sanders? Do young women fear a woman president would be like the mothers they don’t want to emulate? And is there a  subconscious feeling that only the Good Daddy is capable of taking care of millions of people, including adults? Does the caretaker label extend to women only when family is involved?

There isn’t anything we can do about these questions in this election year but they’re worth thinking and talking about for our future.

Think About

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See previous post for more info—

How long will you pretend the ship isn’t sinking? How long will you ignore events whirling around you like a maelstrom and go along as if life is just peachy-keen?

Think about police running amok costumed, or not, in SWAT gear.

Think about citizens running amok killing each other for no good reason.

Think about men in states across the nation prancing around with hand guns and assault rifles dangling off their bodies. Think about them going into stores, churches, parks where children are playing—and think about how the police can’t do a damned thing about it because the filthy NRA has politicians by the balls or boobs.

Think about how guys with perceived teenie, weenie peenies—flaccid or erect—and how they have to have dangling guns to feel like men. “The most dangerous men on earth are those who are afraid they are wimps” James Gilligan

Think about the women involved in pseudo-weenie wag insanity. Think of the silly little twits blathering on about castrating and shooting animals. Think about how that makes them just like the teenie, weenie guys.

Thank about the greed of the wealthy. Think about how they lie, cheat, manipulate and rip off the not-wealthy. Think about how corporations are valuable and individual humans are not. Think about how consumer goods are to be compensation for you being thought of as an expendable thing.

Think about socially endorsedbut denied—white hatred of black people and what that means. Filthy, sicko home grown terrorists regularly kill black people. We work ourselves into a lather over the possibility of outsider terrorist action but merrily go along thinking our very own terrorists are just crazy individuals. Think about how accepted hatred creates crazy.

Think about how the US is often described as having a rape culture. Think of how arrested rapists gain sympathy while their victims are vilified. Think of how women in the military are expected to offer their bodies to provide jollies to filthy pieces of shit because rapists are better than women. Think about how the politicians and the military want to maintain this environment.

Think about women in prison for fighting back against the pieces of shit that had been abusing them for years. Think of how these women should be given medals. They were, after all, cleaning up the environment.

Think about the cockamamie wars created out of no intelligent understanding of what’s happening in troubled nations, and with no clear objectives and plans. Think about torturing prisoners of war. Think about sending citizens to foreign nations to be tortured. Think about that disgusting, filthy John Woo who created the torture memos so filth like Rummy, Cheney, Condi and their fellow evil doers could order the torturing and killing of anyone they wanted to.

Think, think long and hard, about the politicians that want to repeat all  that horror.

Think about the physical infrastructure of the nation falling apart. Think about driving across a bridge being an act of faith in—nothingness. Oh, well, c’est la vie. It’ll all be nothing pretty soon.

          Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold:

          Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

         The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

         The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

         The best lack all conviction, while the worst

         Are full of passionate intensity.

I don’t think William Butler Yeats was thinking of the United States when he wrote “The Second Coming,” after the First World War, but he predicted our present. A “rough beast” has slouched into America and is destroying a nation that once had promise.

Think about arranging chairs on the sinking ship.

Illegitimi non carborundum

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Notes:

1] If you don’t know or remember the mock Latin phrase in the title, it’s “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

2] The last post was about cleaning out my psychic refrigerator. This is about one item I have tossed.

 

Forgiveness is a “virtue” created by men to keep women from fighting against obstructionism, unwelcome advances and violent attacks.

My, oh, my. What an idea. For some time I’ve thought forgiveness is vastly overrated. Who gains? Allegedly the one who is forgiven. Also, allegedly good for the soul of the forgiver because not forgiving is supposed to eat away at the soul—as does hate. Balderdash and poppycock. I’ll keep the street language to myself. It’s so virtuous to use nice, soft words. This is the end of nice, soft words.

When I originally thought that forgiveness is a hornswoggle I also thought that it couldn’t be true. EVERYONE knows forgiveness is GOOD. However I’ve come to believe I’m right. Forgiveness is a Monumental Con. The male of the human species does not have a stellar rep when it comes to treatment of women, thus there is a serious desire for forgiveness. Oh, yes, there are good guys of course, but you look at men in the aggregate and you see a whole lot of woman-hating going on. Think of all the nations in which women are treated as things to be used by men for their purposes, frequently used violently. Think of places in which girls, thus women, aren’t allowed to have education. That would be dangerous. To men.

Think of the women-hating Republican party in the United States that treats women as things to be controlled, used and abused. Think of all the woman-hating reproduction legislation. Think of a 20 year prison sentence for a stillbirth. The people of Indiana suspected an abortion attempt by a woman. No evidence. But she lost her baby, obviously she needed to be incarcerated. A finer example of woman-hating would be hard to find, except execution. I won’t be surprised when a woman-hating law is passed ordering the termination of women who might have aborted, naturally or with assistance. I am not kidding about not being surprised.

Also think of those who support rapists, while hating the victims. One woman declared about 18 rapists of an eleven year old girl, These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.” No sympathy for the terrified, violated victim. Furthermore, it was the eleven year old’s and her mother’s fault. Not the fault of those filthy pieces of shit. Then there’s the Republican Connecticut State Representative who, during a discussion of a bill dealing with college rape, said if witnesses are present at a rape, “… it’s a really great party.”

Given enough latitude our home grown women-haters would take us right into the horror territory in which so many of the world’s women live. Wrong. We’re about to fall into horror territory. Think Gilead from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Think that. No, wrong again. Think worse.

Wake up, women and men of good heart, this country is filled with politicians and citizens that do not consider women to be humans deserving all the rights penis possessors possess. I know the correct usage of that and who. The ones of whom I write have lost who status in my world. After all they think women are a that—to be used and abused. I extend to them hate-filled disrespect and contempt.

We’re supposed to forgive those who consider us sub-human—and at fault when attacked. NOT I. Forgiving men for the sins they commit against us hasn’t taken us very far. Century after century we’ve struggled on, sometimes with a little hope. It’s time to stop being enablers, collaborators. It’s time to toss out forgiveness and engage in justifiable hate. Let the women-haters, which includes females, fear the women and men who go to war against them. Let the women-haters forgive us for our resistance. Ha. Do you think they’d do that? I have no money on it.

“A strong hatred is the best lamp to bear in our hands as we go over the dark places of life, cutting away the dead things men tell us to revere.”  Rebecca West

Let us cut away forgiveness. Let us hold onto strong hatred—and use it whenever we can.

Leftovers

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I opened my refrigerator to put in fresh nutrients and didn’t have space, not until I cleaned out what was in there, some of which was giving off odoriferous reminders of their out-of-date status. Life can be like opening a refrigerator and getting a whiff of mold or rot on the way to desiccation. Psychic leftovers of no earthly use, yet there, impediments to getting on with life.

I have a few. There’s a stinky one—sloth, taking the easy way because what’s the use of trying harder? Definitely should be dumped but it sneakily stays in the back, waiting to send out signals of Don’t Bother. Perhaps it got there because of growing up feeling worthless, resulting in lethargy. Worthlessness no longer stinks, but it takes up room, along with sloth, pushing away traits that could nourish creativity.

Cleaning out a kitchen refrigerator isn’t that hard. It might not be fun-filled but doable, not taking much time. A psychic refrigerator with contents is another matter. One can’t grab sloth and worthlessness, drop them in a plastic bag and take them to the dumpster. Perhaps I could label something in the tangible refrigerator and go through the motions of tossing the psychic trash, do the New Age airy-fairy ritual thing. I could try it. Put the word SLOTH on the carton of left-over sour cream and walk it to the trash. Write WORTHLESS on some dubious cheese and run it out. It would amuse the hell out of me but it wouldn’t solve the problem.

I guess I’m stuck with every minute of everyday dealing with the leftovers of a less than encouraging childhood and youth. Well, if that’s the way it is, at least I have the refrigerator-with-contents image to entertain me. I’ll put a picture of a refrigerator in my office to remind me that I must keep on again and again trashing the leftovers.

 

Dump Nice

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Someone said, “Nice is letting things happen to you.” I suspect she, and I’m sure it was a she, was telling it as it is. Nice is for girls and women. Saying a man is a nice guy is almost damnation with faint praise. She’s a nice girl/woman asserts she is as she should be. And to be nice is to be kind. Not when it comes to women. Being nice for women generally involves being doormats, which is certainly not being kind to self.

Women, let’s dump nice. Make it a dirtier word than the one considered the dirtiest in the English language. (You can look that up at urbandictionary.com. It starts with c and ends with t and is used in connection with women.) If a woman strives for nice she is dooming herself to being half or less of what she could be. She’s also contributing to the damnation of other women. There’s that slogan “Well-behaved [nice] women seldom make history.” I suspect it’s never. Stirring things up makes history. Stirring things up usually involves not-nice behavior.

The women who fought for the vote here and Europe engaged in not-nice behavior. If they hadn’t given up at least a degree of nicey-nice we women wouldn’t be voting. Nor would we be working at jobs we chose rather than were herded into, even though we might have had absolutely no interest in them. Nor would we have children while we work at chosen jobs. Nor would we have children even if we don’t have husbands. Add your favorites to this list.

Nice doesn’t produce anything useful for women. We’ve got to turn it into a dirty word and go forth ready to do whatever battles confront us. The best way to be kind to women is to battle with the enemy. Women, identify your enemies, some of whom will be women—alas—and figure out how you can stop them.

An example from me: If you’re a feminist—I am—you are supposed to vote for women to shift the power balance. I would NEVER vote for a Republican woman— anymore than I would for a Republican men which includes a South Carolina Senator who calls women a lesser cut of meat.  Any woman who associates with a party that includes creeps like this is the enemy. I am not a lesser cut of meat and neither is any other woman. And I want nothing to do with women who enable men to think of women that way.

Note—please don’t bother trying to justify Republican women to me because they are NOT nice and kind to women. I repeat, they are my enemies.

Woof!

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Do you have days when you’re just sick of yourself? You try to be a person you’d like to be—all the time—but you keep screwing up. You just get so tired of not measuring up … to what, whom? You’re not sure, but you know you’re not operating at a high level and you feel terrible and you just want to quit and check yourself out. Do you ever have days like that? 

Or are you a person who has a pretty accurate sense of reality so you know you’ll have days when everything goes awry, but that’s just the way things are? You get the ups. You get the downs? If you are that kind of person, I’m happy for you. Kind of. Actually, it’s kind of annoying.

I have a friend who gets Black Dog days, when he considers himself a not worthy person. He is a worthy person. I’d tell you if I thought he really should have black dog days. He’s high functioning in the life he’s chosen. He’s the one who introduced me to the term Black Dog. Actually there’s a mood disorders facility in Australia called Black Dog Institute. My friend has not been there. He deals with his black dogs himself. I wish him well.

Hell, I wish myself well. Writing this has made the current dog turn dark gray. He’ll eventually fade away. I hope this has given those who have sick-of-self days some solace in knowing you’ve got company. Black Dogs are just part of life for some of us. Good thing I like the color black. Hope you do too.

P.S. It doesn’t help that it’s winter and I firmly believe we should all be in hibernation

Winter Relief

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Rather like the foot part of a cowboy boot. Narrowed, turned up toe. Bas relief floral design on the outside flashing beauty for all to see. Shiny black leather booties. Close fitting at the ankle. Back zipper necessary to get in. To be worn with jeans, slacks, skirts, dresses. I can even see them with black hose and a shimmering dress on a flapper Fox Trotting across a floor. “Ain’t We Got Fun.” I know. Wrong footwear but they’d look smashing.

I’ve wanted these booties for a long time. Over my shoe budget. Most expensive footwear ever bought. Two thousand fifteen arrived and I indulged. Of course they can’t be worn now, in the dead of winter. Not because of snow; the salt would destroy them in one season. So why did I buy them now? I don’t know. Perhaps they’re incentive for the tiring business of staying more or less alert for three months doing the work necessary for my forthcoming novel “In the Land of Two-Legged Women.” It’s winter. We should all be curled up under fluffy blankets blissfully dreaming of delicious adventures through the dreariness of the season of ennui. I can’t do that, so I look at my beautiful, delectable booties sitting on a chest in my office, waiting to be worn with black jeans—and flapper-like dresses.

I hope they help me through this winter. But, if they don’t I’ll have them when spring reminds us life is worth living. They’re ready to dance and strut the stuff. Ready to say, “Hey, look what Huey has. Ain’t they grand?”

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Bear Involvement

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“Residents are encouraged to refrain from any unnecessary involvement with the bear.” So declared my local newspaper. New Jersey residents are having encounters with bears. Allegedly, one county has more of them per square mile than anywhere else in the nation. Sadly, a bear killed a young hiker a week or so ago.

I had an almost-involvement with a bear. My aunt, her three daughters and I were camping with our families at Twin Lakes in the Cascade Mountains. Mt. Baker is guardian of the place. We climbed up to a high meadow from which you could think you were standing directly across from the mountain. Mt. Baker is blue and white magnificence, particularly from that perspective. It’s also frightening. I stared at that inanimate beauty and knew in the nano particles of my being that human survival is of no importance to Mother Earth. Then I smelled something. My aunt and I looked at each other and nodded. I don’t know how I knew I was smelling bear, but my hunter aunt had the experience to know. She didn’t have a rifle that day. Wanting no encounter with the bear we hurried my cousins back to camp.

When I was living in the foothills of the Cascades I had no idea I would some day live in New Jersey. I certainly wouldn’t have anticipated bear involvement, necessary or non. I grew up assuming bears wanted nothing to do with us; but we have taken over much of their territory, so now they’ll open screen doors and walk right into our kitchens. I imagine them sitting at tables, holding forks and knives, waiting to be served. Perhaps banging the flatware on the table to speed things along.

A favorite story, “Brilliant Silence” by Spencer Holst, tells of bears trained to do tricks in a circus. Through a series of mishaps they are left on an island off the coast of South America. They breed and their offspring, generations of bears, know all the circus tricks, including dancing. In a sparkling white crater made by a meteorite crashing into chalk they dance paw to paw to unheard music in a pool of moonlight, perhaps reminded of a circus spot light. It is a poignant, beautiful image.

There’s a moral in my rambling. For bears. Avoid involvement with humans. Be wary of raiding bird feeders and garbage cans. Stay away from our kitchens. Our planet doesn’t care about your survival anymore than it does that of humans. And we humans fear nature with tooth and claw—and we have guns. Find some humans who will take you to a place, perhaps an island, where you can live as you want, without threat. I wish for you a safe home, one where we humans can imagine you dancing paw to paw, to your favorite songs, in a pool of moonlight.

Spencer Holst. “Brilliant Silence.” James Thomas, et al, editors. Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories. W. W. Norton. New York, 1992.

Odd Connection

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“Who wrote “All the King’s Men?”

It’s one of my favorite books. I know who wrote it, Robert Penn Warren. But my mind was blank; I had no answer. I know a lot of things that refuse to come forth, to identify me as a person of “wide knowledge.” Almost as if my brain has gone self-effacing. Or maybe my brain is mad at my mouth for some reason and refuses to communicate with it.

People chalk up the problem of not remembering a name or other words to growing older. We get so much stuff in our heads, good and bad, that rapid thought turns slower    and    slow er. In fact I’m pretty sure I read something about that recently. An article in … Uh. Yeah!

This idea of too much stuff to sift through quickly might be right, but it’s more fun to think of the brain being mad at the mouth. How many times do we utter stuff we wished we hadn’t. I did it recently, thus insulting a woman. As she walked away my brain thought, “WTF! How could you do that?” My mouth babbled before my brain engaged. I can imagine my brain getting so disgusted it would withhold information for quite some time.

My brain and my mouth do have a peculiar relationship. A guy I was dating asked me, “What was the name of the lead singer in Jefferson Airplane?” My brain was thinking, “Oh my god, I don’t remember. What was her name? Good god, he’ll think I’m a dunce.” Whilst my brain blathered on, my mouth said, “Grace Slick.” This came as a great surprise to me. I thought I’d lost that permanently. I wrote something a few days ago that probably would have been better non-communicated. Too bad. I hit Send. Can’t be called back. I better watch my mouth and my fingers to avoid being horrified. But sometimes the gaps can produce good surprises and even be amusing, such as wanting to say zucchini frittata but coming out with bikini frittata. There’s obviously a lack of consistent connection between my brain, mouth, fingers.

I choose to think that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” —Oscar Wilde

One does what one can to hang onto thinking one doesn’t have a little mind that’s unimaginative. Even when the mind, little or not, isn’t letting you in on what you know.

Oh, wait. I almost forgot. H. P. Lovecraft wrote, “Creative minds are uneven and the best of fabrics have their dull spots.”

Hold that thought.