Lost

Lost. That’s how I’d describe myself right now. Lost, but not hopelessly. The day after I posted the last blog, I had an inspired idea for the fall writers contest. But I wasn’t writing anymore, so what was the point? The problem is, when I have a good story idea, I can’t just banish it. It pings around in my head, and I write sentences, scenes, dialogue, and then rewrite them over and over. It won’t stop until I put it on the page. So I finally did. It’s not my best. Nor my worst. It’s a good story.

Still, when I thought about picking up my finished novels, and editing them, there’s nothing but resistance. It feels like relief not to have to try to get them out into the world. But then I hear about a waitress who was laid off during Covid, wrote a book, and got published. She’d never wanted to be a writer. Never spent years practicing and getting better. Just wrote a book, and wham! Published. Or a 9 year old who published two books during the pandemic. It’s just that easy apparently, which makes me a complete failure. Granted,I never really had time off to write, as they did, but still. The irritation and jealousy that rears its ugly head means I’m clearly not done with writing, just as the fact that a story pestered itself into existence, tells me that writing is clearly not done with me.

At first my grim prognosis of the world didn’t seem to actually depress me. Nor did me not wanting to write. But as the days have gone by, I’ve watched my mental health decline. I’ve become more insecure, more numb, more unhappy. Not writing is not the answer.

That caused me to look at why I don’t want to write. After some reflection, I believe the problem is two-fold. 1) I’ve lost confidence in my writing ability. Sending out a manuscript over and over, revising over and over, and still never getting one person who was interested enough to request more pages, inevitably leads me to think I simply can’t write. I mean yes, I have talent, but I’m missing something that successful writers have, and until I figure out what that is and fix it, it’s all pointless.

And 2) I’ve lost the joy of writing. I’ve heard other writers talk about how much they hate the process of writing. That seems insane to me. If you don’t like doing it, why do it, even if you’re good at it? For me, losing myself in a story was pure joy. It’s what drove me to want to spend my weekends sitting at a desk in front of a computer. What could be better? But the joy is gone. It’s work. Work that I no longer think I’m particularly good at. And now I look back at all the social events I said ‘no’ to because I wanted to write. What a waste, because those invitations come far less often now, after years of ‘no’ and what have I got to show for it?

I’ve identified the problems, now I need to find the solutions. Writing is a lonely, solitary endeavor, and it’s easy to start listening to the doubts when they’re the only voice you’re hearing. One thing I have always wanted, but never found, is a mentor who has been down the writer’s road before. Someone that takes enough interest in me to want to see me succeed in some aspect of my life. Someone to guide me where I want to go, to slap me (figuratively) when I need it, and encourage me to take risks when necessary. The only reason I’m posting this here, is to put it out into the universe. I’m not saying I’ll get one through this blog post but you don’t get what you don’t ask for, so I’m asking. I think that could help me with issue #1) lack of confidence.

As for #2) lack of joy? My initial thought is that I want to start saying ‘yes’ to social activities in hopes that it will recharge my joy battery. It may not be the ultimate solution, but it is a place to start.

And that’s why I say I’m not hopelessly lost. Just a little lost. Or maybe not lost at all. Maybe this is just a part of my writer’s journey.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Uncharted Territory

After my last post, I thought it was full steam ahead. I was ready to delve into another pass on Fear Unleashed before self-publishing. There was book two of the series to finish. Plus I have two other books to edit, and another book started. And there were short story contests. I was ready to throw myself back into all of it. And then… I found myself in uncharted territory.

For the first time in my life, I had lost my desire, drive, and inspiration. The short story I tried to write for the summer contest was flat. The one I’m working on for the fall contest also feels flat. I just didn’t feel like there is much to say. I’d never felt that way before.

On Labor Day weekend, I gave myself permission to hole up, read, and contemplate life. With time to think, I began to see why I no longer felt like writing.

From recent events, It’s clear that we’ve passed the tipping point with the earth. It’s not to say that we couldn’t still stop climate change, but we won’t. As fractured as society is, there simply isn’t time to get those who are reluctant to see the obvious, to change their ways. And without everyone on board, the task is probably impossible. Violent natural disasters will only increase, causing suffering for humanity.

We are seeing a return to authoritarianism across the globe. While we managed to hang on to our democracy in this last election, the undercurrent of the cold civil war is taking us towards insurrection and violence. With two different sets of “facts” and two different realities, it’s hard to see how we can ever be the “united” states again. Every opportunity for unity is manipulated for political gain. Greed and selfishness have replaced our former American ethos of loving our neighbor and coming together as one. Again, can this country be saved? Absolutely? Will we? Doubtful. We have become too tribal.

The pandemic was one such issue used to divide us, when it could so very easily have united us. It has left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead. Sadly, we’re no where near the end, because we refuse to do what’s needed. We brought this suffering on ourselves, and if we think it’s the last pandemic we’ll be dealing with, we’re wrong. As the environment is destroyed, disease only increases.

With a stream of disasters and our shift towards societal collapse, writing seems like a silly endeavor. I’m writing for a world that no longer exists. And while I’ve read impassioned pleas for the arts to continue in the midst of such chaos, highlighting the great works of art that come out of such periods, I feel I’m not up to the task. I’m good with words, yes, but I don’t know that I’m talented enough to narrate the collapse of civilization. There are others who are clearly more skilled than I am who can handle that task. I suddenly feel led to do nothing more than be in each moment, experiencing what life has to offer. That seems like enough.

I have no idea if this state will continue. I don’t know if it will recede as mysteriously as it came over me. Perhaps this is just the eye of the storm, and soon the winds of story will howl through and around me. I only know that right now, just being is enough. So I will be, and maybe being will come to include writing again.

I look forward to finding out.

And I’ll keep you posted.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Starting Again

This blog has been abandoned for far too long. There was the turmoil of the election and the never-ending pandemic, and for some time my little writing endeavors felt so unimportant. I reached the decision to self-publish my first novel, FEAR UNLEASHED, and kept meaning to blog about that, but never did. I hired an editor and delved back into the book that had been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years.

And just as I neared the end of the editing process, my landlord sent me a text telling me someone had offered him money for the house, and he was going to take it. I ended up having about 45 days to find a new place to live. I abandoned editing and publishing in order to deal with the immediate crisis.

As in so many cities and towns, we are in the midst of a housing crisis, with investors who have more money than sense, buying up every house available for more than it’s worth, driving up prices and rents. With a great deal of luck, and the blessing of being so well connected in this town, I secured financing and got a house before it went on the market, so no bidding war ensued. It’s an old house, so it will require a lot of upkeep and there are some pretty major projects in my future, but it feels like home, and I look forward to years and years spent here.

Now that I’m settled, it’s time to get back to the work of writing. There was a summer writing contest, and despite all the uproar in my life, I worked on a story. However, it was not up to my standards, and I could never get it where I wanted, so that was abandoned. It was still a worthwhile project to get me back into the writing frame of mind. And if I ever finish it, I will add it to my short story site. Today I returned to editing my novel and working towards self-publishing it.

So, after a long fallow period where I began to wonder if I would ever get back to writing, I am starting again… again.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Burden of Silence

Lately, I have been completely adrift when it comes to my writing. I’ve been stuck in the Sargasso Sea of wordsI have two manuscripts that need to be edited. I have several ideas bouncing around in my head. And yet… I do none of it. The world’s events have filled my mind with a swirl of worry, hope, despair, and joy. At times I worry about my lack of productivity, but I do know that eventually I will catch the wind again and tear across the ocean. It seems like lately, the sails have begun to ripple. The wind is rising.

But right now when I think about writing, my first thought is why. Why bother? What’s the point? The world is going up in flames. I can’t even focus on reading. Many others have told me they feel the same? So why write what nobody feels like reading?

I’ve written brief political posts, but then wonder if that’s the best thing to do. I know I can’t convince anyone. When I write it’s more to let those who see it the way I see it, know that they are not alone. Or perhaps, at best, sway someone who hasn’t formed a definite opinion by offering a perspective they may not have considered.

But does it raise the temperature or lower it? Cause more harm than good? When your friends and family don’t want to hear what you say, you only further the divide by speaking up. An enlightened person might rise above the petty concerns of politics and governance, only seeing the world beyond. I wish I were that enlightened. I’m not. What I am, is a culmination of my experiences.

Years ago, I took my first trip to Europe. I chose to visit the Netherlands, because I had a friend there who I could stay with and who would show me around. It was an amazing experience . I wandered Amsterdam, visiting the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. Like so many teens, I had read Anne Frank’s Diary. When I read she had hid in an attic, I pictured an attic like my house, only accessed through a small crawl space, filled with insulation and mice droppings. I was so surprised to realize it was actually a fully functioning apartment. Still, it was cramped, and I don’t know how anyone could spend months, let alone years hiding, never going outside. Walking through those rooms, I could only imagine what it would be like to have people want to kill you, just because you exist. Her words were often childish, and yet also often profound. The visit was sobering.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

Another day we went to Arnhem where a major battle of WWII occurred. It was a beautiful town full of flowers and quaint homes. We walked among the displays, looking at pictures of the bombed out ruins the city had been 50 years earlier. It was hard to believe this peaceful and beautiful town had been the site of so much death and destruction. And then there was a realization that it had been a peaceful and beautiful little down before the war too. A place of peace and beauty wasn’t guaranteed to remain that way. It only takes careless human beings to turn heaven into hell.

We also had tea with my friend’s father one day. We talked about what we’d seen at the museum, and he told us stories about when he was a boy during the war. He talked about how when planes fly overhead all these years later, he still flinches, waiting for the bombs to drop. And he told of a Jewish family that he would smuggle food to on his bicycle, knowing if he was caught, he would be shot. I was amazed that I was in the presence of someone so brave who risked his life for his fellow man. He was a hero. I more or less told him this, and told him how wonderful it was that he was brave enough to do this. He began to tear up and his voice broke as he shook his head and said, “It wasn’t enough. I should have done more. So much more.”

That reaction informed me of the cost of war, more than any museum could have. The pain. The regret. It never leaves. Germans who lived through the war though they never took part in the atrocities, had a great deal of regret. They didn’t take part, but they also didn’t stop it. They didn’t speak up. They stayed silent out of fear. They know they should have done more. And they know their silence was deadly for others. The pain is deep, even decades later.

Those experiences when visiting Europe, left a deep mark on me. In the face of inhumanity and injustice, the cost of not speaking…. of not doing enough, is far greater than speaking up, even if you pay with your life.

And so, I can’t stay silent. Perhaps someday I’ll evolve enough that I won’t worry about the things of the world, and can let it all go to hell in a hand basket while staying in my happy place. But that’s not where I am today. Sometimes my anger still gets the better of me. So today, on the eve of a possible wave of violence, I simply want to remind anyone who reads this where domestic terrorism leads.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” 

Mahatma Gandhi

Because, if Timothy McVeigh were alive today, he would have been in that crowd at the Capitol. He would be pleased with where the country is today. So if you stand with the insurrectionists on the 6th, you stand with the man who caused the horror above.

There is nothing I can do or say to convince anyone the elections weren’t stolen. No matter how many judges throw out cases; no matter how many election officials explain the heavily edited tapes presented by far-right conspiracy theorists show nothing unusual and no fraud; no matter how many Secretary’s of State from both parties, whose reputation is on the line, verify the vote was fair, they will never accept that they’ve been lied to and truly lost. There’s no appeal to reason with people who are in, hook, line, and sinker. But maybe, just maybe, someone might read this and even if they still believe the election was stolen, might question the cost of violence. It could be your daughter or granddaughter being cradled in a firefighters arms next time. It might be your son, grandson, wife, husband, father, mother, brother, sister who dies, alone, in a wave of violence.

I hope we can step back before we create permanent evil. And if you think speaking up might stop someone from violence, please don’t stay silent. Trust me, you will regret it if you do.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Country Takes a U-Turn

Four years ago, I remember the pits of despair at the election of Trump. Having friends who had worked on some of Trump’s projects, I knew what kind of man he was. I was afraid for the country. I was disappointed in my fellow citizens. That day, I was driving up to South Dakota, so had nine hours alone in my car to grieve and ruminate on how best to deal with what I knew was coming. I hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t.

But I do know the anger and despair so many Trump supporters are feeling today. Four years ago I didn’t believe there was any way enough people would fall for his con, or that he could possibly be elected. I trusted the polls. I trusted my fellow citizens. It’s part of why it was all so painful. So I get it. His supporters trusted Trump. They trusted him when he said the only way he could lose was if the Democrats cheated. His supporters surrounded themselves only with those that believe the same things and avoided anyone and anything that said anything different. They’ve believed everything he’s said for years. So to learn that he was wrong about this, is a gut punch. I saw their posts pre-election. They were 100% sure they were going to win. Been there, done that.

There are charges of fraud. If you have proof, then tell the proper authorities and let’s sort that out. I want a fair vote. I have no problem with a recount in Georgia or any other state where it’s necessary, because I want the count to be right, even if that means my candidate might lose the state. But that’s not good enough for his supporters. They only want in-person voting… so my friend who has a compromised immune system and rarely is able to go out in public, because she lives in South Dakota, where their complete lack of leadership has the virus raging out of control… she shouldn’t be allowed to have a voice? You’ve already taken away her freedom of movement, now she doesn’t get a vote?

And if you then say, “okay, she can vote by mail,” then what about me? I work with people who would likely die if they contracted the disease. I even have risk factors for getting a bad case msyelf. Should I be allowed to vote by mail? Yes? Okay, then we’re right back where we started. Each state did what they thought was best for their people, and they did it within their laws.

Trump fought to keep states from counting their mail in ballots early, counting on the anger and frustration his people would feel when they first saw him pull ahead with in-person voting, then day by day falling behind when the early voters’ ballots were counted. Those ballots were predominantly cast by Biden supporters because Trump told his people not to use mail-in ballots.

The fact that you weren’t prepared for the red-mirage, doesn’t mean you get to ask for a re-do and only count the ballots that went your way. Those votes were cast legally by the laws of each state, and if not, they have processes in place to catch those ballots. They are legally cast ballots and are valid. The only real way to commit fraud on the level required to alter the vote, is to reprogram the vote counting machines, and yet that’s not where we’re focused. Mail in voting has been done for over a hundred years, and is not the issue, regardless of what lies Trump spews.

The next few months are a bit scary. I see people posturing on social media, saying they’ve got the guns, and they’re going to war. Really? Have you thought it through? I mean really thought it through. Think about all the people you love. Your kids. Your parents, siblings, cousins, best friends, neighbors. Now pick a handful of them. Think about how much you love them. Now imagine lowering them into the ground and never seeing them again. Imagine your wife or husband being killed by a sniper as they went to buy groceries. Imagine your teenage son, who thought he would prove to you how tough he was, dead in the back of a pickup truck. Imagine going to bed at night, not sure if you’ll wake up, because your neighbors, who you once had barbecues with, might come over and kill you and your family in your sleep. Imagine never knowing if when you get in your car, there might be a car bomb strapped underneath. That’s civil war. People on your side die too. That’s what you are salivating for? Really?

I know the despair. I know the pain. When we were faced with a similar reality four years ago, when we were in despair, we held a march and we began to mobilize voter registration and a get-out-the-vote movements that lasted for the last four years. More people voted for Joe Biden than have ever voted for any president, so it clearly worked. If you don’t like the results, then get more people who think like you do, to vote. That’s how democracy works. That’s the American way. Ignoring the votes you don’t like is the authoritarian way.

When Obama was elected, I was so naive and looked forward to being a year into his term, knowing all those screaming that he was a Muslim, a communist, and a socialist, would see that he was none of those things and we could move forward together. I hadn’t factored in the disinformation machine that is Fox News.

This time I’m not naive. I no longer hope that a year into Biden’s term, the Trump supporters will come to realize that he’s not going to turn this country socialist. He’s not a communist. He’s not a pedophile. There are people who will continue to trust the latest conspiracy theory, even though the last 100 conspiracy theories they bought into, were proved not to be true. There are those who will never come around. But for those who begin to shake off all the lies they have heard in the last few years, we can move forward together, and hopefully the rest won’t go too far off the deep end while we make progress.

There was a joke going around the internet before the election. It went something like this:

There was a long line of people in line to vote early. Someone driving by slowed down, rolled down the window, and yelled, “How long have you been waiting?” And someone in line yelled, “Four years!.”

It’s been a long four years full of a great deal of pain for many, many people. Covid-19 is raging, and didn’t go away just because the election is over… yet another conspiracy theory proved wrong. We are going to suffer a great many more deaths before it gets better. It is going to take extraordinary effort by all of us to get it under control so we can get the economy and our lives back to normal. Our relationships with our allies are in tatters and trust is a difficult thing to rebuild. Authoritarian leaders around the world have been emboldened by our lack of leadership, and we’ll have to rebuild our reputation in order to deal with that. We need to rebuild our state department and intelligence agencies. Police and justice reform need to be tackled, and race relations repaired and strengthened. Our economy is struggling, with the poorest people suffering during this pandemic. It will take some incredibly remarkable policy and cooperation to end that suffering. We need to resolve our immigration and border problems. Climate change is causing disasters like we’ve never seen before.

I don’t envy Joe Biden and the mess he’s inherited, but I am grateful he stepped up and took on the task. I’m grateful we have leadership that believes in science, doctors, and facts. I’m grateful a man of morality and empathy is now leading our nation. I’m sorry if that upsets you. I wish it didn’t, because we have no desire to make conservatives cry.

Those of you willing to help, let’s get to work!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Moving On

Writing is a journey, and there is so much to learn along the way. One of the things you must learn is when it’s time to move on. I knew the odds of publishing my very first novel were slim. It didn’t stop me from loving the book and trying my best. It has been through many revisions, and no one has shown much interest. I still believe in it, but know it needs help that I don’t have. So I had to take a hard look and decide it was time to move on. Doing that in the midst of the stress of a pandemic and social unrest made me feel a bit like this.

While querying, editing, and querying again, I also wrote two other books. One is another children’s book that I have yet to even begin editing. The other is my memoir, detailing the 25 years I spent in the entertainment industry. I was able to use the stay-at-home order to find more time to finish it and finally pare it down to find its form.

I thoroughly enjoyed going through my work orders, reading my journals, and falling deep into the memories of the time spent with Kevin Costner in South Dakota, or with Bob Hoskins on a soundstage at Television City, I relived the infamy of turning off Bill Clinton’s mic in the middle of a speech, and the sublime feeling of standing on the field of an NFC championship game with my eyes closed, imagining what it would feel like to have the roar of the crowd be for me.

Professional Eavesdropper takes the reader behind the scenes in Hollywood and leads them on a journey from naïvely wanting to be a part of celebrity culture to the realities of the toxic environments that culture encourages. With help from beta readers and wonderfully honest critique partners, the memoir began to take its shape. It likely still needs a lot more work, but I think it’s a fairly entertaining read.

Tomorrow, after finishing the polish on my query letter and synopsis, I will send out a couple of queries, testing the waters. I am cautiously optimistic that I have something people beyond my friends and family will find interesting, and something that can begin a dialogue on what celebrity culture does to society.

Some day I hope to return to Fear Unleashed and find the missing pieces to it. Until then, I am moving on with renewed optimism and excitement where this memoir might lead. Wish me luck.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Rhyme of History

If you live long enough, you begin to see history repeat itself, or at least rhyme with itself. Almost 30 years ago a black man was beaten on camera, though unliked George Floyd, he lived to tell his side of the story. But the lack of justice, the years of pent up anger over police abuse, and systemic racism, boiled over into the streets of Los Angeles. Businesses were burned. Lives were ended. Society unraveled. The conversation on systemic racism went national and so many promises were made after the violence ended, because sadly, it’s only after a paroxysm of violence that political leaders tend to take notice. But obviously those promises were left unfulfilled and nothing really changed, because here we are 30 years later, experiencing similar events in a different city. Making things worse this time, these riots are now packed with outside agitators.

Here is a section of my memoir, Professional Eavesdropper: The Adventures of a Teleprompter Operator in Hollywood. It will give you a small glimpse into what it was like to live without the peace and safety most of us take for granted.

In April of 92, I was finally leaving the crime-ridden streets of Hollywood for the safer streets of North Hollywood. It would be a little further drive into Hollywood, but I looked forward to a quieter neighborhood. Weeks prior I had asked for the day off to move. As I was loading up boxes, my phone rang. It was work. The Rodney King verdict was in and going to be read soon. After that, the mayor would be speaking, urging calm. My boss needed me to go downtown and prompt his speech.

            I was furious. I had been promised this day off. I was going to be working the next few days, and wouldn’t have another chance to move. I had been in the business long enough not to feel the need to take every job offered, I refused the job. My boss was angry with me but finally convinced another operator to take the job. During the violence, he became trapped downtown. I felt bad for him, but as a woman amidst all the violence, I was grateful I wasn’t there.

            The verdict was read, and despite the pleas for calm, violence began to break out. People were being pulled out of cars and beaten. It was coming closer to Hollywood. I threw everything into my car that I couldn’t bear to lose, and fled to my new apartment in a part of town that was not erupting in violence. I had a little 13 inch black and white TV I had bought when I first arrived in town. It was one of the things I had grabbed. I set it up in my new bedroom, maneuvered the rabbit ears until I picked up the local stations, and watched the city burn. 

            I saw businesses just up the street from our teleprompting company go up in flames. I saw buildings not far from my old, only partially vacated apartment on fire. It seemed like society was collapsing. And yet somehow, the next day I got up and went to work. I think everyone expected the worst was over. There had been a spasm of violence, and now order would return. Oh how naïve we all were.

Edward James Olmos – Marina Del Rey – 4/30/92

            The memories of this shoot have been wiped away by the violence that started the night before. I remember it was outdoors on the marina. I remember Edward James Olmos couldn’t have been nicer. At one point during the shoot, he gathered the crew together and told us that everyone thought the riots were over, but they were just getting started. When the shoot ended for the day, he wanted us to go straight home and not leave. Things were about to get very bad.

            We wrapped at 12:30 p.m. and we all felt the urgency of Mr. Olmos’ words. I was out of the location by 1. I dumped the gear off and fled the shop by 1:30. There air was dingy with smoke, and I saw a few people running, but nothing too horrible. Another operator was driving back to the shop around the same time, and while stopped at a stoplight, several guys came and started beating on the hood of his vehicle. With an open bed pickup full of teleprompter gear, he had to run through the red light to get away.

            I felt lucky to have made it back to the shop unscathed. I went straight to my new North Hollywood apartment and watched my world burning on that little black and white screen. A cold fear started to form in the pit of my stomach. What if it didn’t stop? Right now average, everyday people, were rampaging through the streets, breaking windows, stealing, beating, and killing. There really was very little keeping us civilized. I came to understand how fragile the fabric of society is. Anarchy is nothing to aspire to. It’s terrifying.

            I didn’t work for several days as the city burned, and finally order was restored. National Guard troops stood on the street corners of Hollywood, armed with rifles, though we later found out they had no ammo. There was a curfew in place, but work was the one exception. I was never stopped on my way to a job, but it was unsettling to see soldiers on the street. That was not the America I knew. It was not the America I wanted to live in.

{Journal entry made at the time – It started with young, black men, probably gang members, pulling white motorists from their cars, beating, robbing, and shooting them. It soon went to looting and burning. In all of this, the police were non-existent. All this went completely unchecked.

            It started in South Central LA, a primarily black community. It quickly spread to areas previously thought safe from those kinds of disturbances. The area of Hollywood where I first lived, was heavily looted and burned. The area where I was living until the day the riots broke out, was looted and burned. Two stores on my block were destroyed. Even Beverly Hills was not unscathed. By the time the police and national guard were in place, it was all over. To this date, 58 peole died, almost a ½ billion dollars in damage was done. Over 2000 people were injured, 200 critically. This does not even begin to figure in those now homeless and unemployed because their businesses were burned.

            Even worse is the fear and mistrust that have tripled since the rioting started. Rather than try and solve these problems as human beings, our leaders are pointing the fingers and saying, “It was the whites who held us down.” “It was the black gangs and criminals.” “It was rude Korean shop owners.” Etc. 

            After things settled down and the damage was assessed, there were lots of promises made about how the city was going to step up its services in black communities. They talked about police reform, more black-owned businesses, an end to food deserts, and more opportunities. As usual, there was talk, but the racial-socio-economic divide in Los Angeles continues to this day, with some of the worst homelessness in the country.

Will anything really change this time? Or will we just put a bandaid on it as usual. Tell ourselves it’s not our problem. Or will we all step up and make the Declaration of Independence finally ring true, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (ahem, and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Because it should be self-evident. George Floyd has every bit a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness as anyone else. I don’t know if he was truly passing counterfeit money. If he was, I don’t know if he knew he was. What I do know is that no human being deserves to die for 10 or 20 dollars.

I think about my friend Jeff, who years ago, was stopped for DWB (Driving While Black) in Burbank on his way to work at NBC. Jeff was a skinny, sweet, African American guy who loved to ride his longboard, meditate, and was about as non-violent as they come. Yet, because of the color of his skin, the police thought he looked suspicious. They kept him in handcuffs, sitting on the curb as cars drove by staring at him, repeatedly asking, “Who do you run with?” meaning, what gang do you belong to. He showed them his NBC credentials. It didn’t matter. “Who do you run with?” He had been tried and convicted in those officers eyes. He was black, therefore he belonged to a gang. Eventually, after verifying his employment, they let him go. Can you imagine having to wonder every day of your life, if this will be the day you get pulled over? And then wonder if it’s the day you might just die because of it?

Something has to change and as Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Well, I’m not affected directly, but I’m outraged. So are many others. Are you? Will this finally be the tipping point? Will you finally step outside of your comfort zone and stand up to ensure the systemic racism built into this country is exposed and reformed? Will you vote in leaders who work to unite and repair our rifts instead of casually firing off incendiary tweets that divide us? Will we all finally step up?

We must, because a change is gonna come. It must, or our divided country will fall to the injustice we have chosen to perpetuate.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Limiting Covid-19

It’s a scary time in the world right now. Not only do we have to face the dangers of flu season, but now Covid-19 is making its way across the country, partially aided by misinformation and a lack of preparedness. People are hoarding masks and food supplies, when those things aren’t necessary.

As has been made clear, there are several ways to limit your chances of getting Covid-19 or the flu. Wash your hands, and learn to stop touching your face. Avoid crowds. Those are all reasonable methods to limit your exposure, but the fact is, all it takes is one exposure, and all our efforts are pointless.

There is one thing that could help protect you if you are exposed, and I feel like I can’t keep this information to myself. Several research centers have done studies on a method of breathing called the Wim Hot Method. It is a method where you breath deeply for 30-40 breaths, basically hyperventilating, and then ceasing to breath until you body needs breath. The longest I have not had to breath is 3 minutes. It seems crazy, but it is entirely possible for the human body not to breath for several minutes. Doing this breathing regularly helps your blood become more alkaline, builds the immune system, reduces anxiety and inflammation. Several studies were done where bacteria known to wreak havoc in the body was introduced into the blood of practitioners of this breathing method. There was little to no reaction in the body, where control patients developed flu-like symptoms.

I have practiced this type of breathing every day for a year. I have had two illnesses during that year, and both were exceedingly mild.

Can this protect me against Covid-19? I have no idea. But I do no this is not the time to stop. If you would like to learn this type of breathing as just one more step you can take to protect yourself, here is a video.

If you decide to try the breathing, let me know how it goes. Be well.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Anti-Social Media

It’s come to my attention that I don’t like social media.

It didn’t help when I recently took a course on writing your memoir, and it was suggested that if you want to get it published, you need to have, at minimum, 100,000 followers. That’s never going to happen. I freak out when I have 200 followers.

I’ll admit, that in early stages of entering a social media platform, there’s a rush of excitement. I’m connecting. It’s fun. Whee!

But then you have to keep it up. I see people posting on Twitter 10 times a day. I barely think to look at it once a day. It is a great resource of connecting with other writers, agents, and publishers, but I simply don’t have the time and energy to make it place for real interaction.

Then there’s Facebook. When considering a post, I always ask myself why I want to post it. Who would be interested in what I have to say? Will they be entertained? Am I informing? Am I just trying to create an image of myself? Generally, after thinking all that through, I tend not to post. Sometimes I still post when I shouldn’t. Some of my reluctance to post has to do with a theory I have on intimacy. I was contemplating what intimacy is, and realized it’s the special moments we share when no-one else is around. When we broadcast everything we do, we cheapen those intimate moments. I would much rather submerse myself in that moment with a good friend than stop to take a picture and post it to show everybody I have a friend and we do stuff together. I used to feel obligated to skim through FB posts several times a day because of FOMO, but I’ve learned I don’t miss out on the people around me when I’m not glued to my phone, and that’s more important.

And then there’s this blog. I should really post more often. I should really try to get it out there, but once again I’m faced with a time and energy problem. My work requires a lot of me, and my savings are running out. I can’t afford time-wasters. I need to focus on writing, editing, and querying.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to social media, I have to accept I’m old. And that’s going to be a huge battle in the new publishing world, but I’m just going to have to let me words speak for themselves. Either my work is good, and someone sees that, or I will spend the rest of my life continuing to tell stories just for me.

I have two books sitting in my files, needing to be edited. One is a children’s book, and the other is the memoir of my adventures in Hollywood. I’m eager to get to both, and yet last weekend I got body slammed by the best story I’ve had in a very long time. A book for adults this time, though I think teens would like it too. There’s depth, sub plots, fully developed characters, and intricate themes. I spent the day handwriting 12 pages of rough story outline. It was amazing to see it flow through me. Those are the moments every writer lives for. I think I have to write this before I edit the other ones. I just have to. I don’t know how it will resolve, and I’m trying to figure out if I can just go ahead and write what has been laid out so far in hopes the ending will present itself.

My posts will probably continue to be sporadic, because as it turns out, I’m designed more for anti-social media. So you can be ironic, and drop me a line, telling me how much you dislike social media too.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Prodigal Blogger

I have returned.

The last few months have been a stressful blur. I’d never been through the process of moving a business. It was almost as much work as moving myself across the country, even though we moved less than a mile. But it’s finally done, and the new space is amazing.

The little girl I take care of in addition to my job, reached the terrible twos at about 20 months. Now don’t get me wrong, she is a sweet girl who is better behaved than most children her age, and I love her dearly. She’s incredibly bright, already counting to 10 in both English and Spanish, can sing her ABCs, and loves belting out Tomorrow from Annie, though she often stops midway through the chorus to explain very seriously, “I like Annie.” But despite how darling and wonderful she is, she’s still 2, and there’s nothing quite like having a 2 year old crying and pulling on your leg, while you’re trying to be a professional and deal with clients waiting to pay or get information, while the phone is ringing. You want to see BP rise in real time, strap a monitor on me at work. When I got home at night I would be happy doing nothing but stare blankly at the wall. Writing? Ha! I have no idea how people with children write.

Then there was PitchWars and the disappointment of not getting a single nibble. That led to a questioning of my writing ability. Winning a writing contest helped that a little. I can write. I can.

But through it all, I somehow kept putting words on the page. I’m about 1/2 way through writing my memories of my first five years in Hollywood. It’s been a really fun project. I knew I had some incredible experiences, but putting them down, one after another has reminded me how truly extraordinary my life has been. When you can research your work by looking up historic events online, you know you’ve done some stuff. I’ve begun to weave in the narrative of my own life adventures, not just what was happening on set. It was an historic time to be in LA: the riots, the Northridge earthquake. It’s beginning to feel like there could be an audience for this outside of friends and family. Eventually I’m going to have to figure out just how honest I can be about some celebrities. Right now, I’m letting it all out – the good, the bad, and the very, very, very ugly. When you combine fame, money, and entitlement, there’s a lot of ugly.

And yesterday I finally began querying my first manuscript again. Just a couple. We’ll see how that goes.

Lately I’ve found even more time for writing due to an accident. Thankfully it was a good accident and I’m not laid up injured or anything. I accidentally acquired a Roomba and it has changed my life. It was purchased as a Christmas gift for the boss, and then she bought one for herself before it could be given. The problem was, it had been on such a steep discount that I had a hard time returning it. It would have been like giving money away. And since I had a cat that gets so upset by the vacuum cleaner that she either a) pees the bed or b) runs into the farthest corner of the yard and buries her head in the grass until it is over, I often let the vacuuming go so as not to traumatize her, which means living in a filthy house. Gross!

So even though I really can’t afford it, I kept it and decided to apply my recent writing contest winnings toward the purchase. There’s been a learning curve. It first ran around like a drunk, bumping into everything, getting stuck in weird places, sending me texts saying it was stuck on a cliff and needed help. It’s starting to settle in and do a good job, but as my boss pointed out, robots are not going to be taking over the world anytime soon.

Because the Roomba requires the floor to be tidy – no discarded socks, books thrown on the floor, etc, I have to keep things picked up. And because the floor looks so clean I began to notice other places where there was clutter and began to pick them up. And then I began to be bothered by the kitchen looking messy when the rest of the house was so nice, so I began to keep that clean. And all of a sudden, my house is clean 24/7. I don’t stumble through the week, letting things pile up, then find myself spending the weekend cleaning the house. Once the weekend hits I do laundry. I cook. But mostly I WRITE! I love my Roomba so much! And while my cats don’t love it, they are a little fascinated by it, and they certainly don’t pee my bed in fear anymore.

So that’s my writer tip for the week. Get a Roomba.

And just keep writing.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
1 2 3 10