Archive for the 'psych!' Category

01
Jun
14

under the awning

Awning_640x photo AWNING_640x_the-cafe-awnings-at-chautauqua-institution-new-york-lisa-russo_zps3aa0ec9c.jpg
Image credit: The Café Awnings At Chautauqua Institution New York by Lisa Russo – prints for sale framed, canvas, acrylic, metal, art, as greeting cards and for iPhone and Galaxy cases at http://pixels.com/featured/the-cafe-awnings-at-chautauqua-institution-new-york-lisa-russo.html

 

Under the awning it took me, arrested me, foiled my plans. And then it left me, its work was done. And so was I.
 
It was a sweet awning, red and white striped, its fringes riffling in a breeze that smelled of hope. And it promised shade, I saw it myself.
 
Shade was the trouble, though. So tempting, so hard to judge… It was darker than I thought, and so much cooler. I understood, soon after I’d stepped under, when the maddening buzzing began, like an angry black fly trapped in an airless room with no way out, an angry fly that never dies.
 
My desires had seemed so simple, but simplicity is more complex than it seems…
 
For every minute of peace, there is an hour of noise. It is all lopsided and raining on muddy puddles. The sun shines in spurts, goes in when we go out. Time drives poorly, first speeding then slowing, headed for slipping away.
 
Chances slip into the yawning sky, like balloons into the ozone layer. Misfortunes are mudslides trapped in valleys. And I am caught in quixotic dreams here, under the awning.

 

Fin

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Click here for more on prompt “#22 – under the awning” from other Sunday Scribblings2 participants.

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22
Sep
13

Floaters Anonymous

 photo floating_640x_LucyCampbell_painting_zps4d650c6b.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: “Floating,” painted by Lucy Campbell, is 14”x14” acrylic on canvas and is still available to buy! Visit Lucy’s site to find out more about her work and to see more of her stunning paintings.

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I am a floater. I feel the thick numbness sitting heavy inside my head and with it, the unwillingness to think, and I float on that laze like a stoner zones out.

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In the mornings, I lean against the living room window jamb sipping coffee and watching for people of purpose on the busy street below.

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The face of purpose, it looks so appealing, set with enlightened determination as it is: brows as buttresses for knowledge; eyes housing pilot lights of wisdom; cheekbones sharp with instinct; and jaws leveraged with sophistication and push.

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I watch the people at my place of work, divide them like wheat and chaff. The chaff floats on the wind and I am there on an eddying breeze, watching the wheat—the purposeful people—feed the world with knowledge and the knowing of self. Watch and learn…

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Or, if you’re weak like me, keep on floating, flirting with pesky ideas of becoming, wondering from whence impetus, skills, and brilliance come, wishing and waiting for them to drop down from above, and when they don’t, wondering if Truth represents their witness or if Deception does.

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Meanwhile, those who know just who they are and where they’re going are well on their way there and, barring any deterrents, it gives them a peace, like water flowing so rapidly over stream-bed rock that no periphyton can form, no slippage can happen, only traction and progress.

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They are at ease with their missions but impatient with all else.
The ‘all else’ will be for someone else,
Not for the people of purpose,
But for people like me—
The floaters.

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Fin

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Click here for more on prompt “#388 – Purpose” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

15
Sep
13

magic wandless

kafka_weber_bureaucracy640x617 photo kafka_weber_bureaucracy640x617_zpscb5caf03.png

IMAGE CREDIT: Bureaucracy illustration – author Franz Kafka and sociologist and founder of bureacuracy research Max Weber from Harald Groven’s Flickr photostream

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After over an hour flipping through paperwork in his cramped office, the drone discovered an impasse and broke the bad news in a matter-of-fact fashion. He’d been wanting to get us out of his “closet” even before we got there, even before his previous appointments got there, even before he left home that morning for his drudge job; and yet, each finished appointment meant another hour closer to the time he could leave for the day and fill his enormous belly with brimming pints of ale and mounds of chips and pork pies.

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He was a massive, joyless shell of a man, the daily grievous conflict of bad-for-good having gouged a hole in his spirit big enough for his soul to escape through. The gravity of processing human cattle all the days of his adult life was pulling at his brows and drawing his jowls earthward. He seemed not even to enjoy the immense power he held over us, two members of the tempest-tossed. He had been too long a servant of the Father of Exiles who had understandably grown more paranoid and defensive with every ambush, shelling, and suicide bombing.

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The drone would have discovered the impasse in the first few minutes of our appointment if he’d read the cover letter that I’d pushed across his desk along with the other paperwork, but he was so absent of mind that he just went along with his ruler and markers and pens and the ticking off of steps on his checklist. It was so mesmerizing, his methodical movements, that we were cast adrift along with him. My thoughts floated toward the surreal and I saw human lives as tragedies and comedies played out on the stage of capitalism.

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The curtain opened on an empty stage.  The backdrop was a gargantuan rendering of Earth nearly entirely covered with cracked, grey asphalt, and in a tiny, far-off land there was lush greenery and warm, turquoise waters.  A few round-shouldered people dressed in grey uniforms trudged across the stage, and as more and more entered, a backdrop of a great grey block of a building dropped down from the flies.

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The building sat on two thirds of the asphalt and its many doors were gaping shark jaws through which the round-shouldered peoples of the world disappeared to sit behind grey desks under buzzing fluorescent lights and count the hours of the days, of the weeks, until such time as they could count the currency rewarded them for doing jobs not well liked or done. Their only respite was a half-hour lunch and two, fifteen minute breathers per day in break-rooms with tiny portholes with views of the far-off land.

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I caught myself desperately squinting to see what went on in the lush lands, blinking and squinting and leaning forward as far as I dared, and I thought I could make out what looked like sunny islands and beautiful people with glowing tans bathing in fountains of youth and sunning on the decks of sailing yachts and toasting each other on castle balconies with Dom Perignon White Gold Jeroboam—

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The drone uttered an emotionless apology laced with impatience and I went home to fill out another form, a different form, to stay up until four in the morning so that I could get it postmarked in time, so that I could stay in the bone-chilling drizzle another two years. Oh but it’s a lovely, bittersweet chilling in the knowing that there is no magic wand, but magic can be made if we care enough to make it.

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Fin

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Click here for more on prompt “#387 – Currency” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

21
Jul
13

I wander

Nightmare02-grocery-aisles photo Nightmare02-supermkt-aisles_zps01b9f04a.jpg

Photo Credit: “Hard Shopping” by Ekinox

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It’s a funny thing, the business of balancing

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the time to day dream, to exist in a pure state of possibility, and to set about creating from the mind’s eye, to feel the joy of inspiration

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the time to work, to make money to live on mankind’s version of Earth

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the time to notice the strings of undone things about the house—don’t touch them, not even one, for they are not separate as they appear!

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the time to be tricked, to touch a string and to follow it like an endless rope that strangles the day

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It’s like wandering through supermarket aisles in a night dream – I see my list, it’s in my hand, and my intent feels strong and sure, but the floor becomes distant and the aisles are towering strange and resistant to aim and effort – I watch myself wander and gather extraneous things, deaf to my own instruction

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I find myself at the county fair on a ride with dead controls – I turn the wheel in my hands, it spins, loose, and I slam into task after task, each with a lock to get to the next level, each with a promise that it’s the last one – I watch my lips say And then you can day dream

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But when will I wake from the night dream? If I don’t, or worse, if I do, and still effect no strength of purpose, I will continue to wander the aisles carrying the list

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not feeling the quickening of my footsteps pounding or the blood pulsing at my temple

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just carrying the list

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to the grave

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Fin

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Click here for more on prompt “#378 – Wander” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

22
Mar
10

Killing the fatted enigma

Enigma01.jpg picture by zanzinece

“The Enigma of Desire” © Salvador Dali

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Why would anyone want to craft a story?  What would drive a person to it?  I like to think it’s the play of sentient beings period, like all animals I’ve seen, both wild and tame, shift into a rip-and-tear of deviltry, and then resume their usual patterns of survival as if nothing had just happened.  Play at will.  Simple, clean, an unexplained desire rising up and being allowed out, no question, because there’s nothing to weigh it down.

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Seems as soon as there’s some lead weight involved—like the Ego’s need to grouse or be great or to presume that other folks are jonesing to know its most convoluted thoughts or grievances—any endeavor is shot, to include writing stories, writing anything.

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I like to think the itch to write a story comes from a desire to find out about something, anything, maybe even to learn about some part of ourselves that could do with a good chasing down, flushing out, examining, and needs or wants to be used to give some story character life, but in the end made friends with by us.  Or at least made something by us, some satisfying thing and not a thing that adds weight to us.  That would be anti-story.

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Poison to a well told tale is weight, baggage, personal issues.  If just one lead balloon isn’t converted to a helium-filled one in a moment of artful, if not playful, plot or character construction, readers can sniff the disease of it miles away and avoid it like the plague it is.  Go spew in a journal somewhere instead.  Because no one needs more dis-ease on top of their own.  Most folks read to escape or learn, which can be a form of escape.

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Escaping ignorance.  Escaping weight.  A near miss, the avoidance of a mid-air on the flight out.  Thankya Jesus and pass the Percocet.

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It feels good and right that a story might also come out of a human’s hungry, busy-brained primal need to chew the meat off a Paradox’s bones, to figure out puzzles, build puzzles of our own, intricate pathways that twist back on each other and become gritty rats’ nests or world-class labyrinths.  And all this from the insatiable need to build stuff, to make some thing out of no thing, to create something that works from parts that, by themselves, don’t work.

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Why would I want to craft a story?  Because that’s what a writer’s supposed to do.  My Ego wants to be a great writer and writing stories is what great writers do.  The comeback is simple:  fuck that.  Another poison.  Note to self:  put the vial down and walk away.  And don’t come back until you’re driven here by sniggering devils ripping and tearing at your heels, by the best kind of insanity, a brain pushed past tolerance for flat-lining to desperation for the blood of a fatted Enigma.

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Now go outside and play.  The game of life—love, hate, war, peace—the big crapshoot.  Says the gambler, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

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“The Gambler” lyrics

On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for nowhere,
I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.
So we took turns a starin’ out the window at the darkness
‘Til boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.

He said, “Son, I’ve made my life out of readin’ people’s faces,
And knowin’ what their cards were by the way they held their eyes.
so if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces.
For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice.”

So I handed him my bottle and he drank down my last swallow.
Then he bummed a cigarette and asked me for a light.
And the night got deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression.
Said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

Ev’ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
‘Cause ev’ry hand’s a winner and ev’ry hand’s a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

When he’d finished speakin’, he turned back towards the window,
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.
chorus x3

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Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” clips:

Live performance:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn481KcjvMo

With movie clips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z42avv3KBCU

13
Jun
09

battle scars

Kerouac07.jpg picture by zanzinece 

My main man Kerouac

 

Oh, the pitfalls of on-line classes, of this particular on-line creative writing class I’ve taken, anyway.  It’s still going on, but it’s as good as over to me.  There are a few more motions to go through, and after that perhaps I’ll at least have come away with a one thousand dollar story to tell.  Certainly, I’ll come away with a few good and valuable things learned and one hell of a short story bible.  The plan is to offload those things here, but you know how even the best laid plans can go.  So while it’s in mind, a main theme or two in two tidy nutshells…

 

Nutshell #1 – good and valuable things learned:

 

I know a few things about the elements of fiction now—more than I knew before I started the class but far fewer than I should know after taking a college class—because the professor was not in the mix enough.  By that I mean the professor only posted one announcement and one or two comments per two-week module and those were only limply suggestive of guidance.  A bit more guidance was offered in the writing assignment evaluations, but mostly it was just us student bozos posting discussions and comments on assigned readings and on others’ discussions and volunteered pieces—the blind leading the blind.

 

In summary, if anyone as naïve as I was came to me for advice regarding online creative writing courses, I’d tell them to go beyond flipping over a few rocks on the internet and to really know the professor/instructor.  And when I say “really know” I mean trusted sources confirm that the professor/instructor rocks, and rocks big time.

 

 

Nutshell #2 – one hell of a short story bible:

 

I’d also advise any interested one who shows an aptitude for creative writing to get a copy of Ann Charters’ compilation of the finest short stories known to man, The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction.  I’d tell them this: If a degree track’s not in the equation and you’re an industrious sort, this book could save you a thousand dollars.  You can’t help but absorb the styles of the writers who turn you on.  And although you’ll never lose your style, your voice, completely, thankfully, it will be affected positively by the styles of the writers you admire.  Also, importantly, the Charters book is loaded with discussions and instruction on writing, so either way really, degree track or not, you can’t lose.

25
Feb
09

Breaking points

 

Last night I got a call from Twila.  Twila hates the phone, despises it.  When any phone at all rings, irritation springs up within her and the look in her eyes is that of a trapped animal.  When it’s her phone that rings, it’s the animal to the tenth power.

 

She tells me her mind goes through a process like a flow chart:  after the irritation comes the fear—of an unwanted caller, of a wanted caller wanting to talk too long—and, if yes, she’s amenable to answer, she steels herself and answers gruffly; if no, she’s not in a place to deal with it, she presses “Ignore,” and sits for a moment in the spin of what just happened before trying to right herself.

 

And so it is that Twila rarely picks up the phone to “bother” anyone.  She wouldn’t want to put anyone through the misery of a call that wasn’t either pure business, very important, or emergency-important.

 

I understand Twila.  I used to work for her.  We’re kindred spirits, both of us soft and sweet dreamers, quiet souls content to be alone and amusing ourselves forever and ever.  We were once pretty, knotty pine pegs now with edges and corners from having been brutally pounded into the constricted square holes of the business world. 

 

Both of us just ended up in that world.  Our paths meandered that way and parts of us rose to the occasion and enjoyed the status and the money and parts of us rebelled deeply, eternally.  It’s just that I happened to have a little more resistance to stress built into my DNA than Twila does.  She had to leave to try and grow pretty and knotty and full of creative potential again.

 

And I stayed.

 

“Humans are more playful than I remembered…” she told me.

 

“Remembered from when?”  I asked.

 

“From when I only thought like a hermit and lived less like one.  From the days I had to show up at an office every day and act like I knew what I was doing…”

 

“Oh, right,” I said, smiling to myself.  “What brought this on?”

 

“Facebook,” she said.

 

“What on earth are you doing on a social networking site?” I asked.

 

Twila blew by the question.  Her hollow-sounding voice continued like her mind was off wandering, trying to make sense of things, while her mouth was getting distant signals from her mind, just moving, relaying remnants.

 

“People are more playful…  More like playful puppies than I remembered,” she said.  “And I realized I’m more like an old, mother dog…  Of course I’m not old or a mother…  But it’s my mind.  My mind feels old and tired, impatient with all the tail-chasing…  Do you know what I mean, Zan?”

 

“I know it like me, like you, Twila,” I said.

 

“I signed up to interact with Gina.  Do you remember her?”

 

“Yeah, yeah!  In Legal.  What a sharp lady!  Man, I admired her…”

 

“Oh me too.  Anyway, that was fun until others started finding me and I thought that was fun until I started getting invited and tagged and interviewed and poked and chatted to and my wall written on and the blow-by-blows of everyone were snowballing—Dick is now friends with Jane, Sally is barking at the moon, Bobby is pulling out the wedgy Suzy gave him—all threatening to roll me up until I became part of the impending, absurd avalanche…”

 

I waited a moment, heard her swallowing back a rush of emotions.  I thought maybe comic relief would be good about now, so I said, “Just a little too much like the work world, eh?”

 

I could hear the relief in her laugh.  And I could tell she’d broken free of being balled up, that she’d figured it out, what she needed to do, just in the telling of it to me.

 

 

 

“But nothing seems to change,

the bad times stay the same,

And I can’t, oh I can’t run.

 

Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel,

Like I been tied to the whipping post

Tied to the whipping post

Tied to the whipping post

Good lord, I feel like I’m dyin”

 

“Whipping Post,” Allman Brothers Band