Had to share this great piece by Jess Mayhugh on Flacco. Go Ravens!
photo credit: Baltimore Ravens
Had to share this great piece by Jess Mayhugh on Flacco. Go Ravens!
photo credit: Baltimore Ravens
My husband recently asked me what I was writing—I told him it was a secret. Not that it was (his reading my blog has made many secrets come to the surface), I was just being a smart-ass. But I went on to tell him that I’m don’t think I like full disclosure, that secrets make everything more interesting—and they do. And yes, I know that trouble, or the potential for trouble, is intrinsic to secrets, but imagination rules for the fiction writer, and secrets fuel the imagination.
I had the tremendous privilege of being a student in Laura Oliver’s memoir and essay class at St. John’s College in Annapolis. The class was small, intentionally so, maybe 10 or 12 writer wanna-be’s. There was a very pretty blue-haired lady (and I’m comfortable in saying that, as I’m also a blue-haired lady) that liked my writing and took an interest in me, inviting me for coffee or lunch. I’m a terrible meet-for-coffee-or-lunch kind of gal. I’m not sure why—that’s another post—but I met her for lunch and of course, it was lovely—the conversation was easy and she had the most striking blue eyes. And then she asked me, “what do you do for fun,” and I froze, I choked. I knew without a moments hesitation what it was I did for fun—but I couldn’t tell her! What do I say? That I smoke pot and am in the process of writing a dirty book and a dirty European is my muse and I masturbate to his letters and I share it all with my best friend and we gasp and laugh and wonder about life and men and it’s the best thing ever? Do I tell her that? No. I tell her it’s a secret. A secret. I can’t say what I do for fun because it’s a secret. How stupid is that? This same best friend asked, “couldn’t you make something up, Ms. fiction? Trout fishing, quilting, playin’ the ponies? A secret?” Yup. A secret was the best I could come up with.
You could be the sole proprietor of a secret or it could be owned by a number of people. A secret can be good or bad, as is the disclosure of a secret. What one does with the information can certainly go in any direction. But the secret itself is nothing more than that which remains unseen and unknown by others, and isn’t that mysterious, intriguing? Doesn’t the concept of a secret get your imagination going? A writer can take a secret wherever he or she wants it to go. Write what you don’t want anyone to know. Your secret. Put it to paper and ooh la la.
photo credit: dnaindia.com
I drank heartily, excessively, alcoholically, till just beyond my fortieth birthday. I suppose my drinking stories could go on for a very long time. I will start with this story, however, because it seems to be the first incident of troublesome behavior, the first of many red-flag-tales that fell under the category of “good times.”
In the mid-seventies, I lived in a sweet rental property, a tiny, two-story cottage in rural New Jersey. I shared the rental with a fun-loving girlfriend—fun-loving as in getting drunk and high on whatever substance was available, whenever we were able. I had a waitress job and could afford the rent, but I could no longer afford car payments, and lost the car I needed to get to work. My parents stepped in (as parents are known to do), and gave me my grandfather’s 1940 something Chrysler (the Chrysler was taken from my grandfather by my father and the police as the old guy would continually drive drunk–hmm). It was a joke, a hearse, a big, black, mob car, a bear to drive, requiring arms of steel to turn or park. At first, my roommate and I proudly and defiantly cruised the neighborhood as Bonnie and Bonnie, the dangerous and infamous duo, laughing and waving as if in a parade. But the car would become problematic, with my landlord eventually asking that it be removed as it was more of an eyesore than 4th of July worthy.
One evening my roommate and I took the Chrysler to the restaurant where I worked–with the intent of having a good time. This restaurant was huge, a Greek place, popular, the last outpost on hideous Route 22 before the barren ride to Pennsylvania. I loved the Greek owners and they loved me and they fed us liquor perhaps just to watch us carry on like fools–and fools we were, or at least I was–or so I am told. The evening was a total blackout, maybe not my first blackout, but a memorable one. Nothing. No recall of anything after my fourth or fifth round. Until I came to on the front steps of my parent’s friends home–in the middle of the night–with no car and no roommate. I blacked out again, but came to as I was crossing the bridge over the Raritan River to home, and blacked out again, but came to as I was kicking in the front door to the rental property. I broke two panes of glass and three panels of wood and climbed over the wreckage and went to bed. I woke the next morning with my dog who was not allowed on my bed, lying on my bed, wide eyed and staring.
I did retrieve the Chrysler and did pay for a new door, and I must add this aside: while it seems that we may not have been the best of tenants, my roommate and I put a lot of sweat equity into the cottage and the landlord was appreciative. But the demolished door was epic, one of those stories that you laugh long and hard about, that you continue to embellish and tweak for each new audience. I told the story to a mental health professional that I met several years later and he suggested I seek help immediately but I continued to drink for another twenty years. My drinking stories are not hard to tell, it was another woman, a lifetime ago–and yet they are difficult to put to paper, to document, as if the print makes the sadness more obvious and tragic. I’ve been sober for twenty some years and have no compulsion to drink, but will probably always want to celebrate with stimulants or alter an uncomfortable mood in some way. I wonder if that’s addiction or just humanness.
photo credit: wolf-tracks.blog.cz
He looked at the fabric he had made and was troubled.
Too much blue, not enough green, not wide enough
to cover the hole in the chair where he liked to sit.
So he went back to his room and back to loom where it all began.
And he looked at the choices he had made and cried,
not for his wants but for what he wanted to be
and began to weave again. – ph
tapestry by anna kocherovsky
I’ve always had a dirty mouth. I’m not sure where it came from. My parents didn’t curse a lot, in fact, my mother had a terrible time with the word “frickin,” which I thought was a perfectly tame and acceptable substitute for “fuckin”–apparently not. I suppose it is the diva in me that needs to express soooooo dramatically, so emphatically. One report on cursing states that fluent people in language, are also fluent in cursing. Anyway, I curse all the time, and it would eventually show up in my writing. And considering that I write erotic fiction, it would be close to impossible to do so without dirty words, and what many would consider degrading or taboo words. Like cunt. Yes, cunt.
I choose my words carefully, I love words. I want my words to be thoughtful, truthful, evocative and provocative, to bring images and memories to mind, to arouse an emotion, a reaction, a desire. If my use of the word cunt has provoked you, then I have done my job well. If it offends you, my apologies, but it’s because society has deemed the word misogynistic, and it most often is. I use the word as slang (referencing a vagina), and there is no misogyny involved, but even if I did use the word in the most negative possible way, taboo words are part of our vocabulary, our culture, and a writer must have access to all words to build a story.
Writing erotica does desensitize you a bit to the delicate nature of dirty words–they almost become clinical, dispassionate. Cunt doesn’t bother me, maybe it’s just what you make of it. There is a theory that says the sound of a word plays a role in our distaste, a conditioned association between the sound and emotional response. Maybe so, but I actually like the sound of cunt over “pussy.” Maybe some new words are in order, and maybe I should end this post before I lose my entire readership.
There’s a lot out there about cursing if anyone is interested. Pretty fucking fascinating, if you ask me.
photo credit: michellevillalobos.wordpress.com
So, anger management. Grrr. Even the thought of managing my anger makes me angry. I have read that while suppressing your anger is unhealthy, venting can also be detrimental–venting in an aggressive manner, that is. What one must do is learn how to vent in a non-aggressive way, to discuss, to express yourself in a constructive fashion, to examine the underlying reasons behind the anger. Well, that’s easy. Nobody is doing what I want them to do! I can’t get my husband, my e publisher, my children, my friends, to behave as they should–they’re all a bunch of idiots! There. Not too aggressive, right?
Here are some suggestions for dealing with anger:
I’m feeling a little better, thank you.
photo credit: Huffingtonpost.com
Of the many pieces of poetry and memoir that I have written over the past ten plus years, I have never written anything, rather anything good, about my beloved dog, Bowser. There was one bad poem (I seem to have a bad poem about everything), and a second poem that really does not do him justice, but I’ll include it at the bottom of this post anyway. I suppose that in writing this now, I am ready to honor this incredible dog.
My son found Bowser at the ASPCA—a pit bull/boxer mix that the shelter had named Seth. Seth. Who would name a dog Seth? Pathetic. He was quickly, if not immediately, renamed Bowser. Bowser was the nemesis of Mario from the Mario Brothers video game, and yes, Bowser was a turtle, but that spiked collar he wore always made me think there was some dog in there. I will admit I was worried some about the pit bull thing. There were extra forms I had to sign at the shelter because of his dna (although I can’t at all remember what they were for) and I also had a pretty stupid vet at the time who said, watch your cat, he will go after her. But Bowser never touched the cat and was the happiest creature on 4 feet, perpetually happy, he died happy, the most joyous animal I have ever known. And difficult it countless ways.
The first thing he did when he entered his new home was to do a half dozen, high speed circles around the family room and crash into the patio door. He was my problem child. He was the smart ass in puppy school. Lucky for me the trainer liked smart-asses and said they were among some of the most intelligent dogs she handled, but also some of the toughest to train. Bowser was never very well trained–my lady friends put up with his snout in their crotches and handbags for years, and guests often had to sit through the yelling which was my pitiful attempt at trying to gain control over this happy and obnoxious animal. He had terrible separation and thunderstorm anxiety, and did thousands of dollars worth of damage to wood throughout the house. Yes, thousands. He tore both ACL’s (anterior cruciate ligament) and after many more thousands, had two wired hind legs. He had a lot of surgeries to remove a lot of lumps, but by the time he died, his belly was so riddled with large tumors that I could no longer tickle his sweet stomach and make him laugh.
He made the house happy. Always. He smiled all of the time and his devotion to family was unmatched. Despite his faulty hinges he was elegant and proud and agile, a large dog that would push himself into you, almost mold himself into you if you laid with him. He protected us with his strength of character, never with his canine skills. He knew my every mood—the only man in the house who knew how to behave when I was upset, when to back away and when it was safe to approach. He was my confidant and my shadow. He asked for nothing and we gave him everything. He was impossible not to love.
He died by injection at fifteen and a half, in our family room, on his bed in front of a roaring fire. A sunset matched the fire and in my minds soundtrack there was a chorus of angels. I was the one who made the choice to put him down. The vet told me that his legs were just about frozen from arthritis, and that devotion alone is what kept him moving. I placed my face on his and told Bowser over and over that he was the best dog in the entire world—and he was.
He was the best, the bomb,
the bruiser, the boss,
the man, the chief, the chair,
the kingpin, the king,
the ace, the jack, the joker.
He was the whole damn deck. – ph
First, my unending thanks to my readers who have purchased a copy of Claire. Writing this story has been a journey of looking into myself and looking far outside the lines I have drawn. It has been painful and comforting, it has been difficult, the seemingly impossible task of trying to put the human condition to paper. But it has been marvelous, and I thank you again for taking the time to read my words. My words. Imagine that.
However, I need to make this disclaimer in which I disassociate my Claire from the cheesey-ass books Amazon has listed below her description. Here’s what is placed under the heading of Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed: Becoming Daddy’s Woman, Bimbo-Fi Trials, Bimbo Lessons. Are you kidding me, Amazon? NO, NO, NO! My book is nothing like that crap! Bimbo Lessons? The near Transformation of Claire is intelligent erotica, sex within a good story, not freaky or foolish, not slutty! Think Nicholson Baker meets Diary of a Mad Housewife. Think good writing!
I called Amazon–they’re looking into it. I do believe it can be fixed–a matter of wading through the channels and getting the right person. My e publisher is looking into it as well. What else can I say or do? In life as in everything, I continue to learn. Sigh…
photo credit: itsabookthingblog.blogspot.com