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March 13, 2017

 I don’t have anything especially interesting or profound to say tonight (except that I still have tickets for Book Obsessed Babes on April 8 in Jacksonville, FL and For Love of Books and Florida in Sarasota on July 15).

On the “So are you actually writing?” front, I have written 2708 words on a short story that is funny and sexy. I want to have that ready for the author signings this year. And perhaps write a couple more short stories, the idea being an eventual bound collection.

I moved last November from North Florida to South Florida to be closer to friends. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My life had been solitary and isolated up to that point: mostly living on my own or among people who weren’t all that friendly when the chips were down, at a distance from the office where I was working (when I was working) or, in the case of test driving, spending 8 hours driving 300 miles around Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties then going home to a house sit. The center of my group of friends was 20 some miles away in the San Fernando Valley. I discussed this with a friend (who is 1800 miles from me): the scariest thought was that if I had decided to end my life, I would succeed because there would be no one around to stop me except myself. Yeah. Unsettling.

 I’m not trying to be the most popular person (and I am who I am. I bite my tongue a lot, but still…) and I know there are people who I like a lot and respect to the utmost who think I’m a loudmouth and a fool and tolerate me, rather than enjoy my company. That’s okay. I still like and respect them. I know that my words are better received than myself. That’s cool (buy my books. Trust me, you’ll love them). I do not suffer fools well. Nevertheless, I need human contact.

Since my move, I am part of a group of 7 people who get together on Saturday nights for dinner and some of us go for a walk at night at the local park. It’s wonderful.

I’ve reconnected with a friend from 25 years ago and she is still as warm and wonderful as she was then. My friend, Catalina Egan, known to you bookworms as M.C.V. Egan, is close enough that we can get together and do stuff. Author stuff, metaphysical stuff, just plain stuff. It’s excellent.

My soul, which had been withering a bit, is blossoming. I am grateful to be in this location, in this circle, in this situation. I am at peace in my life. And that’s where we all should go.

Peace and love and all that jazz

Peace and love and all that jazz

Somebody: free tickets! C’mon!

Free Range Woman *

(I’m trademarking that sucker)

Tis Mother’s Day weekend and  I am not a participant. I have no children and my own mother passed on in 2013. (She wasn’t crazy about the holiday. I pointed out to her once that she seemed to be as far away from her children as possible when it rolled around. She didn’t deny it)

I am not, nor ever have been, married. I’m not alone. (And I’m not defective, either. Let’s be clear) I’m also well past my twenties, which is the traditional age range for marrying and starting a family (although, that seems to be stretching on the back end onto one’s thirties). The labels women of my situation have had to endure are such quaint terms as “spinster” and “old maid.” Men get to be bachelors all their lives. I know; it’s an old complaint, but I suspect men are the ones who made the naming rules. 

Without the task of bearing and raising children, I’ve been free to, quite literally, move around the country, as wanted (or needed. I’ve been in that situation), pursue a career that I wanted as a child (without much success, but I pursued it), and go through some serious shit without worrying about dependents and what would happen to them. 

I propose that, in the 21st century, we shed the old, rather derogatory terms and replace them with a new one:

  

The Free Range Woman is just that: she is able to pursue her own path (which may lead to marriage and family even in middle/old age) and does so.

With the advent of animal rights, locavore, farm to table, food-related movements, “free range chicken” has become part of the lexicon. These hens are allowed room to be chickens rather than penned into a tiny space. 

“Spinster” and “old maid” are terms that have been around at least 200-250 years. They’re antiquated and carrying the baggage of patriarchal expectations that girls would grow into wives and mothers or be on the fringe of society because they didn’t find a way into the acceptable status. Think of Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations”: not being married wasn’t her fault, but the shame and humiliation of having been jilted left her mentally and emotionally stranded at that moment for decades. She had one job…

“Unmarried woman” brings up images of a Jill Clayburgh movie from the 70s and a line from “Private Benjamin” where Goldie Hawn, the newly widowed and unhappy about being single Judy Benjamin, wails “I would have been Mrs. Alan Bates in a heartbeat.” 

Free Range Woman also looks good on a T shirt. And may have mathematic meaning. (I didn’t do well in algebra and math, and my mathematic consultant passed away 12 years ago). 

The next time some dipshit asks me why I’ve never gotten married (A more subtle version of “What’s wrong with you?”), I shall smile and answer, “Because I’m free range, Baby.” 

Then end the date.

Maybe It’s Time

I’m not a cryer. I did plenty of it growing up; falls off bikes and monkey bars, losing pets, angry tears, getting reamed out by my father (my mother believed in “Wait til your father comes home.”), getting hit by my father, losing grandparents.

That was…forty years ago. The last time I really cried was about 10 years ago. It was when I took my cats samba, Cookie, and George to the Ventura County Animal Shelter to surrender them because I had no job, was losing my home, had no food for them, no money to buy them their food or medicine. They knew something was up because they all cried on the way over. Even Cookie, my Blue Point Himalayan who was a trooper.

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The black and white cat in the picture is Toulouse who had died two years earlier.

For the past ten years, I have experienced an unstable life. In that time, I have not had a home in my name; no lease, no mortgage. I have lived in hotels, corporate housing, camped, been in a homeless shelter for a couple of months, rented a room (and got booted from it about a year ago) , and for the past year, been couch surfing (going from one friend’s house until the welcome wears out, then on to another home. This is what you do when you don’t have the money or credit to rent an apartment or get a room even in a fleabag hotel).

I haven’t cried.

In addition, i haven’t had enough of a job to support myself since November 2013. I worked at a lousy job test-driving cars. It was lousy because the cars were “modified” to allow the engineers to install their testing gear and they disconnected a lot of safety gear. The drivers would report issues that didn’t get fixed. The hours were irregular; only one pay period was for two solid weeks, and the pay, though above minimum wage, was t enough to support myself even if I had worked a full 40 hours per week. Right now, I’m unemployed. No; I am not drawing unemployment. The why is none of your Damned business.

I still haven’t cried.

What isn’t in my car is in a storage unit and I am struggling to keep up the payments. This includes things like my bed (which the crazy ex-roommate wanted to keep in lieu of rent that was not 30 days overdue when she told me to get out by the 16th. When I said she couldn’t have it, her response was “Fick you.” Long fake fingernails and accurate typing on an iPhone are mutually exclusive). I’ve been living out of a suitcase.

I still haven’t cried.

Both of my parents have died since 2011; my father to Alzheimer’s (it scared the shit out of me to see him in the early to mid stages) and my mother to liver cancer. I didn’t get to say goodbye to either. I couldn’t afford the airfare for Dad’s and none of my siblings told me about Mom. Her wish? Theirs? I don’t know.

0 tears shed. I don’t have the time or the space necessary to indulge.

My books, though they do sell and do get good reviews (the only bad one I’ve seen was from someone who mistook it “These Foolish Things” for a book of the same title by Deborah Moggach (Ms, Moggach? I got the copyright back in 2001). However, they have not yet found their audience. The next two stories I have “bookend” the two published stories, but my laptop dies, so it’s been composition books and a ballpoint pen. As you know, I didn’t get to the Deep In the Heart author event.

Still haven’t cried.

I don’t cry like this:

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It’s more like this:

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Or this:

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Complete with snot bubbles. I sob and scare every animal within 5 miles. Humans can’t handle it (if I cried in front of my old man, he’d get even angrier, tell me to “knock it off” because they were “crocodile tears” because if I was really that upset, I wouldn’t have done whatever in the first place)

Maybe it’s time. I need another place to live, I need income. I need them quickly.

imageThis is Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith. If you’ve seen “The Secret,” you recognize him, his church is the Agape Center in Los Angeles and part of their ministry is. Prayer Ministry. You can reach them at 310-348-1270, I called them. We talked about my predicament, the fact that I feel like I’ve had it, my fears. All of it. I told her of trying to make sense of my situation in terms of a task to complete or a lesson to learn. I mentioned that I don’t cry. She said, “Maybe it’s time.”

Maybe that’s the lesson, the task. Right now, while I have a safe space, cry. Bury my face in a blanket and sob.

It’s time to release the toxic emotions and memories I’ve been keeping inside.

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Later.

Avian Rotation

Yesterday, at an event nominally attended by adults, I found myself back in high school dealing with a self-appointed queen bee. I was not part of the in crowd 30 years ago nor am I part of the clique now.

This person has not treated me with any kind of courtesy, professional, mature, or even human since I’ve known her. Yesterday, she walked by my table, with my name on, gave a little “fuck you” smile and walked on to hang out with her group. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was the SAQB, but when she started snapping selfies with the other women, I knew.

Wow. Not even high school. More like playground.

As I left and she was talking to a couple of people we both know, suddenly, it was friendly. That’s when I made my error:

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Her back was turned. But since there was a Facebook rant within a couple of hours, someone told her.

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One of my favorites. I always liked Nelson Rockefeller. Study that picture; it’s the near-extinct moderate Republican.

The rant stated, in plural, that she would never “handle” any of my works (the ongoing attitude indicated that wasn’t going to happen anyway. No loss), had a libelous element to it “we know she pays for her reviews.” (huh? Well, patent falsehood stated as a fact with the intent to cause harm is actionable. I got one of my few law school As in Torts), that I have awful covers (loose translation: taste and simplicity are not a substitute for Fabio-style in flagrante delicto, and that I have “horrible sales” ( apparently, I’ve been getting tracked. So much for not caring) . Oh, and when her breathless minions wanted my name so they could boycott, she said something about me being post-menopausal. Not libelous, but leads to this being appropriate:

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What I regret about my action is solely this: it gave consequence to a small time drama queen. Part of the manipulation of followers is the periodic need to refresh their sympathies and that allowed her to do it. It’s Sarah Palin’s MO when she gets caught saying or doing something extraordinarily stupid or mean (we see it a lot). My mistake; I fed the beast.

The authors around me noticed the cold shoulder and asked, making note of the name. See, even big fish in small ponds need to behave in a professional manner and acting like a teenager is the antithesis of that.

Who you really are is what you do when you think no one is going to catch you. If they read this, those clucking and calling for my head SHOULD be asking themselves what the SAQB says about them behind their backs. If they’re useful to her especially for name-dropping purposes, it’s probably harmless.

I’m free to say what I want here because this blog doesn’t draw a lot of attention. Even if it does, I haven’t stated falsehoods as facts, or threatened anyone’s livelihood. I operate on WYSIWYG. Maintaining two faces is more effort than it’s worth.

I know you’re thinking “Mean Girls,” and that does apply (although I’d like to see a new reference), but I’m more of a fan of “Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion,” especially the end when Romy tells off the SAQB of that film . More applicable since the stuck on the past mindset exists here.

That’s okay. This SAQB will go her way with her acolytes (Try crossing her and see what happens, girls) and I will go mine.

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From the other side of the aisle. I am non-partisan.