Thursday, September 9, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
As far back as I can remember, it seems, someone has asked me, "When are you going to write this all down?" or "When are you going to write the story of your life." Throughout my childhood, this single task loomed over me: some magnificent yet horrifying responsibility owed to the world around me. For many years, I obsessively jotted down the notes, impressions, sketches, and character analyses which were sure, in my mind, to comprise this great work.
Before I knew it, I was too swept up in living the chapters of my life to record them; still, the notes were meticulously kept. And, when nearly twenty years worth of notebooks, journals, and carefully collected research--the sum total of my identy--were forever lost, recollecting those mountains of data seemed to me an impossible task.
Just thinking about it would leave me stone-to-the-bone tired.
This past week, however, I was asked to sign a contract to publish my "memoirs." My initial reaction? Who would want to read about me? Afterwards? "That would be a whole lot of freakin' work. Am I up to it?" And finally, "Which part of my story would I tell?" In my mind, my life falls neatly into five distinct stages (not counting the present), each of which represents a distinct volume to be written. Could I, in my state of health and with all the insanity surrounding my current existence, even hope to take on such an endeavor? Especially with the constant hindrance of oxygen-deprivation to the brain, which often leaves me struggling to remember the simplest things (like why did I come into the kitchen again? or what was I just saying?)
Then--now, in fact--I found myself facing another major medical crisis. As I lay day after day struggling with the matter, the debate--to write or not to write--raged on in my head.
I encountered a real scare.
Now I know that if I do not tackle this project now, I might not have the chance again.
So,the process of "penning" the first of five volumes of my autobiography has begun. Whether time or its ever ebbing tides will allow me to complete it, I cannot even guess. (At this point, I am not even sure if I'll sign that infernal contract!) Even so, this resolve to at least put forth my best, most concentrated effort has cemented as bullheaded determination within the walls of my iron will.
I've actually included excerpts from this work as it exists thus far.
Wish me luck, ya'll!
Where The Honeysuckles Grow
(The Childhood Recollections of Chanctetinyea J.J. Ouellette)
...I have lived my life behind thick, impregnable walls, clamoring for the touch of unobstructed sun, wondering when the invisible gates would part, and I would be able to take that first tentative step outside them....
I often wondered about life beyond those unseen walls, about the people who lived unimprisoned, about the children ran freely beneath the yellow-white glare of the sun. Why were they free? And what had I done—what did I house inside my deepest self—which left me too grotesque, too evil, too distorted somehow to be let loose among them....
Most clearly, I remember the scent of honeysuckles, new-mown grass, and that strange, metallic anticipation of one day--some day--escaping them both....
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
From a mound of pillows on my bed
I gaze out into the August morn.
Soft clusters of thick green needles
Lay in dense nests against the robin’s egg sky.
Though I strain to hear them,
No birds sing.
There is only the quiet that comes
From the Earth’s placid indulgence:
A patient vigil
Over mankind itself…
Its determined wait
For the collective foolishness
To at long last end.
I am alive,
Even though the gentle winds, themselves
Whisper that I should not be.
Perhaps this knowledge has evoked within me
The stoical resolve
To wait, as well.
For its meaning…
For my purpose.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Earlier today, during the long and tedious process of sorting through the seemingly endless emails which accumulated over those months spent in various hospitals, I stumbled across two glorious finds. The first was a message from "Ingrid" in the editorial department of Blue Mountain Arts informing me of their continued interest in greeting card verses I submitted long ago. The second was a request, in response to a past query, for a copy of one of my manuscripts. Consuming most of my day, therefore, was this process of attempting to track down these potential successes in hopes of actually, like, publishing new works...
Under my own name, ya'll!
As a result, I must say, the day has proven itself a long and exhausting one. Having lost most of my current data with my poor, overworked ibook, submitting said written work required a great deal of cutting and pasting from various sources in order to reconstruct (to the best of my ability) the complete manuscript. Still, despite the many frustrations along the way, I find myself undeniably excited.
Perhaps I am even beginning to feel like an actual writer again!
(Keep writing, everybody!)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Well, my friends, the time has come...
I must face the signs, most undeniable, of truly dire straits...and aggressively combat this impending doom with preemptive action.
In other words, it is time to organize more workshops.
It seems the dictates of my balance sheet must, invariably, overcome the conflicts of my confus-ed soul. Whether I wish to do so or not, regardless of whether I am ready to do so or not, I have no option but to (barring some unforeseen miracle, some new and wondrous career opportunity) find work within my chosen field, all the while optimistic that the need to be a fruitful, functioning member of society will counterbalance--indeed, outweigh--any lingering apprehensions curling about the fringes of battered psyche.
At least, that's the story I'm a-tellin' you all now!
So if any of you know anyone in the Colorado Springs area with a burning desire to write more picturesque prose, to more completely grasp the elements of grammar and literary style, or will merely take pity on a frazzled mother with bills, bills, and more bills preying upon her proverbial purse...
Tell 'em Chanctetinyea says, "Ya'll come on by now, ya hear!"
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Having at long last resolved the Matter of the Lost Laptop (i.e. accepting a newer unit to replace the one which remains lost...with much my pertinent information and latest revisions on it), the time has come for me to end this hiatus from paying projects in order to get back to the business of actually paying the bills, putting food on the table and clothing on my children's backs (whether I have come to terms with my own frustrations about writing--not to mention my own capabilities as a writer--or not)!
The time has come, it seems, to resume my work facilitating workshops, teaching classes, and editing the works of others.
Time, Tide, and T-Mobile wait for no one, ya'll!
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Artistic ourselves, we found a strong sense of having slipped into the proper niche from the moment we crossed the threshold. The arrangement promised to be a good fit for all, flexible enough--in a time of upheaval--to allow us to figure out just where we planned to go from here. Truly, the opportunity might have been Heaven-sent.
Little did I recognize just a week go how completely that hackneyed, age-old term would encapsulate this rather remarkable new experience.
Living here, sharing a house with other highly creative people, editing K.'s book, and even learning a bit about the creative processes of an actual artist: herein lie the seeds of renewed fulfillment...and unexpected joy.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Here, in the Black Forest--as I work on the final edit for K. Dopita's Even If I Die, paying for my room and board "in trade" until I have fully regained my strength--life is good.
Sometimes, I wonder....
What does it mean, this term "inspiration?"
Once upon a time, there was no need to even ask such a thing. "Inspiration" (or so I thought) was some naturally occurring phenomenon which impacted upon every life, saturating anyone, any thing curious enough, impulsive enough to stand ready to absorb the magnificence of life. Like air, like light it pulsed and flashed all around me, and I had only to keep still long enough for it to rush in, to engulf me.
There was no need to define it: it was just there.
Somehow, something inside of me remained perpetually susceptible to its mesmerizing charm.
A glimpse of color, the faint vibration of some unfamiliar sound: these were enough to evoke a roar of activity, shaking the peaceful dormancy of the mind and urging me, teasing me, tempting me to uncover more, more, and more.
Life was a tale without end, unfolding before me with the flip of each new page, never failing to provide some new adventure, present some gripping fresh mystery, draw me into some completely unforeseen conflict or situation which could not possibly be ignored but, instead, absolutely had to be acknowledged.
I thought I could never be anything less than utterly engrossed in it all.
Before, there was no concept of spending even a moment--much less hours, weeks, months--in any state of apathy.
Now I have no concept of any other state.
The whole thing, this change in my attitude of the world and myself in it, has proven quite devastating at times.
I have no idea what to make of it....
Some integral portion of my identity has been lost: misplaced, perhaps...but maybe, I fear, wholly irretrievable.
Thus, the rather terrifying question for me, lately, has been, where do I go from here?
I keep running here and there, hoping for something that will grab my attention, pique my curiosity, or even cause me to stop--just for a heartbeat--and think. Additionally, I look around me, wondering how I came to be in this foreign environment, unable to understand--or even develop some interest in understanding--when and through what series of odd twists and turns I have come to be here.
Can inspiration be created?
If lost, can it ever again be found?
How, exactly, does one tap into the inmost layer of her being in order to identify the feelings, thoughts, and reactions which imbue the world around her with depth, significance, with meaning when life itself seems to no longer have purpose or merit outside the primal instinct for basic survival.
How often I have asked myself that question--especially in this last, long month, when everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and no activity seemed worth the effort of thought I would have to expend in order to take part in it.
Time and time again, I found myself defining the hunger to write, the desire to create as a need to tangibly relay all that is inside of the deepest self into those words, images, and impressions which, somehow, resonate powerfully within others.
When, as a child, I began creating fascinating new worlds within that vast, unexplored universe of my budding imagination, it all seemed so very effortless. Human beings naturally long to explore, to learn, and writing became my vehicle for those forays into the wonderfully terrifying unknown, just as an astronaut would aim for the moon in a rocket. There was never a concept of any other pastime, no question as to whether building my image of the world through letters, syllables, and word structures could be anything less than my one true purpose in life.
Now, I find myself wondering how and why that all changed.
Perhaps we each reach a point in life when the universe within begins to feel incredibly small.
Although life itself is ever changing, the day-to-day process of merely living it becomes almost routine. It becomes easy to look without seeing, listen without hearing, devour without tasting. Beauty exists, and to view it is pleasant; yet there really is no time, no inclination, no need to actually experience it any longer.
What happens in the course of a lifetime that changes a person to such an extent that her priorities so drastically change? At what world does the surrounding world lose its allure? When do those sweet mysteries of being lose their magic?
Of late, I have founding myself drowning in confusion, carried along this sea of my own self-doubt--characterized by a constant flow of inwardly coursing pondering, reflection, and self-recrimination--on this crippling undercurrent of inexplicable doubt and dread. Have I been sucked into another realm? A separate identity? How can one simply "fall out of" love with the one companion who has remained by her side, been her lifelong obsession? And how can anyone that fickle in the first place?
I once loved to write.
No, the very thought of writing sucks the very air from my lungs.
I am left weak, shaken, and completely disoriented.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The girls and I are settling in!
As can be seen from the pictures, New Hampshire was quite lovely. Despite the biting unseasonable cold, the area itself was pleasant enough. Unfortunately, however, it was not (nor could it ever be) home.
So, here we are, temporarily ensconced in lush Colorado scenery, eager to begin our lives anew. I have just been informed that although the laptop on which my written works from the past six months were kept is still LOST, a replacement will be available Monday. The prospect of writing again leaves me somewhat nervous. My mind screams at me that my former passion and creativity were lost with it. Well, that, I suppose remains to be seen. In the meantime...
I feel more hopeful, more optimistic than I have in a very, very, very long time!
Friday, June 18, 2010
The return to Colorado Springs has reminded me of the true kindness inherent in (most) human beings.
Since the girls and I arrived at the airport, nothing has gone smoothly. Why, then, are we in such good spirits? Because nearly everyone we have encountered--from to overworked housekeeping staff, restaurant owners, and vendors have gone out of their way to offer support, kindness, and encouragement simply because they noticed three "women" stranded in the lobby with three-hundred enormous bags!
Today, I found myself more than a little disheartened by our situation. Here I am, the mother of these phenomenal children, the product of a background that was in many ways "privileged yet unable to provide basic stability for myself or, more importantly, my family. Because I am neither naturally negative or prone to despair, moments of gloom or melancholia are immediately apparent to my children; and, when those sweet little voiced cry out, "Mommy, don't be sad!" the sound is enough to shatter the stoniest of hearts.
Today, I was feeling worn out, worn down, and a bit overwhelmed. At the very moment I was feeling most discouraged, yet another perfect stranger walked up, asked if we were stranded, introduced himself as the cook at the Gordon Biersch restaurant, then all but insisted that we allow him to bring us drinks, "because it's hot today!"
We are sitting beneath the air conditioning.
Nevertheless, when he--Rory--returned with our sodas (in the refillable cups from a sister restaurant) he insisted that we come and find him if we became thirsty or hungry. Of course, we did not want to take advantage of his generosity.
Less than an hour later, Rory returned with "something for you to eat," seeming somewhat embarrassed by our thanks. For the food? Most certainly. But mainly for the simple, human compassion which--when offered freely and of genuine concern for others--often provides for the recipient far more than creature comforts...
Faith: in oneself as well as others.
That sense of not being alone in the world, or lost in those dark places to be found in the shadows of one's hardship, misfortune, or despair...!
So many pretend to believe selflessness by its very definition exists as no more than a mask, any outward acts of it carried out not altruistically but in a very self-serving need to the "good deed doer"'s hidden sanctimonious nature and only for the most selfish of motives. My time here, however, has disproved such a theory as no more than the insipid justification of that speaker's lack of basic human decency.
The true majesty of the does live within the hearts and spirits of modern men and women. And, although it is easy to forget or doubt this fact, gentle acts of empathy like those my daughters and I have encountered (kind words, kind deeds, kind hearts) remind us just how remarkable we humans are at our best...and how easy it is, effortless it can be to help each other along this collection of meandering, unpredictable peregrinations we call Life.
(Did I mention that even as I was typing my closing thanks, yet another security guard just came over to ask if we needed cots or could think of anything we might need that the airport could provide to make us more comfortable...after congratulating my daughter with a "hi-five" for her recent graduation from Exeter?)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Every once in a while, I find myself sitting at a computer determined to impart great wisdom, to share great thoughts, only to--instead--end up on some meaningless tirade about an event or peeve which means nothing to anyone in this world but me!
This issue is one of little significance. In fact, had I not already begun pondering the topic of People (and why I oftentimes I think we exist for no other purpose but comedy relief for the Cosmic Unknown), the situation would not have made it to print in the first place. Yet, here I sit, forcing myself to fulfill my thousand-word-per-day quota, rambling on about something which, ordinarily, I might have deemed too foolish to waste ink upon.
A very long time ago, I made the mistake of logging on to the site of one of my dozen-or-more actor friends. Now, those with whom I attended school know my position on the entertainment industry; thus there is no need for me launch into that particular rant today. Still, it has never failed to amaze me how followers of a particular "personality" conveniently forget that the individual is simply a human being doing that which he or she loves--be it dancing, acting, singing, directing, shooting hoops, or running touchdowns--and not some superhuman marvel constructed of silver and gold and mystical, magical fairy dust, the combination of which render him (or her) flawlessly perfect in every way.
Months before making this particular blunder, I made the catastrophic mistake of first directing friends (and a few prized contacts, unfortunately) to the blog of a former friend whose writing projects had truly impressed me. Yes, it was an ill-advised thing to do; however, in my own defense, I--at that time--sincerely thinking myself in a race against the imaginary clock described to me by a slew of infallible medical professionals, all of whom assured me that I was soon to kick the proverbial bucket! Convinced I had but mere hours left on this Earth, it must be understood, rendered such considerations as prudence, common sense, and inescapable regret insignificant. All I could think of was making that last-ditched effort to give what help I could while I could.
Of course, the whole thing backfired.
Quite deservedly was I read the Riot Act when those very friends and colleagues visited the site (at my insistence) only to be attacked by rabid fans, incensed by any hint that their idol--a man I had once loved then hated, respected then disdained, known then recognized to be an absolute stranger in every way that counted (in short, a wonderfully flawed human being far more interesting for his very real, distinctly imperfect personality than the images of insultingly inaccurate perfection constructed of him by strangers)--might not walk water. Frankly, those who ripped me up one side and down the other should have saturated the wounds with 91-percent isopropyl alcohol for good measure: it was such a stupid thing for me to have done! Quite literally, I cast those poor, loyal souls into a grotesque Comedy of Errors, complete with the requisite distorted masks, trick mirrors, and upside rooms; ergo, they were more than justified in coming after me with pain-inflicting, limb-cleaving weapons. Naturally, what amends I attempted to make only made them (the "masses and the multitudes," as a delightfully caustic Adonis of a boyfriend from a decade ago often referred to those lesser beings otherwise known as "mere mortals") all more furious (and, as a result, more vicious)...all of which led me to this examination of the distinct peculiarities of People in general.
Why is it that we as People so often find impossible illusions safer, easier, to embrace than the more attractive realities? As People, we tend to create alternative realities in which to hide, even when that which we most desire is right there, easily within reach. It is utterly, astoundingly stupefying. There they are--a core following of less than ten women--in the unique position of actually idolizing the kind of person who really does strive to be "gracious" (in his own words) to his fans, who would willingly enter into any conversation that piqued his interest or afforded him the opportunity to share his views...and they waste it bickering amongst themselves and bullying any and every one who comes onto the poor man's blog without first paying homage to the greatness that is his celebrity.
I remember being a little girl and wanting nothing more than the chance to make friends with "Luis" from Sesame Street. Or Captain Kangaroo. I wanted to talk to them about normal things, such as kindergarten and learning to tie my shoe, cloud pictures and the possibility of minuscule people living in teeny-tiny houses amid the blades of grass in my back yard. Certainly, such conversations could never actually take place; and on some level--even as young as I was--I understood this.
Even so, had such a thing been even remotely possible...!
Today, nevertheless, despite every instinct tingling within me, I gave in to the inexplicable, totally ridiculous impulse to see if my attempt to make right my mistake--an apology to not only the man (let us call him "Old Green Eyes") himself but the rather incensed fans who all but tarred-and-feathered the poor souls who visited the site (not to mention any "poor souls" brave enough to have held their ground in the ensuing fray)--had made any difference at all.
Imagine my surprise (and disbelief) that even the apology itself was taken as an insult against the graven image of the Great Being, Himself. Speculation abounded. Accusations flew. Nastiness beyond anything I ever could have imagined spread like some noxious form of flesh-devouring mold. No one was safe, especially those attempting to hide behind the insubstantial barrier of reason! These women were out for blood--lying in wait to shred to pieces any one or anything which stood between them and their beloved transmogrification of the man they claimed to adore. And, after I accepted the fact that the Green-Eyed One would probably kill me himself (with his bare hands) if I ever happened to cross his path, (not a scenario likely to come to pass in this lifetime or a myriad of others, thankfully) I could not help but marvel at the irony of it all. Here they all were--gifted with the very real, very opportunity to get to know the man--wasting their time snipping and sniping with each other instead of focusing on the fact that he was right there, within reach, actually offering them each a bit of insight into who he is and how he thinks!
Truthfully, I have no further desire to see how (or if) the whole senseless mess resolves itself. Part of me would like to think that eventually, Old Green Eyes will find himself frustrated enough to let loose that cutting wit and pithy sarcasm I grew to appreciate (with great relish, I might add.) Some people are magnificent in a temper, and--despite any lingering ill-will between us--I must admit that he was most certainly one of them. It is, therefore, oddly comforting and more than a little satisfying to envision him letting down those carefully-constructed barriers of his long enough to allow the rest of the world to see the man, the person occasionally revealed to me during those long-ago moments of unadorned spontaneity which now, after my anger has abated (though I would not for a truck filled with cash money admit that to him) for the most part, I recall with fond amusement and an affectionate (incredulous) shake of the head. Of course, such a reaction is not likely--more's the pity. Although I do not doubt he could more than stand to "let off" the steam, more than likely, he will do nothing more than step back until the smoke has cleared, then go on as if the display of fireworks had never taken place.
Regardless, I cannot help but wonder why, why, why so many People settle for iron pyrite...when pure gold lies easily within reach.
(Perhaps within this question itself lies one of the reasons I find the study of human nature so inexhaustibly fascinating.)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Have I any right to drag two girls all the way across the country to a "home" that is, in many ways, completely unsettled?
Would it be better just to let things be?
Sometimes, I think, one has to simply take a breath, pinch her nostrils, and jump.
...Yet, does she have the right to ask others to take that potentially catastrophic leap of faith alongside her...?
Here's hoping I don't lead us all careening to our deaths!
Keep writing ya'll.
Hopefully, one day soon I will join you by doing the same.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The process of rebuilding a new life with (and for) my daughters is proving far more stressful, far more humbling that one--than I before imagined.
Though our host and hostess are more than gracious, I am still not exactly comfortable taking up space in someone else's home. Call it a character flaw or some lack of faith in human nature, In my mind, though, most offers of help, support, friendship, or the like are offered with the subconscious belief that the one to whom the invitation is extended will gracefully, gratefully decline! We all want to be generous. We all want to be kind. The reality, however, is that more often than not--especially these days, in this economic climate--most cannot manage to live up to those lofty principles or ideals.
Besides, did I mention my extreme aversion to accepting anything from anyone under any circumstances...?
I must admit, part of me is extremely proud of this fact, as my independent nature dictates that I must not ever allow myself to grow accustomed to or even comfortable with reliance upon others. In dire circumstances I would place necessity above "principle," specifically in the best interests of my children. I have and I will. None of this, however, changes my complete and utter revulsion at the thought of leaning upon another for anything, any time, any where, under any circumstance.
Cynicism: how wholly unimaginative...!
The truth of the matter is, despite past criticism of my "self-sufficiency" as the ultimate manifestation of personal control, when it comes down to the barest basics, I just do not trust others enough to put my life, my comfort, my future, or the welfare of my children in their hands. Abandonment issues: such powerful deterrents against the formation of personal attachments. For some of us, the concept of another or group of others who will "always" be there is as unlikely, as inconceivable as a polar bear eating an ice-cream cone on some pink-and-purple sanded beach in Bermuda! Call it fear, call it paranoia, call it plain old insanity, but I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder to catch someone looking over my shoulder.
Suffice it to say, I don't trust, I absolutely do not trust anyone.
Not as far as I can throw that "one" while he or she is sitting in a fully loaded car.
This is probably unfair, I know. Most people, like the Thompsons--with whom we are staying--are kind and genuine, generous in nature and honest in their intentions. Experience, nevertheless, is a harsh teacher, and I have seen far too much of the worst in human nature recently to put much stock in the best of it. It is easier, in my mind, to do without a thing than to ask for it, thereby leaving oneself open to disappointment and disillusionment.
Admittedly, this is all probably quite ridiculous. The perception that others have little confidence in my abilities, see my current situation as some undeniable proof of my failures as a mother, as a person, as a human being might very well be ludicrous. After all, never once has anyone said anything to this effect directly to me. On the contrary, any and every thing I have heard has been somewhat supportive--even from individuals who are practically salivating over the prospect of the uppity know-it-all falling flat on her face!
Ah! Perhaps therein lies the problem. Those around me have been a bit too positive, a bit too eager to assure me of their confidence in me. Quite frankly, extremes of any kind tend to make me nervous. I walk away doubting the sincerity of the one ladling on the compliments. Is this some residual hangup from the past? Most assuredly! Even so, this skepticism exists alongside the mistrust and tendency to perceive criticism when none is given--mainly because I feel so guilty for having gotten myself and my family into such an unholy, untenable mess.
I simply cannot forgive myself for having gotten "sick" in the first place. Why did I not plan things out better? How did I miss all the warning signs of impending disaster? And why was I unable to somehow repair the before fragmented family structures from my past for the children's sake? How can anyone have "screwed up" this badly? And, having made such a collosal mess, why can I not fix it? What is wrong with me, what is wrong with me, what is wrong with me?
My children, of course, cannot say enough about their collective and individual confidence in my capabilities as a Good Mother. But what do they know? I trained the little suckers to think that way! The Green-Eyed One would have told me that this is a wonderful opportunity to find my heart, to explore the situation with curiosity as a part of my journey in life--as a merely a part of who I am or what I feel...but, having royally ticked him off as well, he isn't here to say it. (...which may not be a bad thing, really...?) Also, time plus experience have taught me that "this, too, shall pass." In a week--maybe a month or two in this instance--the thoughts and feelings I now voice will be long forgotten, replaced by joys and concerns of a totally new stage of living and experiencing.
We will get through this rocky period, the children and I.
Our family will emerge on the other side of this annoying little detour all the wiser, all the stronger, all the more confident for having faced it all head-on.
Dickensian times, Ecclesiastical seasons all dancing to the music of time...and all that rot, don't you know!
All this having been said...
For right now, though,"in the moment," the future is confusing, daunting, and untenable. Everything stinks. Life is a muddle...and we're all going to suffer, suffer, suffer then die in a big ol' bloody heap!