InSanity~Normalize, Don't Stigmatize Mentall Illness.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: The House Hunt

Me overlooking the Butte County Watershed on the verge of Paradise, CA, 1/18/11

Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as a new chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional autobiographical story begins here.
My education in draconian measures was sandwiched between the ups and downs of a housing search. It wasn’t easy, but I found a home. I’ll make the move at the end of February. Here’s the recap.

I just couldn’t fathom living with (1) a phlebotomist (i.e., she draws blood for a living); (2) a phlebotomist who covers her windows in plastic wrap for insulation; and (3) a phlebotomist who covers her windows in plastic wrap for insulation in Chico, California; where temperatures stay in the three-digits throughout the summer and don’t tend to drop below, say, 53-ish Fahrenheit in the winter. Thus, I told Phlebby “Thanks but no thanks.”

Jim offered my next best hope. He showed me his family’s second – or perhaps third or fourth– home, a nice, new house that I would eventually share with three others. At that time, he informed, I was the only prospective renter. We chatted for a good hour, during which Jim provided tips on the neighborhood, social scene and eateries. I was sold and asked for a housing application.

That’s when things deteriorated. “Well, I need to call my wife. She takes care of all the details in the lease.” Boy, does she ever. I would learn that Jim is one of those husbands who’d do best to never talk; his wife would ultimately counter everything he said. She runs a tight ship, a dictatorship.

Per our agreement, I  naively dropped by their house that evening to pick up a copy of the lease. I suddenly found myself in a family meeting, mafia style. I was afforded a seat at the very high kitchen table. Climbing onto an equally high stool, I was surrounded by mother, father and daughter. “We want to answer all of your questions,” mother (heretofore referred to as Sergeant) began, “but there are lots of people interested in the house. I’m showing it to a family this Friday. Our daughter might move back in too. I’ll make my decision by Saturday. You’re working at The Writing Loft? Mm hmm, so you’ll be doing the newsletter? Well, we have the option of asking for a co-signer if, say, the renter is beginning a new job. Here’s a copy of both leases. We’re going to sell the house when the market picks back up, but you’ll need to sign on for six months. I can’t think of anything else. It was a rough day at work. I’m hungry. Nice meeting you.”

Sergeant pushed two leases at me, one for the master bedroom – which I’d clarified I couldn’t afford. Each document was five-pages long and fraught with enough legal minutiae to keep our nation’s healthcare plan at a stalemate. Here’s a snippet: “Renter must take garbage cans to the curb by 0700am on Thursdays or will be subject to execution.” Oy, talk about draconian! Oh, maybe it read “eviction”. I don’t know. I just know that I left feeling scared and offended, but mostly scared.

Once I caught my breath, I reconnected with Steven. We’d scheduled a meeting to see his house, but I canceled in favor of a female roommate. The women weren’t boding well for me, and Steven graciously agreed to reschedule. Upon arrival the next day, his sister and baby niece greeted me too. It was a friendly exchange in a nice, comfy home that would allow sufficient privacy and room for my furniture. It’s far from Michael too.

The rent’s just over one-third of what I’ve been paying in the San Francisco Bay Area. I salivate at the thought of writing a three-digit versus four-digit rent check.

Last week, Steven accepted me as a tenant. I started getting nervous over the weekend, though, having not yet received the lease. Did he read my blog and notice that I’ve had some -uh- issues with men? Thankfully, yesterday’s text message was assuring. “Hi Robyn. I was thinking of getting a cat, and was wondering if you have any objections. Please let me know. Steven”

This spurred a whirlwind of memories. I’ll never forget the moment my “Nomezy” -- Naomi, a beautiful Snowshoe feline owned by my (ex)husband— glared up at me. Her innocent gray eyes asked, “Where are you going? Why?” I had no explanation as to why I’d been kicked out of our home. With all the strength I could muster, I consoled her through my tears. “Sorry honey. Thanks for teaching me to love a cat. I’ll miss you.” And I do.

Clenching my cell-phone, I snapped back into the present and replied to Steven. “I’ve had a cat before, and I’m fine with that. Thanks for asking.”

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blissful Torment, Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

The Saturday Centus challenges us to write a piece within 100 words, based on a prompt. I encourage you to jump aboard. It's great practice, and I've met wonderful peers this way. Plus, Jenny's our favorite teacher.
She's calmed down now. Thus, this one isn't as much fun as the last. It's more normal (thanks to Judie at Rogue Artists). I didn't take the prompt (bolded below) in a silly direction. Sorry.
Blissful Torment 
Tormented by blissful memories, she needed to escape. Carmen climbed down into the basement, striking at cobwebs along the way. She landed in a pile of dust, the remedy before her eyes. Somehow its contents would fill the void. She lifted the stack of letters from the ancient chest. One lonely page floated onto the floor, urging her read. Nervously, she brought it closer. It was nothing special: “Dearest Carmen, I miss you. Please tell me how you have been.” Teardrops streamed her cheeks.  Just three years into their marriage, and he never talked like that anymore. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

300 Thanks!

Dear Readers,

Not long ago, I was begging friends and family to follow my blog. I had about 3 followers for months, and I was one of them. Thus, it is with great pleasure that I thank you for helping me reach 300! Woohoo! I'm doing the Rawknrobyn dance over here. (Consider yourself lucky you can't see me; I've gone a bit spastic.)

I really appreciate you all. It means so much to have made it this far. Please stick around for lots more Life by Chocolate. 

With gratitude, love, and cocoa,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise, and a Man: Draconian Measures!

Sign reads: "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies."

Thanks for joining me on the verge of Paradise, as a new chapter of my life unfolds. If you're new to Life by Chocolate, or just madly trying to catch up with your blog reading (Can we ever truly catch up?), this non-fictional autobiographical story begins here.
Remember Michael – the first man I met in Paradise, the one who was handsome until he started talking? Yeah, something about the way he declared his intent to attend a health lecture at the church gave me the willies.

Last week, I spent a bit more time with Michael. I stayed at Sarah’s (his mother’s) house again. Clearly, it’s his house too. Per Ames’ advice, I locked both the bedroom and the bathroom doors behind me. Thanks Ames - for suggesting a possible resemblance to Norman Bates. Nonetheless, I was unable to avoid interaction altogether.

“Draconian measures!” Michael stampeded through the living room, where I sat perusing housing listings on Sarah’s computer. “Draconian measures!”

He’s not talking to me, is he? I spun the chair around, and, yes, he was.

“This is outrageously wrong! I got a $1200 ticket for driving without my lights on, and it was daytime! It’s that stretch of freeway between here and Sacramento. Watch out over there. They get you every time. Take another route, or keep your lights on all day long. They’re looking to steal from you. I didn’t have my new insurance card, so they hiked it up to $1200. Draconians!”

Gulp. I could only support him. “Twelve hundred dollars? That’s just criminal!” I confirmed.

“You bet it is. If you can’t drive, you can’t travel. You can’t travel, you don’t have the right to peaceful assembly. You’re robbed of your freedoms. I’m fighting this to the full extent.”

The man knows his constitutional rights. I was ready for him to hand me a rifle and command, “March with me, woman!” We’d go parading through the streets of Paradise, rifles in hand, shouting “Draconian measures! Down with Draconia!” I’d do the beauty pageant wave and become very popular in my new stomping ground.

Lucky for me, Michael cooled down a bit and left the room.

Truthfully, I have no idea what Draconian measures are. If they have anything to do with Dracula, though, I’m definitely on his side. Dracula’s side, that is.

On my way home, I pulled over to take this photo. I didn’t see Michael or anyone around. Still, I snapped and jumped back into my car very, very quickly. To avoid any further Draconian measures, I made sure to keep my headlights on all the way home.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Blogfest

Alex Cavanaugh (the same Alex mentioned in my last post) drew over 100 bloggers to share our music tastes with the world.

I was hesitant to participate, as I'm a music nerd. I know what I like when I hear it, but am unlikely to know anything about the song (e.g., who sings it). My preference, simply, is for music that's both easy on the ears and meaningful. Otherwise, if it makes me jump up and dance, it's a winner.

Here are my top 10 picks of the greatest songs of all time:

1) Wildflower by Skylark ~ I'm glad to draw attention to this one, as it's a little known but wonderful piece. When I first heard it in the 80's, I froze. It spoke to me, and I claimed it as my song. Admittedly, it's dark but with poetic lyrics. Here's a sample:

Let her cry, for she's a Lady
Let her dream, for she's a Child
Let the rain fall down upon her
She's a free and gentle flower, growing wild.

2) Rockin' Robin by Bobby Day ~ I'll say no more, except thanks Bobby. P.S. Um, you spelled Robyn wrong. You don't mind making a little change, do you?

3) Hotel California by The Eagles ~ I've studied the words, and it's brilliantly written. Not to mention easy on the ears.

4) All About Soul by Billy Joel ~ It really is all about soul. And Billy. And a few others.

5) Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkle ~ S&G's music is purely mesmerizing.

6) Imagine by John Lennon ~ God bless John Lennon.

7) I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womak ~ This song reads like a blessing.  Sample lyrics:

"I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
and when one door closes, I hope one more opens.
May you never take one single breath for granted.
God forbid love ever leaves you empty handed."

8) Crocodile Rock by Elton John ~ I have fond memories of playing musical chairs to Crocodile Rock (more than a few years ago), a most fun tune. I have to dance whenever I hear this one, even if I'm in the car.

9) Sailing by Christopher Cross ~ This one takes me away and has special meaning at this time, given I'm moving to the Paradise area.

"It's not far down to Paradise, at least it's not for me."

10) Rainbow Connection written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher and performed by none other than Kermit and the Muppets. I played this one on the piano as a kid. This song was nominated for an Academy Award for best song in 1979. Those Muppets are a talented crew, and so darn cute.

"...the lovers, the dreamers, and me." Great, now this tune's going through your head. Thank me anytime.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sci-Fi Centus, Sorry Alex!

Jenny Matlock
Teacher Jenny Matlock made me do it: create a piece within 100 words. That's not the worst of it, folks. This week's assignment involved sci-fi. And what do you get when you mix me with sci-fi? See below. I'm so sorry, Alex. (In case you don't already know him, Alex is sci-fi extraordinaire and author of CassaStar. Hopefully, he'll still be my friend after reading this.)

The prompt is bolded below. Enjoy (?!)


Sorry, Alex!

The 12th moon of Goofy illuminates the Starship Enterprise -port side. There, Mr. Spock and Scotty discuss the cosmological discordance of the past 2,600 iambic pentameters. Lounging at the bar, they chug beer and munch m&ms (coconut flavored). Natashialovarita, who earned the title of Lieutenant-Colonel-Nurse Practitioner-Phlebotomist-Maid-Assistant Janitor, strolls by. Let’s watch:

Scott nudges Spock. “Did you see her asteroids lately?”

“Yes. I noted a powerful gravitational pull.”

“Wait an orkin nanosecond,” Scott states. “A thought enters. We are void of hormones.”

“Legitimate assertion.”

They glare at each other and burst into laughter.

“I’d still let her beam me up, Scotty.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Back to Join the Pea's Core

Dear readers,

I'm back with more stories and Pea's Core membership, thanks to Georgina Dollface. Times have been so hard that she coordinated a pea's rally. Georgina accepted slogan suggestions for this rally. I won for the most pea-warming offering.

Per Georgina: Her (my) caption, "Peas take care of each other" made them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You see, in the on-line world, we take care of each other without ever asking for anything in return. We offer one another encouragement when we are feeling down. We make each other giggle and spit out our drinks. We listen to each others' goofy stories. We cry. We get mad and rally around causes that touch us all.

Rawknrobyn, in recognition of helping The Peas find a catchy slogan, they have invited you to become an honourary member of...

How could I not feel honoured and at peas?! I get to be a part of this nutritious, adorable crew.
Thanks, Georgina. xo

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: God Bless John Denver

Sign reads: "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies."

“Country roads…” I sang with the gusto of an American Idol reject.

“…Take me home!”

I arrived in Paradise, lowering my car window to taste the crisp mountain air. The house was a cozy, woodsy abode. I knocked on the door. Before me stood a handsome man, about my age. Paradise ain’t bad, I thought. God bless John Denver!

“Welcome. Let me get my mom for you.”

Sarah greeted me with a hug. She and her son Michael, the handsome one, walked me to the side room that would be my home for the week. Equipped with a kitchen, bedroom, bath, and electric wheelchair, I’d be just fine.

“I’ll get that chair out of the way for you,“ she said. I was grateful, as the bulky apparatus took up a big portion of space. She and Michael appeared fully ambulatory, so I was confused. Then, she explained. “It was a great deal. I only paid $150 for it at an estate sale. Otherwise, those things cost a fortune, and I may need it some day.” Ah, it all became clear.

“Is it pretty safe around here?” I asked, simultaneously changing the subject and setting my bags down.

“Yeah, it’s pretty safe, although I had my purse stolen from my car one night. And, well, there are some other more violent crimes,” she mumbled.

Note to self: Don’t leave purse in car overnight. Note in response to note to self: Who do you think I am, self? Second note to self: This is a hush-hush town. Don’t raise sensitive issues like violent crime.

“Mom, I’m going to that health lecture at the church,” Michael announced. There’s something about the way he said it. I can’t put my finger on it, but his emphasis on “health” was eerie. It’s as if he’s had arguments with her about the validity of church sponsored health lectures, or as if he’s got some embarrassing medical condition that they don’t discuss openly, or as if she has simply been wanting him – a middle aged man who’s living with his mother – to get out of the house from time to time. At any rate, my attraction died that moment. Additionally, I would lock my bedroom door at night. Just in case.

“…To the place…”

The next morning, I sat on the porch of The Writing Loft to meet with Nora. So I thought. Ten minutes into waiting nervously, I was approached by a woman adorning long golden brown hair, bright pink lipstick, and conservative attire. “Oh, there you are. Great to meet you,” she said, offering a hug. “You’re in the wrong place. Let me walk you over. I’m Mimi.”

Mimi escorted me to the other house, a few yards away, for our first staff meeting. Over the next few days, Nora and I discussed salary and other matters. Things fell into place, bit by bit, and I adjusted fairly smoothly. Nora’s remarkably competent yet modest demeanor kept me assured. Mimi’s vibrant personality and bright pink lipstick kept me entertained.

Having secured the job, I got focused on finding a new home. Call me picky, but I decided not to pursue the place that was advertised as “Newly remolded.” I prefer not to invest in mold – even new mold. I also bypassed the wonderful apartment “Close to cancer.” Could they possibly mean “campus”? What a horrifying typo!

Rather, I scheduled a meeting with a phlebotomist who’s looking for a housemate. Did I spell that word right? Don’t fret; I didn’t know what that was either, until I looked it up. Now, I’m not keen on living with someone who draws blood for a living. Fortunately, I have a few other options, like a bedroom the size of a closet or cohabitation with Barbi and Bruno by Chico State.

I’ll most likely need to say a fond farewell to my bed. We know it hasn’t seen much action over the years anyway, and I’ve got a sofa bed that’s perfectly comfy. Bottom line: I need to downsize, but I’m fine with that.

It’s worth it. I’m excited, and this will be interesting. I like interesting.

I like Paradise and its verge (e.g., Chico). It’s a truly beautiful part of the world.

“I belong.”
God bless John Denver.

Note to readers: I’m heading to Paradise again, for house hunting and some work at the Loft. I’ll return Friday. Have a great week. I’ll miss you. Wish me luck. Thanks!

Sharing the Sweetness

Dear friends,

I’ve packed a smorgasbord of blogging into the weekend, hoping to make up for my absence this coming week. Sorry I won't be visiting. It's Paradise related.

In the meantime, I want to thank Oilfield Trash for this mouth-watering award. He’s a man of integrity, who tells it like it is. Oilfield keeps us entertained with every post. Rumor has it, he has no problems keeping the ladies entertained too. I won’t embarrass him further about that, though. Sorry, Mr. O.

As part of this sweet award, I’m supposed to tell you some of my guilty pleasures. My life is an open blog, though, so I’m skipping that step. In short: they all involve chocolate. This, we know. Next, I'm to share the sweetness. I'm happy to forward the award to three of my many favorites:

~Anthony is a writer in Australia. He’s a sincerely warm and funny guy, whose writing ranges from dark to silly. Anthony’s become a dear friend, and he’s a new daddy to a precious baby girl.

Currently, Anthony is keeping us posted on the horrifying floods that are devastating Southern Australian. Please send good thoughts and/or prayers in that direction.

~ Georgia/Gi Gi is a gorgeous lady and person whose spunk jumps off of the screen. A single mom of four, she has two creative blogs: Goingglam and a photo blog. Gi gi posted a song in my honor (Paradise City) on her photo blog. That was pure fun. She and I share a special connection through our beloved friend, Lisa/Bumpkin on a Swing.

~ Sue is grandma and writer extraordinaire. I recently won a lovely pair of earrings from Sue, when she celebrated having reached 700 posts. Wow! Each of her pieces is of the highest quality. Sue writes with warmth, depth and humor. She does poetry and prose, and I get the impression there’s nothing Sue can’t do.

Enjoy sweet things in the new week, and may we continue to be inspired by Reverend Martin Luther King.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Only in America, a Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

Note to self: Next time you take on the Saturday Centus challenge, read the instructions first - and I repeat, FIRST. See, if you do, you won't spend a chunk of time on a 100 word piece, post it, and then realize that Miss Jenny limited the class to 25 words. Further, do not - and I repeat, DO NOT - reveal this mishap to Miss Jenny or your peers. It's kind of embarrassing.

Okay, here's my 25. Those 75 words were awfully hard to swallow.  

Only in America

The formerly homeless man suddenly has it all: fame, fortune, and family.

But Ted rejected the lottery ticket, retreating to drugs.

Only in America.

Announcing the Giveaway Winner, Hooray for Single Parents!

Here are your nominations for the Single Parent Giveaway:

~Oilfield Trash said... I nominate Miley (aka Musings of a Confused Woman) as she has had a very tough time the last few years.

~GunDiva said... I nominate Momma Fargo (The Boogie Man is my friend), who is a very new single mom as well as an awesome cop and blogger. She could use something to make her smile - the adjustment from married to single mom is a hard one.

~Marla said...I nominate my friend Jana K. She is a wonderful woman with a daughter and a son. Her life has been very difficult for the last 4 years and yet she remains positive and focused for her kids sakes.

~IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...I'm torn. It's gotta be either the Invisible Seductress or Jane.

I also wish to recognize: Georgina/Gigi, a beautiful mommy of two beautiful girls; Daffy, a do-it-all spunky lady who lets her child indulge in messy chocolate in the car; and Oilfield Trash/OT, who serves as a reminder that there are some stellar single daddies out there too. Thanks, OT!

For all of the single parents [who don't have nannies and aren't abusive], we salute you. I wish I had more gift cards. Alas, there is only one.

So, I wrote the nominees' names down onto equally sized slips of paper, folded them into equally smaller sized pieces of paper, and placed them into my special pink box. With eyes closed, I drew a name. And the winner is...
..Momma Fargo! Woohoo! Congratulations, Officer Momma Fargo!

Thank you all for joining this tribute to our single parent friends. xo

Because Laughter is Much Needed

The twisted trio (me, PowderedToastMan, and TheInvisibleSeductress) struck again. This time, we visited Jellystone Park to help Yogi with some special problems. Please go to PowderedToastMan.
Laughter guaranteed. You won't regret it. Actually, you will, so blame it on the Toast Man. It's his brain child. I just played Mr. Ranger.  xo

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Why I Choose Celibacy, Reasons #56-62: The Missing "O"

Lifted directly from current on-line dating ads, please enjoy reasons #56-62 for my choice to maintain a celibate existence.
REASON #56 About Me For the the most part I looking for the same things that most others are loking for. I’m just loking for another “o” at this point, buddy. Happiness,Value and substance in life. I want to make something real clear, I'm not on here looking for sex. I see you found the “o” when it comes to sex. That’s a point in your favor. I would like to find something more then that,so If thats all you have in mind ladies, Sorry but I cant help you there…Oh, sweetie, you just fell off the scoreboard. I'm just a regular nerd submursed in ink, art, painting, building and numerious other things people concider goofy. …Befor going further, I am heavely tattooed and dont plan on stopping. If that's something you dont agree with or can live with, then I'm not the one for you. If your looking for the short version, I'm looking for a simple girl with goals. Simply put, I strive to avoid heavely tattooed lokers who don't know what to do with an “o”.

REASON #57 i am 50 yrs old but my profile says i am 39 yrs old.I made a mistake and its hard to make another account so i will just retain this account. That’s a rather suspicious mistake, ‘ole man. If it’s truly weighing on your conscience, I suggest you utilize the “Edit profile” function.

REASON #58 I GIVE UP , HAVE A NICE DAYxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Can’t blame a guy for not trying, politely too. Give me a call, #58.

REASON #59 Hold on a minute. Never mind, 58. Kindly forward my number to 59. He’s a mover and a shaker. "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes...saying Hey-Oh, Gotta Let Go. I wanna celebrate and live my life saying Hey-Oh, Baby Let's Go..."

REASON #60 i dont wanna know where you are from and where you been i wanna know where you are now i dont judge the book from the cover be upfront about what your looking for and what you want it will make life easy.come clean or dont come at all Yeah, I’ve used that line too. Never worked for me.

REASON #61 I am a professional, 6'2" of Italian decent. Well, I suppose that’s an upgrade from French offensive.

REASON #62 I am a night owl. I am writing this at 430am. I have insomnia. I also work a graveyard shift. so if we were to start dating we would most likely do all the normal couples stuff like walks on the beach and dinners and movies whilst snuggling and driving around adventures...alas in the middle of the night. I can do the "normal" daytime stuff...meaning I can wake up and be out of the house by noon if need be. You almost had me at “I,” but I’m afraid it went downhill into a very dark abyss after that. Sorry. Play again, Mr. Owl. PS How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CSN Giveaway: Acknowledging the Single Parent

I never intended to use this forum for giveaways. However, CSN Stores selected me as a preferred blogger. It’s nice to be given a title, especially a positive one. Plus, how could I turn down the opportunity to give freebies to you, my beloved readers? I can’t. In this spirit, here’s giveaway post #3.

The winning prize is a $50 gift card, not including shipping or any extras. The winner must reside in the US or Canada. Sorry to those of you in other parts of the world; CSN has yet to branch out into your neighborhood. It’s a huge store, though, with countless sites. Items include everything from adjustable bar stools to kids’ games, health and fitness equipment, shoes, and much more. With millions of products to choose from, stemming from their main site at, think about the fun you could have with this on-line shopping spree.

This time around, we’re paying tribute to the single parent. It’s hard enough being single, and I can only imagine the minute-to-minute challenges of parenting. But, to be both single and a parent? Now, that’s beyond impressive. How do they do it all? They are their children's teachers, nurses, doctors, drivers, counselors, mentors, friends, disciplinarians, and so much more. Some of them even have time to blog. I am in awe.

Let’s award one of our single parent friends with a gift of their choosing. Please nominate your favorite single parent, even - and especially - if that is you. This includes any parent (mom/dad, grandparent, aunt/uncle, or etc.) who takes care of their child/ren at least half of the time. They need not be bloggers or followers of Life by Chocolate, though I always accept new members. I just ask that you be a follower (new, old, or young).

With hats off to the single parents of the world, the polls are now open. Feel free to place your nominations below or send to my email. Thank you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Woman on the Verge of Paradise: A New Chapter

Sign reads: "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies"

“You can’t afford to doubt yourself.”
-Nora Profit

“I’d like you to open your book to any page,” she instructed the group. “Then, randomly point to a word or phrase. That will be your prompt.”

I wasn’t thrilled with Joan Marie Wood. My first writing mentor, and a deeply intuitive soul, she nonetheless handed me the novel, She Had Some Horses. Horses? What do I know about horses? I never had horses, don’t particularly like them, and merry-go-round music drives me bonkers. I was just itching to write about Nora. Instead, I sat nervously amongst the other more calm Temescal Writers last Wednesday evening, pondering the relevance of horses.

My compliant nature trumped the fact that I live in a free society, and I begrudgingly obliged. Upon flipping the book open, I watched my right index finger land on the word, “Nora.” The sentence read, “Nora and I go walking down 4th Avenue.” Goosebumps rushed my spine. How did Joan Marie know? She’s good. Really good. See, ever since I met Nora at the Writer’s Retreat in October, she’s all I could think about. If, in fact, we end up walking down 4th Avenue, my dream will be realized.

“Nora will be a day late,” Dale announced, when I arrived at the workshop site. “Her assistant is leaving the job, and she’s pretty taken aback.” This meant nothing to me, until I sat beside Nora during lunch the next day. In her sincere and humble manner, she asked if I have kids. I explained that I’m just out of a divorce and the kid window is closed, perhaps cemented shut. In fact, electrical barbed wiring and a highly sensitive alarm system surround the premises, with glow-in-the-dark “No Trespassing” signs every few feet. Thankfully, Jay spared me the need to further elaborate on such intimacies.

Pulling a chair towards Nora, he offered compassion. “I’m so sorry Karen left. Is it definite?”

“It’s 99% likely.”

Then, without an ounce of forethought and in nothing but a half-asleep, matter-of-fact tone, I vocalized these words as they popped into my head: “If you lived closer, I’d sell myself on you. I think you’d be great to work for, and I need a job.”

Indifferent to this verbiage that flowed without inhibition, we turned our heads to refocus on the food on our respective plates.


What did I just say? I’m never opportunistic, never self indulgent, never so bold. The seed was planted, though. There was no turning back.

“Um, well, you need someone good with computers. Right? I stink at that.”

“Yes, I really do,” she affirmed.


“There’s something about you, though,” she added.


We realigned our eyeballs on the pasta. Or was it pizza? Wait, was it even lunch? It might have been breakfast or dinner. I bet it tasted like chicken. Oh, I don’t know. I just remember every fraction of a millisecond of that conversation.

Our faces snapped back to glare at each other.

“Well, just how bad are you with computers?”

We shared a laugh, knowing my answer didn’t matter.

Last week, I visited Nora Profit in Paradise and began my housing search. I spent a fair amount of time at The Writing Loft, a creative writing program in Northern California. Nora Profit is its founder and Executive Director. I am her new Assistant.

As I face the uncertainties and challenges of this life overhaul, I feel safely assured that:

     (1) I’m bound for Profit in Paradise, and
     (2) I can’t afford to doubt myself.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Note to Self

Dear Self,

Next time you're about to go away for a while, do not - and I repeat, DO NOT - attempt to create another blog collage with Elmer's glue, whilst sitting at your desk, the night before you're scheduled to leave. When said glue does not pour out of tip, do not - and I repeat, DO NOT - take lid off of said glue in order to pour said glue directly onto collage. See, if you do, it will spill all over your keyboard. When this happens, do not - and I repeat, DO NOT - try to salvage said keyboard by scraping Elmer's glue out with knives, scissors, toothpicks, or a chainsaw. See, if you do, you will then be compelled to dash madly between said keyboard (before the glue dries) and partially completed collage (astutely placed far from said keyboard). When you dash madly, do not - and I repeat, DO NOT - bump your knee on the coffee table, producing an interesting combination of laughter, blood, and tears. Furthermore, do not - and I repeat, DO NOT - be surprised that you ruined the keyboard. See, if you are, you will look kind of stupid when you show up at Office Max the next morning, asking if the fact that you spilt Elmer's glue all over your keyboard explains why it no longer works.

Do not - and I repeat, DO NOT (Note within note: This is bolded, Self!) - share this story with anyone, as your klutzy behavior is a tad embarrassing, even to me.  Let them all think that last post went flawlessly, and you were off for an exciting, exotic trip in record time.

PS Tell them all that it's good to be back. You missed and love them, and you'll visit their blogs as quickly as you can.

PPS Tell them all that you have stories and lots of writing to do, perhaps at least one new series, as the next chapter unfolds. But don't let them get too excited; they might think a man is involved, and your celibacy posts would then end. Self, you and I, and Millie and Gertie, know that this is not the case. 

Yours and mine truly,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Celebrate, and I'll Be Back

Dear friends,

I'm going away for the week. I don't have any of those toys that all the cool kids have (e.g., i-Pad, droid, or even a laptop. This is not to mention my void of an i-Pod, blackberry, or kindle. What's a droid, by the way? What am I missing from this list?). At any rate, I'll be off circuit and will miss you.

Enjoy the first week of 2011. However good or lousy 2010 was, the chance to start anew is welcome.

I'll see you again next weekend.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

The List of Unattainable New Year's Resolutions, a Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus challenges us to create a piece within 100 words, based on a prompt. This week's prompt is bolded below. Check out Ms. Matlock's site for lots of silly Centus posts, along with Jenny's wonderful writing. While you're at it, jump aboard. Saturday Centus is a fun, worthwhile endeavor.

Now, please enjoy my offering.

Her crumpled up list or resolutions must have fallen out of her pocket, bra, or panties during the family photo shoot. Butler Von Trump uncovered it while dusting.

“Good lord,” he guffawed, “she’ll never accomplish any of these.”

1) Pursue my talents.
2) Get a talent.
3) Read a book.
4) Learn to read.
5) Donate to shareity.
6) Find out if shareity has anything to do with perfume or Cher. If so, I’ll totally rock it.
7) Continue being celibit.
8) Dump two of the five men.
9) Keep this list privett.
10) ‘Cuz it’s personnel.

By Kim Kardashian