Archive | April, 2014

Caution: Swearing Ahead

18 Apr

In my  literary brain the title of this post would be something touching, poignant, reflective. But nope, in the real world, that’s not going to happen, because I really just want to say: WTF?

Hands up if you have SKYPE? And hands up if you think that when that blue circle posts a red number above it it means someone  tried to call you? Given that my whole family lives in Israel and that the Jewish sabbath (Shabbat) begins tonight, I figured maybe one of my family members Skyped me to wish me Shabbat Shalom or to rub in the fact that outside of Israel Passover is 8 days (as opposed to 7 there), I clicked on the Skype button wondering how I’d not heard the Skype phone ring.

But it wasn’t a call at all. It was a birthday reminder notification (I forgot that Skype does that). This is what popped up on my Skype screen:

skyper

FUCK!! That was my first response. Followed by FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! And then I looked at the little green squiggly circle on the left that told me that Randall Taylor was “offline.” Of course he’s fucking offline! Because he’s dead! Died by his own hand (with a handgun to the head to be precise) – exactly 6 months, one week and one day ago (but who is counting, right?).

And I’m sitting here thinking, how the fuck does his Skype account still exist? Did his family not switch it off? Are they unaware he had one? And even if they were aware, wouldn’t you need a password to know how to delete the damn account?

Now, it’s not like Randall and I ever really Skyped. He was my best friend, and my next door neighbour, so no need to Skype, right? He set it up years ago for when I was overseas and he was taking care of my dog – so we could chat and discuss important things like: How did Bronte enjoy her walk? How much cottage cheese did you include in her food today? You know, important stuff.

This is why I never even thought to delete his Skype profile from my list because it was so rarely used. But today (and it’s not like I forgot today would have been his birthday), I was completely winded when this reminder popped up. It was like being kicked in the solar plexus. The Internet age is bad enough in life – but it’s terrifying the web it weaves even in death. The body is gone, the soul – who knows where? – but you’re online life is there: taunting, teasing, those left behind. There’s a brief moment where you think “I can click on that ‘send a gift’ button, and somehow the present will magically wend its way to wherever they now reside in cyberspace, and hey, I might even get an automatically generated ‘thank you’ note in return.”

The memories in my heart, in my soul, and the reminders around my home – even the space between my grief – still cradle Randall. He’s everywhere and he’s nowhere. He’s in the lump in my throat, the pain that sometimes threaten to stop my heart and he bloody well sits  on my therapist’s bookcase every time I walk into his office. And these things make me cry and yearn and ache.

But this? This assault from cyberspace? From Skype? All it does is make me livid and inarticulate and broken and beaten down. As if every tiny step I’ve taken over the last six months to heal, to move on, to figure out a life without my best friend and neighbour, is some big, cosmic, joke.

And all that I can think, all that I can say is FUCK! Because there are no other words. No other thoughts.

And no, it does not escape me that I’m writing this post on the Internet.

But I’m still going to say it.

Fuck the Internet.

That is all.

Advertisements

Hug a writer today

5 Apr

Image

I absolutely adore my RWA writer’s group. I don’t think there’s a better bunch out there than the LARA gals and guys. (Well, actually I fell in love with the Austin chapter people in Atlanta at the National convention last year… so I’m sure there are other great chapters too, but today it’s all about LARA love).

Firstly, and I know I’m a little late in announcing this, but I’m SOOO excited for LARA’s wonderful Robin Bielman and Samanthe Beck  – both of whom have been nominated for RITA Awards for their debut novels. For those that don’t know, the RITA’s are the romance writing equivalent of the Oscars, so at this year’s National convention in San Antonio in July, they’ll be dressed in their posh frocks waiting nervously to see if they won. They’ll probably be slinging back more alcohol than those of us cheering them on. LARA-ITE Jennifer Haymore has also been nominated for her editing of a novella. Such exciting news. Do click on their names and check out their websites. They are all amazing women that deserve to be celebrated.

LARA-ites are such huge supporters of each other. I confess my inbox is inundated with emails from members at all hours of the day and night and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also really, really, excited that as part of the LARA mentor programme where seasoned vets share their knowledge and expertise, they take on grateful little people like me. And so, I was delighted to discover that the brilliant Maggie Marr has been designated as my mentor. I did indeed hit the “send” button today and my first 50 pages are wending their way to her where I hope she will forcefully (but kindly) rip my pages to pieces so I can build them back up and make a dent in making my novel worthy of publication. Do please check out her website too, so you can learn about all things Maggie. 

I’m also excitedly awaiting a rerouted USPS screw up, from the wonderful Barbara Claypole White, who is sending me one of her novels from North Carolina. Barbara and I touched base over at the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, where I read an excerpt of her work in progress and left a comment noting how I picked up on a major character trait of one of her characters (due to my personal experience with said trait). She was thrilled that I cottoned on to it and called me to pick my brain about my knowledge on the issue to help her flesh out her character. What a great conversation. Can’t wait for her book to arrive. 

I love that writers (at least the ones I associate with) are such a supportive, collaborative bunch – it can get lonely behind your computer screen churning out thousands of words a day (or avoiding churning them out). Cheerleaders, nurses, doctors, best friends – these are all the roles (and more) that we take on to support our fellow scribblers. And we tweet their book releases, and promote their Facebook pages. I’m feeling warm and fuzzy inside thanks to the world of writing interwebs. So do yourself a favour: hug a writer today. 

 

Of holidays, hot springs and cold shoulders

3 Apr

They say a change is as good as a rest… or something like that. Well, I decided that a rest would be a good change. It was definitely time for a road trip  – even if it was just an overnight one, so we headed off to the hot springs in Palm Desert/Palm Springs. The reason for this was threefold:

1. We needed a holiday!

2. Excellent for cobweb clearing the mind and rebooting my editing stint (it worked, I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle scenes that I’ve been avoiding – and I even wrote an entire new chapter because I realised the book needed it).

3. We went to  the hot springs because I have a FROZEN SHOULDER. It’s been going on two months now and despite physical therapy and drugs (not necessarily in that order), does not appear to be getting any better. Last week I headed off to an orthopedist who recommended a cortisone shot right in the shoulder. Hands up if you’ve had one of those? NOT fun. Almost passed out. The shot worked for about 3 hours and then – nada. I’m back to the ortho in a week so who knows what he will recommend next? I’m thinking amputation at the neck.

Anyway, the hot springs, we thought, might help the shoulder. I can safely vouch that it didn’t hurt it. Not sure if it helped. But it was lovely to get away and see some sunshine (er and then a whole lot of rain), lots of wind, and soak in hot springs. Our room overlooked one of the eight “miracle healing” pools and we could just pop  out of our little patio straight into the pool. Here’s our room with a view.

photo-60

 

 

It was also great to wander around town in the sunshine and have brunch in this sweet little garden area where the tea is served in an elephant teapot! (okay, so I brought my own tea bag (PG Tips) and they provided the hot water) but it was still lovely.

photo-61

And if it were not for Palm Springs how could I have ever known that Sancho Panza retired here?

 

photo-62

 

And then the sun disappeared, the heavens opened up and it poured with rain… But then there was a rainbow. Look closely and you’ll see it. (sorry about the car blocking the pic).

photo-63

Back in the real world again, writing again and shoulder is actually feeling a bit better this morning. No shooting pain up and down my arm, but still not able to wash my hair by myself yet. One day at a time. Back to the keyboard.