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 * I want all you literary types to watch "The Kindergarten Teacher" so that we can discuss it in depth and at length. This film! It's...something amazing, really. Oscar-worthy performance from Gyllenhaal. She's become a woman that real woman can, should and ought to admire. I won't say more about the story here and I don't recommend watching the trailer first. Let the web of it pull you in.....

* Last weekend of warmish weather, although it really is Autumn up here on the mountain. Next week the cold settled into the days and there will be no turning back as we move towards All Soul's Day. I'm looking forward to it, but dreading the start of my twelfth month of mourning. Everyone is beginning to think about our trip back east for the service. I have no idea what to expect from the weather. East Coasters - what is Thanksgiving in DC like? 

* Kidling1 had a blowout on the freeway yesterday morning during her rush hour commute. I hate this type of thing so much. We have a friend whose father was killed in front of her fourteen year old self by a drunk driver while he was changing a tire on the freeway. Dangerous dangerous dangerous. She knows the drill and walked as far up the embankment as she could go and USAA told her it would be an HOUR before they could get a tow truck out to her. Really? A good samaritan passed her on his way to the airport and told himself if she was still there after he dropped off his passenger he would turn around and help her. What a nice guy. But then her entire morning was shot trying to deal with her tires. Ugh. 

* This looks like a good list for horror fans - www.unboundworlds.com/2018/09/the-100-best-horror-books-of-all-time/ This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/322137.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
* Writing, writing, writing to deadlines and it has me pulling my hair out a bit. (Speaking of hair. I decided to never cut mine again in December of 2016 and it's loooooooooong now. Waist-length. Not sure what to do with all this hair. I wear it up in one of those crazy sockbuns or I wear it down my back in a braid. Is it super-flattering? Probably not, but I do love having it long.) I have a column deadline of this evening which is just not going to be possible. My cuckoo editor gave it to me Thursday night and there is no way my interview is going to contact me in time. Apparently she sent the assignment to my gmail account a week earlier. Uh, I don't have a gmail account. Sigh. I cannot, for the life of me, convince flakiness that we need consistency. I have no idea what she's going to do with that space if we can't get this thing written. I spent most of Saturday writing for a Sunday Idol deadline....and that was simultaneously difficult and a satisfying wrestle. The words are beginning to appear again. It's gratifying. I'm not sure what that piece is or how it surfaced, although I do know the character, but her story surprised me a bit. 

* Totally crushing on James Spader in his glorious 50's. Blacklist is silly but fun stuff. D can't get Crash out of his mind so he's not having quite as much fun with it as I am. 

* Had my mother up for an early dinner yesterday. She doesn't want to drive back down the mountain in the dark. She has begun taking a sleep aid and I think we're beginning to see an improvement. She did tell me that she had her very first dream in which my father has actually died and is gone. She feels that is a watershed moment. 

* Kidling1 is struggling with loneliness and I am at an absolute loss as to how to help her. This article makes so much sense and I wish that we, as a species, could begin to find a way to combat this human tragedy. https://www.foxnews.com/health/uk-doctors-to-prescribe-cooking-classes-to-combat-loneliness

Discovered these guys by accident last week -


This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/321905.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
She is road savvy. Hippie girl in ripped jeans, light blue eyes and long, blonde tangle of hair, a world traveler with her passport safe inside a plastic Ziploc inside a zippered pocket inside her backpack. A bedroll lashed to her pack, the road weary pair of Merrill hikers she stole from a Big 5 when she turned eighteen the summer she left for good, a felt hat with a beaded band the daughter of the medicine man who healed her out in the Yuma desert gave her the next morning full of sunrise and longing while they stood toe to toe on the side of the dirt road, a solar phone charger had been a gift from a boy she met in Indonesia making her promise to text him every day before he let it go, every single day, so he would know she was safe, a braided leather belt from a craftsman in New Zealand, the span of his hands around her waist his measuring tape, the glass pipe in the front pocket of her Levis she had blown herself in a small studio on the Pacific Northwest coast one late, wine-sodden evening as the young gaffer shaped the molten parison with a strange tool in his long-fingered hands while she squinted, blinded by the searing sun of the oven, kissing the blowpipe. That boy had cried, his face hidden behind mittened fists when she told him she was leaving.

Don’t forget me, he had begged her.

She shook her head, smiling, enigmatic. How could I? she asked him. I’ll always remember how I sleep so good here. She looked around the small room, the ocean violent outside his window.

+

It is a dream that hangs on her mornings. The dreamt images a laundry-basket-worth of clothes pinned to the line, but in the way of a dream, the clothes disintegrate, unravel, decompose, disappear.

She could swear she has been dreaming it every night of her life. But of course, she knows that is impossible. Infants don’t dream of dead natives; children rarely dream of Indian Chiefs in full war paint and feathers on their knees executed with a stoicism that broke the heart, teens surely don’t know the familiar weight of a Civil War-era Remington Model 1858 .44 caliber revolver used to blow a Cheyenne’s brains out his forehead summarily.

Sometimes in the dream, she is the soldier with the gun, sometimes the Chief with pursed lips and enraged eyes, but most often the child cut down by a saber slash, lying in the prairie grass watching her father lose his life.

+

Just outside Bend, Oregon, she climbs into the old Chevy truck cab of two of her sisters’ father. He promised to take her to Sturgis the summer she came of drinking age. He doesn’t ride, but her father does, and he has business with her father.

It is pre-dawn. What’s the name of this time of day, she asks him.

Inside, her sister is passed out on the couch, and she presses a quick kiss into the crown of raven black hair, and laughs at the mumbled reply, promising, “I’ll text you later. When we get to Montana. I’ll snap him. Promise.”

They will stop in Montana, stay a few days with her older sister who is now living with a man none of them know. She had left Brodie the Baby at the altar for him.

+

Her oldest half-sister is recently married, recently graduated with a nursing degree, and recently in therapy which she suggests that all four of them could benefit greatly from. LOL, the three other sisters type into their group text. LOL.

+

iPhone messaging, Instagram, Snapchat, FB. She is an unwitting social media darling, with a steadily growing number of followers. Some she knows, some she does not. Some she reaches out to, dm-ing them, asking to crash at their houses, strangers becoming friends, and others she will never meet. She rarely peruses the accounts of her followers although she dutifully follows all who click on her name.

She loves to skinny dip and dance on bars. Her waist-length locks aren’t quite dreaded but bed-headed enough that her mother worries out loud that people with that kind of hair get arrested.

But her mother is an always-recovering addict who performs some magical exchange with the doctors on the oncology floor she works to write her scrips for bottles and bottles of controlled substances. None of the daughters take her haphazardly given advice or slurred opinion.

The two oldest mother the two youngest. All four mother the mother. They have raised themselves and reassure one another with the fairy tale of their neglected childhoods.

Her mother is also anorexic. When she was fourteen years old she had to listen to two of the popular girls making horrified comments during eighth-grade graduation as they watched her mother search out a good seat. A wrecked beauty in disco shorts and a tube top because it was June and sweltering. The snickering tone of her classmates has stayed with her. She despised those girls, but they follow her on Instagram and sometimes she leaves them cryptic comments punctuated with the hashtag #drunkcommenting. None unfollow her or block her because her naked ass is a thing of utter beauty and she knows each one of them pinches her posts bigger to memorize every mole on the pale bare flesh of her backside.

She can dance. That's the gift I gave you, her mother tells her. She goes commando, wears baby doll dresses, and her short videos are a millennial burlesque. Comments left in emoji.

+

They stop in Montana, her half-sister rushes them from the front door, dragging her down into the gravel with an embrace and tear-stained face.

She works for the Forestry Service and is living in a mail order timber frame on the edge of a mountainous forest with a logger in his mid-40’s who has two kids somewhere. They all drink whiskey each night outside around a fire pit and eat elk steaks for dinner.

She secrets herself out of the house one early morning to take a long hike alone and finds the carcass of a bear. She wrenches the skull free and scrubs the desiccated bits of hide sticking to the bone off in her sister’s half-bath sink, using a nail brush, and then wraps it up in the old Spearhead t-shirt she had been wearing when she found it. She packs it carefully into her sisters' dad’s truck so she can give it to her dad when they finally meet up with him at the motorcycle rally.

The morning they leave, they all group hug while her sister’s pack of dogs yip and run in frantic circles around them. She climbs out the truck window, tumbling into the bed and stands waving and waving until her sisters' father pulls out of their sight and knocks on the rear glass to tell her to get her ass back inside. She sits cross-legged on the bench seat grinding homegrown bud, tapping it carefully into a paper. She winds it tight, and he pops the vintage lighter into the dashboard, and when it pops back out, she wonders if she has ever felt more content and wistful at the same time in her life. #ontheroadagain #greenbud #missingsis and borrowed #copwonderswhatbrandismoke. She doesn’t know that’s a Clash reference. Later, she sleeps all the way to the Dakotas, the states she had been named for.

+

In Sturgis, thousands of people, cars, motorcycles block the streets, the sidewalks. A vibration can be felt in the air, rubbing against her skin. She scans the crowds. Her sisters’ father taps out a number on his cell, leaves a message, and three minutes later it rings. He drives out of town and into a campsite. Bikes are lined up, on kickstands, and a man walks toward them.

Her own father, shirtless beneath a denim vest, flying colors, the Iron Horse Riders, his hair two long braids, the sharp edge of a hatchet profile. He opens her door, and she steps out like Neil Armstrong.

+

The next morning, her sisters’ father leaves for parts unknown. The plan is for her to ride back west with her father. Visit all the tourist traps.

+

At Mount Rushmore, she gets off the bike, shaking the blood back into her feet, and stands looking up at the visages carved into granite. She doesn’t know how to feel about the monument, the desecration of the stone, the homage to the country into which she had been born. Tourists take pictures, holding at arm-length their phones and iPads. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln over their shoulders peeking down into a future they could not have begun to imagine.

Behind her, her dad walks up and spits a fluid rope of chew saliva in the direction of the monument.

That was supposed to be Red Cloud up there, he says, his voice venomous. You know I ain’t your pa.

She twists her closed lips sideways, narrowing her eyes.

Your sister is my daughter.

She nods, her chin in her shoulder, thinking of Cheyenne, probably taking her first smoke break at the Planned Parenthood Clinic back in Oregon.

I knew, the minute you were born you weren’t mine. All that bone white skin and cloud of fine white hair. Still.

She closes her eyes, lids thick with cream-colored lashes.

Come here, girl. I know this isn’t no surprise. It’s just time we said it outloud.

She lets him enfold her; he smells of leather and wood fire smoke and stale beer. She has never wanted to have this conversation, this knowledge laid out like the losing hand in a winner-takes-all poker game.

They walk, arm in arm, back to his bike. He reaches into the saddle bag where the skull is tucked, still bundled in her shirt. He fishes it out, unwrapping it, cradling it in one forearm. It is the size of a newborn child.

This bear you give me? That’s something good. That’s something between just us. I’ll keep it special my whole life. You take this lower jaw, look at them god-damned fangs, to remind you how dangerous you are. But also, to keep in mind that each one of us is a fragile thing.

He presses the toothed curve of bone into her hand. She knows, can feel that she is holding it like a child holds something precious. 

I’m going to take a leak. We’ll be in Oregon this time tomorrow. Unless you need a break from the bike. Then we’ll stop somewhere.

+

It’s easy to catch a ride out of the parking lot. The enormous granite heads imposing, passing judgment on her as she leaves. Forefathers of some bastard child.

They drop her at a gas station outside the park and inside she stands in front of a spinner rack of postcards. She laughs at one; a cartoon rendering of the monuments with three infamous presidents and a goofy freckled wide-grinning boy’s head. What, me worry? it asks on the front. She wants it, to remind her of this day, but she can’t waste money on stuff like that. Instead, she takes a picture of it, makes that her phone wallpaper and uploads it with #whatmeworry.

+

Back outside, she threads her arms through her backpack straps, hefts it higher between her shoulders, leans into the day and heads east.




This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/321748.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
* A very heartfelt "thank you" to all who have read my first foray back into creative writing since my father's death. I am feeling that "to start anew" is drawing closer. Writing creatively this past week assures me that this is so. Returning to life, out of a year of mourning, but not the same. Never the same. And that's okay, too.

Here was my starting draft for the prompt -

"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up."

Death will beat us all one day; even the person who won’t give up.

My beloved father, beaten black and blue by his dying, didn’t give up but his body did. And last November, when death’s pummeling fist became an outstretched hand, he reached up and took it.



But then I woke last Thursday morning with this image from my childhood seared into my frontal lobe and I wrote around the visual. It felt daunting, so I decided to write it under a nom de plume. And lo and behold, using another writer's head, one whose father was perhaps still alive, had the piece completed in short order. But after it was finished....I simply took ownership of it and took another step forward, maybe out of this terrible year and into something more healing. 

* Arriving to the party very late with these two, but we watched Dallas Buyer's Club last week. WOW! Leto is an insane talent and should be utilized more. Then we finally dipped into Blacklist and now CANNOT STOP WATCHING IT. I think it is difficult for those who didn't grow up in the 80's to understand what a FREAKING heartthrob Spader was. A bad boy with a smirk and a blonde forelock and a sarcastic delivery that made him even more wicked and beautiful. Has he lost that? According to Kidling1 absolutely. But D and I are enjoying watching him work and sling his lines around like whip cracks and smile that crazy crooked grin that hasn't changed a bit. He reminds me of all the lost boys of my misspent youth who are getting drunk in bars and wondering why they no longer have to beat off the women and opportunities and friends and good times. Anyway, the show is actually hilarious and entertaining. Each episode could be another show's entire season. 

* Knitting a scarecrow. 


This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/321489.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Flies had descended at dusk, swimming through the coarse hair, burrowing down to the thick hide, laying eggs, trenching life into death. Blue bottles swarmed the open eyes, and funneled into both nostrils, crawling back out through the rictus grimace of the pony’s lips. Squirming larvae would emerge within a day’s time. The sun rose, heat radiating off the desert loam, the mare’s belly growing turgid and slowly expanding. A dry, hot wind caused the dead beast’s mane to rise and fall, her small ears to twitch.

She lay at a small distance from the corner of the playground, an access easement as wide as a single lane road between the post and wire pasture fence and the cyclone fence of the schoolyard.


The morning school bell rang, then a second. First recess the school children were kept close to the portable classrooms. Lunch recess they were allowed the entirety of the half-acre grounds.


The tall, skinny boy ate alone at the end of one of the long melamine tables. A bag lunch; pb&j and an apple. On the sly, because it was against the rules, he secreted the fruit away in the pocket of his barn coat. His jacket just like his daddy’s worn oilskin still hanging on a hook in the laundry room.

Hair-netted cafeteria ladies laughed in a language he didn’t know. He balled the plastic sandwich baggie up and shoved it into the paper bag, walked quickly to the row of trash bins, the apple in his pocket thumping like a small red heart against his hip. He tossed the bag and the milk carton, then took off at a run out the double doors, down the short hallway headed to the far corner of the playground.

There was a small crowd of children pressed against the fence. The boy’s brow furrowed deeply. It was always just him and the brown pony. Since the first day of school. No other students wandered out so far away from the kickback game, the swings, or the monkey bars, but here was a nasty grouping of them and he slowed, shoving both hands deep in his pockets, the apple in his fist.

Boys, in clumps, were breaking away from the mass and scouting the ground for rocks, then merging back into the group. From where he stood, he could see them lobbing the small stones over the fence. Projectiles arcing into the air, then landing with a strange rubbery thudding noise. He veered to the side, moving towards the fence and saw the pony in the dirt, beneath the black cloud of flies. Her head haloed.

Another rock flew out of the sky and landed squarely on her rump, a small bitter tuft of dust.

- Hey, he said, under his breath.

Another rock.

- Hey, he yelled, turning to the group of his peers.

- Hey, what, Stretch? someone called. - You throw a rock every day at this nag. It’s dead now. Did you kill it?

A boy stepped clear, bouncing a stone on his palm before he hucked it hard. With an ungodly precision, it struck the dead pony above the eye, a sickening crunch and an angry lifting of horse flies.

He lowered his head and rushed this other boy.

Children parted. - Fight, fight, fight, they chanted in a monstrous voice.

He was being pummeled, his ears stinging, his face in the dirt, the boy on his back.

- Say your dad’s a monkey’s uncle.

Whistles broke it up.


A rendering plant truck beeped as it backed up, a small boom extended, the body strapped and hauled upwards.


His mother was at work and like every single day could not pick him up until her shift was over. Zero tolerance policy and he had been suspended for a week for fighting. He was very still, seated on a metal clad chair in the office, awaiting the final bell, the strange migratory rushing sound of students on their way home. He sat slouched, hands deep in the pockets of his coat, anguish his familiar companion, and an apple as heavy as a rock inside his child fist.

This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/321259.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The Real LJ Idol is here on DW! Sign up!

 A new season (mini?) of the greatest writing competition in the universe is back! You can write, you can read, you can comment or you can do all three while balancing an egg on a spoon and running a roval.

Literary Prize Fight

There ya go. I can't recommend this word adventure enough. If you enjoy writing and want to communicate with others of your ilk, please join us!

First prompt tomorrow!







This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/320946.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
* Valuable lesson learned yesterday re: DreamWidth - "save from draft" does NOT work. Not sure what I did wrong; using Chrome, not shutting down machine, but the drafting is gone. And we all know what an AARGH that can be and you just say F it and get up and wash the dishes.

* Anyway, I think I was rambling about incoming rain. Which is a good thing. We need to wash all the scum off the street tamp down the infernal dust and ash that this past summer was so full of. Dry conditions and wildfire. I have an autumn heart and welcome the shorter days, but I was trying to enjoy the sunlight and warmth, even with the shadow of grief over my shoulder. Now I will enjoy the cool crisp days and hold onto that light somehow. 

* My mother is no longer sleeping. Like at all. She calls for him all night long. Wakes hourly from dreadful dreams. In one they are planning his funeral together but they are doing so while scaling a large hill and he keeps walking ahead of her and she can't catch up. She doesn't want to take anything but this is moving into concerning territory now. She keeps reassuring me that when the service is over, on the day before the year anniversary of his dying, that she's going to begin feeling more positive. I don't know. 

* I've been able to convince my mother of the joys of thrifting for clothing. We always thrift for collectibles and books, but lately I've been able to lure her into the clothing racks and show her name brands, often with tags, or vintage brands that are incredible buys. This past week we both picked up 100% wool coats. Both in like-new condition, both vintage, both seriously flattering. We drove straight to the dry cleaners and dropped them off and I'm anxious to pick mine up next week. 

* Finished The Originals last night. So sad. And I'm conflicted. There's really not very much decent fic out there. A lot of outraged fic and fix-it fic and I get that....but I want something different, so I suppose I will have to be the one to write it.

* The Sea Wolf is wonderful! Modern dress King Lear not so much. Stilted and actually unwatchable. You Were Never Really Here is a strange dark success of a film. 


This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/320672.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

how well they love us all

* Nick Cave turned 60 this past week. 60. Time is such a mind-fuck. Anyway, thanks to the uncurtained window of social media, panes are closed but we are encouraged to peeping Tomness, Susie revealed that he spent his birthday in LA in the studio working on a new album. I think that's great news. The man is a powerhouse of creativity and he has always been clock-setting about his music releases. I look forward to something new in the spring of 2019.

* Christian Wiman is a darkling poet with a philosopher's head and a heart broken by the inescapable truths of life. His work is astonishing and a joy to memorize -

I have no illusion
some fusion
……….of force and form
will save me,
bewilderment
……….of bonelight
ungrave me


I'm reading his latest prose offering, He Held Radical Light. It's deeply moving and true. I want to be able to form words into shape that utterly translates thought. That is hard.

* Beginning the eleventh month of this deep mourning. 




- This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/320278.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Idol

I'm signing up for this year's Idol. A mini-season knockout round!

Thank you, friends! Looking forward to reading familiar and new voices! This entry was originally posted at https://bleodswean.dreamwidth.org/320040.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

they told us our gods would outlive us

* The Real LJ Idol has returned and it isn't on LiveJournal! It's over at DreamWidth. DW isn't intuitive for me. It feels clunky. And vastly empty, but alas, so does LJ these days. Just a vast, unoccupied space. Anyway. Looks as though some familiar names are returning, some new names perhaps, too. I need to sit with this a while and ponder my ability to write creatively. I know that I produce when I write to a deadline, it's the stuckness of the creative gears that has me pausing.

* I have been writing non-fiction to a deadline for the past calendar year. Last month I was offered a monthly column position on the magazine and I accepted. I'm still doing a ton of copy-editing and random article penning, but a column! I have been a columnist before, long long ago and it's a friendly sort of job. People want you to come to their gatherings when they know you have a byline. You can also get a bit of an ego as a columnist but with small-town work it's easy to keep it in perspective. No Pulitzers for interviewing the guy who shot a hole-in-one in his backyard golfcourse.

* It's Autumn!!! Happy Fall, flist! I'm ready for some cleansing rain.

* I have become a quiet person.

* Not enjoying this final season of The Originals. The story is weak, but it's more the finality of decisions. It would be GREAT fodder for fandom...but we all know how out of tune that tired song has become now.