Crap Shoot is just another/better word for miscellaneous. Here will go entries that do not fall neatly into the categories represented by the other pages.
- A Glimpse of the Flash (2/16/2018)
By Narcissa Lyons
Life is tenuous, teasing, and flirts too often with death even when we don’t know it, but if we are living right we don’t think about that too often. If we are living to enjoy life, we do not dwell on the fact it could end at any moment, because let’s face it–it does. All the time all over the world. I know there are poor souls out there that do obsess on this tenuousness, and therefore are not really living as I think God meant us to, but I would bet most of us only dwell on it when we go to a funeral or hear of an untimely death of anyone we know, or anyone famous. Point made by me and absorbed by you I assume.
But there are other times you might jump to nasty conclusions, imagine the worst thing you can in order to prepare for it. I had to have a biopsy done on one of my breasts, and it was not my first for what I have now (not lovingly) come to refer to as “troublesome lefty”. I would not have written this article if I’d received bad news, so breathe easy, I won’t be depressing you or myself, for that matter. When the nurse showed me this new patch of whatever, I liked it less than I admitted, looked different. To me. As if I know anything about these things. So when she told me I needed the biopsy but that more likely than not it was nothing, I believed her. At first.
The biopsy itself was one thing, but I had to wait 7 days to get the results, and when you know there is a 20% chance that it could be cancer, seven days is a fucking long time. I mean a really fucking long time. Women get breast cancer all the time, get benign results even more, so why is it such a big deal when it hits you? Me. Well you’re older, your fear of death more realistic since you’ve flipped through more calendars than you’d care to admit. You have complained more regularly than you probably should about the things that suck in your life, and if it’s so bad then why wouldn’t you deserve to suffer a little for real just to teach yourself how to be happy again? I’m not sure this makes sense, but I’m analyzing as I write.
And then 7 days is plenty of time to go on the internet and look up really stupid things. I learned about the four stages of breast cancer, the fourth one not actually curable, just qualitatively improvable, whatever the shit that means. Oh, and there is “end stage”, fairly self explanatory. Going to work was actually almost bliss, since being busy stops this particularly stupid web surfer from thinking about the possibilities. I had so distraught myself one evening that I went to sit and watch what someone had left on the television–the intricate relationship of snow monkeys in the Japanese Alps, and then didn’t stop watching the consoling station until I went to bed. Interesting bunch with all the simplicities they handle day to day, and then and there I envied their connected struggles and the intimacy with which they managed the wilderness. Why are we humans so complex, thought provoked, convinced this is why we are more supreme than animals? I grow less and less sure over time that complexity is more enjoyable, because here we are. As we’ve all evolved, animals included, knowing more than the beasts that roam is more the burden, more the bane.
I found my rings during that 7 day abyss. This was a set of five rings I had lost about 8 months ago for which I’d searched high and low, actually stooped to going to three different jewelry stores to ask if I’d already dropped them off for the respective repairs they all needed. I am one of many women who put things in a safe place only to forget that safe place, so I finally wrote them off about two months ago, crying, since one was my extremely nice engagement ring. Anyway, I found my rings, like I was saying. I did a mini shreak and shed a grateful tear or two, getting firm hugs from my husband and sons for this little piece of glee they realized I was experiencing.
But then my mind shook me earthquake still. These had been missing for 8 long months, so why were they turning up now during my seven day suspension? Maybe God had let me find them for the obvious reason that people notably are buried wearing their favorite jewelry. Yup. That’s where I went.
I thought about the usual things….how to spend a good portion of the money I had earned until this point since it wouldn’t be for retirement above ground, how I did not think my husband would begrudge us more travel than usual, and I thought about having to repeat the story over and over again, and rebuff some of the unending pity and soulful eyes at which I’d have to look. I thought about what clothing I’d start to wear, that I could get more audacious than I am, get away with more, drink more, obviously re-dabble in drugs. I think there have been many stories and movies on just this subject, and I don’t think any of them are ridiculous. I haven’t seen them all, but having seen a hint of the death promise can understand any reaction is possible. I cringe for those that do more than glimpse, that fall into the wrong percentile and really do face the battle. Not just cancer, but any perilous illness through which one realizes one must travel, and the mental havoc it wreaks. God Bless us all.
I was lucky this time, skated away with a stupid ceramic chip to mark the occasion, and less than a day later the house had the same buzz, my pace at work the same, my gaze, after the two obligatory cups of coffee, not wandering off but focused on the next issue someone brought through my door. Just like that.
So I can talk about enjoying shit, going to concerts and pretty nights out, turning up the music to frazzle the eardrums, touching often the ones you love, inhaling the smell of wet cement in summer and listening to rain pelting on the roof, because I’ve done it before, but nothing really emphasizes it like a glimpse of that infamous flash. May we all be present in as many moments as we can, and may most of them be exquisite, even if otherwise ordinary.
As always, Be Thee Well.
- If Ever I Would Leave You (1/6/2018)
By Narcissa Lyons
OK I’ve been kind of quiet…..some would consider absent, but we’ll stay off the details. I realize I have not earned the right yet, particularly due to recent lack of material, to take a sabbatical, but that’s what I am going to do. I have been feeling my own pressure to write for this blog and about a month and a half ago it was because I was experiencing what we writers lovingly refer to as “writer’s block”, or, more realistically, “what the fuck am I going to write about”? I had some ideas, but having made the topics somewhat niche, I found I might have limited output that stayed true to the if not for Passion theme. But blogs evolve. I recently met with another writer, Sara Marks, who taught me several things in a relatively short period of time, and one of those things is about how her own blog had evolved–and so what if it had? What if one day I have an epiphany about shoe dust that makes me want to write? As long as the content is enticing, well written and engaging, who cares if it is not a subject about which most are passionate? Although that could be a bad example because our population has a good share of obsessive-compulsives who would actually find any dust worth reading about. But you understand. And you may also grasp that this article is possibly an introduction to future material that may not be so deep or enchanting–but will hopefully still keep you happily reading. After the sabbatical, that is.
As a few of you know, but a rather a sad portion more don’t, I have written a novel Artless, and it’s time to write my next book. Whereas I don’t have enough time to promote Artless as I should (the full time “day gig” hampers everything quite efficiently), I’ll work on that a bit, but it’s really important to truly leave Garrett, Carmen, Sophia and Mack behind, the characters of Artless with whom I fell in love, and helped me write a very cool story. I think I most closely associate with Mack since he is very similar to the man I shall be in a next life, though I think my hair will be a little darker. Anyway, I’m ditchin’ them, or mostly, because I will now focus on Finn Darrs (Garrett’s brother) and write his story. Which may or may not be a romance, but since he is a sloppy but exquisite chef with a penchant for poker and having dangerous fun, I think that piece will also have to happen. Women are suckers for men like that, we really are. I’ve known for a while I would spin off from Artless because it just needs to be done, but until just before New Year’s I couldn’t start the flippin’ thing. There are novels written, or at least many weighty articles, on just how important the first line of a book is, on just how immensely important the first paragraph is, and for good reason. So how does this strike you? “Finn walked to the post office all by himself.”….Kidding, Oh God that would be so bad, and not even so bad that it’s good. No, I’m not going to contribute my first words about Finn Darrs here, was just having some fun.
My point is that I will be concentrating on him and where he goes, the adventures he manages, so on and so forth. That, and I will be continuing a sci-fi/fantasy I started many years ago but lost. My sister found said manuscript so I’ll take it back, polish up what’s there and then finish it, something I am looking forward to. Never actually thought I’d ever write a romance, actually. I was always about sci-fi, mystery, and maybe horror if I could ever get something out there before it’s all been written. But I guess all that takes is bringing back to life some of the horrors of childhood and the monsters we lived amongst–thankfully in our case, made up ones, and not the real shit some poor children have the misfortune of experiencing. But right now that is where I am, and it’s an important path, a worthy path I believe.
I won’t miss an opportunity to write an entry if something wonderfully wicked or interesting forces me to write it down and share it, of course. But if I am doing my job, hunkering down and writing away, I will be keeping myself out of the opium dens where the cool stories come more frequently, if you see what I mean. The sheltering life I will need for a while cannot at the same time be a seeking life (other than mentally) if I am going to get things written. I might occasionally write about the process if I think anything is relatable, but can’t see how it would be. Problem is I miss the rambling, personal aspect of blog writing because I feel like I know everyone who is reading this material. Not the same when you write a novel. Clearly. OK, I’m going to end this ramble before it get’s boring (too late you say? Oh you).
Don’t forget me too easily. Feel free to write me an occasional note to see how it’s going. Or if you want me to take a break and write about something that catches your fancy, lemme know! In the meantime, have some fun yourself. Knock the shit out of life as happily as you can and later we’ll chat.
As always, Be Thee Well.
- You Don’t Say (9/19/2017)
By Narcissa Lyons
I had a conversation with a friend the other day about a topic that has long puzzled me, and I’ve got few answers here today. It’s no secret people like to talk, and a rather large portion of those people like to talk about themselves. It is human, and often it is not daunting, can be entertaining and funny, give oneself material for thoughts later about just how weird we all are. I won’t focus on talking about yourself, because in the end I don’t know all the reasons for it. I know why I do it, although I think I am good at limiting it. One could argue my writing is a direct contradiction of that, but writing ain’t talking and it’s easier for anyone to anonymously stop reading than to walk away from a conversation. But since I said I wasn’t going to talk about that, I’ll move on.
People feel pressure to talk, to not let too many moments go by in silence. I’ve been part of those conversations and gotten so caught up in marveling at the situation that I lose the thread of the words being spoken to me. Which is not exactly convenient if you’re then asked “don’t you think so?” Conveying information is important, and relating observations is fun, but there is also something very deep and soulful about sharing silence. I won’t think you a fool because you’re saying nothing, and there is in fact communication going on when there is nothing audible other than the wind through the trees, the vibration of tires on tar below you, the chatter of others in the area, countless interesting backgrounds. And in that shared communication there is the growth of that respective relationship, regardless of who it is. You can exchange a glance, possibly a smile or a raised eyebrow, but you don’t have to. Whatever happens, as they say, happens. I am not saying that to break that silence would be sinful, because if something needs to be said, then something needs to be said, but a lot of the time it just doesn’t.
What I don’t understand is how this pressure came about, and I say pressure because that’s all logic will give me. I sat at a bar the other day having lunch and when you do that you automatically overhear conversations, particularly when on your own. Two gentlemen were together, and from the content of their discussion it was apparent they were friends, decided detective me. It was not all unpleasant, but honestly, I did not understand why most of it was important enough to be said. What, I wondered, would be so abominable about finishing tuna on rye without mentioning a gift certificate one received a year ago to a different restaurant or when to cover the pool? If they would have been husband and wife the pool cover might have made sense, but that was not the case. One man told the other about talking to his wife about it. Is that a conversation? I may be coming off as harsh, but I am trying to be scientific, get to the origin of the necessity to fill what has apparently come to be sensed as a void, when all lack of words is, is quietness or quieter. I have heard of some that practice hours or even a day of silence, but I am not being that extreme (if that is even extreme). These men were not from that group of people. It’s possible that they saw each other rarely enough so that they felt they needed to say as much as they could while they were together whether it was impactful or not, but I don’t think so.
Not speaking is not equated to being a bore, although I grant you that’s a tougher line to sell at a party. When a person talks about someone else being the “life of the party”, they are never referring to a verbally shy person, and often the success of a party is gaged on just how raucous it is. Muted conversations and many exchanged understanding smiles don’t a rave review make. But a party is an exception, as is a work function….although here too, why is silence so ungolden? At a work function, someone will take it upon themselves to keep a conversation going even if it means raising painfully mundane topics, to which then people must work hard to keep the appropriate expression on their faces so that they are perceived as listening and entertained. I suppose this could be looked at as an art form in its own right, and other silent communication takes place between the employees that are not speaking. Those kinds of exchanged looks, what-have-you, are worth a million bucks because the people in question are trying to convey a lot of content with only their eyes so as to remain undiscovered by the conversationalist. The various nuances around the table can amount to something astonishingly fun, cracker barrel lunacy.
Do animals do this? Will two wrens tweet to each other about the twigs used to build their nests or that it’s a tough time of year to find bugs? Or dolphins. No, I think dolphins most definitely do not have useless conversations. I think they are spending too much time being graceful and beautiful that staying around to commiserate would dampen the joy. I take that back. I just looked at some pictures of them and was reminded of just how chatty they can be. In fact, when my eldest son was a baby he made sounds like a dolphin so we called him “Flipper” for a while. That animals are like us in that regard is comforting, and I suppose we are social beings, so talking, at least for many, is a requirement even to the point of what might be deemed excess by others. We are typically seeking knowledge and talking is part of that, even if sometimes it’s more imparting than absorption. Some like to talk, some sit back and take it all in, toss in a word or two to keep things lively, and some? Well some just natter. And while nattering is shallower than this particular writer likes, it is still hearty fuel for thought, and fills a need. I think I’ll return to that establishment this week and see what those gentlemen are up to. Maybe even comment on the salt and pepper shakers.
- The Issue of Life II (8/8/2017)
By Narcissa Lyons
This is the second of a two part article, though at the writing of part one (see The Issue of Life ) I did not realize it would have a follow up . I write this today because I was reminded by a friend about a week ago of how I have shifted on my approach to the “Black Lives Matter” statement. My position on the movement itself has never changed. I believe in the non-violent version of it strongly, sympathize with the fact that black people have lived through the unthinkable and since the days of slavery have still been getting a very raw deal. Even though racism is far better than it was, say, in 1950, it is possibly worse now than it was in, say, 1995.
That could easily be wrong. I am going by the constant onslaught of material telling me how bad racial relations are, not with statistics and actual interviews with those in or out of the theoretical trenches. Maybe I am too rosy eyed, but I believe we wouldn’t look too bad, or at least less primitive than our society is portrayed. Far from perfect, but not slit-your-wrists despicable. Like all news terrible, negative, disgusting, the media sends it out to us surrounded in fireworks, jewels and sirens, any grabbing imagery that elicits horrified gasps from the reader/watcher. Everything else is muted, back paged, stated in a softer and quicker cadence on the news. Good news is a gaping yawn. You can almost see the ho hum in the reporters’ eyes as they quietly drone it out. So I don’t actually know that racism is worse now than it was, but if in fact it is worse, the perpetuation of glamorized violence on both sides of the race battle by the media is at fault. The vast majority of white people, indignant at being called racists when so many believe things are starting to calm down, will be resentful and express the thought that the movement is exaggerated, that no one points out how many white people are unjustly killed, that no matter how unjust a killing, the slaying of men in uniform is never justified. The black population, seeing what seems to be ever increasing bias towards people of color, more senseless shootings, gets angrier and more likely to erupt. The fire burns ever brighter with this frenzied kindling. The media incites, and then has even more material to write about, racing each other to the scene of mayhem they helped conjure up, and then hypocritically pretend they are dismayed.
That media explanation was actually besides my main point, but they piss me off. What I had a problem with in the beginning of the movement was the statement behind it: “Black Lives Matter”. Actually, I’ll rephrase that. I had an issue with what it implied, and I considered it a very bad way to convey what is an important message because it could (and resoundingly did) promote an anti-Black Lives Matter feeling for what ends up being a simple and unfortunate reason, but one that should have been addressed from the very beginning. I inferred with that statement, and there are many who still do, that the accent was on the word “black” as in BLACK lives matter. No single representative of the movement or cause ever said otherwise or said anything at all for that matter, so it is no wonder that many of us heard it that way. And then we were like, well of course black lives matter, but shit, what about the rest of us? Don’t we matter? And so it began. It’s only three words, but if the wrong word is stressed, the wrong assumption will be made by many. I realized about 8 months ago that what is meant is Black Lives MATTER. It was like a smack in the face, the sudden realization. “Oh”, I am pretty sure I said out loud. That’s another thing altogether, is not confrontational, is telling us “You know what? You cannot treat us like this, cannot randomly for no reason pull us over, question even the way we walk down the street, kill us when we are not armed—our lives matter – just like everyone else who you are not persecuting. Why would you treat us any differently?”
Am I saying that “matter” should have been underlined or all CAPS? Well paint me the child, but yes and yes and YES. In something as dynamite sensitive as this issue, as these anthem words, they need to be understood by everyone, not just the marchers, movement leaders and followers, but every single soul because that could have made it (still can) a much more far reaching and successful cause. There would have been no anti-movement because there would never have been the misunderstanding that black people only care about themselves, that all others have had their turn, can be brushed aside, whatever the hell people like me assumed with BLACK lives matter.
This is my call to those still opposed to the Black Lives Matter campaign to take a look again at what is trying to be achieved, and to rethink the line. It’s a very old message, the need of which to repeat is saddening, maddening–the pure, simple, understandable and too long ungranted wish for equality. Not just equality in law, paperwork, PC discussions, but in fact. To walk down the street or drive in one’s own car without being a natural suspect–not just to authorities but everyone, even fellow African Americans at times. I don’t know that we can ever really get there–and racism comes from both sides, but a step in the right direction is the acknowledgement by the non black population that things are rather fucked up and we all need to work together to fix it. This does not get done by anti-Black Lives Matter protests or idiotic rhetoric bitching about the fact that the news isn’t broadcasting enough when innocent white people are shot down. As I pointed out, the media are not our friends, and in fact serve to divide us, set us firmly against any kind of relationship that is harmonious.
The sanctity of human life is a given, and yes all of our lives matter, but the government and authorities, the work force, the masses of the rest of us need to know that all is comprised of American Indian, Asian, Black, Indian, White, and so on and so forth, and then all the beautiful bundles that are born as mixtures of this color palette. If real equality is reached, then all of us get what most of us want – a more generous portion of peace, and the deserved comfort we’ll feel in who we have become.
- Wagging Fingers (7/10/2017)
By Narcissa Lyons
I live in Massachusetts but have driven to the usual states one does when wanting to get away, get to the beach, the hills, nature and all that. Vermont. Connecticut. Maine. New Hampshire. A few others. I used to think it was just our fine lecturing state that wagged its fingers at their drivers, but I have seen it all over. Anyone reading and from a friendlier state, let me know since it would be refreshing and comforting to know there are less admonishing parts of the country. I am referring of course to the digital signs that only occasionally have something useful posted (i.e. traffic info., road conditions, etc.).
I’ve noticed that lecturing is not uncommon in many people, that instead of a casual debate, a person of a differing opinion forgets their position is just that and takes to lecturing which nearly always comes off as “I’m superior to you and your ways of thinking”. I think this slant on things and opinions is running rampant in every day life now, and man is it tiring. Comes to mind the line “Why is everyone always picking on me?” It’s just that we’re always being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it and most vocally when NOT to do it. As if having reached adulthood ages ago does not mean we know what we are doing so we need to be reminded. In an obnoxious fashion if at all possible.
So the signage problem. I drive by these warnings “you better not do this” and “you certainly better not do that….” Most of the time it is something condescending that we all already know and it is all written in a sermonizing fashion. I wish I knew who came up with all this stuff. “Click it or ticket” is a gem. “Drive sober or get pulled over”, another classic. My absolute favorite is a sign posting a warning to teens not to text and drive. The very sign is a text meant to distract us and tell us the obvious, so that is not only uncool, but also largely idiotic. I am not saying that I need to see flowery statements like “have a brilliant day” or “hope you win the lottery today”, but leave the thing blank if there is nothing important to advise. Tell drivers only when it is relevant because otherwise it is a disservice to us in addition to being just plain annoying. I was driving back from Connecticut the other day and I could not even finish reading the sign. It started off by letting me know that “This year 146 deaths due to….” but I could not finish reading it since it was small print and trying any harder to finish reading it would have jeopardized my driving more than I had already done by bothering to read it in the first place. It is not clear to me who has the authority to create the distracting words and who then approves them, but these are not smart people. Nor, that I can imagine, would they be any fun at a party. The funny thing is, I can see this person, or set of persons, sitting back proudly after creating something like “click it or ticket”. “Boy, Tom, you are a clever one”. Sheesh, it’s bothersome.
This sort of whining/lecturing is related to the guilty until proven innocent mentality, the suspicious of motives, the everyone is a policeman. I suppose we’ve put ourselves here, given the outrageous amount of crime and atrocities in the world, but in areas where we can mellow out, we really should. People should meditate more, yell less, bicker never, and remember that life is too short to bitch about things that are already known. I am fully aware fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts but every summer we get bombarded with this reminder and that “penalty of jail or a fine” is sure to happen if we are caught with any. And if someone is crossing into New Hampshire to go buy those lovely sky lighters are they really going to turn around and pout their way back home after the warning they just read? Me thinks not. Actually, it’d make many more resolute and possibly giddier with excitement at pulling off the firecracker caper.
The theme continues on social media, with oodles of links citing just how awful we are as people. We are racists, we are conservative nut jobs, we are left wing idiots, we are dumber than most, we are killing the planet and we don’t care that we are killing the planet, we are animal abusers, we are raising our children in appalling ways, we are hedonistic, materialistic, narcissistic, over-indulging sycophants who don’t care enough about other people and helping out our fellow man . Once in a while there is a story about a do-good, a Samaritan, but rarely, and even many of those become of less positive import because it is high-lighted just how rare the altruistic human being is. I don’t know what to believe anymore, I just know I feel like shouting LEAVE ME A LONE. We are not that bad. We CAN’T be. I think I’ve changed my mind though on the leaving the signs blank if there is no traffic information to convey. Maybe I wouldn’t mind seeing something like “you deserve to smile at yourself”, or “how about this weather we’re having?” or “nice job on obeying the speed limit”. That one actually might even serve as a speed deterrent AND a complement.
I am not delusional. I know there is rot in the masses, but I am not part of that nor are most of the people with whom I work or socialize. Nor, I still hope and believe, are most of the souls traveling to and from places. We don’t want to be assumed fools or evil law breakers etcetera just for the hell of it or just because there is no roadwork about which to warn us. And for the love of Sanity–if this must continue, dear state powers that be, hire some better writers.