I’ve worked hard the last couple of years to get some books published, I’m thinking of them as there were “the first five,” and now there is “the magnificent seven.” I also have stories in three print anthologies, and I’m going to get those linked up with cover pictures, as well as having been published thirteen times various places online during the last six years. In the spring of 2018, I hope to release another collection of poetry, tentatively titled “Thelxiepeia”. After that, well I wouldn’t say what was next even if I had figured that out. I am a prolific writer, and that has always been the case. Even when I think I’m not really writing much, I’m always really writing something. I had a tremendous back catalogue of manuscripts, books, to publish. “Thelxiepeia” is work that was composed from 2011 to 2012 or thereabouts, so I’m getting closer to being caught up.
The books I’ve released in the last week, “Gold Mine” and “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf”, both came out of a nervous breakdown that began in 2008. Fact is, I’ve gotten a lot of writing, stories, out of that breakdown though I’d just as soon not got through anything like that again. “Gold Mine” is really, I think, something that was written, compiled, jammed together, like a panic attack during a panic attack in 2009. That book was very much the moment at the beginning of an avalanche. The title “Gold Mine” came out of some remembered fragment that life experiences are a writer’s gold mine, to which I thought “go mine your own business,” and then thinking that I might have thrown a gold mine worth of writing into a fire. “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf” was written during the first months of 2014, when I was recovering from the worst of it all and really at the beginning of sorting things out. Most people cannot put their house back in order in the middle of the storm. I’ve said before that much of my work is catharsis in that it is something of a coping mechanism, as much as it is a way to dream, it is also a way to understand things, to reason things out in some way, and sometimes, it’s very much a way to get rid of the poison. I’ve written some horror stories that aren’t anything I want to read, writing horror was way outside of my comfort zone as a writer, so if someone tells me they don’t like horror, I can respond honestly that I understand that completely. I’ve also used the “input/output” analogy on that one, the world isn’t always a nice place, all my experiences in this life haven’t been good, sometimes the writing is way to git rid of bad emotions or baggage, we’ve all got stuff. I’ve written some super hopeful, sappy, in love and in love with life stuff too. We learn to appreciate the balance between the “good” and the “bad,” to understand that sometimes those things change, and to sift the wheat from the chaff.
“Maybelline Raven and The Wolf” began as I started to sort out my own ancestry, to research my own family tree. One of the biggest lessons to come out of that has been not to jump the gun. I started out with family stories, finally got to the 100% bottom of some things, researched the actual genealogy and family tree, did a DNA test only to then further read that such a test might not tell you what you want to know or even reveal the truth of your lineage because with each generation the bloodline thins, so to speak, and people migrated and mixed and so on. I learned that the descendants a person can verify and trace are generally the best indicator. I am of English, Irish, and Cherokee descent. It was ultimately easier for me than some as my parents are no mystery to me and I did grow up with a grandparents who were interested in the family history though there were discrepancies and oddities to be sorted out. For example, I grew up with a story that we were related to George Washington, as well as to an “Indian Princess,” to which my grandfather would say, “She wasn’t a princess. That wasn’t her real name.” When you hear stories like that as a kid, it’s ridiculous. Yeah right, sure. In researching the family tree, I found a George Washington, not thee George Washington, but a George Washington. From there I thought, “Okay, what other of these stories are true, and what have I had wrong?”
On my mother’s side of the family, I am able to trace back to the 1500’s in England, to Scotland and to 1800’s Ireland and a young man named Joseph Creighton, aged thirteen years, traveling alone, who arrived in New Orleans in 1847 aboard The Berlin, to Reverend David Caldwell and the Revolutionary War, and to Civil War soldiers who fought on both sides of the conflict. On my father’s side of the family, I am able to trace my ancestry to 1500’s England to Sir Robert Bell, Speaker of the House of Commons, to 1600’s Colonial England to Thomas Burgess whose affair with Lydia Gaunt led to the first ever divorce in Plymouth and to Cherokee Chief Doublehead ( a sixth great-grand-father), whose daughter, Cornblossum (Princess) Doublehead married Big Jake Troxell and their daughter, Margaret Troxell married James Bell in 1809, whose great-grandson, William, a great-grandfather, who married Lena Burgess, one of my great-grandmothers, and the sixth great-grandaughter of Thomas Burgess and Lydia Gaunt. There were also family stories of a relation to The Younger Brothers, of the James- Younger Gang by the marriage of a cousin, connected through the Carson family, though I was unable to verify those stories.
I went on my first cross-country trip to Mississippi and Louisiana before I was quite two years old, and I remember the highlights, including getting bit by a dog. These stories were swimming around in my head as I wrote the story of Maybelline. Maybelline Raven is a woman who has witnessed and experienced something horrific. As a result, her mind has found a way to compartmentalize and deal with the trauma as she remains terrified and trying to protect her children. Set in 1762 in a fictional village along the banks of the Mississippi River, this story was an important turning point for me, it is a story about courage, about strength, about the incredible power of the mind and the heart to heal, it is a story about resilience, survival, and love. Maybelline Raven is also a story that I believed in so much that I was will to roll the dice on publishing my own books, though it wasn’t the first book that I published. Creating “Maybelline” helped me understand my own processes of coping and healing.
I’m going to be taking a bit of a rest ( I already am, caught a bug, needed to sleep, etc.) and hopefully enjoying the holidays, sober,while trying to avoid eating too many delicious baked goods. I’ll probably be working on something. I’ll probably post again before the year is out, or not. Until then, “Gold Mine” and “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf”are available on Amazon. The paperback of Maybelline should be available any day now.
How much work is involved in making a book, bringing a book to market, yourself?
I’d say that depends on the author. First you’ve got to write the thing and come up with, or out of it with, a final draft. I write it. I edit it. I format it. That is all me. I proofread it, again, and again, and probably again. I just finished the fifth page by page check of “Gold Mine”. I found a place in one of the pieces where “understand” needed to be changed to “understanding”. Spellcheck doesn’t catch that kind of thing, nor does it catch homophones, and sometimes a grammar check won’t catch those either. Editing poetry is far more tedious than editing stories or editing a novel. Editing a novel there is the forward motion of the story itself to keep you going, with poetry, each piece may be different, require different formatting. I also occasionally invent words and of course spellcheck doesn’t recognize those. I’m currently editing and publishing work from years ago, trying to get caught up. This is important, it doesn’t matter when a piece was written if it is good. No one looks at a Renoir and says, “That old thing?” Same goes for music and film, if something is good, then it’s good. Timelessness.
Making books this way is very much rebel book making. I’m not anti-establishment in that I wouldn’t ever say that I definitely wouldn’t seek to publish along traditional lines again. But, I am a person who believes in thinking for myself. I believe that my work is good, and I want to publish it in the way that I want to publish it, and in a timely manner. I’ve already vented my feelings about how I arrived at the decision to become an indie author. At this point I would say that it completely suits me. It allows for complete creative freedom and control. It allows for me to work at my own pace, or not work if I’m in too much pain. With my arthritis, I admit that I do always feel as though the clock is ticking on the longevity of my hands, I’ve got back and neck problems too ( as many writers do). Honestly, the physicality of my particular situation, I don’t know that I could do this any other way, it would have to be an unheard of super sweet deal of, “Sure, whenever, you want!” As yet, I am enjoying being an independent author.
I am also then in charge of getting my work our there, that’s the part that really isn’t my favorite because I’m not a natural salesperson. I’m a writer. I don’t have a team of anyone standing behind me, or as yet, an established fan base, or a publicist. Keeping in mind that each part of the process is time and effort. If you’re a writer who is handing things off to an editor or an agent, if you have an established fan base, then you’re not wearing quite as many hats as someone who is doing everything themselves.
I can tell you that having made the decision, I’m calmer, less emotionally invested in the b.s., hypocrisy, and politics, of any given situation, because I don’t have to be. And yes, that is a luxury, one that I’ve gifted myself with by opting out of the usual route. It is also a grace, something that I’m lucky to be able to do and I don’t take it for granted, I’m happy for it for however long it lasts. I’m incredibly grateful for my husband in that, he’s been supporting my work in one way or another for a very long time. I do not regret opting out of, for the most part, the fray. Quite honestly, recent situations within the entertainment industry only reaffirmed my decision to go rogue, to go rebel, and do this myself on my own terms.
All of this is a learn as you go process. How much work?
Like I said, this is the fifth time I’ve gone through this manuscript page by page. That’s after having written it in the first place. So write it, then edit it, then spellcheck it, then grammar check it, then proofread it, (when you’ve got your final draft, or close to it, I say file your copyright,) then format it, then check your formatting to make sure everything looks as it should on each page, again, check your acknowledgments, your credits, your permissions if needed and you’ll be teaching yourself all of that too. Then you’re going to design your cover, or have someone do that for you. My philosophy about that is not to over think it, I’m a writer, yes I want the covers to look good/decent, ultimately that’s the wrapping paper, but I’m not an artist or graphic designer and I can’t afford to hire one as yet. I’ll get better at the covers as I go, ultimately, I am a writer and it’s the words that matter the most to me. ( It’s who you are inside that counts right?) But, you’re going to do that too, design your covers. Etc. Etc. Etc. It can all take anywhere from months to a few years. ( From what I’ve read around, going the traditional route to publishing a book, providing you get a book deal, is an average time of about two years from idea and pitch to finished manuscript and publication.)
It isn’t the way to go for everyone, or even most, perhaps, but it is working for me. Am I a selling millions of books? Well, not quite yet. There are no guarantees along those lines regardless of the publishing route you choose.
The cover of “Gold Mine” is a picture of an x-ray of the fused bones of my right hand and wrist, the cause arthritis ( Still’s Disease), from several years ago now, that’s it. I often wear a brace. The clock is ticking. “Gold Mine” is a collection of poetry and prose the last piece of which was written in 2009. Collections, whether it be poetry or stories, take longer to accumulate.
Each writer has their own goals in my mind for what they want to do and how they want to do it when it comes to their work. For now, this is working for me. “Gold Mine” should be available for purchase sometime in early November. There are several pieces from the book available to read for free here on this webpage, just type Gold Mine, into the search box, though I will list the links when the book is ready.
from ‘Gold Mine’
_____this true heart______________
I will write your name on every breath from now until forever, forget you never, know that I have not let go of this true heart. Forgiving you and him and them and everyone, everything, sing ever louder, stronger, taking claim of every wind and every rain, rising up out of every flame until my name escapes your lips in your sleep. And you know that I loved you and I loved him and them and everyone I could and everyone who would take it from me and I have no regrets about that. I have no shame. I am seeds in clouds and dreams about to be born again and I am wishes in the fountain and I am the highest mountain and I am Winter sleeping, teardrops weeping for every soul who never knows what I am talking about. Saints and Sinners, fabulous beginners, I am the echoed call to everyone who has ever fallen, praying, saying, in the deepest dark, get up, get up, get up.
Love is not a withered vine, love is not petals fallen, and longing unfulfilled, and love is not what men have willed, love is everlasting understanding divine and mine, oh mine, love is mine, to keep. Rainbows, unicorns, candy cane and fairy tales, artifice too soon to fail. They tell you that you have to sacrifice all to scale the castle wall and I say to you that all you have to do is be true, be true. Let go of all the hatred in your heart, let go of all ill wishes, let go of vengeance, you cannot kill Angels with it. Gossamer is fireproof and Angels own the ceiling that is the sky and everything beyond the dawn and everything you wonder on and everything you think is gone they carry with them in the folds of feathers blue and they do remember you, they do.
I will write your name on every page and wash away your hurt and rage and wash away your ache and heal the scars on your heart you thought were permanent and the ones even you had forgotten in the burden of flesh, until you believe again, in everything you let go of to leave me.
You think you want to hear my battle cry, that it will crack the Heavens, flash like lightning, pound like thunder, but I tell you that my battle cry sounds like children laughing and wedding vows, those kept, and those broken, and waterfalls, and crowds cheering at a home run, my battle cry is every Spring, every green thing that makes it through the snow, my battle cry is the song that makes you sing even though you don’t want to and the Hallmark commercial that makes you call your mother, my battle cry is the smell of roses on the breeze and fireflies in the night, racing to the stars, my battle cry is everything we are and trade for things that do not matter. My battle cry is restoration, resurrection and everlasting, surging out into the farthest reaches of the Universe, there is life here.
I will write your name on every breath from now until forever, because if all of this suffering was somehow right, to anyone, then there can be no end to the love that is needed to heal and it will start with me. And someday, maybe, we can talk about bravery and change and freedom. Freedom, that I’ve paid for in some way every time I’ve exercised it. I will love you in every word, every ache, in every break, in every breath and everything that I can, and hope and pray someday, you understand me, and you.
Lead us into hands
That will care for us and keep us safe
Onto paths that know the way,
When we are lost and cannot find it on our own,
Keep us in the light,
Or light the dark we wander in
Enough to see,
Save our souls from lingering
Too long in places where we shouldn’t be,
If it were possible to be such places,
bring us back
From edges we’ve been lured to
From lies we hoped too long were true,
Open up our eyes that we might see the beauty
Of the heart
Broken down the middle clean
Stripped of artifice, laid bare and lean,
Exposed in sentience for a world to better know
The soul that dwells within
Lend us the courage to grasp
Whatever threads are left to us,
Of gossamer, of silver fine, quick spun,
A life of shadow finally in the sun,
Each of us a part of One,
Returning to the source,
Let us hope and hope to find,
The bitter root can still be sweet,
In memories of better dreams to keep.
I’ve been doing some serious thinking about the world lately.
Can you hear the quiet?
This serious thinking isn’t a new thing for me. This bout of thinking began with the drug induced suicide of a rock star. I’m referring to it as drug induced because we’ll never really know and the fact is that those kinds of drugs can cause those kinds of thoughts, so, I think, in this case, give it the benefit of the doubt. Still though, I couldn’t figure out what it was about it that bothered me so much, I mean, I didn’t know Chris Cornell personally. I realized that it was that it felt like something of a betrayal, not that he owed any of us anything. But it felt like he was fifty-two years old and he had everything, he’d made it through when many of his contemporaries hadn’t, and, how dare he bail out, this icon of my generation. But then, remembering, it was probably the drugs. Then Powers Boothe died, but, he died in his sleep at sixty-eight years old and the general consensus seemed to be, “Good show!” Then a bomb went off at a concert, where kids where watching a former Nickelodeon star turned pop-princess perform, the bomb killed twenty-two people, the youngest victim of the Manchester Attack was eight years old. Then Greg Allman died. Then it was June. This week the President of the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and everyone lost their nut over it. If you’ve not read the agreement or anything about it and you’re interested in having an informed opinion, you should read it, and try to understand what it says and means, that’s my advice on having an opinion, take the time to educate yourself to figure what you actually think about whatever it is. At this point in the proceedings the internet became incredibly noisy.
Can you hear the quiet?
I got to thinking about some things, I’d been thinking about some things anyway.
Everyone is talking. No one is listening. Everyone has an opinion. Despite that, the first thing that I saw when I logged onto facebook was a post that read, “FUCK NO. Not again.” I haven’t read all the details of the latest incident in London. I’d gone out, to get some air, to get some quiet. To think. Despite my having gone out, and despite my sharing my thoughts on any number of things in the last day or so, this latest attack in London still occurred. Despite the multitude of opinions and thoughts offered up by everyone about everything, these things still happened, and they still happen.
Can you hear the quiet?
I know that venting and opinionating and ranting and all of that, can be a great stress reliever. You read this stuff, you hear about it, you’ve got something to say because it’s getting to you or everyone, you’ve been sitting in traffic for too long, or dealing with rude people or you feel helpless and powerless and it seems like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and enough already! ENOUGH! The internet gets very loud with people saying, in their own ways, “Enough.” I understand that. I do. I’ve been sucked into that storm many times. It can make it tough to hear yourself think.
Are you free?
Are you a free person, a person who enjoys freedom? Is your mind free, have you freed your mind?
What does that even mean?
I was thinking about the Terracotta Warriors, also known as The Terracotta Army. Qin Shi Huang ascended the throne at the age of thirteen and would become the first Emperor of China. The Terracotta Warriors are life-size sculptures depicting his army, his whole army. Each one is different, they were not cast from a single mold. They were buried with him, along with many treasures, in order to protect him in the afterlife. Qin Shi Huang believed that “Yes, you can take it with you” and he believed it, they believed it, so completely that he replicated his entire army in these terracotta statues, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, cavalry horses, as well as many other figures and statues. The scope of it is truly stunning, completely breathtaking, to contemplate.
My fascination with this subject isn’t new. I happen to have a Terracotta Warrior of my very own. I should name him. I’ll think about that.
What I got to thinking was about how Qin Shi Huang had the full conviction of his beliefs, or, did he have his army replicated you know, just in case? What about Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, all the treasures sealed in their tombs?
Different people, peoples, believe all different sorts of things.
This got me thinking about the Ganges River. Do you know about the Ganges River? The Ganges River is sacred to Hindus, present day. Hindus believe that having at least their ashes thrown in the Ganges will end the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, allowing them to attain eternal liberation of the soul. Many unburned remains find their way into the Ganges, that is, the recently deceased are regularly, ritually, thrown into the Ganges. It is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. You can read about this, and you would look at it, and you would think that the solution, to begin with, seems simple. But, they believe what they believe, completely. The Most Polluted Rivers In the World.
This is where I’m not saying what I think about “science” that goes tripping off to Mars while we’ve got all kinds of problems right here on Earth.
Does me knowing about any of this, Does me getting stressed out about any of these things, does it do any good? Does one more voice added to the din do anything other than raise the level of noise pollution? The other day I took one of those just for fun quizzes about “What’s your purpose in life?” and it said that my purpose is to achieve world peace. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, probably, that isn’t “really” my gig in life, and that the quiz came up with that answer based on information gleaned from my having shared a picture of Sandra Bullock as “Miss Congeniality” with the caption “And world peace.” Isn’t it enough to just take care of our own families, our own jobs, houses, cars, lives? ( Don’t litter.)
Can you hear the quiet?
So there’s this story about this woman, about her whole family, and how they went into the Siberian Wilderness during Stalin’s reign, and how at 71 years old, she has lived in the wilderness all of her life. The world has gone on, but, her lack of knowledge about what has gone on in the world hasn’t prevented her from living, that’s her reality. You can read that here.
Well, you’ve got to be informed. You’ve got to know what’s going on in the world! You’ve got to CARE! How can you can not care!
Are you free? There are a lot of people in the world who don’t pay any attention to any of the societal uproars and they’re just fine, people who never watch the news, they look outside if they want to know what the weather’s like, live their lives disengaged from the din. I think, in some ways, the internet is a kind of a modern Tower of Babel, and certainly, babble. You’ve got all these people from everywhere in the world able to connect and translate, using their computers, everything into one language, whatever their language is, that makes it all one language, able to read about and know, instantaneously in real-time, right now, if there is a high-speed car chase happening on the other coast, three thousand miles away. News of something that affects them not one bit, something that they can do nothing about, but that the knowledge of adds to, perhaps, depending on how they’re wired, their overall stress and anxiety level. The internet takes us out of the reality of where we are in our own actual present, and takes us into the reality of the world, the internet can make it feel like something that happened on the other side of the world, happened across the street. What that does is, as it affects people, it changes the way that people then go out into the world wherever they are. People are taking that stress from those faraway events into their own lives and then regurgitating it back out into the world, perpetuating stress and discord.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s all the bullshit about the Paris Agreement! And some ass-hat celebrity decided to voice another opinion that I don’t agree with!” She said, as she threw her aluminum can into the trash.
Can you hear the quiet?
I’ve made a decision not to watch the news anymore. I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid the infighting that’s going on, whether it’s the Right calling the Left “snowflakes” or the other way around, or just the seemingly endless reposting of “he said this and then…she said this!” it is all fueling the fire, adding to the noise, raising the overall stress level, and exacerbating the strife, except for those who thrive on it and those releasing their own stress ranting, but really, it isn’t doing much of anything else. Is it fake news? On which channel? I’ve made a decision to disengage from the divide and conquer propaganda permeating the world these days. I’m sure I can find something better to do, and be happier doing it.
Also, for anyone who thinks that a person can’t create viable, relevant work or art if they are “out of touch”, disengaged from the noise, and/or so on, I’m just going to say google up famous recluses and you’ll find many a list of some folks who did all right going their own way and thinking for themselves. I’m not saying I’m a recluse, just not interested in the bullshit, nor in the misconception that it is necessary to the creation of viable art.
Many, many, years ago, I lived in the desert. Now, this isn’t about the desert itself, and that is very much part of the point, though the desert, at that time, was the conduit for this experience and learning. The population where I was at, at that time, was about 1,200 people, spread out over a pretty wide area. There was no cable t.v. A few people had satellite dishes and this was back when that meant the huge satellite dish installed at ground level next to the house. You could get bad reception on one or two channels if you had a decent antenna, generally speaking, it wasn’t worth the trouble. During that eighteen months, the only television that I watched was, when it was airing, during the season, a weekly half-hour comedy show, at someone else’s house, and their reception was equally bad. Never watched the news, I don’t recall the television ever really being on. Trying to get a radio station to tune was an equally sketchy endeavor, though sometimes, late at night, I could get KLOS out of Los Angeles to tune in for a couple of hours. I used to borrow my brother’s cassette player, at length, to listen to tapes. We, I, had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world, no idea at all. If they’d dropped the bomb, we would have seen the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else everywhere else who had watched the news every night and spent every day all stressed out about something that they would have ultimately as much control over and foreknowledge of, as someone who hadn’t been paying attention at all.
What I was thinking was how quiet and peaceful that time was, in general. I thought, well, yeah, but there weren’t a lot of people out there in the desert. While that’s some of it, that isn’t the kind of quiet I’m talking about. There was an absence of external influence from the media, from popular culture, from society. What you find, also, is that you still manage to hear about the bigger things that go on in the world, through the periphery. It creates a peaceful mind, and a feeling of being very present in one’s surroundings. Is that “out of touch” with reality? Whose reality? I’m free not to watch the news. I’m free to disengage. You, ostensibly, can turn off the television anywhere, disengage from the “noise” wherever you are. I think that’s part of the problem with the world right now, we’re not, as individuals, obligated to take all that in. We’re not obligated to participate in the noise, especially if it does not serve us well. Some people thrive on it all. There’s that aphorism that says to take care of yourself, to nurture and feed your own soul, because what can you give if you haven’t taken care of you? How much more peaceful would the world be, if each person were at peace with themselves? I was thinking about that, at some point isn’t all the… social commentary, just someone else telling me how they think I should live MY life? (How many average people have it together enough that they should be telling anyone else – unasked- what to do or be or how to live?)(Personally, I’ve no use for the continuous spewing and promoting of the vitriol. In fact, I’ve had it with it. I’m going to quietly choose not to engage in it, whilst also dissociating myself from it and those who chose to engage in it because it is a choice. I’m not going to bother telling anyone how to behave, not my job. I’m saying this is what I’m doing. Each of us gets emotional on occasion, we all get defensive from time to time, making a habit of it makes that who you are. What’s that old saying? You never look good trying to make someone else look bad.)
I don’t know, but I can begin with me. If someone drops the bomb, I’m sure I’ll still see the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else. In the meantime, I’ll be happier, and that’s at least one person that I can improve the quality of life for. ( Really, don’t fucking litter.)
About 4 billion people in the world are NOT online and do not have internet access. Current world population estimated at 7.5 billion people. Between 600 million and 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.
Grunge is the music that my generation created, whether the label of “grunge” is one that was met with approval or acceptance or not. Passionately philosophically divested in many ways from the heavy metal and “pretty” hair bands and glam bands of the heyday of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of previous generations, the “heavy” in “Grunge” was born not only of a complete love of music, but of an emotional intensity extracted from a dissatisfied, sometimes bored, sometimes angry, raw, emotion, that infested not only the musical content itself, but the lyrics, which range from the poignantly poetic, the depressed and angry, to the sarcastic and sardonic, to the socially aware. Drawing on influences from both the punk sound and the likes of Black Sabbath, Grunge was music that was, and is, awake. Grunge said that whatever propaganda it was that the world was selling, they weren’t buying it, because it “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“People were wearing flannel here long before grunge came out. It’s cold here. It’s a cheap and effective clothing apparatus for living in the Northwest. I don’t even associate it with a fashion statement or lack thereof. Eddie Vedder did more for flannel than anybody.” ~ Tad Doyle, from Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yam
“I think it’s come to mean alternative (grunge) in a way. I saw a grunge compilation album with a picture of a flannel shirt on the cover, and only half the bands were from Seattle. Now it seems like that word embraces anything that’s popular. You can watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and most of the people in there are wearing their version of grunge fashion. They look like they’re from Seattle, yet it’s an R&B song. So grunge has become an easy marketing reference, a handle for people who aren’t particularly interested in listening to music or what the bands do.” ~ Chris Cornell, Interview Magazine, 1994
What I remember about the beginnings of the stirrings of grunge, as it filtered down from the Pacific Northwest, was that it was only being played on alternative radio, or college stations. I remember hearing something about “grunge” having some claim on flannel shirt wearing and thermals and thinking, “We wear those here too (when it’s cold), well, some of us.” And no one quite being tuned into the fact that what was happening was a huge shift in our culture, this was music that was counter-culture. This was music that cared so much that it couldn’t care anymore what anyone thought of it. It was a generation rejecting a post 1980’s pretension that it couldn’t sink its teeth into as any kind of a viable reality, certainly not an affordable one, and what’s more, it didn’t want to. “Grunge” didn’t want to be labeled as anything other than music. It took the garage band to the warehouse and then on to the stadium. It wasn’t stoner-hippie music, it was “damn the man” music coming from my generation, a generation that wasn’t sure it was ready for that when only moments before we’d been tuned into Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and Family Ties. Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” broke in 1991, and so did Soundgarden’s “Badmotofinger,” and the tribute album, “Temple of the Dog.” While Nirvana and Pearl Jam stormed the airways into the mainstream with big hits there was something different about the voice of Chris Cornell, from the very beginning. This wasn’t music that was just willing to be dark, this was music that had jumped headlong into the primordial muck to mosh and try to body-surf through the ages. Balls to the wall, Grunge was the ultimate trust-fall. The song that stuck with me, that still stays with me from that time, that I’ve many a night before dinner said/sung, “Well, it’s on the table…” is Temple of the Dog’s, “Hunger Strike.” Then there was “Outshined,” with heavy lines that sound like a dirge and then it melodically takes flight, “it gives me the butterflies…” and traverses the depths again just as quickly.
The soulful anguish, the raw ache, the depth of emotion of Chris Cornell’s voice is at the beginnings of a musical revolution. If Kurt Cobain burned out, and Eddie Vedder became, to some, something of a musical statesman, if Dave Grohl became the embodiment of no-nonsense getting up and getting on with it while still having a good time, Chris Cornell became the poet laureate of grunge. To say now that some of his lyrics are haunting is obvious and redundant, his lyrics and vocals were always haunting.
“I’m not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that’s more what music and entertainment should be.” ~ Chris Cornell
Is fifty-two years old, young? Is fifty-two years old, old?
Fifty-two years old is a person in my peer group, completely my generation. Chris Cornell had gotten sober. I’ve noticed lately that’s kind of a thing with my generation, if you’re of my generation and you partied as a teenager, or in your twenties, drank your way through your thirties, at some point in your forties, you run up against sobriety. In the 80’s we used to sometimes jokingly say, for one reason or another, “It was all the drugs I did in the 60’s.” even though, or because, that’s when we were born. Now, as middle-aged adults, we can say, “Well, it was the 80’s” and that passes as a cultural definition of excess. Grunge was the antidote for the 80’s, a coming of age emotional release, that for many of my generation has ultimately given way to sobriety becoming its own kind of rebellion. I think my generation fluctuates between, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and “This World Is Hard, Don’t Bullshit Me.” Does it ever turn out the way that any generation thinks that it will? I’m finding my peace through the acceptance of this world is hard, but it is still beautiful.
I’m upset about the death of Chris Cornell in a way that I can’t quite explain. I think that I’ve listened to “I am the Highway” about I don’t even know how many times now, I love that song. I’m looking at the world starkly, that’s what works for me, I’m not a puppies and kittens and rainbows kind of gal, I’m the other side of that coin, even though I am certainly a romantic. The world needs both, balance. But I’m thinking about that too, the world, and what are any of us doing here. Earlier today, I saw a news story about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is flattered by those who think he really should run for president, how “popular” an idea that is to some, and that he, The Rock, told GQ magazine that a bid for the White House is “A real possibility.” I don’t think that’s even the least bit funny or amusing. I thought it was deep down sad that that is where the mindset of anyone in this country is at, not that former actors haven’t taken up political office before, and not that I don’t like The Rock, as an actor, and hey, he might even be great at being president if that were to happen, but it’s this idea that celebrity, that “popularity,” rules the day. It’s boneheaded. I was thinking about how, in the same interview from 1994 where Chris Cornell talked about how you could watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and see a grunge fashion statement, Kim Thayil said that they had taken to avoiding wearing flannel in order to try to help distance themselves from what had become cliché, because it had become popular in the mainstream. What was the very antithesis of fashion, became fashion, and then the people for whom it was a usual mode of dress, they abandoned it, I was thinking how messed up that is. I was thinking that it’s awful that not even six months into the current administration the fighting between political parties has reached epic proportions and it is beyond pathetic to the point of being ludicrous. Everyone has an opinion, including me, and I thought, that’s it, this is it, the exact moment when I ceased to engage in political discourse, the moment when I heard that The Rock was seriously considering a run at the White House. I thought of the movie “Idiocracy” and of Flint, Michigan, and Brawndo, it’s popular, it’s what plants crave. Everyone seems to be feeling instead of THINKING. Has the world always been this crazy? Has the world always been this dumb? I think, it’s important to remember to find healthy ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed and to disengage from the din.
The last thing that I read about the death of Chris Cornell was that he may have taken an extra Ativan or two. ( Rolling Stone.) Ativan is used to treat anxiety. You never know what someone else is going through. Addiction is a big demon. You think, the guy had everything. But there’s no judging that, for anyone, what is everything? I think, am of a mind, to say, stick around, fight, see what happens, to hell with ’em! But there’s no judging that for anyone either. I don’t want to descend into a discourse on battling dark times, just, there’s no judging what it’s like for any other human who isn’t feeling great or well or thinking clearly. Reports of his last show in Detroit have been that something wasn’t quite right with him. I haven’t watched the concert footage and don’t know if I will. I thought about, wondered about, how far away do those guys get from where they started? How far away does anyone get from who they began as, if they get where they think they wanted to go? It seemed to me that Chris Cornell stayed pretty true.
I made up my mind not to watch anymore news today, I don’t know if I’ll watch any tomorrow either. Am I obligated to? Am I obligated to pay attention to the mess or to be a voice for anything? I straightened up my house, did laundry, made some food. I looked at a catalog, thought about ways to decorate, about how much I like flannel shirts and don’t give a flying fig if they’re fashionable or not, ever. I thought about the irony of the fact that the renaissance of coffee-house culture was spawned at the birth of grunge, the Seattle Sound, and how that gave way to the very corporate Starbucks, something that is the antithesis of everything grunge was about. Grunge, though, outgrew the label, the terminology, and grew into itself from those roots, the bands and musicians that emerged from that era, are the creators of the musical landscape of my generation. I gathered up some cd’s, made a plate of chicken and rice and sat down to write something about it all.
Chris Cornell’s music has seen me through many a long night writing, and, providing that I have anything to say about it, it will see me through many more seasons to come. An important artistic voice of my generation, a musician, a poet, a soulful singing prince with an intense Jesus gaze and flowing locks, an originator and innovator, of not only musical change but of a cultural shift in awareness, Chris Cornell left us with many gifts, he will be missed. The world is a hard place, but it is still beautiful.
Carry on, my friends. Get up. Go on.
The Promise Lyrics
If I had nothing to my name
But photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
That is all I would ever need
As long as I can read
What’s written on your face
The strength that shines
Behind your eyes
The hope and light
That will never die
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As we’ve always done
And you said
“The poison in a kiss
Is the lie upon the lips”
Truer words were never shared
When I feel
Like lies are all I hear
I pull my memories near
The one thing they can’t take
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As you’ve always done
The books still open
on the table
The bells still ringing
in the air
The dreams still clinging
to the pillow
The songs still singing
in a prayer
Now my soul
Is stretching through the roots
To memories of you
Back through time and space
To carry home
the faces and the names
And these photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And dare to rise once more
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And fill the world with life
As we’ve always done
1. DRIVE ~ Trying to get home
2. The Fine Art of Being Human ~ infidelity, the delicate workings of forgiveness
3. HUSH ~ a robbery gone wrong and a doctor trying to quit
6. Personal Assistant ~ a temptation
7. THE WIDOW SMITH ~ a woman seeks a reckoning
8. SEVEN ~ a working-girl trying to find true love
9. The Hunter ~ an inter-dimensional time traveler on a chase
10. DONE BONES ~ a buried body
11. Don’t Let Go ~ a love affair
12. Tick Talk ~ the malaise of a ticking clock
13. Teenager ~ a teenager trying to survive being a teenager
17. An Embarrassment of Riches ~ a betrayal
18. It Takes So Long to Get Ready ~ a ghost story
19. All The Long Way Home ~ a chain of convenience stores that are really a gateway to the places of the past
The stories of GRAIN weave a soliloquy or haunted dreams, presented in emotionally intimate vignettes and moments glimpsed of the before and after of certain life changing events, the frailty of being human, of love, hope, and longing, of trying to escape monsters, and get home, in one piece.
Avalon, of Arthurian legend, place of lore. America, perhaps the same, stories of arrival in this country retold through generations, oral history. The beginning of this film, Avalon, always struck a cord because while this fictionalized families history may be different from our own, it is his sense of wonder at a new world that reminds us of our own dreams. Possibility, hope, for now, for the future, for a better life, and what that translates as is so purely individual perhaps in specific want but the emotion of it is more universal. But it is that individual freedom that is so important.
Okay, okay, okay, all right, alright…
We had a nice Thanksgiving this year. My son had plans, as your kids often will once they become adults, so it was just me and my husband. I made a twelve and a half pound bird with the notion in mind that I wouldn’t have to cook again until whenever. I made the complete feast. Again, big meal, a lot of good food for all week. I set the table. Make the most of it, I say. ( And it’s okay to be thankful and celebrate in the present, without celebrating, condoning, or making light of, the past.)
I had to throw out the very last piece of my birthday cake and I didn’t want to. That was really the best cake. That was the cake that there will never be another one like. But, that last piece, though wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated, had gone dry as muther-effin- bone, and so it had to go. There’s cherry pie now, that I am avoiding. Let’s face it, these are good problems to have.
Note here: Things I’ll never apologize for, enjoying whatever I can when things are going well and on the upswing, and neither should you. You don’t have to be a jerk about it when things are going well, but do not ever feel bad about it or guilty or any of that useless shite. Have you ever been down? Enjoy what you can while you can. Enough said.
As those following along may have noticed, I’ve been following the story of the protests at Standing Rock. I was thinking, what is it about this story that really got to me?
When I write, when I’m really into writing something, I tend to become immersed in it. I am capable, mentally, of shutting out the world and I can ensconce myself in day slipping into day after day of nothing but writing. I think that most of us live very much in our own worlds, whether we realize it or not. We tread the same paths over and over again ever day, interacting with most of the same people, at work, at school, at home. I am also capable of exhausting a subject, if something piques my interest, one track mind. I think that I was so immersed in my own work, in trying to get done what I’d set out to do, that nothing was getting in for a while. It was very, “What? An 8.9 earthquake in Myanmar? Didn’t even feel it.” I think that if you’re a scientist trying to cure cancer and you become obsessed with your work, oblivious to the outside world, people understand. If you’re “just a writer,” well, not so much. I’ve also had a lot on my plate the last few years in terms of trying to sort out not a few personal items post-nervous breakdown. No, really. So a lot of things were just rolling by me, like the passing countryside out the window, I got the gist of it, the general shape of the thing, but that was about it.
When I first saw something on twitter about the protestors at Standing Rock, it was likely sometime in September, 2016, and the situation had already been going on for well over a year with the protestors beginning to arrive in April, of this year, after the initial camp was set up by a woman named Ladonna Brave Bull Allard. ( Source 1, Source 2) I started researching, just googling, reading from a variety of sources, as I do. When I first learned that the pipeline was to go underneath the Missouri River, I looked up the Missouri River, my history being a little rusty and usually when I think big river in North America, I’m in Mississippi territory, or the Colorado, not up Lewis and Clark way. This is important too, because that’s “American History” which probably isn’t “Native American History.” Well, who wants to read all of that?
Can you look at a picture?
The Missouri River is the longest fresh water river in North America. Look at all of its tributaries. Look at there where it just hooks right up with the Mississippi River and scoots on down to The Gulf of Mexico.
This is what got me. I looked at these maps of these rivers and it seems obvious to me that putting a pipeline under what is pretty much the most important fresh water resource we have in the entire Continental U.S., just seems like not the brightest idea ever. I mean, they hardly ever leak, right? Except for this one, that just happened in September in Alabama when 250,000 gallons leaked and there’s this picture of this pond that turned brown from gasoline. Do you think you can drink that? I mean, how long would you have to boil that? Water purification tablets? I’m gonna guess, no. Have a look.
And that’s really what got me about this story, that’s what pulled me in. Common sense would seem to dictate that such an undertaking, putting a pipeline underneath the Missouri River, is in no way, shape, or form, worth the risk to the river and ecosystem. FRESH WATER IS LIFE. Do you have kids? I mean, what the hell are we doing? I just kept looking at that map of the Missouri River and thinking, what the hell? None of us can survive without clean, potable, water.
Then it became apparent that our mainstream news media hasn’t been and isn’t reporting on this story. ( Does This Look Like a News Story to You?)
I wonder if people can even grasp what it is that is happening. I fear that as greed and corruption devalue our money, our work, our labor, our land, our WATER, they will look for something else of value that they can trade with.
Will clean water be the new gold?
A lot of people do not like the book “Atlas Shrugged”, by Ayn Rand. Greed and corruption are the problems. If you can manage to listen to this and comprehend the meaning, it seems to be what is happening. The world is selling itself out from under itself in the name of greed, graft, corruption, favors, it is not the money itself that is evil.
What is happening is the product of corruption, of people trading FAVOR and FAVORS, and so and so on and so on.
That’s my opinion, at least.
“Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot”
― Ayn Rand,
But then what happens? Can you look at it anymore? Can you listen to it anymore? Can you let your heart be broken for even one more minute thinking that they’re going to run the protestors off of that land and they’re going to put that pipeline under that river?
It isn’t like they couldn’t re-route it. It isn’t like they couldn’t stop and say, “You know what, this endangers the water supply and we’re going to figure something else out.”
How much would you pay for a gallon of clean water to drink? How much would you pay for it if you had kids?
It breaks my heart.
Then Carol Brady died. She was 82 and so what were we thinking? That she would always be there, with her strange, flipped-end mullet, and permanent smile, even though Mr. Brady turned out to be gay, and all the rest of it, Greg’s narcissism, Cindy’s lisp, Marcia’s unending perfection, would her nose be all right?, Peter’s voice changing, Bobby’s goofy charm and Jan, that wig was so not her.Well, maybe Alice is making a fresh pot of coffee and Sam just delivered a pot roast, so dinner’s on, “It’ll be ready in about twenty minutes, Mrs. Brady.” We thought she would always be there. Florence Henderson, was pretty rock and roll.
Then Detective Harris…
We wonder why so many celebrities and cultural icons have passed away this year, but it’s because so many of them are getting to be that age, our cultural parents are passing away, it’s what happens.
What does that mean for us? It means we’re getting older too. It means we’re likely long past time for being the grown ups and trying to get a grip on this train wreck of avarice and confusion about the basic concepts of common sense, common decency, and morality, before they really do leave us without clean water to drink or a proverbial pot to piss in.
Fidel Castro has died. I wasn’t a fan. It’s being reported that Cuban exiles are dancing in the streets of Miami.
Over the summer I read D.H. Lawrence’s “Etruscan Places”, which is a collection of travel writings, however, it is so much more than that. Lawrence describes the absorption of cultures into one another, which is part of why, in the modern-day, Peoples become so upset about the “appropriation of culture” because it is so often a sign that the originators of whatever it was, are being absorbed, phased out. ( The other reason why is that, hey, do you like it when someone appropriates your sacred stuff without regard for the sacredness of it? Is your wedding dress just another dress to you?) Lawrence talks of how Etruscan art and culture was absorbed by the Romans until which was which? Who could say? Until everything becomes temporary and transitory and one day, won’t we all be a mystery to be discovered and solved? Like ancient cities recently discovered?
I had something of a health scare over the summer that turned out to be nothing all that unusual but it reminded me of every other health scare, and every other time that laid me out. It woke me up.
Writing? I’m still working on a collection of stories for early next year. I’m also thinking about my novel, THE SLICK FURIES, and making another corrective editing pass through that. Thinking about the next books, looking forward to getting to them. Christmas is coming, my favorite holiday.
And I totally forgot to write about the weird dream I had because, I think, I’ve been watching too much “Supernatural” but, I’ll get to it, eventually.
Has the world gone completely mad?