Reading: The Beast Is An Animal

The Beast Is An Animal, Peternelle van Arsdale, Hardcover, 352pp, February 2017, Margaret K. McElderry Books

Full Disclosure: I follow Peternelle van Arsdale on Twitter, we have mutual friends, I have met and hugged her, and I am an admirer of her personal ethos, style, and real world comportment. That said, I was not asked to read or publicize this book. I bought my copy from my amazing local bookseller, The Curious Iguana [click here].

Peternelle van Arsdale’s The Beast Is An Animal is an artfully wrought, beautifully written novel of Gothic intensity in which a fantastic world is brought to life in such observant detail it becomes reality, and, like life, its many layers make finding one’s truth not a matter of reduction to polarities of right/wrong and good/evil, but, rather, a complicated journey traveled without a map. So rich and leveled is the novel, it deserves reflection and meditation worthy of its masterly, glorious depth and heft; as in, The New York Times or New Yorker ought put someone on the case, assigning a long think-piece ruminating on Peternelle van Arsdale’s near magical creation of Continue reading

Reading: 4 Books, 2 Days. Ahhh, petsitting.

Max on my lap, where he pretty much lives.

Drake, in a RARE moment of calm and contemplation.

The shape of my life right now doesn’t allow for sharing it with an animal companion. So, much in the way I never had children of my own but was (am?) Uncle Charlie (or, Uncle Pottymouth) to the offspring of many others along the way, so too, now, in this phase of my surprising life, I am temporary guardian to many, many dear animals in many homes. I love pet-sitting and house-sitting for lots of reasons, not least of which is the silence. During my stays in the homes of others, loving and nurturing their animal family members, I rarely turn on a television or radio or go on-line (to which, in truth, I am giving less and less energy in general), and I spend the majority of my time petting animals and reading books and enjoying the uninterrupted quiet. In the few days I have been at this new gig, my first time with Max and Drake, I have read four books. I’m catching up with that library hold list. Here they are.

Right Behind You (Quincy & Rainie #7), Lisa Gardner, Hardcover, 400pp, January 2017, Dutton

This is my first Lisa Gardner. If you’ve read my book-blogging before, you know I am always on the lookout for another reliable mystery-thriller or mystery-cozy writer with a backlist to which I can turn when I need the predictability of a genre read. Another of my go-to authors mentioned enjoying Lisa Gardner’s work and so I thought I’d give her a whirl.

Right Behind You is the seventh in a series. Obviously I’ve not read the first six. But, this book was fine as a standalone. I felt I understood Quincy and Rainie well enough without Continue reading

Update on Panic-Attack

In case you missed it, this morning I was having a panic attack — CLICK HERE — my first in quite a long time, and it was to do with the Motor Vehicle Administration having informed me that I would be unable to renew my registration or license because the State of Maryland had informed the MVA I owed back taxes — CLICK HERE FOR THAT POST.

Well, I finally heard from the MVA/State of Maryland with the information about what I owed and from when. It was from 2010. Seven years ago. And a very bad year 2010 was. I remember very little. I was not high functioning. I had left a very bad situation, in a hurry, gave up a lot, lost a lot, all necessary to save myself. It is very likely true I owe taxes from then, even though I distinctly remember paying off in installments some amount. But, I was very low on funds (which hasn’t changed, but that’s okay) and things were not making sense. Too, in the interim years, I have moved a few times, always in a hurry, and shortly after one of those moves my room was flooded and all my personal files (along with quite a few journals and my Joan Didion and Renata Adler signed first editions) were lost. So, I can’t prove anything even if there is anything to prove, which, I’m pretty sure there isn’t.

Fairly certain — like 99% — I owe this. From seven years ago. Luckily, they have not tacked on interest and penalties. Good news is, it’s less than it might have been. Bad news is, it’s more than I have. Good news is, they’ve set up a payment plan. Bad news (or funny news) is, the first payment is due ON MY BIRTHDAY.

Oh. Life.

But, I have a house/pet sitting job starting Thursday through Sunday. And another starting next week that is two weeks long. And some summer bookings. And things work out sooner or later, one way or another. And while my chest is still tight tonight (and my rash is still not gone) I am better than I was this morning and I managed to get through the day and finish a book blogging post — CLICK HERE — and keep my stress hidden from my Mom.

And, the Zakar Twins posted a new photo of themselves. In knitted jockstraps. Life is good.

So, win win win and happy approaching birthday and here I am, going.

But going in a positive, affirming way. And not gone in the sad, final way I had so long been contemplating and planning.  And that is, indeed, a miracle, Charlie.



Reading: So many holds, so little time

I’ve read eight books since last I book-blogged and I am close to catching up with my hold list from the library. Which I have STOPPED adding to so that I might get to a stack of books I own which have been patiently awaiting my attention. I’ll try to keep this short. Here goes.

The Moviegoer, Walker Percy, paperback, 242pp, originally published 1961

This won the 1962 National Book Award for reasons that escape me. I found the title character, Binx Bolling, to be unbearably idiotic and misogynist. I thought the writing was dull and clunky, the symbolism heavy-handed. Not for me.

A Most Novel Revenge (Amory Ames #3), Ashley Weaver, Hardcover, 320pp, October 2016, Minotaur Books

I read the first Amory Ames mystery in March of last year, somehow missed the second, and picked up this, the third, on a whim from the library when I was there to get some holds. WHY DID I PICK UP ANOTHER BOOK WHEN I HAVE SO MANY HOLDS? Well, I love cozy 1930’s English mysteries about wealthy folk and add to that milieu a novelist and libertines, compare the sleuthing main character, Amory, and her husband to Nora and Nick Charles, and, well, I’m hooked. I confess, however, that when I picked this up I had no idea I’d read the first in the series, and, even as I read, I did not recall the first. It was only when adding it to my Goodreads list I realized I’d read the beginning of the series, and even Continue reading

Oh dear . . . panicking

That feeling where your chest is super tight and breathing is an effort, as in, you can’t seem to really get a deep breath, or you’re forgetting to breathe, and you’re sort of shaking like you’ve had too much caffeine? I haven’t had this in a while, a long while, but I’m having it now and I really, really hate it.

After four requests in three weeks I have at last gotten a response from the division of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration who sent me a letter telling me they’d been informed by the state of Maryland (aren’t they the state of Maryland?) I owed taxes and so my license and registration would NOT be renewed unless I took care of this.

So, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Asking the amount and from when? Finally, today, I received a response from a Revenue Collection Specialist asking me for the last four digits of my social security number that they might help me.

And so I am now in panic mode. Which I need to hide, as I have my Mom today.

I am such a fail with money. I just finished reading a book about a guy who lived alone in the woods for 27 years. I definitely couldn’t do that, but I am more and more thinking that the less and less I interact with the world and its conventions, the better off I (and the world) will be.

I hate being this upset and terrified and feeling helpless — which is my m.o. in money matters. Oh Charlie, as my mother would say.

Send light and good vibes and hopes the amount is low. Really, really low.

This Week In Charlie-Land: March 12-19

A week of six (6! WHAT?) posts can mean only one thing: I am still rationing my Twitter-time. Too, it was a week when the temperature reached 70 degrees and there was also the only so-called snow storm of the season. I continued my personal chef-ing roll, creating meals and cakes of my own recipes for dear ones, and my healing soul-realignment continued even as the mysterious rash that started all of this has yet to be diagnosed or disappear. What follows is a brief re-visit of each post and a look into the conversation my selves are having about here, where I am, going.

Tuesday, March 14, The Affray of Seasons and Reason

Nature seems to be flim-flamming us (and itself) with one week so warm the flowers bloom and the trees bud, only to be shock-blasted in the next week by hard freezes and the first measurable snow of the season; all of which seemed metaphor for the current political situation. Although we’ve far to go, we’ve come such a long way in the march toward equality for people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community, and the flowering of those freedoms now feels threatened by the ignorance, fear, and vitriolic vindictiveness in power. But freedom, equality, and Love, are as tough and resilient as nature; we will flower again. And again. And yet again.

Tuesday, March 14, Four Years and 931 Posts Later

My second post of the day was prompted by a notice from WordPress telling me it was this blog’s fourth anniversary. I looked back and found I’d had progressively fewer hits with each year; I was losing readers. This discovery brought to the surface an event I’d been ignoring; someone I was “seeing” in a casual way had discarded me. That musing opened the long tightly shut vault of feelings about being left, losing people, broken connections. I didn’t walk too far inside that vault, it was awfully full of things at which I need to look, but right now, this healing of the soul I’m having and the reactions of some people to it, has already energized my disconnect and hermit buttons. So, happy Charlie needs to be careful about how far and how fast he delves into the things he’s kept locked away.

Wednesday, March 15, Between the Lines . . .

Tuesday’s contemplation about where I’d been four years ago when I started this blog, where I’ve gotten, where I’m going, and being left or leaving sent me into a mini-spin based in fear. So, I did what I have often done in my life: turned to music and icons and po cultural imagery to express myself. From the youthful comfort I took from Miss Judy Garland and my Dark Shadows obsession, through my love of Little Edie and the ways in which she resembled my Sissie, to my fear of aging, my fatigue, and my love of Christopher Isherwood as well as my identification with the pitfalls of falling for a much younger someone, to my Blanche DuBois/Tennessee Williams-esque shaping of the story of my life into a three act play, and the shadow of a Tarantula Arms lusting to which I’ve sometimes succumbed, through my horror story dark side prone to lashing out in violent, irrational hatred when he feels unloved, unseen, victimized, and my Neely O’Hara “don’t you know who I am”-ing, which took me to another O’Hara, Kelli, and her beautiful, yearning delivery of a different kind of see me — which seems in retrospect as I give you all the “between the lines” to have been the theme of the post which concluded with Sarah Vaughn’s delicious rendition of Embraceable You — with its quieter, simpler “See me,” and, at last, the witch-nose-wiggle, that I might magically clear up all the between the lines things plaguing me that day.

Wednesday, March 15, Count Your Pennies

As had Tuesday, Wednesday also brought two posts. This second was in response to the first in which I’d been feeling a trifle sad, less loved than I wanted to be, and after a tiny wallow in some envy, and missing some Twitter folk, and yearning for a life I’m never going to have, and blah, blah, blah, I was inspired by the shiny pennies in my pocket to turn into my Mom and say, “I’ll give you something to cry about! Now get it together.” And so, I did, and devoted my energy to appreciating the gifts in my life.

Saturday, March 18, Living So Much I Forgot to Take Pics

And like Tuesday and Wednesday, Saturday brought two posts, too. Seems it was a week of doublespeak-ish.

This first post was long and all about a din-uncheon I’d hosted for one of my dearest friends, and, also, I got very honest about my near-lifelong depression, the story about how I’ve finally agreed to medication and how it’s changed my life (and made me able to look back at my life with some forgiveness and grace) and, too, my decision to absent myself from Twitter — which is actually a much bigger deal, to do with much larger issues than those I think and tell myself prompted my absence, and which I don’t know that I can quite deal with yet — because it feels like I’m losing someone way more important than the buddy from the Four Years and 931 Posts Later entry. Who, by the way, has reappeared, explaining his absence, wanting back in.

Saturday, March 18, I Want It All

The final post of the week was the natural progression of the things about which I’d been thinking all week: my depression, how I am recovering from it and learning to live in a more forward-looking, positive thought-pattern sort of life, the relief of not thinking every single day, “I wish I was dead,” and not having to hide that sorrow from people, the relief of not having to pretend to be happy; and the new but manageable issue in my life: having to consider that I might deserve happiness, love, and might be able after all to achieve dreams denied, to say, out loud, “I want,” without fear of reprisal and scoffing and “people like you don’t get to do/be things like that.”

And so it went (and here I am, going)

That was my week — or, the parts of it I felt comfortable sharing. I don’t know if this blog will make it to a fifth year. Having some relief from a life of depression and having the energy available to me I once had to use every day to fight my sorrow, is like having to learn to live again. As I go through my days, as I deal with people and things, as I write, as I work out, as I do anything and everything — I recognize patterns and habits and coping mechanisms formed because I was always dealing with the huge weight and blockage of my depression; now that it’s somewhat assuaged, I can approach life differently — but it is an effort, NOT a bad effort, but, it’s as if after years of riding a bike, one day your body forgot how to do it, and you have to learn again.

I’m learning how to be happy. Which I guess sounds ridiculous. But, there it is. And part of the process is being a better advocate for myself; not expecting to be hurt or left or sub-Tweeted or bashed; and, too, accepting and being grateful for the gifts in my life without believing I am going to have to pay for any joy or goodness with twice the amount of sorrow and bad shit.

Ah Charlie, Young Happy Charlie, help me out here, where we are, going.

Love and Light, dear ones.

I Want It All

Yes. This. The upside (and danger) of becoming happy after so long being not is this terrifying feeling when the wishes and dreams I denied myself because I thought I didn’t deserve and couldn’t have them are allowed to peek out, to whisper out loud, “I want…”

Living So Much I Forgot To Take Pics

Before Andrea’s birthday din-uncheon.

Yesterday I hosted a birthday luncheon (well, din-uncheon, because we didn’t really start eating until 3pm) for my dear one, Andrea, with my dear ones, Alison and Sister Debbie. Before it began, as I was prepping and cooking, I took a picture of the table and the tulips.

Once everyone had arrived, I had such a marvelous time and was so busy being there, here, where I am going, talking to and enjoying and loving people, I never thought to record every few moments (or any moments at all) with my smartphone, posting my life, documenting it rather than living it.

This forced-absence from Twitter really was a good decision.

It has been three weeks since I decided to treat my Twitter addiction, a decision triggered by a sort of sub-Tweeted provocation of a personal nature related to my delight with my recent, late in life taking of an antidepressant, which I started two months ago and which taking of was initiated by a wonderful medical professional to whom I went to treat the rash-reaction-hives-whatever covering my right forearm and spreading to my left (at the time).

I’ve been on Twitter a few times since my hiatus began — I have not looked at my TL, but I do periodically check for (and write) DMs, and I check my notifications. My mood and outlook continue to be Continue reading

Count Your Pennies

Today I went to the grocery store to pick up some things I needed for tonight’s niece/nephew meal and an upcoming birthday dinner, and when I got home and was emptying the change from my pockets into the containers where I keep it, I noticed that I’d been given three beautiful, shiny 2017 pennies.

I felt compelled to take a picture and mail it to myself, knowing I would want to blog it, though not quite sure why.

Maybe a button was pushed because Abraham Lincoln is on the penny and yesterday I finished Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders and it is still taking up a large space in my mind. I’m not certain how I feel about it.

Or, maybe it’s because pennies are said to be lucky? Although I think one is supposed to find them on the ground, not be given them as change. But, you know what? Lately I’ve come to realize more and more how dependent luck and happiness are on one’s outlook. If you constantly see yourself as victim, live in “oh poor, put upon me” energy, and see even those who love and support you as somehow not loving and supporting you enough, well, what you need is not more happiness, but for you, yourself, to make more of an effort to appreciate the happiness you’ve got.

It is a lesson I am really, really, REALLY trying to heed. Every day. And that’s my two (well, three) cents.

They are sort of beautiful, aren’t they? The color. The shine. The hardly been touched-ness of them. Not that I mind coins that have been around the block a few times, a little worn and faded from being well used and spent.

Love and light, dear ones. And may your day be filled with lucky, shiny pennies. And even more, may you have the time and heart and presence of spirit to appreciate them.

Between the lines…

Some days I put my words aside, and I roam through music and images, without a map, without an agenda, just letting subconscious, my heart, my soul, chat with my sometimes overly-contemplative brain. It’s refreshing. Renewing. Revealing. Relaxing to let things just be rather than trying to emotionally parse every breath. Here goes.