This Week in Charlie-Land: March 5-11

Sunday Morning Cinnamon Rolls (What’s left of them, anyway.)

This week I continued my quest to achieve wholly-ness.

My niece was in town for a few days to attend a home-schooling conference. She spent her nights here, although last night was the only one for which she was here to have dinner; so I made a Charlie meal. We had a modified version of the chicken dish I made last weekend for my dears, Sue and Cody. As I was spending the few hours it took to accomplish the chopping and browning and blending and sautéing and roasting and combining required to make this recipe I concocted, creating it again and improving it (I hoped), I thought how lucky I have been these past few weeks to have been able to cook for and tend to my sister, J, visiting from Florida, for Sue and Allison, home alone for a weekend, and for Cody, he being home from law school for spring break, and for M, here for her conference. Lucky because I know them and have them in my life. Lucky because I have reached a place in my life where I can enjoy taking care of others, creating food and comfort and clean for others, until, I don’t enjoy it — at which point, I have at last reached a place in my life where I can sit down, retreat inward, and not feel as if I am committing a sin to decide it’s time to take care of me.

Charlie-Chicken ingredients, prepped and ready to begin the cooking process. I am pretty proud of how I have adapted to this tiny kitchen space.

M was leaving this morning. She spends her life caring for many, many others with an exhausting schedule, and so I wanted to send her off with one last treat, one last comforting hug of deliciousness; nothing beats Sunday cinnamon rolls, except Sunday cinnamon rolls with triple icing. So, yes.

There is predicted the first snow of the season (hard to believe, the first) beginning Monday night and through Tuesday. We shall see. But, in preparation for it — and the enforced stay home and do nothingness of it, which is what I LOVE — I spent the remainder of my Saturday night after I had served and cleaned up the Charlie-meal for niece M and sister D, grocery shopping in preparation for the big storm. Don’t tell me I don’t have a wild and exciting life! I bought the goodies to make fattening chili, as well as high calorie-horrible for you chips and dip. Why? When I’m doing so well on my diet and have reached my pre-election weight (so only 15 more pounds to go) — because, sillys, everyone knows the calories you ingest during a snowstorm DO NOT COUNT!

Last night’s moon, seen from my parking lot.

While I was at the grocery store, I had the most wonderful time strolling up and down the aisles, making up backstories about the few other people spending their Saturday nights there. And when I got back to the apartment, I saw the moon, and the contrails seeming to climb from the moon toward the heavens.

A closer look; is that a trail left by angels flying away from the moon toward the heavens? Or, are residents of the moon sending us smoke-signals, telling us everything is going to be okay; we are always evolving in a manner ascending toward being better, kinder, wiser?

So much lucky, again, to have the ability to shop for food and feed myself, to take care of family and friends, and to have the leisure and eyes to see such a beautiful sky, not to mention, the peace of mind and space of heart to appreciate it.

Wholly-ness. Truth: the initial relief and mood-bump of the Wellbutrin has worn off. I am now settling into what I imagine is my new normal. I’ve had a weepy moment here and there — all of which have been fine because 1)I had control enough to stop them if I wanted to and confidence enough they were temporary and okay to allow them if I wanted to; and 2) the moments have come because I am looking at things and allowing myself to feel and think about things I haven’t processed before, or, from which I’ve been hiding. I think of it as coming out of a cocoon in which I have long been gestating; there is bound to be some discomfort and descents as I spread my new wings and learn to fly.

More truth: I’m having to face my fears about finances — short and long-term — so it’s no surprise the state would choose now to come after me; things happen that way. I wrote again and still have received no answer about the amount I owe or from when. I have been off and on panicking about what I’ll do if it’s thousands of dollars and I lose my license and registration: not sure how I’d function without driving, or, worse, the thought of disappointing people who depend on me to get them places. We’ll see.

The library books I have been messaged to pick up. All my holds came available in the matter of three days. WHYYYYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!

This week, I’m going to make a pre-visit to a new house/pet sitting gig; read MORE (I’ve read three books since my last book post, but I’ll go into them at a later date.) because I have 7 — yes, SEVEN — books I have to pick up from the library. I ask again — why do holds I’ve put on over weeks/months seem ALWAYS to become available all at the same time? It better snow, so I can sit and eat and read.

And work on this wholly-thing some more. I feel like, if I can get this car/tax/whatever thing straightened out/taken care of/behind me without having this terror-pit in my stomach, if I can move past it, then maybe, it’s the first step to the underlying fear I have had for ages and ages and ever and ever about ending up on the street before I’m done.

Or, maybe I can come to accept that living on the street out of a shopping cart is what I’m meant to do.

Peace and wholeness and love and light, dear ones.

Looking Back … Moving Forward … Working It Out


“I read the news today, oh boy…”

The governor of South Dakota has signed a bill allowing state funded agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ families; the Texas senate has advanced an anti-LGBTQ so-called “bathroom bill”; in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Equality Center has repeatedly been vandalized, including being shot at; the Justice Department — which now ought to be called Enforcer of Privilege and Extreme Right Rights for Straight White Men Department — has dropped its objection to the anti-LGBTQ North Carolinian so-called “bathroom” law; the Education Department — which now ought to be called the Ignorance and Bigotry Department — has undone its protections for LGBTQ students; I’ve been here before and I was not expecting this backward movement.

“I saw a film today, oh boy
The English army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book
I’d love to turn you on.”

When this retro-hate and fear became all too real in November, I went into denial, believing that before the Continue reading

Cooking: Decadent Chocolate Cake

The two layers after being de-panned, cooling on rack.

I’ve made a lot of cakes over the years, experimented with many recipes and methods, measuring exact weights and following every direction, working from scratch or using mixes with additions, doing lots of tweaking and playing and adjusting on instinct and in desperation. While I have sometimes been happy enough with the results, I have never been satisfied; until now.

What follows is my recipe for Decadent Chocolate Cake. And, as usual with me, there are lots of notes and caveats.Baking is an art and about personal expression, so you should experiment and make allowances for your oven, your pans, your taste. I suggest you read the entire thing first before thinking about starting.

PRE-FIRST: Preheat oven to 350. Or, if your oven runs hot like mine, 325. Cakes are picky and ovens are all different. It has taken me a while to get used to the oven in this apartment — like it’s taken me time and experimenting to get used to the oven each time I move to a new place. Meaning, don’t try to Continue reading

What Will Be . . .

Things I have learned in the past ten days:

  • Steroids block my Wellbutrin from working;
  • Alcohol undoes the peace Wellbutrin has given me;
  • After a few weeks of Wellbutrin peace, having even one day without that peace is one day more than I can take;
  • That one day without peace made me realize I am a freaking hero for having  survived feeling so unhappy and daily fighting off thoughts of death and despair for decades;
  • I do not know how I managed the sorrow in which I lived and it drained the Charlie from me;
  • My mother and I both know the first verse and chorus of Que Sera Sera and we sound very pretty singing it together in the car;
  • When I am Charlie-whole, my strength encourages people to get their crying out because they know I can take it;
  • I think I have learned that Wellbutrin makes my misophonia worse because I have almost throttled people and screamed and yelled and raged because of noises they were making — but I refrained. But, noise. I hate it. Repetitive noises actually make me consider violence;
  • Men are exhausting and recreational sex is far more complicated than it ought to be because of fucked up american mythology and religionist bullshit;
  • I have finally developed a delicious, moist, doesn’t sink in the middle devil’s food cake recipe;
  • I actually can go two weeks without checking my Twitter timeline or notifications and survive;
  • My blog is trending in Brazil, a country from which I have more views now than from any other, including america;
  • “Effie we all got pain” and “Effie we all got paid” are now the top searches used to get to me, replacing the long popular “Dylan O’Brien naked”;
  • I am in danger of losing my license and car because of back taxes from something like six years ago but no one will get back to me with amount or when or what;
  • I would be rolling on the floor crying were it not for Wellbutrin;
  • I am a really, really good person.

A paragraph of Mary …

I’m working on a short story which is — I think — part of the Paul series (but, who knows?) called Mary. (Oh my, I suppose I shall have to write one called Peter, as well, but I’m 500 miles away from … never mind.) I have been searching for a word for HOURS; I know it exists but despite trying to jog my memory for it, searching thesauruses, dictionaries, Fowler’s, and appealing to friends — I CANNOT FIND IT. So, I’ve written an explanation of the word I want in the sentence where I mean it to go, and a list of similar words, all of this in red, and I will come back to it. In the meantime, here is a paragraph of Mary. First draft.

But, our friendship’s purpose was to encourage one another’s malignant delusions of adequacy, its sell-by date being when we ran out of amusingly self-deprecatory stories to do with all our rotten relationships, mistakes in judgment, and chances we’d blown, been denied, or robbed of, at which point, no confessional stand-up routines left with which to regale one another, we’d find ourselves stranded in the mutual stagnation of the exhaustive, apathetic self-contempt in which we both lived, and the sad, dull facts of our nows, which would, of course, be re-purposed and spun as our terribly interesting pasts when we moved on to the next best friend, as we would.

Love and light kids. Back to word searching and trying to find the rest of Mary’s story. Which is, I believe, meant to be in close third, not first. Dammit.

P.S. WHY has the top search term for my blog for the past few days been “Effie we all got pain”? I can’t even FIND the post prompting it. Ha.



This Week in Charlie-land Feb 26-Mar 4


My chicken dish, salad, and a glass of cabernet from the Sue and Cody dinner I made Saturday night, March 4, the end of an interesting and busy week.

Follows a roundup of this week’s posts and links to each.

It’s been a wonderfully busy last seven days, capped off last night by dinner with two of my dearests — Sue and Cody — for whom I made a main course, salad, and dessert, all recipes of my own creation, all of which were delicious. I’ll likely blog about them soon-ish.

In the past seven days I worked on shaping short stories, personal relationships, my own emotional and spiritual health, and, too, made many dinners for many loved ones, drove here and there and everywhere I was needed or where others needed to be, gymmed, continued healthy eating, and with all of that, booked another house/pet sitting gig with a new family, and managed to fit in writing three blog posts.

Here, from February 28th, is Silence Is… [click here] , which was the post I wrote after deciding I needed to stay away from Twitter for a while. I haven’t signed on since last Sunday. I took it off my phone and haven’t so much as glimpsed at what is going on there. I’m not sure when I’ll go back. A few years ago, when I decided I needed a break from Facebook, the break turned into never returning. I’m almost certain I’ll go back to Twitter, but not yet.

And, from March 2nd, Reading: February Final Reads/Roundup [click here] about just what it says: the 12 books I read in February. It also includes a brief personal paragraph about isolating myself and working on the concept and practice of confession without penance.

march-3-face-lavender-glassesFinally, in this week of much activity — three blog posts! two short stories in serious process! so much family! so much coooking! — from March 3rd, Living Through Lavender Lenses [click here] in which I talk about the letter I got this week from the State of Maryland threatening me with suspension of my vehicle registration and license to drive, and, the real point, how well I took it.

I am wishing you much Love and Light, and I hope your week was as productive and affirming and enlightening as mine — minus the threatening letter from the state informing of huge indebtedness and accompanying punishments. And so, charming readers and those of you have inadvertently landed here searching for naked shots of Dylan O’Brien, there it is (or was) and here I am, going.



Living through lavender lenses

Charlie 1964

So what I was fenced in? I knew I’d get out because I trusted I was loved by the people on the other side.

After decades of resisting medication, my month and a half taking an antidepressant has re-booted my system — much like turning off and re-starting a computer —  I have been restored to my original settings: I remember being that boy who believed in happy endings and smiled even through barriers and obstacles. So, now, when I speak of Love and Light, it isn’t just an effort to convince myself I can survive. In this post I share a story about how this revitalization has affected my daily life.

I long feared disaster was my destiny and if things were going well and I allowed myself to feel happiness, I would be punished.  I could spend years trying to psychoanalyze the why of it: Genetic make-up? My early devotion to the tenets of the Roman Catholic faith and the wish to be a martyr like the saints & Jesus? My life experiences?  Years of gravitating to others equally miserable who felt threatened by and jealous of any happiness I had?

It doesn’t matter. Spending energy on parsing my history of habits of sorrow holds no interest to me other than as fodder for short stories/novels and reminder there are happier ways to see the world, my world.

march-3-mvaBut listen to this: When this evening’s mail included an official looking letter from the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles, I didn’t panic. I thought it might be a “You ran a red light” letter — although, despite what my mother might tell you, I’m pretty careful about red lights. I opened it. Continue reading

Reading: February Final Reads/Roundup

In this edition I will be talking about PRINCESS ELIZABETH’S SPY, by Susan Elia MacNeal, and AUTUMN, by Ali Smith, as well as briefly recapitulating about and linking to my earlier February reads. But first, a word from my ego and superego, brought to you by my id.

I’ve a good reason for being a few days late with February reflections: I’ve been revisiting and reevaluating my life, an undertaking which has required being present in each moment of my physical reality, an effort which — while rewarding, illuminating, and renewing — results in a need for peaceful, quiet disconnecting, a positive sort of hermiting born of self-affirming and nurturing considerations rather than those triggers of fear and panicked retreating which have so often been the driving forces of my life.

But, I will spare you a fifteen-hundred word blathering about my personal journey and get on with being my book blogger self. The first of the two books from February about which I’ve not yet written was:

princess-elizabeths-spyPrincess Elizabeth’s Spy (Maggie Hope Mystery #2), by Susan Elia MacNeal, Paperback, 352pp, 2012, Bantam

What a pleasure it is to get reacquainted with old friends. I read of WW2 heroine Maggie Hope’s inadvertent adventuring into spydom in December of 2016 in Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and fell quite in love with both character and author. I’d discovered Susan Elia MacNeal on Twitter where her delightful posts and irresistible smile kept popping up in my feed because many of the bookworld types I follow followed her, and so, eager to sit at the table with the cool kids, I Continue reading

Silence is …

(c) The Bowes Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) The Bowes Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Of late, I have become more than ever inclined to keep my own counsel. Of late, I have become more at peace with keeping my opinions to myself. Of late, I have become less needful of explaining how I see things. Of late, when something hurts, disturbs, upends me, I have been prone to silence, to walk away from it for time enough to allow the impulse of the moment to settle and fade before I react.

It’s taken a long time to arrive here, this place, where I am; going.

During my truncated high school career, before I was run out, exhausted from being daily terrorized and assaulted with pejoratives, slammings into lockers, dunkings into toilets, and the administration’s tacit approval of those violations, I was briefly in charge of the first newspaper the school had ever published. It was my idea. I did most of the writing, all of the art and design, and spent hours by the mimeograph machine cranking out the two-hundred copies our advisor — a sympathetic art teacher — thought we would need for the small and — we believed — mostly disinterested student body.

I have always been braver and bolder of speech and opinion in print than I am in person, and already in my early teens a devotee of Dorothy Parker and Jacqueline Susann, I wrote a roman a clef which I thought wittily exposed the hypocrisy, insincerity, and duplicity of the reigning jocks and administration of the school. In barely disguised fiction, I wrote about Continue reading

Reading: 10 Days, 4 Novels, And A Depression Memoir

In this post I’ll be talking about DIFFERENT CLASS by Joanne Harris, HISTORY OF WOLVES by Emily Fridlund, PERFECT LITTLE WORLD by Kevin Wilson, INFINITE HOME by Kathleen Alcott, and THIS CLOSE TO HAPPY:A RECKONING WITH DEPRESSION by Daphne Merkin.

different-classDifferent Class, by Joanne Harris, hardcover, 416pp, Touchstone, April 2016

It’s an unenviable burden to be the book I read immediately after I’ve just finished a five-star-can-I-marry-a-novel-legally sort of experience; the kind of falling in love I did with Cara Hoffman’s Running. [You can read about it HERE.] So, to be fair to the writer, I try to go in an entirely different direction, most often heading into genre-land — though I am not so much a fan of categorizing writing — and I turn to writers who have successfully created worlds and milieus they revisit and further develop in series. Thus, having read an essay in which Joanne Harris was compared to Patricia Highsmith, I thought it high time (Oh dear, I didn’t mean to do that.) I sample her work. Too, I’ve a weakness for books about British schools and what goes on there, which, in concert with my fondness for murder/scandal procedurals made Different Class seem the ideal choice. And although it took me a while to adjust to its rhythms — which I attribute to detoxing from the genius of Running — I was Continue reading