Tuesday, October 30, 2007

* BOO! * (or Bunk?)

I think it's time to tackle a most controversial subject: Are Ghosts Real?

Personally, my answer is an extremely wishy-washy, "I think so." (Nothing like hedging your bets, huh?)

I have written a few articles on hauntings and have long been a firm "believer" that there are things we don't understand about death, life and time.

For instance, could time "overlap" in places, thus causing an "image" of the past (or future?) to appear for a few moments? If so, we might call this a "ghost", even though it could just be a blip in the time continuum.

(It sounds like I know what I'm talking about here, but I really don't. Any scientists are welcome to tell me how this is impossible, improbable or just plain silly!)

Or is it possible that souls CAN communicate from beyond the grave? Is life really over when we take that final breath, power down the neural net and shake off this mortal coil (kudos to The Bard for that last description)? Are we able to intelligently come back to watch over people or try to make amends?

Okay -- your turn.

Are ghosts real? Or are they merely figments of our imaginations, serving some social, cultural, religious and/or spiritual purposes?

Have you ever seen one? Have you snapped a picture and thought you saw something (or someone) in the developed photograph? Or do you say, "BOO!" to the whole idea of someone returning after life as we know it has ceased?

(A quick side note: Though I've always been a fan of ghosts, I've not embraced the notion of angels. Imagine my surprise when both my husband and son told me they felt angels were a real presence. Huh. Blew my mind. You can know people for a while and yet they'll still amaze you.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe for Pull-Yer-Hair-Outism

The Quoibler's Recipe for Pull-Yer-Hair-Outism


1 super busy week
1 Internet line that fails on a Friday
1 Internet service that won't fix it until Monday
1 bazillion deadlines
1 freelancer without access
1 never-ending cold


Mix all ingredients together.
Stand back.
Watch explosion.


One heaping helping of frustration.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Yes, blogging friends. (Or should I say "Blends"? Hey! I like that!) In a nutshell, the above recipe culminated in a less-than-relaxing weekend.

Certainly, I did have some fun being "out of touch"; however, it was hardly A Good Thing (to use Martha's "catch phrase" without permission) from a fiscal perspective.

I am hoping for a more pleasant and productive week -- cross your fingers, toes and eyes. I know I will. :P

And now that I've kvetched and moaned, I'd love to hear about the BEST thing that happened to you this weekend! I'm serious! I want to hear positive stuff like random acts of kindness and unexpected checks in the mail. Please dish!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another place, another time

For the most part, I enjoy the fact that I've been given the opportunity to live in the 21st century.

I like the conveniences (even those that are double-edged swords, like greasy fast food.)
I like the advantages of being a part of a flexible culture (did someone say "Internet-based, work-at-home freelance writer"?)
I like the day-to-day experiences of being in the "here and now."

Yet I do sometimes ask myself where I'd choose to be if it couldn't live in this era.

Depending upon my mood, the answer varies.

Sometimes, I fancy myself as a hearty, determined, resourceful pioneer wife, forging ahead into the great unknown. I want to know what it felt like to make food on a hearth, create the family's clothing and "tame" a landscape.

When I'm in other moods, I feel it might have been interesting to live before and during the American Civil War. I can't exactly say why, though. I'd like to think the roots of this daydream are intellectual... but they're more likely based on silly romantic ideals that John Jakes' North and South imprinted upon my psyche years ago.

In what time would you live if you couldn't be in 2007?

Would you jump back to the beginnings of Christianity? The Middle Ages? The Renaissance?
Or would you opt for Greece? Rome? The Far East?

Where in history do you feel your soul would be most be at peace?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When Bloggers Go Bad

Slap me with a wet noodle. I've been such a naughty blogger! Six days without a post? Terrible, horrible, bad.

Truth is, I have legitimately been consumed with business-related "stuff" -- tons of writing, teaching, performing. All wonderful and stimulating, but I do feel guilty for not popping in to at least say hello to some of my favorite web personalities!

(I haven't even read the horror series that Jason has at Clarity of Night. That's a crime in at least 27 states, I believe. I really should get my tush over there pronto!)

In any case, my absence has made me think more and more about being a good blogger... and how much that's like being a good friend.

See, I'd like to lie to you and say, "I'm the best friend in the whole world." But the truth rests 14.2 million miles away.

Like most people, I get too involved in my own routine to "mix it up" by calling friends, scheduling adult "play dates", or even sending a "hey-no-time-to-talk-but-love-you" email.

It saddens me, but still I persist in this never-ending cycle of weeks without much friend-related communication followed by a sudden burst of information exchange. Then the long days of silence return.

I've heard that others have experienced this phenomenon, especially when they start having children, but that doesn't make me feel much better about the whole thing.

I know that some friends accept this strange way of staying in touch in stops and starts - Susan, Sarah, Joanne. They forgive me for being human. But to be perfectly honest, I've lost other gal pals because of my inability to make them a priority more often.


So what does this mean?

I'm not sure.

But I have the feeling that my new year's resolution is going to have to be related somehow to this subject because it's troubling me and has been for a while.

How do you make sure that you don't lose contact with friends? I'd sincerely be interested in hearing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From Clarketta Kent to Superdudette

I need a pair of glasses.

Of course, I have a pair of glasses and plenty of disposable contact lenses. I'm practically blind without correction. ("Nice puppy..." ~"Mommy, that's a fuming grizzly bear!")

Nearsightedness is a condition I've had since I was around seven and unless I get LASIK, I'm going to have it for the rest of my life.

That's okay.

But I do really need some glasses. Not for what they can do, but what they look like.

See, I want to appear "writer-ish".

Sure, I'm already a writer. I've published plenty and have a list of clients and publications for whom I've worked and am working. I have clips. I have references. I have legitimacy in my field.

Yet I feel a strong desire to LOOK the part of a freelancer.

So I've been asking myself, "What kind of glasses seem most authoritative?"

How about those ones with the rectangular frames? Or perfectly round ones? Or those without any kind of visible frames that just seem to float on the nose?

Maybe pink ones (a la Sally Jessy Raphael... dear lord, is she even still sporting those things?) Or green ones. Or enormous multi-colored frames bought at an Elton John yard sale.

I have this fantasy (and I realize it's just that). If I dress like a writer, I'll write better and more efficiently. I'll get more work. I'll be offered fascinating assignments. And I can finally get a headshot that looks... well... like I'm a "real" writer.

So I need those glasses.

But first, I need to write to pay for them. Nice irony, huh?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pluggin' Away, Part Sechs

Disclaimer: My apologies for being late on this installment of PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS. Strep throat and a host of other annoying ailments kept me away from the blogosphere for many days. Damn little germs. And penicillin is no treat, either. Blech.


There's something funny about the word "neurotic", isn't there? Of course, true clinical neuroses aren't amusing (especially if you're on the receiving end of said problems), but everyday neuroses... well, they're kind of enjoyable to discuss.

Beth knows this quite well.

She's the blog mistress over at The Perfect Neurotic, and she takes her role as the ringleader of her circus seriously but with a high degree of mirth.


Let's explore what makes her such a great attribute to cyberspace using the first letters of her name.

B. The Perfect Neurotic is a Bright spot to visit, as the discussion is lively (and ongoing) and the posts are stimulating.

E. I believe I found The Perfect Neurotic through The Clarity of Night. Or maybe Beth found me. Whatever. In any case, I found and find her writing to be highly Entertaining.

T. Whenever someone leaves a comment at The Perfect Neurotic, Beth responds. This type of Thank You is a much-appreciated courtesy among bloggers.

H. Beth blogs with Honesty. Her writings are infused with a sincerity that makes you feel as if you're a trusted confidante.


Are you itching to pop in now?

Be forewarned that the subject could turn to gardening or knitting at any time... but rest assured that even if you have a black thumb (as do I), you'll get a kick out of the discourse.


I hope you've enjoyed our little journey during PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS. I'm going to pause from it for a while to move on to other subjects, but I do intend to revisit it periodically.

Thanks to everyone who visited during our virtual tour!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pluggin' Away, Part Funf

It doesn't matter what you do for a living.
Nor does it make a difference what your family life is like.

Sooner or later, you'll meet the adversary known as REJECTION.

Let's face it--rejection ain't fun. It can be embarrassing, disheartening, disturbing, personal and (in some extreme cases) earth-shattering.

However, one blogger has found a way to put a humorous spin on regularly being rejected. Who is this bold, brave individual? Writer, Rejected from Literary Rejections on Display.


As a fellow writer, I know the sting of rejection. I also know the value of laughter. Yet I've not always been willing to openly mix the two. Fortunately, Writer, Rejected does.

Many unbelievably insincere rejection slips, letters and emails are posted at Literary Rejections on Display for fellow bloggers to view and discuss. And Writer, Rejected intersperses these notices with witty fantasies, some involving Rosemary Ahern, a literary agent (I believe.)

Even if you're not an author or journalist, Literary Rejections on Display is bound to resonate with you. Because like it or not, we've all been figuratively stamped with the word "REJECTED" a time or two. (And maybe literally stamped with it in some cases...)


1. The Comments--Between the scathing words delivered by angry editors and the loving reminders of sympathetic visitors, the commentary is always interesting and lively. I have noticed that it's died down a bit in the past couple of weeks... maybe we could all drop by and get it going again!

2. The Tone--Self-deprecation is always in fashion. Sure, some people find it to be over-the-top or boringly indulgent, but I think it's refreshingly candid.

3. The Mystery--Is Writer, Rejected a man or woman? Or perhaps a mythological creature? Does it matter? Probably not... but it's enjoyable to try to figure it out.

4. The Camaraderie--You're not alone. You're really not. In a world of rejection slips, Literary Rejections on Display is a welcoming haven for anyone whose day, week, year or decade has been ruined by the word "no".

As PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS continues, we'll dish about neuroses... and gardening.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Short Side Trip

I just wanted to jump off the Recess for Writers PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS path to send a quick note of "chin up" to a fellow blogger.

We who blog form tight bonds. Sure, they might be virtual, but they feel as real as the messy dining room table upon which my laptop sits. I'm well aware that the blogosphere might be a dreamland in a way, but when one of my frequent visitors is hurting, I hurt, too.

I will not disclose this blogger's identity, because it's not necessary. He or she will know. Suffice it to say that I am shocked by the treatment this person has been receiving by cyber criminals. Horrible stuff. Downright disgusting.

So I am taking a moment to ask all of you to remember that bloggers are people, too. It's fine to disagree, but for god's sake, we're not in high school. Knock off the drama unless you're going to post about the theatre or cinema. I implore you.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pluggin' Away, part Vier

Where oh where did the past few days go? One nasty head cold, a million responsibilities, and suddenly I'm left asking, "Did 72 hours really pass that quickly?" Maybe I was abducted by aliens. That would account for the time loss.

In any case, Szelsofa has been most patient and I appreciate that. In fact, I appreciate so much about her and her blog, Gondolatok az erdoben, that I'm dedicating the rest of this post to telling you about it.

(If you haven't guessed, I've expanded PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEK here at Recess for Writers. Maybe I should call it PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS?)


(The blog name, loosely translated, means "thoughts about nature/trees" according to an online translation software program.)

Szelsofa, the author of Gondolatok az erdoben is Hungarian and posts from beautiful eastern Europe. Though English isn't her first language, her prose is remarkably crisp with inspirational and powerful imagery.

Whenever she can, Szelsofa inserts photos of natural items she finds during her walks in the woods. Sometimes, she holds contests which Beth, a.k.a. The Perfect Neurotic, always wins. (Could something be up? Hmmm.)


1. Szelsofa is always straightforward. It's refreshing to know her views without having to guess where she stands on cultural and societal issues.

2. Szelsofa's writings are sensitive, deep and fascinating. She has an amazing command of the written word, especially for someone still learning the many intricacies of English.

3. Szelsofa is cool. You'll want to be her buddy. You'll feel like taking a trip to Hungary just to meet this gal and discuss blogging over a cup of tea and some homemade bread (sans liver pate.)

But don't just take my word for it... pop in to Gondolatok az erdoben right now and see for yourself what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic. Make sure to leave a comment and let Szelsofa know The Quoibler sent you!

The next review?

HINT: It's all about rejection, but in the most amusing way possible.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pluggin' Away, part Drei

Sometimes, anger can be downright funny. Not when you're the recipient of it. Not when it boils inside you like a spicy stew. Not when it directly affects you. But definitely when you can read about and comment on the fury of others.

Before the Internet, we were lucky to occasionally witness some amusing ranting on the bus or in the grocery store; however, with the help of cyberspace and the website Passive-Aggressive Notes we can freely enjoy written tirades from around the planet.


I have a feeling that you might be thinking, "Why the heck would I be interested in something of this nature? I don't have time...!" And you're probably right. But once you start reading some of the juvenile (and just plain crazy) notes posted on the site, I suspect you'll at least crack a smile.


What I find most interesting on this website is the commentary. I tend to only "blurk" (though I've written in once or twice), however--the "regulars" seem to make all the good jokes within the first ten or so comments.


One caveat about Passive Aggressive Notes:

If you are at all offended by "naughty" words or off-color humor, you might want to avoid this site. One word in particular (it starts with "F" and ends with "K"... and it's not "fork") finds its way into almost every entry in some way or another.

Next time on Recess for Writers' PLUGGING AWAY WEEK edition...

She's a writer from Europe who minces no words and writes in a free-form way that is completely engaging. She's Szelsofa and her blog, Gondolatok az erdoben, is as open and honest as they come.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pluggin' Away..., part Zwei

Ready for the next installment during PLUGGING AWAY WEEK here at Recess for Writers?

As promised, I'll be talking about The Clarity of Night and why it's a regular "stop off" on my daily round of blog visits (blisits?)


I have to give tons of credit to Jason Evans, the visionary who maintains The Clarity of Night. He certainly knows how to build a solid community of writers and readers. It's typical for him to get two, three, even four times as many comments per post than you'd find on other blogs.

Every day or so, Jason puts a creative work of his onto the screen for all to see--an installment of an episodic series (take a gander at all nine posts of his work "Westinghoused"... but do so on an empty stomach), a poem, an observation, a question. Occasionally, he even holds writing contests that draw in tons of participants. (Speaking of which, I think we're due for another one, Jason... please!)

But what keeps me coming back is the warmth one feels at his blog. It's a setting that's open, kind and very forgiving. You'll know what I mean when you begin to come back on a regular basis...


3. Jason is willing to put his literary art on display for all to see and critique. That's bold, especially in this era of "blastards".

2. There are tons of excellent writers who visit and comment.

1. Where else can you see photos of a deer who is obviously vying for an Oscar nomination?

Jason, from me to you--a big thanks!

Next time, we'll talk about anger in its funniest form... passive aggressive notes.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Pluggin' away..., part Eins

I thought it might be nice to "share the love" and invite readers to visit some of the blogs I regularly peruse.

Consequently, this week will be PLUGGING AWAY WEEK at Recess for Writers!

I'm going to start with Offbeat Homes, one of the first blogs I "discovered" and have continued to return to for many moons.


First of all, Jennifer (the site's uber-cool blogging chick) brings readers information about crazy, unique and innovative homes they would otherwise never know. A house made entirely of feces? A tree house that's nicer than most condos and apartments? Roof gardens to die for?

Really, you never know what Jennifer will bring to the table--which adds to the excitement. Every time I stop by, I'm treated to new information, complete with hyperlinks and gorgeous (and sometimes strange!) imagery.


1. Jennifer's voice comes through the text as clear as a bell. Every post reads in a conversational manner--you really feel like you "know" her.

2. It's obvious that Jennifer trolls (or "trawls", whichever you prefer--both seem to be used by bloggers and cyber surfers) the Internet looking to outdo herself. She isn't a slacker! She takes her job very seriously... while having fun with it, too!

3. The comments section at Offbeat Homes is always a hoot. People post their opinions with abandon, and Jennifer ALWAYS responds, as a solid moderator should.


- Want to learn how and where other people are living... and why they are making the choice to be "offbeat".
- Would like some design ideas for interiors and exteriors.
- Are thinking of moving and would like to live in a shoe, cave, or underwater hotel.

Stop by Offbeat Homes, and please tell Jennifer I sent you!

Next time, I'll talk about The Clarity of Night...